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-   -   Overwhelming Sense of Loyalty to Partner preventing me from branching out! (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3232)

Coco 07-15-2010 05:53 AM

Overwhelming Sense of Loyalty to Partner preventing me from branching out!
Hello everyone,

I'm finding that I have a weird issue and I am trying to work through it, but could certainly use advice. I think I have been socially programmed to be a very 'good girl' in the socially mainstream sense (loyal, honest, loving, monogamous....). I have opened myself up to polyamory because two lovers (a current and a past lover) are polyamorous. This has been a great growth experience for me, and I have quite successfully come to terms with my men having other lovers.

The funny trouble I'm having is, although I find myself attracted to other men and happy to engage with these men up to a point, as I start to get romantically involved with them, this crazy tape starts playing in my head that automatically compares them to my other lover and my 'good girl' loyalty kicks in and I find myself not that interested anymore (even though my lover is very supportive of me having other lovers). The weird thing is, I don't actually think this means I am innately monogamous. I think it is my social programming of what a good woman is... but it is so strong that it actually kills my desire... I don't want this to ruin my potential to also enjoy other relationships as my lover does!

If anyone has experienced this and has successfully overcome it so that they can sincerely enjoy being with multiple partners, I would love your advice!


redpepper 07-15-2010 06:05 AM

I can understand to to a point. I get that from my parents and others. Their judgment makes me consider what I am not a part of and makes me realize my norm is not others and that I should be happy to be unhappy in their idea of normal. If that makes sense?

I find myself going there and immediately avoid and push the feelings aside. If I don't they flood over me and take over. I have become very good at this now... but always keep it a bit in check, just in case I am going crazy, rather than just doing my thing and it happens to be different, rather than unhealthy for me and others.

EugenePoet 07-15-2010 10:34 AM

I have a somewhat similar reaction -- when I had a poly lover I was fine with her seeing other men and women, but I couldn't allow myself the same freedom without feeling uncomfortable.

In my case I've retreated from poly, at least for now. I don't know your full interpersonal situation nor your needs, of course. If you're getting what you want and need from your lover, then that's good!

Do you feel an internal pressure to look for other men? Is your subconscious telling you that things are unsatisfying, or is it purring and telling you that things feel really good as they are?

Is it possible that self-awareness and time will let you relax into loving other men? All this stuff takes considerable understanding of oneself, I believe. Such understanding can be slow in coming when one is developing and changing. It sounds like you've gone through a period of growth recently.

If you can, take your time and give yourself room. I rush things, myself, and damage both my own feelings and the feelings of others through my impatience. Therefore I recommend patience even though I have great trouble with it myself...:p

Coco 07-15-2010 03:44 PM

helpful, thanks!
Thank you both for your comments, they are very helpful!

Yes, EugenePoet, you and I sound very similar. I think, in my previous relationship with a poly man, I felt an internal pressure to look for other men. I did that, and found some great men, but then, I think because I pushed myself too quickly into romance with them, I found myself not feeling much.

This time, it is different, and I'm hoping that with time and patience, as you wisely suggest, maybe it will work. The man I met this time, I felt a real chemistry with immediately. We are going out tonight for the first time. That's what prompted my post...because, when he called to make the date, I found myself feeling oddly aloof. But maybe that is just a siren telling me to take it slow and explore it, like I would any relationship.

I was thinking last night, too, that when you meet a new person, of course you don't know how you feel exactly...you don't know them yet! And I think I compare them to my other love because I already have established deep feelings for the other love.

Is my current relationship meeting all my needs?...well, yes, and no. He doesn't have a lot of time for me and is in a bit of transition himself (is going through a divorce- he had an open marriage- and has two young children). So, I've often thought that it would be nice if I could also have another person to spend time with, to round out my life...

Thanks again for your useful advice and helpful questions...I will continue to ask them of myself. I've definitely been growing through this process and yes, I think some patience and calm will help resolve a lot of my questions.

immaterial 07-17-2010 08:24 PM

Perhaps you can find a way to feel 100% committed and loyal and have more than one love or lover at the same time? Part of my emerging clarity is to realize that what I have yearned for in intimate relationship has been honesty and transparency, that these qualities are where I am able to make a vow for 100% commitment. I am so habituated to believing that the left hand should not, cannot, must not know what the right hand is doing, because of my own acculturation and my own personal history of being a liar and cheat, that now when I feel attraction or romantic feelings for more than one I do have to take a few steps back and let go of those knee jerk reactions. The impulse is very strong in me to squelch my heart and/or hide my feelings (from myself).

Perhaps you could actually explain your dilemma to both your SO and this new person?

I have found increased communication to be the reliable solution. Also, radical acceptance of my feelings and what is going on for me. I said to a woman the other night "I am attracted to you but my mind is telling me it's a bad idea because you have a SO and I'm separated from my most recent SO." She was relieved to have a minute to talk about things and said "I'm attracted to you too but you seem like a real dangerous character right now and my boyfriend is monogamous, so let's just take it easy." These are simple little exchanges that I would not have dreamed of having in the past.

Radical clarity has a relatively small price and a huge ROI, IMO.


redpepper 07-17-2010 11:48 PM

Radical honesty immaterial? There a a book on it. Very good one too.

Coco 07-18-2010 02:36 AM

great advice!
Thank you, Immaterial, for the great advice. And I will definitely look into that book. I think you are totally right that what all this signals is a need for me to communicate continually with both men what I'm feeling, especially when I'm feeling anxious, etc. BTW, my evening with the new man (let's call him S) went wonderful, and he, and my existing lover (let's call him A) even talked to each other on the phone afterwards (they are close friends..I met S through A). I saw S again today, and he even suggested that all three of us hang out tomorrow, though I personally am not quite ready for that. But that opened up a good opportunity for me to communicate that and to also tell him that I am new to all this and therefore feel a bit awkward sometimes, not knowing what to do, how best to do it.

As I was with S today, I thought about what you said, Immaterial, about being 100% loyal and committed to one person while still having another lover, and that helped me quite a bit to relax and enjoy the gifts before me.

Often, the trickiest part for me is identifying what my own needs are. Once I know that, I'm pretty good about communicating them...being radically honest...but honesty means you know what the truth is that needs to be told...I think one thing I need to work on is learning how to listen to the little clues in me that tell me what I am really feeling/needing/wanting. I also need to work on honoring my gut reaction. In retrospect, those little clues are always more like glaring neon signs, but it's amazing how I don't notice them/choose not to notice them or disregard them when they are popping up.

So...so far so good, and thank you, all, for such wisdom. I am finding this forum immensely helpful. It is wonderful to have a community to engage with that is also experiencing the same things (and is much more experienced at experiencing them!) :)

immaterial 07-19-2010 04:33 AM

I'm glad I may have been somewhat helpful. I am actually new to all of this too. But if the heartbreak of my many mistakes and rip offs and missteps of the past can be useful somehow, then that's really cool.


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