Yet another transition from mono-to-poly thread
HUGE Apologies for the exceedingly long post. It was even longer but I've edited heavily ;-) Any advice that anyone can offer would be appreciated!!
My husband and I have recently joined OKCupid. Our relationship has been notionally "open" for years (just not found more than one or two friends to act on it with). I now realise that my basis for opening up was purely for fun - for sex, new friendships, new activity partners. Light, easy stuff. My husband quickly meeting a girl and exploring new kinks didn't bother me at all. I was enjoying seeing how happy he was and that energy being brought back into our relationship. I hadn't met her, but didn't really feel that I needed to.
Then the problem: My husband and this girl are now romantically involved - properly loved up, caught up in NRE, call it what you will - which I really hadn't planned for. It looks like (on reflection and repeats of conversations etc) my husband had tried on a couple of occasions to warn me that it was likely he'd fall for someone if he did meet someone he really liked - I appear to have just brushed it off, or put up such a strong barrier against dealing with that idea that I didn't even realise I had done so myself. I had happy expectations of an open relationship, while my husband had always intended on being fully poly.
As a result of that mismatched expectation, I'm finding their NRE incredibly difficult to manage. I get resentful and pissed off about their constant interactions via email/text/IM, however they can manage it. I've found myself tempted to read my partner's emails and texts, which I've NEVER done before (and thankfully have been able to resist).
I met the girl concerned recently for the first time and was completely unable to control my emotions: I just shut down, unable to talk to either of them or accept any physical or emotional support from my husband. The strength of my response really took me by surprise! I'm usually able to cope in just about any social situation but this one floored me.
My husband is obviously quite distraught for multiple reasons - he hates to see me so upset, but on the flip side he really has feelings for this girl and doesn't want to screw that up either.
Whatever the reason for (our first and only!) communication breakdown over the style of our relationship opening, I really want to make it work. I want to find ways to be happy (or at least comfortable) with any other romantic entanglements he may have, and at the same time perhaps open myself up to the possibility of more than just a bit of sexy fun with other partners.
However, at the moment I can't see how I'm going to reconcile it all together. I genuinely have no issue with other fun being had, but the sight of my husband so clearly doting on another woman left me feeling cuckolded, like an intruder and helpless. If I could identify what I was jealous *of* that would probably help! Good old fashioned insecurity, I reckon. But my head knows that we're completely committed to each other, so I can't make sense of my emotions properly!
Any thoughts or advice much appreciated (and a gold star to you if you read the whole thing, frankly....)
Your relationship with your husband is changing, because this woman is now coming into it. His experience of who he is is changing because she is now giving him a lot of attention. He is responding to this by changing the way he gives you attention. Your feelings are one of the ways you are responding to this change in him that you are noticing and being affected by. No one knows what this change will bring to your relationship. He doesn't even know. The best thing you can do is ride the waves of emotion you feel and talk to your husband as clearly and constructively as you can whenever you need to.
Do you need them to slow down so you have more time to process? If so, tell him that.
Well, it sounds like your husband has been fairly good at forecasting his actions and expectations. Up until now, you've been ignoring this rather than dealing with it. Granted, I KNOW NRE is hard to handle. However, there are certain things you can do to make this easier on yourself. Ideally, you should make a point to develop a friendship with this new woman, apart from your husband. Talk to her honestly about what you are going through, go shopping together or go do something girly. This will allow you to focus more on how this new turn events can be a good thing for everybody. You will also feel more "in the loop" and emotionally secure.
I'm guessing the same is true for her.. she also wants to feel secure and a friendship with you will help that. It would be mutually beneficial. As an added bonus, it would probably make your husband really, really happy.
Anyway, that's just my 2 cents. I am good friends with my girlfriend's other boyfriend and it has been made her new relationship exceptionally easy for me to handle.
Name what you CAN name. Don't worry about the rest for now. It will come to surface in time.
It might not be everything, but these are at least some things you can address I picked up on reading your post.
You have found a mismatch of expectations. You were thinking swinging or kink playmate or open maybe? And he was thinking up to and including poly. You have named that part. So continue to discuss and clarify with DH what is on the table here.
You have found resentment and being pissed off about their constant interactions via email/text/IM, however they can manage it. Well, what is "constant" right now? Every hour on the hour? Once a week? In your line of sight? Taking away from his being fully present when it is time with you? Define this one and come to agreement on something reasonable and acceptable.
Your heart knows you are secure and together. Does your MIND know it? Do you have a framework for how to be together? What rights and responsibilities your carry? How to deal in conflict resolution? Would having somthing there help ease your mind bucket (mental health) at this time?
Then I wondered...
Are you getting before before care and after care when he goes on dates? That time to touch base and then reconnect with you so you feel valued as a person and not given a lick and a promise like you are some "meh" obligation or something? His duties to his wife? What about his duties to the household -- his chores around the house being executed well? Or are they being blown off to NRE?
Just my 2 cents
Little of substance to add after informed remarks by the others, except perhaps that your feelings seem understandable to me--or at least familiar, having some experience after 35 years of marriage with a number of the psychological depths a couple can plumb, qualified if not disqualified by the fact I've limited experience with extramarital relationships, am male and essentially mono (i.e., recently declared poly to my serially mono wife, who welcomed the news by announcing I was free to choose between poly and divorce).
That said, as GalaGirl mentioned it seems you may be facing the spectre of poly, which unlike casual sex with strangers is not fun and games, striking me rather as entirely a topic appropriate to Dali (the surrealist painter). By "poly" I mean juggling love for more than 1 partner through all of lifes' and loves' stages, and trusting one's partner the freedom to do the same (a little like finding the courage to give one's horse its head during one of those vertiginous descents into the Grand Canyon, if you like).
It's no surprise to me that your husband may have fallen in love with someone he's having sex with simply because for me (and hence probably a lot of men) love & sex are on the spectrum of the same disease (like a host of behaviours characterise autism, say :)). One difference between his behaviour and that of a male in a mono marriage engaged in an extramarital affair is that it's with your full knowledge, stemming from his assumption of your tacit acceptance, if not your blessing (given that in such circumstances it's often better to seek forgiveness than permission). If you can still think of it as sport it may be no more than a matter of parrying the thrust, returning the ball.
While how your relationship eventually unfolds is a matter of how you and he deal with issues as they arise it seems you're on the right track; namely, you're striving first to be objective and second, to communicate. In my opinion (and somewhat in my experience) secondary love interests, no matter how intense, don't need to become a threat to the primary relationship and should not be perceived as a threat. If embraced in the right spirit they tend to illuminate the primary relationship in a number of ways, strengthening a strong bond if it already exists, in any event prey after a while to the same banalities as the primary relationship. Probably all of us sometimes dwell on worst case scenarios when time seems to teach ideally we should be lending support to our partner--being happy for him or her--but by the same token, in return deserving understanding of & respect for our sensitivities and receiving help to outgrow them. Easier said than done.
In my opinion it helps in the early years to conceive of things in terms of balance--even a sort of crass ledger, say, that makes sense to the logical half of the brain, that matches body count with points for style, depth & grace. As GalaGirl implies but if nothing else such a ledger is a board to pin our fears to in order to contemplate them.
Good luck, from the bottom of my heart. While polyamory seems to me the most free, natural & happiest form marriage can evolve into it's not for everyone (including me yet, as it turns out). If I might grasp your feelings I don't envy you them. From the vantage point of old(er) age sharing love in the early years seems complicated by what is to me natural (genetic?) competition for resources (emotional, sexual, material) and issues of dependence, dominance & security, a time when it's only easy to be benevolent when dealing from a position of relative advantage. The complications lessen after the potential for child rearing passes and career aspirations fade, leaving you and your partner(s) and their partners more clearly in each other's focus. If I miss youth & the newness of everything I don't miss the confusion & growing pains. The battle to forge a life together (if it turns into one) can be damaging but apparently true what does not kill us makes us stronger, more at peace, or finding peace at last.
Wow - thank you all so much :)
Snowmelt - I think I just used entanglement purely because it's a pretty word (heh) but now I think about it more, it's also because it happened so unexpectedly and quickly that it does all feel a bit messy for everyone, so I've tried to visualise "untangling" the different thoughts and emotions in my head, as well as his and this new girl's.
Wolfwood - you're bang on, actually. He has been as honest and open as he can be, I don't know why (or how) I blocked out the idea so successfully. I actually invited the new girl (don't know the right terminology?!) round in a couple of weeks' time for drinks. Our first two meetings (with DH) haven't been that successful - mostly stemming from one or other of us having a sense of not being able to get the support we need when it's asked for. She's suggested quite rightly that before she can say yes, we need to meet separately (i.e. without DH) somewhere neutral, which is of course the right thing to do. I'm quite scared, but I'm a reasonable person really... I've just been so shocked at how out of control my emotions have been in recent weeks over this stuff. Hopefully meeting up with her will help with that. I get the impression neither of us are particularly girlie so I don't imagine there'll be any shoe shopping!
GalaGirl - thank you also... I think you've summed things up really well :) In fact, re: the interactions thing we've done *exactly* what you suggested and talked it out. I see it as "every spare moment", but DH has reminded me that he and I talk all the time, which is true. Probably just good old fashioned insecurity and jealousy on my part. We have talked about the fact that I feel their regular contact impinges on our time together, so we're working on that (again, more honest and adjustment on both sides). In terms of mind v body - we got married recently, have pooled our financial resources and written wills, etc. I have a quite serious long term illness, so it was always important for us to work that stuff out. In that sense, we're very much committed for life, and I need to keep reminding myself of that.
Clyde, thank you for your story. It's interesting actually, my DH really does connect sex and deep feelings/love very much, whereas I've often separated them quite a bit in the past. He's a fantastic man and it doesn't surprise me at all that someone else has fallen for him, really! I hope and believe we will find a way through it all - I truly can't imagine my life without him in it.
DH and I went away together this weekend, and after much heartfelt talk I think I understand better how hard this has been for DH as well... not being able to share his joy because I'm too upset or angry, and actually feel quite bad about it, but know I have had my own stuff to deal with! I really want to be able to share that joy (and potentially share my own at a later stage?), so I will use that as my goal point as I try to overcome the petulant part of my soul which wants him all to myself.
I shall report back when she and I have met up, and the three of us have met up again. DH is going on holiday with her next weekend, that will be an interesting time for me.
So we met up, the three of us and a friend of hers. This time, I made a proper effort to just relax and be myself for the most part, seeking a quick squeeze here and there but (I thought) giving them room to be affectionate as well. I felt ok at the end, but this time *she* felt terribly uncomfortable and unable to ask for the support she needed from my DH! :rolleyes: I don't know why. *sigh* It also turns out that I inadvertently left without saying goodbye to her - it was done with the best of intentions (to give my DH and his GF a chance to say goodbye privately without me having to hang around or watch them being that close/intimate), but in doing so I appear to have snubbed her, although I'm told that's not why she felt awkward (it had come up earlier in the evening anyway).
The long and short of it is that she has asked me to meet her separately this week for a drink and a chat. Frankly I'm a bit terrified :( I don't even know if I'm gonna like her! Some of the aspects of her personality that my DH highlights as being attractive I instantly bristle at - I think that's because I'd usually bristle at them but I can't help worrying that I might deep down just be taking an instant dislike to her because of who she is and her position and sudden insertion into my life.
So. Any advice on how to build a good relationship with my metamour? Is it ok (or right!) to try to make any agreements with her, or should I stick to doing that with my DH? I don't know what they'd be, just a thought. Is it ok to ask her what she wants from this relationship? I feel like I am having to conduct a retrospective job interview with someone who's already taken the job on offer. Equally, is it ok to explain to my metamour what bothers me about their relationship? I don't want them to end anything by any means, but currently my needs aren't getting met... but then again that's not her responsibility, is it, it's my DH's, right??
They've actually been away together for the weekend, left on Friday morning, back Monday evening, so I've just had one conversation and the odd text message all weekend, and mostly I've been fine with that as I've been out and about having my own fun, and was excited to be seeing my DH again tonight after an extended absence, sharing all our weekend experiences. But he texted me just now to say that he'll be a bit longer getting back as they're going to have a quick drink before parting to "decompress" - it's their first trip away together so I kinda see that, but equally we've not seen each other for DAYS (v unusual) and I'd like to have thought he'd be quite looking forward to seeing me again! Couple that with the fact that a "quick drink" they had together a week ago turned into him getting back so late I was already in bed and didn't see him at all, it has instantly made me tense again, after having felt so relaxed about things until literally half an hour ago!! Grrrrrrrr! :mad:
How do I stop myself getting so tense? It makes it harder to communicate cos I worry that all we talk about it is the effect the damned new relationship is having on ours instead of having any bloody fun!
Heh - he's redeemed himself slightly with some very sweet messaging just now (I know that this means the metamour must be at the bar or in the toilet - heh) but I've still got a ball of tension internally that I don't want. :( I think I might choose to just call it excitement about seeing my love after several days absence and a reasonably big test of our new lifestyle choice (i.e. going away with another partner). I am pleased that I didn't really feel any jealousy at all over the weekend, just missed my DH a bit, but not much. I've been pretty relaxed until that slightly misjudged message! How do I squash that annoyance? It's just daft.
That is one tier of your polyship's polymath. Of COURSE you can talk to them and figure out how you two are going to be together in your metamour relationship!
You are calibrating. We teach others how to treat us. Get it out on the table. Learn/ask how she wants to be treated by you. Tell/articulate how YOU want to be treated. Things like...
As for your needs not being met... WHAT needs? Communication needs from her? Something else missing from DH? Ask at the right parking garage for those needs to be met. I'm not sure what needs you are talking about so cannot help discern where you park those. You figure that out.
Again, we teach others how to treat us.
That's what you are doing with her. The show and tell on that and calibrating how you are going to be in metamour-ship with each other. DH might wish for the metas to get along ok, but he cannot dictate that. It's on YOU guys to actually sort that tier out among yourselves. Time and place for everything. Everything in its time and place.
GG! What a great analogy-about the campuses! That is SO helpful for me!! :)
(I hope it is for the OP as well)
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