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Old 12-23-2013, 01:00 AM
spookymulder spookymulder is offline
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Default stuck in the end of a V type poly relationship

hello everyone, thanks for reading and i hope that i can get some advice on my particular situation. i really admire this forum and i've appreciated reading and learning from everyone and your experiences thus far.

here's the outline of my situation:
me, female, 2 months into a V type relationship with B, female, and her long term currently distant male primary partner T.

the particulars:
B and T began dating 2.5 years ago in a mono capacity, i have been a friend of both of them for most of this time, and have enjoyed my friendship with both of them, though i have always been closer with B and have known T mostly through his relationship with B. from what i understand, they discussed open relationships and decided it was worth looking at, months before B and I admitted to liking each other. T went on exchange to europe for university this year. this was about a month before B told me her feelings. we liked each other before T left, and I don't consider it a coincidence that we became romantically engaged because T left. okay so, B asked explicitly if it would be okay with T if she told me that she liked me, he said yes, and then established communication with T if she started seeing me. T gave the go ahead, and the rest of the conversations were private and between them so i don't know T's specific wording, but i was assured many times that this was something that they would be looking at and discussing and communicating about.


about a week ago, T told B that he had started seeing someone else without the same honest communication that B expected and had given him with me, this was a breach of trust for B and was seen as cheating and both parties agreed, though T's reasoning was along the lines of "well you did the same thing!" and because of this prompt and because of other issues with their relationship, they broke up. these are issues that have nothing to do with my explicit role in this relationship.

since then I have been trying to be very supportive of B. the time that we've spent together since the break up has been a lot of her talking about T: her anger, her sadness and getting things off her chest, crying, and compulsively checking her e-mail for signs of T's coming and going. this has not been easy for me to navigate because I understand, and I want to support her in her time of need. I want to enjoy my time with her and also give her space so that she may deal appropriately. i think i have done a good job at this. but she also asks for my advice, asking me things such as: did T ever love me at all? how could he do this to me? T is an idiot, etc, etc. and i don't know where my boundaries should be set on hearing this and maintaining dialogue. i admit to overstepping my own comfort in telling her that I agree with her decision, but I also understand that I am not a neutral party and its not my place to comment on T, or his behaviour. i've also had to hear a lot of things that have hurt me like "i thought that T was my soulmate" and "we had so many plans together for the future" and I know that this is her time, but I cannot help but feel very hurt that she talks about T with such fervor and without fully understanding that she is talking to her partner about this. since I am her partner too, it is a hard place for me to be in, as her partner and as someone who has their own individual relationship with her, apart from T.

today, T e-mailed her while i was over, and it brought them back to square one, offsetting any progress and plans that B and I made together for the day. they are both very confused about what this means, and I understand that they need to talk, but it sounded like a hard conversation to have, and I felt very stuck. she asked for some space, but for me not to leave, and so I didn't, and i spent the day hearing more and more about their relationship. I became upset and quite exhausted, and she asked what was up, and I told her that it really hurt me sometimes to hear about it all, and that I wanted to support her, but hearing her complain and wrestle with his intentions both currently and in the past was bothering me. I asked if she wanted me to leave, and she said no.

later on, I left, with our last conversation about how she can't handle conflict between both T and me, but I reminded her that I never meant to pressure her and make her feel like she couldn't talk about this very big thing in her life right now, and that I knew resolving break ups can't be done in a week. and that I wanted to be patient and work through this, but it still seems that my relationship with B seems to be up in the air. she feels guilty, but says that her hands are tied and that this is all she can think about. i understand, but i also feel very sad. both because i want to support her, and i empathize with her, but also because I feel really hurt and fear for our relationship's future. she was not in any place to talk about our relationship at length right now, but she said that we would in the new year.


phewf, what a mouthful, sorry to make you read it all. here are a few questions that i have:

- is there any problem with my communication here that you can see? am i wrong to feel a little hurt by her discussing at length her other relationship? am i being a good partner by trying to not ignore the way i feel, and trying to discuss this with B?

- B's leaving to go home for christmas break tomorrow morning and will be back in a week, i am going to try my best to give her space to come to her own conclusions, but i am still panicked. ordinarily, i know that this is still a new relationship, and that it has its kinks to work out, but she's also been my friend for a long time, and i have established a great deal of care and admiration for this woman. i truly enjoy being with her, and would like to continue to do so, but i also am completely ready to accept the decision that she cannot do so at this time. do you think that there is anything that i can do? that i can say to her? or does this seem to be out of my hands, and ball is in her court?

- are there any resources or experiences that you can share about the loss of your partner's primary partner? or about V type relationships in general? and how to be supportive of your partner's decisions.

- any advice at all for how to continue on?


THANK YOU SO MUCH, and I will be available to answer any questions you have. or if there's anything else you want to know.
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  #2  
Old 12-23-2013, 01:26 AM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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I can only answer by sharing my own story. Hopefully you will glean something from it - and the conclusions I have come to. I was part of a polyfi triad that crashed and burned. I joined a married couple - the woman (I am female btw) and I had been friends since childhood. It all started off well enough, but then after becoming deeply emotionally involved with both she and her husband, and becoming fully integrated into their household, she changed her mind with no explanation. Very hurtful to me and to her husband. We tried to make it work, but I left 9 months after I arrived. 14 months and 2 marriage counselors later, they are separated and divorcing.

In the last 8 months I have reconnected with E, the husband. While we were both relieved to renew our relationship, people are not interchangeable and he has been totally grief stricken by the loss of his marriage and his relationship with his soon to be ex. I have had to emotionally come to terms with what I already logically understood: no matter how happy he may be to have me back in his life, the two relationships are separate, and I can't replace his loss. He has a right to sort through his emotions, and yes, at times his grief is all he can think about. He does not have the time and energy to devote to us. I have learned that that doesn't mean he doesn't appreciate me, but his pain regarding this other relationship has to be dealt with.

It has been 8 months for me and E is grieving a 15 year marriage and the mother of his children. It is getting better.

I have also been told things like, "I never believed my marriage would end," (it was ultimately his choice to leave an emotionally abusive situation), leaving me thinking, "well if it hadn't, we wouldn't be together." And yet I quickly came to realize that when he said such things, he wasn't seeing the connection between the two events; he was just in shock. So is B. When she says things like T was her soulmate, she really isn't thinking anything in regard to you. She is just expressing her loss.

Sounds like you are doing well. Just remember that whatever B says about T really has nothing to do with how she feels about you. You and T are not interchangeable.
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  #3  
Old 12-23-2013, 08:22 PM
spookymulder spookymulder is offline
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thank you for your input, bookbug. i'm very glad to have learned of your experiences, i feel more energetic towards communicating with B. the best thing that i gleaned from your post is that it's worth the struggle if you care about someone. i know it takes hard work, sometimes slow and painful work, but good work too, and i have to hope that i will be able to have a semblance of that in my own relationship. i know that life doesn't always give you a fair hand, and watching your partner go through a hard time in love, while you're still around, is challenging. it's very hard for me to watch B go through this, but with putting my own ego aside and listening more, i hope we can continue to grow in our relationship.

if anyone is still reading, i'm still unsure how to communicate what my boundaries are in hearing about her relationship with T. there is a definite stomach churning feeling that comes on inside of me when she constantly references him. to clarify, this is when we do things together that are separate from him and new, not when she just mentions their relationship. i understand a healthy amount of dialogue about T (she loves him, and I support that with no question at all), i am just unsure what a good scale is, because we must be able to build our relationship apart from him. even before their break up, i have dreamt that he was a figure standing over me that is inhibiting my growth close to B (i rely on my dreams for subconscious clarity sometimes). i have never faltered in understanding that he comes first in her heart as primary, but i expect some reference to equality and separateness. i feel anxious that there isn't very much room for me, because she brings him up so often when we've been trying to create our own relationship. is this my own jealousy? or is this common place to feel?

for example of a situation, about a month ago, pre break up. i was with B when she became stressed out about her workload. she becomes physically ill and upset, almost manic and starts hyperventilating, and as i am trying to diffuse the situation and offer my support to her, she said "you should ask T how to deal with me when I am like this". this threw me off, as our relationship is separate from theirs and T has offered no communication between us about the relationship, so i respected that, and when i tried to communicate with her about this statement of hers, she apologized and said "well he knows me the most". there have been many situations like this (a few nights where B and I fell asleep and her last thoughts spoken out loud were of T. and another when we talked of taking a specific trip in the future and her exclaiming that she already has plans with T to do it, etc). I believe that I have been understanding and empathetic and tried my best to give them their separate space and time to get used to things. (neither of them have any experience with open or poly relationships, and i do).

however, i am still very new to the V hinge type relationship, and even newer to the deterioration of it with someone else's primary, does this feeling of overcommunication and exhaustion fall square on my shoulders? does anyone have any tips on the best way to bring this up, maturely and calmly and so that it can be an open conversation that feels free of blame? i don't want to blame her for my feelings, i understand that i am responsible for them, i just want to brainstorm and perhaps make a list of my boundaries and my feelings that i can present so that i don't feel like i am paving over my emotions and pushing them down. i am a sensitive virgo ruled by mercury, the planet of communication, and i don't feel that it's entirely within me not to try.

i know that i am in a period of upheaval here, and that most of the action has been decided without me, and i must (forgive my analogy) ride the waves if i want to continue my relationship. i'm just the kind of person that benefits from discussion and conversation, and i can't bring it up to my friends (as most are her friends too) or my family (because they don't know that i am poly). any tips? any stories/ experiences? anything i can go on here? am i wrong or asking too much?

Last edited by spookymulder; 12-23-2013 at 08:32 PM. Reason: edited so that i could add more explanation.
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  #4  
Old 12-24-2013, 02:17 AM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Hi spookymulder,

Re:
Quote:
"Is there any problem with my communication here that you can see?"
Not that I can see ...

Re:
Quote:
"Am I wrong to feel a little hurt by her discussing at length her other relationship?"
First of all I don't personally think there's any feeling that's wrong to feel. We can choose what to do about our feelings but we can't just wave some magic wand so as to choose what we'll feel. But if your question is, "Is it reasonable to feel this way?" ... sure I think it's reasonable. You've been present for her for some time now, only to hear her obsess over this fellow and not put him behind her. You're missing your own relationship with her and are wondering when she'll ever get back to that.

Re:
Quote:
"Am I being a good partner by trying to not ignore the way I feel, and trying to discuss this with B?"
I don't see a problem with confessing to her that this is difficult for you. You can't do a lot more than that as she needs a certain amount of time to work this all out and there's probably not much of a way to shorten that time, but if you need to take time out to nurture you, you have to take that time. Don't neglect yourself for her. If she tells you to stay but your heart wants a rest, you simply tell her that you need a break and that you'll return as soon as you can.

Re:
Quote:
"Do you think that there is anything that I can do? that I can say to her? or does this seem to be out of my hands, and ball is in her court?"
For the most part the ball is in her court; you can lend a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, but when you feel yourself being pulled down under you need to take a break and give yourself some time.

Re:
Quote:
"Are there any resources or experiences that you can share about the loss of your partner's primary partner? or about V type relationships in general? and how to be supportive of your partner's decisions?"
If you do a tag search for "V" you'll probably find a number of threads that deal with V relationships. I am not acquainted (in my own life) with the experience of a partner losing their primary partner, but I am one end in a V type relationship and I have experienced my partner venting about her husband. I used to try to give her advice, but over time I came to realize that she didn't need advice. She just needed me to hear her and sympathize. Perhaps ask questions to help her come to her own decision about what to do.

Re:
Quote:
"Any advice at all for how to continue on?"
This might be a time to consider taking a break for now. It seems to me that your partner is just keeping you around while she spends all her time talking to her primary. I wonder if she wouldn't be able to do that just as well without keeping you on hand like a waiter at a restaurant. Perhaps she thinks it'd be rude to dismiss you? It might be okay for you to dismiss yourself. Tell her you need to sort some things out in your own mind, while she sorts things out with her primary, and that you'll be willing to be there for her if she'll let you know if/when there's something specific she needs.

While taking this break, think about what you want long-term and if this is the relationship for you. You might even consider going on a date or two, if it seems that you and your partner are bound to split up anyhow -- even if it's a temporary split. What I'm trying to get at (reiteration time here) is you need to take care of you. I think you've been trying very hard to take care of her which is great, but it might also be good for her to take care of herself for a little while.

---

Re:
Quote:
"I feel anxious that there isn't very much room for me, because she brings him up so often when we've been trying to create our own relationship. Is this my own jealousy? or is this commonplace to feel?"
I'm sure it's "normal" enough, if being normal is what matters here. As for whether this springs out of jealousy, only you can answer that.

Re:
Quote:
"Does this feeling of overcommunication and exhaustion fall square on my shoulders?"
It does not (IMO).

Re:
Quote:
"Does anyone have any tips on the best way to bring this up, maturely and calmly and so that it can be an open conversation that feels free of blame?"
The best way I know of is to schedule a sit-down where you and she can both share with each other your thoughts and feelings about your relationship. But I'm not sure if she's ready to hear such things, even in that type of a setting. You'll have to make your own judgment call, and tread carefully if you do decide to have this discussion with her. Otherwise I'd wait until she is in a better headspace regarding her primary.

Re:
Quote:
"Any tips?"
There are no tips that I know of for this type of situation. The best you can do is lend a listening ear, and take time-outs when you need to.

Re:
Quote:
"Any stories/experiences?"
Have you considered visiting the Life stories and blogs board? You could journal your own thoughts and feelings, as well as reading those of others.

I have heard of this type of situation before, and honestly, the passage of time seems to be the only cure for it. That's why I say, don't just stand by while your stomach's in knots over this. Give yourself some space and clear your head.

Re:
Quote:
"Anything I can go on here?"
I just wouldn't try so hard to fix her problem for her. This is a problem that really only she and her primary can sort out.

Re:
Quote:
"Am I wrong or asking too much?"
If you are asking her to be more present for you, you are not wrong, nor asking too much necessarily, but the sad fact remains that she may not have the wherewithal to truly be there for you right now. That's why I suggested taking a break from the relationship for a spell, while she concentrates on her primary, until that situation has petered down to a dull roar. But you'll have to make the call as to what you can endure, what you want to endure, and whether she could stand to be on her own for a little while.

You needn't abandon B, but just make sure you are taking care of yourself too.

Regards,
Kevin T.
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Old 12-24-2013, 02:59 AM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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It comes down to a matter of resources. B doesn't have the emotional resources to deal with the loss of T and be fully present for you. You may not always have adequate resources to deal with B's turmoil and neglect. Believe me, I know what that feels like.

I have to agree with Kevin that it probably comes down to time. There is little that can be done to hurry the process. In my situation, E is very logical, makes rational decisions, completely understands his personal situation. However, he is often chagrined to find that understanding the issues does not make his turbulent emotions evaporate or enable him to always enjoy our relationship. The truth of the matter is, if I were not already on scene, I doubt E would choose to date anyone for some time yet. Might be the case with B too.

So you're right, it kind of comes down to patience, and putting in the work. And Kevin is right, self-care is important too.
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Old 12-24-2013, 12:04 PM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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Hi, welcome to the board.

I am sorry you can't just enjoy your new relationship, but have to deal with your partner's mourning so soon. Like any grief, it can be overwhelming and all one can think about.

But it sounds like even before their breakup, she spent too much time talking to you about him. You want your time with her to be about you two, not all about her bf. So, that is an underlying problem...

For now, enjoy the break while she's away for xmas. She can probably process her grief with friends and family back home. Likewise when she's back, you do not need to be her only shoulder of support. You say you have mutual friends. Maybe encourage her to talk to them about her bf, and get your ass out of there so you don't need to feel hurt and unspecial, almost invisible. Do this as often as you need to. Otherwise I am afraid you will start to feel used and resentful and bitter.

Actually I feel there's a good chance she will get over him starting his new relationship improperly and they might get back together. Gird your loins for a wild emotional ride. I agree you could start a blog here to express your feelings around this unfortunate event.
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Old 12-29-2013, 09:19 AM
spookymulder spookymulder is offline
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hello, just an update and perhaps a conclusion to my story. after a few days of small talk while she is away for the holidays, B has asked for space and a break from our relationship. she felt as if the communication and support that i was trying to put forth was very smothering and gave her added pressure. i am very sorry that it came across this way, and i would probably spend countless hours thinking about it. yet, i am not too surprised by this result, as her break up with T has been affecting her a lot, and has made her requestion a lot in her own life. she is in her words "very fucked up and broken". i thought that i could be a reference point for her, someone that could keep her above water and support her through it, but it's just one of those things that end up out of your control sometimes. my heart is a little broken, and as much as i try to stay optimistic, i am not sure that this is a situation that you can truly come back from, especially when it happened very shortly into the start of our relationship. we'll see of course. i want to thank you for all of your advice and your help in understanding this. i truly appreciate all of the wisdom and sharing that you've done with me.
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Old 12-29-2013, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spookymulder View Post


since then I have been trying to be very supportive of B. the time that we've spent together since the break up has been a lot of her talking about T: her anger, her sadness and getting things off her chest, crying, and compulsively checking her e-mail for signs of T's coming and going. this has not been easy for me to navigate because I understand, and I want to support her in her time of need. I want to enjoy my time with her and also give her space so that she may deal appropriately. i think i have done a good job at this. but she also asks for my advice, asking me things such as: did T ever love me at all? how could he do this to me? T is an idiot, etc, etc...

...she asked for some space, but for me not to leave, and so I didn't, and i spent the day hearing more and more about their relationship. I became upset and quite exhausted, and she asked what was up, and I told her that it really hurt me sometimes to hear about it all, and that I wanted to support her, but hearing her complain and wrestle with his intentions both currently and in the past was bothering me. I asked if she wanted me to leave, and she said no...
Quote:
Originally Posted by spookymulder View Post
... B has asked for space and a break from our relationship. she felt as if the communication and support that i was trying to put forth was very smothering and gave her added pressure...
Seems like she wasn't sure how much space she needed! Pushing you away with one hand, drawing you back with another. I hope this break will help you to rest and regroup while she gets her shit together.
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Love withers under constraint; its very essence is liberty. It is compatible neither with envy, jealousy or fear. It is there most pure, perfect and unlimited when its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserve. -- Shelley

me: Mags, 58, living with:
miss pixi, 37, who is dating (NRE):
Master, 32
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Old 12-29-2013, 04:38 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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I am sorry. It seems like the break-up with T has shaken her to her core. I imagine B knows you weren't trying to smother her. It's just that she is totally overwhelmed and can't cope. It is going to take some time for her to recover.

Again, I am sorry. The timing of your relationship is truly unfortunate.

Hugs.
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Old 12-29-2013, 07:41 PM
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Sorry to hear about that spooky. I can only hope that this will give you a chance to rest up and clear your head. And, I don't think you should put your life on hold waiting for B either. Get out and have some fun sometimes.

With sympathy,
Kevin T.
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