Fwb, but not really
One of my best friends is a monogamous guy that I have had to to tame my feelings for for the past 4 years or so. He is one of my husband's best friends from childhood.
I asked him if he would be interested in dating me about 4 months ago, and he told me he has feelings for me, but ultimately he is monogamous, and he has no desire to come between my husband and I. We decided to be friends with benefits, but it turned into something much more like a relationship: staying up talking all night, dropping the l word, sleepovers, constant contact, affection, nre highs on both sides, etc.
About a month ago, he decided to pursue a monogamous ex for a few months. Then not only did he not want to have sex with me, but he put limits on how long our phone conversations could last, the words he wanted to say, etc. I understood that to this other person, our connection might look very much like a relationship, so I stepped back to avoid causing problems there. It was only a little difficult, and I was more upset about my breakup with a long term partner during the same period.
Now he's found that it isn't going to work with the woman he was pursuing, and he is pretty much trying to pick up where he left off with me. In the two months little changed in the way of my feelings. I'd really like to pursue a serious (possibly primary) relationship with him, and he says he loves me very deeply and probably would have married me if he had met me when I was single and mono, but he is mono, and he doesn't want my primary relationship to break.
I am just feeling confused by the fact that he treats me like a girlfriend, says he loves me like one and keeps us in this limbo land. We have great conversations, comfortable affection, deep discussions, are one another's secret keepers. We spend a great deal of time together. We even came out to some mutual friends because we thought our love was too obvious to try to hide. Why doesn't he want to call this a relationship? He says he's monogamous, yet is perfectly willing to carry on with this behavior when most of the time we see one another, my husband is with us, and I make no effort to hide my other relationships. He has very rarely shown any sign of jealousy or emotional problem with the situation. How is this mono behavior? I have told him he'd never have to date anyone else, and understands this. What does the fwb title accomplish when nobody behaves that way?
I'm so emotionally clouded it's difficult for me to see this clearly, and I think I could use an outside view. My husband is privy to all of this and tries to be supportive, but he struggles with not letting my emotional ups and downs with his friend turn into frustration with his friend. So he mostly steps back, occasionally listens to my thoughts and tells me I need to work this out without his help. I don't want to discuss it in such detail with others in the group, because I don't want to cause any messes in other friendships.
Advice in this situation? Part if me says I should just jump back into our non relationship, part of me says to keep my distance and hope the feelings die down. I am not sure what's best.
Let me trying reframing what you wrote. Maybe it could help reading it in another way:
If it were me? I'd let it go. Not shopping at the right store here. Be friends, skip being lovers. Because what in this list can you NOT get as his friend?
But you are you. You are the one who knows your own wants, needs, and limitations. So YOU are the one who has to choose.
Do you feel this "FWB lover relationship" that he is offering to you is worth the price of admission? And do you think you will you get enough return on your investment if you accept it?
If he agrees to being in a relationship with you then—being mono—it means that for now he's given up on finding "The One" for himself.
Good point. Maybe boyfriend doesn't know the word "monoamorous?"
Sometimes OP uses "mono" as the abbreviation where I would write "monoamorous". "Monoamorous" to me is the capacity/desire to love only one person at a time.
Other times OP uses "mono" to abbreviate for "monogamous." "Monogamous" to me is a relationship structure where it is two people in relationship to just each other.
A monoamorous person could choose be in either a monogamous structure or in a polyamorous "V" structure or similar and be fine. They have their "One Sweetie" to be loving either way.
A monoamorous AND monogamous person is only going to want to be in a monogamous structure. The would not be ok in polyship configurations.
An equally valid question is: Why are you so determined to label it as a relationship? Why not just enjoy it for what it is?
My entirely presumptuous guess: It's a protection mechanism. Perhaps his romantic goal in life is to meet a woman, marry her, and be in a committed monogamous marriage. You don't fit into that plan. Although he enjoys the time you spend together, he has to keep you at arm's length in order to avoid messing up his chance to meet his future spouse.
If he's "in a relationship" with you, he cannot honestly answer "Yes" when women ask if he's single. That's an important question in the world of mono dating. With good reason, most women won't date a man who is willing to leave his girlfriend to start a new relationship; nor will they think twice about expecting him to end any casual sexual relationships in which he's engaged. Therefore, you and him "in a relationship" is not a possibility unless he wants to give up his (presumed) goal of getting married.
Either way, his behaviour is classically mono. He had this romantic affair† with you. As soon as he met a girl he liked and who was available for a mono relationship, he immediately ended the affair. As soon as that relationship ended, he resumed the affair. One girl at a time: mono. Emm is right that being in a relationship with a nonmono does not make you nonmono, any more than being in a relationship with a bisexual does not make you bisexual.
†defined as "a sexual relationship or a romantic friendship or passionate attachment between two people"
From your BF's perspective, it sounds like understandable fear to me. He found himself in love with a polyamorous person - not just any polyamorous person, but the wife of his best friend.
When fear kicks in, what do we, as humans, do? Often, we seek a safe place. Fear is so often seen as a negative thing - but I think it is actually a developmental, human, red flag - survival instinct. What stops us from running out blindly across the road to go and get food from our favourite restaurant when we are starving? Fear of being hit by an oncoming car. So we stop, look both ways, consider our options, and cross when it's safe.
Emotions work in the same way - yet, often, we do not realise it. (Anecdote): throughout her young adult life, my girlfriend turned to copious male attention when she is feeling a personal void. It became her crutch; something that she learned to do, subconsciously. Recently, I went home to the UK after a three-month stay with her. She felt a void. What was the first thing she did, literally within hours of me getting on the plane? Go online and talk to a guy. The rest of the week? Filled her time talking to various guys. Her safe place. What is the first thing someone who has always believed in and followed a monogamous path will do when they fall in love with a person who cannot meet this future goal? They will feel fear. Fear will cause upset. Upset leads to reverting back to our crutches - reverting back to what we know, to find comfort. For him, this is monogamy.
Seeing that and understanding that might help to soften your (understandable) feelings of frustration, confusion, hurt, anger and resentment. It is much more difficult to feel angry towards a person when you pick apart their motivations and see their fear. Seeing it helps you to feel compassion.
Now, he has come back to you. That means something. Yes, it could mean that he's been playing the field and you are the next best option, or something to fill the gap whilst he searches for monogamy. More likely, he is genuinely in love with you and whilst his head and his crutches are telling him to run, his heart keeps pulling him back.
There is an idea in poly that 'love is just love'. It works in whatever way it works. But... that only works... WHEN it works! (does that make sense?!) Yes, the two of you feel love. Yes, you could have a long-term relationship, with those feelings of love, where both of you are happy. But if you want one thing and he wants another... it's a love that is just love... not a love that works. To me, love that works (practical love) is the kind of love to pursue in life.
So, let's say he is monoamorous by nature. Let's say he is incapable of loving more than one person; or simply prefers to love only one. He is not strictly monogamous by nature, since he is happy to date you whilst you are married and also seeing other people.
The next step is to ask - "what do you want?" There may be a middle ground that he would be happy with. There might not be. If, in the long term, he wants marriage, children, one home, one love, then... unfortunately... as GG said... you are shopping in the wrong store.
(Anecdote #2!) A few years ago, I would never have thought I'd be happy in a relationship with someone who was married. I never entertained the idea - it just wasn't a thought. I was vehemently against cheating and thought monogamy was the only option available. Yet, I met a woman who was married and poly, fell in love, entered a V relationship... and can honestly say... yes, I'd be very happy in this relationship for the rest of my life, even though I previously only thought I'd be monogamous. I actually also sometimes consider myself monoamorous - I have felt different levels of love for more than one person at a time; but I am very happy with the thought of just loving one person and sometimes prefer it, regardless of my girlfriend's activities with others. So, I can relate to your boyfriend's feelings on that one.
So... have you asked him about that? What if he would actually be happy with some sort of V between himself, yourself and your husband? What if he would love that, but doesn't see it happening because you also have other relationships?
And what about you? What do you want? Do you want to be open poly, closed poly? Would you like him to be a serious boyfriend, even if that meant cutting out your other relationships?
If your relationship has been called FWB... he is surely only going to act in a way that fits that label - regardless of what he says about his emotions. I see it so often that 'we don't need to use labels' etc etc... but I don't see the problem with it. I think it actually helps to define appropriate behaviour and get needs met.
I don't think you should let your feelings lie - I think you should talk to him and see what he has to say.
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