Stress and anxt for newb considering poly
So I had another thread that I started when my S.O. first brought up the fact that she feels she needs to be poly in order to be happy. It's been a long five days and I've gone through various stages of shock, dismay, depression, numbness, re-education, some periods of feeling like I'm becoming slightly liberated from old ideas, and then...boom. I'll crash again.
I've been reading bits of opening up, and been reading the ethical slut from the start, along with lots of material suggested from the good folks on here to try and make progress. I'm thinking maybe I'm pushing up against this too hard? I know my S.O. is extremely happy that I'm even considering this, but I feel she's in that initial excitement phase where she has dreams of this happening sooner than I'm probably ready. We've talked about it but I'm still feeling the pressure, like I'm gonna get blamed for dragging my feet or something (not yet, I mean it's been 5 days since the idea was brought up!), but I still feel like I'm trying to get through this stuff fast.
The thing is, I have a past fraught with some fear of abandonment issues, long periods of being totally single, social anxieties that have caused me issues, strong jealous tendencies, and have always had monogamous relationships and have also been cheated on a fair amount, so trust issues galore. At first after we had several of our extremely productive conversations I would begin to feel liberated from some of my trust issues as I understand that she wants this to be consensual. In other words, if she's interested in someone she wants to tell me, to discuss things, create our agreements and boundaries, have my approval etc. And after letting this sink in I'll have a period of total liberation from my trust issues. I'll feel freer to trust her in general, and I feel a sense of freedom in thinking about myself again more as an individual and not always in the context of 'in relationship to' my S.O., while still knowing that we are bonded and together. And for someone like me who has always struggled with trust in relationships this is a huge feeling of liberation! But shortly after some trigger will happen or some sideways line of thinking and boom, it's like my trust issues come back with a vengeance! I get the sense that these tectonic plates of belief systems are being disrupted inside me, and I'll start to make some progress but then an earthquake happens, trying to settle the plates back into the path of least resistance, my old ways of thinking. I recognize that they are paranoid and fear based, but they're also based on past experiences of violated trust where I 'should have' trusted my judgements but chose to ignore them. Insidious stuffs.
I dunno, I'm guessing I'm putting too much pressure on myself to get this too fast? But the old parts of me are totally saying "whoa buddy, what are you thinking? Look at all this madness that this is causing within you. Is this healthy? Are you really up to this? Why are you putting yourself through this hell? Maybe you're just naturally monogamous and all this is just stupid and you're letting your infatuation with your partner drive you to something you're not ready or naturally cut out for." Thing is, there is a part of me that would like to transcend jealousy. There's a part of me that would like to transcend possessiveness arising from insecurity and fear of loss. A part of me would LOVE to be liberated from these things and to try. But I'm still so in fear, and I feel like my guts are a damn ping pong ball in a never ending table tennis game which I can't really find a break from. My mind is just obsessing and fluctuating and it's making me sick (nauseous and burnt out). I also have a spiritual background and it's tugging on some of that crap too, like, 'you're not even who or what you think you are, you get this right? It's not just the girl, it's career struggles, dreams, aspirations, expectations, disappointments, attachments, all this stuff that the 'small self' thinks are important to it, you know that's all just temporary distraction from dealing with the real dilemma of life, this mortal coil and finding liberation from ALL this conditioning and false notions of self.
I dunno man. I just, I could really use some support right now. I do feel all alone in this. I can talk to her about it, but I don't really have any others in my life that I'm comfortable trusting this information with right now! I really really could use some advice and support. How long does this last for? How soon can one move through these stages? Am I putting too much pressure on myself? I just wish I could run out and go to a poly support group meeting or something right now! I feel like I need support in the form of some understanding real human contact, but for now the internets will have to suffice. Sigh.
Any help, words of encouragement etc. are much appreciated. Thanks!
I feel for you man. I have no suggestions other than be very careful who you chose to tell or confide in about this. I had a buddy who needed someone to talk to so he discussed poly with a friend who then freaked out and told him it was wrong wrong wrong! She then began feeding his fears and bullied him into trying to stop his wife at all costs. This only created animosity and resentment amongst them.
You have three separate aspects of yourself, and they are all at odds. There is your logical self that can see the benefits of transcending insecurity and jealousy. There is your emotional self that has been conditioned to monogamy, and then the aspect you touched on only briefly - your underlying beliefs. I would suggest focusing on determining exactly what you believe. Beliefs can change when presented with new information that we didn't have before, but it is messy at best and impossible at worst when we don't know what our starting beliefs are.
Get down to basics.
1. Do you believe polyamory is wrong?
2. Do you believe you don't deserve to be loved?
3. Do you believe that love is finite?
4. Do you believe you are less of a person if you are not one half of a couple?
(These are just examples - you may have others that are more appropriate to your circumstance.) Once you determine what your beliefs are, next ask yourself why you have them. All of us often hold the default societal view - until it is challenged. The challenge makes us uncomfortable. But examine what the belief is based on. Is it simply what you were taught? Or does it logically make sense?
Additionally, a lot of the strain of polyamory is that it hits up against the thought patterns, the labels by which we identify ourselves. "Hi, I am Mr. So & So, Jane's husband (or SO or bf). While that may very well be true, it does not have the same exact meaning in polyamory as it does in monogamy - which implies sexual exclusivity. I think of myself as one individual who loves another individual - not as part of a couple.
I know the process feels like hell. I am sorry you are feeling so off-balance. But your tectonic plate analogy is a good one. Your underlying belief systems are being challenged. And while your emotions are screaming to let those plates slide back into place, your logic is not permitting it.
I know your love for this woman is what started you down this path, but even if you walked away now, you have questions that require answers.
Why the push to feel the acceptance so quickly? Because you feel you're holding her back? Honestly, it took me MONTHS to get through a lot of my emotional bugaboos (that, similarly, I felt like I'd pushed through, only to find them triggered again). Even two years into this relationship, I still have issues, although they're fewer and farther between (and usually easier/quicker to handle at this point).
And I went into this relationship KNOWING it was poly.
My only advice here is to sit and talk with your wife and make sure you both realize that this could take a while - that you may feel like you're revisiting old wounds, and it may be absolutely frustrating, but you may need to revisit them that many times in order to work on healing them.
The other part of the problem for me was that I needed the experience to SEE that my partner meant what he said - that as his other relationship grew, ours did too, and that we really are something special.
Time and experience really are key here. Problem is, there are no shortcuts. Hang in there - it sounds like your wife is being supportive, which is wonderful. :)
And.. in the end, to not beat yourself up over that potential fact.
People in poly tend to forget that there are monogamous people.. and that they have rights to be themselves. :)
Best of luck on your discovery and whatever path you end up navigating to
I can sympathize with your situation. In my case, I'm the one that wanted to open up a 12+ year monogamous relationship with my still-monogamous primary partner. A few words of advice:
First, don't rush things. Monogamy is a huge assumption in our culture. It infuses almost everything and everyone we interact with. Processing that amount of push-back takes time. It was more than a year from the time I discovered polyamory until my partner felt comfortable with me seeing other women (we stayed monogamous during that time). You seem fairly motivated to move a bit faster, but values rarely change overnight. Perhaps a period of monogamy will help you work through your feelings. You should discuss a timeline with your SO so you both understand the expectations.
Second, it is possible to be monogamous and have a polyamorous partner (the situation in which my partner finds herself). It isn't easy, but it can be done. It does add stress to both parties (stronger jealousy and fear for the mono, guilt for the poly, and even stronger social disapproval), but it may be a solution that works for you.
Finally, you may simply not be the right match for your SO. There is nothing wrong with being wired for monogamy; in fact, it makes life much easier in our society. Your needs and lifestyles may be too different to continue a relationship. Sometimes, the best thing two people can do for each other is recognize that they can't be together.
What they said. :)
I'm mono. My partner is poly. I have decided not to "do Poly" for myself - I'm not "wired" that way, and really have no desire for more than one partner. However, I did choose to be in a Poly relationship ("sharing" my partner with others). The two ARE different (mono or poly self versus mono or poly relationship) and don't necessarily need to match. However, if they don't match, there's probably going to be a lot of work in front of all of you.
It's not impossible, though. Hang in there. Two years in, things seem to be smoothing out, such that my partner is dating someone else, she and I are meeting tomorrow, and I'm less nervous about it than she is. :)
One day at a time.
day by day
I say it all the time some things just need to be taken one day at a time.
You never know what can change. :)
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