New to Polyamory, Uncertain, and Jealous.
I'm 22. I'm married. No kids. I'm male.
So my SO and I met in our martial arts classes. We knew each other casually for a couple months before we started going out. We were really attracted to one another and it was blindingly obvious, so it was only a matter of time.
21 March 2009 - we started dating
June/July 2009 - I moved in with her
10 August 2009 - We got married
The whole relationship moved at light-speed, compared to what I was used to, but I really don't regret anything. I am happier than I have been in what I can remember of my life.
I married her knowing she was polyamorous, but not really *knowing* what it meant, and never expecting it to come up. For me, marriage is a huge deal. I didn't want to get married at first because of how huge a deal it was to me. I eased into the idea, we had a quiet, small marriage, and we've had a great life with one another, adjusting to one another, growing, learning, evolving, being in love, being best friends, dreaming about and loosely planning our future together.
We grow together, and we start seriously building our lives. After a bout with unemployment, the two of us manage to find pretty decent jobs. She's going to school part-time (moving to full-time), and working in a kitchen, and I'm working full-time as tech support at the company I used to work for before. Together we make enough that we can afford to take our next step: moving into the city together in a new, bigger, better apartment.
While she's in school, she's shy. After much encouraging to start making friends, she slowly becomes comfortable with the idea, and she starts making new friends at school. One of these friends is a great guy who is in her kitchen classes with her. He shares a sense of humour and everything with her, and the two of them get along great. She talks about him all the time.
I meet him. He's really cool. I'm glad she has such cool friends.
Slowly, I start to realise she's in love with him. Even more slowly, I start to realise he loves her too.
He has a girlfriend (she's nice, I'm sure, but I don't get to see the nice side, only the results of fights between her and her boyfriend). They're stuck in a lease together. It seems to me like she's controlling; if she thinks he might be hanging out with my wife, even if I'm there, too, she's jealous as fuck, gets pissed off, and sometimes drops class at her school to make him stay with her instead of going out with his friends. From what I understand, they don't exactly have a stellar home life, either. I'm sure their situation reflects my situation very strongly, and I'm sure she's just stuck in a similar situation to me and unsure of what to do about it. And maybe less willing to change to allow it to continue instead of trying to stop it.
So anyway, my wife meets this really great guy and they fall in love and they're great friends. I have friends like that too. Only one or two to that extent, where I really do love them romantically, but I have them. I'm very happy for her, actually. I'm so glad she has friends who she cares about THAT much, to which point she is able to fall in love with them. It makes me so happy to see them together.
But it also makes me jealous.
Back to the story: so after several things I won't post here (they're private, and in my previous incarnation of this post, they were here, but they are irrelevant to this situation, so I got rid of them), I ended up broaching the topic to my wife. She didn't even realise she loved him, because we're crazy and blissfully ignorant and dense like that. Seeing her come to terms with loving him is kinda cute, because she's all head-over-heels with him and stuff, and it makes me feel good to see her like that, even if it's not about me.
But getting in the way of the joy I feel for her is my jealousy. First I was afraid she would end up leaving me for him. That is, after all, how my last long-term relationship ended. My ex left me for another man after becoming his friend and watching it grow into more than just friendship. As a result, I have serious trust issues. My wife may tell me a million times that she won't leave me, and I might start to believe it. As I have. But that doesn't help me not feel insecure about this.
The feelings I have are so distracting that I almost killed myself yesterday on the way home from work because I ran a red light. I was so wrapped up in my thoughts that I didn't even see the physical traffic light. Not just the colour, but the whole thing was gone.
She and I already talked about my fears of her leaving me, and gradually, they faded. Now I'm jealous that she has sexual feelings that she seems to want to go to any end to express.
I understand loving somebody and having sexual feelings for them. I have a close friend like that, too. But I could/would never ever actually go through with it. I can't. It's like it's contrary to my very nature. Instead, I take those sexual feelings, detach the emotion from them, and kind of re-route them back into my core sexuality. I don't really know what else goes on inside my head with them, but that's the basics of it. I detach it and turn it around to be put to good use in something legitimate and ok with me.
So right now, we don't really know if this guy my wife loves is bisexual or polyamorous. I can't deal with that. Not knowing is killing me. The possibility that my wife would still have a relationship with this guy, but have to keep it separate from me is not ok with me. I wouldn't do the same thing. I asked my wife if she would be okay with me having a relationship with another woman who was not polyamorous and who was not bisexual, and she said no. So if she's not okay with it, why should I be?
Question: am I justified in expecting her to behave like I would in this situation? If he turns out to be 100% heterosexual and not polyamorous, is it ok for me to be upset? I don't want my wife having a second relationship, I want her to bring this all together into one big relationship.
I am at the point where I would do anything to get this resolved. I want to arrange a meeting and talk things out, the three of us, and come to a resolution of sorts. It really doesn't help that he went out-of-state this weekend to visit his hometown, besides the fact that his girlfriend wouldn't have let him go out anyway.
So I've accepted that my wife is polyamorous. I think I'm coming to terms with it, and I think I can be okay with it, so long as I'm involved. I don't think I will be able to stay sane in this relationship if this continues like this, especially not if it ends up being a second relationship thing, rather than a three-party relationship. If he's not bisexual, or at least polyamorous, I don't think I can be just the guy my wife comes home to. I want her body and her mind, but I know I can't have those, even though I do my best to give her mine. I wrap myself up in her and focus on her and keep my sexuality pointed at pleasing her (and therefore pleasing myself), but if she's going to split herself, then I'm only getting half of her. And this other guy might be getting a bigger half. And I'm not ok with that. I'm so jealous.
I'm not okay with being jealous. I want to be open to it all and just let it happen. I want to relax and just be happy. I need help.
I married a kitchen people. Apparently this kind of shit (kitchen affairs) is really common. Working in close quarters with a person has a way of creating tons of sexual tension, and instead of just holding on to it and bringing it home to their husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends and unleashing it in a hot, sweaty night of brilliant mind-blowing sex, they unleash it on one another, in the kitchen, in a hot, sweaty night of brilliant mind-blowing sex, and then go home to their normal lives, living a second life in the kitchen, and not sharing their whole self with the person they love at home.
I need help.
So simple facts to break this down:
I love my wife.
My wife loves me.
My wife also loves another guy.
My wife wants to share her sexuality with another guy.
I want to be understanding and open, but I'm finding it very difficult.
What can I do to be okay with this? I just want to let go and be ok.
What other questions should I be asking? I need help, I typed out everything once already, and then the post got deleted before it even got posted due to an error in my browser. I'm so drained at this point from unleashing my soul on the internet, that I don't even remember what I need to ask anymore. Please just help. I'm desperate to make the woman I love happy, but I'd prefer not at the expense of my sanity.
P.S. - I told my wife about this post and where to find it, in the interest of being 100% open with her. She's ok with me posting about this, but afraid that people will judge her negatively. As far as I know, I have already talked about all of this with her, but at times, both she and I tend to accidentally tune things out when we can't deal with them anymore, so some of the details might have been missed. Since you'll be reading this: I love you.
Last edited by SimpleSimian; 04-05-2010 at 03:10 AM. Reason: Clarification
P.P.S. - I need to clarify something. I don't necessarily expect this guy to love me, or for me to love him, but I'm not okay with the idea that she might one day choose to spend time with him instead of with me. She says she won't, but again, my trust issues are telling me otherwise, and the fact is that the future will change, and she may feel differently in the future than she does now. I think the most hurtful thing that cold happen would be for her to be in love with this guy, and in a romantic relaitonship with him, and make a choice to spend the night with him instead of with me, or something similar. That would utterly crush me. After reading this post and talking to me about it, my wife made sure to ask me if I portrayed that situation correctly. She is right. I painted it wrong. To the community: please accept this correction instead of the original
I have problems expressing my true feelings without having somebody to bounce ideas off of. Another reason why I love my wife so much, she helps me understand myself by making sure I'm really saying what I mean.
Also, I might point out that she never spends time with any of her friends to the exclusion of me. If I'm available, she and I either go together, or not at all. This, as far as I am aware, is by her decision, and not by any pressure I put on her. I certainly hope that's how it is, because I would feel like a dick if I was making her do that. Even though this is true now, that doesn't mean it won't change in the future, and that uncertainty is part of what's nagging at me. Fear of The Unknown. Fear of The Uncertain. Fear of being hurt because I have trust issues that throw up red flags at things that should be small.
I just don't want to feel like I'm holding her back from openly loving this guy and spending as much time with him as is appropriate and she is comfortable with. Even though she may not want to spend time with him when I'm available, I will still feel like I should have done something to be not-available so she can enjoy her time with him.
Sorry for the double-post, but I hit the character limit.
Also, I came here because I have no friends or family who would at all understand this, afaik, and therefore, the only person I can talk to about it is my wife, and she already has enough on her plate dealing with her emotions. I don't want to overburden her with mine.
Also, I really don't like the idea that having relationship troubles with one of us can affect the other one, and that having sex with one of us could impact her drive to have sex with the other. I really am interested in sharing her with him, because he's a great guy and I trust him not to hurt her on purpose, but I feel like I'm competing with him, because that's what society and my biology tells me.
I've been really feeling spring hitting pretty seriously. I feel the need to be combative, I feel a huge leap in my sex drive and territoriality, and I feel the need, almost literally, to butt heads with other men. I need to fight. I need to defend my territory.
But what I *need* for those reasons and what I *want* for other reasons are incompatible. I just want to be able to relax and be happy and ride on this energy with her. And once the NRE fades, I just want to be okay with the whole thing. And I might even someday be okay with not having to feel like the primary all the time, but I really want to feel like I'm the primary right now. Dunno why, I just do. I don't want to feel like he's distracting from me or taking energy from her that should be reserved for me. I'm selfish, yes, but I married her. She's my wife for a reason, because I want to focus on her and spend time with her for the rest of my life, and I don't want to feel like I'm not getting the same in return.
I can see this wreaking total havoc on our relationship, and that's why I'm so afraid and why I want to make it go the f**k away and leave me in peace. And I'm afraid that if this relationship with her friend doesn't work out, then another one will happen and it will just happen all over again. Or maybe even worse, that she'll have me and her friend from school, and fall in love with another man (or woman), and it will get even more complicated. I'm so irrational, but this is what I need help dealing with.
Last edited by SimpleSimian; 04-05-2010 at 03:10 AM.
Whew. You're smart and perceptive, but you're really into a complicated emotional situation.
If I understand correctly, you're hoping to build a poly marriage in which both you and your wife can be secure and have outside relationships.
I suspect strong confidence in yourself as a man and husband is essential, and also strong confidence that your wife is completely committed to your relationship as her first priority.
It's good that you feel her happiness from the new relationship energy. But jealousy might be a sign that you are uneasy about it underneath. And the combative, competitive stuff is probably difficult to reconcile with poly? The poly husband I know is very smart, very competent and accomplished, but also extremely gentle and generous. He's the only model I have for a poly husband, and as he and his wife are strikingly successful at stability and happiness I tend to think they've found a viable attitude and outlook.
Might a strong and seasoned sense of mutual confidence be hard to achieve in a relatively new marriage? If so....
I dunno any of the answers, incidentally. But you might find them. I think you're really starting out at a smart, conscious level already.
Edit: You wrote, "I really want to feel like I'm the primary right now." I think, personally, that as the husband you can reasonably expect to be the primary all the time. Again, the model I know of is explicitly and completely based on an unshakable primary relationship. In a sense, us outside partners are in a position in which it's in our best interest to contribute to the strength of the primary relationship: I date L and adore her, but without D's support she would not be a woman with whom I could expect to have an ongoing relationship. (For instance, our lifestyle needs are very different...) So: you ARE the primary, bud. IMHO, you don't have to expect to give that up.
Last edited by EugenePoet; 04-02-2010 at 08:03 PM.
Thank you for the reply and the kind, welcoming attitude.
First and foremost, I must say this: I tend to be gentle. Overly-so, in fact. So gentle that only now, after a year of being together, has my wife gotten me comfortable with the idea of being even remotely dominant in the bedroom. So gentle that I am almost never the first one to initiate anything in a relationship, for fear of coming off as overly-aggressive, rough, manly, impulsive, unstable, pushy, needy, or an asshole.
I was raised by a woman who claims to be a feminist, but seems to be a little bit more on the manhater side of things. Or maybe that's just how I absorbed it and I completely misinterpreted my feminist upbrining. This might explain some of my misconceptions about life, in general; but it definitely explains my timid nature.
So in any case, yeah, I'm not used to feeling combative. This is unusual and new for me. I think it might even be unrelated to this problem in particular, and just a mating season kind of thing. Or (gods forbid) maybe this is my prime and it's all downhill from here. :P
Confidence is something we are working on building, and there's plenty of time before this relationship with her friend will have any opportunity to go anywhere, anyway, so I have time to become accustomed to my varied jealousies and find solutions to them and/or uproot them entirely. For this I am very thankful.
I might also mention that I've only been "dealing with it" for a couple of weeks. This is a relatively new development in life, as I mistakenly expected it never to come up.
I must further clarify, though, that I do not intend to begin another relationship. I've never been able to properly manage one, let alone two. How exhausted that would make me, I cannot even begin to tell you.
I've been spending most of my workday doing research on this topic, since I'm the only one in the office right now, and the phones have been next to dead. Thank the gods for small favours. I needed today (though I would have preferred to spend it home with my wife, talking through this stuff in-person as it comes up).
I think one part of this for me is that I have invited my wife to talk openly about how she feels in this situation, and though she has taken me up on a few small opportunities to make individual comments, any longer serious discussion or requests from her end have yet to happen. I hope it's just because she doesn't feel the need to and/or that she's handling them fine by herself right now, and not because she doesn't feel she can be truly open with me about them. More underlying jealousy and trust issues there; I feel awkward when there's radio silence, even when it's normal. I feel like I have done something to make her not trust me. Knowing myself and my haphazard habits of accidentally hurting people's feelings without realising it, that's a definite possibility.
So to your questions:
How do we manage our primary relationship...?
I don't know if I can answer that. That's a pretty big question. I don't know how we manage it, but I definitely felt like our relationship was pretty indestructible before this situation began stirring. I think the only remaining issues have to do with me overcoming my jealousy and just believing and trusting in our relationship and its solidity. That, and making sure she imparts the knowledge that a secondary relationship is never to break up the primary, unless she and I ever hit that crossroads (which I don't expect we ever will. We worked too hard to build this and grow to give up now, or ever).
I kind-of already touched the second question in that first answer. I don't really know, but I think that one's largely up to her. I will certainly discuss it with her, though. I'd be happy to lose the concept of primary/secondary, because what I've read of them, it is largely either destructive, or it leads to short-term secondaries, neither of which is desirable to me.
How do we structure our time and responsibilities...?
I think we will definitely have to work that out. For now, there's an understanding that she only spends time with a secondary when I'm not available. I will have to work to make sure that if I'm available by surprise I manage not to interrupt her previously-allocated time with the secondary, and also to feel okay with being alone for that time.
What can I do, personally, to strengthen...?
I am not really sure if I can handle an on-again-off-again thing, but I'm sure that once I become comfortable with one, subsequent relationships should be easier to handle, and I'm sure that I'll eventually reach a point where it's altogether okay and I can just be happy.
Thank you for your helpful commentary and the questions you gave me. I will definitely be using these as talking points next time my wife and I have a serious discussion about polyamory and her relationship with her friend from school.
Those questions, and others, may be things you think about for years. It's a process, I think.
The couple I'm involved with have been poly for about a decade, and we're all in our "mature" years, ie over 50. Still, despite long and solid experience L is having trouble understanding how D's current girlfriend fits into the relationship -- she feels that the GF doesn't really want to acknowledge that L is the wife and always will be.
So in a sense L and D are still facing things they have to work out.
And even with these very stable, thoughtful, and generous partners I had considerable emotional whipsawing in the first few months. It's to be expected! Very deep and primitive drives come into play.
I think poly is aesthetically and ethically beautiful, but as many people on the forum write over and over, it isn't necessarily easy. (But neither is monogamy.)
In poly, people are free to negotiate what ever rules and guidelines that they want. It is pretty typical for the person who is least easy with poly to want to make a bunch of restrictions and rules to protect themselves. This is natural and perfectly understandable. Sometimes one or both partners have veto power over potential lovers.
But if your wife loves this other man and the set of rules and restrictions that you place effectively mean that she can't see him (or can almost never see him), then she will resent these rules, as surely as if you simply insisted she becomes mono. If she really loves this guy, and you want to do the poly thing, I think you will have to make time for them to be together.
You want the Other Significant Other (OSO) to be a source of joy in your relationship with your wife, and not a breeding ground for resentment.
It is true that there is a chance that she may decide the OSO is the guy for her and leave you. There is also a chance that if you put too many restrictions on their relationship she will get frustrated and angry and develop a real reason to want to leave you.
One advantage of poly relationships is that they are stronger because they better meet the needs of the parties involved. My wife is LESS likely to want to drop me for greener pastures because she can have me AND the greener pastures.
A lot of threads in the 'new to poly' category discuss these issues. I suggest you read a bunch of them to gain a bit more perspective.
Best of luck to you and your growing poly family.
Warm regards, Rick.