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  #1  
Old 01-08-2012, 07:47 AM
avoidscauliflour avoidscauliflour is offline
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Unhappy 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.
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  #2  
Old 01-08-2012, 07:00 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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I also dislike cauliflower. Nasty stuff.

Yeah, sounds like poly is just not your bag. And that is totally ok. It shows up in threads here over and over that trying to be poly or trying to persuade a partner to be poly rarely works if they are not already so inclined.

However, that's a different issue than if you should stay in your relationship. There are folks who make mono/poly relationships work. But it is very, very hard. Search mono/poly and you will much to read and think about. You will need to decide if you can make the compromises necessary to be in a 'mixed' marriage. (And your partner will also need to make compromises too - it's not a one way street.) You will need to think about if you can live with and accept what being with a poly partner means. You've had some time to experience this - it's not brand new to you.

Keep in mind that if you decide that you ultimately want a mono partner, dating can still be humbling, hard on one's ego, and you will run into people behaving badly and getting away with it. Good luck - you are in a difficult situation.
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  #3  
Old 01-08-2012, 08:24 PM
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MindfulAgony MindfulAgony is offline
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Just from what you've written, it doesn't sound like poly is the core problem. You seem to be experiencing problems in your primary relationship in terms of your connection with your partner and the number of arenas you connect deeply on.

Here the question is what were the things that brought you together? What were you doing when you bonded initially? Are those activities still of interest to both of you? If that's not enough, it might make sense to ask if you can work to develop areas of mutual interest. Take some time and talk it through. I'm not sure it's useful to say, I enjoy X and we should hang out doing X even if you have no particular interest.

You need to mine the seams of adjacent or overlapping interests instead.

The challenges you express in engaging in poly relationships on your behalf sound to me like challenges in meeting, dating, or courting women. These challenges will persist when you're dating and single. You'll have the benefit, however, of not having to explain the poly thing.

Dating and compatibility are complex. If you take it too personally when someone is not interested or loses interest in you, it easily batters your self-esteem. I give the same advice over and over. Don't meet women with the sole intention of finding a date or relationship. Meet and engage with the intention of finding new friends. Interest and dates will flow from this in unexpected ways.

For me, it allows me to relax and stop thinking about me and if I'm doing this or that right or whether she likes me or whatever insecure thought is likely to be in my head. I can then focus on enjoying myself, being truly interested in the other person in a more than superficial way, and have fun doing things I enjoy.

You truly may be mono. I just don't see in your description any of those hallmarks... like not feeling interested in a partner who's interested in you because you can't seem to find that emotional hook (like you've got one parking space for love, it's compact and filled up by an Escalade...).

Whether you're mono or poly, taking a different approach to dating can be helpful for men who aren't hyper-aggressive - not matching the cultural norm.
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Last edited by MindfulAgony; 01-09-2012 at 07:35 AM. Reason: typos
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  #4  
Old 01-09-2012, 01:32 AM
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SourGirl SourGirl is offline
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When I first started reading your thread, I was thinking I might be telling you, that you probably weren`t poly, and not to feel bad about it. I`ve been there done that. I'm rather an expert, on wasting a lot of time, trying to adapt to something that didin`t work for me.

However, as I read more and more, I agree with MindfulAgony. I don`t think your core problem is with 'poly'.


From what I am reading, you are frustrated with being alone, frustrated with doing things alone. You are frustrated with Dating and the process of it, not so much the poly part. I don`t think you can know if you are 'poly' until you have a chance to express feelings for more then one person at a time.

This,..has nothing to do with your partner.

Whatever issues you have with your partner, could be tainting your ability to date objectively. If you feel less confidence, and overall 'less' this would be happening in a mono relationship that has taken a turn for the worse too. Many times, people break off a relationship, and don`t date for awhile. They are not 'relationship material' , until they feel healthy and strong again.

Good Luck.


Footnote : For the love of all things natural and sweet, do NOT go to Pick-Up Artist sites. That method, is the WRONG way to catch a woman's attention. Nevermind the type of women that fall for this shit, as they are just going to be a headache further down the road. If you really want something that easily swayed, buy a dog, and tie a porkchop to yourself. Otherwise, working on feeling good about yourself, and once you do, you`ll draw others to yourself naturally.
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:37 AM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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I tend to agree with the concensus ~ there are two separate issues at work here. When problems arise in a non-standard relationship, it's easy to blame the relationship structure when that may not be the problem. The relationship you describe with partner would be far less than satisfactory even if she were not poly. There are specific problems you cite which could be addressed if you are both willing.

Now you can ask yourself, if the problems you have with your partner could be resolved, would you still have an issue with the mono-poly structure of your relationship?
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Old 01-09-2012, 08:57 AM
avoidscauliflour avoidscauliflour is offline
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Good insight all around, especially regarding dating. I'll try to keep those two issues more separate in my mind moving forward.

However – with regard to shared activities or experiences, I do think mono-poly frictions are at the source of it.

In response to MindfulAgony who had said:

Quote:
You seem to be experiencing problems in your primary relationship in terms of your connection with your partner and the number of arenas you connect deeply on.*
Yeah, this is certainly true – but part of these issues are rooted in mono/poly mindsets. Or at least that’s how it was presented to me. I'll give you a concrete example. My partner wont join me in several activities, ranging from the completely mundane (won't join me for poker night) to serious (won't come with me to visit my family) in terms of my emotional needs.

I used to spend a lot of time pressuring her into joining me. She claimed that this was part of my monogamous mindset, that I was looking for a mythical fairy-tale person who would complete me in every-way. I was certainly guilty of some of that early on in our relationship, but I don't think its the case anymore.

I don't feel like I need her by my side ALL the time. I now consider myself a very independent person. Other coupleo have said as much too. I'm certainly OK with her skipping poker night. But on the more serious side I often take weekend trips out of the city into the country to get some nature in and put my mind at ease and she HATES coming with me. Really seriously she wont visit my family with me.

Well – its not that she wont. When I have convinced her to come – she's bitter and grouchy the entire time and pressures me into leaving early – or leaving without me. She feels coerced, like I'm stripping her of her freedoms.

I explained to her that it was important to me, and her reaction was something along the lines of “just because I love you doesn't mean that I should do things just to keep you happy if they make me miserable - find someone else to do it with” or like “why are you trying to change me?”

I explained to her that I gladly sacrifice for her just to make her happy and its not a big deal for me. She says that that’s not healthy. I get that a mono-mindset can create couples that take this to ridiculous extremes, they defer dreams, plans, loose friends, or pass up jobs for the other. But this was never us. I'm just talking about a boring weekend with my sisters so I can catch up with my nieces and nephews. More than that, I want HER to see ME with my family, to see how my sisters are an influence in my life. I also want my parents to see that she's a positive influence in my life. Her take on it is just kinda like “I don’t want to or need to”

Is this really a poly-mindset? As poly-couples go, do you the rest of you really not make any sacrifices for the other? I really don't get the benefit to so much unbridled freedom. How can you show someone you care about them if you just do whatever you want without regard for the other all the time? I get that I'm responsible for my own happiness – but the more I take this to heart – the less of a presence she is in my life. I'm now asking myself, do I need her at all?

Last edited by avoidscauliflour; 01-09-2012 at 09:09 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:49 AM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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It almost seems like either she doesn't really want to have a primary relationship with you, or there's something in her past that really wigs her out about meeting your family members. Perhaps she had a bad experience in a prior relationship.

I get that you're not trying to cage her--she's special to you, and you want to share that with your family, and share your family with her, because they are also special to you.

It's worth talking about, perhaps with the aid of a counselor. If you're not going to take the counselor route (perhaps owing to cost), at least read the NVC book together and practice those techniques. Emphasize that you're seeking to understand each other; you're not seeking to "win" in an argument.
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Old 01-09-2012, 12:53 PM
zylya zylya is offline
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To me, it sounds like she doesn't actually want to spend much time with you, and I can't see her making any effort to spend QUALITY time together. For that reason I think you should break up with her. If meeting your family makes her MISERABLE (as in literally makes her upset) then I'd suggest that you have compatibility issues. If she's unwilling to do things to spend time with you, then do you even have a relationship at all?

It seems to me like she places no value on your time together - she'd rather not bother with anything that she doesn't feel like doing right at that moment.

If you're as independent as you say, then reinvest in yourself. Take up that hobby you've been wanting to start for ages, phone up that friend you've been meaning to call up for a while. Start working on making sure that even if you're ALONE, you're not LONELY. I have lots of stuff that I do that I don't even WANT to share with other people. That means that if I am by myself, I'm doing something for ME instead of wondering who I could've been spending the time with. As you start focusing on yourself again, your girlfriend might notice the positive steps you've been taking for your own life and start trying to make more time with you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SourGirl View Post
Footnote : For the love of all things natural and sweet, do NOT go to Pick-Up Artist sites. That method, is the WRONG way to catch a woman's attention. Nevermind the type of women that fall for this shit, as they are just going to be a headache further down the road. If you really want something that easily swayed, buy a dog, and tie a porkchop to yourself. Otherwise, working on feeling good about yourself, and once you do, you`ll draw others to yourself naturally.
There's a lot of shit out there, but there's some places that have the right idea, namely improving yourself and your own life so that you're more attractive and confident, and less desperate and needy. If you're looking for cheap tricks, you're going to end up disappointed, but there are places that are about discussing becoming more attractive to women in a way that includes honesty and integrity.
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Old 01-09-2012, 03:26 PM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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In my experience, a relatively small percentage of people genuinely like their partners' families. Many people don't even like many members of their own families. But spending time with our families is an obligation that we take on for a number of reasons -- for the sake of the ones we do like, out of a love that goes beyond liking or not liking, out of a sense of responsibility for past care and support, out of a respect for the concept of family, etc., all of which are valid and emotionally important reasons. And having our partners with us for at least some of that can be extremely validating, it can make the whole thing easier to bear if it's fraught, and it can bring us closer to our partners.

When people talk about a single partner not needing to be everything to you in poly, they're not talking about setting aside the core functions of a primary partnership (love, affection, support, counsel) to be fulfilled by one or more secondaries (since I assume that's what any new partner would be to you in this relationship structure, since your gf doesn't want to live with anyone else). They're talking about bonuses, like maybe your partner hates a particular sexual or recreational activity, with poly you don't have to go without sharing that with a partner for the rest of your life.

In case it wasn't obvious, I consider spending time with our partners' families now and then, unless there are extreme circumstances or it's really not important to our partners, to be a core primary relationship function. Primary-ness to me Is about family, and if she refuses to see your family without emotionally dumping on you for forcing her to do so, then does she really want to be family to you? Is she willing to make *any* sacrifices for your emotional well-being, or is it just about pawning you off on new poly partners so you'll stop bugging her?

If I were in your position, this is the issue I'd address first, and if it couldn't be resolved I don't think I'd stay.
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Last edited by AnnabelMore; 01-09-2012 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:14 PM
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SourGirl SourGirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zylya View Post
There's a lot of shit out there, but there's some places that have the right idea, namely improving yourself and your own life so that you're more attractive and confident, and less desperate and needy. If you're looking for cheap tricks, you're going to end up disappointed, but there are places that are about discussing becoming more attractive to women in a way that includes honesty and integrity.
I was specifically refering to 'Pick-Up Artist' sites. A term the op used. A crappy niche offered out there. I think it`s a given, that there are sites that help you become more dating friendly.
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