Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > Poly Relationships Corner

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-12-2010, 12:13 PM
Erato's Avatar
Erato Erato is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Posts: 56
Default

Hi guys,

So I've been doing my best to put talk of poly-amorous relationships with my monogamous boyfriend on the back burner while he is recovering from his panic disorder, for which he is receiving treatment presently, but it seems to keep cropping up.

We were talking about something completely unrelated today and he ended up bring it up (to do with how hurt he would be if I happened to flirt with someone else in his presence).

I'm just going to put this out there: I don't understand monogamy or people who desire it. For me, monogamous relationships have just been me trying to fit myself in a position which I was unsuitable for - letting myself and others down because I either cheated, almost cheated, feared cheating or wanted to cheat the majority of the time. Now, I call it cheating because that's how I considered it! I didn't know poly existed. When I found out it did, well, once I understood a bit about it on an ethical level at least, then I was very relieved to know that I wasn't just faithless and evil. Just poly.

But that's just my experience of relationships.

In the conversation with my boyfriend today he asked if I would be willing to try to adapt to monogamy. This confused me so much that I realised that I haven't been really working with him, I've just been watering down my desires to try to get it to a level he can be comfortable with. To him, relationships are exclusive. And he feels that he would be denying a part of himself to accept a relationship with me which was not exclusive.

But if I can't adapt to being completely exclusive and he's willing to try to adapt to a vague form of slight polyamory then is he just sacrificing himself or am I being selfish? He seems to think the latter is the case.

Honestly, I don't want the version of poly which we have been negotiating (shared girlfriend, for example) and I feel like I would be just repeating history futilely trying to go back to exclusive relationships. He feels that perhaps, because I have said before that our relationship is very different from those from my past, that if we are local I will feel fulfilled enough with just him. I have tried explaining that it's not that my partners in the past were not enough, it was not that I was unhappy with them, but that I can/am/have/will fall for people other than him and want to have them as lovers.

I know everyone is different but I would really appreciate anyone who is monogamous, or feels that they understand a monogamous lover/friend/family member, could please share with me their understanding of it.

I want to try to see things from his view point better so that I can get out of the selfish mindset that I have been falling into every time we talk about this.

I'd be especially interested in hearing from monogamous people with poly-amorous partners (especially especially any monogamous people who are the primary).

I just wanted to add a bit about how he's explained his feelings on poly to me even though I don't really grasp it very well.

He talked about it in terms of hearts.

He gave his heart to me to carefully hold and he has mine.

If we introduce someone else into the equation it would have to be someone who he could trust because he feels he would be opening up to them in some way by sharing me as a lover (even if they have no sexual contact).

So, in that case, I would be holding his heart and someone else's. He'd need reassurance that I could be just as careful and gentle with his heart while holding another's as I would be with just his.

To quote him: "I gave you my heart to handle carefully, and I need to trust they won't make you drop it while handing mine, for one"

Which is slightly ambiguous but I gather that he means that if they hurt me that it will hurt him. And that he needs reassurance that I won't leave him for them, perhaps? I'll have to clarify later.

He also said: "they [my other lover(s)] have to know me emotionally and be close to me" - which I can't understand. I understand him wanting to be on good terms with them and trust them, he's trusting them to care for the love of his life after all, but to know him emotionally and be close to him is a strange idea to me.
__________________
About Erato Blog

Last edited by NeonKaos; 07-12-2010 at 07:55 PM. Reason: merge posts
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07-12-2010, 02:48 PM
Mendalla Mendalla is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: The Forest City
Posts: 8
Default

Keeping in mind that monos can be as diverse as polys, here's my take on it. I tend to feel that focussing on one person (at a time, mind you) is what gives depth and intimacy in a relationship. If we start having other people involved in a relationship both emotionally and physically, then that seems like it will reduce the depth and intimacy by dividing it up or, more accurately, spreading it out. This may not be as much of a problem if the multiple relationships are primarily physical, since I can accept the idea that physical pleasure can be focussed on a per occasion basis. However, it is very hard to see how one's love, affection, etc. can be spread across multiple partners in the longterm without somehow reducing the depth. Love may be infinite (not convinced of that, though), but there's a strong impulse in my mono heart to see it as on some way finite. If you pour 1 litre of water into a 1 litre glass, it is deeper than if you spread it over 4 250ml glasses type of thing assuming that the glasses are same shape, base area, etc. (And maybe that's the difference that I'm missing in the analogy. Maybe the 4 250ml glasses are very narrow so that they are still the same depth as the 1 litre, just a different shape). Once you lose that depth, the relationship changes and my mono heart feels that this change isn't necessarily going to be for the better; that "less depth of love" = "less relationship". This may be a wrong view to a poly, but it is one way that a mono might look at a poly relationship and find it lacking. I'm a mono who's trying to fathom my own growing sense that polyamory might be a more valid way of approaching relationships than I've given it credit for in the past, by the way.

Mendalla

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erato View Post
I just wanted to add a bit about how he's explained his feelings on poly to me even though I don't really grasp it very well.

He talked about it in terms of hearts.

He gave his heart to me to carefully hold and he has mine.

If we introduce someone else into the equation it would have to be someone who he could trust because he feels he would be opening up to them in some way by sharing me as a lover (even if they have no sexual contact).

So, in that case, I would be holding his heart and someone else's. He'd need reassurance that I could be just as careful and gentle with his heart while holding another's as I would be with just his.

To quote him: "I gave you my heart to handle carefully, and I need to trust they won't make you drop it while handing mine, for one"

Which is slightly ambiguous but I gather that he means that if they hurt me that it will hurt him. And that he needs reassurance that I won't leave him for them, perhaps? I'll have to clarify later.

He also said: "they [my other lover(s)] have to know me emotionally and be close to me" - which I can't understand. I understand him wanting to be on good terms with them and trust them, he's trusting them to care for the love of his life after all, but to know him emotionally and be close to him is a strange idea to me.
BTW, I do like his explanation. I think it can mean several things to me, probably all simutaneously:

- if they hurt you, it will hurt me

- will you still want to hold my heart after holding theirs for a while? Will two hearts be too much for you to hold?

- what if something that happens in that relationship causes you "drop" or otherwise injure my heart? IOW, what if that relationship affects ours in a negative way, even if it doesn't end it?

Mendalla

Last edited by NeonKaos; 07-12-2010 at 07:51 PM. Reason: merge posts
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-12-2010, 03:43 PM
AutumnalTone AutumnalTone is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Kansas City Metro
Posts: 2,186
Default

I'd say the two of you are simply incompatible. That he would expect you to do all of the changing to match his preferences--while calling you selfish for wanting to negotiate something that allows you to seek fulfillment based on your preferences--is a warning sign. That the only way he has supposedly contemplated a poly thing working is by placing severe restrictions on how it would manifest for both you *and anybody else who would get involved* shows he's exceptionally selfish.

He has every right to decide what he does. He has no right to decide what anybody else does. From what you've described, he's indicated that the only way to be involved with him is if everybody does what he decides.

That's reason to walk on and not look back.

I don't think every relationship should be saved, nor do I think that every relationship is worth exceptional amounts of work to keep going. I've been around long enough and involved with enough people to have experienced the epiphany that there are always more relationships possible and that the work involved with some is just not a good investment of my time and attention.

In this case, if he insists that his mono inclinations require that you be mono or that anybody you get involved with has to essentially be mono with him, too...well, I don't see much of a future there. Yeah, you could stick it out and couple years down the road he might realize it's not all about him and loosen up a bit, though that's a crap shoot. Or you could just find somebody else who's more compatible and avoid the unnecessary conflict over that time.

Compatibility is not measured by love. All the love in the world won't make for a solid relationship if the folks involved are otherwise incompatible. I have friends whom I love dearly and with whom I know I couldn't have a romantic relationship (despite all the sparks) because I know we're incompatible.
__________________
When speaking of various forms of non-monogamy...it ain't poly if you're just fucking around.

While polyamory, open relationships, and swinging are all distinctly different approaches to non-monogamy, they are not mutually exlusive. Folks can, and some do, engage in more than one of them at a time--and it's all good.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-12-2010, 06:32 PM
Confused Confused is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 87
Default

What do you want to understand?

I have been very happily monogamous for 11 years and I know I could be for life although once again it looks like I may be straying slightly from that path..

I have adored my life for the last 11 years, my husband being my best friend, knowing everything about me and loving me completely. I have loved that because we were together every minute we got, and we moved around so much we hardly even ever had any friends or family around so we have had to learn to meet all each other's needs, and we love to do so. I know I could live happily on a desert island with him.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-12-2010, 06:58 PM
clairegoad's Avatar
clairegoad clairegoad is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Ozona, FL
Posts: 202
Default mono monologue

I think Confused has said it well.

Maybe to understand monogamy, you need to step back from yourself... and look at another couple. This couple loves each other, jealously guards the other from poachers, and carefully only looks at the other person.

Flirting with someone else would be a betrayal. Monogamy is a different way of looking at love. There is ONLY ONE person that you love... completely. And you will love them FOREVER. Seriously, you willl never meet someone who will love you more.

And monogamy worked okay, when people lived shorter lives.

The heart example says that he sincerely believes that he can only love one person. And worse, he believes that if you don't take care of his heart, you'll break it. That's a wonderful romantic sentiment for another mono.

(Some people are born poly. I think some people can become poly... But that is another post.)
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-12-2010, 07:28 PM
SayYes SayYes is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 45
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by AutumnalTone View Post
He has every right to decide what he does. He has no right to decide what anybody else does. From what you've described, he's indicated that the only way to be involved with him is if everybody does what he decides.
This pretty well sums it up for me. Before he was finally accepting of poly, my husband used to have a "why should I be the one to compromise and you don't have to compromise at all?" mindset. But he was asking me to compromise who I *am* by asking me to be monogamous. I wasn't asking him to change who he is. I was only asking him to accept me for who I am. I think those are two very different things.

I've said this before, but at some point it becomes a question not of whether you're willing to make a sacrifice for the relationship, but of whether you're able to make that sacrifice and still be healthy and fulfilled. I love my husband, I love our family, and I always tried to think that it was worth sacrificing my desire to be with other people because what we had was so great. But the truth was that I wasn't able to be truly happy with those terms, and so eventually what we had wasn't so great. The resentment I felt from repressing who I am was eating away at me and at us, and there's no doubt in my mind that we would have ended up divorced eventually if we had stayed monogamous. My willingness had nothing to do with it; I could weigh pros and cons as much as I wanted and tell myself that my need to be with other men was no big deal in comparison to keeping my family together, and yet reasoning it out that way couldn't change the fact that I was miserable. It sounds like you might be, like me, someone who is simply unable to ultimately be happy, healthy, and fulfilled in a monogamous relationship. And if that's the case, no amount of reasoning it out or trying to see the other side seems likely to make it any better for you.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-12-2010, 07:42 PM
MonoVCPHG's Avatar
MonoVCPHG MonoVCPHG is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: In Redpepper's heart
Posts: 4,742
Default Just my perspective

Redpepper and I just hosted a workshop on mono/poly relationships. One of the biggest points we made is that we don't recommend them. Neither one of you should compromise on how you give and want to receive love.

The difference between poly and mono is not in what they take from relationships but is in what they give. Neither one is more evolved, better or the natural way. But they are real and create a large gap in understanding. When truly in love mono partners commit to each other they "give" themselves intimately to that one person willingly (not including shot gun weddings). The loving mono union is not based on "I posses you", it is based on "I offer myself to you because that is how I find fulfillment; In giving my intimacy and sexuality to the person I am connected with." Monos such as myself connect intimately in one relationship at a time. Pollies such as Redpepper can connect infinitely and offer the same intimacy to each relationship.

It is a natural to desire to want your partner's expression of love and commitment to mirror the manner in which you express yours. This is what we understand and so when we see love returned to us in a different manner it can get lost in the differences. Achieving a "true enlightening understanding" of how a mono person loves is probably unlikely, just as I cannot achieve that towards how a poly person loves. The way around this is to have faith that although you are "speaking a different language" the message is the same...I love you.
__________________

Playing the Game of Life with Monopoly rules.
Monogamy might just be in my genes

Poly Events All Over
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-12-2010, 10:12 PM
Erato's Avatar
Erato Erato is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Posts: 56
Default

Wow! Thanks for all your replies. I emailed my love and his reply was wedged between two reply notifications in my inbox. I felt like I wasn't facing this alone!

I just quickly wanted to clarify a point: I didn't understand this before but what he meant by asking if I would be willing to adapt to monogamy was more that he felt it was "your way or the highway" as they say. He felt like I wasn't considering his feelings, which I wasn't at the time, and that is where the request came from. It just happened to hit my "help, help I'm being repressed!" button.

Mendalla: Thank you for the glass/water analogy. I've been having a tough time trying to figure out how non-exclusivity = reduced intimacy but after reading that I think I just have to get that it's not about what's true for me, it's about his truth and how his heart works. I guess more than understand I have to learn to respect it for what it is and cherish it as his viewpoint, even if I don't agree with it or comprehend it.

AutumnalTone: I understand what you're saying and I respect it completely. I concede that you may be completely right that we are not compatible but such is the beauty of hindsight. I would love to take your word on it but my heart won't let me until I walk this road to the end, be it death do us part or sooner.

Confused: I love this. You are on the exact other side of the glass from me, haha, what is there to get indeed. I think if we lived on a desert island that I would have no problem...except if there were sexy mermaids? That would be tragic. Thank you for sharing.

clairegoad: Your description of mono scares me, hehe! Being jealously guarded would not be comfortable for me and what happens when my partner leaves/falls for another/dies? I'd be alone after years of pushing other potential loves out of my life or ignoring them. Mono is beautiful to me in the way that a ball gown would be beautiful to a man (who didn't enjoy cross dressing): I can see how well and suitably it fits someone else, it looks elegant on them, but on me it would be a joke.

SayYes: You've echoed my words exactly. "Asking me to change who I am" and I'm asking him to "accept who I am". He sees it differently, though. He feels that having a non-exclusive relationship with me would be denying and repressing who he is. Which is why we were talking about taking it slowly but I've realised that I can't live on bread and water with only the potential promise of a full course meal. Back to the drawing board, I suppose!

Mono: See, that's the hard part for me. I get this "I offer myself to you because that is how I find fulfilment; In giving my intimacy and sexuality to the person I am connected with." and I feel that for him. But there's no clause for me that says that feeling is a limited time offer only available to one person at a time. I've really enjoyed a lot of your posts around the place, they've been SO helpful for me, and I appreciate your sharing a lot. Maybe I never will "get it" in terms of how monogamous people look at love and relationships but is it wrong to hope that I can build a bridge which will endure like you and your lady have?

PS: my partner might post in here when he's available to do so. Please be gentle on him. I challenge him a lot and he challenges me, which is part of what I love about our relationship; to me life is about growth.
__________________
About Erato Blog

Last edited by Erato; 07-12-2010 at 10:20 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-13-2010, 12:03 AM
Bold Bold is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 15
Default


PS: my partner might post in here when he's available to do so. Please be gentle on him. I challenge him a lot and he challenges me, which is part of what I love about our relationship; to me life is about growth.


Oh, hi. First post here. I'm Erato's boyfriend.

I just wanted to make sure it was clear. I wanted extra room in our relationship and if I had to adjust to poly or leave then...is that being considerate of me? If it isn't, then, isn't that selfish? I was angry at her at the time, which is honestly rare, and I don't deem the impatient way I said it acceptable, but I do believe it didn't hurt to tell her that. Before I just nodded because it's something I can't argue with on a technical level, because if the world were an ideal place everyone would be fine with the freedom of poly. I don't want that freedom, however, even though it can be (in my opinion) incorrectly stated to be the one true way because it's more open-minded. Basically, close-mindedness about open-mindedness. Poly doesn't offend me or anything. People who think they're better than me because they are do. :(

I'm definitely trying to adjust to the idea of poly. I've already changed a bit, allowing flirting with others (though the thought of being present during it is still very uncomfortable) and cuddling with friends. I just don't want to/need to hear about it, I guess.

I did like the idea of a shared girlfriend. It still fits with my unique idea of mono - I am still included in every aspect of my girlfriend's love life, and a focus, even if it's spread around two people. With another lover I'm isolated from them and excluded on a deeper level. It doesn't fit as well, or at all. Well, I still need to get used to even the idea of a shared girlfriend, and I guess Erato doesn't want that anymore. I know it's hard to set up but I wish it'd work. I love Erato with all my heart. I'll still love her if we can't be together. But I'm so happy with her now, or was, I can't expect to be happy with all of the fighting and insecurity and hurt that used to be infrequent. But I know I can be happy. It's just that one issue of mono vs poly. We had a very happy year together, but recently we've had a lot of trouble.

Edit: We've talked about it some more. I'll leave this the way it is and let Erato post.

Last edited by Bold; 07-13-2010 at 01:53 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-13-2010, 06:06 AM
redpepper's Avatar
redpepper redpepper is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 7,636
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bold View Post
[i]I just wanted to make sure it was clear. I wanted extra room in our relationship and if I had to adjust to poly or leave then...is that being considerate of me? If it isn't, then, isn't that selfish?
you are being considerate in saying that you will leave if you have to adjust to poly... but I'm not sure what you are saying here... ? yes, it would be selfish if you were not up front about that...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bold View Post
I don't want that freedom, however, even though it can be (in my opinion) incorrectly stated to be the one true way because it's more open-minded. Basically, close-mindedness about open-mindedness. Poly doesn't offend me or anything. People who think they're better than me because they are do.
obviously someone has rubbed you the wrong way with their "we are the future, we are the way," religious like propaganda... just so you know, not all of us think that way. I know there is a lot of mono bashing that goes on for poly people that have been hurt, are new to poly and in NRE about it or just are not open minded about anyone being different, but that is not always the case and I suggest that you smile, nod and move on to someone else to get some more balanced insight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bold View Post
I'm definitely trying to adjust to the idea of poly. I've already changed a bit, allowing flirting with others (though the thought of being present during it is still very uncomfortable) and cuddling with friends. I just don't want to/need to hear about it, I guess.
If this happens because Erato is naturally a flirt and affectionate, then no, no reason to be alarmed and it is probably best to chalk it up to the wonderful woman she is, but, if she is otherwise not, then I would be very interested in what is going on for her.

Dangerous territory if it is with a potential love interest. You could save yourself a world of negative emotions if you open your eyes and look around to see what is going on and embrace it. It might be better to be involved right from the beginning of her budding interests, rather than come along later and catch up. That is if you even decide to be okay with her poly nature.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bold View Post
I did like the idea of a shared girlfriend. It still fits with my unique idea of mono - I am still included in every aspect of my girlfriend's love life, and a focus, even if it's spread around two people. With another lover I'm isolated from them and excluded on a deeper level. It doesn't fit as well, or at all. Well, I still need to get used to even the idea of a shared girlfriend.....
I find this contradictory to what Erato was saying you thought you could handle. And now you also have said it. You have no idea how much time and energy a shared girlfriend would take up, and your complaint is that Erato would have less time for you...

Another woman in the mix is not going to sit like one of those "real live dolls" that one can buy over the internet. Waiting for the next time you and Erato decide to engage in her. It just doesn't work like that. You can be rest assured my friend that she would want alone time with Erato, alone time with you, have her own goals/agenda's, quirks, triggers..... on and on and on... that would mean you and Erato would have less time together.

Erato is asking to have the chance to spend alone time with someone other than you, while having you in her life also to spend alone time with. Another woman in both your lives would require that also. How is it different what she is asking for than what you are willing to accept? you would probably get to know this person, or at least should and who knows might even cultivate a really good friendship with them based on loving the same woman... among other things.

Besides, wanting to have two girlfriends is poly... how do you justify that? Finding a unicorn that will stick it out for the long haul is also next to impossible to find, just so you know.
__________________
Anyone want to be friends on Facebook?
Send me your name via PM
My blog
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
mono, mono/poly

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 03:09 PM.