Differences in Speed
One of the most difficult parts of polyamory is negotiating the details and boundaries in multiple relationship dynamics because it means dealing with feelings of selfishness.
For some people that comes out in them being selfish and trying to make rules/boundaries that inhibit the other partners relationships with OSO's.
For other people that comes out in them being afraid of being selfish and not making rules/boundaries pertinent to their partners OSO's, that are necessary for their own well-being within the dynamic of their relationship.
It's difficult when you are in a deep, meaningful, forever relationship with someone who is your opposite in this area. Like Maca and I.
Maca tends to be the type of person whose “auto-pilot” response is to be selfish and “overprotect” himself with rules that inhibit the other partners’ relationship with their OSO.
I tend to be the type of person whose “auto-pilot” response is to worry about being too selfish. So I don’t make rules/boundaries that I need.
Both of these extremes are dangerous.
In Maca’s case, if he lets those tendencies have control he risks ruining his relationship because he’s hurting his loved one by putting them in a cage that doesn’t allow for them to be “real” or have “security” with their OSO.
In my case, if I let those tendencies have control I run the risk of hurting myself and thus ruining my relationship because I’ve put myself in a cage that doesn’t allow for me to be “real” or have “security” in my relationship with my SO or my OSO.
But-it's generally resolvable if you are conscious of your tendencies and you take control of them, manage them so to speak. However, it’s not at all easy.
This is where I find myself this week..... again.
Where I find my difficulty regarding this is a little more... under the surface, subtle maybe than the clear-cut examples I’ve explained above.
I am a person who other people see as an "open door". But, it's a facade. The truth is, simply put, that I don't consider the same things personal/private that "normal" people do. Many of the things that the average person would deem very personal and private; I don't give a damn about other people knowing about me.
People THINK I’m an “open door” because they know things about me that would be personal and private TO THEM. But those things aren’t personal to me, therefore them knowing those things isn’t significant to me. Furthermore, the large majority of people never consider that there could be another “level” of depth behind what they do know, because they think that what they know is SO personal already. Except, in my case those things aren’t so personal to me and there is a whole other level of depth and privacy that they simply don’t know anything about.
There are many things that I deem quite personal and private. Those things, I simply don't share with people. Damn near ANY people. There are less than a handful of people who I am ACTUALLY open with and all of them have been significant players in my life for over ten years. Everyone else has only gotten so far in, and “so far” isn’t very far at all.
Additionally, there are SO FEW people who know those deeper levels of me and those people who do know are all quiet, passive, reserved types of people.
Therefore, the things that they know about me don’t “slip out”. They aren’t the type of people to talk. It’s not just that they don’t gossip, they don’t tend to talk much at all and when they do, it’s almost always about whatever topic the other person has brought up, so you damn near never hear anything from them that you don’t already know.
The only major “exceptions” to this are if you are talking about parenting, electronics or The Arts. On those topics one or more of them will fill your head with random trivia for hours.
But, if you are looking for someone to help you get to know me, or get “in” with the family or even if you are trying to get to know them, the few people who are close enough to me that they COULD give you the pertinent information; simply won’t.
I visualize it like a tree trunk. If you cut the tree off and you look at the trunk it has rings growing ever smaller in it. For me, the TRUEST “LR” is in that center ring. Most people only make it a few rings in towards that center.
The few people, who have made it close to the center ring, have put many, many years into our relationships. People who are only around for a year or two, they never make it that far.
I have several deep, meaningful relationships. Those relationships are forever relationships. Not to be confused with "forever" relationships.
The large majority of people today have one or two "forever" relationships. Meaning that they hope those relationships will last forever. But, generally they don't have any forever relationships outside of their parents, siblings and children.
Not I. My forever relationships aren’t built on the hope that they will last forever. They’re built on the complete and irrevocable knowledge that they will last forever.
"Mimi" (who I generally refer to as my sister), isn't my sister in any biological or legal sense of the word. We share no parents; our parents aren't even friends with each other. She wasn't adopted or anything like that either.
She did move in with our family when she and I were teens. But, it wasn't a legal thing. We were best friends and it just worked out that way. We've been friends for 23 years now.
At some point she became "just family". Once you're family, you are just family forever.
But that doesn't happen over night.
It doesn't happen in a couple days.
It doesn't happen in a week or two.
It doesn't happen in a month or two.
As a rule of thumb, it takes years; many years.
Our family is generally pretty friendly and we will welcome most anyone in the door for a visit. But, to become “just family”, you have to put due time in. Most people don’t have the perseverance or the diligence to do that. Most people have lives of their own and they eventually wander away, but “eventually” comes long before they become “just family”.
Where this comes into play this week is that true friendship and/or romance comes after you become “just family”.
I'd known GG for two years before we went past a simple friendship into a sexual realm. By the time we had sex, he was already “just family”. He’d already been accepted as family not only by me, but also by my brother, Mimi, my daughter (only child at that time) and my parents.
For me, building a friendship comes long before dating.
I don't find a lover and then make a friendship with them. I find someone interesting and take time to find out if they are worthy of being a true friend.
Then if they manage to make it to “true friend” status, they have the chance to become family and if they are accepted as family they have a chance at being a lover.
I also don't move fast through these steps.
I don’t rush the building of a friendship.
If I were a ship, I’d be a tugboat, not a speedboat.
As things come up and opportunities present themselves to spend time together with someone new, I will get to know them a little at a time. I don’t try hard to create these opportunities; I let the moments arrive as they will.
If I have to be in an area of town where they are, I’ll ask if they want to go do something while I’m there.
If a holiday is coming up, I’ll invite them over to the group get-together.
If they show up and I have things I have to do, I’ll let them “run along” with me on my errands.
In these moments, I watch them. I watch how they treat other people, how they treat themselves, how they treat me, how they talk, what they prioritize in their lives. I compare what I see them do, with what I hear them say. What things that they say matter to them, the things they say they feel or want in life, the things that they say they prioritize.
Then, if what I see and what I hear are compatible I will take the chance to start letting them know parts of me that matter to me. Not the MOST important things mind you, but things that actually do matter to me. Instead of just the things that might matter to them, but don’t really matter to me.
By this point in the relationship building process;
They likely ALREADY know I’m afraid of water, but I’ve never put myself in a situation of having to be vulnerable to them in water.
They likely ALREADY know that my kids are my top priority, they may have even spent time with the kids, but they aren’t on the emergency pick up lists.
They likely ALREADY know I write, but they haven’t read my unfinished books.
They likely ALREADY know music is my lifeline-but they don’t know which songs have the deepest and most special meaning to me.
It’s also likely that by the time I actually start opening up some of the deeper, closer circles of myself to them; they already think that we are friends. They already think they know me very well. But, they don’t.
They know my public persona very well. They might even know my first or second level private persona well.
But, they don’t know “LR” yet.
Maca is the type of person who is either attracted to you or not and if he is, he’ll move to deeper intimacies in short order.
Where I take months to years to build a level of comfort and intimacy that allows for a good, solid friendship or lover; he will traverse that terrain in a few days.
For me, I can obviously tell you if I find a person physically attractive almost immediately. But, I’m not “attracted” to someone just because they are physically attractive to me.
In fact, they might physically meet the criteria of “my type” and still not be attractive to me. They might not meet the criteria of “my type” and I might be insanely attracted to them.
It generally takes a significant amount of time for me to establish if I am attracted to someone or not.
When I say significant, I don’t mean 30 hours of texting or 5 dates or 30 days of instant messaging or email exchanges. I mean weeks, months of getting to know them in conversation and hanging out.
Maca met someone via the internet again. It was the week prior to Christmas. They talked via text and email for a few days, and then they arranged to meet in person for the first time on Christmas Day (we didn’t have Christmas that day and she was home alone). She came over and spent the evening with the family. We played charades with the kids and Maca made a nice prime rib dinner.
The next day Maca told me that he’d like to invite her to spend New Years with us but before he did that he wanted to meet with her to talk and “get to know her”.
He asked me on the 27th if it would be ok for him to make plans with her the 29th after work. She lives in the town that he works in, so it makes sense to meet her after work instead of driving all of the way home and then back again. I told him I thought that would be fine.
The 29th he met her after work while GG and I ran errands. He said they had a great time and that he’d invited her to come out for New Years. He said that there was “definitely a mutual attraction” and that he had discussed with her the need for STD testing and the boundaries/rules of being sexually involved.
That told me that he intended to take things to the next level, and soon. They’ve only known each other in any capacity a week or so. They only saw each other for the first time 4 days earlier and have only seen each other a grand total of twice.
For me, that’s damn near the equivalent of having sex with a complete stranger.
On New Years Eve, I found out that she was spending the night when he told me that the next day when he took her home he had some other errands in town he needed to take care of. I wasn’t pissed and I wasn’t shocked, but I was a bit irritated that he hadn’t said something to begin with. That it was assumed without a word having been said to me.
I should have known-because he was picking her up. There wasn’t any way he was driving all of the way back to town after midnight. But, I honestly hadn’t thought about it.
We have people spend the night all of the time, so it’s not a big deal for people to crash here. Even without notice. But, those people aren’t people that we’re planning to have sexual relationships with. There is a family assumption that those people are crashing on the couch, the floor or the futon.
On his way out the door with Sour Pea to pick her up; he asked me to read a series of texts that they’d shared earlier in that morning, which he had forwarded to me in an email. In that email it was made clear that her assumption had been that they’d be sleeping together that night. He had responded that it wasn’t going to be able to be that way, but was just as clear that he wanted the same thing.
I was really struggling. I ended up curled up in GG’s arms near tears trying to work my mind through the series of events of the last week. But, I simply can not process a new relationship that fast. GG held me, and kissed me, reassured me that everything was going to be ok. Reminded me that while Maca was running forward again, which GG knew left me feeling like I was in the midst of a tornado; GG wasn’t moving at all and he was right there. It would be ok. We made love and I clung to the solidity of his stationary soul. Not without telling him that what hurt the most was feeling so disconnected from Maca. He reminded me that our connection was solid-and given time things would calm down with Maca again, allowing Maca and I to reconnect again.
My mind was reeling before Maca ever left, it had been reeling all damn week. But, by the time he got back I was pretty much so overwhelmed by the speed of his “relationship freight train” I’d found myself traveling on, I had shut down emotionally for my own security. I was doing ok after my talk with GG. I knew he was right, there would be a time for Maca and I to reconnect, but that time wasn’t today.
We all went to my brothers “bash” together; Maca, “Skittles”, GG, Mimi, and all the little Peas. We had a good time, there were about 30 people there, so it was crazy busy, but it was a good time.
The rest of that night and the morning following-I’ve already posted about.
Last night (1/1/2011), Maca and I talked about how disconnected we’d been all week. First we took a bath and discussed New Years Eve and the morning. We figured out where the “miscommunication” (hard to call it that, cause it was a total lack of communication for the most part) was.
Then we went on to discuss the “disconnect” between us and how to resolve it. Specifically, the need for him to let me know if he was going to be busy talking online or texting and to let her know if he was going to be busy talking to me. That way he’s not asking me questions and then interrupting to answer texts while I’m answering-which leaves me feeling very unimportant and trivial to him.
Mimi had explained that the issue wouldn’t exist were we all in person together, because if he asked me something the other person would automatically pause whilst I answered. That even on the phone this is generally true. But texting and instant message doesn’t allow them to hear when he’s talking to me, so they haven’t a clue if they are interrupting or not. THANK YOU MIMI for helping with that explanation.
So, today we’ve spent hours talking about the boundaries that are in place, the ones that should be in place and the “how to’s” of them being able to progress at their pace in their new relationship whilst not stomping all over my toes.
There’s a billion details. But, the hard one is quite simply the whole point of this post.
I’m just not as fast as he is. Fortunately, neither he nor she is expecting her and me to be lovers. But, there is a desire for a friendship. I concur that it’s VERY preferable that OSO’s be friends with their metamours.
The problem is that I simply don’t make friends with anyone at the speed that their relationship is moving. It’s not a part of my nature.
So, how do I “manage” my tendency to fail at setting in place the necessary boundaries I need now? One of the boundaries I need is the freedom to build my friendships at my pace. How do I put that boundary in place without slipping into Maca’s tendency pattern, and doing something that would inhibit them being “real” and having “security” in their relationship?
This is the question of the day for me. I have found a few small answers. A few basic boundaries that will help me with the security I need in my relationship with Maca. But, I haven’t found the precise solution to how to protect my need for privacy from someone who isn’t yet a friend of mine, whilst allowing them to have a deeply intimate role in Maca’s life..........
for those of you who suffer through ALL of that reading and decide to reply-
She has no place of her own in which they can meet, so that means any over nights together, will be here. She's made it clear that she does want overnight time together and he has as well.
We have no room in this over-full house, so the only place that they CAN do that, is in our bedroom. Which means me being out of our bedroom and them being in it.
Sorry, this is just one of my issues as I contemplate venturing into poly. Just the sheer amount of people living in your house would make me insist on overnights elsewhere. Then again, only you know your family.
I did read the entire post and it has given me a lot to think about. Thank you! There are things I could say now, but I want to think about it some more as certain things really hit home for me, things I didn't realize before.
That was really interesting to read. I totally empathize with you about moving slow. I agree with SNeacail that perhaps they should be the ones to find an alternate occasion for the time being. If it would help you adjust. Gosh, they really just need to build houses for poly people with a metamour chamber. With an option for sound proof walls. ;) My SO keeps suggesting to me that I find other men to be sexually active with as he and I have a lot of limits in place from his wife but I keep trying to explain to him that I can't just meet some guy and go for it. There's a whole process that needs to happen first and I can't force it. I'm glad I'm not the only one that moves like a snail. :) I hope that you guys can find a good resolution so that you can all feel good about the relationship.
LR, I find it interesting that you thought it necessary to write such a long explanation of why you feel the way you do about Maca's actions. As if there's something weird about your reaction that needs explaining. The fact of the matter is that Maca has again done something that made you uncomfortable. I read your other recent post where you and Maca both shared how he is now rethinking all the restrictions and limitations he placed on you and GG -- and I only hope that he doesn't take it all back if/when this new fling of his goes into the crapper. Personally, I don't know how you ever put up with all that shit, to not be able to express your love and affection for GG in the smallest ways, for fear of a backlash from Maca. I hope for you that you stand up for yourself and what you want from now on -- which might mean requesting Maca take his new love to a motel -- and don't ever let it slide back into that crap again. I mean, I know you love him, but your situation has confounded me whenever I read about it. I say, take this new development as an opportunity to expand on your relationship with GG and the ways in which you can express it, to feel free to be who you are whether Maca's around or not. I know I'm being blunt and it's just my opinion, but I hope it's helpful in some way. (((HUGS)))
Don't read it all over again in the blog! :) You're poor head will hurt and they are identical-I just copy/pasted.
I hear you. If it were me, I'd be at a hotel. But, it's not me and I'm listening and considering the points being made by Maca in regards to it. I admit that his point of not wanting to spend money once a week on a hotel, that we could be saving towards our vacation does hit home.
At the same time-like you said, very very new and we are SO SO SO very different about how we open up to people.....
I look forward to hearing your thoughts though. As I told Maca, it really helps me to work through my feelings, thoughts and decisions when I can get outside perspective on them.
As it is, we already have myself, Maca (my husband), GG (my boyfriend), Mimi (my sister), Spicy Pea (oldest daughter whose prego), Salty Pea (14 yo son), Split Pea (13 yo Godson-here part time), Sweet Pea (10 yo son) and Sour Pea (3 yo daughter) in the house. It's a 4 bedroom house. We added another room on-that doesn't have a closet, that's where GG is.
But, the oldest boys are in a curtained off area of the downstairs.
So there isn't even an extra room we could convert to a bedroom. Theoretically the garage, but as of the moment it has no heat AND it's FULL of stored things-stacked across the whole floor!
We need to buy a 4 plex of 3 bedroom units to convert. ;)
Nycindie-blunt works for me.
I'm a strong believer that people don't need to see things eye to eye to appreciate seeing each other's perspectives.
I can use all the perspective I can get.
I wrote such a long thing-because I wrote it in my blog. I write there to work through my feelings. BUT-after I posted it, it occurred to me that I might get some good advice from people on here if I posted it here, so I just copy/pasted it here.
I am working out details of what boundaries I need for myself. I haven't figured it all out yet-but I have been working on it.
And GG and I are always working on improving our relationship. :)
I will speak to the friendship that is expected to develop between you and the potential metamour.
The relationship you develop (or don't) with new lady is in the control of two people: you and new lady. This means, if she wants to be friends with you, she will need to wait for it to happen. Similarly, if you want to be friends with her, you may need to give of yourself in a new way.
I see this relationship as independent of the relationship NL and Maca share. I think communicating to this lady that you build friendships slowly, so that she doesn't think you're giving her the cold shoulder is a good step.
I don't see how anyone would have a right to demand that you two be best buds and move as quickly as she and Maca may or may not do. As long as your relationship is progressing, and you're both happy with it, then that should be enough for the other parties involved.
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