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  #31  
Old 10-31-2011, 08:59 PM
LittleSara LittleSara is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Mmmm. The problem with hoping things will get better is that they don't get better all by themselves.
good advice...
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  #32  
Old 10-31-2011, 09:24 PM
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beginninglove beginninglove is offline
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thanks, nycindie. (you are really good at this! i feel so grateful.) it's completely true, i do have a pattern of feeling this way in relationships. i end up feeling suffocated, compromised, trapped, and guilty. it is totally familiar. i have been looking at this and trying to just acknowledge my urge to leave and stay anyway. every single day. is knowing that this is a pattern a good enough reason to stay? or maybe my pattern of serial monogamy has not given me a chance to find out who i really am, learn how to know and assert m own boundaries, and choose relationships that are good and healthy for me, with people that also have good boundaries? i feel like i could make a great case for both staying and leaving, and i can't decide if the fact that i want to leave is evidence that I should or should not leave.

many of my fantasies around leaving have to do with having a period of time to be single (which i have never had since i started dating 20 years ago) and to be slutty without a primary commitment, all while practicing knowing and asserting my boundaries and improving my communication skills. i know its hard to plan these things in advance (who knows what the universe really has in store?) but is just wanting to be single enough to end a pretty good relationship? how does one know when something is "good enough" to try and keep working on versus when to stop dragging something out due to fear?
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  #33  
Old 11-01-2011, 11:05 AM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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Hi BL, I have been following your thread since you started it but feel interested in commenting now that you have revealed more about your ambivalence around commitment and NRE.

Maybe Alex has hit on something, mentioning the idea you are a sex/love/NRE addict. (BTW, my current gf once suggested I might have that issue, and I was hurt by it as well).

At first I was wondering if you were a young person, in your early or mid 20s, but now youve revealed youve been dating for 20 years and so I am guessing you must be in your late 30s.

So, you've had lots of partners and quite a bit of experience. It's great you and Alex have been in therapy for 4 years. What kind of insight has that given you around your issues with commitment in relationships? After all, being poly does not preclude commitment. In fact, it can mean committing fully to more than one person at a time.

However, if you feel like you need space for now, to be single and in more casual relationships (if any) for a while to get to know yourself better, there is nothing wrong with that! It seems healthy, in fact, and more fair to lovers who might be looking for the commitment you don't feel you can provide right now.

Lots of people spend their lives in serial monogamy, getting off on the NRE and bailing when that wears off, after a few months or 3 or so years. Someone new, bright and shiny comes along, and they just go, wow, that person is so much cooler than my current partner. Wham bam, breakup time.

These people miss out on established relationship intimacy (ERI), with all its attendant benefits. Long love can bring richness and joy to one's life that is deep and more ... interesting, than the flash and sparkle of a new love or infatuation. Kind of like the difference between a fire made out of dry kindling (big and blazing hot, but soon going out) as opposed to a fire made of large logs (with the depth of heat you can see in the heart of the fire, glowing white, blue and orange, with lots of texture and embers). You can really cook on a warm long lasting fire. A fire of kindling will just burn the surface of the food and leave it raw on the inside.

Me, I am loyal to a fault, maybe too loyal (Leo trait). I was with the same guy for 33 years, married to him for 30. We broke up about 10 years later than we should have. Once I was finally free, I did spend a year or 2 swept up in NRE with my gf and several other lovers, having lots of different experiences in intimacy and sex which I felt I needed after 30+ years with the same person. However, I didn't shy away from commitment. I like commitment. I like the security of knowing my partner really well and being known by her, our tastes in sex, kink, food, hobbies, the rhythm of our days matching, etc. I don't have another steady partner right now, but it is what I would like, instead of a stream of not quite right people.

So... yeah. Maybe you do need a period of being single for a while, working on the relationship you have with yourself, and not getting distracted from this introspection by the thrill of NRE. Eventually you will have more to offer a partner when you know yourself better!
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  #34  
Old 11-01-2011, 05:41 PM
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beginninglove beginninglove is offline
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Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words, Magdlyn. You have given me a lot to think about. I love you analogy of the slow burning fire, and I have certainly felt those benefits of LTRs in my varied experiences with partners (you are right about my age). Even with exes who turned into my closest friends. I also love the quote that you have as your signature, and I see that I feel controlled by Alex. I have played a huge role in this dynamic, no doubt, due to my own passivity and guilt. Certainly my fear is that I am making a mistake in ending a pretty darn good relationship, that somehow I should just keep plugging away at it until I find the ease and contentment I imagine I should be feeling. Through therapy we have come to understand this dance that we do, where I am the distancer and she is the persuer. She tries to grip me and I react by withdrawing. Seeing the dance has not necessarily made anything easier though. It helps to read your words, telling me that it is okay to just want to have time for myself, to get to know myself better and thus be a better partner in the future. It feels so selfish, and silly that I even somehow look to a stranger on a message board to give me permission to have and own my feelings. I have work to do on that front, no doubt.
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  #35  
Old 11-01-2011, 05:59 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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Maybe what you need is to state what you want , and find ways to create that. Even if it's just in exercises you give yourself, so that you feel empowered and not passive. Perhaps if you would take charge more, you won't feel like Alex is controlling, or that any relationship means you have to give up all control.

Ultimately, you do have a say in how you live your life, even if it seems like you're not in control. That's because, essentially, you're the one who's stepping back from making decisions, expressing yourself, etc.

Here's an exercise that I was taught and found to be an eye-opener:
For three days, every time you find yourself grumbling and complaining about something or someone, or blaming others for things you don't like in your life, whether out loud or in your head to yourself, add this to the end of your sentence: "and this is what I want." So, for example, next time you feel things are closing in around you, you find yourself thinking, "God, I never have any time to myself!" then say, "and this is what I want." Alex gets snippy with you and it's "That's a shitty thing for her to say... and this is what I want." Or "Wow, she can be such a bitch... and this is what I want." You have a moment where you feel like you're being a pushover, then it's "Oh, why do I have to be so wishy-washy and passive... and this is what I want." Standing on a long line at the grocery store becomes, "Ugh, this cashier is so slow, I hate this store... and this is what I want."
It may not always make sense. It's not about others not being responsible for their actions, but it is about how you construct your world-view and relate to others. Do that for three days and you might learn something really important about how you interact with the world and make choices for yourself.
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Last edited by nycindie; 11-01-2011 at 06:03 PM.
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  #36  
Old 11-01-2011, 08:16 PM
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beginninglove beginninglove is offline
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Hmmm let's see...

I have felt anxiously ambivalent about my relationship with Alex for almost a year and this feeling is intensifying...and this is what I want.
I am terrified to leave her yet feel depressed and suffocated when I think about staying...and this is what I want.
I feel controlled by Alex when she does not grant my requests for freedom and independence...and this is what I want.
I have a lot of work to do in terms of knowing and accepting my feelings and communicating them to others in a direct yet compassionate way...and this is what I want.
I am completely distracted by all of this at work and feel relatively incapable of being productive right now...and this is what I want.

Interesting exercise. It definitely helps me tap into a sense that I DO have some agency in all of this, in terms of choosing to accept what is, or think about what my role is in changing it.
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  #37  
Old 11-01-2011, 08:30 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beginninglove View Post
Hmmm let's see...

I have felt anxiously ambivalent about my relationship with Alex for almost a year and this feeling is intensifying...and this is what I want. . . .

Interesting exercise. It definitely helps me tap into a sense that I DO have some agency in all of this, in terms of choosing to accept what is, or think about what my role is in changing it.
Well, it's more helpful if you just do it in the moment during the course of your day, rather than as a writing exercise which can get a little more intellectual. First, it helps one to identify all those times we complain in our head about stuff. Many people don't realize how often we grumble about things, and how addicted we are to just being miserable. So sometimes, even if one forgets to add that bit to the end of a sentence, just giving oneself the task of noticing how often in a day we complain about our lives is an eye-opener. And then adding that last part just makes us realize how much our happiness really is an inside job.

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  #38  
Old 11-01-2011, 08:38 PM
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beginninglove beginninglove is offline
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Ah, okay, I think I get it. Thanks, I will keep trying it out.

And just as an aside, I have been scoping out this forum and found your blog and just really love your writing style and the way you think about things. Really happy to be here among people who think deeply about relationships and live adventurous and interesting lives.
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  #39  
Old 11-01-2011, 09:39 PM
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I think I might do that exercise too. It could be useful. Thanks!

I can relate to how you are feeling. I have often felt suffocated in my relationships. I found myself wanting to leave and go it alone (similar story, 42 and never been single since I was 15), but then think of how I would feel at the end of the day when I have no one to "come home to." I realized that I need to work on being more independent, not being single (that was 4 years ago).

I understand if you think being single is better for you. It might very well be. I thought I would mention it though because you said she struggles when you express a desire to be more independent and wondered if you would stay if you had that independence.

PN has been incredible at providing me as much space as I need. He is amazing at being my "home." I am so grateful for that. Its completely clear to me now that I, like Mags, enjoy the commitment, but need the space. This is what I work on rather than working on ways to leave. Perhaps that is an option for you, or perhaps you really are done.
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  #40  
Old 11-01-2011, 10:24 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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Excellent point, RP! How easily one can forget that it's possible to still be independent AND in a committed relationship!
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