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-   -   I don't know what to do. (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25897)

Naomi 07-23-2012 08:08 PM

I don't know what to do.
Hey guys...

I'm not sure where else to turn. I'll try not to ramble or sound too whiny...I just feel so confused.

My fiance and I have been together over four years. For over three years of that time we've been in an open relationship. For the last seven months we have been poly (when we were open it was always just fwb, no romance, emotions, etc. with other people... just friendly sex).

I seem to have no trouble being poly myself (although right now I'm technically monogamous). I have dated other men and women since my fiance and I decided dating (and not just sex) was okay. But now he's dating and I can barely handle it.

I feel like such a hypocrite. I know I am being one. I get so hurt and upset and frustrated and jealous over him being with other women. I'm so worried he's gonna replace me... Like I won't be his primary forever. (I know this is also stupid, because this is ALWAYS a risk, poly or not.) But now, he's involved with a close friend of mine... and she's also interested in being involved with me too. And I am her... But I'm so hot and cold with it. One day I'm totally fine with it and into it. The next I'm not. I know it's hard for them both because I'm kinda jerking them around. I know it frustrates my fiance the most because he has watched me date other people in the past six months and this is his first real chance.

I'm just not sure how to deal with these feelings. I feel like everytime I voice the opinion that I'm not so sure about this whole poly thing I'm made into a bad person. I hate that. But at the same time I understand it. My fiance and friend have been taking things really slow (haven't even had sex or anything) and I know it's hard when I'm giving them this yellow light. But I don't know how to NOT give a yellow light... because it's how I feel! Should I just suck it up and always give them a green light? Even when I'm not feeling it? Because I understand it's not fair and it's not like they can turn the feelings off when I'm not feeling it and turn them back on when I am.

I don't wanna get in the way of anyone's happiness.

But I wanna be happy too.

And half the time I'm really not happy with this situation.

I don't know what to do!

How do I know if poly is right for me? Why am I okay with myself doing it and him not?

(Although to be honest with you, I'm monogamous right now by choice... I ended my other relationships... It was just too much emotion for me. Too much to balance and handle. I'm not so sure even I want to be poly.)

I don't know what to do anymore. I keep telling myself to suck it up and give it a real try but some days I just hate it so much. I keep telling myself she's leaving in a year and I'll try it for this year and see how it goes. Then I also have this secret plot to run away from it all (deep down I know this won't solve anything, but I can't help wanting to flee from it sometimes).

SIGH! Any and all advice is appreciated. Anyone else feel this way? Anyone reading this get a good idea of what I should do?

Either way, thanks for reading and letting me vent. I wish I had someone to talk to about this... It's why I came here :)

JohnnyDangerously 07-24-2012 12:11 PM

Wow...I almost could have written much of that myself!!! Lol.

I don't know that I can offer any advice, except to keep working on your own emotions and feelings and keep trying. But you are not alone in Poly Schizophrenia!! I drive myself crazy with it in regard to my wife and her b sometimes...

snowmelt 07-24-2012 06:36 PM

Hi Naomi,

I don't have any answers for you. I do have a few things for you to think about. One thing you could do is get yourself into a contemplative place and see what your pain is telling you about yourself.

I would suggest dropping your effort to keep things fair between you and your partner, as long as you're honest with him about who you are. Life is built on unfairness. I'm sure I'm better at some things than you are. Does that mean I have to stop using my skills, because you don't have them - just to be fair?

Staying on the unfair train of thought - are you really looking for a V arrangement, with you as the hinge? To some that may sound unfair, but there is at least one member of this forum who has just that. She is intimate with her husband and one other guy. They all live together. She doesn't want either guy getting involved with anyone else. That seems to work for them. Her user name is phy. She tells her story in the blog section.

I would suggest you stop asking what is fair and start asking yourself what works for you. Do you really want monogamy? How much do you know about what you want to do with your life?

Ask yourself a lot of these kind of questions. The question of fairness just confuses the thought process, because we are all different.

monogamishSF 07-24-2012 08:53 PM

I, too, could have written it myself. And I went through something similar, the past two months. My partner and I met a girl I was really excited about, who was really excited about us. We're queer women, so lines get a little blurry. I'm femme, the new girl was femme, and my partner is butchy. We are all most familiar and comfortable dating the opposite: I date butch girls, my partner dates femmes, the new femme dates butch girls. But me and this femme were into each other, and she was super patient and respectful of our relationship, so I was psyched!!

But I wasn't ready. And they wanted to also see each other without me. My partner is just like your bf: totally cool with me going on dates, sleeping with other butch girls. But this would be the first time either of us had dated anyone solo, and I was having a HUGELY hard time handling it. She and I have seen each other hook up with other people, always present, and she always says I can date people solo if I want, but so far, I haven't.

I don't think I can tell you that me or my partner handled it properly. We both made mistakes, and we have a lot of healing to do. What ended up happening was, I held on too tight, my partner got impatient, and cheated. Then I went behind my partner's back let the third party know what happened, and how I was feeling about it, and she was overwhelmed, and maybe a little irritated to be a part of it all. So she dipped out. I wish I could tell you we made it work and everyone was happy, but we didn't.

NOT TO SCARE YOU, because from what you've written, your boyfriend has been accepting of your boundaries and your struggle, and he deserves a lot of backrubs. That would be the difference between your experience and mine. Appreciate his efforts and don't let them go without praise, and hers too, for being patient with you. It's good you put off your relationships to ease up on your guilt about having your cake and eating it too. It shows you're committed to him and to working out the kinks.

One thing my poly friends suggested, that we didn't have time to try before everything exploded, was to give each boundary a time limit. That way, there is a light at the end. So say you don't want them to sleep together for the next... two months. But maybe they can do something, like makeout, or oral but with protection, after one month.

And see how each step feels, and be honest to yourself and the partners. A lot of the forums say go at the pace of the person who is struggling the most. So I agree with snowmelt, forget about fairness. If this becomes a habit forever, then you're being a hypocrite. But right now, you need time to adjust.

I don't agree that fears like these, which are perfectly natural, mean we need to reconsider our status as poly, especially when it's a new experience like this is, for you. You are poly, you are struggling, and no one can take away that truth about your sexuality just cuz it's hard for you now. If it continues to be hard after say, 4 months, then reconsider. But use this time to figure out what makes you tick, and rely on both of them to help reassure you that you are not being replaced.

I also think that time apart for the two of them may be in the cards, assuming they're willing. If they can pace their relationship slower, you may feel more calm.

My two cents. :)

sparklepop 07-25-2012 02:13 PM

Hi Naomi :)

I've been there. I've doubted whether or not I've truly wanted to be poly. I don't think that means you're not 'meant' for poly, or that you are... I think it's human nature to question. It's also human nature to want to run away from bad feelings.

The thing is... for me....

Poly is made up of two core 'learning' experiences:
1) Learning to be the active partner (and all the emotional nurturing, balance, etc that goes with that)
2) Learning to be the inactive partner (and all the jealousy, insecurity and self-development that involves)

Just because your fiance has dealt with you being with others, doesn't mean you're automatically equipped to have the shoes on your feet, honey :)

Don't beat yourself up. Of course you feel hypocritical. But that's not your fault.

Even if your fiance was (or seemed) to be able to deal with your poly activities 'better' than you are coping with his... it doesn't matter... everyone has their own rate and their own feelings. It doesn't make you a failure.

I realised something a couple of weeks ago.

I seem to experience jealousy and pangs more than my girlfriend. I'm also much more empathetic than my girlfriend. I realised that it's not that I'm "lagging behind on the poly train" - I just think more deeply, feel more strongly. That can be a good thing in poly too, on the flip side.

So don't feel bad about your feelings. You haven't had a chance to learn how to deal with them yet. And the fact that you're pressuring yourself (naturally, because you're trying to be good and fair) is probably making it even harder for yourself.

Truly, I felt the same way that you do until very recently, in terms of fear of abandonment and replacement. So that's about a full year and a bit of worrying about that stuff.

When things are new, they are as scary as hell. You don't know what box they fall into, so they seem terrifying. Every time my GF dated a new guy, I'd have that internal panic "she's falling in love with him, she's going to leave me, or get bored of me".

I struggled with this for, like I say, over a year. Incidentally, she never fully slept with anyone else during that time.

Like you, I felt hypocritical. I'd slept with another person and she seemed to deal with that so well. I'd often feel like I was dragging behind on the Great Poly Learning Train and that I just wasn't suited to it. Then, recently, I found out that my GF struggled a hell of a lot more than she made out... she just hid it. We have no way of knowing what goes on in our partner's mind, besides what they tell us or what we can see. Even if they are open and tell us all their emotions... how can we quantify that? How can you be sure that what you're feeling isn't exactly the same way that your fiance felt, just perceived differently?


How do I know if poly is right for me? Why am I okay with myself doing it and him not?
You could start thinking, make a list even, of what you like about poly and what you would miss if you went back to mono. Also, what you would love about being mono and what you don't like about poly.

If the things you don't like about poly relate to insecurities, can you work on them? Would you actually be able to avoid them if you were mono?

It's interesting that you said you were struggling to deal with the emotions and balance of having multiple partners.

We all have a different polysaturation point and this can be hit either by quantity of people... or can be hit by the types of people you're involved with.

You could date three casual men outside of your fiance and find a great balance... or you could date one extra who needed a lot of time and support and feel completely overwhelmed.

In terms of your fiance and your friend... I would never advise going against your gut feeling... but I've got to be honest...

My GF finally slept with someone recently. She had been waiting over a year to sleep with someone else. Once she'd met him, she hurried things along so that she could sleep with him quickly. I was so scared, feeling complete dread, really quite upset, because it was like this big monster that was finally about to come and kill me.

The day after, I felt really strange. I wasn't upset any more... but I felt strange about it. I didn't feel jealous as such, or even insecure... I was just left with this ... "gross"... kind of feeling that she'd been with someone else.

Then it passed. She's still dating him and I'm suddenly ok about everything.

For me, just ripping the plaster off really helped. I wasn't sure I could cope with her sleeping with another person, but I can. I couldn't know until it happened... and I wonder if it could be the same for you?

It could be that you really would prefer monogamy. Or it could be that you will feel ok about this once it starts happening. Or... there could be a middle ground that makes you happy, such as a triad, or a V, with you as the hinge.

Prudence 07-25-2012 02:59 PM


Originally Posted by sparklepop (Post 145327)
Poly is made up of two core 'learning' experiences:
1) Learning to be the active partner (and all the emotional nurturing, balance, etc that goes with that)
2) Learning to be the inactive partner (and all the jealousy, insecurity and self-development that involves)

Thank you for saying this. Snipping it for the emergency quote file. ;)

nycindie 07-25-2012 03:19 PM

It sounds like you are being pressured in a way -- or, rather, feeling pressured. Is this mutual friend only interested in a relationship with your fiance if she's involved with you, too? The way you worded it, it seems like what is delaying their development of things is whether or not you will be her partner as well. I don't think that's realistic or fair, and that really would be forcing things, wouldn't it. If I were you, I would give them the go-ahead to be involved and develop their relationship on their own and then deal with everything that comes up for you surrounding that, first and foremost. I would be hesitant to jump into anything with her until things are very, verrrrry, VERY stable with him dating her.

Don't give in to pressure from this friend of yours. So what if you and she are attracted to each other? Being or practicing poly doesn't mean you have to act on every attraction that comes along. I have a phrase I say to myself when someone gets demanding: "Just because you want this, doesn't mean you get this." No one is entitled to getting what they want from you when they want it, including the people we love. Set boundaries and then keep checking in with yourself as you move along. Only loosen a boundary when you are ready. In poly, this is known as "going at the pace of the one who is struggling the most." DO NOT feel guilty about needing more consideration and effort than your fiance needed. Men and woman often view these kinds of things (sex & relationships) very differently.

Naomi 07-25-2012 06:48 PM

Thank you!
First of all, I just wanted to thank ALL of you who replied! Even those who didn't really have advice but just let me know I wasn't alone. It's been super refreshing and helpful to read all of your replies!

I'm kinda pressed for time at the moment, but you better believe I'll be coming back and reading this thread some more and really asking myself all the questions you guys posed and really taking some time to think.

One thing I did want to address was to you nycindie... I must have come off wrong. Both him and her have not pressured me AT ALL. And they have (very slowly) been developing their relationship without me involved. They have both been very clear they don't want to hurt me and are okay to be slow. Multiple times they've both told me they are okay being friends if I can't handle it. But I can tell they both wanna be with each other, and I really don't wanna hold either of them back! When I said I was kinda jerking them around, I didn't mean about my involvement. I meant that some days I'd tell them I didn't want to be poly at all (meaning they'd have to end their relationship as more than friends).

Plus I have always felt it would be easier for me to deal with my fiance dating another woman if I was dating her as well. That way I wouldn't feel as left out and I could be more certain of her feelings for me as well. Once I voiced this opinion to them both, they were both into it! So it was actually MY doing bringing up her and I getting involved. (Of course this isn't the only reason I wanna be with her, I find her very attractive, she's one of my best friends, and I really like her for her... I enjoy spending time with her!)

In any event, the three of us FINALLY got together yesterday and had a long discussion about it (at this point it's been my fiance and I talking, her and him talking, and her and I talking... but no three way convo). I think it went really well... We got a lot out and talked for a long time. The three of us spent the whole day together, went on a movie date, and then my fiance even gave both her and I massages while we watched another movie in our bedroom. It was all really comfortable and fun.

I was having a particularly bad day when I made the initial post! Yesterday has really given me hope... and both yesterday and today I didn't/don't feel any jealousy at all. I know that it's not gonna be easy and I'll still have jealous moments... But realizing that they both really care about me and it's not about some sort of malicious intent or "stealing" anything from me really helps.

I think most of my problems with poly are just related to my own insecurities, which I can and want to work on. Doesn't mean it will be easy... But I believe anything worthwhile takes some work.

I really appreciate you all re-iterating that I shouldn't feel bad because I'm not quite as good as him at being the inactive partner (thanks a lot for that sparklepop). It's nice to hear. I just hated feeling like a terrible person because I had so much trouble with it. Neither one of them has ever made me feel that way! It was me. But I was always of the mind that I was being a hypocrite and un-loving somehow since I had such a hard time with it.

Anyway... Thanks again. Live and learn, right? :)

lovefromgirl 07-25-2012 09:18 PM


Originally Posted by Naomi (Post 145016)
My fiance and I have been together over four years. For over three years of that time we've been in an open relationship. For the last seven months we have been poly (when we were open it was always just fwb, no romance, emotions, etc. with other people... just friendly sex).

I have to ask, because weddings are super-high-stress: how long have you been engaged and when is the wedding? Could this possibly be contributing to your unease? You would not be wrong to say "Stop! Too much to deal with!" until after the wedding. Taking care of yourself is not hypocrisy.

Naomi 07-26-2012 05:34 PM

We've been engaged for over two years and have no immediate plans to get married, lol. Weddings are really stressful and expensive... So we're putting it off until it feels right (which might even be never... both of us don't feel as if we need the paper and title to validate our relationship... but I like the idea of getting all my friends and family together to celebrate our love).

This whole venture into poly has put a bit of a stop on it too. We've both been kind of changing/challenging all our past beliefs.

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