Help! New to Non-monogamy and Having Trust Issues Now
So I posted a few times last year but have not been back on in quite sometime.
I will try to summarize our background and then go into the current situation: I've been with my girlfriend now for 2 years and about 4 months.
At the beginning of our relationship, she voiced to me that it is important
for her to have the option available to hook up with other people
outside of her primary relationship. She qualified that it would
probably rarely happen, if ever, but having this freedom is important
to her. She is emotionally monogamous and wants the same of me.
Prior to entering this relationship, I was always in monogamous
relationships. Every single one of my girlfriends has cheated on me in
the past. So when I met my current girlfriend and she told me about
this, and also voiced how honesty and communication about any activity
outside of the relationship is a MUST, I figured, "why not try it? At
least it promotes honesty ... and monogomous relationships never
guarantee that someone won't cheat anyway." I, myself, am also a flirt
and I figured that it would be fun to be able to have the option and
permission to engage with other people outside our relationship.
Throughout the course of our time together, I have hooked up with
someone, although have not had sex. I can say that it didn't mean
anything other than just the excitement of the chase in flirtation ...
and that is what it continues to be. She has been fine with everything
that I have done as well.
What I always worried about, however, was how I would feel when she
hooked up with someone. What I know of myself is that I am a
possessive person and I get jealous pretty easily. I start to think that the other person she may want to have sex with wants to fool me or take something from me, or that there is a secret relationship they are having behind their back. Even if brief and just during sex, the thought of her having any (NRE - or New Relationship Energy) feels very threatening.
What I'm learning
is that this is probably an ego and self-esteem issue. I have a
tendency to base my sense of security in life, identity, and
validation on whether or not I'm in a relationship and how that
relationship is going. I also get a huge ego boost from "having"
someone that I know that other people want ... but feeling special
because they cannot have them. I also have learned that I have some pretty significant abandonment issues where when I even think of her with someone else it feels like it does when you break up with someone where your heart is tearing out of your chest.
What I'm learning is that these are core beliefs that probably don't
serve me well at all ... whether I am in a monogomous or poly
relationship. Nevertheless, I am having an EXTREMELY difficult time with her being with someone else.
Okay, so here is the CURRENT situation: She has not had sex with anyone for the whole 2 1/4 years we have been together. She recently went away to an area where she used to live and has had fuck-buddies there. I knew there was the possibility that she could hook up there ... I'm pretty sure I may have asked her if she was thinking about it, but she expressed that she did not know. I did not really have a sense of what I was going to need or the boundaries I would need around her being with someone else, so I didn't really talk about it much with her before she left. Although I feel like I remember a long time ago, we discussed that we would communicate about possible hook-ups before they happen. She also did not mention anything to me before going about the possibility of hooking up with anyone.
About 2 days after she was gone, I started feeling pretty vulnerable and finally figured out that I needed for her to call me and tell me that she loved me (I had not spoken to her via phone for that whole 2 days). She called me, of course, and told me that. We were having a great conversation and she didn't mention anything about having sex with anyone, until I asked "so, are you interested in hooking up with anyone?" At that point she expressed hesitation about talking to me about these matters over the phone. I then became extremely emotional and scared and I told her how important it was to me that she communicate to me everything going on so that I could process it emotionally with friends and get support while away. She then told me she had had sex the night before with a long-time friend (initially she was hesitant to tell me who it was). She said that she wanted to wait til she got home to tell me everything rather than telling me on the phone. When I asked if the hookup was spontaneous and if that was the reason why she did not mention it to me prior to it happening, she said that it was. So that was a difficult conversation ... it definitely helped that she re-assured me that she loved me and that I am the only one that has her heart ... and so I processed all the difficult emotions until she got home. I also asked her not to have anymore sex because I felt flooded and overloaded ... and she said that she did not have sex after that. I also realized that there was a lot that I didn't like about what happened and realized that I need preparation before and communication immediately after she hooks up with someone, even if via phone ... I need for her to make me a priority and take the time out of her day to process with me.
This is the real tricky and complicated part: So we have a conversation when she gets home. Over the course of the following two days, I realize and she comes forward on the fact that she outright lied to me. 1) She did not tell me that prior to leaving she had received texts from her friend asking her if she could have sex and where she answered "possibly" (her reason for not telling me was that she did not have plans to do so and did not know what would happen, and also that she forgot that we had said a while ago that we would communicate with each other before anything happened); 2) She actually had sex two times with the person - not only the night before we spoke but also the night prior to that; 3) She lied about them being spontaneous - when she got there, the person and her made plans to have sex the night that she got there.
I confronted her about all this in a very difficult couple of conversations. I felt so completely furious about the lying, on top of all the stuff I was already going through about just dealing with her being with someone else. I told her that if she ever lies to me again, that will be the end of our relationship.
I do not want this to come off as adversarial. We have talked about why all of this happened: 1) She freaked out - she wanted to control how she gave the information to me when I got home, so when we talked about it in the moment, she panicked and was afraid of my feelings; 2) She has had a history of lovers who told her that she was "too much" and wanted to keep her from being with anyone else, or left her when she was "too much" - she was and is afraid that I will leave her; 3) she may have "checked out" at a certain point - when somewhere in the back of her heart/mind she knew that I would be pissed and it would be uncomfortable, she may have pushed that aside in her awareness unintentionally; 4) We both knew how difficult this would be for me ... I think if I were in a relationship with me, I think I would be afraid of my response too.
At the same time, lying cannot be acceptable. Even with understanding all of her emotional hang-ups and mine, and how they intersect, I don't know how I will be able to trust if there is lying. I have told her through this, and I think that she has realized, that I will walk with her through all the painful stuff and I will face my own pain head on without leaving (unless I truly believe I need to be in a monogamous relationship) - I don't leave/avoid - so she can trust that I won't leave automatically if she is just honest with me.
So the real tough part is that I am having SIGNIFICANT trust issues now to the point where I have wondered "has she lied to me before?; has she slept with someone and not told me before?; when she tells me that when she is thinking of something she will tell me, can I trust that?" And I am now coping with this while also trying to figure out how I felt about her having sex with someone else and whether this kind of relationship is going to work at all for me.