Partner mourning a fresh breakup, finding it hard to be supportive...
This is an update from this post I wrote last week.
We are working on rebuilding trust and strengthening our primary relationship. It will take a long time. I won't go into the details of the resolutions we came to, but we are heading in a positive direction, I'm happy to report.
For those of you without time to read my novel-long posts, here is the nutshell of our situation: my partner and I met someone we were both interested in, but it became clear this person was only into my partner. My partner wanted to date her solo, which would be a first for us. I had a really hard time. Partner got impatient, got caught up in NRE, and hooked up against our agreement. Drama ensued.
I'm posting because, now that the third party got fed up and left, I (of course) feel much safer. But (of course) my partner is hurting something fierce. And it ended because of my struggles, and her poor decision making in the face of NRE.
She's holding out for a chance to see this girl again sometime in the future, but I'm not sure when/if I'll ever be okay with it. But this person made my partner feel happier than I've ever seen her (with another partner), so this person is extra special to my partner. They have a strong, very positive, healthy connection. My partner had waited a long time to find a second person to feel that way about, so this isn't just a fling she can't have. My partner misses her ex really badly.
And I can fix that, if I agree to tolerate their relationship again. But I'm not ready yet. And the "yet," according to my partner, is leading her on to thinking she could, in the future, try dating this girl again. She's asking me to tell her straight whether to let it go, put it out of her mind, or hold onto the hope that we can heal and they will have another shot.
She knows she fucked up. She's willing to accept that this relationship is a no-go. But I feel for her, a lot. It just isn't helping how I feel for me, after getting burned.
Part of me is like... NEVAR!!! Because I can't trust her to pace her new relationship.
Part of me knows if I learn to relax, it won't be that bad, in the end.
But I don't want to do what I did last time and bend too much so she can be happy, only to find myself in a state of panic. Because then she is out having fun with someone with no baggage and coming home to a sad, weepy me, all over again.
ALSO: My partner has almost no jealousy issues around me dating/sleeping with other people. And just last night, I did. And she is happy for me. And I so, so badly want to be there with her, be able to be cool with her things too, because now I'm the dictionary definition of a hypocrite. We understand different people have different hangups, but I have to fix me so she can be happy with other people. I just don't know if I can fix me around this specific other person because things went so poorly. She is also heavily prevalent within our social scene, so I'm leaning toward working on how to handle the "next" potential secondary and writing this one off to loss. But like I said, she makes my partner feel amazing. And my partner doesn't want to see anyone but her (and me). So there is no "next" secondary in the forseeable future.
1. Would you give someone another chance, if they made a royal mistake during their first pass at a secondary relationship? What might that other chance look like? Do I loosen/negotiate less tight boundaries so my expectations aren't so high and I'm less likely to be let down? Or do I hold tight to the same boundaries and remove them as I feel safe, the way I hoped it would go the first time? Or do I work on trusting her the next time, but with someone new instead?
2. How do you help a partner mourn a relationship that involved agreement violations? Do you? I feel as her partner, I have a responsibility to help her through any kind of tough time. But given the circumstances, I'm having a hard time gathering any sympathy. I have empathy, but... I'm also still hurt and angry (though less every day), so they seem to be cancelling each other out.
Ideas for me guys? You're awesome!
Guh. What a place to be in. *hug* I will answer like it happened to me, ok? In my Universe everyone in the polyship would have these rights and responsibilities. My imaginary reply below is of me as how I think you are here and how I think you are trying to Spit it Out.
Hopefully close enough so you can maybe tweak it and make it your own?
If this really were me? I'd be out the door and NOT willing to entertain staying. But we are different people. So... only you know what you know over there.
1) I love YOU. I do not love THIS.
2) Own your own baggage. Your WANT for absolution does NOT outweigh my NEED for pain-free time to process all this in.
I am upset. I find this a reasonable thing to be in this situation.
I need quiet time to get over being upset. I find this a reasonable request in this situation.
I see you want to be absolved. I wish I could do it. I cannot. You have to be squirmy right now. I am not going to put thumbscrews to you and give you extra squrim. That is not kind to do to my loved one.
But I cannot help you with the squirm part. That is the price YOU pay for having crossed a line and having hurt the loved one of yours that is ME. I suggest you lean on others. I will be leaning on others too. We cannot lean on each other on this one. We have been broken. We must mend the individuals alone before we can hope to mend the dynamic duo.
3) Stop pushing me for an answer I do not yet have.
That does not feel respectful of me. I do not know at this time and at this place if it is a soft limit or a hard limit because of the cheating start.
I can tell you damn straight is it a LIMIT right now. So leave it be. Know it is a LIMIT. I will check back on what type of limit when I know if sooner or in a month on the outside. WAIT.
4) This relationship is running in the red. I need time to cool my jets and bring it down to an orange so I can get to yellow if we ever hope to see the peace of green again. If you want to be in right relationship with me, you will give me the month of quiet space I ask for.
If you cross more lines with me, we are done. You are on 3 strikes as per our agreement for how to be together. One, you lied about the cheating. Two you cheated. Three you are pushing me here and not giving me my need for time (a month) that is peaceful and pain-free.
We are on overtime. Because I love you, and I'm deciding if I still love you enough to keep on keeping on despite this pain I endure.
5) I am willing to still entertain the idea of staying in relationship with you if I get what I need. If you cannot give me my LIMITS and my NEED for time and space, then we need to talk about breaking up now rather than putting it off the inevitable. I love you dearly, but I'm not loving THIS. Are you playing like Jedi or like the Muppet Show?
How do you want to come out on the other side? Together in right relationship? Together as friends but not in rship? Or apart and walk away no longer friends?
I WANT some clear head space to process in peace. I am upset and I need time to chill.
I NEED pain free time to be able to do that well and dial down my hothead stuff and let it blow through before I can think and act with intention. Give me at least one month before we revisit this issue for discussion. I'm still gathering my dropped bag after losing all my marbles!
I have a LIMIT: that you don't see this person near me right now for 30 days. That just creates more static on this channel. Email, text, talk, but NOT around me or in a way that takes time away from me or causes me more pain. I need TIME that is pain free. When I am with you, BE PRESENT, with me. Not off in lala land with your person. Keep this person away from me.
I have a LIMIT: Do not rush me in my soul searching to decide if it is hard or soft limit on you seeing this girl while overlapping with me. If you need an answer today? If you are going to push me? I will push back and say it is HARD limit that is a dealbreaker, its been broken, and to spare myself more agony I am done with this relationship.
I love you. I do NOT love this. I want to be with you, but NOT like this. So endure change with me and we see what we see.
Thank you for listening to me. Is there anything you need to say to me? That I need to listen to? Anything that you have to share on your wants, needs, and limits? In this time? In this place?
As always, thank you GalaGirl for a hard, swift reply. You rock.
We kind of have had that talk. She's not pushing me terribly hard, it was a question that came up today because we will be in a place this weekend where the individual in question will undoubtedly be.
So knowing that, she was gently (legit gently) asking if I thought this is a never-gonna-happen thing or a needs-time-to-heal-before-it-starts-again thing. I appreciate your support of my "I just don't know yet, let me not know" headspace. I'll bring that to the table next time it comes up.
When we have this talk, and I ask
So when I say, is there anything you want to say to me, and she says, I'm in pain, where do we go from there? Back to step 1, where I say sorry, I'm in pain too so I can't help? Seems fair but also... mean. Just wondering I guess if anyone has found a way to push by this and still be there for a mourning partner that was a dick. But, maybe you're right and I need to put my foot down and let her feel what it's like to handle this without me, since she earned it.
Depriving her of support makes me feel like a less-than partner in her time of need, and I don't really want to alienate her even though she alienated me in her mistakes. Too forgiving, you think? BE HONEST! I'm just trying to check myself because it's so easy to stay bitter even though bitterness doesn't breed progress. UGH!!!
Thanks for the hug. :) :confused:
PS Having given it more thought, being lenient here could easily expose me to more issues in the future, right? Cuz if I bend and break when she screws up, she'll think screwing up is her ticket to get her needs met. What I think is the ticket is clear, honest demonstration that she can handle a new relationship at a POLY, PARTNERED pace instead of her SINGLE pace, which she admitted was the deal. She hadn't dated anyone on her own since meeting me two years ago, and picked up where she left off in her high-speed dating habits, instead of checking herself. BAH.
Other choice -- go elsewhere for date where person is not.
Other choice -- she goes, you go elsewhere. Reschedule date some other date.
Keeping the unfortunate metas far away from each other for one month is not rocket science, here. C'mon.
You are in a dark time. So what? There's been light times. Just remember broken hearts keep on beating.
You can share this stuff more deeply with other people. Pick up your own marbles. See your mother, your other friends, whatever. But dude, on THIS one? At this initial stage? Damn, I suffer too. I can't go to MY best person either. You it! Christ. I have to collect my OWN marbles that got spilled!I always think of the poem in the Dark Crystal.
When single shines the triple sun
What was sundered and undone
Shall be whole, the two made one
By gelfling hand or else by none.
You BOTH need outsider input to break you out of the rut. You turned here. She can turn here or wherever else. To get the new perspective to help crack the problem.
The UrRu and the Skeksis could not come back to be the UrSkek without the help of outside friends of the Gelfling race.
I know that gets a bit trippy/kiddie (I'm a parent, I have kid methods sometimes for Big Concepts). But it's still what this is. You need outsider input. If you think it merits it -- check a pro counselor to help guide you out of this mire if you both are willing to put in the work.
You are within your rights to be upset, and you are within your rights to ask for the intensity volume to turn down. Piling MORE of her baggage on your back? When she went thoughtless and dumped baggage on ya? C'mon.
You don't ding a porcupine and then ask the porcupine to chop off it's quills so you can ding them easier next time. You learn NOT TO DING THEM. And you can't get the porcupine to uncurl until it is ready to do so and no longer feels threatened.
OWN that the sight of her suffering bothers you. Learn to be comfortable with that. You are not sucking her sorrow like a vampire. But some things in her life will NOT be for you to solve. You do that? You hinder HER own personal growth in owning some things about herself that are not so great. SHE must own that and work through it to be a better partner to anyone -- not just you. Do you want a Jedi partner or not?
Even Luke had to face his crap in the cave in Dagobah. Yoda would NOT go in there with him.
Keep your noses clean, and move like Jedi through this swamp mess. We teach others how we want to be treated. You have opportunity to grow better conflict resolution skills here in yourself and with her. You have an opportunity here to see yourself handle yourself with grace in a tough place. You have opportunity here to call her into account for a transgression firmly but kindly. And see if she's from the Jedi Order or from the Muppet Show in how she rises up to the challenge.
THAT knowledge will save you so much grief later if she's a Muppet and you cut this rship loose, and will bring you so much peace if she's a Jedi in future conflict if you stay together.
I have sick humor... that's what I use to help me endure.
When here in this place? I chant to myself.
Grace under pressure... grace under pressure. Grace is inner harmony of the soul. Anyone else dings me I'm gonna shout "I am fucking having inner harmony of the soul here under great pressure!" I prickly! I need space! Take heed! Or I punch yo' face! See me being graceful?! I am graceful! GRRRR! I poop diamonds I'm so graceful! GRRR!"
Hang in there.
I would entertain a trial "V" polyship of her dating her person along with you for a month. And still keep you guys apart from each other. You can observe if she gets all NRE woo woo and manages her ORE rights and responsibilities like a Muppet or like a Jedi.
If Muppet still? Ciao! Game over.
If Jedi? Alright. Then you can take the next baby step in thinking about repair work with your meta person so you can Change there too -- from the cheater partner you feel GRR about to a polite, cordial relationship of acquaintances who share a Sweetie.
But they cannot be RUSHING you into best buddy metamour land! That is a nice want, it is not a NEED, and you have serious limits to overcome that got foisted on you by RUSHING in the first place.
Sometimes asking for too much to fast is asking to be allowed to just be plain ol' FRESH and taking liberties!
I'm a bit sad your partner is focused on a future of getting back together with this other person, only because if she is focusing on building trust again with you, and making sure your relationship is strong, her energy and attention seems to be pretty divided. I also don't think it's very kind to ask you to shoulder the burden of her unhappiness (only because of the rule breaking - I'd be OK with a partner asking for breakup support if the metamour had been irritating, or even rude to me.)
I think GalaGirl has much more uplifting advice than I would give, I haven't read through all of it yet.
#1. Would you give someone another chance, if they made a royal mistake during their first pass at a secondary relationship?
If it was the first time somebody screwed me over, and I could see they were determined to fix stuff? Probably. What I would do is ask them for what agreements they WERE willing to make. I'd probably go through Tristan Taormino's Opening up checklists, and as them what their ideal poly looked like, then decided if I could compromise or negotiate from there. Or maybe I would realize we were too far apart.
If the other party left because they were fed up that you wouldn't just suck it up and deal with the mess they made? No. Never. Not with that person. My husband could feel free to go be with them instead, but I don't hate myself enough to be the bad guy, when I didn't do anything to fuck stuff up.
2. How do you help a partner mourn a relationship that involved agreement violations? Do you?
If agreements had been broken and I was still working through it and my partner wasn't being sensitive to it - I'd say "I'm really sorry you're hurting, but the way the relationship came about hurt me, and I feel hypocritical trying to supporting you through this, because it's still a source of pain for me. I love you, but if you need a shoulder to cry on I think it would be better for both of us if you leaned on other friends for this - but I am always willing to give you a hug when you are sad.
It sounds like your partner is a FHB (fallible human being). She mistakes, as we all do. The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.
For me, forgiveness will only come with time, so I am posting for short-term solutions in the meantime and you poly people have all kinds of fun tools for that!
If you have never seen your partner this happy with another person, then why deny your partner true happiness.
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