At an impasse. Go on alone or go back to mono?
I need your help.
I'm poly. I understand it, feel it, and don't have (any) problems with it. My partner understands it, intellectually, but doesn't feel it. She experiences the opposite. She is fine as long as nothing happens and when a new girl comes around shit hits the fan, hard. She doens't have much trouble with the physical but more with the emotional side of things.
We are in a four year relationship. It was closed the first two years. Then we talked about opening it. And we did, with her hoping it would get easier for her along the way and with experience.
Funny thing, she was the first to really have a second "partner". It showed her all her fears where irrational. Because she could experience for herself that nothing changed between us when a third person came in to play. I was very happy for her, and for myself, because I believed this would smooth things out in the future.
But... it didn't. At all. No really, not one bit. Every time I met somebody she starts tripping and I would break it off. That happened twice.
I know it wasn't working, my gf knows it isn't working. But we "chose" not to see because we have a very strong fun thing going between us. We love each other. We are best buddies. Sex is great. But I'm poly and she is not. Wishful thinking only gets you so far.
So. Finally seeing reality for what it is; her not being able to do this any longer, we come at a point where I have to make a choice. Either stay with her in a mono, or break up and solo poly (for now).
I'm at an impasse here, and can't seem to make a breakthrough:
1) I could go for mono but I have some concerns about my survivability in a mono relationship. Especially when I look back (at other relationships and breakups) with the knowledge I know possess.
2) Breakup, with... wait I forgot one bit.
With all this stuff going on and the last two years being chaos I have some serious doubts about poly working out in real life outside my head. It's fine to have it in your head/heart but with my current experiences I'm a bit pessimistic about it all. It seems that doing things in secret pays off more than doing it out in the open. So much for honesty working out. Lurking on these forums shows a lot of other people having major issues and not many seem to get it working.
So back to point nr. 2: Break up, but with serious doubts I will get in working in the future. And losing a very special person. The NRE wore off long ago and I can still say she is amazing :) And does this poly thing even work out?
If anybody could shine a light on this situation? All your opinions are welcome.
Any people who were convinced poly who went successfully back to mono please let me know how you did it!
P.S. I tried to be complete without becoming as boring as watching grass grow. So not all the information is here, if things are confusing please let me know and I will edit/add the needed intel.
Fact is, polyamory has a lot of challenges - but relationships in general have many challenges. Listening to people at work talk about their miserable marriages all day might lead me to have serious doubts about matrimony working out in real life. :p But it does work for some people some of the time - me for instance (on both the polyamory and the matrimony front).
What if someone had a crystal ball and gave you a worst-case answer? "Yes, poly can work - but YOU are never going to be in a successful poly relationship." There. Now back to the question at hand - is the relationship that you are in currently healthy for the two of you? Are your needs/wants/goals in life compatible and being met? What if that crystal ball came back with a different worst-case answer? "Yes, mono can work - but YOU will always feels stifled in this relationship and 10 years down the road she will leave you because you are disgruntled all the time."
My point here is that you can't base your decision on what will happen in the future - because there is NO way of knowing that. You make decisions based on what you know now, and whether that decision gets you closer or farther away from your goals - knowing that those goals may change down the road.
We tend to focus on the hardships of the early stages of forming poly relationships on this forum because that is what brings a lot of people here. Once things have settled down and everyone is happy the posting tends to fall off. You might want to check out the Sharing Success and Happiness thread. Or reading the blogs/posts of some of our members who are in long-term successful poly relationships. (RedPepper, TruckerPete, Phy, ThatGirlinGrey...OK, my list is slanted to polytangles that involve a successful MFM Vee - because that is my own config...but you get my drift)
I would venture that there are just as many if not more monogamous people who are having "major issues" in their relationships, they just don't go on a forum for non-monogamous people and complain about it.
In my experience and the experience of those I have read about who are having what could be described as "successful" non-monogamous/poly relationships, it comes down to CHOOSING THE RIGHT PARTNER(s). This is so crucial in so many ways, I don't even have the patience to explain it properly. Indeed, it is easier said than done. But I have noticed that most people get involved in a relationship, THEN get to know what kind of person their partner is. Sometimes, we get lucky and actually end up with someone we are very compatible with (this is what happened with me and my Spouse). More often than not, folks meet through friends, work, or common interest, become attracted, hang out, have sex, fall in love, move in together, and allow their lives to become intertwined logistically, emotionally, and financially, before realizing that there are some fundamental incompatibilities and stumbling blocks that threaten the long-term viability of the relationship (monogamy vs. non-monogamy is only one example of this. Another common example is whether to have children. Often, one partner is "on the fence" about having children and the other feels strongly about it one way or another. This can cause problems down the road, often after kids are in the picture and it's too late to turn back and try the other way).
To base one's life choices on the experiences of people one reads about on a message board is a bit shallow and dismissive to me, as it suggests that one does not really know oneself and should probably not be in a serious, committed relationship with ANYONE, monogamous or otherwise, without doing some serious introspective contemplation about what one wants out of life, and EXPERIENCING things for oneself. I don't believe that looking at what other people do in their relationships and the results they achieve, and then saying "that proves that X is fundamentally flawed so therefore the opposite-of-X must be the "right" paradigm" is the way to go about living one's life.
But that's just me, and I understand that for a lot of people, it's easier to just follow the mainstream life-script because it's already mapped out and there is a simple formula that can be followed which will lead to fairly predictable outcome.
Life's to short to settle.
I'm pretty convinced to be successful it personality and people specific. The right people connecting at the right time.
She can't or doesn't want to change and you don't either....go find someone with the same outlook. Resentment is a killer on either side.
Thank you for tl;dr-ing what I was trying to get across.
Thanks for the faith, JaneQSmythe. I appreciate it. But I'm not any kind of expert. I just know what I like for ME.
Perseus -- is she struggling with the "fear of the unknown stranger?"
I have that one pop up from time to time.
Because if SHE is dating them, she knows her own mind and she knows herself with you and she knows herself with Person B. She's in there knowing somewhere, FIRST HAND.
When YOU date, she only gets to know second hand and she has not direct influence on turn of events. That's being a rower in the lower floor of the ship and trusting that the guy at the helm is a good helmsman and being willing to devote self to rowing in the galley to power some of the going (offering you support), and letting the helmsman worry about the direction that the going is going in. (you deal with whatever is happening in your other relationship.)
It's taking the leap of faith, and if your relationship is only 4 years old? Maybe you haven't had to take leaps before in challenging events yet. Or the ones you have taken so far aren't as wide a leap as THIS one appears to be.
It's the interesting phase -- it's sometimes called the "7 yr itch" but really it's the 4 yr itch. Google more about that. You sound normal to me. The NRE stuff wore off, but you haven't been together long enough so where your couple groove is deep enough to hold you together when challenges come on down. It FEELS very "aaaaaaashhhhhh!" when it happens.
But having it happen and STILL coming out the other side together? That's where you grow confidence in the solidness of the couple. Because you come to find you CAN weather things together.
Avoiding the challenges of weathering things as a couple? Well, I dunno how you get to know that you CAN weather them then. You only get to evaluate how you did as a couple AFTER you did it as a couple. See what you did well, what could be done better.
For myself I need to be able to have poly expression. The front page of my blog thread covers mono-poly thoughts. I don't know if that would help you.
You want to go that route? That is up to you. But if you are after ethical, honest polyship? That's not a way to go.
Remember people who do it well are usually minding their own business doing it well. They don't need advice as much -- they are off busy rowing/helmsmaning in turn over at their polyships in contentment.
I dated, it eventually settled into a "V" kind of shape. I broke up with BF2 -- an agreeable, lovely parting.
I stayed with BF1 and married him. We closed up to deal with my health issues and have baby. The plan is still to remain closed in the "active parenting" time. We have no desire to co-parent with another person and honestly between the kid stuff and this eldercare stuff we'd not be the best partners to Others right now. Time is finite resource.
But we talk. Planning ahead to future when Time is different -- elders? Probably pass on. Or so on in healths that it is not homecare any more but in nursing home. So that reduces our load to visits. Kid? Grown up and doing her own thing. So that reduces our load there to visits too.
Some of the fears are still same for me --- I hate dating. I hate fear of the unknown person. I rather KNOW them already! I love ORE though and you can get THERE without passing through initial stages. If I want to get to there I have to suck it up that I have to spend some time in dating land -- either myself or DH or BOTH.
I think we could do it well. We've had many changes in life -- major changes. At 20 years clocked, taking the leap of faith isn't so scary really. I just EXPECT him to be a good helmsman when it is his turn. He just expects me to be a good helmsman when it is mine. We play to our strengths. Neither of us will make choices that will intentionally bash up the ship in a crash! But if it happens by accident? Well.... we're old at this business of working like a team.
We'll figure out metamorphasis into the next new shape.
We've done it before. Friends became friends with benefits became polyship/romance became monoship/romance became marriage became parents (.......) death do us part.
There's still a lot of unknown living to do in the (.......) space. Maybe there's divorce in there. And us being friends and good exes before one of us has to turn up at the other one's funeral for the final parting. Maybe there's a polyship in there. Maybe there's experiencing grandparenthood. Maybe there's a 50th anniversary party. Who the hell knows the future? We don't.
I'm not in with him to stay the same. I'm in it with him to enjoy the changing ever evolving journey together. I'm in it so I can find out what there is in that (....what comes next?!.....) space. :)
Kinda rambly -- and I'm not sure that answers or comforts you any.
Practical aid -- you'd have to list what concerns you are worrying more specifically with the mono/poly thing.
But in general I think you are normal sounding for a couple in the 4th year. Look up the "itch" thing. That has nothing to do with mono/poly, though you could have some concerns in that layer too. But I think perhaps it's worth investigating to see if part of the "ack" you feel is in the "general couplehood layer."
There are lots of ways to do it
Many people who are in non-monogamous relationships that genuinely add to the quality of their relationship and life, only reap those rewards from a specific "style" of not being monogamous. Often what that translates to is that there are many many ways to approach alternative relationships that inevitably tick like time bombs and then blow up.
Maybe brainstorm with your partner some other ways to live your life the way you want to. Some people can only handle sex with others that is very casual. They tend to have a harder time with the emotional side of their partner's other relationships. If you are having problems it is a god idea to figure out what is the most problematic, the sex or the non-sex emotional aspect of the relationship with others.
Sometimes I think that the couples who have the easiest time (least problems) are the ones who do not have other relationships that are separate, maybe they see another person together because they have too hard of a time dealing with not being a part of the other relationship.
I kind of get the feeling that you are fishing for someone to point out that if you are indifferent about seeing others and she is adamant, just cross out the rule that says in order to be non-monogamous both of you must have other sexual relationships.
I always hated that rule,
We had several leaps of faith. It was rocky from the start but it was always us two against whatever problem would arise. This is something between us. When nothing is happening in polyland it is very fulfilling. I looked into the "itch". I don't say it's always smooth sailing but this is more about two personalities that are very different from each other on this subject. As Dirtclustit said that doesn't have to be a problem. But it is a problem for her in the sense that she can't handle me seeing anybody else. If that wasn't so it wouldn't be a problem. What I'm saying is; I don't have problem with a mono-poly relationship.
All these past leaps and bumps did mature the relationship quite fast and it is not something I would be willing to give up on easily. We came very far and could go much further still.
Writing all this took my longer that expected and I have an early morning. I'll come back to this tomorrow and list some of my worries and concerns.
Thanks for all the replies so far. They have helped me to break the loop my mind was running in.
I wrote a very long post yesterday as a reply to all of yours. But it disappeared. Bummer, it was quite extensive with all the necessary quotes and such. I'll write a very quick summary here:
I don't want to do anything in secret. One of the things that really click for me is the honesty act. I want to be open about it. But doing it behind somebody's back does leave certain issues under the table that will come out in an open relationship. I mentioned the secret thingy out of frustration. I try to be open about what so many other people do in secret and I get to answer to all the crap. (the poor me attitude)
And no, I won't be making a choice purely on the feedback I get on an online forum. But it does help to get a new perspective on things. And that is very useful when you brain goes in emotional loops.
She does have fear of the unknown stranger. But she has others too. It's not the physical part she is worries about. It's the emotional part. She kind of likes exclusivity around that. Gives her the feeling someone is going completely for her. But the focus changes, sometime the unknown is the big issue, sometimes not having control. Or sometimes she doesn't like the idea of sharing the special thing that we have.
I'm a people person. I like deep relationships. I like the emotional connection. I like loving. I'm can love multiple people at once and I can love multiple partners at the same time. I like having sex with more than one person. I'm not great with words but when this whole poly thing was first hinted at me the first time I felt like I finally saw what was right in front of me the whole time. It just makes sense. I think it will be hard not to be able to live those things. It felt like coming home, just realizing that is actually how it works for me.
I looked in to the "itch" thing. And I don't think that is what's happening here. It doesn't matter that she might be mono and me poly. And I agree, that the rule about both seeing someone or it isn't fair is bonkers. But she can't cope with me having anything other than a "normal" friendly relationship with anybody. If it moves beyond that alarms go off and the special emotional forces move out in numbers. That brings a lot of tension and that is the reason for the current situation in my humble opinion.
If things don't work out they wont. But I like to try first. We had leaps of faith in the past. It was rocky from the start, but then it was the two of us against what ever was out there. Now it's something between us. We did grow just taking all these leaps and I will be the last who just ends it when the first (real) problem arises.
But it's a tough one. Between a rock and a hard place.
Also, the replies have been very useful. As I said, it breaks the loop I'm in and puts me back on the ground.
I think if you have any misgivings....... at all..........whatsoever...... about the future viability of your relationship, then you might consider not making it harder to end that relationship. Children make a relationship harder to end. A marriage certificate makes the relationship harder to end. Intertwining your finances makes a relationship harder to end. Whatever the commitment level is right now, stop adding further commitment if you're having doubts.
That said, give it a little time. Not so much time that you're sacrificing a significant portion of your life, but enough time that you can realistically say you approached the root of the problem. Have a talk or five with her about all the things that concern you. Ask the hard questions. Make sure that you know it's not going to work, or maybe it's just a misunderstanding. Be anal-retentive about making sure you're on the same page.
If you've done all that, and afterwards you know that you're not compatible, then you're just incompatible and that's that. If that's the case, then break it off as soon as you can, and start dating again. Don't stay with her just because it's comfortable or nostalgic.
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