new(ish) and struggling
As many before me, I find myself struggling with my open relationship. I’ve read some of the posts here and find your advice to be grounded and balanced. So, here I am asking for insight to navigate my relationship.
My boyfriend, S, is hardwired as poly. I’m more hardwired mono. I’ve agreed to our open relationship out of my love for him, a desire to learn a way of relating that I’m unaccustomed to (but believe to be viable) and because I believe that everyone gets to be who they are and I want to support him being who he is. In addition, I’m not interested leaving this relationship. However, I also acknowledge that I entered in to this agreement not as a deep set desire, but because I want to find a way for us to continue being together in a way that meets both our needs.
My understanding of what he wants is, what I believe to be, an open relationship: One where I am his “primary” partner who he has intimacy, support, longevity and a life path and he is able to have un-committed sex with other women. On occasion we will also include another woman in our playtime.
Our relationship started when he was married and I was his secondary. That was 11 years ago. Nearly 2 years ago, he and his wife (after trying counseling and working very hard to preserve their relationship), decided they were no longer able to and split up. It was very hard on him and he was careful to not jump right into a primary relationship with me until he had done some unwinding and work around the loss; that being said, I was very much part of his support system. I held my space so he could process as he needed to and supported him as I could without getting overly involved. At this time, he says he very much wants to spend his life with me and considers us primary partners.
So, here I am. Even though I started as the secondary I’m having a very hard time navigating being a primary. I am jealous in ways I never was with his wife or another casual relationship he had that has since ended.
Part of the problem, as I see it, is he doesn’t really understand some basics that I believe are necessary for a healthy open relationship. We have talked about what my boundaries around it are, but I feel like he only pays lip service to them. He says he agrees to the “rules” but he doesn’t really adhere to them if they go against his impulse to act.
The current situation is that he started a casual sexual relationship with a new roommate who is half his age. She’s a 22 year old woman. It’s a situation I had said would make me very uncomfortable, but he went with it. He has told her that I am, in no uncertain terms, his primary partner and that he considers their relationship recreational sex. He has told her what he’s willing to do (play) and what he’s not willing to do (get emotionally involved). But, she’s 22. And this is her first time being involved in an open relationship.
When I agreed to be open with him, I told him that I wanted to know about partners, but did not want to bear witness to the relationship.
In addition, I have never really liked her. I don’t necessarily dislike her, but she’s not someone I felt compelled to be friends with. I always kind of just tolerated her. And now I find myself in a situation where my partner is living with his casual sex mate and I’m not feeling especially comfortable going to the house they share (with another couple – also open).
When they began, I asked him that I be given respect when I’m at his house. As I had not wanted to see his other relationships, I asked that I not have to see her be sexual with him (kissing in front of me for example). Now I feel like she’s very careful to make sure I find evidence of her having been in his bed. Leaving underwear in the sheets, a vibrator on the table etc. I have repeated my request that I not find her things in his room. He does not understand why this is upsetting to me. Since the last time I asked, I have not been presented with more of the same. I’m hopeful that he has finally heard me. I do feel, however, that she is “power playing” me on some level. She continues to make sure that I’m aware of what they’ve been doing.
I have chosen not to communicate with this person, as I believe she is mischief making, very possibly trying to undermine my relationship and for the fact that I have stated that I don’t want to be involved.
So, that’s a lot of back story to sort through. I guess as far as questions, though there are many, I’ll start here – 1) How would you navigate this situation? 2) Am I being unreasonable to request I not find her things in his room when I come over? 3) What advice do you have for a mono to deal with NRE?
Not my best piece of writting, but I have watched you all sort through many a convoluted story. Many thanks in advance.
What's has being " primary " gotten you ?
What's primary mean to you?
Having been 9 yrs a secondary do you think you were trading up ? Was this suppose to be the brass ring ?
Don't go to his house or his room/ bed ....home court advantage :D
Mono dealing with nre .....get a hobby...volunteer at an animal shelter ...take up auto racing most fun I've ever had
I assume you mean "mono" as "monoamorous" and not as "monogamous." Because by agreeing to participate in an open relationships, you are not currently IN a monogamous relationship and you choose to do this of your own volition.
Could take it in chunks starting from inside and moving on out.
YOUR INTERNAL PROBLEMS
You don't like your metamour. (So? You don't HAVE to. You are allowed to not like her. Did you expect yourself to like her just because?)
Jealousy/lack of trust. (Why? Because you don't trust him to stick to agreements. Can't solve your internal prob without addressing this with him. If he's not trustworthy in his behavior you just can't trust him to deliver. )
YOUR EXTERNAL PROBLEMS WITH BF: MESSY ROOM
You go to his home. You find panties and things in the bed.
The agreement with your BF is something like...
"When I agreed to be open with him, I told him that I wanted to know about partners, but did not want to bear witness to the relationship. This means not kissing in front of me when I am visiting you. No panties and things in the bed. CLEAN YOUR ROOM"He doesn't have to UNDERSTAND it. He has to DO it. So is he willing/not willing to do it this behavior? You called him on it and he got on the ball so that one seems solved. He cleaned up.
YOUR EXTERNAL PROBLEMS WITH BF: LACK OF FOLLOW THROUGH
If this is more to it than this one housekeeping area? He is chronically messing up other agreements to the point where you feel he just playing "lip service?"
You could take a time out to discern this:
In the end? Only you can determine what you are willing to tolerate or not and if you get enough back on the return for your investment or not.
If it is "not willing to think ahead because I rather be impulsive?" in the end? Is it big stuff or small stuff to you? You don't have to continue to be in relationship with this impulsive person if he does not meet your need to follow through on things enough so you can trust him.
YOUR EXTERNAL PROBLEM WITH YOUR METAMOUR
HIS PROBLEM (?) WITH HIS NEW GF
His new GF's sloppy habits annoy his established GF and her sloppy habits do not help him keep agreements with his established GF.
a) He sucks it up and does all her cleaning for her before established GF comes over.
b) He tells her to stop being a messy person and clean her stuff up.
"Thanks. Will the room be clean if I come? Or shall we meet elsewhere? "
I wonder if it is lack of following through on agreements without reminders in part? That will be there later too, right? NRE or not.
(He could ALSO step up to the plate and just deliver without you asking/prompting, but that is a behavior for HIM to be doing. Not a behavior YOU could be doing. But you could ask if he's willing to do that. )
As an alternative approach, have you considered not putting rules on how he and his lover must function in your presence? If you want to be able to avoid any evidence of their relationship wouldn't it make more sense for him to visit you at your place?
When you say "be given respect" what you mean is for both of them to capitulate to your preference in how they conduct their relationship... in their home. This approach is probably not going to be very fruitful and appears to have had no success thus far.
I would suggest move away from focusing on the authority inherent in your position as "primary"
You don't want your partner to be polyamorous, you wish he wasn't, and therefore you will oppose any signs that he is. Even if some of the things are unreasonable, the fact that you are not okay with polyamory means that you will constantly find new things that are issues in an attempt to further and further restrict his relationships because like anyone else, you crave a relationship that will make you happy. Unfortunately, you are not willing to admit that you are incompatible with this person and you want to stay in a relationship that cannot make you both happy at the same time, so there is nothing anyone can say really. I mean, you might be able to suppress that major part of you that needs monogamy to feel valued but I never think that is a good thing.
For myself, the part that I am not hearing is his attitude about this.
If his attitude is "I know this is hard for you and I appreciate your willingness to let me be my authentic self. How can I help you with get through this?" then I would rely on his help, and ask him to make sure he does what he promises to do. I would also not meet him at this shared
Ok, nevermind, I just reread your post and saw this part
"He says he agrees to the “rules” but he doesn’t really adhere to them if they go against his impulse to act"
I would recommend you break up with him and find someone who wants to be your partner. Even if you are only one of many partners :)
Just gotta pop in here to say, it sounds to be like you want two differnet things. it sounds like, he wants poly (yes?) but what you describe (casual sex, no emotions) is swinging, NOT poly. poly is about building multiple sustainable relationships, swinging is having casual sex. (i dont know if any more senior members with rebut me on this, but this is how I see it). So you two need to talk.
I find it suprising you are more jealous as the primary than you were as a secondary. I am far less jealous (not at all) of my husband dating because he and i live together, kids together etc, than my boyfriend dating because i am NOT his primary (though ive mostly gotten over this)
I think you nee to figure out what open relationship it is you two are having.
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