I am relatively new to poly, while I've dated someone in an open relationship with a poly person and been in the friends with benefits situation I am very much lacking in practical experience.
I recently had the opportunity to be in a poly relationship, it ended it total communication breakdown sadly.Sigh.
I'll use J and L in place of names...L and I re-met online, we'd actually met briefly before as I've known his partner for a quite some time now. We exchanged a bunch of really great emails, all hung out one evening together which then led up to L and I spending some time together on our own. We had three really good dates and a makeout session on the last one. L then communicated to me via email that he would like to continue to spend time with me, I said most definitely.
Then the talk came, I was prepared for the most part. He lives with and is engaged to his primary partner, the discussion of their fluid bond, no sleepovers or sex without as much notice as possible etc. It all made sense for the most part, although I did have some questions which came up later.
Here's where things started to go awry. In the midst of this really intense communication with me L makes me aware that J is struggling with things right now, but that they are talking about it and it is moving forward. I felt terrible hearing this, I know she had a rough go with her previous relationship and was concerned. I expressed this concern and L suggested I contact J, but it was up to me - if I wasn't comfortable that was okay. I said I really wouldn't know what to say, how to start this convo and started to feel anxious as I didn't know what she was struggling with. L reiterated that I could contact J, but it's my call. I started to feel very painted into a corner.
If I didn't contact J she would think I didn't care...but what would I say...eek!Four emails later L finally tells me that J is struggling because she isn't aware of my stance on things and what I am looking for. L was only trying to open dialogue. By then though I was feeling so overwhelmed and suggested that I take a break and clear my head. I did, felt better and came back with some questions of my own as I did a ton o' reading.
I suggested a different approach to a situation like this arising in the future. To me, if someone is struggling addressing their feelings is important.I suggested something like " I was talking with J, she mentioned she's struggling as she doesn't know you're looking for from this relationship.Why don't we all sit down and have a good talk about this." Short, sweet and to the point.
This was agreed upon which was a step in the right direction.
I shall explain why this has all been conducted via email...I have an insane schedule. Setting time aside from my son and two jobs is difficult, let alone working with the schedule of two other people.
The goal then was that we start a group email to discuss the questions I put forth.
Why do they choose the terms primary and secondary? What are the reasons, are they practical or emotional?
They feel that language is needed to discuss these concepts in poly and so far these are the only terms developed.
Primary also refers to the arrangement they have - they are living together and as such sharing a home and soon a marriage. They are primary in their focus and do not have a relationship aimed to have more than one primary (ex. another person sharing our home, another spouse).
I expressed that I myself wasn't comfortable with this terminology. I related very much with some of the reading I had done.
"Primary/secondary/tertiary' terminology is not universally accepted among polyamorists. Some consider it as demeaning to 'secondaries' and 'tertiaries', or as an undesirable form of pigeonholing, and so prefer not to classify their relationships in this way."
J expressed that she felt defensive about the way I communicated this.That know a lot of people have aversions to these labels because they load the terms with meaning, that is not always applicable to the relationships being discussed.
This confuses me, referring to someone as your primary would be loaded with meaning for me. You co-habitate, are fluid bonded etc.Stating someone is your primary and someone is your secondary seems to be a very clear status to me. How is fluidity achieved with the ground rules and labels stated above? Is this something I have to un-learn from the monogamous world, am I too literal?
All said and done though it became clear email was not an ideal form of communication for us. Very different styles of communication led to some very intense, heavy emails. A lot of circular talk(definitely contributed by my confusion) combined with a lack of full on personal communication was creating a stressful situation for all.
I communicated that I was not accustomed to this volume and intensity of communication, that it was very new to me and I was feeling very overwhelmed. Labels, jargon, etc....so many things to ingest and process and try to put into practice. When would this be fun again? Would communication flow easier as this became less intense?
To me the concept seemed simple -the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. The idea of having an open, honest and loving relationship was appealing to me. That an arrangement such as this would be ideal for my busy lifestyle, knowing my partner had someone else who they valued and cared for who contributed to their life as well was, well, wonderful.
It just seemed to become more complicated as time passed. L suggested we take a break and decompress as I was becoming exhausted feeling like my heart was in my throat constantly. Maybe we could all sit down next week and talk as L's schedule was booked for the rest of the week...which can't happen.Sigh.
I had communicated in the beginning that my schedule requires very advance planning, the next ten days are booked solid with work related commitments for me and time with my son.I have been talking about this for a while.This would put L and I at three weeks with not having spoken to each other in person.
The response that I received was that L realized that we may encounter this kind of scheduling issues.But that he didn't think it would be that difficult. I'm a single parent, not sure what he thought it was going to be like.
It was decided that this wasn't going to work. Communication doesn't seem to flow well between all of us and the schedule conflicts because of how my life works can't be worked around.
Sorry for the super long introductory post....I could really use some advice on what I can improve upon for future, or if maybe poly isn't right for me. Maybe communication will flow easier in a different situation?