How do you manage your triggers?
I'm a mono female in a relationship with a non-mono male (open relationship, he dates around).
I have issues with jealousy (insecurity, fear, occasionally anger, sadness) and envy that I am working on.
This is a hard time in my life to be going through this, I think (new baby, no nearby friends or family for support, no longer working because of baby, he works full-time), but I did nothing to get myself out of this situation. I considered it, we discussed it, and I stayed.
I love my partner more than anything and would like to be with him for as long as humanly possible. I am willing to do the work to do so, even though some days it is overwhelming and I just want to quit. It can be depressing, but I know if I go to a dark place in my head that something is wrong, and I need to fix it. I have a pretty negative world view. I am working on this as well.
We've been seeing each other for about 2.5 years. Non-monogamy has been relevant for a year and a few months. I really only started working on trying to be okay with it, as opposed to ignoring it, at the beginning of this year.
I'm getting a little off-topic, but I guess that is some background for you.
A while back (perhaps a months ago?) we had a bit of a disagreement that we have resolved, but during that time he had a flurry of communication with women he was interested in, constant texting and messaging on the computer, all day for about 2 days. It made me very upset, very jealous, and overall very unhappy.
It did subside after a couple of days.
Before that, his texting and messaging other women already made me uncomfortable, but since then, the sound of him opening and closing his phone, or typing for more than a few seconds at a time (signifying he is typing a message, or a comment on something... my mind always goes to messaging a girl, obviously, or it wouldn't be a problem), I get this surge of unpleasantness. Jealousy. Annoyance. Sadness or anger, sometimes.
It doesn't happen every time, but often enough that it really bothers me.
The trigger bothers me. The fact that I am reacting in such a way bothers me.
Lately he has been just leaving his phone open more often, so there is no tell-tale click half the time, and it doesn't bother me so much. I don't know if he does this because I've told him the sound triggers these feelings, or for his own convenience, but either way, it has helped.
Now obviously, I can not ask him not to text or message the women he is interested in. I can't ask him not to open his phone, or type messages on the computer. Can not. Would not. That is ridiculous, and impractical.
I realize this is a rather silly issue to have. It's not like he's bringing girls home and having sex with them in front of me. He only goes out with someone once or twice a week, He's just answering messages. Sometimes more frequently than I am comfortable with, or during certain times I would rather he not, but still.. they're just messages.
I am trying to get to the root of my insecurities, but this is taking time.
Does anyone else have silly little actions that trigger such an unpleasant reaction?
How do you deal with them? How have you gotten over them in the past?
I had issues with the phone, very similar to what you describe. I did ask that meal times, bed times and our date times are 'just for us'. So, no answering messages, no phones on. That has made a huge difference and I found that I am not triggered even half as often by the sounds and interruptions now that theres a guaranteed time they don't occur.
I prefer dismantling triggers, when I can. Hypnosis is an incredible tool for that. Not the stage hypnosis you're prone to see in your town. Real, therapeutic, one-on-one hypnosis, with an experienced, well-trained person.
Personally, I've enjoyed lots of hypnosis on CDs, and now, much is available for download, right into your device of choice.
I also work with some folks who eliminate beliefs that are not serving. I was damn near hysterical recently, when my boss left, and i had to do his job (as well as mine). I had one session, and haven't had a moment's anxiety since. I didn't realize that I HAD anxiety before that. But after it was gone, I realized it was missing. I feel SO much better.
Phones in general can be a sore spot, when overdone. Skye I'm sure is nodding emphatically, especially given that I use mine almost exclusively, in place of a computer. Work, personal stuff, this post, etc. So, one thing that may be worth asking yourself before taking action is if the primary issue is the amount of messaging, or the messaging itself. If the former, then perhaps working on that first and seeing where the other ends up is the better option. In our home, I do try to limit it on my own, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes, I need the reminder from Skye.
Ugh, consider this... you are new parents. You have a lot of hormonal surges and a new little human being to bond with and take care of. Many poly people take a break from engaging in other relationships when there is a new baby in their lives.
Instead of placing blame on yourself and thinking you are not handling your "triggers" well enough, consider the possibility that your irritation rises up because this simply is not the right time for him to be focused on having liaisons with other women. You and your baby need him!
You cannot be left (abandoned?) to parent alone if you have a partner. Is he stepping up and doing what he needs to do to share in responsibilities at home? If so, then, okay, maybe have one day a week for a date with someone else, BUT if pursuing other women is an escape from the scary responsibilities of being a new dad and he's leaving you high and dry to do it all by yourself, then he is being a total cad and you should not tolerate that!
You two need to get down to the nitty-gritty in your communication and come together as two new caregivers of a child.
How old is baby? Have you been checked for post partum depression? Is he pulling his share of the new baby work load? Because if he isn't?
Then no wonder you feel annoyed/angry/jealous. Because you are in an isolated space, in a demanding role with not enough support from your partner. He may very well be your only adult contact right now. You are awash in kiddieland. (Nursing a newborn is every hour on the hour at the start! Sleep is precious! You are not going to feel right as a nursing mom til it hits the every 4 hr blocks and you can snatch longer sleep and you feel less irritable.)
Meanwhile he is getting to be at work interacting with Adults, time off to date for pleasure, and not being full present to parent duties when at home? Luxuries YOU do not get right now.
So did you make this baby alone or what?
If this is the place you guys are at? You need to man up a bit about knowing and stating your wants, needs, and limits for this baby time.
He needs to man up a bit about doing more in this baby time.
And yah, perhaps that means chill or even Close to any new relationships until the babe is older and the demands on your Time less heavy.
There is a REASON we are Closed through parenting time over here. I know some people do not Close, but we did. It's just maddening to meet kiddie demands and have to juggle our own couple things AND be dealing in other people wants, needs, and limits. Something has to give, and it's a lot easier to Close and let of that for a while. Some things CANNOT be let go of -- like the baby care and self care.
Make sure you each are tending your mental health, emotional health, physical health, and spiritual health. As well as help to tend each other's buckets. Parenting is a team effort. Please take better care of yourselves/each other in this baby time. Baby needs you well in ALL your health buckets.
Thank you all for responding.
I had a bit of a breakdown tonight, which really was unexpected because I had just been talking to an online friend about how well I've been handling things lately, and the progress I have made.
I guess I was thinking a few too many negative thoughts at once, was dealing with too much stress, and then the texting started up and I just had to leave the room.
This led to him asking me what was wrong, repeatedly, until I could squeak out every little thing I could think of that was bothering me, including the texting. I made sure to remind him how it bothers me when we are talking, watching a movie, or when he has said he wants to spend time with me. Apparently we have different ideas of what constitutes "quality time" and we are going to work on finding a middle ground there.
(I say this a week after trying EFT, though, and while I am not sure that works either, at least it was distracting? heh.)
He used to have a smart phone. He could do all his texting and web browsing on there, and often chose it over his slow, desktop computer. He recently had to turn off his smart phone and go back to using an old flip phone to reduce his bill so that we could get by more easily.
He used to use his phone to check his OKCupid or whatever site messages, so I never knew the difference of when he was texting or posting on forums or responding to emails or.. anything. And I think that helped. A lot. He pointed this out to me earlier, and now it makes more sense to me. He also was able to do these things on his phone when he was out of the house, so he spent a bit less time doing them at home than he does now.
Obviously, this doesn't make me not upset when he is multitasking, as he put it, at home when I would rather he be fully present.
Again, I'm hoping we can reach a more comfortable middle ground, because he didn't seem to realize exactly how much this was upsetting me, even though I had mentioned some of it being bothersome in the past.
I know the messaging itself bothers me. I really wish we had opened this in a better way. The way it was brought up and gone about was rough and unpleasant, and that is one reason it took so long for me to really start working on my issues with it. I guess I'm still not fully okay with it. I am in theory, but in practice.. ugh.
The frequency just exacerbates it, I guess.
Either way, I continuously tell myself they are just talking, just like he would to any friend back where he came from.
Same thing with sex. It's just sex. It's not like he hasn't had sex with other people before. Why should it matter if it's past or present?
Getting slightly off topic there, I guess.
He knows (I restated this to him today), that I would find it helpful if he would offer to take the baby more often, instead of waiting for me to ask him to so I can cook dinner, do laundry, etc, or playing with the baby while I am holding him. There for a while, no matter what mood he was in, the baby would scream whenever I handed him to him, so I think there may be some residual fear there that whenever he takes the baby, he's going to end up holding a wailing little boy.
He understands that I am home with our son almost every waking moment, that I have no other help with him, and that this can be rather hard on me.
I don't think he goes out as an escape. I fully believe it is for other reasons. If it were because of stress at all, it'd be because of his job, and finances, not baby responsibilities. He goes out for fun, for experiences, not escape.
I do not think he would be open to the idea of closing, currently.
Our son is right at 19 weeks. I have not been checked for PPD since he was about 6 weeks old, though my mother suspects it. Somehow me talking to a friend back where I came from about our relationship got back to one of my brothers who told my mother, so since then I have been able to somewhat talk to her about these things. She dislikes the entire situation, but suspects that I may have a touch of the baby blues helping with my stresses.
Aside from baby well-checks, and my own occasional doctor's appointment, he is pretty much the only adult I interact with.
He does help, like I said above, but usually just when asked. That doesn't bother me most of the time. I'm content to hold the baby most of the time. He's an "easy baby." Doesn't cry too often, sleeps well, eats well, and is occasionally happy to play by himself on a blanket on the floor while I make a sandwich or something.
Sometimes, I just want him to offer to take him before I ask.
He does help with more than just the baby sometimes, which is definitely appreciated, though to be honest, I usually prefer that he take the baby so I can have my body back for a bit.
He tends to only go out once a week, rarely twice. This is something we renegotiated to recently, up from once a week, which he thought was unrealistic. He would not be interested in limiting himself to less, from what I can tell, and I don't think closing would be an option.
He wants several children, so we'd be talking about closing for several years.
On top of that, he has health issues that concern him. He very much wants to pack as much as he can into what he sees to be, overall, a very short life.
I'm trying to de-stress in any way I can, trying to think positive, stay healthy, etc.
Sometimes, it's just hard. I guess I've always been a pessimist, and that doesn't help.
I feel I may have been rambling at points during this post, and if that is the case, I apologize. If I missed something, just let me know. It's just past six in the morning, and I have yet to go to bed.
Invi, I felt a sense of warmth reading your original posting because it is a fascinating topic for me as well--triggers, what they're about, and how to work through and with them.
With my partners, my own triggers (as well as theirs) have formed some of the most tender, deep, complex moments we've had. I've learned about myself that something "is a trigger" in inverse proportion to my feeling I can talk about it. That is, the less I feel I can talk about the issue, the trigger is sharper and more problematic. To put it another way, when I sense a trigger, it points me to precisely the issues that need to be aired and resolved.
I'm coming from the same place as GalaGrrl and Indie, though perhaps a little more so. I'd say that at this juncture in your lives you and your mate have only one polyrelationship--i.e., relationship outside your dyad partnership--to consider right now. That is your relationship with that small human being you created. That is brand new, in its early and crucial stages. It must be laid down with all the attention, care, and tenderness two people can raise.
You say that your partner isn't, or wouldn't be, interested in closing to other relationships at present, which to me says he wants to reserve the power to neglect the primary other-than-mate relationship (with the baby).
So what is he really looking for in "polyrelating"? Depth of relating, or something that feels good (NRE-ish) on his terms? Whatever, I'd say he's evading being fully present for his child.
I do realize that needs of a relationship such as with a fully dependent infant simply aren't as much fun as the excitements of NRE or an obsession with a new lover.
So I wouldn't recommend "hypnosis for your triggers." I'd recommend couples counseling, because it comes across to me that the two of you have created a new life but aren't in full agreement about where that comes in the overall scheme of your attentions. You saying "I'm content to hold the baby most of the time" was a red flag for me. You shouldn't have to ask for help. Your partner should be there, 150%.
This may be me projecting my own views onto you: that when two people create a new life, nothing comes before attending to it. IME "polyrelating" can be an excuse some people use to evade that. An infant human needs parents who are in agreement, and pulling together, with their focus on the human they've created. If one of them is finding more important things to do with his/her time, and the other is excusing that, it's going to lead to a trainwreck eventually. In fact I'm less inclined to call your reactions "triggers" than prescient moments of dread to see just how low fathering rates in your partner's total mindspace, from your perspective.
By the way, staying up all night stewing about your feelings is no longer an option for you. Your child needs you rested, focused, and ready to be responsive as well. I know it's hard to quell the mind when it's full of demons...but your child needs positive energy and attention, full responsiveness from its caregivers, and to be put first. With all due respect, it sounds to me like "polyrelating" isn't what's really at issue here, it's you and your partner needing to have The Talk about what it means to be parents. You two no longer come first.
I find this discussion fascinating. I have been wondering for a long time how, if at all a Mono person can really make Polyamory work. This particular story makes me very sad, to see how much time, effort and emotional work has been done to make it work, while taking care of a baby and dealing with all the emotions that accompany the changes in a relationship when a child is born.
I, too am struggling with trying to accommodate to my partner's desires and about to give up.
Does anyone have anything positive to say in the way of encouragement to continue? It just seems that there is a very basic incompatibility between people who are mono and poly.
thanks for listening.
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