Suggestions for a long dark spell.
Hello everyone, I decided to skip the introduction thread because I felt it would make parts of this post slightly redundant.
This whole community seems like the most open, supportive, and most importantly intelligent group of people I've come across in possibly all of my internet comings and goings. That being said, I could really, really do with some openness, support, and understanding.
(i'll change the names of everyone concerned since it seems like a good idea. Also, i will notate them with 'chapter' numbers, merely because i like books and it might help with reference in hopefully the ensuing discussion.)
(Get ready for a very long read. For those of you who do read it all, i appreciate it immensely. If you don't consider complete context necessary, feel free to skip to the middle or end, or whatever your heart desires.)
In August last year, I fell in love with a girl named Lily. We were smitten as small adorable things in small cozy hand warmer things (kittens in mittens? perhaps. perhaps.), and head-over-heels from the start. The only negative thing that developed as our love grew over the months was this faint underlying fear that, try as I might, I could not dissipate. I felt like I might eventually become different in a way that would hurt her, or would somehow become unhappy. I didn't know what the feeling meant.
Around four or five months into our relationship, I posed the idea of opening things up a little. I hadn't heard of polyamory, and still wouldn't for another few months, but merely reasoned that since Lily and I were so perfectly happy with each other, we might try to share it a little since we felt we couldn't damage our impervious relationship. I also thought it would help assuage my fears, which Lily and I were worried about and wished to be gone. Unbeknownst to me, she was very frightened by the prospect of opening up, as we were both trying to find an explanation or an answer as to what I wanted and she didn't feel exactly the same way. She didn't let on because she wanted to make me happy and was afraid I would be upset.
There was a girl named Azalea who I went to school with (here I'll mention that Lily and i go to different schools) and had been friends with for a few months who I liked and who had a rather big crush on me. It didn't help that I had been helping her cope with a negative relationship she was in, and when she and her boyfriend eventually did break up, she told me how she really felt. I told her exactly how things were, and how far I would be willing to go (barely even hand-holding. i would have liked trying further, but as things were even that was quite a lot for Lily to handle and i immediately saw that things were looking not good) and we tried it out for a few weeks. I felt bad that I couldn't be closer to Azalea because she was suffering from her break-up (of a year relationship), but I would not do more than Lily would be comfortable with. We all three at one point went out for coffee so we could collect ourselves. After a short while we had to break it off because Lily was suffering and I realized the extent of what was happening. I told Lily that I would try not to let it happen again. Thankfully Azalea understood the situation and we're still as much friends as we had been before everything began.
During that whole period of time, I had been getting to know a friend of mine, Dahlia. She went to my school but was a grade above me. I spoke to her often, because she was also going through trouble with a boy who was really not treating her well (ay, there's the rub. i feel i'm not one to talk as you'll read), and she was helping me sort through my troubles with Azalea. After Lily and I ended the Azalea business, I'll be honest, I don't exactly recall the next chain of events. Dahlia and I realized we liked each other which I told Lily, and we kept talking about this and that for weeks, helping each other with any sort of problems. We talked about anything at all. We fell in love. I was still deeply in love with Lily. I was confused and in absolutely alien territory. I kept Lily informed, but everything was separate and disorganized at the same time, and I had been asking before if Dahlia and I could hold hands, and Lily wanted so terribly for me to be happy that she left the decision to me, and we were constantly discussing limits and expectations and predictions, and Dahlia and I said to each other that we loved each other. I told this to Lily, and she was devastated, and I didn't know what to do, and just picture when Darth Vader informs Luke of their true relationship. The realization, the emotion, the pain, the confusion.
Dahlia and I immediately stopped saying I love you, because it hurt Lily so much. We decreased communication in general. Lily was in tatters, I was awful, both of us cried. It was the first time I had cried in probably two years. We feared for our relationship, we didn't know what was going to happen. I still had not heard of polyamory and thought I was a freak, that I was overlooking something, that I was clearly wrong in a most fundamental way. It was all so many kinds of bad.
(Again, my apologies, my memory is beginning to fail me. I feel that I'd like to just leave this section of my life behind but it's direly necessary for context.)
After Lily and I recovered, we came to the conclusion that Dahlia and I should keep talking (as we were both still very in love) but that it would be easier for Lily if we didn't say 'I love you' (Dahlia and I, that is). This was painful for Dahlia and me, as we were pretending to ignore our feelings for each other and could never address them, but I couldn't let myself hurt Lily. (at this point i believe it was... late February? early March perhaps?) It lasted about a month, maybe. Much to Lily's pain, which also meant to my guilt, we had to start telling each other of our love, it could no longer go unspoken.
Fast forward through around two and a half-ish months of an unstable on and off happiness cycle (for Dahlia and me. Lily went these months sleepless from tears. i still haven't forgiven myself), with the 'happiness' never truly living up to its name and the depression getting deeper each time it struck. No one got what they want; Dahlia and Lily both wanted me alone, yet they both wanted me to be happy so they couldn't tell me to make a decision, which I would never have been able to do anyway because I love/d them both so deeply, and I wanted both of them but I also wanted to make them happy, which was impossible in the situation. Though sometime in here, I discovered the term polyamorous, and found out that I am not alone and everything wasn't because of some kind of mistake in my wiring (please understand, I live in a Catholic household, and the only person I can confide in within my family is my oldest sister). This discovery helped somewhat but didn't change things.
Mid June. The end of the school year. In the week after school ended, Dahlia and I met in town to hang out a few times, and Lily and I continued seeing each other as usual at our houses or in town or at the movies, etc.
Everything was getting bad. We weren't falling out of love, as Dahlia had ventured might happen. She couldn't keep feeling like she was loved, but 'not enough'. A second choice vibe that she had never been able to shake. She decided that we should stop. It wasn't out of nowhere, she had literally been suggesting it for months, but I knew neither of us would be able to, and it would be unbearable. This time she was serious. We kissed for the first time and then parted thinking it was the end. It lasted three days, three of the worst days in my life at that point. I-
Upon recalling this, I've realized I grouped two of these experiences together. I suppose these details aren't important. Just know that on two separate occasions we both left a meeting place in tears after letting them fall for hours discussing if we really had to stop. One at a café, the other in a parking lot. One of the silences only lasted three days filled with despair, more tears, and at least forty texts from me to her, unrequited. She couldn't take the silence, and we started talking again, with Lily overjoyed that I had some happiness return and that I wasn't exceedingly depressed, but afraid that things wouldn't ever stop. Her main fear was that things would progress physically.
After the second full-stop and then start again (i don't know how long the pause was), I told Lily that she needed to tell me what she wanted. I couldn't go on hoping she would make a decision. She said that she could not decide. I found out that what had been making her lose sleep and wring her hands and bite her lip even when we were together was this fear of physical progression. I told her that I would draw a line at hand-holding. I told her that she should sleep peacefully.
Less than a week later I broke my promise and I ruined everything. Dahlia and I got very slightly physical when we were hanging out and I didn't stop it because I wasn't thinking about the consequences, I was in the moment, and I don't regret anything I've ever done as much as that moment. I told Lily and she was destroyed by it. Dahlia and I stopped talking because as much as it hurt there was nothing else that could be done. I was worse than ever in my life, Dahlia was absolutely anguished, and I feared if Lily would trust me, or anyone, ever again.
It was a bad scene.
[continues in next post. don't worry, it's almost over.]
A month later, things seemed to have evened out, in a way. Lily was pretty good, and from what I gathered through Facebook statuses and the like, Dahlia seemed alright. I remained depressed and longed to even talk to Dahlia more than I care to describe. I cried every other night. I was/am so thankful to still have Lily, I love her so exorbitantly, but it was like having a piece of my heart taken away. Or a couple of limbs, more viscerally speaking.
My band was playing a fairly large local show, which I was admittedly excited about. Jasper, my best friend and guitar player in the band, was friends with Dahlia and heard that she might be coming to the show. Why she would ever do that escaped me, and I was nervous beyond compare. I thought that we had had an understanding that we could never see each other again.
For the duration of the show (not just our set, i mean the event), I managed to keep my composure, but I was clearly not myself (Lily was surprised i was able to remain composed for as long as i did). However, when it was time to go, I had to go get a friend of mine, Salvia, who we were giving a ride home (who happened to be one of the few friends i've told any of this to). He had been hanging out with Dahlia during the course of the event, not linking up the name and the person until I called him over from halfway across the field and said, "It's time to go. Could you please give her a hug from me?"
He did, and when he came over to the car, hugged me back and I just outright erupted into sobs. I had to sit down with my legs out the door of the van and cried for ten minutes. I collected myself and we all went back to my house.
The next day (about two weeks ago), I was sleeping over with some friends, and I got a call from Dahlia. We talked for fifteen minutes about if I didn't want to see her at public events (which of course I did/do, but couldn't/cant) ,how she had thought about everything for that month and decided that she would be okay with things again, about how so ludicrously much we love each other. The eventual and painful conclusion, again, was that we still could not talk.
If you think that is getting old, imagine how I feel.
So here I am. Here we are. I'm heartbroken and showing no signs of recovery. Lily wants desperately to make me happy, and I want desperately to make her happy, but those are things we apparently aren't very good at doing. Two people tragically, deeply in love, unable to make each other happy. What do we do? I need Lily and Dahlia, Lily and Dahlia need me, but if I get back together with Dahlia then Lily will collapse, probably beyond recovery, even though she wishes to the point of despair that she were different and she could let me live the life I dream of. Ah yes, that's another thing. She wishes she could love like me, and I wish I could love like her. We make each other feel inadequate, wrong. We briefly talked about breaking up, but I know that it would push us both over the edge. As much as we hurt each other, we do bring joy and comfort into each other's lives and are totally necessary to each other.
The situation right now is that of least pain, but we can't stay like it forever. It isn't healthy to never be happy.
If you read all of that, thank you so, so much. It came out way lengthier than I intended, and how much was necessary I really do not know. If it is off-target for this board then I will edit it as needed or even remove it entirely, and I apologize.
I guess, in the end, I'm wondering if there is anyone who suffers or has suffered the same emotional trauma and tragic situation. I need to know if there is some stupidly obvious thing that we're missing, something, anything, that we can do to fix this horrible mess of love and abandon.
Again, thank you so much if you read any of this.
First of all <HUG> because you need it! Welcome to the board. Of any where I have found, this is the board with the wisdom, knowledge, experience and heart to guide and support through the waters. Your story saddens me greatly yet uplifts me as well for the utter love that I can feel radiating out. I am impressed by the communication you have established.
Having not have been in your exact situation, I can only say that it seems to me that unless everyone is willing to bend and compromise a little towards one another that things may remain static. As much as Lily wants you happy and wants to express love as you do, there is something holding her back....maybe fear? Maybe that is something you both need to dwell into. She seems to be open to the whole poly thing and even wishes she could love like that which shows me that there is something more mental getting in the way. Losing you, being inadequate compared to Dahlia, seeign you two with something she's not involved with or part of etc. You don't relaly give a lot of info on Dahlia's mindset.
Have Lily and Dahlia spoken at all? They both know and accept one another but have they had a chance to relate to one another? Some would say it's not a good idea (I expect) but if I were one of those women, I would want to relate to the other person, to see what's there and to be able to make them a real factor. If they have never met or related, there is a chance that both have unreasonable fears of who the other is, what they possess that the other doesn't or a hundred other thoughts. We're all guilty of coming up with crazy scenarios about something going on that we know nothing about, it's human nature (IE: seeing cops outside your building and wondering what's happening).
New strategies are definitely called for if the goal is moving forward but be prepared that if Lily or Dahlia get to the point where they ultimately decide they can't or won't, then you will have to decide (with their input) the boundaries for moving on without part of the equation.
Good luck and hang in there!
This is such a sad situation. You seem to genuinely love these women and I wish you didn't have to feel this pain.
The closest to your situation I've ever come was dating two men in my twenties, one my ex fiance and one I fell in love with at work. The ex fiance "A" didn't know the details, just that I had broken the engagement because I didn't feel I was ready to settle down with one person yet. The coworker "J" knew all the details as he came to the relationship secondly and it was just easier to be honest with him as it caused A too much pain to know everything. After over a year of going back and forth and each wanting a decision from me and J even trying to date other women, I lost them both. J could no longer take my indecision and left. A wanted someone completely mono and decided he could never trust me and I let him go because he never would have left on his own and never would have accepted me as I am. It hurt. It devastated me. I ended up in a psych ward for a couple of weeks because, not knowing what poly was, I felt dirty and wrong and like all I did was cause pain.
Years later, I am married to a wonderful man, "F", who loves me as I am and I have had a relationship with a woman during this marriage. It ended, sadly, but it strengthened my relationship with my husband and we are very happy together. I'm no longer interested in other men in a physical way.
I guess what I am trying to say is that you may have to make a decision and it may hurt all of you. The women, as much as they love you and you love them, may simply be monogomous by nature. As much as they want YOUR happiness, your happiness may cause them nothing but pain. This is something you'll have to discuss with them. Are they willing to try poly just to make you happy or do they each think this is truly a lifestyle they can live? Are they interested in their own other loves and how do you feel about that? Could opening themselves to others help with the fears and the second choice feelings?
As the other poster said, have they met? Perhaps if they do and can see eachother as the real human beings they are, and not the idealized "other woman" it may help calm their fears. If a friendship were to bloom between them it could help all of you with communication and reassurance. Funny question: Are they bisexual? If a relationship developed between them in a romantic way you may all get the loving relationship and feelings of completeness you're looking for. But don't press that issue. It's just a thought.
I applaud you for your openness from the very beginning and your constant attempts at keeping these two loves happy. It is so much more than I was ever able to do. I hope you get all you want in these relationships. But I want you to know that, even if you must let one or both go, there is someone(s) else out there for all of you. In time, life does go on. But not if anyone is forcing themselves into staying in an unhappy situation.
I'm sorry for what all of you are going through.
IMO sometimes the differences in our natures can't come to terms with the requirements for both to be happy and fullfilled. In saying natures I mean in how we are wired to love other people. I am referring to hard wiring, not social conditioning. I truly feel you are polyamorous and Lily is monogamous.
In my experienced opinion, mono-poly relationships are extremely painful at least initially; it really is like being trapped for both sides. Communication and complete openness is the only way to determine if a future is possible in all relationships but I feel it is even more paramount when two very different ways of loving come together.
I wish you all the best but hope you both have the strength to do what will make you healthy in the long run.
As for possible solutions to these torments? Shoot, I don't know!
I do think I know what you want to have happen. I think you want to love Lily and Dahlia -- both -- and to have the two of them also love you, and to have this not be a problem for anyone involved. This may not be possible. One or both (or all three) may not be able or willing to take that path.
And so I can only respond from within my own experience and perspective. And the truth is, I'm not terribly impressed with monogamy. I know that monogamy works for some people and they don't want to step out of it, and that's fine -- for them --, but it doesn't impress me that much. The reason is that I know from my own experience that loving two people in now way diminishes or lessens the love each receive when there is real love happening. So there is no factual or reasonable basis for the fear that if my partner loves someone else, he/she must love me less because of it. The very opposite is often the case! Oftentimes, love between partners grows when the relationship is opened up to allow for other loves.
You are all obviously quite young, and it can take years to grow into the understanding and capacity to have open, poly-, love -- given that movies and love songs, churches and parents..., all sing about and celebrate monogamy as The One True Way To Love, With All Other's Not Being Valid Options.
So you have to make a choice. You can choose one girl-flower or the other or you can choose to try, with the others, to have your cake and eat it too. That is, to love whom you will, freely and openly and honestly. This decision isn't all yours. The two girls are in on it. If there is no chance of these girls letting you have and eat your cake, you must choose one of the two -- or neither. I'm going to hope that you can both have and eat your cake. But that's just how my heart works.
Thank you all so much for your time and responses.
Seeing as there are all so many, I'll just respond individually and try to keep myself as to the point as possible.
That is spot-on, Lily feels inadequate despite my ceaseless attempts to tell her that it's not a matter of good or not good enough. She understands, she gets how I am and fully wishes that she were the same, but (as I will get into in other responses) she just can't shake the feeling of inadequacy, much like Dahlia.
Lily and Dahlia have tried to meet, but only at public events like a show or something similar. It always ended up as an awkward hello and goodbye.
That's a very very similar situation and I'm relieved to have someone able to relate.
I've wished that Lily and Dahlia could form a relationship, ideally romantic, but as Mono says in the next response, Lily and Dahlia are mono, which reduces that possibility to fantasy. They would do absolutely anything to make me happy, but they themselves could never be happy in a poly lifestyle. Lily is bi, but probably only bi-curious, I've gathered from when we've discussed it. She'd like to try being with a girl but I feel like she only wants a romantic relationship with me. Dahlia is hetero, plain and simple. She regrets not knowing better, she knew that she couldn't be happy in this situation, but neither of us had any control over us falling in love.
I feel like some day Lily's fears might disappear. I know both of us hope desperately that they do, or that we could remove them. But whether it's a feeling or just a hope, I can't tell.
You are definitely right, Lily is mono. As much as she wants to be poly, she has those unshakable feelings. Dahlia, in our last phone call after that show, said that she would be okay with things now if we were to get back together. That either means that she found some new way to deal with things, or that she realized that she is poly, or I don't know what. I have no way of finding out, as she is hardly likely to post it in a Facebook status update. *
You've hit the nail on the head. I just want to love them and both as happy as I can, and have no hurt involved at all. It's so painfully ironic that the one thing I want is the only thing I can't do.
If Dahlia and I got back together, Lily would collapse. If I left her and got with Dahlia, I really don't want to think about what that would do to Lily. Plus, I would long for Lily as I long for Dahlia now, and then that would make her upset that she couldn't make me happy. If I left them both, well, it's obviously a lose-lose-lose situation. Dahlia on more than one occasion had told me that she would never love anyone like she loves me, and though she has never said it, I know for a fact that Lily feels the same.
And even if any of us were able to move on, months and months from now, I would be so disillusioned. What is the point of love if I can't have the people I do love, and make them happy? Isn't that what love is supposed to be? Why did I fall so deeply, irreversibly in love with two indescribably wonderful people, if all I can do is hurt them?
I've gotten very existential as a result of all this. bleeeehhhhhhhhaksdkajdh.
*That reminds me, this has all been almost completely in the closet. I've only told my closest of friends and my oldest sister, who I knew would all understand. Lily tried telling a friend, but it didn't go over well. Dahlia's friends found out about it and caused major problems for us, because they didn't understand and thought I was using her. During the final goodbye conversation, one of them started harassing and degrading me. I was such an emotional wreck, I didn't stop her because I felt I was worth nothing and deserved it. - - - So, no one but a very small circle of friends know I'm poly and bi, some of them not even the latter. I've been trying to ignore that aspect too. Lily has much less trouble with it, even no trouble at all, since she knows that she can't provide me with certain things that I lust for. But I digress, that's a different facet to this brittle jewel.
Hmmm. Poly & bi... Why does this seem so familiar?
Hey, wait a minute, I'm poly and bi -- and old enough to be your father!
Dude! You gotta somehow lower the drama factor. Here's an idea to consider, tell your love interests this: "I'm poly and bi. I love you, but if you can't live with who I am, then it's not gonna be working out. I'll hate to lose you, but I must be true to my own nature."
Something like that. ??!!??
And then drop the drama, man. Be happy. Be yourself and be happy.
I agree with J -
Although I know it is much easier for him to say than for you to do.
The reality, however, is that more than likely, there is someone, others, out there that could make you ALL happy without feeling inadequate, stretched, or un-true to who you are as individuals.
What ever happens, I wish you the best of luck.
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