Hello from (Upstate) NY
Brand new to the forum today but SOOOO glad to know that I am not alone in what I was surprised to recently discover about myself, literally within the last 4 months.
I've been happily married to my DH (I'll call him "A") for 9 1/2 years (I'm heading for the big 5-0) and love him dearly and would do anything in the world to avoid hurting him. I found something really special with him and don't want to give that up for anything--it's a second marriage for us both.
However, about three years ago I met a guy (who I'll call "M"), via email, due to a mutual hobby. I hadn't really expected it to go beyond 2, maybe three email exhanges in total. But the emails have kept up, nearly every day steady, usually several times a day, ever since. It wasn't long before I found myself trying to deny the feelings I was feeling -- in fact, "A" observed even before I did that I was starting to fall. And fall I have, although unfortunately for me it's quite one-sided, perhaps because I am married. But this is still a very deep emotional relationship/friendship and we have met in person a few times. If "M" is aware, it's never been explicitly discussed, mainly because I know I'll probably be in for a disappointment. (I know, denial much?)
Then a couple of months ago, I reconnected with my first love from over 20 years ago (who I'll call "T") -- there were a lot of unresolved questions I had that I felt needed answers as we just sort of drifted apart and into other relationships. Soon after our reconnection we discovered that we still had strong feelings for each other and it wasn't long before the word "love" was being used nearly as frequently as it was back then.
So now I find myself in a very weird (for me) position...being potentially in love with three guys at the same time, with only two of them returning the feeling. To be fair to "A" I have told him everything and he is fully aware of how I feel about both "M" and "T", who at best would be LDRs that I would only see a couple of times a year each due to the distances they each live from me. "A" is still reeling a bit from hearing my "Honey, I think I'm a poly" announcement -- he always was and always will be a mono and has no desire to change. "T" is also a poly -- in fact it was our getting together that sort of gelled that for both of us. I don't know for sure about "M", but I suspect mono.
"A" and I have sat down on several occasions to come to an agreement on "ground rules" regarding the other "relationships", mostly governing what could happen (or more accurately what *SHOULDN'T* happen) when I am on a visit with either "M" or "T". At the moment he is mostly "don't ask, don't tell" with respect to the details of the other relationships, but still wants the reassurance that the agreement lines haven't been crossed. I'm more than happy to oblige there. He is tolerant of me having some, but not total leeway and I have accepted the rules we've agreed to. For him having been hit with this out of the blue, I am quite surprised that he has been this tolerant (could he still be "in shock"?)
I have also, perhaps to my detriment, (and maybe as my way to prove to him that he will always be my first and foremost relationship) promised him that if he ever gets to a point where he can't handle this arrangement anymore, I will not pursue the poly lifestyle. He told me that part of the reason he is being tolerant is that he doesn't want me to resent him for giving up part of who I am, even though it was a recent discovery.
Whew, this is the first time I've ever verbalized my situation and in reading it over, even *I* can see how complicated it is. Of course, this could be just because it's all so new, but dang, for being so new, I'm in deep! For those of you who may have been in a similar situation, can this ever work out so that no one gets hurt? Sometimes it just seems like an impossibility, but I haven't given up hope.
"G" -- married to "A", but love "M" & "T" as well
Welcome to the forum. I hope you find it useful. There is a wealth of information--some good and some bad.
My only concern is your husband's tolerance. Tolerance can sometimes wear off when reality sets in and shock leaves. He is tolerating your need/want for others, but he does not accept that part of you. Acceptance is important to me and can lead to incompatibility and very different opinions down the line.
I will say this...it is easy to make agreements and think one can handle the reality vs. theory. Often that is not the case. Can poly/mono marriages work? Yes, but it takes understanding from the poly person that the mono person has sacrificed their want/need for monogamy and has to be okay with a host of things. I learned these lessons the hard way, so I would advise you to proceed with caution and not rush anything. I would encourage your husband to lurk or join and read the various threads.
Just take some time and ease in to this because it is a change from what you both have been used to for years. People tend to crack like eggs when they move too fast and then everyone suffers. Poly can be rewarding for some.
Feel free to start a blog here: Life Stories and Blog, or continue to explore the threads. Post questions if you have them. There are quite a few seasoned polys on here, and some of them offer really good advice.
Good luck and enjoy!
Welcome to our forum.
I think you'll have to check up on A often to make sure he is still feeling "okay" (if not great) about these poly relationships. I don't know that any polyamorous (or monogamous, for that matter) relationship can ever work out so that no one gets hurt. Wouldn't it be nice if such could be the way it is. Happily ever after and all that. The truth is, people get hurt feelings, have arguments, and have to renegotiate the situation so that everyone can live with it.
Of course, that's not at all the same thing as saying that it can't work at all. Sure it *can* work, in some cases, with sufficient honesty, communication, patience, and diplomacy. I'm just saying almost every worthwhile relationship involves some sacrifices, regardless of whether it's a poly relationship.
Make sure you have M's wholehearted consent before pursuing anything too heavy with him. Of course, before he can consent, he'll have to know what he's consenting to, so at some point you'll have to let him know what's going on, with respect to both your feelings and A's.
I guess I'm curious about what ground rules you and A negotiated, but it's up to you how much you want to share of that kind of detail. As long as it works for all involved parties, then all is well.
Take advantage of the resources Polyamory.com has to offer, and do visit our blogs board. You might also find our Golden Nuggets board to be helpful.
Thank You For the Welcome!
It's so nice to finally be in a place where I can talk about this openly and not feel so "closeted" as I do in the real world.
"A" and I have had many discussions since I became aware of my growing romantic feelings for two other men -- often he feels a little overwhelmed and past his comfort zone at the very idea. At this point in time I have not had any physical contact with either "M" (outside of several wonderfully long and cuddly hugs--I still don't think he is aware how deep my feelings run, and even if he did I doubt that he reciprocates the romantic feelings) or "T" (whom I haven't seen in person since we were dating oh so many years ago--our "relationship" at this point is online/phone) so the negotiations are very much in their infancy stage. I have already made several trips to visit "M" (which began the negotiations) and nothing has happened there to even warrant discussion. There are upcoming solo trips planned to visit both "M" and "T" (one at the end of the year and the other in the spring) which naturally makes "A" a bit nervous.
In answer to the question regarding our "ground rules", and please forgive me if this is too graphic for this forum, at this point "p-in-v" sex is prohibited -- anything else in my sexual repertoire is acceptable. In our discussions, we both agreed that as my husband and primary partner "A" should be exclusively entitled to the p.i.v. Initially he wanted to include other activities (basically, anything "below my belt") but we ended up agreeing to this proverbial "line in the sand". My feeling with potential partners is that there are so many ways to give and receive pleasure that this restriction shouldn't be a hindrance. Am I being naive?
I have maintained all along that "A"'s happiness is first and foremost on my priority list, which is the reason I made the promise that if he ever gets to a point where he just can't handle any of this, I will continue to live as a mono as I have for the past 10 years since we met. He is a keeper and I'd be devastated if anything happened that would cause me to lose him. "A" often remarks, somewhat in jest, that he is happiest when he can be in denial. Discussions and references to "M" and/or "T" are a little too real for him right now. (And remember, "A" noticed that I was falling for "M" even before I did.) My personal rule is that "A" and I will be on the same page before I allow myself to become physically involved with another man. And of course any potential partners will need to be on-board with the not-the-run-of-the-mill arrangement as well. I don't ever want there to be any secrets, which I feel would destroy any of these relationships, whether in their current form or taken to the next level.
Point taken, although that brought me up a little short with calling them "disposable" because that's not how I see it nor how I would ever want it to be perceived. I will never enter into any relationship (nor take the existing ones with "M" and "T" to the next level) if I don't believe I can fully commit to it or feel that "A" is not on-board. I love them all enough to not want to hurt any of them. And "A" is not the type to agree to something and then "pull the plug" and do a 180 down the road. That's why we're having our discussions and agreements now, before any of the relationship dynamics change. But you've definitely given me something to think about...so that I can make a fully informed decision.
When my (ex) h and I first tried poly, he made the same deal with me. If I ever became uncomfortable with him loving another woman, he'd put my feelings and needs first, and stop trying to be poly. Well, I was OK with him dating and falling head over heels in love with this other woman, H, for a while... I tried to give them space to date, to have sex, even though originally we were (stupidly) looking for a "unicorn" to share, and despite early indications she was interested in both of us, turned out she wasn't.
But after 4 months I just couldn't deal with their NRE anymore. It was so over the top, and after being with just him for 20 years, I had no idea how to handle him being all twitterpated over someone new. (Even though I feel I am more wired for poly than he is, and got crushes on friends constantly.)
So per our agreement, I vetoed the relationship. This backfired however, and they remained loving friends, even though the sex stopped. Eventually it bred bitterness and was a factor in our marriage dissolving.
(I'm doing much better since he and I broke up in 2008, don't worry. I was ready to move on too, for various reasons unrelated to poly.)
Anyway! Be forewarned that you really can't close the barn door once the horse is out.
A week? Sure.
A month? Yeah, maybe.
A year? Probably not.
10 years? Hell no.
"Ever" is too open-ended.
Okay so your husband is not the type to pull the plug, but is he the type that is going to suffer in silence, hate whatever is going on to the point of resentment setting in, and keep quiet because he wants you to be happy?
I can understand making agreements, but you are dismissing the wants/needs of the other two people. Have you taken what they want/need in to consideration? You have already stated that due to distance, they will be secondary or tertiary. Your husband is with you, so he is primary. That is understandable.
So no penetrative sex? Did your husband tell you how long? How do M and T feel about that? How would you and your DH handle it if M or T wanted to spend Christmas/NY with you? Are they allowed to visit your home since he prefers to be in denial, or is he only going along with you visiting them wherever they live to keep them out of sight and mind? If you do not mind me asking, what other boundaries have you all set?
I would not ask for a limit on said veto power. I would find out what his needs are and work from that angle. Find out why he feels like he needs that veto power. Maybe he feels threatened by these other people. Maybe he is wondering why you want/need more. Maybe he is feeling in adequate and like he has no control over anything. Maybe he realises that this is not what he signed up for. Maybe he is grieving for the way his marriage used to be and no longer will be again.
He just may not know how long it will be until he is comfortable. Some people will never be comfortable with the idea of being part of a poly marriage or being one of many. I stopped being comfortable with having a poly marriage, and I was the polyamorist. I ended my other relationship back in March and realised I am better suited to something different right now. Stuff happens and no part of life is predictable.
I definitely suggest you all keep talking. I would not say that you are naive. You are new to it and finding your way. Poly is a constant learning curve, and it is better to hash this out now before anyone gets in too deep.
More to Think About...
A lot more to think about for sure...
I like the idea of putting a time limit on the veto power...I hadn't thought of that angle, but it makes more sense than it being invoked when I'm past the "point of no return" in a relationship with someone(s) else. I'm really hoping that "A" will be accepting of this paradigm shift (he told me last night that he's getting there...slowly) long before it could ever become a serious issue--the more we talk openly about it the more he seems to relax a little, especially when I explained how this is very different from a "swinging" sort of thing. I have asked what his biggest fear is -- aside from this being a deviation from the traditional idea of marriage that he was brought up to believe in, he has expressed several times (starting with when I made previous visits to "M") that he fears receiving a phone call saying "Honey, I'm not coming home." I'm doing everything in my power to assure him that won't happen (at least not without some major bizarre worldly force at play that I can't anticipate). I also believe that our marriage is strong enough where we talk openly and work out issues rather than "suffer in silence". We've been doing that quite successfully on other issues unrelated to poly that arise on occasion--a lesson we each learned from our previous marriages.
As far as how the secondaries feel about the rules, I have discussed the sexual boundaries with "T" and he's agreed to it. "M" and I are still in the "friendship zone" (I don't think he knows about the extent of my feelings, and if he does, he's keeping me at arm's length--this may very well be a totally unrequited thing I have) so at the moment any rules regarding physical intimacy would not even be an issue in that relationship. How long could I keep that boundary with "T" in effect? At this point I say as long as I need to, but I am fully aware that I'm not superwoman and that could change down the road. It would definitely warrant further discussion with "A" before anything changes.
Visits are almost a simplistic non-issue by nature...I do the traveling (and next trip is after Christmas and into the first week of the new year) because I am currently the only one with a valid passport. I also travel alone because "A" does not wish to accompany me on my visits, and I fear that if he did, things might get more than a little awkward. Neither one of us sees the possibility, at least at this point in time, of his being "buddy buddy" with my other partners. Last night he asked if there was a possibility of my meeting someone local that I'll want to have over for dinner, spend the night, and all that (apparently another of his fears about me pursuing a poly relationship). He seemed to relax when I assured him that this isn't a casual dating type of thing at all -- any potential partners have almost a ridiculously high set of standards to meet. And the current ones bloomed out of a pre-existing relationship -- one from my distant dating past and the other that forged over the course of three years of constant email contact with the occasional phone call/visit. Casual is definitely not my deal and I'm not currently seeking any additional partners. I'm just trying to come to terms with the romantic feelings I have for the men already in my life. This is a new thing for me and even though I'm doing my best to become educated with all the nuances of being a poly, I still feel as if I'm somewhat bumbling my way through a minefield right now.
And I really do appreciate all of the input I've received so far -- you've given me not only a lot of helpful suggestions but other things I need to consider that I hadn't thought of. Many thanks!
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