The other side of the pain barrier
Hi, I hope no-one minds me joining this thread. I haven't posted anything on the board for 18 months, which is when my experience with polyamory began. Now it has ended - and I'd just like to share if that's OK.
I've appreciated reading the mono side of the discussion. I admire you all so much.
My story is told from the other side of the fence, a poly married to a mono.
I've been married for over 30 years, and so you can guess I'm at the mature end of the spectrum, though we married young and grew up together. I'd have said it was a happy marriage, both of us working hard at interesting careers and making the most of life. No children. My wife, T, is a beautiful woman and I love her to bits, but of course there were tensions from time to time. She's much more extrovert than me so you can imagine some of the issues.
I've always enjoyed the company of women more than men. I've had and have women friends without wanting to have affairs with them.
Then I met another beautiful woman, A, and fell in love with her. Ironically it was T who got us together, suggested A join the team on a community project I was running. I wasn't thinking about having an affair, or being polyamorous - I didn't know the meaning of the word. But I didn't fall out of love with my wife.
Before A and I started our physical relationship she spoke with and got her husbands agreement. A had discovered the concept of polyamory and realised that it fitted her. Her husband was and is relaxed about the idea "I love A and what makes her happy makes me happy" is what he wrote in an email.
This is when I came on this forum for advice, which was of course to talk to T. Of course I didn't and I started cheating on T.
Inevitably T found out. She knew that A and I had emotional ties but didn't think I would actually be "unfaithful". However T immediately confessed to a 5 year affair with a work colleague, which ended 15 years ago. Amazingly I'd had no inkling, though her job and mine took us away from home which made it easier to hide I guess.
T and I did a lot of talking, A and I did a lot of talking, but T and A didn't talk. I did everything I could to re-assure T, she was the number 1. Our sex life improved, T acknowledged I was much better to be with because I was happy. I made time to do things with T (after 30 years it's easy to get into ruts and not make time for each other). I arranged dates with A when T was doing something else so that she wouldn't be sat at home worrying. A wrote to T re-assuring her that she wasn't trying to steal me away (A loves her husband and has children still at home). T acknowledges that it has been a good time for our relationship. But T resolutely refused to discuss polyamory, or read anything about it or look at this forum.
I could see that it was tearing T apart. Even though she says that when she was having her affair she loved both her lover and me, it was impossible for her to be on the other side of the equation. T says that A "betrayed" her. There's something about having a physical relationship that freaks her out.
I'm not very good with emotional conflict. I came to a snap decision to dump A. Unceremoniously, brutally. A came round and tried to talk to T and to me. But T resolutely refused to discuss the situation. "It's not polyamory unless everyone consents and I don't consent". I was distraught. How could I have caused so much pain to the only two women I've ever loved?
So, I have sacrificed my happiness and A's for T. The community project probably won't continue as A and I won't be able to work together after what I've done. I'm trying not to resent T (after all 99% of the population would say she was right). I can see her point of view. Her unhappiness was real.
Both T and I have childhood issues, to do with not being given love when we were children. This doesn't help either of us.
So here I am, it's like bereavement. I'm OK for a while and then I think about texting A ("what are you up to today?") and remember I can't and the tears well up. I hate myself for hurting A and the position I'm in. I feel weak and helpless - surely a stronger man would take control of the situation - but I can't leave T, I love her. She loves me and walking out on her would hurt her more than anything. Why would I do that?
The sadness is that I know I had enough love for both of them.
Thanks for reading this far. It helps to write it down.