Greetings from South Africa!
This is a long, long babble that serves both as an introduction and a meandering statement of the situation I currently find myself in.
I am a 39-year-old pansexual woman living in a small coastal village in the Western Cape province of South Africa, and I work in the editorial department of a community newspaper in the next town.
I am here to learn all I can about relationships and effective communication in an environment where I do not feel like a freak.
I have only relatively recently become familiar with the term 'polyamory' (and the fact that forums such as this one exists - what a relief!). However, I have always believed in the basic beliefs and ideas of polyamory. My first marriage was very short-lived/suffered (I now know that when one's future mother-in-law calls one aside to say, "Are you completely mad to consider marrying S?", the warning signs should be very 'disco'). It was open by agreement. I was very young (20, and he a bachelor 18 years my senior), without resources and I 'naively' assumed that his definition of an open marriage also entailed my belief in love being rooted in absolute honesty, trust and active communication. So, when I discovered that he had been having a relationship with my then best friend, G (probably only friend - I am not a social creature, quite the contrary) since long before our engagement and marriage, I felt doubly betrayed. There were several consequent attempts to repair communication lines and trust, but these were repeatedly disrespected by S and G. This, combined with the fact that S constantly weighed my sexual responses as inferior to G's and found other ways to abuse me in a non-physical way, convinced me that I was not loved sincerely by either, and I left 1 year and 1 day after my and S' wedding.
Despite the fact that I am extremely honest and open (characteristics apparently uncomfortable to most people), I seem to have failed miserably in the communication aspect of life, despite my belief in its power to validate and promote growth.
This is my current situation.
For the purpose of background: Some 13 years ago I met H (female, and I realise now, unwaveringly monogamous) as a work colleague. At the time she had just ended a bitter on-off but continuously co-habiting 8-year relationship with another woman, J. J quit her job about 18 months prior to her and H's final break-up, and had been spending her idle time at home being supported by H and making no effort to find employment. J spent most of her time surfing online dating sites. At some stage J convinced H that it was imperative that they immigrate to the USA (at the time not hard to convince anybody of the benefits of such a move considering the state of my country - which I love). Anyway, J asked H to fund her visit to the US ostensibly to explore opportunities for both of them there. On her return it became evident that her explorations were of a much more specific and personal nature - she returned engaged to a man she had met online, and announced that she would marry this man the following month.
About 11 years ago H and I started what would become the longest one-night stand in human history. (We were legally married almost 4 years ago, as soon as it became legal in my country - not a romantic affair, just some administration to claim legal rights.) Very early on in the relationship I explained to H that I identified as pansexual and that I could not believe in monogamy. While she understands my pansexual nature (she is completely and absolutely lesbian) she claims not to recall ever being told about my beliefs regarding monogamy. I do blame myself for this. I should have discussed this more clearly and more often. The fact that I never had relations outside my and H's union (I never have and never will actively look for somebody to love), made my polyamorous nature that much easier to forget as a non-issue.
Anyway, In June last year I walked out of a career I thoroughly enjoyed and that affirmed me in many positive ways (I left when management was taken over by an extremely short-sighted and dishonest little man). Unemployed and feeling as if I lost myself, I decided to reclaim my identity in a little social experiment, the outcome of which I had no inkling of. On facebook I created a completely anonymous profile (I did not even reveal my gender - absolutely nothing). I then proceeded to invite as friends thousands of people whose facebook names were 'Anonymous', 'Alias' or 'Alter Ego' and versions of those names. It was actually quite wonderful interacting and sharing with an array of anonymous, faceless people. On October 29 2009, a person made contact with me via my anonymous profile. While I revealed nothing of myself, he did eventually after some months of daily interaction reveal his gender, name and home (in Europe).
While anonymity has the potential to promote dishonesty, it can also do the opposite - honesty and openness to a terrifying, but liberating extent. This is what happened between myself and this man, I'll call him HO. Our mutual conversations somehow evoked in us a need to share our truths and this process also revealed more of who we are and how we function to ourselves. We have said things to each other that we previously could barely tell ourselves. In February this year I decided to wean myself of my anonymity, I culled all my anonymous friends, but requested HO to discover my true identity by accepting my friend request. He seemed a bit scared to do this at first, but then did. Our usual musings continued for a week after I identified myself, when he suddenly announced that he was going to stop all communication between us, because he was in love with me (he has been married for several decades and is 19 years older than me). At the prospect of losing him I behaved very uncharacteristically - embarassingly begging and pleading him to stay, which he did.
Shortly after I first met him last year, I shared this with H as I always share everything with her. I continued to update her on the events of our relationship, and once I admitted to myself my own feelings for HO, I also told H that I loved him. She never gave any indication that it perturbed her. However, as my and HO's relationship progressed, H became increasingly uneasy. By this time I had repeatedly reassured her that I did not love her any less etc. etc. I discovered the term polyamory and read much about how to explain it to the uninitiated, which I did. I asked her to read, read, read, which she did, but ultimately she gave me an ultimatum to choose between her or HO, which I obviously cannot do since I love both and need/want both in my life.
The long and the short of it: Four weeks ago H ended our relationship. The last few weeks have been extremely traumatic and dramatic and this is continuing, with H teetering on the very edge of sanity and me feeling absolutely helpless to alleviate her agony, while trying to be rational about my own profound pain and sense of loss. Mutual friends are rallying around her and expressing their shock and horror at my 'choosing' a cyber relationship 'over' a wonderful 11-year partnership, which many of our friends of all orientations and persuasions have come to regard as a model for healthy, loving relationships. I have stopped trying to explain that I have not chosen anybody over another and that my love for H remains as deep as always, but that H feels that our perspectives and expectations are not compatible, resulting in her decision not to continue with the relationship, which I have to respect despite it being contrary to my desire.
More complexities. My and H's economic and practical reality is such that we will have to continue living together. We also work together, in the same office.
While HO has been burning to share his newfound joy in our exceptionally rewarding relationship with his wife, whom he loves immensely, he understands her well enough to know that such a revelation, despite his intentions, will result in the immediate termination of his marriage to her. Neither of us want that to happen, ever. We have reached a reluctant agreement that he would not tell her, also something neither of us want. Catch 22. (I know that many may think me a bit naive - I am not.)
While we desperately long to meet, we have mutually decided that we will postpone that by two years for a variety of reasons, not least because we need to ensure that we can avoid all the potential trappings of cyber-relationships becoming 'real').
And that is my story in a (coco)nutshell.
Thank you for reading.
PS. I am aware of having to move at the pace of the slowest person in the relationship. Unfortunately H, despite reading about and researching polyamory, with my support and guidance, and answering all her questions honestly, reached a point just over a month ago, where she refused any more information or discussion of polyamory. She became quite adamant that I was morally bankrupt and at the very least abnormal.
I realise that it often takes years for a mono-wired person to accept polyamory, but I honestly believe that H will never become accepting of it.
But, perhaps our having to continue cohabiting is a very good thing. I do hope that she may over time realise that my love for her remains untarnished and that my relationship with HO is not a threat.
I have been made to feel intolerably selfish for being unable to commit to monogamy - I will be quite miserable.
I also realise that NRE can be extended over a longer period in the event of LDR, but I do also know that my and HO's approach to our relationship is very rational, probably a bit analytical.
Any advice, comment, raps over the knuckles will be very welcome.
Man...that's a lot of words! :D
Well, welcome to the forum.
Thank you for the welcome, eklctc!
I realise that my post is very long-winded, but I guess I am still a bit too overwhelmed by my current situation to be able to differentiate between what is essential and what is not, and consequently I struggle to edit away the superfluous.
Welcome, Narapela. All things are transient. This hard time will pass and you will have been enlarged by this experience, especially if you continue to trust and find guidance within yourself (you have more answers than you realise). This may take time, but be patient with yourself as well as with Life itself :)
Thank you for the encouragement, jas. It is appreciated.
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