Negotiations and re-negotiations
I've been doing some thinking about how partners come to agreements to be mono or poly, and what their boundaries are, rules, etc, and wondering how that works for other people.
With my ex, we had initially come to a very easy agreement to "share"- at the time, I had no interest in any other man, and I was a little insecure about the idea of him going out on a date with another woman while I sat home alone, and I absolutely loved the idea of 3somes or even a triad.
5 years later, there was another guy I was interested in, and by that point in the marriage, if some other woman had wanted to try to steal him, I would have just handed him over, I just didn't care. So, he'd flirt online with a girl who'd send him nudie pix, and when a friend spent a couple days, I had no problem with them having sex while I was busy with the kid. So, I pressed to renegotiate and open things up a bit, but he wasn't willing to even think about it, the agreement was sharing, so that meant hot hi babes only and would never change- and he got increasingly jealous and suspicious of my guy friend, while he talked frequently with "our" online girlfriend (he flirted with her, I mostly talked to her about our kids, since I'd met her on a board for moms of special needs kids, I always thought of her as just a good friend, he viewed it as a relationship and threatened to leave me for her.)
So, that's my background, and it shouldn't be a surprise that I'm a bit paranoid about coercion and suspicious of people's motivations for wanting monogamy.
Meanwhile, in after-mentioned guy friend's first marriage, their agreement had been that they both had veto power- except that he could only veto people after he got to know them but before she got attached, and he never got the time quite right, and her terms for being okay with him sleeping with another girl was that it had to be someone who she trusted, but not someone that she knew. He ended up cheating on her, and they had a very messy divorce.
With his 2nd wife, he introduced me when they were still claiming to be just friends. I liked her right away, but I was surprised when they told me they were dating- she just seemed a little too straight-laced for him, he tries to be a very ethical slut. I also remember being puzzled when I realized he'd been dating her when he played with the same female friend who'd visited me and my husband, because I couldn't see him cheating on her, but I assumed that they were monogamous, because based on my impressions of her, I just couldn't see her being okay with nonmonogamy.
Later on, I found out that they had an open marriage. They were good friends with a couple who swing, and they'd sometimes all play, and he'd had occasional one-time things with single female friends who lived out of town. Then my ex left, and after talking about it with both of them, I got sexually involved with him- which with me single, living 6 blocks away, and already very emotionally attached to him, quickly became something way more relationshipesque than anything they'd even thought about before.
At first, she'd just say that we'd see how things go, I loaned her my copy of Opening Up, it seemed like maybe it'd lead to a poly relationship. Then she started getting weirded out by things like him saying "D loves me!" because I'd gotten him soda. Then he started clarifying that they weren't poly and he didn't want me getting any ideas about relationships, this was just sex- well, and friendship, and I ate dinner there all the time so it made sense that I sometimes got groceries....Anyhow, it was not a romance, they had a romantic relationship, we were just FWB, that was that! And she started clarifying her boundaries- at first, she said her daughter wouldn't think anything of me being in their bed, then the rule changed to I couldn't be in bed with him while the teenager was home, then I couldn't be on her side of the bed at all, then we couldn't sleep in the same bed even when she was out-of-state with the kids.
By that time, she'd started saying things about how their relationship could be renegotiated to monogamy if they both chose to- which I got the strong feeling that she meant that SHE could demand he be monogamous and he'd agree to make her happy. When I talked to him about how powerless I felt, he said that if I wanted to have control of the situation, I had the power to decide not to have sex with him. So, I told her that I wouldn't have sex with him while his kids were visiting in July.
I'd hoped she'd use the time to sort through her issues, but instead "they" agreed to a more limited non-monogamy. She says that they can only play with other people if they're both involved (which I know she has a very low sex drive, so that'd be once in a blue moon), he thinks she might be okay with playing with some other girl (not me) under specific conditions, and keeps hoping that maybe someday she'll let him play with me again- of course, he also keeps hoping that her sex drive will go back to when they were in NRE in an LDR and he could barely keep up with her, and I suspect that it's more realistic that she's going to be interested once for every 100 times he'd like to.
I've recently decided that even if she suddenly decided to go back to the way things were last spring, I would not be okay with that because I've got some boundaries of my own and I'm not willing to be emotionally invested in a relationship that someone else can destroy on whim. I love him, but I'm just not willing to let myself be that vulnerable to more pain. If (big if, serious doubts) she were okay with respecting my boundaries so I could have the kind of relationship I want with him- while still being willing to compromise, make sure her needs get met, etc- I'd be thrilled to tears.
Oh, and she's said that she feels less guilty because I'm dating someone new- apparently it's okay to yank the rug out from under someone as long as there are other rugs they could have. Which, yes, I am, but I've got more forgottens with the old guy than I have memories with the new guy.
Also, he saw my journal entry about my rules, and said that he thinks she'd feel like she was being attacked.