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Old 12-21-2012, 10:16 AM
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rory rory is offline
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^Agree with everything, and particularly the last sentence.

hellokitty, I feel bad that your partners are acting so selfish. It's cool that they really really want to spend time with you, but you need to let them know how the pressure affects you. Ideally, your partners would be interested in your happiness as well as their own. They are acting from a mentality of entitlement and competition, which is so destructive for a happy poly relationship.

I would like to ask you, does this kind of competitive view prevail in other situations, too, or is it just the holidays that is bringing it out of them?

I had been with Alec for 7 years when I started a relationship with Mya. Over the last 1,5 years, I've become very familiar with hinge guilt. That guilt will tell you that anything bad either of your partner feels - loneliness, jealousy, insecurity - is your fault, because you have multiple partners/are getting more out of it/should know how to balance their needs/etc. It's an understandable feeling, because the whole culture and society is telling us that, firstly, we are incredibly selfish for being with several people and, secondly, that partnerships are about making each other happy (usually to a pretty worrisome, unhealthy degree of self-sacrifice).

But the guilt is just a feeling. It's not true, if you understand what I mean. Even if you feel like you're the one "making them feel lonely/abandoned/whatever", it is not true. Even if you feel like it's your fault, that is not true. When all of you decided to form a poly relationship, all of you agreed on that, all of you consented. Whatever consequences that decision has, are the responsibility of all of you, not just yours alone even if it is you who is the one with multiple partners. It was not your decision alone, it was a mutual decision, and if they feel bad about something, they need to recognise that they chose to be here. I.e. they consented. Also, as important is the fact that both of them are consenting every day. Because when you enter poly, you can't foresee what will happen and how you will feel. In the end, everybody is responsible for their own happiness, and that means they are free to leave the relationship if they are not happy.

So, if your partners feel bad, you are not making them feel bad. You need to know that, and they need to know that.

It's enough to fight the internalised crap without your partners guilt-tripping you: they need to stop that immediately. You should ask, making it clear how important it is. If they do not stop, you may want to reconsider the relationships.

Think about what you want. Don't balance what your partners want (because it is not a competition and your time is yours to give), balance all the things you want. My suggestions:

- the guilt-tripping to stop
- time for work (with people acting like adults, i.e. understanding you need to work)
- time for yourself, to relax and unwind, doing things you want to do
- some time with one or both of your partners, spent enjoyably (again, not going over why they are not getting more)

It is not your responsibility to make them both happy. It is not your responsibility to make your bf happy and do everything he wants or everything you've usually done simply because you've been with him longer. It is not your responsibility to spend all your time with your gf just because she has nobody else to spend the holidays with.

Also, if they view poly from the place of entitlement and competition, as they are doing now, there really can only be bad feelings: they will not appreciate the time you choose to spend with them, only thinking about how you should be with them more. It will not be enjoyable for either of you. And even if one of them "wins", i.e. you choose to do what s/he wanted, s/he also looses, because you will resent the fact that you are under pressure and cannot freely choose how to spend your time.

I guess my basic advice is the same as many have given you: figure out what you want to do, and do that. My broader advice is to start learning to manage feelings of guilt. That will help you anyway, but it is particularly important if you have loved ones who will guilt-trip you. Good luck!
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