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Old 04-19-2012, 11:33 AM
amandapitch amandapitch is offline
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Default Hi + confused + need help.

Hi all,

Thanks for being here and thanks in advance for any guidance and coaching you can provide. I'm joining this site as a means and attempt to understand my partner.

I am generally monogamous, though I've tried everything and have no issue with folks who choose polyamory. I've just always felt it creates unnecessary drama and logistical issues that take away from all of the relationships in the poly relationship as well as other interests that are time consuming or attention intensive like art or athletic training for example.

When I entered into this relationship with my partner I knew he was poly. I had refrained from entering into a relationship with him for years because I didn't believe poly was for me and something I didn't want to negotiate from a time and logistics standpoint in particular. Eventually - and without coercion i think it is important to mention - he decided he didn't need to be poly and it was worth giving up that option to be in a relationship with me and though we hadn't been in contact for a while he sought me out to propose this to me, so I took him at his word and we are now in a relationship.

Due to various outside issues, some of which are mutual codependence issues which we are in counseling for, he is now questioning everything and wondering if he was really honest enough with himself and me when he said he could and wanted to give up poly to be with me.

I am trying really hard not to take it personally and not feel deceived, but the bottom line is that I do. I guess my overall question is this: what is it that a person can get from multiple partners that is worth the overall difficulty and drama that you can't from a single partner?

Please don't judge me as closed minded - again I'm really trying to understand and not take it personally - I'm reading what I can find online, posting here, and even reading The Four Agreements again to limber up my mind for this... So - why does this feel extremely selfish of my partner and like a way for them to not really deal with our issues?

Wouldn't this be like me saying I was ok with poly to manipulate him into the relationship in the first place, then deciding I wasn't ok with it after we were deeply involved and demanded we give it up?

Argh! Please help. I wish there were a magic spell to invoke that would immediately make me ok with all this without feeling like I'm compromising myself and what I want.

What I want is this: a happy satisfied and healthy partner who is stimulated by and engaged in their life with me who is my partner in crime. I want to be their go-to girl - the one they call when something good or bad happens - their emergency contact - the one they want to go on vacation with - etc - and not have to wonder what I mean to my partner.

Is this possible? If so - how?

He has been in several poly relationships previously - all of which appear to be failures to me in that the moment he decided he wanted to see someone else - even though his partners were seeing other folks - they would freak out and it would end the relationship. So for the most part he's been in poly relationships without really dating other people - just allowing his partner to date other people and having the option open to do so himself, but not actually doing it.

And finally - one more question - isn't this just a way to avoid commitment? And I don't mean this to be judgemental - I'm really just trying to understand. What is the difference between being poly and just dating whomever you feel like whenever you feel like it? I realize there are supposed "negotiated boundaries" but what ARE those boundaries and how do you ensure they aren't being crossed? Why is it different than just serious (not casual) dating?

If we've committed to each other - what does that mean if people are invited in and out of the relationship on a whim?

I truly believe there are infinite people in the world who are interesting and wonderful people who I COULD fall in love with, but why keep trading in who you DO love for a possible new love? For the momentary excitement of the first few months? Everyone outside a committed relationship looks shiny and fun from within one mainly because they hide their flaws simply by living somewhere else and/or being less involved in the day to day minutae. It's easy to look amazing, witty and fun if you just pop in and out of a relationship, but when you deal with bills, pets, family, cleaning the toilet - it mars the shine. How can you even begin to compete with someone a) who doesn't live with you and doesn't have to deal with him never cleaning the bathroom and therefore doesn't seem like a disappointed nag and b) ends up looking really fun because the time they would spend together would be time specifically carved out for meaningful interaction whether it be deep or just fun - not cleaning the cat litter box, food shopping or negotiating "boundaries" for the relationship.

Please help - as you can see I am spinning wildly out of control.

Thanks,
Amanda
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  #2  
Old 04-20-2012, 05:24 AM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Hello Amanda,
Welcome to our forum.

Re:
Quote:
"I guess my overall question is this: What is it that a person can get from multiple partners that is worth the overall difficulty and drama that you can't from a single partner?"
Variety, I suppose. That, and a wider base of support (from more than one person). An expanded sense of intimacy and belonging, if that makes any sense. And, you can get better at practicing polyamory over time, so that the drama becomes a thing of the past, and the complexity becomes comfortably manageable.

That's not to say polyamory is right for you, and maybe it's not right for your partner, either, if he has other issues he's not dealing with. Sometimes polyamory is used as an excuse for cheating ... and it's cheating if one's partner (e.g. you) isn't okay with the arrangement.

Your partner probably shouldn't have told you he could/would give up being poly to start a relationship with you. I'm sure at the time he was sincere in thinking he'd be okay with it, but he just didn't think it through very well.

Re:
Quote:
"I wish there were a magic spell to invoke that would immediately make me okay with all this without feeling like I'm compromising myself and what I want."
Wouldn't it be nice. Unfortunately, you may have to confront the reality that you and your partner might not be compatible (due to the clash of monogamous/polyamorous ideals). Mono-poly couplings do sometimes work, but it's not easy.

If you're indeed compromising yourself and what you want, then that's a bad situation. You have to think in your mind if this polyamory business is really something you can accept, because if it's not, then you may be setting yourself up for a lifetime of resentment or disappointment.

Re:
Quote:
"What I want is this: a happy satisfied and healthy partner who is stimulated by and engaged in their life with me, who is my partner in crime. I want to be their go-to girl -- the one they call when something good or bad happens -- their emergency contact -- the one they want to go on vacation with -- etc. -- and not have to wonder what I mean to my partner.
Is this possible? If so -- how?"
It sounds like you might be leaning toward a primary/secondary relationship model ... that is, one where, if your parter does have any other partners, those partners are all secondary in importance next to his relationship with you. In other words, you are his "primary partner;" all the others are secondaries. Some poly relationships are like that, and they can work ... but you have to make sure that's something he can live with too.

Re:
Quote:
"And finally -- one more question -- isn't this just a way to avoid commitment? And I don't mean this to be judgemental -- I'm really just trying to understand."
Well your basic commitment is that you're going to stay with the other person, and work out the difficulties, whatever they may be. There may or may not be a commitment about fidelity -- that depends on the individual relationship, although safe sex commitments are a given. Other than that, it's not necessarily about avoiding commitment; it's about people deciding what rules are right for them (and sticking to those rules). If it *is* about avoiding commitment, then it's not a healthy relationship style (regardless of whether it's "polyamorous").

Re:
Quote:
"What is the difference between being poly and just dating whomever you feel like whenever you feel like it? I realize there are supposed 'negotiated boundaries' but what *are* those boundaries and how do you ensure they aren't being crossed? Why is it different than just serious (not casual) dating?"
That's all 99% dependent on the individual relationship. Some people have what's called a "polyfidelitous" relationship: that is, sex is only supposed to happen within a very limited circle of (often just three, maybe four) very closely bonded/committed individuals. Sometimes more people can become "new members of the circle," but only after a considerable time for everyone to get to know the new person, and only if everyone is 100% comfortable with the addition. Then, there are some polyfidelitous situations where no new people are added at all, ever.

On the other end of the spectrum is a situation where everyone belongs to quite a populous and complex "intimate network" ... or even a core group or couple branching out in a dating situation that resembles swinging. There's all kinds of possible arrangements between the extremes, and all different levels of how "open" or "closed" the arrangement is, how much everyone talks to each other about the details of their various dates or relationships, etc.

I'm from a three-person unit (an MFM V, to get technical) that doesn't date outside our three-person circle. We're polyfidelitous. If any of us did date outside the circle, it would be after all three of us had met the new person and gotten comfortable with them. But we only represent one kind of the many, many kinds of polyamory that can be practiced.

As for how you ensure the boundaries aren't being crossed, that's a matter of trust, honesty, and yes, commitment. Everyone has to be very committed to honoring whatever agreements are in place. Sometimes agreements can be re-negotiated, but unless/until that re-negotiation happens, the agreements are to be honored as-is. Otherwise, if someone breaks an agreement (or crosses a boundary), then that's "their bad," just as if they had broken the rules in a standard monogamous relationship. And the principle is true for both monogamy and polyamory: You can't *make* anyone keep the rules ... You have to be able to trust them to keep the rules, and they have to be committed to keeping the rules.

Different poly families = different levels of commitment. Some are committed to stay with each other for life; others, just for as long as love and compatibility last, and honesty and openness is the only rule. But you have to decide what level of rules and commitments is right for you.

Re:
Quote:
"If we've committed to each other -- what does that mean if people are invited in and out of the relationship on a whim?"
That shouldn't be happening, if you're not comfortable with it. You and your partner need to sit down and figure out what rules you both can live with ... and if there's not a set of rules you can both with, then you may have to consider letting your partner go. Hopefully it doesn't come to that, but ... just sayin'. You commit to the rules that the two of you can agree upon, and you stick to those rules (both of you).

Re:
Quote:
"How can you even begin to compete with someone:
  1. Who doesn't live with you and doesn't have to deal with him never cleaning the bathroom and therefore doesn't seem like a disappointed nag ... and
  2. Ends up looking really fun because the time they would spend together would be time specifically carved out for meaningful interaction whether it be deep or just fun -- not cleaning the cat litter box, food shopping or negotiating 'boundaries' for the relationship."
Perhaps the thing you have to do here is ask yourself if you can trust your partner not to play that comparison game. Sure NRE (New Relationship Energy) is a fun/exciting thing that comes out of new relationships. But "old relationships" have their unique qualities as well, such as the safety, comfort, and security that comes from knowing it's someone who's stuck with you through thick and thin (and through all the bathroom-cleanings, etc.). New relationships aren't necessarily better; they're just different. And "old relationships" should still have their "special date nights," etc.; even if it's "not the same" as dating a new person, it's still important.

But like I said, not all poly relationships have that "dating new people all the time" type of thing going. For some poly relationships, it's "seldom dating anyone new" ... or even, "never dating anyone new." Some poly relationships look almost exactly like a traditional monogamous marriage -- the only exception being that there's three (instead of two) people committed exclusively to each other for life.

You and your partner should have a long sit-down with each other to find out if there's any middle ground, in the midst of all this "poly territory," that both of you can live with.

Hope this helps somewhat.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
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  #3  
Old 04-20-2012, 05:28 AM
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NovemberRain NovemberRain is offline
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Hi Amanda,
Welcome. You have really excellent questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
When I entered into this relationship with my partner I knew he was poly.
Separated for emphasis. You knew. There had to be some part of you that was so attracted to him you were willing to 'forget' this, and/or believe he could be otherwise. (regardless of what he said or didn't say)

Quote:
Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
I am trying really hard not to take it personally and not feel deceived, but the bottom line is that I do. I guess my overall question is this: what is it that a person can get from multiple partners that is worth the overall difficulty and drama that you can't from a single partner?
Not sure that I can answer that. I fell in love with my partners in mono relationships; it's my extreme good fortune that I get to have both of them now. We three were friends during the times I was mono with both of them. I've always loved them both, I just permission to add sex. (that's the way I see it sometimes) They're different. One of them isn't 'cuddly', the other one is like my opposite piece of velcro.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
Please don't judge me as closed minded - again I'm really trying to understand and not take it personally - I'm reading what I can find online, posting here, and even reading The Four Agreements again to limber up my mind for this... So - why does this feel extremely selfish of my partner and like a way for them to not really deal with our issues?
I think it's wonderful that you're researching and investigating and asking questions.

Some people view mono/poly as an orientation, much like gay/straight/bi/other-option. Some people are wired for loving more than one. Some have a choice. Sounds like perhaps your bf thought he could choose, but discovered he could not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
Wouldn't this be like me saying I was ok with poly to manipulate him into the relationship in the first place, then deciding I wasn't ok with it after we were deeply involved and demanded we give it up?
I can totally see how it might feel like that.
Consider it could be that he was so attracted to you, he wanted to be able to choose. He wanted to be able to give you what you needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
What I want is this: a happy satisfied and healthy partner who is stimulated by and engaged in their life with me who is my partner in crime. I want to be their go-to girl - the one they call when something good or bad happens - their emergency contact - the one they want to go on vacation with - etc - and not have to wonder what I mean to my partner.
That's an awesome description of what you want! Is the only way you wouldn't wonder is if he were mono? (btw, I didn't see in that description that you wanted your partner to be male? Am I reading in too much?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
Is this possible? If so - how?
Do you mean, 'is this possible in a poly situation?' There are many married poly folks in this forum. To me, they seem to have what you seek.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
He has been in several poly relationships previously - all of which appear to be failures to me in that the moment he decided he wanted to see someone else - even though his partners were seeing other folks - they would freak out and it would end the relationship. So for the most part he's been in poly relationships without really dating other people - just allowing his partner to date other people and having the option open to do so himself, but not actually doing it.
Sounds like his 'chooser' could use some fine tuning. Sounds also like your counselor is a good one, if he is questioning everything. Finding out why he picks people who leave when he's on the verge of 'success' (for lack of a better word) will be very helpful to him, I'm sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
And finally - one more question - isn't this just a way to avoid commitment? And I don't mean this to be judgemental - I'm really just trying to understand. What is the difference between being poly and just dating whomever you feel like whenever you feel like it? I realize there are supposed "negotiated boundaries" but what ARE those boundaries and how do you ensure they aren't being crossed? Why is it different than just serious (not casual) dating?

If we've committed to each other - what does that mean if people are invited in and out of the relationship on a whim?
It could be a way for him to avoid commitment. As I said, many married folk here, and a few who've been in this for a long-haul.

Some people can live with more uncertainty than others. Some people only feel alive with a great deal of uncertainty (they're the ones who jump out of planes and such).

Dating whomever whenever doesn't quite fit with my understanding of poly. Most folks, when talking about 'love' mean something deeper than 'casual dating'. I'm sure someone can point out the threads, but I've seen a lot of that discussed around here lately.

What does it mean if they're not invited in and out on a whim? What would it mean, if he loved two (or three) of you for the long-term?

Quote:
Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
I truly believe there are infinite people in the world who are interesting and wonderful people who I COULD fall in love with, but why keep trading in who you DO love for a possible new love?
I think most look at it not as trading-in, but adding-to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
For the momentary excitement of the first few months? Everyone outside a committed relationship looks shiny and fun from within one mainly because they hide their flaws simply by living somewhere else and/or being less involved in the day to day minutae. It's easy to look amazing, witty and fun if you just pop in and out of a relationship, but when you deal with bills, pets, family, cleaning the toilet - it mars the shine. How can you even begin to compete with someone a) who doesn't live with you and doesn't have to deal with him never cleaning the bathroom and therefore doesn't seem like a disappointed nag and b) ends up looking really fun because the time they would spend together would be time specifically carved out for meaningful interaction whether it be deep or just fun - not cleaning the cat litter box, food shopping or negotiating "boundaries" for the relationship.
That's an in-depth that I can't personally speak to, but you'll find lots of material in here about that. People call it NRE, and it wears off, and people stay in relationship.

One benefit of poly is being aware of that; and *not* taking your day-to-day partner for granted. Remembering that they are so much more than cleaning the cat box, and remembering to date them and carve out meaningful interaction with them.

On the other hand, I could be owned forever by someone who found cleaning the catbox a worthy and meaningful activity for support of our relationship. [I have a friend whose husband cleans the box because she absolutely can't, told him, 'if you want a cat, you have to do that'. I don't know about her, but I see that as a huge sign of his devotion to her.] To me, it increases the shine. Anyone can buy me dinner, someone who loves me cleans the catbox.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
Please help - as you can see I am spinning wildly out of control.
You sound like a perfectly normal noob. You're doing great, actually. You're calm, you're rational, you're investigating, you're having feelings. You're not bashing anyone. Awesome!
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  #4  
Old 04-20-2012, 08:35 AM
amandapitch amandapitch is offline
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Thanks for all the thoughtful and in-depth replies you guys. I know I threw a lot out there all at once.

I wish I had more time to respond in kind right now, but I'm trying to meet a work deadline, but I seriously appreciate the feedback.

Just to reply to a couple main things you guys pointed out:

Quote:
Separated for emphasis. You knew. There had to be some part of you that was so attracted to him you were willing to 'forget' this, and/or believe he could be otherwise. (regardless of what he said or didn't say)
Yes - I agree this is likely. I have loved him a long time and have really wanted to be with him, but didn't believe poly was for me - in part due to my own personal issues of course - but I didn't think it would lead us down a happy path and had committed to not getting involved with him because of it. When offered another option I jumped on it and perhaps should have questioned more. I'm feeling pretty betrayed and manipulated now though, as if I have to agree to this to keep the relationship. Frankly - we're having enough issues just between the two of us right now I think it would be a huge mistake to add another person to it regardless even if we were both comfortable and experienced with poly. He hasn't been forcing the issue, but it's been hinted at, and though I sort of fooled myself before, my eyes are open now and I want to figure out how I feel about things on my own before it really becomes a major sticking point.

Quote:
Is the only way you wouldn't wonder is if he were mono? (btw, I didn't see in that description that you wanted your partner to be male? Am I reading in too much?)
Two things here: no it's not the only way I can see to not wondering. I think its just as easy to not really feel secure in a mono relationship as it is in a poly if the person you're involved with isn't communicating it in words and actions or if you're just a generally insecure person or some combination thereof. It seems like poly would multiply that though because there are so many more moving parts.

Though the things you guys are saying about communication and boundaries and mutual agreements being honored as well as mutual respect being vital to a poly relationship I see as vital to ANY relationship poly or mono or other if it's to be sustainable. I do think that if everything was done the way you guys describe and there weren't other issues we were dealing with it could potentially work and be fun, but I guess my main point here is it is vital for me to not have to constantly be trying to figure out the state of our relationship. I need some level of consistency to be happy and secure. Poly or mono.

Secondly - no you aren't reading in too much. When I said I've tried everything I meant it. I've dated both men and women, prefer men sexually, but truly adore women and would much rather paint or draw the female figure than the male any day. No offense meant to anyone. I've also been in relationships with more than one person at a time. It was a lot less structured and we didn't really consider it a poly relationship, though it seems like it probably was in retrospect. With that though, I think none of us had any huge emotional stake in the relationship being disrupted by one of the others. There was no competing for time or attention mainly because I think it was something we all thought was "fun" but not meant to last.

Other more general things you guys have said and that I've read in other posts are wonderful sentiments in theory and in my secure and fully centered self would love to embrace, but I doubt in human ability (myself included or maybe in particular? maybe the crux of the problem...) to truly be as honest as would be necessary, as secure within themselves as they would have to be not to cause unnecessary drama, as unselfish as would be needed so that all parties felt fulfilled and as committed as would be needed to really make it work.

It sounds WONDERFUL in theory, but I just have no faith in the reality of being able to pull that off on a daily basis under all circumstances. For myself I can easily imagine having a bad day (not that I have a lot of bad days - this is just an example of what would really make me feel abandoned and less than cherished ...) and looking forward to flopping on the couch with my partner to get pet and listened to, only to find out he had plans with another partner and resenting it monumentally. And while it does all sound really beautiful and evolved in theory, the simple logistics and negotiation seem so time consuming and involved that it seems like it would really sap the fun and satisfaction of it.

Also - I'd feel jealous of all the time he spent with someone else out doing fun things without me. I'd want to be there too if anything. Not just someone sitting on the side waiting for my partner to return from his fun day/date/whatever. The situations where you describe it being a group relationship seem a lot more doable to me (for me at any rate) because then it's open communication across all lines instead of relationships separate from each other that the others have to wonder about or protect their own relationships from. It's all one relationship organism instead of several trying to vie for the same resources.

Well so much for the brief response. As you can see I'm still very tangled up on this. To summarize I think poly in theory could be really wonderful, satisfying and challenging in ways that would really make a person grow in a positive way, but the reality of human nature gets in the way. And to caveat all this - I do realize I'm just making sweeping generalizations here from a pretty uninformed position and I mean no offense to anyone. I KNOW people make this work and are probably far more evolved than I am either as a result of having this in their lives or it works in their lives because they are more evolved in the first place.

So thanks again for the feedback. Greatly appreciate it. Still super conflicted and wishing there was a rule book.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:35 AM
Questioning Questioning is offline
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Hi Amanda

I am relatively new to all this polyamory stuff and am on this forum seeking knowledge as I am a monogamous man who has fallen in love with a polyamorous girl. There's been an awful lot of confusion and pain for us, partly by pretending to myself I could change her, partly by her not understanding who she really is.

We've only just sorted it all out (her identity, and where I stand) recently.

So, where do I stand, mono person with poly partner he loves. OK today but for a long time I was sooooo conflicted. How could she love me, and yet do this (to me). But it's not about me. It is her history, it is her, who she is. i had to make a decision. Love her - I mean REALLY LOVE AND REALLY ACCEPT HER, or move on.

This is not my idea of perfect. To be madly in love with a woman who leaves for a weekend or a week two three times a year to visit others. BUT - she always comes back. When she comes back the rule now is: I need her to hold me, kiss me, tell me she loves me, tell me she's back. I need quality time, hiking together, wine, conversation, making love - a reconnect. It gets easier, even when I didn't understand, the visits away got easier. When she is away I need activities of my own, to spoil myself. We want the other to be happy. I canot reject this woman, I love her profoundly, so profoundly I find myself in this 'untenable' situation, but she is my best friend, I could never abandon her for having alternate sexuality, especially now she has only just begun to 'find herself'. I truly believe she is polyamorous, there is no other explanation, cold bitches don't have the love and energy she has, she just is who she is, an amazing woman. Polyamory is a very real phenomenon.

My greatest enemy is my thoughts, as they drive my emotions. I have a thread on this I've just started in general discussions. Believe me, I was way down before I came up for air.

I wish you the very best. Unless there is profound love - eg remove all benefits this man provides you - and you still love him - I would be looking for someone else. Only if they are worth you making a major shift in your value system, your beliefs about love! It's growth to understand other lifestyles, but to embrace them - there may be some growing pains...
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Old 04-20-2012, 11:25 AM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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Some people are just not poly. They just aren't and that is perfectly fine. You may be one of those folks.
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
Some people are just not poly. They just aren't and that is perfectly fine. You may be one of those folks.
And some are uncomfortable to combine a relationship style as alien to their own as poly can be for a mono person with the one that feels natural for them. If this is the case, the two possible partners are just uncomfortable with each other and things won't work out. But even out of those who are (like Opalscent pointed out) mono and stay that way (out of choice or nature, all arguable ...) there are some, who are honestly and perfectly fine with a poly person by their side. I couldn't imagine that as well when I started 'the poly journey' myself, but both of my men are like this. There will never be a relationship without hardship, that is a given in every last one out there, but there are as many fulfilling poly relationships as monos.

The only things you can do now, is try to basically identify what your deal in this situation will be. Do you want to and (more importantly) can you live like that? This isn't about him 'cheating' you into it, try to put this aside. Before anything else ask yourself the simple question if this would ever be thinkable for yourself. If you want to stay with him, if your feelings/ your relationship is strong enough to endure some difficulties (different ones a mono relationship may have had in stall for you) from time to time. To get a grip on anything there, make this about you, not him right from the starting point.

This doesn't have to be about drama all the time, it won't be roses all the way as well. And you absolutely right, if you have problems in your current relationship, poly isn't for him or both of you right now. The saying 'relationship broken, add more people' is a recipe for disaster. Your gut feeling is absolutely right, don't dive in there on the spur of the moment. Make sure that you come from a safe place and have something you can turn to when things are rough. I doubt that we (husband and I) would have been able to open our relationship in the first place if the foundation wouldn't have been rock solid.

And yeah, concerning the point of view my two mono men would voice if asked: I think I can second everything Questioning has said. But if there are specific aspects you are interested in or problems you would like to discuss with some like minded people in a similar spot to yours, just ask.

Mono/poly is possible but not for everyone. Just like taste or any kind of orientation you can think of. Find out what it is like for you. Good luck.
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Old 04-20-2012, 08:21 PM
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"Wouldn't this be like me saying I was ok with poly to manipulate him into the relationship in the first place, then deciding I wasn't ok with it after we were deeply involved and demanded we give it up?" That's... actually not a bad comparison. Nobody likes to be tricked, but it sounds like you have been, despite not feeling like you were.

You're here and you're asking questions. I'm not going to think your mind is closed. I am going to do my best to give you answers from my perspective (poly woman, mid-twenties).

"[W]hat is it that a person can get from multiple partners that is worth the overall difficulty and drama that you can't from a single partner?"

I personally have found polyamory to be less drama-filled than monogamy, possibly because I was dating the wrong people, possibly because I'm just made this way and understand it better than I do monogamy. I appreciate that in polyamory, I'm not a possession. I have the right to love whoever I love, and this is okay with my partner(s). In monogamy, there's the concept of "emotional infidelity", which to me is a fancy way of saying "You can love me and only me, even if you never go beyond wishing, wanting, and very close friendship". I don't have to trade in love for love; I can add love to love and have more love! This is a difficult concept for a lot of people, and that's okay. It's not the dominant social narrative. You won't have encountered that very often or been told it's not wrong.

"[W]hy does this feel extremely selfish of my partner and like a way for them to not really deal with our issues?" Because the way he is handling it is to try and keep you at all costs, the very essence of codependency. He thinks you will both be happier if he denies something that is a part of himself. He isn't hearing you say that you can be happy as his go-to girl (typically described as "primary" in polyamory).

A question for you, though: could you be happy to be his primary partner if he were seeing others? Could you take him at his word if he said he loved you and another person? You can't change that you're monogamous; what you can do is trust him. Or not, if that's a hard limit for you. You don't have to say "Sure, go be poly". You can say "You said we were going to be monogamous together. If you want to be poly, you can do it without me". This is where boundaries come in. You two sit down and discuss what you each need, want, and would like. You find ways to accommodate both of your needs, and then the wants, and then the likes--and then you stick to it or renegotiate together.

People who decide that they can date all they like, but who forbid their partners to do the same, are not so much poly as hypocrites. Your partner has run into a lot of hypocrites who have treated him badly.

Commitment means different things to different people. What does commitment mean to you? I take it to mean my partner will not leave me without just cause, the same as if we were married, but without lawyers involved. We decide each day that we will stay, and to me, that's the strongest commitment of all. It's not enforced by outsiders; we're the ones who are choosing. We have to be strong enough not to run from each other. It's four years next month and so far, we've covered "for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health". The two of us gain nothing by making vows in front of a community; you may feel differently, and that's okay. I would be better off if I were legally his spouse, but only because of the health insurance. I am, by the way, never the just-for-fun. We don't clean litter boxes together, but we shop for dinner, we (all three) negotiate boundaries, and he has taken care of me on more than one occasion. He had to make sure I ate while I was pounding out my final exams one semester; he made sure I wasn't alone in the house when my uncle died and I was too ill to attend the funeral. I went to him when their dog was on her way out; I went to his partner when she was injured and he couldn't get off work to look after her.

I don't do relationships-on-a-whim, personally. I feel what I feel, I contemplate whether there's room in our lives for someone else, and then he and I talk. Only after those steps are taken do we consider meeting the person (I don't do first dates alone; experience has taught me it's smarter to bring my partner). This is how I came into his life: he and I got to know each other, he and his partner (who is monogamous) worked it through, the three of us had dinner and a long talk, and then we had solo dates, to include the First Kiss. This may seem hilarious to some, but the three of us operate best this way. To me, there's just too much at stake. I have a disabling illness, so I have to consider where I spend my energy. Do I want to spend it on a dozen possibles or one or two yes-pleases?

I hope this helps, and if you need to talk about something private, please don't hesitate to PM me. Best of luck!
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:41 PM
amandapitch amandapitch is offline
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Thanks for posting! You really sparked some serious thought for me today. Everyone who has responded has actually....

Quote:
A question for you, though: could you be happy to be his primary partner if he were seeing others? Could you take him at his word if he said he loved you and another person? You can't change that you're monogamous; what you can do is trust him. Or not, if that's a hard limit for you. You don't have to say "Sure, go be poly". You can say "You said we were going to be monogamous together. If you want to be poly, you can do it without me". This is where boundaries come in. You two sit down and discuss what you each need, want, and would like. You find ways to accommodate both of your needs, and then the wants, and then the likes--and then you stick to it or renegotiate together.
That's sort of what I'm trying to figure out. Right now - no - I can't trust him enough to feel this would work. I don't think he's forthright enough - not that he's not honest, but if not directly asked, he will withhold info on any number of topics rather than in the interest of full transparency so nothing can be misunderstood or taken personally and it causes problems already and we haven't even ventured into the poly realm yet.

I truly don't know if I'm one of those hardcore mono people - I've never really believed in marriage and never particularly wanted it because I have no need to do anything like that for god or government and to me commitment is commitment. I like the idea of a commitment ceremony or something - just to declare committed love for one another - but only for that reason. I feel it strengthens commitment to declare it and make it a public thing.

I grew up in a really open hippy style way on the east coast by my single mom without the influence of a successful monogomous relationship to model after - in the middle of the village in NYC and have been exposed to all shapes, walks, arrangements, kinks and quirks since I was zero, so it feels like I am one of those people who doesn't have a preconceived notion of what it should really look like. I've felt that marriage can be incredibly stifling and sometimes people hide within it because their partner is "stuck". They let themselves go and get "comfortable" (which i see as half dead) and don't engage with the world the way they would if they were single or challenged by their partner(s) in someway. Again - not to offend anyone - this is not true of everyone - just in some cases.

So to that extent, I feel like a likely poly candidate but only under certain circumstances because also due to the way I grew up, the need for stability (emotional) and consistency is vital. Which doesn't seem unlikely in a poly relationship - maybe even MORE likely if the communication and honesty and trust is there as everyone says it should be.

I definitely have abandonment issues which I'm actively dealing with which would play heavily in a poly relationship unless it's approached with care. I think that's my major personality glitch in terms of not being a perfect candidate for poly. But i also don't think its limited to being a glitch only in relation to poly - it affects mono relationships too - which is why I am very much actively dealing with it.

So - sadly - I think though we've known each other for 10 years, been good friends for 6, and have now been dating for a year or so - because he's hidden things and not been completely honest, already has individuals he'd want to get involved with that i'm not friends with and i wouldn't be a part of their relationship, and is also weird about giving information i think would help me feel more comfortable in all of it and tells me it's none of my business - I feel like it might be doomed no matter how open minded I am. It would be totally ironic - and not really out of the realm of possible - if through all this exploration I decide poly actually IS for me and end up in a poly relationship with folks that doesn't include him.

A really sad thought because I truly do love him. I really wasn't sure I could love someone like this again after the breakup of my last relationship of many years (really heartbreaking), but I am deeply in love with him.

ARGH.
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Old 04-20-2012, 11:16 PM
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SNeacail SNeacail is offline
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Originally Posted by amandapitch View Post
Right now - no - I can't trust him enough to feel this would work. I don't think he's forthright enough - not that he's not honest, but if not directly asked, he will withhold info on any number of topics rather than in the interest of full transparency so nothing can be misunderstood or taken personally and it causes problems already and we haven't even ventured into the poly realm yet.
My husband is like this also, so my sympathies . What I have learned, is that I just have to ask more questions and keep asking them. They have spent years "training" themselves to not disclose what they think might cause drama, so it's up to us to help them develop new habits by constantly asking questions. Soon enough he will anticipate the questions and volunteer the information to avoid being grilled.

Communication is key and it take effort and WORK to figure out how to truly communicate with your partner. More than likely you will find that you do NOT have the same definitions for words you thought were common or obvious.
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