Is there a normal adaptation period from mono to poly mindset?
Hi everyone :)
I've been reading a lot of posts here during the past few weeks, and feel it is time to introduce myself and ask for some guidance.
I am very new to poly and concerned about how hard the adaptation period is, despite my intellectual beliefs about it.
I (female, straight, 37, previously married and now single mom) have thought about polyamory for many years, but was never in a relationship where it would have been healthy to introduce it. I have now done so with my live-in partner of 3+ years (male, 36, straight, previously married and single dad of 2). After many many talks and some reading, we decided to give it a go, well aware that there would be hard feelings to address once it would become real.
I honestly didn't expect to be the one adding a new relationship. I rarely meet love interests, and have only been in 3 relationships in my life (very intense ones). But to my surprise, as we opened up, I was able to let go of repressed feelings I had had, and came to realise that I was still in love with my ex of 3.5 years (male, 30, currently in an LDR - we were together for 2 years, also LDR, and had a really tough breakup as we both still loved each other). This happened 1.5 month ago, and these weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster for me. I've had to come to terms with our breakup being a mistake and deal woth all the new feelings I was getting.
We found out that my ex had also recently opened up his relationship, so proceeded to explore where we were standing, with the knowledge and approval of our respectice partners.
But things seem to be getting tricky suddenly.
My partner, who was initially very accepting of the idea, is now going through a really hard time. We are talking about it extensively, and he says I am doing everything I can to reassure him of my love for him. But he feels hurt and threatened, and terrified at tge idea of me visiting my ex (I suppose he isn't really my ex anymore, but it will be his name for the remainder of this post). I, on the other hand, am struggling with the fact that my ex is planning on moving in with his gf soon (they are LDR, but way more manageable than he and I are - we live on different continents). And that is hard for me to accept, because back when we broke up, he was planning to move to me. This feels unfeasible because of his gf now, and that makes it hard gor me to embrace her fully as a part of his life.
Basically, I feel like a fake who wants it all. I want my live-in partner to be ok with it and to not be hurt by the fact that I love someone else as much as him (rekindling an old relationship has robbed us of the baby steps we expected from a new relationship - this has all gone vety fast). And I want my ex back the way we were, planning to move here to be with me, not starting a life with someone else where I feel I would only get crumbs.
I suppose my question is... how long does it take to break free from these monogamous urges? I am doing in-depth work on myself and hope that both my partner and I will find joy in this (especially once he also meets someone), but I also wonder if we're not fooling ourselves and are simply mono at heart and uncapable of such an arrangement?
Even if I envision my ex moving here for me, I would have to divide my time between the two of them, and that doesn't sound appealing... I want them both full time!!
I want to believe in polyamory still. All the ideas make sense. But my heart hurts for now. Is it a matter of time for all parts? Or should I just accept that I'm not cut for this before I do any more damage?
Thank you in advance for your help... I so hope that this is a normal transitional state and notme fooling myself because I love 2 men and fon't want to give any up...
I don't think its a time thing-but a work thing.
What I mean is, that it takes conscious effort to work through those feelings.
One thing that I found helpful, is first accepting that our feelings don't dictate our actions. We can FEEL crappy about something we KNOW is good (like getting shots). There's nothing wrong with that.
What is wrong, is acting out on emotions that we are know are based in false information or are dysfunctional or abusive etc.
Second; is to REALLY visualize what was good/bad with any of the "I want" scenarios.
Third; force yourself to practice what you preach so to speak. In other words; if you want your partner to be accepting of your other love; YOU need to force yourself to behave more accepting of your other loves other love.
Also-it's been shown many times in empirical studies that if we DO an action (like treating someone lovingly) our emotions follow (it also has been shown that it doesn't as frequently follow that our actions will come after emotions).
SO-treat the other girlfriend with respect and honor her role and her position-which will help your feelings come into alignment with your actions and expectations. AND will show your current spouse that you are on board with DOING what you want him to do for you.
It does take time-like breaking a bad habit and making a new good habit. But it takes consistent, conscious, active steps in that time. If you just wait for it-it won't happen.
Thank you LovingRadiance
Thank you for your reply and your practical advice :)
I feel I am doing a lot of work towards these things, and your reply helps point me in the direction I need to focus on even more.
I think my confusion comes mostly from the fact that I don't know where I stand anymore. Before all this, I was convinced that polyamory was so right, so natural, so much more honest. But now I have crazy urges of having my loves "all for myself" :( and I simply cannot discern if it's because I have a lot of work to do on my social conditioning, or if it is simply who I am and what I truly want.
I realise that no one can answer that question for me, but I think I was maybe hoping to hear from others that this was a normal stage to go through? To first recognise intellectually all the appeal of polyamory, to then retreat into a conflicted mono mindset wanting just one partner and viewing sharing as "missing out", before eventually embracing a poly lifestyle fully?
I don't know... I'm just really lost right now and I'm seeking for hope that it will soon get better and make sense again?
Thanks in advance for any other insights :)
What you are going through is normal for some people (including me). While intellectually I understand why I think poly is great, is the best option for me, etc, there are times when I am just not there emotionally. For instance, I love my partners and want them to be happy and to free to connect with other people, I truly do! But that doesn't mean that I won't at times feel insecure and freaked out when one of them gets all excited about someone new. I think it is rather rare for someone to never experience insecurity.
Yes, you will need to practice handling your insecurity, keeping negative thoughts at bay, and communicating. Poly takes a lot of work, but getting used to it and getting the thought processes and skills down takes time. I'd say give yourself a break.... keep working at it, but also know that it is okay not to be perfect at being poly right away, that the feelings you have are part of the growing process, and just make sure to talk to your partners about the things that come up for you.
It is at least very common.
It's also important to understand, that our emotions are "warning signs" our body gives us that something is bugging us. They aren't always "right". Sometimes we have panic attacks for example about something that isn't REALLY dangerous. Also, people "fall in love" with people who treat them like crap. So our emotions aren't always "correct" in terms of the messages that they send us.
I try to think of emotions as signals (like stop lights) that are often flashing, but they are not actually aware or conscious of what is actually going on around them.
It is definitely common to run into emotions that run opposite of what you think you want. This doesn't just all of a sudden disappear when you are poly. Nor do you necessarily work through the emotions and they never reappear.
There are still times when I think "WTF this is so damn much of a pita-why am I bothering?"
But most of the time, this is a reaction to a specific circumstance that isn't ACTUALLY a poly issue. It's usually a time issue or distance issue or space issue. Which could arise regardless of poly. So if I take time to actually consider it, break it down and look at it from all sides, now I find that most of my issues aren't really "poly" issues. Its just easy to toss it all under that umbrella.
Jealousy/possessiveness. These aren't poly issues. These are insecurity issues.
Envy is a "not getting your needs met" issue.
Each of these issues can be worked on in the framework of poly, and poly makes them more difficult to ignore than monogamy. But they aren't actually poly issues.
Does that make sense?
Thank you so much ButtercupGirl and LovingRadiance!
You have both helped me a lot. I think I just really needed to hear that not being perfect at this from day one wasn't a sign that I was fooling myself. It's a scary thought, this fooling oneself business :)
I was prepared for difficult emotions, or so I thought. But with everything going way faster than I expected and becoming real so fast. I think I got overwhelmed by it all and allowed my feelings of discomfort make me doubt if I really wanted the whole poly thing or not.
I am in a much better place already :) and now ready for the next wave to come ;-)
I've done a lot of work on myself, and the "Jealousy pdf" on morethantwo.com has been a tremendous help!! I strongly recommend it :)
Thank you again! Now my live-in partner's feelings seem to be a much bigger issue than my own. But that should be dealt with in a different thread...
general response to your question, just my situation....a year in we are both very comfortable and happy. It had tis up and downs, he threatened to call it off a few times, or be mono and polyfriendly, (I asked to be poly first). But with lots of talking, dating, respecting each others wants and needs we are both very happy. That is in part that he has finally gotten some partners, it was tough I already had one he was coming to terms with and had to find some of his own. hardest thing for me was not feeling guilty I had something he didn't. They are great friends now, they hang out when im not even with them. It took time, talking. Will it take a year for you? I dunno, but in my experience i'd say the first year is the hardest.
Now for my boyfriend, it was going ok before he had any partners...then he found me and well, it was harder. but that's their story.
Seems like you're working through your issues very well...congrats!
Just wanted to chime in and agree that I don't think there's a "normal time period." That might be a bit unsettling except for you realized that not being perfect right off the bat is OK.
Thank you GorgeousKitten! It is great to hear about your story, and how time (and new partners) helped ease things. It certainly gives me hope :))
And thank you Vanquish :) Yes, I feel like I have really dealt with a lot of my issues for now, and fully embrace everything. What has helped me the most is NOT trying to project myself into how things will be in the future. That has brought me so much peace :) (but that applies to life generally, not just the poly life).
Things are still very hard for my partner. But we talk and try to work through things. There doesn't appear to be one magical key hidden anywhere, so I just hope that we'll eventually succeed at getting past his boundaries...
Thanks again for your replies. It really did help!
I think it's common to focus on "what's happening now" and lose sight of "what I want for the future." It's also common to get into something, and then get doubtful as soon as it starts getting bumpy. Ask anyone who's gone through grad school -- it seemed like such a good idea at the time, but man, this is HARD!
There's also no guarantee you wouldn't have gone just as fast with someone new.
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