Commitments, fictions, heartache, love
So, I’m not sure I feel part of a poly community, but I guess I need to talk to someone. My husband and I have been together nearly 14 years, and we’ve been mono for at least a decade of that. I love my husband more every year, and we feel so grateful to be experiencing a kind of commitment, respect, and trust we never saw modeled by any of our parents. We tried poly in college, with moderate levels of success with jealousy, etc., and felt that the experience was overall been really great for helping us to be less jealous, more honest, and in general stronger, better sweethearts, but not for us in the long haul. We’ve always been able to talk about other people we found attractive, or flirted with, in good affirming, affectionate, fun ways. We would never, ever, ever cheat.
We have a really good friend, who we have known since our earliest days together, who we have both had attractions with at previous times. She is out of a long-term relationship with I guy I never liked, who didn’t treat her great and left her for another woman. Over the last year of her recovery from that, we’ve all been a lot closer, and after years of dormancy, our mutual attractions were revived. After some discussion, we recently had a sexual experience together. The few friends I spoke with before it thought it was a terrible idea to have a threesome with a really close friend, but I didn’t know how to explain that I knew it was okay BECAUSE it was a really close friend. I genuinely do not feel jealous about my husband and my friend together—I feel happy. I would feel jealous about most other women, I think.
The problem I’ve discovered instead, is that those attractions weren’t revived the same WAY for all of us. For my husband, BigBear, it is mainly a friends-with-benefits sexual attraction. He imagines we’ll have occasional hawt threesomes and loves me to pieces for making it happen. Our friend, whom I’ll call Phoenix, is guarding her heart more than I expected, claims she compartmentalizes well and that sex, flirting, friendship, etc are all separate experiences for her. It hasn’t been clear whether she wishes to ever repeat out sexual encounter (I’m not sure she knows), but hasn’t encouraged general cuddliness or couples-type behavior at all after it—handholding, kissing, etc. For me, unfortunately, I am in love with Phoenix. I do NOT compartmentalize well, and I knew that going in. I just don’t give up my body without my heart as well. To paraphrase Chris Ware, I’ve been watching the punch coming toward me in slow motion just to see if it’s really going to hurt as much as I think it is.
I’ve got my crazy fantasy about a perfect polyfi triad in my head, and now I am experiencing grief and loss for a relationship that never existed anywhere but my head. I know Phoenix and BigBear have the capacity to be in love, as well, and I can’t help hoping beyond hope that somehow this is going to happen. Unfortunately, our timing is awful. BigBear and I are about to move across the country for at least a year. Phoenix will stay here, and continue getting on with her life, of course. She will probably meet someone and have a regular mono relationship again. BigBear isn’t enthusiastic about having a long term triad, anyway. He likes our relationship pretty much the way it is, and thinks my fantasy is unrealistic (which it is, I know) even though he is open-minded about the possibility. I have concealed somewhat the extent of my desire for this, because I think it would make him feel threatened. I have concealed it entirely from Phoenix, because I don’t want to complicate our relationship with drama she did not invite. I want her to feel good about our sexual encounter, and I want it to be on her terms, which were essentially that it not ruin our ability to be regular friends. It won’t, it just hurts my heart.
So, any suggestions on handling grief and longing for something I feel stupid for wanting in the first place? I haven’t been single for a loooong time, and frankly, in a happy mono marriage, I didn’t expect to ever have this happen to me again! But I have to imagine that false starts happen pretty often in the poly world, and that you might have something to say. Or even just that sympathy from people who aren't judging me for being in love with two people will make me feel better.
Also, I'm curious to know how established couples succeed with a third. I can say right now that my primary relationship would have to take precedence for a long time--I take my marriage vows very seriously. And since we waited 10 years to get married, I wouldn't rush right into that with a third. I wonder if it is ever possible to develop an equal level of commitment in all the relationships in a triad, and how the relationship can be fair to the third if it takes years for the commitments to even out naturally?
I wonder if it is ever possible to develop an equal level of commitment in all the relationships in a triad, and how the relationship can be fair to the third if it takes years for the commitments to even out naturally?[/QUOTE]
Yes, as newly involved in a triad I wonder this also?
I guess Sparkler for you only time will tell if your strong feelings are because you are poly or simply situational. If it is the former, then it will no doubt happen again and maybe that is the time you should bring it up seriously with your husband.
My partner is poly and after two years I accepted that it was not going away. His fantasy is also a triad and we have found ourselves a third. Unlike you this happened online so Ruby and I have not had a previous relationship but I love the idea of a "new best friend" because as a result of being in a poly relationship many of my old friendships have drifted away. I no longer have enough in common to sustain them.
But if you can't let this one go and wait it out, bring it up with your girlfriend (downplay the emotion a little). I think it is up to you to do that rather than her. I can imagine that she could be purposely hiding feelings she may have for the sake of your friendship. What have you really got to lose? You're going away, which would give it time to settle down, and just because you have had these feelings doesn't mean you have to act on them. On the other hand the year at a distance might give you all a chance to get your heads around the possibilities.
Being in a triad makes the dynamic more difficult and requires more fluidity. Emotions changes as does attraction. I don't know how many triads I have read about that were seemingly long term that stopped because (this is an example) the wife stopped having a sexual interest in their unicorn. Or the unicorn was falling for the husband at a different pace. That kind of thing hurts to watch.
One thing that helps is to have an open relationship. If you are looking for a unicorn to commit to you and only you then you will have huge hurdles. In a committed long term poly-fi triad, how long would YOU want to be a secondary thought in the relationship. At some point the person will want equality. And will likely deserve it. Thems the breaks ;)
Good luck with your situation. Maybe try journalling to contain your emotions. Be prepared to be fluid in your relationships (you have 4 remember ;)) and work with what you have hoping more will come but don't create expectations that will hurt you more if they don't succeed....
Sparkler, I am pretty new to this whole thing as well, but....it seems that I have a similar issue as you in that I have this "in love/newness/lust/nre" thing STRONG for our third. I have such a strong attachment with her, and LOVE the idea of a new caring person in my life. She, C, loves me too in a purely 'friendship' way, although her actions sometimes say 'more'. I try NOT to read into that and just really enjoy HER compartmentalizing of it, ie, our hang time together, and then our play time together.
I have told both my hubby and her that this friendship love (one step up though) coupled by the lust she exhibits in play time are enough to keep me satisfied.
The difficulty for me has been when my hubby and her are alone, or having private moments. I haven't really got my finger on the 'why' of that yet, but assume it is a bit of 'rejection/non inclusive/control' thing going on.
When I am within arms length of them, I have absolutely no issues with anything.
I have had trouble compartmentalizing as well...but it seems to be getting better. Early on when we would have drinks on the deck or whatever, I just wanted to touch her. Deny deny deny....and eventually it becomes normal.
Good luck. It's all about finding a type of love that you CAN share. IMHO.
I think you are handling this very well and have thought very realistically on the matter at hand. You seem to be approaching it with all eyes open and with all avenues to disaster covered. Good for you! You should feel proud I think.
I agree with your hubby I hate to say, I think this sounds like a flash in the pan thing and will likely be a one off. It sounds like she enjoyed herself and loves your friendship, but that's it for now. This might not of happened if you were not moving across the country. It sounds like she thought it would be fun to try it out because then she would have some space after to carry on with her life having chalked the situation up to experience. The tell tale sign will be what happens during the year and when you get back.
As for does this kind of thing work? .... welllll ya... there are many of us on here experiencing and living it. Do a bit of digging and reading and you will soon see that.
Poly is a journey where people are in love with creating relationships and meeting new people and loving many... rather than a mono perspective, which is more loving one and the relationship takes care of itself due to the rule list we were handed as children growing up in this culture. The interest in loving the relationship is different. It's still about love, but the energy of that love is put into different things.
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