Spilling my guts
Whuff. Ok. Here's my hat in the ring. Or stone in the pond. Or whatever.
I've been struggling for the last few weeks with an awakening to the concepts of polyamory. I don't know what is normal, but when I came across the concept and ideas of polyamory, it was like being re-explained something that I always knew. It was an odd feeling. How can something feel natural and good to one person but utterly impossible for another?
But I'm starting in the middle.
To set the stage, I'm a university student with a passion for words. I live with my wife with whom I have been together with for the last four years. Not terribly long ago, life was an entertaining mixture of wonder and frustration. I was, and remain, very happy in our relationship but was occasionally frustrated by my higher libido and desire for affection and attention. However, nothing is perfect and we all need to make compromises.
A couple of months ago, I had an experience that set off a landslide of events that I'm still swimming through. We had a fairly large social gathering where me and a long term friend ended up making out quite intensely. We were both more than a little tipsy and enjoyed the experience until the cold realization of what we had done struck. The girl in question went home and I sought out my wife who had gone off with a group of friends to a bar for dancing. I told my wife what had happened and she sort of shrugged it off. It didn't seem like that big a deal.
That lasted about 24 hours.
The next part was, in my mind, the first stage of the ordeal. My wife became increasingly upset about what had happened. I was deeply confused because no matter how I searched my heart I couldn't find anything that I felt I had done wrong. Yet there it was, I had done something that I had always been told was despicable and now my wife was in pain because of it. Why didn't I feel like I had done something wrong? Things were spiraling out of control in my mind. Fortunately, I spoke with someone who told me to look up polyamory, "it might explain a few things". I started reading and it was like finding myself again. Many things which I had just thought odd about myself synced up. For example, I had known for a long time that I wouldn't be bothered if my wife slept with another man, as long as it was open and healthy. I had always been confused by the boundaries that people set about themselves. Jealousy, for me, was linked to feeling a lack of attention and affection, not any sort of physical act.
In short, I realized that I had been poly in my mind for a long time.
This gave rise to the second stage, which was a long, uncomfortable nothing. This all happened unfortunately close to the end-of-session-of-university rush and the beginning-of-the-holidays rush. My wife had distanced herself from her upset and said that she wanted to accept me but wasn't sure how far. We both struggled through our workloads in relative silence. About once a week the topic of polyamory came up, but it always ended in tears. There was a lot of self-blame on my part and a lot of fear on her part. I felt like I was ruining our relationship and she was terrified of the implications of me being poly. We would talk about once a week, more often than that wasn't really bearable. Strangely, at the same time, something wonderful was happening in me. I lost all my frustrations in our relationship. It was as if part of my mind realized that I had been hanging all my needs of fulfillment on her and that had been the source of my frustrations with her. Since learning about polyamory, I've felt happy with everything that she has given me.
So we went through a little over a month with nothing really changing. There was a lot of hidden tension and a lot of hidden feelings. I didn't want to open up for fear of upsetting her and she didn't want to think about things because the outlook was bleak in her eyes.
Now we are moving into stage three: mounting tensions. I'm not going to write too much here because I want my wife to have a chance to read this over and possibly respond. Also, I want to make sure that anything that I have to say, she hears from me, not from it being posted on the internet. I guess, this stage feels like me pushing towards finding agreement and compromise. I currently feel like if I do anything to explore polyamory, it will wreck our relationship. This, however, leaves me feeling unaccepted.
Sorry about writing so much, and congratulations on anyone who has climbed this mountainous post. I guess I came to this site looking for support or suggestions or . . . well, anything really. I'm tired of this situation. I want to move through it.
In my eyes... you're doing just fine. Keep communicating - you sound like you are doing better than I did in that department :D keep it up. Let her talk, really let her...
For me as well, when I came across this site and started reading - it was like "Why - hello - there I am" :D
My partner has recently joined the forum too - he gave his first post today :D
Having him here, knowing he is reading and researching at his own pace, has helped with my feeling accepted, and with my own feeling of 'treading water'. I can now sit back and let him think and process. Knowing how hard he is trying to accept this in me, does wonders.
Thanks for opening up, Paradox. It's great you confessed to the makeout session right away.
It can take a lot longer than a month to open a mono relationship to being a poly one. I'm glad you 2 are pacing your discussions to avoid burnout and flared tempers.
The first things to deal with are jealousy and fear of abandonment on the part of the mono partner.
Lots of us have worked through those feelings, tho. Keep reading and venting, and I hope your wife does too!
Heres a place to find step by step ways to open the relationship. Check out the links in the top left corner.
Ok..........whoaaaaaaaaa...........slow down here.
Let's get some facts straight first.
1. Sexual attraction/desire/needs do/does not equate love. The two are different but potentially compatible. Or stand alone.
2. No 2 people have the same desires and connection all the time in a relationship
3. The libido comment - you are male - get used to it. Poly is MUCH more than satisfying physical needs. Don't try to use it as an excuse or tool !
4. A need for attention and affection to validate your existence as a human is a dangerous crutch. Such are the roots of using and manipulating people to our own ends. This is NOT 'love' ! Poly or otherwise.
5. The philosophical 'concept' of polyamory has solid grounding. It's very easy for most people to relate to. But it requires a more evolved state than the majority of society has achieved. Not because they couldn't/can't but because it is not highly visible and therefore modeled in most of western society. So there's some serious relearning and reprogramming required.
Just because it 'feels' right isn't enough. And those 'feelings' have to come from somewhere besides your groin !
Does it make sense ? Yes
Is it desirable ? For many - yes. For all - no.
Is it as simple as making the decision ? NOOOOOOOOOOOO
It's a lot of work. The rewards can be great, but the struggle to get to them can be significant.
I applaud your curiosity. I'd say start studying - AND - involve your mate from the beginning. Learn TOGETHER. Make decisions TOGETHER, based on what's right for each individual. Build respect. Build integrity. You'll need all this -and more- going forward.
If one's partner is ill either mentally or physically they may be incapable of an interest in sex.
Partner's kinks can also evolve or become unable to deny. Some people seek others to satisfy fetishes with the permission of their spouse, even if an emotional attachment occurs with the play partner(s).
Some people discover they are gay, but love the other partner and want to stay together besides the acknowledged lack of sexual attraction.
Also, if, after NRE wears off, one partner wants it twice a day and the other a brief encounter twice a year, but the marriage is solid in other ways... well then what?
Thank you for the support. This whole experience has been fairly difficult for me to handle, mostly because I've never really dealt with anything like it.
GS, let me see if I can clarify. There seems to be concern that I'm confusing love and sex, or that this is sexually motivated. If it was, I'd be looking into swinging or another form of openly sexual relationship. Actually, since this whole thing has started, we've been having a good deal less sex, but I've actually felt more comfortable with that. Perhaps I referenced the libido thing one time too many. I understand that sex and love are two different things and have many fulfilling and loving relationships aside from my wife, with both men and women, that are in no way sexual. I'm not looking to sleep with other people. In fact, I'm not looking for anything at the moment, I just want to understand things.
So the feelings aren't really coming from my groin. They aren't really coming from anywhere. I wouldn't even say that I want to be poly, or that I chose to be. I am who I am, and from what I have seen, there are a lot of people who have experienced the same sort of thing in the poly community. There have been a lot of signs, like that as long as the relationships are healthy and open I'm comfortable with my wife having relations with other men. I've said for years that I don't want to be with someone just because they can't be with someone else. I feel that we make a commitment to someone and live by that commitment through our affection, our respect, our trust, and our choices. To me, sex is fun but it's something you do. I would have more fun having a walk in the park with my wife than sex with a stranger. In fact, I've always been a little confused by this masculine ideal of having slept with hundreds of women. I mean, if you are sleeping with that many women, the sex can't be that good.
Yes people don't have the same desires and connection all the time in a relationship. I actually think that is an excellent reason to have friends and even lovers. Imagine that one person loves dancing and wants to go dancing four times a week, while their partner isn't really interested in dancing more than once a week. Should the person who loves dancing resign themselves to dancing once a week? Only go dancing on their own for the rest of the week? Find a friend to go dancing with when their partner isn't interested? Granted, these are decisions that every couple needs to make for themselves, but I don't think that any blanket rule can be made that "She likes dancing more than me and that's her burden to bear".
As for attention and affection, I don't remember saying that I needed them for validation. I desire them because to me they are signs that someone is interested in me. I'm more than comfortable with the idea that only a minority of people will find me really interesting. In general, I really enjoy having my own space. I have lived in a relationship where I gave a lot of attention and affection and it was only superficially returned. Things were fine until push came to shove and then it was their way or the highway. It was a bad relationship and I learned that any relationship without real affection is like trying to swim in a puddle, you can get wet but it lacks depth. I'm a little confused why anyone would immediately assume that a need for affection and attention is based around validating one's existance. I mentioned that I have a higher desire for affection and attention than my wife, which just means that I would enjoy her making more small gestures. I don't need them, but they are nice. Nothing against her, she just gets wrapped up in her things and forgets. In general when I feel like I'm not fulfilled, I ask that she make more efforts and she tries to comply. What frustrated me was that I felt that I had to push to get those little gestures that I love. I don't see any of this as being the root of manipulating someone to my own ends. Of course, I could be wrong, but I'm quite sceptical to see the reasoning.
I'm not looking for another relationship. I'm realizing that I could have one. All my life I've been deluged with the idea that any man who is interested in someone other than their partner is a cheating bastard who can't keep it in his pants, and any woman who looks at someone other than their partner is a dirty whore. I've been going through internal hell because I honestly believed that I was a bad person for not understanding why people couldn't have more than one consensual, loving relationship which may or many not include physical intimacy. Even now, though I've gained a lot of stability, I'm still terrified of the idea of actually starting a second relationship. I feel like I'm 15 years old again, I have no idea how I would talk to someone I like. Who do I tell? How does it work? Of course, the only answers that I will find are the suggestions that others give me, and the ones I discover through experience, but there's no rush.
Well, this is certainly long enough. I'll say more another time.
I have been through a monogamous marriage (15yrs)...(it was hell - not because it was monogamous but because the husband WAS a cheating bastard who couldn't keep it in his pants (as well as abusive), even when I KNEW he was cheating, he would still lie about it and try to hide it, even when I told him it was the lying that was killing me, I offered to open the relationship... that would have meant I could get some outside action/support/eye-opening...(oh - and I was the dirty whore for suggesting such a thing) so - out of the question. Just to be fair - I accept my own responsibility for having stayed and tried to make it work (many and varied reasons - some good some idiotic)....
Not sure exactly what I am trying to say here - but that paragraph rang bells big time for me... almost like you plucked the words out of my head :D
Perhaps simply, if our partners could remember that as much as this is difficult for them - it is difficult for us too... maybe we do have the bonus that it resonates with us... but we have the perception that we are the bad guy (at least at first), that we are being selfish, that simply by admitting how we are... we may lose people we love, for no other reason than being who we are... that's pretty huge to deal with. (not in any way lessening anything our partners have to deal with... just commenting on an aspect for us 'newbies')
The adjustment to 'this is ok', (even though it resonates in me) has been difficult. Now ... my next step is to help my partner get to 'this is ok'... then we can hopefully step forward together to 'this is good' :D However long it takes, we can do this together... I can be me, he can be he and together we can be us... a stronger and better us.
Do lots of reading and research here. Get to know poly a bit more... get your girlfriend involved... the more you know the better off I think.
Thanks for your post GS. I like your points there.
Oooooooo kkkkkkk <scratches head>
Not to sidetrack the thread - what is it that you disagree with ?
Especially as I agree 1000% with everything you say ?
Was my meaning fuzzy in some way when I said polyamory is about a lot more than physical needs/desires ?
I doubt you disagree with that !
The point was that the OP was heavily overloaded with talk of physical stuff and as most know, there's many ways of approaching that problem. Not all of them have anything/much to do with 'amore'.
NOTE: OP has since clarified some things I see, which should lead to better discussion.
Well, I dont know GS. You spoke as tho a difference in libido was an unavoidable gender issue (guys are hornier than women) and he should just suck it up. I disagreed with that on many levels and attempted to inject some nuance.
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