Husband breaking up with GF, shift in poly-situation
I've written about it in other threads, but here's the background:
My husband has been with his GF for about a year. I had issues with her from the very beginning because she has another BF in another city who does not know about her relationship with my husband. Basically, she was / is living 2 seperate lives.
This has been the source of many heated and emotional arguments between me and my husband. I had big problems accepting her into my life because she was not open and honest, and I had problems accepting the fact that my husband seemed to be accepting of all this.
There were some safe sex rules broken recently. My husband was sorry and apologized, but also said: but I trust her completely!
Turns out she was not to be trusted.. he found out this week that she was lying to him about being with another guy (initially just lying about spending time with him, and then lying about the fact that she did have sex with him). BTW this was not the other BF, but a completely different guy.
Husband and GF had the explicit agreement that for both, it was ok to date / sleep with others, but that they would always be open and honest about it. Husband has told GF numerous times that he does not want to be treated like she treats her other BF. And now, this is exactly what happened.. the difference being, that my husband found out.
He is hurt and sad and confused. They have been emailing back and forth and she's coming up with the stupidest excuses for her cheating. I can see that my husband is angry about being lied to, but I know he also still loves her, and I am worried that when they meet in person to talk things over he will come under her spell again. He's a very smart and sensible man but he's done some weird things when in NRE with her before, and she's a very strange, complex, crazy woman who seems to be able to get away with a LOT. (He's been attracted to women like that all his life. Both his exes before me were like that: taking no responsibilities, crazy, impulsive, lying. I'm a completely different person, and I think it makes perfect sense that in our poly life, he picked someone like that to be his GF - its what he's drawn to).
So far, I've managed not to say "I told you so". I'm trying to be supportive, and just comfort him when he's sad, and listen to his rants. He has already said that maybe, he can forgive her, and that they can find a new way of being in a relationship - much more casual, not as committed on his part, but still a warm and possibly even sexual relationship.
When he said this I told him that while it's not my business how he chooses to manage his relationships, I don't want her sleeping in my bed anymore. (She was spending a lot of time in our house while I was spending time with my boyfriend). Was that a very unreasonable thing to ask for?
The other thing is.. and this is really confusing.. while I think that this is, in the end, a toxic relationship for him and not healthy, part of me does not want him to break up with her for some very selfish reasons that I'm ashamed to admit.
I have two lovers (my BF who I see very often, and another lover I see about once every 4-6 weeks). If my husband breaks up with GF the balance in our poly marriage will be completely gone. I'm worried he's ging to resent me spending time with my other partners, that he will need more of me now that he no longer has his other partner.
Yeah like I said this feels incredibly selfish. But still...
anyway, just venting I guess...
This is a tricky one.
As for the selfish part... I don't believe there are any truly altruistic acts. Even the most kind and considerate action makes us feel good about being so kind and seeing the other person happy.
I think it's actually fair that you're considering the impact of him breaking up with her. You're just being realistic.
In terms of your discomfort with his girlfriend's personality and the way that she chooses to conduct herself... that's incredibly difficult.
Some people take the perspective that it's their partner's business and they don't have to even like this other person.
Other believe that it has a greater effect on the relationship between the original two people.
I'm not sure there is a right or wrong here. I think it comes down to your own personal expectations and boundaries.
If you don't like the girl, think she's bad for him and don't want her sleeping in your bed, I can understand that.
That being said, if you are of the viewpoint that he can choose to date whomever he wants, you have to be careful about putting restrictions on him that could make that concept difficult in practice.
I personally wouldn't want my girlfriend to date someone who was cheating on someone. I have a strict moral limit about it. I absolutely hate cheating. My girlfriend, on the other hand, thinks that there are two sides to every story and that if some people are 'stuck' and 'repressed' in their relationship, they have a right to happiness. She thinks that many monogamous people are selfish for not being open to poly. I don't agree with her, but there we go. She has a long-term online/phone lover whose wife doesn't know about it and she would sleep with him in person if she could. I find that difficult, but leave her to it and try not to judge, as he does actually seem good for her. Not toxic, like your husband's girlfriend. So I bite my tongue and let her get on with it.
Toxic partners can cause problems for everyone. Some people can turn a blind eye and some can't.
My girlfriend hated one of my other girlfriends. This girl lied, cheated and was quite toxic. I was completely enthralled with her. Your husband probably feels the way that I felt - toxic people push and pull you, create all kinds of emotions in yourself and they become like a drug. They can make the sanest of people fall apart and the most sensible of people crave them.
After about 8 months of seeing this other girl, my girlfriend became increasingly uncomfortable whenever I talked about her or spent time with her. In the end, she told me that if I kept seeing this girl, it would probably lead to the end of our relationship. That was her limit.
I've never known if that was right or wrong. I've resented it at times and understood it other times.
Can you cope with him being with her? Can you cope with the drama she brings? Would it ever end up being a deal breaker for you?
Perhaps you need to think about those things in your own mind and then think about what kind of restrictions would be fair. A more casual arrangement *could* work. But casual tends to end up drifting back into what it was.
Incidentally, what reasons did she give for lying to him about seeing this other guy? Or are they really irrelevant?
to "you (=husband) made me do it because you were asking too many questions and being too inquisitive" (and yes he was inquisitive, because he was suspicious, which turned out to be justified).
I think I am also mourning the loss of a naive dream I had - I was still hoping that she would tell the other BF, that she would become more open, and that she and I would become friends. I think that ship has sailed :(
If you take the viewpoint that your husband has to make his own mistakes, I understand that. I'm more like you in that respect. I've never come to a situation where I've threatened to break up with my girlfriend over one of her other lovers, even though she has with me. Everyone has different expectations, I suppose.
All you can really do in this case then, is support him and pray that he starts making better choices. Perhaps talk to him about why he makes these choices?
If he's got an unhealthy pattern... can that be changed? Or does it have to keep repeating itself? Is this kind of relationship pattern good for him in any way? Or does it always inevitably lead to bad stress and heartache?
What I mean by that... is that I don't mind dating quite selfish casual partners. I find some of their self-obsession amusing and the arguments can actually be thrilling. I'm not going to marry them, so those shortcomings aren't a no-go for me.
However, I used to have a pattern of ignoring the effect that any of this drama had on my girlfriend.
I've tried to change my pattern a bit. If I see that any of them are trying to push her buttons, they have to change that, or we end it.
I am grateful to my girlfriend, because she gave me a long, hard shake and pointed out my dating pattern. She pointed out how much crap I used to take from people and I realised it was unhealthy.
Ultimately, as you say, you don't want to control him. Maybe with some reflection you might be able to help him form a healthier pattern?
Let's say A and B are in a relationship. A is great at cooking. B isn't. B is great at fixing things. A isn't. A good balance of power here is an agreement that says B doesn't tell A how to cook, and A doesn't tell B how to fix things. Looking at only the "A doesn't tell B how to fix things" part, it seems really unfair. A has no power. The same is true with B and cooking. The overall power within the relationship as a whole is balanced, though, because the 2 areas of power that are weighed heavily in opposite directions come together to balance each other.
My impression is you and your husband have an agreement to stay out of each others dating life. Sounds fair on the surface. Looking under the surface, it is discovered your personal boundaries are much healthier than his. That means your opinion of how well he is maintaining his personal boundaries with his girlfriend needs to be more important than his opinion of your boundaries with your two lovers.
People aren't equal. That one of the reasons we all love to come together. I would figure out FOR YOURSELF what kind of OVERALL relationship balance you want with your husband. Push him as far as the overall balance you want allows, to show/teach/pressure/anything else you want to call it, him to get his boundaries as healthy as they can be inside of that balance you decide you want with him.
Maybe you think you already have a good balance. You have a "deal" with him that says you can spend the time you want with your two lovers if you allow him to be... ahhem... stupid with his girlfriend. Does the good cook have to yield to the bad cook every once in a while when the family should be able to tolerate a bad meal? No. That's not the way it works. The person with the better skills is in charge of all decisions made in that area.
You have the better boundaries. Spend the time with your lovers that you want to and push him to have better boundaries with anyone he is with - within the balance you PRIVATELY (because he's not good with boundaries) decide you want with him.
sparklepop, your thoughts about what toxic people are capable of is spot on.
Nasty situation for you to be in - others have given some great advice and viewpoints. I hope you don't mind if I add mine...
As you have said, it's up to each of you to choose which relationships you are in and how to nurture them. But I think it's also important of you to communicate anything that you see that is problematic so that he can take it on board. If that has been communicated clearly (and it sounds like it was) then it his up to him what he does with that information.
A lot of folks (me included) get blinded by NRE - this is why I tend to trust the instincts of my partners and why I like it if they meet any new prospective folks that come into my life.
If you try to influence too much, he will end up resenting you and possibly blaming any failure of the relationship on you. He has to get there himself. It can be painful to watch, I know.
You also need to protect yourself, though - this may be setting some boundaries for activity - like sleeping in your bed, or the fluid bond that you have with your husband (if she is habitually lying about her relationships, how can you trust her safer sex practices?).
Try to document what you have discussed with him. When this episode passes, in the calm after the inevitable storm that is coming, sit him down and talk about how something like this can be avoided in future. Without getting into "I told you so" mode, note that you saw a lot of problematic behaviour that made you uncomfortable and he seemed oblivious to.
This will help him to develop his own spidey-sense when it comes to future relationship material.
Even though you don't want to tell hubs what to do, you can still voice your concerns in a way that won't come across as an ultimatum or "I told you so." She has proven herself untrustworthy and now needs to regain trust if she wants to be in his life again. Start off with something like, "Honey, I hate to see you hurting so much, but I am concerned about ___ if you continue to see her." Point out that she could just lie to him and cheat again, and that you don't want to see him suffer even more. I also think it is a perfectly reasonable request that she not have sex with him in your bed (or your home, for that matter). You don't need the energies of unbalanced, dishonest people in the room where you rest, seek sanctuary, and are intimate with your husband.
well, a little update: my husband saw the GF on Sunday and they talked for hours. I'm having a hard time understanding what they talked about, even though he tried to tell me in detail. There seems to be a lot of going round in circles and a lot of confusion. They're meeting again tonight, at our house. I asked him that they don't have sex and that she won't spend the night.
I just KNOW that he comes under her spell the moment he spends time with her.
Anyway, if they do this, I will distance myself from her and her relationship with my husband even more. It remains to be seen how much of an issue this will be between me and husband. But the thing I struggle with the most is the fact that I really don't want her sleeping in my bed anymore. Sleeping at her place is not a possibility, so my husband already pointed out that if he were to start this more casual, FWB relationship with a DADT policy, he has nowhere to go. Right now, my reaction to this is 'I don't care'... I am mad, and this thing is really the only thing i can do to give this anger a voice.
The thing I struggle with is that I really want us to be indivuduals who are dating. I don't want to veto, I don't want to control him. I think the way he handles his connections with others is ultimately his business, and he needs to learn his own lessons just like I do.
BUT...Where does the responsibility for my own well being come in? how much can I ask of him, what can I ask him to give up for me, within the context of our relationship?
he would not choose a woman like that to be his life partner.. that's why he chose me.. but it is something he needs in his life, and I think it brings him more than bad stress and heart ache.
and for the record: his ex (before me) was like this, but he and I have been together for almost 2 decades, and he has not dated anyone like this since we opened our marriage, so it's not like he's looking for a new unsettling woman every week :)
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