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-   -   Three monos and one poly, headlong into the unknown. Help! (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3280)

CowleyRoad 07-22-2010 03:11 AM

Three monos and one poly, headlong into the unknown. Help!
Two months ago I wouldn't have even thought about going here. But the last two months have been a wild roller coaster of events involving myself, my wife, a polyamorous lady, and her possibly-unwilling partner, and we're in need of some serious advice.

I'm a straight male aged 36, and I've been married to my wife for five years. About two years ago, my wife came out to me as bi--actually closer to "if it weren't for you I'd probably be lesbian", even though she hadn't had a physical relationship with a woman at the time. Over the course of the last year or so, we've talked about expanding our sexual experiences to other people, and about three months ago we finally decided to sign up to a swingers' site. I think that we realized the futility of "chasing unicorns" (I'd never heard that phrase before, love it!) and figured our best chances at getting what we were looking for was to find another couple like us.

So one of the couples who responded to us were B (her) and H (him). My wife S was attracted to B's curvy picture and her breathless writing style, and B responded in kind. We e-mailed and texted back and forth, and it seemed that B and H were pretty familiar with this lifestyle, throwing in references to frequent "play" with others. Although B was doing the lion's share of the writing to us, it seemed that H was up for everything too; it didn't take long for things to get heavy, and we agreed to meet up. Well ,that went *fabulously* and despite B's concern that we might not be able to meet again right away...the four of us just went ahead and met anyway in a hotel room soon after. *blush*

Then, all the pennies started dropping. First off, B let us know that she was poly, but that H was mono. And H didn't seem as comfortable with our swinging arrangement as they had let on before. Turns out that B hadn't been with a man other than H in years, possibly ever since they got together--which probably explained a lot of his discomfort. (It also made me wonder who the "play" had been with...maybe they were "catching unicorns" all this time?)

A lot of the things that we were sort of picking up from them started making sense. Although it's clear they have a very loving relationship, it's also clear she wears the pants in their relationship, and H is hanging on to her for dear life. She's been mono for him for six years, at least as far as men are concerned, but reading between the lines it seems she's looking for something more. And we're starting to think it's us, or maybe just me. My wife has picked up a lot of infatuation from her to me. Hell, I'VE picked it up, and usually I have to be beaten with a stick to notice these things. H is a very nice guy, but there are a lot of similarities between B and I that H just doesn't share. I'm pretty sure that B's poly tendencies are on super high alert. B claims that H is OK with what's going on and that he's "really comfortable" with my wife and I, but I don't know if that's reality or wishful thinking from B.

From at least one point of view this is all going well--sexually we're all getting along like a house on fire! After being with B there's little question that my wife is indeed bi; the sparks fly between B and I; and even my wife and H were in a nice groove. But as I semi-jokingly said to my wife earlier tonight, "Who would have thought that emotions could get in the way of sex?" :o

My wife and I had agreed long before this all started that we'd be amicable to an occasional long-term sexual relationship with the right couple, and from a sexual standpoint B and H seem to be that couple. But I don't know how much further we could go without B wanting more than that, and we don't want to hurt H. If H honestly came to the conclusion that he could live a poly lifestyle as well...well, we'd decide what to do at that point, but I'm not sure we'd believe him, so unbalanced their relationship appears from the outside. I don't think we'd believe he wasn't doing it just to hang on to B.


HappiestManAlive 07-22-2010 03:52 AM

That's a sticky one. Seen it several times myself. I bet a fly on the wall in their house would hear some interesting conversations between those two!

You two need to have a very open discussion with them. Explain your concerns. You may een want to take H out for a guys night and talk over beer withoutt he aldies present; while that goes against the policy of 'open communicatio'that is so necessary to make these this really work, you might get some things out of him that he wouldn't be comfortable discussion with B around.

Be that as it may, all these concerns need addressed before things get beyond a casual encounter or two.

redpepper 07-22-2010 05:47 AM

I agree with HMA, I think a guys night out is a great idea. For the same reasons. I really wouldn't go any further with all of this until you have openly addressed some of your thoughts with both of them. Separately and together.

HappiestManAlive 07-23-2010 01:18 AM

CowleyRoad, you have no idea what just happened, lol. That's it then - if RP and I agree down the line, there is no room for question, LMAO!

CowleyRoad 07-23-2010 04:20 PM

That makes me smile. I'm not sure if I know the divisions on this forum (or if there even are any) but I know of similar places where certain subjects allow the "lion to lie down with the lamb." Then it's time to listen to what they're both saying.

I want to sit down and talk to H, but it's increasingly appearing that it won't happen. It seems that all of us are experiencing NRE, but only if you replace "New" with "Nervous" as the N. I think in various ways we're all feeling it: H is concerned that he'll lose B. B is concerned H is getting jealous. My wife S is starting to get concerned that B and H don't like us that much after all (despite some texts earlier this week after our hotel room rendezvous that suggested the opposite) and is starting to suggest that maybe they don't ever want to see us again. And I feel trapped in the middle of all of this, trying to balance my own emotions with everyone else's. I realize that's not a healthy situation for me to be in, and I'm trying so hard to stand away from my "Helper" (Myers-Briggs type) personality, but it isn't easy.

I've told my wife that I'm happy with any result from all of this--from "we never see them again" to "we have a long-term relationship of some sort with B and H"--except one: that I lose her. That's the only thing that would devastate me, to lose her, and as a result I just want to do what's best by her. But I'm afraid she's not sure of what that is herself. This whole situation has brought up a range of emotions I haven't seen from her in years, from boundless enthusiasm to abject fear. I know it's hard for her.

I think all of this has brought me a new understanding of the difficulties polyamorous folks must face. I've only known a couple polys, and not very well. Juggling four different persons' emotions (and then further to try to avoid the mental chess game of "What does this person think about that person, and what is that person not telling this person?") is one of the hardest things I've tried to deal with as a "Helper". In the end I just want to pursue the path that will cause the least hurt; problem is, I'm starting to fear that all four of us are going to be hurt, because we're all going to blame ourselves for letting everyone else down.

EugenePoet 07-23-2010 06:05 PM

Here's a thought: if you want relationships with the other couple then keeping it about sex will keep it, well, mostly just about sex. That's OK, of course, especially in the swinger arena. But if you want to be emotionally close then a swinger approach may not be what you're after.

A guys' night is a good idea, especially when endorsed by RP and HMA. Another thought is some time with the four of you together non-sexually. Day at the park with dinner afterward at a nice restaurant? A half-day road trip? I don't know what you all like to do, but maybe just being around each other casually for awhile will ease the nervousness. Or it may trigger something that tells you this couple is not what you hoped.

You describe your wife's emotions as ranging from boundless enthusiasm to abject fear. This might indicate that she doesn't know how to feel because she doesn't know the people well enough -- without understanding them and where they're coming from she's running wild between hope and despair.

Maybe besides being a helper you need to put on a calm-gentle-wise hat. Smooth the troubled waters...point out to your darling wife that as knowledge replaces speculation unfounded hopes and wild fears will fade, and that knowing people simply takes time. The other couple will also be feeling some of this craziness, and perhaps that's also topic for discussion with B, since she seems to be the dominant personality in the other couple. Or with H as well.

I dunno. You've described the situation in good detail but it's always hard for outsiders to know for sure what personalities are like and how things really are. You're the one who does know that, so take what I've written with healthy skepticism. Good luck!

redpepper 07-23-2010 06:18 PM

Be careful Mr. Helper that you don't help your way out of what you need and want.

Going the path of the least amount of any kind of emotion is not always the best path. Sometimes facing some stuff is the best path to more comfort and stability. It might be a good idea to check you intentions with this relationship and ask for your needs to be met regardless of what you "think" is going on for the others.

Your wife might be experiencing stuff she hasn't been known to for a number of years, but that doesn't mean you are the authority on her emotional life just because you are witnessing it. She is the keeper of everything in her life and it isn't up to you to look after her in your poly relationship. Its her responsibility. The sooner she starts being independant in this way the better for everyone.

Where you are at now, is the point that things change in that regard from what you experienced in monogamy. There becomes a separation in this way. Those that are brought into poly by their partner are pulled at this point, because they didn't sign up for a poly relationship and the independance it requires. The pull from mono to poly is difficult for sure. You two have chosen this together, you fair a better chance of getting your needs met because of it.

The good news is that you get to make yourself your primary and so does she, in doing so you will see each other differently and relate to the world differently. The time is now to work on what YOU would like and be honest with yourself and her about it. Encouraging the others to do the same will mean you will all be on the same page and moving forward together.

CowleyRoad 07-26-2010 02:42 AM

redpepper, thanks for the dose of reality. To paraphrase Adrian Monk, being a helper personality is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that you're a lot more empathetic, the curse is that you don't know your own mind, and you have a habit of putting yourself last. And you always second-guess yourself. As I'm probably doing now.

EugenePoet, you're right that my wife was probably feeling down about something else and took it to this situation. Truth be told, I think she and H share that in common...actually, maybe B does too, based on what we've heard from the both of them since I last wrote. This is a rather odd turn of events for me, to have the highest self-esteem in any random group of four.

So we're going to meet up again, maybe this weekend, and I'll talk to H on his own if that happens. The one thing I'm very glad about is that my wife knows what I said here, that the only result I can't live with is losing her. I think that resonates. I don't know if I'll ever be able to think of her as "primary" and I don't know if I'll ever feel comfortable with even casual polyamory (there I go again as Mr. Helper, not knowing my own mind). But knowing we'll be together is what I needed to hear most.

FireChild 07-26-2010 10:57 AM

I just think you need some :hugs

It seems like you're smack dab in the middle and that has to be hard.

CowleyRoad 07-27-2010 02:51 AM

Thanks so much FireStorm.

It looks like...sigh. I don't know. B and H really, really want to see us again, and my wife is starting to get concerned. Sometimes she says she wants to see them again, sometimes not. I never know if the times she says she wants to see them is just in trying not to hurt me, or hurt them...I never know what the truth is.

I can't imagine a life without her, and I want to do what she likes. I realize that part of this has to be about myself, but I suppose it's hard to find a middle ground if she doesn't want it. Of course, at times she has said she's wanted it and I don't want to be the one who stops her from having it. I know the answer is communication but I don't think she knows what she wants either. Having gone this far...and still not knowing; I don't know what to think any more.

There is part of me that says, yes, I want to lie next to B again, and use what my wife calls "the hidden talents" to turn her into a giggly, quivering multiorgasmic mass. I think we'd all feel that was flattering, to have someone feel that way at their touch. But at the expense of losing my wife, no, I can't do that. She says I can't do anything to lose her. I'll never know if that's true unless it happens.

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