Originally Posted by Pienata
Oh, and we've actually been working on the lack of communication thing. It's difficult for Bambi and he used to actively resist talking anything through, but he does now realize that he needs to think things through and communicate about it because I cannot read his mind. He still has trouble defining and communicating thoughts clearly but at least now makes an effort to do so for our sake.
I strongly strongly recommend getting the audiobook
or training course
for Nonviolent Communication
(both available as torrents if your morals permit it). The audiobooks are great because hearing the tone of the communication really helps, plus you can put them on while you're driving or walking to work when your brain is free to learn.
I believe a lot of what's happening here is that Bambi doesn't believe his needs could be met in any arrangement where he is not #1. However, "being #1" is not a need, it's a strategy for meeting his need for security, connection, stability. But as it turns out, a hierarchical arrangement does not meet your need for autonomy, freedom, and equality.
NVC can help you both understand what each other's needs are, and how you both feel when those needs are not met. By empathizing with each other, you can work together to find strategies that meet everyone's needs. At worst, you might come to the realization that your mutual needs really are incompatible, but then it wouldn't just be "I want poly and he doesn't" but that perhaps there is no strategy that can meet both your needs at the same time while remaining in a relationship together.
Originally Posted by Pienata
He's not uninterested per se, he was okay with it before (technically), but he's in general part of the group of people that believes relationships have to work effortlessly or it's just not really meant to be. I differ believing sometimes they're hard work.
For me, it depends on what's truly meant by "effortlessly" and "hard work."
Having long emotional talks is really hard work for Gralson. He was raised in a home where having emotions wasn't permitted, and expressing needs was a sign of weakness. He's much better at it now, but it's extremely draining for him, and he often gets flooded and needs time to settle down before conversations can continue.
For me, however, talking about my feelings and my needs is fun. I feel closer to my partners when I connect with them, and I've always been very in tune with my feelings, so expressing them is effortless.
For Gralson, absolutely any relationship that's more than casual sex will be "hard work" because being happy and healthy in a serious relationship requires talking about your feelings and your needs. Now to be fair, he could (and some people do) decide that that's "too much work" and choose never to have any kind of serious relationship. And indeed, that's what he did for years. He also spent a lot of time in semi-serious relationships where he coped by letting them have their way to avoid any fuss, until he got tired of them being needy or demanding or whatever, and walked away. Until he met me, he just didn't feel it was worth all that trouble.
Now I firmly believe, and I've managed to convince Gralson, that two people must share their feelings and needs in order to form a connection and experience intimacy. Since we've done this a lot and he's experienced how good it feels to be heard and understood, and how empowering it is when someone sees your vulnerability and accepts you and loves you just the same if not more for it, he's come to appreciate the value of this "really hard work."
But having difficult emotional conversations is nothing like "trying to become someone you're not." If "hard work" means "changing your core values" then I don't believe that's healthy. If "hard work" means "learn to suck it up and just deal with all your icky feelings because your partner wants to do whatever she wants and you just have to accept that" ... then no, probably not going to work out for anyone.