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-   -   missing monogamy, wondering how to proceed (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25437)

turtleHeart 07-08-2012 06:52 AM

missing monogamy, wondering how to proceed
I think I prefer the closeness of being monogamous with one person (and having them be monogamous with me), but am seeing right now if the chance to have access to the divided energy of multiple people can be enough for me (I'd like to find a way for it to work out for my wife to stay with her boyfriend). I don't feel bothered by the idea of sharing someone physically, but the emotional/commitment part still gets to me even after a year+. Maybe it's because I don't seem to feel compersion, even though I get along with my metamours.

I've tried dating other people but have yet to feel like it's worthwhile in comparison to spending time with friends and my wife. Ginko (my wife) has put in a massive amount of effort to help me be happy with things as they are, and she's willing to stop dating her boyfriend J if that's what I need, but she loves him, he loves her, and I'd feel like crap to require that. J is a good guy, he goes to a lot of effort to get along with me and help me be okay with things, but I'm just not sure I ever will be, and wonder if I'm wasting everyone's time to have it go on as it is any longer.

Ginko's boyfriend suggested she and I brainstorm solutions, and the two of them also said we could set a deadline, perhaps 6 months, to either figuring out how to make things work or go back to being monogamous. She needs some kind of resolution because it hurts her to have something that makes her happy make me sad to, at best, indifferent. Meanwhile J is in the midst of looking for a primary and had already mentioned before all this came up that he might have to switch to just being friends with Ginko if the person he finds needs monogamy, and she's supportive of that change if necessary since she knows he needs a primary. Any thoughts?

Tonberry 07-08-2012 02:06 PM

Well, it's a tricky situation, but my first thought was... you're not going to like it, but here goes:

Your wife is polyamorous. You have trouble with the emotional aspect, not the sexual one. How is closing the relationship going to help?
Think about it: she will STILL be in love with the other guy, which is what hurts you. And if she finally gets over him, she will fall in love with others. Won't that hurt you just as much? And won't it hurt you more to see her miserable because she can't do anything about it? It seems to me, if you need emotional monogamy, you need someone who is able to provide it to you. Another monogamous partner. You'd need to break up with her.
If you want to stay with her, which I assume is the case, I don't think telling her she can't see the people she loves is going to help you much. You'll always know she loves them. If you ask her not to tell you about who she has feelings for, you'll keep wondering if she's in love with so and so. She'll be sad about not being with them, she'll feel guilty that she has feelings for them in the first place and that it's hurting you, and you'll probably feel just as bad as you do now.

If your problem was with sexual non-exclusivity, then it would be easier. No sex, and she can love whoever she wants, you wouldn't care, and maybe you could do things in the bedroom that would make it easier for her not to have sex with others. But here, it's feelings, not actions, that bother you. And feelings are not something she can control.

Now, if you think about what bothers you more specifically, maybe you can come up with actions, not feelings, that make you uncomfortable. And maybe you can work with her so that these actions happen less or stop happening.
Alternately, you might come up with actions that she can do with you so that you feel better. Spend more time with you, have regular dates, go on weekends or vacations together... I don't know, but there might be things that would help.

But ultimately, if the problem is that it hurts you to know she loves others, well you already know she does, and chances are she always will, whether she has boyfriends or not.

apophis 07-08-2012 04:11 PM

Tonberry: I disagree that his wife being in love with the other guy is what hurts him. I think the lack of the full emotional commitment (committing all your emotional energy to one person) is what hurts him.

turtleHeart: You seem like a very mature individual, but I agree with Tonberry in the sense that I think you're not looking at yourself enough. Mono vs. Poly, as I've been exploring in my thread, is not about one or the other being correct. It's not that your wife shouldn't want anyone else, and it's not that you should be ok with your wife pursuing relationships with others.

Within the mature mono relationship it's well-acknowledged that love is not an exclusive feeling that you feel only for some magical one true love who shows up one day and everything is perfect. I don't think for a second that that's how you're looking at this which is why I don't think your wife loving someone other than you is what necessarily bothers you. It seems that what bothers you is that you've taken every available option to enjoy there being multiple relationships, but it doesn't work for you.

To be totally honest, I agree with Tonberry again in that your desire to be with your wife is likely coloring your answer. It seems likely to me that based on what you're saying here (and said in my other thread), your personal choice lies towards monogamy. You've obviously thought it out. You've tried dating other people. You've tried being accepting of your partner dating someone else. It's not some immature feeling of jealousy that has made you unhappy with that. You've tried dealing with every emotional and intellectual avenue to make sure that this is not just you being immature about something, and you're still unhappy.

I think you're a very mature individual. I think the amount of effort you've put into exploring this thoroughly and checking out every avenue is wonderful, but I think now it's time to consider yourself. You're considering your wife and the fact that she loves and wants to be with her boyfriend. I think that if you really examine this and decide that what you want (regardless of anyone else) is what comes with a monogamous relationship then you're going to need to sit down with your wife to communicate that. You have to find out how she feels about monogamy and if she would be genuinely happy in a monogamous relationship. It seems that you might only be genuinely happy in a monogamous relationship so if your wife would be genuinely happy either way then maybe monogamy could work for both of you.

If your wife would only be genuinely happy in poly and you would only be genuinely happy in mono then it may be time to face the tough decision. If that were the case, would it really be worth it for either of you to sacrifice your personal happiness to allow the relationship to continue? Even if one of you could sacrifice what would make you happy for the other (which it seems you're already doing), will that really result in the most fulfilling relationship that either of you could be in?

So my advice is make the personal decision about whether you're mono, poly, or some variant thereof as well as what you want from a relationship. One of the smartest pieces of advice I've seen is that being poly is not a couple decision. It's an individual one. Each individual has to decide what they want from a relationship and then a couple can potentially go from there. What's most important here then is that you and your wife both evaluate individually what you want from a relationship and then decide how you want to proceed.

turtleHeart 07-09-2012 07:49 AM

Ginko thinks she'd be happy being monogamous again once her relationship with J ends, however/whenever that comes about, though that could be years from now if we continue to adapt to the situation. She'd only tried being otherwise because she thought that was what I wanted, as addressed in another thread. Given all the effort she put into adapting to non-monogamy over 3+ years, I feel it's worth me trying to do the same a while longer. Ultimately we'll settle on whatever feels best for our relationship.

This past weekend Ginko had time with J while I worked and saw friends, while still making sure she and I had plenty of time with each other, and for once no one seemed to feel shortchanged. It restored my hope a bit, and I'm looking forward to seeing how we do next week as we continue trying new ways that may help her see J while losing little time with me.

I'm fine with her loving other people, it's mostly that I miss the focus we used be able to give each other, the freedom we had to do whatever we wanted outside of work without having to take anyone else into account, no one else feeling like they had a claim on her time due to any sort of commitment, and no one distracting her from what time she had with me, aside from friends that largely focus on both of us.

dingedheart 07-09-2012 09:13 PM

What was the reason or reasons for opening up your marriage ?

Does it have the same value today ...or do the corresponding negatives have a greater value today.

Did the brainstorming work?....what did you come up with?

turtleHeart 07-10-2012 12:12 AM

I was the one that initially proposed to my wife that we be non-monogamous, on our first date 4.5+ years ago. She initially wasn't interested, but was willing to try and find out what she'd be comfortable with. Over the next 3+ years she (Ginko on here) helped build a polyamorous network of friends, listened to Dan Savage and Polyamory Weekly podcasts, and read much of the materials I introduced her to, along with setting guidelines with me on what we were each comfortable with over time. She was excellent and very supportive, while I at times was impatient and not very good at showing my appreciation for all the effort she was putting into becoming ok with something that was not in line with what she'd grown up wanting. She loved the idea of monogamy, two people focused on each other and their family.

Confusion came up due in part to my lack of proper terminology. I mistakenly used polyamory as an umbrella term, while I'd just been asking for the ability to be more physically affectionate with friends as I had been when single in college, soft swinging, not even going to the point of sex, and she'd said she could potentially become ok with that but not the prospect of developing other romantic relationships. Then after a while a poly male friend, J, began pursuing her, and every step of the way Ginko and the friend were great in asking me what I was ok with. Given that we'd always just focused on what could be done physically, and Ginko had said romantic relationships would never be up for discussion, it didn't enter my mind that I was being asked if I'd be ok with them becoming romantic, while I was totally fine with them doing whatever they wanted physically as long as they were safe, which I knew they would be given their temperaments, so I simply said to do whatever she'd be ok with me doing. She begged for specific rules so that she could feel secure that she wasn't going too far but I didn't know what to say beyond that.

I was so happy that she was seeing that being physical with someone else didn't hurt her feelings with me. Then she informed me he'd asked her to be his girlfriend and she'd said yes. She thought I'd been supportive of them dating, while I thought she'd been clear that wasn't an option, so I had never really addressed it. Still, I was so happy with the rapid change in her feelings about what could be ok that I wanted to see if I could adapt, given that she'd put in so much effort to adapt for me. She'd always asked me what the benefit to what I wanted would be for her. In her experience the answer came in dating someone else, while for me if I'd known that'd be the necessary change, I'd have preferred to stay monogamous and limit affection with others to hugs. The transition from monogamy to our current status has probably been the center of ~95+% of our arguments, so if either us had known how it'd go we wouldn't have tried, but now that we're here it's more manageable, if not yet ideal.

For brainstorming, part of my problem has been that when J is around he kind of takes over Ginko's attention, at least in my perception, and he likes to drop in for a day or two at a time (often at a moment's notice) whenever he can, leaving me suddenly feeling like I've lost my weekend with her. He doesn't do planning well, but this past weekend we managed to make it work a bit better with me guiding when she saw him to some degree (I know that sounds controlling, but everyone actually seemed happy with the result), and this upcoming weekend we're going to try visiting him Friday night through Sunday mid afternoon, but often be in a separate room doing our own thing like when we're home, as he thinks he'd be happy simply to have her around even if they're not focusing on each other, as he works from home. They'll have Friday night through Saturday afternoon to themselves as I'll be working and then sleeping at home, then I'll join them and have a bit more time of my own with her, and she and I will sleep Saturday night in a spare bedroom. It's an experiment to see if we can feel more at home at his place, which would let us enjoy being there more often.

Anneintherain 07-10-2012 07:24 AM


Originally Posted by turtleHeart (Post 142786)
part of my problem has been that when J is around he kind of takes over Ginko's attention, at least in my perception, and he likes to drop in for a day or two at a time (often at a moment's notice) whenever he can, leaving me suddenly feeling like I've lost my weekend with her.

For a lot of people this WOULD be an issue. I understand some people can't do strict scheduling, but if his dropping by is an issue, then you should come to a more useful agreement with your wife. If you want to be spending the weekend with her (and have the attention/time to give her, and you're just not wanting her around while you're home) then you should be able to say "no, I don't want to entertain J, I want to spend the weekend with you. She should be graceful enough to say yes sometimes, and it's nice if you work to be graceful enough to flexibly say OK sometimes (which it sounds like you do).

I'm not spontaneous - I dislike planning things less than 2-3 days in advance, and I can get bothered if my husband wants to make plans for tomorrow. Doesn't matter if it's a date, a party, whatever. I don't know what you do need personally so you feel like your personal life isn't being disrupted, but perhaps just telling J that if he can't give X amount of notice, he can expect there's a chance you two aren't available for him to drop in on, would be sufficient.

turtleHeart 07-10-2012 09:04 AM

When I have something specific planned, that is usually respected. Ginko and I are big planners, we typically have things planned out well in advance, and try to keep J informed via sharing our google calendars and telling him directly what we're up for, but as J says he's fundamentally NOT good at keeping to any sort of schedule.

As Ginko would say, J doesn't know if he's going to an event until 30 minutes after it has started (and he may not arrive until we're ready to leave). Likewise he may give the impression he's just briefly dropping by and end up staying much longer if I don't make it clear that I'm ok with the initial timeline indicated, but not beyond that. Things seem to improve as I get better at making my preferences clear, giving not just arrival but leave times. I'd be fine with J being so erratic with his schedule if it didn't impact mine, but as long as Ginko is seeing him I just have to continue asserting myself, while making allowances when I can, much more than I'm used to needing to do, as I'd usually phase anyone out of my life that is so erratic.

Aside from that is the simple issue that I don't feel I can get as close to a secondary as I can to my wife, so I get less out of seeing them, and if picking between time with someone I've just started dating vs Ginko, I usually pick the latter. As much as I can, I mix the two, which only works so long as my dates like being around my wife and vice versa.

I'm not sure I can offer a secondary the level of commitment that would merit them being very available to me, while if someone isn't regularly able to see me at least once or twice a week I don't know how to develop a fulfilling relationship with them. I'm very touch oriented and need that frequency of touch to feel close. I haven't absolutely given up on dating others quite yet. I have my second date with a guy tomorrow, and Ginko is joining me Thursday to go camping with my girlfriend Helena and one of her other metamours that I dated. A large part of why I'm still seeing Helena is that it takes nothing from my time with Ginko as they love being around each other. Our friendship is much older than the dating relationship, but Helena isn't really available enough for the dating part to mature.

turtleHeart 07-18-2012 05:28 AM

The weekend ended up not being as easy or cheerful as I'd hoped, but it was productive in getting the three of us talking more, and left me with more hope for things. The main issue for me is that of Ginko and I having enough time/focus for each other even when J is around. All of us are working on making it possible for J to be able to be at our place and us at his while we go about our day more freely, closer to how we would if he weren't there, with him occasionally joining us.

Right now I'm looking at how to feel more at home while at J's house, looking at what I can do in the area, what friends I can see more easily since they live closer, and so on, basically looking at how life can be more rewarding with a 2nd place to call home.

If the issue of time/focus could be settled, everything else seems manageable.

nycindie 07-18-2012 11:11 AM

Would you also feel so short-changed if Ginko spent lots of time with a platonic friend and focused lots of attention on him or her? No judgments from me, but here are some questions to get you thinking... Do you feel a bit possessive over her attention, like you must always come first and a lover who needs her attention is usurping what is rightfully yours because you're married to her? If so, what if she were to join some group and make friends with people who didn't really include you in their activities? Would you tell her she cannot add any more friends to her life? Or is it the fact that he is a boyfriend/lover/sexual partner, and you feel he must be secondary and not be granted any more privileges than a secondary deserves? In other words, do you feel he takes liberties he shouldn't because he needs to be in a certain place lower than you, in all aspects of her life and attention? Does any of what I wrote ring true for you?

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