In love with boyfriend, but his primary might not be ok with poly anymore
Six months ago, I met my boyfriend (if I can still call him that) in one of our graduate courses. Magnetic attraction from the first moment of meeting, & within weeks were best friends, glued to each other's sides in a way that felt like kismet. I learned quickly that he had a long term girlfriend whom was very much his lifemate, so I tried to think of him only as a friend, even though the chemistry between us was unbearable at times. Regardless, our friendship was profound & healing for us both. I also met his girlfriend many times, including spending friendly time alone with her whilst getting coffee together.
We parted ways for a month when he & his girlfriend were gone to Europe. When they returned, the chemistry between us had grown even more to the point where it was clearly becoming more than a friendship. This is when he revealed to me his relationship had been open for the past few years and they considered themselves poly. He and I decided to begin dating with the stipulation of taking things very slowly, to make sure his primary was comfortable with every step. Their previous experiences with other people were mostly sexual and not long term or emotionally intimate- this was the first time a true poly situation could manifest.
This was over three months ago. We have seen each other nearly every day and our relationship has grown even deeper & closer than before- it is incredible to be so close to a person. Our attraction is likewise the strongest I have ever felt with someone. Yet his girlfriend will not even let us kiss yet. She is still working on being comfortable with it, and when he asks her how she is feeling and whether she's ready for us to take the next step, she becomes upset & feels he is pressuring her. This goes on week after week. Nothing changes. She does not even like to hear him say that we are dating, preferring to think of it as a close friendship. He is feeling frustrated because we have fallen so much in love but cannot express it physically, and there is no indication we will be able to do so anytime soon.
Recently, he had some difficult discussions with her in which she admitted she wasn't fully comfortable with poly- although she wants to be- & just wanted to make him happy by saying she was ok with it. She has apparently been doing this for years unbeknownst to him, telling him what she thinks he wants to hear, instead of being honest. She has been afraid of telling him about her poly fears or even thinking too much about it, worrying the conclusion she'd reach could be that she wants lifelong monogamy, which would devastate him.
They are continuing to discuss this & she says she wants to work through her fears, and become truly comfortable with poly. She knows his relationship with me is very important to him, and wants him to be able to do what makes him happy. He does not want to lose what we have & is optimistic she will eventually be ok with us progressing physically, though it may take time for that to happen.
I am beginning to feel frustrated however that they are only now working through these issues, and my relationship with him is essentially on hold until they figure it out. He became frantic & depressed when I brought up the possibility of us parting ways while they figure it out. That would agonize me as well if we had to do it, but frankly it is also painful sitting here waiting in limbo, not knowing what is going to happen, and having my love life rest on what other people decide while I have no say in it. I wish I had known early on that this was going to happen and his girlfriend had so many uncertainties about poly. I would have avoided letting my heart get so involved.
In some ways I feel bad that I have brought so many difficulties into their relationship. I am very fond of his primary girlfriend and consider her a friend in her own right, and I want nothing to do with hurting her. I do not want to replace her nor am I looking to be his primary. I think this is what she fears will happen however, despite both me and him telling her this is an impossibility.
I am not sure what to do now. I am deeply in love and cherish my relationship with him, and if there is still a chance for this to work out, I will hold onto it. This is my first experience with poly as well. I do not know if this type of problem is common- where one partner becomes uncertain of their comfort with poly whilst their partner is elbows deep in another relationship.
Does anyone have ideas on how I should proceed? Should I keep waiting for his primary to become comfortable with our relationship and poly in general, even if it takes a long time? Is there anything I can do to help make her more comfortable with it myself? As a secondary, what sort of rights do I have in this situation- I feel left in the dust at the moment- he is fighting hard to keep what we have, but the decision is out of my hands, which is a feeling I am not fond of.
Thank you in advance for any advice & thoughts.
You may find that asking her to read this might help her sort out what she thinks she's doing from what she's actually achieving in terms of working through her fears.
Everyone is responsible for their own emotional baggage. You tend to you and what you need to feel less yucky.
If I were him I'd be pissed off!
You might meet someone more compatible, you might get back together. You cannot predict that.
But the point is that YOU are opening yourself up to your next future happiness with whoever that might be and not stuck in "limbo" where your fate is being determined by other people. Do not give you power away like that. YOU are the captain of your own ship.
I'd part ways, date, and tell them to look me up if things sort out in a relatively short time. Then if you are still willing you could reassess. And if not willing or if it never comes to be -- you haven't been sitting in limbo yuckies all that while.
He's been in a relationship with a lying primary partner for years.
You have been in a relationship with a lying metamour for 6 mos. You got off easier! Step away from messy and move toward your own better healths.
You could bow out to give them the space they need and give you room to open to next future happiness.
You could point them to resources:
You could encourage her to be more honest in relationship. Stop operating out of fear-based stuff and move toward reaching out for her own next future happiness.
An aside... There is NOTHING wrong with monogamy! If it isn't with this guy -- so what? Feel yuckies for a while with a break up and then feel better and then move ON to the next future happiness. It is just sad that she's been in relationship with him for years in a relationship model she does not seem to care for naturally, doesn't seem to want to work on learning, and doesn't seem to want to end because of.... her fears. This is not her caring for her mental health, emotional health, or spiritual health very well. :(
I don't think these are bad people but they don't sound like especially emotionally strong people right now. You don't mess with fragile.
Could read more about secondaries:
Could choose to leave and give them (and you!) some space. Esp since you feel frustrated that they are only now working through these issues.
If you DO choose to stay here, you have the right to ask your shared sweetie not to overburden you with his problems from his other relationship. You could examine yourself inside and figure out exactly where your willingness and limits are on staying-ness and also how willing you are to work with a weak metamour.
But me? Honesty is a foundation for partnered relationship. This person has not been honest with herself and him for years. That's not sounding great to me, and since this is early days at 6 mos in -- it's not like you have oodles invested here. Time, emotion -- but nothing you can't change and you already indicated your preferences for cooling things off a bit.
So... I'd go with that. Cool it off, give them space to deal with themselves, and you look out for your best healths.
Whatever you choose is ultimately up to you. I am sorry you are dealing with all this rigamarole. You did act in good faith -- it isn't that you did anything bad. Sigh. *hugs*
Your relationship with him is not up to her to determine. I'd be upset, too. It's so cruel ad unfair for them to expect you to put your life on hold while they figure it out. But you need to be proactive and make a choice, not sit around and wait for them. If I were you, I'd let go and try to move on without being attached to what they decide eventually. Start disengaging, and let him know that you cannot invest in a relationship where your heart depends on so much uncertainty, and that if and when he is wholly ready to commit to something with you and she is wholeheartedly on board, you will consider being with him again, but he should not expect you to wait. And don't ever again get involved with anyone whose partner is in control of what you can or cannot do or has veto power.
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