Hi everyone. I am, of course, looking for advice and help in this new and terrifying situation I've found myself in.
About six weeks ago, my boyfriend of a little over a year told me that he wanted a non-monogamous relationship, and it was either open our relationship or break up. I was pretty surprised, as he's always claimed agreement with me that it wasn't something either of us wanted, having had unhealthy examples before us that mostly involved endless processing and jealousy.
I'm having some trouble with this, as you might be able to guess.
He's moving a little fast for me. So far there have been four girls who he's told me have an interest in dating him. Only one of them seems to be someone he's actually seriously interested in, but he seems perfectly willing to date any and all of them.
Mixed messages. That thing about being ready to date any and all of these girls seems in direct opposition to him telling me that he didn't plan on pursuing every opportunity that came his way. I also feel some confusion about how wanting to be poly contradicts things he's previously said. In the past he told me that he wanted us to be monogamous because he only wanted me; because it was better with me than with anyone else; because anything else would be a safety risk; because he felt something special for me. I really valued our monogamy because it was a sign of wanting to commit to me, when he'd not wanted it with anyone before. Given the fact that he now wants to date other people, do those things no longer hold true?
Feelings of emotional distance and insecurity. I never felt any jealousy while we were monogamous, now I seem to be feeling it rather a lot. I worry that he just wants separation from me; less of his life with me in it and more with someone else in it. I tend to retreat when I feel marginalized or unwanted, and I try to protect myself with distance. Not like it really works or anything like that.
Conversely, I also find myself clinging a little, which makes me want to bitch-slap myself. I feel like he wasn't upfront with me about a few things, and I find myself wanting to check up on him in horrible insecure-girlfriend ways that I never wanted to before.
Isolation. I moved to a new city to be with him, and I don't really make friends easily. It's hard for me to get around, as it's a very car-centric place and I don't drive. I have an on-again-off-again lover where I used to live (off for over a year, obviously) and I would start seeing him again if I was there, but I don't know anyone here, and my opportunities for meeting people are pretty thin on the ground. I'm a little socially awkward, hard to get to know, and attractive only to people who like quirky. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is very active socially, makes friends easily, is conventionally attractive, and generally has a lot of people interested in him. I can all too easily forsee me spending a lot of time lonely while he pursues his new freedom.
Vagueness. We haven't set any boundaries or ground rules, despite having talked about the need for them. I don't want to restrict him, because that made him unhappy, but I feel like going forward without them is a recipe for disaster. I'm also a little concerned about setting boundaries for him, because I feel like there are going to be more restraints in negotiating a poly situation than there were in a monogamous one, where there's really only one; "we don't have sex with anyone but each other". Now we're going to have a lot more, and I'm worried he won't accept any, because "feeling restrained" was what brought him to this point in the first place.
And I'm not even going to go into the cliche of wondering why I'm not enough for him, but it's there. I'm not naive or uneducated, and I know all the reasoning why this is illogical; if I have a friend, do I have no room in my heart for another? But it's still there. And it brought along some shame.
I'm so in love with this man, and it's the best relationship I've ever had. I've never had much patience for that "I love you, so change" attitude, so I will do my best to embrace this as part of his beloved self. That said, I'm still struggling. I miss the confidence and security I felt when we were monogamous.
Advice, thoughts, reality checks? I've probably left out a dozen things; my head (heart?) feels like a hurricane hit it.
Thanks in advance for straight shooting. I really appreciate it... I don't really have anyone to talk to about this.