Problems with new Polyamorous Relationship
Hello. I'm posting the same story that I've seen on this site dozens of times, in the hope of getting some advice and/or direction on my unique situation. Because in the end, everyone's relationship is unique.
I've been dating my girlfriend for about 4 years now, and she's been wanting to be polyamorous for a while now. Last week she started dating one of her friends that I've known for a while. I've been generally supportive, and helped her get the courage up to tell the guy how she feels, but now that they're actually dating I'm finding myself extremely stressed out. I'm having a hard time sleeping, and I can't concentrate at work because I always seem to be thinking about it, and they're generally negative thoughts.
We talk about it frequently, but I never find myself coming away from those conversations feeling all that much better. It's come down to the point where she's told me "this is something that is important in my life, and if you're not okay with it, that's probably a deal-breaker."
I love her, and I don't want to lose her or try to force her into doing something she doesn't want to do, but I don't know if I'm going to become okay with this or not. As of right now, I'm not even completely sure what's bothering me about it.
Other posts about people in similar situations have had the response to do research on polyamory and to be introspective. I don't have anyone to talk to about this, and I've never been very introspective, so I guess my questions are; how do I go about finding out what's really bugging me about this and address it, and where is a good place to do said research? Google searches have basically brought me here, and to Wikipedia.
I'm not sure what kind of communication you two have. Was this just a "I need to do this and you better be ok with it or we're not a thing. Oh? You are ok with it? then I'm gonna do it and that's the end of discussion."
I don't have enough information to give you a "unique" reply to your "unique" situation, but I will be my usual glib, judgmental self and tell you what I think in the absence of the other person's side of the story.
I do not think you should have to just suck it up (i mean, "be introspective") and deal with it. I have noticed that often, the partner who is pushing for a poly/open relationship and/or the partner who finds another relationship first often behaves in a way that is very dismissive, insensitive, and inattentive to their "established" partner. People on this forum dispense advice that is often supportive of the person going through NRE and counsel the person left out to work on themselves and get to the root of their problem. What is not as often acknowledged is that the "NRE person" (the one with the new partner) DOES often behave in a way that takes their existing partner for granted.
Is your girlfriend still showing you by words and actions that you are important and that she still loves you? Or does she see this as something she is "going through" and that YOU need to support HER? I believe that it is on the person who wanted to be poly/finds someone else first (this does not apply to those who were non-monogamous from the outset) to treat their original partner extra-special and go out of their way to check in and see if there's anything they can do to make it easier on the original partner. This isn't about primary/secondary hierarchy or "couple's privilege". It is about being sensitive to the feelings and needs of someone you care for, and realizing that this isn't all about you and your NRE and how HAAAARD it is to juggle two relationships.
If your girlfriend is not at least TRYING to show you affection and understanding and maintain your comfort zone to a certain degree (this does not mean keeping score of how many times she gives you sex versus how many times she gives him sex, or anything like that), then she really needs a reality check and a wake-up call, and needs to SHOW you she still loves you, or she has no business seeing this other guy and still expecting to be in a relationship with you.
When someone has been trying to force monogamy for a while and is finally fed up with it, it can be very hard not to go overboard. I know that when I was in that situation, I thought "I sacrificed myself for him for YEARS and made myself miserable. He can be a bit uncomfortable as he gets used to the changes. And if he's not willing to do that, well I'm not willing to go back to being miserable so I'll just end it and be happier for it".
But the fact is that whatever is scaring you and making you jealous or insecure is likely the idea that you might lose her, or the fact that you feel unappreciated. Both of which are probably true right now. By saying "if you can't be fine with it, I'll leave you", she's basically justifying your fears that you are disposable and that you will lose her by going along with it.
Of course, that's not the way she means it, and you wouldn't be losing her because of letting it happen. But knowing that she has told you that, how much harder is it going to be for you to feel confident that it's all going to be fine?
I suggest you have a talk with her. Tell her you want to be supportive, but she also needs to understand that it's hard for you, and that while you understand that if the relationship doesn't work out (and if it turns out polyamory is a need for her and monogamy is a need for you, the relationship can't work out), then it will end, the way she phrased it makes you feel in a very vulnerable position.
While it's probably been a long time for her, and she wants to finally get going, she had a while to think about it and be ready and impatient, while it's new for you, and she's going too fast and it's scary. For the sake of your relationship (and her second one), she needs to be willing to glow slowly, and make sure to give you some of her time and attention.
That doesn't mean going back to not dating that other guy. But that means not ignoring you when she comes home, or just talking about how awesome he is. That means coming home to you and showing you how much she loves and appreciates you, and having romantic dates together, possibly a weekly date night, doing things you enjoy together, and have him not be a subject she can bring up during this specific time that's just yours and hers.
She should be able to talk about him the rest of the time, though, provided she isn't being mean to you about it. If the relationship keeps going, you'll hear about it, that's just normal. It's going to be an important part of her life, and she's going to want to talk about that important part of her life with you.
However, she doesn't have to talk about it all the time. It's reasonable, at the beginning, to expect some time just dedicated to strengthening your relationship so that it can survive the shift due to a new person entering the picture.
If she provides you with the love, attention and care needed to make a relationship feel safe and secure, then whatever she does with him on the time the two of them spend together should not feel threatening to you, because you will know that when she comes back, she will be happy and looking forward to spending time with you, as you are to spend time with her.
So far you list fear of losing hear or being without her. What else is there?
Do any points in this article resonate with you?
How about feelings words -- do you have enough vocab for feeling word expression? http://www.cnvc.org/Training/feelings-inventory
How about a list for describing needs? http://www.cnvc.org/Training/needs-inventory
How about "When ____ happens, I feel ____ in my body, ___ in my mind, ____ in my heart, and ____ in my soul because my need for ______ is not met."
Don't worry about it making sense or not. Just list whatever it is and leave blanks if you cannot fill it out yet. Maybe that could give pointers to where THE THING lives. Or what THE THING could be from clues.
Just some links to try to help you start the process of "Naming the Un-nameable."
That's the first step in trying to sort yourself out. ID the stuff, name the stuff, get a handle on it.
It's hard to find advice for how to deal with THE THING if you don't know what you are looking for or what it could be called.
Hang in there.
Thank you everyone for the quick responses. I'll take a read through those links and post again when I've got a bit better idea what's going on.
I think it's important that she reads more up on polyamory more too. Some of what the people here are saying it's true. She has very bad way of wording herself with the whole deal breaker thing. Emotions are not a faucet, (and the usual familiar phrase can be applied to all emotions I think) you can't just turn them off, she needs to understand that.
It is important that you research your emotions, really figure out what your heart is telling you. Thats obvious and I think you understand that already from the little bit that you are saying.
She however needs to be responsible for her end of you two's relationship, with only what you have said, it seems like she's only worried about her emotions. Acting like if she is the only one who is going through a rough time. YOu have agreed and continue to agree to be open to her polyamory, thus you are meeting her needs. She should be willing to meet yours too, and that includes her researching and being able to provide ample communication that you are trully not going anywhere in her heart. Relationships take work, she just can't say "This is a deal breaker" after a little bit of expressed discomfort from your end, thats just lazy and irresponsible. You did your part, she needs to do hers. Maybe I'm just being harsh though. :/
TOTG> I'm new to poly and my partner has already found herself someone she is dating regularly.. she calls her babe and text i love you's to her new untitled girlfriend. I have to admit I am down for poly and new to all these concepts but I still got envious when I heard her say these things to someone else.. I'm ok with it now but the first time was hard to swallow. I guess what I'm getting at is the fact that you agreed to try this. You're either jealous or envious. There is a reason and if you're jealous you need to revisit your primary relationship.. if you're envious then you need to swallow it and figure out how to not be so selfish.. perhaps go get your own affirmations and emotional support from someone else? Or pickup a hobby?
Figure out if you're worried about loosing your partner to the other person or envious you're not receiving those affections from them.. or perhaps you're not getting that level of attention... news flash they're in a new relationship as in all butterflies and holding in farts for 3months. It's going to have energy that you're lacking because of the length of time you've been dating your primary partner. It's just how it is.. so again, are you jealous or envious? address the actual feeling.
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