Discovering that maybe we have different life goals after all?
Sorry, yet another poster having trouble with the early stages of poly.
My partner and I have been together for about 8 years, and we've been involved in swinging for a few years now, which has been lovely, and we've made some good friends through it. I've always said to him that I really enjoy the affectionate side of the sex with others too, but that I'm pretty sure I'm not poly; it's like there's a block in my brain when it comes to forming romantic relationships with others, because I'm so utterly in love with him.
Over the summer, we met a lovely woman (let's call her C) who we both really hit it off with, and had some awesome sex with. I was away over the summer a lot for work, and she came round and hung out (and slept over) with my partner, which I was fine with; in fact I thought it was kind of sweet.
However, my partner has increasingly started talking about exploring his poly side, and - although he disagrees - it looks very much to me as if he's falling in love with her. I can recognise intellectually that if he falls in love with someone else, it doesn't take away from what he feels for me, but in my heart I can't understand it - I'm really trying to, but failing.
When we started opening up our relationship sexually, there was a lot of discussion ahead of time about boundaries, and agreements, and the primacy of our relationship with each other, and if anything made either of us uncomfortable we would say and stop. But it feels rather as if he's developed an actual relationship with C without us ever talking about it at all; this is the first time we've done anything separately, and it feels as if it happened while I wasn't looking. Bit of a surprise.
I really would love to be able to build our lives this way; it seems like a more evolved and sensible way of building familial relationships, but I can't get past the fact that I feel like I've been punched in the stomach if I think about there being someone else in our lives on a permanent basis.
We've been having a lot of crying and serious talks over the past few weeks over this. I'm worried that we've uncovered a fundamental incompatibility between us; for all these years I've been so certain that this is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, laughing and growing old together. Here's the thing (well, two things).
It's very important to me that I have children - and I want to have children with him. I see this as being something that it's important for us to do in the next five years or so (for boring health reasons, it's also likely to take me longer to conceive than average). He is terrified by the prospect of having children yet, although he is confident that he does want them; but he's said that doing it so soon is a scary thing, and he'd prefer to do it in more like ten years, by which time I'll be fast approaching 40. He also has openly said that he doesn't like the idea of having to compromise on his life - where he can just decide to go out drinking at a moment's notice - for children. I've also realised that I would expect - as we move into having-babies-settling-down-territory - that the non-monogamous side of our relationship would fade into the background; not stop, exactly, but be put on hold while we focus on each other and our family.
He, on the other hand, has (as I mentioned above) said that this is not something he feels like he'll be ready to do for years, and that when we do he's not keen on building a traditional family structure with just two parents. This is a new development, and has never come up before this summer - but he does now say that he loves the idea of building a network of lovers who are also a support network. We live a few hours away from our respective families. As he said last night 'What if we were both ill and had kids? Who would we call on to help us?'. I am horrified by the idea of trying to maintain our relationship with each other AS WELL AS raise children AS WELL AS maintain romantic relationships with an unspecified number of other people too. Love may not be finite, but time is. I've got no objection to having a couple of friends on the side that we occasionally sleep with, but what he has obviously now decided he wants is a network of serious lovers who are a committed part of our lives.
I have a real tendency to overthink things, as you may have spotted! But I also think it's important to think about these things ahead of time, rather than hold secret expectations and then be surprised when other people fail to live up to them.
I'm feeling so sick about all this; I thought we were so brilliantly compatible, we get on so well and - until this summer - I thought we had similar ideas of how we wanted to build our lives together.
I haven't talked much about C in all this, and that's because it's not about her. She's awesome. If my partner were to turn to her tomorrow and say I'm leaving [me] and coming to build a new life with you, I'm pretty sure she'd be horrified; that's not what she's in this for. It's not about her, and is everything about my relationship with my partner.
A summary: I'm pretty sure I'm not poly, and struggling with the idea of my partner falling in love with someone else. Also struggling with realising that - if he's telling the truth and knows what he wants - we may have suddenly ended up with wildly differing life goals. I always saw myself being with him forever (as did he), and now we don't know whether we should carry on pursuing that goal or whether this is so fundamentally different we should go our separate ways.