Poly Hell Down Under
Hi everyone. I'm writing from a small country town in Australia.
First off, I want to say thanks to all the regular contributors here. I've spent many hours reading through old threads, and have been impressed (and helped) by the depth and breadth of the discussions on this forum.
I realise that a lot of people find their way to this forum because of some pain or trauma in their love lives - and unfortunately, I'm one of those people.
My situation is this:
I'm a 37 year old woman, and I've been living with my straight male partner ("L") for 11 years. When we first met 13 years ago, L was totally up front with me about wanting multiple sexual partners. This was (and still is) fine with me. He has had numerous casual sexual partners over the years, and I've never had any problem with that whatsoever. To put this in some context, he has always had a much higher libido than me, and it always seemed fair and reasonable to me that he should be able to satisfy his sexual needs and desires however he chooses, assuming that nobody gets hurt in the process.
I've been trying to remember when L first started using the term "polyamory", because, until very recently, I had been of the understanding that we have an "open" relationship, meaning (to my mind) that he has sexual relationships with other women, which may extend to friendship (as has been the case on more than one occasion), but doesn't extend to a permanent loving partnership involving serious investments of time and emotional and financial support.
The way I have explicitly phrased this to him on many occasions in the past is: "As long as you're still coming home to me, I'm happy".
I have never felt like a jealous person in any way; I have never experienced any jealousy in relation to L's other sexual relationships, and when I first heard the word "compersion" I immediately and very strongly identified with that state of mind.
The problems for us began when L's work took him away from our small town, and to the city 4 hours' drive away.
He gets a one bedroom apartment as part of his job, but we couldn't (and didn't want to) re-locate our entire life to the city (including dogs, land, gardens, and a house that we built together with our own 4 hands). So, he's working there, while I'm living here, very much alone (we have no children or family nearby).
Enter L's newest sexual partner, "M".
M began as L's client. I started hearing about her and how wonderful she is from day one; it was immediately obvious that L was strongly attracted to her, and I had no problem with that. In fact, the way he lit up when he talked about her made me feel happy for him. I had no problem whatsoever with them having sex, and developing a friendship.
The problems began when M started imposing herself on my (now) rare days alone with L: she would constantly be ringing, texting, and emailing him, usually with some new and escalating personal drama that she needed his emotional support for dealing with.
What I hadn't initially realised is that M is unhappily married, with three young children (aged 4 to 9). Worse still, for a few months, M actively concealed her relationship with L from her husband.
This all blew up in my face when I recently learned (retrospectively) that M was now spending two days every week at L's city apartment. He didn't tell me (let alone ask my permission) about this arrangement until after it was in place.
From L's point of view, he feels that he is trying to "save M's marriage" by giving her a regular break from her husband - who, incidentally, according to M, knocked her to the floor and tried to strangle her when he learned of her affair with L.
I have been feeling totally betrayed because L is no longer coming home to me - instead, he is going home to M (I currently only get to spend roughly 2 days every 3 weeks with him, whereas she's been spending 2 days and nights per week with him at his city apartment).
This situation drove me to the depths of despair (not helped by feeling extremely isolated and lonely living in a very conservative small town by myself).
L has not been able to understand why I'm so terribly upset. As he sees it, this is just his latest polyamorous love interest - and, furthermore, he tells me, he wants to be this woman's "partner" for the rest of their lives.
He has repeatedly assured me that his love for me is undiminished, and I'm honestly inclined to believe him on that point.
However, the final straw for me has been that M has now posted to a polyamory group in Australia, talking about her "polyamorous" relationship with her husband and partner - meanwhile, her husband has had such a major meltdown over this situation that he's currently spending two weeks in a psychiatric hospital.
I've been trying to explain to L that what he and M have done isn't "polyamory", it's actually cheating of the highest order, with dire consequences. But he still thinks that the sun shines out of M's ass, and that she's a good and honest person in need of some help and support. Meanwhile, I now have such incredibly hostile feelings towards her that I simply can't imagine sharing my partner with her for the rest of our lives.
(I feel hostile towards her because of her callous disregard for my feelings, as well as for her husband, not to mention her young children. I've repeatedly tried to arrange to meet her, but she has now found reasons - I call them "excuses" - for not meeting with me on 3 separate occcasions. L sees nothing remotely suspicious about her behaviour, but I feel certain that she's a dishonest manipulator. I have no idea what her ulterior motives might be, but I'm convinced that there's more going on in her mind than she's shared with L).
And I'm not really sure what to do next.
I've thought very seriously about leaving L, but the good aspects of our relationship still so heavily outweigh the bad aspects that I would much rather find an alternative to leaving him - even if that means going through pain, turmoil, and hard work.
For the record, I'm totally open to polyamorous relationships, both for myself and my partner - but the thought of him having a permanent polyamorous relationship with a woman I despise is very, very hard for me to deal with.
I don't even know what to say other than the BREATHE and take it slow. :hug:
I'm sorry you are going through this.
I don't know what kind of tale M has told L. But to have a husband and kids and NOT have husband on board with the relationship, to NOT have you on board... that's not poly. That's cheating.
L might be so enchanted in NRE that he's gotten hornswoggled or something. But I'm sure that must disappoint you greatly with your partner of so many years.
Not just the cheating kind of way this came to pass. But that he is continuing it despite your upset, despite the husband in hospital? Who is watching the kids then? That doesn't sound ethical at all and what did the kids do? Nothing! Why is she not with husband? Why is not L encouraging her to go home to her children? To sort things out with husband first, while he sorts things out with you? Then sort out the mess together if anything at all can be salvaged from this experience.
I'd be worried. For all.
She doesn't deserve to be strangled and choked by husband. I'm not saying what she's done is roses, but strangling? Choking? Then her posting things on a board? What denial is she in?
What kind of people has L gotten himself mixed UP with here? Is he safe? Are you? Ugh. Drama.
I wouldn't blame you a bit if you checked out to regroup. Like --
"Don't see me right now. I need time myself to pull it together, this was shabby treatment. I expected more from you. I expect explanation and apology at the very minimum but I'm too messed up to hear it now. I need a break. See me in _____name date____ and you best be there. I strongly suggest you send M home to her children -- this is terrible on them with Dad in hospital. Love nesting now is just ugh -- all this irresponsibility. Man up, dude! Get your responsible on! "
Has he even begun to apologize?
That whole process takes time too, on your end. You need process time after this kind of shock.
Def, def breathe.
Remember a broken heart still keeps on beating.
And you take care of YOU first and foremost -- sleep well, eat well, do not be hurried or rushed. "Urgent" is not the same thing as "important" and you have a lot of "important" to sort here for yourself in the next while.
Hang in there!
Thanks for the kind response. It actually has made me feel a lot better to vent this stuff, and better yet to have someone see this from my point of view.
I think my partner is totally under the spell of NRE ... one of the things I've been wondering about is if/when he'll snap out of it. This story makes him sound pretty bad, I think - but he's really a very good and kind and generous person, in my long experience.
In fact, I think M has shamelessly taken advantage of his best points, and used them to her advantage.
Anyway, your advice is good, and I am working on the basics right now: breathing, eating, exercising ...
Thanks again for your compassion!
Welcome to our forum.
From what I can read and perceive from my point of view, there has been some gaps in communication, and L's long stretches away from home are a big problem in the first place, even if the "M situation" wasn't piled on top of it.
It is a concern that M has (seemingly) resisted your efforts to meet with her. I don't know whether she can be trusted. It's possible she's a psychological mess, an extension of her obviously messed-up marriage.
It's not fair for you to be put in this situation, but make sure L understands exactly what your needs are here. I would start by telling him that his job is a problem, because really I think it is (though not perhaps due to any fault of his own). One way or another, you need more time with him.
He is obviously caught up in NRE and to be fair, M probably is too (even if she is manipulating the situation). L and M both need to slow it down and work on their respective marriages. But it's hard to explain that to someone whose head is spinning with NRE.
I don't envy your situation, but I'd probably say the above are the main points that need attention for the time being. Certainly I think you're getting a crappy deal, and my heart does go out to you.
I see possible (probable) drama increasing in the future before it decreases. M's marriage may not survive this (and as you said, even you have questioned your marriage). I wish there was some way to warn L and M about the perils of NRE, but they seem determined to learn it the hard way.
Talk to L, tell him you need him to slow it down with M, and that you need more of his time and attention. It's highly unfair of M to be ringing, texting, and emailing L on his rare days alone with you.
You'll have to try to close some of the communication gaps, because L isn't stepping up to the plate right now. Until he comes to his senses a little bit, it will probably be mainly you who is working to save your marriage.
So sorry this has all happened. I can only give you my perspective; I can't tell you what the right thing is for you. I'm sure you'll be doing considerably more thinking about it, regardless.
Thanks for your insights (and sympathy).
The fact that L's job is so far away from home IS undoubtedly a big problem - but it's a very hard one to solve.
Our town's biggest employer closed last year and took 30% of the town's jobs with it, not to mention all the people who lost jobs and businesses in the fallout from that closure. Our town already had 25% unemployment before the closure, and the property market is now down the tubes, so we almost certainly couldn't sell our house even if we wanted to.
So, realistically, for the short term at least, I'm stuck here and he's stuck there.
Glad venting helps some.
It's been a shocker. Breathe, care for you "first aid" type needs.
You can put the whole thing on "pause" for a week to do that. Two weeks even. That's not an unreasonable thing to ask for and want when receiving shocker news like that.
When you are ready to sort and pick up pieces, you will have support here I'm sure. Just take it one day at a time here.
Hang in there!
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