Is this poly...
I am a 40 yr old woman, in a relationship of 22 years, married 18 of those to my first love, boyfriend, and only sex partner.
I am very comfortable in a monogamous relationship. We have alot of fun together, we have great sex on a regular basis. My husband is my best friend, favorite playmate, and an amazing life partner.
However- over the years. He has expressed to me he is not wired for monogamy. That he has a need for other relationships. Not to replace me. Not to seek to replace me. But to have other experiences and to feel alive.
In the past I always shut that down, like it's ok babe- you are just going through a phase, or he will mature one day and this will go away. However, I am finally wrapping my brain around the idea that this may actually be who he is. Which has led me to this forum.
In the past after he has had this conversation with me- and I say no- he has had affairs. I found out. He is sad and tells me he has tried to get me to understand this aspect of him. That he would prefer to be honest with me. That he would like for me to accept this about him. And that these relationships somehow recharge him and then allow him to feel happy and fulfilled and want to be with me.
I love my husband dearly. I do want to see him happy and fulfilled.
A month ago- on my 40th b-day these talks of his alignment- of being able to be in more than one relationship simultaneously came up again. He says it does not make him love me less. Does not take away from how he feels for me. That the love we have is so huge and wonderful and warm and beautiful and he would never want to lose it.
I asked him if there was someone else. Point blank. He said no. Finally he came clean a week ago. He met someone out of town at work. He is really "into her". "Can't see it really ever lasting longterm." "He just wants to explore it."
Fast forward to today. My husband is across the country visiting this gf. He booked the tickets initially with the cover of- "going to a class reunion" but came clean a week ago with the revelation of this girlfriend. He genuinely seems conflicted over his interest/feelings for this girl and the fact that this is hurting me alot. He told me he would not go if I didn't want him too. I told him I didn't want him to go but I couldn't make that choice for him. He needs to be true to himself. He has told the other woman he loves me. Which seems to be causing some confusion/chaos in that space.
Sorry for the ramble. But I guess my position is this. I need to be in a relationship that is healthy. I don't want to worry about my physical health. I would like to be in a secure drama free zone.
He has promised me he will do what ever it takes to fix himself- marriage counseling etc when he comes back- but that he needs some alternatives. He has told me that while me knowing is less comfortable for him, he prefers honesty and hopes we can find a way to figure this out and not lose each other. He wants us to spend more time together enjoying each other and working to put time in our relationship- to try and offset any pain I am feeling from the other relationship- and to make us stronger and happier.
So many questions- but to start- does it sound like he is a confused coming out of the closet poly (for lack of a better analogy) -or just a downright mean serial cheater?
And if he is a poly- I will need to be able to accept that and embrace that part of him and still be true to myself if we are to go on. Where do we even begin?
Welcome, I think you came to the right place to find some answers.
Honestly, this wouldn't be the way I define poly. He cheated on you several times, he pressures you to be OK with a purely sexual encounter (as he himself admitted that nothing will come out of this) while perfectly knowing that you are hurting and he isn't able to slow down, help you heal and rebuild the trust he misused and broke so many times? Sorry, definitely not poly in my book.
If he really wants to handles things openly from now on, he should stuff away all those other interests and wait for you to wrap your mind around this stuff. Slowly. Not saying: "Hey, I am poly, ah btw, there is this woman I want to lay, I told you I will be there for other reasons, but, as you now know that I am poly, that's what I really intended to do. That's alright, isn't it?" So wrong in so many ways ...
In your shoes I would demand of him to stop this mess and start concentrating on your relationship and your hurt. Because you have every right to feel hurt after this. He needs to do a lot of healing to make up for those times he breached your trust.
Welcome to the forum - thanks for coming here. I tend to find that folks here are quite realistic about what it is and what it isn't.
In my opinion, it may be that he wants to be poly - he is certainly saying the right things to indicate that he wants to be poly. However, what he is doing and has done isn't poly, it's cheating on your and your relationship.
If you were totally ok with this, and went along with it, then it is possible for this to turn into a poly relationship, but there has to be a lot of mending that goes on because of all the betrayal and lying. That doesn't mean that it's not possible, it just takes a ton of work.
The bottom line - as I understand your relationship, you both entered into this on a monogamous basis, and probably made promises and marriages vows along those lines (you know, the "forsaking all others" part). He, single-handedly, decided to change that, and expected you to just go along with it. When you didn't, he went ahead and lied and cheated to get what he wanted anyway. That is hurtful and disrespectful.
In order for you to stand a chance to make this work, the cheating and lying and concealment has to stop. He needs to regain your trust and the solidity of your relationship. Without that, I can't see anything being possible between the two of you, poly or not.
I'm not sure from your post if he is polyamorous or just polysexual.
Either way, while I can relate to his feeling trapped when you didn't want to open the relationship, I don't condone the cheating.
Regardless, it seems to me that the situation for you is that he is not going to stop seeing other women. He hasn't been able to, and I doubt he is going to start. If you want to stay with him rather than break up, then I guess opening the relationship so that you know what he's doing, who he's doing it with, and you place your own terms and boundaries, etc... that could help.
But if what he likes is the thrill of cheating, he'll break your boundaries anyways.
Marriage counselling sounds like an option if you want to find an outlet that both of you can live with. If it ends up with him doing whatever he wants and you resigning yourself to letting him, I don't see you being happy that way, and I'm not sure how it's different from cheating except he's also rubbing your nose in it.
Well, no, right now this isn't poly. But it could be. And if it evolves into a healthy poly relationship depends a great deal on you.
I have a great deal of sympathy for you and your husband. Yes, he has cheated repeatedly over the years. That is so hurtful. You have every right to be angry and distrustful.
But. And this is going to be hard to hear. He has apparently tried to tell you the truth about himself for many years. A truth that you did not or could not hear. One you denied and shut down. I understand why. Monogamy seems no normal, natural - and of course you have had no trouble being monogamous. It comes easily to you. And so it should be for everyone - not being monogamous is a sign of immaturity or lack of will power, and so on. Those are very common ideas in our culture.
Please understand that I am not condoning his cheating. That is not acceptable in any relationship that has a foundation of honesty. He should have tried harder to get you to understand. He should not have had affairs.
So now what? It is good that you came here, seeking information. You want to understand now. This is a hopeful for your marriage. However, now you have the difficult decision to decide if you can be in a poly or open relationship.
(The commonly accepted difference is that poly indicates that an non-monogamous person wants multiple loving relationships - including sex - while open indicates that the people in the open marriage are open to their partners having outside sexual partners - sometimes these evolve into relationships and thus poly but often not. There is also an overlap with swinging and open too. There is lots of conversations on the forum about the differences and overlap between poly, open and swinging.)
It is possible to have healthy, loving, honest relationships where one partner is poly and the other is monogamous. (Search on the forum for the tag 'mono/poly'.) It's possible but it's hard. Not everyone is suited for it, nor should they be expected to be. Take your time, learn and listen to your husband and your own heart. Ask questions, think about what you really want and what you can live with.
Your post reads that other than cheating, your life with your husband is good, fulfilling and loving. That is a strong foundation to build from, if you choose. It sounds like he wants to be honest with you, that he wants to stop cheating, and have open relationships with others, with your consent and knowledge. That is also, on the face of it, promising. It is possible to transition from cheating to honest, poly relationships. But again it is very hard and requires time and much long slogging to rebuild trust.
Cheating is obviously a moral failing. But it is also a pattern of behavior. Your husband might find it difficult to move away from those patterns - of not telling you the whole truth, of shading the information he tells, of outright lying and covering up what he is doing. And he is used to not being heard or accepted when he tells the truth. (Again, this is not to blame you or condoning his actions but it is a reality of the situation.) Honest relationships are hard and take work and can cause pain, unease, discomfort while getitng to a place of honesty and trust. It will be likely be easier in the short term for your husband to fall back on this usual ways of not telling you the truth when it's hard or when you are not hearing it right away. He is also going to have to do some serious shifting of entire behaviors and thoughts in order to make a honest, ethical poly relationship work with you.
Finally, marriage counseling is a good idea. However, I suggest you look for a counselor who is either poly friendly, open to the idea of ethical non-monogamy, or works with 'alternative' populations like LBGT folks. A therapist who is open to ethical non-monogamy will be better able to 'hear' your husband and maybe do some 'translating' back to you.
You have my best wishes.
Thank you all for your thoughts.
It seems I will have to wrestle with the question could I be happy, satisfied, content in a mono/poly relationship. My gut answer right now is maybe- and probably only with my current husband. We have so much history and a good friendship- I would weigh it to save the good and possibly make it stronger.
In a new relationship- it seems there are enough mono people out there to pick from it would just to be easier for an apple to date an apple.
But first- before I can even ponder the question- my husband and I need to deal with the betrayal and dishonesty and hurt he has sown in our relationship.
There is no way to consider and move forward into a realm that takes such care, trust, love and negotiation to care for both partners- if there is not honesty and respect to navigate the path together and honor each others boundaries.
I cannot completely understand the poly concept- as it is definitely not inherent to me. However- I do appreciate the honest and loving ways in which you try and conduct your relationships, and the courage and openness with which you seek your authenticity. That space definitely seems to be an honorable one.
KUDOS! Your instincts are right on!
I can't answer if the apple that is you can be ok being with his orange and live in apple-orange harmony of some kind and what exactly that IS. Only you guys can solve that one. Asking yourselves things like...
If the goal is to stay strong together, then this is facing "tug-of-change" with grace. Not "tug-of-war."
Conflict doesn't have to be war. It's just two people not in agreement and an opportunity for better understanding and personal growth. But BOTH people have to agree that it is so. Can't grow with someone who wants to make it be war. What do you want it to be? How about him?
I'm not nuts about the cheating. It would have been better to come clean and go forward clean because then whatever growing pains of tug-of-change transition there may be? They were of BOTH your choosing. And you support each other through it.
But if you can forgive that and move it forward... then he has to be willing to move it forward too and keep it real.
We were just having this conversation today at mini golf. DH has long known I'm poly/overlappy. He isn't or hasn't been -- he's more mono in history. But he's open in mind. We're closed right now and we aren't anywhere close to opening up. But we talk a LOT about what we wish for, how we want to treat each other, how we want to be treated, if it has to end, how we want it to end. We certainly don't WANT end, but when you unfold a new thing and attempt new personal growth... you have to take on all possibilities. Keepin' it real means accepting you might grow together in one direction or you might grow apart.
Sharing emotional intimacy like that makes me feel loved, safe, secure, and if/when it comes to pass we've got some ground rules AND he's had plenty of mental time to adjust. It's not just SPRUNG on him.
I would begin by talking to your husband and making sure you are both on the same page in order to move forward. What is the mission?
Get the broad stroke mission down. Then set another time to talk details for how to execute and who has what responsibilities/rights/expectations laid out. Start talking and defining what all that means for YOU guys. Are you down with one meta? Two? What's the comfort line there? Safe sex practices? Enduring the dating phase before stability phase? IS the goal a stable other partner? Or a series of flings? What animal do we have here exactly?
I don't know where you will take it or where it will unfold, but the cheating thing has to stop. And he's got to own that before you can strengthen your OWN relationship foundation before changing the dynamic by adding other loves and changing the configuration of your present relationship structure.
Strengthen you guys rship first before tacking on more variables.
"poly" (air quotes!) fuckery is NOT polyamory.
I'd suggest you explore this forum and websites like this and others together. Do some reading of books and other resources. TOGETHER.
So I think one of my challenges with poly is this.
I am generally an independent person, and love diverse things, and I do love my freedom and a person who holds me tightly when I'm near and let's me go freely as I please.
However- I am intense in my relationships. I form deep intimate friendships. And when it comes to my lover- I can be with them 24-7. Love physical touch and sex. Deep conversations. And just spending time.
The thought that I have to build time into my life for them to be with someone else frustrates me. I don't mind when my significant other does things with friends- until it seems that their free time is spent more often with friends than me. And I mean going out doing something time.
With my husband- we have a home and a family. 3 children. 17,13, and 9. This next year will be very busy with 2 in HS- one a senior and trying to manage their activities. Sometimes I feel little pangs of jealousy when my husband spends time with our own kids and I am wanting to be with him. Or make love to him. Or go out with him. I know that sounds crazy. And I push down the pang because it is OUR children that we made. And they need him. And they enrich him. (Our kids are awesome) But I still feel it sometimes. And often much of our time together is just home and family time.
So to imagine him having a relationship with another right now is hard. She would get more of like a quality time experience every time they are together.
While I would be at home washing his underwear and feeding our children.
Does this make sense? It is like I am performing some kind of altruistic act of sacrifice for some person I don't know, have no ties to.
I own this feeling- and know it is not a pretty one. But it is real for me.
Somehow I feel that his time with me would be majority family time.
And the little time we have now to fit in quality time or dates- would now be split with someone else. And our resources we have built together would be used for her pleasure.
That doesn't sound very exciting to me.
Because Daddy will think of all the kid needs and whisk them off for good times, and then maybe not be so great at thinking of all the Wife needs and whisk me off for a good time WITHOUT the child. There are times when I want a break from spouse and kid and times I want a break from kid WITH SPOUSE.
Love may be infinite bit TIME is not. You are talking about polymath.
8 hrs to sleep, 8 hrs at work, 3 hrs to make and eat meals, leaves 5 hrs in a day.
Got wife, you, and 3 kids?
The polymath there puts it at
2^5 - 5-1 = 26 diff rships to balance.
Add one new Significant Other?
2^6 - 6-1 = 57 different rships. Tada! It's GEOMETRIC, not additive.
You are right to worry about where the hours in the day are going to GO to accommodate all these rship points and people's wants and needs if a new person is added to the mix. Never mind that it is a mix of kids and parents and OSO.
Think that if kid gets major sick that's not gonna affect all the other rships in the orbit in terms of time management? Think again!
Sounds like Quality Time if one of your love languages and you are going to have to have the need met well in order to be willing to play ball in opening up to the idea of CHANGING your current configuration to include another person and working in a NEW configuration as a team of some sort. (Sounds like a V to me with him as hinge right now but I dunno. Is that what y'all seek?)
So... how about bringing some more of that quality time with wife on NOW? Before anything changes? And why isn't it happening ALREADY? Cuz bringing on more variables (more needs to meet! More wants to consider!) isn't gonna make THAT issue just go all happy all by magic. If anything, it magnifies it, bring it out into the light all the harder that it is a sore spot.
You do not go poly just because you are "wired for poly and want to explore, whee!"
You are ALREADY poly, and everyone has a polysaturation point. And if you ain't caring for the one(s) you already got WELL, you ain't got no biz flopping more on. Plain and simple. Thpppt.
(It's like people who are rocky who try to make a baby to "bring them closer together" and that blows up in their faces when they realize a newborn has many, many wants/needs that need meeting. Hello! )
And are we gonna be OUT of the poly closet or what? When's that talk gonna happen?
And shoot, if she works out why can't SHE take a turn babysitting while y'all go off on a wooing date? Where is YOUR rship's dating line item in the family budget?
She gonna come over to help him put family time in washing cars, laundry, cooking, and whatnot while you take off for things for YOU. You may not be dating, but maybe you want to get on the knitathon competition! Is he gonna have to go to her place to hang pictures? While your own home is needing fish tank cleaned out? What's the reality check on homecare/free time?
This is WHY you sit down to map out hopes, wants, needs, expectations, responsibilities, dealbreakers before you jump in. How's the TEAM gonna play here? If it's a "V" with him as the hinge or some other configuration? Figure out the config before you date cuz that ups dating success then.
And take OSO's (Other Significant Other's) wants and needs on board. You and DH can come up with your rough draft of needs/wants to start... then sooner or later OSO has to take a gander at that and get the lay of the land here and pony up what THEY want/seek and be a part of the the conversation.
Negotiate if it will be a runner in the date-y time or what. And if so? Come back time and again to check in to make sure it's all still working for all parties on the new Team.
You want to basically know "Hey, DH. What's the return on my investment here gonna BE?"
What's he gonna pony up here? In service to the relationship he ALREADY has with you? And is he holding it up well NOW before anything changes? Or does this need work FIRST?
What are you willing to pony up? In service to the relationship you ALREADY have with him?
And what are you each expecting the OSO to pony up? And what will you pony up toward meeting their wants/needs? What are their rights here? (You may not go with a primary/secondary model in your talks, but the OSO is a person. Not a THING. So they need air time. It's worth a read.)
But again -- kudos to you! Your instincts are right on and you sound like you are asking yourself and thinking out things and trying to keep it real here and move it forward in your own mind so you can move in forward into some serious conversation with DH so then it can move forward to... whatever you guys decide it will become after that.
You sound like you are processing and trying to do your homework. Hope he's doing some too.
Ok- so one more question. Say my husband and I had actually discussed this first. No dishonesty. And had decided together to give this a try...
Would it be recommended that the first thing he do is go away for a 4 day weekend with a new lover?? Wouldn't dinner, a date, and MAYBE sex be a much more reasonable foray?
I am sitting here tonite, knowing he is laying in bed with her, sleeping with her all night. Waking to see her in the morning and probably make love.
That seems so amazingly intimate so fast and just completely floors me. I could see being like that with a lover- but it is hard for me to understand how someone could do that with so little thought for my feelings. This is killer. And he doesn't even come home until Monday.
Ah sigh. This relationship of ours is not in a good place. The emotional bank is empty. I guess this will depend much on what he is willing to do to heal these hurts. And if it will be an offer I can accept.
|All times are GMT. The time now is 04:27 AM.|