Navigating the new waters as mono
Hi, I just joined this forum and am so glad to have a community to talk to. I have been with my life-partner for 16 years and we have one son, 10. We've always lived a mono life, though I consented to a threesome just for the experience over a decade ago, and he came clean this year about several intimate occasions over the last 16 years.
We have a lot of friends who would probably say they are poly and he has wanted to explore this for a long time. He has complained about feeling intense shame at his attraction to other women. I have often judged it and still wonder if there is some addiction or unconscious ego-gratifying going on (he has other addictions and was abused as a child. I'm pretty sure he has some deep beliefs about his self-worth).
A year ago, in couples therapy, I softened around the subject and believed I had at least a little willingness to watch him explore without leaving the relationship myself. Our relationship was doing well throughout therapy and for months after.
His first other was very mono. After several months of mostly an emotional relationship, she expressed the desire to be married to him. She became his confidant and our relationship became dark and we began to separate emotionally and intimately. He eventually explained to her that he loved her but that he wasn't going to leave his family, that he needed to be successful with me, she separated completely and hasn't made but necessary contact since - all or nothing (they have business dealings together), and I understand this condition well. We live in a very small town, and the whole relationship was painful and confusing to all of us, and did not support the intentions we as a primary, committed couple had.
Within hours of their separation, our relationship again began to flourish and has been so and deepening ever since...we processed for days and days about what we had learned and how grateful we were that our relationship and family survived.
We met another woman very recently at a party. He and she hit it off right away, and hooked up a few days later. Our agreements and intentions were very clear, no sex. He called the next day (I didn't know he was with her - he was out of town for work) and they had had unprotected sex. Needless to say, I was very disappointed, scared for my health (he had just met her, didn't know more than a first and last name...) more processing ensued, more clarification and re-commitment of our agreements (which were equally made by him), lots of intense love-making, and a feeling of deep commitment by him.
This morning, I knew he might be seeing her again tonight. They have communicated and I perceive an attachment forming. Our last conversation was when he pulled up to her house for dinner and we agreed that no matter what would happen (he wasn't feeling romantic and didn't know whether he would stay or not), he would call to say goodnight (again, we are a family and we felt it would be best to stay with what we normally do when he is away...mainly for our son). He didn't call. Perhaps I am looking for an excuse to be sad. After having unprotected sex only a week ago, breaking our agreement, I found myself not trusting but open to the idea that we could heal it. I thought I was over it. I know forgetting to call is a very small thing, yet I feel forgotten and invisible, and have a huge lack of trust.
I have worked on the issues of fear of loss, self-worth etc...so I don't feel sick to my stomach or desperate, but I do feel very disappointed and sad. My son didn't notice dad didn't call, by the way, so this really is my issue. I guess I didn't realize I counted on him doing what he said he would do. Perhaps it was a set-up so that I could nail him, I don't know. I have no room in my life for denial, so I am looking at it all in the light.
Writing this post is therapeutic and if anyone reads it and has any thoughts, I would love to read them. It seems like such a small thing, but it feels paramount. Oh, my birthday is in two days...so I'm watching the victim in me try to scream cause!
Doesn't happen often, but you impressed the hell out of me. I love the way you think!!
Now, onto hubby. What he's doing is completely wrong and some would call it cheating. While he may have had "permission" for certain things, he's not upholding his end of the deal. This lifestyle can not work if you don't have trust.
Unprotected sex??? That's just silly WITHOUT having someone else at home to think about. That's a major mistake and one that he needs to know is not acceptable anymore. You're doing a great job of processing, but rules are rules and that's one that affects your life. Not something to be playing with.
Not calling at night...BIG NO NO!! I agree 100% with the idea of keeping things as "normal" as possible when he's not home. If that's the routine why is he allowing someone else to disrupt it?
I think you've done a great job of thinking about things and trying to realize where your feelings and emotions are coming from, but how he's acting is not fair to you. He's doing what he wants with no concern for your feelings. That's not polyamory at all.
I look forward to hearing more and I wish you the best of luck.
Hi Aria - love the chosen name :)
I applaud you for your level headed approach to this. You seem more than reasonable given the fact you are unsure about this for yourself and what it might mean long term. Kudos to you girl !
I think he needs a wake-up call. We can only go from your words and the one side but you seem the type to be reasonable and accurate so.......
You are undoubtedly familiar with NRE. If not, read up on it because his behavior is somewhat typical for poly newbies in that phase. That is NOT an excuse however - only a partial explanation. He needs to be called to the carpet on it and accept responsibility - AND learn !
The unprotected sex with a literal stranger is a bad pattern. How bad depends on a variety of things such as the location & background of you all etc. I know there are some who would consider it the ultimate sin/risk but in reality I feel that has to get tempered by the lifestyles and history of all involved. I'm not one to fear that 98% of the population is carrying AIDS etc but for some people that IS a reality so it's case variant. In any case it's a bad practice to adopt as a rule.
The not checking in with you, especially under the circumstances, is just plain immature and irresponsible. I'm sorry. For me, and most people I know or have met, that would only be common courtesy for someone you care about. We even call our friends or family to let them know we've arrived at a destination, or that we are leaving and on our way home etc just to eliminate worry. With a mate and children this kind of thing is simply critical. It's NOT some control thing, simply basic consideration.
If you guys are going to embark on a poly lifestyle you both are going to have to open your minds to learning some new expectations and better communication skills. Little things can matter a lot - more than they otherwise might have. In short, it's no longer safe to ASSUME anything ! Everything has to be thought through and talked about to make sure everyone is on the same page. This is part of the new "work" that you hear so many poly people speak of that you might get by without in a mono arrangement. Mono arrangements coast along with a lot of 'assumptions' - not that that is good or desirable either - but it's the way it is. In poly that's a prescription for disaster !
Get talking and pass the 'bad boy - slap slap' message on to him. Strike one !
Hello, Aria. Welcome to the forum. And happy birthday! Go Sagittarius!
It sounds to me like you've got your head together around all this. Congratulations on that front. Sounds like you're way ahead of the game and your husband is enormously blessed to have you in his life.
That said, I'm seeing some red flags.
As for the trust issues, you are 100% correct to have misgivings. Your husband has now repeatedly violated the agreements he made with you, and has exposed your family to the possibility of life-threatening disease. (If the two of you are free of any horrific contagion, it's because y'all dodged a bullet, not because he took steps to keep you safe.) He has violated your trust; your misgivings are completely understandable.
If it were me, he would have to regain my trust by keeping strictly to our agreements. 100%. His "yes" would have to yes, and his "no" would have to be no. Even in the tiny things, to help heal the HUGE wounds. (And just so you know, I have been through a similar valley with my husband, Fidelio, and we came out the other side stronger than ever.)
I suggest you watch his actions carefully, because you can trust what people DO when you can't trust what they say. Actions reveal the heart.
Best of luck to you, SisterWoman, as you make your way through this valley.
I hope you protected yourself when you had sex with him... that is my first concern. He is not a man to be trusted by the sounds of it. Self esteem issues or not, feeling sorry for him or not, connecting again or not, he fucked up and is putting your health and the health of your family on the line. Well.... actually you would be if you are having unprotected sex with him.
I wouldn't be so sure your son didn't notice he didn't call. Kids remember and take in EVERYTHING, regardless of their age. He is, in essence, teaching him that Daddy is not good to his word. You know that already, but is it fair that your son know that? Is it not the goal to make sure that he trusts and can rely on the adults in his life. Every little thing counts in poly and with raising kids.... it's called integrity, your man doesn't have this critical pillar in his foundation.
To me the foundations of poly (which I seem to be going on about lots these days :confused:) are integrity, respect, honest communication and empathy.... he doesn't have any of these and to me this means he is not practicing good poly ethics and is a cheater... an open cheater.
What you do with that is up to you, it could be NRE as GS has said, but that doesn't mean that you need to sit back and take it. You have some choices here, but really, if this were me I'd be done with him until it he grovels at my feet for a bit and makes some changes to his foundation. Trusting that would take a very long time for me.
It sounds like you have put in some hard work with him and he is throwing it out the window for a quick fuck with someone he barely knows. I don't care how much of a low self esteem he has really, he has been in therapy long enough to know that he has some issues and needs to be very careful and he doesn't seem to care.
Sorry, it sounds harsh, but I think at this point I would give him a really hard lesson and tell him he has to leave until he is willing to address these very major issues in your relationship and in your family as a whole. It's okay for him to see potential in loving another. What is not okay is how he is going about it over and over again. What is really a red flag for me is that you are letting him.
Welcome to the forum! You are in the right place where you will get lots of support and understanding from people who have been where you are and those with a wealth of experience living the poly life.
The beginning is tough, Im the mono in our very new poly journey. I can imagine how not keeping to agreements can shake you up inside. Your partner not calling when he promised is definitely not a good start. The 'live' sex with stranger is uhm..TABOO, selfish and irresponsible!! Safety is the number 1 rule. My husband and I are trying this now for 5 weeks (super newbies), and we are still figuring things out(Sometimes the rollercoaster of emotions gets too much and you want to bolt...but somehow you keep on.) The safety rule is the one thing thats sorted and we are sure of so far. I hope your partner starts taking this seriously because its your lives at stake here.
Good luck, and post often.
Wow, I am amazed at all of your thoughts!
Yes, we'll get testing, I got it...
I didn't sleep for even a minute last night, thinking, crying, thinking reflecting processing over and over and over. I thought many of my issues were gone, but as a mono, I just am not comfortable in the first place so the learning journey is steep (as many here have shared as well).
He did call this morning having fallen asleep last night. I know, I know, he may not be telling me everything and the trust issue is there, so...it sounds like they both were a little uncomfortable and so nothing much happened.
He immediately told me, after hearing that I had not slept, that he wanted to stop (for now, I presume, until we gain our bearings again). This means all poly is on hold until I can get some sleep and meet with our therapist hopefully on my birthday (can't think of a better present to myself).
I have personally processed this issue for a LONG time - several years, though I only became willing a year ago, and we have only been testing the waters for the last year. He is very open to learning, knows he messed up big-time, and our connection has never been better (which is why I was shocked and disturbed that he didn't call, we communicate about all of this often).
You are right that my story is mine. He would have a very different perception. I know that some people are truly poly. I'm not sure he is. I think he has some deep issues regarding abuse from mother, and horrible teasing as a child from being over-weight.
In therapy, we have always addressed my issues with regards to my resistance and need to grow...now it's his turn, and he seems to be willing. He really does not want to lose me. I'm not one to call anyone an addict of anything, however since we haven't unearthed the deeper issues around trust with mother, self-image etc...there is no way to tell. I figure if we can get to the heart of those, we'll find out weather he is seeking love and affection to boost his ego, or weather he is truly poly. I'm happy to finally be in a place where I think we both know he has some work to do. I take it that constant communication, honesty and reflection/processing is what we need in addition to therapy.
This is interesting. People often condemn the poly (amoral, addictions etc...), but in my case I was considered the one with intimacy issues. Fine by me, I've cleaned up a lot of them and now know in my heart that I am worth loving, I've lost some weight, gained tons of confidence and got my sex drive back! So, there have been many gifts in looking at my stuff (there are always gifts in looking inwards)
Anyhow, thanks so much again for your caring words. I am so tired and am not very articulate right now, but thank you from my heart. What an aware community this seems to be.
Oh, we're reading David Deida. Anyone familiar with him? The book is "The Way of the Superior Man" (I hear the snickers, so stop. One of our intentions is to see the highest in one another...and I'm NOT a poly-anna...just trying to manifest that which I want...and if you knew us, you'd see we've come a long, long way.
I don't know what NRE stands for, can you fill me in?
I found a definition of NRE.
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