I could use an ear...are these just poly growing pains?
I am living with this situation in my head and without anybody around me that can understand on a 'poly' level. So, I found this board and am hoping that I can have a bit of a sounding board. I apologize that this will be super long but I have to get it out of my head somehow.
What I am really looking to do is to calm my head to a place of relaxing a bit and seeing how things play out.
My background is that I have been in somewhat open or poly relationships for most of my romantic life. I married my first (passed away) husband when I was 19 and we were monogamous for a bit but then we opened up to occasional play partners. I have always known people that considered themselves poly but didn't really think it would be me. Well, as I moved on I decided I, at the very least, had poly-leanings. I was coming to this just at the time he died. I picked up a relationship with one of my playmates that had been running for nearly a year at that stage. I slipped into that relationship and I tried very hard at first to have the 'look, I am poly' conversation but he kept shutting it down and said we could talk about it later. Well, we didn't and a few years down the line we got married, he became emotionally abusive to the extent where I had to leave him.
So, I left him and decided it was my time to really explore my own poly. A couple that I had known for a long time and for whom I had feelings, asked me to move in with them as part of a triad (I am bi). I did and for a while it felt really good. Until the male turned out to be somebody that just could not play within the rules. We set very few rules when we started - #1 everybody gets tested #2 no fluid bonding outside of our circle #3 not one particular person who had been hurtful to many in the past. Well, short story...he broke two of them by having unprotected sex with that person in our bed while both myself and the other woman were around. It was betrayal to me and after a bit I decided to leave.
I spent the last year or so working and living with my best friend. Him and I will never be a couple (I would kill him) and so that felt like a space to sort of find myself a bit.
Anyway, about two months into that year I had a total chance meeting with one of his friends. It was like the breath was taken out of me. We clicked instantly and in a way I really haven't felt before. He was married and I have a no married guy rule but the thing is I was dumb and even though he was wearing a ring I honestly didn't see it. Then by the time I had mentally decided to 'go there' with him, I was already committed in my mind to doing it.
Well, we did and it was beautiful and him and I started up what has been a pretty intense but largely long distance love affair. I really tried to shield myself from all the married men cliches but it was just such an intense bonding. On one of our very first nights, he asked me to tell him about myself and this was at a stage after leaving my marriage where I was deciding to tell people outwardly that I am bi, poly, etc.
So, I did and it was like a world opened up in his eyes and he realized that he was likely poly too. I know many people whose path to poly started with cheating. Perhaps sad but also true. It concerned me a bit from the start that he hadn't really researched poly much but just knew that was what he was when he reviewed his life in his head. Being with me and me being okay with non-monogamy really enriched him and brought him to a place where he finally felt there was nothing wrong with him.
We spent about ten months seeing each other once or twice a month since we lived in separated parts of CA and of course he was still married and I was feeling both guilty about how much in love I was with a married man but also trying to guard myself from being a cliche. At this stage, I trusted this man with almost every fiber in my body and I have such huge trust issues after abuse and then what had happened in my triad. So, that is a huge deal to me.
In the time when we were apart, we both knew there would be other sexual partners. Clearly he was still married. I also knew of one other lover and he was always honest with me about meeting up with her. He knew that my best friend and myself were friends with benefits at times and there was a chance that we would have sex now and then. Heck, him and I even had a threeway with one of his FWB that was/is herself poly and I was okay with all of that.
Then, in July we went to a party and he saw this woman and he was blown away by her beauty - instant lust. I could tell and I told him to go talk to her but that if he decided he wanted to do something that night then he should assume that I may find somebody for the night too. Well, he went off and talked to her for a while but then did come back to me on the dance floor.
In the weeks that followed he kept telling me that he felt that getting together with her (ie sex) was something he simply felt he had to do. It upset me a little bit because of how intense he was being about it but I also appreciated that he was telling me about it. I addition, I was trying to keep in mind that this was the first time he felt an attraction he wanted to act on and could do so honestly. Virgin territory for him, I guess.
They also lived in different parts of the state. So, while I knew they were talking I also knew they had yet to 'hook up'. All the while he is trying to assure me 'nobody is trying to take your place, she knows she has to respect that or we can't be anything'. So, whilst I did ask a few times to be clued in about the nature of their relationship and never really got fully straight answers, I let it slide even though it was bugging me a bit. Part of what bugs me is that she isn't poly. She isn't even really an open relationship person. Also, she was an ex-hookup of my best friend (we are in the BBW community..it is a small world when it comes to those things) and I knew from him that she is the type to fall hard.
Then in September some big changes came in my life. I was recruited for a job and it brought me to live in LA which is where he is based. He had previously been trying to find a job closer to where I had been living but mine happened first and frankly pretty suddenly.
I had about two weeks to quit my other job, find an apartment in Los Angeles and move. He was amazing with helping me with all that and taking my breath away, he nearly instantly asked his wife for a divorce and moved in with me. In fact, he technically lived in my apartment before I did.
The first few weeks everything is heaven. Then, I started to get a niggling feeling about him and this girl. There was just something that wasn't sitting right with me. He was being too 'this has to happen' and we had just moved in together after so many months of trying to get to that place. One day, he was texting her in the wide open - not really trying to hide anything - and I see a picture that came up of the two of them. Where they met was at a BBW event that takes place in a hotel so when I asked him about the picture he said it was in her room (there are often massive room parties that are basically drinking places) and that they had just taken a quick photo laying down on the bed and then he came back to me. I honestly believe that to be true but for some reason it set my trust alerts off a bit because I guess I figured I should have been told he had been back to her room even if nothing happened.
Now, here is where I think I messed up big time. I have a low level anxiety disorder that throws anxiety attacks at me a couple times a year. Change is one of my triggers and all that change at once and then that dent in what I thought was perfect trust ..well, it sent me into a spin of nearly two weeks or straight out anxiety attacks. I am in a new job with no health care or access to medication to calm them. I was trying to hide them but they started to overtake me and I began to get a little bitchy with my responses when the other woman was mentioned.
Then one night he brought her up in a way that I found disrespectful to me. I had met him through my best friend - they do music together - and there was a need for him to go up to my friend's studio to help master an album they are working on. His funds are low at the moment and I said sure lets rent a car on me and we will go up. He messaged me (I was at work) with 'well, I could always ask <namee> for help getting up there and then you don't have to pay'. She lives about an hour from my best friend and I knew that would be the time they 'hooked up' and I just thought it was a slap in my face when I was offering something to help our friendship trio and he was seeing it as a way of sleeping with somebody else.
When I got home from work I tried not to look to pissed off about it but at night he brought it up again and I snapped. I told him that for right now I really would prefer a period of monogamy for a little bit as we got used to being a proper couple. Well, that lit a match I really didn't expect. He is a very gentle man who rarely shows emotion but we had our first real fight and it resulted in him crying and saying that he can't just be with just one woman sexually for the rest of his life and there must be something wrong with him.
Right there, I felt so horrible. I never ever want him to think the desire/need for more than one sexual partner means there is something wrong with him. I've been made to feel like that before. I am sure a lot of us here have too. From that moment, it was like I saw a man slip into depression. I wouldn't blame him at all for it. He just broke up a 14 year marriage. He has two kids and even though he sees them most days and they are only 20 minutes away, not being with them was really starting to hit him. Previously, he had sworn he would be okay with it but I knew that it would bother him and that is why I worked on moving to LA vs him moving up towards me and away from them. Then, I through something into the works that sort of shattered his blissful picture of us together in a happy and healthy poly relationship. I was part pissed off at him for the way he was handling things with this other woman and part mad at myself for having let my anxiety attacks take me to that place.
So, the next day, I called in so many favors and managed to find a doctor that would give me some pills to calm the physical symptoms of anxiety so that the cycle of them would stop. He really didn't appear to understand what those attacks can do to me and it scared him.
He changed with me for a bit and said he needed some time to see if he was going to be talked to like that again (seriously..this was just a state of the relationship talk..you would think in his 14 years of marriage he had one of those before but he said not. Maybe when you are cheating vs trying to honest there isn't much to have to talk about?). I swallowed my pride over guilt of ever making him even think for one second that there was something wrong with being who he is ...especially in a time when he is just starting to walk that path.
I told him, I would be okay with him going to see her but asked him to do it fairly quickly so that it wasn't something just hanging over us.
Well, about week after our talk/fight he had to go to Texas for a family wedding. So, I was there in our apartment really thinking he was weighing up if he wanted to leave or not and is was confusing the hell out of me since right up until then we had a near perfect relationship for nearly a year as far as depth of feeling and communication. He kind of cold shouldered me through his trip to Texas. Checking in enough to let me know he hadn't forgotten about me but certainly not the loving messages and talks we would normally have.
When he got back from Texas he told me 'other trip is at the end of the month'. I knew what that meant and I swallowed my feelings a bit and thanked him for telling me and could he let me know the dates. He did. I called my best friend and asked him to come down to be with me that weekend so I didn't spiral into anxiety attacks and he did.
The day before his trip (one she must have paid for..which made me feel odd because in my head it took a certain level of relationship for somebody to pay your airfare) I asked him for his flight times and he flipped. He he said I was trying to keep tabs on him. Wow, never has he reacted like that to me ever. I said, no, I was just doing what any couple would do and ask flight details on the chance something happened. On top of which, I discovered that day that the trip was actually a day longer than the initial dates he had told me. Which I admit I did question why he hadn't told me that.
So, now he is feeling pressured from what I think are just straight forward questions that poly or even open couples share with each other when going to meet a play partner. He gives me a set of flight times and I don't know..something wasn't right in my head about them. When I got home, I accidentally bumped the computer table and it turned the monitor on and there was his itinerary with totally different times. To my knowledge that is the first time he as ever straight out lied to me and it really hurt. I tried not to mention it, to just let him do whatever it is he needed to do but I couldn't. I asked him if he would lie to me when he was mad and he paused for a bit and I asked 'then what are your real flight times?' and he hung his head in shame and told me. I asked why he would lie to me and his answer was that it felt like i was trying to control him. It is like in whatever state he was in after our 'talk' was making it difficult for him to not slip back into cheating behavior - something never needed with me ever - rather than just be honest. I took the answer and let it slide from there.
He returns from his weekend break with her and he sees that I am not in his face freaking out about it and he starts to relax a bit and be more like the man I deeply love but he did drop in that he is still dealing with that 'talk' we had (at that stage now nearly a month ago) and he still had to get over that. I said okay and said we will get there together.
A week and a bit after his visit with her and he hadn't even mentioned her name. Which, I wasn't sure how to take. Had he gotten what he wanted and now wasn't so anxious that he had to mention it so much. I didn't know but he was slowly being much better with me.
We 'talk' a lot through the day via text while I am at work and one day last week he hit me up and said out of nowhere that he was starting to believe that I really am okay with poly/open where there are occasional other partners. I said that yes, that had always been the case but that it does need to be occasional and I need to be shown honesty and respect and I could not deal with being straight out lied to again. He agreed to that and said that he was starting to believe that the real person he loved had returned (which really kind of annoys me but I let him say it..because really, I had anxiety attacks..I was the same person just ill). He made some comment that he still thought I might 'wig out' down the line when he asks to do something again 'even if it isn't on a special day like a birthday or holiday' which felt like an odd thing to say but I reconfirmed that as long as there is honesty and respect I will be okay. Days go by and he starts telling me I am the best friend/partner/mate anybody could have and I think it is all just settling back down.
Then, two days ago we are working on a group project together on our computers. He opens up a facebook message from somebody to show me and I can see the list of previous conversations on the side. I am never somebody to snoop. I won't even get something out of a bag for him when he says it is okay..I will bring him the bag to get it himself. But I could see her there from a few days previously and her last line was 'I know, I love you too :)'. Well, he had never told me they had exchanged 'L' words and it just sat with me in my head all night.
When he went to sleep I did something I truly hate myself for and I clicked on that message to read it. I did not scroll up to read anything beyond what was on the screen. The majority of the conversation was from RIGHT before he went to see her and it was all about how much he was lusting after her and how she was his 'siren' etc and stuff that made it sound like he was stoking her up over me a bit....she made some comment about 'well, she tried to change the rules' and he did defend me a bit in there but really it was mostly about how much they were lusting after each other (meanwhile we have sex everynight so his lust for me felt just fine). She did make some comment about not being jealous of me but not wanting to hear about other women. Which sort of makes me think/hope he was still telling her that I was who he would be with as a primary. Then the last response in the chat was a gap of many days..over a week since they had their 'dates' and was just exchanging 'I love yous'. I closed it and decided not to go up and read any more. I was ashamed enough of having read anything.
On the other hand, I escaped an abusive married nearly two years ago and there are somethings I can't fully let go. So, I woke him up and I will admit to having given him some BS reason..i said that I had a dream and it upset me (I do have a lot of nightmares that do tend to point to truths) and I asked him outright if he had ever told her he loved her. He said yes (it is weird how when confronted he will answer) and I said I thought he should have told me that before but okay. Then he threw in 'but that was before I saw her'. Which really confused me but he doesn't not do well with being asked question after question (he thinks it means he isn't being 'heard' so I didn't ask what that meant. But part of me read that as 'I told her what I needed to to get her to fly me up there and have sex'. He was mad at me at the time of some of those comments and I could let that go if he was really just being a jerk and stoking her up because of whatever was going on in his head.
Then I asked him about her feelings for him - after all she is not poly. How does this play out for her? He said that she is into him and has asked when they can see each other again but she was being thoughtful and was asking for dates that were special to us as a couple (birthdays , anniversaries, holidays) so it didn't clash with any of those. He said that he had told her that with a lot of events in December (my birthday and the holidays) and then January I have a business trip he is coming along with me on and then Feb is Valentines day and his Birthday. So, it likely wouldn't be until the end of Feb or March before there was a free time.
From that, I took two things - firstly, if he wanted to see her SO badly again he would make it happen before March. He traveled up and down the state of California to see me every other weekend until we got to live together. Secondly, I now knew where his statement about how I might 'wig out' on meetups even if they weren't on special days came from. So, obviously they are communicating other than on FB or they had that conversation in person and he just took that long to relay it.
I asked him where he wanted to be and he got a little huffy and said he clearly wanted to be with me or he would not be living with me. He then also said that should him and I break up she would not be his first choice for where to go next. I guess his way of saying 'chill out'.
So, I am mad at there having been things kept from me but I am trying to give him some slack as this is his first attempt at doing anything poly/open that wasn't 'cheating' and frankly he handled it badly. Other times since our 'talk' he has asked me about meeting up with one woman he used to see in the past and he asked properly and with respect and I said it would be okay if it happens. So, he - I hope - is trying to learn.
I tried to be the Poly grown up and said that perhaps it was time for him to sort of 'introduce' us and the three of us have a chat and clear the air. He said he would ask her (I sort of doubt he will) but that in the past when he suggested her talking to me she said it made her feel uncomfortable and that like it was a slap in my face. I pointed out calmly that it felt like more of a slap in the face to carry on with me in the dark about the nature of their relationship and that I felt I had been disrespected. He really hates being asked things more than once. So, I left it.
Problem is that now, my trust is really dented and I am trying very hard not to be the type of person that goes back and reads the whole of their conversations to make sure I am not being 'played' in anyway. It is being really hard not to shake the feeling that I have a right to know. I mean maybe if I did I would see that that level of talk was a blip and was indeed right around when he was mad/hurt and then I will just store it in my head and try to forgive. On the other hand, I could see things that might ruin any chance at me just letting this go.
I don't want to give up on this man so soon. I really believe him to be a soulmate of mine and possibly the love of my life. On the other hand, I want the cuddly, lovey dovey man back too. I feel like he was maybe slowly coming back to us being 'us' after his trip and I am hoping that asking those questions about her (where I have previously not mentioned her since the trip) hasn't set us back. I do think though, I have a right to be hurt and I feel like I have no where to express that without damaging things further. we fought hard for nearly a year to get to be with each other. I don't want to give up on the first real hurdle.
So, I need to dig deep and see if I allow this all to be chalked up to badly handling a first attempt from him at being honest about having sex with a person other than the woman with which he lives. We have several things coming up soon..my big work Christmas party is tomorrow and though he isn't keen on putting on a suit he is going. We have a concert on Saturday that marks the anniversary of the first time we (well, you know) and then on the 20th we have my birthday. Is it wrong of me to want to see how he handles those events with me. What he is like towards me?
I really do not want to give up on what could be a beautiful poly/open relationship but I also don't want to find out I am being played in the background.
Ugh..what to do.
Sorry about the length..I haven't see able to say any of that to anybody that has a clue about poly and I think I needed a mind dump.
This reads like a journal thread. Could ask a mod here to move it to the journal area if you intend it that way.
Am I reading this right? You started up having a cheating affair with him, and are now worried he's kinda cheating on you/breaking agreements with this woman? There's a lot of details in there but is that the bottom line? :confused:
At the very least you have communication and respect needs that are not being met here. You have been lied to, and this has broken trust. Is he talking hot air or actually making changes to his behavior to make ammends and rebuild trust?
It is on you to discern if he's used up his 3 strikes you are out, if the effort being put in is the right amount or too little too late, and if you are still willing to receive this sort of treatment if things are not changing at or or not enough. You have been the victim of abuse in the past -- be VERY careful with your mental health, emotional health, physical health, and spiritual health. Do not mistake what you wish it was for what actually IS.
If he NOT change his behavior, how will you behave in self respecting ways in your own conduct then? What natural consequences have you told him will happen?
I am sorry you are hurting. I hope getting to write it out and vent at least helped some. :(
The answer to that is, yes, I got involved with him when he was being unfaithful. It is not something I am proud of at all and he is only the second man in my life that I have had any involvement with who was cheating on anybody. The first was when I was much younger and broke my heart. I did not intend to start a relationship with him but the 'click' was so loud I wasn't hearing anything else. I believe him to be the love of my life but I suppose life isn't over so who knows if that is true or not just yet.
That behavior are not demonstrating those things but I was meaning was that until this we have been such a force for love together. This isn't the man I know and that is why I am trying to hang in there and be a couple that works through things rather than gives up - people will mess up - but I feel like he has placed so much odd negative energy on the one moment where I suggested that we maybe needed to be monogamous for a period that he is looking at me wondering if I am going to suddenly not be poly. I have been been living poly a lot longer than he has and perhaps because of that I am uncomfortable with the lack of proper communication about the nature of the relationship he was forming with this person. If he wants to have some sort of relationship with her...fine..just don't lie to me about it.
I am really having to fight with my trust issues here. In the end, how that plays out it what will determine where I go from here. I can't not trust the people in my intimate life.
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