Heartsick--need to hear from those who've been through it
New to the site, and relatively new to an open marriage--about two years at this point. Forgive me for errors in terminology; they are not intended to diminish or offend.
I'm a mid-40s bisexual cisgender male, married for more than 15 years (together for more than 20) to a "straight" cisgender woman. She knew I was bi before we married, and when we married, we'd both been serial monogamists in our relationships until then, and monogamy was right for us at the time we married. I thought it always would be, especially since I wasn't hiding my bisexuality from her, and we allowed space for it in my life and our lives, in terms of my identity and erotic imagination, porn, etc. so that it wasn't some big toxic secret.
About five years ago (hello, mid-life crisis cliches, yes, I see you there, thanks), my feelings about being bi and, eventually, about being monogamous, really began to change. I wanted, after more than 20 years since my last intimate contact with men, to have that in my life again. After stumbles and false starts, about two years ago we decided to open our marriage, for me to see men (only) outside of it. My wife is free to see other people (any gender) if she wishes, but has thus far not pursued it.
All was going well--some less than great encounters for me, sure, but I had also begun to establish one or two regular outside partners with whom I had good connections, even friendships, and good m-to-m sex, but who otherwise didn't violate our "don't fall deeply in love with someone else" rule.
(We understand we can't "control" who we fall in love with, ultimately, but have promised each other to keep each other as primary, not to leave each other, and to keep the deepest emotional connection and fidelity to each other. Infatuations and crushes, we felt, could come and go.)
For the most part, it's been working fine. We process a lot, and keep checking in. I've kept no secrets, though I have shaded some details, either through a mutual sense of TMI, or respect for others' privacy, or for a feeling of needing to explore these sides of my sexuality without always calibrating them against her reactions, positive or negative.
Many months ago, after one partner had pulled away after not wanting to have to be "the man who vanishes" due to the fact that we are not really open about being in an open marriage, I met a younger guy. He's great. We clicked: intellectually, temperamentally, and sexually. Cue mutual infatuation. Add in some D/s roleplay and cue intense mutual infatuation.
My wife noticed, and I was relatively forthright about, this new aspect. I was feeling NRE big time, and we processed. (All three of us, actually. He continued to impress me with his maturity and understanding, and has never wanted to be a threat to our marriage.) I expressed a desire to make him "a very regular thing"--and she agreed, but with the condition that I not see anyone else.
I had my doubts about that, at the time, but agreed to give it a try. Over the months we tried this, the intensity of my attention to him for all of my m/m sexual energy obviously increased, and since he was returning it in kind to me, it felt pretty great, even though I knew it couldn't last and was setting us all up for a fall. But for my wife's part, she's least comfortable with "the unknown"--which includes when I'm in a "finding dates" mode, getting to know new guys--her sense of threat (emotional, health, social, etc.) to me and to us is understandably much higher during those times. So the appeal, for her, of my having a single regular partner on the side who seemed to more than happy to satisfy all of the sexual wants that I had looked to other guys in general to fulfill--well, perfect, from her perspective.
In recent months, what I knew was inevitable has happened: though he's still interested in seeing me (sexually) and considers me a good friend as well, his ardor has obviously cooled. The emails and text messages have slowed, and mine to him go longer and longer without a reply. It's been a really wrenching change in frequency and type of communication. Explained in part by changes in his life (he's much busier, and seeing someone very casually--a fuckbud), but it....hurts. And it's compounded by the fact that he lives several hours away, so at most we saw each other about once a month...and now, again totally understandably, that may not be possible for quite some months.
I find myself mooning like a lovesick teenager. It's...pathetic. And embarrassing, and feels stupid and awful. Sure, it's oxytocin addiction or whatever, and I know it'll pass. And he's been nothing but kind and honest, though also is clearly deliberately dialing back the type and frequency of what he used to send to me. In the early months, I used to be able to "count" on a text exchange with nearly every day, and a few emails in a week, with some email chats. Now I can't count on a reply to an email for up to a week, or a text for a day. And that's...fine. Really. And also feels (temporarily) pretty sucky. Not knowing when I'll see him again is really difficult.
And, of course, my wife sees all this. I try not to talk to her about it too often--who wants to hear their primary partner acting like a lovesick teenager all the time?--but when I'm particularly sad or when she's particularly aware, of course I share.
And then she feels awful for hearing it. And I feel even worse for saying it. But, more importantly, for feeling it in the first place. For having let myself feel it.
Don't misunderstand: I don't LOVE him. I don't want us to try to imagine setting up a life together, either in a triad or alone or in any configuration. And I'm committed to my wife, our love, our sex life, our life together. I'm not going anywhere, and happy not to be.
But another relationship I'm in is changing. I'm losing something in that change. Expressing that sense of loss is hurting the person I care for more than anyone in the world. Not having anyone else to express it to...is incredibly, incredibly hard. (We're not part of any open or poly support group. A very, very few friends know. All of them monogamous; none of them interested in hearing about this, pretty clearly.)
[Pity party mode on]: I have often felt isolated, unwelcome, and invisible as bisexual man. There's an added sense of that that comes from being in a mixed orientation marriage. And, now, being in a basically "secret" open marriage, I feel I've pushed both of us deeper into closets, and that no matter what community or relationship I'm in, I'm somebody's problem or source of anxiety. I'm a chaos-bringer.[Pity party mode off]
Thanks for reading my rambling. I guess what I hope by posting is to hear from others who've been here, been through this, and come out the other side intact, who've figured out how to deal with the emotional impact of changes in their "secondary" relationships without placing too much burden on their primary relationships nor without keeping too much inside.