Trying to learn...
My husband had been talking to me about polyamory for a few years. He was not trying to push me into it, but he did discuss it with me. I had been unsure about how I felt about it. I always thought of marriage as a commitment between two people. I knew people with open marriages, and it seemed to work for them, but I am unsure if it would work for me. To me, it seemed that if someone was wanting an additional relationship outside of the marriage, that there was something lacking in the marriage.
My husband and I had been going to counseling to discuss other issues we had, mostly surrounding communication, which the counseling did help with. The subject of polyamory did come up and was discussed. But the counselor did show some bias towards monogamy. So, it did not seem that I was getting an unbiased view or discussion about it with her.
I started to do some of my own research on the topic. I found it interesting, and was trying to envision myself living that type of life with my husband.
I ended up having an experience with another man that led me to believe that I was ready for polyamory. I won't get into too many of the details here, but this experience made me feel that I could care for another man romantically, yet my husband was still my primary and I loved him and I did not want to leave him. I did not cheat on my husband, but with this other man we expressed our feelings for one another. And I communicated this with my husband openly. My husband was truly happy that I had felt this, and we decided to move forward with polyamory.
We put profiles on an online dating site, okcupid.com. He had begun contacing many women to date them. Many of these women were not familiar with polyamory, and some were. Some were comfortable being the secondary to him. He had gone on a couple of dates. During this time, I ended up not going further with the man I mentioned above because he was married, and did not want to be open with his wife about me or our relationship. I knew that it could lead to trouble. It saddened me that this happened. But I was finding other men on okcupid.com to possibly date, but did not end up going on dates. I emailed and im chatted with two men, but that was about it. Possibly due to the fact that I am not aggressive when it comes to approaching men. I am more likely to wait for them to ask me out. But there were some definite possiblities for me.
But all the while this was going on, it felt strange and uncomfortable for me. I was experiencing feelings that I had not felt. Fear, anxiety, jealousy. When my husband and I were working on our contract, it was surreal. I kept wanting us to have dates on the same night if we could. It was uncomfortable for me to discuss how far we could go sexually on our first dates with someone. How often we could see people, etc.
I also saw something in my husband that I had not seen him experience with me in a long time. He was wanting to do spontaneous things with these other women, fun and creative adventures. This saddened me greatly. And we discussed it. He said that he felt that I did not want to be spontaneous anymore. I said that I did, maybe I had sent him the message when I didn't, and when I saw him do this with others I missed what we had.
I began having panic attacks. I was crying, not sleeping, not eating. My husband decided that we had to stop moving forward with polyamory. I was insisting that we should keep going. I had gotten some books to read about it, and I was reading online to try to understand and cope with the fears and jealousies that I had. But we stopped.
Since then my husband and I have been trying to figure out what happened. Why I had such an extreme reaction. I understood that jealousy and the fears could be logically adressed, but that did not change the emotions I had. We talked about it possibly having to do with societies cult-like view of monogamy, judeo-christian ethics imposed upon this society, and that maybe my upbringing having monogamous parents who were happily married for 34 years until my father died.
My husband has asked of me to try to talk with others who are involved with polyamory because he feels that I may not have a true understanding of it. That I still see it as cheating based on my past experiences. He does not want us to move forward with it, and is not trying to make me do that. He just wants me to try to understand it better.
We did go to a polyamory meeting in the area. But while there I felt like an alien. Everyone there was in a different place than I was. None of them were married. Some had never married and some had divorced. It just did not feel right. We also tried to go to a couple of swinger parties. They were a lot of fun and we met some nice people. In many ways I felt more comfortable with the swinger crowd because many of them were married or in long term couple relationships. But the problem my husband has with them is that they seem to be about only recreational sex vs. having an relationship beyond sex. But he also considered the possiblity that they may build relationships outside of the swinger parties. And some we talked with had.
I was the one who pulled the trigger on polyamory, and I could not do it. I feel guilt and pain for the damage I have caused our relationship.
We have been together for 12 years, married for almost 11 years. We decided before we got married that we were not going to have children. We love each other very much. And we cannot live without each other. We are struggling through this, and I am trying to learn, and be free of my fears. He has been depressed and frustrated with me because he feels I am not doing enough to try to learn about it, but I am trying my best and it goes through my head daily. I was hoping that posting here may help so I could gain some insight from all of you.
If you read this far I thank you so much. I look forward to hearing your insights.
Thanks for sharing your story.
One thing that comes up for me in reading what you wrote is a sense that your husband may be pushing you a bit, even possibly manipulating. But you need to take your own time to feel and think ... and thinkfeel ... through all of this polyamory stuff, about the social conditioning you mentioned, etc. You might consider telling him that you may move through your self-inquiry process on this FASTER if he'd take a less pushy approach to "encouragement" (my word, in quotes because its uncertain how encouraging pushing really can be).
No one should be forced into polyamory, nor pushed.
Meanwhile, you and your husband can explore being spontanious with one another, deepening your relationship, building a bond that is strong enough to work which ever path the two of you take in the future.
Just my two cents.
To me, panic attacks (haven't had a full-blown attack for a while now, one brush with it last December) are a sign of me being under such an extreme stress in my life that my mind tries to shut down. Every disease of the mind/body has a different ethiology, mine were abusive experiences in the past and the feelings of self-loathing they caused, which extreme stress and disappointments brought to the surface.
To me, it sounds as you were trying to push yourself to do something you weren't ready for. Putting polyamorous explorations aside until you are strong enough to deal with the emotions that set off panicky responses in you is definitely for the best now.
Be kind to yourself. There is nothing wrong with you, this is just something you need to deal with to be able to move on. I'm sending lots of compassion your way.
Thank you both for your comments and insights.
The thing is, he feels wronged by the whole situation we experienced. That I jumped into it thinking I was ready, but I really was not. He said when we got into it that we would quit at any time either one of us wanted to. And when we did quit it was much more of a struggle for us after than I expected. Actually I really did not know what to expect following this experience. But it has caused a strain.
He wants me to try to right the situation by truly learning what polyamory is. By talking with people involved in it, and understanding it. Only then he feels that I could make a more logical analysis of it. And not be afraid. Kind of like cognitive behavioral therapy I think. I have been trying, but it has been difficult because I am still reeling from the experience we had, and the emotions that it caused. And I also think that we need to repair our relationship first and foremost. Yet I see my husband frustrated and depressed, which makes me feel sad and guilty. I am trying to grasp it all as fast as I can. But he feels that I am not doing enough. Since the end of August, which is when we started, to about mid-September when we stopped, I have gone to one polyamory meeting, and 3 swinger parties. And have attempted to talk with individuals there. But often going to those has resulted from him showing depression and frustration, that I have not initiated anything and only did it because he was upset.
Last week he brought up that at the polyamory group meeting they would be discussing jealousy, but my first reaction was that I did not want to go, that I did not feel comfortable with that particular poly group. This frustrated my husband. He says that I should be willing to feel a bit of discomfort to try to learn about it, and understand it.
I do honestly think about it daily, and I am trying to reconcile the emotions and pain. Or does it seem that am I just stalling and dragging my feet? :(
I can assure you there are plenty of people here that can offer you advice and guidance. Unfortunately I might not be one of them.
You mentioned spontaneity and it struck a chord with me. I have found that spontaneity is much more difficult or it has to be confined to a designated time....which goes directly against the idea of spontaneous. Schedules are the working norm. The good thing for you both is you are on equal footing....meaning you are both dating and experiencing it together ....sort of automatic empathy and understanding. The trouble from my point of view is who can say how their going to react if and when they fell in love or worst Head over Heels in love. I've been told that's the highest degree of love.:) It was a risk I wasn't willing to take until recently.
Good luck to both of you D
I don't like the tone that your husband has taken, that YOU need to learn more on polyamory. This is not an illness. One party doesn't just get to do as he pleases and disregard the needs of his parnter just because he is poly. You both need to learn together, including learning how to communicate your fear and insecurities to each other. It sounds to me like poly made visible some holes in your marriage that need to be fixed. Part of the process is learning to communicate together and be responsive to each others needs.
It could have been too much too fast. Have you been doing spontaneous things together lately? Have you been DATING each other? Do you have hobbies that don't involve your husband?
Hi, this is Rita's hubby Rob.
Just wanted to clarify some things in defense.
1. I am not asking Rita to engage in any actual poly activity, only to learn more about it as I believe the jump into it was premature and done without enough research to begin with.
2. It was Rita who convinced me to try poly, and it was I who stopped it when I felt it was hurting her too much.
3. I would not even consider entering into poly again unless I saw convincing evidence Rita was ready. Evidence including signs I would see, that she does not know about, that would leave little doubt. (discussed those signs with counselors and friends, all agree that they would be unmistakable). And *she* would have to initiate.
Having said those things, the only danger Rita is in in researching poly and gaining a better understanding of it would be knowledge, which I did not think was a lot for me to ask her to risk.
Thanks for responding Rita's husband... would you please get yourself an account? It just makes it far less complicated when responding and talking to people on here... much appreciated :) and thanks
What stuck out for me was the spontaneity stuff too. I think that working on your core relationship and getting a good foundation would benefit. It sounds like Rita is missing some fun in her relationship life and that would lead to jealousy... not an uncommon thing... that is what usually comes up as much as not having the same amount of time as before...
So, why not plan some fun stuff for the summer together... and Rita's husband; why not surprise her with some fun dates...
When the fall comes, if you have got some good times under your belt and feel bonded and connected again... and know what is important to you about each other, maybe you can talk about it again. Take a sabbatical from poly so to speak.
I also suggest that you both add in there doing some reading together... on here, other sites. There is a lot to know... a foundation is so important... if you do a tag search for "lessons" or "foundations" you will find some good threads on this stuff.
Rob and Rita and Spontenaity
And the spontaneity thing is actually an interesting topic. For the many, many years we've been married, we had done some spontaneous stuff. As time went on, I noticed a trend where I would suggest off-the-cuff ideas to go out or get away, and an increasing hesitation on her part to do those things.
One of the *positive* things to come out of our brief foray into polyamory was that it brought her desire to once again do these types of things to the surface. Since then we have done several zero planning road trips, including one to Chicago (we live in Michigan) where we went out to an industrial club, stayed at a hotel, then drove back the next day, and another trip down south that lasted a few days.
I agree that we should definitely NOT entertain outside relationships until we are once again on very firm footing.
I would go so far as to say that if my wife were to suddenly beg and plead to try again, that I would not allow us to try it at this time. I would need a lot of time and convincing to go there again.
What I am more interested in is for her to learn more about it. Clearly things went south quickly last time we tried. I am a big believer in finding reason for things that go wrong, so that a deeper understanding between the both of us can grow and bring a richer connection to us.
There are three things I feel are critical to any relationship: Trust, Communication and Commitment.
As far as trust, we have that in spades. Outside of surprise gifts, we don't hide things from each other. Even when they are ugly, possibly hurtful or hard to cope with. I would be dishonest to her if I were to claim that I was happy with the way things worked out with poly.
As for communication, that's what I am trying to keep alive about this subject. I do not like things to fester unresolved or not discussed. I do not need immediate results, but I do need to see some effort made.
And as for commitment, I have committed to keep us away from things that can harm our relationship, and to give all I can to grow our bond. What I am asking from Rita is the same thing, a commitment to work through the issues that arose during our poly foray so that we can eventually grow from them. Just like we grew by learning how she did crave the type of spontaneous activities that I had belied she did not care for.
Above all, I would NEVER jeopardize our 12 year relationship over something I thought could tear us apart.
I do have interests that do not directly involve my husband which he is completely supportive of. I have also found some new friends through my interests. These interests and my friends have been a great source of strength for me. I tend to be introverted, and I have lost many friends to kids, so I have been working on being more social and to build friendships.
And that is something that I have mentioned to him that I want to focus on us getting in a good place again. But, as he said in his post:
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