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  #1  
Old 05-19-2017, 08:27 PM
PolyGrace PolyGrace is offline
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Default Boundaries with partner's needs

I first started experimenting with a poly relationship about 8 years ago. I was with a great partner, I will call him Justin. We were, perhaps, if anything, too idealistic and young at the time to appreciate what we had and truly be able to understand it, know ourselves and determine how to navigate the possibilities.

I met another man, I'll call him Richard, and he wasn't interested in poly. A traditional romantic, I decided that I would give monogamy another chance, broke Justin's heart, and that was the start of 8 years of a very tumultuous, controlling, emotionally abusive relationship that took me to the highest highs and the lowest lows of my life. I even eventually married Richard. While I am still in that relationship (which is not intimate), I've found a way to somewhat live fairly happily within those confines.

About a year and a half ago, I started a relationship with a married friend. I'll call him Curtis. We fell in love with each other fairly quickly and our relationship has grown substantially. Curtis had not actually heard of polyamory and while he finds many aspects of it intriguing and very positive, he was more accustomed to traditional relationships. He has done quite a bit of research and reading and actually introduced me to morethantwo.com. Ideally, in his mind, he would like me to be primary, even remarried to him and both be able to "play", for lack of a better term. This is not my ideal. I would prefer two very equal, committed partners, that share me. I don't see myself being actually married again. They can have other partners if they would like, within some reasonable boundaries, but I would be satisfied by the two. Not to say I wouldn't entertain "playing", but only with them and their partners.

About three years ago, I rekindled a friendship with Justin. In the last 6 months, we've rekindled more than that and realized we are still very much in love with each other. He and I are very much on the same page relationship wise and this morning, he told me he thinks he likes me even more because I'm more in tune with others, what is important to me and what I want. We've been exploring the idea of poly off and on for 10 years (him practicing, me not so much). So while there are always new things in every relationship structure to navigate, we are older and much more sure of what we do and don't want.

This relationship with Justin is why I broached the idea of a polyamorous relationship with Curtis. After several months of reading and talking, Curtis finally said he would be okay with me and Justin being intimate. He made a list of needs and fears and we went through them all. There were some things that he asked for...and I agreed to abide by them, although a few of them were perhaps rules that may need future discussions. Some things he asked for I understand to be reasonable and hope that eventually as time went by, the need for them would be at a reasonable level. Things such as constant reassurance, praise, telling him I need him, craving him, etc.

The morning after Justin and I were together, Curtis and I spoke on the phone (we are long distance) and things were generally pretty good. Since then, Curtis has spiraled. He hasn't been able to handle it and wants me to take time to talk about everything all of the time. In fact, Justin and I were out last night and Curtis asked if I could ask Justin to give him some time to talk to him on the phone, which lasted an hour, at a time when Justin and I only had limited amounts of time together. I had spent the day sending Curtis regular notes of love, phrases of reassurance, etc., but it didn't seem to help and he ended up getting very mad at me when the plans for my evening changed. I let him know as soon as the plans changed, since one thing he asked for was to not spring things on him. He was still angry though and said he didn't want to talk to me and brought up some things that hurt my feelings quite a bit. I feel that he wasn't directly communicating his needs and fears to me and that When I didn't interpret them the right way, I was the one at fault.

Justin is generally very understanding and said I need to be patient for the time being, continue to be reassuring and even wanted to know how he/we could help Curtis.

Patience is not a virtue of mine and I tend to get frustrated easily. Both know this about me. Curtis and I have gone through lists of triggers and we each hit on many of them in the last few weeks. I was getting very frustrated and in trying to back up a bit, I asked Curtis how he would have handled the situation in my shoes. He told me that he would have asked me first if the change in plans was okay and how I would feel about it. Then he told me that he thought he was ready for my relationship with Justin to progress to the next level, but that he wasn't. That I had disregarded his feelings and felt like everyone else was moving ahead without him. I am trying to be understanding, but I also feel that this is unfair and not the actual reality, just the perception. I'm also feeling like I have little freedom and that Curtis wants me to clear plans with him first. The remote distance isn't helpful, all three of us also work multiple jobs and time is of a minimum, so it isn't always possible to be able to drop everything and talk for hours at a time. Curtis asked today if he was to ask me to stop sleeping with Justin if that was an option.

Because of my history in my relationship with Richard and the things that Curtis has recently said, I am automatically feeling controlled and defensive. Also because of my relationship with Richard, I'm working hard to establish boundaries again on what can and cannot be requested of me. I told Curtis that I would need to understand why he felt this way and to be more direct in this response. In reality, I'm not going to see Justin in a capacity that would allow us to be intimate for the next 3 weeks, so it's easy to agree to this. In fact, I will see Curtis before I see Justin again.

I am in the process of reading more than two, blog posts, articles, etc. but it is a slow go. Justin is great to talk to about all of this, but because it involves him, I don't want to feel as if I'm "complaining" to him about Curtis. His responses do help because l know how he would like to be treated in similar situations, but I also don't want to spend our limited time together always discussing Curtis and Richard.

I love them both very much and I want them to be happy. When things seemed good the morning after I was with Justin, I was so happy to have found two men that I loved, that loved me and I could finally be open with, honest with and not be judged. Now I'm starting to pull back from Curtis because I feel that things that I want are being used against me again. If I pull back, I know Curtis will also and I don't want that to happen.

Hence, my post here. Sorry for the long narrative, but I wanted to provide some background information. I would love any suggestions for those that may have encountered similar situations as to how to approach discussions with Curtis, what sort of levels of patience and reassurance to have and/or what boundaries I should continue to maintain.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:02 PM
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Shaya Shaya is offline
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Hi PolyGrace,

Welcome to the forums. I'm relatively new to the concept of polyamory myself, but I feel that others here have helped me learn a lot in the last few months. Given how new i am to polyamory, I'm not sure i have much to say that will help.

In my growth and learning of polyamory, others have linked me to the following resources that I've found helpful. Maybe you and Curtis may find it useful too. Justin may have some good resources as well and you can probably approach him for resource without involving him in the nitty-gritty of the you-curtis relationship to avoid awkwardness.
  • The concept of polyamoryville.
  • The most amazing essay of jealousy I've ever read, along with the same author's thoughts a few years later, with the second link being very dense and hard to read and my recommendation is still the first essay of jealousy.
  • The concept of a relationship escalator. This one might not cover anything you haven't already come across, but might be new for curtis?

Good luck,
Shaya
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Old 05-20-2017, 12:58 AM
anamikanon anamikanon is offline
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Not to sound discouraging, but Curtis raises a flag on possibly being controlling. Nothing very specific - for example finding the site is curiosity, calling your relationship primary can be the plans made between lovers, and so on. But my gut says you're gravitating toward Justin as a primary or at the very least NOT secondary. Not sure Curtis is going to take that very well. This may not even be intentional manipulation, but if you have been through a history of control related abuse, you may be sensitive to it - either susceptible or triggery.

And regardless, you should consider finding a mechanism of ensuring that your decisions are your own. I'd recommend a friend you are not romantically inclined toward and whom you can speak personal things easily and who doesn't have a preference or dislike for any of the people in question.

One problem with being in a controlling relationship is what I call "losing a sense of what is normal" - what would raise a flag for someone else, may slip past your radar completely because it isn't controlling in the way you experienced controlling intensively - or it is less controlling (but still controlling). A friend, online diary or even a forum like here can help you present your thoughts to a neutral party - and for the most part, more important than the feedback will be what you say, think and want when not under anyone's influence. It is possible for a sophisticated and controlling person to condition you to act in certain ways out of sight as well, which is where the feedback comes in handy - to tell you if you don't sound logical for your stated goals.

You don't need to do this forever. For example, once you are more confident and established in relationships that are respectful of you, you will once more have an accurate sense for when you are being manipulated.

Massive disclaimer: I don't know you, I don't know any of the men involved. These are just perceptions from reading between the lines and some experience of human behavior patterns. They are more likely to be about the impact of the men on you than the men themselves.
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Old 05-20-2017, 02:00 PM
PolyGrace PolyGrace is offline
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To Shaya and anamikanon,

Thank you so much for the feedback. Shaya, I appreciate the links and will check them out and share them if they're a good fit. Anamikanon, you hit the nail on the head. I'm really worried that while I'm very sure of what I want in relationships, sometimes I end up in situations where because of my history with Richard, I repeat history OR I immediately shut down if there are any flags at all. I'm trying to balance both of these things. Curtis really is a very reasonable person and I've thrown a lot at him so I'm trying to be as helpful and patient as possible, but I am very scared of ending up in another controlling situation. I agree that having friends or a forum to post things in and get responses would be very helpful.

Thanks so much!
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Old 05-20-2017, 11:12 PM
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Shaya Shaya is offline
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Hi,

Curtis strikes me as a decent monogamous bloke, used to having all your attention and now struggling with getting only half of it. I think decent people who come across as controlling are probably decent people who feel a lack of control whilst panicking in an uncomfortable situation.

I wouldn't judge Curtis to be a bad guy this early into the start of a new relationship for you. He's jealous, insecure, hurt, confused and feels he can hurt less if he were to control your behaviour or receive reassurances. All sounds quite normal to me. Annoying to you of course, but not necessarily evil of him. If he's the intellectual sort who likes philosophy and thinking stuff through, the jealousy links above may be helpful. If not, kdt has a whole bunch of jealousy links that are more about being able to manage jealousy practically.

Curtis though, has to understand that this is going to be a touchy topic for you because of similarities to your previous partner. You may also have to be self aware that Curtis is going to look more horrible than he really is if he acts similar to your ex.

Hope some of this helps, but please don't feel obliged to take anything I say to heart.

Wishing you the best of luck,
Shaya.

Last edited by Shaya; 05-20-2017 at 11:14 PM.
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Old 05-22-2017, 12:23 AM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Hi PolyGrace,

What's been on my mind while going through this thread is, what's going on with Richard. Is he aware of what's going on with Justin and Curtis, is he okay with that. Putting all of that aside, Justin seems to be your best bet. Just my initial thoughts ...

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
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