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  #1  
Old 07-16-2018, 09:51 AM
ladyjane ladyjane is offline
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Default Monogamous heartbreak in a Poly relationship

So basically, i'm hoping to look for support and some sort of validation that I'm not alone in feeling like this, and thank anyone who has a chance to read and respond.

So I was with an older guy (47 and I'm 23) who is poly. Thing is...our relationship was quite complicated because i refused to have a label and he was fine with that, because i didn't want to admit that i had gotten myself into such an unconventional relationship with no future. Long story short, i was hurting inside every time because he had a girlfriend. We were on and off then for a while.

Then it was the little things; like how i had to leave his house early because his girlfriend was inviting another partner over. Like how we couldn't sleep together because he had to get permission. How if I would ride in the car with them I always sat in the backseat. Like how when I went to bake him some food, he'd message me and insist i had to bring some to his girlfriend too. Like how he would pressure me to try and be closer with her, how i shouldn't leave the house every time she came over, how he asked me to hug her before leaving...then one night he spoke about how they're going to his brother's wedding that weekend, even though he told me last year that i would go with him because i LOVE weddings. i broke down and left. i just felt so shitty and less than someone else and hurt...so i needed time out and let him know about how i felt in a text, particularly about how this is hard for me. He told me that if i feel so lonely i can stay longer but that wasn't the point. so i ignored him because i needed time to process...

since then he unblocked me from fb, and said that he doesn't want to talk to me, after everything we've been through. i'm left feeling heartbroken and so depressed. most of all im mad because this feels so unfair. it was easier for him in the beginning. he may be hurting but he has someone to go home to, someone who can support him and distract him. im left with an empty bed and pain. And somehow i feel like heartbreak in a monogamous relationship would be 10x easier and fairer too...does that make sense?

Anyway, please im looking to feel like i'm not alone here. How do people in poly relationships not feel like their self-esteem is being crushed? How do you not get lonely? Do you feel like the heartbreak hurts more here? I tried to understand this believe me I tried and I was very tolerant, but god it hurts...it was like experiencing heartbreak everyday.
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  #2  
Old 07-16-2018, 10:31 AM
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vinsanity0 vinsanity0 is offline
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The simple answer is you weren't in a poly relationship. You were in a couple plus one relationship. Your boyfriend didn't take your feelings into consideration at all.

I hope you don't feel you did anything wrong. You didn't. You have every right to be upset and hurt by his behavior.
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Old 07-16-2018, 12:30 PM
SEASONEDpolyAgain SEASONEDpolyAgain is offline
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I wouldn't have gone about it the same way he has but I would not be willing to give "partner privileges" to someone who is ashamed to commit to the relationship that we have. At most,you would be a friend with benefits and no, you wouldn't be my date to my brother's wedding.

Have you ever heard of people who have same sex relationships but deny it so as to maintain heterosexual societal privilege? This is similar to what you were doing.
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Old 07-16-2018, 02:57 PM
lunabunny lunabunny is offline
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You're definitely not alone in your feelings of heartbreak and pain resulting from a mono/poly relationship that clearly wasn't working in your favour.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyjane View Post
So I was with an older guy (47 and I'm 23) who is poly. Thing is...our relationship was quite complicated because i refused to have a label and he was fine with that, because i didn't want to admit that i had gotten myself into such an unconventional relationship with no future.
I'll leave the age difference alone, except to say that this has been a steep learning curve for you, and I hope you can finally admit to yourself what you didn't want to face before.

Sounds like you're monogamously inclined and have no desire to be involved in a poly network... if so, why did you agree to date this person? You don't have to answer here, but I hope you think about your reasons and realise that "love" or sexual attraction are not always enough to guarantee a successful partnership.

Quote:
we couldn't sleep together because he had to get permission. How if I would ride in the car with them I always sat in the backseat. Like how when I went to bake him some food, he'd message me and insist i had to bring some to his girlfriend too. Like how he would pressure me to try and be closer with her, how i shouldn't leave the house every time she came over, how he asked me to hug her before leaving...
It sounds as if this man was exerting "couple privilege" and/or trying to pressure you into a triad-type situation, yet keep you as a "secondary" at the same time. (Wanted the benefits of a second girlfriend while favouring his nesting partner and his own needs above yours.)

On the one hand, his behaviour sounds quite callous and unfair... but then again, you did admit you didn't want to label your relationship (didn't want the "girlfriend" tag, or something else... ?) so perhaps he wasn't quite sure what you wanted from the relationship.

Did you two ever actually sit down and discuss your individual expectations? It doesn't sound as if he respected his/your relationship as a separate entity... and also doesn't seem like you set or enforced your own boundaries. Why spend so much time with him AND his other gf if you didn't feel comfortable being at their place? Hopefully in future you'll speak up for yourself and your own needs before things reach crisis point.

Quote:
then one night he spoke about how they're going to his brother's wedding that weekend, even though he told me last year that i would go with him because i LOVE weddings. i broke down and left. i just felt so shitty and less than someone else and hurt
He was wrong to invite you to this wedding then renege later. That is just rude and shows he had very little respect for what YOU wanted or for your time.

Quote:
...so i needed time out... He told me that if i feel so lonely i can stay longer but that wasn't the point. so i ignored him because i needed time to process...
since then he unblocked me from fb, and said that he doesn't want to talk to me... i'm left feeling heartbroken and so depressed. most of all im mad because this feels so unfair. he may be hurting but he has someone to go home to
A lot of what you describe does seem very unfair. I'm almost positive there was a lot of miscommunication between you, and possibly pressure being exerted on him (by his OSO or perhaps family members) to keep up a charade of monogamous bliss, which is why he rescinded the offer to accompany him to his brother's wedding... though I could be making assumptions.

You would probably be better off dating mono guys in the future. And preferably don't set yourself up for failure by getting into a situation with such a wide power differential.

However, IF you decide to try poly again for whatever reason, I suggest you discuss your own wants, needs and expectations from the get-go, make your boundaries and deal-breakers clear, and insist they be respected. A relationship isn't supposed to be all one way.

Quote:
And somehow i feel like heartbreak in a monogamous relationship would be 10x easier and fairer too...does that make sense?
Not necessarily. Heartbreak is heartbreak. If you were in a mono relationship and broke up with that person due to infidelity or some other unacceptable behaviour on their part, it would still hurt like a bitch.

Quote:
How do people in poly relationships not feel like their self-esteem is being crushed? How do you not get lonely? Do you feel like the heartbreak hurts more here?
I tried to understand... but it was like experiencing heartbreak everyday.

Do you mean how do *monogamous* people handle any feelings of loneliness, jealousy, hurt, or rejection that may crop up due to being involved with someone polyamorous?

Well, not ALL poly people prioritise one partner over another, even if they have a nesting partner or "primary" relationship. Time spent with different partners may not always be equal, but most poly people strive to treat each partner as fairly as possible, and respect their individuality, particular wants/needs and their time - this goes for if the partner is mono OR poly themselves.

Of course, a degree of "loneliness", envy or feelings of being left out are normal in situations when the polyamorous partner leaves to go on a date, or spend the night with another lover... especially for those new to the experience of dating a poly person. But these feelings can be worked through with time, patience, care and a lot of good communication and processing.

IF, however, you do NOT want to be dating a poly person in the first place, these feelings will be exacerbated... and that's when you need to rethink the relationship - as you have done here.
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  #5  
Old 07-16-2018, 03:57 PM
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Op this is not how healthy polyamory works.

You were dating a couple and just didn't know it.
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Old 07-16-2018, 09:50 PM
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Re (from ladyjane):
Quote:
"And somehow I feel like heartbreak in a monogamous relationship would be 10x easier and fairer too ... does that make sense?"
I take it you're saying that because you'd know that the (monogamous) person you were breaking up with would be losing his one and only partner, just like you. Whereas as a mono, breaking up with a poly, you are losing the only person you had whereas he still has someone. So that makes it harder for you, and more unfair. Is that what you meant?

In any case, I don't think he was ever treating you fair. I remember your first thread where he wasn't treating you fair from the beginning. Like he rarely ever spoke with you, and tried to push you into a friendship that you did not want with his other partner. In short he was using you. You were an object to him.

I'm really sorry this has all happened to you, you're definitely not alone. If he tries to get back together with you, I would advise you to refuse. Your heart was already breaking before he left you. Now it is breaking again, but at least this is the last time.

With sympathy,
Kevin T.
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:36 PM
ladyjane ladyjane is offline
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Thank you guys for the support and replies. They've really helped me to process things. I understand so little about being poly and I'm so new to dating...the difference in age and experience was too much I think. In answer to a few questions;

I never intended to date him. We were friends and really enjoyed each others company and then it grew, and by the time I realised i had feelings to this guy it was too hard to leave him.

So many times I tried to communicate how I felt. But he hated drama and recently came from a divorce and I always feared he would percieved my feelings as being drama and then he'd leave me. When I tried to speak up he would miss the point and have this way of turning my words into something else which should have been a sign. Funnily enough he last accused meof starting drama. When I tried to set boundaries (eg; I dont want to hang out with your girlfriend) and explain how I felt uncomfortable he would say "it will get better as you get used to it." So I just figured that this was what was required to be poly.

It was unhealthy and I've felt more free and in control since I've stopped seeing him but it still hurts. It wasn't a fair relationship in anyway and it's nice to hear that this isn't what being poly is all about, and a friend of mine who I know is poly and wouldn't treat people like this. Tbh I feel like this guy is poly as a way for him to deal with the previous monogamous divorce he once had following an affair...

Anyway i learnt a lot from this. Thank you guys again for the replies and insight 😊
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Old 07-18-2018, 01:34 PM
KC43 KC43 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyjane View Post
Thank you guys for the support and replies. They've really helped me to process things. I understand so little about being poly and I'm so new to dating...the difference in age and experience was too much I think. In answer to a few questions;

I never intended to date him. We were friends and really enjoyed each others company and then it grew, and by the time I realised i had feelings to this guy it was too hard to leave him.

So many times I tried to communicate how I felt. But he hated drama and recently came from a divorce and I always feared he would percieved my feelings as being drama and then he'd leave me. When I tried to speak up he would miss the point and have this way of turning my words into something else which should have been a sign. Funnily enough he last accused meof starting drama. When I tried to set boundaries (eg; I dont want to hang out with your girlfriend) and explain how I felt uncomfortable he would say "it will get better as you get used to it." So I just figured that this was what was required to be poly.

It was unhealthy and I've felt more free and in control since I've stopped seeing him but it still hurts. It wasn't a fair relationship in anyway and it's nice to hear that this isn't what being poly is all about, and a friend of mine who I know is poly and wouldn't treat people like this. Tbh I feel like this guy is poly as a way for him to deal with the previous monogamous divorce he once had following an affair...

Anyway i learnt a lot from this. Thank you guys again for the replies and insight 😊
What I'm seeing in your post is that this guy engaged in manipulation, gaslighting, and minimizing, and it sounds like he knew what he was doing and did it deliberately. He took advantage of your lack of experience to convince you that his behavior was acceptable, and personally I think he took advantage of the age difference to try to hold power over you. Those are classic abusive behaviors, with the abuser twisting things around so their "victim" (I hate that word, I'm using it for want of a better one) walks on eggshells, fearing that they're the one destroying the relationship and they're the cause of the abuser's behavior, while they do everything they can to convince the abuser that they're "good" and "worthy." And of course nothing they do is ever enough, because they aren't the problem in the first place, the abuser is.

"Abuse" is a hot-button word for some. I am not saying you were abused; that's your determination to make. I'm not even necessarily saying this guy was an abuser. I *am* saying that he engaged in abusive behaviors which sound deliberate on his part. It's a fine line and partly a semantics distinction, but some people have felt that the word "abuse" gets tossed around a bit too freely here, so I wanted to clarify my point.

Whether or not the relationship was abusive, it sounds like it was unquestionably unhealthy. I'm glad that you were able to recognize that and get yourself out of the situation. It's unfortunate that this was your first experience with polyamory, but I see that you understand this wasn't what polyamory actually is. Polyamory is ALL participants knowing, understanding, and enthusiastically consenting to what's going on. It's honesty, openness, and communication. It's each participant having a voice and having power within themselves and within the relationship. It's respect and consideration for each other.

(Okay, not everyone defines poly the same way, but I think most people would agree that the above are important ingredients in a healthy poly relationship.)

I hope you give yourself the time to do some healing from this experience, and maybe to learn more about yourself, what you want and need in a relationship, and how best to have that. (I'm not saying that because of your age, by the way; I would say it to anyone of any age who's had an experience like this. For that matter, I've been saying it to *myself* for a while now.)

I also hope you'll stick around this forum. It's mostly a friendly bunch, and there's a lot of knowledge and wisdom here.
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Old 07-18-2018, 04:55 PM
lunabunny lunabunny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyjane View Post
So many times I tried to communicate how I felt. But he hated drama

When I tried to speak up he would miss the point and have this way of turning my words into something else which should have been a sign.

Funnily enough he last accused meof starting drama. When I tried to set boundaries (eg; I dont want to hang out with your girlfriend) and explain how I felt uncomfortable
Quote:
Originally Posted by KC43 View Post
What I'm seeing in your post is that this guy engaged in manipulation, gaslighting, and minimizing, and it sounds like he knew what he was doing and did it deliberately. He took advantage of your lack of experience to convince you that his behavior was acceptable, and personally I think he took advantage of the age difference to try to hold power over you.
If you haven't already, ladyjane, do some research into narcissism and narcissist personality disorder.

I agree with KC that the behaviours and attitude your former partner exhibited toward you smack strongly of traits common among narcissists and emotional abusers (gaslighting, manipulation, minimising, and projection).

Such people are highly adept at twisting situations to make it look like the "innocent party"/partner is guilty of some misdeed... and one of the tactics they use is to imply or outright accuse the other person of acting/being "crazy", a "drama queen" or trying to manipulate *them* simply by asking a legitimate question, calling them on their shit or setting some boundary in order to protect themselves.

The abusive person refuses to take personal responsibility and tries to control their partner by making them doubt the evidence of their own eyes, ears, mind etc. Deep down, such people are highly insecure and immature, despite demeanour that make seem the exact opposite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KC43 View Post
"Abuse" is a hot-button word for some. I am not saying you were abused... I *am* saying that he engaged in abusive behaviors which sound deliberate on his part. It's a fine line and partly a semantics distinction, but some people have felt that the word "abuse" gets tossed around a bit too freely here, so I wanted to clarify my point.
I completely understand where you're coming from with this, KC. And, yes, many on this forum have been critical of attempts to "diagnose" people we don't know as having a particular personality type, disorder or mental illness, when we are not professionals in the field of psychology or the like.

Still, there is a list of set, recognisable, patterns of behaviour that point to certain personality types and/or abusive tendencies, and I still believe such patterns are worth mentioning when commenting on a thread, if we feel strongly enough that the OP could benefit from the insight/knowledge. In other words, I don't think your own comment was out of line.

In ladyjane's case, she is relatively young and by her own account, this was her first sexual relationship. Having one's first serious relationship be with a much older, more experienced polyamorous person is not the easiest, least stressful route by any means. Therefore, ladyjane, whatever relationship structure you choose to pursue in the future, mono or poly, I think it's worthwhile being aware of, and able to recognise patterns of emotional abuse, so you can spot such people early on and decide if it's really a relationship you want to be in in the first place.

Quote:
he would say "it will get better as you get used to it." So I just figured that this was what was required to be poly.
No. As you've discovered, there is nothing that is "required" to be poly, except the willingness to communicate openly and behave ethically.

It is NOT ethical to shut one's partner down, minimise their concerns (playing it off as "drama") and pressure them into a situation in which they feel uncomfortable and unheard.

I'm sure glad you listened to your gut instinct and realised this guy is likely (mis)using the "poly" tag in order to further some personal agenda and that you are perfectly within your rights to ask questions and assert your own boundaries in ANY relationship.
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Me, Lunabunny: F, 50, heteroflexible
Jester: M, 59, straight, primary partner (LD)
Boho: F, 57, heteroflexible, primary partner (LD)

Red: M, 53, straight, ex-husband
Bud: early 20s, son
Lola: early 20s, daughter
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:19 AM
ladyjane ladyjane is offline
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Thank you Lunabunny and KC43, your words have meant a lot. Everyone on here has been so lovely and supportive even though I know so little about being poly, so thank you for your patience and sensitivity.

My therapist actually said the same thing to me, that he was being emotionally abusive, and sounded like a narcissist too. I actually work as a counsellor with a psych background and looking at it objectively, see that he has narcissistic qualities (covert narcissism, which is found amongst those who are insecure and it is less obvious).

I dunno if I would call his behaviour abusive...but I do agree that it was hurtful and not right, and it is hard to see how it couldn't be intentional...as a counsellor I always tell my clients the value of communication, boundaries and both partners working together to get both of their needs met, emotional, physical etc., and looking back on it, I feel like this was all one sided, as in his needs were met a lot, he got to call the shots but i was left alone a lot. Its funny how i do this sort of work, but struggled to see it when I was in the relationship, right?

Thank you for telling me that I am welcome to hang around on the forum I hope to go into relationships counselling one day, so this personal experience is something I think I can take away, grow from and perhaps help develop my work too. I would love to stay in this forum to learn some more about polyamory, i think it's something that will be important for me to know more about, and everyone is so lovely here (even if this may not be a relationship I will pursue, but who knows! We can't predict the future).
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