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Old 01-16-2012, 08:57 PM
ForestFloor ForestFloor is offline
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Arrow What if a poly goes REALLY south?

Hi everyone-- I've been lurking for a bit and a lot of the discussions about other's relationships has helped me, however I feel like my "problems" have enough drama and uniqueness that I'd love your advice.

First of all, my spouse has been rather interested in poly for awhile, but entered into a mono relationship with me about 8 years ago. The IDEA of a poly relationship is something we had discussed before. I am attracted to both men and women and he is fairly pansexual. It makes for some pretty interesting possibilities. Then, this past year, he reconnected with an old friend who he felt intense feelings for. They slept together (without my permission, which still urks me a bit), he informed me, and then suggested that she enter into our relationship. (Okay, yeah, that was probably my first mistake...)

After talking about it first together and also with her for about a month, we agreed to proceed. The "plan" was a typical, well, unicorn idea... she would be in a relationship with both of us, since she is also attracted to both men and women, and though her relationship with my spouse was more developed, she and I would date and try not to prize one relationship over another.

This went south FAST. Several things soon became clear:

- She did not want a romantic relationship with me at ALL.
- She did not want a poly relationship really. She wanted a mono relationship with my spouse and thought this was the best she could have.
- She was emotionally pretty unstable, going through extreme bouts of rage and depression

Soon, our attempt at polyamory shifted to a dysfunctional polymono. I was the mono, as I still loved and had a relationship with my spouse, but wanted nothing to do with the bag of drama that I saw his girlfriend as. And she CLEARLY wanted nothing to do with me and had very little respect for our (his and my) relationship. This was very difficult for me. I love the idea of a polyamorous relationship, but one with people who love and respect the relationship my spouse and I already had (and who are truly comfortable with the idea and not just pretending). I became very depressed and hurt myself. As her emotions became more unstable, he spent more and more time trying to be a stabilizing force for her (she mentioned being suicidal to him) and I felt myself more and more alone. Finally, after it became clear that the relationship between her and my spouse was borderline emotionally abusing and hurting him, I gave an ultimatum. I'm sorry, but this is too much-- I either need to leave this situation, or you need to end the romantic relationship with her.

He chose the latter. We celebrated the holidays as a mono relationship. I felt calmer. Great right? Well, my partner still feels very strongly that the young lady in question is still in his life. She has been a friend for awhile and he does care for her quite a lot (love even). She has no support in this city and has very few other friends and no family. He feels responsible (logically or otherwise) for her current state of emotional instability and just "wants everyone to be happy."

She now is trying to get her life in line and says she realizes the mistakes she has made and is trying to change the things in her that made the relationship so bad.

He is sympathetic to her emotional vulnerability and wants to support her life changes. I am supportive to a point... personally, I want nothing to do with her, but I try to support my spouse's desire to help/support her and spend some time around her here and there.

Now, here's the rub. She thinks the current situation is hurtful and unfair-- she can tell he still cares for her and she has "learned so much" and is "changing" so she wants there to be a new relationship between them. He just wants everyone to be happy, and right now no one is.

And I am so amazingly against it. As in, my reaction is "never in a million years am I inviting that back into my life." Lately, as she has felt more hurt by the situation, and he seems more and more not AGAINST a new relationship with her, I have become more upset, angry, possesive, and depressed. I'm having trust issues and no matter how much he says he'll defer to me on the romantic nature of the relationship, he is feeling like my "possesiveness" and anger with his "former" girlfriend's desire for a new relationship is not healthy or mature (or "advanced"... I don't know, insert your own semi-condecending adjective there).

I'm sitting down with the girlfriend tomorrow evening to try and talk about our feelings, but one thing I want to know is: from an outside perspective, how can/should things be fixed or made "better," in your opinions? Is there a best-case-senario that you see? I'm too in the thick of it, I think. ANY suggestions or ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks all, you rock.
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:53 PM
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NovemberRain NovemberRain is offline
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I think you're not crazy, you're totally entitled to your feelings. I was hearing Dr. Laura in my head while reading, 'some things cannot be fixed.'

I read in here often, that (if you are in a marriage) you need your marriage on stable solid ground before seeing other people. Sounds to me like you've got a big ol' slippery mudpuddle, rather than solid ground.

I'm sure some more experienced folks will chime in. I haven't any specific advice. I just wanted to say I'm so sorry you're all hurting.
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  #3  
Old 01-17-2012, 12:04 AM
ForestFloor ForestFloor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NovemberRain View Post
I read in here often, that (if you are in a marriage) you need your marriage on stable solid ground before seeing other people. Sounds to me like you've got a big ol' slippery mudpuddle, rather than solid ground.
Thanks for your reply, NovemberRain! Honestly, if you had asked me half-a-year ago (before this all started) I would have said my marriage was pretty much the most solid thing ever. We've known each other and been partners/best-friends for 8 years.

I think that's what makes this all so weird for me. I don't FEEL solid, when I "should." He's made it clear he's not going anywhere, that he loves me, that I was right to step in when I did, etc. I should have marble or granite, not a puddle of anything. But yet I'm emoting like things could fall apart at any second, especially if she sticks around. I think the chaos of the months we were all in a V just freaked me the f*** out.

I agree that somethings can't or shouldn't be fixed... but if 2 of the 3 people want it to be, what kind of wicked witch of the west does that make me, you know?

Thanks again. I appreciate it.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:21 AM
Preia Preia is offline
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It really strikes me that he is still riding the fence and applying pressure to you. If he had wanted to let you walk and be with the other girl, then he should have put on his big boy pants and done it when you put your foot down. Not placate you, then placate her, then placate you... You see this is just going to keep hurting everyone. It may be time for him to come to the understanding that while he can have other partners, he can't have THAT partner and have you too. My husband and I both have a list of THOSE partners that we can't have. Usually because they are crazy-making for us to be in a relationship with. This ranges from those who actively try to get the hinge partner to themselves to those who are just too emotionally draining for us to have anything left for ourselves or others.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:58 AM
opalescent opalescent is online now
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Maybe you are freaking the fuck out because you sense an actual threat to your marriage? From your description (which I realize is entirely from your viewpoint), she appears to be a classic cowgirl (someone who gets involved in a poly relationship for the purpose of splitting off one of the other partners into a mono relationship with said cowgirl/boy).

It seems wise to me when you put the kibosh on your husband's sexual/romantic relationship with her. Did you explicitly tell him it wasn't solely because of her instability and drama but because she wanted him for herself and was thus threatening the marriage? That she doesn't respect his marriage or his spouse? Does he understand that? It wasn't clear in your posts, at least to me. If you haven't had that explicit conversation about this with your husband - do it now.

You don't appear to be against the idea of your husband having other partners, or yourself having other partners (I've interpreted your 'polymono relationship' comment as you do not currently have another partner - not necessarily that you don't want one and are so mono - but I could have misunderstood this). You do appear to be against partners who want to at a minimum, induce drama, cause you to doubt your husband, make your husband ride to the rescue over and over, and possibly end your marriage. This seems like a very reasonable restriction. Lots of poly folk have some version of 'Don't date crazy' in their explicit or implicit guidelines.

That said, people can change. But generally not very fast. I too would be profoundly skeptical of 'I'm hurting!', 'But I've changed and everything is ok!' Usually change like that - resolving major behavioral and emotional triggers - takes a while and doesn't happen quickly while one is unstable, emotionally or otherwise. There are exceptions of course but it's been my experience that this holds true. If Ms. Cowgirl can walk the walk - maybe be friends only with your husband, show some real respect for you and your marriage, not put her needs and emotions first all the time - then maybe you can reconsider. But, if I was in your shoes, I would have to see some real concrete, long term actions on her part before I would consider any changes in my stance towards her and a sexual/romantic relationship with hubby.

Can your husband truly be only a supportive friend to her? I also would be skeptical here - mainly because he slept with her before talking to you about that possibility, even when he knew that you would likely be open to a poly relationship. He also sounds like a white knight, rescuer type of person. Which is great generally but white knights are often easily manipulated by real or imagined emotional or other vulnerability. Yes, she is in a difficult situation. Everyone would like support in such a situation - it's no fun being alone with few friends. But your husband didn't cause that situation, your and his relationship with her didn't cause her loneliness or lack of friends, and ending the relationship didn't cause her emotional instability. (Perhaps she lacks friends because she is a toxic personality? Given, this is a reach with the very limited information available but perhaps it should be considered.)

If he can be just friends with her, then perhaps cautiously support that. But if he doesn't see the cowgirl thing going on here, or sees it but discounts it, or is too into NRE/White Knight mode to care, then just friends may not be possible for him and for your marriage to survive.

Good luck!
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Old 01-17-2012, 03:11 AM
ForestFloor ForestFloor is offline
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Whew! Your responses have really helped me feel less crazy and like my concerns are much more reasonable. Talked with the SO a bit more about it too-- he personally says he's trying the "teach to fish" method. However, she is awfully clingy to him and he can only do so much. He also wanted me to mention something I left out of my story and that is that he has been trying, in his view, to set boundaries with her and make the nature of the new (friendship/support, not romantic) relationship clear to her and also make it clear(er) that a new romantic relationship is unlikely at best, but she doesn't want to hear it and says she needs the hope to stay stable.

I do think he's got a bit too much white knight in him and may be being manipulated, though. Consciously on her part or not.

I'm talking with her over coffee tomorrow and hopefully me laying out my view, boundaries, and the situation will help. Who freaking knows... Wish me luck and thanks all!
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Old 01-17-2012, 03:18 AM
ForestFloor ForestFloor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
Did you explicitly tell him it wasn't solely because of her instability and drama but because she wanted him for herself and was thus threatening the marriage? That she doesn't respect his marriage or his spouse? Does he understand that? It wasn't clear in your posts, at least to me.
Yes, thus his willingness to (for all intense and purposes) end the romantic side of the relationship. But (bit of detail I left out) she moved to our city to be closer to us/for this relationship and he promised to support her before she did, so he feels responsibility and like he can't be that much of an asshole to completely drop her as a friend. I get that-- but, yes, for all of the reasons mentioned, I need to stay firm on my original stance. "No crazy" is a great policy.

Quote:
You don't appear to be against the idea of your husband having other partners, or yourself having other partners (I've interpreted your 'polymono relationship' comment as you do not currently have another partner - not necessarily that you don't want one and are so mono - but I could have misunderstood this).
No, that's right. Personally, I don't feel a drive to date anyone on my own, separate from he mentioned above. I'm perfectly happy with just my spouse and don't have much of a wandering eye/otherwise-poly nature. I like the idea of a really-close-friendship-plus-intimacy relationship with another person WITH both of us, male or female or heck any trans*gender (and it wouldn't have to be exclusive with us, just mutual care and respect). If that's not in the cards, I'm not really looking for myself. Just to clarify!
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:40 AM
km34 km34 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForestFloor View Post
I agree that somethings can't or shouldn't be fixed... but if 2 of the 3 people want it to be, what kind of wicked witch of the west does that make me, you know?
Does he realize that he's making you feel this way by continuing his relationship with her? Whether it is official or not, from what you've presented it seems like a relationship to me. Like NovemberRain said, your primary relationship has to be healthy and stable before entering into another serious relationship in order to keep everyone satisfied. Men often feel the need to play the hero, though, so he may be so focused on how he is helping her that he doesn't realize what all it is putting you through. He needs to be your hero now and then, too!

Anyway, I don't think it makes you wicked at all. I think it makes you smart. You know how bad it made you feel. You know how bad it was for the people involved. Sure, people CAN change, but usually takes a really long time and too often they fall into old patterns when they are put into old situations.

If she has no friends or support in this city, then he should be helping her find some instead of always stepping in when she needs something. I think that's part of the whole "if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, if you teach a man to fish you feed him for life" kind of thing. He isn't helping her in the long run at all. Maybe suggest that he help her take steps to form other connections/friendships/relationships so that he can gradually step back? Then you're not asking him to abandon her in her time of need, but you are still sticking up for your feelings too.
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Old 01-17-2012, 04:27 AM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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You are doing exactly the right thing by trying to distance yourself and your marriage from this woman. This essay speaks to me of your attempts to do the healthy thing here and your husband's problem in not being able to do so: http://libidablog.com/how-to-avoid-problem-people/2011/

He can't save her, and allowing her to cultivate a false belief that he will be in a position to date her again isn't helping, it's enabling. There's a very important distinction -- does he get the difference? She needs to find her own ways to be strong, not build her emotional strength on a foundation of sand, i.e. misplaced hope.

So, she feels the situation is "hurtful and unfair". Yes, being dumped hurts. And no, life is not fair. But she's not owed a shot at your husband just because she's into him and is willing to claim whatever changes it takes to get back into a relationship with him. Nor just because he feels sympathy and affection for her, which he's allowing her to manipulate in unhealthy ways.

This is all sooo messed up! If I were in your position I'd be feeling insecure in my marriage too inasmuch as I'd be shocked by my husband's series of poor judgement calls -- sleeping with her without talking to you about it first (wtf?), keeping the relationship going even when it became clear she was a cowgirl (what person who prioritized their marriage and had good sense would keep someone close who would love to see it destroyed??), and now refusing to cut ties even though it should be clear at this point that it would be better for ALL involved to do so.

I'm not sure what there is to gain in you talking to her. She's not a reasonable person, so what fruitful outcome could there be?
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:58 AM
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Some thoughts on your situation:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ForestFloor View Post
[...]However, she is awfully clingy to him and he can only do so much. [...] he has been trying, in his view, to set boundaries with her and make the nature of the new (friendship/support, not romantic) relationship clear to her and also make it clear(er) that a new romantic relationship is unlikely at best, but she doesn't want to hear it and says she needs the hope to stay stable.

I do think he's got a bit too much white knight in him and may be being manipulated, though. Consciously on her part or not.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForestFloor View Post
[...] she moved to our city to be closer to us/for this relationship and he promised to support her before she did, so he feels responsibility and like he can't be that much of an asshole to completely drop her as a friend.
She is showing some codependency issues all over the place. First thing for her to do seems to get a grip on her life. She will be the source for problems as long as she isn't able to support herself, constantly relying on others to manage her life for her.

You have done the only right thing in my point of view. As long as she hasn't proven that she is able to respect your marriage, acknowledges you as a solid part of his life and your feelings for each other, I wouldn't tolerate her in my direct surroundings as well. No one needs a cowgirl in a poly relationship structure.

And I would start to address my partner with some basic wishes as well. He entered into this relationship the worst possible way. Being cheated on takes time to heal. It's valid that he wants all his loves to feel 'happy', but he has to commit to your feelings as well. He has to see that the behaviour of this woman will not change when he starts to solve her problems for her, she has to do this herself for the process to be long-lasting. And there is obviously still some untreated damage from the start of things and the latest episode between the three of you. He should start by fixing those, not creating new problems in an already established way by inviting her back into your lifes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ForestFloor View Post
I think the chaos of the months we were all in a V just freaked me the f*** out.

I agree that somethings can't or shouldn't be fixed... but if 2 of the 3 people want it to be, what kind of wicked witch of the west does that make me, you know?
This isn't a matter of democracy ... Poly relationships don't function properly if one is unhappy, just like mono relationships don't work when one partner isn't stable and satisfied with it. That's not how you will be able to pull it off. You don't have to lock her out of your or better his life completely, but set some clear boundaries about what you are comfortable with and what not. And make sure that they understand that you need time to stomach all that went wrong during your last mutual attempt. They should need the time as well to sort it out.

Good luck.
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