Figuring out Convoluted Jealousy Issues
Okay so back story- I've been in a triad for quite a while—I've been in a relationship with two long term partners, L for eight years and E for about three years now (though I'm not sure if I should term it a triad because L and E aren't sexually involved with each other, though they do love each other). L had wanted to try being in an open relationship a few years into the relationship, and when I became more comfortable with the idea, we started seeing other people casually. E, L and I were best friends since I began dating L,and would spend a copious amount of time together, so very naturally I began to develop feelings for E, and we've been an extremely close 'triad' ever since. All three of us have dated people outside of the triad, but mainly of the fling/short term type. We travel quite a bit, so sometimes live apart but live together when we are in the same city.
When it comes to my relationship with L, I'm happy to say that up until this point both he and I have not really experienced jealousy. We are extremely open with each other, and both are interested in being in an open relationship for similar reasons (we are mainly only interested in 'flings' outside of the triad, but not so much in long term relationships with anyone else).
So.... I found out somewhat recently that E has been involved in various relationships in the past year that I wasn't aware of.
I guess that he has always had issues telling me the truth about what goes on in his romantic life; this comes out of having had monogamous relationships in the past with extremely jealous, controlling gfs, as well as with his not wanting to deal with the 'working out' part of my feelings (he assumes I will be hurt—which sometimes I am—and doesn't want to deal with the guilt).
So, I found out that E has slept with a few people and been involved in flirtation/dating with a few others. While the hooking up/flirting doesn't bother me so much/make me jealous, he was involved in a longer relationship with a woman (who was cheating on her husband in a "supposedly mono" relationship) that involved a lot of letter writing/poetry/hotel hopping which turned into him backing off as she become very infatuated with him/putting herself in this bizarre subservient position (ie telling him that she wants to be 'obedient' to him)/telling him about her jealously of me. Oh, and, unbeknownst to me, she was constantly writing and texting him when I was living with him in X country in the fall, and when he lived with L and I in the spring).
When I first found out about this (I saw that he had logged into a secret email account and he was forced to come clean), he had a complete meltdown and I was put into 'comforting' mode: ie making sure he knows that I still love him, that I am not going to leave him, that I don't think he's an asshole, etc. The next day, however, I woke up sick with pain. Like, terrible, heart tearing, nauseating pain. I couldn't eat, sleep properly, basically sank into a terrible depression for the next few weeks that I haven't completely come out of. I'm now constantly suspicious/jealous of what he's doing. E says that he should have been open with me, that he will be in the future. This women still writes him often and wants to see him (they work together so this seems unavoidable), which I hate.
I should add that E isn't comfortable with my being involved in a long term relationship with anyone else (other than L of course), and experiences extreme pain when I have a fling with anyone else (which has made me very hesitant about pursuing flings, knowing that it's hard on E). Soo, I can't be sure if I'm so upset because I feel that E is being hypocritical, because E wasn't honest with me about what was going on, or because I don't want him involved in long term, passionate relationships with other people. I mean, if the person was someone I knew and liked and who knew and liked me I might feel differently (though I might not).
I'm unsure about my feelings, about why this is so hard for me. My sense is that I'm not comfortable with E or L being in long term, 'romantic' relationships with other people. I had a hard time in my home growing up, and I feel that E and L are an irreplaceable family. We love and respect each other so much, have such a rich creative/intellectual relationship together... And it was such a long and slow process that took sooo much working out of feelings (and in my opinion the perfect combination of personalities) to get where we are..... I guess that I don't trust that other 'long term people' won't mess up what we have together.
E says that he that he really enjoys 'flirting'/'build up' aspect of romantic things but that he often doesn't know how to stop things once they begin (and is sensitive about not wanting to be exploiting/using anyone)... But now I don't feel that I can trust what he says. I feel anxious all the time, I'm having nightmares, I become paranoid when he doesn't answer my calls. I basically just feel like shit.
Annnd, when I try to talk to anyone about this (everyone I know is in a mono relationship or are completely open ie don't really date one particular person) I only get the "you can't ask him not to be in a long-term relationship with someone else because then you wouldn't be in an open relationship/you're being hypocritical because you have L (though both L and E have been involved with many more relationships (flings) outside of the triad than I have)/he didn't do anything wrong so you can't be mad (I'm not 'mad' just in pain)/this 'is what an open relationship is so you basically got what was coming to you".... which is why I'm here.
Sorry for the long ramble. I guess I'm wondering if anyone has any insight into what's happening, coping mechanisms, whether I'm maybe just not cut out for this, etc.
First step is to accept, acknowledge and give yourself permission to feel that way.
(my personal blog has a lot regarding my sudden and unexpected anxiety attacks and jealousy this last winter on account of a similar, less significant piece of info regarding my husband-and how I got through it).
The next step is that you have to make it a responsibility to own your shit and he own his shit.
Seriously-not a healthy relationship if he has an open door to lying to you on account of ANYTHING-including fear.
The past is the past-but today has to be used to build the future.
I read a quote-and it goes for men or women-
"Don't punish the man in front of you over the actions of the man before".
He's punishing you (and himself) for past women's shitty behavior. Not acceptable.
Good to reassure him of your love-but he needs to come clean adn deal with his lying issue.
TAKE TIME OUT FOR YOU. Seriously-find what makes you happy-and make MORE TIME FOR IT right now.
Write-you have no one you can talk with that understands-write. Write the hurt, the anger, the fear, the everything.
THat's where you start in dealing with those emotions.
Which-by the way-aren't enough info to define if you "can do this" or not. You've been doing it-so evidently you can do poly. But, your internal weather (emotions) are signalling that its time to make some changes to the situation.
Not a bad thing-just a growth thing. ;)
1) He did a lie of omission by keeping his affair secret. Ergo, cheating on you and L. This is dishonest and not ethical. In my universe? That is a dealbreaker. I cannot build an honest, ethical polyship on a foundation of lies.
2) He expects you not have have long term relationships with other people outside your "V" even while he has long term things. This is not fair or reasonable.
Those are 2 separate problems.
Note it isn't the other people who suck here -- it is the cheating BF. If he wanted to date the Other, he could have brought them around to meet and be open and clear and aboveboard. Poly does not say "No." It says "Go slow, be kind with my heart."
So really it is HIM messing up what you have together. Maybe he lied to the Other too. Who knows!?
This is just nonsense talk to make himself feel like "not such a bad guy/not my fault really..."
Be more respectful to just boldly say "Yes. I did a bad and hurt you. I own it. Will you allow me to make apology and ammends? I ask for your forgiveness if you are willing to grant it."
Yep. You will feel bad for a time. It is what it is. Rain is rain. Sun is sun. Emotion is emotion. You cannot help how you feel when you feel it. You do not choose to feel whatever it is. Let that part blow on through.
You can only choose how you BEHAVE in response to the feeling/situation. React or act with intention. THIS part you must think out carefully. With your own best health interests in mind.
This was reaction in the heat of the moment:
Now you have to reconcile with yourself and decide if this is repairable or you are through. Sorting yourself won't feel fun. But do sort yourself.
You basically took a major ding, and I'm not hearing he made a clear apology. I'm not hearing you have chosen between
1) Do not forgive and break up because he's been a liar/cheater.
2) Forgive, but break up because he's been a liar/cheater.
3) Forgive, but stay together with new hard limit for what will immediately happen if he crosses the line again. PLUS ammends he must make.
You sound like you are trying to sort among those 3 options and get your head clear.
He's not made apology and is not making ammends yet. He is making excuses great though. On how he doesn't "know how to stop" himself. Maybe making amends is going to self-control / honesty/ relationships class of some kind? You have to decide what effort is enough/will do if you take him back.
Your "V" is not CLOSED or polyfidelitious. But it has agreements for how outside dating will take place. There is the expectation that outside relationships will be announced openly and honestly.
He broke with that agreement. He did a lie of omission while cheating on his polypeeps with some hidden affair person. Who is married to boot, and who knows if the poor husband is also in the dark being lied to/cheated on.
You could be in a polyship of 20 people -- he STILL behaved unethically according to the contract of that polyship. If the agreement is to STATE openly when you are having an outside relationship and he failed to do so.
Whether or not YOU are cut out for poly is a separate question than the question of "My BF cheated on me and broke with our relationship agreement by having an affair. Do I forgive him and continue or dump him?"
And that is only something YOU can answer.
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