How to NOT ruin this?
In my intro post I gave a brief description of my recent "coming out" as poly...
I am in a deep and extremely loving relationship with my SO of two years, NK. He's an amazing guy. He knew right from the get-go that I am (and always have been) bi, and he was fine with that. The thing that I have always hidden from everyone, until just a few weeks ago, is the fact that I tend to fall in love with people at the same time. I don't go looking for it of course, but hey, does anyone really control what their heart does?
Well I suppose for a variety of positive reasons -- being in a truly nurturing relationship, gaining self-confidence with an awesome career change into something I love to do, and having a great social life for once -- I was inspired to be myself for once and tell him about my poly-ness a few weeks ago. At first it was very, very rough, if only for the fact that he had pretty much no idea what poly really is about and had his head filled with the stereotypical misconceptions that most seem to have. But I am lucky enough to be with a person who loves me SO much, that he's been willing to learn as much as he can on the subject and, as he confesses, feels even more strongly for me now that I have opened up to him.
At my 6-months-new job as a graphic designer at a winery (yes, that sounds like a bizarre fantasy job but it's true), I've made quite a few friends. The winery is a relatively small family operation -- not a Napa Valley giant by any means -- but certainly keeps us all busy. It's one of those places where everyone is close and knows everyone's business and there ARE no secrets because it's impossible to keep them for long. In particular I befriended one of the assistant wine makers, CW, who at the time of our meeting was also in a committed relationship of 7 years. Long story short on that one, his fiancee was a nightmare. Everyone hated her, and about 2 months ago he FINALLY broke it off with her, much to everyone's relief.
During the summer, CW and I spend time together and become close. I start to enter emotional shut-down mode in order to prevent myself from developing stronger feelings for him. This is a response I learned early on, hiding my poly side for so many years. Nip it in the bud, right? Except it makes me miserable, weighs on me, and causes me to become bitter at home with NK (who is of course oblivious at this point).
What makes it even more miserable is that this man's affections for me are apparently so strong, that despite being very clear to him that I am with NK in a serious relationship, he still professes his love for me.
Well that was the final straw. I felt like God himself was handing me this rarest of things, the one thing I had denied myself forever. Therefore I confess my polyamorous ways to NK as well as CW on separate occasions, both men cry and are confused, but then STILL both say they love me.
A few days ago I had them both over at the house. They were extremely tense, but they ended up being nice to one another and actually getting along quite well.
Could I really be so lucky? Any advice on where to go from here to strengthen this potential dream come true would be appreciated.
Hello and welcome.
If I got it right, nothing more than words have been exchanged between CW and yourself? If so, has there happened any breach of trust in any form by now? Because those use to be the factors that complicate any given poly situation multiple times.
If the tears have been out of confusion and fear of the unknown future and possiblities, everything just needs time. Lots of time. I would suggest you sit back and simply wait. Give them time to process all those new informations, get a feel for the situation you would love them to be in with you and each other and let them become as comfortable as possible with the thought. Wait for them to come around by themselves to suggest possibilities and further actions.
They met for the first time, if I got that right. Just some days ago. Talk to them, ask for things you would love to experience and explain what you would like your relationship(s) to be. Ask for their ideas of the future. Do you know what you are searching for in detail? Any confusion about any given outcome could nurish new fears for them or you. That's why I would advice you to sit and talk. A lot.
When we started out, I told my men that I love each of them, that I want to be with each of them and then I simply waited for their solution. They got to know each other better, talked with each other, because it became clear that we would prefer a shared living situation for all of us and that's how they started to create their ideas of a possible future.
Wishing you luck :)
Make sure they both understand
that any learning to live with any flavor of non-monogamy will likely be the hardest thing they have ever had to deal with. One of the hardest things about combining the lessons of Freedom and Love is that during the learning process, you feel you can handle college level coursework and sign up for the class only to find you really should have been taking a one hour class all year every year since Kindergarten.
It is virtually impossible to exercise freedom without being held accountable for the responsibility associated with it, which unfortunately has an invisible price tag that the majority of the world denies it even exists.
I feel the most effective way to lessen the pain in the lessons is to practice being honest with yourself. Taking a few extra minutes out of every day to honestly identify your genuine emotions. It is far to easy to not be honest about why we are feeling the emotion we feel. Especially when it comes to being upset. It is a complicated process to explain, but it is like getting upset at a person who drives the speed limit because you are late for work. Of course there are varying degrees which the seemingly slow driving may be genuinely responsible for annoying you, but there is a night and day difference between a person who hit snooze four times and now has five minutes for a thirty minute drive and the person who woke up to a flat tire that unforeseeingly needed to be changed (and the one with the flat tire is typically not angered by the slow driver) Genuinely understanding the source of any anger usually takes practice. Taking things into consideration like; do I get angry at people who drive the speed limit when I am not late for work? Do I have unrealistic views about how heavy traffic I should expect for the hour of my commute (ie: if there is heavy traffic, was I really using my best judgement in trying to predict how much time I would need or was I rationalizing and telling myself white lies)
Getting angry at other drivers is an easy model to view how undeserved bitterness takes an honest person to realize they have no right to be bitter at anyone but themselves.
Not practicing that type of personal accountability for the genuine reasons you feel each emotion can cause trouble because you will end up being directly responsible for causing a lot of confusion among those learning the combination of freedom to love without restraint.
Having very intimate relationships with those you love, something closer to poly as opposed to swinging, can require an awful lot of empathy and compassion for everyone you are involved with. It can require an awful lot of self-reflection and being overly critical of your behaviors so when a person is not practiced at knowing the genuine reasons for every emotion they cannot give their partners the information they will need in order for their polyship to be steered away from the rocky cliffs. It poisons the self-reflection process because it just makes the self-reflective person feel crazy rather than having that self-reflection be of benefit.
Because we live in a world where truth is often fooled into believing it must remain closeted or else suffer the consequence, it automatically sets up our relationships to incorrectly identify our emotions, often drastically by simply having to sometimes keep relationships secret.
One of the most important things is to remember to go back and confess to your loved ones immediately when you recognize you misplaced some of your anger onto their behaviors because it isn't fair to let them think something they did was the cause of your grumpiness when it was not because when others are genuinely trying to learn how they can make poly work in a relationship with you, they will be self-reflective of their interactions with you and if they mistakenly believe they may have been responsible for problems they are not, it can be crazy making. So it's important to tell them things like,
"when I snapped at you and said you make me feel hovered over, it was because I was trying to have a cigarette after I supposedly had quit"
because failure to inform them of little unpleasant truths is directly responsible for confusion, which causes unnecessary pain and can even be responsible for things not working.
In a weird way, successful intimate polyships are a lot like the dynamics of Alcoholics Anonymous in regards to following the steps. However luckily for some their are many different types of non-monogamy and many people have different personal definitions as to what constitutes true intimacy. But if you are envisioning "classic" polyamory it is best to make sure you aren't leaving out even the tiniest of every single tiny baby step because not doing so results in unnecessary pain (esp within a community)
wow...good for you!! wish i'd had the stones to make sure mine started out that way!! lessons learned....
best of luck to you three :)
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