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Old 04-09-2013, 04:45 PM
elle elle is offline
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Default Talking about poly with longtime partner

I'm still very new here, and I found this forum during my quest for how to help my husband understand my orientation towards you know, life, the universe, and everything.

At my heart I do believe that you can love more than one person at once. Life is fluid, people enter into and exit from our lives and sometimes the connection runs deep. There are many ways you can love the people in your life. Sometimes it is a deep emotional connection, sometimes it's a sexual desire, etc. But certainly it isn't random fucking.

I also believe that expecting sexual monogamy in relationships seems to set people up to fail. I've always wondered why affairs are the big deal breaker for people when they happen (it's not just 'bad' people!) and although some are 'exit affairs' and some have to do with unmet needs, they also just have to do with attraction. I hate that the textbook response to an affair is 'shut the other person out and never put yourself in that situation.'

My husband and I have always given each other a lot of freedom. It's been a big deal for us to realize that he expected sexual monogamy and I always thought he knew me well enough to realize that I don't believe in setting restrictions on relationships.

It's been interesting having heart to heart conversations and trying to explain that I'm not talking about swinging, I'm talking about being open (emotionally and physically) to more than one.

Given that we have been okay with each other going out with other people, we've lived apart (for work) and always been upfront about who we were with, I really always assumed he knew that there could be the possibility of either of us developing other relationships.

So that's a lot of babbling. I"m not even sure what I'm asking, maybe I"m just putting stuff out there.

How do you define your beliefs regarding polyamory? How did those of you who are established as such come to that place?

And here is another sticking point for me, or maybe I just need practical help- why does it feel controlling (to me) to have my partner control my sex life, ie determine that I only have sex with him? Sex with another person isn't a diss on him, or make him any less to me. And does the desire for additional relationships just make me a total hedonist? He says I would feel differently if the shoe were on the other foot. However I feel that other relationships would not change who we are or him 'being there for me.'

From what I've read, it seems like the type of poly I identify with is a 'primary' relationship (although as it's been pointed out that doesn't make 'secondaries' any less, just different) and secondary ones. A type born out of necessity since we've been a strong partnership for so long (me and R). And given the types of other relationships we've had, it seems like a very small skip to 'allow' or recognize sexual developments.

Many friendships and deep relationships never develop into the desire for a sexual component but when they do... yeah, I'm asking for permission. Is that wrong?

What generally happens in situations like this (a long time assumed mono relationship)?

PS: feel free to move if this should go somewhere else.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:39 PM
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StudentofLife StudentofLife is offline
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Originally Posted by elle View Post

And here is another sticking point for me, or maybe I just need practical help- why does it feel controlling (to me) to have my partner control my sex life, ie determine that I only have sex with him? Sex with another person isn't a diss on him, or make him any less to me. And does the desire for additional relationships just make me a total hedonist?

What generally happens in situations like this (a long time assumed mono relationship)?

I can only speak from my own experiences, but yes, I have felt an aspect of control, or limitation, comes into play. I have had two relationships devolve into platonic friendships, each time due to health issues with the other person. There was an unstated demand that if they were no longer able/willing to have a sex life, mine should stop when theirs did. That, in effect, since we were in a relationship, their illness and limitations became mine, as though we had to share a body between us.

In the first case, i waited 6 years to see if anything changed, or if it ever occurred to them that asking me to be celibate because they chose to be was unreasonable. it never did. And that's 6 years of my life I will never have back. The responsibility for that is totally mine, for not feeling sure i had the right to ask for more.

Now, it's creeping up on two years. This time, my partner is willing to acknowledge that her illness is not mine, and that my needs/desires don't vanish in conjunction with hers. That's progress.

But mainly, it's progress for me to say (firmly) I will no longer allow someone else to have that kind of power over my life. I won't ever agree again to be monogamous in relationships, and everyone will hear that from me up front from now on. It feels very strange to state that, as though I am asking for too much, but I think that's just unfamiliarity, not being unreasonable.

Allowing one's desires/needs to be unacknowledged seems to lead only to sadness, resentment, distancing, and diminishment of the feelings that brought two people together to begin with. From now on, if things tank, they will do so with me standing up for myself, clearly stating what I want, and intend, and expecting others to do the same.
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Old 04-10-2013, 01:31 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Cheating is not cool. I think it's a big deal to people (in monoships or polyships) because of broken trust/broken agreements. Can't play safe with a liar. If being attracted to others is not a big deal? Tell partner you want to date them. Renegotiate boundaries or end it with existing partner(s), then go date the new person!

Ethics are ethics. *shrug*

Quote:
How do you define your beliefs regarding polyamory? How did those of you who are established as such come to that place?
Always felt that way. Have the capacity and desire to love more than one at a time. At certain times of my life, have. Other times have chosen not to because of other priorities or goals. Life is long. What I want at different times or ages of my life change.

Quote:
And here is another sticking point for me, or maybe I just need practical help- why does it feel controlling (to me) to have my partner control my sex life, ie determine that I only have sex with him?
I do not know how he expresses himself. There's no verbatim examples given.So I'll assume positive intent and assume he's just saying it is not his fancy. If that is what it is?

If one of his personal preferences/boundaries is "For me to share sex with you, it needs to be exclusive?" It's his right to share his body how he wishes. Nobody is just entitled to his body. He chooses how he wants to share it.

His willingness? Also all his own. He doesn't have to be willing to participate in a polyship.

You have your own willingness. The other polyships person(s) have theirs. For a polyship to happen? All players have to share the same willingness.

I don't think it is "controlling you" for him to have a different preference -- it just is how it is. People's preferences are what they are, and compatibility will vary and can change over time as people grow and change.

Quote:
Sex with another person isn't a diss on him, or make him any less to me. And does the desire for additional relationships just make me a total hedonist? He says I would feel differently if the shoe were on the other foot. However I feel that other relationships would not change who we are or him 'being there for me.'
You can feel as you do and value what you value. He feels as he does and values what he values. Maybe you do not value the same things. Again -- compatibility issues.

But you do not determine his willingness to "be there for you" -- he does.

And the relationship DOES change if you all decide to polyship with another or others. What you have now comes to and end because things CHANGED to become something else. There's more polymath, players could have transitional grief and feel poly hell weird... it's just not the same anymore. Your feelings might not change. His might. Because his feelings belong to him.

If you are offering polyship? And he's saying "No, thank you. I do not wish to participate in a polyship" -- then he's within in his rights to decline. He doesn't have to accept every invitation or offer he receives. Can't force someone to do something against their willingness. *shrug*

If his willingness is a hard limit "No way, never would want that for myself. I will not participate in a polyship with you." Have to accept that. It would be fresh of you to expect him to go against the grain to suit you. Just like it would be fresh of him to expect you to go against the grain to suit him.

If it is a soft limit that could change in time -- maybe something like this could help guide conversation to assess that some before he gives his Final Word on the subject.

There is NOTHING wrong with how either of you wants to have your romances -- be it in polyship or monoship. All shapes are valid -- but if it is not a shared willingness and shared shape that you both desire? Not compatible then. Could accept it and make the call for how to proceed next.

He has the right to want his romances to come in the shape he wants.
You have the right to want your romances to come in the shape you want.
  • If these wants and shapes align -- great. You can share that.
  • If they do not align, you work it out and find compromises you both are willing to do so you can enjoy being together after all.
  • Or it can't work out all. There is not compromise to be found that serves both. So you choose to not be together any more.

That's about it.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 04-10-2013 at 04:25 AM.
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Old 04-10-2013, 03:45 AM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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Originally Posted by elle View Post
I also believe that expecting sexual monogamy in relationships seems to set people up to fail. I've always wondered why affairs are the big deal breaker for people when they happen (it's not just 'bad' people!)
I have to agree with Gala that cheating breaks trust. People in non-monogamous relationships still find ways to 'cheat' by not being honest. And after seeing, on an infidelity forum, the mental torment of lies and gaslighting that generally accompanies affairs, I don't really see it as something a 'good' person does.

Quote:
My husband and I have always given each other a lot of freedom. It's been a big deal for us to realize that he expected sexual monogamy and I always thought he knew me well enough to realize that I don't believe in setting restrictions on relationships.
How long have you been married? Are you saying you never intended to be monogamous with your husband? If so, and given that sexual monogamy is generally part of marriage in this society, why would you assume he knew that if you two never discussed it?

Quote:
It's been interesting having heart to heart conversations and trying to explain that I'm not talking about swinging, I'm talking about being open (emotionally and physically) to more than one.
And what is his position so far? Is he thinking about it or definitely not interested?

Quote:
why does it feel controlling (to me) to have my partner control my sex life, ie determine that I only have sex with him?
Quite possibly only you can answer why it feels that way to you, but I never once, in my monogamous marriage, felt that my (now ex) husband 'controlled' my sex life. I see monogamy as a gift two people give to one another, willingly.


Quote:
He says I would feel differently if the shoe were on the other foot. However I feel that other relationships would not change who we are or him 'being there for me.'
Sounds like he's telling you how he feels about it.


Quote:
What generally happens in situations like this (a long time assumed mono relationship)?
You'll find lots of members on this board in this situation. I personally see a lot of heartache on this board in these situations, when one spouse is suddenly handed the news that the other wants to change the rules of the game. It's understandably a problem when one didn't sign up for an open marriage and is suddenly expected to be in one. Others will point out that those for whom it's working are less likely to be on a forum in the first place.

At the very least, I think you can expect many months of upheaval, discussions, working through things, pain on your husband's part. If you are determined to do this and he agrees to try, be prepared to go very slowly.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:02 AM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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The quest is for him to understand old new you or to get him on board?


When you say your husband and you gave each other a lot of freedom what does that mean ...what did that entail ? Is there or was there a mixed message all those years.


What great question on what general happens in a longtime assumed mono marriage. Personally I think it player and situation dependent. How tightly held everyone's beliefs and wants are. How bad everyone wants to be together. Identifying deal breakers.

Do you think pushing this could cause the end of the marriage?
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Old 04-11-2013, 05:10 PM
elle elle is offline
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Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
Cheating is not cool. I think it's a big deal to people (in monoships or polyships) because of broken trust/broken agreements. Can't play safe with a liar. If being attracted to others is not a big deal? Tell partner you want to date them. Renegotiate boundaries or end it with existing partner(s), then go date the new person!

Ethics are ethics. *shrug*
Yes, I agree and thank you for restating. I wasn't trying to condone cheating... Just saying 'affairs' are out there so much perhaps being up front and honest is a better model.

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Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
I do not know how he expresses himself. There's no verbatim examples given.So I'll assume positive intent and assume he's just saying it is not his fancy. If that is what it is?

If one of his personal preferences/boundaries is "For me to share sex with you, it needs to be exclusive?" It's his right to share his body how he wishes. Nobody is just entitled to his body. He chooses how he wants to share it.

His willingness? Also all his own. He doesn't have to be willing to participate in a polyship.

You have your own willingness. The other polyships person(s) have theirs. For a polyship to happen? All players have to share the same willingness.

I don't think it is "controlling you" for him to have a different preference -- it just is how it is. People's preferences are what they are, and compatibility will vary and can change over time as people grow and change.
Yes, he was positive intent. Just not his fancy. But also something he has not seen a positive model of. His experiences are just with hurtful open relationships that had little regard for the 'primary' partner.

Thanks so much for these clarifications, they are helpful to me. I don't want to railroad things or skew them- kwim?


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Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
You can feel as you do and value what you value. He feels as he does and values what he values. Maybe you do not value the same things. Again -- compatibility issues.

But you do not determine his willingness to "be there for you" -- he does.

And the relationship DOES change if you all decide to polyship with another or others. What you have now comes to and end because things CHANGED to become something else. There's more polymath, players could have transitional grief and feel poly hell weird... it's just not the same anymore. Your feelings might not change. His might. Because his feelings belong to him.

If you are offering polyship? And he's saying "No, thank you. I do not wish to participate in a polyship" -- then he's within in his rights to decline. He doesn't have to accept every invitation or offer he receives. Can't force someone to do something against their willingness. *shrug*

If his willingness is a hard limit "No way, never would want that for myself. I will not participate in a polyship with you." Have to accept that. It would be fresh of you to expect him to go against the grain to suit you. Just like it would be fresh of him to expect you to go against the grain to suit him.

If it is a soft limit that could change in time -- maybe something like this could help guide conversation to assess that some before he gives his Final Word on the subject.

There is NOTHING wrong with how either of you wants to have your romances -- be it in polyship or monoship. All shapes are valid -- but if it is not a shared willingness and shared shape that you both desire? Not compatible then. Could accept it and make the call for how to proceed next.

He has the right to want his romances to come in the shape he wants.
You have the right to want your romances to come in the shape you want.
  • If these wants and shapes align -- great. You can share that.
  • If they do not align, you work it out and find compromises you both are willing to do so you can enjoy being together after all.
  • Or it can't work out all. There is not compromise to be found that serves both. So you choose to not be together any more.

That's about it.

Galagirl
Okay, great. Your perspective helps me a lot. I do think there is room for compromise. However, yes, the potential to have long term effects on our relationship is very real and part of why I'd like to talk and explore here as we do the same at home. I also need to type up 'my story' for a reference point.

He's a pretty open person, these are just some big conversations for us to have. He is not a very up front person and will often just keep his mouth shut, so sitting down to talk about things like this are new for him/us.

I greatly respect the tone of the senior members here. I would not be discussing polyamory at all if our situation had not moved me to, although I would have probably always labeled myself 'free spirit.'

'Ethical non-monogamy' makes sense to me, but it certainly isn't a mainstream way of thinking.

Thanks again for your thoughts. I appreciate them.
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Old 04-11-2013, 05:26 PM
elle elle is offline
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I have to agree with Gala that cheating breaks trust. People in non-monogamous relationships still find ways to 'cheat' by not being honest. And after seeing, on an infidelity forum, the mental torment of lies and gaslighting that generally accompanies affairs, I don't really see it as something a 'good' person does.
Well, yes, of course. I have seen infidelity my whole life- but never heard of polyamory. Perhaps if a positive model (knowledge and consent with all partners) were more known, lying and cheating could be more avoided. That's all I was clumsily saying.

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Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
How long have you been married? Are you saying you never intended to be monogamous with your husband? If so, and given that sexual monogamy is generally part of marriage in this society, why would you assume he knew that if you two never discussed it?
Oh, we've been together 16 years. Married for 11.

Well, we've had other men in our bed, he is aware of occasional 'heavy petting' that has gone on with others. We have both worked far apart for extended periods and I have always been (I felt) direct with the idea that another sexual partner (for him) would not destroy my marriage with him. But perhaps I confidently say that knowing he isn't the type to act on his feelings?!

Also, as I nursed and co-slept with babies and I watched him not get the emotional or physical support he needed at home (and be hugely resentful of things I didn't have a ton of control over- as in my body and mind needed recovery time!!) I actively encouraged him to seek that support elsewhere.

As I type that, I see that I"m telling him what's okay for me, but not necessarily asking him what his boundaries are. I need the 'bag' smilie.

He, however, has identified me (correctly) as a risk taker and thrill seeker, with a strong love of being unconventional.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
And what is his position so far? Is he thinking about it or definitely not interested?
Thinking. Trying to understand. And I'm trying to go slow and let him work past negative connotations and understand what I believe so we can move forward. I don't think he's aware of the term polyamory. That will be our discussion this weekend.

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Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
Quite possibly only you can answer why it feels that way to you, but I never once, in my monogamous marriage, felt that my (now ex) husband 'controlled' my sex life. I see monogamy as a gift two people give to one another, willingly.
Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
You'll find lots of members on this board in this situation. I personally see a lot of heartache on this board in these situations, when one spouse is suddenly handed the news that the other wants to change the rules of the game. It's understandably a problem when one didn't sign up for an open marriage and is suddenly expected to be in one. Others will point out that those for whom it's working are less likely to be on a forum in the first place.

At the very least, I think you can expect many months of upheaval, discussions, working through things, pain on your husband's part. If you are determined to do this and he agrees to try, be prepared to go very slowly.
Again, thanks so much. I see that here also, and that's why I am talking through the whole thing to determine if this model of relationship is worth the risk after years of a monogamous relationship.

Perhaps we decide to remain monogamous and put our energies into more boundaries on the relationships we form... although we did discuss that and neither of us was interested. Plus after awhile I"m pretty sure I would become resentful. And we're just talking the nature of our close relationships here, not sex.
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Old 04-11-2013, 05:37 PM
elle elle is offline
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The quest is for him to understand old new you or to get him on board?
To understand my beliefs. Then to figure out how to work together in a way that is satisfactory for us both.

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Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
When you say your husband and you gave each other a lot of freedom what does that mean ...what did that entail ? Is there or was there a mixed message all those years.
Well, when I worked in town and if I went out after work, it would not be uncommon for me to stay out until the wee hours. Occasionally return home in the am. And I was out with men men/women groups. He was aware.

We do quite a bit of partying with other men (our friends) and that includes me being physically close.

As I think about it, I believe the accepted unspoken standard has been 'everything but sex' was probably assumed to be okay. And deep emotional relationships are okay too. That's been discussed.

Although, of course, if you haven't guessed I'm the extrovert and he's the introvert.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
What great question on what general happens in a longtime assumed mono marriage. Personally I think it player and situation dependent. How tightly held everyone's beliefs and wants are. How bad everyone wants to be together. Identifying deal breakers.

Do you think pushing this could cause the end of the marriage?
Okay. I think for our situation it might be something we do want... I'll go type that out now.

No, pushing this will not end our marriage. We love each other! He's not a closed person, he's just feeling insecure right now, is my take. And pissed, a little bit as he wants me to just say 'okay, we're monogamous, done' so that he doesn't have to worry. I just won't come off of it because even if we decide not to have other physical relationships, it doesn't change the fact that I am more of a poly-amorous person.
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Old 04-12-2013, 03:13 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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He's a pretty open person, these are just some big conversations for us to have. He is not a very up front person and will often just keep his mouth shut, so sitting down to talk about things like this are new for him/us.
Hrm. If you moved to polyshipping, this could be a big problem in communications with all the poly players. Even in just the 2 people marriage, it's sounding not as easy as it could be.

If the main goal is this...

Quote:
To understand my beliefs. Then to figure out how to work together in a way that is satisfactory for us both.
Is your need the acceptance of your polyness? What if he totally accepted your polyness... but still wanted exclusive monoship? Would him opening enough to talk about your poly feelings be enough for you to stay content in relationship with him?

Is he monoamorous? (Prefers to love only one person?)

Or Monoamorous AND monogamous? Does he know?

Quote:
As I think about it, I believe the accepted unspoken standard has been 'everything but sex' was probably assumed to be okay. And deep emotional relationships are okay too. That's been discussed.
Better to spell it out. Could not assume or have anything "assumed" -- because then it is not a "relationship standard" in the relationship you share. It is an assumption. Maybe he's got some assumptions? Could continue to clear up communication things to be sure you are on the same page.

Quote:
No, pushing this will not end our marriage. We love each other! He's not a closed person, he's just feeling insecure right now, is my take. And pissed, a little bit as he wants me to just say 'okay, we're monogamous, done' so that he doesn't have to worry. I just won't come off of it because even if we decide not to have other physical relationships, it doesn't change the fact that I am more of a poly-amorous person.
If you love each other, and his need is for "reassure me" ... how do you give it to help alleviate his insecure?

How does he meet your need for conversation and understanding and acceptance of your polyness?

When thinking about his need for reassure... (because to me that is what it sounds like here...) How does this come across?

Quote:
Well, we've had other men in our bed, he is aware of occasional 'heavy petting' that has gone on with others. We have both worked far apart for extended periods and I have always been (I felt) direct with the idea that another sexual partner (for him) would not destroy my marriage with him. But perhaps I confidently say that knowing he isn't the type to act on his feelings?!
Quote:
Also, as I nursed and co-slept with babies and I watched him not get the emotional or physical support he needed at home (and be hugely resentful of things I didn't have a ton of control over- as in my body and mind needed recovery time!!) I actively encouraged him to seek that support elsewhere.
Quote:
As I type that, I see that I"m telling him what's okay for me, but not necessarily asking him what his boundaries are. I need the 'bag' smilie.
Quote:
He, however, has identified me (correctly) as a risk taker and thrill seeker, with a strong love of being unconventional.
I am only guessing here but if he's not feeling comfortable and feeling upset because he's needing reassure all that stuff would feel like "Aaaahhhhh!" to me. Not really liking any of it but not saying so for fear of "losing you" or something. What you might perceive as "loving him and giving him space to get his needs met that I cannot" he might perceive as "leaving me!" stuff.

You could take more time to ask him about his stuff and where his boundaries are. I know it might be hard if he's not willing to disclose but... could slow it down and be attentive and encouraging. If he's in the place of needing reassure and needing connection with you... could he maybe feeling emotionally abandoned or fearful of that? To where even just talking feels threatening?

Maybe could ask him that?
"Do you feel emotionally abandoned because of these things in the past (list those things up there in quotes)? Are these assumptions of mine just that -- assumptions? Do I meet your needs for reassure? Are there other needs I could meet better?"
I still get the feeling like improving communication here is the main thing on the plate. I wouldn't skip that and rush on to polyshipping. It's good you are trying to sort things out between you. Keep going!

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 04-12-2013 at 03:17 AM.
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Old 04-13-2013, 07:47 PM
Lasochka Lasochka is offline
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I am only guessing here but if he's not feeling comfortable and feeling upset because he's needing reassure all that stuff would feel like "Aaaahhhhh!" to me. Not really liking any of it but not saying so for fear of "losing you" or something. What you might perceive as "loving him and giving him space to get his needs met that I cannot" he might perceive as "leaving me!" stuff.
Galagirl
My situation sounds quite similar to elle's, the more I hear about it. Thanks for the piece of advice above, Galagirl. I have also frequently encouraged my husband to look for a girlfriend, but I never thought about that it could be seen this way. I will talk with him and find out if he got the wrong impression.
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