(I moved this from the Life Stories/Blogs forum, decided it was more appropriate here.)
I am a recent arrival to this forum, although I have a fairly strong presence on the polymatchmaker forums.
Four years ago I read about polyamory online at a time when I was mildly unhappy with the intimacy (mostly the nonsexual kind) I had with my husband, Darren. (All first names have been changed, it's a small poly world, and how!) It really resonated with me. Darren and I had met when I was 19 and he was 20 and we had been monogamous for over 20 years, married for 18 of them. I felt that he was the love of my life, no question, but I wanted more closeness, excitement, connection, sex in my life. Polyamory seemed like the perfect way to get all those things and still remain an honest and ethical person.
Darren wasn't so sure poly was a good fit for us, but after I had a strong emotional connection with an online buddy (which never got physical), he gave me a green light to explore a bit. He himself hung back for a while, didn't attempt to date or meet anyone to date. Instead, he did a lot of research on how things worked in this lifestyle, which has proven invaluable to both of us.
I didn't know what I was doing at first. I believed that men would be emotionally available to me even if they didn't identify as poly. I was dead wrong on that. I was too trusting with people, had unrealistic expectations. I put up with crap from partners and potential partners that I would never put up with now. I learned the hard way.
About a year into our poly experience, I persuaded Darren to seek partners. I was feeling guilty because I'd had a lot of fun and excitement for a year, even if I hadn't managed to form any lasting and loving relationships.
Darren's brief foray on OKcupid (which I had happily discovered right around then) netted him Jessie, a married mother of two who was supposedly poly and lived about three hours away from us. They had an immediate online connection that she spent hours a day nurturing. Darren's inexperience with women in general, as well as his strong desire for more friendships in his life, caused him to take that online connection much more seriously than he should have so early on.
To make a long story short, Jessie turned out to be an emotionally unstable, pathologically needy woman in a bad marriage, who rocked our world with flattery, lies, manipulation, dragging him into bed on their first (and only) date, attempts to make Darren question our two decades-plus connection, and ultimately, a death threat (against me). They only ever met once in person, in the end. I have since learned that Jessie was a fairly classic example of a "cowgirl," a phenomenon I read about on a couple of other poly forums. One of the things I have tried to do since, as a poly person, is educate others about the pitfalls of these kinds of people, and how to identify them.
Darren and I were in pretty bad shape after I insisted he give Jessie the heave-ho. The situation had illuminated the fact that we really did not have the trust between us that we needed to be successfully poly. He had concealed something very serious from me (the death threat) that I absolutely should have been informed about. I hadn't had trust in him either, I found out about the death threat by snooping in his emails. He had a very hard time coming to terms with the fact that he couldn't have really known Jessie at all after five weeks of emails and one date, and had misjudged her character and emotional stability grievously. I had a very hard time with the pace of the relationship, and the fact that he knew a woman for a few weeks, slept with her once, and suddenly seemed to be giving her equal status with me. We took ourselves off to a poly-friendly counselor at that point, who helped put us back together as a couple and mend our trust.
While Darren was still involved with Jessie, I had met Fred, a recently separated man who was fairly new to poly, on OKcupid. We had an instant friendship connection. I was not really physically attracted to him, but he was romantic and sweet and seemed incredibly caring, and was always ready to offer advice and support on the Jessie situation. I think the trouble Darren and I were having made Fred and I get closer than we would have otherwise. I don't even know if I would have become Fred's lover had I not been under that massive stress. Fred might have ended up as just a friend. But I needed a shoulder to cry on, and I so wanted a boyfriend, love, romance, dating, after a year of casual sex flings.
Fred and I ended up dating for over two years. I fell in love with him, despite the fact that my physical attraction to him did not change and sex was usually more of a duty than a pleasure for me. I continued to seek other partners, mostly for this reason, but did not find anything much more compelling than the same sort of flings I had had before meeting Fred.
Fred started dating Erin, a female friend of mine, after I had been with him about six months. We "shared" him quite happily for a year. Then Erin's husband left her and she wanted a more substantial relationship with Fred. My relationship with Fred started hitting bumps the very month Erin's husband walked out on her. We spent the next seven months in increasing distress, mistrust, angst, etc., until Fred, almost certainly under Erin's influence, compromised my trust by weaving a whole web of lies designed to manipulate me into not doing something that Erin felt to be threatening. Ironically, what Erin objected to was me posting about her attempt to get Fred to dump me in an online forum, even though I did not, and would not, reveal any true first names or online profile IDs. Erin and I were no longer friends by that point. Our friendship had ended when she had told me, some months prior, that Fred was justified in ignoring my needs because SHE was the primary partner, not me (this was based on her spending one more night a week with him than I did). Since I saw Erin as an adversary, not a friend, because of that, I was very angry at Fred's attempted manipulation of me and control of my speech on Erin's behalf, especially when the reason I was posting on the online forum to begin with was because I was seeking advice to try to heal the relationship I had with him.
I insisted that Fred come clean about the lying. I never found out the extent of the lies, only that his story about what had initially happened changed twice. I expected he would do what was needed to mend our trust, since he loved me, or so he said. Instead, Fred dumped me as a friend and partner, and cut off contact completely, rather than come clean about what he had lied about. I believe that he felt he was protecting Erin, because had I found out with certainty that she had orchestrated his lying and attempted manipulation of me, I would have likely told mutual friends about it.
I believe that Fred's insecurities were a large part of why we didn't make it. He always questioned why I was with him, could never quite believe that I saw anything in him. acted like we were some sort of Beauty and the Beast situation. In actuality, I am probably somewhat more conventionally attractive than Fred, but not to the point where most people would even take note of it. I think Fred felt much more secure with Erin, who is massively overweight and considered homely by most.
I have been devastated by the loss of my much-loved partner for the past two months, but am finally starting to feel better. I realize now that Fred was dishonest, and disloyal to boot, since I was his partner too, as well as Erin, and did not deserve to have him take sides, against me, the way he did. Shortly before our relationship ended, Fred confessed to me that his history of cheating on his former wife in his pre-poly days was not one love affair as I had thought, it was eight years of casual flings with women he met on a sex site. Had I known that, I probably would never have gotten involved with him in the first place.
The relationship I have with Darren is probably the strongest it has ever been. We have a very deep level of closeness, caring, and honesty with each other. He has been tremendously supportive throughout my breakup with Fred. He lost friends there too, he was close with both Fred and Erin, they betrayed both of us. While I hate what has happened, I know that if I had to walk away from the situation with just one man in my life, I am so grateful that the man was Darren, the love of my life, the father of my children, the man I want to grow old with, rather than Fred, whom I now know to be weak, and not worthy of me.
I have also met someone new who is literally the first person I have met, in four years of being poly, who seems emotionally available AND is physically attractive to me. I don't know him well yet but he seems absolutely perfect except for him being 18 years my junior (gulp). I am really hoping that this relationship works out.
I would also like to find a couple that Darren and I could date together. We were in a quad for a few months this past winter together with another married couple, that did not work out. We really enjoyed the quad dynamic and would love to find another couple who might be more compatible than our first one. I realize that quads are tricky and finding a successful one is a long shot, but I'm hopeful.
Last edited by gwendolenthefair; 08-11-2010 at 03:08 PM.