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-   -   Struggling Secondary (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=30517)

playswellwithothers 10-19-2012 03:58 PM

Struggling Secondary
 
When I met my bf, we were both married. He was in an open poly marriage (though he had never acted on it; she had a couple of times--both short-term relationships). He had thought he would avoid someone who was married--until he met and fell in love with me. He had thought he would avoid anyone with children--until he met and fell in love with me.

My soon-to-be-ex-husband (separated for three years now) tried to be ok and open to poly, and really just couldn't do it. No beefs from me--you either are or you aren't, and he just wasn't. It was tearing him up, and he eventually chose to end our marriage (which was struggling anyway from other issues).

The thing is, not having a primary on my end as sort of thrown my relationshop with bf out of whack for me. He's got someone full-time at home; I do not (unless you count my son). He has lots of time limitations; I do not. And when my son moved in with me full-time and it became time to tell him that "my friend" was actually my poly bf, bf's wife opted out of our friendship (we had always been a vee with my bf as hinge, but the wife and I were friendly and had socialized a few times). It hurt a lot. I thought I had a family--turned out I didn't. She, unlike her husband, has not changed her mind about the ethics about poly with kids. Her rules of "no kids" remains unchanged.

But that's between them, and not my problem. At least, it hasn't so far become my problem.

My problem is that I had never been in a poly relationship before, and I didn't know what it would feel like until I was into it. I am head over heels for this man, and have been for almost six years now. I would happily have a primary relationship with him (not asking him to give up his wife, I don't mean exclusively primary). He says he's "not available" for that role.

I have no doubts about our love for each other. We work fabulously together. There's just never enough time, or enough....ENOUGH.....for me. Last week, I seriously considered breaking things off over this. But after some long talks with my therapist and with my own self, I thought, well, that's just stupid--I love this guy, he loves me, we are awesome together, when we can be together.

Problem is, I don't know how to stop wanting more, or how to love him less. I don't know how to fit my love into a secondary-sized box.

I believe the answer may be in truly BEING poly, not just in theory, but in practice--and finding others to love. (One of the reasons I joined this group.)

I don't think I'm actually looking for a primary--I am a single mom, partially disabled, and a struggling entrepreneur, in addition to my part-time relationship with bf. There's not a lot of energy left over. But I don't want to put labels on what I'm looking for, because I think things evolve how they will, and who knows how I'll come to feel about someone else?

I don't think I've asked one clear, coherent question here. But comments, feedback, support, and thoughts from those with more experience would be welcome.

As a single mom, I'm not looking to overwhelm my son (or me) with tons of people to keep track of, in and out of our lives. I'm not bi. I guess I'm looking to add another relationship with more availability than my current bf?

Does this sound like I am making any kind of sense, or more like I am trying to order off a particularly confusing menu?

AnnabelMore 10-19-2012 04:41 PM

You're making perfect sense, and I empathize completely. I've blogged extensively about my secondary relationship with a married woman on my blog -- http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4540 -- perhaps something somewhere in there will strike a chord for you.

6 years is a long time. I think searching for another bf is a really good idea. Maybe a new partnership would also stay secondary, maybe it would eventually become primary, maybe you'll find a place of comfort with a few "lover-friends", no way to tell, really. I would hazard to say that finding someone new probably won't make you long for more time/commitment with your current bf less... but that it will make it easier for you to take a deep breath and focus on something else (or, more accurately, someone else) without dwelling. Plus it can bring another person into your life for support and for that feeling of family, which can be so important to overall well-being.

Its really a shame about your bf's wife's refusal to engage with you. :( Being in a secondary relationship can still mean lots of satisfying involvement in your partner's life... but not if their other partner doesn't want you there. My condolences on that. I know you probably can't change that aspect of the situation, but do you know why she has that no kids rule? Is she afraid this is going to harm your son in some way (many anecdotes, and, recently, an actual study, disprove this idea)?

SchrodingersCat 10-19-2012 05:09 PM

By the sounds of it, you opened a dysfunctional marriage to polyamory and that blew up. Now you're once again dissatisfied with your situation, and you want to add more people, thinking that will fix the problem. I don't think it will, any more than getting a partner when you're single will fix any problems in your life.

If you feel like you're not getting enough from your partner, I see two options: make your needs known and try to have them met, or else do the internal work to make those needs less dire. Breaking up wouldn't solve anything since this is your personal issue, not a relationship issue.

I believe that adding people into any problematic situation is generally a bad idea. If it feels like something is missing from your life, that signals to me that you need to do some internal work to fill that void. Then if you still want to date other people, nothing wrong with that. But if I were the person being added into your life, I would feel a lot of pressure to make you happy, which is your job.

playswellwithothers 10-19-2012 05:31 PM

Well, sort of. I wasn't looking for an outside relationship, poly or otherwise, to improve my failing marriage. I stumbled into one (I did not meet my bf online in a dating forum; I was researching a story for an article I was writing and met him as a resource).

And yes, absolutely, I want/need/insist upon my ability to be happy by myself, with myself. I am ultimately responsible for my own feelings, fulfillment, and happiness.

I think I can be happy with myself and also wish for more companionship. One of the things I am working on in therapy is the novel concept of "I get to want what I want!" with no guilt and shame for the wanting. Doesn't mean I'm going to get what I want, or that it will look exactly the way I think it's going to.

I know your comment is well-intentioned, but it comes across a bit as trying to shame me for having wants, needs, and feelings. I've done enough of that to myself for years. Kinda not going to accept it from someone else at this point.

SchrodingersCat 10-19-2012 06:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by playswellwithothers (Post 160278)
I think I can be happy with myself and also wish for more companionship. One of the things I am working on in therapy is the novel concept of "I get to want what I want!" with no guilt and shame for the wanting. Doesn't mean I'm going to get what I want, or that it will look exactly the way I think it's going to.

I know your comment is well-intentioned, but it comes across a bit as trying to shame me for having wants, needs, and feelings. I've done enough of that to myself for years. Kinda not going to accept it from someone else at this point.

I apologize for coming across that way, it was not my intention. I certainly was not trying to shame you, because I don't think you've done anything wrong to merit shaming. Indeed; wants, needs, and feelings are what make us human and you're right to honour them.

You're absolutely correct, there's nothing wrong with seeking companionship. I prefer that way of presenting it. I had gotten the impression from your first post that you expected a new person to make everything all better. A lot of people think that way. Having previously been the person who was supposed to make it all better, I react poorly to that. I'm relieved to hear that you're taking responsibility for your own needs. I hope you find what you want!


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