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  #1  
Old 01-07-2010, 10:47 PM
LadyMacbeth LadyMacbeth is offline
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Default Mono/poly tangles

I recently had a very difficult emotional conversation with my monogomous boyfriend. I am married and my husband and I have been practicing polyamory for about 5 months, I started dating shortly after that time.

The relationship has been very beautiful, and I have deep compassion with what he is going through but am struggling and would love some ideas on the best ways I might help him and help myself right now.

We had been close friends for about 6 months before I disclosed that I was poly, and we became lovers. He admitted that he had been secretly in love with me for months, but had not felt that there was any hope. He was ecstatic to have a relationship, but confused about poly (understandably) and it took some time for myself and my husband to convince him that it was really "okay" and not "cheating" etc. He became involved and has always been open about his comfort level and we have been open communicators all along. He has shared often feeling uncertain if he can "settle" to have only "part of me" etc. However, he is also close friends with my husband so has guilt whenever he feels possessive or wants me "all to himself." I have been open and understanding and I believe he would agree wholeheartedly.

So...here is the issue. Long story short, he cancelled our normal Friday date without explanation. I had a hunch, so I asked if he had a date. (I had actually encouraged him to date, just asked that he tell me if he decided to do so.) He admitted he did have a date. I was very hurt, not because he had a date, but because he cancelled OUR date and further, didn't tell me. He apologized for both. He said that he was worried it would upset me, and that it was "no big deal" anyway and was confused as to why this would be a problem for me. I explained that in poly, this is "cheating." He could almost understand, but not quite.

I further explained that if he wants to date, that is a-okay with me, I might get jealous, but it would be my job to work on that. I stated that I needed to know one thing. "Are you seeking an addition to our relationship, or a replacement?" And he can't or won't answer. He became very defensive. I felt it was a reasonable question. I was so hurt that I impulsively issued an ultimatum, stating that if he was seeking "a monogomous life partner which by definition would preclude our relationship," then I could not see him while he dated for that purpose. I stated that if he was seeking to "add a partner to our poly relationship" that I was a-ok and he would have my full support.

I later said I needed to reconsider my ultimatum, because I wasn't sure if that was fair. Anyone have experiences in these relationships? I feel compassion and want to treat him with love and respect, but am not sure I could deal with the emotional turmoil that would come from constant uncertainty about whether or not he had just been on a date with my replacement.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:58 PM
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Sorry to hear this. I guess it comes down to whether or not your boyfriend truly is monogamous in the wired/nature sense like me or traditionally conditioned sense like a lot of people. If he truly is monogamous, as in he can only love or be involved with one person at a time; I feel your question is answered. If not than teach him everything you can about being poly..because that would indicate he is possibly not as monogamous as even he thinks. That would be a good thing though right?

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Old 01-07-2010, 11:04 PM
JonnyAce JonnyAce is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyMacbeth View Post

I stated that if he was seeking to "add a partner to our poly relationship" that I was a-ok and he would have my full support.
i might be completely off the mark here, but those words could make him believe that you would be a-ok if he dated someone else that was also involved in your dynamic, not someone that he was dating, while also dating you. again i could be completely wrong here, but it might be something to discuss w/him.
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:56 AM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyMacbeth View Post
He admitted he did have a date. I was very hurt, not because he had a date, but because he cancelled OUR date and further, didn't tell me. He apologized for both. He said that he was worried it would upset me, and that it was "no big deal" anyway and was confused as to why this would be a problem for me. I explained that in poly, this is "cheating." He could almost understand, but not quite.
Hi Lady,

Some thoughts on this and more..........
If you think about this, it seems to me this is pretty stereotypical dating behavior for the mono world - which is obviously where he comes from (and still is to a large degree). Maybe you should rethink your expectations. You really are more in the role of a teacher at this point than an equal. Make sense ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyMacbeth
I stated that I needed to know one thing. "Are you seeking an addition to our relationship, or a replacement?" And he can't or won't answer. He became very defensive. .............................
I later said I needed to reconsider my ultimatum, because I wasn't sure if that was fair.................

Anyone have experiences in these relationships? I feel compassion and want to treat him with love and respect, but am not sure I could deal with the emotional turmoil that would come from constant uncertainty about whether or not he had just been on a date with my replacement.
Again, I really think you exacerbated the problem here. Partially because of my prior comment (he's a newbie) and because you immediately chose to go on the attack. You provoked a confrontation on a topic he probably is not at all clear on in his own mind and expected an answer - RIGHT THEN <chuckle> Was we being a bit unfair & unrealistic here - ya think ?

As to ultimatums etc......where's the love in ultimatums ? Don't you think a better approach to this might be to empathize with him, offer to help how you can, and in your heart hope that he makes the decision that will make HIM the happiest ?
Nope - this isn't 'typical' human behavior in these areas but what is it about poly loving that's typical ?

And I doubt he has the foggiest idea if his date was a potential replacement or not. But whether you are "replaced" (big fear word here) depends also to a large degree on your own behavior and living true to what you profess !

Be kind.

GS

Last edited by GroundedSpirit; 01-08-2010 at 02:00 AM.
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Old 01-08-2010, 02:44 AM
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rolypoly rolypoly is offline
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I really love the advice you all give each other. I'm in heaven.

For what it's worth, this doesn't sound like an ultimatum to me.

Quote:
if he was seeking "a monogomous life partner which by definition would preclude our relationship," then I could not see him while he dated for that purpose. I stated that if he was seeking to "add a partner to our poly relationship" that I was a-ok and he would have my full support.
It does sound like a way of saying, "I felt hurt when you cancelled our date because I was looking forward to seeing you and I am scared that you might not want to be with me because I can't offer an exclusive relationship..."
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Old 01-08-2010, 03:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyMacbeth View Post
I had a hunch, so I asked if he had a date. (I had actually encouraged him to date, just asked that he tell me if he decided to do so.) He admitted he did have a date. I was very hurt, not because he had a date, but because he cancelled OUR date and further, didn't tell me. He apologized for both. He said that he was worried it would upset me, and that it was "no big deal" anyway and was confused as to why this would be a problem for me. I explained that in poly, this is "cheating." He could almost understand, but not quite.

"Are you seeking an addition to our relationship, or a replacement?" And he can't or won't answer. He became very defensive. I felt it was a reasonable question. I was so hurt that I impulsively issued an ultimatum, stating that if he was seeking "a monogomous life partner which by definition would preclude our relationship," then I could not see him while he dated for that purpose. I stated that if he was seeking to "add a partner to our poly relationship" that I was a-ok and he would have my full support.

I later said I needed to reconsider my ultimatum, because I wasn't sure if that was fair. Anyone have experiences in these relationships? I feel compassion and want to treat him with love and respect, but am not sure I could deal with the emotional turmoil that would come from constant uncertainty about whether or not he had just been on a date with my replacement.
Hi LadyMacbeth, I see how he'd be confused in all this. I think that confusion began when you said you would be okay with him dating. In my experience with Mono, dating would mean that he is looking to replace me and would go underground to do that as in a mono relationship there is no dating option.... Essentially, if he is really mono then you were telling him, "you can try out other women and see if I am the one for you." It's a bit of a double standard to then get jealous and angry because he did just that in his mono way.

Yes, I see his actions as cheating, but to me you told him that it would be okay to cheat, that you expected it.... if he was struggling to understand that you were not cheating then somewhere along the line he began to believe that cheating is okay..... not how poly relationships work. He really does seem mono to me if this is how he handled the whole thing. Especially if he thought he should do it behind your back and break a date. I think you really need to look at him with mono eyes in your empathy, not poly ones.

I think his lack of being able to answer is a two-fold thing.... he was looking to see if he could replace you and is guilty about that, and he is confused about the message you gave him because he is mono in nature. I agree with Mono, he needs tons more poly education to accept that it's different than a mono relationship because he has somehow missed the point.

I have no problem with what you call and "ultimatum." I think it finally clarified for him what it means if he is to date others. It means that he is looking for a replacement. I find in my mono relationship with Mono that these boundaries are needed for his mono mind to understand. It isn't a control thing, but an emotional need that makes sense to a mono person. I don't think you made an ultimatum so much as you were finally clarifying for him something that he was confused about. Actually it was something he already believed, that you suggested could be different. It may just of been the only thing that made sense to him. I don't know what you changed about the ultimatum you gave, but I suspect it put him in a place of confusion again....

Really I think that if I were you I would tell him that you require him not to date any one but you and that you are sorry to confuse him. You can also tell him I think that if he would like to explore the possibility of poly because he really thinks he might be then you can do it together including talking about women he finds attractive, women that you think would work in your relationship and find a woman/situation that you both can accept so that he can continue to love one another?

This last statement has been based on how we conduct our relationship and in no way do I think that it works for everyone. But for what it's worth I hope it helps.
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Last edited by redpepper; 01-08-2010 at 03:14 AM.
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Old 01-08-2010, 03:31 AM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
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Reading your post LadyMacbeth gave me one thought;

"I wonder if he even KNEW what he was looking for in this date?"

Followed by

"if he said it was no big deal either he didn't know, or he already decided to leave and is letting you down gently."

That was my gut reaction.

I tend to think the advice given prior to this post is invaluable and I don't have concrete advice to add, so I'll leave it at that for now.
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Old 01-08-2010, 04:21 AM
LadyMacbeth LadyMacbeth is offline
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I have so much gratitude for these responses. I will be talking with the bf this evening, and my approach is going to be radically different based on what you all have said. It has definitely helped me find a place of true compassion and love over licking my own wounds. Many thanks.
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Old 01-08-2010, 04:23 AM
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Good luck LadyMcbeth!!

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Old 01-08-2010, 06:39 AM
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Macbeth Macbeth is offline
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I also want to thank everyone for the responses here. I've been trying hard to be objective about this situation, and truly understand where he's coming from. I can definitely see where a lot of the confusion springs from in this case.

The levels of interaction that each relationship brings to a poly 'tribe' (which I'm sure I'm not using in the typical sense) is staggering to be sure.
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