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Old 08-05-2011, 08:20 AM
123 123 is offline
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Default My poly partner has a mono mentality...

I am going through a lot of ups and downs with my frustration levels right now! This story will be long; I apologize in advance. I'll try to stick only to the most relevant details!

My partner and I both accepted polyamory at the same time. It was in fact at the very beginning of our relationship - he was involved with someone else but feelings between us were growing and he was very confused and hurt by the whole thing. He didn't understand how he could have feelings for both of us at the same time and so I introduced the idea of polyamory to him. He immediately took to it and did a lot of research, every step feeling more and more like this was the part of him he'd always had but never understood. At that point, I understood polyamory and accepted it but always felt I was more in the middle of the spectrum -- I could happily be in either type of relationship. I didn't feel much need to pursue other relationships but would accept one if it came along. [His other partner was monogamous and struggled a lot with the idea of polyamory... in the end, they parted ways].

Shortly after that, though, I started having issues with pain when having sex. It started off mildly but in the space of a year or so got much worse, to the point that sex wasn't even really an option for me. We went through a lot of issues trying to adjust, always finding another hurdle as soon as we started to feel comfortable again. He was the only person I wanted to have sex with, because he was the only person I trusted with my body. I also got everything I needed from him emotionally because, despite all of the guilt, frustration, uncertainty, insecurity, etc that surrounded sex, the rest of our relationship was so strong. If anything, it brought us even closer together.

But, unfortunately, the issues with sex got worse and worse. Sex is a large part of who he is and the negative emotions attached to that part of our relationship started to affect the rest of our relationship, naturally.

I finally have figured out what is wrong with me [don't get me started on my story with doctors] and have started treatment. I regained my ability to have sex as well as my libido. Throughout the issues, I encouraged him to have other partners to help keep him sexually satisfied because I was unable. We also discussed, at a certain point, me having other partners [with or without intercourse] so that I could have sexual experiences that weren't so heavy, with the weight of our entire relationship riding on them. We discussed his discomfort regarding that, but we thought it was just a matter of him not being accustomed to sharing me and needing time to adjust. On an intellectual level, he completely understands polyamory but he'd never really had to experience me being with anyone else so his lifetime of monogamy just caused instinctive reactions.

Once I opened myself to being with other sexual partners, though, I allowed myself to explore the idea more. Now that I'm better sexually, I want to actually enjoy that aspect of myself. He and I both are very open people and like no strings attached relationships. But because of the issues he and I have had sexually, he's having a really hard time accepting that. Through this, we've been uprooting a lot of monogamous views on things that we didn't think he had. He's actively been living a polyamorous lifestyle for over 2 years now. We've had hundreds of conversations with each other, as well as in explaining our lifestyle to others, in which he's been so clear and understanding of what makes polyamory work and how monogamous people can adjust. But now, it's a complete switch.

He's said such hurtful things in the last few weeks that completely caught me off guard. We planned to get married next year and suddenly he can't see me as a wife anymore if I'm with anyone else. He thinks me doing certain things with other guys is dirty and it makes him uncomfortable to touch me. Me being with other guys makes him see me as no different from the casual, no strings attached girls he's been with. It's like everything else in our relationship - the emotional attachment, the way we interact and add value to each others' lives in so many other ways - suddenly means nothing if I sleep with other people.

I don't know. It's just really difficult. Frustrating. We've both identified as polyamorous and he's been with multiple partners for a couple years now. Even though I haven't been with as many other partners, I've never had any reason to believe he was SO set in this kind of mentality at all. He's reacting right now as though I just dropped this idea of polyamory on him out of nowhere and he doesn't understand anything about it. BUT, he doesn't have any of those thoughts about himself. He still feels the same way and doesn't feel like his actions affect our relationship at all. The only thing that's making him hesitant to attempt being with anyone else is feeling guilty because he knows he's essentially taken that option away from me [he hasn't told me not to but he knows this reaction makes me feel like it's not an option without losing him].

*sigh* There are a lot of other little details but I've said enough already. I'm just confused and frustrated and tired. I'm doing my best to be patient and understanding, as I would with a partner who is monogamous and now learning about polyamory. It's just so hard because it's HIM. It feels like he can understand and accept this lifestyle if it's him or anyone else living it, but when it comes to HIS partner, I need to be only his possession. I have no idea what to do or how to help. The last thing I want is to start resenting him for simply feeling what he genuinely feels.
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Old 08-05-2011, 03:35 PM
OptionD OptionD is offline
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Hi, I liked this story. I really relate to it. I'm very new to the concept of polyamory and falling in love with it already.

I think the issue here is the difference in the way men and women relate to sex.
At least from my experience, women are much more emotionally attached to their sex partners, where as relating from my own experiences, I'm happy to meet a woman, have sex with her immediately without exchanging words and then never see her again!

So maybe what your partner is worried about is the possibility that your being with other men diminishes the amount that you require his emotional connection as you could be getting it from others. Also the perceived power imbalance in the relationship, where he may feel insecure about you having a more satisfying sex life than he is, so you may outstrip him emotionally in that regard, with the prospect of the relationship fall apart, or at least be less fulfilling as a result of it.

I found this article very satisfying to read:
http://www.cat-and-dragon.com/stef/P.../jealousy.html
I identified with it, so much, it really made sense to me. Maybe you would find it helpfull
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Old 08-05-2011, 03:51 PM
OptionD OptionD is offline
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Oh, and look into the concept of social captial:
http://vimeo.com/7703258
Helps a lot when thinking about power imbalances in relationships.
These videos on transactional analysis are great too:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKNyFSLJy6o
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Old 08-05-2011, 04:35 PM
serialmonogamist serialmonogamist is offline
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Originally Posted by OptionD View Post
So maybe what your partner is worried about is the possibility that your being with other men diminishes the amount that you require his emotional connection as you could be getting it from others. Also the perceived power imbalance in the relationship, where he may feel insecure about you having a more satisfying sex life than he is, so you may outstrip him emotionally in that regard, with the prospect of the relationship fall apart, or at least be less fulfilling as a result of it.
I don't want to derail the thread by latching onto this issue, but how exactly can a man do this with a woman without the woman choosing for the exact same experience? There are two tangoing, aren't there?
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Old 08-05-2011, 10:32 PM
123 123 is offline
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Thank you guys for your responses. I was up all night thinking about this -- writing this post and reading other stuff on this site got pretty worked up, bringing all the various questions/frustrations I've had to the forefront at once. Pretty overwhelming! lol

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Originally Posted by OptionD View Post
At least from my experience, women are much more emotionally attached to their sex partners, where as relating from my own experiences, I'm happy to meet a woman, have sex with her immediately without exchanging words and then never see her again!
The weird thing is, he and I are both pretty similar in how we view sexuality; I need to connect to a partner's personality enough to be intellectually stimulated, but I much rather when there's no emotional attachment. It took time to develop the emotional attachment I have with my boyfriend and he knows that at this point, the only real danger to our emotional connection is him pulling away and distancing himself from me [which he's done as a result of this issue].

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Originally Posted by serialmonogamist View Post
how exactly can a man do this with a woman without the woman choosing for the exact same experience? There are two tangoing, aren't there?
Exactly. We've discussed this cuz he realizes I'm a great catch [if I do say so myself!! ] and worries any guy I'm with will want to steal me away. But he also understands that *I* also would need to want to leave him and he understands that I... am... polyamorous. Even if I developed feelings for someone else, it would not mean I'd love him less nor would I ever want to end my relationship with him for it.

He KNOWS all these things, on an intellectual level. Just can't stop having these reactions anyway....

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Oh dear. It's a big fucking red flag when a man categorizes women, some as dirty and some as relationship material, and then due to disappointment or whatever puts someone he loves in the dirty category. I bet the NSA play partners he has had go away feeling dirty after being with him.
...
It seems he perhaps has some unresolved issues about sex that have been prompted to surface for some reason, and a resentment toward a woman being sexually expressive on her own terms.
To be fair, "dirty" was my word, not his. He has claimed that's not it, but from everything he's explained about how he feels towards me after I was with another man, that's certainly what it seems like. And he's been quite adamant about not wanting to develop relationships with anyone I've been with [quite opposite to what we've always agreed we both needed in a polyamorous relationship]. But he's always encouraged men and women alike to explore their sexuality and be open. His last two long-term relationships grew out of NSA relationships, a point he emphasizes often whenever people criticize the lifestyle choice -- he sees people being open about sexuality a sign of strength rather than weakness.

I really am baffled because on every level, he really is the guy I want and love. In every aspect he thinks/feels/acts in ways I respect and want in a partner... but somehow when it comes to ME, to his future wife, it switches up.

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Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
Does he treat you as an equal partner otherwise? If he does treat you well in other aspects of your life together, then perhaps he is having a fearful reaction now because he has not had to deal with the reality of you also being polyamorous. A fearful reaction can be addressed, if he is willing.
He really is... a million times better than anyone I ever thought I would find in my lifetime. I have very high standards of what I want/need in a relationship and he surprisingly exceeds most of those standards. In every other aspect of our relationship, he is amazing -- he is open-minded, respectful, self-aware, constantly looking to better himself, constantly helping me better myself, accepting, generous, outgoing, loving, affectionate. It's just this one issue alone that has made him switch up so drastically.

We do believe it's a lot of fear- and trust-based issues that predate me. We're currently looking for a counselor who works with polyamorous couples. I'm just really searching for... patience. Understanding. I guess I'm just like him - I get what he's struggling with on an intellectual level, but I just can't understand/accept how HE can be reacting this way.
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Old 08-05-2011, 11:28 PM
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I really am baffled because on every level, he really is the guy I want and love. In every aspect he thinks/feels/acts in ways I respect and want in a partner... but somehow when it comes to ME, to his future wife, it switches up.
Ah, you should see if you can find this movie: Gabriela (1983). A very sensuous and untamed peasant woman (Sonia Braga) works for a cafe owner (Marcello Mastroianni) and becomes his mistress. They have wild passionate sex all the time -- on the cafe tables, half out of a window, everywhere -- until he marries her. Suddenly, this uneducated and sexually open woman is now expected to stop running around barefoot like a peasant, and attend poetry readings because she is his wife and needs to be respectable and proper. Eventually, they don't enjoy sex anymore and she's miserable. So she sleeps with someone else, he has the marriage annulled, and they're back on the cafe tables fucking their brains out!

It's a totally hot film and very enjoyable, but the important part is about how ingrained these Madonna/whore complexes are in men, even when they're supposed to be open-minded (I saw it when it first came out and don't know if you can find it anywhere. I've only seen short clips from it on YouTube.)
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An excellent blog post on hierarchy in polyamory:
solopoly.net/2014/10/31/why-im-not-a-secondary-partner-the-short-version/

Last edited by nycindie; 08-05-2011 at 11:31 PM.
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Old 08-06-2011, 04:44 AM
OptionD OptionD is offline
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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Ah, you should see if you can find this movie: Gabriela (1983). A very sensuous and untamed peasant woman (Sonia Braga) works for a cafe owner (Marcello Mastroianni) and becomes his mistress. They have wild passionate sex all the time -- on the cafe tables, half out of a window, everywhere -- until he marries her. Suddenly, this uneducated and sexually open woman is now expected to stop running around barefoot like a peasant, and attend poetry readings because she is his wife and needs to be respectable and proper. Eventually, they don't enjoy sex anymore and she's miserable. So she sleeps with someone else, he has the marriage annulled, and they're back on the cafe tables fucking their brains out!

It's a totally hot film and very enjoyable, but the important part is about how ingrained these Madonna/whore complexes are in men, even when they're supposed to be open-minded (I saw it when it first came out and don't know if you can find it anywhere. I've only seen short clips from it on YouTube.)
Fascinating! I'll definately try and get that movie!
Well I can say from personal experience that I and all the men I know are pretty insecure about sex. It's a competitive dominance thing. If I think another man is taking a position of power over my woman it makes me feel undermined. Men do this stuff to each other all day long, the silent power play between who is in control, and women are a focal point for this.
Because monogamy is so ingrained it's part of our automatic social power play. So if I'm seeing a girl and I know she's seeing other guys at the same time, I feel very insecure and I most certainly wouldn't want to meet the other guys and talk to them because there's this competitive struggle.

It would take a lot of personal insight and self control for a lot of men to learn to overcome this insecurity. I'm not sure about women, maybe it's the same, I'm not all that in tune with how women's social politics works.

It seems to me that I could overcome the fear of other men being with my girl, it's just a matter of learning to trust in her adoration and commitment to me.
I imagine it would be much easier if I as a trusting friend of the men my partner was sleeping with. Obviously though in today's world that's not going to be practical most of the time. I can imagine it would be difficult to get into the whole group love thing, as it would be hard to find many partners who are poly aware.

Those are all my insights having no experience in poly relationships of course! But I have to say I'm really liking the idea of poly relationships. It feels like it's what I've always wanted but had never even heard about.
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Old 08-06-2011, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by OptionD View Post
. . . power over my woman . . .


. . . fear of other men being with my girl . . .

What you wrote was very telling. Perhaps the first most important step in letting go of your insecurities is to stop thinking of the women you date as your possessions.
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An excellent blog post on hierarchy in polyamory:
solopoly.net/2014/10/31/why-im-not-a-secondary-partner-the-short-version/
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Old 08-06-2011, 05:58 PM
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I can say from personal experience that I and all the men I know are pretty insecure about sex. It's a competitive dominance thing. If I think another man is taking a position of power over my woman it makes me feel undermined. Men do this stuff to each other all day long, the silent power play between who is in control, and women are a focal point for this.
Because monogamy is so ingrained it's part of our automatic social power play. So if I'm seeing a girl and I know she's seeing other guys at the same time, I feel very insecure and I most certainly wouldn't want to meet the other guys and talk to them because there's this competitive struggle.

It would take a lot of personal insight and self control for a lot of men to learn to overcome this insecurity. I'm not sure about women, maybe it's the same, I'm not all that in tune with how women's social politics works.

It seems to me that I could overcome the fear of other men being with my girl, it's just a matter of learning to trust in her adoration and commitment to me.
I imagine it would be much easier if I as a trusting friend of the men my partner was sleeping with. Obviously though in today's world that's not going to be practical most of the time. I can imagine it would be difficult to get into the whole group love thing, as it would be hard to find many partners who are poly aware.

Those are all my insights having no experience in poly relationships of course! But I have to say I'm really liking the idea of poly relationships. It feels like it's what I've always wanted but had never even heard about.
This does indeed seem like ownership thoughts... I remembering hearing similar ideas from Mono. Sometimes that comes through again...and we talk again.... over and over.... he did grow up with that mentality and his career choice promotes this mentality... he is in the military and a lot of the men he has worked with have a nice little wifey at home who takes care of his babies while they are at sea. They seem to think that the dirty fucking is for the prostitutes they buy overseas. That kind of dirtiness is not meant for wives. Wives are like the expensive truck or motorbike they own. Not the rental they get in foreign ports.

I can barely stand it some days when he tells me stories of work. Then I meet some of these men and they treat me like Mono's possession. Or perhaps that is what I think they are doing. Ya, I am pretty sure that thoughts of that go through their head. They look me up and down, size me up to determine if I am worth of owning and then Mono has some kind of status because of it. There is pressure for him to marry me so that the cycle will be complete. So that he too can join the ranks again that are appropriate for men in the military... back to the whoring! Woot... if only they knew what is going down with him at home. He already tells them I am a burlesque dancer and that he is involved with BDSM. That just blows their mind that I would be that "dirty!" The fact that he is my live in boyfriend would lesson his status in the ranks rather than promote him.

Ya, we have had many a conversation about the difference between his old mentality and the one that I subscribe to which is to be proud of your self and the amount of work you have done on yourself rather than who you think you own... walking hand in hand in a journey together, figuring out better boundaries for oneself and for ones relationships, trusting and committing to that journey of togetherness is far more productive as far as I can see.

Still, men think they can own women. Full stop. What men don't realize is that women have their own thing going on and when put in a position that they are thought of as owned, they tend to go underground to get their need for autonomy. That means they equally fuck around behind their partners back and are not owned at all.... all that chance for commitment, trust, REAL autonomy with integrity; lost. Poly allows for all of that to disappear just by being honest, communicating openly and respecting that their is not one gender more powerful than the other. There is only empowerment.
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Old 08-10-2011, 12:17 AM
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Getting back to the OP's issues:

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Originally Posted by 123 View Post
It took time to develop the emotional attachment I have with my boyfriend and he knows that at this point, the only real danger to our emotional connection is him pulling away and distancing himself from me [which he's done as a result of this issue].

he . . . worries any guy I'm with will want to steal me away. But he also understands that *I* also would need to want to leave him and he understands that I... am... polyamorous.

. . . he's been quite adamant about not wanting to develop relationships with anyone I've been with [quite opposite to what we've always agreed we both needed in a polyamorous relationship]. But he's always encouraged men and women alike to explore their sexuality and be open. His last two long-term relationships grew out of NSA relationships, a point he emphasizes often whenever people criticize the lifestyle choice -- he sees people being open about sexuality a sign of strength rather than weakness.

I really am baffled because on every level, he really is the guy I want and love. In every aspect he thinks/feels/acts in ways I respect and want in a partner... but somehow when it comes to ME, to his future wife, it switches up.
There definitely seems to be a conflict within himself that is coming out more fully, perhaps, as your relationship deepens toward a marriage. I still think this is a madonna/whore complex he's got going on, and if you do pursue therapy, that is where your focus should be, I would think. On such double standards, goose-and-gander type issues.

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He really is... a million times better than anyone I ever thought I would find in my lifetime. I have very high standards . . . It's just this one issue alone that has made him switch up so drastically.
When I read the first sentence, I immediately thought you might have self-esteem issues to work on, but then you surprised me by saying you have high standards (and therefore that's why he' s surprised you by meeting most of your expectations). So it is interesting. I wonder if (bear with me, I'm just tossing out some ideas to consider) perhaps you set the highest standards purposely to make it difficult to find someone who will cherish you and treat you well. Yet you have still attracted someone who has met most of those standards and is now repulsed by the idea of you expressing your sexuality as you see fit. So, is there a belief you hold about yourself and what you deserve that a partner will eventually align themselves with to be with you? How much do you feel deserving of everything you want and hold dear?

We can't change the people in our lives but we can look at ourselves and sometimes we find that the ways in which we regard ourselves creates a certain dynamic that our loved ones get caught up in, like a whirlpool. Could be worth looking at.
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"Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me." ~Bryan Ferry
"Love and the self are one . . ." ~Leo Buscaglia "

An excellent blog post on hierarchy in polyamory:
solopoly.net/2014/10/31/why-im-not-a-secondary-partner-the-short-version/

Last edited by nycindie; 08-10-2011 at 12:19 AM.
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