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Old 08-26-2010, 08:39 AM
ThatRomanticGeek ThatRomanticGeek is offline
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Default My girlfriend is having trouble adapting

I need some help getting my thoughts organized. I suspect that by the act of writing this, I will find some catharsis, but I’m interested in hearing what experienced polyamorists have to say. Note, this is the Cliffs Notes version. The full story would go on for pages and pages.

I am a 32 year old married man. About six months ago, my wife Michelle (33 years old) approached me about the possibility of opening our marriage. We’ve been married for ten years, together for almost 15. We have three sons, all under age 5. I have never been against the idea. In fact, I have to admit, the “other man” situation has been a turn-on for me for a long time. Additionally, having started dating Michelle when I was 17 and getting married at 21, I always felt like I missed out on "sowing my wild oats." We decided we were secure and trusting enough to move forward with our new, exciting relationship.

She got to know a long-distance friend of mine (let’s call him Ralph, a 38 year old widower) from a video game forum we both frequent, and they hit it off. They got to be good friends, and she flew out to meet him a few months later. They had a lot of fun together, watching TV and having mind-blowing sex. I was happy for my wife, but a little jealous that my own situation wasn’t going so well.

You see, while Michelle and Ralph were building a strong friendship (actually, I’d call it love, but they don’t use that term), I too had been working on something similar with a girl, also long-distance, from the same forum (I’ll call her Bree, a 24 year old grad student). Bree really has so many qualities I admire in women: She’s smart, sexy, educated (working on the first of two planned masters before moving onto her PhD), a big believer in self-improvement, and she thinks I’m great. Things about me that Michelle doesn’t care for or doesn’t appreciate, Bree relishes.

Bree and I spent months getting to know each other. IMing all day from work, Skype chats on the weekend, and more. Bree knew, of course, that I was married, and she expressed some misgivings, and even freaked out a couple of times (as if she wanted to break it off). The common themes that came up were:
  • She didn’t feel like she could share me with Michelle, that she loves with her whole heart and feels like she needs the same
  • Her family upbringing and education (strongly Christian, though she is somewhat socially progressive and open minded)

Each time, we talked it out and I got the feeling she was fine with where we were again, that she was working toward reconciling her religion and morals with our relationship, and that she knew I wanted to commit as much time and attention to her as she wanted and I was able. I did commit to Bree that she would be my only relationship outside of Michelle.

The first week in August, Bree told me she was finally ready to meet in real life. We started making plans, and then once we had settled on plans, I booked them for mid-September.

Sometime shortly thereafter, our relationship cooled significantly. I pointed out that I felt like there was something wrong, and the dam came crashing open. She admitted that she was completely in love with me, and that she had been living in agony for some time. She said that she wasn’t able to accept that she would never be able to marry me, and that she wasn’t able to reconcile her beliefs with what she wanted. She had hoped that these feelings would get better in time, but they hadn’t. She wanted, again, to break it off.

Of course, I was crushed. I love her too. Michelle knew I was falling in love with Bree. She encouraged it, just as I encouraged her relationship with Ralph. As I spent the next several days riding the rollercoaster of the five stages of loss, Michelle approached me with a suggestion: That I should just go see Bree in her hometown that weekend. The rationale was that neither of us had actually met face-to-face yet, and that it wasn’t fair to us or the love that we thought we shared to walk away without meeting face-to-face. I held my breath and closed my eyes as I booked the airline tickets...

Bree was somewhat upset at first, but she soon warmed, and we had a lovely dinner, after which I kissed her goodnight. The next day, we spent the whole afternoon together in my hotel room just being together. We shared a somewhat tearful goodbye. This was just this past weekend.

Since returning home, I’ve been a wreck. Bree admits to me that she’s very glad I came, even though things have been complicated even more. She’s right, of course, but I'm more sure than ever that I do love her, and it’s mutual. We’ve spent some time talking about what we enjoyed about our time together, and what we’d like to improve on. Unfortunately, she’s also expressed some depression again at our situation.

This up and down is tearing me up. On the one hand, I love Michelle and our kids and our life together. On the other, I do love Bree too, and Bree has awakened things in me that I didn’t know I had (like, for example, a new-found respect for Christianity). Of course, I understand New Relationship Energy (NRE) and the rose-tinted effect it engenders, but still, Bree’s feelings toward me have left me longing to build something with Bree, questioning myself on what I want out of a relationship now with Michelle. I still believe in the poly lifestyle as a positive choice for many people, but I feel like I could be mono with Bree and be very happy.

Bree’s difficulty with the poly lifestyle is driving me to subconsciously resent Michelle, because if I weren’t married to Michelle, I could move forward with Bree uninhibited. Of course, 10 years of marriage have to count for something, and I don’t want to hurt Michelle or damage my children. I love them all. Editing to add clarification: I love Michelle, and do not truly resent her. This is just my subconscious trying to absolve my guilt of questioning anything I have with Michelle. It's stupid, and it hurts Michelle. I hate that the thought even crosses my mind. Bree would definitely hate it too.

Michelle and I live in the midwest, and we've been planning on moving sometime over the next year to the east coast, which is closer to both Bree and Ralph (Our primary motivation is to get out of the midwest, we're tired of it ). Michelle and I have talked many times about what that could mean for me and Bree, that Michelle would be comfortable with Bree and me building something long-term, including possibly letting Bree become primary and building a family with her while continuing to support my family with Michelle, if that's what we wanted.

Bree wants the traditional white picket fence, husband, and 2.5 kids. I suspect, to some extent, she fears telling her parents and friends that she’s in love with a married man, to say nothing of what that would mean for her soul and God.

Michelle just wants me to be happy.

And me? What do I want? I guess my ideal would be building a new relationship (even a family) with Bree and being able to keep my existing family together and happy. I don’t want to lose Bree. I love her and want to try to build something with her, and hopefully give her everything she wants out of life. However, I don’t want her to feel like she sold her soul or disappointed her family to be with me. I also don’t want to hurt Michelle. She loves me, and I love her, and I’m fairly certain that the resentment I feel at this moment is a subconscious defense of what I have with Bree. And of course, I worry very much for the effect it would have on my sons if I broke our home. This is assuming that Bree could live with herself if I left Michelle and the boys for her (I’m not sure that she could).

So suffice to say, I’m losing sleep.

Has anybody else had a similar situation? A secondary that didn’t feel like they could be part of a polyamorous family? Did they adjust? How did you help them?

Please be gentle to all involved - it’s likely I’ll share this thread with Bree when we (hopefully) keep the original travel plans we made for September.

Last edited by ThatRomanticGeek; 08-27-2010 at 12:57 AM.
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  #2  
Old 08-26-2010, 09:14 AM
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ImaginaryIllusion ImaginaryIllusion is offline
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first off, welcome to the forum. I apologize that I won't have time to respond fully at this time, but I'm sure someone else will jump in too.

There is the possibility that your gf will come around eventually. I'm personally a beleiver in people being able to change things, including their core beleifs.

It also might be that she can't, or won't, and you'll have some tricky decisions to make.

My personal thoughts on this is that poly shouldn't need to mean choosing one over another like the classic mono pattern of broken homes and high legal fees. It's more a matter of finding compatable partners...and no BS it can take some time and effort, and alot of patience to find such creatures.

By all means, try your best with the gf to see if there's a life that you can build together, and what that will look like, including the effects on the wife and families. But don't be too beholden to her for it. Especially in the throuhs of NRE, it's easy to make stupid decisions that you will regret later.
It may be that you won't be the person who can provide what Bree ultimately wants or needs...a stark realization, but a possibility you should reckognize if you really wantbto do right by her. And if that's the case the best thing you c,an do is let her go find her husband and 2.5 kids, and find yourself a partner that's more suited to your situation.

Well, that was more longwinded than I suspected.

(oh, and if it's any help, it sounds like you wife is a keeper...but just because she's willing to step down from primary, doesn't mean it should happen.)

Patience my friend...and good luck.
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Old 08-26-2010, 09:36 AM
jkelly jkelly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThatRomanticGeek View Post
She didn’t feel like she could share me with Michelle, that she loves with her whole heart and feels like she needs the same

...

She said that she wasn’t able to accept that she would never be able to marry me

...

Bree wants the traditional white picket fence, husband, and 2.5 kids.
I'm not really getting why you think that this relationship could work. We can't expect to have relationships with everyone we fall in love with. I do get that you want it to work very badly, but the above doesn't sound like someone who is going to be happy being involved with a married man. If you're resenting your wife because Bree wishes that she didn't exist, imagine how resentful Bree is going to get if she tries to commit to this, and has to give up on the things she wants. And why should she? Practically any other potential partner she could fall for would likely want that too.

As for leaving your wife to go have the mono- relationship with Bree that she wants, I'd strongly encourage you to, at the very least, spend more than one weekend in her company before indulging that train of thought any further. Even if you didn't have ten years of marriage, and kids, and a wife who sounds remarkably supportive, I wouldn't recommend uprooting your life before having spent a lot more time with each other. Corresponding with someone and living with them are two very different experiences.
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Old 08-26-2010, 01:53 PM
ThatRomanticGeek ThatRomanticGeek is offline
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As for leaving your wife to go have the mono- relationship with Bree that she wants, I'd strongly encourage you to, at the very least, spend more than one weekend in her company before indulging that train of thought any further.
Oh wow, I did make that sound a little... ummm... rash, didn't I? Believe me, I couldn't agree more.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:45 PM
Livingmybestlife Livingmybestlife is offline
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I recently ended a relationship of three years. My new BF lives in the southwest. My husband, has stated that he would be willing to transfer to be near him. My husband loves me and wants me happy. He knows my BF has a hard time with the idea of sharing. We have been togather a long time and have children.

I have talked to my husband about my love for my BF. He knows we are seriously connected. As much as he enjoys my happiness with my BF. As much as he wants me happy, he knows that if we broke our marriage for me to go make my BF happy. It would be only meeting one person's needs, BF's. Our children wouldn't be happy, my husband wouldn't be happy and seriously, I wouldn't be happy with my children living a spilt life. The only person who would be happy is BF. He however, would soon feel the resentment of my children's spilt holidays.

I think changing your life so drastically, becoming mono to "please" one person when the ripples on the pond affect so many is more then rash.
I can't see making the those changes unless there was a solid base of a relationship. That is where I personally am with my situation.

I realize we are in NRE. I am not breaking up my family for a man, I don't know welll. My BF is also christain and he understands the need to move slowly. I do think there is such a thing on here called a cowgirl. Seems like maybe she is one.

I hope I didn't speak out of turn. Yesterday, apartment shopping with BF made me do some hard thinking about what I was really committed to doing.
I still love my husband deeply.
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Old 08-26-2010, 04:27 PM
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What I got from your post is that this is your first romantic relationship outside of your marriage. You haven't dated since you were a teen (I've been with my husband since I was 17, so I know how it is). Take your time with this relationship, have the serious discussions, see if the 2 of you really are a good match for each other on a deeper level. Is there a possibility that 10 years into a mono relationship with Bree and 2 kids with her that you're going to feel the need to "sow your wild oats" again? You would hurt her a lot worse down the line than you would now by honestly looking at things and saying that long term the 2 of you aren't compatible on a basic level.

I would also like to echo what other people have said. This is a brand new relationship and as such you shouldn't be making any life altering decisions yet. Give it at least a year and a half (especially since it's a long distance relationship). Once the NRE of the relationship has worn off you can look at how you really want to have your life structured. Maybe you'll decide that you really do want to be mono in which case it will be time to sit down with your wife and figure out how to transition in such a way that will cause the least damage to your children.

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Old 08-26-2010, 04:35 PM
NeonKaos NeonKaos is offline
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I'm sorry (no, not really) but the term "sowing my wild oats" brings up a mental image of this guy who goes around getting women pregnant and disappearing without a trace. That is pretty disgusting.

So, tell me that is not what you mean by "sowing my wild oats". Humor me, please, just this once.
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Old 08-26-2010, 04:52 PM
ThatRomanticGeek ThatRomanticGeek is offline
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I'm sorry (no, not really) but the term "sowing my wild oats" brings up a mental image of this guy who goes around getting women pregnant and disappearing without a trace. That is pretty disgusting.

So, tell me that is not what you mean by "sowing my wild oats". Humor me, please, just this once.

LOL, no problem. Michelle is only the second girl I ever dated, and the first was a certifiable psycho. I just kinda regret not dating more girls (not that I would trade my wife for that). So when she brought up the idea of opening our marriage, it appealed to me for that reason.
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Old 08-26-2010, 04:55 PM
ThatRomanticGeek ThatRomanticGeek is offline
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Originally Posted by Derbylicious View Post
I would also like to echo what other people have said. This is a brand new relationship and as such you shouldn't be making any life altering decisions yet. Give it at least a year and a half (especially since it's a long distance relationship). Once the NRE of the relationship has worn off you can look at how you really want to have your life structured. Maybe you'll decide that you really do want to be mono in which case it will be time to sit down with your wife and figure out how to transition in such a way that will cause the least damage to your children.

I really like your advice. I think I need to talk with Bree and see if she feels she's able to move forward like this. NRE is a powerful drug, and it's definitely clouding my judgment here.
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Old 08-26-2010, 04:57 PM
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I really like your advice. I think I need to talk with Bree and see if she feels she's able to move forward like this. NRE is a powerful drug, and it's definitely clouding my judgment here.
That it is with some pretty major side effects sometimes.
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