Rough patches with re-opening relationship
Hi, Folks. I am newish here.
I've been in a pretty good relationship for a while with a male partner. It started out as FWB for a couple of years, which means we had no monogamous expectations, and we drifted in and out of each others' lives as lovers (but always remained friends). Two years ago, we started another lover-chapter, but this one has stuck. We are definitely in a serious relationship, and in many ways, it has been great.
All of this time, we have said that we are in an open relationship, but we never had reason to practice it. We were fulfilled by each other, and there wasn't much opportunity outside the relationship. That changed over the summer. I figured out that he wanted to date someone, and I was as amused as I was surprised. I asked him to confirm. He did. We talked about it... talked about reopening up the relationship in practice, set all sorts of rules, and I gave him my blessing. It was tacitly agreed that we wouldn't share details with each other unless a new partnership would be emotional as well as sexual. I never heard anything more. I checked in with him a month later, and he said that he dropped that pursuit. He realized, that for him, practicing non-monogamy with me was challenging, and he didn't want to rock the boat.
A few months later, I reunited with a former lover; we started talking and emailing all the time, and it wasn't long before we decided that we wanted to resume being lovers. He and I had a not-so-great period a few years ago where we snuck around to be lovers, and I want a new chapter to be more open and honest. I know that this new relationship will only be sexual, on top of the casual friendship we maintain. It will not chip into the emotional and day-to-day bond I have with my primary guy. It took me a while to screw up the courage to talk to my primary guy, but I did. I said, its now my turn to want to do this. I want to tell you my intention so I don't have to lie about it. It will only be about sex. Is this ok? What assurances do you need from me to feel loved and supported while I explore this?
I was surprised that my primary guy was taken aback my my request. He felt very threatened, I guess. He tried to give me his blessing, but I could tell that it didn't sit right with him. He said that he didn't want to know who it was, but still pressed and guessed until he figured it out. Its not someone whom he ever crosses paths with. He was avoidant and angry for a few days. He then came back to me, apologized for being so jealous, but said that he really isn't ready for me to do this. He proposed that I either drop it, or go out of my way to completely hide it from him. He would rather be in denial, he said.
he has lots of stress in his life right now. Unemployed, broke... that has caused some stress between us which has taken a toll on our romantic life, which may explain why my old flame seems tempting right now. But, I am also sensitive to the stress which I have put him under.
I didn't give him a clear verbal answer to this request, but was able for a couple of weeks to set my desires aside and help him through an interview and other job search struggles. I feel I am doing all I can to be there for him.
But, I have kept up my flirtation and my friendship with my old flame. It really sucks to have to lie to my primary guy when I have hung out with my old flame and his kids, as friends. it feels really gross. I want to be honest with my primary guy.
Have any of you been in this situation when trying to open or re-open a relationship? Any words of advice for how I can help my primary guy feel supported and loved? How to be honest with out flaunting my other connection? How to share that I think that honesty is the most loving thing I can do? Lying sucks!
I have yet to progress to sex with my old flame, but I really want to go there. It seems inevitable, and I want to give honesty another stab with my primary guy before I make the mistake of trying to lie about it.
He's stated his wishes, either respect them or deem them incompatible with your needs and move on.
You could try a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy until your man gets himself together. This is what my mono husband asks of me: He wants to know nothing of my sex life, he wants nothing to do with my lovers, and I am to tell him what's up only if a relationship becomes emotional and long-term. Is it ideal? No. But it's what he can deal with while he works through his insecurities while still allowing me to take charge of my sexuality.
Like you, I don't ever want to lie, so I've made it clear that if my husband asks me a question, I will answer it honestly and he'll have to contend with whatever he hears. In short, Don't Ask, Don't Tell will only work if your man does not ask, and you do not tell! My husband works long hours and late, so most of the time he doesn't even know I was out. He does not look at my phone or my computer. So far, he's kept to his word, and hasn't freaked out the few times he called or texted me and I indicated I was out with someone else.
Every few months I check in with him about his comfort level and mine. The good news is, he's definitely more confident about all this than when we first started a year and a half ago, and he says he feels now he'll be mentally prepared if/when someone comes along that I'm emotionally attached to.
Argh, I just wrote a reply to this, and it got munched by internet issues.
You may be right, but if I have to give this up, I will be really disappointed.
My primary guy maintains an OKCupid profile where he states he is in an open relationship and that he is open to making new friends and to casual dating. When he was processing his jealousy and discomfort with my proposition, and was coming to terms that he would have rather not known, he confessed that he has stepped out "a few times", but never told me because he took pains to make those affairs self-contained; jsut sex, once, and he drops contact with them. Somehow, this is ok in his book.
When we hashed out rules last fall when he wanted to see someone else. We said discretion is ok - neither of us have to know if it is the kind of affair he described above, but we would have to talk about it if there was a friendship or ongoing romance. He is now wanting to rework the rules so that only strings-free sex on the DL is allowed. I understand if he can only come up with this rule in practice, but I am sorely disappointed.
He is more the kind of person who would seek casual strings-free sex than I am. I am more whole-package oriented. So, the kind of open relationship he is more comfortable with, is, by design, one that will maximize his opportunity for other connections, while minimizing mine. Disappointing.
And that might mean that you have different, incompatible relationship styles. Some people can live with their partners having a different relationship style - mono/poly, for instance. Others can't.
I would not enter a DaDt situation. But if that works for you, that's fine. Just realize it might make it more difficult to find new partners (then again, you don't seem to be really LOOKING, so.......)
I ultimately hope that I can come to this understanding with my main guy. It is the kind that we hammered out last fall when he wanted to see someone. We do not live together, and only spend half of our nights together. Discretion is possible.
I am seeing, in practice, though, that doing the DL deal with the devil can make things worse. He doesn't want to know, but I feel like he is now keeping tabs on me. He seems apprehensive, anxious, and quickly offers that I would probably rather be doing something else than being with him. His self-confidence is hurt these days by other issues, like being long-term unemployed. He's depressed about that, and that saps his motivation to look for jobs, so his situation isn't going to turn around anytime soon. Yes, there are bigger problems in this relationship!
As london says, it may just be that my primary guy and I are incompatible over this issue. I understand that as lovely as an open relationship sounds, not everyone can handle it. When my primary guy and I were starting to know each other, we were pretty battle-scarred from previous relationships and were slow to commit to each other. It took us two years of expectations-free FWB before we even thought about getting serious with each other, and now its two years after that. Perhaps, for him, the idea of an open relationship was like a safety line so that he never had to feel bound to me, but he never really processed what it would be like for me to exercise that right, myself.
I am frustrated because I am ready to graduate to being in a true open relationship; I came to terms with that when I was on the short end of the stick last fall.
I would rather this not be DADT, although it would only clear up for me in practice how much detailed information would need to be shared. I would absolutely love to practice poly with open metamours as friends, etc. Its something I have worked hard on, as I have burned myself badly with deceit and infidelity in my faux-monogamous past.
It just felt so yucky to make myself lie to my primary guy last weekend about seeing my old flame and his kids. Maybe I didn't even have to do that, but its what I did, and even that was too much of a taste of my past, and is prompting me to want to bring this up with him again.
Given that you and your primary guy have already been exploring open relationships, do you think that polyamory on your terms is something that he could get used to, if taken slowly and if he has the time and opportunity to work through his fears? And could you be patient enough to wait while he does that work? It sounds like you have already done quite a bit of groundwork, and it seems a shame to call everything off without first having tried to see if you can make it work.
In my opinion and experience, honesty is definitely best, and the level of openness can be tailored to everyone's comfort needs.
If you haven't already done so, maybe it's time to go back to the basics and talk about what you each want out of an open relationship, what you hope it will bring to your primary relationship, and what your respective fears and triggers are. Perhaps that will help you decide whether you can walk this path together or not.
Thank you for this reply! I, indeed, would like to hope that my primary guy is just experiencing jitters with truly walking this path. But, perhaps this is just wishful thinking?
The conversation which you propose seems like a great starting point.
I have a coffee-convo date with him today, to address the general apprehension which has grown between us in the last few weeks. The open relationship question is just part of that. He also is deeply discouraged from being long-term unemployed (he hasn't earned a wage since June, which was at a short-term job, and he's been on the job market for his desired career path for now well over a year).
I hope that I can broach the open relationship topic again. It would be timely. He had asked me to shelve in a few weeks ago, pending on the outcome of the one job interview he had at the time, which would have necessitated an out of town move on his part had he gotten the job. He did not get the job, and so the question comes back into play for me.
Has anyone here felt really stuck articulating what they want from their primary partner in terms of space and perimssion when their primary partner is struggling deeply with something else? Its so tempting to drop my needs and not do anything to further shake my primary's confidence in himself when he is feeling this down, but if I look back on the last six months, he is always down, always discouraged, and I already feel like I am treating him with kid gloves, which is making me a little resentful. But, I don't want to kick a man when he is down!
I'm sorry to vent like this, but I am really frustrated, and don't have much in the way of an understanding community who would empathize with my need to have multiple partners.
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