At a loss
Today my BF surprised me with a visit. We havent seen each other much lately because he is working a new job. Havent even had any alone time for each other for almost a month, and I have been missing him a lot. We spend as much time as we can texting, talking on the phone, but those are not really good substitutes for face to face time.
So, knowing I was feeling down and under the weather, he drove to my house when he found out he wasnt needed at his job today. He talked to me on the phone the whole way here, not letting on that he was on his way. After informing me that he needed to go because he had arrived at his destination, I then heard a knock at my door. Needless to say, I was thrilled beyond measure that he made the effort (he often cant do spontaneous things like that), and that we were able to spend time together. It wasnt even alone time, as I was home with the 3yo. It didnt matter, I got to see him. Two and half hours! Woo-hoo! :)
So, my conflict comes in because my husband wasnt informed beforehand that BF and I were spending time together today. I will usually tell him that I am seeing BF so that there is disclosure. Hubby still struggles a great deal with me having this relationship, and we are still trying to get to a place where things are just okay. It would not have been an issue if I had told him. When hubby got home, he asked about my day and I immediately told him that BF had come up to surprise me today. When I told him that I did not know about it ahead of time, he looked at me with that "Sure you didnt" look on his face. He was upset, not just because we had seen each other, but said that he was upset because he felt like he was being "penalized" for working a job. That HE doesnt have the ability to just go and surprise someone in the middle of the day, and HE is stuck at his job all day long.
We devolved into an argument about whether it was okay for BF to do something nice for me. This was an unusual opportunity for us, and BF really wanted to do something nice for me. He did not feel as though he needed to get hubbys permission to do so. I was really upset that he would try to make me feel shitty about something that I didnt even plan, that was designed to make me feel better when I was in a crappy place. Hubby would just turn it around and say that I should be coming to him when I feel that way, and that I could get comfort from him. But I find that when I am missing BF, snuggling with someone else doesnt replace that at all. If I am sad, It can help. But they are not interchangeable.
I have been in this second relationship for 14 months now. We are fully sexually involved, condoms off the table, everything. Hubby knows all of this. However, he still struggles every single day with the fact that I am poly and that I have this other person. Hubby is convinced that if he just had a relationship of his own, he would not feel so left out and hurt and alone. I have explained to him that I dont think he should go and get himself a girlfriend just to make himself feel better. As he and I continue to try and make things work between us, I feel more and more distance between us. His insecurities are constantly coming up, and I feel like I am always dancing around him. Making sure I am anticipating his needs, troubleshooting his emotions, making sure I am not doing something to hurt him. From my perspective, it is constant work, every hour of every day, to not hurt him deeply.
From his perspective, I have something he does not. I have another to love, and love me back. Another outlet for sexual expression, someone who completes me in a completely different way than he does. I understand why he feels the way he does. He loves me passionately and deeply. We have a family. He would be perfectly happy being mono with me forever and ever.
I am feeling very much at a loss right now. He says he wants to keep trying, to keep making the effort to nurture each other, and make it work. I dont know if I can. He has made so much effort, has come so far from where we were when this all started, that it makes me feel as though I am just giving up on him. I dont want to be that person. I do love him. He is an amazingly wonderful man, father, partner, etc. I just always feel like his dims my light, you know? He cannot handle the person I want to be. I want a very different kind of life, more sexually open and expressive, BDSM play with people other than him. I want to be the Real Me. And every time I open that door, he has to brace himself, and I close it again to spare him the pain and "go at his pace".
Poly is hard. I could really use some support. How do I support him, when I feel so much like he is dragging me down and keeping me back? I have waited 17 years to have the poly life I wanted. I cant wait anymore.
Im on the other end, I want nate to find a girlfriend because o know that will make him feel better andlless left out. He'd love to experience the excitement of a new relationship. And in my opinion it's fair that if I have another partner then he should be able to as well.
When you told me your husband's reaction to your bf's surprise, it reminded me of a similar story, but a different context (no poly): an acquaintance got an unexpected day off from work. When his gf found out, instead of being happy at his unexpected good fortune, she was pissy and pouty. She was asked, "aren't you happy for your bf that he got a day off from work? She replied, "No, I want a day off." Needless to say, that relationship did not last.
Now I realize there is a huge difference between a day off from work and a relationship. But to rain on another's good fortune regardless of circumstance is not kind behavior. After all, your bf's presence took nothing away from your husband. And if husband's goal is to light up your life by surprising you, there has to be various means at his disposal - far more opportunity because you two live together. (But maybe he's not interested in treating your relationship as fresh and new? Maybe he likes being comfortable and not having to work so hard?)
Next point: perhaps having a gf would give him the insight that he needs to better traverse the poly landscape. That said if his general worldview is to be envious of others' good fortune, it's not all that attractive. So I guess my question is does he display envy in regard to this situation specifically? Or is it his general attitude toward life? If you won an award; got flowers from a platonic girlfriend; got your name in the paper...., would he be happy for you then? If the answer is still no, he would be envious, downplay it, then you've got other issues besides poly.
Personally I think you can support him by treating him like an adult. I don't know your back story but it sounds like you are coddling him and agreeing to rules which go against how you actually want to live. If you expect that you will ever be accepted for who you are without catching an emotional beat down then you may have to just stop taking said beat down. You are both grown people and if you feel that he is trying to put his emotional issues on you then don't allow it. As gently as you can I suggest you pry yourself away from taking on all of his issues. Surely he has a friend or a therapist he can vent to.
My experience-with a husband who wasn't interested in poly-to where we are today-living a poly life under specified compromised terms;
Is that coddlign them never ever ever evver works well.
Not to say you should run ramshod over their feelings either.
But-you do need to EACH define your hard limits (non negotiable, won't change) and soft limits (negotiable or can be changed with time)
Then sit down and figure out if it is possible to find a middle ground.
There are things Maca isn't ok with; that OTHER poly people would htink are NOT acceptable limitations, but they don't bother me.
On the other hand, there are things that he would PREFER not to be a part of our dynamic, that are hard limits I MUST have.
We figured out that there was a middle ground and we were able to negotiate how to find it together.
But-that was impossible for 2.5 years, while we both were trying to do it without having laid out in concrete and clear terms what our hard limits were.
You need to define those; because those will tell you if it's EVEN POSSIBLE to make this work-without drama-ever.
Has your husband dated at all since you began practicing poly? It seems that you're not open to the idea of him having a relationship because it would be a distraction from working on the marriage. Sometimes it is benificial to work on individuals first.
Hanks experiance with dating did help us all move past the insecurity and jealousy he was feeling about what Darla and I shared. It was a new perspective for all of us and in the end we are all better for it.
I'm confused about why you'd be against him finding a secondary relationship of his own. It seems like something that he's expressing interest in.
Yes he wants someone so stop resisting. I understand your reasoning but I feel its an imbalance in your power dynamic. The minute he has someone he will begin to understand how selfish his reaction was to a surprise pop over because he will want the same thing.
Perhaps the reason he was so hostile about your boyfriends surprise visit, is because:
A) He felt the sanctity of his home was invaded. Everyones homes should be their safe places, but with the boyfriend showing up your husband doesn't feel emotionally safe in your home anymore, since someone he considers an "undesirable"/"enemy" can come and go as they please in your husbands home with your open armed welcome.
Perhaps the two of you should negotiate over if and in what terms any of your metamours can visit your common home.
While it is both of your home, you still should invite in only people who both of you can accept in your common space, and not only one of you finds welcome, while the other can't stand the guest.
I think it would have been better, if you and boyfriend had gone out to somewhere else after he arrived at your door. Walk in the park ect.
B) It felt like sneaking around behind his back. It is no fault of yours that the boyfriend wanted to surprise you and cheer you up, but the fact that this happened unplanned, in your home while your husband was at work, meant that emotionally he was blindsided by this event and it really felt like sneaking around on him, since he had no forewarning or say in this situation.
While you were not sneaking around on him, since you had no idea the surprise was coming, the emotional impact could feel the "same/similar" to your husband as if you had been really sneaking around, since he was kept in the dark and found out only after the fact that the boyfriend was there visiting you.
c) You seem to expect compersion from your husband. Wanting and expecting someone to have compersion for you when they have not even come to grips with ethical non-monogamy in their relationship, is way too much to ask. It is actually putting someone emotionally under pressure. Don't expect compersion, not everyone is capable of it.
Not related to the surprise visit but thoughts I got when I read your posts.
d) NRE, try to make sure that you are handling your NRE with your boyfriend well and not waxing poetic about him to your husband. Try to gleam if your husband had a good point or not when he mentioned you should also go to him for emotional support.
If you are moping around at home missing your boyfriend all the time and not emotionally engaged with your husband who is at home, then your husband could feel that he is being taken granted for and not appreciated, while the boyfriend gets all the fun stuff and is seen in shinging colors.
e) Forbidding your husband to date others if he wants to, while you have a boyfriend is hypocritical. It gives a great imbalance of power in your relationship that would rub anyone wrong. What is good for the goose is good for the gander and all that.
What are you afraid of if he did start to date? That he would have an exit affair and shop around for someone who will give him monogamy? That he would stop putting work in to your marriage? That some innocent woman he starts to date would get hurt, when he discovers he can't to polyamory? Or are you afraid he can do polyamory and suddenly it is you who will have to share your husband with a metamour?
You should talk about your fears/reluctance over him dating and then grant him the permission and support he needs. Hypocrisy doesn't look nice on anyone. To him it could be felt very keenly that here is his wife shoving her boyfriend and her non-monogamy down his throat, while refusing to put herself in to the same situation and expects monogamy from him.
Thank you for all the responses so far.
Just to clarify, I am not keeping him from dating at all! He is just very introverted and has not found anyone to date as of yet. He is a snail (which he would openly agree with) when it comes to opening up his heart to another. He wants to take it slow, and is talking with a few ladies we have met at poly gatherings. My concerns are more that he would be using another woman as a band-aid. I truly feel he is mono. However, we dont really know because he has never had more than one relationship at a time. We shall see as things progress..
Also, BF comes to our home all the time. Most of our dates happen here, in the middle of the day while hubby is at work. Or I drive to BF's house. Sometimes we meet in the middle for lunch. So those details are not out of the ordinary for our life. BF has a family and kids of his own who do not know about us, so we dont do dates at night or on the weekends. It has always been this way with us, so those concerns are not the issue here.
Bookbug, Yes, I do think he would benefit from having another relationship. He does need to see that side of it. When he first started talking with a poly woman who expressed interest in him, he was all excited, and I for him as well. He so looked forward to chatting with her, and he was really surprised at how his desire to spend time with her really took nothing away from his desire for me. He did not expect that. He is now chatting with another woman and developing a very nice friendship with. We shall see how it goes.
And if anyone else had done that for me he would have been very happy for me. It was really all about the fact that BF was able to do it, and did.
Marcus, thank you as well. Our brief version of back story is that I did not have any other relationships aside from a couple of very casual escapades with women for the 17 years of our relationship. This is the first time I have had a male partner besides him. It is definitely a trigger for him. I never allowed myself to form any relationships with men because I knew he would have difficulty with it. But this guy is a lifetime love who I met when I was 12. He is a definite deal breaker, and I will not walk away from him. Not when I have been open with my husband the whole time we have been together about who I am. We have attended poly events for years. It has not been surpressed. He just never took the time to deal with his feelings about it until now.
I coddled him for the first 6 months. Giving him lots of physical touch, sex several times a week (which is NOT our norm..), lots of talking. But I came to realize that No, it was not helping. It was perpetuating his feelings that he was a victim, and I was constantly reassuring him and "making it up to him". So, I stopped. I told him that I would do those things, we would connect, but I had to have a say in when that happened. It needed to be genuine for me as well. If I had a need to do work (I own my own business), or have some time to myself, I may need to take it and he would need to learn how to cope on his own sometimes. I was not always going to rescue him from how he was feeling. Our therapist confronted him about his being emotionally manipulative, and he really owned it and is working to change that. He just doesnt always realize he is doing it.
We instituted a schedule, mostly for my own sanity. Three nights a week with hubby, three nights a week I can text or chat with BF. Sundays are open. Sometimes we watch a show, or I take that night for myself. It actually helped because the nights that were for BF my husband would take care of his own needs. He wouldnt be clingy and constantly ask what we were going to do to connect that night, and he didnt ask for or expect sex. I needed that space.
I do appreciate the input so far. Thank you everyone!
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