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Old 04-03-2014, 01:50 PM
Lilly Lilly is offline
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Default A compromise?

Hi everyone, I've been a long time lurker here, but now I think I could use a little advice/perspective. I have to admit, I feel a little silly about this post, like it's going to make me sound very young (I'm in my late 20s)...but I also feel it's valid and coming from a place of genuinely trying to be the best partner I can be...anyway, here goes (I'm sorry this is so long, it feels good to get it all out though...appreciation to anyone who makes it through the whole thing)

Background: My husband and I have been together for 8+ years now. A few years ago, we dabbled a bit in non-monogamy. At the same time, he was doing a lot of evaluation and healing in general through therapy and having quite a lot of success. The dabbling, for me, was awesome. It was like a switch went off in my head that this is fabulous! I can love my husband, yet still make these new connections and have these new experiences and it just makes me feel wonderful all around, yay! My husband, however, realized that he is pretty firmly set in the monogamous side of things -- and one day he came home and basically said, that stuff we've been doing? Nope, no more ever again. Surprising the heck out of both of us, I kind of freaked out.

What followed was an agonizing year of trying to compromise, feeling incredibly misunderstood on both sides, debating divorce, etc. I will admit that in the course of that year, "compromise" was not really on the table for me. Having had time to reflect back, I realize now that my initial kneejerk reaction to being told NOPE combined with a long history of people (not my husband) emotionally manipulating me, telling me I was broken/not good enough/etc...well it resulted in me fighting like hell to get things my way.

Luckily, I pulled out of that in time to realize that as much as I personally would enjoy a poly or open lifestyle, it wasn't worth it without my husband by my side. So, I told him, ok, we're done with all this. I choose you. Over 2 years later, things are much better with us, though there has been a lot of healing to do on both sides and a lot of guilt on my part, especially, for the pain we went through. And, I think because of that guilt, I swung pretty hard over into "poly? pff, I don't need no stinkin poly. I'm gonna be the best mono-wife ever!!" I think, though, that now I'm finally regaining some equilibrium and am trying to decide where that puts me and what I want to do about it.

Current Situation/Question/Part I want responses to:

Over the last few months, those little blips of poly-thoughts that I had smashed down have begun to resurface and aren't very smashable anymore. However, I have zero interest in going back down the road of before. Therefore, I've been thinking long and hard about what I'm truly seeking and if/how that can be achieved while not devastating my relationship again.

I've come to the conclusion that I would be okay with not having full on romantic/sexual relationships with other people. However, the little things, flirting, making that connection, enjoying the chemistry would satisfy a large part of the poly feelings. But, the guilt and fear of repeating the past (or even appearing to want to repeat the past) has had me simply avoiding those interactions entirely. After all, where is the line drawn from harmless flirting to not so harmless flirting to actual physical contact (fluttering eyes to a touch on the arm to kissing??) I know it's very subjective.

Then, the other night, my husband went out with a friend and came home and told me how they had been flirting with a group of women and how positively those women had responded. He said it was a great ego boost and that he wished he could hang out with one of them (he'd known her years ago) but that he didn't want to put himself in a compromising position. I was genuinely happy that he'd had such a great time and thought to myself that I honestly wouldn't have minded if he'd done more. This got me to thinking about where those lines actually sit with us right now and if we are maybe ready to reopen a discussion.

My thoughts now, is that I'd like to discuss with my husband, not about opening the relationship, but about reframing and redefining within our relationship what is acceptable when out and interacting with others. I know that sex (PIV, oral, digital, etc) with others is off the table...it is too much, too complicated and not going to happen if we stay together. BUT, I also know that remaining 100% non-physical is agony for me (that sounds dramatic, but it's fairly accurate). It is maddening to have the flirting and chemistry, but to have to not admit it out loud and leave the plausible deniability lingering. My proposed solution? Reframe acceptable flirting to basically be all the usual banter, joking, casual touches up to and including kissing. Yup, just kissing...all clothes stay on, hands stay out of pants, etc.

My hope is that kissing would be mild enough to be acceptable to my husband, yet physical enough for me to feel some sense of gratification and to eliminate that lingering deniability that drives me nuts. If I'm attracted to and flirting with someone, I want to be able to be like "yup, we just kissed, so it's a real thing and I'm not actually being shady and driving myself crazy wondering where the line of what is ok and what would be hurtful meet".

Is this ridiculous? Any advice on how to approach it with my husband? I'll admit I'm somewhat afraid to bring up the topic for fear he'll think I'm trying to chip away at going full poly/fully open again. Honestly, I'm ok with never going full poly...but I'm realizing that maybe strict mono isn't quite gonna cut it either.

And in case anybody is wondering, I do feel confident I could hold to the boundary of kissing without going further. I have no idea whether some day I'd want more, how could I know that? But I want so badly to remain in my marriage, I love my husband deeply - I just can't completely eliminate all poly/open tendencies, as much as I have tried. So, again, is this reasonable? Am I ridiculous for even thinking of having this conversation? If not, how do I approach it so it doesn't seem like I'm trying to work my way up to more?
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Old 04-03-2014, 02:54 PM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
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It's a little concerning that when he wants to dabble in non-monogamy, it's okay and your need for this is met. Then when he doesn't want it, you have to stop. Then when he has enjoyed the flirtation and attention of others......see the pattern you're sharing here? He wants it and you get to enjoy being you < he doesn't so you have to feel low and guilty for being you. It seems he decides the value of your character based on his opportunity with others and he is a fickle judge.
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Old 04-03-2014, 03:26 PM
Lilly Lilly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinccenzo View Post
It's a little concerning that when he wants to dabble in non-monogamy, it's okay and your need for this is met. Then when he doesn't want it, you have to stop. Then when he has enjoyed the flirtation and attention of others......see the pattern you're sharing here? He wants it and you get to enjoy being you < he doesn't so you have to feel low and guilty for being you. It seems he decides the value of your character based on his opportunity with others and he is a fickle judge.
Ooh, I can see where you are coming from on that. I guess I have to ask everyone on here to have good faith that he is a very loving and caring spouse. He bent over backwards trying to compromise and accommodate me during that crazy year and went through a great deal of emotional pain to do so.

There may, indeed, be a little bit of that fickleness, in that because he is so mono, of course just a little flirtation is no biggie because he'll never want more than that. But for me, it's more like...if you give a mouse a cookie? I'm not saying that's exactly how he thinks, or that it's accurate...but there may be a grain of truth in there with it. However, when we did the dabbling, both of us were quite surprised by our own and each other's reactions to everything.

As for my guilt, I think some is justified, a small bit may be inflicted, and a good deal is my own issues (I was the golden child of my siblings, the people pleaser in school, etc...I've improved a LOT, but struggle still with trying to be perfect for those I care most about).

Assuming best intentions all around, I'd still very much like advice/perspective on my idea for compromise and how to approach it.
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Old 04-03-2014, 04:30 PM
ConfusedFeelings ConfusedFeelings is offline
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First of all I must say that I don't have any experience with poly-relationships. I am interested in a poly-relationship, but my girlfriend has made it very clear that she will not stay in a poly-relationship with me, and now it's kind of up to me to decide how we will go on.

I think your ideas sound very sensible and not at all "ridiculous".
I also think it's great that you could find a way out of this "crisis"-year together. I am also in a situation right now, where I actually absolutely don't want to leave my GF, but don't know how to handle my poly-tendencies.

I think it would be very important to just be very clear about what you want and what you don't want. If you bring this topic up, just reassure from the beginning on, that you are not interested in a "open/poly-relationship" and that you know yourself that there are certain limits and that you respect them.

My girlfriend for example is also a very "flirty" type and enjoys the attention she gets from men a lot. She also goes quite "far" with flirting, she dances with men etc., however she has quite strict limits and never lets any "sexual" contact (also not kissing) happen.
Even though she is absolutely against the idea of a poly-amourous relationship, she's very open and easy with some other things, she even encouraged me to flirt with girls in the past, to meet girls, etc.
And apparently, your husband enjoys to flirt too? So there you have a good "ground" for discussion.
I think you should just not let any misunderstanding occur, and be very clear about everything and explicitely say that this is not about "opening" your relationship, and that you really don't have this intention.
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Old 04-05-2014, 03:02 AM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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You may want to read AnotherConfused's story. She is married and her husband is not poly yet has agreed that she can have a bf, as long as she adheres to very specific physical boundaries. She and her bf never have intercourse, and I believe no penetration of any kind.

Well, anyway, her journey is full of insights as she questioned so many things.

Here are two of her threads:
What if polyamory stops working?

Learning to be me
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An excellent blog post against hierarchy in polyamory: http://solopoly.net/2014/10/31/why-i...short-version/
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Old 04-05-2014, 06:53 AM
london london is offline
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I think it's unrealistic to stick to kissing. Just give it up or go for it. Staying at missing isn't going to work and unless you tell everyone you flirt with that kissing is as far as you can go emotionally or physically, you're being a cocktease.
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Old 04-05-2014, 08:45 PM
Vicki82 Vicki82 is offline
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I'm with London. I wouldn't be okay "exploring connection" with someone if it ended at kissing, and I'm assuming limited emotional availability.

That really feels like you're using the other person.
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:46 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Teenage girls have been stopping at "just kissing" for ages. If they can do it, why wouldn't an adult woman with far more self-confidence and personal boundaries be able to do it? She's not a slave to her biological impulses, she can stop wherever the hell she wants to. I used to send my boyfriend home with blackballs all the time when I was 16. He got over it and still came back for more kissy-kissy on the couch.

That being said, I don't disagree with giving a disclaimer when you start kissing that this is as far as you intend to go. I don't like ugly labels like "cocktease" because I think they're shaming, but it's just easier to have that conversation before everyone is all hot and bothered. If they don't want to stop at just kissing, it's only fair to give them an out before it gets awkward.

As for how to have the talk, I would just basically say what you've said here, even print out your post and have him read it. You've explained yourself pretty clearly, outlined your needs and feelings, and indicated what you would like to happen going forward.
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:05 PM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
You may want to read AnotherConfused's story. She is married and her husband is not poly yet has agreed that she can have a bf, as long as she adheres to very specific physical boundaries. She and her bf never have intercourse, and I believe no penetration of any kind.

Well, anyway, her journey is full of insights as she questioned so many things.

Here are two of her threads:
What if polyamory stops working?

Learning to be me
I thought of her too, Cindie, similar. But she was "allowed" "petting" too, not just kissing. And her husband never really got OK with it, even though it was an agreed upon boundary.

Personally, as a full grown-ass woman, I wouldn't be happy with kissing only, like a flapper from the 1920s, or high schooler from the '50's. That would drive me crazy!
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