Differences in what people need in relationships
I can relate to things colorswolf and london are saying in this thread.
I am very young but have recently done a lot of exploring. Realizing certain personality traits and personal needs that align with my beliefs. I deeply desire freedom and independence. When I feel controlled or held back I feel smothered and I run. My therapist pointed out I find myself in the dynamic of distancer vs pursuer in my relationships. I need a lot of space to be myself and if I feel limitations being put on me, or my time and energy overly drained, I push. While my lovers (gf, really) she needs much less space and craves closeness. She doesn't really have a need for personal boundaries or time.
In this overhaul I've been working on lately of discovering my needs and relationship goals, I've come to realize how truly poly I am. I am in my first "poly" relationship. I've been with my bf for 7 yrs and gf 3. So 3 years into this two relationship experience. I am the hinge of the v.
My gf is mono. It scares me. I am starting to wonder if she will ever accept who I am. She puts up with the fact I'm w my bf and has recently put forth more effort to be friends w him. But I know if she had her choice I'd be mono. Her brain just isn't wired like mine and being with multiple people doesn't make sense and isn't a want or need of hers. But she "does it bc she loves me." I am in no way keeping her captive here. I believe people should have the freedom to live their life to their liking. It's confusing for me to wonder if she will truly accept and be okay with my desire and I should stay patient, or if we are just fundamentally different in the way we view love.
I deeply desire a fully open relationship like some of you were talking about in the other thread. I am extremely social and intensely enjoy connecting with others. It's difficult for me to contain or hold back feelings or affection for those I care about. It doesn't make sense to me to limit your love. It doesn't make sense to cut yourself off from what could be amazing experiences or even just a chance to learn something about yourself with someone else.
My bf is more on the same page as me. He gets me. He is poly. Still struggles with jealousy about me being with other men but is working on it. My gf on the other hand wants me to herself. She is more okay when she's involved like any hook ups we've had together. But even those tend to make her a little jealous.
I have been quite patient (I originally expressed my desires about a year ago and have been taking things slow since then) but keep seeing my gf take one step forward and then 2 steps back. It's very frustrating. I have proven myself to be loyal, that even though I desire other relationships, I am fully committed and I'm not going anywhere. I'm not sure what else I can do to ease this jealousy. I'm having a hard time remaining patient. I have so much love and affection to give and desire to explore, I am bubbling over.
I want to remain honest and open. I just want to be understood, accepted and trusted. It's very frustrating being unable to be myself.
Idk whether to continue working on patience and helping her feel secure and/or to express my concern about my needs not getting met. Navigating through polyamory has been a challenge for me to recognize the line and find the balance between standing my ground and building the life I want (while taking care of those I love) and being selfish.
I'm mono, but I love my partner to pieces. I understand that this is how he loves, even if I don't grok it for myself (and have no desire to have additional romantic relationships). It's work, certainly. We have all compromised in this relationship - he wanted more of a "family poly" model, where we're all close to him, and I really don't want that (hell, I didn't even want a roommate when I moved out after my divorce). I'm not a compersive person - the closest I get is "I'm glad you had a good time". Yet, we still have put in the work and self-introspection to get to a point where things are running mostly smoothly, and I am happy in my relationship with P.
You're right - she isn't held captive by you, and I do reassure P of that from time to time. That I am in this relationship by choice, and it's worth it.
Good luck. :)
YouAreHere is wise; give heed to her words. :)
I wonder, hellokitty, if your post might not have been a vent to some extent. If venting is all it was, then you probably don't need to change your situation much; you can just tap into Polyamory.com sometimes for a listening ear when you need it.
The one thing that might concern me is, how much time and attention are you investing into communicating with your girlfriend? not just about little things, and not just about pleasant things, but about things that are heavy and serious and hard for the listener to hear (even if the speaker speaks gently). In other words, are you telling her that you feel stifled, confined, muffled, or something on that order? Do you desire a more free/outgoing sex life with other people, and you're holding back to protect her feelings?
She might never feel like she can stand to let you have the amount of freedom that you want, but I still think it's important for her to know that just as she struggles with the idea of you having a "boyfriend on the side," so also do you struggle with having "only just a boyfriend on the side." No use pretending everything's hunky dory when you're feeling bad for whatever reason. If nothing else, she needs the opportunity to express due sympathy toward you.
Now that doesn't mean you should blast away at her and say, "This is all your fault! You're obviously a jailer at heart." There's no bad guys here, and there's no blame that should be assigned to anybody (to you, to her, or to your boyfriend). As we've seen from this poll and thread, some people are suited for a very free style of sharing their love, while others are better suited for lots of limits and controls in their love life. It's not bad to be either kind of person. It's just who you are.
So when you talk to her, do so kindly, diplomatically, and compassionately. Put yourself in her shoes (while giving her a chance to put herself in yours). Listen carefully to whatever she wants to say, even if something she says stings you. Don't use "her talking time" as an opportunity to think of a punitive riposte. Instead, use it as an opportunity to try to see into her mind and heart. Repeat back to her whatever she just said, in your own words, so that she knows you're hearing her, and express empathy so that she knows you care. Then you'll probably have a good opportunity to share your own thoughts and feelings. She'll be more "open" to hearing them.
Some guy -- was his name Gary Smalley? -- did a presentation on marriage and relationships some years back. One interesting concept he presented is that, when a person feels hurt, their soul often clenches up like an angry fist. They're protecting their vulnerable insides with an angry exterior. So when you see someone acting angry, it's very possible that a patiently, persistently gentle way of approaching them will slowly convince them to relax and unclench that fist, and trust you with the trembling wound on their soul's defenceless palm.
Keep that in mind whenever you try to communicate with a loved one -- or even just about anyone. Anger is a shield people throw up when they feel hurt and wounded. When someone lashes out at you, try to defer your own hurt and instead just back away and then re-approach them with a tender touch. If you persist, you may be able to convince them to relax and unclench that fist so you can do first aid on the bleeding part of their palm. At that point, what might have turned into a nasty confrontation, instead evolves into a moment of healing and bonding.
Anyway, approach difficult communication with that technique in mind, but don't avoid approaching it at all. The tough conversations have to be had.
Who knows whether you'll eventually have to split up with this girlfriend? That might be more healthy for both of you. But don't give up quickly; give time and communication a chance to at least reveal whether the two of you can be compatible enough to stick together. Or if you must part, try to do so as friends.
I'm sure your story has (more) details that I'm (goofing up or just) not taking into account. But that was one thing I thought I spied: the possibility that a bit more (and better) communication could help both of you to make peace with the differences in your personalities.
Oh and have faith that once the other person's fist relaxes into an exposed hand, and you've helped nurse their wound, then it's quite likely that they'll then reciprocate and help heal you too, as much as they're able. So even from a "selfish" standpoint, there's a direct reward in it for you too.
Not that such techniques always have a happy ending. For example, some people have been hurt and angry for so long that their hand is permanently clenched into a fist. There are some people who can't be reached. But give your girlfriend a chance to hear your hurt, share her hurt with you, and allow the both of you to be patients and healers to each other.
And I know that only covers one small facet of your dilemma, at best. But I'm hopeful that some small part of this post will prove useful to you.
Thanks for the replies. I wasn't sure if I was just venting or what I really needed either. But sometimes I need to just blab and talk for a while before I realize what's really going on.
Then sometimes things happen that remind me, oh yeah, there's more going on than what exactly is happening right now. Well, my gf has been making these accusations at me lately "Don't talk to other people about our problems/business" - I have no idea how she would know I've reached out to anyone. Then today she accuses me of having sex with my boyfriend - another thing I have no idea how she would know.
If you read my previous threads, I have gone through a lot of confusion in the past few yrs. Struggling with my sexuality, thinking I may have been gay but coming to the conclusion that actually all it was was a need to be in complete control of my sexual life and boundaries. I try to be completely honest and up front and I realized I just need to say what my comfort levels are for when and how I want to be intimate. My bf understood that and it brought us closer together. I thought she got that but now she's acting the exact opposite.
She's mad now that she "got used to the way things were" (about 2 yrs ago me telling my bf I need to take things slow for a period of time that lasted about 6 months) and that I want to be physical with my boyfriend again. I agreed we could work together on her jealousy and I would abstain from sex with anyone else. I begrudgingly agreed but did it because she seemed to be having a really hard time and I care about her. I thought a month or two was reasonable, but any time we tried to talk about it it caused a huge fight. It became one of those things you walk on eggshells about because it's so difficult and impossible.
I have been feeling it NEEDS to be discussed, especially because not only do I have an intense desire to be with my boyfriend, but I want to explore with other people too. I feel I've been very patient being sexually monogamous with only her for the past almost two years so I thought it was okay to bring it up again. We have had no time to sit down for a serious conversation lately (no time that wouldn't be completely selfish on my part any way) so I've been putting it off.
Last night was my & my boyfriend's anniversary and we ended up sleeping together. She accused me of it and started a fight saying I betrayed her, I broke her heart, she can never trust me again. I know I should have found time to discuss this with her before it even came up, but I'm finding a hard time sympathizing as much as she wants and feeling the guilt she is trying to put on me. She said "you never compromise" and I said "I compromised for over a year, can you try and compromise for one night?" but she doesn't see it that way. I don't know how much of this was "heat of the moment" talking but she said "This isn't going to work for me. I can deal with you having a boyfriend, but I can't deal with you fucking him." :confused: I said yeah that's not going to work for me either..............
She has never had any other adult relationships before. She doesn't understand NRE and the "honeymoon" phase, and now that that part of our relationship is over, she is taking the lack of over-excitement personally. Her and I got into things really intense when we first got together. A level of intensity that I'm sure is impossible to sustain for a LTR. She doesn't get it. It's not realistic. Now I am paying the price for her unreasonably high relationship standards.
All of this aside, I do the best I can to care for her. We get along really well and are there for each other. I try to help her with any problem she has and make her as happy as I can. I push her to do positive things and help us grow together. I truly do not feel like I am neglecting her or treating her wrong. I have looked to people I trust who know us and have experienced us as a couple to ask if I'm doing okay and they tell me I am seeing things straight.
I think my biggest mistake has been letting her depend on me too much. Because of NRE, I have given her too much leeway to push me in a direction I'm uncomfortable with. Now that things are balancing out and I'm getting up on my own two feet and standing up for what I need, she feels like I'm pulling the rug out from beneath her. I have let a lot of things slide because I thought they would help her grow, and making sacrifices was what she needed to strengthen her confidence and our relationship. But now I'm thinking I should have followed my intuition and that would have helped each of us grow even more.
I don't see things like this as mistakes, to me they are learning experiences. They help me set boundaries and build on what I've got. I feel to her its all the end of the world. It's all such a big production. Everything is a stab in the back instead of a chance to connect. I truly want to understand where she's coming from and help her find happiness, but it's hard when I feel she is not ready to open up and grow. She has refused to admit what she wants in the long run, which is why we've had all this turbulence. It's hard to know what's right and what's going to work if I don't have a basis for her wants and needs. I need to know if our relationship goals are going to align and where compromises can be made to make this work. But I can't read her mind.
One thing I would say is-yes you should have talked to her. EVEN IF SHE DIDN'T LIKE IT-you would have been being honest.
By having sex after agreeing not to-before addressing it-you lied.
If it were me in her shoes-I would be livid. Breach of trust no different than cheating.
I'm NOT saying she was right in her demands.
But you are completely responsible for being honest and upfront. That includes "when things change".
I don't accept the "heat of the moment" excuses. If the heat of the moment is so severe it results in feeling like it's ok to lie-that person isn't the right person for me to date. Period.
It is a difficult lesson to learn "the hard way". I've been on the side of not being upfront and honest IN ADVANCE. It sucks and lots of people can be hurt. Just not worth it.
I think you shouldn't of made the agreement to begin with. As soon as you agreed to seek permission to bond with someone in the way you want to, you are inadvertently saying that you understand that she owns you in some sense, and that she has agency over your other relationships. If I was in that situation, I'd either close the relationship or tell her that I'm going to date how I see fit and let her make her own decisions. But I think you're coming to see the consequences of agreeing to such arrangements anyway. The precedent it sets.
Know what? Could keep it simple.
You could apologize for sleeping with BF. At the moment it happened the standing agreement was (monosexual with the GF only.) So you broke agreement.
The fact that before it happened you were feeling the old agreement no longer fit? Well, could deal with that next. These old agreements? No longer fit your needs.
You have tried to bring it up. When you did? She did not do her part of engaging in healthy conversation and healthy conflict resolution:
Right now she is not participating in tending to her own shared relationship. She is stonewalling.
You could call her on it, and request she be present and attend to her side of the shared relationship. Talk to you because you cannot be a mind reader. If she continues to block clear communication so you can both assess the health of the relationship and where it wants to go next?
Then you could move forward without her.
Hurts, painful, but really, really simple.
It is in the word "relationship." If there is no back and forth relating going on? There's no two-sided relationship here.
I'm sorry you endure this. :(
Thanks for your replies.
Ended up doing a little bit of all suggested. I apologized for hurting her and going against our agreement. Things got really intense because we both were hurting and struggling with our clashing opinions. I felt it was time to stop beating around the bush with things and have the hard convos that needed to happen.
I told her it was a mistake for me to agree to push my boundaries so far to begin with and I didn't feel comfortable letting her make decisions about my relationship with my bf any longer. She hated that but agreed that she did not want to control me. I said I was still more than willing to help her work through her jealousy but I don't think that was the right way.
I asked her to truly be honest with me and tell me if she is ever going to be able to be content being with a poly person when she is mono. What it came down to was she said as long as she feels she is getting enough love, attention and affection (and sex) from me the rest doesn't matter. Fair enough.
I want her to be so happy and feel loved & fulfilled, of course. We decided we need to make an effort for *quality time* and maybe spend more time apart in order to get that. I desperately need my space (just my personality type, I need looooottttssss of space) and it would be positive for her to build on her friendships so I'm not the only person in her life she can connect with. Definite steps forward. I want to read that "Love Languages" book because we seem to not see eye to eye at times. In the sense that many times I feel I am putting in so much effort to make her feel special, beautiful, happy, and the next day she says "you didn't pay any attention to me last night" :P lots of confusion with that stuff. I don't think I am spacey because people always tell me I'm considerate and caring. I think she might just need *more* which I will try to be more aware & figure out how to give it to her, but also I think her spending time becoming more independent will help her confidence.
I am still a little worried about our mono/poly clash. This whole situation was a reallly unfortunate hiccup because there's just so much more I need to get off my chest. It's just frustrating that she is still so hung up on me sleeping just with my boyfriend when I desperately crave the freedom to date *more* people. (Just like kdt26417 was describing :P) I have sooooo much love to give and connecting with people is such an expression of my soul. It just feels so natural to me. I was talking to my friend last night about how life truly is short and what is honestly a good reason you shouldn't let as many people as possible into your heart. Now I'm not saying throw all boundaries and commitments to the wind but just opening up and embracing the friendships and relationships you have with any person you find a connection with. Human connection is sooo interesting and beautiful, I just want to explore it. I don't think love and affection can really run out so it should be shared. I think it feels so good and I try to open other's minds to this way of being because it just makes me sooooo happy to release attachments to jealousy.
We talked about our boundaries with other people and she said she is okay with me being with girls (sex, not dating) but she can't stand the thought of me being with guys. She said she needs to be involved if I want to do anything with a guy. It's good to hear she isn't completely closed off to the idea but also like, we obv won't always be interested in the same people. I told her eventually I want to be able to sleep with who I want and not have to have it be with her supervision. I dunno I'm not sure how to feel about it. On one hand I'm grateful she is being open minded at all but in the back of my mind there is something poking me saying "Hey isn't this kinda like what happened with her saying no sex w the bf?" I just don't wanna fuck up again... Obv I have self control and don't WANT drama. It's just like well how long do I be respectfully patient? How do couples grow through these things and blossom? It's SOOO confusing being raised on society's monogamous relationship rules and wondering well am I just a fucking ass hole for wanting to date other people??? Or is this normal feelings for a poly chick??? I feel like a jerk for wanting what I want but at the same time it feels natural and I definitely don't want to hurt anyone. Sooooo endlessly confusing, lol. Help. :P
I am glad you talked and are finally having the hard conversations. But I think you could keep going.
That is not a NEED to me. That is a want.
"I want to be involved if you do anything with a guy. That solves my need to ______?"Using need inventory kinds of words.... what would she fill the blank with? :confused:
Because the guy? Doesn't he have the right to choose what he will and will not participate in? Yup.
Don't YOU have the right to choose what you will and will not particpate in? Yup.
Just like she has the right to choose what she will and will not participate in.
If this is poking you now? And you do not wish to grant this request? You could respectfully decline. Right NOW, not later. Something like...
"No, thank you. I will not participate in group sex with you. What need does this solve? If you could explain, perhaps I could meet your need in a different way."
Is she fearful that she cannot "compete?" Or worried about losing time with you if you are off spending it with others? Something else? Can she better articulate?
Some choices in life are "win or lose" and other choices are more like "Both choices stink. So which stinks less?" Only you can assess that in your situation. Not every dating partner is destined to go long haul. If this one has reached limit, it's at limit.
Keep talking and sort yourselves out. Including how you want to break up, if after trying again it still isn't a runner.
There is much here that resonated with me...
More happy. More love. More caring. More sharing. More joy. More BETTER! :D
I'm a planner, I like things to be set out and structured. I care about our future - I plan and save for it...but the truth is that the only moment in time that we are certain of is THIS one...then the next one and the next after that...as they happen. I can plan and scheme and agonize over what the next moment can and will be - but I only get to experience it ONCE.
The most vital and important way that I can experience each of these moments is to LIVE them, as fully as I can...with awareness. Some of these moments are MINE - me sitting with myself (the LOTS of alone time that I need) and some of these moments (some of the best) are SHARED with other people, the more shared they are, the more intimate they are, the more ... enriching they are somehow.
To limit myself to only allowing those "moments" to occur with certain people at certain times under certain circumstances...? Seems to to reign in and constrict my experience of this thing I call my "life" to a degree that I think is detrimental. How can this moment that I share with this person at this time take away from that moment that I share with thatperson at that time? (I'm NOT just talking about sex here, although you could read it that way...I'm talking about all the sharing/talking/touching/caring/feeling moments that we share with our friends/family/loved-ones)...
I'm rambling now and this probably doesn't make much sense...but I have a warm, fuzzy feeling...and am inclined to wander off and cuddle a boy or two...:eek:
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