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Old 12-08-2015, 07:31 PM
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GirlFromTexlahoma GirlFromTexlahoma is offline
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Default It's a Texlahoma Story

" 'It's a Texlahoma story,' she says, much to our pleasure, for Texlahoma is a mythic world we created in which to set many of our stories."
- Douglas Coupland, Generation X

This blog is a place for me to ponder polyamory - both the day to day ups and downs and the meaning of the larger concepts. Comments, discussion, opinions, support, arguments, and/or criticisms are all welcome

To get the boring backstory out of the way...

My husband Andy and I met in college and have been together ever since. We officially opened our relationship a few years ago, mostly because we each had sexual interests in which the other had zero interest. Like a lot of couples we started with the "casual sex only, no feelings" rule. That lasted about two months We independently came to the same conclusion - we don't want to bother having sex with people we don't care about, it's not worthwhile or enjoyable for either of us.

We've had our issues - Andy experienced a lot of jealousy in the beginning, mostly because I did a shitty job of handling NRE feelings. I have struggled with anxiety as Andy asks to take person after person off our "messy person/do not date" list. But we talk it through. And we listen. I feel like our relationship is stronger now than it ever has been.

I've always thought of myself as being in an open relationship - polyamory is not something I've thought about until very recently. I'm still not sure if it's where I fit on the non monogamy spectrum

The funny thing is, by a lot of people's definition of polyamory, Andy and I have been in a poly relationship from the beginning. He and his best friend Stephanie have been each other's "person" for over 20 years, way longer than he's known me.

They don't have a sexual relationship. (Well, not that I know of, anyway I've told him I'm 100% ok with him having sex with her... though it took me a long time to get there... and that he doesn't need to check in with me or even tell me if it happens.) Stephanie has a history of sexual abuse and not-so-healthy sexual relationships, from what I understand they both feel sex would risk everything else they have. And they have a lot -a romantic friendship, a lifelong commitment to their partnership, and a deep love for each other. She functions in our life a co-primary. Andy is her standing plus-one for everything, she's his plus one half the time...they travel together, he sleeps at her house often... They take care of each other whenever someone is sick or going through a tough time.

As for me... I've had great FWBs. I'm currently seeing a guy who is amazing, and could be way more. But I'm struggling with the transition. And trying to figure out why it's so damn hard for me.
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~ Claire

Female, straight, 38
Married 14 years to Andy
In a relationship with Castle
Sharing Andy with Stephanie and other friend-girls
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Old 12-08-2015, 09:30 PM
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GirlFromTexlahoma GirlFromTexlahoma is offline
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Default Definitions, labels, categories... What is a relationship anyway?

I've honestly never given much thought to what I call various relationships in my life. Partly because I think it's far more important what something *is* than what it's called. And partly because I've just assumed that when I did use titles and labels, they were the same ones everyone used. Now I'm thinking that last part is not true - that actually the way I define relationships is very different from other people, at least other poly people.

There was a discussion here recently about the difference between casual and serious relationships... It really surprised me to hear how others saw it. It seemed like a lot of people defined committed vs casual in terms of depth of feeling. I define it very differently.

For me, it's about how entwined and involved someone is in your life, not how strongly you feel about them. I define casual as any relationship where you keep completely separate lives, and committed as a relationship where your lives get tangled together. There are other aspects too of course, I may get into some of that later, but for me that's the big one.

It doesn't have to be an "all the way up the escalator" relationship for me to consider it serious. I see Andy and Stephanie as having a serious, committed relationship, and they don't live together. But they do have a lot of escalator type entanglements. They know all each other's family members and friends. They take each other into consideration when making decisions big or small - Andy thinks about Stephanie's schedule when he plans his vacation time; he's also changed jobs to be able to see her more. Stephanie has a significant influence on how he lives and plans his life. To me, that's what makes it serious. He's willing to make their relationship a priority.

I have never had that with anyone other than Andy. I haven't done any "life arranging" for any of the guys I've dated since we opened our marriage. So, to me, they have all been ... FWBs? I almost feel like even that term is "too much", because my friends are, generally, a much bigger priority in my decision-making than these guys have been. But "friend" is a nice broad term. Friends are important, friends can be people you love intensely. But someone can be a friend, or a friend with benefits, without *necessarily* being a central part of my life.

Where I run into the real clash of definitions is trying to call a relationship "committed" when I don't make it enough of a priority that it influences the rest of my life. I get that people can love each other deeply without prioritizing each other. ( I love my best friend from high school, even though I barely ever talk to her.) But committed? I can't get my head around it, really. Because for me, the "I will compromise, sacrifice, and generally work my ass off to meet your needs, and to keep our relationship happy and healthy" is the commitment.
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Female, straight, 38
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In a relationship with Castle
Sharing Andy with Stephanie and other friend-girls
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Old 12-09-2015, 01:01 AM
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GirlFromTexlahoma GirlFromTexlahoma is offline
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*I was originally going to post this as a reply to a thread on non-escalator relationships, but it got really long and sidetracked so I will post it here instead *

I had to step away from this topic for a bit and process some things... I was getting frustrated and upset and I couldn't really figure out why. A few long runs and a good cry later I have a better grasp on it.

Trying to separate depth of feeling from the relationship escalator is incredibly stressful for me, because in truth I don't put much faith in feelings unless they are accompanied by behaviors.

I come from a very screwed up family. I know everybody feels like their family is screwed up, but mine has been prominently featured in the national media for our awfulness. I work in social services and I do not use the term crazy - but my family is bat shit crazy. There have been several suicides, and many attempted murders of one family member by another - only one successful murder, so far. And of course plenty of gaslightighting, stealing, addictions, and scheming.

Most of my life, those people kept me in their fucked up world by saying, "we're your family and we LOVE you." So even as an adult, I'd let myself get pulled back into the mess because LOVE.

I recreated that pattern with my friends in high school and my early college years, surrounding myself with alcoholics and drug addicts who took advantage of me and treated me horribly. But oh, the declarations of undying love and being soulmates and all the other stuff that people say when they are high. Or when they want money so they can get high again.

It took years of therapy for me to get to a place where I could say, "love does not mean I have to accept being treated like shit." A big part of this was learning to look for loving behaviors and loving actions, instead of just focusing on what people say. Another part was learning that if I choose to, I can love my dysfunctional family members but never have any contact with them again.

Having gone through all that ... It's very very difficult for me to "just feel" and be secure in a relationship without some tangible evidence of commitment and caring. I do believe that someone can love me without wanting to spend a ton of time together or introduce me to their friends. But I also believe that my dysfunctional family loved me, so yeah... The fact that someone *feels love* for me is not particularly reassuring.

Digging deep into my history this way was definitely something I needed to do. I don't know what it means for my future, but it helps just to be able to say, non escalator relationships trigger my anxiety and this is why.
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~ Claire

Female, straight, 38
Married 14 years to Andy
In a relationship with Castle
Sharing Andy with Stephanie and other friend-girls
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Old 12-09-2015, 02:39 AM
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River River is offline
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Thanks for such a bold and courageous and authentic sharing, GFT.

I have only a moment, so I'll be very succinct.

Sadly, the dominant culture (which most of us dwell within) encourages us to mistake needing and wanting with "love" -- and so when some folks say "I love you!" what they are actually saying is "I need you; I want you".

But actual loving is as much about giving and caring for as needing and wanting, and probably even moreso.

If I were to say "I love you," I'd be meaning "I deeply appreciate you."

And I do.

Such love is in infinite abundance, if only we will allow it to be so.
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Old 12-10-2015, 05:53 AM
Evie Evie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GirlFromTexlahoma View Post
There was a discussion here recently about the difference between casual and serious relationships... It really surprised me to hear how others saw it. It seemed like a lot of people defined committed vs casual in terms of depth of feeling. I define it very differently.

For me, it's about how entwined and involved someone is in your life, not how strongly you feel about them. I define casual as any relationship where you keep completely separate lives, and committed as a relationship where your lives get tangled together.

I'm very much with you on this. I make life plans with Adam. They keep evolving, but our intention is to be making life plans for the rest of our lives

My other friends, Seige, Tech, Chalk, Cheese, Golf, Universe Fan, Trask and so on all have their own life plans with or without other people. I'm excited to hear about those plans. Not live in them. I like visiting. But I don't need to be up close in their lives physically all the time to love them deeply.

Thanks for sharing GFT

Evie
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Old 12-10-2015, 11:58 AM
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GirlFromTexlahoma GirlFromTexlahoma is offline
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I've been really struggling with polyamory lately

Not with the open relationship/sex with other people part of it, but with the difficulty of having more than one long term, loving partner. My one year anniversary with Dag was part of that. Also, holidays

I have a lot of happy holiday memories from childhood but no "healthy" ones. I enjoyed Christmas like any kid, probably because I didn't understand yet how truly screwy my family was. There were presents, and a tree, and lots of baking along with our usual dysfunction and violence. I had no idea that it was problematic to start drinking bourbon at breakfast to cope with being around extended family. Or that other families didn't end up with half the guests eating Christmas dinner in their parked cars because they had stormed out or been kicked out by the hosts. It honestly didn't seem weird at all to me that our celebration usually ended whenever someone got drunk enough to start waving a shotgun around and threatening either suicide or homicide. How else would you know when to send folks home

As an adult... Happy, healthy celebrations are important to me. I'm trying to make up for not having that, maybe, or trying to prove something. Or maybe I just like decorating wreaths and baking cookies

This year will be my first Christmas with Dag as a couple. Except... It won't. I put in a lot of effort making sure he'd be welcome at all the Christmas things I usually attend AND that I had plenty of time to spend with just him if he wanted to celebrate just us. But he's spending Christmas with his family. That's how he put it.

And I don't know how to deal with that. It hurts. It hurts that he doesn't want to celebrate with me. It hurts that he doesn't care enough about what I want to make time for something that's important to me. I am in this frustrated, defensive place right now. I feel like saying, fine, then, let's stop calling this a relationship and admit it's just sex, let's just call a spade a spade. Please stop saying you love me and I'm important and then not doing a damn thing to show me that.

But I don't say that to him. Yet. I don't have the emotional bandwidth for it right now, or maybe I just don't have the guts.
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~ Claire

Female, straight, 38
Married 14 years to Andy
In a relationship with Castle
Sharing Andy with Stephanie and other friend-girls
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Old 12-10-2015, 02:15 PM
Hannahfluke Hannahfluke is offline
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Have you told Dags that it's important to you to be able to spend at least a little bit of time with him within a day or two of Christmas? Some people are clueless at times about what is important to the people they care about. It's possible that in his mind Christmas is only important to his children, he doesn't really consider how the adults around him feel. I'd make a guess that if I'd been poly when my boys were young, I'd have been guilty of the same type of thing.
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Old 12-10-2015, 02:28 PM
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GirlFromTexlahoma GirlFromTexlahoma is offline
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Hannahfluke, that's a really good point. Christmas for Dag is very kid-centered. It's also a religious holiday for him. Since I have neither kids nor religion he may wonder how it could mean much to me.

I've tried to say it's important ... But I know I have a tendency to downplay my needs. To pretend I'm TOTALLY FINE!!! when inside I'm hurting. Comes from fear of rejection, I think - if I don't ask, I'll never get turned down. Note to self, maybe work on that
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~ Claire

Female, straight, 38
Married 14 years to Andy
In a relationship with Castle
Sharing Andy with Stephanie and other friend-girls
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Old 12-10-2015, 03:05 PM
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PinkPig PinkPig is offline
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I wrote out a reply in your post in the general discussion section...but apparently I did something wrong as the netherlands ate my post

I agree with Hannahfluke. When my kids were young, the week of Christmas was always crazy/busy, filled with rushing from one gathering or obligation to the next. What little down time I had, was spent with my children. Last year was my first Christmas with two partners. I had much more free time available than past years but because of schedule conflicts, I still wasn't able to see my ex-gf Snow until two days after Christmas. Blue spent Christmas Eve/Christmas morning with Snow, while I was with my kids. I spent the rest of Christmas & the day after with Blue, while Snow was with her children and extended family. It didn't mean we weren't important to one another...just that our schedules didn't line up. We chose a different day to celebrate.

Does Dag make you a priority in his day to day life, Claire? If you were in a crisis situation, would he make you a priority? To me, the extent that someone goes to to make me a priority in day to day life, determines whether I feel important and valued. Not whether I spend a specific day with them
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Old 12-10-2015, 04:25 PM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I notice that over the festive period, I tend not to see my friends who have kids unless I go to something that is child friendly and their kids come along. So I can kind of understand that if I had a partner who had children, I may not see them much over Christmas. Can you guys carve some time after or before the main Christmas period to be together?

I'm hoping that this is something you and Dag can work out between you so you can reach a compromise between his kid and religious Christmas and your need for time together.

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