I’m really grateful to have found this forum. I've recently been struggling with juggling two relationships. I have a few friends that I can talk with and that have been supportive, but I don't know anyone who can relate to my experience. I think the support and insight of this community could be very helpful and will hopefully help me navigate these unfamiliar waters....I really want this to work.
I'm a gay man and I have been with my partner for the just over 4 years. My boyfriend (we’ve only been using that term for the past few days) and I met a little less than two months ago. He is a student going to school out of state. He is much younger than both my partner and I. We met at the end of his summer break. He's known from the beginning that I have a partner and has been concerned that we not do anything disrespectful or hurtful to my partner. Honesty is very important to him. He believes strongly in monogamy and has very strong dreams of growing old with his partner (stress the singular).
Until two months ago I would have said that my future was with my partner was pretty clear...at least in outline, which is to say that we would grow old together as a couple. Our relationship on the whole is very satisfying. We have been sexually open since almost the beginning. We have always maintained clear communication and regularly check in to make certain that we are comfortable with this aspect of our relationship. And then....
Enter the boyfriend. We connected on a social networking app for what was supposed to be a one-time hookup. I left that experience completely captivated by him. In fact I was giddy and recall spending the evening telling my partner and friends about this great guy that I'd met and how wonderful a time I'd had. My partner and I went on a camping trip that weekend and I spent much of the time day dreaming about this wonderful fellow having come along with us. I spend the next Monday and Tuesday with him before I realized that I was really having strong feelings. I started to consider that I was having an affair. The agreement I had with my partner allowed for sex, but this was more...enough more that I found myself reluctant to talk to him about it.
I spent several days away from my new interest, several very difficult days. I was having trouble processing my feelings, they were really strong. I was fearful of the significance. Was I going to leave my partner? Something that even a week ago I would not have considered. That wasn't something I could imagine, and yet I couldn't convince myself that I was willing to not follow up on this new relationship and see where it would lead.
I know this sounds very quick and dramatic. I agree with you :) It was a new experience for me. I'd never had someone just "jump into my heart" and take up residence. My previous loves have always come slowly, over time. I'm one of those guys that wakes up one morning and suddenly realizes that he's in love with his best friend. I've never had something that just exploded up front.
Fast forward to the present. About two weeks into this I finally confessed to my partner that I had strong feelings for another man and that I was struggling to process them. It took me another couple of days to confess that I was actually in love with him. My partner (let’s call him P from here on out) really has had a difficult time with this news, but has remained very calm and communicative. He has never expressed any anger with me over the situation. He shared that he has always believed that it’s possible to love more than one person and that maybe it was time for him to “walk the walk”. He believes that it is possible that my love for my boyfriend (heretofore to be known as B) to not negatively impact the feelings that I have for him. Two weeks ago B came back from school for the holiday weekend to meet P. The days leading up to that were very stressfull. But we got through it and things were not that bad. P and B went on a long walk right up front and tried to confront all of the awkward topics right of front. Do you love him? What are you doing about safe sex? Are you angry that I showed up in your life and that your partner has feelings for me? How are we going to work out sleeping arrangements…and on and on. I wasn’t invited on the walk, so I’ve only got bits and pieces, but it sounds very powerful and healthy.
We discovered a lot over that weekend that, including: D and P have real affection for each other and are willing to show it, It’s OK for me to show affection to either of them while the other is around, they have the potential to come to care and respect each other, P was more taken by B than he expected, P was not jealous of B but in fact found himself envious of B’s affection for me, B was not comfortable with the idea of having sex with P, P was very sexually drawn to B and wanted to act on it, I may have some issues with sharing B sexually with P even if B was willing, I wasn’t comfortable having sex with P while B was around, I was really protective of B b/c of his attachment to monogamy and one partner, P had a really hard time knowing that B and I were having sex and that he was not invited to share – not just in a sexual way – but in the sense that he could see something amazing between B and I and felt left out, B is willing to work hard to make it work with us even with the fact that P is in my (our) life, B is able to conceptualize the idea of P and I having sex and fit it into his changing world view, both B and P were sad when it came time for the weekend to end.
It’s been about a week now since B went back to school. I get to go see him in about three weeks, and I can’t wait!
I have confidence in the feelings that both of them have for me and their desire to make things work. But I’m afraid that I don’t know what happens downstream. I’m not sure that P will be OK long term being on the “outside” of my relationship with B. As I said I think in time there can be a strong meaningful friendship relationship between them. But I’m concerned that he will not be completely comfortable unless he has a sexual relationship with B. I honestly think that if it happened just once or on rare occasions that would be sufficient in conjunction with friendship and trust. B on the other hand has said that he is not comfortable having sex with anyone but me. But he is very young and despite his words he certainly responds physically to P at bed time and other moments. I find myself hoping that some night something will just happen and he will find that it isn’t all that scary. Regardless, I am absolutely not pushing; it would have to be his decision. My other big fear is that while B acknowledges P in our conversations we’ve never talked about how he fits into the future. We talk about him being home from school in two years and how his being away now is just a challenge that we need to get through. But we never talk about what it looks like when he is back. I’m fearful of that conversation, though I know I need to have it.
And…that is where we are right now. We are moving forward, everything is going alrightish. But I’m still scared of mis-stepping. I really don’t want to have to considered what I’d do if either of them told me I had to choose.
That’s a lot more than I’d thought to share. I’m not sure what I expect from this point, thoughts? Advice? Criticisms? Maybe just a welcome? I’m open to it all. I know I’ve got lots of questions, but I’ll save that for an advice thread. And again, I’m really glad to have found this group.
Welcome to the board.
Spending time worrying about what isn't here yet to handle, is a waste of the time we have now. Spend today dealing with today, let tomorrows issues wait til tomorrow.
You are right, and I appreciate the advice. One day at a time is definitely the way to go and I appreciate the reminder.
In fact just this morning I was able to pass that along to my boyfriend. He and P are exchanging emails and texts trying to get a feel for each other and develop trust. He was very concerned that, "he didn't know how to do this" and that he "didn't have experience". It was helpful to be able to tell him to breath. That none of us had the answers or had been down this road before.
You're right its all about one day at a time. Maybe when things have settled into their places and relationships have been established along with the corresponding trust we can start thinking about what the future looks like.
Nobody ever died from going SLOW and easy at letting their polyship unfold. BREATHE.
You do not have to be expert. You have to be honest, open, and communicative.
Here's my poly playbook for how I stay in right relationship.
Apart from reading posts here, and books like Opening Up or Ethical Slut I would suggest online resources like
The Opening Up website that matches the book has some free worksheets you could think about doing too in preparation.
You choose YOURSELF and what is best for your health buckets in the long run -- mental health, emotional health, physical health, and spiritual health.
Everyone holds their own bag(gage).
You do not need to fear conflict.
Conflict is simply people in disagreement. It is opportunity for growth and better understanding of self/others.
You could use conflict resolution methods to try to find the happy medium. We don't all have to have the happy STUPENDOUS each time.
Or you could agree to disagree and let it go.
Nobody is conflict FREE. Except dead people! (I joke to keep it light. :) )
The goal is not to be conflict free but to handle the conflicts that pop up (and they will --- Life IS) with some ability and grace so you all fly your polyship together WELL.
You will be ok.
Just wanted to welcome you to our forum.
It sounds like taking it one day at a time is the right thing to do for now. P and B are probably going to go through a period of transition, as they figure out what their standing is on things. Enjoy what you have today, so that you have no regrets tomorrow.
The others have given good advice here, and if you post updates on your situation, people will give more good advice.
I'm glad you could join us.
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