In a emotional mess
First let me start by saying I'm writing this at 4:45 in the morning laying in a hotel bed with H my primary partner and wife of 17 years. One year ago we were here getting ready to leave on a cruise with our best friends a couple G and K. What was not out in the open is that K and I had developed a very strong attraction to each other that has moved from flirting to some physical contact that was starting to get out of hand. G and K had been married for 10 yrs but were not in a great place. No one had heard of polyamory. In my marriage to H I had been unfaithful on a few occasions but always came clean about it when asked.
Flash back to one year ago in New Orleans getting ready to sail off on this cruise. land I are trying to keep this from getting sexual. So we get on the boat I sit everyone down and say the truth to our spouses. One of the most uncomfortable things I've ever done but also one of the most liberating things as well.
H listened gets mad but we talk through it. G and K have a huge fight and the rest of the cruise they fight and K ends up spending several nights in our cabin with H and I. Some of those sleepovers turn sexual, I had always known H had bisexual tendencies. It was fun but there was also an emotionally connection.
Understand we live in a very conservative part of the country it's hard to find a bi person in our area much less someone who have ever heard of poly. The stigma about all of this is so overbearing at times it is depressing.
So we all get off the boat after a tense week, H and I are feeling in a great place, G and K are obviously having problems. We drive home and all try to be friends, and write it up to the situation with the promise to stop the sexual contact. H and i try swinging some but don't like all the effort and secret onetime sexual encounters, so we back up and talk about whats missing. G and K can not work out their problems which are in fact much deeper than we knew and predate meeting us. So they get a divorce. We are there as friends for K. Which drives us together. We all become glued to each other at the hip emotionally. We have kids who are the best of friends, K gets the house with the pool and gradually the intimacy starts back up. Gradually at first, then we at times are living as a triad.
At this time we began to research and I identify myself as a poly person. I am extremely happy and feel natural and normal for the first time in my life. H and K are good most times but have problems off and on accepting their bisexuality and learning how to love a member of the same sex. H does better at this than K, definitely a period of learning for all.
Through out the summer there are some really good times including a vacation where we all shared a bed and every moment at the beach for a week. The best week of my life, we stayed up late talked laughed loved and raised our kids in a beautiful house in Florida but H is starting to have some issues, she has always had a quick temper but it is getting aggressive, I chalk it up to jealousy but its unique. One day she demands some alone time with me and we go shopping but end up buying things for K and talking about her the whole time.
The sexual interactions between H and K always involve me in the middle but I write this up as a development thing between the two of them since accepting their bisexuality is new to them. I encourage them to spend time alone go on trips and explore and H on occasions is opening up to alone time for me and K. K accepts the alone time with me and H but also wants more from me. At time sit seems like her interest is solely in me but she never even mentions me leaving H for her.
As I said H is having outburst of anger that borders on violence at times. I being the fixer decide we need a trip together to a place where we can all be free to express our sexuality openly. I am sensing from H that she is not being fulfilled by K because K is having trouble openly showing affection to H but can freely do so to me. I also sense from H that there is an emotional imbalance I always expected was present starting to get more intense.
I book a trip to Key West for all of us, no kids one room, free to do whatever with no constraints of our little town. We almost don't make it out of town there is fighting and accusations by H towards K stating that she is only doing this to be with me and K was faking it because she can't show H the open affection she shows me. I drag the two of them on the plane after another emotional meltdown by H in the airport including violence and me arising behavior by H. It was to the point K and I had taken all we could. But we mark it to key west and have a good first night and they actually were getting along great. Openly holding hands and kissing in the pool. But there is an argument about something stupid, K gets kinda pouty H makes a scene and I walk away. Go to duval and tell K to join me. H comes gets emotional again and I am trying to play peace maker. H storms off and we suggest she gets her own room, which she does then promptly threatens suicide.
We all get home on a down note as in the two of them are not really talking. H threatens suicide several more times and I truly have had enough of her behavior. I finally force her into treatment and we find out she is bipolar and majorly depressed.
So flash forward a few weeks all of us are having major problems, H and I look to be heading for divorce, K and H are not talking and K and I are able to communicate in great ways. We never have a cross word with each other. They are my yen and yang. h andI separate and k and I continue to see each other but I tell them what I really want is the peace and happiness we had when things are good.
H gets her meds right and I really don't want a divorce so we move back in together which causes problems with K and I and the triad is in real trouble, we all admit it made us happy but it is not happening at this time.
That gets me to this hotel bed writing this in the early morning. Back when we went to Key West I booked a cruise for the three of us. That cruise leaves tomorrow, only H and I are going. The triad is, trying to work on things, H is guarded and not opening up to K, K is doing the same and I continue to be honest and stick to my position I love the two of them equally and want the three of us to spend the rest of our lives together. I had k's ticket until a few weeks ago and out of frustration I canceled it, K was understandably hurt. I let H and K talk about wether K should go. I said I wanted her to. H said they weren't to that point, k cowered down as she normally does and it was reported to me there was a mutual decision for k not to go. It is not what I wanted but I understand H's position. K tells me she really wants to go and I am forced to be the middle man again, trying to respect everyone's feelings and keep everyone happy. My fatal flaw.
K says that we will only be friends from here forward which makes me sad H is worried almost to anger at times that I will be sad that K is not with us on this cruise. K says she wanted to go so they can work on their relationship so we could get back to the bliss we had. H says she doesn't trust K and questions her motives but said we would have had a great time if k went.
So I am stuck here trying to hide my sadness and disappointment that we are not all together, but excited to go on this trip with H. I still love both of them equally and want us all to just be happy together without hidden motives or emotions.
So here's my question, do I hold on to the dream of all of this working out, is k playing with my emotions or is this all done? H says she wants a poly life but k is not the right person. I would love for K and H to get to a place where they can love openly and this air of questioned motives disappears. It makes me so happy for them when they hold hands and are free to express.
Do I just let go, fight for what I want and the happiness that comes from the three of us?
A triad is a nice idea but rarely seems to work out in practice, because attraction and connection are rarely equal between all three people. I've read stories very similar to yours where there are two women and one man, they all get involved, but it turns out that one of the women is more straight than the other, and the other woman is hurt. That's not necessarily anyone's fault and it doesn't mean that anyone was necessarily dishonest with their motivations -- when you're exploring a new side of your sexuality for the first time you may honestly have no idea how into it you'll end up being. It could easily have worked out the other way, with H and K becoming very close and you feeling hurt and forgotten. But pushing for them to be closer, just because it was working at one point, may have just strained things more. Between two people, it either works or it doesn't, you can't force it, y'know?
I think that H's hurt here is very understandable. She has a history of being cheated on by you, which is hurtful to begin with and must make trust difficult. Then it happens again, or at least starts to, with K, but she learns a new way of thinking about it, the idea that it can be open and honest and happy. Still, that's a big shift, and a scary thing to open a marriage of 17 years up to. What if it goes wrong? And, indeed, that's exactly what happened.
At first she may have thought that the major thing that made this situation different from the way things had gone down in the past, in addition to honesty now being a part of it (good for you by the way, I commend you for going down that road) was that she was involved as an equal partner. But that turned out not to be true, as it so rarely is (see my opening remark about triads) -- you may have wanted to think it was equal, but it's easy for you to feel that way, since you were in the middle position, with both of the other people equally wanting you. That doesn't mean it was the reality on her end of the triangle. And then, it sounds like you may have gotten majorly sucked into what's known as "new relationship energy", where all you can think about is the new person in your life. As you described, when she asked for one-on-one time with you (it sounds like she was reeling from the huge shift from being your one and only, at least in theory, to being only half of your emotional/sexual world) it STILL ended up being about your new partner. Ouch.
It doesn't sound to me like K is playing with your emotions -- why would you say that, just because she says she wants to just be friends now? Heck, that's what I'd say in this situation... I wouldn't want to be responsible for having driven a friend of mine to being suicidal and for breaking up the marriage of my two lovers! I'd certainly step back and let them work it out, for the sake of their children and their nearly two decades together, rather than stay involved.
And, before you get too wrapped up in the idea that K would be perfect for you, keep in mind that things *always* seem perfect during the "honeymoon period" of a new relationship. I'm sure that that perfect communication that you spoke of between you and K would eventually have revealed its cracks, as no relationship is actually without its flaws... you just haven't had time to find them in this particular relationship yet. That's part of what makes "new relationship energy" so dangerous to an older relationship, is that you're familiar with all of your old partners flaws but haven't discovered your new partner's flaws yet, so it's easy to make unfair comparisons that cast the older relationship in an unfairly bad light.
As for the ideal vision you have of the triad getting back together, you talk about it making you happy when H and K held hands... but, in the end, was it making H happy? It certainly doesn't sound like it. And it sounds like you were so happy that maybe you didn't want to see or believe that. But you need to listen to your partner and respect her feelings. If she doesn't want to be with K you cannot -- you absolutely cannot -- force it and expect things to go well. People have to freely choose their partners, or it's just a disaster.
So, if I were you, I would respect K's statement that she wants to go back to friendship, and I would thank her for her concern for you guys. Then I would do a lot of long talking with H. What does it mean to her that she still wants to be poly? There are basically two options going forward:
- You two could date separately. This is what most poly people end up doing, because it just ends up working better, for a whole host of reasons that I could go into at length. Occasionally a triad still ends up arising from this sort of situation, but no one involved is trying to force things into that shape. The most common shape that things take is a "vee" (like a triangle but missing a side), where two people, the "wings" of the vee, are both involved with a third person, the "hinge", but not with each other. There can be multiple vees involved for a given group of poly folks (some people talk about such configurations with other terms, like "N" or "W", all based on drawing lines connecting people, but I prefer to keep it simple and just use vee, for conceptual purposes).
For instance, I'm dating my gf, Gia, and she's also married to her husband, Eric, but he and I aren't dating (though we do occasionally fool around). That's a vee, with Gia as the hinge. I'm also dating my bf, Davis. He and Gia are the wings of another vee, with me as the hinge. You get the idea. I think this tends to end up being the most common configuration because, as I mentioned, triads just don't form that easily, and because it gets difficult, time-wise, for any one person to be seriously involved with more than two people at once, though of course people do that too.
If you guys choose to go this route, this potentially puts a relationship between you and K -- without H actively involved -- back on the table. You could have a wife and a girlfriend, without the pressure of expecting them to also be involved with each other (though, of course, if they wanted to be, down the line, they could choose to be... it's the pressure, the expectation, that's really the problem). There are a couple of factors that will determine whether or not this is feasible:
1) Is H ok with it? Could she deal, emotionally, with the idea of you dating someone who is essentially her ex? She may just want to move on, and that's not entirely unreasonable. On the other hand, if you're still really in love with K, it may only be fair to ask her to strongly consider this option, for your sake if not for K's. But, if you might want to try going down this road, clear it with your wife FIRST -- don't fall back into your old bad habits! -- and make sure she really is ok with it, and that you're not just hearing what you want to hear. Then you can move on to the next big conversation that would need to happen.
2) Is K ok with it? Could she deal with the fact that she may well be a "secondary" partner in your life in this configuration? You'd still be married and raising a child with H, and it may not be possible for K to, for example, move in with you, if H has a hard time being around her. That would necessarily place at least some limits on that relationship. Which can actually be totally ok! You guys may have been going too fast before, all of those trips and cruises and such when you had really just started dating (this all began just a year ago, right?). Taking it more slowly and casually might be a good plan. On the other hand, maybe she's not ready to move from the idea of a triad, in which she was an equal partner with you, to the idea of being your gf but not being as involved in your daily life, not going on all the trips together. Maybe she also really is just burned out on this situation, and really does just want to be friends -- there's nothing wrong with that.
- The other option, of course, is to continue trying to date people together, seeking to form triads. I really can't caution against this strongly enough. It makes everything more complicated and more potentially explosive, because feelings generally develop at uneven rates and at uneven intensities due to natural variability in people's connections, and because it's impossible to avoid comparisons in that sort of situation, which tends to lead to more jealousy than there might otherwise be. It also puts a lot of pressure on the people involved, because they feel like if they want to slow down or step back they'd be damaging the other relationship involved, not just their own. It just really usually doesn't go well. And I think that considering trying to take things down that route again with K, after it sent your wife to the brink of suicide and caused the separation of partners and co-parents who had been together for 17 years, is completely inadvisable, to put it as simply as I can. It's a lovely dream, but you've got to let it go.
It's not that triads can't happen. They can. But they have to happen naturally, at their own pace, and not as the default. Not in a way that anyone feels any pressure or expects anyone else to feel something or do something or be ok with something when they're not. Don't seek them out, just live your life, love people, and let them happen if they happen... but cautiously, and with a careful eye on the risks of jealousy, pressure, and new relationship energy.
Phew. Anyways, best of luck. If it's any consolation, the issues you all ran into are pretty common for people who are new to poly. There are some great resources out there that may be of use to you guys as you work on finding your way in this new world. www.morethantwo.com has been a great help to me.
How are the kids coping with all this upheaval?
I am concerned about the anger/violence out of H. Are you safe? Are you ok? Are you in a domestic violence or abusive situation? You could check the list and see if any behaviors there ring a bell in your situation.
You can't force a triad. It happens or it doesn't. Because among all the other "mini relationships" inside that kind of polyship configuration, there's the duo legs in the triangle of
In the last one? You are nowhere in there. THEY have to sort that out for themselves. You may want a desired outcome, but if it just doesn't fly there, it doesn't fly there. There isn't just you. There's two other people who have to want the same thing for the outcome to be so. You cannot control what THEY want.
If the (H+K) layer is rocky, it's going to be felt everywhere else in your polymath.
(H+K) <---> You (the couple relating to YOU as in the individual and you to them)
(You + K) <----> H
(You + H) <----> K
(You + H + K) and how you work as a team, whether all are lovers and metas, or it's a mix match of friends and lovers and metas in there somehow.
But before even going there to other branches, examine the (H+you) layer one -- that you use the word VIOLENCE to describe relationship interaction is worrisome. You have almost divorced. She's threatened suicide and is bipolar. This doesn't sound totally healthy there. Do the polyshipping realities in communication, time management, emotional management like jealousy -- do these things exacerbate her condition? If so, maybe she shouldn't be in polyship? Could you be happy in a monoship with H?
Let K deal with K willingness.
Let H deal with H willingness.
Focus on YOU.
Perhaps the real decision here is not whether or not you are willing to stay in triad, but...
Decide those things for what you want. Then assess that want.
Is what you want in the interest of YOUR best long term healths? Mental, emotional, physical and spiritual healths?
Sometimes what we want cannot be had because it is just not healthy for us. So we need to lay that want aside. Choose YOURSELF and your best healths first always. Be ok choosing YOU first. You have to put your own oxygen mask on first. This is not selfishness - it is keeping you healthy.
It's what you want to do with YOUR life so you can be healthy living it. You have every right to choose what you want for yourself. Take care of you.
However it plays out... I hope you are safe. :(
The four girls our 2 and k's 2 are great. Our 17 yo knows all about the relationship he and I were strained during the separation, but since H and I have gotten back together we have rebuilt our relationship. He speaks to k when he sees her.
As far as the violence that has all ended since H was diagnosed and emotionally she is doing great with the exception of dealing with K. We haven't had a true fight or issues of violence since October.
H says she wants to continue to explore poly, says K may not be the right one but has done nothing to explore others.
I am resigned to trying to let them work on things and to try to encourage them to communicate openly and honestly about feelings and desires when we get back and try to be patient.
Thanks for the advice any other thoughts will be greatly appreciated. Btw both H and K are aware of my posting and are reading your responses so feel free to address anything you would like to either robot hog them.
Ok, so if the violent stuff was bipolar issues that are now medicated and under control enough so all can feel safe? And you are willing to be in partnership with her and make reasonable allowance for her condition? Ok, then... maybe it's a question of letting go of the triad thing? Could that relieve tensions / unmeetable expectations?
Not just in the (you + H + K) sense. But overall? A model like
like an "N" or "double V" thing that might be more realistic/attainable?
Since everyone has covered everything else, I want to make a comment on the bipolar aspect of this.
I have bipolar. I was diagnosed about 3 or 4 years ago. I STILL struggle with it and even though I am on a good med regimen that keeps me fairly stable, I STILL have bad days. It is HIGHLY unlikely that the first med regimen will "fix" bipolar. It has to be adjusted and the only way that can happen is if H is ready to face the bipolar and communicate properly with her doctors.
I know you love H, and it seems you love K, but H really needs you, she needs a support system that she can trust isn't going anywhere. I have been where she is right now emotionally, happy that the meds are making her feel better, worried that the new found diagnosis will mean the end of you, that she is too difficult for you to love. Likely frustrated with herself for not being "normal". Its a whirlwind of emotion and most of it is negative.
It may take years for her to be 100% stable. She may never get to 100%, especially if she does what a large percentage of newly diagnosed bipolars do, and thats come off the meds because they feel better (and because they dont want to think of themselves as sick). She has to instead talk to her doc about what still doesnt feel right, she has to identify her moods, watch for signs of re-occurance, and mange her illness on a day to day basis, maybe even an hour to hour basis. Things are always good right after a med change, its kind of like washing with a new shampoo, it always seems to make your hair cleaner for some reason, but eventually, that shampoo builds up on your hair too and it takes a new shampoo to make you feel that clean again. Eventually, she will have an episode, and you have to be ready for that.
Encourage her to read about bipolar, both medical books that explain whats happening and personal account books that will let her know shes not alone. Every bipolar book has a "family and friends" section that will help you cope, but dont just read that section, the whole book is full of good information for you.
I have read and recommend the following:
Bipolar survival guide
Im not Crazy, just bipolar - a really good personal account
there are the first 3 that show up on amazon when you search "bipolar"
I have read a lot more, and own and re-read them often, especially when things get tough.
My husband has been there, through my diagnosis and before and he is fond of saying "its hard to love a bipolar, but its completely worth it"
Again thank you all for your advice. I have passed this all along to H and K. your advice is respected in light of your own experiances. I have even considered group counseling for the three of us.
We are back home, and brought K back some gifts, both H and I had independantly purchesed one for her, H with out prompting from me (there may be hope). H and K are going to have a serious sitdown and we will see where we all are after that.
Let us know how it goes!
A quick update. H and K had a heart to heart last week, and I guess we broke up, however after some reflection they are working on the friendship the two of the had that started some of this. Both are taking some personal time to read and study about their own adventure into poly and their bi sexuality. This was a first experience for both of them. K has even started posting some on this forum. I'll let her expose her name on here if she chooses.
Now they are sharing resources and planning on spending some time together without me, to work on that friendship. I have decided to just back off as much as I can and let them both know i am proud of they for addressing their concerns and talking to each other. I really didn't realize how deep the wedge had been driven between the two of them and between all of us. I was blindly happy because I knew they both loved me.
In short I don't know where this all is heading but I am glad my two best friends are at least starting to talk to each other and open their ears and hearts to what the other has to say. Time will tell, but we have all shared way too much to kill our special friendship.
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