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Old 02-23-2013, 04:58 PM
LoveBunny LoveBunny is offline
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Location: Florida, USA
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Default Letting Go of Attachment and Expectation

Though I had full-blown poly relationships when I was in my twenties, after 15 years of monogamy with my husband, this summer I fell hardcore for a woman. She admitted she had problems being emotionally vulnerable and wasnít ďgood at relationships.Ē In return, I confessed that I was no good at casual sex, I get deeply attached. We are also at different stages of life: sheís in her late 20ís, Iím early 40ís. Of course, we ignored these red flags and plunged right in.

At first, my husband was very upset, and my marriage nearly imploded, but luckily, we worked on strengthening our marriage, and the amazing man I married came around to accepting me having a female lover--heíd always known I was bi and struggled with monogamy. However, right about the time hubby stopped threatening to leave me, my lover began to pull away. She said it wasnít me, she was issues with work/her 2 male lovers/family. I tried to be patient, but I was very attached, and I missed her intensity. The more I pushed, the more she started telling me she ďcouldnít give me what I demandedĒ and that I needed to lower my expectations. I had been implicit from the beginning that I didnít want to be just a fuckbuddy, and she insisted I wasnít, but her idea of what a relationship entails is quite more casual than mine. I wanted more time and energy, and she wanted more space and less responsibility. During the last few weeks, she just kept blowing me off, so I broke up with her, as I was feeling hurt, anxious, and rejected by her. She and I were together 5 months total, but werenít intimate during the last two months of that, as we were having trouble working things out and didn't want to cheapen our connection.

I havenít seen her in five weeks, havenít communicated in more than three. Our last few text exchanges were not pretty, lots of blame flying around. Iíve been wondering if and how I could possibly salvage the situation. Sheís the first person who has made me feel this way since my husband, and I feel like we have a lot to teach each other. Iíve been reading about zen and relationships and letting go of attachment, trying to figure out if I can loosen up and just be cool and accept whatever she offers me, even, at this point, if its just platonic friendship.

What Iíd like from you folks, specifically, is twofold: First, Iím looking for tips on letting go, on how to not be attached to the outcome if I approach her again. Also, Iím wondering how to go about contacting her, what to say, how to open the door thatís currently closed between us. She isnít very good with emotions, which is where I live, and Iím not so good at acting like everythingís fine when thatís not how I feel. Perhaps I should just move on and try to find a woman more emotionally compatible, but thatís easier said than done. I really, really dug her. Any advice greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:20 PM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 5,510

It's been 20 years since my gf and I broke up. My love hasn't faded. She has a mono life with her wife and is very happy and secure in it.

A couple of years ago I contacted her, because not having her in my life has never stopped hurting.

What makes it possible for us to communicate is my acceptance. It does take a little mental gymnastics if you arent there-to get mind and actions in alignment. But it can be done.

What I do is love HER.
THat means loving her where SHE wants to be (not with me), loving her doing what she wants to do (again not with me).
It means not asking her for more than she can give. In this case, thats a few texts every few months and a written reply to any letter I mail.

Loving her means helping to promote whatever it is that makes her life wonderful TO HER and whatever little things she asks of me that help her be the best version of herself.

It does not mean asking her for the relationship I want. Because I already know its not what sshe wants (loving myself means getting my relationship needs met from someone who DOES want that type of relationship).

It does not mean telling her "i love you" frequently-that makes her uncomfortable. I can think it but BEING loving to her means keeping the thought to myself.

It does mean asking (sincerely) after the welfare of her family and pointedly and purposefully NOT creating havoc in her current relationships.

It means not getting all up in arms if I dont hear from her for a few months-but still sending a "Hope your bday is fantastic" message through the silence.

Bottomline, it meant reminding myself, daily for many years, until it became habit, that loving her meant giving her what she needed (which was distance and space from me with no requests for more in return that what I would deem an acquaintanceship).

In no way does this mean being a doormat. I have romantic needs, but she can't meet them. She doesn't try to act like what she gives me should fulfil the role of a life partner. She acknowledges that it is nothing of the sort and she fully expects me to get my needs taken care of. She asks after my life partners with care and concern.

Sometimes a specific type of relationship would be unhealthy to one or more people because of their differences. Thats ok. If you love them, you foster them finding the life that is healthy FOR THEM. You don't try to alter them into being in that type of relationship with you.

I wish you great luck. My life regained a beautiful North star when she and I began communicating again. Its been wonderful to get to know her again-as the person she is today. I would die for her, and she knows it. Though she can't fully understand it. But she appreciates that I don't have expectations of her based on the fact that I love her so deeply.
"Love As Thou Wilt"
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:44 PM
MrFarFromRight MrFarFromRight is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ping-ponging around Europe, trying to get a publishing concern off the ground
Posts: 718

@ LoveBunny,
I read your OP with interest and was working out how to answer it, but LovingRadiance seems to have said just about everything that needs to be said.
To put it in a nutshell, Love isn't demanding - it's giving. And giving what isn't appreciated isn't comfortable (or healthy) for either of you.
To maintain a loving [NOT = sexual] friendship after a sexual relationship has come to its end is a rare and beautiful gift.
I wish you all the best.
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Old 02-24-2013, 05:17 PM
ahpook33 ahpook33 is offline
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Posts: 21

Originally Posted by LovingRadiance View Post
It's been 20 years since my gf and I broke up. My love hasn't faded.....
This was beautiful, and I just wanted to say thank you very much.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:48 PM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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Location: Pennsyl-tucky
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Interestingly to me - this really fits with an ongoing conversation MrS and I have been having (we both have an affinity for secular buddhism type concepts) and a recent lecture I attended on "Compassion Meditation Training for the Promotion of Emotional and Physiological Resilience and Well-Being" . The presenter and his research team are looking at taking lessons from Tibetan Buddhist compassion meditation and developing a secular version called Cognitive-Based Compassion Training which can be taught in 6-8 weeks. Sounds like this could be right up your alley!

If I remember correctly (my copy of the presentation slides is currently trapped in my lost luggage in some airport) the first part has to do with viewing the world as it really is - and this has a lot to do with attachment (which is what you are asking about) - the focus is on trying to decrease attachment to the people/places/things that you like, trying to stop avoiding the people/places/things that you dislike, and trying to stop ignoring the people/places/things that you are indifferent to.

The second part (obviously the first part is something that you work on continuously) has to do with practicing consciously looking at people with intense empathy and compassion - the people you like, the people you are indifferent to, and, finally, the people that you dislike.

I don't have the specifics of how the training is done - most of the links I find are about the research team and the research being done. Hopefully there is more to come!

Me: poly bi female, in an "open-but-not-looking" V-plus with -
MrS: hetero polyflexible male, live-in husband (24+ yrs)
Dude: hetero poly male, live-in boyfriend (6+ yrs) and MrS's BFF
SLeW: platonic hetero girlfriend and BFF
MrClean: hetero mono male, almost lover-friend to me, FWBs to SLeW
+ "others" = FBs, FWBs, lover-friends, platonic G/BFs, boytoys, etc.

My poly blogs here:
The Journey of JaneQSmythe
The Notebook of JaneQSmythe
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:32 PM
LoveBunny LoveBunny is offline
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Amazing answers, you guys. LovingRadience, that brought tears to my eyes. That is the person I want to be, but I'm so far from there right now.
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:00 PM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
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Posts: 5,510

Using the Buddhist reference, grab a book or two by Pema Chodron. I found "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times".

One of the keys she brings up is that wherever you are today is a great place to begin! It's ok that you aren't yet where you want to be. That means you have something to work towards!

Start small with one detail and when you have that mastered, work on another.

I didn't get to where I am with her suddenly today, it took years. But thats the joy of personal growth! You can become the person you want to be! You just have to pick a place to start at.
"Love As Thou Wilt"
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:11 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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Location: Nowhere
Posts: 1,640

Can you say "12-steps"?

No, this is not snark, nor is it non-sequitir.

This conversation reads exactly like an AA meeting.

"dear higher power, grant me the serenity [...] etc."
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:35 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: US
Posts: 2,075

What LovingRadiance said.

NovemberRain, a member here, has a great method for handling breakups. She does not talk or communicate in any way with the other person for a full 40 days. (This is true if you are the one who initiated the break up or not.)

I tried it with a recent break up of mine and it helped immensely. There is nothing like time to get one's head on straight and start accepting reality.

Especially if there is blaming going on between the two of you, stop communicating with each other now. The less you say to each other the less you will have to regret later on. Doing this may make LR's scenario of a lifelong connection, even if not what you wanted, possible.

I dislike the idea of letting go of attachments. That part of Buddhist thought bugs me, as well as what I perceive to be disdain for the world. A major reason I am pagan is that many pagan paths love and appreciate the world rather than seek to escape or transcend it. Anyhoo, off topic and your mileage will vary obviously!

One thing that works better for me, at least right now, is to frame relationships (past and present) as what I learned, or can learn. You learned that your marriage can survive something truly threatening and that your husband is willing to work things out with you. That is awesome! Acknowledge the joy in that, even as you grieve the end of your relationship with your girlfriend. Your relationship with her allowed both you and your husband to grow in some unexpected, painful, but powerful ways.

And you learned that when people tell you who they are, what they really want, what they fear - believe them. Believe them especially if their actions match their words. (It is our actions that truly show who we are but words are important clues not to be devalued.) I don't mean to finger waggle 'You should have known!' - that is not my intent. Sometimes one has to zip right past the huge red flag in order to really get why that flag is a-waving. Goddess knows, I've done it enough.

I wish you the best.

Last edited by opalescent; 02-23-2013 at 07:36 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:17 AM
sparklepop sparklepop is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 467

I don't have much in the way of self-help advice, but I can give you my opinions.

BoringGuy is going to love this cliche. Ready, BG?

Everything happens for a reason.

Yep, I believe that.

Whether it's down to fate, or whether it's down to putting a positive spin on an event in order to get something from it, it doesn't matter. Every experience can teach you something, open a door, or put a change into motion.

Not all relationships stick. Relationships begin because of chemistry - literally, a chemical reaction. "They make me feel good".

Relationships end because of some sort of incompatibility. You have very clearly and honestly outlined a severe incompatibility between the two of you.

I would like to give you advice from your ex's perspective. With the exception of my GF, I am extremely non-committal with poly partners. As soon as they start to push, I pull back twice as far. The guilt causes me to hide away, avoid them, 'fob them off'.... which, of course, makes everything twenty times worse. She was very clear with you from the beginning and you were very clear with her.

Since it's only been 5 weeks, I really do think you're at great risk of continuing your pattern. I broke up with my last two secondary girlfriends because they needed more than I could offer. Instead of giving me space, they both continued to ask to chat online, on the phone or meet up, as friends. It was the last thing I wanted. If I'd had a 5 month relationship that made me feel claustrophobic, I'd probably need around the same amount of time before I could consider opening up the friendship arena in any serious way. I might actually need much longer. At minimum, I'd need about 3 months.

Of course, it's unbearably difficult for you too, because you're still left wanting more from her - just the way you were in your relationship. You're both still in your original pattern and that's to be expected, to be honest.

If it were me? I'd write an email. I'd save it, sleep on it, then read it again in the morning. This will be a cathartic exercise. Then, when you're happy with it, send it. I'd talk about how important she was to you, what you like about her as a person, what you understand and take responsibility for in terms of your breakup, how you regret that things got heated, but know that this happens. If it were me, I'd let her know that you never burn bridges and that your door is always open. I wouldn't even necessarily say "I'd love to be friends" - this might even be too much for her, if she's felt claustrophobic. Saying that a 'door is open' is far less intimidating. Once you've said everything openly and honestly, try to move on with your life and don't contact her again. If your friendship is valuable - if it's worthwhile enough, if it's going to be beneficial for both of you - you two will become friends again. But give it time. 5 weeks is not enough time to shake off the romantic attachment and previous cycle.
Me: 32f, evolving

ďPeace comes from within. Do not seek it without." ~ Buddha
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