Hello! A very long introduction follows...
Hello, I will just go by my username or "L". I am bi, although mostly attracted to men, and I am pretty sure that I am polyamorous. I'd like to post here my (sort of long) introduction, even if no one reads through it, just to get it out. I feel like my backstory to my current situation is possibly relevant, but maybe not necessary, so I will mark the parts of this post with BACKSTORY and CURRENT SITUATION.
Like many people, my introduction to poly came from Stranger in a Strange Land. I read it when I was 13, and the idea of having that kind of family seemed great to me. But I kind of dismissed this as "just a story" and not how real people live their lives.
I married my first and only at that time boyfriend when I was 21. In the several months leading up to our wedding I began to feel more and more strongly 2 things: 1) that I didn't want to stay in the relationship, and 2) that I wanted to have romantic relationships with other people. However, as I was pretty young and naive, and bought into the idea that if you are with the "right" person you only want one person, it was difficult for me to separate these two feelings. I managed to tell my then fiance a month before our wedding that I wanted to sleep with other people and that I was pretty sure that I could not promise him fidelity.
He was surprisingly (to me) ok with it, but I think that is because there was no one specific. He said that if I found I was attracted to someone we would work out what to do. I now understand that we did not think that "work out what to do" means the same thing.
Approximately one year after we were married, I had to go overseas to France for the summer for my job. Almost immediately, I met a man who I was incredibly attracted to and who was also very attracted to me. The physical separation also helped me see that my relationship with my then husband was not a good one, and that I did not want to stay in the marriage. Within 2 weeks of arriving in France, I told my then husband that I wanted a divorce. We decided to wait to take action until I returned to the USA. Again, I was not able at the time to disentangle my desire to end my marriage and my desire to start a relationship with the man I was attracted to ("R").
I began a relationship with R, returned to the USA, my ex husband and I divorced…by this time I was only 22 years old and this had been my first and only relationship, so looking back it is not surprising that I made many mistakes. I went straight from this marriage into a long-distance relationship with R, who still lived in France. We didn't talk about what kind of relationship this was. I assumed that we were not exclusive since we had not decided to be, he had a different assumption, but it was sort of a moot point since neither of us was attracted to anyone else at the time. And it was an LDR for only a short time, as 9 months later I moved back to France permanently.
R and I moved in together at that point, and lived together for 3 years before getting married. At no time did we discuss what kind of relationship it was, we both made the assumption of exclusivity, and since I guess neither of us was attracted to anyone else, the point didn't come up.
In 2011 R and I got married. Several months after this, even though there was still no one else I was attracted to, I found myself doing a lot of soul searching, and I realized that I was bisexual, and that I am philosophically opposed to forced monogamy. I started to really want to have a relationship with another woman at some point. R and I discussed a little bit the issue of fidelity. I told him that I could not be 100% sure how I would react if he dated someone else, since I have not been put in that position, but that I did not feel I had any right to object to such a situation. He said that he felt the same way, that he recognizes me as an autonomous person and did not feel he has a right to tell me how to behave, including dictating what my relationships with other people are. I felt better after we had that discussion.
About half a year later, I told him that I wanted to actively try and date other people. At this point, he said that he was ok with other women, but that he didn't feel comfortable with other men. Since I mostly wanted to explore relationships with women, I was ok with this. So I joined an online dating site. That didn't go anywhere, because I think that online dating is not for me. I realized that I would rather deepen the relationships with the people I already have in my life, in some cases taking them from friendships only to romantic relationships, where possible.
At that point I realized that I had developed a strong attraction to a mutual male friend of ours, "T". I told R that I wanted the possibility to have relationships with other men, without specifically mentioning T. He was not really comfortable with it, but promised me he'd think about it. After several days he said that indeed, he had thought about it and he still isn't ok with it.
That's the point we are still at, many months later. He is ok with (although not enthusiastic about) me pursuing romantic relationships with women, but not with men. And it appears that he is either hard-wired for monogamy, or conditioned such that he does not himself feel any desire for external romantic relationships. I've done a lot more reading about polyamory in the meantime, to try and better discuss this with him, but he does not show any initiative in trying to understand my viewpoint, and even when I try to gently push he is reluctant to read the material I send his way.
We had a long discussion a couple of nights ago, and by the end I was crying. He doesn't want me to have relationships with other men because of fear of being replaced. I am shocked and hurt that he could think that I consider him replaceable. For him "replaceable" means that I could also find someone else to marry and have children with…so in this definition, I am also replaceable to him (which he confirmed). He said that he has made a commitment to me, and that for him this means not sleeping with other people of the same sex, so as to limit the risk that he will want to replace me, and that he expects the same from me. For me this is totally bizarre…for me, commitment means that you are saying that you will make this person a priority in your life. And by marrying him, for me this is a statement that he is the person that I want to live with and have children with. But in my mind it does not necessarily have anything to do with sexual or emotional fidelity.
I don't think it helps any that I came into this marriage as a result of leaving my ex husband, but I am now more mature and can fully realize that I did not leave my ex husband for R. I left because that was a bad relationship. The fact that R was there just made it easier to do something I would have done anyway. I explained this to R but I am not sure he believes that.
I feel really sad, first of all because for me, our love is unique and not replaceable, but that for him this is not the case. And I feel frustrated because to him, limiting relationships with other people is a way to minimize the risk that we break our commitment to each other, whereas for me it basically spells out that this relationship cannot be permanent. I know that at some point, I will need to be free to explore relationships, including sexual ones, with other people. So we are either going to have to be in a poly relationship, or I will be a serial monogamist, the thought of which is painful, because it would mean not being with R at some point, and it's just really not what I want.
On top of this, my attraction to T is growing all the time, and as I spend more time with him I think I am falling in love. He also seems to be attracted to me. It hurts badly to not be able to pursue a deeper relationship with him.
I don't really know what to do, other than to give R time and hope that he comes around. I am not sure I could ever leave him, I love him so much and in all other respects our relationship is fantastic and strong.
Sorry for the very long post, I don't really have anyone I can talk to about this, so again, i just wanted to get it all out there. Thanks to anyone who manages to get through reading!