I hate playing Devil's Advocate, because I really do see both sides of the story and genuinely do feel for you. I've been in a similar situation and my ex girlfriend didn't give a damn about any sort of fidelity, let alone honesty and guidelines.
Please don't think that I'm saying "this is all your fault".
I was just trying to offer a different perspective based on what you had written (not based on you as a person, since I do not know you).
I can really hang on to anger and hurt when a partner betrays me. But if I start to pick apart *why* they did something, it helps me to let go of the anger. I can't build anything if I'm hanging onto anger, you know?
You're right, her needs should be equally important. So what do you do when you're struggling hard and they go ahead and meet their own needs against yours?
Poly is so difficult sometimes, because 'needs' can be barely tangible.
If her needs relate to another person, should they be put aside?
Well... the needs aren't really related to this other person. They are related to her. Perhaps she needs more freedom as a person than the current situation allows. Perhaps she's a person that needs not to have a primary. Perhaps she's a person that needs to lie and deceive to get any enjoyment out of sex (which obviously would need to be worked on). Perhaps she needs the confidence boost of having other people sleep with her. There could be many reasons for why she needs to do it.
I could be that she doesn't need it, that she just wants it and is selfish. In which case, it's still a need... the need to be single, or not be part of 'couple' dynamics, or to think only of herself. How does that match with your needs?
Does that make sense?
I totally understand that you're not looking to just ditch out on the relationship. You want to see if there is a way that you can make it work.
What can you do? Well... two things really. Either discover that she is very selfish and you two need not to be in a relationship (not saying that's the case)... or work on ways to stop this situation happening in the future. i.e. those stress number ratings and being clear about what a deal breaker would be.
When you can't compromise... you have a dead end situation. The relationship needs to be over, or it needs to be redefined as something less 'primary'. When it comes to compromising... it really comes down to how important both partners feel their relationship is. Is it worth the compromise? If you'd asked for another month, would your relationship be worth it for your girlfriend? Or would she need sex with this other girl more than she needed your relationship?
I just read your other post and yes... sometimes a person can be patient, loving and give you all the support you need. Then they start to get resentful because they aren't getting what they need in return. So, being human, they act out because they are so tired of feeling like they are carrying the other person.
My girlfriend and I have an analogy that we try to use for this, because in the beginning of our relationship, one of us would communicate so much that the other felt completely drained and resentment started to breed. We call it petrol sucking... if one of us needs support, we are aware that we are sucking a little petrol from our partner's tank. If we need support every day, all the time, we're sucking and sucking. If we are aware of this, we know when the red light is going to start flashing. We'll even tell each other "honey, I really want to be there for you, but just to let you know, my tank is running on empty this week." That has really helped us to be more cognoscente of when we really do need to talk and when we're just offloading. Communication and nurturing is truly great... but we also have to try to deal with some of the things ourselves... then talk to our partner if we can't get past them in our head.
I do see that she's human and has her own set of needs. For instance, she is the one who asks people out, while I wait to be approached. She is the one to make first moves, I tend to wait until someone woos me. So I could see that the pace was, in essence, asking her to protect me in ways she isn't equipped/obligated to, while at the same time asking her not to be herself on a date. And herself is to sleep with people. Fast. I know cuz that's how it was when we met, and that's how it is when we date.
I understand what you're saying, esp. regarding the butch/femme roles. I can relate to this. Ultimately, it's about that old "loving someone for who they are" thing. It used to really bother me that my GF was so quick about getting sexual with other people. Then I realised it's just who she is... she's not trying to be disrespectful to our relationship... she's trying to be herself.
I never intended to give her such hard rules. But yeah, I freaked, and when I did, she asked what I needed to feel secure. So I was like, for now, let's try it within these bounds. I honestly thought (though she didn't believe) that it would help me with the next steps. And if she stuck to them I could trust her and start to feel safe to take them down. Was that a wrong approach?
I think that guidelines are wonderful when both people agree to them. I think a 'step by step' approach was great... yes, it does make sense to take things slowly and loosen the guidelines as you become more comfortable, so that things don't spiral out of control.
The thing with guidelines though, is that if there's *any* disagreement whatsoever, they tend to get ignored or twisted.
If this helps, when we made our guidelines at the start of our relationship, we spent hours going over them. We talked and talked and compromised until we were mutually happy with each one. Mutually happy doesn't always have to mean ecstatic. I.e. if your GF wants to have sleepovers and you want her to have 4 hour dates, only during the day time... a compromise would be a night out, or a longer date. Neither of you are ecstatic about the compromise... but it's better than one being comfortable and the other screaming inside.
Personally, I'd rather have my bed to myself for once than sleep next to someone who's been fucking someone else just an hour before. So I'm not sure why that needs work, but am all ears if you want to elaborate.
The reason I said this is because the way it was written seemed full of anger and betrayal in the sense of her sharing her body with someone else.
What I'm saying is why does that upset you? Is it purely because she lied? Or is there a problem with her actually having sex with someone else?
Even though I believe in poly, I still have these little twinges in my head when my GF sleeps with her new guy. They are twinges of judgement (i.e. slut) and twinges of grossness, thinking about her sharing her beautiful body with some guy who doesn't love her.
I see those as my hangups to get over. I want to be able to cuddle her and hold her when she comes home, because both of us acknowledge that we really love and need that connection after being with someone else.
I love the rating system. I'll definitely give that serious thought, it sounds like something we really needed then, and could be useful in the future.
I'm really glad you like the sound of that
How exactly does one "confront" a "deal breaker situation" in a productive way?
Eeh... it's hard!!
Ideally... you get a feel for what kind of things would be deal breakers in the first place... by using the rating number system before events, or generally discussing what kind of things are really off the table for you.
It might be the case that you have no deal breakers. There's nothing either of you could do that would be an automatic "you're probably going to get dumped over this".
But those number 4 situations... the ones that are really, really going to make things messy are the ones to watch out for.
If I'm feeling a number 0-2 discomfort about something, I'll deal with those feelings myself and try to tell them to 'buzz off', without over-burdening my partner. And they will usually pass.
If I'm feeling a 3, I might talk to her about it, but not as soon as she's come home from a date. I want her to enjoy that buzz and not kill her happiness. Make her highs twice as high, etc. I'll talk to her the next day.
If I'm a 4, she'll usually know about it before the event. If she wants to do that thing, of course she can... but she needs to be willing to deal with the aftermath of my emotions and help me through that. The same for me, obviously.
A productive way to deal with deal breakers, or even 'number 4' levels of stress.... well... it's to keep talking and try to compromise.
Ultimately, if there cannot be a compromise, it's a dead end, because two people need entirely different things. In which case, the relationship can be left, or perhaps redefined as something less 'primary'.