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Old 07-08-2012, 05:55 PM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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Default Can a monogamous secondary be satisfied?

I've been running up against a wall lately with my boyfriend C. He's my first real dating relationship within my marriage, and it's been going on a year or so. He let me know at the beginning that he is really looking for a full time partner, and we were trying to just enjoy what we have "in the present". However, I am growing more and more emotionally attached, and feeling less and less ok with the fact that he is openly shopping around for an upgrade. (He hasn't been on dates with anyone else, but he keeps looking.) Recently my husband said he was ok with "coming out" about my polyamory to our friends and family, realizing they could be a source of support to him when we hit tough patches, but C wants to keep things discreet (ok by me) for various reasons including that he doesn't want me to scare off potential girlfriends.

What drives me nuts the most in this situation is that C lives a very busy, very mobile lifestyle. He is often away from home for weeks at a time, traveling around. (All recreational stuff; he is retired.) I am lucky to see him for a few hours a couple of times a month as he passes through town. Only a couple of times this past year, with my urging, has he purposefully scheduled a whole day in my city just to be with me. Most of our times together have been at events we've both decided to attend. Yet, he said if I were single he'd "obviously" want to spend all his time with me. He's telling me that because I'm not available (married with kids) he wants to find a different girlfriend, yet he is very unavailable to me.

I've just given him a choice, or as he sees it, an ultimatum. I either want a shot at being a lasting partner, which means he stops shopping around while we experiment with how much we can give to each other, or I want to know it will never happen, and I will take a couple of emotional steps back. (Either way I've always made it clear that I have no wish to stop him from having additional relationships, since he indicates some poly-flexibility, but I am uncomfortable with his pursuing a replacement relationship.) He's not sure what to do.

We have no idea what future shape our relationship could take, if we committed to letting it grow. My husband has suggested that our marriage might be more open when the kids are grown. He had always stated that extramarital PIV intercourse would spell divorce for us, but just recently proposed that, my body being my own to do what I want with, he might just choose not to have sex with me after I was with someone else -or at least until he felt certain I hadn't contracted any STD's.

C hadn't been with anyone in the year before we met. The reason he broke up with his previous girlfriend after 2 years was because she was too available -she had nothing going on in her life besides him. I see him as a pretty independent person. I'm wondering if I could ever be enough for him, or if it's just a silly fantasy.
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Old 07-08-2012, 06:29 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Then this is not about the monogamous secondary being satisfied. He sounds satisfied enough for now with your arrangements.

It is YOU who is not satisfied.

Quote:
I've just given him a choice, or as he sees it, an ultimatum. I either want a shot at being a lasting partner, which means he stops shopping around while we experiment with how much we can give to each other, or I want to know it will never happen, and I will take a couple of emotional steps back.
So... you've already done all you can. You have owned the responsibility and stated your wants, needs and limits. Now he's got to have time to process that and get back you on that one. Where are his wants, needs, and limits. And see if there's a natural line up, a negotiated line up, or best to part ways.

I don't see where you can be doing anything different here. You are in the hang time. And he cannot be rushed in his process time. So... hang. *shrug*

GG
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Old 07-09-2012, 02:30 AM
YamZenitram YamZenitram is offline
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Yeah, I have to agree with the above poster. You've stated your needs, and that's as much as you can do. I'm curious about what happens.

(I have to admit that if you were my partner, I'd be feeling more than a little concerned about all of those eggs hanging out in one non-committal basket, and I'd encourage you to keep dating other people. But that's only in the context of my own relationship, which may or may not be completely irrelevant to your relationship.)
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Old 07-09-2012, 04:11 AM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
He let me know at the beginning that he is really looking for a full time partner, and we were trying to just enjoy what we have "in the present". However, I am growing more and more emotionally attached, and feeling less and less ok with the fact that he is openly shopping around for an upgrade. (He hasn't been on dates with anyone else, but he keeps looking.)
An upgrade. Ouch. From both points of view, his and yours. I am what would be called on this forum a monogamous secondary. I understand C's position perfectly. He wants a full-time partner. You can't be that. My boyfriend (married, poly) to his credit, understands that he cannot be a full relationship to me, he can't be a husband to me, help me with the house, bills, kids, full-time emotional support, retirement, someone to take home to family, someone to grow old with. He can't be there holding me in bed every night. We had this discussion tonight and it comes down to this: for him, the attached poly partner, it's pretty much ideal. He's always going home to someone, so to speak. Her or me. He's got all of the above (a wife, someone to help with the house and bills, full time emotional support, etc.) I have almost none of it. After our dates, he goes home to bed with her; I go home to bed alone.

For me, I enjoy what I have. I like him. A lot. But he simply cannot be those things to me and he knows it would be wrong to ask me to close off my options to have what almost everyone in this world wants. Because he cares for me, he wants me to have those things.

In his ideal world, he wants to continue his life exactly as it is now, with a wife and me. I think he realizes that I'm really sort of getting the short end of the stick in this vision of us going on forever like this.

He also knows that the chances of me stumbling on a man who wants to continue dating me while I'm seeing another man are slim. Never mind a man who's agreeable to marrying me and continuing this arrangement.

He himself is telling me never to let him stand in my way of finding someone who can be all those things to me.

To say that I'm searching for an 'upgrade' is hurtful to him/you and me/C both. To say 'upgrade' is to suggest that the mono secondary regards the married poly as an old junker and looking for a Porsche. That would be rather cold-hearted. I, personally, think my BF is wonderful, and if he were single, I think I'd easily come to love him. But he isn't single. It's not looking for someone 'better' than him, but someone who is truly, fully available to me.


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Yet, he said if I were single he'd "obviously" want to spend all his time with me. He's telling me that because I'm not available (married with kids) he wants to find a different girlfriend, yet he is very unavailable to me.
As gently as possible...it seems to me that he told you upfront he wants a full-time partner, which you can never be. You're asking him to invest in something that can never lead to the relationship he wants. Because you have a husband, you are not available to him in the way he wants, either.


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I've just given him a choice, or as he sees it, an ultimatum. I either want a shot at being a lasting partner, which means he stops shopping around while we experiment with how much we can give to each other, or I want to know it will never happen, and I will take a couple of emotional steps back. (Either way I've always made it clear that I have no wish to stop him from having additional relationships, since he indicates some poly-flexibility, but I am uncomfortable with his pursuing a replacement relationship.) He's not sure what to do.
Again, speaking from my experience in C's shoes: I long ago realized that to have additional relationships requires looking in the poly community, because nobody else is going to date and marry me while I have a boyfriend. Looking for someone within the poly community drastically reduces options, in addition to requiring me to make a complete change of lifestyle to the poly world. I'm very far from sure I want to do that. C may have indicated some poly-flexibility, but maybe he's not sure he really wants to make that shift to living a poly lifestyle, in addition to realizing it severely limits his options.

Quote:
He had always stated that extramarital PIV intercourse would spell divorce for us, but just recently proposed that, my body being my own to do what I want with, he might just choose not to have sex with me after I was with someone else -or at least until he felt certain I hadn't contracted any STD's.

I'm wondering if I could ever be enough for him, or if it's just a silly fantasy.
Again...I'm afraid I'm missing something here. But C currently has a relationship with a married woman who can never really be with him, can never own a home with him, can never do most of the things couples do, apparently cannot even have sex with him as of now. And he wants those things. So no, unless you're going to get divorced and be a full-time partner as he's said he wants, you can't be enough for him.

I know that this is a painful position for you to be in, when you care about someone. I know it's becoming steadily more painful for my boyfriend, knowing this most likely can't last between us. But I give him a great deal of credit for understanding that for it to last, he gets to have everything while I get to sacrifice all the things couples normally have and do together. I give him credit that he cares enough about me not to ask or demand that of me.

Last edited by WhatHappened; 07-09-2012 at 04:13 AM.
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Old 07-09-2012, 05:34 AM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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Thanks, everyone. He's camping this week, which gives us each time to think about things before we discuss them again.

WhatHappened, I especially appreciate your perspective, being so similar to C's experience. I think in the beginning I was able to see things clearly this way: I could never be enough, so eventually this will have to stop. But a month or so ago he mentioned that his ideal would actually be a poly arrangement, after all. (Even though the likelihood, as you said, is very slim.) He wouldn't want to give me up if his partner didn't require it. In fact just yesterday or so he wrote that he wished he already had a partner, so he could ask her about opening their relationship. And then my husband seems to have recently expanded his comfort zone a bit, and I started wondering, "Do we want to grow this relationship, and see where it takes us?"

I suppose "upgrade" is harsh.

It seems in your case, WH, being a monogamous secondary is definitely not satisfying. I wonder about C though. I know he has this mental image of a "full time partner" but the fact is, his life is way too busy to accommodate anyone full time (he has two homes 7 hours apart and goes back and forth a couple of times most months, as well as traveling further afield), unless that person had so little life of her own that she was able to just tag along. He didn't like that about his last girlfriend, though, that she didn't have enough life of her own. He barely manages to squeeze in any time for me -he keeps saying he hasn't managed to adjust his habits yet to reflect his priorities, and that he really does want to spend more time with me. He just can't fit me in between camping in the desert with his guys friends, traveling in Europe with his sisters, a kayak trip with a couple of friends, a river cabin trip with a few other friends, a 2 day visit to a friend with breast cancer, a weekend juggling festival, a couple of band rehearsals and performances, a weekend trip for a friend's birthday party... this is only a part of the past two months. I can't see how he could handle a full time partner without changing his lifestyle drastically.

He has no kids to care for, and needs no help with bills, and I feel I've been a fairly consistent emotional support -we email or chat online almost every evening about the events of our day, and often throughout the day. We don't have sex (yet?) but what we do in bed he says has surpassed anything he has ever experienced with anyone else. (It's pretty awesome.) I think if I were to be able to have sex with him, and eventually go along on a trip now and then, that's about all the "partner" he could handle anyway. He says I have a point. He's definitely thinking about it. Yesterday he wrote, "I sometimes wonder if I could go on in life without you," and I got all choked up.

I just don't want to feel disposable.
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Old 07-09-2012, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
Yesterday he wrote, "I sometimes wonder if I could go on in life without you," and I got all choked up.
Take comfort in that. He does care for you, obviously.
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Old 07-09-2012, 05:57 PM
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SNeacail SNeacail is offline
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Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
I suppose "upgrade" is harsh.
I don't agree, if the plan is to cut all contact with you once he does find a full time partner. If the plan is to scale back to a close platonic friendship if the new full time partner can't/won't do poly, that's different.
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
I just don't want to feel disposable.
Speaking from experience in his shoes, I'm sure he's probably the one feeling disposable. God knows I've felt it many times.

You are the one committed to another.
You are the one who can't offer him more than a secondary deal.
You have someone to cuddle into every night, he doesn't.
You won't be alone when this ends. He will.

I'm sure his guard is up, respecting his role as a secondary figure in your life.

It doesn't mean he doesn't love you; I'm sure he loves you very much or he wouldn't continue down this path. But cut him some slack...he needs to protect his own heart, too.
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:15 PM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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WhatHappened, I especially appreciate your perspective, being so similar to C's experience.
I'm so glad. I hoped I didn't come across as critical because I definitely don't mean to be.

Quote:
I think in the beginning I was able to see things clearly this way: I could never be enough, so eventually this will have to stop. But a month or so ago he mentioned that his ideal would actually be a poly arrangement, after all. (Even though the likelihood, as you said, is very slim.) He wouldn't want to give me up if his partner didn't require it.
This is sort of how I feel. I really am not sure I want to step into this world of polyamory more than I already am. I didn't go out looking for it. But at this point, I'm in deep enough that I would be happy if a situation arose in which I could have the full package deal with someone and yet not lose my BF. ...but I realize the chances of that happening are very slim for several reasons.


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In fact just yesterday or so he wrote that he wished he already had a partner, so he could ask her about opening their relationship. And then my husband seems to have recently expanded his comfort zone a bit, and I started wondering, "Do we want to grow this relationship, and see where it takes us?"
It may be that bit by bit, things will change so that it becomes possible, which would be wonderful. There are mono secondaries here who seem completely happy--but it takes a lot of factors working together just right.

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It seems in your case, WH, being a monogamous secondary is definitely not satisfying.
Funny thing is, I wouldn't say I'm dissatisfied. For many reasons, this situation suits me very well. I have a very full life and busy schedule with two jobs and children and activities and friends. I'm less than a year out of a divorce from someone who lied and cheated and was emotionally abusive--I'm in no rush to date or have a boyfriend and don't think it's wise so close to all these events. I don't think my kids need a new man moving into their lives this quickly on the heels of their father moving out--besides which xh would accuse me of cheating before the divorce, which is absolutely 100% not true (I had no clue until 3 months after it was final that BF felt this way about me), but my kids would be thrown into doubt. I'm content having a great deal of time to myself to work through things emotional and financial.

I have all of that.

And yet, I have a dear friend, too, a boyfriend if you will, who builds me up, admires me, encourages me, takes me out, respects me, etc.


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I wonder about C though. I know he has this mental image of a "full time partner" but the fact is, his life is way too busy to accommodate anyone full time ...he keeps saying he hasn't managed to adjust his habits yet to reflect his priorities, and that he really does want to spend more time with me. He just can't fit me in between camping in the desert with his guys friends...
It sounds like things may gradually change, both in the situation and in his own mind and willingness to move into a poly lifestyle. But in the meantime, again from my experience, I can tell you why I would behave much the same way with BF. I don't do it to that extreme, but I'm more prone to waiting for him to call, and not rushing to call back immediately. I make sure I keep my own life and my own friends. I make plans with my own friends.

I do it because, no matter how much the situation suits me now, I am well aware that in two years or five, it may not suit me at all. I expect there will come a time when I will want a full-time partner. I fear coming to a point where I'm deeply in love with BF and it is painful, rather than peaceful, to be going to bed alone every night while he is with someone else. It seems foolish to invest a lot of time and energy building a bridge to nowhere...or worse yet, building a bridge to a place where he and I are even more emotionally invested and will both be hurt even worse when it ends.

I do it to maintain balance. BF would agree, and in fact was the first to say to me: the problem is rarely between him and a 'vanilla' girlfriend (which I very much am), but between a married and single person because there is such an inherent imbalance, because one person's time is full with two or more partners and all the resources and emotional support they bring; while the other person is left half the time at least to live life on their own, to find emotional support elsewhere.

As one example of this--BF is almost always with either her or me. He always has someone there and available to talk to if he's had a rough day. When I've had a rough day, I rarely call him because I don't want to interrupt his dinner or date or home life with his wife.

For this reason, I pull back from investing too heavily in him or relying on him too heavily, both things that would build our relationship.

Quote:
He has no kids to care for, and needs no help with bills, and I feel I've been a fairly consistent emotional support -we email or chat online almost every evening about the events of our day, and often throughout the day. We don't have sex (yet?) but what we do in bed he says has surpassed anything he has ever experienced with anyone else. (It's pretty awesome.) I think if I were to be able to have sex with him, and eventually go along on a trip now and then, that's about all the "partner" he could handle anyway. He says I have a point. He's definitely thinking about it. Yesterday he wrote, "I sometimes wonder if I could go on in life without you," and I got all choked up.
That's very touching. :-) I, too, talk to BF almost every day, although usually only once a day at this point. Maybe things will gradually change. Maybe the thing to do is be patient and see how it's able to evolve for both of you. (It's sort of what I've been doing.)

Quote:
I just don't want to feel disposable.
I would guess that he doesn't see you as disposable at all, although I can see how you would feel that way. Again, offering what insight I can from my own experience, I feel much like (I think) C does; I feel I need to go find a full-time partner, quick, now, before I fall in love completely with BF and find myself miserable because I can't be with him, etc. Yet I also worry about BF. He's very heavily invested emotionally. I worry about hurting him, and yet I feel we've worked ourselves into a corner in some ways where someone is going to get hurt. I just feel stuck in a situation I didn't ask to be part of (although obviously I've gone along and said yes every step of the way he's invited--because I like him and enjoy his company so much).

I very much don't want BF to ever feel disposable. It's not how I regard him. And yet I just feel at this stage that the situation is so inherently flawed, it can't possibly last forever as it currently is, and someone is going to go through a great deal of pain when it ends, quite possibly both of us. I kind of feel like I'm flailing and scrambling to get out of a net that's slowly tightening, and yet it's a net I don't really want to get out of. I don't want to hurt him, I don't want to be hurt myself. I just feel that as pleasant and wonderful as it is right now, I don't really see how it can end on a happy note for both of us.
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Old 07-10-2012, 01:43 AM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is online now
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My boyfriend is monogamous to me and we live together with my husband and kids. I generally sleep in the room with my husband, and have mornings with my boyfriend. It's clearly a secondary relationship-although my feelings are primary for both of them.
He's very happy and very satisfied. He is free to have other lovers and even a girlfriend who could be live-in if it went that way. But, he's satisfied and says he simply doesn't have time to pursue another relationship.
So, to answer your question, yes it can be fully satisfying. It simply depends upon what exactly is available and what exactly is wanted-whether or not they match.
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