Are my expectations just too high?
I am a married woman, involved in the lifestyle for 14 years. My husband has dated for a good portion of that time; I have had a good bit of practice and time for introspection on dealing with things from that side, but I have only recently begun my own dating. I need some objective input as Iím both an overthinker, and one of those people who tend to take on too much responsibility in any given situation. In my current situation Iím not sure if I have a valid issue, or if my expectations are just unreasonable. (It may be worth noting that Iíve only had 2 poly relationships, and my dating experience before I got together with my husband is also fairly limited.)
Iím currently dating a couple; weíve been together for roughly 8 months. When I first got involved with them, I made it clear that I was not looking for a casual relationship. The issue I am having is with not feeling valued, and I canít seem to figure out quite whatís going on here.
The male half of the couple is very emotionally reserved, and suffers from (currently untreated) depression and ADHD. Neither one of them are very affectionate, this fact is something that has been discussed in the past. Other than a once a week standing date (in which I prepare a meal for everyone, and then we sit on the couch and watch tv for a while), they do not seem inclined to spend time with me, which is made doubly frustrating by the fact that we live literally a block away from each other. They have apparently lost interest in having sex with me Ė the last time he and I were intimate was over a month ago, Iím not even sure when the last time she and I or all three of us were intimate, which is made doubly frustrating by the fact that I know that they are being intimate with other people. Thereís no flirting, no emotional intimacy with him whatsoever Ė we used to at least talk about things other than our shared love of snark, but that has tapered off as well, a fact brought poignantly home when we DID spend some time together over the holiday and I got asked several times ďdid guy tell you about this or that minor thing that happened?Ē If I tell him specifically that I need some attention it will pick back up for a few days, but Iím getting to the point where I feel like I have to make a special request just to get him to TALK to me, and thatís not exactly great for the self-esteem.
He and I have had conversations about this in the past, because this has been an ongoing issue. They tend to go something like this:
I indicate that I need to feel desired, like I actually have a place in his life, like Iím not just another random chick he doesnít object to hanging out with if he has some spare time and nothing better to do.
He agrees that it is reasonable for me to feel this way.
I indicate frustration because he does not express those things in any of the ways that I am used to guys expressing general interest.
He agrees that he does not behave in those ways.
I ask him to tell me what his indicators ARE, so that I will recognize them for what they are instead of discounting them because we are approaching our interactions from different angles.
He is unable to give me anything, other than the fact that he still talks to me Ė if he didnít want to continue to engage with me, he would just stop.
I think I could deal with the lack of sex better if I felt like I occupied a bigger space in their life, but I donít. Typically when I try to talk to him/them about these issues (and he HATES having relationship issue discussions. I wonít have them with him online anymore because he has a tendency to just walk away from them when they get too uncomfortable for him), I typically get told that they DO care about me, itís not about me, theyíre just busy, they have other things going onÖbut I feel like after enough times, it DOES become about me, and how little my feelings seem to mean to them Ė him in particular.
I just donít get whatís going on here. If a girlfriend came to me with this tale Ė ďthatís the guy Iím in a relationship withÖwe donít have sex, and donít play unless we happen to be at the same play event and heís not busy, and we donít really spend time together, and he doesnít really talk to me all that much, or about anything of consequenceÖbut he totally cares about meĒ I would say girl heís using youÖbut I canít figure out what heís using me FOR. Itís clearly not sex, Iím not fulfilling some emotional need for him, itís not like Iím a gourmet chef or anything so I canít imagine that a once a week free meal is worth sticking around forÖI feel like I have zero value in this relationship, and I canít tell if this is just the life of a secondary and Iím not used to it, or itís just that my expectations are too high and Iím trying to treat this like a dedicated mono relationship when I shouldnít, or if Iím just too high maintenance.
And I know that the answer is ďtalk to him/themĒ. Iím trying. They both seem to get frustrated when I have issues. I asked him yesterday if he could make some time in the next day or so to get together with me and talk; he said of course, but interestingly I havenít heard from either of them since them. If I *am* able to pin him down for a conversation, I suspect that our lack of closeness thatís developed over the past several weeks will be attributed to his depression, and the stresses heís dealing with in this life at the moment. And I get that, I really do. I donít expect him to change for me, and become affectionate, and want to see me 4 days a week. But when these periods crop up where life takes his attention away from the relationship for weeks at a time, is it unreasonable for me to want him to acknowledge that once in a while? I donít need a dozen roses or a boom box outside my window, just a ďhey, I know I havenít had much time or attention for you lately, donít think itís gone unnoticedĒ that I donít have to chase down and beg for?
I know that relationships take work, poly relationships in particular. What I donít know, where poly relationships are concerned, is how to differentiate between a normal amount of work, and when itís time to walk away.