Please- need advice
I've been in a poly situation for about 3 years now. It's had it's up and downs, but lately it's been extremely difficult for all three of us and I am at the point of admitting I am in over my head and need help. I've called about counseling for myself as well as I think I'm pretty depressed over things and having difficulty dealing with the situation or making a good decision.
Here's the situation. I've been married for 12 years. We have a son. I live with my husband and our son.
I've had a boyfriend for 3 years. He lives 7 hours away. The relationship has been mostly online, phone, text, videochat, but we've also been lucky enough to get to spend a week together a few times a year for the past couple of years. We're also in a D/s relationship with each other, he and I.
My boyfriend had a girlfriend when we got together 3 years ago. She and I got along great. They broke up about a year later and he hasn't dated anyone since then. After they broke up he and I got much closer, and our relationship got quite a bit more intense.
During the last couple of years, my husband dated 4 other women, and I encouraged it. My relationship with my husband had stagnated before my boyfriend ever came along, and there were other issues in our relationship that ended up pushing me away from him and closer to my boyfriend. My marriage had cooled to the 'roommate stage' but then conflict and hostilities escalated, despite him saying he was ok with the poly idea, and we ended up spending a year on the verge of divorce, avoiding each other and living completely separate lives while still living together (keeping all this carefully hidden from our son or families.)
Meanwhile, I had run into a roadblock with my boyfriend- I had decided I wanted to be with him instead of my husband and wanted to try to find a way for us to be together, or move closer to date more regularly and see if we'd work as a couple, not just long distance. He didn't want to. He wasn't comfortable with kids, and didn't want to settle down, and didn't want me to leave my husband. So we settled back into the triad, with me trying to accept this, and just be satisfied with what I could have of him.
There was an issue with jealousy over my boyfriend as well, as whenever his ex almost came back into his life briefly, I had such a hard time I tried to break up with him but he talked me out of it. Then again when an old friend of his, and a submissive that he admitted he might like to play sexually with was supposed to move in with him temporarily when she lost her job and was looking to move to another city, I was in agony. It didn't happen and I was ashamed of how relieved I was. I knew I was being unreasonable but I couldn't seem to control that feeling of insecurity and being scared of losing him.
And now, that same friend is back in my boyfriend's life and they are definitely starting something up, D/s and sexually, and though I know and like her, and she likes me, and he's doing his best to keep me informed and reassure me, I panicked, didn't think I could deal with it, thought it was the end of our relationship, despite his assertions to the contrary.
Meanwhile, after spending a year on the edge of a divorce, my husband and I backed down from it and tentatively tried to make another go of it. He was fine with sharing me with my boyfriend, and wanted to try to fix things. I was reserved and not so sure, and still hung up on the fact that I'd rather be with my boyfriend than him.
I tried to break things off with both of them, again- thinking that maybe I just wasn't really able to do poly, and that I knew my hang up with wanting to be with my boyfriend and not my husband was a reoccurring problem I couldn't seem to get past, along with the jealousy and insecurity where my boyfriend was concerned. But I was miserable, and they were both upset as well, and I didn't even make it a day before I was asking them both if we could please try to fix things and try again. They both wanted to. They were both happy with how things were, sharing me, with my boyfriend long distance. I was the one that wasn't happy, it seems, but the fear and pain of being alone seem far worse.
This was a couple of days ago. They're both happy to be back in status quo, hoping things will be stable again and we'll go on like we were before. But I'm still not happy, and afraid it will only happen again. But I don't think I have the courage and strength to leave, to be alone. I'm trying to tell myself to just try again. Try to let things settle, as the chaos and heartache has been stressful and damaging to all of us. I know they both love me. I know I love my boyfriend, but he doesn't want us to be together full time. I am not sure how I feel about my husband, if I even want things to work with him or not but I feel like the other options just involve misery.
I know this is a mess...and a lot of it my fault. Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated.
I think you need to sort out the reasons why you are feeling insecure and jealous and afraid your relationship with your boyfriend is threatened if he has another girlfriend. Until you do that work on yourself, things are unlikely to get better. Things don't just settle on their own, people need to work on their issues actively.
You're absolutely right. That's something I'm working hard on. I know it's not fair to him, and it's a negative personality trait I really don't want to have either. I'm finding that talking to him, asking the right questions, getting more info about what's really going on, as well as talking to her helps (and I know, communication, communication, communication really is key to so much) because left to my own devices my brain makes things out to be so much worse than they really are.
From where I'm sitting, it looks like part of the problem is that you added more relationships into your life at a point when your existing relationship needed tending. Now your marriage still needs tending.
Your husband says he is ok with you dating someone else and he's happy with the status quo. It sounds like the status quo has a lack of intimacy. I suspect that's part of the reason you're not "feeling it" with your husband.
Relationships take active work. Left to their own devices, they tend to cool off. It takes effort to keep the intimacy alive.
I read an interesting article about that. The gist of it is that small tokens of physical contact build intimacy. It's not that you lose intimacy first, and then those small tokens start to fall off as a result. If you can make an effort to do those small tokens, then intimacy will increase automatically. Small tokens being things like holding hands in the car, resting your hand on his leg when you watch TV, smearing icing on his nose at a birthday party... just those sweet little things that couples do naturally when they're starting out and then forget to keep up. In other words, all that stuff that makes 8 year olds gag ;)
That's just what I can see from here. You mention "other issues" in your marriage without going into detail, which is fine. But my suggestion is to deal with these issues, or at least try, before throwing in the towel. No relationship worth having comes without some effort. If you want to skip from relationship to relationship, you can, but it probably won't be very fulfilling. At least, if you put in the effort and it doesn't work out, you'll know you tried.
The jealousy is a separate issue completely and there's tons of info out there for dealing with it, so I won't go into that.
Relationships are never easy and though it may look from the outside as if some poly relationships are simple, brilliant and sorted, I think that those relationships took a hell of a lot of soul searching and exploration before they reached that point.
I think the best way to tackle your predicament is to think of the two issues separately. A lot of people think about poly like... if you're not 100% happy with one partner, that's ok, because you have have multiple. You can't get everything from one person. I think of it like... would I choose to spend this amount of time and give this amount of myself if I were single? Or would I move on? I date secondaries who I wouldn't choose as girlfriends if I were single.... but I would choose them as casual partners, and so forth.
I say this because... in my opinion... being unhappy, especially with a primary partner, can cause a great deal of heartache and at the very least, make poly difficult. You find yourself craving the attention and new love of another, whilst wrapped in a fading-yet-familiar security blanket with your husband. But here's what I know.... if my girlfriend ever got to the point where we were mediocre and she was fully throwing herself into someone else... not only would I struggle more with poly; I wouldn't want to be there any more. It would break my heart.
So that makes me wonder about how your husband feels. And hey... relationship breakdowns are not usually one person's fault. Relationships break down because of a lack of compatibility and/or a lack of communication. If you've had other issues, they've obviously widen the cracks and in your heart, three years ago, you were looking for a safe way out.
Ok, so let's look at your husband first. I do not believe that marriages have to stay together. However, 12 years is a long time and family is important. Sometimes, the best way to understand what somebody means to you is to not have them around for a while. I don't know if that could work in your situation, due to having children. But if it was me, I'd be tempted to push myself to move out for a period of 6 months, if it was financially viable. Then see what life is like on your own (which is different from 'alone').
I know these measures are not always possible... and so, if you are to work out your feelings whilst remaining in the home... I say give it a shot. Start having weekly dates. See a marriage counsellor - a poly friendly one. As Schrodinger said; reignite the intimacy between you.
If reading that paragraph made you feel claustrophobic or resistant... listen to your gut. Is what you really want a platonic, close relationship with your husband, but romance with other people?
There are all kinds of different relationships and plenty of monogamous married couples live separate lives, even sleep in separate beds, whilst playing happy families in front of other people.
I actually live with my ex boyfriend in a studio apartment. I have a girlfriend, he is dating someone, yet we sleep in the same bed. Like you (perhaps?), I basically outgrew our relationship and needed to stretch my wings... but neither of us wanted to let our closeness go. This works for us... I say, make your own rules.
Onto your boyfriend...
For a start... take a look at your boyfriend's response to your thoughts on leaving your husband. What got you to the stage where you suggested it? Had you two ever talked about that before?
I'm not saying your boyfriend is wrong for not wanting to be with you exclusively, because of your children and whatever else. But... what I'm saying is.... is he really the man you think he is? Or is your mind projecting a reality with him as an escape from the humdrum and difficulties of long term marriage?
But.... what about relationship security? How CAN you feel secure when you possibly want something more than your bf does? Perhaps the demons in the back of your brain are telling you that he will find someone without children, or the type of marriage 'baggage' you have, and will leave you for them?
Well... it could happen. Or, it could happen, but he'd still stay with you. I really struggle with the idea of "trust in your partner.. believe they won't leave you... it's all in your mind". I think anyone could leave anyone; mono or poly. What concerns me more is ... "trust that my partner is being honest about what they want... what their commitment level is towards me... and where I fit in their life"
On the slightly brighter side... I am hoping that this little piece of anecdotal advice might help you -
When I met my girlfriend two years ago, she was on the brink of divorce with her husband. She gave him an ultimatum of divorce or poly... and he took the poly route. She threw herself into other relationships, wrapped in the security (financial included) of their 11 year marriage. They also have a three year old.
A lot of things led up to their difficulties. My girlfriend had moved and moved and moved so that her husband could follow his dream career. He'd squandered a lot of their money. They lost their dream house and moved into a tiny apartment, with about 1/5 of their income. He was diagnosed with OCD after the birth of their daughter and she has had depression for most of her life.
For the first year or so, poly gave her the freedom she craved, but pushed them further apart, because she basically neglected their relationship, instead of dealing with their issues. She met me, they eventually both accepted me into their family and now, two years later, their marriage is growing stronger and stronger again. She still contemplates whether they are meant to be together... and in all honesty, what they have is a long-standing, familiar, sometimes fun, friendship-based marriage that suits them for the very most part. And they are happy with that.
I think that you could spend some time reflecting on what kind of qualities you want in a long term partner, what you get from your husband and don't get... and the same with your boyfriend. There is no need to make a decision.. but I would definitely try to work out your feelings and desires, before trying to tackle any jealousy issues about your boyfriend.
@SchrodingersCat- We've been trying, exactly what you describe there...for months now. The little touches, being tentatively affectionate, doing nice little things for each other, little gifts, trying to set aside time to spend with each other. He seems to think things are fine, or should be fine now but I'm still feeling extremely wary and reserved. He seems to be baffled about why I'm not happy or fine, despite my attempts to tell him and now he seems to be getting impatient for us to be ok.
If it were feasible for me to take 6 months away, I would try it. Just to see how it felt. That may still be something on the table though he wouldn't like it.
I'm definitely going to see a counselor. I need some help working through all this, I know that for sure.
At least things seem to be getting better with my boyfriend. We've been trying to reconnect, he's been trying to reassure me about my place with him. We've been discussing what's been happening with his other girl (not much, so far but I told him I know I need to be ok with whatever happens with her so I've been trying to talk to him about the possibility of them having sex, even starting a relationship, trying to be ok with either and be secure and have faith that it won't wreck our relationship.) I'm starting to feel like things will be ok there.
I honestly don't have a lot of hope that my marriage will last much longer. The thought makes me sad. I know I'd miss him, I'd miss the closeness, the stability, the security I've had with him. I'd miss raising our child together. I'd miss leaning on each other, helping each other out. I'd miss the comfortable, the familiar. I'll admit I'm pretty terrified of the unknown right now, of the thought of being alone, and even if my boyfriend and I manage to stay together through everything, it'll still be long distance, so for all practical purposes, I realize I'll be alone, and that's a scary thought.
---Just had a talk with my husband and we are finding that a problem we're running into is that each of us seems to be making assumptions about the other that turn out to be incorrect. I said we don't seem to know each other very well anymore and that we need to try to work more on communication and that maybe if we were able to communicate better we could get to know each other again and re-establish some sort of connection or level of intimacy again. I also used some of what I'd read here- about how we might want to try to set a time period for us to achieve this, to come up with some specific, measurable, attainable goals for our relationship to improve and revisit what, if any, progress we've made at the end of this time period. He doesn't seem all that enthusiastic, but it gives me hope that one way or another, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel and not endless limbo.
Thank you for the replies, I appreciate them very much.
Aigh, I had typed out this long response, and it got eaten. >.<
Suffice it to say- I really appreciate the replies and suggestions and they have all been helpful, thank you very much.
I think Sparklepop hit on something- I am feeling claustrophobic and resistant to the thought of giving in and settling back into a romantic relationship with my husband. I honestly wish having a platonic relationship with him were possible but I don't think he'd be satisfied with that at all and would be upset and hurt at the suggestion.
I wish leaving for 6 months as a trial period were possible. I may still explore that option in the future, but given my husband's current mindset, I believe he'd be so hurt and angered by that move that the relationship would likely be over at that point, and I also hate the thought of creating such an upheaval in my son's life for a trial period...but the idea does sound a little tempting, just to see what it felt like.
My husband and I talked today, and what I'm getting from him is that he's hurt and upset because of the fact that I don't seem to want physical intimacy with him. I feel like he's being too impatient and pushing when I'm not sure I'm ready to re-establish that with him just yet. He's been reading so much into our interactions, and reading them incorrectly, that it's been painfully obvious that despite my ongoing attempts to communicate with him and re-establish some sort of connection again, he really doesn't know me or understand me at all right now and that feeling doesn't really make me want to rush back into intimacy.
I suggested that maybe we try to come up with a time period to make some progress towards some specific, measurable, attainable goals for the relationship (been reading about that on other threads and think it's a great idea)- and for him to please take a little time today to think about what those goals could be and we'll discuss them later tonight. Maybe with a time period, I won't feel so hopeless and claustrophobic about being stuck back in limbo. And maybe with the thought that we're going to work towards some specific goals, he'll feel like we'll be able to see if we're making any progress or not. He seemed really unhappy and upset about the fact that I wasn't ready to jump back into intimacy with him and didn't have any interest in physical relations with him but I told him that at least we were talking and trying and I was still wanting to try to work with him to see if we could make things better instead of just giving up- which seemed at least a little hopeful to me.
Things with my boyfriend seem to be going better. He and I haven't had much time to talk or connect with me spending most of my time with my husband trying to talk and work with him, but we got to spend a little time last night (which ended early as it got interrupted by my husband even after I asked him if it was ok if I spent some time with my boyfriend). My bf and I got to talk a little about his other potential girlfriend, and I was able to broach the subject without that shaky, sick feeling and actually have a decent conversation about it, which seemed to help a lot. He and I seemed to be able to reconnect, and I felt a lot better about things with him and we even made a date night for Sunday, when my husband will be gone to work.
Hoping to get in to see a counselor next week. I am feeling a little stronger, a little more capable of dealing with things after falling apart Monday. I'm trying to stay hopeful and open about things and just do my best to try to be honest and considerate to both my partners and communicate as effectively as I can, while also thinking through what changes I may need to make and what I am really capable of doing and what I'm not. I want them to be happy, but I know I need to be happy too.
After you've analysed it, you can return to your partner and say "When you said/did ___, I assumed that it was because you felt/thought ___. Is that accurate?" And then most of the time, it won't be, and they'll tell you so. Then you can respond to their true motivations and not the ones you made up and painted on them.
Have you flat out told him you'd rather be with your bf....as it stands right now? That's something I'd want to know if I was being asked to work on things in a troubled marriage.
Your relationship stagnated, was on the verge of divorse you both had partners as a fix.....you don't want disrupt your child's life. Both guys love you....but you never said you love your husband. I think that relationship as a marriage was over 3 yrs ago and nobody wants to admit it.
I honestly don't know if I love my husband anymore or not. I know I don't feel any romantic feelings for him, or any intimacy or passion, and haven't for a long time. I care about him. I like doing things for him. I like helping him. I want him happy and I hate doing anything to hurt or upset him. Is that love? I don't even know anymore.
I'm trying to leave the door open for those feelings to come back, if there's any chance of it. We're trying to take a month, to get through the holidays, and see if there's any way we can move towards intimacy again. My boyfriend and I, meanwhile are trying to stabilize our out relationship, get through him going to spend a week with his potential new gf Dec. 17, and seeing what, if any changes need to be made all around.
My husband has said, if we haven't made noticeable improvement by the end of the year, he wants to end the relationship, that he wants and deserves someone who wants him, loves him more than anyone. I agreed, that he does indeed deserve that. That we all did. As it stands though, the main problems in our triad appear to be that my husband wants more from me than I think I can give him, and I want more from my boyfriend than he can give me. I don't know if there's any healthy, happy way to resolve that. I just know we're all three trying to be considerate, caring, and supportive of each other. That none of us wants to hurt the other. But I don't know if there's any way to fix this unless people can change what they want, and this seems to be such a longstanding, deep-seated desire for more on my part and my husband's part that I am really unsure it can be changed. Or should be.
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