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Old 09-11-2010, 10:08 AM
Marina Marina is offline
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Default Discovering that maybe we have different life goals after all?

Sorry, yet another poster having trouble with the early stages of poly.

My partner and I have been together for about 8 years, and we've been involved in swinging for a few years now, which has been lovely, and we've made some good friends through it. I've always said to him that I really enjoy the affectionate side of the sex with others too, but that I'm pretty sure I'm not poly; it's like there's a block in my brain when it comes to forming romantic relationships with others, because I'm so utterly in love with him.

Over the summer, we met a lovely woman (let's call her C) who we both really hit it off with, and had some awesome sex with. I was away over the summer a lot for work, and she came round and hung out (and slept over) with my partner, which I was fine with; in fact I thought it was kind of sweet.

However, my partner has increasingly started talking about exploring his poly side, and - although he disagrees - it looks very much to me as if he's falling in love with her. I can recognise intellectually that if he falls in love with someone else, it doesn't take away from what he feels for me, but in my heart I can't understand it - I'm really trying to, but failing.

When we started opening up our relationship sexually, there was a lot of discussion ahead of time about boundaries, and agreements, and the primacy of our relationship with each other, and if anything made either of us uncomfortable we would say and stop. But it feels rather as if he's developed an actual relationship with C without us ever talking about it at all; this is the first time we've done anything separately, and it feels as if it happened while I wasn't looking. Bit of a surprise.

I really would love to be able to build our lives this way; it seems like a more evolved and sensible way of building familial relationships, but I can't get past the fact that I feel like I've been punched in the stomach if I think about there being someone else in our lives on a permanent basis.

We've been having a lot of crying and serious talks over the past few weeks over this. I'm worried that we've uncovered a fundamental incompatibility between us; for all these years I've been so certain that this is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, laughing and growing old together. Here's the thing (well, two things).

It's very important to me that I have children - and I want to have children with him. I see this as being something that it's important for us to do in the next five years or so (for boring health reasons, it's also likely to take me longer to conceive than average). He is terrified by the prospect of having children yet, although he is confident that he does want them; but he's said that doing it so soon is a scary thing, and he'd prefer to do it in more like ten years, by which time I'll be fast approaching 40. He also has openly said that he doesn't like the idea of having to compromise on his life - where he can just decide to go out drinking at a moment's notice - for children. I've also realised that I would expect - as we move into having-babies-settling-down-territory - that the non-monogamous side of our relationship would fade into the background; not stop, exactly, but be put on hold while we focus on each other and our family.

He, on the other hand, has (as I mentioned above) said that this is not something he feels like he'll be ready to do for years, and that when we do he's not keen on building a traditional family structure with just two parents. This is a new development, and has never come up before this summer - but he does now say that he loves the idea of building a network of lovers who are also a support network. We live a few hours away from our respective families. As he said last night 'What if we were both ill and had kids? Who would we call on to help us?'. I am horrified by the idea of trying to maintain our relationship with each other AS WELL AS raise children AS WELL AS maintain romantic relationships with an unspecified number of other people too. Love may not be finite, but time is. I've got no objection to having a couple of friends on the side that we occasionally sleep with, but what he has obviously now decided he wants is a network of serious lovers who are a committed part of our lives.

I have a real tendency to overthink things, as you may have spotted! But I also think it's important to think about these things ahead of time, rather than hold secret expectations and then be surprised when other people fail to live up to them.

I'm feeling so sick about all this; I thought we were so brilliantly compatible, we get on so well and - until this summer - I thought we had similar ideas of how we wanted to build our lives together.

I haven't talked much about C in all this, and that's because it's not about her. She's awesome. If my partner were to turn to her tomorrow and say I'm leaving [me] and coming to build a new life with you, I'm pretty sure she'd be horrified; that's not what she's in this for. It's not about her, and is everything about my relationship with my partner.

A summary: I'm pretty sure I'm not poly, and struggling with the idea of my partner falling in love with someone else. Also struggling with realising that - if he's telling the truth and knows what he wants - we may have suddenly ended up with wildly differing life goals. I always saw myself being with him forever (as did he), and now we don't know whether we should carry on pursuing that goal or whether this is so fundamentally different we should go our separate ways.
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Old 09-11-2010, 11:09 AM
Marina Marina is offline
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Also, just to follow that up - my greatest fear is that all my worries over all this are what will finally drive my partner away. We had another talk last night, which ended with him asking if we could please not talk about all this for at least a week, because it feels like we're just going round and round in circles and achieving nothing, and at the moment he doesn't want to come home to all this stress. Which I can totally understand, but it's hard, because he's always been my closest confidante, and the person I want to talk to about my confusion. But I'm happy to respect that, and will try and get my own thoughts straight in my head in the meantime.
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Old 09-11-2010, 02:24 PM
PollyPocket PollyPocket is offline
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Communication differences are a bitch! I can totally relate to you needing to talk it out. The other two in this strange relationship of mine, don't see it the same way. It sounds like it is the same for you!

Are you able to talk it out with a friend? If not, time for a therapist, because you NEED to talk about it. Respect that he doesn't. It's okay. Be patient, give time and space and it will resolve, hopefully.

Good luck!
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:02 PM
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It sounds like you are doing all you can do... talking, getting it all out, regrouping, talking again... on and on it goes until something moves inside. There is nothing more to do. If at some point it becomes evident that this woman should be involved with these conversations about the future and what is going on then perhaps him giving her a heads up to whats going on first would be respectful. who knows what is going on for her. her interactions might not mean as much to her. She might have a totally different plan for her future and what she wants out of life. It could be compatible or not. One doesn't know until its talked about.

Maybe do some research here about communication and what others journeys have been. It could be helpful to seek out a local poly group too. You don't have to identify as anything really. It's all a personal journey, but at least you know you are in good company. We are all on similar journeys one way or another.
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Old 09-12-2010, 01:47 PM
Marina Marina is offline
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I think it's really really clear - to me at least - that all of my insecurities have nothing at all to do with C. At a really fundamental level, my jealousy is not 'what if she's better at x/prettier/smarter/funnier than me?' but 'what if he prefers her for x?' - a subtle difference but an important one, I think. I also think that I'm probably projecting quite a bit onto their relationship - I'm pretty sure that what she's after is a comfortable FWB situation with both of us, and would definitely not be interested in getting involved in all this drama! It wouldn't be fair to her, as it's not about her. However, I feel like I do at least need to address all my worries now, rather than further down the line.

I suppose it's just readjusting; we've previously always had very compatible life goals, and he seems to have changed his mind this summer over what he wants. That's not to say this is a bad thing; we ought to be able to develop and change together, and I certainly wouldn't want him to stay exactly the same as he was when I first met him. it's hard to adjust to, though. And it feels a bit like I'm being left behind.

I am a bit concerned though - he thinks the reason I'm getting so worried about all this is that I'm overthinking it, and we should just carry on and see what happens, and not talk about it so much. I think we need to talk and talk and talk, because it's so important to me that we take care of our own relationship, rather than possibly testing it to destruction and not realising until after the fact.

As for meeting local poly groups... yeah. Funny story, that. We have quite a few friends who are poly/non-monogamous/swingers/other, but I've had arguments with my partner over the fact that he is/wants to sleep with ALL of them, which leaves us with NO friends involved in all this that we aren't also sexually involved with. And hence impossible to talk to about my own relationship worries. I get frustrated by that; it takes a lot for me to find that 'zing' - someone can be interesting, attractive, funny, whatever, but there's that indefinable something for me to want to have sex with them or not. Whereas for him, his criteria is basically any woman who is intelligent and good-looking. (Admittedly, that's better than some people!) I suppose that's another thing I need to adjust to.
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Old 09-12-2010, 03:08 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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Hi Marina - thanks for stopping by !

Reading through your post prompted a few thoughts.............




Quote:
Originally Posted by Marina View Post
from swinging to......................
However, my partner has increasingly started talking about exploring his poly side, and - although he disagrees - it looks very much to me as if he's falling in love with her. I can recognise intellectually that if he falls in love with someone else, it doesn't take away from what he feels for me, but in my heart I can't understand it - I'm really trying to, but failing.
Your situation is pretty common - moving from what many refer to as 'swinging' to potentially 'more'. But I'm impressed with how intelligently you both are approaching this ! Don't let that approach slide.

I always feel that there's a lot of terminology in our culture and vocabulary that's developed from the conservative, monogamous underpinnings that we don't realize, but use without thought. "FALLING" in "LOVE" is one of those.

Think about this a second ! Is that a little negative right from the get-go ? Threatening ? We generally fall 'down' right ? And often get hurt ? Is our choice of language introducing some assumptions without realizing it ?

Shouldn't 'love' be looked at as a step UP - FORWARD ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marina View Post
I really would love to be able to build our lives this way; it seems like a more evolved and sensible way of building familial relationships, but I can't get past the fact that I feel like I've been punched in the stomach if I think about there being someone else in our lives on a permanent basis.
Yep - pretty common
Our culture has programmed us for this reaction. You're a smart lady - YOU apply your own analyzation skills here
It can be (and is) looked on as a more evolved, maybe more practical model of living in relationship to each other. But not automatically and not for everyone. Don't let the hype overshadow your own person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marina View Post
I'm worried that we've uncovered a fundamental incompatibility between us; .........................

It's very important to me that I have children - and I want to have children with him. ......................

He also has openly said that he doesn't like the idea of having to compromise on his life - where he can just decide to go out drinking at a moment's notice - for children.........................

He, on the other hand, has (as I mentioned above) said that this is not something he feels like he'll be ready to do for years,
Well, me, I don't see this as so much of a fundamental 'incompatibility' (yet) as a gender difference and a maturation issue. There's something with a lot of men that makes it hard to look at possibly giving up a certain amount of their independence. It's a HUGE bridge to cross for many. It's part of the maturation process and, in my opinion, in our current culture that is very much inhibited.
He DOES need to get there - somehow-someway. If not it WILL be a problem. For him and for you both !


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marina View Post
and that when we do he's not keen on building a traditional family structure with just two parents.
Again, it's a good potential concept. But it brings with it new challenges and needs new ways of thinking & processing. Make sure you study all the angles and are prepared to reprogram a lot of your current conditioning.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Marina View Post
I'm feeling so sick about all this; I thought we were so brilliantly compatible, we get on so well and - until this summer - I thought we had similar ideas of how we wanted to build our lives together.
You may be compatible. But where the difficulty lies is that your 'ideas' were limited to what you knew and what models you had seen. Now that's changed - that's all. Process the new information intelligently - you'll be fine.

Good luck - keep focused & smiling. Keep us posted.

GS
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Old 09-12-2010, 03:47 PM
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Morningglory629 Morningglory629 is offline
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Hi Marina! I agree alot with GS. As far as the maturation process (you seem to be in your late 20s?)- men, imho, are not ready for family and added responsibility until their 30s and that seems to be getting later and later. Women have that bio clock ticking which keeps us a little more aware of when things need to happen! That being said you have alot on your relationship plate and just because you are not at the same place right now, does not mean he will not eventually be there, nor does it mean your goals are different- just out of sync a bit.

It seems your communication skills and intellectual compatibility are there. Everyone needs a break from "The Conversation" whatever that issue may be, in this case deciding whether poly is for you at this time. Don't worry that he needs a respite from the cyclical nature of debate. I am glad to read you are not projecting negative feelings onto C because it is not anyone's fault, it is not a competition and you have your own strengths and attractive qualities. The doubt and insecurity is not because she exists in your life...it is that you are being asked to look at your relationship in a different light. Scary at first. EVERYONE seems to go through this, and you are already on a more open and enlightened path- your circle of people sound as if they could help you through the pitfalls of mono/poly relationships- and everything in between.

But, if you are attracted to C as well and she is part of your network, why not confide in her a bit about your worries? Are you close enough and trusting enough in that relationship to ask her feedback? It may be just what you need, a little reassurance from her and the support of people who really understand. Best of luck. I will be following your thread.
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Old 09-13-2010, 05:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marina View Post
As for meeting local poly groups... yeah. Funny story, that. We have quite a few friends who are poly/non-monogamous/swingers/other, but I've had arguments with my partner over the fact that he is/wants to sleep with ALL of them, which leaves us with NO friends involved in all this that we aren't also sexually involved with. And hence impossible to talk to about my own relationship worries. I get frustrated by that; it takes a lot for me to find that 'zing' - someone can be interesting, attractive, funny, whatever, but there's that indefinable something for me to want to have sex with them or not. Whereas for him, his criteria is basically any woman who is intelligent and good-looking. (Admittedly, that's better than some people!) I suppose that's another thing I need to adjust to.
Welllll, there you go, this being another reason to not fuck all your friends... ha! thanks! this just helped me feel a whole lot better about not doing so. Sorry, I don't think this anything to do with you and everything to do with me and my feelings of feeling sane within my community. There is absolutely nothing wrong with anything you've done, but it does make me feel better that I reserve sexual activities for a select few. thanks for that.

That time between 20's and 30's is an interesting one. Lots of possible things to occur. I think by 40 we kind of expect that there will be changes occurring between 30's and 40's. It's just part of life. I remember at 30 that I was kind of surprised. I turned 40 this past year and was ready to see what change came my way... I did the kid thing, did the family thing, have a career, house blah, blah, blah,,,.... now what. At 30 that is possibly all to come. Interesting to see what will come of your negotiations.
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Old 07-01-2011, 01:26 PM
Marina Marina is offline
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No-one ever follows up on these 'OMG I'm having problems!' threads

The shortest version is - problems ironed out, man and I are happier and stronger than ever, and joyfully poly.

The rather longer version is: turned out that C actually was looking for a pretty serious relationship; awesome though she was (and is - still a close friend) that wasn't something either of us were able to give her, together or separately. So we broke up after a few months of committed dating and a lot of negotiations over whether she wanted us to be a closed triad or not. I certainly learned a hell of a lot from that relationship, and I am grateful to her and the situation for giving me the kick I needed to really reevaluate some of my assumptions at the most basic level.

Since then, I've realised - as is a boringly common story! - that a lot of my panic was based in my own ingrained cultural assumptions; even though I felt like this was something I wanted, I found it hard to accept when it was actually happening.

One of the things, oddly, that's really helped is having come out to my family. Their overwhelming support and positivity has helped me see that this totally and absolutely can be part of my life, and I don't have to feel like it's a dirty secret that I'm having to keep - I can be proud of the choices I've made and the way my partner and I are forming our lives, and we can be proud of the other lovely people in our lives who are important to us.

I've come on such a journey in the past year; no doubt there are lots more bumps down the road, but I feel really strongly that - even if circumstances lead to taking a break - this is something that will always be part of my relationship with my partner, even if only as an option. And that now makes me happier than I can even explain. He and I are stronger than ever before; we've both made a lot of mistakes over the past year, but we've never made the same one twice, and we've kept talking and kept loving. Pus, the sheer joy I get from seeing him nuzzling up to lovely ladies is awesome, and I also have a long-term (male) lover from whom I am also learning a lot - which benefits my primary relationship too. So much love and joy.

Now I am less stressed about relationship stuff, my worries about babies have also faded somewhat. I know this is something he wants too, and me stressing over-much about it leaves him with no space in which to say 'oh, aren't babies adorable?' without me jumping on it - in the same way that him being slightly more reluctant leaves me no space to say 'you know, I am a bit worried about what this would mean for money, social life etc'. We'd both sort of carved out our corner and got stuck in it. It will happen, and if in a year he's still reluctant, I'll address that worry then, rather than borrowing troubles. It's not like he'll think my desires have just gone away, there's no danger of that

I thought you might appreciate a follow-up, especially as it's such a happy ending
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Old 07-01-2011, 02:27 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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Quote:
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I thought you might appreciate a follow-up, especially as it's such a happy ending
Thanks much sweetie for taking the time to stop back and give everyone an update.

Positive stories are something we always need more of

GS
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