Thread: Musings
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:00 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 669
Default Challenging Times

I find myself right now in an unwanted place and at a time where I feel ill equipped to deal with it. So one of the things I have always admired about my partner, Art, is his care for others and his ability to step away from engaging in behaviour that he knows may be harmful to his friends. This trait is important to me I place great importance on care for others and feel that avoiding harming those I care about is important. I have also greatly always admired my partner's honesty.

A few weeks ago, he told me that he had been out with an old friend of his, Sue, and that they had found themselves alone and had enjoyed a bit of a make out session together. Just kissing and nothing else not a big deal. Or at least, I think wouldn't have been a massive deal. It might have resulted in he and I having a chat about our respective definitions of monogamy and possibly some shifting in agreements between us. It might have resulted in some short-term anger on my part and a reminder that he needs to talk to me if he wants to change the way our relationship works. I don't know what would have happened.

Because in the next sentence, he told me that his friend had asked that neither he nor I mention what had happened to her partner, Bob. Sue and Bob both are good friends of my partner. He talks about them warmly often and while I consider them both to be acquaintances rather than friends, I've always felt warmly toward them and have been happy to be in their company.

This I'm not okay with at all. I don't like being asked to keep other people's secrets, particularly secrets that would cause harm if they came to light. I especially don't like it when I haven't been given the choice about whether or not to be informed. It is a bit of a grey area, I realise. Art told me about him kissing Sue because we have agreed to be honest with each other. Which meant that I had to know something about Sue's behaviour that I would rather not know.

I also find Art's behaviour odd. Enabling even minor cheating like this is something that he normally is very strongly opposed to. His normal behaviour would have been to insist that Sue speak to Bob before anything physical happened at all.

Art disagrees utterly with the way I see things. He believes that this is a one-off situation which was just about two friends having fun together. He isn't terribly happy about lying to Bob but he feels that I am making much too big a deal of it. He thinks that we should just keep Sue's secret, carry on as normal in terms of spending time with Sue and Bob and that he will make sure that he doesn't do anything similar again. He maintains that he didn't think I would be all that bothered or he wouldn't have gone ahead with it.

The thing is that my experience with behaviour changes that mark a distinct change in willingness to harm others like that tend not to be one-offs. My experiences have been that minor instances like this tend to be the start of a larger change whether through illness, stress, aging, shifting in world view, wanting out of a relationship etc.

I am experiencing lots of unpleasant emotions. Most prevelant is a feeling of being trapped. I feel as if my autonomy is compromised in a way that I haven't and wouldn't have consented to. I'm anxious that my partner would choose to put me in this position knowing my feelings on keeping other people's secrets. I find myself wanting to run away, to leave my partner and free myself from the feeling of being like a butterfly in a jar.

I'm worried about what the next thing will be and have a sense of creeping dread about it.

I feel doubt about my Art and lack of trust in his ability to make good decisions.

I worry too about the possibility that I may decide to make this easier on myself by choosing to take Art's viewpoint and see it as not that big of a deal. That worries me because I would see that as compromising my own ethics, as changing some of my core beliefs for a relationship. The thought that I might do that scares me because I think it is easy for individuals to get lost in relationships, to crush who they are for the good of the relationship and to suffer for it. I'm keen not to do that which means acknowledging that for me, this is a big deal and that it is a big deal because it's stuff that I've thought through, experienced and worked through for years. Still, this leaves me feeling down lots of the time.

Because of the differences between my view and Art's view, I am unclear about a course of action. I know I'm being heavily influenced by my experiences with changes in behaviour. I know also that I feel very emotional about this situation. I'm not in a good position to make decisions or to judge really if Art is being truthful or if he is (as I suspect) desperately trying to deny changes in himself that he isn't yet able to come to terms with.

So I've decided that the only thing I can do is wait, to treat this like any other grieving process and to make no major changes for at least 6 months. As the time passes, my ability to make judgements will be better and it will also be clearer to me if Art is correct about this being a one off. If it becomes clear to me that this is part of a longer term change for Art, we can transition to being friends. The level of constraint that this sort of behaviour from a partner would place on me isn't acceptable to me in a romantic relationship and in that case, I'd much rather be single than deal with it.

Discussing it is hard for us just now our views are so opposed and we are irritated with each other. We have talked a few times hard conversations and have exchanged a few e-mails. We'll probably leave talking about it with each other alone for a couple of months at least.

Still as is usual for me when I feel trapped, I am planning trips away, new interests and visits to friends so the situation is far from all bad. I am generally sleeping okay, enjoying work and able to get on with things I want to do. It is, I think, a matter of waiting.

I very much hope that Art turns out to be correct in all of this. He is a good guy, one of the few I could be in a relationship with and I hope that isn't going to change. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he is correct about this being a one-off while fully expecting it not to be.

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