Help Please: Feeling Torn Between Staying and Leaving.
I'm super new here and am of course addressing the topic of my alarm before formal introductions. Sorry for forgoing that, I'm just desperate for some advice since that's what first brought me here.
I've been practicing polyamory for about a year now, which all started when I got back with my ex (for the sake of privacy, let's call him Nick) with whom I share a long history of monogamy.
Nick had gotten out of a long-term, open-relationship with someone who basically caused us to split up the last time we were dating. Let's call her Steph. My experience in that situation between him and the other girl was traumatic, and his relationship with her was somewhat traumatic for him. That isn't the issue but I feel it does impact the situation we currently find ourselves in.
When we first slept together again a little over a year ago, he said he wanted no commitments and we were basically friends with benefits. As we saw each other more often again, feelings began to resurface and we decided to be in an open relationship and then moved into full polyamory. I have since met some amazing men and women that I am so grateful to have intimately in my life and who help me feel incredible amounts of fulfillment. I was hesitant to be polyamorous at first, but I'm learning a lot in talking to experienced poly people, reading up on being an ethical partner and experiencing.
Anyway, Nick was having trouble really connecting to people he was dating and felt a bit insecure with the relationships I was making. I should note that this whole time we've been seeing each other, Nick lived in SF while I've lived in Santa Cruz, so considerable distance there. We fell into a routine of seeing each other every other weekend or so. Our relationship was on the level of primary partners, so our connection was very important to us.
In SF, Nick was living in a artist commune taking care of an older friend of his who had cancer. We'll call him Will.
A mutual friend moved in with Will and Nick, and they both were taking care of him. Nick was having trouble communicating and visiting with me as often because Will was very demanding. He still made the effort to visit though.
One week Nick was visiting, a girl moved in to the artist commune, we'll call her Cher. Nick didn't know the girl moved in till he came back to SF.
Another week later, I came to visit him and he kept telling me he wanted me to meet his friends Will and Cher. We had partied a lot the night before and I hadn't showered, so I tried to tell him I didn't feel like meeting anyone. He kept trying to pressure me to meet them till I finally got him to let it go. We had breakfast instead and it was then that he decided to tell me that he was in a romantic relationship with Cher.
I immediately started to tear up. I didn't know what to think. He tried to console me, I cried into his arms but my weekend was ruined at this point. As I was trying to leave later that afternoon, while Cher, Will, Nick and our mutual friend were all in the room, Nick decided it would be a good idea to invite Cher to walk me to my car with my stuff so we could all talk. I found this extremely uncomfortable and awkward.
(Let me stop here to say that I have no harsh feelings toward Cher, I think she seems to be an amazing person and I wish I could get to know her better. There are a lot of emotions related to Nick though, I feel he handled the situation carelessly and really hurt me. I'd be more comfortable with the relationship if he wasn't living with her. I feel it's best in polyamory if the primary couple live together or alone, or that all relationships associated live independently. In my living arrangement though, it's hard for me to live with others because I only have a small room)
Nick and Cher have since moved out of the artist commune because Will tried to violate Cher. They are living together with our mutual friend in Half-Moon Bay at Cher's parent's home. I originally told Nick that I would no longer be in a relationship with him if he decided to go live with her. His other option was to live with his parents in Lodi until he went off to graduate school in Europe. Nick told me he was very depressed living with his parents and that it would be more difficult for him to come visit me if he was there. Maybe I made a mistake in sticking with this but yes, I guess I'm still with him even while he's living with her.
The question I have gnawing at me now is if I stay in it any longer. I feel like I've been polydumped, been demoted to secondary relationship even though Nick admits he went about everything all wrong, insists he wants to fight to keep this relationship alive and healthy. I lost a lot of trust in him though, I really don't know how he can rebuild it without spending a lot of time at once with me. Every-other-week visits are not going to cut it, especially if they're short, weekend visits.
I'm really feeling unstable in this relationship, our communication is shallow at this point and it's been effecting me emotionally. He says he wants to fight for our relationship but has no plan on how to do that. Part of me doesn't want to lose him and our connection, but the other part of me is tired of feeling this way and doesn't know how this is going to work for me in the future.
Sorry this is so long, I just feel I needed to give as many details as possible. Any advice you have will help me greatly, thank you.
Without bringing up Cher or anyone else, describe your relationship with Nick?
You say you were primaries-for me thats difficult to imagine because my definition of primary is a housemate whom I share all financial and life maintenance responsibilities. So, for clarification, what was it that made you two primary?
What did you have that you don't have now? (again-without reference to anyone else. Just you and he. )
Thanks for the reply. Our relationship before was basically an open relationship where we were committed to each other, reaffirmed our closeness and had trust in each other, but were free to explore relationships with other people.
What we don't have at this point is communication, we don't communicate as often. When we do, we see things from very different perspectives and often get in debates. We're not fighters really. What I notice most is that I feel depressed after we talk now. I don't feel close or trusting of him like I used to, that's what we don't have together anymore.
I'm not saying that he shouldn't have a relationship with Kate. I feel like you may be getting that impression and that's not what I'm trying to say. I'm saying I need to feel like he still loves me.
I guess I have a different definition of primary that considers the depth and closeness of the relationship as the defining factor.
Well... what does he need to do to be in RIGHT relationship to you? What are your wants, needs, and limits here? Did you think he was supposed to come up with a plan with no input from you?
If there's to be a plan BOTH must have a hand in drafting it out.
Nick admits he went about everything all wrong.
Warning for YOU:
You stated a personal limit and then you waffled. Own your OWN limits. This is your SECOND time with him. See clear if you are going in for a third.
Nick insists he wants to fight to keep this relationship alive and healthy.
IF he has apologized.
IF you have forgiven.
IF you have decided to allow him a time out to assess... You could agree to make time to draft a possible plan together.
NOT GET BACK TOGETHER JUST YET. But take a time out to assess if this really is a runner or not, and if so, what needs doing to make it so.
PLAN COULD LIST....
You will be responsible for:
(what is your stuff? How are you to be in right relationship to him?)He will be responsible for:
(what is his stuff? How is he to be in right relationship to you?)Things to talk about and come to compromise/agreements --
GENERAL RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS
He will resolve his Insecure / Jealous of your seeing others.
Since he is seeing others.Communication Problems
He will respecting your limits and not push you when you state limits. (Assuming you state them loud and clear. Or are you wishy washy about it? Then it is on you to be clearer. AND him to respect limit.)You don't have to answer those to me. I give them there for YOU to consider and to talk to HIM about in drafting a possible plan.
Is he willing to take a time out to draft a plan with you to assess the state of the relationship and what needs repair?
Is he willing to sign up for a third try? To make amends, repair, change behaviors, and meet your reasonable wants, needs, and limits in a satisfactory way or not?
Are you willing to meet his reasonable wants, needs, limits? In a satisfactory way? (Do not compromise yourself and do things your heart is not really in.)
Then you know if you can continue or not in a romantic relationship or if you need to break up.
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