How to bring us back from the edge?
I am back with more questions. After my last post I had a sit down with my boyfriend, Leaf. I had some handouts about polyamory that I had found online at practicalpolyamory.com which I shared with him and told him, "This is what I thought polyamory is supposed to look like."
I thought we made great progress. He admitted that he understood how his actions were making me feel the way I do - normally he focuses entirely on my reaction and not at all on the action itself.
He has spent a lot of nights at his new lover's house over the last few weeks. More than he has spent at home in fact. Over this past weekend they spent away together they had independently decided that they should not spend as many nights together going forward as they are not getting enough homework done. This felt like a bittersweet joy for me because it meant I would have him home more, but I would have liked to be the reason he was coming home.
He says he misses me when he's away from me. He says he loves me, but that our love has evolved. He says he might be falling out of love with me - he doesn't really know. He says nothing at all about the other girl (we can call her Flower). I ask him questions about her, but he deflects and tries to spare my feelings.
He agreed that we could have a date night together - said he would like that very much. We went to bed that night happy and all through the next day I felt back to normal - my heart stopped pounding so bad, my hands stopped shaking, my appetite came back, the adrenaline subsided.
We talked about how I feel neglected and my needs are not getting met - emotional, intimacy, sexual. He agreed he has been neglecting me. I didn't want to make a list of things he must start doing but I gave some suggestions - call me now and then to see how I am, smile and come kiss me when you see me finally at the end of the day, wrap your arms around me every now and then, any little gesture to show that you care. He said he would try.
I asked him how Flower feels about Leaf and I. He says they don't talk about me. He told me once that she completely gets our relationship, but I asked him what that meant and he said she just accepted it right away. I asked for more details - turns out she asked him a few questions. One of them being, "is it because you have no spice in your relationship anymore?" This is a HUGE red flag for me. It means she does not understand polyamory. She thinks this is an open relationship because we are dating other people before breaking up I think. I may be reaching here but I think she has no intention of sharing him with me.
I came home from a 12 hour work day yesterday. I asked about his day and asked him about school. I tried several times to kiss him, to cuddle with him, to hug him. He was reluctant or completely ignored my attempts at affection. When I pointed out how he was brushing me off he dropped what he was doing and came over to give me a squeeze and a couple hard and fast kisses - then he said, "there is that better?" and walked away.
I didn't want to believe the people who said this was the end, but I think I have just realized that he can't love two people at once. I asked him this morning and he said he "thought" he could.
I know what you will all say - just move on now and let it go. But I have to try and save this. Please, please help me. Has anyone ever been this close to the end and saved it? I need hope. I am dying inside right now.
Is he all messed up from NRE or being mean?
Only you are over there to be able to tell for sure.
How long are you willing to stay in a relationship that is not feeding you? Only you are over there to be able to tell for sure.
Sigh. I am sorry you are enduring this. :(
There is a light
Thanks GalaGirl. I appreciate the support. After I posted earlier I started typing to organize my thoughts and prepare for one last effort with Leaf. I am a writer and can always express myself better in type than when I wing it in coversation.
I started with a list of everything I love about Leaf and everything I love about our relationship. This was the easy part.
Then I wrote a list of questions. Ranging from really personal questions about how we feel (myself, Leaf and Flower), practical questions about our plans for the future and financial situation, deep questions about our values and the things we believe. The list of questions was two pages long. Some of the questions were very hard to ask, and I realized I was scared of the answers to some of them.
I finished with a short, concise list of the things that I need right now and the things I don't need. I asked for specific, measurable goals in our relationship surrounding affection and intimacy. I asked for more honesty and less fear that the truth will hurt - as the hiding is what actually hurts, not the truth. I asked for patience and forgiveness. And I asked Leaf to really talk to Flower about where this is going.
I also wrote that these needs will be discussed weekly and revised as needed. We will take the time to check in and make sure everyone is having their needs met.
Leaf came home from school and we sat down. I looked at my notes and it helped keep me grounded and on topic. We started with my list of things I love about him and us. Then I asked him to share some things he loves about me and our relationship and he did. It was wonderful to say and hear those things out loud.
I found out immediately why our other talks were so one sided and difficult. This time my eyes were dry and my voice was steady. When I am visibly emotional and weepy, Leaf gets scared and shuts up. He doesn't say a word for fear that he will make me feel worse. This time he was open and talkative. We didn't answer every one of the questions with a definitive, but we talked at length over every one and found we really are more on the same page than we thought. The questions we couldn't answer will be topics to revisit later, but keep in mind until then.
We found that the NRE is powerful and confusing for Leaf right now, but he is absolutely willing to rekindle some energy in our relationship. He doesn't have to try and show his love for Flower - it just happens. But he has taken me for granted and must make more effort to show his love. He does love me and he would like to always be with me. I feel like we are a unit again. We are tackling this together rather than just battling with our own thoughts individually.
I am uplifted. The list of needs is on the fridge and we will take it one day at a time. I just needed to lay it out, explain myself rationally, and make sure I knew exactly what I was asking for and he responded eagerly. I was afraid of dictating specifics - but it worked.
Those were great things to hear LIL. I was worried it wouldn't be so good after your previous post. And that will be good practical advice to help a lot of other people to address their issues. I'm glad things are taking a clear turn for the better for you.
I want to lift these things up:
You understand your partner in his context -- how seeing your tears clams him up with fear he's hurting you. Now he knows to ask you for a written thing if he's not understanding you some other time if you get wobbly and it wigs him out. You know to write it.
You understand your partner in his context -- NRE is hard for him. He needs reminding to tend the ORE. You can just ask. He will do.
Your partner can now understand you in your context. He knows what behavior you expect from him (weekly meeting to go over changing needs as you navigate his dating time and NRE together while still getting your needs met) You know what behavior to do for you -- keep list updated as you change along this journey.
So I congratulate you both on navigating this Conflict so well! Conflict doesn't have to mean instant all out war. It is an opportunity for growth and better understanding of the other side and self.
How's THAT feel?
I hope so... I hope you guys feel good on ALL your tiers.
You did GREAT! Cupcakes for all! Wheee! :)
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