Changing the relationship for the "right reasons"
I will try to keep this short! =)
Over the last four years, hubby and I have dabbled (barely) in an open relationship. Basically: he is 95% mono, and I lean more poly (though am essentially untried). He had never had a sexual partner before me, and I didn't want him to feel like he'd "missed out," so I okayed him finding playmates if he desired. He, being pretty seriously mono, wasn't comfortable with me having relationships with other men face to face, but with some thought has allowed me to pursue playing online. While not "equal," we were both comfortable with this agreement and so this was what we decided. We are not fully poly, and so we do a lot of mutual decision-making about this. If one of us is uncomfortable, we do not proceed, and this works well for us. =)
In truth, when we first discussed this, our relationship was not in a good place. However, over the last few years we have repaired the damage and we are strong and happy and very much in love. In fact, we just had our first child last year. =)
Since that original discussion, hubby attempted twice to play with other women but was mostly unsuccessful for a variety of reasons, including lack of chemistry (on his part), shyness, etc. Those 2 incidences were the only times he even felt interested enough to try. I did my best to support him, but being young, naive, and muddling through my first time "sharing" I did stumble a few times (onto boundaries I didn't know I had!). As for me... I dabbled a bit and then fell into a relationship with someone that I have grown to love very much. We have been together for almost three years now; he lives a thousand miles away and knows we will not meet in person (although we'd both very much like to).
Hubby came to me last week to say he'd developed an interest in a girl at work and ask how I felt about him pursuing it. (I had mentioned that I would not want any others for a while following the birth of our child, as I felt I would be too emotional/insecure to handle it, and we both wanted that time to be one of bonding as a family). I said I would give it some thought, and I did, for a week - there are some challenging factors, including lingering insecurity and, soon, a forced separation (as I will be starting a job in a new city, but he's staying behind for a few months for employment reasons, so we will be separated except for weekends). I mulled over some ideas about how to enable this to work the best (communicating long-distance), but I had a nagging reservation that I couldn't shake, so I finally just told him: I could most likely work with this, but I'm honestly afraid that I will come to be resentful that I cannot meet MY OSO face to face, or else I might try to use it as leverage to do so, and that's not fair to you. I said I was fine with dirty texting, swapping pictures, etc (basically the same limitations I have with my OSO), but that physical intimacy would feel unfair to me now and I truthfully wasn't sure I could handle that.
I figured that would be the end of it, because while hubby is tolerant of the OSO, he's not exactly enthusiastic about him, and has indicated firmly on multiple occasions that he's not interested in allowing me any more freedom than I currently have.
So you can imagine my shock when hubby said he agreed with me, he'd been thinking about it too, he also felt it would be unfair and he may be willing to allow occasional meetups with the OSO if that were the case.
Lovely people, I am torn between two reactions right now:
1) Oh, my God. My wildest, most fervent desire might come true. Let him do whatever he wants!!! I might get to see OSO!!! Don't screw this up!!!
2) .....what is so special about THIS GIRL that he's suddenly willing to let me meet with OSO if it means he can get in her pants?? #suspicion, #jealousy
Is it wrong for me to worry about his motivations? I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth ;) but our relationship is precious to me and if we are changing "the rules" I just want to ensure we're changing them for the right reasons (growing understanding, increased compersion and healthy trust... not just lust-blind NRE).
Thoughts? Thanks in advance!
You are asking good questions.
Perhaps in meeting her and envisioning a relationship with her, and seeing how his feelings for you haven't changed, he has realized that you having another relationship face-to-face is not the threat he once thought it would be. And Hubs has seen you honor your agreements and knows you can be trusted.
I commend you for putting up with such severe restrictions on the relationship you have with your OSO for so long (I personally could not have a totally online relationship), but it does sound like the right time for renegotiation. Keep talking about it. I see no reason why you cannot gently voice the same concerns to him that you have expressed here. Poly works really well when there is full transparency.
After you get a few more responses, you can invite him to read the thread and add his perspective.
hmm, LDR's are a tough one. I suppose you ought to really try to look at his side of things, being shy, introverted, and not previously interested in poly/openness, he has found someone he is finally comfortable enough with he can express that with. so much so that he is willing to bend for you as well.
That being said, he also would have to come through with his side of that promise, and you would need to hold him to it. that doesn't mean you cannot have boundaries, it just means you have to break down a barrier and establish new-mutually agreed upon boundaries.
Here's an example: The girlfriend and i have a boundary/agreement (for now, this may change in the future) that a new person which we want to date/become intimate with has to come home (for dinner or whatever) to meet the other half BEFORE anything besides flirting and kissing happen. It works well to help both people respect both sides of the relationship. As well as to let them know, "our relationship will NOT take away from the primary relationship.
Oh, and another thing, BE HONEST!!! Those scared feelings, guilty, insecure, etc. ARE OK. Just because those feelings are negative, does not mean they are bad.
You say you don't want him to "miss out," well, how much are you willing to let him miss out on because of insecurities? And visa versa? Your relationship has to come first, anything outside of that (for now) is extra, but sometimes in life the "extra" is of dire importance as well.
It is right for you to worry about that "blind NRE." Why does he want this all of a sudden? My best advice here is TALK!!! In any type of relationship, transparency is the name of the game. Anything less is not quite love. Let him know how you feel, and that you will expect the same freedoms as him.
Best luck with it all.
I was pretty stunned by the possibility last night - it wasn't until I was drifting off to sleep that I was suddenly concerned about the motivations. I will talk to him about it, I just hesitate to do so sometimes during this early "emotional vomit" stage because he is pretty sensitive to potential issues in this regard. As in, he'd be just fine without it and if it's gonna be "too much trouble" he'd rather not risk it, whereas I am amenable to at least trying, even if it takes some tweaking to make it work. So sometimes I am afraid to dump my reactive emotions on him while I am processing them (because that is how I process!) - I tend to mull it over myself (or with a friend) and then approach him with my thoughts when I can express myself in a thoughtful and reasonable way. But yes, if we decide to proceed with this, there will definitely be ongoing discussions.
To clarify, I'd deal with my insecurity. I'd ask for his help in dealing, but I'd deal - my insecurity is not a reason to say no, IMO. I have had periodic requests to accommodate my need for reassurance/connection with him (i.e., physical monogamy during the early months of new parenthood, or, I've asked to have some time to snuggle and reconnect with him after his dates) but I would never say "no" just because I am feeling insecure.
I did, however, in this case, say "no" because I did not know how I would handle resentment over the disparity. I didn't expect reciprocity, I was just expressing my take on the situation and he offered to consider it.
LOL, that seems like such a silly thing to whine about... Oh no! I have two wonderful, amazing partners who love me and fulfill me! FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS!! ;)
You are asking good questions.
But I am curious -- set this new issue aside for a minute -- are you NEVER to meet OSO then? Even if DH doesn't date Other Lady... is this gonna be like 5, 10 yrs in relationship and never one visit to OSO? I think that's why you are feeling a little jealous.
Like here you have been with OSO 3 years, and DH isn't allowing a meeting -- a no sex nothing hanky panky just visit thing. Go for coffee. Go for lunch. Lightweight stuff you could do with your mother.
And he and this woman could have that tomorrow. Even if he never tells her how he feels about her -- the first person in a long time that he'd consider changing things for. He could ask her to friendly lunch, bask in her presence, reveal NOTHING about his inner feelings, and still come home stoked from the sight of his crush.
I don't think you are really jealous of the OL. I think you are jealous of what DH and the OL get to have if they choose to avail themselves (a stupid coffee date) where you and OSO do not get that despite 3 yrs in. I know the LDR factor, but 3 yrs is 3 yrs, man.
Long enough to save up for a weekend visit where you stay in a hotel separate and you just... hang out in person and just lay eyes on your OSO.
So no wonder you pin your #jealous and #suspicion on the woman. ( I commend you for recognizing how you feel though and laying it out. That's impressively mature. Just because we feel gut level feelings is no reason to launch into emotional vomit. WTG! )
Here's my suggestion. And you can rearrange steps to suit, tweak, etc.
1) Meet the woman NOW before anything happens if she does know DH interest. If not, skip this and come back later to this step when she does know.
If she DOES know he just tells her he and spouse are simmering on the idea of opening up to include him dating her. That is all.
If not, don't rock her boat just because YOU guys are thinking about opening up further. Don't need to make their work rship weird. (And how do you feel about that? Dating at work? Could that mess with DH's career?)
2) Then DO NOTHING. NOBODY. You don't tell OSO this is brewing maybe (don't get hopes up to dash down.) DH doesn't date the woman yet
Don't confuse the urgent with the important. Agree on a reasonable time frame for this initial "simmer the idea." And don't confuse what is important and/or urgent feeling for YOU two and important/urgent for ALL at this early birdie point.
A month? Nothing changes, other than you and DH increase communication between you and DH.
Ask the big questions NOW in your thinking month before anything has even happened. Explore how you want to be treated fairly, how he wants to be treated fairly, how you expect the metamours to treat the spouses fairly, etc.
Next month? Tell the metas you have been talking and give them the basic Cliff Notes Draft.
THEN the metas have feelings of their own. Inquire -- how do THEY want to be treated?
Then in this month see how to work up the Cliff Notes from a 2 people Draft to the 4 people agreement for how to proceed in next (3 mos? 6 mos? 12 mos?) before the next check in.
I assume OSO and OL are otherwise single -- if there's MORE metamours in the picture you have to negotiate meeting/calling/emailing all these people and handling your poly network there. At the minimum to make sure all know about all others and things are all cool -- nobody's a secret cheater or something and all have their sex health screenings current before any kind of new sex in whatever configs happen.
Then proceed -- DH can go up to the OSO level. That's it. For a month. Online dating same as you.
Then check in again and see how all you guys are feeling.
Then DH can start inching into real people dates with OL. A month.
Then see how you all are.
Nobody ever died from going slow, you know.
And if everyone's grown up here, waiting a few mos to get to DH dating the girl in person rather than online? That's nothing. That's just summer break between school years.
If all partners cannot hack that? A summer break experiment? So everyone can transition slowly and smoothly to a new relationship model where there's new people so all can feel respected and honored and supported?
Then that's telling ya all you need to know before anyone gets too deep to get too hurt as poly newbies.
You feel what you feel when you feel it. Nobody can help the winds of emotion blowing through.
It's how you choose to act and behave in reaction/deliberate response to them that matters.
How DOES / WILL your relationship with DH and OSO and OL all weather the storms of relationship change? And storms can be scary destructive and storms can be gorgeous and bring rainbows.
Whatcha guys going for? In this case, some of the weather (not all) can be planned for and dealt with but only if all partners are going to play like grown ups. You and DH at least, sound like you've been keeping it real and going at the pace your marriage needs to go. Kudos!
Wow, what a response! Let me try to address the varied components. =)
Now, he may have allowed a face to face meeting sans hankypanky, but I didn't ask. For one, because that was the line he drew and I know having that boundary helped him acclimate to this relationship - making that shift from online to IRL is huge. And for two, because it's easy to slide down that slippery slope of "just lunch" to "just hugging goodbye" to "just a little kiss" to "making out like teenagers in the backseat"... I'd like to say that I would have been trustworthy if our agreement was a "sans hankypanky meetup" but honestly... I love OSO, that would have been REALLY. BLOODY. HARD. Hard enough that I couldn't say without a whisper of doubt that I wouldn't cross the line. And without that internal certainty, that wasn't a risk I was willing to take. So I didn't ask.
We spoke on the topic over lunch and he said it is something that he'd been considering for a while, he just hadn't really understood how it could work and admits he was dallying due to anticipated jealousy if I'm out gallivanting and he was at home all alone. Well, now of course he has options so we're back in the game, so to speak.
I'd describe us more as open than anything else. We do have some component of emotional attachment to our others - neither of us really enjoy sex without a connection - but I wouldn't say we're fully poly by any stretch. We are both pretty firmly committed to each other as primaries and and we're clear about our limits to other people. For me, I enjoy having the full secondary relationship; from what DH is describing, he's not really interested in more than a friends-with-benefits kind of deal. So I kind of wonder how regimented it is really necessary to be?
Is it necessary to meet her if she's going to be a one-off encounter (and would it weird her out if I did?)? If she is going to be a long-term FWB or girlfriend I'd want to meet her, certainly.
He is discreet by choice and they would not flaunt their relationship at work. Regardless his workplace is full of cheating assholes so I'm sure people wouldn't blink an eye even if they did notice something. xD
I am fine with DH indulging in flirtations approximating my own boundaries (during this simmering stage and at any other time) and have said as much. I don't think we'll take quite as long as that but we will definitely give it some serious thought/open discussion over the next few weeks. =)
As to the metamours' metamours... DH and I agreed in the beginning that we are responsible for our relationship only, so if we decide to go for it we will leave it to the metamours to handle their business themselves.
I don't like those other scenarios! =P I can deal with NRE. It would certainly be harder if I get ugh/dumped! We'd work it out, but it's hard to say how things would go since we haven't been here before.
You've given me some good things to think about and I greatly appreciate all the perspective/feedback offered thus far! I process through language and having to collect my thoughts into a coherent post helps me to sort through the noise and pinpoint the real stuff. Thank you!
On another tangent - if he is moving in a few months after you do, starting a relationship with her would end up being a LDR. He would likely want to go back to visit her on weekends which would probably cause a lot of stress for your relationship, or perhaps he'll be busy and distracted texting and emailing and calling her while you end up setting up the new place all by yourself. Has he thought that through?
Dealing with a new dynamic when you are not living in the same place will also be stressful, and you have a higher chance of being plagued by insecurity, jealousy, fear - but without the ability to be face to face with him to talk things through.
Because of all the pitfalls of dating where you work, I'm not fond of my husband dating people he works with, and he's been poly for over 20 years so would hopefully avoid most of the potential problems. If he were new to it, I am pretty sure it'd be a hard limit for me, due to the potential problems with it.
In your place, considering your current limits with your OSO, I would be hard pressed to be OK with him wanting to see a coworker, but I would hope to segue that into new boundaries for both of you once you were settled into the new town. It's OK to say no to the situation.
And as for her being a co-worker; their workplace is HUGE (2000+ employees), they're in different departments, their shifts only overlap by a few hours, and neither of them will be with the company long-term. In terms of risk I deem this acceptable (though generally otherwise agree it's unwise to date colleagues!).
Ahh the moving away thing - I used to get a crush on anybody as soon as I found out they were moving out of state ;)
And that is a huge workplace, I can see how that situation they are in is not nearly as likely to cause a lot of the normal problems. I would still want to meet her personally before I moved though, just so she saw I was a real person, and couldn't have the illusion of me not existing, but really that is up to your comfort level.
I suppose the only other thing I'd say to think about with the LDR thing - as I'm pretty hardcore when it comes to being practical. Assuming that her moving would be "the end of that" is a dangerous assumption for him to make, as a few months of them hanging out could really be very bonding, and you never know. Would it cause any financial hardship if he wanted to keep dating her, and you became able to see your OSO?
It's rare that I see anybody post about being in a LDR and content about the amount of time they get to see their LD partners. Budgeting money and time to visit or host out of town partners regularly could hamper being able to plan quality time and trips for the two of you. That is one reason why we here have agreed not to even entertain getting to know people who aren't within a reasonable driving distance.
I think I'm wondering if you're going to agree to something that you would normally be firmly against, just in order to improve chances of him being OK with you meeting OSO someday. That is a slippery slope with the potential to cause distance between you and your husband, especially if you do agree for him to have freedoms you don't. It seems like you two have good communication so as long as you're honest with him that you're agreeing to it with the hope you get to see OSO maybe it won't be a problem at all. I wish you good luck in however it works out.
Thank you! Yes, I've requested to meet her and she's amenable. And we could manage periodic trips to see OSOs if need be... He assumes that will be that, but I certainly don't and would plan accordingly.
I think years ago, I agreed to inequal terms under the assumption (from both of us) that as time went on and he got more comfortable with things, we'd adjust and become more equitable. Only we didn't quite get that far (although we did certainly loosen up considerably). Now, I am no longer willing to hedge my bets by allowing privileges I do not have under the hope that I might, someday... And I told him as much when I declined his initial request based on my own limitations. Now, we're renegotiating those limitations... If either of us are permitted to explore, both if us will be. I agree, that's not something I would be able to sustain long-term. This is definitely new territory! =)
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