Well, here I am. Yikes.
Hi everyone. I am, of course, looking for advice and help in this new and terrifying situation I've found myself in.
About six weeks ago, my boyfriend of a little over a year told me that he wanted a non-monogamous relationship, and it was either open our relationship or break up. I was pretty surprised, as he's always claimed agreement with me that it wasn't something either of us wanted, having had unhealthy examples before us that mostly involved endless processing and jealousy.
I'm having some trouble with this, as you might be able to guess.
He's moving a little fast for me. So far there have been four girls who he's told me have an interest in dating him. Only one of them seems to be someone he's actually seriously interested in, but he seems perfectly willing to date any and all of them.
Mixed messages. That thing about being ready to date any and all of these girls seems in direct opposition to him telling me that he didn't plan on pursuing every opportunity that came his way. I also feel some confusion about how wanting to be poly contradicts things he's previously said. In the past he told me that he wanted us to be monogamous because he only wanted me; because it was better with me than with anyone else; because anything else would be a safety risk; because he felt something special for me. I really valued our monogamy because it was a sign of wanting to commit to me, when he'd not wanted it with anyone before. Given the fact that he now wants to date other people, do those things no longer hold true?
Feelings of emotional distance and insecurity. I never felt any jealousy while we were monogamous, now I seem to be feeling it rather a lot. I worry that he just wants separation from me; less of his life with me in it and more with someone else in it. I tend to retreat when I feel marginalized or unwanted, and I try to protect myself with distance. Not like it really works or anything like that. :) Conversely, I also find myself clinging a little, which makes me want to bitch-slap myself. I feel like he wasn't upfront with me about a few things, and I find myself wanting to check up on him in horrible insecure-girlfriend ways that I never wanted to before.
Isolation. I moved to a new city to be with him, and I don't really make friends easily. It's hard for me to get around, as it's a very car-centric place and I don't drive. I have an on-again-off-again lover where I used to live (off for over a year, obviously) and I would start seeing him again if I was there, but I don't know anyone here, and my opportunities for meeting people are pretty thin on the ground. I'm a little socially awkward, hard to get to know, and attractive only to people who like quirky. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is very active socially, makes friends easily, is conventionally attractive, and generally has a lot of people interested in him. I can all too easily forsee me spending a lot of time lonely while he pursues his new freedom.
Vagueness. We haven't set any boundaries or ground rules, despite having talked about the need for them. I don't want to restrict him, because that made him unhappy, but I feel like going forward without them is a recipe for disaster. I'm also a little concerned about setting boundaries for him, because I feel like there are going to be more restraints in negotiating a poly situation than there were in a monogamous one, where there's really only one; "we don't have sex with anyone but each other". Now we're going to have a lot more, and I'm worried he won't accept any, because "feeling restrained" was what brought him to this point in the first place.
And I'm not even going to go into the cliche of wondering why I'm not enough for him, but it's there. I'm not naive or uneducated, and I know all the reasoning why this is illogical; if I have a friend, do I have no room in my heart for another? But it's still there. And it brought along some shame.
I'm so in love with this man, and it's the best relationship I've ever had. I've never had much patience for that "I love you, so change" attitude, so I will do my best to embrace this as part of his beloved self. That said, I'm still struggling. I miss the confidence and security I felt when we were monogamous.
Advice, thoughts, reality checks? I've probably left out a dozen things; my head (heart?) feels like a hurricane hit it.
Thanks in advance for straight shooting. I really appreciate it... I don't really have anyone to talk to about this.
I wish I had more time to respond...my first thought, and I almost got stuck on it, I abhor ultimatums. They are a very annoying attempt at control, and one that shows a real weakness in how the relationship is working
I hope someone has more time to respond, hopefully I can put a few more of my 2 cents in later on :)
Yeah, I wasn't so stoked on the ultimatum, either. While I can see the argument that a relationship has to either meet your needs or be over, I wish he had approached it from a "I want to stay together with you and how can we accomodate these needs I'm having" angle. It has sort of left me with a feeling that seeing other people is more important to him than staying with me is.
Accountability seems to be a common theme here.
He needs to be accountable for his desires, and in doing them in a respectful manner with the people he is already in a relationship with. ( that being you. )The ultimatum sucks,...as ultimatums usually do.
You need to be accountable for the fact you don`t drive, don`t make friends easy, etc. Those aren`t anyone elses obstacles but yours. You need to decide to get past those things, not expect others to cater to them. (or let it be a excuse to yourself)
If you do these things for yourself, you won`t feel as dependent on him to make friends, and be in this new city. The world will be your oyster, and you will feel more interested in putting yourself out there.
As far as him dating 4 women. Well, it depends if he is being honest. If he is, then this is most likely a good thing, no ?
When we are single and dating,the healthy thing, is to go on a few dates, with a few different people. Experience different personalities,..when 1 person draws you in,..then go from there. When poly, it would seem acceptable to date just as if you were single.
Meet new people and 'date' rather then just attaching to one person right away.
As far as the newfound jealousy,..look at it this way ; If he is actually wanting to seperate from you, and all this is some falsehood,.....Well guess what ? Being jealous is not going to help nor change it. It will only drive you crazy. Might as well look after you, do things that make YOU feel worthy, and confident, and let the cards fall into place.
You can only fix, or mend, or grow in a relationship, as much as the other people want to equally contribute. Make sure you are both doing your share.
Best of luck. You sound like a smart, attractive girl,....keep your chin up. Remind yourself who you are. :)
Ok besides the ultimatum....here are some of my other thoughts
With that volume could he be boosting his own ego?
Past that, there are only 24 hours in a day. Thats a lot of time used up.
Ok I will get off my high horse. 4 just seems oddly excessive. I wonder what his take would be if they dated others.
Make sure he knows this is how you feel and that it is on the table.
You are in this partnership, you need to be comfortable and confident too. Simple rules like.
Have either of you read through this site
Gives a great high level view of how poly should work. Tools and skills that can help make it very strong.
Good luck and welcome :)
I haven't had a chance to read other peoples responses... so if there are repeats then I apologize.
Having read your post there were a few things that came to mind. It sounds like he is a bit in NRE over the chance of his freedom, just as he was in NRE when he told you you are the only one etc etc..... it's not that he was bullshitting, just that he felt that strongly in the moment. Perhaps nothing has changed for him, he is just adding to that love he has for you.
I can also imagine that he is thorough when he feel he should date four women... he is finding the one that is the most suitable and that takes time and some investment... I would check with him on that. I dated upwards of 20 guys before finding Mono... it was a lot of work and effort, but now I have him and my other loves and there is no need to date anyone else...
I would suggest that he NOT sleep with any of them, but just see if they are worth his time and he is worth theirs. Sex complicates and causes bullshit that is not the whole point of poly. It depends what you work out, but make sure it is all very clear before he ventures out. It sounds like you have some work to do on communicating that.
In fact it sounds like he needs to slow down and catch you up. Also catch up to what you are feeling. It's not okay for him to barrel forward demanding his rights to freedom and leave you in the dust.
If he isn't liking how you are behaving then make sure he knows it is because he is not paying attention to you and your needs. If you are jealous, clingy, whiny, then there is a reason and it's not okay to just ignore that and roll his eyes and move forward... he needs to slow down by the sound of it, take a breath and remind himself of his connection to you. He needs to remind himself that you have a connection and that that is the most important thing.
that's what I think... sorry this was rushed, more later possibly.
Thanks, all, for the advice and thoughtful replies. I really appreciate it.
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