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-   -   Break-ups and transitioning roles (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=52666)

Krys 08-17-2013 06:10 PM

Break-ups and transitioning roles

I am wanting some suggestions on how to start a conversation with my partner regarding the status of our relationship. When we met, he was in a primary relationship with another woman and so I happily started dating him as a secondary/tertiary partner. There were a lot of rules in their relationship and a lot of boundaries that dictated where our relationship could go. About two weeks ago, they broke up because she didn't think she was cut out for a poly lifestyle.

Here is where I am at. I want to respect the relationship they had, and don't want to swoop in and try to "replace her." However, I feel like I am in limbo right now wondering if he would ever consider taking me on as a primary partner, or if he wants to keep things the way they are. If I don't bring it up, I don't want him to assume I don't want more and end up losing the opportunity to become more serious. I would hate for him to go out searching for a primary partner without even knowing if he would consider me. But if I do bring it up, I don't want it to end up this awkward situation that affects our current relationship because he doesn't see me that way.

So, is it too soon to have this conversation after they have just broken up (I don't necessarily want him to make this huge commitment to me now and send out a worldwide memo that I am his new girlfriend, but I would like to know that in time we could develop into that relationship). If it is the right time to bring it up, does anyone have advice for how to start and express this conversation with him. I have always had a hard time making my needs known, and this is the most difficult part of being in relationships in general for me!

LovingRadiance 08-17-2013 06:19 PM

How about-hey, I know you are hurting over the loss of your other partner. I want to be supportive in any way I can. I care deeply for you and look forward to continuing to see how and where our relationship can grow and mature.
I would love to increase time together if that is something you are interested in also.

See what happens from that-then continue as appropriate.

Krys 08-17-2013 06:31 PM

That is a great way to express yourself. Unfortunately I think that opportunity has passed/sort of happened. When he told me about the ending of their relationship I expressed respect that they handled things amicably and that although he said he would be just fine I emphasized that break ups still suck and that I was there for him if he needed anything from me. I did not bring up how the break up would influence our relationship at the time, because it didn't seem appropriate in that moment. So now I need a way to bring it up kind of out of nowhere.

northhome 08-17-2013 06:56 PM


Originally Posted by Krys (Post 222712)
So now I need a way to bring it up kind of out of nowhere.

What sort of communication do you two have? It sounds like you don't feel like you can be really open and honest with him about how you feel. Is this true? Are you afraid that if you are really upfront with him that you will scare him away?

Maybe the real issue here is not whether you are primary or secondary, but instead how open and honest you can be with each other.

So a way to bring it up might be:

"I've noticed that there are some things I'd like to talk you about, but I'm a feeling a bit unsure about how to go about it."

That gives him an opportunity to make a suggestion as to how to proceed, or he can ignore the invite which will also tell you something.

LovingRadiance 08-17-2013 06:56 PM

"I'm interested in talking about where our relationship is going. I am interested in pursuing more with you. Is this a good time to talk?"

"I really enjoy my time with you. I think it's important to reassess a relationship when there's been a significant change that *may* affect it. I was hoping we could schedule some time to talk about our relationship and some possible changes going forward?"

"I love you. I appreciate our time together. I would be interested in increasing that time. Is this something you would be interested in?"

"I'm interested in being an option as a primary partner if you are interested in having a new primary partner. Is that something you would be interested in?"

Krys 08-17-2013 07:16 PM

Northhome: It is not that I feel uncomfortable talking and being open with him. I know that he would accept any conversation I needed to have with the seriousness and consideration it deserves, I am just generally bad at making my needs known. I have the "people pleaser" trait that has been a work in progress for me, but I still struggle with feeling like I am stepping on people's toes. I guess deep down I also fear the potential rejection. I definitely like him, and although we have expressed mutual interest and obviously date, I fear "not being girlfriend material." For these reasons I know I absolutely need to have this conversation with him.

LovingRadiance: Those are some great ways to open up the conversation. I especially like the second one and that may be a good way to open up the conversation. I want him to know I am interested, but not wanting to push anything too soon.

northhome 08-17-2013 07:20 PM


Originally Posted by Krys (Post 222723)
I fear "not being girlfriend material."

That's sound pretty human to me :) At the risk of stating the obvious, of course you are 'girlfriend material'. Isn't everyone, to someone? Well, OK, maybe not everyone - but the vast majority of people have a match somewhere.

Of course you might not be his 'girlfriend material' - which is the risk you take by opening up the conversation. I guess you need to decide whether to take that risk and find out the answer.

Krys 08-17-2013 07:25 PM

Very true. On one hand, I don't want to ruin a perfectly good thing by throwing around labels and questioning hierarchy. I have such a good time with him where we are right now. On the other hand, I know that if I didn't take the opportunity to make my feelings known and find out where I stand I will become incredibly hurt when he does eventually find a primary partner and fills that role. So I suppose I can risk uncomfortable feelings now, or later.

LovingRadiance 08-17-2013 07:27 PM

Something to keep in mind is that just opening a door to ANY conversation sometimes helps with getting started on more serious topics.

When i need to bring up a topic that is triggering insecurities in me like the ones you describe; I try to start with "I am nervous about bringing this up because I know it is touchy for me and I dont want that to cause me to miscommunicate...."
Gives them a heads up that I am struggling with effectively communicating my thoights/feelings. So if something comes across "off" to them-they are more able to assess that it may be a communication issue not that I mean precisely what I conveyed.
Also gives them a heads up that I am feeling sensitive and them using a bit of extra tlc and caution in responses may be in order.

northhome 08-17-2013 07:28 PM


Originally Posted by Krys (Post 222725)
On the other hand, I know that if I didn't take the opportunity to make my feelings known and find out where I stand I will become incredibly hurt when he does eventually find a primary partner and fills that role.

Or angry with yourself for not having seized the chance while you had it. It sounds like you know what you need to do.

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