Troubled mono in long term poly-relationship
I was hoping to get some advice. I'm in a committed relationship as someone's primary for over 6 years who I am now considering splitting with.
I'm seeking an answer to the question of “should I break up with her” or maybe a better way of putting it is “do I want to be single again?”. Deep-down I know that I'm the only who can answer this question but I am hoping that by sharing your stories I can get a gauge for what is whether I'm misguided or my relationship is unhealthy.
Its been hard for me to get advice on this issue, mostly because 99% of my friends are monogamous. They've all told me to dump her. But I don't trust their advice because they think of the lifestyle as abnormal. I've never considered it so. I just don't think that it's right for me.
Id be particularly interested in hearing from people who switched from identifying as monogamous to polyamorous, what was hard about it, how you got past it. Conversely I'd would also be nice to hear, “its okay to be mongamous, you are for good reasons, and you don't have to feel weird about it”
I don't quite know where to start. I suppose a bit about myself.
First - I don't naturally consider myself poly. I'm probably mono. However I've never considered poly-people or alternative sexual identities and lifestyles evil or immoral in any way, shape, or form. I consider myself a very open-minded person.
I'm not perfect. Being mono in a poly relationship I've worked through a lot of personal issues. However, even at my most jealous, I've never made any claim to ownership over my partner, and never given mandates as to her actions. The road to accepting my partner's poly nature wasn't (and still isn't) silky-smooth. However I am grateful for the number of issues its helped me get over.
Without going into every argument and growing pain. (Although I'm happy to if the conversation leads in that direction). I want to say that I've now matured enough emotionally to say that I'm STILL not poly and that my mono-nature is whats right for me and my needs. And just FYI, i'm not the only one who did some growing here. My partner often (involuntarily) coerced me into accepting lifestyle decisions I wasn't ready for. This wasn't a simple case of "poly helps mono get over insecurity".
Anyway, this is where I'm at right now. After several verbal fights, I agreed to attempt to move past some issues. While there are still some things that make me insecure, this is what I know (both mentally and emotionally). Her sleeping with other men doesn't mean she loves me less. It also doesn't mean that I am not keeping her sexually satisfied. She wants to live with me and only me, and has never wanted to do so with anyone-else, including the other people she sleeps with.
Part of the resolution to these arguments was that we identified that one potential source of my unhappiness with our arrangement comes from my perception of our arrangement as being unfair or imbalanced. She made the point that my perception of the imbalance has more to do with my personality than it does with the ethics of the situation. I struggle with picking up women - and courtship is a prerequisite for (enjoyable) sex.
The resolution to these fights was that I should make a sincere effort to live a poly-lifestyle. The last year of my life has been devoted to doing just that - and I'm genuinely feeling that its causing me emotional damage, both as a individual and to our relationship.
1.) I used to feel secure in the fact that my partner found me attractive - dating again I feel exposed to the ridicule and judgement of strangers and that's really lowered my self-esteem. I get really tired of the bar scene and watching frat-boys do everything I was told women don't like and watching them go home with girls I tried to chat with. As a result I find myself wishing to improve shallower things about myself: dress, physique, etc, instead of the things I actually consider important.
2.) There were a large number of activities that my partner did not share my enthusiasm for. I used to spend a lot of my time trying to convince her to join me in these activities. Instead she suggested that I find someone who shares my interests and do it with them instead. As a result, I am now spending the majority of my free time alone. It seems like the only things we still do together are watch tv and go out to eat.
3.) Sometimes I meet someone I think I could be with. We set up a date and I square with them as soon as I can about my existing partner. They don't ever call me back after that and I feel worse off than when I started.
4.) I find myself considering lying or hiding details about my relationship from people I feel like courting until they like me enough to hear me out about the poly-thing. At the suggestion of my friends and my partner I've been looking at blogs or books on pick-up-artist techniques in order to shift-myself out of limiting mono-mindset. I don't like who I am when I try on these other personas.
5.) I was hoping that being out and about more would rekindle certain aspects of our relationship which have gotten stale. But I don't notice any perceptible change in - the number of times we sleep together, her willingness to make time for me, the number of activities we do as "just the two of us", or her willingness to do things just to make me happy.
In short, I'm questioning what about my existing relationship is still valuable to me. I'm not sure what I get from it that I wouldn't get from a platonic friendship and being single again. I feel just as lonely as I did when I was single. My poly-explorations are placing more doubt in my mind, not less.