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Old 06-26-2010, 12:57 AM
Propast Propast is offline
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Default V, but my hinge is ... not... poly?

As I mentioned in my introduction, I've run into some trouble and could use an ear, a shoulder, even some wisdom.

We've been living as a male-female-male V for 5 years, my wife S is the hinge and our good friend D is the other arm. We hadn't been open before, we began as a fun sexual triad, but changed over to a V when their feelings deepened. Changing to the V was difficult for me and against my wishes at the time ("That wasn't in the plan!", hah, like you can plan these things), but with communication and love we eventually worked things out and found a good stability.

S has since struggled with the idea that I (or D) might someday also take a lover, something that became theoretically possible when we became a V. We'll sometimes discuss someone I'm curious about, but I haven't pressed the issue before. She's set boundaries, for instance: "No one from this social scene", or "T's behavior makes me uncomfortable, she's off-limits". No problem there.

At one point she told me clearly, "If you ever do, just make sure I never learn about it." Wow. A 'dont ask dont tell' policy? No way, that's not how we got so far as we did.

Well, it finally happened. I'd been friends with C for about a year and was continually more fascinated and the friendship kept deepening. I discussed her a bit with S, and she never got blacklisted. They know each other, but aren't particularly close. Plus I'm feeling strong and confident with our V, it seems healthier than ever.

So I finally got up the nerve, heart pounding like crazy, and asked C out. Botched it but eventually got it sorted out . C is interested, yay! Major good feelings inside, looking forward to this.

S comes home from a weekend trip with D. I let her know what I've got cooking. She's furious. End of good feelings. I'll skip the major jealousy, fights, the 2-month road back to health and an even keel. Long story short, this makes S realize that she really can't share me with anyone.

Now I'm left in a tough spot with a lot of questions.

I definitely never signed up to be the arm of a closed V. I feel like a bad-guy for wanting this, but if we aren't going to be mono then I want the rights to take another lover. Any thoughts on... survival as the arm of a closed V? ... gently helping her let go of her fear/possessiveness?

I sometimes want to retaliate, force us back to mono, cut D out of our lives. "If I can't, you can't!" This feeling never survives me actually sitting down and talking to D: he's a human being not an enemy, he's a good friend that I want to KEEP in my life. But it's there, a nasty hurt-back feeling. Any thoughts on... smoothing this out in myself? ... how to ethically handle it if I can't live with him anymore?

I really feel bad that I've lost C as a good friend, seeing C even in friendship mode raises major friction. This is one boundary that I will hold strong on: Neither C nor I did anything wrong here - forcing me to abandon my friendship while S keeps her lover is a mark of deep disrespect to me. I'm going to work on that this week.
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Old 06-26-2010, 01:21 AM
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Honestheart Honestheart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Propast View Post
As I mentioned in my introduction,

I definitely never signed up to be the arm of a closed V. I feel like a bad-guy for wanting this, but if we aren't going to be mono then I want the rights to take another lover. Any thoughts on... survival as the arm of a closed V? ... gently helping her let go of her fear/possessiveness?

I really feel bad that I've lost C as a good friend, seeing C even in friendship mode raises major friction. This is one boundary that I will hold strong on: Neither C nor I did anything wrong here - forcing me to abandon my friendship while S keeps her lover is a mark of deep disrespect to me. I'm going to work on that this week.
I really don't know what to say other then...i truly honestly feel for you and your partners....
i had this happen with my last relationship.
all i can say is, when i was face with this same issue i asked my SO "what do YOU want" and then we talked it out... it is important to think of all three of you ... we ended up breaking up in the end. but thats because of other issues that came up too...
as for the cutting of friendship while the other still has a lover, yes.... again from personal experience with the same thing on my side... i agree that is not only disrespectful but cruel. unless there has been sum kind of boundary crossed (such as cheating) then yes...it is quite cruel and disrespectful to rip that friendship away.... but then again
maybe that what is needed? i am sorry i'm also going to play devils advocate here... do u think your SO might possible not be possessive but, is finding that emotionally can only share you with only one other person?

good luck to you all... my deepest hopes you can work thru this tangle!
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Old 06-26-2010, 01:39 AM
Irena Irena is offline
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If I may... it sounds like you did do a teeny thing wrong, in asking C out before you'd gotten your primary partner's full go-ahead. From what you've written, it sounds like S has never gotten comfortable with the idea of your seeing someone else, and from her perspective it might look as though you used her being out of town to go behind her back and do something she wasn't okay with.

Before I sound like I'm on the attack here, let me say that I'm almost 100% on your side. An open relationship of any kind should be at least theoretically open both ways, unless both partners are truly comfortable and happy with a different understanding.

BUT that's not to say that "being in a V" is all you need before having a fully-developed, open-on-all-sides poly arrangement. It sounds as if you jumped straight into the mindset of, "we're poly now, so I can have other partners" without working through S's feelings about that first. That's the wrong way around. For success in polyamory (or in whatever) you need to start by figuring out what each person's needs and comfort levels are, dig deep to solve any serious conflicts in those, and then express your labels and boundaries.

Also, just as a matter of courtesy, I would ALWAYS expect my bf to tell me he was planning to ask someone else out before he asked her. That's part of being primary, to me (I'd be curious to see if anyone else here, as a primary, feels differently.) That way we could talk through any hesitancies or insecurities I had... or, more likely, I could give him a pep talk and/or advice on how to best approach her. (Or, you know, some of both.)

So, I wouldn't say you made a mistake in getting involved with her or pursuing a relationship, but I do think you could have approached it better, in a way that made S feel more reassured that she would still come first with you.

Now, going forward: I think you need to separate your (justified) resentments and feelings of unfairness from your desires for the shape of your life. Yes, it's totally unfair: you adjusted to her taking a lover, you overcame your initial discomfort and developed a close, stable family with your wife and D; she failed to do the same thing for you. But, like they tell us when we're kids, life isn't fair. Since I've grown up, I've amended that to, "Life isn't fair, but it can be happy." The sooner you can let go of what would be fair and focus your attention on what would help you be happy, the better this process will go.

Ideally, your wife will realize (with as much communication from you as is needed to get the point across) that she owes it to you to overcome whatever issues are keeping her from feeling able to share you. Neither of you should expect an overnight change, but it should be something she can work toward. If she can't or won't do that, then you have to figure out what would make you happy (or least unhappy): a) being with her and D in the current, unfair arrangement; b) being with her but cutting D out of your lives; or c) walking away from them both. Only you can answer that. Hopefully she will see what an awful choice that would be for you, and work on her own growth so as to make it unnecessary.
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Old 06-26-2010, 03:27 AM
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5 years of living with her two men..I don't see how she can really have an issue with either of you finding some one. You're part of a relationship, not a harem.
DADT is as good as saying "I can't handle reality" in my opinion.
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Old 06-26-2010, 04:04 AM
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I agree with Irena about seemingly going behind her back at first and not letting her know of your crush... was she angry because she didn't want to know about you finding love elsewhere? Or was it other reasons? She did say she didn't want to know after all.... not the best idea on her part, but...

I would wonder what is going on for her that she is lacking in confidence. What has gone on that she is so fearful of you finding another love. All questions to ask and get talking about. All of you. In our Vee we talk about everything and I mean everything. If we didn't then this sort of imbalance would occur.

Are you kidding! I would love to hold up with me and my two men all cozy, no chance of anyone else coming in. I don't want the change, I don't want the drama and emotional upheaval, I want them and only them to have to talk about (okay, Derby too, among other loves,,,, but all mine! )

Reality sucks! It's just not an option and I hope I never fall into such complacency as this.... there is no such thing as a *poly princess.* Believe me there isn't for long anyway... it all comes crashing down to the reality of, we are all people who have needs, and a right to freedom, respect and compassion... time for her to get on board and live in the real poly world (poor dear )

I hope your woman starts catching up. Maybe she should do some reading on here, ask her own questions... start her own process, because if she doesn't then she will eventually lose you and the world she loves.... it just can't ever stay the same. Ever. Life is just not like that.
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Old 06-26-2010, 11:44 AM
Propast Propast is offline
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Thanks and good to hear from you all on this. My one IRL friend I have to discuss with is good at forcing me to discover what I want and what my boundaries are, but doesn't really have poly experience. Your ideas and approaches and perspectives are valuable.

Quote:
From Irene: If I may... it sounds like you did do a teeny thing wrong, in asking C out before you'd gotten your primary partner's full go-ahead. From what you've written, it sounds like S has never gotten comfortable with the idea of your seeing someone else, and from her perspective it might look as though you used her being out of town to go behind her back and do something she wasn't okay with.
It is one of the things S got really mad about. I have mixed feelings about this. At the time and considering that S was aware and C wasn't "blacklisted", it felt reasonable to make sure C would even consider it before pushing the isusue with S. In retrospect YES I agree, I should have approached it the other way, dealt with my partner's feelings first.

What I can learn from this (and Irene & Redpeppers reinforcement of that) is that I really need to clear up with my partner before I go approach C to resume friendship. You have saved me from a bad potential slip this week, I was hoping to meet up with C for the first time in a month, for some casual friend/talk time. This would have turned into an after-the-fact fight with S, a "Well you can't cut me off from my friends!" argument rather than a "How can I make this acceptable to you?" talk. So thanks.

Quote:
From Redpepper: was she angry because she didn't want to know about you finding love elsewhere? Or was it other reasons? ... I would wonder what is going on for her that she is lacking in confidence. What has gone on that she is so fearful of you finding another love.
A lot of anger came out, and like a hydra there were always more heads. Part of it was as discussed above. Another big part of it was a reaction to fear: things were now changing, fear that I was leaving her for another, fear of going through the painful upheaval again, fear of losing D or me over this. Another (I think) was guilt at her own reaction: when push came to shove, she realizes she can't share me and feels bad about doing this to me.

I had to spend a lot of time listening, and then clearly reinforcing that I wasn't going anywhere, that she is my partner. When that settled, I had to also get clear and remind her that while I'm flexible I'm not her sub, I will figure out my boundaries and needs and stick to them. Still working on that one.

I'll follow up with her on the "why so fearful" question in future talks. I have some ideas, but it's a good idea to help her get them out in the open.

Quote:
From Irene: "Life isn't fair, but it can be happy." The sooner you can let go of what would be fair and focus your attention on what would help you be happy, the better this process will go.
I agree. I'm trying to learn if I can be happy and feel my needs are met in this closed V. I may not need balance in the sense that "I have equal rights", but simply balance in the sense that "the paybacks for this life are worth the costs over the longterm" (there are emotional costs to having your partner love another! hope that's okay to say on a poly forum)

We've identified that we weren't as strong as we thought: there were little jealousies, lack of attention, poor communication that were creeping in. This was causing a growing feeling of imbalance. Because we tend to overthink and talk ourselves into downward spirals, we're taking time to just ENJOY life and time together again. (and only have serious talks about once a week) This summer is a good time to focus on us as a couple, because incompatible travel schedules mean D is apart from us for long stretches.

I'm kind of hoping that as part of this strengthening and rebuilding, we can figure out a way to make her comfortable with opening the V. But I don't expect it, so main priority is deciding if I can live in the closed V.

D is now back in town with us for two weeks, so it's a good time to put all this to a test. We're planning our time better, to make sure we all get the 2-person, 3-person, and alone time we need. Hope it works. It felt good hanging out with him last night. (Still, and I hate to say this, part of me is really scared.)
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Old 06-26-2010, 04:40 PM
AutumnalTone AutumnalTone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Propast View Post
S comes home from a weekend trip with D. I let her know what I've got cooking. She's furious. End of good feelings. I'll skip the major jealousy, fights, the 2-month road back to health and an even keel. Long story short, this makes S realize that she really can't share me with anyone.
Call me a hardass on this sort of thing, if you will. My response to such is simple and direct: Oh, hell, no! Homey don't play those games. Anybody wants to try that sort of disrespectful shit on me is gone in short order.

If somebody chooses to be mono in a poly tangle, that's cool. Nobody gets to decide that for anybody besides him- or herself, however, and to even attempt it is a sign of gross disrespect for the other person.
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Old 06-26-2010, 06:49 PM
Irena Irena is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Propast View Post

I'm trying to learn if I can be happy and feel my needs are met in this closed V. I may not need balance in the sense that "I have equal rights", but simply balance in the sense that "the paybacks for this life are worth the costs over the longterm" (there are emotional costs to having your partner love another! hope that's okay to say on a poly forum)
I hear that! And I don't imagine most people here will say different :-) I was having a rough time with that earlier this week... having to share my partner's time and attention and not having anywhere else to go myself. I hope your wife is able to recognize that she's in danger of losing you by keeping you monogamous, even more than by letting you explore other relationships, and is motivated to work on her stuff.

It sounds like you're able to be patient, understanding, and non-defensive, which is awesome. I hope things work out for all three of you!
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Old 06-27-2010, 02:15 PM
saudade saudade is offline
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Hey, and welcome! You're right, it does sound like you're in a predicament. As a few others have said on here, it also sounds like you have the resources you'll need to navigate it-- I hope your whole vee does too.

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:From Irene: If I may... it sounds like you did do a teeny thing wrong, in asking C out before you'd gotten your primary partner's full go-ahead. From what you've written, it sounds like S has never gotten comfortable with the idea of your seeing someone else, and from her perspective it might look as though you used her being out of town to go behind her back and do something she wasn't okay with.
It is one of the things S got really mad about. I have mixed feelings about this. At the time and considering that S was aware and C wasn't "blacklisted", it felt reasonable to make sure C would even consider it before pushing the isusue with S. In retrospect YES I agree, I should have approached it the other way, dealt with my partner's feelings first.
I've been in your shoes before. It's a hard line to navigate: knowing your existing partner is going to really struggle, and wanting to make sure the fight is worth having before bringing it up. Regardless of how things go with C, you and S might want to have a talk (once things calm down) about how to scope out someone you're interested in, and what protocol you'd both be comfortable with... If you've found a prospective partner once, it's unlikely that it'll never happen again.

Quote:
I'll follow up with her on the "why so fearful" question in future talks. I have some ideas, but it's a good idea to help her get them out in the open.
A word of caution (albeit one you might not need): While you may very well know every single reason that S is feeling afraid, it's just as possible that she has some concerns that haven't occurred to you. Keep an open mind, and try not to goad her into particular confessions that may or may not be accurate, and be aware that there may be something else entirely that she'll need to get off her chest.

Quote:
I agree. I'm trying to learn if I can be happy and feel my needs are met in this closed V. I may not need balance in the sense that "I have equal rights", but simply balance in the sense that "the paybacks for this life are worth the costs over the longterm" (there are emotional costs to having your partner love another! hope that's okay to say on a poly forum)
Something I've been thinking about a lot lately is the difference between fairness and equality. I have several loves (the count waffles between two and five, depending on how you do the math), all of whom live with me or will very soon (we're cohousing/communing/cooperatively living, in the poor, recent-college-graduate sense), and every relationship has its own dynamic. Treating every single person 'equally' doesn't make sense, and isn't fair to them or me or the needs of our relationships and ourselves. Navigating that line is so difficult!

Also, there's absolutely nothing wrong with admitting on here that there are emotional costs to poly. They are obvious enough that many monos profess that they couldn't do poly, and the quickest glance at thread titles on here can only confirm that. (That said, I adore being poly and won't change my orientation for anyone. For me, the benefits far outweigh the risks.)

I'm sure there's more to be said, but I'll try not to say it. Good luck, and keep posting-- we're here.

In cahoots,
~Saudade
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Old 06-28-2010, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Propast View Post
We've identified that we weren't as strong as we thought: there were little jealousies, lack of attention, poor communication that were creeping in. This was causing a growing feeling of imbalance. Because we tend to overthink and talk ourselves into downward spirals, we're taking time to just ENJOY life and time together again.
Oh how i get this. It may be that this is all that is going on and a balanced needs to be established again. Nothing like a new lover for someone to bring up all the old questions, concerns and doubts... well, get the work done and see where it heads to. If nothing comes of this new interest of yours I would think that at least your vee will be stronger for it.

It sounds like your lady is back in the game and sitting up and noticing your seriousness on this. I'm glad some reassurances have helped. It sounds like more talk is coming in the future and that more connection and bond will be established in doing so. Happy times...hard, but so necessary.
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