Well, it has been a bit since I've been on, and things had been going well for the most part between me, s, and b, in our triad. It was, at least, until last night. S and I work together and a colleague was having a new years eve wedding which all three of us were invited. I have been looking forward to this opportunity to enjoy a night out with my two loves, no kids, no dogs, no cooking, lol. Many of our coworkers have slowly been introduced to our lifestyle without all the details. For instance, they know I'm married, they know s and I are involved, but many of them likely think that's it. It bothers me that people are assuming I'm unfaithful so it was important to me for people to see us together and seeing the strength and love we all have.
So, we all get dressed, we are looking good, ;-) and we head out to the wedding. All is going wonderfully and I'm taking great care to ensure that s is feeling equal and so is b(although he hasn't had any of these insecurities). We showed appropriate amounts of affection with hand holding, etc,. All of a sudden, in the midst of appetizers, s starts looking uneasy. She is sharing what she's feeling with b who is sitting between us, but I'm unable to hear what she's saying. Initially she doesn't tell me what's up but then she says she's feeling like she is being looked at as "a joke" by people. She felt as people were misunderstanding our relationship. I felt pride and strength. Nobody was giving any hints that there was disapproval our judgment, (not that I would give a rats rear end if they didn't approve). I told s that it doesn't matter what others think and that our commitment was all that was important. This starts morphing into something completely different where s is saying how she will never have the marriage b and I have, how since we have been together for 17 years she is some how a lesser piece of the relationship. B and I try to explain that the triad relationship is developing and that there's nothing that prevents it from becoming a relationship of 17 years as well, but she continues to spiral. This isn't the first time we have had this discussion and I'm starting to be annoyed because we have been looking forward to this outing, and all the communicating we have done in the past and are currently doing is falling on deaf ears. As soon as she sees my frustration she gets more upset...saying please don't be upset at me.. I explain that I'm not upset but that I was just hoping we could have a fun evening.. She said that's what she wants too, but then continues the conversation about how people probably think she's a third wheel etc.. At this point I'm done with the evening and convinced that she has some decisions to make. I told her that b and i are married.. That's nothing we can do to change it and I would not want to. She has to decide whether she can handle being a part of the relationship. I don't want her to feel like she's secondary, I don't want her to feel like a joke. But, I also don't want to run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying too help her feel like an equal only to have her feel this way again. I told her that I'm doing my best that I can't make her feel secure. I love her and she loves me, but I'm not sure she wants to be in a triad. I feel that she has feelings for b, but if she were being totally honest she wants it to be just me and her. B and I aren't perfect, but we are close. We have an ongoing issue that isn't something i can ignore but we are communicating about it and working toward a solution. While I was upset last night, s said to me "why are you so upset with me when you and b have issues? You should be more upset with him than me". The communication b and I have feels productive and comforting. Even if the situation isn't resolved we come to a place of comfort. When s and i communicate, it feels any thing but productive. the conversation goes in destructive circles ending in me being frustrated and her being depressed and in a self punishment type of place. I don't want to lose her, but I fear she can't handle what this is. Any ideas? I know I haven't asked any specific questions, but I'm just hoping for some insight. Am I working for something that is not going to happen?
Disclaimer: My intent is to try to help, but still feeling tired from New Year celebrating. Apologies in advance if it's rambly.
You can only control how you choose to behave in the situation. In this one? Could stop focusing on what you do not want and focus on what IS.
I see that you don't want her to feel yucky. But she DOES feel yucky and needs aid to solve it. She cannot solve it alone. She turns to her partner(s) for aid at the event and says she feels uncomfortable and all eyes are on her.
When she first brought up discomfort, did anyone offer her opportunity to bail? It doesn't sounds like it. (What if she said she felt pukey from eating something. Would you guys have given her opportunity to bail then?)
When she tried again to tell you she felt yucky... how did you respond?
So she felt yucky, tried to get your attention for help (points for trying to flag you down even if not transmitting clearly enough), gets no aid from you, sees you are frustrated in dealing with it and not having fun when you want to be having fun, and that adds to her insecure bucket because she's not producing what you want (her to not feel what she feels) when you want it (now). AND if she ever dares to feel that way again, she can expect similar treatment because you don't want to deal in her.
Could you see how words like that could lead to spiraling feelings of yucky in her shoes when she's wearing "ugh" glasses? Like she's not enough or inadequate somehow? :(
Listen to your own words flipped backwards. Sometimes that helps me to see how what I'm saying to someone could come across even if I did not mean it that way. I see that you are frustrated with GF in your forum question. Let's make it be that then in the example.
What if I said to you...
Did that tone respect / validate that you have feelings of your own? No.
Did it give instruction for how to cope to teach her how to get out of the yucky? No.
Did it give compassion? No.
Did it close doors off or open doors to other solutions? Closed.
If you ever felt frustration with your GF again, would you feel emotionally safe writing a post about it here? Wondering if I'd reply like that again? Probably not. So where would you go for aid? You could go elsewhere of course, since this is only forums and that's only about posting questions on forums. There's lots of internet strangers and forums out there.
But if SHE has problems again with anxiety/fear/emotional flooding or whatever that was... and needs partner aid and support again? Where can she go but the partners? Those are the 2 she's got. Not endless ones.
When you tell her you love her, and then when she needs aid you cut her off from your aid and support? That's a mixed message. How is she supposed to digest this mixed message? With secure feelings in your company? Or insecure ones in your company?
How could you demonstrate kind treatment to your partner? Some ideas:
Bit by bit with more practice outings she could get more comfortable and stop feeling like all eyes are on her. But not if every outing leads to kerfuffle with you when she shares her Vulnerable. That just adds to "Ack!"
You have a baby polyship there. If you took the baby to church and baby started to cry in upset, would you tell baby to get over it because you want to have a good time or would to take baby to pace in the hall or home entirely? Then next time try sitting in a different place, or only stay for 10 min, and next time try for 15 min to help baby acclimate? Maybe viewing the polyship that way could help you remember to be kinder to your partner?
Your partner is an adult, but the polyship is baby age. Could be kinder to "the baby." Maybe thinking of like that could lessen your frustration with her?
You cannot be a mind reader, but if she's not strong in broadcasting her needs quite yet and just witters "ack! ack!" type stuff at you and this makes you frustrated, you could try to help her with prompts:
If she's super paralyzed -- make the call and just get her out to a safer space so she can breathe.
Could choose to behave in ways to feed trust bucket and take away from insecure bucket -- like apply immediate tender loving care type stuff -- get her drink, get her out of there, etc. Not in ways that feed the insecure bucket and take away from trust bucket -- she felt all eyes were on her, and then you put her under the microscope with "serious relationship talk stuff" at an event she already felt weird at. Could work on that a bit and see if you get better results with her.
I don't think either of you is bad people -- but... baby polyship! It's gonna have teething trouble sometimes. Be kind to "the baby" and try to take it as it comes.
Take heart, and hang in there! You can do this. It will be ok. Breathe, breathe. Try again.
The one HUGE fight my partner and I had was over a group outing - the three of us (a V with him as the hinge) together at a close friend's birthday party. It was our first party with no kids around, the three of us, and even after talking about it, I HAD NO IDEA how I was going to emotionally react beforehand.
I, too, was extremely sensitive to feeling like I was being judged. And it affected me more than I realized because these people were friends and damn-near-close-to-family of mine. I got a bit pissy about needing time with my partner at the event, and his knee-jerk reaction was to shut down and say that I would have a better time without him, so he should just leave.
Which said to ME, in my already emotionally flooded state of mind, that all the work that I was trying to do was being thrown out in HIS frustration, and that just shot me through the roof.
End result, the three of us are NOT welcome together at this friend's house, because of the discomfort it put a bunch of people through (and this was also their way of "protecting" me).
Luckily, it doesn't seem like your issue got THIS far.
Please understand that preparation doesn't always work. You don't know how you're going to feel in a situation until you're in it sometimes. If you're sensitive to how people are perceiving you (feeling like I'm being judged and shunned is TORTURE to me, and I will shrink back and shut down), it may be worse. And it sounded like she found this out at the moment, looked to you for help, and received a frustrated response instead that seemed to invalidate her feelings and shut her down.
My partner didn't want me to feel that way, either, but I DO, and all we can do is try to work with it. So we then had a loooooooong round of talks with him, his OSO, and my friends. I'm not sure if the things we came up with will help next time, but we're all going to be more aware that the problem is there, rather than being caught off-guard by it. If it turns out to be too much work for us, then we figure out what to do from there... I'm hoping that's not the case.
Anyway, I hope things improve for your relationship... apologies if I came across in an accusatory manner - I'm looking at this from my own experience, and while it's not as raw as it once was, it still digs up strong emotions.
I'm crossing my fingers, I'm breathing...I'm scared too. I don't want to lose her.
Ugh, I suck at quoting. I hope you can dissect that response without wanting to poke your eyes out. Sorry.
Thanks for more details -- that does shed more light.
Be ok learning together and making mistakes together -- the more of these you clock, the smaller the next ones become. Even if kerfuffle? You will move it forward better until finally the kerfuffles reduce in scope and volume. Some wobble is expected.
Hopefully B will see that also -- some give and take and some ugh is normal. It doesn't have to spell DOOM anywhere. (If he just doesn't dig her, that another thing. But take it one problem at a time where you can.)
Hang in there!
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