Thanks, everyone. He's camping this week, which gives us each time to think about things before we discuss them again.
WhatHappened, I especially appreciate your perspective, being so similar to C's experience. I think in the beginning I was able to see things clearly this way: I could never be enough, so eventually this will have to stop. But a month or so ago he mentioned that his ideal would actually be a poly arrangement, after all. (Even though the likelihood, as you said, is very slim.) He wouldn't want to give me up if his partner didn't require it. In fact just yesterday or so he wrote that he wished he already had a partner, so he could ask her about opening their relationship. And then my husband seems to have recently expanded his comfort zone a bit, and I started wondering, "Do we want to grow this relationship, and see where it takes us?"
I suppose "upgrade" is harsh.
It seems in your case, WH, being a monogamous secondary is definitely not satisfying. I wonder about C though. I know he has this mental image of a "full time partner" but the fact is, his life is way too busy to accommodate anyone full time (he has two homes 7 hours apart and goes back and forth a couple of times most months, as well as traveling further afield), unless that person had so little life of her own that she was able to just tag along. He didn't like that about his last girlfriend, though, that she didn't have enough life of her own. He barely manages to squeeze in any time for me -he keeps saying he hasn't managed to adjust his habits yet to reflect his priorities, and that he really does want to spend more time with me. He just can't fit me in between camping in the desert with his guys friends, traveling in Europe with his sisters, a kayak trip with a couple of friends, a river cabin trip with a few other friends, a 2 day visit to a friend with breast cancer, a weekend juggling festival, a couple of band rehearsals and performances, a weekend trip for a friend's birthday party... this is only a part of the past two months. I can't see how he could handle a full time partner without changing his lifestyle drastically.
He has no kids to care for, and needs no help with bills, and I feel I've been a fairly consistent emotional support -we email or chat online almost every evening about the events of our day, and often throughout the day. We don't have sex (yet?) but what we do in bed he says has surpassed anything he has ever experienced with anyone else. (It's pretty awesome.) I think if I were to be able to have sex with him, and eventually go along on a trip now and then, that's about all the "partner" he could handle anyway. He says I have a point. He's definitely thinking about it. Yesterday he wrote, "I sometimes wonder if I could go on in life without you," and I got all choked up.
I just don't want to feel disposable.
Married to a monogamous man 15 yrs, mother of 2, dating C 3 yrs, and in a romantic friendship with L more than 20 yrs