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Old 08-27-2010, 07:57 PM
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Default MindfulAgony's Poly Journey

I started today in quite a bit of pain. I'm heartbroken over an ended relationship. I get to that a little later. But, I decided that I needed some way, some place to share what was going on for me. I thought about doing this in my blog. But, in many ways, that's too formal a venue for me. I ran across this particular section and decided that this was a good place.

I'll start with a little bit about how I think about poly. So, I'll just lay out a few of my thoughts. For many who are poly, the alternative (monogamy) is so unworkable for them that poly is easy by comparison to them. They either never really tried monogamy or failed miserably when they did. For many others, poly is an exploration of personal growth due to the demands of being poly. I feel like both describe me to some extent.

I was a serial monogamist during a lot of my dating life but I also had long periods of time with poly-like experiences (even if I wasn't aware enough to call them poly at the time). As a monogamist, I went from relationship to relationship with the idea that I would eventually be comfortable with just one loving relationship. This never came to pass. I nearly always found myself with a loving, close female friend that was essentially all but sex while being in a committed, exclusive relationship. This sometimes caused problems and it often didn't in my primary relationship. I also had the fortune of trying some multiple love relationships along the way. When I discovered polyamory formally, it resonated immediately with me as right. When I told my closest friend, he simply said "duh! I could have told you that 15 years ago."

An interesting question to ask, I think, is how to make polyamory work for you. Once you put aside those social constraints, you have to determine what fits for you. The options are now so incredibly vast.

I did a lot of reading and talking to other folks to try to get an idea of what I think will work for me. I'm certainly a newbie to this, so things will probably change with exposure to reality. I essentially crafted a starting position by trying to understand what was most important and resonates with me. My priorities/points of excitement:
  • not limiting my loving relationships - being able to really let my love for others blossom as my heart (and theirs) takes me. Sounds really foo foo, but it is very liberating.
  • not expecting a single partner to meet all of my psychological, emotional, sexual, and activity partner needs (and, not being expected to meet all of someone else's). Put another way, everyone is responsible for their own needs and happiness and communicating when they're not being met.
  • each relationship can seek it's own level. For example, in my blog I briefly mention one of my closest friends. She and I have non-sexual relationship but is so deeply loving that it easily concerns partners who are wedded to monogamy. I feel truly blessed to be able to love Michelle fully, romantically and without limitation. Sex is really besides the point with her.
    That is its level - natural resting point. Another relationship can be primarily passionate, more carnal in it's nature because that's how our bodies and minds resonate together. Etc...
  • the honesty with which you have to deal with your needs and feelings and the freedom to communicate them openly. Because of the expectations built into monogamy, it's hard to maintain the level of openness and honesty as you can in a poly one.

Those are some of the things that are really top of my list for thinking about why poly and how I might craft a lifestyle that includes poly. I draw from all of that:
  • an emphasis on a few close relationships versus one;
  • an emphasis on love over sex; however, an openness to different kinds of relationships - including primarily sexual ones (though I recognize that they would not be fulfilling alone);
  • and a need to be conscious of how many relationship I can manage.

So, I think I'll settle on 2-3 probably very close relationships (could be something we're everyone is close or separate - not sure that matters as much to me). With the option of occasional, more secondary relationships that would likely be either sporadic/occasional or brief.

I have a lot more to add including the situation with my wife and, of course, my current heartache. But, that'll have to come a little later.
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:26 PM
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Hi MA

Sorry to hear that you are in pain. I guess that when you involve yourself with a number of relationships there is likely to be more pain as well as more pleasure.

You sound a bit like my partner in your relationship with Michelle. He has a very close SO relationship which is non-sexual, although quite intimate and that is where our poly life started. He however, still hopes that it may someday open up to be more passionate.

I would be interested to know where your wife stands in all this?
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:27 PM
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Default Marriage and more

So, I'm married and my wife and I have been separated for about a year and a half. We were certainly headed for divorce. The marriage itself has been very difficult. I contributed to that difficulty by cheating and behaving badly in that way. The cheating led to therapy, which led to quite a bit of soul searching, self-insight and resolve to lead a life that engages all of me and has integrity. I've been on this path for a good part of 3 years now.

When my wife and I initially separated, it was with the intention of working things out and putting the marriage back together. She had an apartment about 3 miles down the road and I stayed in the house with our two kids. This lasted about six months. We tried again for about 3 months. The issues in our marriage go well beyond infidelity and we just couldn't get it to work. She then moved back to her home town on the East Coast. Divorce was our primary discussion at that point. It was clear that we both had very different visions of what makes a marriage, what kind of partnership we wanted, and how we would share the responsibilities of life. Lawyere'd up we were hurdling headlong toward divorce. Custody and location (East or West Coast) being the main points of contention. It seemed to me the path with the best chance of maximizing everyone's pain. Ugh!

I also had the insight that I would probably never get married again. I've said to my wife - probably as long as I've known her - that I'm not quite certain I was suited for marriage. Experiencing it more or less convinced me of that. I went from that idea to the notion that if re-marriage wasn't a priority of mine, neither was divorce. My proposal became for us to stay married and separated - location to still be negotiated. The primary rational being the difficulty my wife will have finding quality health care insurance with a long-term, very expensive chronic disorder. I literally have the best health care imaginable and our lives were fundamentally transformed when we moved here because her health improved dramatically (both the quality of the care and the quality of the health insurance).

Over about a six month period that notion transformed into she'd move back to WA and we'd stay separated indefinitely. I also discovered poly about this time and once she decided to come back to WA - I talked to her about my being poly (my therapist was interestingly very against this). That set off a round of difficult conversations - because I think it resurfaced some hurt feelings around my infidelity. Ultimately, she was able to connect that notion with her whole history of knowledge about me. Also, prior to our getting married we were in a serious non-monogamous relationship - I had two serious long-term partners including her for a nearly 3 year period. So, me talking about being poly wasn't exactly shocking as it was confirming.

As our conversations evolved and the date for her to move back to WA got closer. We struggled with where - should she take the house with the kids and I get an apartment? Should she get an apartment nearby like before? Both options seemed less than ideal. We came up with the wacky idea of living together while separated. I guess it's not so wacky as I was thinking way outside the box at that point.

The big idea: My wife and I have decided to not get divorced while staying separated (i.e., not romantically linked and both seek that outside the marriage). For our own well-being and those of our kids, we’re attempting to maintain a common household, continue to nurture a close friendship with the aim of maintaining a loving environment for our kids.

She moved back in April. And, April and May were very difficult. It was hard to adjust to her being part of the family routine for me, the kids and her. It was hard to adjust to living together with separate bedrooms and offices with different expectations on privacy and boundaries. When I went on my first date while she was back, it set off an aweful explosion of emotion. She knew I was dating prior to coming back. But, "watching it" is different from hearing that it was happening.

The last several months have been much easier. We continue to work through how to make this work. It seems that we have both become more committed to making it work over that time - despite the large challenge of it all. We believe that the potential benefits of making it work far outweigh the risks. It's worth that risk bar far.

And so, the experiment continues.
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Last edited by MindfulAgony; 08-27-2010 at 09:52 PM.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by sage View Post
Hi MA

Sorry to hear that you are in pain. I guess that when you involve yourself with a number of relationships there is likely to be more pain as well as more pleasure.

You sound a bit like my partner in your relationship with Michelle. He has a very close SO relationship which is non-sexual, although quite intimate and that is where our poly life started. He however, still hopes that it may someday open up to be more passionate.

I would be interested to know where your wife stands in all this?
You wrote this while I was writing the longest post of my life, I think. But, I think it begins to answer your question.
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Old 08-28-2010, 06:49 PM
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Unhappy on heartache, confusion and acceptance

Now to the heartache of the moment. So, I started my first new poly relationship in April since my wife and I came to our understanding. She is a wonderful woman that I believe I had started to develop a real connection. Since April, we've been together maybe 5-6 times. Not a burner of a relationship in terms of spending all of our time together. But, when we were together, it was magic - intellectually, physically, and emotionally. I was beginning to see the possibility of a fairly close, longer-term relationship.

And, then... nothing. I haven't heard from her in a month. Last I got from her is a text message saying she had fun a couple of hours after our last encounter. I'm, of course, terrified that something aweful happened to her. But, it also hasn't been unusual for her to drop completely out of communication for a couple of weeks or so. So, I thought nothing of her being incommunicato. But, after more than a month, I'm convinced that either something happened to her or she no longer wants to pursue our relationship. Either way, I'm hurt and worried.

I'm not especially in tune to what's normal for some reason. (Funny thing, I'm trained as a psychologist and my radar for normal range of behavior is broken. I guess that's why I'm not a therapist). So, I always battle with myself with what are the appropriate limits of my concern. I tend to err on the side of minding my own business in such cases. Even though I'm deeply worry that something bad happened to her, my strong desire to be a good friend and be helpful if I can is counterbalanced by my strong desire to not be a creep and be able to take a hint that she may no longer be interested.

Of course, I've called, texted and emailed her (not excessively) in the intervening month. At about the pace of communication that has been our rhythm - even without a corresponding response on her end. On Tuesday, I sent her a note essentially saying I think I get the hint that she's no longer interested and, as a result, will stop mailing her. While also suggesting that I'm worried about her health and if she's just done with me, it would ligthen my heart to know that she's ok. No response so far.

And, thus, my heavy heart. I am hurt. I am concerned. I am confused. And, I don't know what to do but sit with my feelings and try to grow in acceptance of those things I can't control.

What do you guys think? I'd appreciate any wisdom you guys can share with me.
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Last edited by MindfulAgony; 08-28-2010 at 07:43 PM. Reason: spelling/grammar
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Old 08-28-2010, 07:03 PM
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I suppose it comes down to how much you know about her as to whether you can do some checking to make sure she's OK. It does sound weird that she hasn't responded at all when previous correspondence was all positive. Also her life situation will have a bearing. Does she have others in her life to watch out for her?

Do what you can and then let it go. Follow the advice of the quote in your signature.
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Old 08-28-2010, 07:41 PM
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I suppose it comes down to how much you know about her as to whether you can do some checking to make sure she's OK. It does sound weird that she hasn't responded at all when previous correspondence was all positive. Also her life situation will have a bearing. Does she have others in her life to watch out for her?

Do what you can and then let it go. Follow the advice of the quote in your signature.
She's a long time area resident. So, I believe she does have others to look out for her. She lives alone though and just recently moved to a new apartment. I am worried. But, it just seems plain creepy for me to do too much checking. I dunno. I think I'm getting to the point where it will feel better to potentially intrude too much than to not know.
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Old 08-30-2010, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by MindfulAgony View Post
She's a long time area resident. So, I believe she does have others to look out for her. She lives alone though and just recently moved to a new apartment. I am worried. But, it just seems plain creepy for me to do too much checking. I dunno. I think I'm getting to the point where it will feel better to potentially intrude too much than to not know.
Mindful Agony,

I'm sorry for the bumps along the way; I know a thing or two about bumps and am only recently trying to embrace them as part of my path, along with the joy.

I too would be more apt to pursue it a bit. To what point, I don't know. More than likely she is physically okay, but inter-personally inept. I would decide ahead of time (e.g. I'll contact her in this way x number of times more) and do so up to that point. After that point, you are left to find closure on your own.

Without getting into the details, I am dealing with a similar decision matrix regarding two of my closest friends and the abrupt ending of communication and I assume, our friendships, though they have never had the decency to make this clear. Closure is very important to me, but I have to realize that at least one of them is admittedly emotionally inept, so I am highly unlikely to get what I feel I need from her (whether or not the friendship ever gets re-established).

I wish for you resolution and far less bumps in the road ahead.

Warmly,
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Old 08-30-2010, 04:49 AM
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Thanks for the perspective guys. I took the unusual step (for me) of stopping by her apartment. I never, ever drop by someone's house unannounced. I won't even drop by my mother's house unannounced. But, today I did and she wasn't home. I also called and then sent a text message essentially saying - let me know you're ok and at least I can have some ease on that front.

Still feels odd. Not used to this kind of dynamic. At any rate, I'll have to let it go soon. Hopefully, I'll at least get some confirmation of her health and I can drop that particular worry.
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Old 08-31-2010, 01:05 PM
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Default Relief

I finally heard from my missing paramour this morning. Thank goodness she is healthy and ok. But, she is going through some things right now that have taking her off the grid. I feel a ton better now; a weight has been lifted. It is - at least as of this morning - a lot easier to deal with the sense of loss of the connection...

And, so I move forward or, at least, onward...
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