Hi from Here
Hi all I'm a 47 yr old trying to adapt to my first experience with ethical non monogamy. Its been a difficult time with a lot of confusion, though it's also been very rewarding and I have really appreciated a lot of the things I've learned and experienced. I have tried to do my best to learn and be open minded but my bf and I continue to have a lot of problems getting on the same page about certain things.
He brought up the non monogamy several years into what appeared to be a very committed, monogamous relationship by being with someone behind my back, which opened the discussion on a note that included many hurt feelings all around and complicated the discussion tremendously. We have been in therapy for the past year, he has participated faithfully, trying to get our relationship on solid footing before we move ahead and open anything, with mixed results. I (and the therapist) feel I have made incredible progress given the way we started and my family history with infidelity, (my father was a very narcissistic person who used sexual control to humiliate women including my mother and myself) which made the event very triggering for me and very difficult to get over.
OTOH my bf (who has other issues such as depression and a bit of alcohol problems) has gotten increasingly impatient, intolerant, and complains frequently about how slow things are going and that I am having way too much trouble with things for him. I really love him, I want to help him with what he wants, and I am very sad becuase I have worked so hard but nothing I do seems good enough. I told him recently I'm ready to move ahead, and I truly meant it, I'd like to start crafting an agreement and get ready to begin opening our relationship, I really feel I am ready and want to move ahead, there is no point delaying anymore, but despite the work we have done to learn to communciate and understand each other, there remain significant sticking points in our ability to communicate that we just cannot seem to figure out.
The biggest issue is that I'm a very verbally oriented person who really thrives on verbal reassurance and positive feedback. Words are my love language (his is quality time). We have gone in circles on the topic since first getting together, he is very communicative but seems to feel that -any- need for verbal reassurance in a relationship is pathological.. (noone else feels my need for reassurance is excessive except for him)
The more I ask him for verbal reassurance, to tell me things he appreciates about me, tell me the relationship is important to him, tell me things that make our relationship unique to him.. to be -explicit- and encouraging about what he wants from me and what he sees in our future.. the more he refuses to do it and just gets angrier and angrier about it and more frustrated with me. He continually accuses me of trying to make him responsible for my feelings, which I just think is completley not true. I think asking for some amount of verbal reassurance is healthy and normal, he feels that if he gives in to this request in any way, he will be 'doing all the work' in the relationship and feeding some sort of pathology... and he compeltely refuses to do it.
He thinks it 'should be obvous' how much he loves me from his actions. But, actions do not give me explicit information in the same way words do. And what I am looking for, what gives me the comfort, is =explicit information=. Actions are wonderful but because of my family history of incredibily huge amounts of disihonesty in actions, I have come to distrust people's actions, and misinterpret them often.. becuase of this I frequently ask for verbal clarity when I dont understand something..... to me this is totally normal and a good thing to do. I have tried to explain this to both him and my therapist, she gets it, he just does not.
I have tried very hard to learn to appreciate the many non verbal ways he expresses love for me.. and I do.. however, I have become pretty convinced after a year of tryign that my need for verbal reassurance will not go away. I think its something that I honestly really need to feel confident in any relationship, especially an open one, and I just dont see what is unhealthy or not ok about it.
This difficulty getting this reassurance through the course of our relationship (which to me seems so incredibly easy to provide) has increased my insecurity by a billion times. Which only makes me need more reassurance, which feeds the problem. We absolutely cannot come to a middle ground on this issue and I think both of us are becoming very discouraged.
I am used to having healthy, supportive long term relationships and have a healthy relationship history. This has been the most difficult relationship I have ever been in, although many things about it have been very good. I have always asked for a moderate amount of verbal feedback and reassurance from my partners and noone has ever seen it as excessive or difficult to provide before.
In this case, his refusal to validate this need has turned it into a huge paranoid obsession for me. We still continue to go around and around and he continues to insist that there is somethign wrong with needing -any- verbal feedback at all. To compound the problem he is quite comfortable sharing -negative- feedback. He will easily say stuff like, hes frustrated, hes giving up, he thinks I cant do it, he thinks I'm not makign any progress, and all the stuff about me he -doesnt- like and that exasperate and annoy him... and this makes it feel even more unbalanced in my mind.... When I feel Im hearing a lot of negative or critical feedback, I have an even -higher- need for positive feedback, to balance it out.
I dont know what to think anymore becuase I feel it is somethign that is healthy to ask for, I dont think its excessive, and its somethign I am pretty sure I cannot be in this relationship without.
I just don't know what to do anymore I feel so good about the progress I've made, I truly am open to exploring this with him and can see many good things that could come of it. But I am positive I cannot do it without more explicit verbal feedback, and we cannot seem to agree on this topic.
Sorry this has gotten long, I am very frustrated and we have had another huge fight about it, and I am losing hope, which is really sad because I feel I've made so much progress and was really looking forward to explloring this with him, but I can't understand why this little thing is such a massive problem.... It seems so simple, I cannot understand the resistance here. Our therapist has not really been able to help us either with this but I think it's the main issue we need to work out or I'm afriad this cannot work.
Thanks for listening. Hope to get some useful feedback.
ah, edit: I hope its ok to add here that my -fear- has become that he is just kind of keeping me hanging on in his life becuase he needs me basically... I provide a lot of emotional comfort in his life I think. Or that, he feels a sense of obligation, or guilt, over what happened. I think to some degree he truly loves me, I know he is attracted to me, he is attentive and spends a lot of time with me, but I can't figure out why he is so obtuse about what he wants and what he sees in the future and things...... I know he is depressed and dealing with a lot in his job and life and he tells me it isnt about me.. I try to believe him and be supportive but I continue to feel a lack and a need from the lack of clarity (seems like mixed messages and I've told him this a billion times) and the difficulty I have talking to him about it. He expresses incredible frustration and defensivenes when I try to discuss these things with him and its very frustrating. He keeps telling me to communicate what I feel and need and I do my level best, but for some reason no matter how I do it, he just can't seem to hear me, and just gets impatient and upset..... I just feel something is going on that I'm not understanding, I feel like on some level, he is not being honest with me. But he makes me feel crazy when I try to bring it up. How can I get to the bottom of this? Thanks again.
Last edited by blithespirit08; 11-07-2013 at 06:10 AM.