Shame and Fear
So, to anyone who read my introduction post, it may have sounded like my life was happy hunky dorey rainbows and butterflies. And while that's pretty true 80-90% of the time, there's been a lot of things wearing me down lately.
About three years ago my wife met her now bestfriend online and they hit it off well. I had jealousy issues then due to intrusion (they would text. Constantly. Even when the wife[then-fiance] and I were out at dinner. Over time, it just became a thing. No problem.
This March-ish I found out that they'd confessed their love for each other the previous November. While I was hurt, I'd suspected so it didn't come as a surprise. It was then that I started researching poly because while they said they'd be satisfied just being close friends, I wanted to explore all the optiona for everyone involved. Additionally, and importantly, we invited her to move in with us and she happily accepted because any relational stress with us by her reckonig would be less stress than where she is now.
Howver, what WAS a surprise was that when the wife had flown up to visit her this last April (we are in MA she is in CA so I encouraged flying out visits) that they had kissed. It was a surprise because I had found out by... -sigh- I read one of my wife's texts and it mentioned it in very romantic terms.
I was floored, not because they had kissed (three days before the kiss happened I'd consented to the idea of a threesome) but because I asked my wife if anything had happened romantically and she insisted nothingbhad happened. We hashed things out for several hours and I was hurt and betrayed but I couldn't find it in me to be as angry as I thought I would be.
I thought that I had forgiven and everything was kosher but I still had lingering doubts and fears, this was the only thing in 7 years my wife hadn't told me upfront, as she thought I would leave and divorce her.
Flash forward to now, five weeks later and This morning i admitted I'd done a terrible thing that I'm ashamed I even thought about doing: About ten times I spied on their IM chat conversations. I'm still queasy thinking about it, after all that I still spied?
This morning I woke my wife up to tell her the truth and she was hurt and dissappointed but couldn't be mad at me because she felt while not -right- it was predictable I would have acted that way and asked me to stop, which I agreed. I also sent an email to the best friend admitting everything. I'm fearful for their relationship, and my relationship with the best friend and I've just been a mess the last 48 hours.
If you are fearful, you could need REASSURE. Is wife providing enough reassure? Is GF? How about YOU -- wife is fearful. Do You provide her with enough reassure?
If thoughts of breaking up are scary -- talk about breaking up and how it would be. Could even draw up the divorce papers now, notorize and safety deposit box one copy for each. Not because you want to split up, but because you love each other and want to alleviate fears of "They will go NUTS and use the kids against me, steal all the bank money, lalalalala."
When you do not share fears with your spouse, you miss opportunity to be and feel vulnerable... and find out spouse is STILL there. So you can get Deep Reassure AND Emotional Intimacy. Why are you each selling the other spouse short? How's this each spouse moving toward each other to create connection?
Feel the fear -- do it anyway. Reveal and share. Squirm and feel hot and ugh and.... find out it is ok.
Or find out it isn't, and take steps to solve it. "Nip it in the bud" is easier than "rip up a garden run over with weeds." And in doing so, strengthen connection and fill up the "I can handle things" and "We can handle things" confidence buckets.
Right now this is opportunity. Don't ostrich and have it become a threat -- because you built a polyship with wonky foundations on this side of the triangle.
Each relationship inside the polymath needs a little bit of space for privacy.
It's not just 3 people here, but several "mini relationships" inside the bigger polyship you are thinking of building.
When you asked if anything was going on Wife could have told you -- "Yes. Things are starting to grow into romance. We need to renegotiate boundaries."
Then you could feel emotionally safe and not blindsided and have a chance to voice your thoughts/feelings and prepare for future developments.
YOU could have said -- "Look, I need to feel emotionally safe and not blindsided. I should not have peeked. I apologize for that. But I saw this text. Then when I ask, and you tell me 'No' it makes me feel more unsafe because you were not honest with me. It increases my "Ack!" -- it does not reassure. I don't like being a text peeker. I want to stop. For me to be able to stop, I need to know enough to feel safe. Could you be willing to hard truth it to me when I ask questions? And tell me to step off when I cross privacy lines? And be willing to see when it is an Area of Discernment because what you do can and does affect me? Help me find a balance. "
Maybe reading polyhell and pitfalls could help you both avoid crazy town moving forward.
Maybe reading the opening up worksheets would help you define activities that are in the "wading pool" boundaries of things. Where wife and new GF/potential person can explore freely and you feel safe AND not needing to know the details.
Swim THERE for a few weeks/months til checkpoint time to assess how it went. Then after the checkpoint arrives and if everyone is feeling ok -- all can agree that swimming in the olympic size lap pool is now ok. New checkpoint decided. And go from there. Maybe swim in the ocean next.
Each player is willing to play ball appropriately to help support/promote healthy relationships in ALL tiers of the polymath. All the mini relationships inside have to be good for the larger polyship to fly true.
(Bad mixed metaphors, I know. Please excuse the tired. Hopefully it helps some.)
On living together -- if it is temporary til she gets a new apartment... maybe. But permanent arrangements when you are all still figuring out basic compatability? Seem premature to me. Could be careful. This arrangement leaves none of you a safe place to retreat and collect self when the polyship hits bumps and that "not being able to decompress" can exacerbate things anew.
It might be great (for GF) to live with you guys now since it is better than her old place/situation. Maybe its even fun for [wife + GF] in the polymath. But is that good for the bigger polyship of (you + [wife) + GF] healthy interactions at this time? Understanding the polymath thing is important.
Just chill, you're doing better than you think
Honestly, I think that you're more worried than you need to be here. While there are obviously a few things to work on moving into the future, it sounds like you and your wife have a pretty strong relationship. It sounds like you've talked about the stuff that seems to be problematic (her lying and you spying) and resolved the issue/s (by agreeing not to do that crap from now on). This level of honest communication is awesome, and I think that if you continue to be honest and open with those you are involved with, things will go well for you.
From where I sit, it sounds like the only thing that's actually left on the table is GF's reaction to your spying (which you told her about honestly <--AWESOME). Really, I don't think you have too much cause to be worried. Assuming GF's a reasonable person (and if your wife loves her, that's a safe bet I hope?), I think that your communication with GF will yield understanding, forgiveness, and solutions for the future.
Keep up the good work (honest, open communication) and, seriously, these kinds of issues will come to pass, strengthening your relationships as they go. They'll never feel great, but these little speed bumps are just that: little, as long as everyone is talking and making an effort to resolve current issues and avoid (as best they can) continuing non-constructive behavior.
What Paul said above me here. You are donig a good job, I think you are too worried. There are plenty of pitfalls in poly, any relationship really, and you take them as they come and communicate. communication is key and it sounds like you guys are already good at that. Look, I didnt tell my spouse the very first time BF and I kissed either, but we had our poly convos and made our boundries nad everything has been completely out inthe open since then. Look forward, you cant change the past.
Welcome to the site.
I am concerned. Why have a goal of sexual threesomes or a triad? You've never even met the gf? How do you know there is any attraction at all?
I am concerned also you inviting her to live with you when it's been a long distance relationship. Can't she move near you, start school, date your wife, meet you, let things go on like that for a year or so til the relationship settles, boundaries are worked out, etc etc.?
Moving a lover or metamour in just because of finances, or because, as it sounds here, she's running away from a bad situation in CA, is a really really bad idea. Goes wrong so often. Especially when you're brand new to poly and don't seem to have excellent communication skills on either side in your marriage yet (lying, spying, yuck). I'd not want to be new gf, moving 2000 miles with an uncertain outcome, but tons of NRE. Foolish. Maybe set a boundary, such as, she can "stay" with you for a couple months until she finds her own place, even if it's a small room in a place with roommates. At least she'll have somewhere to go if this thing with your wife and you doesn't work out.
To me the real issue you need to address is the cause for these things:
1. Why were you snooping through her things in the first place?These are some giant red flags which should indicate that there is a fundamental issue in how you guys relate to each other. You are not relating to each other as adults who are capable of making their own decisions. You seem to be relating to each other like parent and child; you assume she's lying and she assumes your are irrational and reactionary.
Why are these assumptions in play? Is it true? Is she a liar and you are irrational and reactionary? Is there some kind of past damage from previous relationships you guys are grandfathering into your current relationship?
I understand you feel bad for snooping. I would feel like crap if I'd done it. However, the fact that you "feel bad" isn't going to get your relationship anywhere. The only thing that is going to help is for you to figure out what the heck is going on with this snooping instinct and to do a thorough personal inventory about how you relate to her which would make her assume you'll dump her because she kissed someone who she pretty obviously has feelings for.
Thanks for the insight everyone. Worrying is unfortunately something I deal with.
Basically, the triad situation is what all three of us want and prefer, but i've been encouraging them to figure out what it is that they want their relationship to look like, then we'll figure out where I fit if at all. At the moment, it's not even a real guarantee that they WILL date (which is why i used the term best friend not girlfriend). There's love but nothing officially decided yet (we're hashing it out in a week and a half when she's up here on vacation).
I have met her, we get along perfectly fine, she was at our wedding, and kept us both sane due to crazy bridesmaids. I think a lot of my issue is just the demotion feeling - as in not the one and only (which I've expressed to both already)
1. To the first time when i read the text, it really was just a stupid move because i knew they'd been roleplaying (like sword sorcery stuff) over text messages and I wanted to read it. Was the first time Id done that. In regards to the IMs, she was open and upfront with me immediately after the May incident and I had lingering trust issues and wanted independant confirmation everything was copacetic (my snooping was 100% fruitless and my paranoia unfoundef so thats when I came clean)
2. Because when theres an emotional upheaval or cheating people in general want that independant confirmation. Kinda like, I don't know, sending a PI to follow your possibly cheating husband. And it wasnt that she was expecting me to snoop more it didnt surprise her
3. Because we'd never had any kind of fight or issue of that sort. Was kinda like up until that point it was a nebulous idea and after that it was a startling reality of "ok what are te actual implications of this"
And that's really it, neither of us had been in this kind of situation before so we were unsure how the other would react when reality came through the wall like the Kool-aid Man
It is also explicitly telling your partner that you think they are a deceitful liar and that you don't trust them as far as you can throw them.
THAT is reasoning for not snooping... not the fact that you didn't happen to find any dirt on your romantic partner.
It sounds like you guys are going about it the right way so I'd just throw out the end goal of triad if I were you.. it will only put pressure on the relationships and make the outcome less genuine. Let it be what it wants to and you'll be happier.
You're 100% right about it, marcus.
What i meant to say was te last time I snooped, I stopped and looked at mysel long and hard and realized how utterly disrespectful and shady it was and THAT'S when i came clean.
And i threw out the triad expectations. They were talkig about it and I pressed the issue that things should just fall where they may. And the GF responded very positively at that because it did take all pressure off both of us
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