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Old 04-20-2011, 05:55 PM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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Default Honest w/o Hurting?

(Originally posted in Personal Summaries, but that's not a discussion area.)

I'm MorningTwilight, a straight forty-something living in Texas with my wife of nearly two decades. Like so many, I was raised to believe in the fairy tale of "meet a girl and live happily ever after." I've had various crushes over that time period, and have repressed my feelings fiercely, not realizing that there was any other honorable alternative to beating myself up with guilt over my feelings, despite the fact that I have never so much as kissed another woman in the entire time my wife and I have been together. I've grown to resent the notion of monogamy, but I have thus far not had the courage to "come out" to my wife (and my, that sounds pretentious to me, but I think it's accurate) because the thought of dishing out the hurt and confusion that goes with that to someone whom I love so much, and who has been so very good to me, just crushes me.

Two years ago, I fell hard for a woman I work with. I've not told her about it, nor have I acted on it in any way (see "beating myself up with guilt," above), and I've not told my wife either (see "dishing out hurt and confusion," above). I realize that it's a messed-up emotional situation, and there's no guarantee of any kind that even if I successfully negotiate polyamory with my wife that my colleague would go for it. Still and all, I've come to the realization that I should stop beating myself up--one cannot control what one feels; one can only control what one does about it, and I think that I've not done anything dishonorable to date. I also think that I should stop living the lie that I can deal with monogamy for the rest of my life. The woman at work might not ever happen, but I'll certainly meet others as life progresses, and I hate, hate, hate the feeling of having to hold wonderful women at arm's length out of fear of having a friendship that "leads to something else."

I'm reading Tristan Taormino's book, Opening Up, in the hopes that seeing how others have succeeded might give me some courage. I'd be very grateful to be pointed to a thread about (formerly) monogamous couples who have faced the same fears I'm facing, and who have successfully had "the discussion" without it all going to pieces.

Anyway, it's good to be able to tell someone. Thank you.

(And no, I have no intention of an "OK for me but not for thee" arrangement, nor do I have any inclination to push her where she doesn't want to go, just in case anyone should get that impression. I don't want to lose my marriage, but I don't think I can pretend anymore, either.)
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Old 04-21-2011, 02:14 AM
AutumnalTone AutumnalTone is offline
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Welcome aboard.

Check the "Links to other threads worth reading" post to see if you can find something applicable to your situation. We have many members who opened their marriages.
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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.
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:28 PM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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Thank you. Yes, I'm checking out other threads. Right now, I'm in "the struggling mono" thread. I don't know for certain that my wife is mono, but I want to be prepared in case she is.

I have an appointment with a poly-friendly therapist tomorrow to discuss how to discuss it, as well as to have an unbiased person there to make sure I'm not full of shit--it can be remarkably easy to convince oneself of something that isn't true. I'm pretty certain that I am poly, and have often uttered to myself the phrase "I hate monogamy," and have often felt like the whole concept was a big fat ugly lie imposed upon most people from birth.
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:58 PM
AutumnalTone AutumnalTone is offline
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You appear to be on top of the whole thing. Most folks shy away from drawing on the resources of a therapist until it's likely too late.
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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.
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Old 04-22-2011, 03:39 PM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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On top of it or not, I'm still terrified at the prospect of telling my wife how I feel, both because I don't want my marriage to end, and because I so very much don't want to hurt her. I can either continue to hurt myself, or I can "come out" and we can deal with it (I say the latter part for the benefit of mono folk who don't understand that this is not a selfish choice--if I could choose, I would not choose to have these feelings. It's only after many years of mistakenly believing that it was a matter of will that I've come to realize that it's not a choice; it's who I am).
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Old 04-25-2011, 03:30 PM
Serendipity Serendipity is offline
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Hello MorningTwilight. I was in a similar situation as you, except for the fact that I was deciding to tell my boyfriend of 2 years. Not twenty. He and I shared a home, finances, responsibilities, you name it. We were also very in love. And I was also falling for another man.

I made the decision to tell him how I felt, I planned ahead of time what day to tell him, and when it finally came, that moment I knew I had to say something was possibly one of the scariest, most heart-stopping, shaking in my boots, pale faced terror-gripped moments in my life thus far.

But it started with the hard decision that I needed to do it. I felt agonizing guilt for half a year prior, knowing that I had feelings for another person. I never stepped a toe out of line when it came to our expectations of monogamy, except that I had these feelings I couldn't express that were slowly eating away at my happiness. After a long time I decided that I didn't care if it was insane, that I would learn to love two people, and that had to be acceptable somehow.

Think of as many different outcomes that may come as a result of you telling your wife how you feel. She may leave you outright, she may decide to work on it with you and take many years to feel secure enough to venture into an open relationship, she may tell you there's actually a guy she's been wanting to date too, she may flat out say no, she may say yes.

If any one of these possible scenarios is too unbearable or not worth the prospect of living a polyamorous lifestyle, then don't do it. But if you can imagine the worst case scenario, say she decides to just up and leave you for even suggesting this, and can imagine saying to yourself "Maybe this had to happen. I would not be happy if I continued to remain monogamous, and in turn our marriage would not have been happy" Then perhaps it is worth the risk.

How do you feel when you consider staying monogamous for the rest of your marriage? Which is worse, the prospect of staying monogamous with her for the rest of your lives, or her leaving and you both continuing with your lives separately?

It sounds kind of macabre to think of it this way, but these are important determinations before you can resolve to do this. Its that resolution that is the first step to making this a well-thought out decision, and opening up polyamory to become a part of your reality.

For the record, I did tell my boyfriend. We were both terrified of what this meant, but when he saw how frightened it made me to think of losing him, he kind of understood that this wasn't about just messing around, or trying on another guy before I decided to dump him. I made it very clear that I was being honest, and that I loved him as much as ever, and I intended to keep him in my life. This was not about replacing him, it was about wanting to not have to lie and go behind his back to feel fulfilled and feel love with others.

It took constant reassurance, and constant communication, but we did open up our relationship. Our 4 year anniversary is in a couple weeks. <3 We're as happy as ever.
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Old 04-25-2011, 03:42 PM
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Carma Carma is offline
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Welcome, MT.
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Old 05-01-2011, 10:02 PM
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Kay Kay is offline
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Serendipity That was good advice and very well written. I am happy to hear everything is working out and you and your boyfriend are still together. I am about to move and have a sort of relationship (I say sort of because we only see eachother once a week) with a friend but would love if we could keep it an open one. I think it would be best for us being that I am moving to Seattle and he is staying In NJ. I have to talk to him about how I feel before I move and your answer gave me food for thought.
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Old 05-02-2011, 02:16 PM
Serena Serena is offline
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MorningTwilight...I very much relate. I felt in my heart I was poly for years. My former husband, however, was the one who proposed we consider it together. I would never have approached him with the idea because at the time, I felt I may hurt him. But when he did, I was elated, a possibility Serendipity suggested (and Serendipity, I'd decided coming out to my husband wasn't worth losing him, so I didn't - then he did!!). It was the best thing that could have happened.

We shared two beautiful years growing with other parnters as well as in our own partnership. Over time, our partners became "co-partners." I myself found this a challenge, and for unrelated reasons, my husband and I decided to seperate. I felt a sense of relief from the heaviness of two equal partnerships. There may have been better ways to manage it, but I'm not sure I would choose it again. My current primary partner and I have agreed on this point. That's just my experience.

I just wanted to tell you you're not alone, and that guilt will get you no where. It's based on an outdated notion that anything other than traditional monogamy should be condemned...don't condemn yourself. Embracing your own heart is so important to being clear with yourself and your partner.

That said, when I began "coming out" to friends and family, it wasn't easy. It definitely taught me more about myself, however, and helped me clarify how I view things because I was bombarded with so many questions (and judgements).

Now, those close to me know who I am and support me. My current primary partner is amazing and understanding, and we are building a life based on honesty and compassion. I am still very close with my former husband, and now know that I will never have to hide in guilt again. It's incredibly liberating.

Best of luck to you, the polyfriendly therapist is a great choice!!! Congrats Serendipity on your anniversary <3
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Old 05-02-2011, 04:52 PM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
(...committed relationship, falling for another, scared to tell your bf about your feelings...)

But it started with the hard decision that I needed to do it. I felt agonizing guilt for half a year prior, knowing that I had feelings for another person. I never stepped a toe out of line when it came to our expectations of monogamy, except that I had these feelings I couldn't express that were slowly eating away at my happiness. After a long time I decided that I didn't care if it was insane, that I would learn to love two people, and that had to be acceptable somehow.
This is exactly where I was for over a decade. It had reached the point where the guilt over carrying the secret, and the knowledge of how much it would hurt if/when I shared that secret, was driving me away from my wife. Even when I was with her, I wasn't "there."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
(...consider the possible outcomes...)
Oh, I have. The worst of it was the knowledge of how much it was going to hurt her at first. That was why I made the mistake of keeping it a secret for so very long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
How do you feel when you consider staying monogamous for the rest of your marriage?
Resentful. I love my wife, and I want to be with her for the rest of my days, but not only with her. I feel what I feel, and I can't not feel it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
Which is worse, the prospect of staying monogamous with her for the rest of your lives, or her leaving and you both continuing with your lives separately?
But for our son, the the latter would be heartbreaking, but workable. It would be the worst-case scenario to me, but I can no longer pretend to be someone I am not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
(...)

For the record, I did tell my boyfriend. We were both terrified of what this meant, but when he saw how frightened it made me to think of losing him, he kind of understood that this wasn't about just messing around, or trying on another guy before I decided to dump him. I made it very clear that I was being honest, and that I loved him as much as ever, and I intended to keep him in my life. This was not about replacing him, it was about wanting to not have to lie and go behind his back to feel fulfilled and feel love with others.
This is it exactly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
It took constant reassurance, and constant communication, but we did open up our relationship. Our 4 year anniversary is in a couple weeks. <3 We're as happy as ever.
:-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serena View Post
(...felt poly for years...afraid to tell husband for fear of hurting him, and then he suggested it himself...)

(...developed into a quad, had some trouble with that, and ended up separating for unrelated reasons...)

I just wanted to tell you you're not alone, and that guilt will get you no where. It's based on an outdated notion that anything other than traditional monogamy should be condemned...don't condemn yourself. Embracing your own heart is so important to being clear with yourself and your partner.
Thank you. Being able to simply love without guilt is amazing. We're still on the roller coaster, but Thursday and Friday were some of the most intensely wonderful days I have ever spent with my wife.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serena View Post
That said, when I began "coming out" to friends and family, it wasn't easy. It definitely taught me more about myself, however, and helped me clarify how I view things because I was bombarded with so many questions (and judgements).

Now, those close to me know who I am and support me. My current primary partner is amazing and understanding, and we are building a life based on honesty and compassion. I am still very close with my former husband, and now know that I will never have to hide in guilt again. It's incredibly liberating.

Best of luck to you, the polyfriendly therapist is a great choice!!! Congrats Serendipity on your anniversary <3
Yes, yes to all of that! I'm a bit scared about coming out to her parents in particular, but we're not even close to that part of the ride yet. I think we're still on the warm-up hills in the beginning. Until we get past the "in theory" part of polyamory to actually practicing it (though my wife is definitely mono, and I will not push her to try being poly), I don't think it makes sense to go there anyway.
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