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Old 04-02-2011, 07:59 PM
kingofmice kingofmice is offline
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Default Looking for advice on open relationship

Hiya. So, I'm totally new to this. I recently met an amazing boy, we get along great. We've been on a few dates and he's just wonderful. We have worlds in common, and he's probably the most understanding, non-judgmental human being I've ever met. Before we started really hanging out though, he told me that he had a girlfriend, and that the pair of them were in an open relationship. Never having tried anything like this, I gave it a good long think before deciding to move forward. But after much meditation and deliberation with myself, I decided that I was open to the idea. I'm the first girl he's chosen to "date" outside of their relationship. She's seen other people, also, and is currently "dating" another boy. Recently, I started talking to her, and the two of us get along great. I actually got to meet her for the first time the other night, though the meeting was sort of a surprise. It went well, and one of my favorite (or most comforting) aspects of the situation is that he is very good at giving attention to the person he's with. I was scared that when she came around, his affection would default to her because she's the "girlfriend" and I'm just the girl he's "seeing." A friend of her's who is in an open relationship passed along "The Ethical Slut" and now he's reading it. I'm supposed to get it next. My questions/worries are as follows:

1. Are there any other good texts concerning polyamory?
2. Though I understand we can define the boundaries/roles in the relationship for ourselves, is it typical that the "extra" people outside of the "open relationship" (me, in this case) don't get the same rights/attention emotionally as the "girlfriend"/"boyfriend"? The idea is that one can be "intimate" with multiple partners, but is this intimacy restricted to sex, or can it be emotional? I tend to be a very sensitive, open-hearted, giving person, and I'm worried that I'll fall in love without the chance for these feelings to be reciprocated.

Any advice or kindness would be really appreciated. I'm at a place where I'm very scared, and a little unsure. I think that both of these people are amazing, and I feel like I can learn a lot from this relationship, and I'd like to continue pursuing it. I'm just very nervous I won't be afforded the same possibilities because I'm coming in from the outside. Thank you.
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Old 04-02-2011, 09:01 PM
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MrRusty MrRusty is offline
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Me! me! let me be first - then you can all shoot me down later.

First of all, 'this intimacy' is most definitely NOT restricted to sex. The "amory" part is exactly the point. Multiple sex partners is one thing, more than one love is another thing entirely, although not unnaturally one tends to like to have sex with one's loves.

As to same rights, for me a lot of the poly mindset is freeing oneself from the idea that you have rights per se over another human being. It's about letting them be free to love as they feel fit.

That said, it does seem that many people find that 'other' relationships can take priority over 'original' ones. People sometimes use terms like 'primary' and 'secondary' but for me these don't accurately reflect how I feel, and give the wrong impression. My 'secondary' is just as dear to me as my 'primary'.

Time is always a problem. There are blessed groupings (Vs and Ws) that manage to live together or at least close, but I seem to only manage to attract partners several hundred miles away (bad pheremones??!) and struggle to balance time. On top of that I value 'me time'. So any of my partners tend to feel slotted into spare moments. I wish I didn't have to work!

For what it's worth I have got to a place where I try to let people and relationships be and become what they naturally will. Obviously in this I will and do have my disappointments.

I used to think that to not be damaged personally by such disappointments, one would have to be hard and non-loving. My experience is different. You can indeed keep yourself warm and loving but retain your own sense of self-worth and control of your own happiness. Try to enjoy the pleasure your partner has in his other partners. Getting to know them reportedly helps but as you can imagine this is hard work for me!

Anyway, welcome aboard! It's not an easy ride in the current social situation, but for me the feeling of rightness and alignment with my own mores overrides everything else.

Rusty

(let the flames begin!)
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Old 04-02-2011, 09:01 PM
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Indigomontoya Indigomontoya is offline
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Hi there and welcome,

You've come to the right place for anwers...that being said your questions are very telling, are these things you've discussed or are you just curious? Because as with monogamous relationships there are no guidelines to speak of, just what works for the particular relationship.

To answer your questions specifically:
1. This board is excellent for poly reading, I encourage your boy to read it too, both the new to poly threads as well as the blogs; couples who have been where you are before are great sources, as I found them to be.

2. You're human in a relationship; you have rights same as his girlfriend. I found the maxim of "fair but not equal" to be a good idea when starting out. In this case it means that because your coming into an established relationship you should expect to be treated fairly but understand that his girlfriend may set boundaries. Intimacy is not synonymous with sex, emotional intimacy is real, and if you feel like you might develop feelings (sounds like you already have) for this boy you need, need, need to discuss these things with him and with his girlfriend.

The worst thing you can do for yourself is assume that you are inferior in the relationship, but you must understand that you might have to adhere to the boundaries set by others. That is second to not communicating, if you make assumptions about how available emotionally and literally he will be for you it will end badly, again you need to discuss this with him to set clearly intentions, boundaries, and guidelines of what happens if someone has issues that need addressing.
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Old 04-02-2011, 09:09 PM
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Indigomontoya Indigomontoya is offline
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Dang Rusty beat me to it!

He makes a lot of good points. In my personal experience I guess I would have been the 'primary' as my wife and I had been together almost 2 years prior to opening up our relationship. When she started dating her boyfriend to ensure she didn't disappear in a puff of NRE (new relationship energy) we had clear guidelines...as her relationship with her boyfriend progressed we moved away from the primary/secondary idea to one of equality with all involved voicing what their needs were in terms of time, intimacy, etc.

Again it goes back to communication, and like Rusty said, it's about accepting your own self worth in the relationship while understanding that their is a third person with their own needs that you need to respect as well.
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Old 04-02-2011, 09:37 PM
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MrRusty MrRusty is offline
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Well put Indigo

"The worst thing you can do for yourself is assume that you are inferior in the relationship" is a problem not helped by the label 'secondary'.

Rusty
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Old 04-03-2011, 12:34 AM
kingofmice kingofmice is offline
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Wow! Thanks for your help, gentlemen! For starters, I'll admit that yes, I do have feelings. My goal at the outset was to let the relationship develop naturally, "que sera sera" and all. But I can tell that I like him, that there's potential to really give of myself. For the sake of context, I'd come out of a very restrictive (emotionally, sexually), dependent, monogamous relationship. Communication was always a problem. In this relationship, it's not only encouraged, it's expected. When I say, "I have something important to tell you," he says, "Spit it out." I feel like I can tell him anything, like there's a safety net beneath me.

Not thinking of myself as "inferior" or "novel" seems to be my biggest challenge. Neither of them have given me reason to believe that this is how they view me. There's just that fear that since he loves her (their relationship is very comfortable) he can't possibly love me. I realize how green this makes me sound.

There's also the issue of timing. I feel like I'm going to have to have the conversation soon: When do you typically see her? When can you see me? Is it selfish to think of it in these terms? Or too rigid, absolute? I just want to know where I fit into the relationship as well as the routine.

For example, let me tell you about the "surprise" meeting we had. It had been established that he and I would spend time together last Thursday. Early in the day he told me she'd be coming over around midnight. She lives far from him and so they group their time together into a few days. He said I could stick around and meet her if I wanted, or I could leave. (The amount of understanding this boy possesses can in no way be stressed enough, he's like a paragon of acceptance.) My initial knee-jerk reaction was to say I'd go before she got there. But the timing was against me. He and I had gotten side-tracked, and it resulted in us meeting. We stared at each other like surprised rabbits for a bit, then we got to talking. I like her, and she likes me. I'd feel comfortable spending time with her, and I'd like to spend time the three of us. I guess that once again, communication is key.

There's also the part where we're all young, and we're all living with our parents. We're all just barely in our twenties. So there's that. How does one explain to one's parents that one has two girlfriends? It's all quite perplexing, but totally worth it.

Anywho, thanks again for the help. Any particular blog you can point me to?
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Old 04-03-2011, 12:49 AM
Tonberry Tonberry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofmice View Post
There's just that fear that since he loves her (their relationship is very comfortable) he can't possibly love me. I realize how green this makes me sound.
It makes sense, because that's what we're raised to believe, that's what we're shown everywhere, and it IS the way some people work. Possibly including you, in which case it would be even harder to wrap your mind about his working differently.

In cases like that, I think you need to look at the way he treats you, and see for yourself. You can usually tell when someone cares about you by the way they act with you, whether they have another partner or not. I think for polyamory to work, you need to be able to be comforted by your relationship with him regardless of outside relationship, seeing it as its own thing without constantly trying to compare or wonder if he does this or that with her too, for instance.

It's not unreasonable to try and set date times. If you want, for instance, a regular date night that would work around all of your schedules, it makes sense to get together, say how much you'd like to see him ideally, and then work around what's realistic depending on how much she wants to see him as well. It might really help having a regular pattern if your lives allow for it, since this way you don't have to check with everyone every time one of you is free (for instance, if you're free, you need to check that he's free too, but also that she wasn't planning to see him already. While with a regular schedule, you don't have that worry as much).

Dates with the three of you together sound like a good idea so you can get to know each other. For you, she's the established relationship and therefore a bit "scary" because of their history together, but for all you know, for her you are that shiny new person and you might seem threatening too. It should be good for both of you to see each other as individual and therefore worry less, as people tend to worry more about the unknown.

As for relationship hierarchy, different people act in different ways, and you should feel free to ask about that. It might be hard to ask "so, do I always come after her, or...?" but maybe you can find a way to ask that won't make you as nervous. Maybe you can start by asking what you should expect from the relationship or something? He seems to be willing to listen to your concerns, so talking about them shouldn't be too big a problem.
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Old 04-03-2011, 01:05 AM
kingofmice kingofmice is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonberry View Post

In cases like that, I think you need to look at the way he treats you, and see for yourself. You can usually tell when someone cares about you by the way they act with you, whether they have another partner or not. I think for polyamory to work, you need to be able to be comforted by your relationship with him regardless of outside relationship, seeing it as its own thing without constantly trying to compare or wonder if he does this or that with her too, for instance.
Thanks, those are really good points. Like I said, when our surprise initial encounter happened, I was terrified she'd take precedent. For the first few minutes, he kind of hung back and watched us interact. I think it was all very thrilling for him. Then she sort of went about microwaving something and chatting, and he came and stood beside me. I think people's physical positioning is really indicative of how they feel. It meant a lot that he'd stand next to me. She, too, was very apologetic that she'd interrupted our time together. After wards, he walked me to my car and kissed me goodbye. He's also very good at ignoring his cell phone when we're together. Us time really feels like us time, and I want to be respectful of their time as well. So I suppose the conversation about when we can expect to make time together is important and should happen.

I feel the need sometimes to take a step back, like because I'm new I don't have the right to bring these things up, like I'm assuming I have a place amongst them. But, as I mentioned, she and I get along well. She's accepted me. And I'm confident in his feeling for me. I have no real reason not to be. Every fear I seem to have is a projection from either my last relationship or my expectations of what a relationship "should be" as informed by the majority of society. I guess the transition part can be hard, harder than my excitement has allowed me to anticipate.
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Old 04-03-2011, 01:21 AM
kingofmice kingofmice is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonberry View Post
It makes sense, because that's what we're raised to believe, that's what we're shown everywhere, and it IS the way some people work. Possibly including you, in which case it would be even harder to wrap your mind about his working differently.
Oh! And on this. While I'll admit that my awareness of "polyamory" is brand spanking new, my motivations for engaging in this particular relationship go way beyond my feelings for him (though he's amazing, and she's really great, too). I mentioned that I have a big, open heart. This is not hyperbole. It's a relentless organ. Giving, loving, accepting. It has even been a bit of an issue in my previous and unsuccessful monogamous relationships. I've never cheated (I believe firmly in establishing a relationship's boundaries and adhering to them, and if I felt compelled to stray I'd exit said boundaries by ending the relationship). I think the young men I'd find myself with simply didn't understand how I could be so loving, how I could love so much. Naturally, then, the idea of being able to love many people in the various ways that love would manifest (for each love is as unique as the two individuals evolved) attracts me deeply. This whole experience has been amazingly liberating for me!
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Old 04-03-2011, 10:01 AM
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BlackUnicorn BlackUnicorn is offline
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So happy for you!

Entering into an established polyship, I feel that respect and space are two of the most important things you can give to your brand new metamour. She probably feels as if not more threatened than you, and is wondering how their relationship is going to change as a result.

And once you allow your new metamour to come sniff you out at her own pace, and she gives you the assuring lick on the nose (what? how do you mean I spend too much time around rabbits of late?), the two of you can start the ooshy-gooshy metamour crush phase.

NRE turns perfectly lovely people into monsters. It also tends to drive people to definitely more monogamous interaction patterns. This can be really hard to the established (I prefer this term to 'primary', which I connect more with household economics than anything else) partner. Hence the respect and space.

The one thing your parents will be worried about, if this relationship progresses and you out yourself to them, is if you are being used. Responsible non-monogamy as a concept goes pretty much against everything we as a culture are taught to believe is right and good.
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