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Old 10-28-2013, 07:43 PM
fugue fugue is offline
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Default Advice for a polywog? Pushy lover, uneven affection

Apologies for the length of background info—and thank you for indulging me! At the foot are my questions, if you'd rather just skip down to that.

I am new to nonmonogamy. I had always wanted to explore it—there's something so thrilling about the freedom to pursue multiple loves, and the few times I've had serious relationships, I've often felt guilty over my wandering eye. I used to think it an indicator that I shouldn't be with someone...more the fool, I! More importantly, I like the idea that relationships don't have to conform to a certain shape, or progression.

My journey begins with wanting to explore NM about a year ago. I had just got on OKC, ready to explore open dating when I met The Perfect Guy. He was openly dating at the time, and I told him I'm new to it, but I'm OK with him seeing other people, for now, while we see where this goes. Our relationship was fresh and he was recently out of a VERY negative mono relationship, so I didn't want us to rush anything.

However, he pushed us toward something serious, monogamous. I wasn't wholly opposed to it, he just wanted things to escalate more quickly. I think he saw in me what I saw in him—a good partner, and the potential for something good, communicative, that lasts. I was hesitant at first (in that I wanted to take it slow—I'm not very experienced in serious relationships and have intimacy issues), and by the time I was all in, after 2-3 months of being "serious"—slow, I know—TPG said he wasn't sure about us and wanted to see other people.

I was heartbroken. But I was all in, and I adore him, and after a two-month break I said I wanted to see him again, and that being open might be the better way to start things off. I saw NM/poly as an adventure we could embark on together, and an opportunity to become more intimate and work on our communication. We are now dating again and both seeing other people and things were going swimmingly until...

I realized I am totally in love with him. I've never been in love before, and I suppose I never imagined when I was in would be in a nonmonogamous context (that is, having to share). More importantly...I'm struggling with the feeling of nonreciprocation, as I am certain he doesn't feel as deeply as I do.

I should preface this by saying I don't consider myself a very jealous person. I've experienced compersion before, but I suppose I did not feel as deeply for those men as I do for TPG. That said, I always imagined, well, not having to share a Partner, once I found one.

We are taking round two of our relationship slow, and he is seeing another girl regularly. She is very kinky—something I wanted to, want to, and have been exploring with him, because I've never been with someone willing to explore kinky sex (or who have been open about their desire to).

I struggled with some jealousy when first I knew about her—it is an adjustment, for sure, my relationship with him going from something serious, closed, intimate to just...dating again—but I felt pretty OK about it all the past month. After all, I am seeing another guy regularly, myself, and sometimes dating others.

But recently I have been struggling with jealousy in a way that I never have before, a way that affected the time I spent with TPG. I was with him and I consistently thought about her—partly because he often brought her up in conversation. I realized I was comparing, which I know needs to be addressed. So, I asked him not to bring her up unless I asked about her (a boundary I thought we were already operating under, which he brought up in our first chat about boundaries—he didn't remember this, apparently). It was just for the time being, while things are new and I figure out how I feel about this, and how to work through the jealousy. I wanted to choose myself how soon and how much I bring her into my life, if at all. At the same time, I do not want to dictate who he can talk about and talk to (he would also text her quite often/constantly check his phone when we were together), as that feels controlling and very negative to me.

However, in the few times I have seen him since that discussion, he continued to casually and consistently bring her up in conversations. I have expressed displeasure at this, and have been met with well, disagreement. He doesn't think I should feel this way, and that it is "unfair" to ask it of him. I understand his sentiments—I know he's caught up in NRE—but at the same time, it feels like he is not respecting my needs, that trying to wear me down and force the pace of this relationship, again, to his desired conclusion. Before, it was something serious a lot sooner than the either of us were ready for. Now, I think his ideal is a situation where the three of us (me, him, and his new girl) all hang out & have sex, etc.

This is something that's not completely out of the cards for me. However, feeling the way I feel right now—less important than her, and that my feelings and desires are not being respected—it will take some time and (dare I say it?) work in order for me to get there. I also want it to feel like it's MY choice, not his, or hers.

It's TPG's pushiness that has my mind and heart in knots right now. If we are going to work as a poly couple, it's my understanding that feelings such as mine must be met with compassion and worked through together. Instead, I feel like he is unwilling to put in the effort to help me through this. I don't think I am being unreasonable to ask that for a certain amount of time, I get his full focus during our time together.

At worst, his ignoring my wishes makes me feel like he doesn't care at all, and that our relationship is expendable. I get the feeling that if it's too "hard", he'll just break up with me again. It makes me question his style of poly—it makes me wonder if it's really just about the sex for him. It makes me doubt that he is, in fact, The Perfect Guy.

The above is me being cynical. I know he cares for me, I just wonder how deeply. I DO care for him immensely, though, and want to see this through. I have a bad habit of bailing on relationships when things get the least bit hard, and I feel in order to honor these feelings I have for him, I ought to put in the effort and not give up just yet. It may be that we are ill-suited to pursue polyamory together, as we are now. But damned if I'll ever say I didn't try.

My questions are these:
  • How to go forward (if at all) with a pushy lover?
  • What are your methods for having "serious" talks without their being daunting, exhausting, frequent?
  • How do you deal with a lover who is resistant to "serious" talks?
  • How do you handle uneven affection?
  • Has anyone struggled with falling in love for the first time in a NM context, and how did you cope?

Thank you!
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  #2  
Old 10-28-2013, 10:57 PM
PolyinPractice PolyinPractice is offline
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Default Oh, my

When I hear of stories like these, I just get mentally exhausted. Seriously, isn't love supposed to be healing/fun/uplifting?

All of those questions just make relationships sound like a painful inevitability

No offense meant, just, I can't imagine wanting to stay in that sort of relationship....

What makes it worth it for you?
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  #3  
Old 10-29-2013, 12:00 AM
fugue fugue is offline
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Originally Posted by PolyinPractice View Post
When I hear of stories like these, I just get mentally exhausted. Seriously, isn't love supposed to be healing/fun/uplifting?
Gosh, right? It was, when I first realized it, I was struck and so very touched by the beauty of it. There was no mistaking the feeling—and I always wondered how I'd know if I ever was! Pffft. Then I got very caught up in my head thinking about what it means and is it fair considering most of his energy is being spent on someone new? He still cares for me, but it's a bit different, now, which is an adjustment. Same for him, I suppose. Love isn't fair, eh? But does that mean I should let go? I'm not so sure, yet.

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Originally Posted by PolyinPractice View Post
All of those questions just make relationships sound like a painful inevitability
My worst fear, haha!

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Originally Posted by PolyinPractice View Post
No offense meant, just, I can't imagine wanting to stay in that sort of relationship....
None taken I am reconsidering, after all! It's been a struggle, and it shouldn't be, no? But then, I also think that reforging our relationship requires some difficulty, especially when I'm struggling with dynamics I've never had to. I suppose from all the reading I've done about polyamory (happy little researcher, me), one of the things I've really taken to heart is that it's not always easy, in the beginning, when you are learning your poly way; "go slowly, take time, be patient." Be open, honest, address all feelings. I think maybe I've taken this a bit too much to heart...I have overwhelmed our time this past week with serious discussions, without having processed things fully.

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What makes it worth it for you?
Well, not much, the past week, considering my struggles (not feeling respected, specifically. That's the one that smarts the most)—which is why I'm reconsidering, frankly. But this past week is not indicative of the relationship on the whole. I tend to focus on the negative when addressing problems (after all, that's where there's work to be done) so I think from my dearth of exposition, it's easy to dismiss him as a shitty partner (for me—and maybe it's just so that we don't work well together as a couple).

However, I could go on about how well we do work as a couple, but for these problems now. Being with him is exhilarating and hilarious, we are so wonderfully similar, we enjoy many of the same things, can have thoughtful, theoretical discussions, and want the same things in a partner (though perhaps we don't want the same things in a relationship right now—I think this is the crux of the issue). Not to mention the sex is AMAZING. I mean, no lie. He is thoughtful, smart as hell and goofy—I just adore him. Getting along isn't the hard part.

I think when it comes down to it, we are both hyper-analytical people, and we tend to put our relationships under the microscope. This can be a good thing for relationship longevity—though not in my experience, as I tend to think my way out of lasting relationships (a habit I am trying to break myself of). He has the opposite issue, where he powers through long after he should have let go (a habit he is trying to break himself of—part of which is why I think polyamory appeals to him, the whole "learning when to let go"). We're both at very interesting crossroads in our lives, in how we deal with relationships—which might be another thing at the heart of our issues.

I am not certain the either of us are poly or poly-wired, as we are both new to it (though admittedly he has slightly more practice), but it is something the both of us want to explore. I just struggle with it more, I think, in the context of being in love (and he, not—or, not as deeply as I am. Different levels of love, eh? Wish the English language had more words for these things).
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Old 10-29-2013, 12:38 AM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
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**FOR ME**

It's critical that my partners respect my needs which sometimes include temporary boundaries.
This became VERY VERY clear when Maca opted to befriend (not even date) someone who was very pushy and antagonistic about our relationship. She pressed upon him that my needs to not be around her were unfair (even though she didn't want to be around me, she simply wanted the freedom to attend all of our family events and as a sahm-those all include me, even though many do not include him).
Maca backed me up HALF-ASSED and with quite a lot of attitude.

When my medical issues kicked into full gear and he suddenly felt a need to back me up 100%, it appeared to her and all outside parties that he simply "gave in" to my wishes against his own. This wasn't the case. But-it resulted in a LOT of unnecessary drama.

In the time since; we've had many discussions (including GG who also lives with us) about the critical nature of each of us having our shared home be a sanctuary. Which means we don't bring others into it who disrupt the sanctuary of ANY of us.

That said:

There are MANY people who live a MUCH less "integrated" dating life and I have read many accounts on here and conversed with a number of them regarding how these differences pop up in day to day life.
One big difference is that where I expect my partners to help meet my needs and vice versa; those who are more independent poly's tend to feel that each individual is wholly responsible for their own needs and in THAT scenario, your request/expectation would be seen as unreasonable.

My impression is that he is more independent and of the attitude that he can do what he wants as he wants and you do what you want as you want and where the line meets great-but otherwise-not your place to dictate his lines.

*obviously based on a tiny fragment you've written here*

If that is the case-your options are to accept and continue or to leave and find someone more interested in working as a team.

Ultimately-that is your choice anyway. Because the bottom line is that you can't control anyone but yourself.
BUT-some people are certainly more prone to working as a team and others are more the "go it alone" type. Polyamory has plenty of both types.
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:00 AM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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Some people are just pushy. Is he pushy about any other things?

My experiences have been more like LovingRadiance -full integration. That said, it appears to be more rare, and I would say the majority of people that post here keep their relationships separate. I don't mean completely hidden necessarily, but when when you are on a date, the attention is wholly focused on one another barring an emergency. I do not blame you for wanting his full attention when you two are together.

Successful polymory is about nurturing more than one relationship at a time. It means caring for the older relationship, even in the midst of NRE. Granted, some people are better at this than others. Your guy kind of sucks at it.

Now, here is something I wonder would be helpful to you, if you just arrange to meet the other girl - maybe just the two of you? Could be after you meet her, see her as a person, that all of your fears fall away. Hell, he might be pushing her too.

Last edited by bookbug; 10-29-2013 at 01:01 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:57 AM
fugue fugue is offline
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Originally Posted by bookbug View Post
Some people are just pushy. Is he pushy about any other things?
Not especially day-to-day, but he can be very domineering in discussion. He's an adept debater, so he can be very difficult to disagree with. I think he just wants me to agree with him, haha. Funny...but annoying as HELL when you don't feel heard.

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Originally Posted by bookbug View Post
My experiences have been more like LovingRadiance -full integration. That said, it appears to be more rare, and I would say the majority of people that post here keep their relationships separate. I don't mean completely hidden necessarily, but when when you are on a date, the attention is wholly focused on one another barring an emergency. I do not blame you for wanting his full attention when you two are together.
Yes, I'm not interested in keeping things completely hidden (I find it disingenuous), but full integration is something that both intrigues and daunts me. I think in theory is sounds lovely, but hard to find the right people and perhaps difficult to maintain (rare, as you say). I think it would be something I'd love to do, granted I found the right people! And perhaps I have, who knows. Time will tell! And thank you for affirming I am not, in fact, crazy for wanting some focus, at least in the beginning of this!

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Successful polyamory is about nurturing more than one relationship at a time. It means caring for the older relationship, even in the midst of NRE. Granted, some people are better at this than others. Your guy kind of sucks at it.
Totally agree!

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Now, here is something I wonder would be helpful to you, if you just arrange to meet the other girl - maybe just the two of you? Could be after you meet her, see her as a person, that all of your fears fall away. Hell, he might be pushing her too.
This is something I definitely want to do in time, granted things work out with all this (that I feel respected again). From what I know and hear about TPG's new girl, I think we would get on rather well. I don't blame her for the issues between TPG & I, those are troubles stemming from his and my miscommunication.

However, she may have contributed to some degree, as I do know they process together. She has expressed to TPG (and he, to me) that she is uncomfortable with me not wanting to know or hear about her—and as such I believe she has been emphatic about meeting me (and texting actively while she knows he & I are together, knowing I've told TPG it bothered me right now).

There must be some miscommunication here (thank you, telephone, wonderful game), because that is not how I feel at all. I'm an inherently curious person, there is no way I won't ask questions about her (I already have) or want to meet her, if things were to go on. Perhaps we won't be attracted to one another (TPG hopes so, obviously) or even get along particularly well, but at the very least I'd want to meet her eventually. However, what bothers me most about this scenario is, knowing I wasn't ready to meet or hear about her, she was (seemingly) pushy about being acknowledged. I do think it's important for her to feel acknowledged. I do think that should be on my terms, however. Again, this could just be another case of telephone, all the more reason for us to meet and assuage both our fears.

I talked with TPG, and he brought up my not really having a poly network to process all this with (hence my reaching out here—thank you so much for the advice!). The thought made me feel very positive about meeting her and talking with her about these things, and all things poly. Granted, I am worried about us being impartial, but I have to trust that we will be honest with one another.

TPG offered to be there as well, but NO, thank you. I think it being just she and I would be ideal. I think having him there would really throw things off, and perhaps make the either of us less candid. He might be pushing her, too, as you said.
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:29 AM
london london is offline
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Ok, this is what we know:
1) When this guy gets serious, he needs monogamy.
2) He set up the foundations for a serious relationship with you and then after some time, decided it wasn't right.
3) You have now started a more casual relationship which excludes the monogamy he requires for a serious relationship.
4) Like many people, he enjoys discussing his other relationships with his partner(s). He does this despite you saying you don't want to hear.

These four things less me to believe that either consciously or subconsciously, the threatened loss of your relationship isn't enough to persuade him to sacrifice some of how he wishes to have in his relationships for what makes you comfortable. When you are emotionally invested in a relationship, you are more likely to be willing to compromise, at least temporarily, on the little things in order to ensure your partner is at least gaining trust, security and all that jazz. Especially when the thing they want doesn't affect how you interact with other people, only how you interact with them. It goes back to what I say about obligation only becoming burdensome when you don't want to fulfill your obligations. He has an obligation to respect your boundaries, and he is clearly shirking that for what is the optimum situation for him. He just isn't that into you.
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:43 AM
fugue fugue is offline
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Originally Posted by LovingRadiance View Post
This became VERY VERY clear when Maca opted to befriend (not even date) someone who was very pushy and antagonistic about our relationship. She pressed upon him that my needs to not be around her were unfair (even though she didn't want to be around me, she simply wanted the freedom to attend all of our family events and as a sahm-those all include me, even though many do not include him).
Maca backed me up HALF-ASSED and with quite a lot of attitude.

When my medical issues kicked into full gear and he suddenly felt a need to back me up 100%, it appeared to her and all outside parties that he simply "gave in" to my wishes against his own. This wasn't the case. But-it resulted in a LOT of unnecessary drama.
Eek! I'm so sorry you had to deal with that! I'm struggling with something similar, with a friend who disagrees with my openness to poly. She is very antagonistic about my & TPG's relationship. Granted, she's taken a step back (by not talking to me at all) when I told her to cool it. People who make assumptions about situations seriously annoy the hell out of me. Props for standing your ground!

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Originally Posted by LovingRadiance View Post
One big difference is that where I expect my partners to help meet my needs and vice versa; those who are more independent poly's tend to feel that each individual is wholly responsible for their own needs and in THAT scenario, your request/expectation would be seen as unreasonable.

My impression is that he is more independent and of the attitude that he can do what he wants as he wants and you do what you want as you want and where the line meets great-but otherwise-not your place to dictate his lines. If that is the case-your options are to accept and continue or to leave and find someone more interested in working as a team.
I do think he tends to take that stance, historically (in my interactions with him in a mono context, and it's seeming to continue here). At the same time I think he wants to build inclusive relationships (ideally—he is a radical thinker, and this appeals to him). This is something he'll have to address soon, in that case. However, if he is not interested in forging a team, I will in fact have to move on. That is most assuredly not the kind of poly I'm interested in.

Thank you so much for your input!
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Old 10-29-2013, 09:32 AM
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Emm Emm is offline
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So, I asked him not to bring her up unless I asked about her (a boundary I thought we were already operating under, which he brought up in our first chat about boundaries—he didn't remember this, apparently).

(snip)

However, in the few times I have seen him since that discussion, he continued to casually and consistently bring her up in conversations. I have expressed displeasure at this, and have been met with well, disagreement. He doesn't think I should feel this way, and that it is "unfair" to ask it of him.
What are the consequences of him overstepping your stated boundary? He may choose to talk about her even though he knows it upsets you, but you're under no obligation to stick around listening. Why not go for a walk around the block or read a book or something when he brings her up? If he wants to spend time with you then he needs to choose to respect your boundaries or you won't be there. If there are no consequences then it's a gate with a rule painted on it rather than a boundary.


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One big difference is that where I expect my partners to help meet my needs and vice versa; those who are more independent poly's tend to feel that each individual is wholly responsible for their own needs and in THAT scenario, your request/expectation would be seen as unreasonable.

My impression is that he is more independent and of the attitude that he can do what he wants as he wants and you do what you want as you want and where the line meets great-but otherwise-not your place to dictate his lines.
I do think he tends to take that stance, historically (in my interactions with him in a mono context, and it's seeming to continue here). At the same time I think he wants to build inclusive relationships (ideally—he is a radical thinker, and this appeals to him). This is something he'll have to address soon, in that case. However, if he is not interested in forging a team, I will in fact have to move on. That is most assuredly not the kind of poly I'm interested in.
Being wholly responsible for your own needs doesn't mean being a doormat, and in this situation it sounds like he's prioritising his needs over yours and expecting you to do likewise. By refusing to take part in a conversation you want no part of you're not dictating his lines, you're taking care of your own. If his needs are incompatible then he can be wholly responsible for them elsewhere.
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