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-   -   not sure if this relationship is healthy (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=980)

peripheral 10-19-2009 01:50 AM

not sure if this relationship is healthy
A year ago I started seeing a guy who is in a long-term polyamorous relationship with his gf. They live together.

I never felt like his gf was entirely comfortable with the situation. Recently I got a chance to spend a lot of time alone with her and I am now even more convinced that this is true.

They have both been honest with me, separately, about the sexual problems in their relationship, i.e., the lack of sex. He always wants it, she rejects him constantly. She has expressed the fear that I am giving something she will not- intimacy via physical affection.

She also told me things that countered what he has said; for instance, he has stated that he's never felt uncomfortable or jealous of the few times she has dated others. Yet she told me stories of those times.

At first I was thrilled to bond with her, as I'd always felt like she didn't really like me. Now I just feel conflicted, and guilty. She didn't come right out and say it, but I really believe she'd rather be monogamous with him.

I also really want to ask him about some of the things she told me, but I feel like I would be betraying a trust.

ramfish 10-19-2009 02:27 AM

Hmm that's a tough one. Maybe if you get a chance to talk to her alone again, you could just come out and ask her if she would be more comfortable being monogamous with him. What she needs is important too.

Trying to confirm he said/she said rumors is probably not a good idea. It could lead to them having a fight...and the one who's story you were trying to confirm to mistrust you. That really wouldn't help things move along at all :(

LovingRadiance 10-19-2009 05:08 AM

What a mess huh?
I think I would have to second the opinion of having another talk with her and just flat asking her if she would prefer to be monogomous. That would answer one question.
The other is-if you FEEL like you shouldn't be there, maybe YOU would be happier if you weren't in that relationship?

HappiestManAlive 10-21-2009 03:01 AM

Sounds like they have unresolved issues, with does NOT bode well for you. Sit them down, both together, and without bringing up specifics, state openly in the presence of both that you have recieved conflicting information from them and that you want to help them through it. Then do so if you are able to maintain that kind of nuetrality (it comes naturally to me, I have to remind myself that such is not the case for most, lol). If you aren't comfortable with being part of the discussion, make it clear that you want to discuss the outcome of their talking sessions with BOTH of them, AT THE SAME TIME, so there are no miscommunications in what you hear at the end. And you had better be ready to accept that they might not be ready for you - or that they aren't good together.

In any event, you are either in a position to help them through - a difficult place for a "3rd" or a "secondary" - or you need to distance yourself and save yourself the drama train that's heading down this tunnel!

peripheral 10-21-2009 05:19 AM

Thank you all for answering so quickly.

Just to give you all a little more information- I did in fact ask straight out if when they started dating she had wanted/expected it to be monogamous. She did not answer directly, but instead said she knew from the start that this is just "who he is". Which to me sounded like she would have liked it to be monogamous, but was willing to try it another way to be with him. Could just be my interpretation, though.

We have talked all together about this a while back, but it was before I knew her very well. She confessed to having some issues with the situation, but she downplayed it as her own insecurities, and that this was part of being polyamorous- acknowledging that sometimes it's difficult, and that's okay.

Perhaps someone could give me insight into how this works when the primary couple isn't having a satisfying sex life? Is that common?

To answer the question about how I feel- I am happy in the relationship when I just think about it terms of me and him. But when I start thinking about his gf, I feel guilty, and sad that she is not experiencing the advantages of being in a poly relationship (at least, from my viewpoint). I am hyper-aware of my tendency to worry about other people to the point of putting their happiness before my own. But I care about him, and now her to some extent as well, and I don't want to do anything to hurt anyone.

I think you are all right about talking to them, or her alone. But I'm not sure I'm brave enough for that quite yet.

HappiestManAlive 10-21-2009 05:50 PM

I'm jumping to some unhappy conclusions based on nothing right now, so I almost don't want to post anything as it will certainly result in people wondeing where I get off making such calls when I know nothing about the situation, lol. It;s just that onw of my greatest "gifts" is my uincanny ability to read the connections and situations between people, and it's hard not to act on sometimes. This is one of those times. So feel free to tell me I'm full of crap and I'll shut it, lol.

I'm getting the feeling that this BF is a master guilt manipulator, whether intentonally or not makes no difference. The tiny bits of information you've provided about her feelings and actions along with your descriptions of how you tend to be as a person plus what I'm hearing about how he's handling this sounds... Familiar. Seen it before kinda thing.

How old are each of you? How long have they been together? Yuo've been in the equation for about a year - how often do you see him/them?

Those are the easy questions, lol. Others have to do with much more personal stuff and sex and whatnot and I will refrain.

Kaylee 10-22-2009 03:52 AM

Oh, boy.

I'm going to tell you what I'd do, having been in the new girlfriend situation in a triad, and also having been in the "old" girlfriend situation, myself...

Here's the thing. The other girl probably is really nervous about upsetting you (after all, that might earn her negative points with the guy). Also, she clearly wants to be accommodating, and probably has a lot of thoughts about how if she really loves him, this is okay, and how things will just get better... What you said about the jealousy from him really strikes a chord with me. I have been in exactly that situation, where my guy doesn't want other people to think he's jealous, but is actually totally jealous. It sounds to me like this other girl is really confused about her own wants and needs, and has been conflating his wants/needs with her own. It's really easy, when you love someone and they're very assertive, to confuse their wants with yours. Since poly is all about throwing out the "rules" of relationships, it's also easy to get into situations that aren't exactly healthy, without realizing it.

I really don't recommend taking the things she said to the guy you're both dating. He might end up upset with her (even if only mildly) about things, and I think keeping her trust is more important. I think the best thing you can do at this point is be really supportive and open about your feelings, and encourage her to share hers. I suspect that she still worries about trusting you, especially if she actually is getting the short end of the stick where poly is concerned. It really sounds like she would prefer for some things to change, and until you know what those things are, it's hard to decide where to go from here.

In summary: I think the best thing to do now is to pursue information gently and discreetly, and speak and act with caution.

peripheral 10-23-2009 04:53 AM

To answer your questions...

I am 36, he is 28, and she is 30. They have been together for six years.

He and I see each other maybe once or twice a week. He is an auditor for a bank and travels for work pretty often, which means I could go a couple of weeks without seeing him sometimes.

The three of us get together socially maybe once a month, and see each other at other events, too.

HMA, I can see why you would think that there is some manipulation going on here. But I can honestly say that he has been upfront with both his gf and myself about most things *except* when it comes to talking about his own feelings. This extends to any subject that he perceives as negative or self-pitying (like feeling jealousy). All three of us are actually just incredibly nice and good people, if I can say that about myself without sounding too conceited!

I agree with the advice of going slow and being cautious with how I approach things. I guess what I want to know at this point is: does it seem like I'm worrying too much about his gf? Should I be thinking more about what I'm getting out of this, and whether I'm happy? Or does any polyamorous situation automatically mean I have other feelings to consider, whether I'm directly involved with them or not?

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