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Old 08-17-2011, 02:17 PM
Tristania Tristania is offline
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Default Are you, as a community, guided by general rules of conduct?

Hello,

I am new to this forum and new to the experience of a polyamorous relationship. About a year ago, my husband and I started experimenting with having threesomes with one of our mutual female friends. It was not my idea, and unfortunately, I agreed to it for the wrong reasons (I had low self-esteem; I felt like my husband resented my existence, and thought he would appreciate me more if I did it).

My husband can be very persuasive (he is the only person I have ever been intimate with, besides our female friend, so that should tell you something!) He is a psychologist and I know for a fact that he actively strategizes to get people to do things they haven't done before. He has gotten several people I know (including me) to do illegal drugs, who had never touched them before. He has very little regard for any "traditional" values, but has recently become enamored with the polyamorous lifestyle and I feel that he would be receptive to certain ground rules that this community has established.

Are there any such ground rules? I ask because the situation has taken a bad turn for me, and he continues to pressure me to have threesomes, not just with our mutual friend but other women as well.

Each time we "experimented" with our friend, I became increasingly agitated about it. The last time it happened, before she came over to our house, I tried to tell my husband I didn't want to do it. He got depressed and sulky, and laid down on the sofa in the dark, and when she got there, he would barely talk to us or do anything. I felt so awkward about this that I offered to cheer him up by making out with my friend. I was able to set aside my real self that evening and take on a persona that could handle the situation better... We all ended up having sex, but I wanted to be out of it at that point so I got high on weed, drank some wine, and then I took a bunch of Vicodin and sleeping pills. I really did not care at that point if I woke up the next morning.

I am severely depressed and cannot sleep at night. I have told my husband that, after trying polyamory, it is not for me, but he continues to pressure me. I have talked to my friend and she has been very compassionate; our threesomes with her have stopped, at least.

My husband believes he is within his right to pursue his self-exploration, although he would be not be agreeable to me having sex with other men (not that I want to; I was abused as a child and have a hard time with physical intimacy, in general.). The issue may end our marriage, but I am hoping that we can work through it. Since he refuses to respond to traditional notions of ethics, I wondered, do you as a community prescribe to generally agreed-upon ethical guidelines? I need a little help here...

Last edited by Tristania; 08-17-2011 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 08-17-2011, 03:01 PM
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River River is offline
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Tristania,

First of all, it's crucial for you to know that having sex with multiple partners is, in and of itself, not necessarily polyamory. It becomes polyamory only when there is a loving relationship. And sex isn't love. A polyamorous relationship is one in which there are multiple loves and mutual honesty and consent from all parties directly involved. Merely opening up sexually doesn't constitute polyamory.

You really shouldn't involve yourself in much unwanted activities just to please your husband, and especially when the result is ... "but I wanted to be out of it at that point so I got high on weed, drank some wine, and then I took a bunch of Vicodin and sleeping pills. I really did not care at that point if I woke up the next morning."

I'm very not impressed with your husband, going by your words. He seems very self-centered and manipulative -- and not very loving at all. If he loved you he would not subject you to any of this stuff that you're not interested in, nor pressure/manipulate you into it. A psychologist? You can't mean he's a psychotherapist?! I can see him running experiments in a lab coat -- on rats. Dear Goddess, let's hope he's not a psychotherapist! A psychotherapist should be an intensely compassionate and sensitive person. This man seems to lack both of these qualities altogether. You two probably need either couples therapy or a divorce, or both. You need to treat yourself much more kindly, hon. And it's just plain sad that your partner in life is doing so little to help
you with that.

As for the polyamory "community". This animal both does and does not exist. Most poly folk do subscribe to a common set of basic ethical principles, e.g., honesty, direct and skillful/honest communication, ... basically treating our partners with kindness, dignity and respect. But we've never conjoined as a single international association or club with a single standard handbook or manifesto. We're free agents loosely linked by a sort of cultural milieu.

Edit:

Reading back over again...

"My husband believes he is within his right to pursue his self-exploration, although he would be not be agreeable to me having sex with other men...."

This 'man' seems to me to be a royal jackass. If I were you, I'd pack up my bags and get out of the house immediatly, then send him some divorce papers. This is no man, this is a self-centered boy in men's clothing. He just hasn't grown up yet, and you shouldn't mother him as his wife.

"I was able to set aside my real self that evening and take on a persona that could handle the situation better...."

Never again set aside your real self and adopt a persona for anyone. Please! Take a stand for yourself. Be yourself. Love and nurture and care for yourself. And one of the best ways to do this is to refuse to involve yourself in relationships in which you are being selfishly manipulated and otherwise mistreated. One's life partner/s is (are) supposed to be uplifting, helpful, nurturing, caring. If they are not, darling, you have yourself a real problem -- and need to get out. Find people that treat you with kindness and respect. It will help you to learn how to treat yourself that way.
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Last edited by River; 08-17-2011 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 08-17-2011, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristania View Post
My husband can be very persuasive (he is the only person I have ever been intimate with, besides our female friend, so that should tell you something!) He is a psychologist and I know for a fact that he actively strategizes to get people to do things they haven't done before. He has gotten several people I know (including me) to do illegal drugs, who had never touched them before. He has very little regard for any "traditional" values, but has recently become enamored with the polyamorous lifestyle and I feel that he would be receptive to certain ground rules that this community has established.
The way you describe your husband's past actions waves several red flags for me. It seems that he has antisocial/narcistic tendencies in his personality - he is manipulative, insists that "traditional ethics" (everything that doesn't feel good to him) don't apply to him (often people with this type of personality defect insists that they, and everyone they choose to involve themselves with, are way too intelligent, evolved etc. for common morality), and a strong desire to appear to be on the "cutting edge" and adopting a membership in fashionable subcultures with little to no understanding of what that actually involves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristania View Post
... he continues to pressure me to have threesomes, not just with our mutual friend but other women as well... I tried to tell my husband I didn't want to do it. He got depressed and sulky, and laid down on the sofa in the dark, and when she got there, he would barely talk to us or do anything. I felt so awkward about this that I offered to cheer him up by making out with my friend. I was able to set aside my real self that evening and take on a persona that could handle the situation better... We all ended up having sex, but I wanted to be out of it at that point so I got high on weed, drank some wine, and then I took a bunch of Vicodin and sleeping pills. I really did not care at that point if I woke up the next morning.
You do know that pressuring and emotionally blackmailing somebody to perform sexual acts they would not otherwise choose to do is sexual abuse?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristania View Post
I am severely depressed and cannot sleep at night. I have told my husband that, after trying polyamory, it is not for me, but he continues to pressure me.
Your symptoms sound like a classical response to abuse, including the way you describe putting a mask on when forced to do sexual acts you resent and coping with the emotional trauma through using mind-altering drugs. And I second River; this is in no form, way or function polyamory. Exploitation is a one word that comes to mind. I'm somewhat familiar with sex work studies and your description brings to mind testimonies of women who have been trafficked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristania View Post
My husband believes he is within his right to pursue his self-exploration..
And you have an undeniable and unwaverable right to sexual and relational self-determination. His willingness to pressure you into doing things you don't want to do, especially while he's aware of your history of abuse, shows no respect towards you, and respect is one of the key ingredients of poly.
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Last edited by BlackUnicorn; 08-17-2011 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 08-17-2011, 04:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristania View Post
The issue may end our marriage, but I am hoping that we can work through it.
What is there to work through? A marriage is a partnership where two people mutually respect and support each other. That is not what you have. Not only is he a sulky, manipulative, immature dictator, but -- do you not realize? -- he is abusing you. You are depressed because of it, and you deserve better. If I were you, I would gather up all my strength and leave him as soon as possible!
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Old 08-17-2011, 06:05 PM
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This doesn't sound at all like poly to me. It sounds like abuse! You are being coerced into doing things that you don't want to do. If he wants to explore outside interests then that's a discussion you can have. If you don't want to you don't have to. I agree with what others have already posted, you would be better off without him.

As a community we don't have an overarching code of conduct but poly people do believe in respect and communication.
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Last edited by Derbylicious; 08-17-2011 at 06:06 PM. Reason: another thought
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristania View Post
My husband believes he is within his right to pursue his self-exploration, although he would be not be agreeable to me having sex with other men (not that I want to; I was abused as a child and have a hard time with physical intimacy, in general.). The issue may end our marriage, but I am hoping that we can work through it. Since he refuses to respond to traditional notions of ethics, I wondered, do you as a community prescribe to generally agreed-upon ethical guidelines? I need a little help here...
Your husband is abusive. He manipulates you, and everyone around him, to do what he wants. And he is very, very good at this. From your description he does not have ethics, or empathy for others. It's about him, and his wants.

Any ethical guidelines from any given poly community are of no use to you because he will ignore them to get what he wants.

Get out. You deserve better.
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Old 08-17-2011, 08:59 PM
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Bare with me as I haven't read any other threads but your husband sounds like a bully and a spoilt child. He sounds far from professional and should be called on it. Please don't have sex with people who you don't feel comfortable. You will enhance your abuse issues I fear and will only deepen your depression. What kind of phychologist doesn't know that?! Gaud! Some people!

There are some threads on appropriate poly behaviour as laid out by many of us here, that isn't to say they are a rule book or anything, but are pointers that have worked for many of us. Check out the threads found in a tag search for "foundations" and "lessons" under search in the task bar.
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Old 08-17-2011, 11:19 PM
Tristania Tristania is offline
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Thank you all for your replies. I'm sorry if I used some of the terminology incorrectly; as I said, this is new to me, and polyamory is just the word my husband used for it. I hope I didn't offend anyone.

I have told very few people about my situation, and have gotten very biased responses. Most people I know think it's crazy to bring a third person into a marriage in the first place, so while their advice was well-meaning, I wasn't sure I could trust their assertions that my husband was being abusive. I still don't know about that...there are times when I can very successfully hide my emotions from people, and maybe he thought that I'd really changed my mind about the situation (the night I took the pills). I think, honestly, that he was just glad to get the answer he wanted so he didn't think too much about it, but if he had I think he would have felt bad about pressuring me. I do share the fault in this, as I have never been comfortable saying "no" in sexual situations--when I was younger, I just avoided situations where I might be pressured. Things had been going along pretty well for the 8 years my husband and I have been together, and I guess I kind of forgot about that vulnerability of mine, I felt happy and safe with him, and I didn't anticipate all those old feelings coming back. But that it is my issue, not his.

@River: no, he is not a psychotherapist... he actually has a lot of contempt for the whole field of clinical psychology. But I am planning to go to a therapist, anyway. I know people who have gone to therapists and say they saved their lives. I don't expect my husband to respect anything a therapist tells me, and I doubt I could ever convince him to go with me, but I think I need to go for my own sanity.

@BlackUnicorn: your description of my husband is very unflattering, but I have to admit there is a ring of truth to it.... he does have a kind of Nietzschean attitude about "herd morality," and I think that's why polyamory (or whatever you would call the situation I'm in) appeals to him. I think it makes him feel set apart from other people, better than other people, if he has two women on his arm instead of one. Your comparison of my situation to trafficking victims kind of scared me...

@redpepper, thanks for pointing me in the right direction...

I don't know what I will do in regards to my relationship...I guess I will have to see how I feel after counseling, but thank you to everyone who replied.
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Old 08-27-2011, 07:20 PM
Lucinda Lucinda is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristania View Post
I was able to set aside my real self that evening and take on a persona that could handle the situation better...
If that's what it takes to make your husband happy, I don't believe that this relationship is salvagable. I'm sorry to be so harsh. I realize that this is your marriage I'm talking about. But you need to be able to be yourself for a relationship to work.

As to whether you can accept your husband with others or not, that is something you will need to look within yourself for the answer. But you should never ever ever have sex with somebody you don't want to, for any reason. If your husband wants you to, then there is a profound lack of empathy on his part.
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:09 AM
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DrunkenPorcupine DrunkenPorcupine is offline
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Quote:
My husband believes he is within his right to pursue his self-exploration
He totally is, frankly. As a libertarian, I often throw out the word "liberty" but I sometimes forget that not everybody connects "the freedom to make your own choices" with the natural inverse "the responsibility for your actions."

You husband IS free to do what he wants. But that might hurt you.

Now, if it IS hurting, the blunt question for you is "How close do you remain to people who hurt you?" For me, that answer is "Not close at all."

You expressed concerns and aggitations to us. Have you expressed them (and the reasons) to your husband yet? That would by my first step. He sounds like a jackass, and you seem to view his actions as "manipulation" backed by his profession. Perhaps he's not though, maybe he's just ignorant of how this is all impacting you. That's YOUR responsibility to share because you're the only one that can.

How he reacts to it will dictate his character. And that really has nothing to do with polyamory or monogamy, just good, healthy relationships.
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