Lost my primary and secondary wants deeper relationship
Hi everyone. I'm new here, and have read some of the posts. I'm seeking advice on a situation that is tough for me emotionally. I'm sort of burnt out on it, so I'll try to be brief (not that it will work!), but can fill in more details if needed / wanted.
I'm in my mid-30s, and had been in a open / poly relationship with my primary partner, Ted* (currently my husband) since fall of 2010. At the time, we were not yet married, but had been together about 5 years, during which time we'd been monogamous. I had identified as polyamorous prior to getting into a relationship with him, but agreed to try to suppress my poly tendencies because I was so in love with him. I felt that if I had an emotional outlet for the times I was struggling with monogamy, that would be enough, and he agreed to talk with me about it and support me when I was having problems.
We went through a lot in the 5 years of monogamy, including years of infertility, 3 failed IVF attempts, and the somewhat sudden death of my father. In light of these things, when I most recently brought up my polyamorous feelings (for an old partner/friend named Leo), Ted suggested we try to open the relationship for my benefit. I was surprised and happy that he would do that for me, and began seeing Leo. I also developed a secondary relationship with Quentin (who is now just a friend) and things seemed to be going pretty well for me. I felt secure in my relationship with Ted and was seeing benefits of dating Leo and Quentin. Initially, Ted seemed to have some issues with jealousy, but he seemed to conquer those, and I felt that things were going well. But he was struggling more than he let on, and was also struggling with my success and his relative lack of success.
About 9 months into our open relationship, he met a woman, Barbara, and they fell in love. Their relationship was much more serious in nature from the beginning, and though Barbara expressed some interest in becoming a triad with me and Ted (which I wasn't sure I was interested in), she soon told him that she didn't want me to be part of it at all, and was insisting that he leave me. Ted tried to reason with her, and then with me, as I had become upset at Barbara's outright disrespect of my relationship with Ted. I felt that Ted should end the relationship with Barbara, but didn't tell him explicitly that he should because I knew how important it was to him, and how hard it had been for him to find someone compatible with him that he could love.
Over the course of about a year, Barbara and Ted's relationship went downhill. She kept insisting that he leave me for her, and eventually I became okay with it as I understood that she wasn't really a threat because he wasn't going to see things from her perspective in that way. This was especially the case after Ted and I finally got married in November of last year. Ted tried to keep their relationship less serious; he wanted to be with Barbara, but didn't want to become her primary.
By earlier this spring, I no longer had a romantic relationship with Quentin, who had moved out of town. Leo and I had always had a long-distance relationship and due to his schedule, our get-togethers were really sporadic, maybe one weekend every few months. I became interested in Barbara's ex (though still somewhat current secondary partner), Craig. Barbara confirmed he was interested in me, too, and she was happy to help set that up because she'd had little interest in Craig herself (and I am sure in her mind, she thought it would get me out of the way of her and Ted's relationship). Craig and I went out on a date in April, and had a surprisingly good time. We soon realized that we were falling for each other, though I was cautious about calling it the "L" word prematurely.
Soon after this, Ted sort of lost it. He felt really betrayed by both me and Barbara, for reasons I still don't fully comprehend. He and Barbara soon broke up, though he was continuing to spend time at her place as it suited him. He withdrew from me emotionally and physically, telling me that for the first time he hated me as well as loved me. I was crushed; apparently he had felt hurt for months by my negative reactions to his relationship with Barbara, though my friends assured me they were understandable given the character of their relationship.
Though I continued to date Craig, our relationship was strained over the next few months by the drama of my relationship with Ted. Ted was verbally abusive towards me, and relentlessly accusatory. I tried to put up with it because I knew he was hurting, and was hoping it would be a temporary thing as he processed some realizations about himself vs. other people that he'd gained over the course of his relationship with Barbara.
Eventually, Ted told me he'd lost faith in me, and in the future we'd planned together. I'd been in therapy for months, working on personal issues that became apparent from my reactions to his relationship with Barbara. I had some dysfunctional patterns from my upbringing that I had been making progress with in therapy. Ted refused to acknowledge that I had made any progress, and said that he had doubts that I would ever achieve my goals for the future (one of which is a major shared project / dream for the future).
About a month and a half ago, Ted hooked up with a woman named Deirdre. His intent was to have a fling, to get away from the drama of his relationships with me and Barbara. The relationship with Deirdre quickly turned serious, however. I had initially been supportive, but soon felt fearful because Deirdre was again openly disrespectful of my relationship with Ted, and advised him to end it. Earlier this month, I took Craig on a camping trip to an event that Ted and I and friends have attended on and off for years. Ted brought Deirdre to the same event. When he returned with Deirdre, Craig and I were already at my (and Ted's) house. Ted told me that the camping trip with Deirdre had "cemented" their relationship, and that his relationship with me was over, and he wanted a divorce. I was devastated and angry and emotional. After some angry conversation in the backyard, I told Ted to take Deirdre and leave my house.
He came back that week to pack up most of his things. I tried to talk with him and learned some troubling things about his relationship with Deirdre, including how possessive she is of him. He's accepting it, though, and is moving forward with her. He and she are moving into an apartment together. For reasons of location, it means I will continue to see them in the future (though not immediately) due to the plans he and I had for the future, which I plan on continuing on my own.
I am still dating Craig, and I love him, but it is really challenging for me to be with him as I am mourning the loss of my 6+ year relationship with Ted. Craig has expressed that he wants to become my primary, but I feel that we are incompatible in some important ways that affect our lifestyles. I feel that he should try to find someone more compatible, but he insists that he loves me and wants to be with me, and is willing to change in whatever way needed to do that. I doubt that he can change enough and fast enough to avoid major conflicts, and we are already having minor conflicts with him being around as much as he has been the past month.
I don't want to lose Craig as a partner, but I am not sure if we should (ever?) be primaries. I'm not sure how much of my doubt concerning him is rational, and how much is affected by my emotions. In the interim, I feel like I am being a bad partner (critical, irritable, depressed, pessimistic, etc.), which I feel is unfair to him. On the other hand, I need support right now, and he's willing to provide that. He's even said he doesn't mind my negativity and that he is "thick-skinned."
What are your thoughts about what I should do in this situation? I feel conflicting impulses, and I don't like being inconsistent with Craig. I'm also having a hard time dealing with the loss of Ted in my life. I'm dreaming about him, and missing him, and hating myself for missing him after the way he treated me, especially near the end of our relationship. Every time I need to be in contact with him about the divorce or tying up loose ends, it's hurting me all over again.
Thanks for reading and for your advice.
* names changed
|breakups, drama, primary partners, secondary partners|