I've been a fan of this forum for a while now. For a long time, I expected to just keep lurking in the background indefinitely - I tend to be a bit shy in the context of a forum, and I wasn't sure that I had much to share that would benefit others. But I at least want to thank the forum participants - I've benefited so very much from reading what you post! Often, I'm not only enlightened by what I read; I'm moved by the generosity, compassion, good will, empathy, and wisdom of forum participants. Thank you!
Since I'm introducing myself, I'll say a bit about my own situation. I'm a married, straight female, 40 yrs old; my husband and I have been together for about six and a half years. I love him very much and we have a great deal of fun together, so I was surprised when about halfway through our marriage I began to gradually become aware of a gnawing feeling that something important was missing from my life. I knew that what was missing had to do with connections between people, but I was confused; I thought, "I'm happily married, I have close friends, my husband and I socialize frequently, I have good relationships with my coworkers and even something of a spiritual life; what on earth could be missing? And why on earth should I be feeling lonely
, of all things?" It wasn't too long before I began to see that it was connections of a certain kind that were missing; for some reason I didn't understand, I wanted to be connected to more than one straight guy, or, at least, I wanted the possibility of such connections to exist.
For a long time, I was really annoyed by this desire. Even more annoying was the fact that the desire to have deeper connections with straight guys became stronger and stronger as time passed, feeling more and more like a necessity rather than something weaker, such as a wish or preference. I couldn't figure it out - I had so much in life, including my amazing husband, close girlfriends I'd had for years and years, and my best friend, who's a gay guy. But I just kept wanting more male connections, stronger ones, intimate ones. I tried really hard to ignore the desires and focus on other things (e.g., how grateful I should be for what I have), but the desires just strengthened, turning into aches and cravings. In a way, I felt very isolated, as if my wedding ring were a kind of "do not touch" sign that kept people at a certain distance. And I started to feel really incomplete
, as if lives were jigsaw puzzles and mine was missing large, key pieces necessary in order for the whole puzzle to make sense.
As time passed, this aching desire became quite painful, and that pain started to spill out into my marriage and onto my husband. I found myself (completely irrationally, of course) resenting him. At times, it felt as if he were a lock on a cage, keeping me from fully flourishing as a human being, keeping me from loving and being loved. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I wasn't the kind of loving wife I wanted to be. I was aware, to some extent, of the irrational anger I felt toward him, and I did try to keep it hidden, but it still seeped out sometimes.
I lived like this for about two years. I had never heard of polyamory; I was only vaguely aware of things like swinging, open marriages, and threesomes, and that (very) vague awareness was the extent of my knowledge of non-monogamy. Then, about a half a year ago, I happened upon some podcasts that were quite enlightening. They led me to other podcasts, books (such as Open Marriage
, by George and Nena O'Neill, The Ethical Slut
, by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, and Opening Up
, by Tristan Taormino), and online resources such as this forum.
What an incredible relief! I had thought for a long time that I was selfish in a really pretty obnoxious way and that there must be something wrong with me, and I didn't know of anyone else who shared the same sorts of experiences. It was as if I were a snow bunting living among indigo buntings, and I had no idea there were other snow buntings and that I wasn't completely well-suited for the kind of climate I found myself in. It such a joy and relief to learn that there are other snow buntings, that snow buntings make up a whole, legitimate species, and that there are conditions under which they really thrive. (I hope that this analogy makes some sense!) I identified so closely with, for instance, various posts on this forum. And over a short period of time, I saw many past experiences in a new light, and could see (I think) poly aspects of my personality going way, way, way back. Although I have never actually been part of a full-fledged poly relationship structure, it's almost impossible for me to doubt that I'm poly (in the sense that I'm the sort of creature that would best flourish in a poly-type relationship structure and that to the extent that I'm not in such a relationship structure, I'm going to ache for it & feel its absence). So much about being poly resonates with me and makes sense of so many experiences, both past and present.
For a few months, I kept my new-found snow bunting knowledge to myself, but eventually I told my husband, "P". And that conversation led to many, many others. I tried hard to describe my emotions and desires in such a way that it was clear that I wasn't faulting or blaming him in any way. I tried hard to make it clear that I wasn't simply wanting sexual variety; rather, what I want/need is all about love - intimacy that may or may not have some sort of sexual expression (among other expressions). I stressed that I wasn't asking to go out and actively seek such intimacy; I just wanted it to be possible
(perhaps with all sorts of rules & limitations as to how it might physically manifest itself).
Through lots of conversations and experiences, P came to see clearly that there are healthy, happy, completely legitimate marriages that differ from the typical union-between-two-completely-monogamous-people type of marriage, and that some people truly thrive and flourish in marriages that differ from the paradigm. Also, we both learned much about ourselves - just as I had become fully aware that I'm poly (at least, all kinds of evidence points in that direction), P became aware that not only is he mono, but he really doesn't want to be married to someone who is poly (even if that poly-oriented person doesn't actually engage in any poly behavior). Ultimately, we decided to separate. Actually, that's a bit misleading - I don't want to separate, and to me, it feels like we're moving way too fast, but P is the kind of person who absolutely hates to be in any sort of limbo, and (as far as I can tell) the only way I could keep us from separating would be to say that I'm not really poly after all (i.e., lie), or at least, say that I'm confident that I can permanently ignore poly-type desires (he says that the thought of my being close to another straight man - even just exchanging a shoulder rub or going to a concert together - makes his gut twist to the point of nausea). And I respect this in P - I'm trying hard not to judge him. Although I've told him that many mono people do become accustomed to poly partners, and that mono-poly partnerships can include all sorts of compromises and rules and assurances, he insists that he will never change - that he is as he is as a matter of constitution - and that he wants to move on and start afresh. Things would probably be different if we had any children, but as things stand, this is what he wants.
So, we're separating in a couple of months (at which point he'll move to another city, hundreds of miles away, to start a fantastic job that will include a huge salary boost and lots and lots of perks). I should add & emphasize that the mono-poly issue is not the only
problem between us; there are other factors that bear on the separation. But in any case, it's a hard transition - we love each other very much and I'm going to miss him like crazy (it doesn't take much at all to trigger tears these days, e.g., things like noticing that the top of the refrigerator is no longer covered with holiday cards from his friends and thinking that it never again will be - experiences like that trigger tears). And though I've been told again and again that it's irrational, I often feel guilty, as if I'm in some harmful way causing an innocent person to suffer.
Sometimes, though, I'm free from that guilt, and I just accept both of us for what we are. All in all, we've reached a peaceful place, and I'm hoping that we'll remain close even after he moves away (though of course I'll certainly give him all the distance he wants).
So, that's my story. Thanks for reading! (I so often wish that I were a more concise writer... alas). And thank you so very much for your wise and compassionate posts - you have been such gifts to me, and I'm so very grateful.