I apologise in advance for my mammoth reply!!! Oh my God... apparently, I have a lot to say!
Congratulations on finding happiness and enjoying the excitement of a new partner.
My advice may sound a little blunt... but it is meant with good humour and my own hindsight about how I, and my GF, acted when we were new to poly.
I have a lover that I have been involved with for about a month.
I'm glad you mentioned NRE... because... hahaha... yes, I'm sure you're definitely still going through it. I have found that NRE has lasted about 3 months for me. Incidentally... even when I've thought they were the hottest, sweetest, most wonderful thing since sliced bread... after 3-6 months, I started to cool on each and every one of them. The same thing for my GF, actually, with her other partners.
My point here is that whilst you *may* have met a very good other partner and just *maybe* he will actually be worth all the trouble and work you'll have to go through.... remember that he might not.
Don't act rashly or selfishly now, because it may come to bite you in the ass.
One of the bad karma things about introducing new people to friends, family and children? It gets complicated. My ex-secondary-girlfriend took a real shine to my best friend. When I started cooling off on her, she started trying to get him to get the three of us to go out, etc. Now, it's awkward when they go out without me, because he can't really bring her back to our place to hang out, since I now think that the girl I first thought was amazing is an actual loon....
On a serious note, this is the only concern I have with poly and children. Kids can get seriously attached. Kids can get their hearts broken. Kids can also feel unsettled about new people coming to the house all the time. For this reason, we do not let our daughter meet secondaries. We'd have to know a secondary for at least 6-12 months to consider making an introduction. How you and your husband choose to navigate that is your own decision, though
...though if I weren't poly, he probably would not be looking at all. He struggles much more than I do with this arrangement emotionally.
And that's ok.
Some things I find useful to remember about poly:
1. Poly/Mono *can* work - and the mono person is not failing in any way; nor is less 'enlightened'
2. Different things trouble different people - there might be something that would bother you about poly; you just might not have had to be put through it yet
3. It's often different when the shoe is on the other foot (i.e. consider the future possibility of your husband falling in love and understand that you just might not feel as evenly about it as you might think right now)
4. Some people genuinely don't struggle as much with their love being with another. However, where is the greater strength? In not feeling any negative emotion? Or in feeling it and working through it? In my opinion, the latter is admirable.
The following is *my* personal belief on what it takes to know that poly is 'right' for you. To *me*, being 'good' at poly isn't at all about not feeling jealous. It's about asking yourself:
a) EMPATHY - can I *understand* my partner, who might be struggling?
b) NURTURING - can I *effectively* nourish my partner, to lessen their struggle, and to ensure that this polyship isn't all about my good times?
c) COMMUNICATION - can I discuss and negotiate well? Can I avoid dictation of rules? Can I be flexible?
d) COMMITMENT - Do I want to be *poly* or do I want to be *single*? Single means dating who you want, when you want, answering to only yourself. Poly means having multiple *relationships* - therefore, multiple commitments, of varying degrees.
We are a little freaked out about how this is going to affect our family and home and social life.
It's good that you are both considering this. Don't be freaked out. Do think before you act.
BUT, can I introduce my lover to friends and walk around the town holding hands? No, not yet. Can I have my lover here at our house so we can all hang out together? No, not yet. Is it realistic to think any of this can even happen?
Who says no - husband? Or yourself?
You have to start at the beginning.
Do I have a *greater* commitment to myself - or to my husband?
There's no right or wrong answer. It's up to you to decide.
If you are more committed to meeting your own needs and wants, then you will set up an autonomous structure based on that.
If you value your husband greatly and one of your greatest needs is to have him in your life, you'll set up a structure that is based on compromise - balancing what you want/need and what he wants/needs.
Particularly if you're more committed to your husband:
Are you following hierarchical poly (primary/secondary)? Or are you open to having two primaries (or non-labelled loves)?
If you're doing primary/secondary, then yes, you have to compromise. More than that... you have to *want* to compromise. Sure, I get frustrated sometimes when I want to do something and my girlfriend drags her feet. But she is my primary - my priority. I choose to put her in that place. I choose to consider her feelings and I genuinely *want* to make decisions that take her comfort into account. It's not really hard for me - I am high on empathy and nurturing. I struggle more on the jealousy side. Sometimes those who do not struggle with jealousy as much can be a bit more lacking on the empathy and nurturing side - so it's good to be aware of it, if it sounds like you, and try to balance it. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.
When? How soon? All this stuff will be hard for me. I'm impatient with these things.
Again, start at the beginning. Let's say you're following a primary/secondary model by *choice* because you *want* to consider your husband.
How soon is the balance between what you want and what he wants.
I find that if I'm struggling to adjust to something, being rushed by my partner is incredibly, massively damaging. It makes me feel unsafe, like a failure and worse - it makes me feel hostile towards her for putting me in that position. Even if your brain is going "when when when when?!".... it genuinely can help not to vocalise that, in order to allow your loved one a safe place. Encouragement helps - saying things like "you are doing so amazingly well dealing with this - I love you so much more for it and am so proud of you".
For me, it's about reinforcing behaviour. If a partner is struggling, they're not feeling good, right? They will then associate poly with negative emotion. They can come to resent poly - or worse, resent you. If the active partner is getting what they want *and* wanting it faster, better, more, etc.... how is that going to make the struggling partner feel? Even more negative. BUT - if you try to teach your partner to associate good feelings with poly, it can make a world of difference. Showing your partner how poly has increased your love for them brings about a positive emotional response to poly, in your partner's psyche.
Any advice out there on how to take things one step at a time and not get too carried away with the new found liberation? Thanks.
It comes with experience.
As I said, for me, I pretty much know that the first 3-6 months are NRE-ville. During that time, I take care to:
- make dates with my primary partner
- give her extra love and attention, compliments, praise
- *ask* my primary if I'm doing ok balancing the NRE and if she has any requests or suggestions
- make sure I don't spend more time with new partner than old partner
- make sure I don't neglect my sex life with primary partner
- don't introduce new partners to friends during first 3 months (basically, I don't let them get saturated into my life too much)
- remember that I don't know the new person yet; everyone has flaws and this person will show theirs soon enough
- keep in mind how I would want to be treated, if I was watching my primary with someone else
I know from experience that there are few things worse than watching your partner go through NRE and handling it badly. Especially when poly is new - it can be a really hard time.
GalaGirl first posted this article on handling NRE and insecurity - it's amazingly useful:
After 18 months of verbal reassurance from my girlfriend, the thing that actually finally worked wonders for me was Sternberg's theory of love. Knowing that my girlfriend genuinely feels a consumate love for me helped me put her new lovers into perspective; because even if they ever got to the same stage we are at, it would take time; which would give me time to get used to it:
All of this being said, poly is of course about getting your own needs met. You shouldn't have to sacrifice everything. You can have what you want - but just have a think about what is more important - getting it in the kindest, roundest, best possible way? Or getting it fast and causing damage?