The Never-Ending Discussion
It's been a while since I've posted. It's good to know this place is still here with caring people doling out good advice.
Let me give you a quick summary of where my wife and I are at currently. I am mono. She is poly. She has a BF who lives out of state (about 5 hours away). He is also mono and single. He visits for a weekend about once a month. Initially he was an online friend who we thought we'd have as a friend with benefits for her (during the time we were talking about swinging), although granted we had little knowledge of what we were getting ourselves into. We met him on a weekend and they had a good time. I trust him and know that he cares deeply for her. And they found themselves falling in love.
This is where things started to get complicated for me. As I do feel like I am mono, but am interested in swinging. I can understand having a 'friend with benefits', but when they talk about love that touches a nerve with me. From my mono-perspective there is a place for love (your significant other) and a place for fun (friends with benefits), but when you mix sex & love that encroaches on "my territory" (for lack of a better way to phrase it).
Now he and I have talked quite a bit, and he is content being a secondary in her life, with me as her primary. She would love to have all three of us under one roof probably, but just sharing my bed and house with him one weekend a month is pushing my limits sometimes.
I struggle with allowing their NRE to run crazy. At first I didn't want to put limits on, but quickly found myself feeling like a 3rd wheel. She was struggling balancing her attention and affection between me (who's always been there) and him (who's new and fun). Recently I have requested they follow some rules (for my sanity) and they have both graciously agreed to cease the physical intimacies and try to limit certain aspects of the relationship.
I feel like this struggling / budding / working relationship between the three of us is always going between us all having a great time, to me being frustrated and upset, and my wife going into tailspin depressions because of her own confusion and desires to "be herself".
I feel like it is unbalanced. That "in a perfect world" we'd have found a couple to make friend (w/benefits) with and I'd have a 'playmate' too. I get jealous and envious of their affections. I have looked for someone to fill that role in my life, but finding someone who understands and is also available and etc etc, is 1 in a million.
Back when my wife and I first signed up on these boards we read LOTS and learned LOTS, and one post I remember the title of was, "Can a mono love a poly?" or something like that. I still ask myself that question frequently. And it's not that "can I love her" (of course I love her), but how-the-heck do we make this thing work? It's a continuing discussion that seems to have no answers and no end.
So...I don't expect miracles...but I'd appreciate any thoughts or questions or feedback.
Apologies for the long post.
Wow, we have talked about this a lot lately. Maybe if you read a few of the recent posts on this topic you will find something useful?
...Redpepper's right, but we can offer thoughts on your particular situation too. Why not?
You're not alone: the difficulty of seeing a spouse or lover forming an emotional connection with someone else seems to be, for many people, more threatening than a mostly sexual connection. There was a forum topic over on OKC just a few days ago in which a man asked why he could accept his wife having sex with a BF but not her sleeping over with him. The consensus seemed to be similar: it is the emotional significance of them spending the night and waking up together that he found difficult.
Personally, I think that part of what drives monogamy is a need to be the one special person in someone's life. So maybe if one's emotional self identifies sex as defining that specialness then one will feel sexual possessiveness, and if one identifies emotional closeness -- love -- as that specialness then one will feel emotional possessiveness (for want of a better term).
In my own case I seem to be able to accept that I'm special to my GF even though she also has another very special person -- her husband -- and may have other lovers at other times. I might feel differently if she and I were in a primary relationship; I haven't tested myself in that situation yet. I hope I would accept whatever she needs for her happiness and I kind of suspect that capacity is there.
But here's a question: assuming you might want to change the way your emotional self looks at its own need for specialness and relationships, how would you go about that? I rather suspect that these things operate at a subconscious level. I suspect one doesn't simply say, "OH, right, it's illogical to feel this way so of course I won't feel it anymore."
I do think people can change. Hell, I know it because I have changed. But techniques for changing and the time needed to do it are another matter.
Does any of this make sense? Or am I wandering off base?
Hi Tech - I am in your same situation. I'm mono, last year my husband fell in love with a co-worker (who is also married) and discovered polyamory. I don't really have any great advice because I struggle with the same issues you do. You can check out my blog (KT's Blog) and read about the ups and downs that I've been through. MANY people offered me great advice that you could apply to your own situation. There are other great blogs and threads that you can read where you can find support, advice and understanding.
I struggle with this everyday - I think it's ingrained in us that this is wrong, that there must be something wrong with us or wrong with our marriage if our spouse falls in love with someone else. We had been light swinging for a few years before he fell in love - but when he was with other women, I was never jealous or insecure. Sex was just sex. It was fun, a thrill. I got incredibly turned on by watching my husband with other women. With his girlfriend - it is different because it's not just about sex. It's that deep intimacy that they are sharing that before he only shared with me. As time goes on, it is getting easier and easier but there are days when have a hard time. Those times don't last long - the trick is learning how to ride them out. I'm still learning how to do that.
My advice is to read, research, communicate. It's a learning process. It will help if you understand polyamory a little better and if you are willing to really take a deep look at yourself to dig up your insecurities so you and your wife can talk about them. I have never had to do so much self-exploration and self-analyzing than I have this past year. A relationship therapist might be a good person to help you do that.
Best of luck!
Eugene, yes, you touch on some good points there. We have had that exact conversation regarding how I am comfortable with them having sex with no feelings or feelings with no sex. But it's the combination of those two elements that makes me wonder how what we have is different or special to her. Once you have emotional intimacy with someone AND sexual intimacy with someone what difference is it if you are married to them or not, might as well be. And that is when I suspect I won't feel special in this relationship any longer.
I think it's interesting that you pose the question about me wanting to change the way my emotional self looks at my need for specialness and relationships. Why would I want to change? I know I'm being potentially belligerent here, but isn't this forum about accepting one's self as they are? I like being comfortable being the one-and-only that my wife loves and is intimate with. If I changed that wouldn't I be poly?
Kat, thanks for your response. I will have to check out your blog and the advice there.
I don't think that there is anything "wrong with us" (mono spouses) or "our marriage" to have a spouse fall in love with someone else. I may not be the best husband in the world, but I certainly haven't "driven her to this". I think it was just how she's made, she found someone, connected with them, and so be it.
I agree whole-heartedly with alot of what you said. When we were first experimenting with (as you say) light-swinging, I enjoyed (and still enjoy) seeing her enjoy other men. I have no issue with that. But when it becomes more than that, and her and the guy start sharing hopes, dreams, intimacies, deeper thoughts and feelings, that does begin to tread in areas that I'm uncomfortable.
I'm poly, and my partner's mono.
It seems that what bothers you most is the NRE shining in your face when your partner's OL is visiting. Is it possible for her weekend trysts to happen at his place? At a hotel? For you to be somewhere else when he's around?
And yes, the holy grail is to find another couple with whom you have mutual exchange attraction, but those, as you mention, are long shots. While you continue to search (if you're partner would want to add another love), you both might want to continue in periodic swinging adventures.
You wonder how what we have is different or special to me? YOU are what is different. YOU are what is special.
Let me put this in terms you MIGHT be able to understand better…you like gaming. Now, let’s say that someone made a rule that you can only play ONE game for the rest of your life. But, you like TWO games. And you like them both ALOT. For arguments sake, let’s use World of Warcraft and Runescape as examples. You start contemplating which one you could live without playing…but they are both UNIQUE. You can’t even compare them. They both make you happy in similar, yet different ways. One has better graphics and more interactivity. The other has more basic graphics, and is more of a solo-based game. One makes you rely on others to achieve your goals, while the other game puts the responsibility of achieving your goals squarely on your own shoulders and how much time and work you want to put into it. One of the games you’ve played for awhile, so you’ve gotten a lot of the achievements…that’s a lot of work to just walk away from. But they update the game every so often, so there will always be something new there for you to accomplish. You will just need to be patient and probably endure some boredom in the meantime. But the other game is NEW to you, and although you’ve accomplished a lot, there’s still so much more to do and you know that experiencing that will be a lot of fun. So, you think about it and decide that you’ll play World of Warcraft for the rest of your life. But then it occurs to you that there are days when you really don’t want to have to interact with others. So maybe Runescape would be better, because you can play that alone OR you can involve others if you so choose. Okay, this example has gone on too long. I think you might get my point. They are both different, and they both fill certain needs. One isn’t “better” than the other. And they certainly aren’t the SAME. They are both unique in their own ways, and they both fulfill certain specific needs. So, wouldn’t it be better to be able to play both instead of having to choose one and sacrifice the other?
I’m not saying that you are one of these games specifically and my BF is the other. And I wasn’t using the examples of the pros and cons as anything to apply specifically to either of you. I was just trying to help you understand that you can enjoy two things of the same “genre” and still appreciate the fact that they are unique from each other.
I wrote "assuming you might want to change" because quite a few people who come to the forum do want to change the way they deal with relationships.
I've no urge to preach poly or mono to anybody, and I think most people on the forum accept that both lifestyles and all the shades between are intrinsically OK. No problem.
You write, though, that both you and your wife's BF are monogamous. This is a little hard for me to get my head around: to me, in my purely subjective interpretation, it means that both you and he would prefer to be the only man in her life.
Yet you seem to respect the man and you appear OK with some aspects of their relationship. I admire your psychological flexibility!
With respect to finding a balancing partner for the relationship you write, "...finding someone who understands and is also available and etc etc, is 1 in a million." Well, maybe those odds are a little too long...but I feel your pain. I need more female companionship than I get from my poly GF but the hiking buddy I've found doesn't really understand poly, let alone accept it. I can feel her distancing herself lately, and I would guess that she's struggling with keeping it platonic while also realizing that I'm not going to give up my GF and fall with relief into her monogamous arms.
And this was just meant to be a hiking friendship!
So it goes.
Eugene, thank you for not judging and for not reading-into my post and seeing it as flame-bait.
I do enjoy my monogamous-ness. But with a possible side of fun - if allowed - naturally.
As far as he and I are concerned. I am certain that either of us would be fully-happy being the only person in her life. And while my acceptance of him at times border on tolerance, his acceptance of me most times borders on a strong platonic love. (Meaning in short that he has more feelings for me than I do for him, although I see him as a true friend.)
But he has no desire to break up our marriage. And he would be more than happy (I believe) to simply be a participating member in a happy triad. While I struggle much more with this concept.
Hopefully this clarifies some things.
Sorry to hear about your hiking buddy.
Eugene, I'm Gem's BF. I figure maybe I should chip in just a bit.
I've heard the phrase "in a perfect world" used quite a bit, both IRL and here on the boards, and while it can occasionally be nice to think about, the thing I realized right from the outset is this: You can not dwell on what would make things 'perfect'. Yes, "in a perfect world" either I would have brought a wife/GF with me into this and everyone would have been happy in a quad/square, or Gem would have been single.
HOWEVER, we don't live in a perfect world, and I saw immediately that wanting and wishing for something that could not possibly happen, or could not happen for a while (in the case of a quad), would only lead to disappointment at first, then probably bitterness, then... Besides, and though I AM mono (at this time, anyway...Gem and I have discussed my POTENTIAL polyness given our large number of similarities, and I cannot rule the possibility out), I quite simply do NOT want Tech to 'disappear'. He's a pretty good friend and a pretty good guy, and in a platonic way I love him too. Unfortunately I'm a jealous person (which I've been working on, and it's been very difficult!), but the only thing I've EVER been jealous of him about is the fact that he lives with her and I don't. :p I don't begrudge him being with her in ANY way, and I want their marriage to be a happy one! I only want to ADD to BOTH of their lives, and to my own in the process. Tech is right, I would be happy being part of a triad. Whether that can/will come to pass remains to be seen, though, and is likely quite a ways off even if so.
Just my two (eight?) cents.
Eugene, good luck with your hiking pal. Hopefully you can work things out. :)
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