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-   -   What am I supposed to think about this? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=452)

Sai 07-02-2009 05:52 AM

What am I supposed to think about this?
Hi there everyone, I'm new here and I'm hoping to get the advice and opinions of some of you regarding something which really has me quite flabbergasted.

To give you some background, I am a bi female who has identified as polyamorous for quite some time but hasn't really had an opportunity to put that into practice. I am currently in a relationship with a man who I fell very much in love with close to three years ago. I informed him as soon as I felt that romantic feelings were growing between us that I intended to live a polyamorous life and he immediately said that was OK with him (after I explained what polyamory is). However, as the relationship progressed he told me that he was starting to feel uncomfortable with the idea and wanted us to work on solidifying our relationship before engaging in other relationships. I told him that was fine with me and things went OK for a while but then started to go seriously downhill. He became very jealous of even platonic friendships with males, isolated me from my social circle, became extremely emotionally and verbally abusive, and started oscillating wildly about his opinions on polyamory but gravitated mostly to an extremely negative view of it to the degree that I became ashamed of my desires.

Over the past six months or so he has been progressing in taking responsibility for his abusive behaviour and has been making progress in diminishing its frequency and intensity although it has not altogether stopped. He has sought counseling on an occasional basis and has been trying to repair the damage done to the relationship. He has also declared that he has worked through his issues around polyamory and considers himself a born polyamorist who simply had severe difficulty accepting the concept because of cultural conditioning, insecurity, and hurts from the past. I have had a great deal of difficulty accepting that this new improved attitude to polyamory is real considering his vicious opposition to it in the past but he has been working for some months to try to convince me that he is sincere. At no point in the course of this relationship have either of us yet engaged in romantic or sexual relations with any other.

I'm sure at this point many of you are asking yourselves why I stayed and the answer to that is not entirely clear to me but at any rate, here I am now and why I stayed is not the question I wish to address at the moment, I just wanted to give everyone some background to help give a clearer picture.

My question is this: A few days ago my partner sent me an email to let me know that he had written an essay on "Commitment in a Primary Polyamorous Relationship" and posted it to his facebook profile, he said that writing it was a "fantastic", "solidifying", "growing" experience for him and expressed the hope that it would help me understand more of who he is. Upon reading it I got a funny feeling that things were not quite as they should be, and on impulse I copied and pasted a couple of sentences from it into Google. Lo and behold, they appeared in another essay from a poly website. I was so disturbed by this that I did it more and eventually ended up going through his entire essay line by line and marking off the sentences and phrases that appeared elsewhere in bold. By the time I was finished about 80% of what he had "written" was marked off in bold and the rest reads like someone simply parroting concepts that they have picked up off poly websites.

I am aware that when someone has been immersing themselves in a certain subject that they tend to pick up the lingo and sometimes unconsciously repeat what they have heard elsewhere or even deliberately steal a turn of phrase once in a while if it particularly appeals, this however, is a straight up cut and paste job mixing elements of about a half dozen poly essays and articles with whole sentences and even paragraphs repeated verbatim making up the vast majority of "his" text. The whole thing reads rather dryly, like an academic essay rather than someone trying to express his heart, in fact, I found that one of his major sources was someone's thesis. I am going to quote a section here to give you an idea of the tone, normally I would not quote someone extensively without their permission but as very few of these words are actually his and most were found in the public domain I think I feel OK about it. Google any of the phrases in bold in the following text and you will find them to be lifted directly from the works of others.

"The rules and guidelines are to preserve the form of the primary relationship as it exists before additional relationships are added. They are also present to show that the people in the primary relationship wish to remain special to each other in a tangible way. Also, they are to guarantee that, in the event of problems, the primary partnership gets the most attention. As well, they are to preserve the majority of the sexual, financial, companionship, and time resources are for the primary relationship.

In many cases, each person in the primary relationship has a different view of what the guidelines should be. They each have a different agenda, priorities, and insecurities. Sometimes the rules are different for each partner. No matter how different their views are, it is up to them to come up with a compromise that works for both of them, and present those guidlines and rules with a unified front.

Commitment means trust & honesty, and the expectation that what we do as individuals is woven into what we are together. It involves faith in ones ability to work things out. It means the relationship will still be there after the hard times have passed."

In three paragraphs there are only two sentences which cannot be googled pretty much word for word.

He is not someone who normally has difficulty finding words to express himself, he is naturally very verbose in person and in text. He does however, has a history of manipulation and emotional dishonesty, especially with himself.

I really don't know what to make of this. He told me this essay means a lot to him. He told me that his essay would help me understand him. What am I to understand from this? That he is totally insincere? That he is incapable of original thought? That he thinks I'm an idiot? Those are the conclusions that come to my mind. Please share yours with me.

Quath 07-02-2009 01:32 PM

Wow. That is tough. I come from an academic background where quoting like that without giving a reference is a big no-no. However, it could be that he just really liked how one person put it and felt that it best described how he felt. Or it could just be a quick way to make an essay that would appease you. (Though the easiest would just be a straightforward copy of another article.)

You could talk to him in person and ask him verious things about how he feels. If he virtually says what he put in facebook, then maybe it is legitimately what he believes and he was just taking shortcuts. If not, then maybe he is just trying to convince you of something he may not have fully bought in.

It sounds a lot like you have very little trust in him. Are you trying to decide if this relationship is still worth saving? Or are you trying to decide if he is ready for you to be in a polyamorous relationship? Or are you wrooied he has been seeing someone else behind the scenes to explain his change of heart?

Mark1npt 07-02-2009 04:31 PM

I would agree with Quath on this. He covered every point just as I was thinking it thru. That's where I would start. Maybe more than anything, he's telling you what he thinks you want to hear and putting it all out there for other women to see on Facebook, hoping that he gets a few hits from some pretty good looking babes. Just thinking.......

redsirenn 07-02-2009 06:18 PM

be careful
This situation really struck a chord with me. I was in a mentally abusive relationship with my now X husband, and this post brought back all those feelings and reminded me of red-flags from that relationship. It can be hard to pick apart your perception from reality, especiallly if you love someone. I try to remember this: Don't fall in love with possibility or potential. The person is who they are at that moment, and that is how I try to love, in the moment... This can protect you from situations where you are waiting for someone to "change". I know it can be incredibly hard to walk away from someone you love, but sometimes it is for the best of BOTH parties. Another thing I try to do is to listen to my intuition. This actually became harder for me after this abusive relationship since I was basically trained by him and myself to ignore my gut feelings. How I identify them now is with a moment of brief clarity and ease with which the thought enters my mind. When I say it out loud, it feels clear, and makes me feel good about myself. Try this, it might help you figure out what you need to do.
I truly hope you can identify what you need to do. But, please be careful. He sounds manipulative and abusive and it can be easy for him to convince you out of what your intuition is saying.
good luck.

River 07-02-2009 08:12 PM

A crucial and core component of the overall ethos of polyamory, as most (if not all) polyamorists understand it, is honesty. Another core component is kindness (consideration, respect, tenderness, compassion). Blatant plagiarism is blatant dishonesty. The "abuse" you refer to is unkind. Were I in your situation, I hope I'd take some time to reflect deeply on the question as to whether I'm being loved by this person.

Being loved is, in large part, being trusted. If your partner trusts you, why would he stoop to plagiarism as a means of expressing "himself"? How much can you place trust in an intimate partner who cannot trust you to hear or read his own words?

Have you told him that you're aware of his plagiarism in that "essay"?

Long ago, now, I realized that how others treat me in the relationships I choose to maintain is a direct reflection and consequence of how I am treating myself. Moreso, their treatment of me simply is how I am choosing to treat myself, since I choose to maintain that relationship. Ask yourself if you really believe you deserve to be mistreated and distrusted. And if the answer is "yes," ask yourself why that may be.

Your partner, like all of us, is capable of growth and healing; but if he continually avoids these, and uses deception to manipulate you into accepting his unloving behavior, --the ball is in your court.

Sai 07-02-2009 09:42 PM

Quath & Mark1npt, It's a conundrum, cutting and pasting those quotes from their various sources must have taken quite a bit of time, especially considering that the source essays are quite long and his posting takes chunks from each of them and mixes them up in a way that seems to make sense. It's more of a text collage than anything. When we have spoken of the subject recently, he expresses essentially the same views in his own words, however, this view is diametrically opposed to veiws he held in the past where he would revile the concept and me for identifying with it. This is what has made it so difficult for me to accept that he has really changed his mind now. He has been working quite hard to convince me that his transformation is real for some time now but the fact that he could not write his own essay makes me wonder if he has actually internalized and embraced the ideas or if it is just stuff he is saying in order to, as you say, 'appease' me.

Yes, I have serious trust issues with him now, primarily because of the abuse issues, not only because it has happened in the first place, but the fact that for a very long time he would do/say something horrible then turn around and apologize profusely, beg forgiveness, demonstrate a perfect intellectual understanding of what he had done wrong and why it was wrong, and swear it would never happen again. Then of course, it would happen again, sometimes almost immediately. When confronted with this pattern and his broken promises he would generally say something like, "I wasn't aware of what was triggering me to do that before, I thought I was, but I was wrong, I can assure you that I now have a handle on it and it will never happen again." Then of course, it would happen again. In his defense, I have to say at this point that these incidents have been tapering off and I do believe that he has been making genuine progress and sincerely wants to not have abuse be part of his life. The problem is that he lacks the self awareness to realize when he is NOT over his issue and seems to sincerely believe he is when the truth is far from it. This sort of lack of self awareness is obviously something that is not something one wants to be going forward into polyamoury with.

Yes, I am trying to decide if the relationship is worth saving and if it's possible to go forward into polyamoury with him. There have been some very difficult times but he has also demonstrated a great deal of dedication towards wanting to save the relationship and make up for wrongs past, as well as this sudden enthusiasm for polyamoury. I have been adopting a wait and see sort of attitude for a while, but the input I get is still confusing.

I don't think that he's seeing someone else or posting his text in order to pick someone up, I do however lean towards thinking that it has more to do with how his words will affect others, especially me, than what he really wants to express for himself.

Sai 07-02-2009 10:27 PM

Redsirenn, Thank you for your wisdom, your words resound with truth, especially that of loving someone for who they are in the moment. For a very long time I have been holding on to 'was' and 'could be'. He tells me often that I don't know who he really is, and that the person who he has been with me is not, overall, representative of his character. I often ask myself, and sometimes him, "How long do I have to wait before you become the person you say you are?"

You are very right to say that the person is who they are in the moment and should be related to as that person. For a very long time I have been waiting for change, now it appears that that change is in fact, by increments, happening - although for a very long time he was convinced that he was changing for the better, when in fact he was getting worse.

Regarding walking away from this, the thing is I wonder, not only if this relationship is right for me at the moment and if it has a future, but if it is right for him. It is glaringly obvious that he has serious and deep issues to address within himself and while he has made significant progress with much of his behaviour in the past months, I wonder if being in a relationship - not only being in one, but spending much of his energy frantically trying to repair it - is the appropriate setting for doing the deep introspection and soul searching that is necessary to address his issues. In short, if he would not be better off without this relationship, at least for a while. Conversely, while we all need a measure of solitude to work on ourselves sometimes, it is when we are tested in real life that we discover how solid that work really is. It is in situations that arise in the moment that things tend to go off the rails, while theory seems to plot a map to a shiny, smooth future.

My intuition has been in shambles but seems to be improving although I feel quite confused much of the time. Until he REALLY accepted that he had an abuse problem he would blame me, and I grew to accept that; blinded as I was, first by love, then by shattered self esteem and shame as well, for eventually I started to fight back using the same weapons, although I never had his talent for cruelty nor his capacity for volume. Now, after hundreds of hours of research, reaching out for and receiving the support of friends and family, and some counselling, I have come to understand that it was not my fault and I did not deserve it, although, and I'm sure having been in a similar situation you know, that is very hard to see in the darkness in of the moment.

Thank you very much for the technique for getting in touch with one's intuition, I will apply that.

I am not ready to make a decision about this relationship at the moment, but I found this quote that helps me be comfortable about that unreadiness:

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Love the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, love along some distant day into the answer."
– Rilke

Sai 07-03-2009 12:06 AM

JRiverMartin, Am I being loved by this person? Yes, certainly deserving of reflection and I have already reflected on that a lot. It is certainly true that his abuse behaviour has been, to say the least unkind, and that plagiarism is dishonest. Especially in this case, in an essay in which the content emphasizes honesty, openess, trust and personal growth, to plagerize such a thing is, well, I think that to say ironic would be being charitable. The question of whether I am being loved by this person is complex, his abusive behaviour remains although much diminished and he has put a great amount of effort into trying to repair the relationship, work on himself, and atone for what he has done. However, the fact that he would plagerize an essay certainly makes me wonder how much of that self-improvement is real and how much is for show. Is he really working on himself, or does he just want to appear to have done so? I suspect it is a mix, although acertaining the balance of ingredients is difficult. Trust is extremely difficult in this circumstance and when I realized the essay was plagerized I was quite crestfallen and very disappointed in him.

I have not yet told him I'm aware of his plagiarism. I let him know this morning that I had issues with his essay and hinted at the fact that, then told him I would discuss it with him tonight. He did not seem to pick up the hint. Upon hearing that I did not receive it warmly he reiterated that it "meant a great deal to him", and informed me that he had "put a lot of thought into it". I'm really not sure what to make of that last one. Also, he removed it from his profile immediately as soon as I gave him a negative opinion of it.

Regarding how we treat ourselves determining others treatment of us, over the course of this relationship I have realized that I had a major problem setting and enforcing personal boundaries and that my inability to do so had allowed others to mistreat me without consequence for much of my life. I feel that lately I have made a lot of progress in learning to stand up for myself in a healthy manner. The lady I see for counselling told me that people come together in relationships because they have lessons to learn from each other and although it may not seem so on the surface much of the time, they always offer each other the perfect compliment to each other for the growth they need to accomplish. This rings true to me and I have been continuing to examine what it is that brought me into this situation. I believe I am just about ready to take the final exam and move on to the next lesson. By that I do not necessarily mean another person, that remains to be decided on the merits of his behaviour, I mean the next stage of growth in life.

The manipulation and dishonesty that you point out is inherent in this act of plagiarism certainly doesn't add anything positive though.

I am tempted to introduce him to this thread and see what he has to say about it. It certainly would be efficient as I have expressed much of my thoughts about the issue here and it might benefit him to see the opinions of others. I do not however, want to hurt his feelings if he thought that what he was doing was somehow a good thing.

Sai 07-03-2009 12:08 AM

Gosh, I'm sorry to be so longwinded here. I just thought that everyone made good points in their replies and I wanted to address them properly.

Mark1npt 07-03-2009 12:19 AM

Sai....it could just be that this guy is tremendously conflicted. His actions seem to point that way. He may feel he's being forced to change and doesn't want or know how to. But something's not right. Wish I could help more. It may just take a long time for him to assimilate into the life. There is certainly an awakening, a metamorphasis that takes place. The gestation period for one person may be 1 week and for another 1 year. Who really knows?

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