The unicorn in the room
Hi folks! I've been lurking and reading here a lot and learning all sorts of useful things, but now I'm in a bit of a crisis and I was hoping for some advice or perhaps some perspective. (With apologies for the long post!)
About eight months ago I got involved with a woman with a boyfriend. The woman, we can call her Q, and I were friends through a mutual hobby. We had become close since we first met two years previously and there was a lot of flirting and lead-up to the eventual decision to try a relationship. Her boyfriend, we'll call him Z, and I were friendly acquaintances through Q, but nothing more. As far as I'm aware he signed off completely on our relationship; they had been monogamous for nearly six years but he was okay with us doing as we pleased. We never laid any ground rules or established much of a line of communication, partially I think because all three of us expected it to be a casual thing that would fizzle out quickly.
About two months in, Z and I began to get physically involved, and that specifically was intended to be a casual thing. Mostly it was just convenient to the relationship; neither of us were looking to add another romantic involvement to our lives. Q mentioned once, early on, that it made her a little uncomfortable and she was still adjusting to it, but never brought it up again, so I assumed she had done her soul searching on her own and moved on from whatever issues she'd had.
In the meantime, Q and I fell in love. We made long-term plans as a couple and discussed, multiple times, how it would be great if we could move in and spend even more of our time with each other, although for various reasons that's not been possible. I made it clear to her that I was serious about our relationship; I thought she reciprocated. She got me to open up to her and work through a lot of emotional issues and problems with communicating that I had been unaware I was even dealing with. I invested a huge amount of time and energy into learning to be a functional part of the relationship.
Then a little over a month ago Z and I had a date, with Q's permission, to discuss our relationship and maybe try to find a definition for it. I had been noticing that I was feeling more attracted to him, and upon sharing that, found that he felt the same about me. We agreed, again with Q's explicit permission, to pursue a full-fledged relationship and let things develop between us. And they have; both of us are experiencing some fairly strong NRE. We've done our best not to neglect Q, though, spending the majority of our time together with her as well, scheduling our alone time only for times when she has already made other plans without either of us. I know I, at least, have tried also to make it clear that I love her and have gone out of my way to make sure she's happy and doing well with everything.
Except she obviously wasn't okay with everything, since she started becoming passive aggressive, snippy, and short with both Z and I, usually when we spent time alone together, but also at occasional random mentions of our relationship. I began censoring what I did or said around her because I worried about upsetting her; this led to me feeling frustrated and guilty. I tried---multiple times---to get her to talk to me, or tell me what she wanted, without success. Each time we'd have a discussion about needing to be honest, we would agree to work on it, and then she'd spend the next week being passive aggressive again. I think the first time she got upset I explicitly told her that, while I was unsure if I could ignore my feelings for Z, I would certainly try to make it work without being involved with him if that's what she wanted. She didn't respond and didn't ask me to do so at any point after that, so I figured that, while she was struggling with her feelings, she wanted to be okay with us dating, and wanted to make the triad work.
The other afternoon we had yet another conversation about how I wanted her to talk to me and be honest about how she feels and try to ask for what she wants, which she agreed to. Then later that evening, I asked if I could go out to dinner with Z one night this week. She looked unsure and said "I suppose," which is usually a response I take at face value, but because of our talk earlier I pushed her for more. She admitted it made her uncomfortable, and said she didn't know why, but when I asked a few questions and tried to get her to maybe explore it a bit, she got upset, shouted at me, and then told me flat out that she didn't want me to have "a thing" with Z. I told her that I don't know if I could drop my relationship with him and continue the one with her, which made her even more upset. I got Z to drive me home (we were at her and Z's house), explaining my side of things to him, and getting his reassurance that he would try to get her to talk to him.
I haven't talked to either of them in the 24ish hours since, so I am unsure where they stand on everything. I have done a good amount of my own thinking about what I want and need from this relationship. My conclusions are thus:
1. I absolutely cannot let my feelings for Z go and continue a romantic relationship of any level with Q; I will end up bitter, and jealous, and resentful of her, and she does not deserve that.
2. Even if I could give her what she wants and end things with him, it doesn't fix the fact that she is apparently unable to be emotionally honest with me.
At this point I'm not sure what I should do, or even if I can do anything. I feel that I've done everything I can to make her happy, sometimes at my own expense, and that is still not good enough for her. I'm pretty sure I will drive myself crazy continuing to be the only one to put any kind of work or effort into the relationship. I am a good person and I deserve better than that. On the other hand, I think that it's total crap that my options are to continue fighting for a potentially one-sided relationship, or lose both Q and Z entirely. It feels like a lose-lose.
And if you've gotten through that bit of teal deer... any thoughts? Is this a hopeless situation that I need to just give up on and walk away from? Has anyone been here before, trying to turn a V into a triad when the hinge is reluctant?