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  #1  
Old 01-30-2012, 01:40 AM
zenchaos zenchaos is offline
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Default other girlfriend - boundaries?

I've posted here once before in the relatively early stages of my current poly relationship and really appreciated the advice I got from everyone. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost a year now and since then we've done a lot of communicating whenever something bothered me and I feel like I can tell him anything without either of us escalating it. As a bit of background, he's been dating a married woman for over three years and I've met both her and her husband and we all hang out regularly.

So now I have kind of a boundary problem. Whenever we're at parties or just hanging out with a group, my boyfriend and I sometimes cuddle together. On the couch, lovesack, occasionally someone's bed. All their friends know about the whole poly thing so it's not really out of the ordinary for his other girlfriend to come over and cuddle with him from the other side and be all touchy-feely. Now it's well established that I'm his primary and her husband is usually present at these events and sometimes not doing much of anything. So I get uncomfortable when she comes over and, to put it crudely, moves into my territory :P. Sometimes I'm just relieved whenever we start cuddling and can be alone for more than 10 minutes. I myself am not very actively poly so I really value alone time with him, even if it's at a party. By alone time, I mean that I'm the only one he's intimate with. I know he and his other girlfriend have their own time together (albeit not as often) so even at parties I want to feel exclusive. I don't think it's a lot to ask (and neither does he), since his other girlfriend does have a husband.

I don't know if this kind of thing is crossing a line or if I'm just demanding. I often do feel very irked when this happens. She is always the one that initiates it, since my boyfriend has told me he thinks it's reasonable that he only be "with" me at parties and such. So far I've just gone along with it. I don't think she realizes that this bothers me, otherwise I know she wouldn't do it. But at the same time I am very bad at confrontation and am surprised that she hasn't been more sensitive to how I might feel (selfish as that sounds) considering this is my first poly relationship and that I'm his primary. Of course, I have pretended to be fine with it for this long so I do have to take some responsibility. I can already sense that a lot of peoples' responses will be that I should talk to her directly since it's not my boyfriend doing this but I really can't think of a way to do this without sounding bitchy. We're very friendly with each other and since I've never brought this up before it might seem very sudden to her and possibly even demanding (imagine if someone was telling you to back off out of the blue, from a guy you've known and dated for way longer than her). Thanks in advance for the help!
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Old 01-30-2012, 06:56 AM
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redpepper redpepper is offline
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How would it sound if in the moment you said to her, "would you mind, I would really like to spend time with our boyfriend alone, could he come and find you in a bit? Thanks so much, I would really appreciate it." Then spend time with him and have him go to her and show her some attention so that she feels like she is appreciated and loved by him just as much. I would just keep doing that when the situation comes up. Maybe have him go to her first sometimes and then he can say I am going to find zenchaos now, so see you after that. That way she will come to understand that she isn't wanted in the moment, but that she is still loved and cherished.
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Old 01-30-2012, 07:00 AM
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NovemberRain NovemberRain is offline
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You most certainly have a right to ask for anything you want. You can't control whether anyone else sees it as demanding. If someone accuses you of that, you simply assert that you asked.

I'm wondering why boyfriend didn't encourage you to talk to her directly, since you have said he agrees it's reasonable.


[and, um, what redpepper said]
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Old 01-30-2012, 07:47 AM
zenchaos zenchaos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NovemberRain View Post
I'm wondering why boyfriend didn't encourage you to talk to her directly, since you have said he agrees it's reasonable.
Well a while ago I had this problem with them flirting heavily in front of me and he said he wouldn't do that anymore and would talk to her about it. Since he'd never had a second girl around it was difficult for him to find a "balance" when we were together, but when he flirted with her it was mostly for her benefit rather than his because he was afraid she felt neglected. That bothered me because it seemed like more of an obligation for him to be with her which I thought was totally unnecessary since her husband was present and it's like he was doing another man's job. But it turns out he was overreacting (his other girlfriend's words) so he decided to just do what felt natural, which was being with me. So he's already talked to her about that, which is why I didn't. Also I don't think he would want to put me in the position where I had to talk to her directly...since it can easily be awkward no matter how mature we all are :P. But hindsight, I doubt he mentioned that it bothered me, just that he was feeling the strain of trying to manage two women and she told him to not worry.

Quote:
How would it sound if in the moment you said to her, "would you mind, I would really like to spend time with our boyfriend alone, could he come and find you in a bit? Thanks so much, I would really appreciate it."
So like I said before, it's not like she *needs* the attention. I think she is just very flirty by nature which is why she initiates it. But I think her actions sometimes border on neediness. Boyfriend is okay with that obviously but doesn't escalate it. And I know he worries about how I feel when she does that but I can't blame him because it's not like he can tell her to buzz off for a bit (and honestly, I wouldn't want him to). The gist of what you said makes a lot of sense. I just can't ever see myself or him saying it XD. We haven't really cultivated that kind of environment. I know, I'm gonna have to confront this sooner or later. And it's not that I want to be alone alone. Just alone as in intimate alone. Since it's a party there's other people around and I don't mind that. So I guess something closer would be "hey, could you move like, 3 feet away or spend some time with...I dunno, the guy you're married to? kthx" :P. And then it's just very awkward. It's not really of question of whether or not she would respect my wishes. It's just trying to maintain our relational dynamic and no matter how reasonable it is, it'd still be kind of rocking the boat. Normally I'd be talking to my boyfriend about this but making him the middleman might just make me look like a pansy.

So I guess my real question would be - why does she do this with her husband around? She obviously doesn't need to, and he's clearly occupied. And how should I begin to approach this without immediately jumping into direct confrontation? If I were to talk to her of course I'd tell my boyfriend first. I guess a better way to phrase this would be how can I confront her without it being very sudden and unusual? I've been considering email as an option, would that be appropriate?

Last edited by zenchaos; 01-30-2012 at 07:54 AM.
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Old 01-30-2012, 08:45 AM
zenchaos zenchaos is offline
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Ah! Sorry for the extra post. I don't know how relevant anything I say is so I guess it's just another way for me to get my thoughts in order. Another reason I'm rather averse to direct confrontation is guilt. Logically I know there's not reason for me to feel guilty but I think emotions dominate more often in a relationship :P. My boyfriend's girlfriend is over a decade older than me and she's been very kind, inviting me into her home, their parties/outings, making me feel welcome in their circle of friends, sometimes making us dinner, and teaching me to pole dance (long story). How can I be like "hey thanks for everything but could you also back off my boyfriend when I'm around even though you've been seeing him way longer?"
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:37 AM
zylya zylya is offline
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A better question than "how do I confront her?" could be "Why does her cuddling him bother me so much?" If it's because you're looking for alone time, then start making some ACTUAL alone time with just you and your boyfriend. If it's just jealousy, then that's an issue you have to work on. To me, it just seems that you're not ready to see your boyfriend flirting/cuddling with another woman.

You say that emotions dominate in a relationship, but emotions just determine how you FEEL, not how you act. I personally believe that this is YOUR issue, not theirs, and that you need to take ownership of it if you ever want to move past it. Get both of them together and explain that you feel jealous when you see them flirting when you want alone time. Don't make it their fault though (since that'll just put them on the defensive) but let them know that you're struggling and need some help. But I do feel this is an issue that you need to work on yourself - over the long-term I don't think it's reasonable to expect your boyfriend and his other partner to NEVER flirt or cuddle in public if you're also there, ESPECIALLY if all your friends already know the score.
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Old 01-30-2012, 11:18 AM
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Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
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Well conversely, since your bf seems to be OK with not cuddling with her at events when you are there and his gf's spouse is there, it's more - it is up to him to discuss with his gf that "party" or "group" time is when he will be paying physical attention to you, and not her.

Truthfully, if he wants to cuddle or make out with her at these times, he needs to say so to you and behave accordingly, just like if he wants to be focused on you, he needs to stand firm with her on that subject. If he wants to share attention, it should be discussed with both of you, and ahead of time is best.

Really I think it's up to him to negotiate since he is the "shared" partner.

Not that you shouldn't as zylya suggests, think about why it bothers you, but if you're being ignored or feeling uncomfortable during an event because he is paying attention to her, and he's agreed it's not what he wants, I think it's a matter to negotiate with him. (Unless you feel OK talking it over with her, in which case I would suggest that route)
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Last edited by Anneintherain; 01-30-2012 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 01-30-2012, 11:27 AM
zenchaos zenchaos is offline
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I suppose that it bothers me because when it's both of us cuddling with him at the same time, I feel like I'm more of a groupie than a girlfriend and that our intimacy is devalued. That she's intruding on a special moment between us and has no right to do that. Those are just my very base thoughts and obviously not that grounded in logic :P.

I don't think I could handle telling both of them together just yet but I'll definitely start by confiding in my boyfriend. When I think about it, it would seem off if he were to just ignore her all the time. Especially as I attend a lot of their events now. Sometimes I feel that it'll be a long time before I'm completely koscher with it, so it's easier to think in terms of "everybody else has to change" :P. I know that my boyfriend still gets very slightly jealous sometimes when he sees her with her husband but snaps out of it using logic. It's possible that I've also reached that kind of point where those feelings are there, but I can probably find a more systematic way to deal with them instead of trying to instigate more changes. I think talking about it would actually help me determine that.

Thanks all for the input so far
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Old 01-30-2012, 11:38 AM
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I guess I thought you had already been clear with him, and that he was OK with focusing on you during events. Really him cuddling with you both doesn't make you a groupie, but if you feel weird about it, yes you need to speak up. She may be so poly (in the way that everybody is fine with everything and it wouldn't occur to her that it might make you feel weird) minded that she doesn't have a clue that it's a special moment to you and makes you feel tense or irritated.

Sure ideally she should make sure you're comfortable before glomming all over him when you are present, but if she isn't being considerate, you have to stand up for yourself if you feel awkward. I always recommend addressing this with your partner first, and if they are ambivalent about what they want, and wont draw firm boundaries either way, then I'd make decisions and ask for things that keep my mental health intact and let them decide what is important to them.
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Last edited by Anneintherain; 01-30-2012 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zenchaos View Post
The gist of what you said makes a lot of sense. I just can't ever see myself or him saying it XD. We haven't really cultivated that kind of environment.
....
So I guess my real question would be - why does she do this with her husband around? She obviously doesn't need to, and he's clearly occupied. And how should I begin to approach this without immediately jumping into direct confrontation? If I were to talk to her of course I'd tell my boyfriend first. I guess a better way to phrase this would be how can I confront her without it being very sudden and unusual? I've been considering email as an option, would that be appropriate?
The thing is that likely to her its no big deal. For you it is. Its not your business why she does that in front of her husband. It might be interesting to talk about but if you want to talk about it because you think her way of doing things is not like yours and therefore wrong, then you are creating something out of the situation that is not helpful to you in asking her to stop. That attitude will come out in your voice and how you say things.

I wouldn't email, I wouldn't get your boyfriend to do it, I would find a moment when its not a big deal to you (so you come across as such) and change your dynamic by asking her kindly, in the way I suggested, to not do that please.

Its time you cultivate a different environment; one where you ask for what you need while staying respectful and considerate of others feelings and reality. Its hard to do but I think you will find you are better off for it and it will be something that helps with all communication in the future. It will likely be uncomfortable for a moment, but its better than always feeling uncomfortable when she does that.

Have a look at the work of Marshall Rosenberg, "non-violent communication." His philosophy has helped me to no end with keeping me focused on what I need and how to empathize with others when I request for my needs to be met. He has taught me how to use my language as a means to achieve this in my life. It might be helpful.
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Last edited by redpepper; 01-30-2012 at 09:42 PM.
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