Commitments, fictions, heartache, love
So, I’m not sure I feel part of a poly community, but I guess I need to talk to someone. My husband and I have been together nearly 14 years, and we’ve been mono for at least a decade of that. I love my husband more every year, and we feel so grateful to be experiencing a kind of commitment, respect, and trust we never saw modeled by any of our parents. We tried poly in college, with moderate levels of success with jealousy, etc., and felt that the experience was overall been really great for helping us to be less jealous, more honest, and in general stronger, better sweethearts, but not for us in the long haul. We’ve always been able to talk about other people we found attractive, or flirted with, in good affirming, affectionate, fun ways. We would never, ever, ever cheat.
We have a really good friend, who we have known since our earliest days together, who we have both had attractions with at previous times. She is out of a long-term relationship with I guy I never liked, who didn’t treat her great and left her for another woman. Over the last year of her recovery from that, we’ve all been a lot closer, and after years of dormancy, our mutual attractions were revived. After some discussion, we recently had a sexual experience together. The few friends I spoke with before it thought it was a terrible idea to have a threesome with a really close friend, but I didn’t know how to explain that I knew it was okay BECAUSE it was a really close friend. I genuinely do not feel jealous about my husband and my friend together—I feel happy. I would feel jealous about most other women, I think.
The problem I’ve discovered instead, is that those attractions weren’t revived the same WAY for all of us. For my husband, BigBear, it is mainly a friends-with-benefits sexual attraction. He imagines we’ll have occasional hawt threesomes and loves me to pieces for making it happen. Our friend, whom I’ll call Phoenix, is guarding her heart more than I expected, claims she compartmentalizes well and that sex, flirting, friendship, etc are all separate experiences for her. It hasn’t been clear whether she wishes to ever repeat out sexual encounter (I’m not sure she knows), but hasn’t encouraged general cuddliness or couples-type behavior at all after it—handholding, kissing, etc. For me, unfortunately, I am in love with Phoenix. I do NOT compartmentalize well, and I knew that going in. I just don’t give up my body without my heart as well. To paraphrase Chris Ware, I’ve been watching the punch coming toward me in slow motion just to see if it’s really going to hurt as much as I think it is.
I’ve got my crazy fantasy about a perfect polyfi triad in my head, and now I am experiencing grief and loss for a relationship that never existed anywhere but my head. I know Phoenix and BigBear have the capacity to be in love, as well, and I can’t help hoping beyond hope that somehow this is going to happen. Unfortunately, our timing is awful. BigBear and I are about to move across the country for at least a year. Phoenix will stay here, and continue getting on with her life, of course. She will probably meet someone and have a regular mono relationship again. BigBear isn’t enthusiastic about having a long term triad, anyway. He likes our relationship pretty much the way it is, and thinks my fantasy is unrealistic (which it is, I know) even though he is open-minded about the possibility. I have concealed somewhat the extent of my desire for this, because I think it would make him feel threatened. I have concealed it entirely from Phoenix, because I don’t want to complicate our relationship with drama she did not invite. I want her to feel good about our sexual encounter, and I want it to be on her terms, which were essentially that it not ruin our ability to be regular friends. It won’t, it just hurts my heart.
So, any suggestions on handling grief and longing for something I feel stupid for wanting in the first place? I haven’t been single for a loooong time, and frankly, in a happy mono marriage, I didn’t expect to ever have this happen to me again! But I have to imagine that false starts happen pretty often in the poly world, and that you might have something to say. Or even just that sympathy from people who aren't judging me for being in love with two people will make me feel better.
Also, I'm curious to know how established couples succeed with a third. I can say right now that my primary relationship would have to take precedence for a long time--I take my marriage vows very seriously. And since we waited 10 years to get married, I wouldn't rush right into that with a third. I wonder if it is ever possible to develop an equal level of commitment in all the relationships in a triad, and how the relationship can be fair to the third if it takes years for the commitments to even out naturally?
Last edited by Sparkler; 08-26-2010 at 10:49 PM.