I've been with my girlfriend now for a year and about 4 months. At the beginning of our relationship, she voiced to me that it is important for her to have the option available to hook up with other people outside of her primary relationship. She qualified that it would probably rarely happen, if ever, but having this freedom is important to her. She is emotionally monogamous and wants the same of me.
Prior to entering this relationship, I was always in monogamous relationships. Every single one of my girlfriends has cheated on me in the past. So when I met my current girlfriend and she told me about this, and also voiced how honesty and communication about any activity outside of the relationship is a MUST, I figured, "why not try it? At least it promotes honesty ... and monogomous relationships never guarantee that someone won't cheat anyway." I, myself, am also a flirt and I figured that it would be fun to be able to have the option and permission to engage with other people outside our relationship.
Throughout the course of our time together, I have hooked up with someone, although have not had sex. I can say that it didn't mean anything other than just the excitement of the chase in flirtation ... and that is what it continues to be. She has been fine with everything that I have done as well.
What I always worried about, however, was how I would feel when she hooked up with someone. What I know of myself is that I am a possessive person and I get jealous pretty easily. What I'm learning is that this is probably an ego and self-esteem issue. I have a tendency to base my sense of security in life, identity, and validation on whether or not I'm in a relationship and how that relationship is going. I also get a huge ego boost from "having" someone that I know that other people want ... but feeling special because they cannot have them.
What I'm learning is that these are core beliefs that probably don't serve me well at all ... whether I am in a monogomous or poly relationship. Nevertheless, I am having an EXTREMELY difficult time - even with the thought of her just kissing another person.
Recently, we were in a situation where it felt like there was a closer possibility that she might want to have sex with someone else. Really, it was still just hypothetical ... but the closer I felt to the possibility of her hooking up with anyone else, the more I freaked out. At that point I questioned whether or not I could stay in the relationship. And, at one point, I really badly acted out and started accusing her about her flirtations, because I was having a hard time trusting ... I was feeling like she had some secret crush and that whoever might want to have sex with her was trying to take something from me, or trying to pull one over on me ... trying to fool me.
She has assured me over and over again how much she loves me, that she chooses me and that I am the only one for her, and that if she ever wanted to have sex, it is purely physical for her ... not emotional in the slightest. I suppose I don't understand this because sex is not just physical for me ... even if I don't have feelings for the person, I have to have some kind of story or drama or head trip going on in my head to be attracted in the first place (even if I know its not real). And I feel better after she assures me, but then I get triggered easily again and get angry when ANYONE flirts with her, or extremely sad at the idea of her even kissing someone else. I start to feel the same way that it did when I was cheated on in the past. And sometimes, it feels like I'm being abandoned. (my mother left her and my father's relationship when I was young and cheated on my father ... and my mother was very much a serial monogamist .. always needs a relationship in her life). Clearly this is bringing up my own issues ... and I had a sense that this would happen (intellectually) ... and now I feel as if I'm lost in a storm of it all.
I love her so much and this has been the best relationship I have ever been in. When I am not up in my head, I do trust her. She has almost never given me reason not to, and if there ever was a time where she slipped up, she promptly admitted and apologized. I have such hopes for us, and what I am certainly hoping is that by going through this, I will have a fundamental shift in my belief system ... about myself and my relationships. I know that a lot of this is about self-esteem and how I find my own level of emotional security. I don't want to feel so dependent on this relationship for that ... but I am right now. And since I am, I suppose thats why I'm going through all this pain. Thats why I said that it feels like I'm walking through fire.
Is it possible to have hope and love and still be ambivalent? I have fears that this won't work out as well and that at my core I am a monogamous person. I am wary of staying in a relationship that is working well for her, but feels awful to me. Isn't that abuse in a way ... abuse to myself? I am mindful of my statement earlier ... that I decided to go forward with this in part because I felt that even in monogamy now, I can't be certain that my lovers will be faithful ... so why not just put all the cards on the table and have the option to sleep with others but just be honest? But also, is that settling? What about keeping the possibility open that I will find someone who will be monogamous and trustworthy and never cheat on me?
(Although now sometimes I think of and remember monogamy as boring).
I just need to get to the other side of the fire ... through all this emotion. I am sure that I can, if there is a clear side ... if there is an end to the fire. Right now, I just don't know if there ever will be an end to the pain if I continue in this relationship ... and that is scary.
Any feedback around strength and hope in going through similar situations would be greatly appreciated, what helped you or how you resolved this issue for yourself. I know that everyone and every relationship is different, but I could use some support right now. Thanks.