Love In Our Lives - KK's blog space thing
Ok got past first post fear, got past hang up over picking a title. Here goes, lets hope I'm not about to ruin my life again.Ö I posted a thread in introductions but for completeness I feel the need to include that info here.
I've been reading the forum for months now but have been reluctant to start posting due to feeling like I'm not real poly enough. I've gained so much from reading the stories and posts here. I was surprised to see the wide range of definitions of polyamory being used and that for the most part people seem so supportive and open minded with each other despite the differences. My limited experience leads me to believe people are either wired to be able to love more than one or not but I understand people can choose whether to practice polyamory or not as well.
I'm a 30 year old heterosexual female. I was introduced to the word polyamory by a man who was being bullied about it in an online group I was part of when I was a teenager. I just couldn't see anything wrong with his situation and what he had to say and eventually left the group in frustration from fighting in his defense. I had totally forgotten about that until I tried to remember where I first learned that word. I have often loved more than one, and want to live my life open to love should it come along but it hadn't occurred to me to identify with that word until the last year or so when looking for advice.
Iím currently in a Vee with Herman and Jasper. I've been married to Herman for 12 years. He's 42, hetero and so mono he refuses to say he loves our dogs. I'm also in a long distance relationship with Jasper for about 6 years. He's 28, hetero, I'm not so sure where he stands on poly for himself. He's been free to date others from the beginning but never has. I donít have any kids and donít plan to. My life feels strange and difficult and terrible and unbelievably great all at once.
Why am I here? My Vee has a real communication problem, a number of them actually. Also we donít know any other poly people (that weíre aware of) so for me its nice to see a forum of people who talk about the things I think about. These things combine so that we donít have anyone outside the relationship to talk to about it, and we arenít talking about it inside the relationship. I hate to open this blog this way but that is why Iím here. Iím very stuck inside my own head at the moment and I need to try something different. Iím hoping this gives me a place to work thoughts out in writing so at least I know Iíve expressed it, even if no one sees it. I hope the guys read it. I secretly hope theyíll post but Iím not holding my breath.
Iíve read that the general etiquette in this section is to refrain from comments and debates in peopleís personal thread. Personally Iíve read other blogs and wanted to react but knew it really wasnít polite. This is my personal invitation to say whatever you want here. I hate to sound presumptuous that anyone will even care about my story but I want to put on record that I welcome comments and discussion.
That wait for new thread approval is tough. Feel like chickening out today
Why do I feel like a fraud?
The more Iíve read here the more I feel like Iíve been reading it as fantasy and I canít post because I feel like a fraud. Like we donít really count. Jasper tells me I'm not a fraud I'm just a novice. I didn't understand that at first. For one thing I've been in two relationships for years now. Secondly I'm not intentionally planning on moving up to any more advanced levels of poly. Maybe thats what he meant, not "new" just "novice level". So I don't feel like we're "real poly" because it's just one Vee, he's long distance, it's pretty easy to manage. I'm skiing, but it's just the bunny hill. I know that isnít where my feelings are at but I appreciated the new perspective as I had not really thought of the "novice" aspect affecting my feelings.
However the above reveals how the participants in my relationship tend to avoid the ugly truth. I believe my feelings of illegitimacy center around a few other issues I want to detail separately.
I was a cheater Ė Guilt
We are terrible communicators Ė Envious of the communication I read about
Iím believe Iím the only one who wants this Ė Worry
We have no plan - Fear
Weíre not exactly out Ė Shame
Maybe polyamory isn't the right word. Maybe we aren't there yet. Maybe we never will be. Does it matter if we are or are not? To me it does because the alternative is that I'm just a horrible person and I don't know which it is. It would be hard to argue this isn't all about me getting what I want. It would be hard to argue this blog isn't just me dragging things up so I can feel better rather than actually fixing anything. I thought I was doing this because I was having trouble expressing myself. Now I'm afraid maybe I have been and it just doesn't matter. Bad dreams have me down today.
Planning on sending this to them before I go on.
You invited comments...so I am going to make some :)!
First off, thank you for sharing your story (and feelings) with us. I am sure that there are many "lurkers" on this board who feel that they are "not poly enough" to participate ... and you have outlined a number of reasons why.
There is no "rule" about how poly you have to be to have an opinion - you don't even have to identify as poly to be a member of this community. From my perspective, based on what you have posted so far - "Iím currently in a Vee with Herman and Jasper." - THAT'S poly right there. That is what your situation is, THAT is your poly - no better/worse/more valid than my poly or anybody else's.
"I've been in two relationships for years now." That doesn't sound like you are even much of a novice! Many "poly-identified" people haven't had relationships that lasted that long. If a significant portion of that time was spent as a "cheater" then I could see how you would feel that that doesn't "count"...(and I would likely agree, but if you aren't cheating NOW then ... well, LOTS of people come to poly via cheating - not that I would ever recommend it - my current config came about by events that seemed really REALLY close to cheating. All you can do is make the best decisions you can RIGHT NOW to move on from that).
As to your other concerns -
Communication is something that can be learned and worked on - some people are natural communicators and others are not. Others here will likely be able to suggest resources for you to consider.
I, too, worry that my boys are agreeing to this because it is what I want and not what they want for themselves. BUT, they are adults and responsible for their own wants and needs. Ultimately they choose their own paths...they choose to walk this one with me.
Plan/No Plan - this may be a personality (as opposed to a poly thing). I want a plan for just about everything BUT relationships. (Dude and I collide on this frequently - he doesn't believe in plans AT ALL). You can't plan feelings - you can only "prepare for possibilities"...(again, only my personal take on this)
"Shame" for not being out? You don't need to be an activist to have a poly relationship! This is between you and your partners - you can listen to what others have to say...think on it, and decide it is not for you. Yes, being out has benefits (to you and others) but it also carries risk...only those of you IN a situation can judge it.
Just one person's response to your posts...
Your comments make sense and I want it to be that simple. Communication can be built, plans can be made, adult men can make their own decisions. I know I can write out our story that way and it sounds ok. I had them read it and neither said "What are you talking about? that isn't what's happening!" so I should be comfortable with that. It just doesn't seem that easy to me. If what I end up learning from this blog is that it can be and I need to get over myself and move on that would be a nice surprise. There is a lot more of this story to come though.
How'd That Happen?
My boyfriend Jasper and I are long distance and we spend a lot of time on the phone. We sometimes read each other things like Dan Savage's advice column. There is a whole category of letters known as "How'd That Happen?" explained by Savage below:
So How Did This Happen?
It was love at first sight with Herman. Of course everyone told me not to get married at 18. I got lucky, if it was a mistake it was the best one Iíve ever made. I regret not having a better idea of who I was and what I wanted in life especially in regards to non-monogamy. Then I wonder, Didnít I? I was busy complaining about a guy I was in a long distance relationship with the night I met Herman. I was a cheater in some form or another in every romantic relationship Iíve ever been in. I didn't go out looking for it, I just never fully closed myself to connections with other people. It wasn't usually sex and the relationships I was in were never all that defined to begin with but I count it. I cheated before and after we were married which I admitted to but only afterwards. Herman asked me to end it with that guy which I did but I told him I couldnít promise I wouldnít cheat in the future. We struggled in those first years but just couldnít split up over it because our love hadnít changed and we still wanted to be together. We had endless conversations about our relationship which I can barely remember now but I remember it felt terrible and he always came away saying he felt like he wasnít good enough. Iíve never done it for that reason, but I understand how easy it is to feel that way. I hope none of this reads like I'm making excuses for the cheating or saying I think anything I did was ok. I'm a piece of shit and I know it. From the example of marriage I had from my parents I thought you were supposed to find a person who would be EVERYTHING to you. They spent 24 hours a day together and had little or no outside social interaction. Once I was married I quickly learned that must have been why they fought so much as that is just a ridiculous amount of expectation to put on one person. In the meantime my parents divorced after 30+ years when my dad lost his mind over a woman who was the exact opposite of my mother. (that's not a judgement of the other woman or their relationship, he really lost it all on his own) All four of us worked in the same office. I learned a lot about what I think about relationships being in the middle of that. I think 30+ years of marriage can be a success if you end it or not. I learned that someone who gives you everything you've missed from one relationship doesn't make them any more perfect for you. They taught me how not to communicate. I eventually came to the conclusion that I needed to become more independent and grow as my own person and quit focusing so much on ďusĒ which wasnít ever really the problem to begin with. There were some good monogamous years during that time and I started making new friends. Then I got closer to one of them.
Herman and I were in a much better place when we met Jasper at an event outside both of our home states. Afterward he and I kept in touch online and on the phone and began meeting up at other events with other friends from that community. The more we talked I knew in my heart I was heading for trouble and I could have cut off contact but I didnít. I considered it cheating and felt guilty long before we had sex and before I even knew he had feelings for me, but I also never hid anything from Herman. He knew about our relationship and we talked about how close Jasper and I were, I told him I was in love with Jasper. I know we talked about it because I often wondered why Herman wasn't unhappy like he had been in the past. Seemed to good to be true. I tried to get Jasper to end it all the time because I felt it was unfair to him as well. I made it clear I would never leave Herman and had no desire to. He insisted he could make his own decisions. Jasper and I talked on the phone or online almost every night. I spent all my vacation time visiting him or him visiting us or traveling together. For years it went on that Jasper was just a part of our life and even when he wasnít around, Herman and I considered him in our daily activities. I brought him to family functions, he met every one I know. He has a room in our house. We all talked about him moving in with us for a long time. Herman and I began to assume it would never happen because Jasper is very attached to his city. Then a couple years ago a plan was made and a date was set for the move. As it got closer I couldnít believe it was really happening and I got very nervous about how both of them felt. I decided to have one more check in with Herman to make sure he was really ok with this and he kept saying he was but it didnít make sense to me. So I kept pushing and hours into the conversation it hit me that he didnít know we were sexual. I can't explain it, I sure thought we'd talked about it. Long story short, I fucked up. All of our worlds fell apart. I told Jasper what happened and that Iíd be out of contact for a week while I figured out what I was doing. I intended to end it with both of them because I didnít want to leave one for the other and I never wanted to be assumed monogamous again. Herman asked me not to go so I stayed while he worked out how he felt about it. I was still being horrible about it. I didn't understand what the difference was between the life we were living and the life Herman thought we had. Eventually I think he agreed. I don't really know what happened. I told him I wasn't going to cut Jasper out of my life for him and I definitely wasn't going to be assumed monogamous any more. But he still wanted to stay together. We had a trip all together planned just a couple weeks away and both guys decided to go ahead with it. I guess we thought we'd talk about it but we never really did. Herman and I sort of just went back to normal and he even said Jasper should still move. Jasper on the other hand did not really recover. He was obviously shocked and felt like he had lost any sense of security and acceptance with us. Maybe it wasnít until then that we all realized we were in a situation where one person could change all of our lives so quickly. Jasper asked for some time to figure out what he wanted and then fell into a lengthy depression I think he is only recently coming out from.
I guess I fear we are there all over again. (or still?) I fear I don't know how they feel or what they really decided. I fear they are both with me because they are afraid to start over. Or because they want me to be happy or they want to be with me enough to ignore their own wants and needs. I wish for what I think "real" polyamorous people have. Honest communication, even if its ugly. I want to be clear and I want each of us to take responsibility for ourselves and our relationships and our life. I want them to work with me. Which leads to issue #2.
If your husband and/or bf is game, seek out a marriage counselor for that specific purpose. Not communicating can lead to years worth or resentments that build up only explode catastrophically at a later date. BTDT - not something I would wish on anyone.
About those communication problems Pt 1
Obviously I've condensed my life story to highlight that's my problem. I'm a talker, I want to talk about everything all the time. I donít know how we got here because I thought I was a good communicator. Since ďthe blow upĒ I know I havenít been though. I just can't do it. Both guys are very open to listening but I rarely feel like I'm getting much response. Herman says that is a guy thing. Ugh! This cliche has caused me so much pain. I don't want to be the girlfriend who is always saying "we need to talk..." but I feel like if I donít, no one else will. I could go on and on about why I don't talk, but the guys have never done anything to discourage me. They just don't start conversations and either don't have all that much to say or are bottling it all (which they claim not to be) That doesn't mean I put the blame for lack of or ineffectual communication on them. If I recognize the problem that I need to start the conversations I should fix it by just starting the conversations.
I have a lot of hang ups. My dad impressed on me a great importance to ďplay the gameĒ and present yourself in a certain way to the outside world. (as mentioned before he managed to hide who he was from the outside until he was 50 and then had a mental breakdown so I know itís a bad road to follow) I feel like I need to hide who I am from the world and that weighs on me. At the very least I want to be able to go ďhomeĒ and be safe to be me, and be completely open and honest with my partners. But I donít like myself, so Iím afraid they wonít accept me either. I think if I don't hide some things something bad will happen, I'll lose what I have, or I'll hurt or disappoint someone. The guys have never given me any reason to feel unaccepted. After all theyíre still with me right? That said, I donít feel like I was always this afraid to express myself. No matter how much acceptance I get from them, I still can't let myself be open and free.
I am so envious of the communication I've read about here. People talk about establishing wants and needs and limits. People talk about negotiating and compromise and agreements and check ins. I wanted that stuff. Maybe they think I want the freedom of no discussions and expectations so I can do whatever I want and that will make me happy but that isn't what I want. I want them to be happy and for them to pursue what they want to do and to feel like they have a say in the direction their lives take and I want partnership for a reason. I never asked to be the leader.
I have neglected to spell it out yet but I'm sure its obvious, they are both worry most about me being happy. I worry that I make them miserable and they won't bother to tell me. A lot of times I try to keep my mouth shut because we're pretty happy and I don't want to create drama. During the day I will think about a conversation I'd like to have and as soon as I have a chance, I'm just so happy to be spending time with them that I just want to enjoy it. So that's me.
Jasper will just fret in his own space. When I try to talk about something with him I get a lot of "I don't know" or self hatred melt down. In the past I have been more likely to push him to work through things with me. He and I have had a rough time the last couple years based partly on the fact that he never sought help for his depression and I was becoming impatient with issues in our relationship basically being on hold for years. That sounds terrible in writing too but I believe I was as supportive as possible to someone who says he needs to "get out of it on his own" but isnít actually doing anything to improve. I finally withdrew a lot from the relationship and now we are working on rebuilding it but I donít have nearly the same comfort level that I did before his behavior took such a major shift during that time. We have simple misunderstandings which lead to fights easily. He has some anger issues that I do not respond well to but he is working on that. It seems like most of the time we have to have some kind of fight or melt down before we can actually get in to talking about an issue. I think we're both unsure how to handle that and have been going back and forth about when it is or isn't appropriate to walk away from an escalated situation or stick with it and work through it. My main problem with that is if we do walk away to calm down, the issue doesn't get picked back up again. I've tried to avoid the initial confrontation by moving to writing. Also he often requests more time to think about something before continuing a discussion but won't follow up so I thought writing would make that easier as well. Didn't work. From my perspective it seems to go like this. I muster up the will to send an big deal email. He'll call and not reference it or he will acknowledge receiving it and that he will respond when he has time to give it thought. We go along with our regular conversations, time goes by, I get easily upset by the lack of response. I try my best to wait and not be upset with him. Eventually a week goes by, I get no response and now I am upset when I ask... "sooo do you have anything to say about it?" This leads to a fight about him not responding. He is hurt and upset, we have to get through that, and then it's over. Still never got a response. I've tried different things to fix it. I know he sometimes reacts defensively to my thoughts so I've asked him to share his thoughts on a topic first. I sent an email asking for his thoughts on a subject and said I would not worry about a response for a week. I asked if that would be enough time and if not he should let me know. He agreed that amount of time would be fine. The date came and went. I waited another 2 days. I said I guess thats the answer I needed to hear. He says he had done all this writing but it isn't finished. Why didn't he check in on the expected date? He says he mixed up the days by accident. I ask how much longer then, he doesn't know. I'm upset. If he ever wrote anything or had anything to say I never saw it.
Problems are similar with Herman except that we don't fight about whether or not he responds. He admits it and uses the cliche, "that's just how guys are" He says he doesn't know what to say.
From my perspective I think Herman seems to prefer not to think about things that bother him at all. I get a lot of "I don't knows" here too but also a lot of jokes trying to make me feel better which make me feel like I'm not being taken seriously and I tend to just let things go. We get along so well, and almost never fight and share similar beliefs on almost everything. The relationship is just very easy for us right up to the part where I want to talk about feelings. I remember when we first got together I used to ask him what he was thinking and he would say ďnothing.Ē This is a foreign concept to me and for some time I thought he was just avoiding answering me. I canít remember a time I had nothing on my mind unless maybe I was really entranced by music. Eventually I came to trust that sometimes he really isnít thinking about anything. I think feelings can be the same way. If I donít ask how he feels about something very specifically, it may be possible he hasnít thought about how he feels about it. He is very even tempered and I think he doesnít let many things affect him. For the most part I am ok with that even if it is a little frustrating and hard for me to understand. The problem is that I feel like I have to worry if things are ok for both of us. To have a conversation about how he feels is more difficult than just asking if everything is ok? is there anything bothering you? Itís hard to recall a time he has ever complained about anything I do, and Iím terrible. Itís easy for me to think he should be responsible for looking out for his own feelings and if he has a problem he should be responsible for telling me but I just canít trust that. Heís just so unselfish. He eats the burned pieces of everything and says he likes burnt taste. Does he really or does he just want to leave the good pieces for me? I don't have any reason not to trust him. He doesn't lie, he's never blown up about something he'd been keeping inside. It's just hard because he's just kind of... odd. Who likes burnt things? Of course I don't really blame him for our lack of communication. I blame myself. I still feel very guilty. Pretty much the only thing I have ever done that has really bothered him is cheating. I feel terrible that I didn't know I wanted to be polyamorous before and didn't talk to him before hand. I feel terrible he didn't have a choice. I know I have done everything wrong but I can't change that, I can only go forward. I don't want it to be the situation where he has to accept this or lose me but it is that way. I feel like there must be something I can do going forward. He says its my world and he's just living in it. It's a long standing joke but its true. I want him to be happy. If my polyamory made him miserable I'd want him to leave. If there is some middle ground I'd like to find it. If there are specific things that bother him I want to work on finding a solution. He just doesn't say anything is wrong. Even when the blow up happened, he was surprised and upset and he felt stupid but does it bother him now that we just kept going forward? I don't know. Does anything about it bother him? He said he wanted our relationship to be special. I said I think our relationship is special but I certainly didn't think sex was what made us special. What does special mean to him? How can I make sure I'm making him feel that way? What makes him feel bad or uncomfortable or jealous and can I minimize it? I know it should be as easy as asking him for the answers but it doesn't seem that easy to me.
I wrote him an email when I first started reading this board asking how he felt about me posting here and that I didn't want him to think I was trying to find new people in secret because it's not really that kind of place. I then went on to talk about my trouble with communicating. I said I still felt guilty for hurting him and that is one of the reasons I avoid talking about it with him. I said I was afraid I'll upset him, afraid it's irritating or annoying to have these conversations. Afraid he won't understand my feelings. Afraid when I start talking he will fear I have some big problem when I just want to talk. Afraid he won't respond and I'll be vulnerable and not have gotten anything back from it.
No response at home or in email. A couple weeks later I mentioned it and he said "Oh yeah I was going to look at that site" that was the only time we discussed it. I said one of my fears was that he would not respond! I decided if he didn't have anything to say he must be fine with my posting and moved on. But I never did post because I don't want to be like that any more. I asked again recently and got no response again for a couple days. Then I started wondering if he DID have a problem, otherwise why not just say yeah it's fine? Why is this so hard? He finally brought it up by asking if I had started this blog yet. I said I hadn't because I didn't know how he felt about it. He said he was sorry and he didn't want to tell me what I was allowed to do. I said I asking because it's his business as well and I want to be respectful of that. It was awkward. We talked about how I couldn't think of a title and things a bit for the next couple days but I don't think he ever actually answered how HE felt about it.
I know they both love me, I know they care about me but I feel so alone when they don't respond. Then I quit talking for awhile, secretly hoping someone will come to me. They don't. I have made it clear that lack of words from them leads me to fill in the blanks with either my interpretation of their actions or worse my wildest imagination. Eventually I feel badly enough again to try to communicate, cycle begins anew.
Lately I feel like the best thing to do is just give up trying to communicate and let things be whatever they will be. When I do this, things appear to be just fine. I feel like shit and I worry but maybe that's the part I should be trying to fix instead. I know the response is obviously that all three of these people need counselling. I know we should, I know we would benefit, I guess I just can't accept that we need to. I feel like I am close enough to these two that we shouldn't need another party just to help us talk to each other. It just shouldn't be that hard. I know I need to take that consideration more seriously.
OMG! This sounds so familiar :rolleyes:
As far as the silent vs checking in - let me know when you figure that one out:rolleyes:. At home, I just have to keep reminding everyone (kids included) that I NEED that check in for my own sanity, even if the answer is "I have no answers yet", "I'm still thinking about it" or even "I've been swamped and haven't had 2 minutes to devote to it". Just don't blow me off and ignore me.
Pick only one topic at a time. This is hard for me because one thing makes me think of something else, but it confuses the non-talkers, who don't bounce from topic to topic easily. You may also want to make it clear that if they say they are "OK" with something, you will take them at their word and it's their responsibility to bring it up again, if things change (no passive-aggressive shit where fine or ok means they are really pissed off and now it's a guessing game). Don't keep hounding them. Checking in is ok, but don't badger them about a specific topic. "Hey, it's been a week or so since our last big discussion, I just want to check in to see if there is anything we need to address?" If they say, all is good, leave it at that.
The communication is not all on you, it does go both ways.
|All times are GMT. The time now is 07:42 AM.|