Advice for a polywog? Pushy lover, uneven affection
Apologies for the length of background info—and thank you for indulging me! At the foot are my questions, if you'd rather just skip down to that.
I am new to nonmonogamy. I had always wanted to explore it—there's something so thrilling about the freedom to pursue multiple loves, and the few times I've had serious relationships, I've often felt guilty over my wandering eye. I used to think it an indicator that I shouldn't be with someone...more the fool, I! More importantly, I like the idea that relationships don't have to conform to a certain shape, or progression.
My journey begins with wanting to explore NM about a year ago. I had just got on OKC, ready to explore open dating when I met The Perfect Guy. He was openly dating at the time, and I told him I'm new to it, but I'm OK with him seeing other people, for now, while we see where this goes. Our relationship was fresh and he was recently out of a VERY negative mono relationship, so I didn't want us to rush anything.
However, he pushed us toward something serious, monogamous. I wasn't wholly opposed to it, he just wanted things to escalate more quickly. I think he saw in me what I saw in him—a good partner, and the potential for something good, communicative, that lasts. I was hesitant at first (in that I wanted to take it slow—I'm not very experienced in serious relationships and have intimacy issues), and by the time I was all in, after 2-3 months of being "serious"—slow, I know—TPG said he wasn't sure about us and wanted to see other people.
I was heartbroken. But I was all in, and I adore him, and after a two-month break I said I wanted to see him again, and that being open might be the better way to start things off. I saw NM/poly as an adventure we could embark on together, and an opportunity to become more intimate and work on our communication. We are now dating again and both seeing other people and things were going swimmingly until...
I realized I am totally in love with him. I've never been in love before, and I suppose I never imagined when I was in would be in a nonmonogamous context (that is, having to share). More importantly...I'm struggling with the feeling of nonreciprocation, as I am certain he doesn't feel as deeply as I do.
I should preface this by saying I don't consider myself a very jealous person. I've experienced compersion before, but I suppose I did not feel as deeply for those men as I do for TPG. That said, I always imagined, well, not having to share a Partner, once I found one.
We are taking round two of our relationship slow, and he is seeing another girl regularly. She is very kinky—something I wanted to, want to, and have been exploring with him, because I've never been with someone willing to explore kinky sex (or who have been open about their desire to).
I struggled with some jealousy when first I knew about her—it is an adjustment, for sure, my relationship with him going from something serious, closed, intimate to just...dating again—but I felt pretty OK about it all the past month. After all, I am seeing another guy regularly, myself, and sometimes dating others.
But recently I have been struggling with jealousy in a way that I never have before, a way that affected the time I spent with TPG. I was with him and I consistently thought about her—partly because he often brought her up in conversation. I realized I was comparing, which I know needs to be addressed. So, I asked him not to bring her up unless I asked about her (a boundary I thought we were already operating under, which he brought up in our first chat about boundaries—he didn't remember this, apparently). It was just for the time being, while things are new and I figure out how I feel about this, and how to work through the jealousy. I wanted to choose myself how soon and how much I bring her into my life, if at all. At the same time, I do not want to dictate who he can talk about and talk to (he would also text her quite often/constantly check his phone when we were together), as that feels controlling and very negative to me.
However, in the few times I have seen him since that discussion, he continued to casually and consistently bring her up in conversations. I have expressed displeasure at this, and have been met with well, disagreement. He doesn't think I should feel this way, and that it is "unfair" to ask it of him. I understand his sentiments—I know he's caught up in NRE—but at the same time, it feels like he is not respecting my needs, that trying to wear me down and force the pace of this relationship, again, to his desired conclusion. Before, it was something serious a lot sooner than the either of us were ready for. Now, I think his ideal is a situation where the three of us (me, him, and his new girl) all hang out & have sex, etc.
This is something that's not completely out of the cards for me. However, feeling the way I feel right now—less important than her, and that my feelings and desires are not being respected—it will take some time and (dare I say it?) work in order for me to get there. I also want it to feel like it's MY choice, not his, or hers.
It's TPG's pushiness that has my mind and heart in knots right now. If we are going to work as a poly couple, it's my understanding that feelings such as mine must be met with compassion and worked through together. Instead, I feel like he is unwilling to put in the effort to help me through this. I don't think I am being unreasonable to ask that for a certain amount of time, I get his full focus during our time together.
At worst, his ignoring my wishes makes me feel like he doesn't care at all, and that our relationship is expendable. I get the feeling that if it's too "hard", he'll just break up with me again. It makes me question his style of poly—it makes me wonder if it's really just about the sex for him. It makes me doubt that he is, in fact, The Perfect Guy.
The above is me being cynical. I know he cares for me, I just wonder how deeply. I DO care for him immensely, though, and want to see this through. I have a bad habit of bailing on relationships when things get the least bit hard, and I feel in order to honor these feelings I have for him, I ought to put in the effort and not give up just yet. It may be that we are ill-suited to pursue polyamory together, as we are now. But damned if I'll ever say I didn't try.
My questions are these: