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  #11  
Old 11-25-2011, 09:29 PM
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As someone who was in a similar place a short while ago, I want you to know that it's okay to feel how you feel, and don't let anyone or anything try to convince you otherwise. It's important that you communicate these feelings to your gf. In my experience I really had to flesh it out to my partner, because he couldn't for the life of him understand why I was having such an intense adverse emotional response, and neither could I, but I needed an understanding between us so I could move forward.

Sometimes people aren't able to see past themselves; it happens to all of us. A big difference with you is that you're also dealing with trust issues due to this stemming from an affair, so a lot of patience, understanding and acknowledgement on her end will be necessary for this to work in any capacity, and if you need to say it out loud as such, do so.

Examine, layer by layer, for as long as you need to. You'll learn a lot about yourself; I sure did.
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  #12  
Old 11-26-2011, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by ChloeJane View Post
The last poly relationship that I was in with a monogamous man taught me a lot about taking care of two hearts/individuals. I swiftly learned that while I loved both people very much, my primary partner's wishes and needs had to be of the utmost importance to me in order for him to feel comfortable with something that was a very foreign concept to him (he had never even heard of polyamory before).

We had a lot of ground rules that we established TOGETHER:
1) I went and saw my secondary partner on weekends when my primary was out of town/had plans. If my primary partner's plans changed and he was going to be home, he had the right to "veto" my time and ask me to cancel plans with my secondary (he rarely if ever did this, but I think that was partly due to the fact that he knew he had the option to)

2) I was never allowed to bring my secondary to our house when he was home, and we were never allowed in "our bed" - only the spare bedroom.

3) He didn't want to know about most things. I respected that.

4) I was responsible for "coming down" from my weekends with my secondary by myself - I would usually take time to do yoga, meditate, have a bath, read, or journal and "get out" the last of my NRE for my secondary and be ready to bring my attention and energy back to my primary.

5) When I did need to talk about something that was happening with my secondary with my primary, I let him know that I needed to talk with him, and he let me know when he was ready (emotionally, mentally, etc) We'd then talk about proposed dates/scheduling (Valentine's Day, for example - or when my secondary's wife and him were having problems and I didn't know what to do)

6) They never met. He never wanted to meet him. He didn't want me to go into any kind of details about my life with my secondary ever, unless we were having a serious talk. I respected that.

Our rules worked for us. We talked a lot about our relationship, and established boundaries and rules/talked about opening up our relationship for almost a year before it actually happened.
This is fascinating to me... sorry for the derailment here for a sec. Are you still with these people? Were they avoiding dealing with it all? How did you cope with all that!? I remember coming home from being with Mono and having to suck up my NRE but at least I felt as if I could break down and cry or something if I needed to. Those "rules" seem so controlled and manipulated to me, but at the same time, maybe sometimes a DADT policy is the best bet in order to carry on.
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  #13  
Old 11-26-2011, 08:18 AM
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I'm incredibly thankful for all the replies. The reaffirmation that my feelings are not completely out of whack is really helping me dig deeper to figure out what my desires are and how to set boundaries to make sure they are met.

ChloeJane - Thank you for sharing your examples on what worked for you. Seeing other people's boundaries definitely reminded me to examine what kind of boundaries would make me comfortable.

Icewraithonyx - My original intent was to work on our relationship for a while too, maybe 3 months or so. We somehow settled down to 1 month of no face to face with 'T'. It really helped us get up to speed on a lot of the trust issue. There are still some disconnect in trust, but seeing my GF open up to a level I've never seen in the 10 years we've been together has been eye opening. Honesty truly does wonders.
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  #14  
Old 11-26-2011, 08:34 AM
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Also want to quickly update the latest development.

I have finally agreed to allow GF to see him AND spend the night this upcoming weekend. It was a significant step forward for me. I'm not exactly thrilled about this decision, but it's as a decent compromise since GF won't be seeing him for the whole month of December, and she's willing to do it on a Sunday - Monday to minimize the amount of time I have to spend at home. Also she'll be spending new years even with me, I'm quite happy about kissing her when the clock strike.

Part of her theory is that we can sit around and talk all about possible scenarios and how I would react, but until we actually try it, we won't know anything. Even though the overnight is happening much sooner than I've anticipated, I'm willing to give a one time exception to see how I would react emotionally. Depending on how I react, we'll decide how regular we make this type of arrangement.

I'll have to deal with whatever feelings that might come up. I've been studying all the online resources on jealousy and reading the forum exhaustively to try to prepare myself for the weekend. I think some rolling around the hay with the GF will ease some of my anxiety, going to try to meditate, read. I know I won't be in the mood to watch TVs / movies. It's going to be a long weekend, any other tips from the poly veterans?

I also came up with some boundaries that I felt would be important to me. I've list them out below, I feel quite selfish in some of these rules so perhaps fresh sets of eyes can help straighten me out if I'm asking unreasonable things.

1.) No public show of affection - i.e.. holding hands, hands on thigh, hugs from behind, cuddling. General "couple" behavior. She claims the relationship she has with him are of "friendship" type, I don't see the need to pretend to be boyfriend / girlfriend in public then.

2.) No lingeries. It somehow makes me feel special to have some ownership of this. He doesn't really care about lingeries so don't' think it's a big deal. Somehow it is for me... Some thing goes for Bed & Breakfast.

3.) Honesty, 'nouf said.

4.) Define the relationship with 'T'. Force T to think about what type of relationship this is. Where does he see this going in 6 months, a year, 5 years etc. All 3 of us need to see eye to eye and play our part accordingly.

5.) Be home on time.

Thanks again for reading everyone. This has been an incredible experience and to have strangers on the internet helping me wish such intimate subject is a true honor. Ya'll are good folks.
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  #15  
Old 11-26-2011, 05:03 PM
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I think it's great you want to try and make things work and to rebuild trust between you two. You're doing well coming here for advice and communicating with her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcmctalk View Post
I also came up with some boundaries that I felt would be important to me. I've list them out below, I feel quite selfish in some of these rules so perhaps fresh sets of eyes can help straighten me out if I'm asking unreasonable things.

1.) No public show of affection - i.e.. holding hands, hands on thigh, hugs from behind, cuddling. General "couple" behavior. She claims the relationship she has with him are of "friendship" type, I don't see the need to pretend to be boyfriend / girlfriend in public then.

2.) No lingeries. It somehow makes me feel special to have some ownership of this. He doesn't really care about lingeries so don't' think it's a big deal. Somehow it is for me... Some thing goes for Bed & Breakfast.

3.) Honesty, 'nouf said.

4.) Define the relationship with 'T'. Force T to think about what type of relationship this is. Where does he see this going in 6 months, a year, 5 years etc. All 3 of us need to see eye to eye and play our part accordingly.

5.) Be home on time.
Have you and her talked about these things yet? What does your GF think, does she feel these things are unreasonable? Do you have good communication going? When you write these are things you want to ask for, what excactly does ask mean? Is it still open for negotiation, or do you insist on the boundaries you want? If there is room for negotiation, does she know that, too? She was cheating, and probably feels guilty (for a reason), and that might make it hard for her to express an opinion if she feels some of the boundaries are too restrictive. But if she doesn't communicate her disagreement to you, there's a risk that she'll violate the boundaries. If she does that, she'll be totally responsible for that. However, by working together in your relationship to create an open environment for communication you can try and avoid that. Good luck!

In my opinion, number 3 is essential for obvious reasons. About 1 and 2: they are reasonable if all involved think so. What does she think? You're not unreasonable for asking, but she should also get an opinion (and so should he, at some point). If these things are important to her, but you feel strongly about them, maybe you could come to some sort of compromise for now, and revisit the situation after some time. Number 5: what does "on time" mean? If it stands for "at the time I tell you", it sounds too controlling. If it stands for "at the time we together agreed to", it's completely reasonable.

Number 4 sounds a bit confusing to me. What are your reasons behind this? It comes off a bit odd; like you want to make her force him to define their relationship more clearly. Why is that? Isn't it more relevant to you what it is your girlfriend wants from the relationship? If you do want his input, that might be something possibly better communicated between you and him directly. Which brings me to this issue:

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcmctalk View Post
I met T once a long time ago, and then again when I showed up at his door. GF has always been very hesitant about having us meet. I've stressed that T should be converted to "friend of the relationship", instead of a foe. This is a concept she agrees to, but she doesn't know how to have these worlds collide, and honest, I'm not even sure if she wants to.
I think she's being a little possessive here. I don't think it would be wise to suddenly start hanging out as a group all the time, and there must still be alone-time for her to be with him. But I do think it would benefit you to get to know him a bit better, if it is your wish (and his).
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  #16  
Old 11-26-2011, 05:20 PM
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Thank you Rory, your questions are absolutely enlightening. Really touch on things I haven't throughout about much. I do think the boundaries will have to best by both of us, not just me insisting on my needs. I will try to figure out what GF truly think of them to minimize violation. At the end of the day, violation of boundaries will destroy the little trust we've been building, and that's more detrimental than stupid little rules.

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Originally Posted by rory View Post

Number 5: what does "on time" mean? If it stands for "at the time I tell you", it sounds too controlling. If it stands for "at the time we together agreed to", it's completely reasonable.
I find myself having the most difficult time after 9 pm. It will be a time we agree upon but I think for the time being, it seems to help me get over this uncontrollable jealous streak.

Quote:
Number 4 sounds a bit confusing to me. What are your reasons behind this? It comes off a bit odd; like you want to make her force him to define their relationship more clearly. Why is that? Isn't it more relevant to you what it is your girlfriend wants from the relationship? If you do want his input, that might be something possibly better communicated between you and him directly. Which brings me to this issue:
The reason I want her to help him define their relationship is because I don't think he's asked that question before. I have no idea what his intentions are, if he's trying to "date" my GF to eventually replace me, or does he want a secondary relationship, primary? Every time I talk to GF about the nature of their relationship, she defines it as "friendship with additional intimacy". I feel like if I can get his take on the issue, it would help all of us understand where we stand.

Part of my issue with 'T' is that he is quite demanding on GF's time. Perhaps without realizing it. He requests hotel / weekend getaways, comes up with numerous concerts and hiking dates. Somewhere in me feels that if he recognizes that she needs to cultivate her relationship with me as much (if not more) than with his, perhaps he'd be more thoughtful on proposing weekly getaways.

As I write this, I feel quite guilty for some of the emotions coming up, such as expectation that GF spend more time with me than him, devote more to me etc. Perhaps it's the 'social conditioning' that's often touted in the Poly circle, I can't stay I'm ready to toss it all out the window either rethought
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  #17  
Old 11-26-2011, 05:37 PM
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Wanting your gf to spend more time building her "primary" relationship with you, that is to say the relationship that you both are building a future around, versus on her "secondary" relationship with him, that is to say the relationship that is important to her but plays a less prominent role in her life, is perfectly valid. No need to feel guilty for that, as long as you're also acting with compassion and giving everyone's needs (hers in particular but perhaps genuinely his too some day especially if you and he become friends) consideration where they can be met without violating your own needs.

I agree with Rory that she needs to reconsider that whole thing of keeping you and T separate. I can see why she would be scared of getting you two together... what if you don't get along or what if you can't handle seeing them being affectionate. Or maybe she wants to keep him something special just for her, or maybe it's a holdover from the affair, feeling like things need to be a little secretive. But it's a bad plan for all involved. She's brought him into your life by asking you to accept his presence in her heart and love life. If you want to meet him and get to know him a little, which I think is healthy, you should get that chance. Ideally, you guys should get the chance to have honest, no-holds-barred, ongoing conversations as needed that can lead to greater trust and understanding all around. Is that idealistic of me to envision, especially considering the affair? Perhaps, but why not aim for it? Wanting to know his thoughts about the relationship, at the very least, is very, very reasonable.

The only boundary that you've laid out that I think might be problematic is the pda thing. Perhaps it won't be a big deal, but I know that little acts of pda make me feel very connected to my partner and I wouldn't want to give them up. Are you afraid people you mutually know will see them together and get the wrong idea?
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  #18  
Old 11-26-2011, 11:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcmctalk View Post
Part of my issue with 'T' is that he is quite demanding on GF's time. Perhaps without realizing it. He requests hotel / weekend getaways, comes up with numerous concerts and hiking dates. Somewhere in me feels that if he recognizes that she needs to cultivate her relationship with me as much (if not more) than with his, perhaps he'd be more thoughtful on proposing weekly getaways.
I think this is a really valid point. I think it's totally important to allow the primary relationship the time/space to stay strong, and for both members of the primary relationship to make a conscious commitment to making dates and scheduling time. I think you're being really mature in your realization and needs here. Perhaps one of your boundaries can tackle this subject of scheduling, and maybe as a hat-tip to your "primary" status, you can have "first dibs" on the schedule so that you constantly have fun and exciting things to look forward to her? Do you also schedule concerts, hiking dates (maybe hiking's not your thing, but snowshoeing is) etc? Those things are pretty exciting and fun, and are also super bonding/restorative in a relationship. I read an article once saying that one of the most important qualities of couples that are the happiest/stay together the longest is to have a core value of continuing to create exciting activities together!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcmctalk View Post
I find myself having the most difficult time after 9 pm. It will be a time we agree upon but I think for the time being, it seems to help me get over this uncontrollable jealous streak.
Given that you've been through a lot of trauma as of late, I think that your feelings of safety are pretty important. Sure, it could be seen as a little controlling, and others might think that it's unreasonable, but asking, negotiating, and being honest gives you a good starting point to work from, if nothing else. Maybe you could set a date up until which this boundary is to be respected to help you adjust in a lot of other areas (ie - we'll revisit this on January 15th, 2012) if she has reluctance there, so that you feel safe, but she knows that it's not necessarily permanent? Just a suggestion - I manage a lot of people, and it's something that I do with new schedules that staff aren't sure are going to work for them. Most of the time the schedule turns out to be fine, but once in awhile tweaks do need to be made with both sides ending up pretty close to the original change/being happy too!

Also, to answer RedPepper's (always welcome) derailment:

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Originally Posted by redpepper View Post
This is fascinating to me... sorry for the derailment here for a sec. Are you still with these people? Were they avoiding dealing with it all? How did you cope with all that!? I remember coming home from being with Mono and having to suck up my NRE but at least I felt as if I could break down and cry or something if I needed to. Those "rules" seem so controlled and manipulated to me, but at the same time, maybe sometimes a DADT policy is the best bet in order to carry on.
I really push your boundary button, eh? Those were the boundaries that we came up with that felt really safe for him, and I respected and accepted them entirely. He respected how much love I have to give, and found peace in sharing me (for a very straight-laced fella this was HUGE in itself) and we did a lot of communicating before he came up with his list (over a year's worth - he wasn't a fast mover, and I was fine with that). I didn't feel the need to push/force anything out of him, and had a lot of respect for him knowing himself well enough to ask for what he wanted, and being comfortable in those parameters. We had a couple of issues along the way, but we had good communication about them on the whole, so no, I don't feel that he was avoiding dealing with the situation - just found his comfort and happiness amongst it all. I worked with my psychologist and did a lot of self inventory to manage my own NRE, and channeled it really well back into my primary in the end. Each relationship is so different, each person is so different, and I think boundaries can be a way of ensuring that everyone in the relationship feels respected, loved, and taken care of on their terms. "Controlled and manipulated rules" (which I don't see them as being) are still rules, and if all parties communicate about them, consent to them and are happy with them, they are very workable (they were for us for quite a long time!) We ended up going our separate ways in the end, but I feel that we had a largely successful relationship! (Breaking up is never an indication of "failure" in my eyes, neither is staying together a "success").

I'm sure lots of people have rules that wouldn't work comfortably for you or I (I have a lot of really fun lingerie and enjoy wearing it, so mcmctalk's #2 would not be okay for me, for example....) but that's just me, and I totally respect mcmctalk's right and desire to ask for this, and hope that his partner is willing to agree to it to ensure his comfort. My fascination revolves around the communication, honesty, trust and willingness to make boundaries that work, revisit them if/when it's needed, and then once the framework is established - having tons of fun!!
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  #19  
Old 11-26-2011, 11:47 PM
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The only boundary that you've laid out that I think might be problematic is the pda thing. Perhaps it won't be a big deal, but I know that little acts of pda make me feel very connected to my partner and I wouldn't want to give them up. Are you afraid people you mutually know will see them together and get the wrong idea?
People knowing is actually least of my concern. I think right now I'm processing so much emotions that dealing with this one additional sort of minor details just doesn't seem productive. Eventually I can probably shed this rule off, but I guess it's my way of just not dealing with it right now.

I suppose it's also the evil social conditioning thing again, that somehow I feel like I "earned" my status to enjoy these social comforts and he kind of just swooped in and is pretending to be her boyfriend. I don't know, it's annoying to think about.
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Old 11-26-2011, 11:52 PM
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I suppose it's also the evil social conditioning thing again, that somehow I feel like I "earned" my status to enjoy these social comforts and he kind of just swooped in and is pretending to be her boyfriend. I don't know, it's annoying to think about.
Wow, you've got great self-insight going on already. It IS annoying to think about sometimes - like, it makes me uncomfortable, isn't that enough? Wherever there's discomfort, there's the capacity for self growth and great communication with your partner. You might end up having the same boundary in the end, but at least you will feel totally at peace about it and both people will feel totally understood. Sometimes being understood and accepted is enough to make the boundary uneccesary in the end, but I don't think that you need to push, push, push all at once, either.
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