Hello, some questions that are new for me but probably old for many of you...
I have read some posts here, but can't quite find what I am looking for, although many of you have similar experiences. I apologize for the redundancy of this post, if it has been asked before.
I'm in love with a woman who was my best friend for 4 years where we work (in the south west) and our relationship was platonic but emotionally connected. I think we would certainly meet the definition of an emotional affair. And she pursued me, told me that she was in love with me. Abridged version: she divorced her husband and we have been sexually active. It is wonderful and she tells me she loves me. But she has been distancing lately, saying that she loves me and loves the sex, but she married at 17 (now 37) and feels that she needs to be free, to have sex with others. But she doesn't want to hurt me or lose me. My favorite mixed message: "I love you, but if I had to chose between you and freedom, I would choose freedom."
A bit of a knife in the gut feeling (well, what I assume that would feel like). I intellectually understand her needs, but don't know how to respond. We don't have an established conventional relationship. That is part of the problem: she tells me she wants me to be in her life forever and she loves me, but yet she thinks she doesn't believe in monogamy. So for the past year she and I have delt with this; I am no longer jealous, well most of the time, but EXHAUSTED. When I tell her I accept this but I don't want other partners, she says she feels bad because she is taking advantage of me...I tell her I am making the choice, but she should be patient if I struggle. Then I ask for what I think are reasonable requests (that she not do this with someone I know or work with, that she uses protection, etc.) and she gets upset that I am constraining her. I then say that I am not telling her what to do, but what I am willing to take. Then she distances herself, and I get sad, but she eventually tells me she wants to be with me. Sigh. Then she tells me she wants to have relationships in theory, but she won't necessarily act on it.
And that is the crux of my concern. I really am not keen on doing this, but I am willing to try (truly), but I think if I am in a relationship with her, I deserve to know if she is acting on this or not...she tells me she doesn't know when she goes out, it will just "happen" or not, and that my requests of "safe sex" implies that she is doing something wrong. I just feel that I have no solid, or even semi-solid ground here. I love her and want what is best for her...it is the uncertainty that is killing me. How have some of you delt with the uncertainty?
What rights and responsibilities IS she willing to hold up in this relationship? (those are mine.) What sort of personal standard does she want/have for this romance? A high bar or a low bar? Does it jive with YOUR personal standard?
Is what she IS willing to provide enough for you to want to stay and feel alright staying?
Is this her wanting to be FRESH to you or is this her not confident in her personal relationship and communication skills to be able to polyship well? Those are two very different animals there. Could ask her to clarify which animal you have here.
It is YOUR body, heart, mind, and soul. You share it with who YOU want. And how YOU want. You are willing to share yourself with her like THIS, so you can feel mentally safe, emotionally safe, physically safe and spiritually safe in relationship with her. That's how it is here. That's how you roll so you can be healthy and well in ALL your "health buckets."
Does she want to be in right relationship with you or not in a romance? Does she expect to be able to share you willy nilly, even if you feel unsafe in one of your health buckets? How is she willing to share herself with you?
Is it better to share in a friendship rather than a romance?
Just things to think about as you start sorting yourselves out. But do talk, and do sort yourselves out.
Welcome to our forum.
It's pretty much unanimous in the poly community that safer sex (e.g. condoms, STI testing, etc.) is a must, and quite reasonable to ask. Other requests have to do with what you can handle (for right now), and that's fine.
Freedom certainly matters, but if you care about another person, and are with that person, you take their wants and needs into account too, and don't just assume that they should be perfectly aligned with what you want.
I think the safe-sex issue is the biggest issue here and requires your immediate attention. You could be putting your own health at risk by playing along with this. Think carefully about what is or isn't worth it.
Safe sex has nothing to do with whether one is "doing something wrong" or not, it is simply a physical reality we have to deal with. Waving it away could result in grim consequences.
I believe it is reasonable of you to ask her to take it slowly, communicate, and check up on how you're doing with it. Make sure you are taking care of you and your own well-being. Don't tie yourself to this relationship if it's going to sink and take you down with it.
Polyamory (and other forms of responsible non-monogamy) can work, but it takes all involved parties working together cooperatively, taking each and every involved party's needs and feelings into account. It can't be just one party doing whatever, while the others just "deal."
She is possibly chafing over freedom she did "not" have in the past, and trying to make up for lost time. But you are not out of place to ask for some reasonable restraints.
I hope this somewhat helps.
Yes, I didn't think of it as constraining to ask for some feedback or to allow me to process my feelings with her. I believe that you are correct, she has felt constrained in her past. Trying to deal with that dynamic as well as her desire to be open to anything. I am willing to try, just odd that she goes from "you are wonderful, I wish I could be the person you want" to "I don't even like the term "couple" as it implies obligations."
But the STD issue and safe sex will be the line I draw in the sand, for sure.
Sounds like the smart way to handle it.
I found several ppl that had herpes just by requiring STD paperwork. When I pushed for their paperwork they confessed to having herpes. One seemed responsible the other not so much. I learned a lot very quick. No one really asks they just trust. I never really had a problem getting someone to get std tested until the online dating. That one requirement gets rid of many men.
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