Anxious, emotional mess after new permissions...HELP!
LONG POST BUT SHORT READ... If you don't have time, next post is a summary.:o
Hi everyone and thanks for reading. Always such great advice here, I know this will be uplifting and helpful. I really need that!
My wife, E and I are in our early thirties. We have been married since we were kids at 18, and dated before that. We have three very well adjusted kids and make decent money in a calm, healthy home.
Despite being married so young, we grew together and have very healthy communication. I am a bit more long-winded and can talk all night and day to grind out a resolution to how one of us feels. She has a threshold.:p That fact is really the only thing we ever 'fight' about.
We have weathered two affairs, one hers, one mine, both which rocked our relationship and indeed ourselves to the core. We survived both, eventually becoming more strongly bonded and realizing that we truly were inseperable and nothing was worth giving up on us. The last trauma of this sort was about three years ago.
The current issue: We decided to get serious about being poly about a year ago. E identifies as bi, and I am a hetero male. We initially looked for our unicorn without success. We recently met a girl, M, who really hit it off with E. They went on a girls night out, had a great time, and ended the night with a non-sexual kiss.
A few months later, I went on a date with M while E stayed home. I didn't like the idea, thinking it would be hard for E to imagine what was going on while we were out. M and I shared some nice sexy kisses during the date and that was it. I watched E experience a shade of discomfort and then compersion as I reported about the date. The next day we talked to her satisfaction and all was right with the world.
E had mentioned to me a couple, A and L, who are married. A is a coworker of E. When I expressed interest in the possibility of seeing one of our past failed unicorns again but on my own, E said she could entertain the idea if she could be free to date A and L, possibly just A. After thinking it over, and swishing the idea of my wife sleeping with another male around, I decided it would be okay.
E and L, A's wife, went on a night out together, while I was at home and A was working. There was no 'hookup' but there could have been, it was allowed. I was totally fine with the idea in my head and 'on paper' in a way. The next night, E and A had a shift together. She gave him a lift home at the end, and they kissed several times in the car before saying goodnight.
When E told me this news, over the phone on the way home, I was absolutely fine with it! She described how much it turned her on that I was okay with it and I reveled in the compersion. A went out of town the next day and is due to return in a few more.
The next day, E described their time in her car to me. The conversation revolved around A and L's relationship, and their experiences with third party lovers. A explained that they usually pick up a girl, take her home and A 'gets rough' with L and sees how the third reacts. Although rough stuff isn't something E and I get into, I can see how this new experience could be a huge turn-on for her.
Since this conversation, I have descended into an absolute, abject puddle of misery. I am anxious, my stomach in knots, my throat clenched and my head actually vibrating when I think about the impending dates that E will have with A and L or just A. I have to concentrate to not actually bust out crying. I feel clingy, possessive, and protective.
I have read the guides on jealousy management, and understand and believe that this will get better. I just don't know if I can stand it.
E has been absolutely wonderful, reassuring me in every possible way. Every irrational fear or concern I have, she has an appropriate and reassuring answer. Her fear is that if I'm suffering such a freak out and anxiety after a little making out, how will knowing about actual sex affect me? She tells me that the healthy freedom she felt like I 'gave' her was such a beautiful feeling, she loved me all the more for it.
The problem is that this anxiety is completely debilitating. I know it's irrational, I know it's based on false fears, yet I can't deny the hand on my throat, the pit in my stomach, and my absolute inability not to obsess over the feelings. We have reassuring talks, but me being a mess is the opposite of a turn on for E, and the anxiety has me wracked with erectile issues.
The intent was for us to enhance our strong marriage with these new freedoms. Since her 'date' with A, I have no interest in M, or the past unicorn. Masturbation will barely work, as any sexual imagery reminds me that she has an impending date some time in the future.
E promises to be completely honest, reassures me perfectly and deprives me of nothing that I need emotionally. She promises to take every small step right beside me, but I know that enough is enough. I can't keep going on being a mess, and it will ruin any of the positives she'll feel. But I can't help thinking that she'll be getting ready for their first 'serious' date soon.
I have not met A and L. I feel like if I met them or him in person I would feel better. E says she is afraid to formalize their future that much, since A and L's encounters are usually just casual hookups. She doesn't want to scare them off. I don't want a parameter meeting, just maybe a coffee or beer together, so everyone has met.
When I think about it cognitively, I'm absolutely okay with it. The idea of her having a great time and then loving me for giving it is something I truly believe in my head. I'm generally a very confident person, and continue to be. This anxiousness has me wrecked, messy, limp-dicked and wanting to just curl up and cry. I try to distract myself, and feel better for long periods of time, but ANY reminder of E's job, the rough sex, the date itself, sends me right back into darkness.
I am torn between a desperate desire to really give in to compersion and feel it through and through, and this deathly awful black anxious, weepy clingy irrational feeling. The worst part is I can't explain my feelings. I reply "I know" to every one of E's reassurances. She looks at me with "well then what is it?" eyes, and I shrug before sobbing. I try to be strong and confident, and end up pitiful.
My question is, am I just too sensitive? Is their first real date going to reassure me? Will I be able to get the image of them having sex out of my head? Will every sexual image or thought turn to her having sex with another man and destroy my erection?
This is not enhancing our lives. It's wrecking me, which is bumming her out, and turning her off. I tell her I can imagine the other side, and I mean it, but I wonder if this anxiety can be shaken.
Summary of my first post...
The above post is so long, thanks so much to anyone who gets through it. Here is a summary:
Me: Duke 33 M, married to E 34 F
M: 27 F, with whom we’ve both been on one indiv. date each. Kisisng only so far.
A: M 23, works with E, married to L, F early 20’s.
Only girls were allowed for E to date until very recently. I really believed in my head that I could be okay with it. Imagined it, talked with E about it, and was really, truly okay with it in my head. E went on a fun date with L and hit it off. She gave A a ride home the next night, made out in the car. Told me about it, felt great, compersion plus gratitude, all was great!
Next day, had a long conversation about their date. My feelings have taken DRASTIC downturn since, resulting in severe anxiety, no sleep, no appetite, and psychological impotence. E is very supportive and reassuring. I can identify NO rational fears or insecurities and can confidently shoot down those which are irrational. Feel sick, nervous and have nearly uncontrollable crying fits. Normally a happy-go-lucky, confident, A-personality leader. Three days of misery, and nothing seems to help.
E mentioned A and L do it ‘rough’ during casual encounters. This seems to be something my jealous mind wants to obsess over. Mix of protectiveness and guarding against disrespect. This is my 20-year pride and joy, not some skank.
Cannot get the image of their possible future date out of my head and it is currently enraging/devastating. Causes immediate burn in the belly. Then I actually imagine it, the preparation, the time during, and the phone call after, and I'm fine with each part in my mind. Why doesn't this give relief?
Sexual imagery of any kind, in person (with E) or porn reminds me of their future encounters and rekindles anxiety and ED.
E works with A. I believe allowing her the freedom with honesty leading to compersion is the nest route, since their access to each other will be unrestricted. Workmates were originally off-limits as partners when we discussed things originally, for this very reason.
I would like to meet A and L or at least A in person, informally, so I can at least say we know each other. Not a meeting to discuss boundaries, as I trust E with her own, but just a beer or coffee together. E says she is afraid this will scare them off, since they are a young hot couple, or intimidate A. This bothers me and makes me suspicious. I will be at E’s work in the future, and inevitably paths will cross with A. I imagine this meeting MUCH more awkward after they’ve, uh… HAD SEX. I don't want to feel hostile or him defensive unnecessarily. I'd like to like him, but seems like knowing him isn't too much to ask.
I’m completely okay with E dating L and N in my head and ‘on paper’ so to speak. My subconscious, gorilla brain is screaming, raging, and causing me debilitating anxiety, literally sleepless nights, ED, unhealthy weight loss, and stomach aches. This turns E off but she is wonderful with me. She shoots down my irrational fears, I shrug and say “I know” to each reassurance and then start back sobbing. The thing is I really, really want her to date them and enjoy it. But I’m afraid if a little making out wracks me like this, actual sex might destroy my psyche.
What’s next? Will I survive their dates without going into an anxiety attack? How do I get their sex out of my head so I can HAVE SOME MYSELF? I feel desperate and ready to call it all off, but I know what that means. Temptation/sneaking/suppression rather than indulgence/honesty/compersion.
I’m caught in a loop. Get anxious over E with A and L, get weepy and sick. Talk to E, get reassured, feel wonderful. See anything that reminds me of dates, dating, sex, E’s work, Facebook, nights out, rough sex, and I’m right back in a sloppy pile.
Can’t get it up, can’t even masturbate to feel better. Usually a 3/4-times-a-day man. Just cannot seem to stop obsessing. Read and subscribe to all the known jealousy resources here and on morthantwo. Wonderful stuff, definitely helps, TEMPORARILY.
Someone please tell me they’ve felt this exact thing, and how/what it took to get through. I’m miserable.
I KNOW she loves me, KNOW I'm not being replaced, KNOW that hot sex with them doesn't need to affect us, etc. etc. I'm cognitively, truly okay with and excited for her to have a great time with them, look forward to the opening doors, so why do I feel like this? It's nearly unbearable.
SAME. EXACT. THING.
I have a quote from Measure for Measure that floats in and out:
Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.
Small comfort. It's crushing, and feels like preemptive grief which then I feel stupid about then feel horrible about feeling stupid... Is it because the expected experience is so different from what we know? It cracks the world. I feel like if I could be there, in the room, to see her face, to know its okay, it would make more sense. But I can't make that leap of imagination.
I agree. Totally torn between intentionally forcing myself to deal with the painful images in order to face the 'fears' and the relief that comes from distraction. I will say that today feel less like someone is strangling me. Keep visualizing the other side, Bennie. Soon it won't seem like a big deal. Trust her, and revel in the honesty. Beats being lied to by a long shot.
Experts, any tips to ease the pain, speed the acceptance? Does the frequency of reminders decrease?
The thing that stood out to me when i read your second post was your use of the term "young hot couple". The way you used this term suggests to me that you don't consider yourself and/or your wife "young and hot". As if this other couple holds all the good cards and can call the shots because hey, they're young and hot, they could have anyone they want, so we better not do anything to rock the boat with them or they can just move on to the next person waiting in line to get with them.
Of course i might have it wrong, as i just skimmed the second post and didn't read most of the first one. But do i have it wrong? Or do i have something right? I have glommed onto this one thing because you mentioned uou're in your early 30's and it always gives me a chuckle when people who are younger than i am think they're so old they don't stand a chance with the "young hot" people. You probably are a "young hot" couple too and don't even realize it.
I can see how you might read that, BG, but it's not accurate. We are young and hot. :) My wife communicated to me she felt like they were young and hot and indeed said she was afraid of being rejected by them, so to request a meeting might up the seriousness too much. She has a suspicion I'm requesting to meet them in order to 'screw her out' of her experience. This is certainly not the case. I look forward to knowing and liking this couple.
Her fear is more about serious vs casual than old vs hot. My thought is if meeting me is a problem for them then too bad.
Its the Hi-fidelity effect. Often we assume our partners are off having "the best sex evar!" with others. Cruel imaginations. I think we all face this at least at first.
Something my partner and I have discovered is that newness is often hotter in theory or initially. The whole thing about reality rarely living up to the fantasy. It can be fun, hot, enjoyable for sure. It also includes having a partner that is still learning your timing, your special spots, might not be into everything your longer standing partner does that you enjoy, and wants things you might not enjoy that you don't have to deal with in your marriage.
The dynamic and personality differences often highlight exactly why you have your spouse in your life as deeply as they are and not someone else. Notice she has to WORRY about SCARING them off. You give her acceptance and peace that they cannot. You are united with her on many things they maybe cannot or will not care about near as much. What we've discovered is after a bit of time with others, it can be a relief to go home to someone you identify with better. I use to feel guilty about that and wonder if it meant I was "hard wired" mono until I heard my husband expressing the same. Despite all the reasons why your secondary, as nice and fun as they are for what they give, can also get on your damn nerves after a while. And while your spouse can get on your nerves too, you likely wouldn't have chosen to share a life together all this time if they got on them too much.
You can spend all your time dreaming up the worst case scenarios and yes they are possibilities. You've had all this good in your years together - yet you torture yourself thinking the bad outcomes are more likely to happen between the two of you and not one of you and someone else? Its more likely that you know more about making your wife happy and what she values than someone she just began to connect with.
I don't want to hijack duke's thread, but in my case, "better sex than the last 5 years" is a virtual guarantee. I'm plagued by PE, and entering into these agreements with the overwhelming sense of inadequacy that comes along with that adds a whole other layer of ACK.
I do take your point of the other tangibles and intangibles behind her choosing me as her life partner needing to be the focus. Takes a lot of mental and emotional heavy-lifting to keep it there.
But it hasn't happened yet and the anxiety about when it does is very tangible, no matter how much I KNOW it's baseless in the long run.
Have you guys made the time/space to talk about loss?
Because while part of you could be like "Great! I'm ready!" the other part of you that is "Argh! It comes at a price tag! Now it is NOT just me and her!" may need some air time to feel better.
It could sound obvious that if you are Open, you are no longer CLOSED. But maybe that needs to be articulated, acknowledged together and mourned together a bit even if you both are reaching out toward Open because you both want to be there.
Like "Yes. This is a milestone in our journey together. This era of our shared time is now past. We are entering a new era now. I'm in it with ya, but yeah. CHANGES. Whoa. We will never be the same."
Could that be it? You are stage 4 of the stages of grief? Kinda skipped the 1-3 front chunk because there you both chose to tread willingly so there's not shock, denial, anger, etc. But you still have to digest on through the rest of the way?
It's ok to feel weird. The "new normal" is going to feel weird until it is the "old normal." Could try to focus on what you have and not focus on what you do not have. Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you need to feel.
Sun is sun. Rain is rain. Emotion is emotion. Internal weather just IS. Do your best to let it blow on through in appropriate ways. Cheesy at it sounds, you only get rainbows after rain. Y'all are chasing the Open Rainbow. Figures you have to get through some rain to get there. You will be ok. Do what you need to do for self care while you weather it out.
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