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-   -   a complicated situation (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=39680)

ransom 01-31-2013 02:51 PM

a complicated situation
hey all,

i kissed my best friend, who was in a relationship. after he found out, they broke up (after a long 3 months of dragging that out.) he was abusive, they are finally done.

over the course of that 3 months we basically fell in love (not sure how real that feels anymore though).

i left the country 3 weeks ago thinking that she was going to get back with him and cut off ties with me. instead when i left she told me she loved me, and we have restarted discussions of traveling and a possible life together (she may move out here). their relationship has still had an on and off quality these past 3 weeks (which has been stressful for me expecting it to have finished completely.) but it seems now it's finally done.

the difficult thing is that we are acting as if we are in a long distance (monogamous) relationship - but we are not. she doesn't want to commit having finally left a very dramatic and painful situation (she quite understandably needs some space right now). but at the same time she is an extremely jealous person, and acts possessive of me and my interactions with women, thus far completely platonic, as if we were in a monogamous relationship.

at the same time she seems to resent when i act the same. she wants freedom, and keeps bringing up polyamory as a solution - but more in indirect comments (though it is something we've discussed before), and we haven't been able to have an open conversation about it.

she will one day tell me she "can't do polyamory" and the next act as if it's the natural solution for us right now (really meaning the natural solution for her and her needs, rather than a well thought out and discussed solution for us both).

i have always been interested in the idea of polyamory but i dont' know if i can actually emotionally handle it - i don't know if i am secure enough. for me the idea of having sex with someone else is equitable to nailing a coffin in the relationship. i also can't do it out of fear, knowing how she will probably react (anger - sleep with someone else to get back at me).

i want to bring this conversation up but our skype conversations have been stressful and i don't know how to do it in a comfortable way.

what i want is to be secure in the idea, but i don't know how to be in that place? i rationally do want to experience polyamory, but not because i want to fuck around, but because i believe in horizontal/non-hierarchical relationships in general.

also, she has an online dating profile she showed me, which while she says is "just for fun" and she doesn't want to sleep with anyone, seems to have been made with the intent or at least openness of meeting people right now. i am confused by both my feelings of insecurity but also frustration with the inability to have an open conversation on this subject - sometimes she tells me she makes comments about other guys to push me away (i can be clingy) but also to "test" me. how do i deal with this?

i know that was a lot, thanks for listening

ransom 01-31-2013 05:26 PM

ok update:

she got really frustrated by me wanting to clearly define things and then be able to move forward, accusing me of having this convo over and over again. when what i want is just to have one conversation where we define where we are at and move forward, rather than having these ridiculous conversations where she makes a remark and obviously is trying to gauge my reaction, interrogates me about how i'm spending my time and who with, reassures me that she is not wanting to sleep around, but wants freedom and to maintain that she is "single" and not committed to me in any sense.

i told her i wanted to talk about that and she got angry. i told her what i wanted was just to say out loud and clear that we are either polyamorous or single and interested, and i could move on from worrying about what she's doing or what her intentions are, and also explore opportunities where i am at right now. WHAT I WANTED was to have that convo and talk about those things, what happened instead is that when i said i wanted to experience that freedom also if that is where we are at she signed off in anger. "go have fun then".

i realize i am full of insecurity but this is one of the few times i just said what i thought without trying to worry too much about how she will react, and therefore hide how i feel out of that fear. i don't know if i am being insensitive though or if i am just standing up for myself and not allowing myself to be used.

NovemberRain 01-31-2013 05:49 PM

I vote for you standing up for yourself and not allowing yourself to be used.

Sounds like there's a lot of potential there for you to get hurt.

One of the common wisdoms around here is that this doesn't work:
Relationship broken, add more people.

If you guys have a shot at being open, it appears that you may have to just be two for awhile.
It also sounds like maybe you both need to work on yourselves for a bit; and get MUCH much better at communication. If she's going to sign off in anger when you want a conversation, that doesn't bode well for communication in general.

Wishing you much luck.

ransom 01-31-2013 05:56 PM

so now after she signed back on she tells me i am a "fraud" for acting loyal and monogamous for months and now saying that if we are going to be polyamorous maybe i will exercise that freedom right now? she won't commit to a monogamous relationship but i am a fraud if i say that i won't wait around? like i don't really love her? i don't know how to react to this

opalescent 01-31-2013 06:00 PM

Your best friend is not healthy enough to be in any relationship - mono or poly - right now. She was in an abusive relationship and that takes time to recover from. Dan Savage has often talked about working towards 'being in good working order' before dating or being in a relationship. Steer her to therapy, encourage her to take advantage of it, and be her friend, not her lover right now.

ransom 01-31-2013 06:06 PM

opalescent i am hesitant to say that, at least that way, because it will trigger her. he would use therapist lingo to control her and tell her how she was fucked up and what she needed to be

it's hard for me to do that too, i really do love her :(

ThatGirlInGray 01-31-2013 06:35 PM

I'm sorry you are both in such a difficult situation. :(

I have a little bit of experience with this, as TGIB was in an abusive marriage that was ending when he and I started becoming more serious (we had been friends forever, even before he met the woman he married). But our situations are very different, since I was already married and any relationship between TGIB and myself was automatically not a monogamous one. So I may not be able to completely speak to your situation, but I'll try.

Coming out of an abusive relationship, she is very fragile. It's possible (even likely) that she doesn't even realize how fragile she is and how much she is lashing out. Just as you are trying to prevent yourself from being hurt, she's trying to prevent herself from being hurt AGAIN. Unfortunately it's going to take time, and probably a lot of it, for her to get through this, especially if counseling is unlikely to be an option for a while because of her ex's behavior (that really is despicable on his part). Even when she thinks she's reached more solid ground, something unexpected could pop up.

I'd recommend two things to you. Stay calm and gentle as best you can and try not to take her anger personally. YOU know you aren't a fraud. She will realize that eventually. Try to maintain a consistent position of, "I love you, but we aren't and can't be exclusive right now. When you're ready to discuss this further, I'm here." (or similar) Perhaps try to let go of labeling whether you're poly or single and just leave it at "non-exclusive" The other thing I'd recommend to you is to try to find an online or in person support group for people with loved ones coming out of abusive relationships. It can be a VERY difficult position to be in and if you want to be there for her through this you could probably use some help and support yourself. Since you can't change her behavior, focus on your behavior and what you can do to be the healthiest YOU.

I wish you both luck getting through this.

opalescent 01-31-2013 06:51 PM

Oh ransom, you are in a difficult situation.

What you describe in your posts is someone who right now doesn't know how to be in a healthy relationship. She currently does not have the 'tools' to be a healthy partner, like communication skills, self-reflection, taking ownership of her own feelings and thoughts. Those are necessary for any relationship - poly relationships just take more of all of the above.

And maybe, you don't either. At least to be in a healthy relationship with her right now.

You do realize that just about anything you say or do may trigger her? I'm sure you don't poke at her hurt places on purpose but that is one of the vicious things about abuse. It fractures people in ways they don't always fully realize - until someone, usually innocently, blunders into that fractured, hurt place.

That is an awful, awful thing that he used psychology and therapy lingo to control and convince her she is fucked up. It is not right, it is not fair, and she did not deserve that.

But a real, ethical therapist will do nothing of the sort. A good therapist will listen to her, provide some perspective, and support her in healing. It might take a while to find a compatible therapist - that's common. But she needs someone who is not a friend, a lover, a family member, to listen and hear her. There are also support groups of surivivors that could prove useful to her.

And bluntly, she is fucked up. That is what abuse does. It destroys, rends, tears at a person's soul. It makes black white and vice versa. It pulls apart a person's ability to tell reality from lies. It erodes sense of self and destroys confidence. She did not deserve this, it was not right, it is not fair.

She needs to heal, to find out who she is again, to understand her triggers, and learn how to manage emotions. We all need to do this in life but it is especially critical for abuse survivors. To heal and truly move on, survivors need to face and understand the abuse. (And by understand I do not mean forgive their abuser but rather understand the patterns in their life, their behavior, their abuser's bahavior that contributed to the abuse. Seeing the patterns in one's life that make one vulnerable to an abuser does not mean that abuse is ever their fault.) That requires a lot of work, pain and time.

There is also the risk that she will be abusive. I am not saying that she is currently abusive or abusive to you. But I do see a pattern of emotional inconsistency that could turn into full blown emotional manipulation. Your fear of triggering her, while understandable, is worrying.

Finally, and this may be hardest of all for you, YOU CANNOT FIX HER. You can't. You can love her and support her and encourage her. You can model good healthy behavior for her; you can be honest and loving and geniune. All good things. But if she is unwilling or currently unable to do the work necessary to learn the tools she needs to be a healthy partner, a healthy person, she will be unable to be the partner you deserve. And you do deserve a healthy partner. She did not deserve the abuse she suffered nor the damage that it caused. But you deserve a partner who is capable of being in a healthy relationship with you. The poly/mono stuff is really secondary at this point. Is she able to be a healthy partner for you? Can you do the same for her?

If the answer is no to either, then it is time to end the romantic relationship. Give her and you time to heal. Be friends to each other (while realizing this may be hard). Once she, and maybe you, are in proper working order, perhaps there is a chance of being in a healthy, loving romantic relationship. I hope so.

I know you love her. That is very clear. But love is not enough by itself to make a relationship healthy. I wish you and she the best.

ransom 01-31-2013 06:52 PM

thank you thatgirlingray, i appreciate your perspective.

i basically just told her that - if we aren't in an exclusive relationship then.... we aren't in an exclusive relationship. but i did it lacking in gentleness, it was an angry conversation both ways, but at least it was direct (on my part at least) in ways that i normally find trouble being out of fear of rocking the boat. she views my wanting to emotionally internalize what that means to not be exclusive, and to explore physically what that means, as evidence that i don't love her, that i am just like every other guy, and all my talk of loyalty and commitment was fraudulent (it wasn't).

ransom 01-31-2013 06:56 PM

and opalescent, i really really value that perspective. you are right in that i do trigger her all the time, in ways that really surprise me. even if i say i'm not sure where i want to eat, just that i'm hungry, that used to provoke a reaction in her and she would shut up expecting an angry tirade.

and you are probably right about the health of the relationship - but i will be honest it's hard for me to let that go right now (i think - somehow i feel a sense of relief at the thought also though). i will think about what you are saying, it clearly deserves my attention and thought.

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