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-   -   Need Advice on Dealing with Jealousy/Mistrust (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7781)

PLove 03-15-2011 11:04 AM

Need Advice on Dealing with Jealousy/Mistrust
My husband and I are just beginning to form a triad with another woman and I'm looking for some advice on how to deal with some of my feelings of jealousy and mistrust. This is our first venture into polyamory and I suspect that part of my problem is because of how the relationship started--my husband was sneaking around with this woman off and on for the past year and had fallen in love with her. I met with her to discuss the situation and we found that there was an attraction between the two of us, as well, so we've been pursuing the whole triad idea.

This past weekend, we were together for the first time sexually, all three of us, and it was without a doubt, the hottest, most erotic experience of my life. There was also an incredible energy/connection between us that showed me the possibilities of this kind of relationship.

At the same time, I find that I'm fighting feelings of fear and worry that because they already had an established relationship and I'm entering it late in the game that they are really just wanting to do their own thing without me. Both my husband and the other woman are assuring me that this is not the case and during our lovemaking, were wonderfully sensitive to how I might be feeling about the whole situation. But because of how the relationship started, I'm having problems completely ridding myself of the negative thoughts. I can't help feeling that if my husband and I had found and pursued her together, rather than me being brought into the relationship later, things would be different in terms of my feelings. But it is what it is and I'm trying to find ways to focus on the positive and not go down the jealousy/mistrust road. I'm also trying to remind myself that I should cut myself some slack--in the last 4 weeks, after a lifetime of monogamy, I've moved from finding out that my husband had an affair with another woman to pursuing a triad with her. That seems pretty good to me.

I'd love advice on how others who have entered into polyamory this way might have dealt with their feelings. Is this a pretty normal reaction to starting this way? How do you move out of these feelings into something more positive?

TruckerPete 03-15-2011 12:00 PM

I'd say you're doing extremely well.

Don't be afraid to keep asking for the reassurances that you need. If they're really interested in making this work, they will go at your pace. They've had a whole year to lose your trust; now they need to put in the work that should've been done from the start and help you through your negative feelings.

Negative emotions are perfectly normal, especially given the way you've come to poly. When they happen, acknowledge them, deal with them as best as possible, and try not to worry you're doing something "wrong" just because you're having those feelings. You're not. I don't think anyone around here hasn't had negative emotions in their poly experiences. They're a part of life just like the good ones.

Also, technically, she's entering the game late, assuming you've been with your husband longer than the year they've been together. ;)

RobFire 03-15-2011 12:19 PM

I can't contribute to heavily on the jealousy issue, other than to suggest that you try to define your jealous feelings in more precise terms that do not use the word "jealousy".

Usually there are underlying issues with jealousy that can be obfuscated by the more general term. Sometimes when someone picks apart what the jealousy means, they can get a better understanding of what their fears, envy or possessive instincts come from.


One other point I would raise would be that if it were me, I would take some time and address the breakdown in trust that occurred while your partner was having an affair on the sly. IMHO, there shouldn't be any justifiable reason for that type of dishonesty, and living in a poly relationship demands much more, not less, honesty and communication.

PLove 03-15-2011 12:33 PM

Thanks Trucker Pete and Rob Fire for the thoughts.

TP--you're right that she's the one coming in late--my husband and I have been together for 8 years, married for 5. I think that in this situation, it's hard for me to not think of it as me being brought into their relationship though, because they are in love and I'm looking at trying to develop my own relationship with her. Although I guess I could also look at it that WE are in love and she's trying to develop a relationship with me. Because of the sneaking around thing, where she knew about me and I didn't know what was going on with her, I think it makes it feel more like I'm the intruder at times, though.

Rob--the feelings of jealousy no doubt are somewhat related to the usual feelings of inadequacy and fear that I think come with anyone embarking on polyamory for the first time, especially if it wasn't something that they sought for themselves. It's hard to shake a lifetime of conditioning that says there's something wrong with you if your partner wants someone else. Not to mention the fact that over the years when my husband has had feelings for other women, it has often turned into discussions about why can't I be more like they are. He has not been doing that here and has apologized for doing that in the past, but, again, it's hard sometimes to shake the past.

I agree that we do need to work on the betrayal of trust and have been doing that. He gets frustrated at times with my time-table and wonders when I'm going to get over my feelings, but I do feel like we're in early days here and that in all fairness it's a lot to expect that I would be over everything in 4 weeks.

TruckerPete 03-15-2011 01:38 PM


Originally Posted by PLove (Post 71069)
I agree that we do need to work on the betrayal of trust and have been doing that. He gets frustrated at times with my time-table and wonders when I'm going to get over my feelings, but I do feel like we're in early days here and that in all fairness it's a lot to expect that I would be over everything in 4 weeks.

Oh hell yes! He gets a big ol' slow the eff down while you catch up to everything that's happened in the last month.

And yeah, I totally understood what you meant by coming late to the relationship.

I would suggest you do a tag search for NRE (New Relationship Energy). It sounds like hubby is more than a little blinded at the moment. NRE generally lasts 6-12 months, but sneaking around would have slowed down the natural progression of NRE into a stable state. As well, with your acceptance now on the table, the entire dynamic has changed and there's going to be a burst of NRE with that, as well. I would bet he's got all sorts of bubbly future fantasies going on and needs a bit of a reality check.

If he's open to it, hubby should get on here, too. Don't worry, we won't rail on a cheater-turned-poly who is genuinely trying to make things work. We have a number of senior members who came to poly that way. :)

PLove 03-15-2011 01:50 PM

Hi TP--actually he is on here--Hades36--and he's the one who introduced me to this Forum.

You may be right about the NRE. I think that especially after Saturday night it may be picking up and that's another aspect I need to learn how to deal with. I've done some poking around and reading on it and I'm trying to not let that be yet another thing that sends me down the negativity road, but damn--there are a LOT of things to have to adjust to in a short period of time, you know? :)

He's been doing his very best to be sensitive, thoughtful, spending time with me, etc. On one level, I shouldn't have any complaints because he's really being good about it, especially when I look at what some other people have had to deal with. But at the same time, it IS a struggle to see your partner having these feelings for another person, especially when you're struggling to build your own relationship with them and aren't totally sure where it's going.

It's definitely a learning process and one that tests your personal limits, I will say that!

GroundedSpirit 03-15-2011 02:36 PM

Hi Plove,

One thought occurred to me that may be worth mentioning.

It's important to not confuse TRUST (and respect) with poly, sex or anything else. Although they can be connected they are not the same and have to be looked at and dealt with separately.
We all get our trust violated at some point, some more seriously than others. From little things like what money was spend on to something more substantial like the affair you note. Once that trust is violated there's going to remain a certain amount of suspicion and skepticism for a LONG time - maybe forever. You have to build it back through a string of things where your judgement is tested and proves solid.

Now, that being said, living a poly life has it's own set of complications and the trust is only a part. In my experience only, I've found that once something like this finally comes into the light (affairs etc) and you survive that initial shock and all proceed down the road together, I feel that there will be a much higher degree of openness and therefore potential for trust. And validation of that trust and better judgement. So it can actually help rebuild and reinforce more honesty and openness.

Good luck.


TruckerPete 03-15-2011 03:38 PM


Originally Posted by PLove (Post 71080)
On one level, I shouldn't have any complaints because he's really being good about it, especially when I look at what some other people have had to deal with. But at the same time, it IS a struggle to see your partner having these feelings for another person, especially when you're struggling to build your own relationship with them and aren't totally sure where it's going.

He could be doing everything perfectly, and you would still be entitled to feel however you want. He can help mitigate your feelings to some extent, but ultimately, you will work through them and process at your own speed. He is there to support you. Don't either of you be discouraged by what you're feeling; it's taken a lifetime to program your brain in a mono way, so it'll take a bit of work to shift those views.

Your feelings are not neccessairly a reflection of the quality of work that's going into your life right now. Allow yourself the full range of emotions this situation will bring up and use those emotions as tools. Look at your reactions and break them down to determine whether or not there's more work to be done by one or all of you. For example, jealousy can be broken down into several causes - lack of trust, fear of abandonment, etc. Figure out why you're feeling what you are and then work on the core issues.

And yes, you may very well have it easier than some folks, but that in no way diminishes or discounts your experience, your fears, and all that jazz. We only live through our life.

PLove 03-15-2011 08:20 PM

TP and GS I think you're both bringing up what, for me, is probably the biggest issue right now--building back the trust that was lost over months of lying to me. Because we've moved so quickly into pursuing this idea of a triad, the trust issues are muddying the waters of trying to build a new and challenging dynamic (polyamory) with two people who were willing to keep secrets from me to pursue their own relationship. I'm hoping, of course, that the lies and secrets were a result of feeling that they couldn't be open with me about this. But I also am beginning to worry that if I don't have the "right" feelings--if I'm not as accommodating and supportive as possible--that they will begin to lie to me again because they don't want to have to deal with my pain and just want the joy of their new relationship.

To this point, I've primarily held my husband responsible for the betrayal, because at the time I wasn't in a relationship with his girlfriend, but now that she is part of our dynamic, I'm realizing that I also have some trust issues with her. She knew about me and was willing to keep seeing him in secret. Even though they were minimally physical with each other, they had enough contact and connection to fall in love behind my back. So there is a part of me that worries that her openness to polyamory at this point is really just a way to keep him in her life. I'm not saying that my feelings are an accurate reflection of what's going on. These are just my concerns.

Compounding the problem is the fact that I don't really know her that well. I like her and obviously feel some kind of connection to her, but she did date my husband for months behind my back, so there is a part of me that feels betrayed by her too. Trust is something that you build up over time with people, and unfortunately my introduction to her was based on a massive betrayal of my trust, so that's a big stumbling point that I haven't really been seeing well.

TP, I think you're right that I need to just let myself have my feelings and recognize that I will have good and bad days around all of this. Although there is some jealousy in this, my bigger issue right now is trust--trusting that they both do want a triad relationship and that they aren't just saying this as an excuse to continue seeing each other without the hassle of secrets; trusting that they aren't seeing each other behind my back; trusting that they are both telling me the truth about their feelings and actions. If I had the trust, then I think that a lot of the jealousy issues would probably go away. I'm not sure that my feelings really are about jealousy. I think they are more about a feeling that I won't know the truth of what's going on so that I can be an equal participant in the relationship with the three of us.

Although my husband and I are a couple because of our history and marriage, they are a couple based on their deceptions. I'm worried that that form of "couple-hood" may supersede my marriage.

I think it can be hard enough to build up trust after there's been an affair in a monogamous relationship, but at least you don't have the other person around and aren't trying to build a relationship with them, too. At this point, I'm basically trying to build a relationship with two people who cheated on me (in a sense), so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I'm having these issues with trust. And I think I also need to be clearer with myself and with them about the extent to which my discomfort with our changing relationship is about trust as opposed to jealousy. Because they are two different issues with two different strategies for dealing with them.

TruckerPete 03-15-2011 10:02 PM

It sounds like you've stated your needs dead on in that last post. Why not show them both?

You're articulate and reasonable. Should go over well enough. :)

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