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Old 02-28-2012, 02:02 AM
bpc bpc is offline
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Default My relationship may be opening up, a first for me, advice?

my partner and i have been together for about five months. up until now we have been defining our relationship as monogamous. I have only been in monogamous relationships, but my partner has been primarily in polyamorous relationships. we have started having discussions about opening things up but i am really nervous. there are many factors involved.

one thing that causes me distress is that my partner has lots of experience with polyamory and is part of a subculture that encourages open sexual relationships, while i have never felt particularly defined by this subculture or a different one that specifically supports these types of relationships. because my partner is part of a culture that supports polyamory, there are lots of potential opportunities for polyamorous relations. because i am not explicitly part of this culture, i worry about my ease and ability to find and explore these types of relationships. i also have never been particularly promiscuous, and worry about whether i can/will find the ambition to seek out/explore other sexual relationships. if my partner is having an easy time exploring other sexual/emotional partners while i'm at home twiddling my thumbs, i'm pretty sure it is going to hurt my feelings. i'll feel jealous (about not having my partner and about not having the same sexual liberation as them), insecure about my own worth, and like i need to "get out there" out of some contrived sense of competition.

we have discussed the idea that what is important is peoples' needs being met, and if i'm satisfied with one partner and accept that they have needs not met by just me, maybe it would be okay for them to have multiple partners while i do not. though logically this makes sense, it is immensely unsatisfying to my emotions. while i think it is good and healthy to challenge illogical emotions, i don't know that this is one i could really get past.

a big reasoning point in our conversations about polyamory is the idea that no one partner can satisfy all our desires (both emotionally and sexually), and having the ability to seek different things from different people relieves some of the potential resentment people have towards monogamous partners for not fulfilling all our desires/wants. while i agree with this in theory, it is hard for me not to look at what happens in practice in a lot of polyamorous culture and feel hesitant. i see a lot of bad decision making and unnecessarily risky behavior (particularly when alcohol/drugs are involved), a high occurrence of sexual assault (or at least not respecting boundaries), poor communication, and a lot of jealousy and resentment (jealous of eachothers' partners and resentment of the bad choices people are making with regard to who is sleeping with who, the level of protection used, and the communication around what is happening).

while i don't want to resent my partner for not satisfying all of my needs (or them to resent me for not satisfying all of theirs), i have never experienced the level betrayal, jealousy, and resentment that i see deeply pervasive in the polyamorous relationships around me and hear about through the grapevine. I get that the idea is to have REALLY open communication about needs and boundaries so that everyone feels good about what is happening, but it seems far more complicated in practice and pretty destructive to a lot of people (both mentally and in terms of physical/sexual health). However, i do have a lot of faith in my partner and their ability to communicate what is happening, respecting my boundaries, and making good decisions about sex (though risky decisions have been made in the past which makes me nervous for the future).

relationships are complicated and take a lot of work regardless of how they are defined. i know this. i want to have a relationship that feels healthy for both of us and meets our needs. i do not want my partner to feel like they are being untrue to themselves and their nature by being in a monogamous relationship, but i also want to be true to my own nature and not make compromises i can't handle. i want to seek a balance that works for both of us. i just don't know if it exists because i don't know if i really want polyamory for myself. sometimes it sounds like a good idea. sometimes it just sounds like a big mess i'd rather avoid... like satisfying those unquenched desires isn't worth all the difficulty involved. i know this has been a serious rant, but i could really use some advice from someone else than my partner and a few close friends. what you got?

Last edited by bpc; 02-28-2012 at 03:05 AM.
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Old 02-28-2012, 02:39 AM
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Its hard to grasp what's going on at your end, but this is what it loolks like for me any way. The community around you seems like a free for all. It sounds really unhealthy and the people in it sound self centered and rather like they bully people into being poly and openly sexual with the arguements they chose. It concerns me that it also seems very rushed in terms of getting going into diving into the sex pool rather than exploring and educating first. I'm glad you have come here rather than entirely listening and accepting everything you have seen and heard at face value.

I suggest you and your partner do a search here in the tags for "mono/poly" its a large part of what we have talked about here. Mostly because mono and poly people seem to speak different languages. Both are valid and need respecting I think. Good luck.

Oh ya. Please go back and put some spaces into your post before your 12 hour edit time is up. Your post is hard to read and people generally don't bother reading walls of text. Thanks.
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Old 02-28-2012, 03:11 AM
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it is not so rushed as it may seem. it's been a part of our dialogue since the beginning, it's just that it is starting to become a reality now. i am not trying to just dive into having sex with a bunch of folks, nor is my partner. actually quite the contrary, neither of us is particularly interested in anybody or motivated to find someone. it's just that my partner identifies as polyamorous and wants to open us up to the possibility of having other relationships should we find people we are interested in.

i did not mean to suggest these relationships needed to happen immediately or that they were solely sexual in nature, just that we are talking about having this as a possibility and not being defined/bordered by a monogamous relationship.

does that clarify things a bit?
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Old 02-28-2012, 03:37 AM
ThatGirlInGray ThatGirlInGray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bpc View Post
while i agree with this in theory, it is hard for me not to look at what happens in practice in a lot of polyamorous culture and feel hesitant. i see a lot of bad decision making and unnecessarily risky behavior (particularly when alcohol/drugs are involved), a high occurrence of sexual assault (or at least not respecting boundaries), poor communication, and a lot of jealousy and resentment (jealous of eachothers' partners and resentment of the bad choices people are making with regard to who is sleeping with who, the level of protection used, and the communication around what is happening).
To be fair, risky behavior, alcohol/drug use, bad decisions, not respecting personal boundaries, and all that happens in a lot of monogamous culture too.
Quote:
while i don't want to resent my partner for not satisfying all of my needs (or them to resent me for not satisfying all of theirs), i have never experienced the level betrayal, jealousy, and resentment that i see deeply pervasive in the polyamorous relationships around me and hear about through the grapevine. I get that the idea is to have REALLY open communication about needs and boundaries so that everyone feels good about what is happening, but it seems far more complicated in practice and pretty destructive to a lot of people (both mentally and in terms of physical/sexual health). However, i do have a lot of faith in my partner and their ability to communicate what is happening, respecting my boundaries, and making good decisions about sex (though risky decisions have been made in the past which makes me nervous for the future).
In the past 5 months? Or in the past -before- the relationship with you? People CAN change, sometimes, but if you're talking about risky decisions that have been made in the past 5 months I'd say that's hardly enough time to work through the fallout from those issues AND made a drastic personal change. Also, I hope I never know the poly relationships you know! Though, again, there's a LOT of betrayal, jealousy, and resentment in the mono relationships I know. I just don't know many poly people in person.

Quote:
relationships are complicated and take a lot of work regardless of how they are defined. i know this. i want to have a relationship that feels healthy for both of us and meets our needs. i do not want my partner to feel like they are being untrue to themselves and their nature by being in a monogamous relationship, but i also want to be true to my own nature and not make compromises i can't handle. i want to seek a balance that works for both of us. i just don't know if it exists because i don't know if i really want polyamory for myself. sometimes it sounds like a good idea. sometimes it just sounds like a big mess i'd rather avoid... like satisfying those unquenched desires isn't worth all the difficulty involved. i know this has been a serious rant, but i could really use some advice from someone else than my partner and a few close friends. what you got?
I second redpepper's suggestion that you do a tag search for mono/poly. You don't have to want poly for yourself to be happy/satisfied/fulfilled in a poly relationship. My husband is mono (though if he ever decides not to be, that's fine too) and I've been poly (according to him) for about 7 years (from my pov I didn't start "practicing" poly until a little over 2 years ago *shrug*). So, it exists, never fear! As long as you both have the same commitment to each other and working on the rough parts of your relationship, you have a good shot at being just fine.
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Old 02-28-2012, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bpc View Post
my partner and i have been together for about five months. up until now we have been defining our relationship as monogamous. I have only been in monogamous relationships, but my partner has been primarily in polyamorous relationships. we have started having discussions about opening things up but i am really nervous. there are many factors involved.
Okay, this is a new relationship and you're still getting to know one another. Now, your partner's talking about something else that is new to you. It's perfectly valid that you are nervous about something unfamiliar and which seems like it might threaten the relationship. But discussing poly doesn't mean blindly acquiescing to pursue it just because your partner wants to. Don't agree to something if you're not clear on what it means nor if it doesn't sit well with you. This is negotiation time, so know what your personal boundaries and deal-breakers are, and be prepared to walk away if you feel disrespected or if it isn't working/what you want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bpc View Post
one thing that causes me distress is that my partner has lots of experience with polyamory and is part of a subculture that encourages open sexual relationships, while i have never felt particularly defined by this subculture or a different one that specifically supports these types of relationships. because my partner is part of a culture that supports polyamory, there are lots of potential opportunities for polyamorous relations. because i am not explicitly part of this culture, i worry about my ease and ability to find and explore these types of relationships. i also have never been particularly promiscuous, and worry about whether i can/will find the ambition to seek out/explore other sexual relationships. if my partner is having an easy time exploring other sexual/emotional partners while i'm at home twiddling my thumbs, i'm pretty sure it is going to hurt my feelings. i'll feel jealous (about not having my partner and about not having the same sexual liberation as them), insecure about my own worth, and like i need to "get out there" out of some contrived sense of competition.
There's a big focus on sex in what you're saying here. Polyamory is more than having sex with multiple people. It certainly is a part of it, but most polyamorists would probably say it's about developing multiple loving, caring, respectful relationships. You don't need to feel comfortable with "promiscuity" to embrace polyamory, but if sex seems to be a major part of poly's appeal to your partner, maybe you need to communicate more about it and get really clear on what he or she is looking for - it might be more open or FWBs than poly.

You mention sitting at home, does that mean you live together already? You can negotiate down to real specifics like safer sex practices, limits on the number of other partners, and time spent on dating other people. But you also need to make sure, whether poly or mono, that you have other things and people in your life so you're not so focused on your partner making you happy (not saying that's what you're doing, just mentioning this as a "reminder").

Quote:
Originally Posted by bpc View Post
we have discussed the idea that what is important is peoples' needs being met, and if i'm satisfied with one partner and accept that they have needs not met by just me, maybe it would be okay for them to have multiple partners while i do not. though logically this makes sense, it is immensely unsatisfying to my emotions. while i think it is good and healthy to challenge illogical emotions, i don't know that this is one i could really get past.
You don't have to go along with it or accept it out of coercion. Of course, that means that if they feel they must proceed, you have the choice to leave the relationship.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bpc View Post
i see a lot of bad decision making and unnecessarily risky behavior (particularly when alcohol/drugs are involved), a high occurrence of sexual assault (or at least not respecting boundaries), poor communication, and a lot of jealousy and resentment (jealous of eachothers' partners and resentment of the bad choices people are making with regard to who is sleeping with who, the level of protection used, and the communication around what is happening)... while i don't want to resent my partner for not satisfying all of my needs (or them to resent me for not satisfying all of theirs), i have never experienced the level betrayal, jealousy, and resentment that i see deeply pervasive in the polyamorous relationships around me and hear about through the grapevine.
Egad! What kind of community is that?!!! No wonder you're skittish. All that doesn't really sound very ethical to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bpc View Post
... i do have a lot of faith in my partner and their ability to communicate what is happening, respecting my boundaries, and making good decisions about sex (though risky decisions have been made in the past which makes me nervous for the future)... i do not want my partner to feel like they are being untrue to themselves and their nature by being in a monogamous relationship, but i also want to be true to my own nature and not make compromises i can't handle.
I would say that the best thing to do is ask your partner to move slowly. Ask for time to communicate your fears and get clear on your boundaries, make agreements between you, and if you do decide you can handle them being poly, take things in small steps, ie., meet the person first, find ways to get comfortable with it, know when and where they are going on a date, etc.
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Last edited by nycindie; 02-28-2012 at 04:35 AM.
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Old 02-28-2012, 04:25 AM
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Lemondrop Lemondrop is offline
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You have lovely replies already, and I don't have much to add. The part that jumped out at me that didn't seem to be addressed was:

" if my partner is having an easy time exploring other sexual/emotional partners while i'm at home twiddling my thumbs, i'm pretty sure it is going to hurt my feelings. i'll feel jealous (about not having my partner and about not having the same sexual liberation as them), insecure about my own worth, and like i need to "get out there" out of some contrived sense of competition. "

Let me second (third? fourth?) that polyamory doesn't *have* to be about sex. If you don't want to go out and have sex with lots of other people (or even one other people) then don't. Own your sexuality and do what feels right for you. Sometimes, polyamorous people even non-sexual partners. Crazy, right? It's true.

Also, please, PLEASE don't sit home twiddling your thumbs if you have more fun things to do! Go out with friends, go out with a special friend, go out alone, but by all means, if you don't want to twiddle your thumbs, don't. Take care of you. You don't have to sit around waiting for your boyfriend to take care of you.

No one relationship model fits all. And, you know, I would throw in more of what everyone else said up there ^^.

Last edited by Lemondrop; 02-28-2012 at 04:26 AM. Reason: spelling, of course.
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Old 02-28-2012, 06:46 AM
bpc bpc is offline
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nothing in the past five months, in our relationship, has included any of the bad choices i have mentioned. these choices are in the past from other relationships, and in the relationships of those around me. my partner has been totally awesome and honest with me and i don't want to make it seem any other way. the community i'm referring to is specifically a generally pretty young (early 20's) anarchist punk community. it is highly focused on sex, though sex is not the only thing involved in the relationships i am discussing. in this community there is a very "pro-sex" approach/attitude though. wanting to embrace peoples desires and needs. which i also support. i just support good decision making above satisfying desires. my partner is not trying to drop into a bunch of promiscuous activity, but wants the ability to develop other romantic relationships should they arise. we do not live together, but do sleep together almost every night. i don't plan on sitting around doing nothing while my partner is out and about, but i worry about it happening and how it would make me feel. i've gotten myself real invested in this person, maybe too much, and am not sure how to develop a level of comfort around them potentially having other romantic relationships. there is a lot of discussion and negotiation going on right now, far from being set in any stone, but i do not know quite where my comfort lies. i do not deny that many of these same issues exist in monogamy. not at all. however, my monogamous relationships, and most of those around me, have not involved anywhere near as much interpersonal drama as the polyamorous relationships of the people i know. there is still a lot of difficulty in the monogamy i have known, but not nearly as much mess.

also, just for clarification. my partner is female but tends to prefer the pronoun they (non-genderned), and i consider myself male (though not terribly so). definitely not waiting for my boyfriend to take care of me.

Last edited by bpc; 02-28-2012 at 06:56 AM.
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