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Old 03-29-2010, 02:40 AM
confidence confidence is offline
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Post just trying to get some honest input

Hello all.

I am a poly female who currently has one boyfriend I have been with for about two and a half years. We started out our relationship as poly and have stayed that way the entire time we've been together. We certainly love each other and I have no desire to see the relationship end, however, I think I need advice on the sustainability of our relationship.

Since the beginning of our relationship, my boyfriend and I have been in a disagreement regarding our approaches to love and sex. He is very selective about who he is physically and emotionally intimate with (so much so that he has not been with anyone physically or emotionally since we've been together) but would ideally like to have multiple partners. On the other hand, I am much more relaxed about establishing relationships and desire to pursue people much quicker than he would ever consider. His focus is towards multiple long-term relationships whereas mine is more just letting things come and go as they will, hopefully resulting in long term relationships but not necessitating it.

We have come to this realization about ourselves through trial and error. Initially, we had several big problems centered around me pursuing friends I was interested in, being physical with them, and me being caught off guard and hurt by his negative reaction something I was particularly thrilled about. I did have one other boyfriend for about nine months but since then, I have not been able to get into a situation that he "approves" of. That is to say, he often times disagrees with the people I like, the speed at which I want to take our relationship (both emotional and physical), and my "okayness" with the relationships not necessarily being long term material. This includes a situation where he essentially veto-ed someone I was very much in love with, which damaged both of us as well as the relationship.

Basically, I feel trapped and like he expects me to change myself. Early in the relationship, I made compromises I was concerned about but trusted such as "no physical involvement with people you aren't planning to have an established, structured relationship with" and as things pile on top of one another, it feels unbearable.

I'm not sure if I'm in the wrong here, he's in the wrong here, or if we're just fundamentally incompatible. I'm hoping some fresh eyes can give me some insight into this and maybe advise me of a next step. I want to preserve it but I'm starting to feel like it could be a dead end.

So. Thoughts? Suggestions? Anything is appreciated.

<3

confidence.
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  #2  
Old 03-29-2010, 04:34 AM
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idealist idealist is offline
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I want to compliment you on your ability to communicate what is going on with you. It seems like you are really clear about what the issues are and that's the major first step.

For me, your approach to relationships is probably more realistic and his approach may be a bit forced. It seems to me that it's virtually impossible to know whether or not a relationship is going to be compatible for the long term unless you just get into the relationship and see. The trust, respect, honesty and love develops over time.....or not. But it takes time to find that out and if a relationship doesn't work, you move on. Anyway, I guess it's frustrating and it must seem like he is just sabotaging every potential relationship......for some reason. I guess that would be a good thing to try to discover.....is there an actual unconcious reason why he is acting this way?? Has he changed his mind about a poly lifestyle? Is it a lifestyle he thinks he wants, but is finding (on some level) that he can't really live it, so he's finding all sorts of various reasons..... why this one isn't good enough, or your approach to this one isn't right etc. etc.

I just want to encourage you to continue to post because there are a lot of experienced people here and I'm sure you will get some good feedback.
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Old 03-29-2010, 05:22 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by confidence View Post
my "okayness" with the relationships not necessarily being long term material. This includes a situation where he essentially veto-ed someone I was very much in love with, which damaged both of us as well as the relationship.

I'm not sure if I'm in the wrong here, he's in the wrong here, or if we're just fundamentally incompatible. I'm hoping some fresh eyes can give me some insight into this and maybe advise me of a next step. I want to preserve it but I'm starting to feel like it could be a dead end.
I try not to see people as being "in the wrong" when it comes to how they're feeling. Whether or not his position makes you incompatible seems to depend on whether or not he's prepared to change some of his unrealistic requirements.

The things I highlighted above seemed like contradictory behaviour. He vetoed someone that you actually were in love with, which could have actually developed into a longterm relationship.

His veto sounds like it came from insecurity and fear. That pattern is likely to continue, vetoing anyone who comes along whom he feels threatens his relationship with you.

If you both want to stay in this relationship, you need to be honest with each other about what your needs are and whether or not they are compatible. It sounds like you need to be free to date the people you want at the speed you feel is appropriate. There's a lot of discussion on this forum about primary partners dictating the speed at which other relationships can develop, some of that may be helpful to you.
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Old 03-29-2010, 12:09 PM
kamala kamala is offline
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Even if you both agreed on the rate of development and the nature of your other relationships, it's not something you can realistically control on the ground anyway.

I can't say whose right or wrong here, but I am of the opinion that the whole spirit of saying to your partner that they are free to pursue other relationships is that - the freedom to pursue them. It's a contradiction to say, pursue something, but make sure it fits within these constraints.

I think your best bet is to find out exactly what fears are behind him wanting to put restrictions on your other relationships, and then work on that. Sometimes, it's necessary to pass up a relationship with someone if it's not viable for all involved. But if you are restricting your relationships because of his fear, that's another story.
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Old 03-29-2010, 12:49 PM
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ladyjools ladyjools is offline
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this sounds like my worse nightmare i totally understand where you are coming from. It feels like he is trying to smother who you are and i find that hard to understand considering you where poly from the start and are continuing to be honest with him

you really need to find out why he feels the need to control how you do poly, its very ok for him to have his own way of doing things but i don't see why he can't do things his way when it comes to his other relationships and you do things your way when it comes to yours, it seems to me what you do makes him feel insecure,

Jools
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Old 03-29-2010, 12:55 PM
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CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
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I don't see either of you as "in the wrong" on this one - some people enjoy longer-term, some shorter-term. Both are perfectly viable possibilities for relationships.

Is there an expectation for the two of you to "share" your relationships with each other in some way (other than the knowing about it and maybe being friends with partners)? If there is, then you two definitely have some talking to do to hash out how this short work with your differing priorities.

If not, then why is it important to him that you lead your love life according to the others standards and criteria? Can't he love the way he wants to and you the way you want to? What would be the fundamental concern with this.

I think that this is a dialogue that the two of you most definitely want to have - to understand what the underlying concerns are, and to talk them through and deal with them.
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Old 03-29-2010, 02:48 PM
confidence confidence is offline
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idealist - Thank you. I appreciate the compliment. My awareness mostly comes through the fact that I have been dealing with this for a while now. As I see the same scenario repeat itself, I refine my ideas about what the issues are.

As far as changing his mind about poly, that's definitely something I've wondered about. I've had a huge slew of people suggest maybe he wants to back out of it. As I've confronted him with this, he's always denied it and I think it might just be that he is an "ivory tower" polyamorist (a term him and I came up with). Before pursuing a poly lifestyle, he never struggled in his monogamous relationships but after learning about poly he determined that it was the ideal relationship style for him. He insists, however, that he's not backing out and if he was, he would simply end our relationship.

SchrodingersCat - Um, first of all, I love your handle. Very cool.

To flesh out the situation a little more, he didn't veto the relationship as much as he told me that if I continued to pursue it he would be miserable everyday and continue to start fights over it...essentially damaging our relationship beyond repair. We were about to move out of town and so my relationship with this other person would become long distance which to him, is not a strong enough relationship to be called a "relationship" if that makes any sense.

This situation left a big dent in our relationship which we talk about at least every few weeks. I think those conversations need to become more about "what needs to change in the relationship" in general as opposed to about that situation in particular. Thanks for the reference to the hierarchy discussions, I think that'll help a lot.

kamala - I think your statement that sometimes it is necessary to pass up a relationship that is not viable for all involved is something he would agree with. I definitely think that there are circumstances where leaving a possible relationship behind is necessary and that is sort of at the heart of why I backed off when he told me all the problems he was having with that last individual I was interested in. However, something else that concerns me is that I feel like it is hard for me to come to him at all with my feelings for other people without him rolling his eyes and either 1) writing the people I like off because of some "flaw" they have, 2) getting defensive about my interest and if I want to sleep with them or not, or 3) challenging me on if I have a "serious" interest in them. This shuts down an awful lot of relationships from the start.

I agree that we need to figure out what the fears are that he has regarding my other interests. I'm not exactly sure how to start that conversation though without it becoming a huge, emotional mess. Any suggestions?

ladyjools - Thank you for the support. I really appreciate it. I agree and I think that (this kind of ties in with what I was just saying above about fears) he has some fears about being replaced physically and perhaps emotionally. The irony of the situation is that when he has been more permissive, I have felt myself much more attracted to him whereas when he is defensive and judgmental, I don't want to hug him much less be sexual with him.

CielDuMatin - Nope, no expectations of sharing other than maybe being friends with one another's partners.

I feel like if I asked him the question you asked about why I need to live my love life by his standards, he would reply with something about the fact that he does not like to see me as "loose" or "slutty" and feels that is what my behavior is. I don't really know how to get around this or if there is a way to do so. I see what I do as identifying people I can be intimate with and pursuing that. Sometimes it works out and I get a lot out of it and sometimes it is a disappointment. But I usually try to learn from the disappointments and I also feel like this is just the nature of life in general. You try and sometimes you fail. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

All - I want to have a conversation with him about this sometime soon. Are there any suggestions on ways I might approach it? I want to avoid it getting too emotionally charged because it will take us off track but I also need to be firm (which I am not the best at). I was considering suggesting that he make an attempt for one month to allow me to conduct myself as I would ideally like to. I feel like it might be good for both of us in different ways. I would suggest this, of course, after a conversation and only if we got to the stage of figuring out how to fix things.

Thank you all so much for listening and responding to me. I really only have one other outlet to talk to about this stuff and he is only one person! It feels so good to be able to speak my mind without fear of being judged.

<3

confidence.
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Old 03-29-2010, 03:47 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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Hi Confidence and thanks for sharing,

Quote:
Originally Posted by confidence View Post
I feel like if I asked him the question you asked about why I need to live my love life by his standards, he would reply with something about the fact that he does not like to see me as "loose" or "slutty" and feels that is what my behavior is.
Well - From your postings it might seem that you two have somewhat different philosophies and lovestyles. The only way this won't continue to be a source of conflict will be if someone changes or you both become comfortable accepting (and loving) each other for who you are as individuals. We do this quite easily in other areas of our life but not so easy in the sex/love arena.

If it were me, I'd want to get to the bottom of whether this conflict in ideals (the Ivory Tower syndrome vs the Slut) is really rooted in fear and insecurity or just rigid idealism. I also would make a wee bit of room in my own (your) mind for the possibility that being too free with my love DOES carry some risks and there may be some justified fear there. I'd want to allow (but not prompt for) space for that fear to emerge and have a rational conversation about it.
Does that make sense ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by confidence View Post
- I want to have a conversation with him about this sometime soon. Are there any suggestions on ways I might approach it? I want to avoid it getting too emotionally charged because it will take us off track but I also need to be firm (which I am not the best at). I was considering suggesting that he make an attempt for one month to allow me to conduct myself as I would ideally like to. I feel like it might be good for both of us in different ways. I would suggest this, of course, after a conversation and only if we got to the stage of figuring out how to fix things.
Well, it could start pretty simply and straightforward.

" Baby, we seem to have two different pictures of what living a poly life looks like. I'm fine with you building your own model that works for YOU. Can you be ok with me building my own model ? It's well documented that there is no "one way" to live poly except to be open & genuine. Can we do this ?"

Then see where the conversation goes.

GS
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:43 PM
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CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by confidence View Post
I feel like if I asked him the question you asked about why I need to live my love life by his standards, he would reply with something about the fact that he does not like to see me as "loose" or "slutty" and feels that is what my behavior is. I don't really know how to get around this or if there is a way to do so. I see what I do as identifying people I can be intimate with and pursuing that. Sometimes it works out and I get a lot out of it and sometimes it is a disappointment. But I usually try to learn from the disappointments and I also feel like this is just the nature of life in general. You try and sometimes you fail. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
I do suggest you ask, though, so that you can hear the answer directly, rather than speculating. You never know, it might be something completely different than what you have assumed.

If he sees the person that you are as "loose" and "slutty" (and means those both in a negative way) and you either don't see yourself as that, or feel that hose terms are not negative ones, then the two of you have some rather different value systems that you really need to work out if you are to continue in your relationship.

But I really would get the answer directly before going down that path.
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