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Old 10-24-2012, 07:02 AM
Lydia1 Lydia1 is offline
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Default Need advice, husband is in love with my best friend

Hello all,

I could really use advice. I'm very sad and I feel very alone, and since I'm new to this and I don't want to come out of the closet I don't really know who to turn to.

Here's the backstory. The names are all changed of course. I apologize that it's so long, but so much has happened.

My husband John and I have been monogamous and together for the better part of a decade now. We have friends, Sarah and Mike, who are also married but have been polyamorous from the start. They have two lovely children, and have been together for more than a decade. Sarah was a lesbian for over a decade until she fell in love with Mike, and now she self-identifies as bisexual. Mike and Sarah have had three female polyamorous partners in the past, but never a male partner. Sarah is my best friend, and my husband John and Sarah have always flirted, though we have a very flirtatious circle of friends. I've never minded the flirtation. The four of us were very good friends, and shared several hobbies and interests.

About nine months ago we all attended an adult themed convention together. Inspired by a joke that I actually made, Sarah and I made out topless on a hotel room bed in front of our husbands for fun. I'm completely straight but I love Sarah very much as a person; she says she's attracted to me but knows we're just friends. Then our husbands joined us on the bed and the four of us had fun making out a bit with the ladies in the middle and our husbands on the outside. That was the beginning, though none of us knew it at the time.

Afterwards we talked more about what happened and what we were comfortable with happening in the future. John and I approached this as a fun thing that we as a couple could do with our friends as a couple, sort of like have another couple as friends-with-benefits. And I thought this would be nice for Sarah because she had never even kissed another man other than Mike, and she and John are attracted to each other. Also, John has expressed a desire in the past to do a threesome with another man and woman. He would have preferred for me to be involved, but I'm not into threesomes myself. I like to concentrate on one person at a time.

So, naively I suppose, I thought all of this was a perfect opportunity to meet all those needs without much complexity - especially since Mike and Sarah already had experience with extra partners. The four of us talked about it, and I made it clear that, to me, John kissing another woman isn't in and of itself that big of a deal as long as I agree to it, and as long as I am the love of his life. I likened it to a female friend of ours who acts in a community theater group - her husband never gets upset if she kisses another actor on stage because it's only a physical act. Emotional content, and trust, make all the difference in the world.

I made it clear that I didn't know for sure what I'd be okay with because this was all incredibly new to me, but that I'd be as open and honest about my feelings as possible and share any hesitations or issues as they came up. And the four of us agreed that if any one of us felt uncomfortable, we would all take a step back and re-evaluate. The best laid plans...

Though I'm writing on a polyamory board, I myself am completely monogamous by nature, and between the four of us that had been known from the start. I've had friends-with-benefits in the past, and even those relationships were monogamous. When one told me he thought he was falling in love with someone else, I was extremely happy for him, and we had great good-bye sex and then became simply friends so he could pursue someone else. So I wouldn't say that jealousy is a thing for me. I'm very self confident and I don't tend to feel envious of attention given to others in general. However, I absolutely do expect a level of exclusivity from a romantic relationship. If someone can't give me that exclusivity, they just can't be in a romantic relationship with me.

I don't think monogamy is the only right way to live your life, and since I thought polyamory had worked for Mike and Sarah (more on that later) and they seemed happy I had no reason to think it was any more prone to drama. Hell, half of monogamous relationships end in divorce. As far as I was concerned, John and I were still monogamous - we were just having physical fun together with others. But I'm posting this on a polyamory board because the last thing I need is advice from people who say the problem in all of this was the poly aspects.

As it turns out, Mike and Sarah didn't have all their ducks in a row. Most of that had to do with Mike's abandonment issues from his childhood (and he was in fact abandoned). Also, Mike and Sarah had a Dom-Sub thing they did for years when having sex, and when Sarah no longer wanted to do that anymore, Mike didn't know how to handle that. He viewed himself as the Goblin King from Labyrinth - "love me, fear me, and I will be your slave." If Sarah wasn't his sub anymore, he didn't know who he was anymore. It was devastating to him. They had had fights for years about various things, but focused on raising the children and getting by day-by-day, instead of really digging down and solving the roots of their problems as they came up (as so many of us do). Mike was afraid of conflict - because in his experience it lead to abandonment. And Sarah was afraid of conflict - because in her family it lead to divorce. So as John and Sarah got closer, it was like a match in a tinder box for all of Mike and Sarah's other issues.

Within a month of things starting, Mike started showing signs of anxiety. When the four of us were talking together, he'd become quiet and sulkily walk away, and later accuse Sarah of wanting to be with John more than she wanted to be with him, even though she wanted us all to be together. Passive aggressive things, like watching them smiling at each other in front of him and then accusing them of stealing glances when they thought he wasn't looking. Ridiculous stuff like that. She'd ask him if he wanted to end things with us and just be regular friends again, and time and again he'd say no - because above all things Mike hated to view himself as a hypocrite who got to have sex and emotional relationships with three other women but couldn't handle his wife merely flirting with, talking to, and sometimes kissing another man. He insisted that the relationships go on, and even initiated things - like us being on the bed with them as he and Sarah had sex, but afterwards he said he was just trying to push himself into situations he was uncomfortable with because he was trying to get over his growing anxiety.

As all this happened, Mike and John became closer as friends, believe it or not. John has difficulty developing closeness with people other than his significant others - probably because his family of origin was never particularly close. The bond that grew between them was so incredibly important to John. He loved Mike - really loved him - and that's important.

And I love Sarah. Her friendship is so important to me. I also have difficulty getting close to others, after a lifetime of moving from place to place and being a oddball to begin with. And I saw Mike as like a brother to me, who I literally held while he was drunk and crying and talked him through tough times.

From my perspective, I was okay with all physical things in the beginning. During the first night of making out I had to go to sleep at some point on the couch because I had work the next morning, and actually handed the others a towel from the bathroom in case sex was to be had. We were friends, I was involved and always in-the-know, and I was the only one John was in love with. That all made it okay.

Then one night about four months in, that changed.

We were staying over Mike and Sarah's place after a party, and at some point in the evening John told Sarah that he was in love with her, and Sarah said she was in love with him as well. Later that night in bed, John told me about the conversation. My first reaction as he told me what he said to her was fear that she wouldn't return his affections and would break his heart, because that is a heart I am very protective of. That was followed by relief when he said she loved him back. But it hurt me deeply that he didn't tell me he was in love with her before he told her. My perspective is - it isn't wrong to feel whatever you feel. You can't control who you love. What you can control are your actions.

Even then, though I was hurt that I wasn't told first and felt that was a break of trust between us, I still wasn't against the idea of sex between John and Sarah being possible (to this point it has never happened). Though it became quickly clear that with Mike's rising emotional breakdown, it wasn't exactly an option. Mike continued with the passive aggressive tactics, and continued to say no when Sarah asked if she should end things.

I felt frustrated on my friend Sarah's behalf - because I thought a hypocrite and a coward was exactly what Mike was being, by refusing to say she should end things but then punishing her whenever she showed a sign of happiness that didn't come from Mike.

...

Last edited by redpepper; 10-26-2012 at 02:18 PM.
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  #2  
Old 10-24-2012, 03:32 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Inside any polyship there are mini relationships inside that require TLC. It's the polymath thing.

So you see there is a problem on the "Sarah and Mike tier" of this... emerging baby polyship trying to take flight (?). (Sorry... I am not clear on what it is. That is part of all this problem!)

Does JOHN see that there is a problem on that "Sarah and Mike" tier? If so, and you both claim to love these people (as friends/lovers/romantic partners)... could you give them the space/time needed to sort themselves out? Could you guys step up to say something like...

"Look -- we see a problem in this tier. Until that is resolved and you guys are solid in your own relationship tier of "Sarah and Mike" -- this polyship cannot fly straight. Mike is unwilling to state his wants/needs for things to stop. But clearly Mike is unhappy. So let's stop. Give space/time required so things can fly right. And if it isn't meant to be, it isn't me]ant to be. But let's not throw Mike under the bus. It is not kind. Mike -- what kind of support/help do you need right now? How can we be good friends to you and support you in appropriate ways?"
I don't think all your players agreed to the same kind of open relationship model. Are you all on the same page for what it is you have here?

It's like everyone went in assuming it was whatever it was (in the mind of the person thinking it). But Mike seems to want it to be like swinging -- play partners and friends. The rest sound like they want polyamory? But maybe you seem to want a primary-secondary model?

I'm not sure what John and Sarah want. Does John want a co-primary model?

Maybe you could talk in quad and sort that out? What IS this 'ship you are trying to fly here? What are everyone's wants, needs, and limits? How often are you going to check in to make sure everyone's needs are being met?

Don't all players deserve to feel safe in polyship? Mentally safe, emotionally safe, physically safe, spiritually safe? If so, how can THIS polyship make it so?

HTh!
Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 10-24-2012 at 03:35 PM.
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  #3  
Old 10-24-2012, 07:05 PM
Lydia1 Lydia1 is offline
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I'm afraid that when I posted the thread there was a 1000 character maximum limit. I tried to then post the rest as a comment, but the moderators had to approve the thread first before it was viewable. Sorry about that. Here's the rest of the story:
__________________________________________________ _____

And I felt frustrated for my husband John, because spending time with Sarah really should not have been such a forbidden thing. We were all friends to begin with, and it wasn't like they were having an affair. Mike was just being unreasonable and selfish. So, thinking that I was helping, I arranged for Sarah, John and me to get dinner together once a week after Sarah and I went to an exercise class together. John was working evenings at the time and met us during his dinner break. Then once he rotated to working the day shift again, dinner was at our place instead of in a pizza place near John's work. Instead of spending an hour together, we'd spend six hours together. Instead of just getting to be together, Sean and Sarah wanted to be able to kiss each other and be alone. Even in that, I helped them. I'd go to the gym or take a shower for an hour to give them some them-time. My rule of thumb was that when it came to limits the answer should be yes from me unless I strongly felt it should be no.

But I have to say, it's an awkward place to be in when you're in the way. It's nobody's fault, but I found myself sitting in my own living room with my husband and my best friend, knowing that all they wanted at some point was for me to not be there. That's not to say they didn't enjoy my company. But their need to be alone together meant that I was in the way.

Then, the second break of trust happened. John and Sarah started sexting each other and didn't tell me about it until some time had passed. It happened three times before John told me about it. Thank god that's how I found out, or else we'd probably be getting divorced right now. But it was still devastating. Up until that point, nothing had happened between them that I didn't know about and say I was okay with first.

And then over time, as I told John what I was or wasn't okay with during conversations, we would end up having fights. For instance, I did not want John to start kissing Sarah hello and good-bye on the lips. That's our greeting. He could make out with her during an evening, but greetings had to be hugs and kisses on the cheeks like all our other friends - in part because I am his only partner, and in part because I don't want them to slip up and do it in front of others and for it to become common knowledge. That led to a huge fight that boiled down to John wanting me to explain why I needed there to be any kind of exclusivity. He wanted to know the sources, or origins, of my monogamous nature - so that (in my mind) he could dispute them and then call my needs invalid.

I don't think there are reasons for our nature, though I'm sure the society we grow up in and genetics or personality types have some influence. Some people are polyamorous, some people are monogamous, some are gay, straight, bi, or whatever. Your needs are what they are, and no one should be allowed to take your voice from you. I need a level of exclusivity, and if he needs to not be exclusive, then divorce is the way forward - but you can't brow beat me into giving up my needs. I know I deserve a partner who will meet my needs.

That was the third major breech of trust. Suddenly me saying what my needs and limits were wasn't good enough, and all the assurances of the past that if I felt uncomfortable with something it simply wouldn't happen seemed like mere lip service. And the worst part is, the fight didn't just happen once. It happened over and over again, with me sobbing and him still insisting. And every time it happened, it made me feel like I was less able to say yes to things, because John would then expect the answer to always be yes, and would then flip out if the answer were ever no. At this point, I'm no longer okay with the idea of John and Sarah having sex, because I feel like we already have so very little left that is only ours. Though to give them some kind of relief, I've said I'm okay with them sexting.

About a month ago, Mike finally asked Sarah to end things. So she sort of did while still staying in constant contact with John, and then after a week told Mike - sorry, I'm not okay with ending it. They're in therapy and having trouble finding a therapist that doesn't think polyamory is their number one problem. Mike now absolutely hates John and told John their friendship is over. John was incredibly devastated by that.

John and I are fighting every couple of days. It's exhausting. Finally I got him to stop questioning my need for exclusivity - or at least to stop pursuing the same fight. We went to a therapist for the first time last week, and all she said was "So how do you feel about that." So I'm not really sure how useful that was. Maybe future sessions will be more productive now that she knows the gist of our story.

And here I am, feeling very alone. I can't exactly talk to my best friend Sarah about everything, because she's got a vested interest in continuing to pursue John, and is dealing with her own crumbling marriage while trying to raise two kids. And I feel like John and Sarah are so important to each other that it would hurt both of them incredibly if I asked them to just be friends. I'm not even sure if John could stand the exposure as friends after that kind of loss, so that means I would lose my best friend, as well as break my husband's heart, if I ever asked them to end things. So I feel like that's not even an option, even though I never agreed to a polyamorous relationship. And to some degree I'm okay with them being in love and getting to spend time together - I just need there to not be so much constant fighting and breaking of trust. I need the limits I say I need to simply be respected and adhered to, or for our marriage to end - as devastating as that would be. And I really don't want the world to know that we're anything but monogamous, which means John and Sarah can't exactly go on a date in public. That adds a level of logistical complexity to things.

John, my own partner, is the one who has hurt me the most in all of this. Mike has been selfish and manipulative, but I can't be surprised when the weak and wounded lash out at others. Sarah has made some choices that I would not have made, but I can't really blame her for that. She's trying to find her way to happiness like anyone else. But John, the love of my life, has hurt me and has broken my trust in him, and that is incredibly sad to me.

And to top it all off, because we really needed more stress, John doesn't want to have a child. That is not to say he's completely said no yet (which means I can't even start the mourning process), but he thinks one should really, really want it to become a parent. And I get that - it's a huge life-long commitment. But when we first got together he told me he could see himself having a child with me. And now I'm in my mid 30's, watching the future I thought we'd have disappear before my eyes.

I'm sobbing every single day. I feel hopeless and lost. I'm astounded and saddened that the solid, fully trusting relationship we had nine months ago has been so damaged by all of this.

So... got any insight?
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Old 10-24-2012, 07:35 PM
Lydia1 Lydia1 is offline
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Thank you GalaGirl for your reply! I'll try to answer you questions, though I imagine some are answered with the second half of the story I was able to post above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
So you see there is a problem on the "Sarah and Mike tier" of this... emerging baby polyship trying to take flight (?). (Sorry... I am not clear on what it is. That is part of all this problem!)
Well, when we started it was clear that we were two couples only engaging in physical things together. We definitely were not starting a polyamorous relationship, and I did not want to start one. I guess it's what they call swingers? (I'm really not an expert on all the definitions) Just physical stuff between couples that are friends.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
Does JOHN see that there is a problem on that "Sarah and Mike" tier? If so, and you both claim to love these people (as friends/lovers/romantic partners)... could you give them the space/time needed to sort themselves out? Could you guys step up to say something like...

"Look -- we see a problem in this tier. Until that is resolved and you guys are solid in your own relationship tier of "Sarah and Mike" -- this polyship cannot fly straight. Mike is unwilling to state his wants/needs for things to stop. But clearly Mike is unhappy. So let's stop. Give space/time required so things can fly right. And if it isn't meant to be, it isn't me]ant to be. But let's not throw Mike under the bus. It is not kind. Mike -- what kind of support/help do you need right now? How can we be good friends to you and support you in appropriate ways?"
Sarah has offered to end it. Mike said no over and over again. Now Mike is saying he does want it to end, but Sarah is saying no. John has offered to end it to me, but when he offered it he was weeping, and I said - let's wait till we go to our first therapy session next Wednesday before we make any major decisions. But the first therapy session is, by nature, filled with bringing the therapist up to speed on the whole situation, and she wasn't able to give us much advice yet. We might need another therapist anyway - all she really said was "what do you feel about it", and we know how we feel already. John will be devastated if he loses Sarah. And if Sarah stays in the picture, there are all the stresses of figuring out how that works, in addition to the strain that it puts on Sarah and Mike's marriage. But on the other hand, it is entirely possible that if Sarah and John's relationship ends, she will never forgive Mike for his hand in making this whole situation what it was.


Quote:
I don't think all your players agreed to the same kind of open relationship model. Are you all on the same page for what it is you have here?
Well, we definitely did not agree to an open relationship. We're not open to anyone else, for one thing. And for another thing, when this started it was only about physical acts - no relationships other than friends. John does not feel a need for a third person, in general. He does not self-identify as polyamorous. And if the relationship with Sarah ended, we would be plainly monogamous people again.

Quote:
It's like everyone went in assuming it was whatever it was (in the mind of the person thinking it). But Mike seems to want it to be like swinging -- play partners and friends. The rest sound like they want polyamory? But maybe you seem to want a primary-secondary model?
No one went into this thinking that Sarah and John would fall in love. And in my mind, no one is to blame for that. I think the model was closest to swingers. We cared deeply about them as our friends, but we were just having physical fun together. And we were suposed to go at the speed of the slowest person, always giving eachother honest and open feedback about how we were feeling. I'm the only one who has followed that model, I'm afraid.

At this point, John and Sarah want a form of polyamory - and they say they'll be okay whatever I can be okay with, but they know they won't be satisfied by it. It's kind of square ped round hole in a way. I am monogamous. I read the description of polyamorous relationships on different poly community websites, and I definitely DO NOT WANT. God bless the people who can live with that model, and I'm sure it has it's own unique benefits, but it's definitely not for me.

The best I can think to offer them is - that it's okay that they are in love, and they can't control how they feel, but that with the breeches in trust our marriage has suffered we're not as stable as we had been. So I can't now see a future where John and Sarah can have a full sexual relationship. They can sext, talk all they want, and even make dates as long as they hide from the public eye so that we're never out of the closet. But that's as much as I can give. And I imagine it could be hard to live with those kinds of limitations, and that they would lead to resentment of me.

So that's why I feel so hopeless. Every path we can take leads to pain. Either John and Sarah break up and their hearts break and they resent me, or they stay together and both their marriages continue to suffer to varying degrees and they resent me for imposing limitations. In either case, Mike may never be okay again. He has lied to Sarah repeatedly and ruined any trust she had in him, and he doesn't trust her either, and seemed to think he could only keep her faithful by manipulation. My marriage with John will suffer in either case as well.

Last edited by Lydia1; 10-24-2012 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:52 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Sigh.

Ok, so everyone started out as soft swinging. Nobody intended to fall in love. You definitely are monogamous for marriage and at best some soft swinging. If that is the case? Divorce. Stop beating around the bush.

Now that John and Sarah have fallen in love, here's the tally at last count as I see it:

Mike:
  • Wants Sarah to be his wife.
  • Wants Sarah to be his sub.
  • Wants to continue with his other subs?
  • Wants john to be his friend only?
  • Wants you to be his friend only?

You :
  • want to be married to John.
  • You are open to soft swing only? No poly.
  • You want to be friends with Sarah?
  • You want to be friends with Mike?

John:
  • Wants to be married to you.
  • He wants to be poly with Sarah.
  • Wants to be Mike's friend

Sarah:
  • wants to be married to Mike.
  • wants to not be Mike's sub.
  • wants to be friends with you.
  • wants to be in polyship with John.
Quote:
So that's why I feel so hopeless. Every path we can take leads to pain.
Then this is a case if "which sucks the least?" Because there is no win-win or even win-lose choice to be made. It is "this choice stinks" and "this choice stinks." Which one stinks the least then?

I think you guys could talk in quad and ask point blank

"Who is up for a polyship between John and Sarah with Lydia1 and Mike as the metamours? Who is NOT willing to be in polyship configuration? Show hands."
Then whoever is not willing, leave the baby polyship/marriages. Plain and simple. Going about avoiding asking the most basic question makes no sense.

WHO IS WILLING? WHO IS NOT?

For those who are willing to stay? Now you can start to refine it.

Quote:
Either John and Sarah break up and their hearts break and they resent me, or they stay together and both their marriages continue to suffer to varying degrees and they resent me for imposing limitations.
You are micromanaging a bit there and you are also enabling them to spend time together. Talk about sending mixed messages. Stop mixed messaging.

Control your OWN behavior. Stop focusing on what you do not want -- people resenting you and I don't know what all. Focus on what you DO want here.

If you want to only soft swing and be otherwise monogamous in your marriage -- that is what you want. You have the right to want what you want. Do no compromise yourself to accept things you do NOT WANT. You will feel yucky. So own your OWN behavior, and be clear stating your own wants, needs, and limits.

Quote:
In either case, Mike may never be okay again. He has lied to Sarah repeatedly and ruined any trust she had in him, and he doesn't trust her either, and seemed to think he could only keep her faithful by manipulation.
Let Mike and Sarah deal with their marriage problems. That's not your arena.

Quote:
My marriage with John will suffer in either case as well.
Breathe. And decide to focus on what you want, and let it come out in the wash and see which end it up.

Start setting actual boundaries here instead of micromanaging little details. Is this your offer to them? That is in conflict with you stating you want monogamous marriage with only a little soft swing at most.

So which is it? If you are indeed willing to try to go toward polyworld -- you all need more education.

The best I can think to offer them is - that it's okay that they are in love, and they can't control how they feel, but that with the breeches in trust our marriage has suffered we're not as stable as we had been. So I can't now see a future where John and Sarah can have a full sexual relationship. They can sext, talk all they want, and even make dates as long as they hide from the public eye so that we're never out of the closet. But that's as much as I can give. And I imagine it could be hard to live with those kinds of limitations, and that they would lead to resentment of me.

If so, clean it up. Stop projecting your emotions on it or predicting their emotions. Let everyone hold their own emotional baggage.

You could rewrite it like this... if this is actually what you feel:
I don't know what Sarah and Mike marriage will be.
I expect Sarah and Mike to sort that out on their own time.
I would like to remain friends with Sarah.
I would like to remain friends with Mike.
I expect you two (John and Sarah) to give Sarah and Mike space.

I am not making out with anyone but my own husband at this point until the storm passes.

I am willing to try a polyship where John is the shared sweetie to Sarah and I am a metamout. My offer and terms for the next 3 mos are:

HARD LIMIT (no negotiation):
SOFT LIMIT (could change in time):
  • I would like to NOT be out of the poly closet to start. You must be discreet. We need a plan if someone is accidentally outed.
  • For now I'd like a limit of sext, talk all you want, and even make dates as long as they hide from the public eye.
  • No sex for at least (3 mos?) so we get past this hullabaloo before adding more to the mix. Keep it at outercourse, no intercourse. Condoms, gloves, whatever at all times. Even with me. Everyone get labs run.

CHECKPOINT
  • In 3 mos we can do a temperature check and see where everyone is at now in their various healings/processes and what can be reasonable/rational to take on board in the following 3 mos.

Could something like that work for you? If so, offer it. See if something like that would work for John and Sarah... and I guess Mike if he's still in the polyship or not?

But don't even bother to offer it if you do not mean it and you are not TRULY willing to go there.

If deep down what you want is monogamous marriage with a little soft swing -- that is what you want. There is nothing wrong with that. But articulate your clear want. Don't go after things you do not want just out of fear. It's not reaching for your own happiness if you do things like that. It prolongs the suckage.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 10-24-2012 at 10:00 PM.
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  #6  
Old 10-24-2012, 10:28 PM
Lydia1 Lydia1 is offline
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Wow, GalaGirl, this is really great information! Thank you. :-)

Your tally is mostly right, but here are the tweaks:

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
Mike:
  • Wants Sarah to be his wife.
  • Wants Sarah to be his sub.
  • Wants to continue with his other subs? I don't think he had any other subs.
  • Wants john to be his friend only? Wants John to die a painful death.
  • Wants you to be his friend only? Never wants to talk to me again.
So unfortunately I don't think talking in quad is an option. :-/

Quote:
Then whoever is not willing, leave the baby polyship/marriages. Plain and simple. Going about avoiding asking the most basic question makes no sense.
I'm not sure exactly what that means - leave the baby polyship/marriages. If I say no to a John having a poly he has sex with, where does that leave us exactly? Mike has already said no to everything. What does that mean exactly?

Quote:
You are micromanaging a bit there and you are also enabling them to spend time together. Talk about sending mixed messages. Stop mixed messaging.
I see what you mean here, and to be honest I thought by enabling them to spend time together I had been helping. Here were two people I loved who just wanted to spend time together. I didn't realize at the time that I would be lied to and hurt in the process. I never saw Sarah's presence in our lives as a reason for John to betray me, until after it happened. I think if those things hadn't happened, I would still be okay with things like the possibility of them having sex. But now I'm not.

The problem is, any change of comfort level on my end that translates in to limits on their end has been met with resistance and fights. So I'm not exactly projecting the possibility of them resenting me. I'm saying - it's already happened, and I have no reason to believe it won't continue to happen.

Quote:
If you want to only soft swing and be otherwise monogamous in your marriage -- that is what you want. You have the right to want what you want. Do no compromise yourself to accept things you do NOT WANT. You will feel yucky. So own your OWN behavior, and be clear stating your own wants, needs, and limits.
But what I want isn't even an option anymore. Swinging isn't a possibility when they're already in love. I do not want to have a poly relationship. But my husband is in love with someone I want to stay in our lives. I've added DarkOrchid words below to clairfy.

Quote:
So which is it? If you are indeed willing to try to go toward polyworld (Not particularly, no, if that means my husband has sex with someone else he's in love with)-- you all need more education.


If so, clean it up. Stop projecting your emotions on it or predicting their emotions. Let everyone hold their own emotional baggage.

You could rewrite it like this... if this is actually what you feel:
I don't know what Sarah and Mike marriage will be.
I expect Sarah and Mike to sort that out on their own time.
I would like to remain friends with Sarah.
I would like to remain friends with Mike.
I expect you two (John and Sarah) to give Sarah and Mike space.

I am not making out with anyone but my own husband at this point until the storm passes.

I am willing to try a polyship (without any sex at all) where John is the shared sweetie to Sarah and I am a metamout. My offer and terms for the next 3 mos are:

HARD LIMIT (no negotiation):
SOFT LIMIT (could change in time):
  • I would like to NOT be out of the poly closet EVER. You must be discreet. We need a plan if someone is accidentally outed.
  • For now I'd like a limit of sext, talk all you want, and even make dates as long as they hide from the public eye.
  • No sex for at least for all forseeable future so we get past this hullabaloo before adding more to the mix. Keep it at making out, no intercourse.

CHECKPOINT
  • In 3 mos we can do a temperature check and see where everyone is at now in their various healings/processes and what can be reasonable/rational to take on board in the following 3 mos.

Could something like that work for you? If so, offer it. See if something like that would work for John and Sarah... and I guess Mike if he's still in the polyship or not?

But don't even bother to offer it if you do not mean it and you are not TRULY willing to go there.

If deep down what you want is monogamous marriage with a little soft swing -- that is what you want. There is nothing wrong with that. But articulate your clear want. Don't go after things you do not want just out of fear. It's not reaching for your own happiness if you do things like that. It prolongs the suckage.

Galagirl
I will look through the links you suggested and talk to Sarah and John about this. Mike isn't speaking to me or John, and barely speaks to Sarah these days. Thank you so much for your help, GalaGirl.

Still open to any advice if people have any.
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  #7  
Old 10-25-2012, 12:22 AM
Lydia1 Lydia1 is offline
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Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
[*]If I am to feel emotionally safe in polyship with you as a metamour, I need trust repaired. I am willing to do page 5 things if you are willing to do page 6 things from http://www.practicalpolyamory.com/im...ed_10-6-10.pdf

Galagirl
Okay, so I just checked out this pdf entitled "Making Peace with Jealousy in a Polyamorous Relationship," and I don't think it really applies for us. I'm not saying that it's full of bad advice, but the premise is kind of off. I'm hoping you have an alternate resource that doesn't automatically assume that the participants are 100% on board with polyamory, which I of course am not. I'm monogamous.

Essentially, the document assumes that I'm overwhelmed with fear that someone will steal my sandwich, so to speak, and the thing is that I've already declared that the sandwich isn't up for grabs - and I am not afraid that someone will be able to steal it from me. In this case the sandwich is my exclusivity, and the fact is that I will either have a level of exclusivity that I'm comfortable with or I will end the marriage. It's really not that complicated.

So ... what exactly am I supposed to be afraid of? I'm not upset that my husband is in love with someone else - I'm upset that he's lied to me and damaged our relationship over the past six months. I'm not worried that Sarah is "better" than me in some way, or that John will leave me for her. I'm not afraid that at this point I can't trust him anymore - if I felt that way I'd be divorced already. I don't think being monogamous automatically means you are jealous, and I don't think monogamy is wrong or a sign of weakness. It just is what it is.

The one thing I am afraid of is the resentment that every polyamory resource I've seen so far says is only natural for my partner to feel in his position. That's exactly what I said above will probably happen regardless of what path we take (Sarah and John still being in each others lives, or not), because there is no path forward where they get to have a fully fledged polyamorous relationship. It's the very resentment that I've been experiencing for months now. So maybe at this point it doesn't even qualify as a fear, because it's already happened. It's a reality.

So do you have anything that will help deal with our main problem - the resentment? Something that can help prevent the relationships we have from continuing to be damaged by that resentment?
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Old 10-25-2012, 01:46 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Originally Posted by galagirl
Then whoever is not willing, leave the baby polyship/marriages. Plain and simple. Going about avoiding asking the most basic question makes no sense.
That means if you want monogamy? And John is not willing to deliver? You guys have to break up and hopefully dial it down to friends if you still want to be in each other's lives. Neither of you will not get what you want here by staying in a marriage that won't fly any more because you both want different things. No point in going around in circles.

If Mike wants that on his end with Sarah and she does not share that want because she wants to be with John? They have to end it. No point in going around in circles.

When the basic question of "Who is up for polyamory?" is asked? Is it just John and Sarah? Alright. Just John and Sarah then. For it to be ethical, they have to split up marriages OR split up the polyship with each other. Which is it going to be?

If they are lollygagging making that decision? YOU have to endure what crazy for how long? Indefinitely? Nope.

YOU are free to choose your behavior too. You can choose to leave or stay. You are in charge of your own behavior. Cannot control anyone else's.

Quote:
In this case the sandwich is my exclusivity, and the fact is that I will either have a level of exclusivity that I'm comfortable with or I will end the marriage. It's really not that complicated.
That is exactly what I'm trying to put across here.

If you feel monogamous is the way to go for you... and this is a HARD LIMIT for you? That will never change?

There is NOTHING wrong with wanting that for yourself! Stick with it. Be brave. Do what needs doing. That means stop enabling them to cheat on Mike. Stop enabling them to fall deeper in love without sorting things out with your first on the trust problem!

Why bother to offer the thing about they can spend time, sexting, etc? That creates a situation where the in love people feel frustrated that they do not have full freedom on their relationship tier to let it develop as it will. Sooner or later they will want to have sex as an expression of love. Sooner or later they will want time to spend all by themselves.

Initially I thought you were considering trying a mono-poly thing with John.
  • Where YOU are monoamorous and monogamous to him.
  • But he is polyamorous to you and Sarah. He is in polyship with both of you.

I thought that because you were also talking about this:

Quote:
The best I can think to offer them is - that it's okay that they are in love, and they can't control how they feel, but that with the breeches in trust our marriage has suffered we're not as stable as we had been. So I can't now see a future where John and Sarah can have a full sexual relationship. They can sext, talk all they want, and even make dates as long as they hide from the public eye so that we're never out of the closet. But that's as much as I can give. And I imagine it could be hard to live with those kinds of limitations, and that they would lead to resentment of me.
Now it sounds like no... you are dead set on monogamy?

That's what I mean about mixed signals. You are not being as clear as you could be with what you want.

Quote:
So do you have anything that will help deal with our main problem - the resentment? Something that can help prevent the relationships we have from continuing to be damaged by that resentment?
Yes. Sit down with them and get the verify.
  • John -- are you dead set on polyamory with Sarah? If so, I have to break up. I want monogamy. John -- can we be good exes and friends?
  • Sarah -- what's the mean for our friendship?

The only other way is if you change your mind about wanting monogamy BACK from John. If you are ok giving HIM monogamy while you 3 are in a "V" configuration? Then you have to go there willingly and willing to put aside all micromanagement/mixed messaging/and let them develop their side of the "V" on their own speed. You have to be willing to trust again and give them opportunity to earn it back. A start could be asking them "Ok, will try this. But for at least the first 3 mos, I need you to go EASY on me here and ramp up SLOW. There's been enough drama! I'm willing to give a try if you are willing to go slow for 3 mos and help rebuild trusts here."

They have to be willing to TRUTH to you. Something like what happened in this polyship with communication/trust issues.

Everyone has to step up their communication skills so things get aired out, cleared up, and resentments LET GO OF.

You would not want Sarah telling you and John what to do and when to do it on your side of the equation, right?

Hence the article for managing jealousy -- can you, him AND her be on the same page with possible jealousy management issues? It doesn't mean that YOU are the one having issues -- Mike sure is! But that ugh is felt across the board of all people in the polymath. I don't know what can be done for Mike. But maybe John and Sarah have jealousy ugh to air out. That sheet is a useful talking tool if you plan to talk in trio then about what kinds of things have to happen? What kinds of education is needed? What kinds of agreements must there be (for the short term adjustment from a poor start) and then the long term polyshipping to avoid jealousy traps?

It's all such a tragic mess. I feel for you, but hon, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first. BREATHE. Take it slow.

And the basic question is still gonna be -- are you are in or out? Are you even up for all this at this point?

If Not? Cut to the chase and break it up. You can end resentment and suffering for at least YOU.

Hang in there. It sounds rough over there.

GG

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 10-25-2012 at 01:51 AM.
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  #9  
Old 10-25-2012, 03:24 AM
Lydia1 Lydia1 is offline
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Oh my god, GalaGirl, you are such an angel! I really appreciate you taking the time to look in depth on our situation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
That means if you want monogamy? And John is not willing to deliver? You guys have to break up and hopefully dial it down to friends if you still want to be in each other's lives. Neither of you will not get what you want here by staying in a marriage that won't fly any more because you both want different things. No point in going around in circles.
I guess I thought - what are the things I can live with. What are the concessions I can make, and be okay with, so that John and Sarah at least have something. But there has to be some level of exclusivity for me. I hoped it didn't have to be all or nothing, for their sakes. :-/

Quote:
Why bother to offer the thing about they can spend time, sexting, etc? That creates a situation where the in love people feel frustrated that they do not have full freedom on their relationship tier to let it develop as it will. Sooner or later they will want to have sex as an expression of love. Sooner or later they will want time to spend all by themselves.
I expressed that concern to John and Sarah, and they said they would find a way to be okay with my limits, but I was worried that eventually they would resent it, just as you say. I think the idea of "nothing" is so devastating to both of them that "something" sounds better. But it never will be everything. It will never be John with two relationships of equal standing.

Quote:
Yes. Sit down with them and get the verify.
  • John -- are you dead set on polyamory with Sarah? If so, I have to break up. I want monogamy. John -- can we be good exes and friends?
  • Sarah -- what's the mean for our friendship?
So far when we've had those discussions, they've said they'd accept less than full polyamory. Does that never work?

Quote:
You would not want Sarah telling you and John what to do and when to do it on your side of the equation, right?
No, but I wouldn't consider it an equation, because the two sides aren't equal, in our situation. I'm John's wife and partner, Sarah is not. It's like she's a guest in our home, not a co-homeowner.

Quote:
That sheet is a useful talking tool if you plan to talk in trio then about what kinds of things have to happen? What kinds of education is needed? What kinds of agreements must there be (for the short term adjustment from a poor start) and then the long term polyshipping to avoid jealousy traps?
Yeah, most of the advice it gave made a lot of sense and could be applied to any kind of relationship. I just worried if it was completely applicable considering that we won't be truely-polyamorous.

Quote:
And the basic question is still gonna be -- are you are in or out? Are you even up for all this at this point?
I was up for monogamy plus friends with benefits. I'm just not up for polyamory. I'll have to talk with them about what that all really means long term.

Thank you. :-)
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  #10  
Old 10-25-2012, 04:16 AM
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Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
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And I feel like John and Sarah are so important to each other that it would hurt both of them incredibly if I asked them to just be friends. I'm not even sure if John could stand the exposure as friends after that kind of loss, so that means I would lose my best friend, as well as break my husband's heart, if I ever asked them to end things
Ok, I just wanted to address this. Obviously you know that if you ask them to just be friends, they will of still have feelings for each other, so I don't think asking them to give up physical interaction is ...well it's not really going to "hurt them" They may be sexually frustrated, they may long for more, but I am not sure why you think this would break his heart, or even why you think you'd lose Sarah's friendship, since she seems to have been willing all along to put the sexual aspect on the back burner in order to preserve the happiness of other people. It sounds like both of you have a passive aggressive aspect going on with the relationships you have with your husbands (as most people do) and both of you have bent over backwards for them.

In your place, I'd ask them to go back to a platonic (or sexual flirting only, hands off - probably the former) for a few months, while Sarah and Mike sort their shit out, while John deals with the damage he is contributing to his relationship with you. I don't think that would make you jealous or selfish, or implies that his feelings for her are a problem, but this really sounds like the things that needs to be gotten a handle on before it moves any further. The way he is treating you IS a problem, and that needs to be addressed without the distraction of other stuff going on if possible for a quicker resolution. (would probably benefit Sarah and Mike too)

Certainly stop offering things to him/them that they haven't asked for too, I agree about what GG says about sexting, and feel the same about offering to leave the house so they could have alone time. It's much healthier if people ask for what they want, and when one partner over sacrifices and enables because they want somebody to be happy, the other person doesn't get to learn how to be assertive and know their own mind so much.

Don't know if I missed this - did you guy choose a poly friendly or LBGT friendly counselor? I'd have somebody else lined up in case your next visit to the therapist is just as useless.
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Last edited by Anneintherain; 10-25-2012 at 04:19 AM.
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