Am I capable?
We have been together six years; monogamous for the first 4 ½, and open for the last 1 ½. We started off in the swinging scene; it felt like a safe way to explore having sexual variety as we could do it together. We still date couples together, but it is a smaller portion of our relationship now.
We met K&J after a couple months. I did not click well with J, but he clicked well with K. That’s when we started negotiating separate relationships. He really wanted to have a separate relationship with K, and it was really overwhelming for me because it felt like he wanted everything to move a lot more quickly than I was ready for. We had a first really big fight over this, and that was traumatizing. I thought we were breaking up. He ended up losing his interest in her and having a relationship with her because of all of the drama it caused for us.
We worked though all of that, and I thought I had come up with some better parameters for expressing my needs and ways of coping with this different style of relationship. Then, a few months later we met L&J. The same situation happened: we met them in a couple-to-couple situation, and I didn’t click well with J. We both clicked really well with L, but she was much more into being with him than into being with me. It was really difficult for me to get over those feelings of not having my attraction to her returned. He started seeing her separately, for casual sexual encounters. The first few times were difficult for me, and consequently difficult for him because he was worried about my emotional reaction. The last few times were much easier, because I began to figure out ways of distracting myself by being with other people while he was gone and doing other things I wanted to do. He eventually also lost some interest in her as a partner, partly due to those first few times I had a hard time and also partly due to the fact that he craves a deeper emotional relationship and she is only willing to give so much emotionally.
Most recently, he became very intimate with a girl I was dating (discussed in more depth in the thread I started a couple of weeks ago “sharing my girlfriend went wrong”). After I requested that he turn the volume down on his computer and phone when we are together so I am not triggered by knowing they are talking, he decided it just wasn’t worth it anymore to talk to her and he broke it off. He is furious that it ended that way because he feels like he is not allowed to have the separate relationships that he wants. But I didn’t ask him to stop talking to her. I asked him to accommodate a very strong trigger point I have right now.
I want him to have the emotional relationships in his life with the people that he wants to have them with. But he has concerns that I have too many hang-ups about him having these separate relationships and that is a deal breaker for him. Adjusting to having separate relationships as an option within our relationship has been difficult for me, and for reasons that I know very well and am working on by myself and with a counselor. I have a tendency to feel dependent on him and our relationship, and to feel excluded when he does something that I am not a part of. I see how those things are unhealthy. I own that, and I am working on all of it. I don’t think of myself as static, and I don’t think of our relationship as static. I feel like I have learned from each of these experiences, and I am really sad for him that I had difficulty with each relationship that he wanted.
We have realized since opening up that claiming the poly identity has to be done as individuals, not as a couple. He feels poly. I feel like I am in a weird gray zone. I don’t ever see myself as monogamous again, just by virtue of being bi. And I have felt in love with a couple of people since we have opened up, and I have experienced how I can love multiple people at once. But I don’t feel this innate draw toward the label “poly.” Maybe I just need to steer clear of labels, and live how it feels right, regardless of what other people might call it.
I am not sure what I am hoping to gain from posting this. I think some understanding or other perspective would be helpful. We are young (24 & 23), and I know a lot of the people on here are older than that. It has been extremely rewarding to read about other people’s experiences with poly, and the advice and comfort that are shared here. I would appreciate advice and comfort about our journey.