New Relationship Energy running amok....
My husband and I are new to poly, too.
I have a lover that I have been involved with for about a month. My husband is looking (we've been married for 10+ years with 2 children), though if I weren't poly, he probably would not be looking at all. He struggles much more than I do with this arrangement emotionally. We are a little freaked out about how this is going to affect our family and home and social life.
I feel so happy at times with living my life freely and finally feeling like ME.
BUT, can I introduce my lover to friends and walk around the town holding hands? No, not yet. Can I have my lover here at our house so we can all hang out together? No, not yet. Is it realistic to think any of this can even happen?
When? How soon? All this stuff will be hard for me. I'm impatient with these things.
Any advice out there on how to take things one step at a time and not get too carried away with the new found liberation? Thanks.
Well, the annoying answer is "it depends." :P No one here can give you a definitive time frame, as it's different for everyone.
One approach is to go about that the other way. YOU set a definitive time frame. Tell your husband that you need to be able to fully express your other relationships to be happy, and negotiate a date when those things will start to happen. Then he has the responsibility to work on his insecurities by that time. Perhaps leave a condition where he can ask for a little more time, but only if he's making some progress.
And it doesn't have to be a 0-60 timeframe. Maybe after 2 months, you tell your friends about your lover. Another month after that, you can hold hands in public. Baby steps.
Some things may never realistically happen. Lover coming over and everyone hanging out together could be one of them. It's your husband's home too, and his need to feel safe and secure in his home overrides your want to have your lover visit.
It may also be worthwhile for your husband and you to consider a "mono-poly" relationship. If he's not actually poly, what does he gain by spreading himself between more people than he's actually comfortable with?
Thanks for the insights. Much to consider.
Right now I should probably put all my energies into reciprocating the love that my husband has shown me. He's trying very hard to understand me and give me the space and freedom that I need.
I need to show him love by giving him the support and reassurance he needs. My post really upset him. And it's because my new relationship energy _is_ running amok....I need to stop being selfish and balance things out a little better, I think.
I apologise in advance for my mammoth reply!!! Oh my God... apparently, I have a lot to say!
Congratulations on finding happiness and enjoying the excitement of a new partner.
My advice may sound a little blunt... but it is meant with good humour and my own hindsight about how I, and my GF, acted when we were new to poly.
My point here is that whilst you *may* have met a very good other partner and just *maybe* he will actually be worth all the trouble and work you'll have to go through.... remember that he might not.
Don't act rashly or selfishly now, because it may come to bite you in the ass.
One of the bad karma things about introducing new people to friends, family and children? It gets complicated. My ex-secondary-girlfriend took a real shine to my best friend. When I started cooling off on her, she started trying to get him to get the three of us to go out, etc. Now, it's awkward when they go out without me, because he can't really bring her back to our place to hang out, since I now think that the girl I first thought was amazing is an actual loon.... ;)
On a serious note, this is the only concern I have with poly and children. Kids can get seriously attached. Kids can get their hearts broken. Kids can also feel unsettled about new people coming to the house all the time. For this reason, we do not let our daughter meet secondaries. We'd have to know a secondary for at least 6-12 months to consider making an introduction. How you and your husband choose to navigate that is your own decision, though :)
Some things I find useful to remember about poly:
1. Poly/Mono *can* work - and the mono person is not failing in any way; nor is less 'enlightened'
2. Different things trouble different people - there might be something that would bother you about poly; you just might not have had to be put through it yet
3. It's often different when the shoe is on the other foot (i.e. consider the future possibility of your husband falling in love and understand that you just might not feel as evenly about it as you might think right now)
4. Some people genuinely don't struggle as much with their love being with another. However, where is the greater strength? In not feeling any negative emotion? Or in feeling it and working through it? In my opinion, the latter is admirable.
The following is *my* personal belief on what it takes to know that poly is 'right' for you. To *me*, being 'good' at poly isn't at all about not feeling jealous. It's about asking yourself:
a) EMPATHY - can I *understand* my partner, who might be struggling?
b) NURTURING - can I *effectively* nourish my partner, to lessen their struggle, and to ensure that this polyship isn't all about my good times?
c) COMMUNICATION - can I discuss and negotiate well? Can I avoid dictation of rules? Can I be flexible?
d) COMMITMENT - Do I want to be *poly* or do I want to be *single*? Single means dating who you want, when you want, answering to only yourself. Poly means having multiple *relationships* - therefore, multiple commitments, of varying degrees.
You have to start at the beginning.
Do I have a *greater* commitment to myself - or to my husband?
There's no right or wrong answer. It's up to you to decide.
If you are more committed to meeting your own needs and wants, then you will set up an autonomous structure based on that.
If you value your husband greatly and one of your greatest needs is to have him in your life, you'll set up a structure that is based on compromise - balancing what you want/need and what he wants/needs.
Particularly if you're more committed to your husband:
Are you following hierarchical poly (primary/secondary)? Or are you open to having two primaries (or non-labelled loves)?
If you're doing primary/secondary, then yes, you have to compromise. More than that... you have to *want* to compromise. Sure, I get frustrated sometimes when I want to do something and my girlfriend drags her feet. But she is my primary - my priority. I choose to put her in that place. I choose to consider her feelings and I genuinely *want* to make decisions that take her comfort into account. It's not really hard for me - I am high on empathy and nurturing. I struggle more on the jealousy side. Sometimes those who do not struggle with jealousy as much can be a bit more lacking on the empathy and nurturing side - so it's good to be aware of it, if it sounds like you, and try to balance it. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.
How soon is the balance between what you want and what he wants.
I find that if I'm struggling to adjust to something, being rushed by my partner is incredibly, massively damaging. It makes me feel unsafe, like a failure and worse - it makes me feel hostile towards her for putting me in that position. Even if your brain is going "when when when when?!".... it genuinely can help not to vocalise that, in order to allow your loved one a safe place. Encouragement helps - saying things like "you are doing so amazingly well dealing with this - I love you so much more for it and am so proud of you".
For me, it's about reinforcing behaviour. If a partner is struggling, they're not feeling good, right? They will then associate poly with negative emotion. They can come to resent poly - or worse, resent you. If the active partner is getting what they want *and* wanting it faster, better, more, etc.... how is that going to make the struggling partner feel? Even more negative. BUT - if you try to teach your partner to associate good feelings with poly, it can make a world of difference. Showing your partner how poly has increased your love for them brings about a positive emotional response to poly, in your partner's psyche.
As I said, for me, I pretty much know that the first 3-6 months are NRE-ville. During that time, I take care to:
- make dates with my primary partner
- give her extra love and attention, compliments, praise
- *ask* my primary if I'm doing ok balancing the NRE and if she has any requests or suggestions
- make sure I don't spend more time with new partner than old partner
- make sure I don't neglect my sex life with primary partner
- don't introduce new partners to friends during first 3 months (basically, I don't let them get saturated into my life too much)
- remember that I don't know the new person yet; everyone has flaws and this person will show theirs soon enough
- keep in mind how I would want to be treated, if I was watching my primary with someone else
I know from experience that there are few things worse than watching your partner go through NRE and handling it badly. Especially when poly is new - it can be a really hard time.
GalaGirl first posted this article on handling NRE and insecurity - it's amazingly useful:
After 18 months of verbal reassurance from my girlfriend, the thing that actually finally worked wonders for me was Sternberg's theory of love. Knowing that my girlfriend genuinely feels a consumate love for me helped me put her new lovers into perspective; because even if they ever got to the same stage we are at, it would take time; which would give me time to get used to it:
All of this being said, poly is of course about getting your own needs met. You shouldn't have to sacrifice everything. You can have what you want - but just have a think about what is more important - getting it in the kindest, roundest, best possible way? Or getting it fast and causing damage?
I'm in the same boat as you regarding being 'out' about my polyness. I'm married to Aquarius who's family is conservative. Our friends and extended family are conservative as well (I moved here from the SF Bay Area so I'm quite open about lifestyles as you might imagine).
I recently had a talk with Aquarius about coming out with polyamory - I don't fear judgement anymore and am quite content with myself. Coming out also re-affirms my commitment to absolute honesty, with everyone around me. Well, short story even shorter, the answer was a firm "no way."
My initial reaction was, internally, to take offence. I felt as if I was being told what to do. Once I thought about it in a different light I realised that I had to heed her advice, and for the foreseeable future simply maintain a monogamous, hetero exterior.
Here's how I look at it. Aquarius is suffering enormously dealing with my revelation about polyamory (back in Feb 2012). We are just now exploring how we're going to start our poly lives together, and to also have to explain it to her family would just be too much. I can't ask that. So the subject is settled.
Sometimes the best course for a strong relationship is a bit of give and take, even if that give and take requires some deceit. Remember, the deception is with others, not with your partner(s), so it does make it easier.
Don't know if that helped at all, hope what I said didn't make it worse for you!
On the flip side, it might do your husband some good to realize that NRE is a temporary state and that it isn't the end of the world. You seem like you've got a good head on your shoulders and will weather the throes of NRE just fine, especially as compared to somebody who was less conscious of what was going on. I mean, you say that your post really upset him. But what I see in your post is you acknowledging that this is hard on all of you, but that it's making you happy, that you realize you can't have everything you want right away, and that you're actively seeking advice and support to help you make choices that are healthy and well-paced. All of that should be reassuring, I would think. So, what in the post is upsetting?
Is he upset at the thought that you want to hold hands and hang out with your lover? Those seem like pretty innocuous things as compared to the fact that he's, y'know, your lover. Or is that you're happy and excited? Well, if you weren't, this would all be a pretty pointless exercise, wouldn't it?
I am glad you are enjoying the NRE. That's always so fun! :D
You have several points in one message.
1) Your want to be "out" to your friends with lover going about the community. But that's only you. You are not single. You are not a duo any more either. You are now in relationship in trio -- the shared sweetie hinge in a "V."
What you want has to be balanced with what the others want and need and what their limits might be.
So you could ask them (husband and lover) where their comfort level is at for THIS point in time. Determine where the next check in would be, and then check in then at THAT point in time where their comfort zone is at and what has changed, if any.
2) Your husband emotional management stuff.
What's he struggling with? If he wouldn't otherwise be looking for himself, why's he looking now? What's that supposed to solve? :confused: Is he monoamorous? Or polyamorous? You do not say.
If it is jealousy he struggles with, could he do more page 5 and you do more page 6 ideas from this article?
If it is dealing with your NRE gushies, and willingness to have it in the house "in his face" so to speak -- well, talk to him. It's one thing for you to share your NRE at a volume he can take. It's another to drown him with it -- esp if he has unmet needs. Are you tending to your old relationship energy as well? Does he have needs that need meeting? What's he feeling exactly that's struggle?
It's normal to want to share you poly joys, share them freely here or to safe friends. It's normal to want to share it with your beloved spouse -- but again -- at a volume he can take. He could be THRILLED for you but still find it annoying if all you do is swoon about. YKWIM? You could ask him if your "NRE volume" is ok or not for him to listen to.
And you can tell him and demonstrate to him that you appreciate his willingness to be in polyship with you. He doesn't have to be there and he doesn't have to be willing. But he is because he's chosen this for himself. So thank him for his willing -- and recognize you benefit from that.
some really great, thoughtful insights from so many people!
Thank you, everyone, for all that you've shared about your experiences and what you've learned... so many great insights and suggestions. So much that I hadn't given thought to (yet, but will now).
I have much to work on, I realize. I need to put WAY MORE effort into being understanding of the sacrifices (so to speak) that my husband has made on this journey of opening up our lives and love.
Sparklepop.... your a-d beliefs really hit me and made me go, "hmm. Am I poly? Or do I just want to f--k around and have my cake and eat it, too?" Made me take a good hard look at what my husband and my family and life mean to me and what I need to do to make sure he knows it and that I'm nurturing all of that, too. Thank you!
Galagirl - I so appreciate the reference to the article on practicalpolyamory. I will read it and get as much from it as I can. It is difficult to define what my husband struggles with.... I think it shifts and changes on a day to day basis, depending on what's going on. And that in itself is a challenge (like the earth moves under our feet all the time...). He IS looking for himself... but like I said, he's not as motivated as I am (or was). I think he realizes that it would be really nice for him to have an experience like I am having, so he is pursuing it... with great patience (unlike me). Great suggestion to ask him how the gauge is registering with the "NRE volume." That will help.
Too many people to thank individually (got a house to try to clean up!), so I'll just say THANK YOU to everyone that posted and shared their life experiences. I really appreciate it and will take this all to heart and continue this difficult, challenging but rewarding relationship work. :)
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