Unsure of how to proceed, I feel as though I'm at one of the sharpest forks in the road I've ever come across in my life. My girlfriend of almost 8 months has expressed herself as being very monogamous and I've expressed strong feelings of polyamory, though I haven't made any action to persue these ideals. It has been a recurring topic of conflict in our relationship, though, more than anything, perhaps fuel for her underlying insecurities and fear of abandonment. It has become increasingly difficult for me because I often have such strong feelings of love and attraction for people other than her. This can occasionally lead to guilt due to me knowing how she would feel about that but mostly makes me confused.
I have had thoughts of leaving the relationship many times but I'm unsure if it's simply a sense of attachment that is preventing me from moving forward to what I feel is an expression of my 'true nature' or if the strong bond and compatibility I experience with her warrants dropping the concept of polyamory and going with the flow with what is right in front of me at this very moment in time - but then is that simply inactivity?
I'd like to add that the thoughts of leaving are not just related to the poly vs mono thing. As much love as she pours out of herself, she also pours out a lot of negativity. As much as I dislike labels, she has depression and borderline personality disorder. I try to refrain from judging as much as possible but even so, I often can't help but feel that I've just been drained mentally and emotionally after spending a while with her. Other times I feel uplifted and refreshed. It's a beautiful yet ugly rollercoaster.
I'd just like to hear some perspectives and experiences if anything. I don't know many poly people so it is difficult to speak about this with most.
Only you can make that call.
I don't think either of you are bad people. But I'm not getting the vibe that you are the most in sync here. Neither of you is feeling esp emotionally safe -- and not because of mean partner, but because of the situation. Mismatched personalities/people.
And since 8 mos is not all that long? Perhaps other partners would be a better fit if both partner's cannot put in the work to address the mismatched places.
It isn't lack of love or caring it just... the situation. I also don't see the point of avoiding a split just to avoid a split. Be together because you want to BE together. And do the work to improve weak areas.
Not just be together because you want to avoid the ugh of a breakup.
Can I just ask a question that's been nagging at me from Day 1 on this whole Poly thing?
No disrespect intended, just pure curiousity from the gallery of Mono minions. :D
I hear and read so often about Poly partners wanting to pursue a poly lifestyle and then dealing with the repercussions of their struggling Mono spouses. Is poly something that is SO innate, like homosexuality or breathing, something you HAVE to do, not something you can choose to do, like quit smoking or eat less, exercise more?
A few people on here are Poly and yet closed to other partners for various life circumstances, is it really that hard to be with your one life partner if it means that it makes them feel more secure?
Again, no disrespect intended, but I keep hearing that Mono partners need to learn to accept the tendency of the poly partner to explore that world; well, on the flipside, (playing Devil's Advocate) can't we say that the poly person could also be encouraged to accept a Mono lifestyle for the sake of the struggling partner? After all, it is their committed life partner, true?
Go at the pace of the one who is struggling the most, right?
Just my thoughts. :)
BPD + mono = ???
My partner also has BPD and, in the past, has needed monogamy.
To answer Newtoday's question, at least from my experience, choosing to
be monogamous was a mistake for me. To me, it DOES feel like an orientation of sorts and while I'm very good at keeping to relationship contracts (or requesting changes if needed before acting against them) it did seem limiting and unsatisfying to be monogamous with him.
Now that he's a year into DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) with a qualified team of therapists, a LOT has changed and he has now opened up to polyamory. His issues around perceived abandonment haven't magically disappeared but we both understand better how to address them and deal with them when they pop up.
I want to be clear that there is NO WAY that I could be maintaining this extremely difficult relationship if he were not 100% on board with his therapy and personal work. That's not to say he doesn't relapse but the structure of our relationship includes him holding himself accountable as he is able (more every month).
That rollercoaster can get old. Yet, I am so grateful for our whole complicated history- I've learned so much about myself and my own needs, boundaries, etc.
That take home for me? Prioritize yourself, make sure that you're getting what you NEED (and at least some of what you WANT) before comitting to the long haul. My relationship with my partner, because of his BPD in the context of him working on it, has given me MUCH more than it has taken out of me. If it were the other way, I don't think I'd still be able to be with him.
Good luck to you and PLEASE make sure that you both have proper therapy with folks who are trained in using DBT for BPD (preferably only one generation from Marcha Linaehan in training)
I think that there is a difference between accepting the other for who they are, and expecting the other to change because of who YOU are.
I don't expect my mono partner to have other lovers, because she is mono. She doesn't expect me to restrict myself only to one, because I am poly. But we can both accept that the other has a different basis for thinking about loving relationships that the other.
It's a choice what I do with my life, yes. I cannot choose who I fall in love with, though. Monogamous folks tend to only fall in love with one person at a time and, once in love, tend to naturally exclude those feelings from others. Poly people can't do that anywhere near as easily - it has to be forced. Can it be done? Yes of course! Does it feel right to do it? Quite often, not.
I have to agree with Galagirl. You sound like two wonderful people who share different desires and needs in your life. Perhaps it is not possible to share a long term sustainable relationship with your girlfriend. What you outline would seem to work better with either a willing mono or another poly. I am curious...how would you feel if your gf wanted to explore love with others?
And I also see newtoday's points. If you truly want to be with your gf in a long-term relationship, can you see yourself staying commited to just her?
In my experience, if one does not want to be monogamous or is not wired for monogamy (like myself), than can you really stick to monogamy? Will you be truly happy never loving anyone else?
I think these are all important questions to ask yourself and your girlfriend. I wish you both great happiness, and if you cannot find it together, I hope you find it elsewhere.
I guess, where my thoughts are also stemming from, is that is there a minimum or maximum requirement? As you said in other posts, you are polysaturated with a girlfriend and a lifepartner. My boyfriend (thankfully!)says the same thing -time commitments being the top holdback. If he's going to spend more time with anyone outside his life partner, it will be me.
So, that's a choice. You choose not to add another love to your life.
My point is, if the Mono partner is really struggling that bad, is it that unreasonable to ask the poly partner to close the relationship? People do it when they have children or other responsibilities that take priority.
I also question the concept of choice for polyship when I hear 2 different viewpoints:
1. I met another person at work/the gym/church/etc and we have a connection that I'd love to explore.
2. I am poly and need to love more than one person, so I'm off to find another person to love. Is that really a need or a want?
Again, just trying to understand. :D
You use homosexuality as an example of something innate but I think that polyamory, like homosexuality can often be on a scale. Some people are 100% gay or straight whilst there are also many bisexuals out there at 50%, 70% or 30%.
I know several people that considered themselves gay or straight their whole lives and then found their one exception to the rule.
I believe poly can be quite similar in that some people are 100% poly or mono but there are also lots of people that are dotted along the spectrum that could enter a poly or mono relationship for the right person/situation/time in their life.
So no one person or relationship is the same and, so, in answer to your question, is poly innate? I'd say yes and no, it would depend on the individuals involved. That's my opinion anyway.
I can only speak from my experience.
Still poly all those times.
1) That is a want. I would percieve this as someone asking their spouse to discuss if being allowed to explore is a possibility.
2) That is a need. Coupled with a break up -- because this person is not even asking the spouse for their input or comfort level. They are just gonna GO. Kinda mean too and not kind with their feelings.
My current agreement with DH is marriage -- in a closed polyship of 2 while we're in active parenting mode. That was the agreement and we will stick to it. We have an annual "state of the union" near our anniversary to review what is working, what is not, etc. We're both content. I think if you have made an agreement, you FINISH the agreement before starting off on a new path. For some it may mean writing a new agreement for how to best be together. For others it might be breaking up.
I'm very fortunate in my DH. He is not Closed to parts of me. He is Open to all of me. And for this I love him so. :)
My mono-BF1 (now my DH) and mono-BF2 knew before dating me I was poly. So there was no struggle of not having known. And it suddenly changing on 'em later. When we got married, DH and I had no struggles with a "mono spouse vs poly spouse" dynamic. Because he knew all this well before hand. It was "mono spouse AND poly spouse" from the get go.
I think it is harder for people who marry and then come to terms with their poly side after the marriage has already begun. Maybe they don't realize polyamory has a name until much later or something. Or maybe it is the marriage that makes them finally realize -- "wait.... this isn't it!" Then the struggle to cope.
It's entirely possible for poly me to be happy in a closed married polyship of 2. I've been here for more than a 15 yrs since BF2 and I parted ways amicably. And I am happy, loved, and content.
Why? Because I can be the authentic me and nothing is hidden. Periodically I'll pop up with some poly wonderings, readings, or musings and mono DH shares the thoughts with me and that satisfies me. The exchange of ideas in calm fashion. That I am loved as I am, authentically. There's no panic or freak out on his end. He knew it going in and he's lived with me this long and he KNOWS I'm not going anywhere so he's secure with me.
He likes to yank my chain when I announce I have a new crush (I never tell the crush person though-- we are closed) and I like being teased and I like crushing from a distance. It's flirty and fun for DH and I and our bond is tight so we can enjoy that sort of titillating banter.
Maybe that's the partial crux in other marriages? The poly person is not free to be their authentic selves with the mono spouse? I'm not talking about free to date. I mean free to express their poly thoughts? And not have the spouse wig out and rage at them?
Because it's like... if my mono DH says he loves me, all of me, just as I am? How much all of me is he really loving if I cannot even express my polyside thoughts to him -- my life partner? Without him having a conniption? I don't want to leave him. I don't want to betray our agreements. But I do want to be able to talk to him about my inner self, my ideas, my crushes, my STUFF. Doesn't he want to know me? All of me? Or does he just want to love a sanitized version of me that meets his approval or is easier to digest? Who does that leave me to talk to then to create emotional intimacy and bond and all that other good married stuff? Cuz he's the one I'm married to?
For us in marriage, the mono DH OPENS up to share poly thoughts, ideas, books, etc. The poly wife CLOSES to a polyship of 2. That's been our happy medium place and it satisfies. If we choose to Re-Open later, it's coming from an informed, "been here before" type place and years of talk. We've agreed that if both are not on board, it's fine to carry on as just as we are. I'm not lacking anything. Because I can be authentic in my relationship with him and he doesn't bat an eye. Just staying Open to each other even if not ever opening up to Another again. And it so satisfies me. I love him how he is loving me how I am. :)
It's also possible that there are people who can be just as happy with one partner as multiple, or who value quality over quantity and so don't take on a second/third/fifteenth partner for the sake of having more. They may be looking but so picky that they look monogamous but are poly in their hearts and minds. Or they might genuinely be happy rolling with the punches.
Human experience is so broad that I hesitate to say anything definite except what I know to be true for me. So there's what's true for me, and you can take it or leave it as you see fit.
...excuse me, have become unbearably postmodern.
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