I'm sorry to hear about your breakup. I think you are very sensible to give yourself a rest from dating women (perhaps you could/should extend this to men also) for the time being. I do think it's important in poly to consider the effects that NRE *and* breakups have on your partner and existing relationship - as well as on yourself.
I have been where you are. My first toe in the poly pond was when I had a long-term male partner and wanted to date a woman.
On one hand, it makes sense. Being attracted to both genders can mean that when you are monogamous with one gender, you intensely crave the other.
However, there is also the consideration that being bisexual means you can be attracted to *either* gender... including two men or two women, and so forth.
Like your husband, my boyfriend had the popular view that if I dated a woman, it wouldn't cause as much insecurity. He worded it like "I can't compete with a woman. I can't compare myself to a woman. So I don't."
Well, let's be honest. The only difference between men and women is body parts. Many women have stereotypically 'masculine' traits and many men have 'female' traits.
Now it comes down to compatibility of ideals and desires between you and your husband. 'Ideally' the popular 'you can date women but not men' idea would be worked through for something more realistic and less naive. However, if you dating men would be a deal breaker for your husband, that's simply the way it is. Kind of the same as "I would never live abroad" when you dream of retiring in Italy. You have to negotiate, reconsider, try to compromise, and if all else fails, pick one side or the other.
One technique I particularly like to use in relationships (poly or otherwise) is the 'revisit' option.
For example, you tell your husband that you would really like the dating women option to be opened up to include men. You would like to revisit this after an agreed period. 3 months, 6 months, or something in between. You don't raise it again, you don't pursue men, you don't entertain the idea, you don't break any agreements, you don't keep a man 'in waiting' hoping that the green light will be given eventually. You just accept it for now and agree to talk again at the agreed point.
This is useful for three reasons.
1. It can help your husband to feel secure, feel respected, feel that he is your partner and not your audience, feel like a vital part of the decision-making process.
2. It can help you to pace yourself. It can curb the risk of making rash, selfish, unfair or unnecessary decisions based on *wants* instead of *needs* (i.e. lust, NRE, attention, excitement, etc).
3. It prevents a cycle of hurt. Hubby will still be processing your relationship with the other woman (cheating affair or poly 'affair'?). He will also be processing your breakup. He may not be ready to face another challenge just yet.
My husband is monogamous, though Iíve told him he doesnít have to be. He does have a female friend that he flirts with. Iíve encouraged him to pursue it, even offered to talk to her for him, in hopes that we can open up our marriage a bit more at some point, but heís very scared to take that plunge, and Iím not about to push him. Heís already come a long way out of his comfort zone very quickly.
It's good that you can see how far he has stepped out of his comfort zone.
Be very careful not to push in the hopes that him having another woman will get you what you want quicker/easier.
People often say that if one person is struggling with the idea of poly, they should find someone for themselves. I think this can help with the "oh, *this* is what it feels like... I still love my existing partner... so now I totally understand that they still love me too, whilst being with another!" .... but... it creates a lot of emotion-swirling. Not only are you both dealing with the balancing, compassion, respectful, nurturing side of poly... you're both dealing with the jealous, insecure, uncertain side of poly. At the same time.
Iím fine, for now, just flirting and enjoying my young male friend, though heís definitely pushing to take it to the next level. Currently, I donít wish to cross any lines I canít uncross, and have refused any invitation from my friend which involves being alone with him unless its in a very public place.
It sounds like you're being sensible in preventing anything physical from happening. It's also great that you are seeing that you need to pace yourself and not launch into a rebound situation - for both your sake and your husband's.
One thing concerns me, though. Why the flirting? Is that not feeding temptation? Is your husband happy with the flirting; does he accept and embrace that as an innocent part of your personality?
My husband has said to me in the past ďIf you decide to sleep with another guy, just make sure I donít find out about it.Ē Not exactly permission, I know, but even with the girls he prefers ďDonít Ask, Donít Tell,Ē so maybe thatís the best Iíll ever get.
As I said before, I really think setting a 're-visit' schedule would be good here.
I am completely wary of DADT agreements, unless they have been discussed thoroughly, on a number of consecutive occasions, with guidelines written out, or at least clearly agreed to.
Let's say you wait 3 months, or you even have the proper discussion now. Let's say you make a DADT agreement. Points to agree on would be:
- Do you want to know if I'm going out to meet a guy, or do you want me to pretend I'm meeting someone else?
- Do you want to know if I fall in love with a guy?
- What if I'm seeing another guy (x) times per week/month?
- What if the condom breaks, if I get an STI or get pregnant? Do you want to know?
I think DADT can only work if you are very realistic about all the little grey areas and if it is absolutely 100% agreed to.
Back when we were first dating, I was the meat in a sandwich between him and my ex-boyfriend a couple of times, so he has survived seeing me with another man before. Subtlety is key: hubby is a very stubborn Leo, and if I push him, he shuts down. Any tips on warming my husband up to the possibility of me seeing other guys, and encouraging him to explore his own options?
The fact that you guys had MMF threesomes together could mean he's got more chance of being open eventually; or could mean he'd be open *only* if he was involved. (Or, of course, no longer open at all).
Totally get the Leo thing. My GF is a very typical Leo. Most of my partners have been Leos. Stubborn, proud, head-strong... but also extremely loyal and expecting the same in return. I've found that breaking a Leo's trust creates one holy shit-storm that you never, ever want to be part of again!
Encouraging his own options - don't. Let him decide about this and just tell him you have his blessing. Be careful though - I'd still think about guidelines and boundaries on this, even if you reckon you don't need them. What happens if he goes overboard with a new woman and you actually do end up having a problem?
Bringing him around to the idea of you dating men...
1. Agree to re-visit if it's a no right now
2. Stick to that agreement
3. If it's still a 'no' after 3 're-visits', accept it as a 'no'. Don't bring it up again unless he tells you he's changed his mind, or if it's a marriage deal-breaker for you.
4. Talk about how bisexuality feels for you, why you'd be interested in dating men, how you feel for him, what this would do for both you *and* him