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Old 09-16-2017, 11:44 PM
teeter teeter is offline
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Default How to pick up and carry on after various eff-ups?

Hi all. I've got several poly and general-relationship problems with which I'm struggling. This is a slog, but I grew up in the age of livejournal and not twitter, so bear with me?

1) I'm (32F) and have been in a long-lasting relationship with my partner (30F) for more than a decade. We're one-another's first partners. We've had several issues crop up over the years (diminishing sex drives, unclear boundaries getting ripped on when their being breached sparked a realization that they existed but weren't talked about, needs for safety and trust were sometimes not being fulfilled, etc.) and over the last year we were both seriously considering ending the relationship. We've talked this out and have decided that we want to figure out how to pick up the pieces. We're both pretty committed to one another but recognize the need to pull back to a healthier, less co-dependant relationship.

Traditionally I'm the one who has had a hard time identifying and speaking up about boundaries, usually charging ahead when she wants to hold back. How do I recognize and moderate these feelings? What can I do to keep patient and compassionate, since she wants a break from sexual intimacy, while still finding ways to meet my needs--which are complicated in themselves but see below.


2) We've both been in different poly relationships from nearly the beginning. Most recently (a couple of years ago) I was having a relationship with a fella (30-something) whose wife was in another part of the country. Both wife and my partner were okay with the set-up until the wife moved out here, at which point I was dumped for reasons that weren't explicitly clear, and which I'm tired of dwelling over. I have more or less managed to move on from the original extreme feelings of being shit, but I still get hella salty about it from time to time. The way in which I was dumped was slow and painful, and it dragged my emotional ass over the coals--it was also the first time I've been dumped, given the long-haul relationship mentioned above. I'm still trying to get over some self-worth issues caused by this event and those issues keep popping up in places WAY after I wish I'd gotten over the failed relationship. I can't even masturbate without it occasionally bursting my bubble with downer self-worth brain weasels.

I'm not contacting fella or his wife again, even though they're in our friends-circle. I missed the boat on getting some closure via talking it out, so I need help setting up and enacting actual steps to forgive and forget and come to terms with myself. I want to stop being on hyper alert whenever I start to get my sexy back, or when my partner and I try to do the dang.


3) My partner very recently admitted that she seriously wants to try poly dating. Further context: we eventually want to have children and she says it's been a life goal of hers to try having a fling or otherwise experiment before she devotes all of her energy to bebs, especially because she started dating me young and feels like she missed out on what it's like to be on the dating scene. Before situation #2 above occurred we also talked a lot about one day finding a third person who might be interested in joining our relationship for the long haul, but I am gun shy now. I think it's a mixture of self-worth problems, being codependent with her, fearing that what happened to me might happen to her, and feeling fiercely jealous that she can still have hypothetical trust in other people to be close with her when we're already on rocky ground with one another. There's a part of me that would also like to get out and try for some NRE, myself, but I know I'm not in a good place for it, and I don't know how to un-dent my current damage. I'm afraid that I won't have much to offer her if she is hurt, or that my heart might take a left turn if she finds someone good. She's not biting at the champ to hurry me along or anything, so it's not a matter of me having to lock my shit down at warp speed. It's just that since she brought it up, it's exposed some old hurts that I've managed to sit on, which I thought I had gotten over.

How do I confront the mental mulch that got turned over recently, which revealed nasty emotional divots? How do I work through the static of old, high, deeply negative emotions, as they're preventing me from stating my needs and in furthering the discussion of healthy boundaries? How do I words and people??
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  #2  
Old 09-17-2017, 03:52 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I am sorry you struggle.

You have a LOT going on.

Let me summarize in my own words so I know I got it right. You tell me if I am wrong, ok? I'm going to call your partner "Jane" for ease of reading, If you like a different name, I am happy to go with what you pick.

I quote just to block it off.

Quote:
1) "Jane" is your long term partner. Been with her for 10+ years and you were each other's first serious relationship.

2) There was some rocky bits with Jane and in the last year you guys talked about breaking up, but decided to keep going.

3) You are getting over a break up with Fella. It didn't end great and it was your first break up since your relationship with Jane is still going on. You are taking it hard.
  • Break up grief is affecting your libido/ sex life. Just not feelin' it.
  • Jane wants a sex break
  • Eventually you want to get your libido back and stop "being on hyper alert whenever I start to get my sexy back, or when my partner and I try to do the dang."

4) Jane has only dated you. She ultimately wants to have kids with you, but wants to explore dating other people before settling back down into parenting with you.

5) You have self worth and self esteem issues. You are also codependent with Jane. This affects the whole idea of Jane dating.
  • You are not excited about Jane dating other people at this time because after the whole thing with Fella, you are gun shy about going there again. Just this time as the metamour, not the hinge person.
  • You are envious that Jane is willing and able to trust and be close with other people. You yourself are not willing and able to trust others right now. Still too raw from the break up. (Envy = want what the other guy has. In this case, Jane's ability to trust)
  • You and Jane are on rocky ground with one another still. You feel jealous if she starts something good with someone else, you will lose the relationship with Jane. (jealous = I have something I am afraid someone else will take away)
  • You are scared she might get hurt like you did and you won't be able to comfort her because you are already feeling so run down.
  • You are scared that when it is your turn to be one of the "V arm" people instead of the hinge "shared sweetie" you will be turned off and not want to do this any more.

6) She's not rushing to start dating, but in bringing it up you realize that you aren't actually over your break up grief or in a healthy place. You are neither willing or able to Open again at this time.
If so? Keep it simple. Tell Jane:
  • I'm not at a place where I want to Open again.
  • I have to do work on myself -- with my self worth, self esteem, codependency. I plan to do that by... ( attending a CODA meeting, seeing a therapist, reading a book. <--- Whatever you pick. But something actionable that you can DO. )
  • I think you and I need to get on more solid footing first before changing the model again. Last year we were gonna break up, now you want to do Open and have babies in the future... it's all over the place to me. We have work to do as a couple to become more stable first before we do any of that. I would like to (take X months to work on us, see couples counseling, learn about non-violent communication<--- Whatever you pick. But something actionable that you can DO. Also ask her what her ideas are to rebuild the relationship.)

Quote:
I can't even masturbate without it occasionally bursting my bubble with downer self-worth brain weasels.
To me that is not in order. I believe feelings ensue after action behavior or thinking behavior.

You do a behavior. If it results in good feelings? You keep doing that action. If it feels yucky? You stop doing that action. Do something DIFFERENT. So different feelings can ensue.

You think self worth brain weasel things. (Thinking behavior)
Then you don't feel sexy any more. (Feeling result that ensues. )

You are going to have to find a way of changing your thinking patterns/habits. You could start by putting things in order. Action or thinking behavior, then what feelings ensued as a result.

That way of listing naturally suggests what action/thinking to change so a better feelings results.

The other way has you punching fog not sure what is coming from where.

Quote:
How do I confront the mental mulch that got turned over recently, which revealed nasty emotional divots? How do I work through the static of old, high, deeply negative emotions, as they're preventing me from stating my needs and in furthering the discussion of healthy boundaries? How do I words and people??
You say "boundaries" but I think you mean "agreements" between you and Jane. You and Jane need to stop assuming things and actually lay out some agreements between you.

Boundaries are things you set up for YOU to obey. If I have a boundary of not loaning my things to careless people? And you break my lawn mower and do not apologize?Do not offer to repair/replace? Then want to borrow my vacuum? I am going to obey my boundary and tell you "No. I am not willing to loan that" to keep me safe from new shenanigans. YOU don't have to obey the boundary. *I* do.

Does that make sense?

You also keep talking about lacking self esteem when I think you lack self respect. If you sit around thinking crap about yourself? You are basically your own self bully. You do not treat yourself in a self honoring or self respecting way.

It is going to be hard to feel proud of doing that behavior. It is going to be hard to hold yourself in high regard or high esteem if you go around bullying.

You have to learn to stop talking down to yourself about yourself. (New Behavior) So you can feel less crap. (New Feelings)

Quote:
How do I work through the static of old, high, deeply negative emotions, as they're preventing me from stating my needs and in furthering the discussion of healthy boundaries?
This is out of order. What is the behavior?

ACTION: NOT speaking up about your needs and healthy boundaries.

FEELING RESULT: This is not self honoring or self respecting behavior. You end up feeling crap.

What would happen if you changed your behavior?

ACTION: You could speak up more about your needs and healthy boundaries.

FEELING RESULT: This IS doing self honoring and self respecting behavior. You could start to feel a bit better.

I think you could stop focussing on "self esteem" and start focussing on checking if your behaviors are "self honoring and self respecting" or not.

Quote:
Traditionally I'm the one who has had a hard time identifying and speaking up about boundaries, usually charging ahead when she wants to hold back. How do I recognize and moderate these feelings?
This is not moderating feelings. This is impulse control. Not having an urge and just jumping up and doing whatever without thinking about how your behavior could impact other people.

It's having an urge, wanting to do X, pausing to think how doing X may or may not ding people around you. If ok? Go ahead and do X. If it dings? Moderate your behavior.

If you want to go somewhere you don't jump in the car and ZOOM however to get there through pastures, and people's backyards, and whatnot.

You moderate yourself by driving on the correct side of the road and obeying traffic lights and speed limit. You can still get there and do what you want. But you do it in a way that isn't a danger to yourself and others, right?

You have so much going on that I think you might benefit from seeing a counselor to help you better sort all these interrelated layers.

But to start out with? Do something you can do TODAY.

You can already feel good that you found a forum to post at.

You could do one more small thing. Even if just putting fresh bedding on so you can have a good sleep tonight. Small self care things. Tomorrow?

Could start checking "Is this self honoring or self respecting behavior?" in your head.

Could look up phone numbers to some counselors and write them down to call Monday.

Could visit the CODA website and think about going to a meeting and where that might be or if there's online meetings.

Could go to your library website, a bookstore website... browse some self help books.

I know it is a long journey ahead and probably the long term plan is best solved with a counselor.

But in the meanwhile, you could doing SOME small self honoring and self respecting for yourself so you can hold your head a bit higher and feel a bit better as you figure out next steps and arrange to get to a counselor.

GL!

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 09-17-2017 at 03:07 PM.
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  #3  
Old 09-17-2017, 09:18 PM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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How long has it been since you knew the r'ship with Fella was really truly over?

It can take years to really get over a bad breakup, especially if or when it's your first bad, long drawn out, wifey vetoing, passive aggressive breakup.

I had a couple r'ships that lingered in my psyche for years, when I was in my early 20s, I'd have dreams about that guy for a decade or more.

Since I've been poly, (going on 9 years now), I've been through so many breakups, either being the dumper or the dumpee, I've gotten a little better at handling it... It's still hard, but I blog about it here when it happens, I talk my feelings out, a few people respond to my blog in a caring fashion, and that helps a lot with closure.

My last 2 breakups did affect my ability to masturbate too. I wasn't being my own self bully as GG writes about. I just no longer had Mr Fun Sex Partner in my life, I had Mr Ex Who Let Me Down and Hurt me... so I couldn't fantasise about him anymore, and he'd keep popping up in my brains when I tried to think of more pleasant erotic scenarios.

My sympathies.

One more note, the idea that you and Jane are going to "Add a third to your relationship" to be Baby Daddy and also a sex/love partner for both of you? That is a version of Unicorn Hunting.... it never works. Even without the sperm to create a life, finding a unicorn just to be the perfect partner for a forever triad is a fantasy, never a reality.

There is an article called, So Someone Called You A Unicorn Hunter? you may want to google.
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Old 09-17-2017, 10:58 PM
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vinsanity0 vinsanity0 is offline
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1) My first marriage only lasted 7 years so you are doing good. It sounds like you recognize what any problems are. You are over half way there. Maybe a little couple's therapy to sort things out.

2) I would bet the reason is explicit to most people here. Your ex-fella wasn't poly. His wife gave him permission to fool around when he was out of town. Then she expected him to drop you when she got into town. That's on them. Please don't base your self worth on a couple assholes. Let yourself grieve the loss. Hell, I have a relationship from 25 years ago that still haunts me to this day. I don't dwell on it, but does make me sad occasionally.

3) Confuses me because you said you both had been in poly relationships, yet she wants to try poly dating. Regardless, again, don't let a couple assholes spoil your life.

I'm not big on therapy, but it might help you sort out some of this stuff.
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Old 09-18-2017, 07:46 PM
lunabunny lunabunny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magdlyn View Post
It can take years to really get over a bad breakup.

I had a couple r'ships that lingered in my psyche for years, when I was in my early 20s, I'd have dreams about that guy for a decade or more.
I agree that this is a common scenario, especially in cases where the relationship was a first love, the sex was exceptionally good and/or the break-up exceptionally bad.

After breaking up with my first "true love" due to numerous issues that included cheating and some abusive behaviours, I was wrung out emotionally for years - despite having entered the relationship that would go on to be a 20+ year marriage. I couldn't get past it or get the guy out of my head, mainly because the love-hate thing was so strong. I felt I "should" have hated him for what he did to me, but for some reason I could not, and even dreamed about him regularly for about a decade afterwards... long after I'd married and had kids with another man. I never told my husband or any other soul about these thoughts and feelings, but in hindsight therapy might've been the go.


Quote:
My last 2 breakups did affect my ability to masturbate too. I wasn't being my own self bully as GG writes about. I just no longer had Mr Fun Sex Partner in my life, I had Mr Ex Who Let Me Down and Hurt me... so I couldn't fantasise about him anymore, and he'd keep popping up in my brains when I tried to think of more pleasant erotic scenarios.
I've only recently experienced this as an issue, too. Oddly, it wasn't the breakdown of my marriage that affected my ability to masturbate, but the addition of a second lover (Boho) to my relationship with Jester (i.e. entering into a polyamorous dynamic, after assuming I was mono all the way).

Sometimes when masturbating/fantasising, I find myself getting confused as to WHO I am fantasising about/emotionally invested in, or changing person/scenario halfway through. And often, when I'm engaging in cybersex or the like with Boho, Jester is invariably right there in the mix too. (I see him in my mind's eye, and can often literally "feel" him.) The confusion and guilt that ensues can interfere with the easy "flow" of enjoyable feelings.

Worse still, after a disastrous threesome (described in this forum a while back) that I vowed would not be repeated... I sometimes find myself dredging up that mental image/memory and using it, or imaginary variations of it, to get myself off. Not sure why something so upsetting in real life has become almost fetishized in my fantasies, but I guess I am experiencing some kind of poly-related identity crisis.

My point being that our minds can be strange and unfathomable beasts, and our sex lives (including sex drive/libido) are OFTEN affected negatively by bad relationship experiences, which is completely understandable. A counsellor, sex therapist, or - as Magdlyn suggested, journaling or some other creative pursuit - may help you work out your feelings of grief and issues of self esteem.


Quote:
One more note, the idea that you and Jane are going to "Add a third to your relationship" to be Baby Daddy and also a sex/love partner for both of you? That is a version of Unicorn Hunting.... it never works. Even without the sperm to create a life, finding a unicorn just to be the perfect partner for a forever triad is a fantasy, never a reality.

There is an article called, So Someone Called You A Unicorn Hunter? you may want to google.
Perhaps I mis-read the OP, but I'm not sure the "third" is necessarily intended to be the same person as the potential "sperm donor"/baby daddy. It would certainly make sense that this be so, but need not *necessarily* be the case. (??)

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinsanity0 View Post
I would bet the reason is explicit to most people here. Your ex-fella wasn't poly. His wife gave him permission to fool around when he was out of town. Then she expected him to drop you when she got into town. That's on them. Please don't base your self worth on a couple assholes. Let yourself grieve the loss. Hell, I have a relationship from 25 years ago that still haunts me to this day. I don't dwell on it, but does make me sad occasionally.
I agree that these people either have relationship issues within their own dyad and/or are not practising poly in any kind of ethical manner.

Teeter, I'm just sorry it ended so badly that you're still feeling so shitty about yourself due to not having gotten the closure you needed, or were even given a legit reason for his ending it between you two. I am not sure WHY, since you say they are both in your wider social group, you "missed the boat" on getting this closure or cannot ask for it now - unless he point-blank refused to engage you about the circumstances, or you've simply made a pact to never talk to them again for the sake of your own emotional health (which might be wise at this point.)

The up-shot of all this is, I agree with those who think you might benefit from both individual therapy (to work on issues of self esteem, depression, grief) AND couples counselling (particular a poly-friendly counsellor, with whom you can discuss issues of sexual incompatibility and co-dependency, bringing in a third, preparation for potential parenthood etc.)
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  #6  
Old 09-18-2017, 10:24 PM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Hi teeter,

It sounds like you've got some baggage to unpack (you individually and the two of you). It is too soon to do the poly, you have to do some digging first. As far as the fella you were seeing, just know that you were not at fault for that breakup.

I hope you'll continue posting here. If you do, we can give more updated advice. GalaGirl already has some great advice, have a look at it.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
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