First experience a difficult one!
So I have officially had my first ever poly relationship, which as it turns out is also my first relationship, period. It ended about 2 weeks ago and it was, shall we say, a learning experience!
It all started after a mutual friend of both me and my roommate had gone through a rough breakup with a boyfriend who she had found out had cheated on her. He had generally treated her in an asshole-ish fashion (I'll spare the details of all the things he did, but suffice to say he was getting flak about it from even his own friends). The two of us shared a mutual hobby, and met as part of a group to practice twice a week. She is overweight, and on the older side, and she would always talk about how men never dated her. I thought she was cute, and I didn't see any good reason not to date her. One evening she was having a particularly rough night and we stayed late after the crowd had dwindled down and I remember giving her an epic hug that lasted for a long time. And then I decided to kiss her. We went on our first date later that same week.
Then about a week or so later, she needed help moving. She had talked for some time about how much it was stressing her out. She said lately every time she walked into her old apartment it just drained her of energy (we later found out why: There was hidden mold all over the place, which we discovered after moving the furniture). I went over to her place to help her and ended up sleeping with her, then having sex with her Saturday morning. Then that evening she had an obligation where she had agreed to be at a get-together about an hour's drive north, and the two of us went together and ended up staying rather late. Saturday we pretty much didn't accomplish anything in the way of moving.
The next day, I decided I really needed to help her get out of that place, and I asked my roommate if he could also come help. We had a hell of a time trying to find a rental truck, as it was Easter Sunday, but if she could be out within the next week, she wouldn't be charged extra for the old apartment. We both pulled an all-nighter helping her move. My roommate knew massage, so we took occasional 15 minute massage breaks where we would take turns massaging each other, and he taught me how to do massage on her. I got the sense when he was massaging her that it was more than just friendly! To give some context, both my roommate and I have pursued poly relationships before. We found out when we became roommates that we had actually dated the same woman at different times! (She and her husband are openly poly) I had talked with my roommate before about how I thought I was poly.
Later that week she had another catastrophe--we had installed the washing machine in the new apartment wrong and when she started it for the first time it flooded about half of her carpet. Once again, both my roommate and I came over to rescue her. He rented a wet-vac from a tool supply place and I bought some fans and a dehumidifier to pull the moisture out of the air. At about 3 in the morning all 3 of us crawled into her bed (with her in the middle) and we slept. We were too tired to do much of anything else. I remember at one point my roommate looked over at me and asked "What is this?" and I said "I don't know".
That morning, as I was leaving for work (I worked the earliest of all 3 of us that day), he was getting rather frisky with her in bed and I could see where it was going. She jokingly said to me "Help! A is distracting me!" and I said "Nothing I can do about that. That's on him." Sure enough, he told me later that day that he had ended up having sex with her. I then had an answer to his question. I left him a note one morning telling him "This is a polyamorous relationship. Let's talk." None of the 3 of us had ever been in a polyamorous relationship before.
At first the relationship went rather well. She would sleep with me some of the time and him some of the time, and once we actually ended up in a three-some together. I was happy. Life was good. I had my first girlfriend.
Then one day we were talking and she announced that she had been talking with him and had figured out that he was the primary (implying I was the secondary). I felt uncomfortable with this, but didn't say anything about it. She started seeing him a lot more often (almost every night), and me maybe once a week. Then she told me that one of the rules was that when she was over at our place, his bedroom was "home base". I didn't ask her to go into detail about what that meant (bad idea!), but I assumed that meant I couldn't have sex with her in my own bedroom when she was over at my place. No sex with my own girlfriend, in my own bed! The thought of it ate me up inside. When she was here, she was here for him, not me. We live about 35 minutes apart, and it was difficult to make it up there on weekdays. I felt angry and frustrated.
When I brought up my concern about not getting enough time with her, she created an online calendar where we could schedule time with her. It helped a bit, but I often found that I would still be spending time with her without having any sex. We spent an entire weekend up at my friend's cabin, where there was no privacy and no opportunity for sex. I spent one night where I went on a date with her and then we ended up shopping until the wee hours of the morning. She seemed to be in an indecisive state and it annoyed me to no end. I felt like I didn't know what I needed to do to prod her to keep moving, and I had work the next day and couldn't stay up late. We ended up doing nothing but sleeping that evening, as I was exhausted. Three weeks went by where we had no sex at all, and it seemed like he was sleeping with her almost every night (and in my head at least, they were having sex every night). My frustration continued to build.
Then came the festival. It was a regional event called a "burn" that was meant to be like a miniature version of the Burning Man festival. All 3 of us were planning on going. It is no secret that there is a lot of drug use at these things, and she is not comfortable with it. In fact, recreational drug use (with the exception of pot) is one of her deal breakers. Both my roommate and I have experimented with such things before though, and are curious about them, so she made both of us promise that if we wanted to do anything besides pot, she wouldn't outright forbid it, but there would be a discussion with her beforehand where we would detail exactly who we were getting it from, how much of it we wanted to do, who their source was, how we knew it could be trusted, who was going to look after us in case anything went wrong, etc, and then if we decided it was OK then it would be OK, but only then.
Well, I was already feeling frustrated with the relationship and like my roommate (her primary) was getting all of the attention. Because of the amount of luggage we had we needed to take two cars. She went with him, and the plan was to meet up after we had all settled into camp. Her theme camp wouldn't let strangers join until they had gotten to know them, so I camped somewhere else.
While I didn't intend to break the promise and didn't think I would, someone tempted me with an offer the first night of the burn and after saying no a couple of times, they finally convinced me to try a little bit. I asked how long the effect would last, and he said "with this one, only 15 minutes". I thought to myself "She's probably with him right now. They're probably going to go off and disappear somewhere the entire event and I won't even see her, so it's not like it's even going to matter anyways." So I gave in to the temptation.
The next time I saw her she must have noticed the guilty look on my face, because she asked if I had anything to confess, and so I came clean to her about it. She was very, very angry with me! I didn't take anything else for the rest of the weekend, but it was too late. The promise had been broken. We had a talk over the phone where she expressed how she felt and it was very painful for me to hear. She said she still hadn't made up her mind what she wanted to do. Then about a week later we had a very long (several hours) discussion in person where she told me she felt betrayed--as badly as if I had cheated on her. I made a promise to her, she even gave me an out (I could come talk to her if I really wanted to try something), and then I still went ahead and did what I wanted to anyways. She said I made her feel like she was worthless to me. I tried to tell her about how I planned to be different in the future, how I regretted it and wouldn't do it again, but she wouldn't believe any of it. She asked me how she could ever trust me again, and what would I say if some other guy had done that to her, and I said "Well, I'd probably tell you that if he did it once, he'll do it again." I had no good answer for her. I wanted to change, but was starting to doubt even myself and whether I could.
Finally after all that, she asked me what I wanted to do. I didn't know. We talked some more (or rather she talked and I tried to listen; tried to understand where she was coming from). She asked again what I thought we should do, and I realized she wasn't going to break up with me, she was going to make me be the one to do it. I thought about how difficult it would be to earn back her trust after I had broken it, and how even then I would only be winning back a relationship where I was the secondary, not the primary, and I would go back to all the frustration all over again and then some, and in that moment I decided it just wasn't worth the effort. So I said "I think we should break up" and that was the end of the relationship. We had been boyfriend and girlfriend for about 2 and a half months.
I'm going to be thinking about this experience and what went wrong for a while. I'm not normally one to break promises--it's been years since I can remember ever doing that, so I am disappointed in myself. I also want to understand why I didn't communicate. Why did I not tell her I was bothered about being the secondary, about feeling like when my roommate was around I became an afterthought? About how I felt like the rules were unfair and slanted in my roommate's favor. I think maybe I was so desperate to be in any relationship, having been single my whole life, that I just accepted it. I have a lot to think about.
I have to be honest, she doesn't sound like the most considerate person herself. For example, you and she started a sexual relationship, and then she got into one with your room mate, without any discussion about it beforehand. It's always a good idea to talk about sexual partners, since it affects everyone.
I didn't notice any mention of being "in a relationship" before the room mate sex incident, so I'm not 100% clear at what point you established that. If it was before she slept with your room mate, then I believe she could have handled that better.
You talk about "rules" with regard to their relationship. I'm curious whose rules these are? Not the nicest room mate you have there, if he's putting restrictions on her that affect you so much. And if they're her "rules" then why didn't she just come out and say it's what she prefers? Communication.
From the overall tone of your post, I get the sense that you struggle with self-esteem. By the sounds of it, she's not much of a catch, and you just dated her because you "didn't see any good reason not to date her."
The drug thing I can relate to. My girlfriend is totally anti-drugs. I just smoke a bit of pot now and then, and I did tell her that on our first date. She acknowledged it and then promptly pretended I'd never mentioned it (out of sight, out of mind). A month or two later, I had invited her to this folk music festival without thinking about the fact that there'd be pot all over. As soon as I realized it, I told her about that, and said that I would probably have some if it was offered. She wasn't impressed and practically broke up with me over it, until her husband reminded her that the chances of finding a polyamorous pansexual girl in our city who doesn't smoke at least a little pot is pretty much zero. He totally went to bat for me, and it saved our relationship. You see, I've got a lot of self-confidence. I'm not one to let other people tell me how I have to behave, especially if they're asking me to change. It's not that I'm so attached to pot that it's more important than relationships... it's the principle behind asking someone to change for them, when it's not something you want to change for yourself. In the end, my girlfriend liked the fact that I live my life for me and by my own rules, and not what other people dictate I must do.
My point in all that is that I don't think I would have made that promise in the first place. You were at a festival where stuff like that was all over the place, and clearly you weren't able to go find her every time something came up. She couldn't have understood that since she doesn't do drugs. Now, it's totally fine for her to have her principles: in the same way that she shouldn't make you change, nor should you make her. But if she's that hard & fast about it, and you're not down with that, then it's a sign of incompatibility.
Just from your description alone, I can see why men never dated her. She's inconsiderate of people's feelings, makes them change for her own purposes, and she spends hobby meetings sharing her sob stories. She forced you to make a promise that wasn't reasonable given the circumstances and then overreacted to your indiscretion. Finally she manipulated you into ending the relationship when you didn't want to, because she didn't have the bones to do it herself. It honestly doesn't surprise me that she would attract the kind of guy her ex was, it's that whole "unhealthy people seek unhealthy people" thing.
My advice for you is to spend some time on yourself. Possibly learn to develop your self-esteem and self-love. When you start dating again, date women that you "can see a reason" to date, and not just "no reason not to."
Thanks for the feedback! Several of my friends have been saying the exact same things to me. I do have self-esteem issues. I have a hard time standing up for myself. Always have. But this is a part of myself I need to learn how to change, because this isn't the worst possible outcome from it. I've read stories on here of how people let someone manipulate them into breaking all contact with someone who was a valuable friend to them. Relationships were damaged with third parties who had done nothing wrong. If I don't change, this is what the future may hold for me, so I need to learn this self-esteem thing.
I also need to figure out why I seem to be attracted to people who seem lonely and broken. Maybe a part of me feels like I can "fix" them; like I can take someone who the universe has given a raw deal to and make things better for them. I'd probably make a good rescue worker for that reason, but as a way of approaching relationships, it's probably not healthy. I think I also feel like I can relate. I spent most of my life being single and lonely, believing no woman would ever want me. I know now that's not true, but I think some of those old ways of thinking still affect me.
Interesting story, sorry it turned out so difficult for you but as you said, much to think about and learn from.
Promises and rules mean different things to different people... My take, for what it's worth: Rules that are fairly negotiated are easier to keep. Sometimes a rule that's been broken shows that it wasn't a workable rule to begin with. Sometimes we put rules on other people that we may not really need in the end (because we don't know ourselves totally). What we do need, usually, is something more vague ("I need to feel safe" "I need to feel like you respect me") rather than needing to you to specifically do certain things. For me, I have both broken rules and had them broken on me, and when the relationship is a good one we can communicate through it.
I guess it depends on whether you can trust another person, recognise that they're wanting to be good to you, wanting to be trustworthy and trying their best. I don't expect perfection from myself or others.
Wish you easier experiences in the future :)
i went to a rave tonight and partied all night long. :) Ran into some old friends I haven't seen in a while. I needed that!
I asked her, if that was really the case, why would I tell her about it immediately? Wouldn't I try to hide it from her if I was only worried about getting caught? She said I knew that if I had tried to hide it from her and she ever found out about it, I knew there would be hell to pay and so that's why I couldn't lie to her. Even our last conversation was frustrating! Her version of the story was the only one she would accept--the version where I wasn't at all sorry for what I did, acted like a child, just couldn't resist trying whatever substance was offered to me, and obviously didn't value her. If I had to sum up the relationship in one word, that's how I would describe it: frustrating!
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