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-   -   Hard-wired mono/poly relationship issues (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=55614)

Alpha 09-15-2013 11:16 PM

Hard-wired mono/poly relationship issues
 
Hey,

You may want to get comfortable, I've tried to keep it brief but this is going to take a while.

So here's a little back story. I've been with my partner for the past 10 years, we met in school and have been together ever since. The first 2 years had its ups and downs but being 14/15 years old that's no supprise really. The next 8 years passed by largely without issue.

The one thing that has always been an issue is the sex life. Started off fairly normal but once the novelty of it wore off so did the frequency. It got worse and worse untill sometimes it could be months without sex, when we did there was never any foreplay, she just wanted to have sex and kind of get it out the way. After all it's just a physical need right?

We tried all sorts, had sessions with sexual therapists all to no avail. A couple of months ago I brought it up again as it was starting to really depress me that I was in my mid 20's with the sex life of someone in their 60's. Long story short (yeah this is the short version) she opened up to me that she was asexual. Which kinda explained a lot. *EDIT: should probs mention she didn't know she was asexual at the time, we discovered that later together*

So we tried to find ways around it, to try and find a compromise. She suggested I find a FWB. When we started discussing it and discussing terms I felt....free. Complete. Content in a way that I had never felt before. I had always felt that something was wrong, something was missing. It was a niggly feeling in the back of my head for as long as I could remember and that was gone and I felt happy.

Then we started adding rules and restrictions (some quite restrictive) and it the feeling started to come back. I spoke to a friend of mine who was poly about it and she expressed interest in becoming my FWB. We had great chemistry and a lot in common. It helped that she was a sub and I'm a dom (not sure if that's TMI, if so I appologise).

So we gave it a try. My partner thought she would be ok with it but after 2 weeks we had to call time. It was the thought of sharing me with someone else that she couldn't stand. The sex thing didnt bother her, being asexual she didnt place any real importance on that. It was having to share me that she didnt like. I think she feels she would lose a part of me by doing that. So we called time on it.

In between starting the trial and it ending we found a way in which both me and my SO could enjoy sex and she learnt a great deal about why sex was such a big deal to me and why feeling wanted was so important. She still doesnt have a sex drive but we enjoy it and she instigates it more now that she gets something out of it.

As a compromise for the poly thing I have been told I can "play" at certain BDSM events that happen near where we live on a regular basis, and while this seems like a lot of fun I suspect it won't help my feelings.

One thing that's worth mentioning is that over the past 10 years I have always encouraged my partner to meet and get to know other guys. I don't and have never really got jealous and have activly encouraged her to branch out, long before I even knew what it was to be poly (also random aside I recently found out that my mother is also poly. I come from a fairly sexually un-repressed background, my SO on the other hand was raised by a very strict religeous older couple)

So there's the very long back story. Here is the problems we now face.

My SO knows that if I ignore how I feel and force myself to be mono I'll be basically living a lie. I'll be having to supress part of myself and avoid forming close ties with other women just in case. Either that or basically I'll end up cheating eventually. Something I have never done before but we had to consider it as an option. She wants me to be happy, and knows that its possible I won't be this way.

Similarlally, if she allows me to have another partner and not just a play partner at a monthly BDSM event she loses part of our relationship, and being a hard-wired mono this isn't something that feels right to her and causes distress. The sex may not really mean much to her but the emotional side of things is very VERY important.

We know it won't work if I have another partner. I've managed to ignore how I felt for the past 10 years but will knowing what it is make it harder to ignore?

I'm also having trouble accepting things myself. I dont want to WANT another partner but I do. When we tried it for the 2 weeks I felt absolutley wretched and even though she assured me it was fine I felt like I was cheating. But now it's over I'm more than a little dissapointed. I dare say I feel heartbroken that it didn't work but I can't say why. I find myself wondering if I'm actually poly/poly-fidel or just looking for an excuse to cheat above-board as it were.

Does anyone out there know of people who know that they are poly and are happy in a mono relationship, despite knowing it's not...who they are, so to speak?

TL;DR version; ...damned if I do, damned if I dont.

Alpha
x

Flowerchild 09-16-2013 01:14 AM

Sorry, but
 
What do you really expect anyone here to tell you? Realize you two just aren't right for each other (which is what I'm hearing), split, or repress a part of yourself to be with a woman you love. Maybe it's worth it, maybe not. No one here can tell you how to feel or how to live your life.

nycindie 09-16-2013 01:38 AM

First of all, I just want to say that there are puhhh-lenty of people in their 60s and older with wonderful sex lives, with totally hot, frequent sex. I'm just sayin'.

Next, I just want to ask what happened to the friend of yours you got to experiment with before your SO told you to dump her. Is she still a friend? if I were her, I would not be. It's rather cruel to experiment on other people, test poly out, while letting your partner call the shots for relationships she is not in. If I had been treated like that, man, I would be pissed and tell you to grow a pair.

Lastly, I would say that I don't think either of you are ready for poly. That doesn't mean it can't happen. But basically it sounds like you two had a few talks, decided it was okay for you to have a fuck buddy, and then jumped right in. Some couples take a year or more discussing, soul-searching, strengthening their relationship, looking at possible glitches. I think you may have just gone into it unprepared. Now you know what one of her triggers is, but it's up to her to deal with her insecurities. Maybe you two are better off breaking up, who knows (it's not the end of the world if that happens - most relationships aren't meant to last forever), but I think you are both settling and unhappy. I also would say that any big changes to your relationship need to happen slowly and with more forethought and consideration - for everyone you may get involved with, not just your long-term main squeeze.

Alpha 09-16-2013 09:27 AM

Quote:

Next, I just want to ask what happened to the friend of yours you got to experiment with before your SO told you to dump her. Is she still a friend? if I were her, I would not be. It's rather cruel to experiment on other people, test poly out, while letting your partner call the shots for relationships she is not in. If I had been treated like that, man, I would be pissed and tell you to grow a pair.
We're still in touch and still really good friends. She knew what the score was when we started seeing each other and was ok with that. She has been in poly relationships successfully in the past but is now married to a mono guy, so they are kinda going through the same stuff. It wasn't just an experiment for myself.

Quote:

Maybe you two are better off breaking up, who knows (it's not the end of the world if that happens - most relationships aren't meant to last forever), but I think you are both settling and unhappy. I also would say that any big changes to your relationship need to happen slowly and with more forethought and consideration - for everyone you may get involved with, not just your long-term main squeeze.
It's something we have considered. We're both willing to make it work it just sucks that one or both of us is going to suffer for it.

Quote:

First of all, I just want to say that there are puhhh-lenty of people in their 60s and older with wonderful sex lives, with totally hot, frequent sex. I'm just sayin'.
I know a few couples like that myself, poor choice of words perhaps. Sorry if I offended anyone with that.

Quote:

What do you really expect anyone here to tell you?
I honestly don't know. I really don't want to break up over this but can't see how we can be happy either with her having to share part of me or me suppressing my feelings. I suspect either can/may lead to guilt and resentment down the line.

Thanks for the input guys, I suspect that having read quite a few other posts there isn't anybody who has been successful in a forced mono relationship knowing they are poly. And I guess if they were, they wouldn't still be reading the polyamory forum ^_^

london 09-16-2013 09:30 AM

I think you just have to accept that you are incompatible.

Natja 09-16-2013 09:43 AM

Is she totally sure she is asexual? I don't mean to sound patronising but you are both fairly young and have only been in a relationship with each other since your mid teens.

I wonder if simply she is sexually bored and doesn't realise it? I only say because when I was of a similar age I went through the same thing and questioned whether I may be asexual, turns out I had, in fact a very healthy libido I was just not interested in sex with him.

I think she might be so hard wired in Monogamy that she might not be able to separate her sexual boredom from you, from her love for you, therefore she interprets it as not being interested in sex at all, when in fact if Daniel Craig was in the room, it would be a whole other story. It could be that once she gets the hots for someone else than similarly her emotions will go with it in a traditionally serial monogamist way?

Either way from what you have described I think the relationship is nearing its natural end.

FullofLove1052 09-16-2013 11:41 AM

Tough situation. I would say that it is best to just end it or take some time apart, but I am not sure it would change anything. Resentment can enter the picture...if you allow it to.

I am in a mono relationship despite how once I structured relationships in the past. My other relationship ended in March. Am I happy with the new structure? Yes. Do I feel like I was forced to do anything? No, because I suggested and willingly chose to not be able to enter another relationship without losing everything. (A good old fashioned cheating-like clause.) The difference with me is I am on the asexual spectrum. I am a demi, and I do not feel attraction to anyone but people I have established trust and developed a special bond with over time. In 18 years of practising poly, it has happened 5 times and only once after I met my DH. The last time a connection happened? 13 years ago, so the odds of it happening again are virtually non-existent.

I would definitely say take some more time to talk, learn about poly, and see if there is a way for it to work. Mono/poly relationships can work if done the right way. Most couples do NOT just jump in to it, and when they do, sometimes it bombs because they are not prepared and shit just goes wrong. Just because YOU have been feeling this way for 10 years does not mean she knew, suspected it, or ever pictured poly being part of her relationship with you, so you have to strike a balance. It is hard for some people to imagine their partners loving someone else and doing the things they have been doing with them for x years. Honestly? If you felt bad about two weeks and felt like it was cheating, then, you have some more work to do internally. Realising one is poly and actually taking steps toward it...not the same thing by any stretch, and neither comes overnight. It is not, "OMG. I just discovered this mystical and fantastical thing called poly. Now, I need to go find someone to give this over abundance of love to." *sprinkle pixie dust here* It is like the latest dieting trend. Would people just dive head first without doing adequate research and learning about the side effects--or in the case of poly--ramifications? Fat chance. How long ago did you and your girlfriend start talking about this? How long from that time did you start the relationship with the friend?

Have you ever asked why she specifically has a problem with you sharing your time and probably heart with another woman? Is it the fear that you will stop loving her or that she/your relationship will somehow get neglected? I tend to believe there is a root. I am asking because usually the fear is irrational and can be allayed with time. Might I suggest seeking a poly-friendly therapist? Fair warning: they are not the easiest to find, but it helps having that unbiased third party to help with the fluidity of communication.

The others have offered pretty good advice, so I hope it works out for you.

Ry

WhatHappened 09-16-2013 12:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alpha (Post 230431)

It's something we have considered. We're both willing to make it work it just sucks that one or both of us is going to suffer for it.

You absolutely WILL suffer and be miserable if you don't have sex with other people?

The longer I'm here, the more I question the concept that people 'are' poly or 'are' mono. I'm quite capable of falling in love with two or three people at once, always have been, and I don't consider myself poly, nor do I feel that I must act on it.

Happiness and suffering are largely choices we make, and realizing we don't have to pursue something just because we want it can be a powerful growth experience.

kdt26417 09-16-2013 11:35 PM

Re:
Quote:

"My SO knows that if I ignore how I feel and force myself to be mono I'll be basically living a lie. I'll be having to supress part of myself and avoid forming close ties with other women just in case. Either that or basically I'll end up cheating eventually. Something I have never done before but we had to consider it as an option."
You and your SO considered cheating as an option? Doesn't that mean she was prospectively giving you permission to cheat? By definition that would be polyamory rather than cheating. Do you mean that she thought it might be okay for you to have another relationship as long as she never found out about it? a don't-ask-don't-tell type of agreement?

My situation is a V in which I am one of the "arms of the V." So I only have one SO, even though that SO has two romantic partners. I'm sure I'm capable of falling in love with an additional person, but I don't feel any great need to go looking. So you could say "I'm poly" even though my situation "is mono" from my end of the V.

Ry (FullofLove1052) is the only case I can think of offhand where there's a "regular monogamous couple" where one of the partners could be poly (and has been poly), but is now living monogamously for the sake of her spouse (and as it turns out, also for her own sake). But I suspect there are quite a few cases of a monogamous couple where one partner would live polyamorously "if they could," and yet that "would-be poly" partner is happy enough in the monogamous relationship. There seems to me to be different degrees of how intense someone's urge to be poly is. For some people it's not as big of a deal as it is for others.

It sounds like being/living poly is a big deal for you. But you have quite a dilemma on your hands if living polyamorously causes you to feel like you're cheating and makes you miserable in that sense. It sounds like you're doomed to misery regardless of whether you live polyamorously.

Unless this feeling of "I'm cheating" stems from your SO's dislike for the polyamorous situation? If so, then perhaps you need to find out whether she can get past that dislike. If it stems from a fear that you're going to leave her for someone else, then maybe there are things you can do to reassure her. If she feels jealous about sharing your time and attention, maybe you can allocate special date nights with her or something that might help "make up for it" in her mind. If she feels that polyamory is immoral, maybe she could read up on poly or even join a poly forum like this one and get some "unconditioning for her conditioning."

What the others are saying about the possibility that you and your SO might not be meant to stay together, and about the need for more study and preparation before you "test out an actual poly situation," also has merit and should be taken into account. If the two of you could find a poly-friendly counselor to talk to, that would certainly be awesome. It seems to me that you both need some more time to talk, think, study, and communicate, before making any heavy decisions.

There's a particularly good book about responsible non-monogamy called "Opening Up," by Tristan Taormino. Perhaps you and your SO could read that book together, and talk with each other about whatever thoughts or feelings each reading engenders. Just one possible activity that could help.

I hope you're able to get some things sorted out. Don't hesitate to do some more posts if there's some more questions we can answer, etc.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.

nycindie 09-17-2013 12:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alpha (Post 230431)
. . . I suspect that having read quite a few other posts there isn't anybody who has been successful in a forced mono relationship knowing they are poly.

The only way I see that you could be forced into any type of relationship would be if you were kidnapped, bound in chains, and held prisoner by your partner. If you stay in this relationship, that is a choice you are making - no one is forcing you.


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