Is this a grey area or an open-affair?
My partner and I are sexually non-monogamous, and partially due to great advice from this forum, I have made wonderful strides combatting my jealousy and accepting that part of our relationship. Recently though, we have been going through a rough patch emotionally. He feels I am not supportive, and I feel he is disconnected. We talk a lot but seem to go in circles and have arrived at this awkward and uncomfortable stasis. That's probably enough detail, but onward to the real issue.
He met a guy on a social networking app and they clicked, started texting, then corresponding a lot, now to the point of it being practically constant between phone and facebook. At first I was very threatened, expressed this, and was told not to worry. I pushed, and got the same result. Finally, in an effort to accept this new "friendship," I told my partner to invite his new friend down for the weekend. I figured if I met him, I'd be much less suspicious. It sparked a huge argument/discussion where I found my fears weren't completely irrational. He had feelings for this person. The guy came down, was very friendly and promised he was not trying to come between us. I didn't feel better. I sense this connection between them and it's killing me with jealousy and sadness.
Let me digress. I understand we may not last forever, and I can accept if that's sooner than later, but among the many things we've promised each other, he promised to never leave me for someone else. Now I feel like this exactly what's going on. I want to respect his privacy, but if I come around when he's talking with this guy, he shuts his computer or phone off. It's off-putting. I want to be accepting, but I can only deal with so much. I want to trust my boyfriend, but I can't ignore what my instincts are telling me. He says he wants me to "fight for him." I don't know what he means for that. I thought 3 years together meant I didn't have to compete for his affection against someone else. If we have problems, I'm all for hashing them out, but this is too much for me.
I told him directly that if he and this guy were really meant to be together, then I'd prefer to end our relationship and not stand in the way of that, rather than be hurt later. I need advice for how to deal with this. I've suggested that I move out and we have a trial separation and he was very much against that. I don't want him to give up his friendship with this guy, but not at the expense of our relationship.
I want to be flexible, but exploring this has led me to the idea that people have their limits as far as poly-amory goes.
Any constructive advice is welcome.
I'm going to chop up your post a bit to put parts together, please correct me if this ends up putting things out of context.
You two are having an emotional rough spot. (Never a good time to bring others into the mix).
You felt threatened, were told not to worry, then found that your fears had a basis. (Your instincts were correct and now trust is broken).
What he may be trying to say, but not have the skills for, is that he wants you to "romance" him again - to do the things you used to do when you were first interested in each other. He may feel taken for granted and unappreciated. Your statement "I thought that three years together meant..." bolsters this. Three years only means that you have been together for three years. You are not necessarily competing for his affection with someone else (there is not a limited supply of affection that you dole out) - you are continually renewing your affection for each other (or not, in which case, the relationship falters - regardless of any other people in the mix)
Love is not a goal that is achieved and then set on a shelf as you move on to the next step. Relationships need maintenance and attention if they are going to thrive. You are not in the same relationship you were last year, or the year before, or the year before. It's a living thing that requires tending to - like a plant growing.
Have you two read the "5 love languages book" to help each of you understand what helps the other feel loved and cherished?
Sorry if this is not as clear as I would like - on the way out the door to work. Will check back later.
Thanks JaneQ, for your objective and insightful perspective. Your analysis is pretty spot on I think, and much less ranty than my original post. He did say during a big discussion/argument a few weeks ago that he "wants to be excited again," which certainly corroborates your suggestion of romancing him.
While I will definitely invest my time into that, I am concerned that the complacency of our relationship is only the tip of the iceberg. In our initial nonmonogamous arrangement, I was comfortable having exclusively sexual encounters with others while he insisted on a more emotional connection with his. I still don't understand it, but I do think he is more poly than myself. I'm fairly certain I can thrive in an emotionally monogamous relationship with sexual outsiders. I don't think I can handle emotional polyamory, but he may be wired for that, and so the purely physical nonmonogamy may not be a long term solution for him. I'll admit I'm being selfish. I don't want him romantically connected with this other person, or anyone else for that matter, and I don't feel bad about that. Furthermore, his venturing outside our connection for solace and romance felt a bit like a stab in the back. And I believe I can move past that of course, but it makes me feel disconnected and less-inclined to fight for him. Does that make sense?
I hear what you are saying-
emotions aren't something you can just not have.
You can choose not to act upon them-but you can't choose to have them or not.
If I fall in love-I can choose not to express it and choose not to act on it. But, the emotion is still within me.
You sense his emotions-you presumably want honesty from him.
What can he do when he DOES HAVE EMOTIONS which isn't something he can change?
EVEN IF HE DOESN'T DATE THE PEOPLE ANYMORE-is that going to be enough for you when you know he still has feelings?!?!?!
I think it would behoove you to read some of the first page of galagirls blog-where she talks about emotions being internal weather & where she talks about how a poly person is supposed to be able to be an honest person in relationship with a partner who flies off the handle (whether emotionally or otherwise) when they find out the poly person has FEELINGS (which are NOT controllable).
I myself encountered similar with my husband. He was hurt by my loving another. I agreed to have no contact with the other person-but he knew I still loved him and felt wretched over making me not see them-because he knew if I did that to him-it would hurt him to be separated from someone he loves.
It's important to really look at what you are asking for from another person to define if it is REALLY functional.
It is not functional to ask someone not to have feelings.
It can be functional to ask them not to act upon those feelings IF THEY ARE OK WITH THAT.
But never functional to ask them not to have feeelings.
Thank you both for giving me some direction. We've hashed it out and decided to take this third person out of the equation for now. It'll be rocky, but we both have accepted that our relationship might now work out, but because we both care for each so much, we're going to give it the best shot and work hard to get through our issues.
If we are able to patch our relationship and stay strong, I would like to one day be able to be comfortable in a polyamorous relationship, but changing that wiring in your head is so hard.
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