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Old 03-19-2013, 03:02 AM
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Marcus Marcus is offline
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Default New to Living Poly

Three weeks ago I took the plunge and moved to FW with IV and CV. The three of us got an apartment together. IV is my first fully independent poly relationship and this is my first time living as a "v".

Dating IV for a year and having interacted with CV a number of times, we figured it was worth a shot. They were moving to FW at the beginning of the year anyway and I was not overjoyed at the idea of so much distance between IV and I. Since I work from home I can be located pretty much anywhere. We discussed our space needs, talked about the finances (though we need to do a little bit more talking on that front), and how IV might split her time between CV and I.

I need my own space, including my own bathroom if at all possible. Since rent is SO CHEAP in FW this proved to be a non-issue. IV and CV share a room and bathroom while I have my own room and bathroom (perfect!). When CV brought up how we might work out how often she sleeps with each of us IV suggested that it would stay much the way that it was before moving. That is, she'd stay with CV most of the time and would stay with me a couple of nights a week. As I said, I like my space and having her company a few nights a week sounded like a good arrangement, at least as a starting point.

I moved in, getting settled, and tragedy struck. There was a death in IVs family. Not only was the death itself bad enough but it was even more complex because it was a suicide. So LOTS of emotions on her part. She traveled out to the funeral, stayed about a week and then came home. This is when something happened that I hadn't expected.

IV came home and was her usual affectionate self to me but has not slept in my bed since. It's been two weeks.

I've been pondering this reaction and it makes sense. She's been with CV through thick and thin for upwards of 9 years. It is reasonable that she turns to the person she has this relationship with for comfort. To be clear, she and I have had many lengthy conversations, she has laid in my lap and bared her every feeling to me, so I do not feel that I am being cast aside in that regard. She still considers my relationship valuable and has made it abundantly clear. However, in her most vulnerable hour, when she sleeps and wakes to face the day, she has done this with CV exclusively.

She asked me pointedly about my emotional state the other day because I was clearly getting cranky. Work was being a bother and I was beginning to work through my emotions about our lack of "rack time". I told her I was having difficulty with the living situation, more so than I imagined I would have. She responded that she was too, that she and CV both were a little surprised about how much she latched on to him after the death in the family. She also said that she hoped that things would return to normal soon, once she gets her emotions better in hand. I didn't get into any further details, she sounds like she knows what is going on more or less and I am VERY cautious about putting pressure on her grieving.

Now, here I am, struggling to separate out my feelings, not let them get bunched up with resentment and unrelated childhood loss issues. I'm working on an intellectual level to remember that she is grieving and that people deal with that in a myriad of ways. I'm keeping in context that her relationship with CV is different from her relationship with me and that it is unreasonable to presume they should mirror one another equally.

But... my feelings are hurt.

I feel like I am a "secondary" to a married couple. Which is EXACTLY the kind of arrangement I am not at all interested in.

When I had my own place and we would go through periods of not seeing each other for a couple of weeks at a time and it was no big deal, I would miss her company but there was a physical separation (we didn't live together) and it didn't prompt sore feelings on my part. But seeing her every day, talking with her, kissing her, touching her feet while she talks, and then not being able to listen to her breath as she sleeps next to me is... well, worse. I don't know, maybe it's because the carrot is RIGHT FREAKING THERE and I don't get to share it with CV.

Anyway, I need to have an explicit conversation with her about what I'm going through but there are some guidelines:

1. Let her know that I am desirous of her in my bed. I want to be clear to her that, just because I am being patient and backing off that this should not be mistaken as a lack of desire to sleep with her.

2. Make her aware that her current approach is not my preference. My goal is not to get her to come to bed with me. My goal is instead to make sure that she is aware that I desire her and that I am dealing with some emotions related to her absence. If I don't explicitly tell her, how can she know that there is a possible problem brewing in the wings?

3. Do not pressure her to change her behavior to sate my feelings. I want her in my bed because she wants to be there. My hope is that I am informing and encouraging, not emotionally bullying or shaming.

I hope to have this conversation with her tomorrow if she is not at work. Often times we have several hours together throughout the day and that will be a perfect opportunity. I'm a little nervous about it, not because I think she will be anything but incredibly receptive but because direct and adult confrontation makes me nervous. I'm better at bottling up and exploding like a child - ah family inheritance.

This is not a private entry. Feel free to chime in if you have something constructive to add.
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Last edited by Marcus; 03-19-2013 at 03:03 AM. Reason: Subscribed to thread
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:55 AM
Cleo Cleo is offline
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I'm a bit confused about what the 'sleeping in your bed' really means.
Does it mean sex? Does it mean sleeping in the same bed?

Which brings me to another question. Is she having sex with C every single time she sleeps in his bed? If yes - then I understand your frustration and don't have much advice. If no - then I think it's worth looking at what the bed means, and what the 'sleeping together' means, for all of those concerned.

It could be she's not feeling like sex - grief can do that to a person - and that she feels pressured to have sex with you when sleeping in your room. Maybe she doesn't feel as pressured about this when sharing a bed with C. ?

Maybe you could be really explicit about this? Tell her you want to spend quality, intimate time with her, hold her when she wakes up in the night and is feeling sad, talk in the dark, just BE together without the sex part? (Which is why I would probably not use the word 'desire' so much.)

It doesn't sound ike she's emotionally shutting you out. Good luck with the talk.
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Old 03-19-2013, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Cleo View Post
Does it mean sex? Does it mean sleeping in the same bed?

Is she having sex with C every single time she sleeps in his bed?

It could be she's not feeling like sex - grief can do that to a person - and that she feels pressured to have sex with you when sleeping in your room. Maybe she doesn't feel as pressured about this when sharing a bed with C. ?

It doesn't sound ike she's emotionally shutting you out. Good luck with the talk.
I consider her being in my bed to be a bit of both; sex and comfort. What I currently miss and am feeling left out about is her company, sharing the intimacy of sleeping together (sleeping). To your point about "pressure to have sex", since she has been with CV so long I get the impression that their sex life is good but infrequent. This is just what she tells me, I don't have any solid intel on this and am not putting a glass to their door to find out more. Honestly their sex life is none of my business and isn't something that I find myself concerned about. I suppose it would make sense for her to associate sex with my bed, and due to lack of interest because of her grief she might want to avoid it altogether. This isn't something I'd considered.

I am much less likely to have this talk with her after last night. She's still upset about the death due to the fact that family drama still surrounds it and it continuing to hurt her. Since one of my primary concerns is not putting pressure on her grieving, getting into what I want from her is not really important at this juncture. For now I am just going to show her affection and try to be empathetic.

I can't relate to the grieving process personally, I have been fortunate enough to not lose anyone who really impacted my life. After talking to her last night I realize that I am not giving credit to the depth of how much this hurts her and how long it might take.

As far as her emotional attentiveness to me, she is welcoming me with open arms. She is expressive and inclusive with her feelings, which I am so very glad for (even though it's all bad stuff right now). She hands out hugs, touches, and kisses like it's Giftmas, so no she is not shutting me out in that regard.
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Old 03-19-2013, 01:12 PM
Cleo Cleo is offline
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I consider her being in my bed to be a bit of both; sex and comfort. What I currently miss and am feeling left out about is her company, sharing the intimacy of sleeping together (sleeping). To your point about "pressure to have sex", since she has been with CV so long I get the impression that their sex life is good but infrequent. This is just what she tells me, I don't have any solid intel on this and am not putting a glass to their door to find out more. Honestly their sex life is none of my business and isn't something that I find myself concerned about. I suppose it would make sense for her to associate sex with my bed, and due to lack of interest because of her grief she might want to avoid it altogether. This isn't something I'd considered.
every person is different, but I shut down sexually when I'm hurt or depressed. And there have been times when all I wanted was a hug, but I did not ask for it, because I was afraid my partner would think I was available for something more.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
I can't relate to the grieving process personally, I have been fortunate enough to not lose anyone who really impacted my life. After talking to her last night I realize that I am not giving credit to the depth of how much this hurts her and how long it might take.

As far as her emotional attentiveness to me, she is welcoming me with open arms. She is expressive and inclusive with her feelings, which I am so very glad for (even though it's all bad stuff right now). She hands out hugs, touches, and kisses like it's Giftmas, so no she is not shutting me out in that regard.
Yes, maybe this is going to take more patience than you thought it would. And it is exactly this why living with someone is a challenge - like you said in your first post, when you don't live together, there's so much you don't know and don't have to deal with!
Right now, just being there, loving, someone for her to talk to, seems like a great gift. Even it means you have to miss out on certain aspects of your relationship for now.
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Old 03-19-2013, 01:26 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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This death in the family could turn her into someone you barely recognize. It can take years to get back to "normal" and then "normal" is not what you thought it would be. You might as well consider this the start of a new relationship, and you may see sides of her you never thought existed.

Just remember - this is SO not about you.
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:10 PM
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A family member killed himself almost 20 years ago. It was utterly devastating not just to the immediate family but to my entire extended family. It is an experience that creates a before and an after. Her family is not the same. She is not the same. She will not return to exactly who she was before, nor will her family. BG has a point there.

I get that you miss what I call 'skin time' with her, sleeping, waking with each other. She may not be able to divide her skin time right now. Keep that in mind. I would tell her gently, and with no expectations, that you miss this with her. She should know that. Maybe not right this second or even next week. But do tell her at some point. Expecting her to be able to do anything about it soon may be too much for her right now. It's a difficult and fine line to tell a partner about wants and needs without also conveying expectations.

Perhaps you are not the person she sleeps with and wakes up with in this difficult time. That's hard. Your relationship with her may not include that dynamic in it right now. That does not make you a secondary relationship, although emotionally and physically I can totally see how it feels like that.

There is likely something else you can offer her, something unique to the dynamic you have between you. I have no idea what that may be. But think on it. You might find your own heart less burdened and your pain reduced if you can find a way to be helpful and loving to her. She's going to need both of you, there is no question of that. In some ways, it is a blessing that you three moved in together now. Both her loves are with her.
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by BoringGuy View Post
This death in the family could turn her into someone you barely recognize. It can take years to get back to "normal" and then "normal" is not what you thought it would be. You might as well consider this the start of a new relationship, and you may see sides of her you never thought existed.
I get what you're saying BG. People change as they go through life, responding to the stimulus given. A traumatic event like a death in the family *can* prompt substantial changes all at once. I, of course, have no interest in stifling her growth or change and that's not something I currently am willing to add to things to ponder.

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Just remember - this is SO not about you.
What I'm feeling is about me and is my responsibility to take care of. How she is responding to her grief is about her. I know that how she is currently changing our relationship is not in response to she and I, but to the tragedy and how she needs to work through it. I'm *trying* not to take it personally.

Though of course I am taking it personally to a degree, hence this post. "This is not about me" is a common mantra in my life and something I struggle to internalize. It's something I strive to improve on.

Thanks BG and Cleo for chiming in.
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:36 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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Of course your part of the experience IS about you! I didn't mean to belittle that. But i think you know what i mean. This death in her family and the aftermath that follows is not something that is about your relationship.

I read something like "the key to successful poly relationships is realizing when something is not all about you". I think the Great Franklin Veaux posted that on one of his websites or blogs. While a lot of what he says is over-rated and um, cerebral-intellectual, this particular line has a lot of truth and usefulness in it. We get so wrapped up in our own "journey" that it can be challenging to think of ourselves as supporting roles in someone else's "journey".
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:37 PM
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She will not return to exactly who she was before, nor will her family. BG has a point there.
I get you, it's not something I care to spend emotional energy worrying about. Though because you two pointed it out it is something I am keeping in mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
It's a difficult and fine line to tell a partner about wants and needs without also conveying expectations.
Which is of high concern for me. While I want to convey my needs I don't want to do anything that would apply pressure. The last thing she needs is to deal with my shit - she has plenty on her plate at the moment.

Honestly at this point I think I've said plenty to her about what I want. I need to coast for a while and just keep my eyes open.

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Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
You might find your own heart less burdened and your pain reduced if you can find a way to be helpful and loving to her. She's going to need both of you, there is no question of that. In some ways, it is a blessing that you three moved in together now. Both her loves are with her.
Thanks opal. I know that she loves me and embraces what I have to offer her. Even in her grief she is such a wonderful partner, making sure to show tenderness, sharing her thoughts, etc. The fact that her sleep needs to happen with CV at the moment is something I hope to feel compersion for, not envy (I'm working on it). Gentle reminders from such observant and experienced people here on the boards turns out to be exactly what I needed.
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:40 PM
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We get so wrapped up in our own "journey" that it can be challenging to think of ourselves as supporting roles in someone else's "journey".
Man you said it. From my eyes the world really does seem to revolve around me. It's nice to shake the dust off every now and then remind myself that it's just not all about me.

Also, I don't think you belittled my involvement, I just wanted to expand on the thought. It's how I work shit out. You're right, I know what you meant.
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