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  #11  
Old 07-25-2012, 10:55 AM
sparklepop sparklepop is offline
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I hate playing Devil's Advocate, because I really do see both sides of the story and genuinely do feel for you. I've been in a similar situation and my ex girlfriend didn't give a damn about any sort of fidelity, let alone honesty and guidelines.

Please don't think that I'm saying "this is all your fault".

I was just trying to offer a different perspective based on what you had written (not based on you as a person, since I do not know you).

I can really hang on to anger and hurt when a partner betrays me. But if I start to pick apart *why* they did something, it helps me to let go of the anger. I can't build anything if I'm hanging onto anger, you know?

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You're right, her needs should be equally important. So what do you do when you're struggling hard and they go ahead and meet their own needs against yours?
I understand.

Poly is so difficult sometimes, because 'needs' can be barely tangible.

If her needs relate to another person, should they be put aside?

Well... the needs aren't really related to this other person. They are related to her. Perhaps she needs more freedom as a person than the current situation allows. Perhaps she's a person that needs not to have a primary. Perhaps she's a person that needs to lie and deceive to get any enjoyment out of sex (which obviously would need to be worked on). Perhaps she needs the confidence boost of having other people sleep with her. There could be many reasons for why she needs to do it.

I could be that she doesn't need it, that she just wants it and is selfish. In which case, it's still a need... the need to be single, or not be part of 'couple' dynamics, or to think only of herself. How does that match with your needs?

Does that make sense?

I totally understand that you're not looking to just ditch out on the relationship. You want to see if there is a way that you can make it work.

What can you do? Well... two things really. Either discover that she is very selfish and you two need not to be in a relationship (not saying that's the case)... or work on ways to stop this situation happening in the future. i.e. those stress number ratings and being clear about what a deal breaker would be.

When you can't compromise... you have a dead end situation. The relationship needs to be over, or it needs to be redefined as something less 'primary'. When it comes to compromising... it really comes down to how important both partners feel their relationship is. Is it worth the compromise? If you'd asked for another month, would your relationship be worth it for your girlfriend? Or would she need sex with this other girl more than she needed your relationship?

I just read your other post and yes... sometimes a person can be patient, loving and give you all the support you need. Then they start to get resentful because they aren't getting what they need in return. So, being human, they act out because they are so tired of feeling like they are carrying the other person.

My girlfriend and I have an analogy that we try to use for this, because in the beginning of our relationship, one of us would communicate so much that the other felt completely drained and resentment started to breed. We call it petrol sucking... if one of us needs support, we are aware that we are sucking a little petrol from our partner's tank. If we need support every day, all the time, we're sucking and sucking. If we are aware of this, we know when the red light is going to start flashing. We'll even tell each other "honey, I really want to be there for you, but just to let you know, my tank is running on empty this week." That has really helped us to be more cognoscente of when we really do need to talk and when we're just offloading. Communication and nurturing is truly great... but we also have to try to deal with some of the things ourselves... then talk to our partner if we can't get past them in our head.


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I do see that she's human and has her own set of needs. For instance, she is the one who asks people out, while I wait to be approached. She is the one to make first moves, I tend to wait until someone woos me. So I could see that the pace was, in essence, asking her to protect me in ways she isn't equipped/obligated to, while at the same time asking her not to be herself on a date. And herself is to sleep with people. Fast. I know cuz that's how it was when we met, and that's how it is when we date.
I understand what you're saying, esp. regarding the butch/femme roles. I can relate to this. Ultimately, it's about that old "loving someone for who they are" thing. It used to really bother me that my GF was so quick about getting sexual with other people. Then I realised it's just who she is... she's not trying to be disrespectful to our relationship... she's trying to be herself.

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I never intended to give her such hard rules. But yeah, I freaked, and when I did, she asked what I needed to feel secure. So I was like, for now, let's try it within these bounds. I honestly thought (though she didn't believe) that it would help me with the next steps. And if she stuck to them I could trust her and start to feel safe to take them down. Was that a wrong approach?
I think that guidelines are wonderful when both people agree to them. I think a 'step by step' approach was great... yes, it does make sense to take things slowly and loosen the guidelines as you become more comfortable, so that things don't spiral out of control.

The thing with guidelines though, is that if there's *any* disagreement whatsoever, they tend to get ignored or twisted.

If this helps, when we made our guidelines at the start of our relationship, we spent hours going over them. We talked and talked and compromised until we were mutually happy with each one. Mutually happy doesn't always have to mean ecstatic. I.e. if your GF wants to have sleepovers and you want her to have 4 hour dates, only during the day time... a compromise would be a night out, or a longer date. Neither of you are ecstatic about the compromise... but it's better than one being comfortable and the other screaming inside.


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Personally, I'd rather have my bed to myself for once than sleep next to someone who's been fucking someone else just an hour before. So I'm not sure why that needs work, but am all ears if you want to elaborate.
The reason I said this is because the way it was written seemed full of anger and betrayal in the sense of her sharing her body with someone else.

What I'm saying is why does that upset you? Is it purely because she lied? Or is there a problem with her actually having sex with someone else?

Even though I believe in poly, I still have these little twinges in my head when my GF sleeps with her new guy. They are twinges of judgement (i.e. slut) and twinges of grossness, thinking about her sharing her beautiful body with some guy who doesn't love her.

I see those as my hangups to get over. I want to be able to cuddle her and hold her when she comes home, because both of us acknowledge that we really love and need that connection after being with someone else.


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I love the rating system. I'll definitely give that serious thought, it sounds like something we really needed then, and could be useful in the future.
I'm really glad you like the sound of that


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How exactly does one "confront" a "deal breaker situation" in a productive way?
Eeh... it's hard!!

Ideally... you get a feel for what kind of things would be deal breakers in the first place... by using the rating number system before events, or generally discussing what kind of things are really off the table for you.

It might be the case that you have no deal breakers. There's nothing either of you could do that would be an automatic "you're probably going to get dumped over this".

But those number 4 situations... the ones that are really, really going to make things messy are the ones to watch out for.

So like...

If I'm feeling a number 0-2 discomfort about something, I'll deal with those feelings myself and try to tell them to 'buzz off', without over-burdening my partner. And they will usually pass.

If I'm feeling a 3, I might talk to her about it, but not as soon as she's come home from a date. I want her to enjoy that buzz and not kill her happiness. Make her highs twice as high, etc. I'll talk to her the next day.

If I'm a 4, she'll usually know about it before the event. If she wants to do that thing, of course she can... but she needs to be willing to deal with the aftermath of my emotions and help me through that. The same for me, obviously.

A productive way to deal with deal breakers, or even 'number 4' levels of stress.... well... it's to keep talking and try to compromise.

Ultimately, if there cannot be a compromise, it's a dead end, because two people need entirely different things. In which case, the relationship can be left, or perhaps redefined as something less 'primary'.
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  #12  
Old 07-25-2012, 06:21 PM
monogamishSF monogamishSF is offline
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@sparklepop

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Originally Posted by sparklepop View Post
I can really hang on to anger and hurt when a partner betrays me. But if I start to pick apart *why* they did something, it helps me to let go of the anger. I can't build anything if I'm hanging onto anger, you know?
I do tend to hold grudges. It's a way of protecting myself, but it can get in the way in ways that it really doesn't help anyone. Picking apart the why was the only way I didn't just up and figuratively burn the house down on the relationship. I did iterate that I wanted her to be happy and I hated that my stuff took this person away. I still do, which is why I'm here! And the why is, according to her, that my guidelines (we'll call them now), when we went over them, seemed totally doable and reasonable. She literally said she didn't need to negotiate, that they were all fair. But she says that in practice, they were another story, and she didn't realize they would be until she was faced with them. And then she felt like she needed to behave on dates in ways that weren't natural, and she felt like I was controlling every aspect of her new relationship. Policing her desire, so to speak.

Having never had my own separate poly partner other than her, I don't have a clue what that must be like. I can imagine, but I can't relate in practice. I've had plenty of controlling relationships, where I went out with someone I knew was interested in me, as friends, and had to ignore their advances. I find it kind of exciting, because they want me but tough luck. We've talked about this, and my partner says that same experience makes her feel worthless, like she has nothing to offer. So that's a fundamental difference that really makes sense to me. Knowing we differ on something so core to us makes all of this much less scary.


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Originally Posted by sparklepop View Post
What I'm saying is why does that upset you? Is it purely because she lied? Or is there a problem with her actually having sex with someone else?
Unfortunately, it is the sleeping with other people thing that bugs me, but the lying takes the cake for the worst of the worst.

I honestly thought I would be cool with her sleeping with this particular person, but I also expected more time to prepare. I did expect to experience jealousy, and some neediness, but when I was faced with it? TOTAL FRIGGING MELTDOWN. I didn't even know myself. Well, I did know this self, but not in the context of my relationship with her. This self comes from some deep seated issues that I've had lots of therapy for, so thought I was strong enough to brush off, or handle on my own. I was not.

On top of that, to be lied to? No one likes to be made a fool of. If she was lying this early, where could the relationship possibly go? Maybe they hold equal weight. But they both sucked.

Anyway, regarding what bugs me specifically about her sleeping with someone else.

1) I can tell you from experience she did not use any sort of protection, nor did she intend to. This is an issue, especially when she is knowingly hooking up with someone that has her own other partners.

2) Is my stuff. I've seen her have sex with many partners. Any jealousy was easy compared to this. I've never had to, for example, stop a play session to discuss issues of jealousy. Any of that has been able to wait until we sat down to talk the next day, or whenever. But we were always together for those, which had its own problems, because there were so many dynamics at play. So dating separately was a logical next step for us, in an effort to explore further, and to DE-complicate our poly relationship(s). I thought/hoped. But it's like night and day: sharing my partner when I'm present is fun for me. And I was okay with her spending alone time with shared partners out of bed, too. It gave me "me" time, and let her connect in ways she might not if I were around.

But sharing her when I'm not there, in bed? Should have been fine too! I was shocked when it triggered me the way it did, even before they hooked up. Once it was clear they wanted to date separately, I began to dread their hooking up every time they were out. I could see my partner going through all the NRE that we did when we met, and it all felt terribly... well, competitive. In some really scary ways. Like, if I can't be there to see what I'm up against, how can I compare? Which I know has NO PLACE in poly, but the feelings were there and they were very loud. I am not comfortable with it because I don't want her other partners to have just any bit of her they want whenever they want it (which seemed the road we were going down). I don't want them to be able to pretend for a second that I'm not a factor and get lost in the moment (even though they should be able to). It's bratty and it's controlling and I need to let go of it, but that's where my lizard brain went. Not healthy. This is possession (right??) and I need to work it out. I thought I could sit on it and get through it on my own but that only made it grow.

Sidenote: I keep wondering how this can/should/shouldn't manifest itself in BDSM dynamics; like, is this a bad road to consider finding peace from, or a productive one? Maybe it depends on the approach. Maybe I'll open that thread today/search for others on the topic...

Last edited by monogamishSF; 07-25-2012 at 06:26 PM.
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  #13  
Old 07-25-2012, 06:57 PM
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"I've had plenty of controlling relationships, where I went out with someone I knew was interested in me, as friends, and had to ignore their advances. I find it kind of exciting, because they want me but tough luck. We've talked about this, and my partner says that same experience makes her feel worthless, like she has nothing to offer."

Wait, am I reading this correctly that if she can't respond to someone's sexual interest she feels worthless? That seems like a really troubling self-esteem issue right there.

Also, I would *strongly* encourage you not to start introducing BDSM stuff into yor relationship before you guys have fully resolved the problems you're having with healthy poly, honesty, and respect for boundaries. You want to start that sort of thing from a place of strength, stability, and total trust. Now just seems like the worst possible time...
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The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy and Nikki, Clay's partners. Liam, Eddie's husband.
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  #14  
Old 07-25-2012, 08:21 PM
monogamishSF monogamishSF is offline
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We currently have a BDSM relationship, and a few times it has helped us out, but we haven't like... employed it as a reliable coping mechanism, so we're not in hot water there yet. I am wonder whethering there are positive ways we could loop that part into our "communicating" when verbal gets us nowhere. We've dabbled in that, but I don't want to invest in it. But it has helped us in the past when we've had disagreements. It's much easier for us to respect bounds in bed than in non-bed, it seems. Like, we've never pushed the other into physical stuff or roles that the other wasn't cool with, but a little bit of whipping here and there that is enjoyable for both can lend itself to a huge release, and provide relief when we can't come to agreements. It's brought us closer before, but I don't know if it's something I'd want to rely on.

Yeah, she absolutely has self-esteem issues, we both do! And those are really at the heart of things. But I didn't feel it was my place to post on hers specifically. She has expressed that her need to feel loved by as many people as will love her is because she wasn't well loved as a child, and that's a sensitive topic. It's one of the reasons I am able to see that she needed this new person TOO, not INSTEAD, but knowing that didn't console me. We are both quite sure we need solo therapists, it's now just a matter of finding the right one.
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  #15  
Old 07-25-2012, 08:22 PM
monogamishSF monogamishSF is offline
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One of the things I find attractive about poly is that it forces you to overcome things that mono rewards you for ignoring. And I guess where we are now, that's all coming out.
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  #16  
Old 07-25-2012, 08:31 PM
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Ahh, I see! That is very different then. May I ask if you guys take on specific roles in your BDSM context (like, is one of you submissive and the other dominant, or do you go back and forth within those roles, or eschew them entirely and just play with sensation)?
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The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy and Nikki, Clay's partners. Liam, Eddie's husband.
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  #17  
Old 07-25-2012, 09:01 PM
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lovefromgirl lovefromgirl is offline
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Originally Posted by monogamishSF View Post
They had very little alone time, so my partner thought they were going slow. The fact that we spent so much time with her socially didnít strike my SO as ďseeingĒ her
Stop! It isn't. Your SO wants to have a solo relationship with this girl, right? So it's natural that the two of them would want, well, solo time. Without you. And if you say yes to a secondary, you kind of have to accept that part.

I am not quite sure where the insecurity is coming from; your SO broke your trust once, and time passed, and now you two want to go forward somehow. Yes? It sounds like you weren't ready for the dating-separately thing, but you did it because you wanted your SO to be happy. That's a problem. Don't break your own boundaries. If you say something's okay, you have to be ready for the repercussions, and your SO needs to be able to trust that you are. At the very least, research the fuck out of everything you're getting into before you get into it.

You know, next time.

Quote:
She took off her jacket, went to the bathroom to brush her teeth, and came to bed to snuggle. And then she kissed me hello. Friends, my SO has perfect skin and never wears makeup, so NEVER washes her face, except in the shower. And she had washed her face. My ears pricked. She brushed her teeth, too, and since she was making out with someone, I appreciated that courtesy.
At least she washed first! But I have to ask: how in the hell is your nose that good? My partner washes plenty and I can't say as I've ever smelled so much as a trace of my metamour's perfume or shampoo, let alone... that.

So here's a second breach of trust. Apparently you really haven't gotten past the past, which, I will repeat, means that y'all probably shouldn't have gone forward at all with the dating-separately. Doing that means relinquishing a lot of control. The way you've described your boundaries reminds me of medieval courtly love: maybe a kiss in church! Love poems! Admiration from afar! It's pretty clear to me that at least one of you is sexual, so... what were you expecting of them? Can you give me a time frame, here? The narrative doesn't really provide one.

Quote:
Also, when she came home from her first date, I smelled the same thing on her hands, and she insisted it was her own, from changing a tampon. As Iím writing this, Iím starting to re-think that excuse for the n-th time. I didn't buy it at first, but then eventually believed her that time. And have even since asked, just to be sure, but again: Iím never going to know what happened that night, and who knows what she didn't tell me from their last date.
Careful. You're veering into paranoia. Let's get back on the path of rational thinking and focus on what's in bold. You're right: you will never know. So you have a choice here. You can beat yourself up and let it poison your relationship, or you can concentrate on what you do know. (Since trusting your SO is kind of not in the picture at the moment.) You know what she has told you, and that it was enough to break your boundaries.

The only person you can change here is yourself, so ask yourself what you want to do next instead of focusing so hard on her. Is this the relationship you want? If not, why are you staying? Love isn't love when it's at the expense of who we are and feeling safe.

Your therapist is absolutely right: before you do a damn thing else with another person, get it sorted between yourselves. The thing is that your SO has a point. You've got her on a tight leash. You have your reasons, but so does she. She wants to move forward with her life. You can move with her, but you can only ask her to move so slowly. The alternative is to accept that your boundaries and her desires are incompatible and go from there.

And never take leaving off the table. You need to be ready to do what's best for you. If that's moving on, then so be it. Otherwise, you'll get tangled up in this nasty mess of "How can I make it work?" Honey, you can't. The two of you could, possibly, at some point, if you can rebuild trust after two violations in, what, a year and a half?

Maybe I'm just a fool-me-twice kind of girl (shame on me, I am GONE) but I damn sure didn't stay with anyone who wasn't right until... there he was. The one who was. The one who respected me, my boundaries, my needs, and a hell of a lot of the extras. The one whose partner was able to trust him to be with both of us, and considering she's monogamous, that is a giant leap of faith. I told myself, after a string of not respecting my own needs, that I wouldn't bother unless I had all of that in place.

I've needed it there. When I was doing myself dirty, going along to get along, I picked up a lot of scars. Bless him, he gets this, perhaps better than I do some days, and in turn I respect what he's giving me. It sounds like that's missing from your relationship. It sounds like something you need, and if it doesn't show up, what are you going to do?
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  #18  
Old 07-25-2012, 09:14 PM
monogamishSF monogamishSF is offline
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So here's a second breach of trust. Apparently you really haven't gotten past the past, which, I will repeat, means that y'all probably shouldn't have gone forward at all with the dating-separately. Doing that means relinquishing a lot of control. The way you've described your boundaries reminds me of medieval courtly love: maybe a kiss in church! Love poems! Admiration from afar! It's pretty clear to me that at least one of you is sexual, so... what were you expecting of them? Can you give me a time frame, here? The narrative doesn't really provide one.
I didn't know the timeframe, it was all too new. It was complicated by her travelling. She was in town, maybe, for like a month of us knowing her at all, and the seeing her seperately thing occured a few weeks in, so if I don't count her time away, they only had seen each other for like... two weeks? I was hoping a month or two could pass, this first time. But if I factor in the time she was away, it was one and a half months.

And the courtly love comment is cute, but the guidelines came up after I was triggered, so like I've said, I didn't intend them to be permanent, but was taken aback by stronger feelings about them having sex than I thought I would have, so asked that they not. Yet. I knew I needed to give a time frame but things kinda blew up before that came about, and any boundary I laid out was pushed and prodded anyway, it was a whirlwind.

We're both sexual, I just have an easy time remembering I have a partner when opportunity knocks. I don't expect her to just kiss forever. That's... not polyfidelity. And as stated, we've shared partners, so it's not that I expect to be the only person she has sex with.

But yeah, obviously we weren't ready. Like I said in the beginning, I thought I was strong enough for this and I totally wasn't.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:17 PM
monogamishSF monogamishSF is offline
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Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
Ahh, I see! That is very different then. May I ask if you guys take on specific roles in your BDSM context (like, is one of you submissive and the other dominant, or do you go back and forth within those roles, or eschew them entirely and just play with sensation)?

We switch.
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  #20  
Old 07-25-2012, 09:42 PM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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"But yeah, obviously we weren't ready. Like I said in the beginning, I thought I was strong enough for this and I totally wasn't."

Be fair to yourself. You thought you were strong enough for poly and, who knows, maybe you would have been if you were treated to a healthy, respectful poly relationship that moved at the pace that had been agreed to! Not being strong enough to respond well in the face of cheating and deception is not the same thing as not being strong enough for poly.
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The major players. Me, 30ish bi female. Gia, girlfriend of 4+ years. Clay, boyfriend/dom. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eddie, roommate & fwb.
The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy and Nikki, Clay's partners. Liam, Eddie's husband.
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