I really need some help :(
As my first post on this forum, I'd like to say hello! Also, I hope that I'm posting this in the correct place.
Alright, so...I'm a male, and I'm in a relationship with another male. This wasn't very easy for me, as it was my first one with a guy; I'm bisexual and still in the closet to most, and he is also bisexual but out to most. We've definitely been seeing each other long enough and know each other well enough to say that we love each other. Pretty deeply, I might add.
Now that the formalities are out of the way...
I had actually never heard of polyamory before I'd met him. And to be honest, I'm not sure if he really is polyamorous; it seems almost more like a curiosity for what other people are like (sexually or not), rather than a longing for needs that aren't being met. Either way, its not a craving for another person's love that he seems to want, its just a craving for their skin.
Now, we've had very long discussions about this already. I am VERY hard-wired for monogamy, and I don't believe that I will ever change that. No matter what happens to my partner, I can't imagine being with someone other than them while still being with them. After our long conversations, however, it seems that he tends to:
a) beat himself up, and say "See, aren't I way too difficult to deal with?"
b) agree to try his hardest to stick with being monogamous, despite his apparent distaste. I can tell that he's just trying to change to make me happy.
I'm very prone to compromise when it comes to most things, but I simply CANNOT find it in myself to just be OK with his polyamory/polygamy. But, neither can I find it in myself to be selfish and tell him to change, when I'm being a complete hypocrite and not budging in my ways.
I guess my question is: what should I do? I could never bring myself to leave, because I'm far too in love. But neither can I just stay and watch him go out and have sex with someone else.
I know that it's partly due to insecurity on my end; I really just don't want my role to be filled. Sexually, anyway. It's just that...I've never dealt with anything like this before, and I'm very conflicted. If anyone can help, please do.
Your situation is not an uncommon one. You basically have three options.
1) Decide to leave. Maybe this really isn't for you. That's ok! It's perfectly fine to need to be your partner's one and only. I know you said you couldn't ever bring yourself to leave, but is that really healthy? Love may be real, but that doesn't mean the situation is right, and you *will* love again. Maybe you need to be strong and pick up and move on. It's not a judgment against him, just a recognition of your needs and limits.
2) Decide to try to reconcile with the idea of non-monogamy. You could ask him to wait while you work on this. Set a time period, like a month. That will give you a chance to, among other things, feel sure that you can trust him. But you have to hold up your end of the bargain and really do your homework. Check out books like The Ethical Slut and websites like www.morethantwo.com, especially the resources on jealousy. Work on really believing that he's not trying to replace you, that you are, in fact, irreplaceable because no one else could ever be *you*. Even if he loved someone else exactly as much as he loved you, you would still be you, and you will always be special.
Try to understand, ask him to explain -- does he really want relationships with others, is it just sexual non-monogamy that he wants, or does he actually want to, at least potentially, love other people? Understanding his motivations and what you can expect will at least make it less confusing, if not less scary. Know that it's ok for you to ask for things you need, even in this context. For instance, do you need there to be guidelines about safer sex, about checking in, do you need to meet someone he wants to sleep with before he sleeps with them? All of that is ok. You guys can work out whatever system works best for you.
Then, when the allotted amount of time has passed, suck it up and let him go out and be with someone else. Spend the night with a friend, drink if you have to, cry. Give yourself a chance to see how you feel the next day, and in a few days after that... even worse, or beginning to be ok? If the former, revert to option one. If the latter, maybe you're more adaptable than you think, and you guys can have a healthy mono/poly relationship.
3) Decide not to decide. Let him sleep with other people, but don't attempt to reconcile yourself to it, and just be angry and miserable. Obviously I'm saying this one as a bit of a joke but, unfortunately, this is the path some people take. Don't let this be you.
I cannot say it better.
The question for you is :
Either way is perfectly valid, but you have to learn which it is about yourself and then let him know.
Monoamorous: desire or ability to love one at a time.
Polyamorous: deisre or ability to love more than one at a time.
A polyamorous person could choose to be in a monoship relationship structure -- just me and you make only 2!
A monoamorous person could choose to be in a polyship structure -- one of the "V" arms for instance. They have their one and only Sweetie but the Sweetie is shared.
If you prefer your own romances to come in monogamous shape only that is ok! It's not a soft limit, but a HARD LIMIT. If you are sure already about this -- go with being sure. Do not do things you really don't want to do. That's not self-respecting behavior.
But if I expand on Option 2: Enter a Time of "In Between ON PURPOSE" for Year.
I would add this perspective.
You choose to OPEN in mind and heart (even if in body or soul) -- and share his inner life with him and listen to his poly thoughts and feelings. Because he is polyamorous and you are willing to honor that and not leave him emotionally high and dry on a limb. He is your partner and if in a monogamous structure you are it.
The only partner he gets to share is vulnerable with. You decide to get secure and be ok with being a little uncomfortbale until it gets comfortable -- willing to hear this thoughts and feelings on poly. No guilting or shaming -- just be willing to learn to be an active listener.
While he choose to guarantee a CLOSED relationship structure, a monogamous one. Because you are monoamorous and he is willing to honor that for you for that block of time. He is willing to not ask you to open further than you can go. He is willing to share his poly thoughts and feelings but will not push for Open in body and soul as well and make you nuts with it and feel emotionally unsafe.
Could agree to leave it there for a year and then assess how it is going a year later. Could have the break up emergency plan already mapped out. Sometimes KNOWING how it is going to play out can ease the fear/discomfort/yucky. So... map it out.
And in the meanwhile, read online resources together to create
1) mental intimacy shared
2) emotional intimacy shared
3) better understanding of polyamory and put down fear of the unknown. Not because you want to DO it all the way right now.
But because then you are not "whatiffing it up" in your head into SCARY places in this year of "trying it on in a safe way" -- just in mind and heart.
I am not minimizing your hurt at all -- just hoping to get you to realize all is not destined to automatic DOOM here. You can choose for yourself in your own life how you want to be living it.
You and he can choose to talk and choose how you want to be for the next year, and how you want to be as exes if it comes to that at the end of this period of serious discernment.
But then the pressure if off and you don't have to be all "DECIDE NOW" or "UGH!" inside.
Continue as lovers, and dating partners for this time. CONTINUE or dial it down to friends, whatever you best feel is the right thing at the next time. Maybe you are only willing for 6 mos. Or 3 mos. Pick the time together. And then... could see how it goes.
I know this is hard to feel right now, but this too is an experience shared. Sharing Vulnerable with each other builds trust. So the next go around on whatever it is then isn't so scary. It may be NEW to the couple, but the couple can assure each other with "Alright. Here's another. Not the same as last time but we made it through that. We can make it through this."
Whether the relationship is a couple of friends or a dating couple in the future? Trust is a good thing. So are friends. Nothing to sneeze at. You can handle this, and you will be ok however it turns out.
Remember to breathe at this crossroads place. Assess your options. And whatever it is you choose -- to break up, to try to learn, to do something totally different and not yet listed... YOU choose. You are the pilot of your own ship. You make your own choices. You will be ok. Breathe, breathe.
Not that I have the kind of experience (poly chops?) of many of the people on here, but I think every bit of the above information is right on. I think a really significant point the other folks have made is setting a time frame. It's a fine idea to put any real decision making off for the time being to look into both of your feelings, but you definitely need to have some time limit to that (one month, six months, whatever). Even if you decide "let's take two months to look into this, and then we'll figure out the next step is", you've at least given yourself a deadline. I like literally setting dates and times to discuss those issues when things get hard (which also helps you organize your thoughts and avoid making big statements when you're feeling blue).
The problem with the vague "let's take a while to think/talk about this" is that you can potentially put it off forever - especially when you're dealing with these serious (and totally understandable) insecurities. That's not helping anybody. At first it might take the stress off, but it's only going to amplify your dread and worry in the long run. And, worse case scenario, it might breed resentment or distance in him when the months go by and the issue seems to keep getting pushed away. Having set goals was the most helpful step in my entering the poly world. If you have a real gameplan, it's much easier to maintain trust, focus, and compassion.
Thank you all very much for all the advice. He and I had yet another very long talk tonight, and in the end, I believe a somewhat fair compromise was found. I told him that even though I hate it VERY much, if he absolutely feels the need (need, not want; i made that very clear) to venture outside of our relationship, then I'm OK (through gritted teeth) with it. As long as anything that happens is absolutely safe, of course (we do share bodies with each other, and have taken measures to make sure that both of us are not contracting anything).
His response to this was actually very unexpected. I was waiting for an "OK babe, I'm glad you feel that way" or another kind of general confirmation, but instead it was slow and thought out. He stated that he honestly didn't "need" anything else, and that everything on his part was simply a "want" instead. And so he said that he was going to learn to limit himself to just me. Which made me completely ecstatic :D and in the end, I turned out being the one saying "OK babe, I'm glad you feel that way".
So to me, it seems like this went over well. Should I still be worried about anything, or bring anything up regarding this subject? Or should I just leave well enough alone for the time being?
P.S. Again, I really do appreciate the advice :)
Maybe at this time he could just want to be able to Share Vulnerable with you? And want you try to create emotionally safe space for him by listening without derailing into a wigginz just because he's trying to share? He craves to be understood and be accepted as he tries to understand and accept himself? Could ask him if that is it.
My blog thread mentions that need to be understood on the first page starting with post 6 -- it takes a few posts to cover it. Other people may be able to share their POV but that's my take on my need.
I am glad you talked and you guys are doing better.
But don't agree to things "through gritted teeth" that you are really not cool with. That is not healthy compromise -- a settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions and puts in effort, but nobody is being hurt or unhealthy about how they do it.
Gritted teeth is not sounding healthy to me. It could be compromising yourself -- where you are making concessions that are detrimental to your own healthy well being. Please don't do it like that. :(
Focus on what you want more of -- sounds like honest communication is something you prefer so... encourage it! :)
Congrats on what seems like a workable compromise! My only further word of advice would be to mention that I've read multiple stories of people who come here saying "I became monogamous for my partner and we did it successfully for years but now it's driving me crazy and I dont think I can surpress my nature any more." Maybe that will never happen with you guys, but it might not hurt to do some of that reading and thinking about poly/jealousy anyway, just in case it comes up again. Best of luck!
Well, we've had yet another long conversation (who could've guessed? lol). So as it stands, the new final verdict is that he is going to try his best to compose himself, and to remain faithful. Unbeknownst to him, however, I have slightly eased up on my own mindset. After careful consideration, I have decided that I am fully prepared for the time when he DOES slip up. Now I know that I will still be angry with him for a bit, and I know there will be complications. But I also know that we'll be able to work through it.
And I was wondering: you know how there is the concept of "a mulligan" or otherwise a "freebie" in most monogamous relationships? Well, maybe there could be a way to possibly amplify that concept, in a possibly freer way. As in "you get X amount of freebies". Not saying this to him, of course, but maybe as a mental checklist?
Hmm, why set it up like that, though? If you're expecting him to fail, you're putting yourself in a position to be the victim and him in a position to feel like an asshole. Resentment on the one hand and guilt on the other, not fun. Not only that, if you *really* believe that he'll screw up and cheat eventually... what if he never tells you, what if he just keeps it a secret because he thinks that would hurt your feelings less? Then there's actually a safety issue, because you can't make informed decisions about how much risk you're comfortable with. Wouldn't it be better for everyone if you just said, straight up, "I don't mind if you hook up with a random guy, as long as it's not more than once a month," or whatever you think you'd be comfortable with?
Why is the limit sounding like cheater sex hall pass? This business of "freebies" where there is an indiscretion and you will overlook it?
Why is the limit not truthiness? Like "hard truth it to me. Whatever it is."
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