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-   -   Issue with secondary (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25441)

Chimera 07-08-2012 07:39 PM

Issue with secondary
 
Just wondering if this has happened to any folks and how you deal with it.

I have a long-term primary relationship (20+ years) and a long-term long distance BF (friends for 5 years, building a more intimate relationship for 4). Most of the relationship time with BF has been long distance, from a few hours away to across the country.

Over time, we've become very close, communicate almost daily and see each other when we can. It isn't often, but is good. This is his first poly relationship, although he believes he's naturally wired this way. We've had our issues, including him not telling me about a woman he was seeing occasionally when we first started becoming more than friends and lived in adjacent cities. He's grown a lot in terms of communication and we've been through a lot together.

I don't have a problem with him seeing other women (how could I?!), but I'm utterly annoyed with his ongoing drama with the woman above. We're both about 10 years older than him, and she really wanted him to settle down with her, which he was not into. He's been upfront with her about me. She now lives across the country from him, but periodically pops up, wants to visit, they visit, have drama, he breaks it off and swears he'll never see her again. Repeat.

He recently moved closer to me, and we discussed me visiting him in his new place, but thought it might be busy right now, so we were waiting. Enter drama woman. She called him, wanted to visit immediately and he said yes, then writes me a long e-mail about how tormented he is that he said yes, etc. etc.

Here's my issue. I don't care if she visits him (apparently the sex is amazing...although we'll be back to condoms again since she isn't known for her safe sex practices), but I am SO tired of listening to the pre-, during and post-visit drama. I'm the kind of person who thinks for a long time about things before I make a decision, and I tend to stick by them. Hearing the same pattern over and over again is driving me crazy.

The problem is, if I try to disengage, he thinks I'm being jealous, and strangely tries to reassure me with platitudes that make me annoyed ("I wish it were you coming..." etc.). If I told him I didn't want to hear his drama, he'd be hurt or angry or think I was lying and was just jealous.

Have any of you had experiences where it's hard to separate out someone else's perception that you're being jealous when there's another issue at hand? I know my instinctive response of avoiding him for the next week while he processes is not the right one!

nycindie 07-09-2012 12:02 AM

I don't see why you can't say to him pretty much what you wrote here:
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chimera (Post 142668)
I don't care if she visits him (apparently the sex is amazing...although we'll be back to condoms again since she isn't known for her safe sex practices), but I am SO tired of listening to the pre-, during and post-visit drama. I'm the kind of person who thinks for a long time about things before I make a decision, and I tend to stick by them. Hearing the same pattern over and over again is driving me crazy.

"Hon, first of all, I am not at all jealous of your relationship with her, and it's fine if she visits you - it doesn't bother me in the least. So, please don't make the wrong assumptions about why I am telling you this. But the back-and-forth debating and torturing yourself is what I can't stand. Make a decision and stick to it, or leave me out of your pre-, during-, and post-visit mental drama, because it's just exhausting for me. I'm the kind of person who thinks for a long time about things before I make a decision, and I tend to stick by them. But it's just driving me crazy to always be clued in on every single moment of your thought process about it. Let me know if you have a question, or when you make a decision, but please figure out the rest yourself."

Chimera 07-09-2012 12:47 AM

Cindie, yes that's what I wish I could say. Exactly that.

I'm feeling like any response is interpreted as me feeling insecure/jealous OR being disapproving and not there for him (happened last time). And, his reassurance mode is creeping me out. When he wrote me the first "I was weak and she's coming, you were right about me not having it all worked out" drama e-mail, I wrote back a nice noncommittal, "That will be nice for you, you've been kind of lonely up there in your new place." I got back a whole "I wish it were you, you're so special, etc." Then, when I wrote, "I'm not jealous, no need to reassure, have a great weekend" I got back, "Yes, I'm trying to reassure, I really mean it, etc. etc." Then, the next one, "She's here and it's okay so far." I didn't respond.

I think it takes a beat or two for me to figure out what's getting at me.
I'm not sure if it's a LD thing, or a secondary thing, or just this particular person. It's the first LD relationship I've ever had and the first long-term secondary relationship I've ever had. Is this kind of thing common? Maybe it's just him and I need to do more communication work, but honestly I'm tired!

YamZenitram 07-09-2012 04:31 AM

I've been in an LD (off and on) poly relationship for 5 years. We're currently going through our longest haul - 10 hour time difference, 5,000 mile flight - for nearly a year now.

I have had a few experiences where my observations or other feelings were overlooked for the reason that I may or may not be feeling jealous - a feeling I believe to be completely natural, maybe most especially in an LDR situation, when I'm not attending to my relationship as much as I normally would. In those instances, the obvious point was being overlooked. There is a clear separation between an instinctive feeling ("He spends all of his free time with other women and I'm jealous") and an observation ("When he's around this woman, he acts impulsive and always ends up getting hurt").

My boyfriend has gotten involved with two taken women (I was aware of it, but their partners were not.) The last time it happened, I was really frustrated, because it ended badly and I, too, had to cope with the aftermath. But I didn't want to tell him "I don't want to hear it" when he came to me for support - he's my best friend, and I want him to know he can count on me. But it IS painful watching a loved one make a mistake - especially the same mistake twice.

After giving it some thought, this is basically what I decided (and told him):

I'm in his corner no matter what, and I will do my best to control my insecurities and try not to be overly protective. I have my own opinions about what's best for him. They're just my opinions - but they are difficult for me to change. I am hoping he will find someone kind and affectionate, who won't judge him, who will be honest, who will build him up by appreciating his various strengths and interests, and will hopefully have compatible ideas to mine as to looking after his best interests, such as protecting his other friendships and relationships. Someone who helps him succeed in all areas of his life. But I also know that his expectations are different, and I'll do my best to accept and respect whoever it is that he chooses to bring into his life, with the awareness that it's something or someone that makes him happy.

If I have a concern, I remind him of these things - so that he remembers where I'm coming from, and he can understand my rationale and respond accordingly, instead of responding to irrelevant jealousy. But it also reminds me that it isn't my choice who he dates, and as long as I am committed to him, I am committed to his mistakes.

Not sure how helpful that is - this is just my experience - But maybe now you feel like you aren't the only one? :)

Chimera 07-09-2012 06:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YamZenitram (Post 142706)
I've been in an LD (off and on) poly relationship for 5 years. We're currently going through our longest haul - 10 hour time difference, 5,000 mile flight - for nearly a year now.

I have had a few experiences where my observations or other feelings were overlooked for the reason that I may or may not be feeling jealous - a feeling I believe to be completely natural, maybe most especially in an LDR situation, when I'm not attending to my relationship as much as I normally would. In those instances, the obvious point was being overlooked.

....

Not sure how helpful that is - this is just my experience - But maybe now you feel like you aren't the only one? :)

Hi, thanks for the response. I think the conclusion I'm coming to is that this may have to do with the LDR nature of it. Your story helped me sift through. Maybe I've hit a bit of a wall with it because as we've become closer emotionally, we're not close enough to be able just to get together and talk more naturally. Every exchange seems more weighted with meaning and there's more misunderstanding. I think if we had been together for a long time before the distance, it might have been different.
I wonder if having LDR is going to be just too hard for me to sustain?

Also helpful to be reminded that people's choices and mistakes are their own. I do have a protective streak in me that I know comes from not having been protected as a child. And, as Cindie reminded me, I should be able to state my needs in the relationship directly.

dragonflysky 07-10-2012 06:15 AM

Can you learn to accept or make peace with his need/desire/perception of you as jealous, needing reassurance, etc.????? YOU know how YOU feel. What he thinks your thoughts and behaviors are about are his perceptions....which you have little control over. You can only speak your truth...whether or not he believes it. You might reflect this back to him. "I know you think this is about jealousy...etc...etc. even though I've told you it's not. I can't control how you see things. I can only state how I think/feel. I'm really not interested in debating whether I'm jealous or not, and I'm not interested in you trying to be reassuring. I've told you that I don't need to be reassured, and I feel offended/insulted/ hurt/patronized, (etc.) when you insist on trying to reassure me after I've already told you that's not what it's about."

I'm wondering if he has some kind of need to turn the focus back on you so as to take attention off from the fact that he knows he's making poor choices related to this woman??? Or if telling you about his poor choices gives him a type of temporary relief?? It's kind of like trying to ease the guilt when you already know you're doing something that's not good for you by "confessing" your "sins" to someone else.

I had a good friend tell me once "I'm not willing to listen to you talk about ..... ...... anymore. I think you deserve to be treated better than that. It's your choice to remain with ......., but it's too painful for me to hear about someone hurting a person I love and care about over and over again." Yes, it hurt at first, but it ended up being the best thing she could have said to me. And she had the right to take care of herself...her feelings.

nycindie 07-10-2012 12:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chimera (Post 142685)
Cindie, yes that's what I wish I could say. Exactly that.

I'm feeling like any response is interpreted as me feeling insecure/jealous OR being disapproving and not there for him (happened last time). And, his reassurance mode is creeping me out.

It sucks when people terrorize us with their reactions. It's quite passive aggressive if that is how he goes about it. Sounds like he's rather immature and insecure.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chimera (Post 142756)
Every exchange seems more weighted with meaning and there's more misunderstanding. I think if we had been together for a long time before the distance, it might have been different.
. . . And, as Cindie reminded me, I should be able to state my needs in the relationship directly.

Maybe this isn't the LDR, or just plain relationship, for you. I think, when the scales tip in the direction of being less fun and satisfactory and too much work for too little reward, then perhaps the relationship is over.

Chimera 07-11-2012 03:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dragonflysky (Post 142812)
Can you learn to accept or make peace with his need/desire/perception of you as jealous, needing reassurance, etc.?????

I'm wondering if he has some kind of need to turn the focus back on you so as to take attention off from the fact that he knows he's making poor choices related to this woman???

I think those are great points you make. And, I've been thinking about your first question in relation to what Cindie wrote below. I don't think I can make peace with it. It bothers me too much.

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 142841)


Maybe this isn't the LDR, or just plain relationship, for you. I think, when the scales tip in the direction of being less fun and satisfactory and too much work for too little reward, then perhaps the relationship is over.

That thought has started to work its way into my mind and it's nice to see it written out. What's hard is that this was a great relationship for so long. I haven't really had to end a relationship for years and years. Most of the ones I've been in lately have ended on a mutual note -- someone moves, the timing stops being right, etc.

Perhaps I'll make one more effort to get to the reasons he's doing it. But, yeah, too much effort, esp. since we see each other in person so infrequently.

nycindie 07-24-2012 07:46 PM

Any update? I hope things are going well for you.


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