mono/poly and mental health issues
Sorry it's long. I'm completely new to this and looking for perspective on if this is even salvageable. I'm mono & have lived with my BF for 9 years. 6 years ago, I had a 9 month affair with his best friend, who lived with us. I was given a chance, and worked hard to repair the broken damage and trust. Things slowly returned to normal and things seemed happy for the past several years.
6 months ago, he admitted that he had a one night stand Nov 2012. He didn't cut cut off contact with her until our vacation in May, because of her threats to tell me if he did so. He only told me because she said was sending an email to me. He was very remorseful, but told me that he can't promise he'll never cheat again. He said that he dealt with my love for another man by figuring out that he can love more than one person, and that he refuses to go the rest of his life having dated only me. (After my affair years ago, he admitted that he lied about having dating or sexual experiences before me because he assumed I would have turned him down if I knew)
I considered the benefits, but told him I needed time. I wanted to rebuild my trust first. He kept pushing me to give him the okay, didn't want to wait, said he NEEDED this, that he'll be resentful if we don't. I decided that because of the affair, it was only fair. So I reluctantly gave him the go-ahead. He set up an Okcupid account. But then he started breaking agreements. Such as NOT keeping me in the dark of what was going on (one of my rules). I caught him in little lies. His excuses were that since I was reluctant, he felt weird telling me what was going on. When he came back from his first date, I was upset and trying so hard to just deal with it. It frustrated him to see me upset, but I was trying so hard to just own up to my own feelings and deal.
I concluded I can't have a relationship like this, that maybe I should move on- citing my trust issues and mistreatment. He said he would stop trying to date this girl because our relationship was more important to him. The girl wasn't interested in poly at the time, but as SOON as she contacted him, he informed me he was going out to eat with her. His reasoning was that "I didn't know we had closed the relationship" We fought a lot because when I told him how I felt, he got defensive. When I told him that I was still trying to regain trust, he said "I said I was sorry for lying!" as if that wiped the slate clean and he was entitled to instant trust. Also, he had never said sorry. It seemed like he was revising history to me because he never actually said sorry. In his mind he remembered saying it. : ( When I explained that building trust takes time, he said all frustrated "you're right, you're right"
He agreed to close the relationship and things seemed back to normal. Over time, he drifted into a depression and felt resentful. He told me he feared he might wind up cheating on me out of frustration. He said he would do things right this time. We set ground rules. He went out with someone. He started to become angry and depressed because she didn't seem to feel the same way. Then he admitted that he had slept with her the first date and that she was giving him mixed signals. I was angry that he broke our agreement again. We had a huge argument where he made it clear that he did not want to talk about it because he was sick of fighting. The girl was leading him on, flaking out on him and he was taking it out on me. At one point he punched a decorative box of mine out of frustration. He was constantly moody around me. Telling him how I felt about that made him feeling"attacked" "frustrated". Another time she invited him to event, and he invited me to go with her. But then he uninvited me because he decided he wanted to talk to her one on one. After she cancelled on him, he reinvited me. I told him how I felt about being treated this way, and his attitude was "I'm inviting you now aren't ? Can't we just have a good time? Why do you have to bring this up now?" As soon as things ended with the other girl, he tearfully apologized for the way he treated me.
Now he's been dating a new girl for 3 weeks and going very fast, despite saying that he would take things slow. He was very impatient at me for not becoming comfortable with everything at his pace. For instance, once he decided he was now comfortable with his GF showing affection with his metamour in front of him, he asked me to hang out with him and her and be affectionate together. When I told him I wasn't comfortable with that yet, he got extremely frustrated over "how unfortunately slow you want to take things." He then reconsidered and tried to slow the relationship down with her. This didn't last of course. He started sleepovers with her Tuesdays, Fridays, and coming back in the middle of the night Saturday. She was over an additional day per week in his tabletop games. He made an effort to spend time with me, but was extremely irritable. I never knew when he would snap at me. I told how I felt about how I was being treated, he would get defensive. This triggered arguments. He asked that we take a break, he was so sick of fighting. He began ignoring me for the other girl. I'm not proud that during his next overnight with her, I went through a bottle and a half of wine. (I almost never drink). When he came home and realized what I drank, he said he couldn't take it, it was a trigger for him (moms an alcoholic).
He suggested we both take separate vacations to get a break from each other. I was blindsighted when he said he's taking his new girlfriend on the vacation that WE had planned on going originally. Another slap was that he planned on paying for everything for her because she made little money. I expressed my hurt, he told me he invited her while upset about my wine fiasco. I dropped the subject, hoping when things were calm, we'd talk things through. The next overnight with her, he texted me that he's still taking her on vacation on the west coast for a week since he already bought tickets the day after the wine bottle fiasco. She'll be meeting his dad. They've only dated 3 weeks! Yes he'll be paying for everything.
He started this poly thing knowing he was in the middle of a depression, against my suggestion to deal with the depression first and get treatment. His family has a history of mental illness- his mother is borderline and bipolar, his only sibling has borderline. He suspects he is one or both of those. He was angry when I suggested therapy, but is now considering it.
I told him I need to feel I can talk so him about issues without him getting defensive and irritable. He only considers my point after acting badly first, and I don't feel safe bringing subjects up because of that. He says that I'M not meeting him halfway because I treat him like he has no redeemable qualities when I bring up issues. He said he was sorry he hurt me, that I don't deserve him. He told me he got defensive all the times i brought things up because he knows I'm right, but that he doesn't want to hear it. He says he's trying to be a better partner but that it's hard because he's not sure how. He complains that I'm not giving him a chance, says he'll start therapy soon. That he doesn't want to end things. But it seems like he's putting all his energy into his new relationship. It's telling that by "break" he meant whisking his new g/f off on a trip that WE were supposed to go on. And paying for it! How is that supposed to benefit our relationship?
Before he admitted to the one night stand, our relationship was wonderful. He was nothing but trustworthy. He never mistreated me. I don't understand how this monster took over my BF. 9 years of wonderful and now this : ( Any suggestions on what I can do to help him snap out of this? He says he'll go to therapy but that he won't end the relationship with her.
Snap him out of what? This is who he is. You said he lied to you from the very beginning, telling you untruths about his dating and sexual past because he thought you'd reject him if you knew the truth, correct?
This is who he is. He lies to get what he wants. He cheats. He goes into 'depressions' and 'resentment' if he doesn't get his way. Boo-hoo. I think I saw him in a scene in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (But I WAAAANT it, Daddy!)
I think you'll do better to join an infidelity forum, to be honest, because that's the real issue here.
Or if you want me to cut to the chase, I personally think you and any other female on the planet is better off without him.
It sounds like he feels genuine remorse for his behaviour, but that he thinks he can fix it by waving a magical wand of good intentions. I think you know, that won't work.
Promising to start therapy soon is not the same as actually starting therapy.
I think fixing all of this is beyond the scope of advice on the internet from random strangers. It's going to require hours and hours of intense therapy for both of you, individually and as a couple, to get to the bottom of all these problems.
If he is borderline and/or bipolar, he may benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy and/or medication.
One thing you can be certain of is that he's currently stuck in some patterns and he can't get out of them just by wishing it so. Lying, retracting promises and agreements, manipulation to make you seem like the bad guy... just to name a few. You may want to take some steps to protect yourself emotionally and maybe even physically (financially) from those behaviours.
Mental illness can "snap." It can lie like a sleeping dragon for years, and then be triggered literally overnight by nothing in particular.
I'm not a professional and I haven't met him obviously, but his behaviour does sound consistent with some forms of mental illness. If it runs in the family, that makes it even more likely. I would be strongly urging him to seek professional help, probably a full psychiatric evaluation.
The rest of this post basically assumes a diagnosis of some kind.
I disagree that all those behaviours are "who he is." Brain chemical imbalances can make people do unbelievable things, and take them away from who they are and who they want to be. You can completely lose the ability to control your actions. It doesn't make him a bad person. It makes him someone whose brain has been taken over by the wrong chemicals, neurons misfiring, sending mixed messages, delivering signals to the wrong place.
Sometimes, just having the diagnosis and understanding where these behaviours come from can go a long long way towards coping with it. My mom is Type I bipolar and she goes into pretty severe manias. After knowing her long enough (my entire life, obviously, but only really understanding the disorder in the past 5-10 years), I can now tell just from her emails and phone calls when she's in a mania or a depression. There's nothing I can do about them, and really not much she can do about them either except weather the storm, but I find that if I point out that it seems like she's in a mania or depression, it helps her come to grips with her thought patterns, and be careful not to make any rash decisions (especially financial).
One thing that really helps me cope is to think "This behaviour is not my mother. This behaviour is my mother's disorder. She's under there somewhere, and her suffering during these episodes is a thousand times worse than the effect on me."
While that may be true, just because you can put a label on the cause doesn't mean you have to put up with shitty behaviour.
A lot of what the OP describes sounds like an emotionally abusive relationship, particularly the tit-for-tat transactional stuff—on both sides—and the way she has ended up walking on eggshells because she doesn't know what will set him off. OP, would you put up with that sort of treatment from someone without a mental illness? If not, why should you put up with it from someone with a (possible) mental illness if they won't seek treatment to mitigate the effects?
His behavior shows lies, broken agreements, pushing you before you are ready... just a whole list of things that would be dealbreakers for me. :(
But your relationship is not wonderful TODAY. Worry about TODAY, not the past. The past is past. If your "todays" are stinky? That's what you are dealing in TODAY.
I think your conclusion of
You cannot sustain a relationship like this -- it is dinging you in a lot of your OWN healths -- mental health, emotional health, spiritual health, etc. All this drama? You don't need it.
My only suggestion to you is to stop fighting to hang on to something that just won't fly. You may want it to fly, and you may be willing and able. But HE is not willing and he is not able to put in the effort required. It sucks, but there it is. Over and over in your post -- he's not willing and able to make good on agreements.
So a break up seems in order here for YOUR best healths. That stinks. But a stink with an endpoint is better then endless never ending stink -- then you get to stop the stink and heal and feel better.
But staying here sounds like endless never ending stink. :(
You could start thinking about what YOU need to be healthy OUTSIDE of this relationship. Go with your conclusion and leave this stink so you can reach out toward healing and a better life.
Hang in there.
I have severe depression. Sometimes it lies dormant for over a year. Then slams hard.
I came clean. I apologized. I did therapy. I busted my ass proving myself over a nearly 3 year timeframe.
Now-poly is working for us.
I think he's being dysfunctional and using his mental health issues as an EXCUSE for shitty behavior.
Which-makes it an unviable situation.
My depression means I have to have time to go workout. I need time to see my therapist. I need help sometimes getting to the therapist or help setting up the SAD light or encouragement to go workout.
It does NOT mean I get to mistreat my partners.
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