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Old 06-07-2012, 05:19 AM
neo651 neo651 is offline
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Default Mono very hesitantly thinking about poly

I've known this girl for 10 years. I'll spare you the extremely long story and skip straight to the bulletpoints. We've known each other for 10 years. We are each others' best friend. We've briefly dated twice. Both times I ended it. We've always been in love with each other for basically the entire 10 years, despite not realizing it at various times.

About 5 years ago she went poly and I supported her. We were just friends at the time. She currently has two partners and we're on opposite sides of the country. We'd had an unexpected virtual sexual encounter and it drew the attention of her partners to say that they're not ok with her having that with me when I'm not a partner

This led to me and her having talks about why we're not partners. I realized that I'd made a lot of progress in getting over a lot of my issues that had been standing between us in the past and that I want to be with her, I see us getting married, I even want her to have my children. When I told her this she basically told me that she wanted the same things.

As if the distance weren't a big enough obstacle, I also, apparently, never had a proper understanding of the poly lifestyle. When she'd told me she wanted the same I had assumed this meant that she was going to break up with her partners and go back to being monogamous and that we would be together and then she could move out here with me. I didn't fully realize, or perhaps I was in denial, that poly was a serious lifestyle choice, not a phase that you shrug off when the time is right.

I still want us to be partners. I still want a lifetime with her with a family and everything. But she's made it very clear that poly comes with the package. I'm very very monogamous, but she's important enough for me to try.

I understand that her having other partners does not mean I'm a lesser priority. I understand that the idea is that it's impossible for a single person to truly fulfill all of somebody's needs, and that having multiple partners just allows someone you love to be more completely fulfilled and that this is a good thing. I believe I understand polyamory very well. I've had dozens of talks with her about it. But I'm still having seriously emotional difficulties:

-No matter how many times I tell myself to the contrary I can't stop feeling like "the 3rd boyfriend".
-I hate this feeling that from her busy schedule with her other two boyfriends that she has to find time to fit me in now too.
-I hate the idea that if not for them I could be spending 3x as much time with her.
-I feel emasculated being 1 of 3. It feels as if she's just capturing partners and I'm just the latest one to have fallen for her.
-I feel, that by consenting to be in a relationship like this, that I'm validating an internal sense of inferiority. I feel like I'm admitting to myself that I'm not good enough to justify being someone's only partner and so I have to settle for being a cog in a machine instead.
-The little time I do have with her is poisoned by my jealousies. I can't just enjoy our time, I'm compelled to continually talk about these issues even though all I'm doing is going in circles. When I can manage to not talk about these problems ad infinitum, all I've really done is restrict that negativity to my mind. In my head I still feel exactly the same. I'm consumed with jealousy. I don't know how to deal with it. This may sound strange but I've never been jealous before. Not really. I've experienced jealousy, yes. But always in passing, never this sustained constant overbearing jealousy. I have no coping mechanism for this and I don't know how to create one.

Sorry for the long post but I just feel like this is just so much to deal with, such a big change, and I feel like it's destroying me. I needed to get it all out. Can anybody help me?
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  #2  
Old 06-07-2012, 06:32 AM
Tonberry Tonberry is offline
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-No matter how many times I tell myself to the contrary I can't stop feeling like "the 3rd boyfriend".
You are, chronologically, in the same sense that you would be the 3rd child if you were born after two others. Do you believe it would make you less important?
When you think about being the 3rd boyfriend, remember it's just a description of who happened to start dating her first, and nothing else.

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-I hate this feeling that from her busy schedule with her other two boyfriends that she has to find time to fit me in now too.
People find time. If she didn't have any time, there wouldn't have been time for you guys to start something to begin with. If she didn't have time, she couldn't have seen you as a friend, either. She already made time for you before.
Just remember (and I'm saying that because of your phrasing), there is no reason to believe she creates her schedule by writing down everything she has planned with her first boyfriend, then everything with her second, and then fit you in the remainder. It's likely she creates her schedule as things come up, for instance, and not boyfriend by boyfriend, and you could have "first pick" on specific times too.
Not sure if it was an actual concern of yours, but I wanted to address it because you talked of "fitting your in".

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-I hate the idea that if not for them I could be spending 3x as much time with her.
From my experience, that's not true at all. Time spent with a new partner is rarely taken from time that was spent with previous ones before the relationship with the new partner started, but instead from hobbies or time that was previously spent alone.
As a result, if she was only dating you, she certainly wouldn't spend 3 times as much time with you, she just would be doing different things when she isn't seeing you. She might have seen you a bit more often, but certainly not by such a huge amount.
As the relationship progresses, if it does, you should be spending a chunk of time at her place, with or without her other boyfriends, and eventually move together since it seems to be something you both want. You will be spending a lot of time together then.
It's normal not to spend as much time together when you don't share a place.

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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
-I feel emasculated being 1 of 3. It feels as if she's just capturing partners and I'm just the latest one to have fallen for her.
I don't know how to address this feeling as I don't know where it comes from. I suggest you talk about it with her, she might be able to reassure you. If not, other people around here will be able to help you more.

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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
-I feel, that by consenting to be in a relationship like this, that I'm validating an internal sense of inferiority. I feel like I'm admitting to myself that I'm not good enough to justify being someone's only partner and so I have to settle for being a cog in a machine instead.
I don't know if you do have an internal sense of inferiority.
But I'm sorry you're feeling like you're settling. I love my partners and think they are amazing people, and would never want to treat them any worse than they deserve. Which is the best. Which is me
More seriously, I feel it's similar to friendship in my mind, in that I could never pick only one friend and tell all the others "sorry, I have a friend already", but that doesn't mean I don't love all of them.
I don't think you are a cog in a machine. I think you are a whole person and that she likes you as that.
This reminds me of a part of your post I found weird, about how one person can't satisfy everyone's needs. It sounds like a common thing I heard that seems to imply poly people gather boyfriends or girlfriends who have different qualities, so that together they form a perfect partner or something.
That's not how it works. Certainly not for me, at least. I'm with someone because I want to be with THEM, and what the others provide is irrelevant to that one. I never think "A is tall so I need a short partner now" or "B sucks at math, I need a scientific mind". Quite often, they have the same qualities and bring me the same things, and when they're different, they still don't "add up" to a single person. They're different individual that don't mix, different relationships.
They're not a cog each, they're a machine each, and there cogs might be the same or different, and I don't really care either way because it doesn't make much sense to compare them.
Sure, if I want to go out to the opera, I'll go with the one who likes opera. But if none of them did, I'd go with a friend. Your needs can't all be met by one person, but they don't have to, and they can't all be met by boyfriends either. You'll still have friends, family, coworkers, who each fill different roles.
A new boyfriend isn't someone who fills a gap because I needed someone who can cook to complete my super-boyfriend made of the bodies of lesser boyfriends. He's a man I am interested in, would be as interested in if I had no partner at the time, and who I want to get to know as a person.

I am sorry that you feel diminished by the presence of others, but please don't feel inferior in any ways. The fact that she needs more than one boyfriend has NOTHING to do with you "not being good enough", it's about her, the way she works, the way she loves. I understand it is hard to relate to as a monogamous person, but to explain it from the opposite point of view, the fact that you would want her to have only you doesn't mean that she can't be trusted, that she's not respectable and you can control her and decide who she gets to be involved with, etc.
All of these are ways she might feel about monogamy, but ultimately, that's not what it is, what it is is a relationship orientation and the fact that you are monogamous doesn't imply anything about her, it's just the way you are.
Similarly, not wanting to be with anyone else doesn't mean you expect us to be at your beck and call, fill your every needs, etc. It doesn't mean anything at all about what you expect from her, it just means YOU don't want someone else because YOU don't work that way.

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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
-The little time I do have with her is poisoned by my jealousies. I can't just enjoy our time, I'm compelled to continually talk about these issues even though all I'm doing is going in circles. When I can manage to not talk about these problems ad infinitum, all I've really done is restrict that negativity to my mind. In my head I still feel exactly the same. I'm consumed with jealousy. I don't know how to deal with it. This may sound strange but I've never been jealous before. Not really. I've experienced jealousy, yes. But always in passing, never this sustained constant overbearing jealousy. I have no coping mechanism for this and I don't know how to create one.
This is the worrying part, as if it keeps going the relationship might just never actually work out. I don't have specific advice right now but I suggest you do a search on "jealousy", both in text and tags, and see if you can find any advice that will help you. I'm sure others will also pitch in and hopefully help with that.

Good luck. You're already doing a lot by giving it a try, it won't be easy but it can work and I hope it will
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Old 06-07-2012, 02:52 PM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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Hi and welcome,

What were the issue you thought you had gotten over that were standing between you?

Did you move ...or has she moved to be with you?

Looking at your bullet points why do this to yourself. Why be a fraction if you don't want that. Why wait to be fit in.

Time is finite. Did the other 2 guys agree to this as long as they didn't take a cut in time and attention?

Does she live with any or all of them? Do the other 2 guys have a set schedule...... Was and is there a set schedule now ?

I'd suggest reading as much as you can here and see what this truly means.
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Old 06-07-2012, 03:11 PM
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Emm Emm is offline
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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
When she'd told me she wanted the same I had assumed this meant that she was going to break up with her partners and go back to being monogamous and that we would be together and then she could move out here with me.
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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
I believe I understand polyamory very well.
The first quote indicates to me that the second quote isn't entirely true. In any case, would you want to fall for someone who would break two hearts on a whim like that?

I think you think that her partners are less important to her than a single monogamous partner would be. You need to realise that her relationships with them aren't any less real just because there are two of them. They're not her disposable playthings; she loves them.
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Old 06-07-2012, 05:14 PM
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Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
I've known this girl for 10 years. I'll spare you the extremely long story and skip straight to the bulletpoints. We've known each other for 10 years. We are each others' best friend. We've briefly dated twice. Both times I ended it. We've always been in love with each other for basically the entire 10 years, despite not realizing it at various times.
Can I ask why you two broke up those two times, as it seems like she wasn't poly at the time. How often would you be able to see her physically now? Is the long distance something that has an end in sight?

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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
-I hate this feeling that from her busy schedule with her other two boyfriends that she has to find time to fit me in now too.
-I hate the idea that if not for them I could be spending 3x as much time with her.
Well obviously with long distance that isn't true now...and...DO you feel that she has to find time to fit you in? Or do you feel she's doing it gladly?

A more useful way to look at is is how much time do you need to spend with a partner to feel happy in a relationship? If I didn't spend at least 3 days a week one on one time with my husband, I'd feel kind of neglected and disconnected. If you want to spend 7 days a week with a partner then it seems obvious dating a poly person wouldn't work for you unless you were content to spend time hanging out with her other partners sometimes.

Friends and lovers alike, there's usually X amount of time you enjoy hanging out with them, and then after that you get stir crazy and want to have some space. For instance, if my husband wants to hang out with me more than 5 days a week I start feeling irritable and we retreat to separate parts of the house to do our own thing.

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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
-I feel, that by consenting to be in a relationship like this, that I'm validating an internal sense of inferiority. I feel like I'm admitting to myself that I'm not good enough to justify being someone's only partner and so I have to settle for being a cog in a machine instead.
Obviously if you feel like that, you feel like that. Except a poly person often doesn't necessarily have just one "one and only" and so you can't not be good enough in that dynamic, justifying a monogamous mindset just will make you run around in circles as it doesn't make any sense. If it's important to be sure to be #1, obviously poly carries more risk, as even if she agrees you'd be her husband and father to her kids, when you leave your heart open to loving others, you can't guarantee that you wont end up with just as strong feelings for somebody else.

Lots of poly people DO have a #1 in their heart, or primary partner (or feel totally in love with other partners but not that they are their "heart & home"). Have you clarified this point with her? Do you know how long her other relationships have been going, how committed she is to making it work with them, are they married or otherwise seriously involved with others? Obviously if she would like to live with more than one person and have kids with more than one person it sounds like that might be more than you are willing to take on. Certainly don't make assumptions about things that are deal breakers for you.

I'm guessing her other two partners are important to her as she took their input about how she shouldn't be doing things with you if you weren't her partner too, which indicates to me that she's not a casual relationship sort of girl? Have you met her other partners? That can help realize that you aren't all cogs in a machine, but people, probably awesome people, that all care about the same person. I know time is scarce but I'd suggest that if you go see her, meeting her partners and THEIR other partners if everybody is game could really give you a better idea if it's a group of people that you'd feel safe having in your life, cause for better or worse, if you date a poly person these other people will impact on your life, whether or not you spend any time with them.

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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
-The little time I do have with her is poisoned by my jealousies. I can't just enjoy our time, I'm compelled to continually talk about these issues even though all I'm doing is going in circles
I have no coping mechanism for this and I don't know how to create one.
Have either of you read books about poly? There are lots of good books out there. Is she trying to help you find sources to deal with your feelings or not? Obviously if she doesn't know where to find things for you to read or people to talk to that might help that's one thing but if you're struggling and she's not finding ways to support you, that's not a positive sign. I'm not assuming and hoping she isn't leaving you to figure it all out on your own, but I just thought I'd throw that in.

Do a tag search for jealousy, read the sticky page on books and whatnot, and if you haven't (I'll recommend Opening Up by Tristian Taormino), read this article NOW if you haven't http://www.xeromag.com/fvpolyrefrigerator.html. Opening Up is good because it has discussion checklists for things you may not have covered, like deal breakers, safe sex, and almost every thing else that you've talked about here.

Anyway, my long winded spiel gets down to this. In poly, it's very useful to focus on what you DO need to be happy and see if you think you can get that from a relationship. Whether it's X dates a week, agreements about safe sex that you need from a partner, agreements or understanding about how a partner handles their sexual & romantic life (are or aren't comfortable with a partner having random hookups, casual relationships, other partners who they'll go off and vacation with etc). If you need her focused on you when you're together does she refrain from phoning or answering texts from other partners, etc etc.

If you know you need certain things and she can/will provide them, then maybe you'll be glad if you try. Conversely if there are things you need that she cant give to you, well - mono or poly that's just not smart to get into a relationship with a person if that's the case.

Good luck to you!
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Old 06-08-2012, 06:22 AM
neo651 neo651 is offline
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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
-I feel, that by consenting to be in a relationship like this, that I'm validating an internal sense of inferiority. I feel like I'm admitting to myself that I'm not good enough to justify being someone's only partner and so I have to settle for being a cog in a machine instead.
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Originally Posted by Tonberry View Post
I don't know if you do have an internal sense of inferiority.
But I'm sorry you're feeling like you're settling. I love my partners and think they are amazing people, and would never want to treat them any worse than they deserve. Which is the best. Which is me
More seriously, I feel it's similar to friendship in my mind, in that I could never pick only one friend and tell all the others "sorry, I have a friend already", but that doesn't mean I don't love all of them.
I do have a sense of inferiority. It's a severe problem for me and I'm currently seeing a therapist about it (among other things).
Regarding the similarity to friendship, I couldn't help but think about how, even though we all have friends (plural), most of us have a best friend. The friend we spend the largest portion of our social time with, share the deeper secrets, the one who will be the best man/maid of honor when we get married. We love our friends, but we love our best friend the most. At least I do...


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Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
What were the issue you thought you had gotten over that were standing between you?
There were two main issues standing between us for a long time. The first of which was that it scared me how well matched we were. We both always knew we were both an exceptionally good fit for the other, so much so that I've always been afraid that once I committed to her that that would be it. She would be the one and she and I would be together forever. This fear was partially fed by the second issue. This one I'm not proud of, but it is what it is. I don't find her physically attractive. This used to be a big problem for me. But now it's not, and neither is my fear of commitment.

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Did you move ...or has she moved to be with you?
I moved away for a job a year and a half ago. At the time we were just friends.

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Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
Looking at your bullet points why do this to yourself. Why be a fraction if you don't want that. Why wait to be fit in.
I don't want to be a fraction, and I don't want to wait to fit. AllI want is to find out if I can work through these issues so that I can be with her.

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Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
Time is finite. Did the other 2 guys agree to this as long as they didn't take a cut in time and attention?
After we'd talked about how we'd like a romantic relationship with each other, when she told her partners their reaction was more or less them saying "Finally!". She and I aren't capable of hiding the nature of our relationship, apparently, and so it was plainly obvious there was more between us than friendship. In any case, neither of them had any significant objections that couldn't be handled with a simple conversation.

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Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
Does she live with any or all of them? Do the other 2 guys have a set schedule...... Was and is there a set schedule now ?
She lives with one of them. There's no rigid schedule, but there a few standing dates and such.


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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
When she'd told me she wanted the same I had assumed this meant that she was going to break up with her partners and go back to being monogamous and that we would be together and then she could move out here with me.
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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
I believe I understand polyamory very well.
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Originally Posted by Emm View Post
The first quote indicates to me that the second quote isn't entirely true.
The first quote were my thoughts 2 months ago. The second quote is how I feel today. I've been actively adjusting my perspective.


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Originally Posted by Anneintherain View Post
Can I ask why you two broke up those two times, as it seems like she wasn't poly at the time. How often would you be able to see her physically now? Is the long distance something that has an end in sight?
The first time we dated and broke up was because I was stupid 16 year old who met someone else. So I ended the relationship and started up with the new girl who dumped me inside of a month. The second time we dated and broke up was 5 years later. That story is long and complicated. The short version is that we were both in very bad places in our lives, we both made gigantic mistakes, trust was violated, emotions were scarred and the relationship crashed and burned as quickly as it started, which it never should have been. Now we're more stable people, with command of our emotions.

As far as the long distance aspect, it's unlikely I would be able to see her physically more than once a year. And no, there is no particular end in sight to that.

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Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
-I hate this feeling that from her busy schedule with her other two boyfriends that she has to find time to fit me in now too.
-I hate the idea that if not for them I could be spending 3x as much time with her.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anneintherain View Post
Well obviously with long distance that isn't true now...and...DO you feel that she has to find time to fit you in? Or do you feel she's doing it gladly?

A more useful way to look at is is how much time do you need to spend with a partner to feel happy in a relationship? If I didn't spend at least 3 days a week one on one time with my husband, I'd feel kind of neglected and disconnected. If you want to spend 7 days a week with a partner then it seems obvious dating a poly person wouldn't work for you unless you were content to spend time hanging out with her other partners sometimes.
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Originally Posted by Anneintherain View Post
I'm guessing her other two partners are important to her as she took their input about how she shouldn't be doing things with you if you weren't her partner too, which indicates to me that she's not a casual relationship sort of girl? Have you met her other partners? That can help realize that you aren't all cogs in a machine, but people, probably awesome people, that all care about the same person. I know time is scarce but I'd suggest that if you go see her, meeting her partners and THEIR other partners if everybody is game could really give you a better idea if it's a group of people that you'd feel safe having in your life, cause for better or worse, if you date a poly person these other people will impact on your life, whether or not you spend any time with them.
Yes, technically I wouldn't get 3x more time with her because of the distance. But I try to talk to her as often as I can and I can never get as much time as I'd like.

And I don't know how she feels about the act of finding time for me.

As far how much time do I need to spend with her, I don't really know. I haven't been in a serious relationship in about 7 years. But at that time I was gladly spending 5 nights per week with that girl. I've spent time with her other partners on a handful of occasions, they were experiences I very much disliked. I felt like they were intruding on time I could be spending with her one-on-one, I felt jealous whenever they got close to her and I spent most of the time suppressing petty competitive urges.

They are not casual relationships, she loves them both very deeply but I can't help feeling they are competition and obstacles in the way of my happiness. Furthermore, due to some issues in my past I have a deeply inherent distrust of men. It's something else I'm working on with my therapist but I don't anticipate it being resolved anywhere in the near future.

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Originally Posted by Anneintherain View Post
Have either of you read books about poly? There are lots of good books out there. Is she trying to help you find sources to deal with your feelings or not? Obviously if she doesn't know where to find things for you to read or people to talk to that might help that's one thing but if you're struggling and she's not finding ways to support you, that's not a positive sign. I'm not assuming and hoping she isn't leaving you to figure it all out on your own, but I just thought I'd throw that in.
I haven't read any books yet, technically. But I've been doing a lot of reading, in general, with her recommendations. She is trying to help me. We talk about this frequently and I try to be brutally honest about my feelings. She's always exceptionally supportive and understanding
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:35 AM
Tonberry Tonberry is offline
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I remember I always thought it was weird to talk about "best friend" and never understood how people could have one best friend. I have close friends but I say "one of my best friends", there isn't just one above the rest.
Up till this point, I had never considered that it could have something to do with mono/poly points of view. It's an interesting thought.
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:41 AM
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Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
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I've never had a best friend all to myself. I always shared a best friend with at least one other person. Wonder if that says anything about people's aptitude to be in an open relationship...

Are you hoping she will move to be with you? It seems less_than_helpful truthfully to be discussing that you both see getting married and building lives together with somebody who lives on the other side of the country, in the most masochistic sense I can think of. Especially since you two haven't even been in the same city for years, so there's no reason to think the reality is as amazing as the long distance angst and "what ifs" let you both think it is. Do you feel firmly monogamous, or are you open to being poly yourself?

From your responses and a personal experience with somebody who was monogamous but still wanted to be a lifelong partner of mine (while suffering from a good amount of jealousy) who is STILL uncomfortable about me being with anybody but my husband a decade later from just a platonic ex/friend standpoint... it sounds to me like polyamory or a mono-poly relationship just won't work well for you.

You feel you are the perfect match it sounds like. You might find another perfect match if you are open to it and not courting a relationship that will leave you unhappy most of the time. Unless she is willing to move to be with you and you're willing to accept that she wants to spend time with other people romantically, I don't get the impression either of you are doing anybody any favors by pursuing this. Sorry, that's just my feeling on the situation.
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Last edited by Anneintherain; 06-08-2012 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:37 PM
neo651 neo651 is offline
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Originally Posted by Anneintherain View Post
Do you feel firmly monogamous, or are you open to being poly yourself?
She's extremely frightened that this time around it will end like the last times, me ending it abruptly because I was too afraid to be with her. This is understandable. I also told her that the poly lifestyle scares the shit out of me, and that I can't guarantee that I can make this work. But I promised that if we didn't work, it wouldn't be because I ran away scared again, it would be because I tried my damnedest and found that there is just no way for me to make it work.

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You feel you are the perfect match it sounds like. You might find another perfect match if you are open to it and not courting a relationship that will leave you unhappy most of the time.
I do feel she and I are perfect match (more or less, I don't believe in actual "perfection"). And it is possible I could find another match just as good, but honestly, I don't see it happening. I have almost unreasonably high standards and more importantly (and I've never told her this because she'd slap me for how unhealthy it is) I have compared every single woman I've ever dated or been interested in to her. Inevitably, I always use her as the model to decide the worthiness of other women to me and they are always found wanting. It's a big, if not the biggest reason, why my other relationships have all failed. I've had no success in training myself to not do this. No matter how hard I try it always happens, these intrusive thoughts just creep in and I don't know how to shut them down.

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Originally Posted by Anneintherain View Post
Unless she is willing to move to be with you and you're willing to accept that she wants to spend time with other people romantically, I don't get the impression either of you are doing anybody any favors by pursuing this. Sorry, that's just my feeling on the situation.
I'm trying to view the situation as us just having several (gigantic) obstacles standing between us. But before we can decide if either of us are going to uproot our lives for the other we need to find out if the relationship is worth it. Before we can do that we need to find out if the relationship will even work. And to find that out I need to find out if I can handle being in a poly relationship. If we try and solve all the problems at once we'll be doomed before we started. If we take them one at a time we may have a chance.
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  #10  
Old 06-08-2012, 03:53 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neo651 View Post
They are not casual relationships, she loves them both very deeply but I can't help feeling they are competition and obstacles in the way of my happiness.
After reading your posts, this comment of yours is the one that keeps coming back to me. I think this is significant. No one should expect relationships to be the source of our happiness. That can only lead to disaster. Find ways to be happy within yourself, whether or not you are in a relationship. Then you bring that happiness into your relationships, rather than expecting to get it from them. Perhaps this is why you've always compared other women to her. It seems you have idealized being with her as the key to being happy and content. All I can say is that is dangerous, and probably a huge part of why you feel such jealousy. You may want to do some reading on co-dependency.
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