Lots of confusion
First let me say what a wonderful surprise it was to see such a supportive forum as the 2nd (!) result on Google for "polyamory". I came here after typing it into Google in desperation looking for some place to get advice.
I'll try to be brief but I do have a tendency to ramble a bit.
My partner and I have been dating seriously for five years. We moved in together during college about a year ago. We are very very open and communicative, and you can bet anything I post here we've already talked about. She is studying sexuality in college (I've just finished an Engineering degree).
Anyway, we are exploring polyamory after a long while of humming and hawing about it. My partner has long known that she was bisexual (and most likely leaning more towards the female persuasion). I'm male, and she has said many times that though she is feels sexual desire toward me, and that she loves me, she would likely be with a woman if she were not involved with me.
So recently she has started seeing another woman (a friend from school). Now I suppose I'm faced with the reality of being in a poly relationship, and a lot of feelings I didn't know were lurking inside me have started to surface.
I'm concerned that she is seeking a partner outside of our relationship to be sexual with as a surrogate for sexuality in our relationship. What I mean is that she isn't really into men all that much, and we have sex infrequently. She still loves me and is emotionally committed to me, but I don't know how I could be in a sexless relationship. Sexuality is hugely important to me as an expression of caring and emotion.
Additionally I have always suffered from a crippling lack of self-confidence. My partner has told me that I am attractive, but I am unable to see myself as being sexy at all. She says I'm funny and charismatic but I just feel awkward and socially inept. I have not had very many close relationships with women in my life due to this fear and self-loathing. I have recently seen a counselor and I am aware that I am suffering from depression.
Consequently there is a huge confidence problem I'm trying to get over since she is seeing another person. I am scared that I won't be able to find anybody to love me or be sexual with, while she is out having fun and having sex! I suppose this is a kind of jealousy, but I don't know how I can get over this. I think I just need to get myself out there and meet people and what have you.
There is just so much going on it's overwhelming. I am faced with all sorts of obstacles and I can't see a clear path through them all. Lately I have had a resurgence in suicidal fantasies (I say fantasies because I have no actual desire or plan to go through with them, I just imagine how blissful it would be to not have to deal with all of this). I am in no danger of hurting myself but I am not able to stop these thoughts and they feel awful.
I don't want to tell my partner to stop seeing her new lover, partially because then I'd just be plunging my head in the sand and ignoring these underlying problems. Also I am scared of her resenting me for preventing her sexual exploration. I am very concerned that perhaps I am monogamous and heart and that I'm trying to fit a round peg into a square hole, so to speak (or whatever the saying is). I don't want to leave her because I really do love her deeply. I just don't know what to do!
I see now that this has turned into a ramble, so I'm sorry. I suppose I just need to know that I'm not alone in this, and that I'll make it through.
Wow. I feel for you, man.
It sounds like there are two major problems you face.
1. Low self-esteem and possible depression. In my experience those two demons go hand-in-hand. They are crippling for someone facing almost any kind of problem, not just relationship issues.
It's great that you're seeing a counselor or therapist. I hope it's someone you fit with, and who will give you powerful insights. A good therapist is wonderful; a poor one is a good reason to look for someone better. ;)
I would guess it will be necessary for you to resolve the depression to some degree -- it's not simple -- and also work on your self-esteem even while you tackle the other issues. I'll write a bit more on both those things later if possible; I've struggled with both.
2. Your relationship and sexuality. Here's some good news: I read that you and your GF are honest and open with each other. That is terrific! And I also feel self-awareness and integrity in your writing. Those things are of incredible value to you, and you already have them.
One thing that is really helpful would be to meet and, if possible, become friends with your GF's lover. That willingness on the part of a new lover to make friends seems to be one of the tests of polyamorous relationships: if a new partner is unwilling to meet the existing partner(s) then something may be going wrong. On the other hand, if she is willing to meet you and become friendly (maybe she already has?) then that makes everything stronger -- for instance, you and your GF will begin to share mutual-friend talk about her. "Oh, she did the silliest thing today...we laughed and laughed, and I wish you had been with us to see it..." That kind of sharing. Incredibly powerful relationship glue.
Anyway. I'd like to write more but I have to go earn a living. Take care!
Thanks for the thoughtful reply, EugenePoet. That's a very good point about trying to become friends with my GF's lover, it might relieve some tension and anxiety I have about the whole affair (no pun intended).
As to the counselor situation I am faced with the need to find a new one since my current counselor works for the university I've just graduated from. My counseling experience has been very positive so far, though, so that's encouraging. Honestly sometimes I think everybody should see a counselor, it's so comforting to have somebody listen to your problems and offer non-judgemental advice.
Just surfing this forum and reading some people's stories has made me feel much better and more solid about this whole thing. It's a process, I can't expect to wake up tomorrow and undo a lifetime's worth of social programming for monogamy. One step at a time.
Wow...I feel like I could be reading my biography there. I have been at every point in your story at varying points in my life. Sometimes all together. I won't go into my story too much but I can explain how I dealt with your two challenges.
First off there are some key points to remember when learning to like yourself. You need to figure out what is good. Write out a list of all the things you like, if you are having a hard time because you are in a loathing moment, have people you trust do it for you (in my case I couldn't use my parents, I could never take their compliments seriously) Build confidence around the things you like about yourself.
The reason why I mention this part is because confidence is an amazing attractant and will do a better job of having you meet people (including women) than ANYTHING. Don't be cocky, of course, but confidence has a power behind it that makes everyone around you happy.
I personally had to learn to like woman. This for me was huge as I was that arrogant ass that used to believe I couldn't be friends with women I was sexually attracted to (come on I was a horny 17 to 22 year old :p). This was a good transition for me and has allowed me to build this last part. I have a lot of female friends. Of all types. I listen and talk to them which does a lot to help my self esteem. Women flirt with friends, guys don't get this . That flirting builds confidence. While 99% of the time it is innocent, it helps. Again more confidence, or continued confidence and you might start to see your whole self differently, the people around you will.
The other benefit is the spy behind the wall effect. You will learn what women like and dont like. They are not a giant mystery, not anymore so than men are. The mystery is simple, everyone is different, has different needs, wants and communication skills. By interacting you learn more and more about what you want, and what the girls you might like don't want the guy to act like.
This one I cannot speak to for you. But I can explain how I dealt with a similar situation. I have not dated a straight vanilla women in 13ish years. I did this to myself btw. My first gf getting out of my common-law marriage was homo-flexible (a new term for me actually but it fits). She had almost exclusively had sex with women and relationships with men, but for some reason something clicked with me on both sides. Sexually it was outstanding and constant, however we were only together 3 months. If it had continued I knew, while we loved each other, the sex couldn’t continue like that. That and it was becoming painful. In the end we made a decision that it was better if we continued the relationship until she figured out what she was. I always felt I was in the relationship to help her figure herself out.
I helped her find her first real gf (it was actually a girl I was trying to date at the same time who I knew was bi, later to find out she really hated men…)…their relationship exploded and I was the odd man out. I obviously didn’t know about poly, and am not sure I was mature enough to handle poly at that point in my life.
Your situation is different, you know about poly, are mature enough to recognize it and have discussed it with your partner. You understand your partners sexuality well. You have a serious leg up on making this work :)
In my current situation, my wife is bi. She has always discussed a need to be with women. All I can do to fulfill that need, is let her fill her need. I surely can’t do it, I am not even a femme guy so roleplay wouldn’t work (unless someone knows a 6’5 275 ex football playing lesbian that I can emulate :p?) I am satisfied in her happiness of being with a women knowing it has nothing to do with my manhood. Up until now it has always included me, but I am not naďve enough to believe at some point, she will find a woman who doesn’t want a man in the room…
Best of luck, it’s a hard arduous battle. Low-Self esteem is a killer that most people don’t even seriously consider.
A minor annoyance that I've had is that earlier on in my relationship with my GF we figured out that we wanted to try a threesome with another man. I was turned on by the idea, and so was she at the time, so I asked my best friend to help us out and he agreed. Now I have a fantasy of a threesome with two women (I think many men share this fantasy), but my partner has been shy about asking her friends or being proactive about it. I suppose it's irritating because it feels like she isn't considering my desires the same way I considered hers.
And ALSO just to throw in another twist I have recently started to question my own sexual orientation. I always assumed that I was totally straight---I've never had any homosexual experiences or pursued them in any way. But recently I have come to terms with the idea that I am at least partially bisexual. I don't know what to do about this either. It feels bad to just sit on these impulses and not act, but I am so nervous about even coming out to my gay friends!
Life! So complicated!
I like to approach this problem the same way I would approach being single and being envious of my friends having girlfriends. It's more important to take care of yourself rather than worrying about what she has that you don't have. People are attracted to confidence. Women are like wolves in that they smell your fear and desire. If they sense that you "need" them, they're walk away... or worse, figure out how to use that to manipulate you.
It was #2 on my google too.
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