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Old 02-08-2012, 06:55 PM
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Valentine Valentine is offline
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Default Guilt, shame, and pride.

I am a woman. I am not "involved with" or "dating" or "sexual" with a polyamorous man married to a "monogam-ish" woman, but I used to be. His wife's comfort with him being poly varies widely. It ends up resulting in her applying different boundaries to each of his relationships, and those rules are subject to change. My relationship with him ended a while back (I had a nervous breakdown induced by PTSD and my attempts to shape my behavior to make his wife more comfortable... they worked, but I was miserable and he wasn't happy), but we have tried to remain friends.

I've had a hard time letting go. Some of the old patterns have cropped up when we spend time together alone (cuddling and a few kisses that I enjoy more than I have enjoyed sex with most people I've been with), and I am struggling with my feelings.

Pride: I don't like having limits placed on my behavior - particularly "private" behavior - by a third party. I feel that I am not respected or trusted. This hurts, and sometimes I feel angry.

Shame: When I am faced with boundaries created by a third party, I feel that my sexuality and emotions are dirty and dangerous, respectively; that being sexual and emotional is inappropriate in this situation or with this person. I have fears of slut-shaming from his wife and our community.

Guilt: I am afraid to act on my own desires because I am afraid of hurting his wife and/or being judged by others. I feel very anxious about spending time with him or being physically affectionate with him.

For the record, this was my first poly-type relationship, and it lasted around 7 months, which he considers to be a "long term" relationship. To me, it seems a very short period of time for me to have developed such strong feelings. The NRE when we first started dating was overwhelming for me.

I do not know what to do at this point. I'm worried that continuing to interact with them (mostly with him) is harmful.

Perhaps polyamorous relationships are not a good fit for me? Or perhaps being a secondary does not suit, but being a primary would? I need some outside perspectives.

Last edited by Valentine; 02-08-2012 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:45 PM
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Carma Carma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valentine View Post
I am not "involved with" or "dating" or "sexual" with a polyamorous man married to a "monogam-ish" woman, but I used to be......

I've had a hard time letting go. Some of the old patterns have cropped up when we spend time together alone (cuddling and a few kisses that I enjoy more than I have enjoyed sex with most people I've been with), and I am struggling with my feelings.

Pride: I don't like having limits placed on my behavior - particularly "private" behavior - by a third party. I feel that I am not respected or trusted. This hurts, and sometimes I feel angry.

Shame: When I am faced with boundaries created by a third party, I feel that my sexuality and emotions are dirty and dangerous, respectively; that being sexual and emotional is inappropriate in this situation or with this person. I have fears of slut-shaming from his wife and our community.

Guilt: I am afraid to act on my own desires because I am afraid of hurting his wife and/or being judged by others. I feel very anxious about spending time with him or being physically affectionate with him.

For the record, this was my first poly-type relationship, and it lasted around 7 months, which he considers to be a "long term" relationship. To me, it seems a very short period of time for me to have developed such strong feelings... but maybe it is all the conflict creating a pressure-cooker situation.

I do not know what to do at this point. I'm worried that continuing to interact with them (mostly with him) is harmful.
Wait -- so you are not "involved" or "dating" or "sexual" with him, anymore? Because it kinda sounds like you are. And from what I read, it sounds like you deserve better. A relationship you can live and love out loud. This sounds toxic to me. There are other fish in the sea -- maybe you should find one that doesn't have restrictions placed around him. This is only my opinion, hope it doesn't sound harsh.
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Old 02-08-2012, 09:35 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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Originally Posted by Valentine View Post
...perhaps being a secondary does not suit, but being a primary would? I need some outside perspectives.
Just because you would be considered a secondary in someone's life does not automatically mean that their partner has any authority over your relationship with that person. The fact that the wife was dictating and changing rules over how he was to be in his relationship with you really speaks to major insecurities.

I firmly believe that no one should be managing a relationship except for the people in it, and couples that embrace poly had better be willing and mature enough to let their partners handle their own relationships without imposing a lot of bullshit rules on them. When I am interested in someone who is poly and partnered, I ask them what rules or boundaries they have that would affect me. I can live with time/scheduling restraints, and wholeheartedly agree with safer sex boundaries for obvious reasons, but anything beyond that or overly restrictive and I walk. I would rather not get involved with someone who allows their spouse to interfere in my relationship than try to alter who I am and what I want to be happy.

This does not mean I wish to be someone's primary. In fact, I don't use those hierarchical terms for myself. But I have no problem being a secondary as long as I am respected and the person conducts himself like a grown-up. I never want to be in a situation where I need permission from someone's spouse (like asking mommy) for what level of emotional or physical involvement I can have with him.

So, all that is to say that it isn't necessarily that you aren't cut out for poly or being a secondary. It would seem that, simply, this wasn't the right relationship for you. If it is bringing up so much hurt and confusion to continue kissing and cuddling with him after having broken it off, then don't. It's true, seven months is still the beginning stages of a relationship to me, but still hanging around and not being able to have what you'd hoped for will probably drag it on and make you feel worse. Ask for a break, take time away so you don't have to be so close to the unhealthy dynamic between him and his primary partner, and date other people. There are plenty of fish in the sea!
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An excellent blog post on hierarchy in polyamory:
solopoly.net/2014/10/31/why-im-not-a-secondary-partner-the-short-version/

Last edited by nycindie; 02-09-2012 at 01:55 AM.
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:52 PM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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It sounds like you got involved in this because of the individual and his relationship status. After having gone through that...what do you want. What would be an ideal relationship/partnership for you. Why not build from this mind set. Make yourself happy...especially with PTSD issues.
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Old 02-10-2012, 05:38 AM
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A metamour who sees you as a friend is invaluable. It might be too much to ask of the world/fate to find that, but that doesn't mean that one should settle for the opposite extreme, a metamour who sees you as a threat/enemy. How stressful.

And it kind of irks me that he wouldn't be willing to stand up for his other relationships and say "No, it's not ok to keep changing the rules, that's not fair to anyone." Or, he could always say "Y'know what, if this is how things are gonna be maybe this marriage can't handle poly at the present time." But instead, to just let this bad situation continue... bleh.

I think not being with him is the right decision. If that means you need to be the sort of friends who don't actually see each other in person right now... so be it. You deserve better. Take whatever space you need.
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Old 02-13-2012, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
A metamour who sees you as a friend is invaluable. It might be too much to ask of the world/fate to find that, but that doesn't mean that one should settle for the opposite extreme, a metamour who sees you as a threat/enemy. How stressful.

And it kind of irks me that he wouldn't be willing to stand up for his other relationships and say "No, it's not ok to keep changing the rules, that's not fair to anyone." Or, he could always say "Y'know what, if this is how things are gonna be maybe this marriage can't handle poly at the present time." But instead, to just let this bad situation continue... bleh.

I think not being with him is the right decision. If that means you need to be the sort of friends who don't actually see each other in person right now... so be it. You deserve better. Take whatever space you need.
The three of us became friends through our church. I wasn't prepared for a romantic relationship, really. I was scared. I thought being with a guy-friend who had a wonderful wife and marriage would be less scary. In many ways, it was. But I started running into a lot of subconscious expectations about relationships (PTSD), and I would feel angry and resentful and guilty and ashamed and terrified. I was also depressed and abusing substances, and he had to take me to a psyche ward twice while we were dating. I was awful, and his wife knew it.

The more involved he and I became, the worse I got, and the more she disapproved... we stopped being friends when she said she was afraid that my problems would destroy her marriage. I was angry (thought process: "SHE has her own mental health problems, and if anyone's problems are going to hurt her marriage, it will be hers, not mine... I am inconsequential, and my problems will fuck up my relationship with my family/friends and with him before they have anything to do with her, so to hell with her and her fears... SHE'S insecure, but she has no reason to be because she has everything anyone could ever want from this guy, he loves her, and he's not going to leave her"). That was last summer. I've been in therapy since then... which is what I really needed all along... clearly.

He has defended his other relationships (including the one he had with me), but it doesn't stop her from feeling upset about sharing him. He has offered to be monogamous, but she says she doesn't want that. Last night, she went to a poly support group, but they had a fight beforehand. He and I got coffee while she was there. This morning, I gave her a call to ask how the group went, but she didn't pick up, so I haven't talked with her yet.

It's ok with me if they decide to be monogamous or if they decide they'd prefer him not dating me specifically. I'd be sad for me, but I understand. I'd be happier if I could date him and rebuild the friendship she and I had beforehand. For now, maybe it is best to just focus on that second part. These people don't owe me anything. Frankly, I think I owe them an apology.
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Old 02-14-2012, 01:42 AM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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Who knows, apologizing might go a long way. Why not try it, if you honestly feel the urge?
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  #8  
Old 02-14-2012, 02:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
Who knows, apologizing might go a long way. Why not try it, if you honestly feel the urge?
Indeed. I apologized to him today, and it went alright. I'll get to her later when we're able to have a real conversation. These things take time.
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