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Old 06-20-2017, 08:05 PM
Lifelover Lifelover is offline
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Hello Poly Community, I'm new to this and I posted in the intro section too, but I'm really looking for advice!

I'm a 26 year old American woman in a long-term relationship with my bf (let's call him W) of 1.5 years. I've always felt like monogamy wasn't enough for me and I could never quite understand why I was only allowed to love one person at a time.

When I met my W, I was in another long-distance relationship that I didn't want to end. We were very in love, despite the distance, so I told my ex bf the situation- that I had cheated and I was in love with another person. After telling W that I loved both of them, and that I feel like I'm polyamorous he made it clear to me that he would only be in a monogamous relationship. After 2 weeks, I decided to stick to the rules of monogamy and break up with my long-distance bf for W, who I felt had more of the same values and life path. It wasn't an easy decision, but I know now (even as a naturally poly person) that I made the right choice. Our relationship has been amazing.

Fast forward to now, and I'm in a very uncomfortable position. Here's the backstory/rant/pour out my entire feelings and the problem that I'm having.
Scroll down to the for the short version.

W and I went to France 3 months ago, he went to do an intense trip paragliding and hiking through the countryside for a month and I went to teach English at a camp. We were only physically together for a few days before we went on our separate journeys.
At some point about a week later, he was spending less and less time focused on his trip and more time doing other touristy things. I didn't think much of it, because I was EXTREMELY busy working 15 hour days at camp, and I was happy that he was enjoying his time in Europe.
About 3 weeks into his trip we met up again on a long weekend and unfortunately I was super sick. Normally he would be very sweet and understanding but he was acting different. We were arguing more than ever, and he didn't seem happy to be with me. Going back to camp I was sad to say goodbye and he was excited to get back out and travel (understandably so).
About a week later, he had randomly taken a bus all the way to Amsterdam "because it was cheap" instead of continuing his epic trip, which I didn't think anything of at the time. I had noticed that he wasn't making much an effort to stay in contact with me like he normally would... not sending many pictures or messages, not calling often, not wanting to talk long or skype. When one night I was still sick and having an especially bad day, and I begged him to skype with me because I needed his support. He refused, using the same excuse he had been, "because he was staying at a hostel and he couldn't be loud on the phone." Instead he told me we could talk, but only briefly. We talked for a few minutes and I heard a woman's voice talking to him, and no other voices. I was slightly suspicious and felt like I should still trust him since he is a monogamous person, but I couldn't get rid of the feeling that something was different. He didn't even seem to want to talk to me or comfort me. Later I messaged him asking if I did something wrong and if that is the reason why he wasn't trying to stay in contact. He told me we would talk the next day. To say the least, I was a ball of nerves and worried immensely about what we needed to talk about.
Then the conversation happened.


W told me that the reason he had been so distant and not able to talk much was because he had met another woman. He told me that he had been spending a lot of time with her and he was sorry he didn't tell me sooner, but he didn't want to make me feel worse when I was already sick. My first feeling was of betrayal. How could he, a monogamous man, who I fully trusted, do this to me?
I was definitely hurt, but I remembered my feelings from when I did the same to my ex. Instead of responding to W with complete anger, I responded with compassion. I told W that I wasn't mad that he fell in love with another woman (J) , that I could understand loving more than one person, and that I know the feeling well. I told him that I could forgive him and that I would gladly share him with J. This threw him off guard, but he said he would talk to J and see how she felt about everything. He called me back and explained that she didn't want to share him. She wanted him to choose. He asked for a couple of days to think about what he wanted to do, without speaking to either of us.
Those couple of days killed me. This man that I envisioned an entire future with, was contemplating whether or not he wanted to stay together. It was inconceivable to me.
When I got the call from him I listened more intently than ever. Our connection wasn't great over wi-fi and when he said, "I choose to stay with you," I thought I had misheard him and asked him to repeat himself in disbelief. I asked him how he came to that decision and he told me that he didn't realize just how much I loved him.. That when I was being understanding and willing to share him, that he wanted to stay with me. It made me so ecstatic to hear those words.

Now, though, it's a few months later and he still talks with J on a regular basis, which I thought would be completely fine, but it's starting to bother me. NOT because he's giving time and attention to somebody else, but because he's giving it to a woman that he KNOWS doesn't want to share him. He still tells me that he doesn't know what he will do, because he knows that she won't change her mind.
How am I supposed to continue each day with him, not knowing if he will leave me in a few months time? I don't feel like myself, because I don't feel secure in our relationship anymore. Everyday I feel a little betrayed by him, and I don't know what to do with these feelings. I've already talked with him about it, and he just says he doesn't know, which doesn't put me at ease whatsoever. W also says that he's not sure he wants a poly relationship, that he doesn't know if he could handle it, or how it would work... but he loves us both. I would 100% be comfortable being in a poly relationship with W, but neither of them seem to want that right now.

If you've read this far, THANK YOU, because I haven't had anyone to talk to that would understand where I'm coming from. I know this was supposed to be about me, but this is me right now and my all consuming thoughts/worries.

<3

Has anyone else experienced this?

What advice could you give to me?
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Old 06-20-2017, 08:23 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I'm sorry you struggle.

I cannot think of a nicer way to put this. So please forgive me if it comes across less than gracefully, ok?

Honestly? In your shoes? I would end it with W.

Quote:
NOT because he's giving time and attention to somebody else, but because he's giving it to a woman that he KNOWS doesn't want to share him
If he claims to love her and she's having a hard time detaching? He could do the kind thing and END it firmly. So she can become more able to move on. This say one thing/do another would make me lose respect for W...say he loves her but being too weenie to do a clean parting so she can move on. Namby-pamby stuff never seemed especially loving to me.
  • I'm up for poly. So if that's what he wants, great. If J is not up for it, he could move on to find a new GF that is.
  • If he says he chooses monogamy with me, great. But BE monogamous then, and do clean partings with exes. Let it be over. Take a break. Heal first. Then try to be friends. Not all this messy stuff.
  • If he doesn't know what he wants, say that. Ask for time to sort himself out. If he isn't sure what he wants, don't jump the gun and ask me for monogamy.

I prefer people to be firm of purpose. If they can't? I can.

So since he's not clear of mind, and I don't want to be dealing in "neither here nor there" indecisive namby-pamby stuff ? I'd bow out.

I was offered (monogamy) and agreed to reciprocate. But what I am actually receiving is (neither here not there.) So no deal. I don't have to continue like this. Esp if my choosing to participate here like this makes me feel like crap.

I would bow out and tell him to look me up when he has it better together. Something like...
"W, I can do poly. I can do mono. I cannot do "neither here nor there." You do not seem willing to do a clean parting with your ex. You aren't certain of anything. That's not "joyous yes" mono-shipping with me. So I'm bowing out. Call me if you get it sorted and you decide to want try again with me in earnest. If not, let's just let this go."
I can create my own stability by not participating in "neither here nor there" stuff. I can just pick a place to be.

Quote:
How am I supposed to continue each day with him, not knowing if he will leave me in a few months time? I don't feel like myself, because I don't feel secure in our relationship anymore. Everyday I feel a little betrayed by him, and I don't know what to do with these feelings.
To me? That would be me in a situation where I do not feel good. I don't keep going in things that don't feel good. I stop doing it.

But I'm not you. You have to figure how how you want to handle it.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 06-20-2017 at 10:14 PM.
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Old 06-20-2017, 08:28 PM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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I just read this and I knew GalaGirl would have some good advice!

This "I don't know what I want" stuff drives me crazy. It's lazy. It's a guy thing more than a girl thing, because men are not encouraged to be in touch with their emotions in our culture, for sure. But that doesn't excuse it. If you want a relationship you need to know what kind of relationship you want or need.

And his gf is also drifting. She knows what she wants, supposedly, but is settling for less.

Yuck all around. I'm so sorry. Put your foot down and tell him you're done. Be ready to move on. Sometimes an ultimatum helps one's SO shit or get off the pot. But sometimes it doesn't. So be prepared for the worst. Get this over with and move on to better health.

Very nasty European cheating he did there! Wow.
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Love withers under constraint; its very essence is liberty. It is compatible neither with envy, jealousy or fear. It is there most pure, perfect and unlimited when its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserve. -- Shelley

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Old 06-20-2017, 10:07 PM
TheExplorer TheExplorer is offline
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Hello LifeLover,

Interestingly enough, I found myself in a situation with some striking similarities but some differences.

My wife found a lesbian lover in Taiwan. She had actually planned this out for several months before going over there. I was supposed to go over there for business but we both decided I should wait because I wasn't ready to go over there. During the time she spent there, she actually told me she went to do a lot of things with this lady but did NOT tell me they were physically involved until she came back to the USA in March 2016 and I confronted her.

The irony though is I did respond with quite a bit of compassion because my wife was brave enough to come out to me, not just for the affair but also because it was with another woman.

Fast forward a year later, my wife has been spending most of her time with this lady, but we have spent say about 3 months together and another month or so in the same location but not living together. During this time, they've had this crazy on again / off again relationship. There are several issues with their relationship, but the major one of course is this woman does NOT want to share. Another major problem is I feel like I'm banking the relationship which I started to realize was making me feel resentful. We did agree on an open relationship, but need a bit of reevaluation to say the least...if there is anyone involved who is actively trying to break it apart, this will cause serious problems.

So I would summarize by saying you will have a really tough time with this kind of relationship. This is going to eat away at you over time and it's definitely not a healthy situation. Fortunately you both are not financially entangled so I would say as hard as it may feel now, you may need to get out before you end up having to do serious therapy. If not, you have a lot to work on and it seems that the metamour will need to be out of the picture for this to work. I'm personally too far in the grips of my situation to be too helpful so good luck!

Last edited by TheExplorer; 06-21-2017 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 06-20-2017, 11:46 PM
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Shaya Shaya is offline
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Hi Lifelover,

Welcome to the forums and I wish your introduction to polyamory could have been happier than this. I'm relatively new to the concept of polyamory myself and usually agree with other posters here, but I'm going to try to offer you different advice to that given above. I believe that the two of you may have a decent chance at a good future together, without the other woman. I believe your future with your boyfriend may be monogamous or even polyamorous. I believe you can heal your wounds, heal the hurt and betrayal and enjoy a stronger relationship than you've ever had before. Recovering from tragedy makes us stronger, and I suspect you already feel like a different person than you did 2 months ago.

Every person on this forum has a bias due to their own past. Before you take anyone's advice, I think it is helpful to know where they're coming from and why they say the things they say. With that disclaimer, my history involves my wife having an (emotional) affair with someone whilst I was overseas. Like yourself, I forgave my partner almost immediately. We then tried to turn it into polyamory but it didn't work. Funny thing is, that it wasn't the affair that hurt me the most, but rather it was my feeling that my partner kept seeming to choose her affair partner over my emotional well-being that hurt me more. I felt she kept making sacrifices of me and sacrifices of herself in order to make her affair partner happy. That hurt me the most, not the affair itself, and I suspect you're saying something similar. My wife and I still like the philosophy of polyamory, but we're healing monogamously for now, with no contact with the affair partner. We find that the "no contact" really helps us focus on us.

I want my post to cover 4 things.
  1. The health of your monogamy, including a relationships vulnerability quiz.
  2. The concept of limerence (link 1,link2)
  3. Affair recovery and
  4. The hope of a good future for you and your partner, be your choice monogamy or polyamory.

1. The health of your monogamy
I said earlier that I believed you and your partner had a decent chance of a future together. That really depends on so many factors, but I don't think any of his or your recent actions affect that chance. I think a good place to start discussing what may need changing in your relationship, is by having you and your partner take this relationships vulnerability quiz. You may find that the questions highlight the health of your monogamy along with places for improvement. I suspect many young couples in your situation would score 5-15 on the quiz, so don't be dishearted if you do as well - I think such a score may actually be normal and you may be surprised to find that after actively working on your relationship, your score in a few months from now may be much better. You will have a better relationship and be happier as a result.

2. Limerence
I really hope the concept of limerence helps you and your partner. They really helped my wife and I. I gave 2 links above. Reading a few articles on the limerence forums where people share awful, terrible tales of how limerence has intruded on their lives, made me realise that we're not alone.
I started a thread on "falling in love" vs "growing in love" (with the distinction more accurately captured in post 7 of the thread). I started this because I was hurt by the way my partner seemed to cast aside the 10+ years of our life together in what I saw as her choice of her limerent partner. She seemed to me, to choose limerence over love, because she thought they were both love. Limerence, NRE, falling in love... these can be amazing and beautiful feelings, but when they end up hurting those we love most, that's when this beautiful emotion becomes problematic.

3. Affair recovery
I think cheaters are just normal people, lost, hurt and confused with their emotions, having difficulty distinguishing between "falling in love" with "growing in love", leading them to act in ways that can be truly hurtful. You've been labeled the cheater before. You know that the negative reputation isn't always deserved. Your boyfriend chose you in the end. He chose you. You forgave him and gave him the chance to continue his affair. His affair partner forced him to choose and he chose you. This statement in itself is sufficient for the two of you to recover and be a stronger couple than you were before. There are plenty of examples of affairs in which the relationship is stronger after the healing. Plenty of examples on how to screw up affair recovery too.

I would encourage you and your partner to read a book like "Not just friends" by Shirley Glass. Unlike most books with an introduction, acknowledgements, preface followed by useless chapters 1 and 2, Shirley Glass gets right into why the affair happened, why your partner is still so hung up on the affair partner and what the two of you can do about it in order to see some progress on your relationship. My wife has read 4 affair recovery books, all of which are rated highly on the internet, but this is the best of the 4 in our opinion.

4. The future
The future is always unknown. But I think you and your partner have a decent chance of something beautiful. He (like most people) identified as monogamous but as of right now, he finally understands what you have been talking about when you speak of polyamory. You and he may be able to do polyamory - but not with his affair partner, and that's because she wants monogamy. Whether you do monogamy or polyamory is a question for the future, but the beautiful thing in my opinion, is that both are probably still options for the two of you, after you heal from working on 1), 2) and 3).

In summary, the choice of staying or separating is highly individualistic. I have a bias towards fixing a relationship rather than discarding it. My opinion is that we're all human, we all make mistakes and as long as there is contrition and empathy, there will eventually be a willingness to change. The health of your monogamy is something that can always be worked on and is likely to require work all the way until you hit geriatric age. The concept of limerence along with affair recovery resources are probably vital for healing at this stage. Finally, you didn't think you would ever get to do polyamory. Here, you have a partner who 'finally gets it'. I wouldn't rush to do polyamory, but it's certainly something the two of you can discuss a few years in the future, when the hurt is healed.

LifeLover, I sincerely wish you and your partner the best of luck. It's a difficult path you walk, but there are many people who have done something similar. And look at how much more forgiving you are compared to most other partners when it comes to affairs. You and your partner will get better. Things will get better.

Good luck,
Shaya.
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Old 06-21-2017, 12:27 AM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Hi Lifelover,

I am wondering if W has told J that he is still seeing you, considering she said she was unwilling to share. Either he has told her, and she is sitting on the fence, or he has not told her, and he is untrustworthy. I guess my advice is to try to decide if you can trust him.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
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Old 07-10-2017, 10:47 PM
Lifelover Lifelover is offline
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Shaya,

After reading the other replies to my post and feeling a bit hopeless, I came to your reply and once I started reading it I began to cry. I was happy to know that somebody thought we could come together stronger than before.
The fact that you've been through a similar situation and you're working on it gave me some hope. Thank you so much for taking the time to give so much advice. It means so much to me.

I checked out the relationship vulnerability quiz and scored a 9, then asked W to take it and he had a 10, so nothing too bad there.

Not long after that we had the conversation that he had been putting off. That night, I told him that it wasn't fair to me or J that he continued to be 'on the fence.' Then I mentioned how I understood that he was feeling limerence and that he felt these strong feelings now, but he doesn't really know her. I asked him to think about our love, our life together, and how he knows exactly who I am. He told me that he was worried that he wouldn't ever know what it would be like to be with J, and that he doesn't want to live with regret. He wanted to find out what life with her would be like, he chose J and we held each other and cried.

However, the morning after, W went for a walk. When he returned, he looked at me and told me that he was going to end things with J. That he had made a mistake and that he was sorry. That when he had thought more about it he knew what we had was real and he didn't want to lose that.

He ended things with J over skype and I gave him his space. He has talked to her at least one more time, that I know of, and he told me about it. I'm not sure how I feel about them talking on occasion, but I also don't want to be overbearing. I'm going to start reading "Not Just Friends" so that we can have some tools to help us navigate our relationship from here on out.

Again, thank you so much for responding. You guided me to where I am right now, and I am so happy and grateful.


*Another thing that we discussed that I'm concerned about is that he can't handle the idea of me being with other men, but he likes the idea of being with new women. He also likes the idea of us being with another woman, which would be fine with me, but I prefer men. Obviously, this isn't how I'd like our relationship to be set up, but that's a conversation for another time.
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Old 07-10-2017, 11:26 PM
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Hey there Lifelover, I'm glad to hear that things are looking up.
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Old 07-11-2017, 02:22 AM
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Shaya Shaya is offline
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Hi there Lifelover

I'm glad if any of the advice I've shared has been helpful. Things definitely do get better though frequent backsliding is common.

It will be hard for your partner to give up what he has with J. The book I suggested has a whole chapter devoted to this concept and explores it well. Progression though this stage with an on and off need to see the other person is variable. My wife and i did it relatively quickly in a month or two. Most take longer i think.

Thank you for the update and best of luck with your future,
Shaya.
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Old 07-11-2017, 11:25 AM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifelover View Post


*Another thing that we discussed that I'm concerned about is that he can't handle the idea of me being with other men, but he likes the idea of being with new women. He also likes the idea of us being with another woman, which would be fine with me, but I prefer men. Obviously, this isn't how I'd like our relationship to be set up, but that's a conversation for another time.
This is what is known as the One Penis Policy. It is sexist. First of all, both of you getting with a woman for a few sex threesomes is using her as a sex toy. Second of all, he needs to explore why he would be OK seeing you with another woman, but not another man (hint: it's usually related to fear that the new man will have a bigger cock or better sexual skills, or other better things like more hair, taller, fitter, better job, better car, etc.). Third, it assumes a relationship of 2 women isn't "real" or threatening they way you being with a guy would be. Fourth, you're not even interested in being with a woman.

The most common male fantasy is to have 2 women with him in bed. So boring, so trite.

I hope you keep communicating... seems like he's still having a hard time letting go of his affair partner. Is that OK with you? Do you trust him now?
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Love withers under constraint; its very essence is liberty. It is compatible neither with envy, jealousy or fear. It is there most pure, perfect and unlimited when its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserve. -- Shelley

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Pixi (poly, F, 40) my darling nesting partner since January 2009
Master, (mono, M, 36), Pixi's Dom/bf since April 2013
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