Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > Poly Relationships Corner

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-06-2012, 05:54 PM
BaggageReclaim BaggageReclaim is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: BC
Posts: 5
Default negotiating boundaries/"fairness" and hierarchies

I'm not sure where to start but I could use some help with my relationship.

I met Jay about 21 months ago off a dating site and we started a relationship. At the time, we planned on things being casual - we'd meet up once a week for dinner and then have sex, and he'd stay the night. Lots of good sex and good conversations. I knew he was married (to Bee) and that they were about 5 months pregnant when we began dating. I met Bee briefly for the first time, in a coffee shop, about 3 months in. She was tired and we didn't talk much - it was almost literally "face time".

The relationship progressed beyond what any of us expected initially. About a year in, Jay and I began sharing feelings more intimately. In his words, he asked me to "be a real person". I'd been holding back a lot before that, even though I'd visit him and the baby on the weekends. Bee usually stayed in her room. Over this time I learned from Jay that she tended to be a "hermit" and generally wasn't interested in connecting with new people (although not averse to it). It took me a while to come to terms with it and not take it personally.

We had a while of getting to know each other more closely, starting a D/s dynamic in our sex life (which we'd both wanted but hadn't felt close enough for before), spending time with his baby and each other's friends, talking more often, visiting his parents, etc. Bee and I didn't get closer, although we did end up spending a little more time around each other.

For the last few months things between Jay and I have been rocky. Our discussions started getting really emotional and volatile, and made Bee feel insecure about when she could expect Jay to be home. We all got together and talked (briefly) and implemented a schedule where Jay would be home two nights a week and alternate weekends, which seemed to make things OK between them. Meanwhile Jay and I continued to have issues, largely around time, and my level of inclusion in his life.

Things came to a head a couple of weeks ago, partly due to unrelated life stresses that drained us both, and Jay insisted on taking a break. The time apart was difficult but gave us time to cool off and regain perspective. I felt more grounded after. We met up on Wednesday (3 days ago) and managed to have a relatively calm and friendly discussion.

We both agreed that things needed to change. I expressed that it was important to me to feel a sense of progression in the relationship between Jay, Bee and I - at this point, I want to feel like we're all invested in working towards a dynamic where we're all comfortable in the same room, for a start. Bee and I are friendly, but awkward, and lately there has been tension about time management. Jay affirmed that it was important, and agreed to try to organise a group activity about once a month.

I said that I'd stop hanging out at his place, which I'd been doing in response to his complaints about not having time for home maintenance or supporting Bee enough with childcare. Previously there was a pattern where I'd go to his place and then end up doing housework or being the primary baby-watcher, which I was always happy to do, but usually left us both feeling unfulfilled and crowded Bee. I decided to expect less, be more independent, and let him reach out to me.

Our discussion went well on Wednesday and we were both happy with it. Yesterday he came to visit for a couple of hours with the baby, and after Baby went to sleep we wound up talking. I started off by saying that I wanted to bring up some personal concerns that we hadn't addressed on Wednesday, the big one being that I was feeling unimportant to him because our relationship discussions centred around the issues in his life, and I couldn't remember him expressing consciousness of our relationship dynamic.

The reaction was poor, I think he felt attacked. We managed to smooth it out somewhat, but I'm left feeling like there's no space for me to express wants or needs - that the choice is between sucking it up or having him break down.

I think he agreed to try to evince more consideration for me when we were discussing relationship issues. But then it came up that he was not inviting me to Easter dinner at his parents' - I had been going to family dinner at his parents' home roughly every couple of weeks over the last 6 months or more, and I felt upset at being excluded. It felt like a step back instead of forward. I wanted to stop visiting his place to rein back on the intrusiveness on Bee, but his parents' home had always seemed more neutral. He was upset that I was upset, and said that I shouldn't have expectations about spending that time together, and he couldn't run all decisions by me. I said that I felt it was fair to have expectations if there was already a precedent.

For me it came down to not feeling important enough to him, or him saying that I was important to him but then not seeming to make anything of ours a priority. The dinner thing made me feel like I was important to him... but only as long as Bee didn't care. Throughout our relationship I've felt like I've had to meet them more than halfway, which I'm OK with because I recognise they have more constraints to deal with. But now I'm feeling disrespected, like our relationship just fills in the gaps wherever they happen to be, and I don't get to express my own needs. Throughout all this he's constantly told me about how important it is to him to maintain a connection with Bee, to look for activities they can share, etc, without expressing similar concern for the shape of our relationship. I feel taken for granted. He and Bee are very independent and there have been times where he's actually spent more time with me than her, but never in a sustainable way. I guess we're still figuring out how all the pieces fit together.

He's reluctant to ask Bee to do anything more to make things easier. He feels that she already gives a lot. To me it sounds like, "we've decided to be poly and it's difficult for us, so anyone who comes into our relationship has to be happy with the compromises that we've already decided to make," and there's no room to engage with me as a real person and not just an abstract "other relationship".

We're going to meet again to talk about what he thinks is important or reasonable to ask Bee for - basically the boundaries of our relationship that are important enough to him to fight for. Hopefully it'll make me feel more secure or at least more certain about what I can count on. But I need to feel like my own wants are being considered - that his conception of "relationship" is not defined only by what he and Bee want, but also by what I want. I don't know how to convey that without him feeling attacked. But I can't be in a meaningful relationship where I feel so incidental.

One other thing is that we never agreed to a clear hierarchy - and I'm not sure I'd agree to it. I need for him to be able to weigh both my wants and Bee's wants and evaluate importance based on situations and not just default to "my wife is more important always". He hasn't been doing that, but I get the impression he wants to, but his sense of decency prevents him from treating me badly, even when it causes Bee discomfort. I think what he wants right now is for me to not have any needs so that he doesn't have to cause Bee any discomfort - he hates being caught in the middle. And I understand but I don't see a solution.

I'm not sure what I'm asking here. I just feel really lost and hurt and confused when I think about this relationship. I've been doing more self-care stuff and being more independent, but whenever I think about this, I think about making myself vulnerable and giving but not even being seen enough to get anything back. Any perspective or advice would be appreciated.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 04-08-2012, 08:58 AM
rory's Avatar
rory rory is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Europe
Posts: 496
Default

I want to say first that I understand where you're coming from and you're not unreasonable in what you want. I will try to look at the situation from a perspective that focuses on what you can do. Please don't feel like I'm putting all the responsibility on you, I do think both Jay and Bee need to step up as well to make it work. But the only person you can control is you, so lets start there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BaggageReclaim View Post
For the last few months things between Jay and I have been rocky. Our discussions started getting really emotional and volatile, and made Bee feel insecure about when she could expect Jay to be home. We all got together and talked (briefly) and implemented a schedule where Jay would be home two nights a week and alternate weekends, which seemed to make things OK between them. Meanwhile Jay and I continued to have issues, largely around time, and my level of inclusion in his life.
What exactly is the controversy about? What is it that you want? You've said that you want to feel a sense of progression and feel cared about and feel important to him. You want to feel like you don't come second. These are all such abstract things. If those are the things you express to him as your wants and needs then it is no wonder he might feel attacked.

Do you know what you want, more concretely? What do you think would make you feel like he cares about you? What would make you feel like you are considered (even if it clashes with something Bee wants)? If he does consider you important and cares for you, how can he show it to you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BaggageReclaim View Post
He hasn't been doing that, but I get the impression he wants to, but his sense of decency prevents him from treating me badly, even when it causes Bee discomfort. I think what he wants right now is for me to not have any needs so that he doesn't have to cause Bee any discomfort -
I think he is feeling guilty. That's a tough one to shake, when you're the hinge (partner of two people who are not involved) and have two partners, with the society telling you that you're a big asshole/slut. When you feel guilty, it can make you act unfair cause you're trying sooooo hard to please everybody and that just can't be done. It is his stuff to work through, though. His responsibility, as a hinge, is to learn to manage the guilt. However, it is not his responsibility to act as a go-between for you and Bee.

I think this is one of your biggest problems
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaggageReclaim View Post
he hates being caught in the middle.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaggageReclaim View Post
We both agreed that things needed to change. I expressed that it was important to me to feel a sense of progression in the relationship between Jay, Bee and I - at this point, I want to feel like we're all invested in working towards a dynamic where we're all comfortable in the same room, for a start.
He is caught in the middle. And it doesn't seem to be working at all. Your wish for a dynamic where you're all comfortable in the same room is not unreasonable. But he can't make it happen. If the discomfort is between you and Bee, you two are the ones who can do something about it. If you want to see progress with her, you might want to try to get to know her without having him in the middle. How do you feel about about asking her for a coffee, just the two of you? Don't need to talk too much heavy stuff, just expressing that you'd wish to get to know her more since it seems like you'll be a part of each others life for a while.

Your might also want to evaluate how important the group dynamic is for you. Is it essential that you and Bee be closer than you are now? Why do you think it feels awkward? Could you focus more on your relationship with Jay, and see Bee less; you seem to get along just fine which is good, there's no rule that you have to be more than that if it doesn't come naturally.

Anyway, I think this is an excellent decision
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaggageReclaim View Post
I said that I'd stop hanging out at his place, which I'd been doing in response to his complaints about not having time for home maintenance or supporting Bee enough with childcare. Previously there was a pattern where I'd go to his place and then end up doing housework or being the primary baby-watcher, which I was always happy to do, but usually left us both feeling unfulfilled and crowded Bee.
I also feel like this will help with you feeling unappreciated and taken-for-granted, and with this to an extent

Quote:
Originally Posted by BaggageReclaim View Post
but whenever I think about this, I think about making myself vulnerable and giving but not even being seen enough to get anything back.
I think you might want to examine your boundaries. Are you giving too much, so that it makes you feel resentful? And, again, what do you need Jay to do to make you feel like he sees you, and what do you want to make the relationship feel worthwile, like your getting enough? You should ask for that. If it is totally not feasible, then you might consider the possibility that you and Jay maybe aren't compatible in your life situations.
__________________
Living with my partner Mya and metamour Hank. Seeing Lily.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-08-2012, 02:50 PM
PaperGrace PaperGrace is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 51
Default

Iím sorry to hear that Jay did not include you in Easter dinner. That would hurt, particularly when you have already been integrated with his family. Was he worried that a holiday dinner with his family would exacerbate the the tensions between you, he, and Bee? Holidays come with higher expectations of happiness, so pressure to all involved. What were his exact reasons? Whatever they were, to me, it would still feel like a vote of no confidence and a step backwards.

As for your dissatisfaction with of lack of progess, Iím going to second Roryís request that you be more specific. What steps forward would you like to see in your and Jayís relationship? What are your needs that are not being met?

While I do think that a better relationship between you and Bee would make the situation more comfortable for all involved, I get the sense that you feel she is in the way of something. Specifically, what is she keeping you and Jay from doing? Can that be worked out without you and she being good friends? If Jay is making decisions in anticipation of her complaints not in response to actual complaints, thatís not necessarily her being in the way. I canít tell which is controlling here.

I am a secondary without a primary. Itís lead to a general feeling of dissatisfaction for me because, although I love my SO very much, one of my goals in life is to find someone to share day to day companionship with, to wake up next to, to plan a family and a future with. My SO has different goals as his life is full and happy where it is. My picture of the future is not his. This is neither of our faults, it just is. I have to keep in bright focus that my SO not the problem. I have to figure out what compromises I can make and for how long. I also have to not blame myself or scapegoat those around me for my restlessness.

This may not be your experience, but I can identify with your feeling of lack of progress in a relationship. Under the circumstances, some types of progress just aren't possible, but it's helpful to identify them.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-08-2012, 04:00 PM
Vixtoria's Avatar
Vixtoria Vixtoria is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 299
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BaggageReclaim View Post
I'm not sure where to start but I could use some help with my relationship.

Our discussions started getting really emotional and volatile, and made Bee feel insecure about when she could expect Jay to be home. We all got together and talked (briefly) and implemented a schedule where Jay would be home two nights a week and alternate weekends, which seemed to make things OK between them. Meanwhile Jay and I continued to have issues, largely around time, and my level of inclusion in his life.
Just a few things I thought I'd point out that are just small missteps, or poly pitfalls as we call them. They are just the small things that you don't realize until later and then look back and go 'oooh should have done that different!' With this, I understand you are upset and worried about your own needs and wants to be taken into consideration but it goes a long way to show empathy and have a discussion on what EVERYONE wants. I can see where she'd be insecure not knowing when he'd be home and him spending a majority of his time with you. Wouldn't you feel a bit insecure having no idea when he was going to contact you next or when you would see him? So most likely that wasn't discussed well with the two of them and after a small freak out of not knowing she needed some stronger boundaries. Not really a your fault, their fault thing, just something that wasn't discussed prior because well, no one thought of it! Sounds like you are all learning together and so there are going to be those bumps of things you just didn't think about that make things smoother once you get a little experience. Sadly you know what they say, "Wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from bad decisions."

Quote:
I expressed that it was important to me to feel a sense of progression in the relationship between Jay, Bee and I - at this point, I want to feel like we're all invested in working towards a dynamic where we're all comfortable in the same room, for a start.
Here's another one. Was this discussion with just you two? If it was about the three of you and you wanting to feel a sense of all three working together, then all three of you needed to be in on the discussion.


Quote:
Yesterday he came to visit for a couple of hours ... we wound up talking. I started off by saying that I wanted to bring up some personal concerns that we hadn't addressed on Wednesday, the big one being that I was feeling unimportant to him because our relationship discussions centred around the issues in his life, and I couldn't remember him expressing consciousness of our relationship dynamic.
Another oops I think. One of you, if not both of you, should have immediately stopped this conversation with a "Okay I understand there are some unaddressed concerns, sounds like ALL THREE OF US need to get together to discuss them." Now, metamours do not HAVE to get along or be best friends. DH and DC dont' really talk. However, both have expressed that if there was something going on that needed to be discussed as far as boundaries or concerns, they would. All three of us discussing things together rather then me, the hinge, just playing telephone between them. For important things 'telephone' doesnt' work. Remember that game as kids? Things never came out like they were meant to.

Quote:
The reaction was poor, I think he felt attacked. We managed to smooth it out somewhat, but I'm left feeling like there's no space for me to express wants or needs - that the choice is between sucking it up or having him break down.
I get this. I had this problem with DH a lot of times. I felt that he was getting upset and feeling attacked then withdrawing. He felt I was 'spewing' emotion without giving myself time to think and understand myself and my reaction. In a way both were right. Since then we have both worked on communication. A book called, "After the Affair" has taught me a lot about the fact that I actually listen in a different way. I think I am being empathetic and just noticing the smallest nuances. What I was actually doing was following some 'programming' from my childhood to assume people were reacting to me in a specific way. They may not be, but that's what I'd hear. Communication skills, harder then they seem!



Quote:
Throughout our relationship I've felt like I've had to meet them more than halfway, which I'm OK with because I recognise they have more constraints to deal with. But now I'm feeling disrespected, like our relationship just fills in the gaps wherever they happen to be, and I don't get to express my own needs.
Now is this what is happening or is this how you feel? An important distinction. I grew up learning to help people, do what I can for others and be happy about it. So I would, I would continue doing for others saying I was happy to then after start looking at the fact that I gave more than I got and then I'd feel resentful. Now my feelings were valid but I had to realize how I put myself in that situation. By not expecting, by not asking and by being willing to give more than I gave. Always assuming that at SOME point, the other person would realize it and be grateful and then start giving more.


Quote:
He's reluctant to ask Bee to do anything more to make things easier. He feels that she already gives a lot. To me it sounds like, "we've decided to be poly and it's difficult for us, so anyone who comes into our relationship has to be happy with the compromises that we've already decided to make," and there's no room to engage with me as a real person and not just an abstract "other relationship".
Now this may be the case, it may not. Opening a marriage to another relationship, especially the first time, is scary. So it's usually something that goes slow. Maybe they were prepared for the more casual but neither was expecting for it to become so emotional. So now it's opening their marriage in a new way that they weren't prepared for. Again, this is something that needs to be discussed between all three of you. If it's new and they are caught off guard, especially Bee, then all three of you discussing it and how to make EVERYONE feel comfortable, even if it means slowing certain aspects down, will only help you all in the long run.

Quote:
We're going to meet again to talk about what he thinks is important or reasonable to ask Bee for - basically the boundaries of our relationship that are important enough to him to fight for. But I need to feel like my own wants are being considered - that his conception of "relationship" is not defined only by what he and Bee want, but also by what I want. I don't know how to convey that without him feeling attacked. But I can't be in a meaningful relationship where I feel so incidental.
Do I need to say it again? He doesn't need to ask his wife what is acceptable to do, you three need to sit down and talk. Openly, honestly. If someone gets upset or overwhelmed, take a small break but come back to it!

Quote:
One other thing is that we never agreed to a clear hierarchy - and I'm not sure I'd agree to it. I need for him to be able to weigh both my wants and Bee's wants and evaluate importance based on situations and not just default to "my wife is more important always". He hasn't been doing that, but I get the impression he wants to,
Do you need a hierarchy? Are you looking to become a co primary? If so then yes it needs to be discussed. If Bee is worried about being replaced or a 'sister wives' scenario scares her then it needs to be discussed. Weighing needs in the given situation is a good idea, and again, bring that up to both of them. Also make sure you reiterate that you DO believe his wife is important to him but that if she's just looking to have a relaxing day in and you have an emergency you would like that the emergency takes precedence. Just like if you and he had a date but she had an emergency you would expect that to take precedence. More than once I was doing something with DH and DC would call upset or need me, just to talk or see me, and DH would step aside to give us that time. And vice versa. But that is born from a mutual respect, even if they aren't friends or chat a lot.



Quote:
I'm not sure what I'm asking here. I just feel really lost and hurt and confused when I think about this relationship.Any perspective or advice would be appreciated.
It sounds like this is new for all three of you and so frustrating. I am sorry for that. I know it's hard to adjust and really it's three people adjusting to three new relationships because it does change things. I can tell you that this first poly relationship for them and for you is going to have it's share of poly pitfalls but you CAN make it through. It takes a TON of communication and you will get exhausted from talking all the time. There are times you are going to be so tired of talking you just want to BE. That's fine and natural, but this communication will lay a strong groundwork for things to be smoother in the future and if you want this to be long term or even more than just short term, you will be grateful for it later!

Stick to your guns, don't start giving in to what you want or expect thinking it will make things easier. Know what you really want and need from the relationship and convey that. Let them both know that what they want or need is also important to you and that you really want to find a way for you all to get that. Even if it means some compromising and renegotiating again later. Just remember that EVERYONE should be doing the compromising and negotiating. Which means no one person should be giving up all the time! Even if they volunteer to.
__________________
Me: Late 30s pansexual poly.
DH: My husband of 19 yrs and father of 3 teen girls.
DC: LDR of +4 year
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-08-2012, 11:36 PM
Anneintherain's Avatar
Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Seattle-ish
Posts: 820
Default

Jay has two other relationships he needs to be taking care of besides you, and the demands are just going to get bigger as his child grows up. I am wondering your feelings on how much time you think he actually does need for childcare, home care and maintenance, as he said himself he was falling down on his end of that. This is why many already co-habitating people, especially with children, only realistically have X amount of time to spend on other relationships. Balancing wants vs. needs sounds like something he needs to be working on.

What would you do it it came down to Jay saying he had only two nights a week to spend with you after weighing all the spring yardwork, dealing with a soon to be toddler, his relationship with Bee, and needing a night a week to himself?

"I need for him to be able to weigh both my wants and Bee's wants and evaluate importance based on situations and not just default to "my wife is more important always". He hasn't been doing that, but I get the impression he wants to"

I don't think that is particularly helpful viewpoint. He CAN'T just do that, it's not just him with two partners, there are a ton of other factors and they do have to carry more weight sometimes, it's not just choosing between the two of you. On top of that, he ISN'T doing it, so it seems like you're trying to see problems where there aren't any.

If I were Bee, I would not agree to my partner committing to only being home only two nights a week to help in raising their child - I'd need date nights AND a couple of nights to do household stuff, errands, childcare at a minimum. Does Bee want you babysitting as you are? Does she want you to be so involved in raising her child? I cannot tell if she is not able to clearly state her boundaries or desires, thinks she isn't supposed to, or if nobody has really asked her.

All the other posters make a lot of great points I think. You really need to figure out what your minimum needs are for time and communication, present them, and see if he can meet them. Be honest with yourself about if what you want is a co-primary position, or to be MORE important than his wife. From over here it sounds like you're getting or expecting a lot more of him than his wife and child. I wonder if he is one of those people who falls into the trap of giving the partner who is being more vocal about their wants what they ask for, and assuming the quieter partner is being quieter because they are fine.

I feel kind of squicky about your desire to kind of force Bee into being involved in your relationship, she needs to become your friend so you feel the relationship is progressing. I think some honest discussion between Jay and her should be had to see if she needs her house to herself more, or is willing to have you as company X times a week. I need time and space alone in my house, and I know I'd really grow to resent it if my space was being "crowded" by my husband's partner or friends. I think Bee is giving a lot. Jay thinks Bee is giving a lot. Bee probably thinks she is giving a lot. So what is it you want you're not getting that is because of Jay and Bee's relationship?

"Our discussion went well on Wednesday and we were both happy with it."
"I decided to expect less, be more independent, and let him reach out to me."
"We wound up talking. I started off by saying that I wanted to bring up some personal concerns that we hadn't addressed on Wednesday, the big one being that I was feeling unimportant to him because our relationship discussions centred around the issues in his life, and I couldn't remember him expressing consciousness of our relationship dynamic."

It sounds like you'd benefit from focusing on that statement of independence you want to have. You thought the discussions went well, you were happy and then you started over-thinking and analyzing and deciding there were problems. If you didn't, it is probably more helpful if you phrase things as "I'd like to talk about our relationship dynamic since we didn't get to on Wed" instead of "You didn't talk about it"

In general, talk about what you want the person to do, not about how they are failing to do what you want or let you down. Focus on what it is you DO need instead of what you're not getting, it is easier for other people to say yes or no to specifics. You seem to really feel you're not getting what you want, so what specifically DO you want?
__________________
Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.

Last edited by Anneintherain; 04-08-2012 at 11:43 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-09-2012, 01:58 AM
mostlyclueless mostlyclueless is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 70
Default

Take my advice with a grain of salt -- I definitely do not have all the answers for myself and can't pretend I have them for you.

A few thoughts, though: my first reaction is wondering what is going on with Bee. Does she want this kind of setup? Is she gaining anything from being poly, or does she just feel like she is giving up part of her husband? It is not necessarily your responsibility to care for her and give her what she needs, but throughout your story I was left wondering what the heck is going on with her.

Second -- I may be way off here -- I get the sense that you want to be considered co-primaries with Bee, but (I am guessing) you are reluctant to say that because Jay is not going to go for it.

I just want to encourage you to figure out what you really need, and advocate for that. You may be able to get it from this relationship with enough communicating and adjusting, or you might not. But if you don't identify it and ask for it, it's definitely not going to happen.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-10-2012, 07:31 AM
Nudibranch Nudibranch is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: PNW
Posts: 36
Default

Where was Bee regarding Jay's decision to start seeing another person while she was pregnant, I presume with their child? Was this mutually agreed upon, or did Jay make the decision for her?

Did he make it with her active input, or did he make it knowing "she's a hermit"? If he uses that label to explain away her retreat into her room, what does that say about the amount of work he is willing to do to seek her active input? (Particularly if as AnneITR notes, Bee is one of the folks who goes quiet when her needs aren't met, or doesn't know how to ask for them.)

Had they, and you, sat down and realistically discussed the very real limits on time and attention that all humans have, and people in late pregnancy/child infancy have in spades?

There are times when getting a fair share and and equal share of attention are two very different things. And let's not forget there is now another person in the mix--not just you and Jay, and Bee, but now a new small human, very much in need of intensive focused adult attention to get its emotional, social, and physical life off on a good foot.

I'm guessing you're going to have to figure out what you consider a fair share of attention, and what you consider an equal one. Are you saying that Jay should be giving you the same amount of time/attention as Bee? Are you saying that Bee should be giving you some share of time/attention? How much? Of what type? And who is advocating for the new little infant's needs? What is a fair and equal share for her/him? If Bee has difficulty communicating her needs as an adult, and the little one has only cries, can you see that your ability to articulate your needs gives you a form of power in this configuration? What is it that you really want?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 04-10-2012, 07:09 PM
BaggageReclaim BaggageReclaim is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: BC
Posts: 5
Default

First off, thank you so much to everyone for the incredibly thoughtful responses. You've given me a lot to think about, and I still am working through it.

I'm noticing concern for Bee's side in all this, which I mostly left out in my first post for the sake of brevity. I think some background would be useful.

Jay and Bee have known each other since they were 18 and have been married for almost 10 years now. They opened up their marriage about 6 years ago, the impetus being that it had turned into an essentially non-sexual relationship. Jay dated his first OSO for a couple of years, and they're still friends. It sounds like they did more things together as a group, although Jay considers her mostly his friend, and not really Bee's. Jay and Bee don't really socialise together outside of family. Bee has a long distance girlfriend and she recently started a new relationship, also long distance. At this point they've expressed being pretty committed to being poly. They're very committed to each other, and their marriage is stable (from my perspective, anyway).

I've previously expressed worries that Bee might feel resentful of me or that our relationship negatively impacts her somehow. Jay tells me that she feels positively about our relationship because she's relieved from having to think about Jay's sexual needs. In terms of balance, and especially in terms of childcare, they both feel that they're putting in (and getting) a fair share because Bee goes away on trips every month or so, sometimes for four days, sometimes for a week or more, and Jay gets to spend time on hobbies and on me when she's in town, but takes care of everything on his own when she goes away. Also, Jay is responsible for almost all the house maintenance, housework, and dealing with contractors.

I'm told by Jay, and to a lesser extent by Bee, that she doesn't believe in getting involved in Jay's relationships. She feels very strongly that he shouldn't be asking her for permission, and that the metamours should not feel pressured to be friends. I agree entirely with those sentiments, but I also think that being able to communicate directly would make things easier, and NOT being able to do that gets increasingly awkward with my increasing involvement in Jay's life.

What I want is for us to be open to the possibility of being friends. I don't want to force anything, but I want to create situations where it will be possible, rather than the opposite. In terms of concrete steps, last week I suggested that Jay organise a group activity about once a month, which he agreed to. I feel nervous about Bee being actively averse or even just completely disinterested to growing familiarity between us. There's been a pattern of avoiding opportunities for group time - we haven't planned any group time explicitly, but there have been plenty of opportunities for family dinners, activities with mutual friends, etc. My contribution here has been to adjust my expectations for socialising and convince myself that Bee isn't avoiding me out of personal dislike, she's just not very social generally. Which is what I've been told by both Jay and Bee and I will not second-guess that.

I feel (and Jay and Bee, apparently) that Bee is getting her needs met in their relationship. Jay and I have spent a LOT of time talking about what Bee's needs are. Although Bee is pretty closed off to me I'm confident that she and Jay have good communication patterns. She was the one who initiated the scheduling talk, which was actually very brief, because she already knew what she wanted, and I think included me mostly based on principle/courtesy (which I do appreciate). We acknowledged that scheduling had been getting out of hand over the last couple months, and she suggested that Jay be home two nights a week and that "Sundays when she's not working are important because they're the only baby-free time they get". We all expressed agreement and then we made a shared google calendar and scheduled the regular time in.

I think it's important to build familiarity with Bee because family is such a huge part of Jay's life right now, and getting closer to Jay seems to mean getting closer to his family, or at least it's the direction that things seem to grow towards. I don't want to be in a relationship where I have to continually deny the instinct for closeness because it manifests in an inconvenient way. If Jay and I had the type of relationship where we just went on dates or out with friends together then it wouldn't matter, but it seems like we continually gravitate towards sharing "home" type intimacies. One way of intepreting the pattern of our relationship so far would be that we get closer, Bee tries to make room for us by avoiding us, but avoidance isn't sustainable, so there's some friction, we pull back, and then things eventually get easier.

For example, there was a period of time where I was sporadically co-sleeping with Jay and Baby (they have separate rooms and alternate nights). After a few times of that happening, Bee told Jay that she sometimes felt excluded when Jay and I were taking care of Baby (although she recognised that we weren't actually excluding her), and that co-sleeping specifically was triggering for her. We stopped doing that, and a month or two later she said that she was now OK with co-sleeping. This pattern results in feelings of unstability and insecurity for me though. I would like it to be a process of slowly and collectively expanding our comfort zones. At this point I am incredibly intimate with Jay relative to how distant Bee and I are, and the imbalance is uncomfortable.

I'm generally used to checking in with Bee's needs. When I make plans with Jay I'm careful to make time that doesn't conflict with Jay and Bee's schedule, especially Bee's work schedule and the available babysitting time. When I visit at their place I often entertain myself (or myself and the baby) and Jay runs errands for Bee or does household stuff. I'm also conscious of Jay's needs (to a lesser extent, because he's not as vocal), and a lot of the time we schedule is time that impacts him minimally (lunch break, company when Bee is away and he is stuck at home with Baby, etc).

As for Baby, we all recognise that consistency and attention for him is completely non-negotiable in this dynamic, and I recognise that I have to balance that with my own relationship with Bee. When Bee isn't around, my interaction with him is pretty close. I've grown used to changing his diapers, feeding him, dressing him, bathing him, knowing what his favourite toys and games are, how he likes to be soothed, etc. I've gotten to feeling really attached to him and thinking about it actually makes me kind of emotional. I'm holding it back because it's impractical but I don't want to have to hold it back forever. When Bee is around I hold back a LOT, and whenever possible I try to defer to her or ask her how she wants things to be done. Basically, with Jay, the dynamic has evolved into that of familiar nanny/aunt, but with Bee it's more like the visiting friend who doesn't really know how to interact with the baby.

I'm not sure where this is going and I want to wrap up this post. I hope the additional information has fleshed out the context of this relationship somewhat. Presently Jay and I are somewhat in limbo and unsure of how to proceed. I'm starting to feel like we should try to "start over" and hold back on any family-type intimacies unless Bee is genuinely comfortable with them, and not just comfortable tolerating them temporarily. But I think that for that to happen, Bee needs to be interested in getting comfortable, and that can only happen if Jay is able to express that it's important to him. He has said that it's important to him that I don't have to avoid Baby or his extended family or visiting his home, but he hasn't been able to express this in terms of what level of involvement he wants. I think, mainly, it's just important to him not to have to avoid those things. To me, I can't turn the attachment on and off. I too want to be involved in those things but I need consistency.

I've tried letting Jay know what would help me feel more valued in this relationship. I've given examples like making plans with me (I almost always initiate), physical tokens, verbal affirmation, examples of communication patterns that make me feel more or less understood. He's well-intentioned but also very absent-minded and has a lot on his plate, and it's been inconsistent. Yesterday I asked him to make daily contact, at least for the next couple of weeks. Things have been volatile for long enough that I don't feel like I can count on anything - sometimes I can't even feel sure that we are in a relationship. I think the daily contact will help establish some stability - I don't think I'll need it indefinitely, but it goes a long way for now. He agreed with very little fuss (which actually surprised me pleasantly), and I'm hoping that a couple weeks of this will help build my confidence in our relationship.

Thoughts, feedback, will all be appreciated. Reading your posts has forced me to think things through more clearly, and writing things out definitely helps too. I've been feeling a little more clear-headed and self-directed about things.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04-11-2012, 08:01 AM
rory's Avatar
rory rory is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Europe
Posts: 496
Default

I think there might be a philosophical difference between you and Bee. It feels like she sees her and Jay very much as two separate individuals. They share what they have decided to share, and some of those are big things like childraising and home. But she still seems to want quite separate social circles.

I feel that you might see them as more of a unit. I don't mean that you don't think they are individuals, too, but maybe there's a scale where you think of them little more towards couple while they see themselves more as individuals.

Say, Jay had a very close best friend, who met you and liked you and you get along fine, but they still preferred to hang out mostly by the two of them. Would you feel it essential you and him become closer so that it would be comfortable spending loads of time the three of you? Or would you be able to accept that even though he is a really impotant and close person in Jay's life, you and him don't need to be particularly close?

Even if two people are married and seem very couple-y, they still may have an outlook where own close people don't become the other's close people. It can go for romantic partners as well as friends.

Could you see you and Jay building a true partnership which is mostly separate from his life with Bee? If you and Bee don't become closer, does that make you feel threatened in you relationship with Jay? How about you work on that and try to trust that Bee is satisfied with the situation with Jay having you in his life, even if she doesn't have time or energy to build a close friendship with you? From what I hear, she sounds like an introvert, and some of us need loads of time and space for ourselves.

Oh, and one more thing. I don't think you are doing anybody any favours by acting less close to the baby when Bee is around than you actually are! Please, stop doing that. I feel that it comes from a place of fear (fear that she may be uncomfortable with that and then choose to deal with that discomfort by getting rid of you?). You need to trust that she will work on her possible feelings of discomfort. If they are set on poly, she should, and it is very likely she will. However, if her coping mechanism is getting rid of the new person, you won't be able to ensure 24/7 comfort and protect yourself from that. Also, you can hopefully trust him. Have you talked to him, if Bee asked, would he happily dump you rather than expect her to get over herself?
__________________
Living with my partner Mya and metamour Hank. Seeing Lily.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 04-11-2012, 01:39 PM
rory's Avatar
rory rory is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Europe
Posts: 496
Default

I ran into a writing that you might find interesting

Package deals in polyamory
__________________
Living with my partner Mya and metamour Hank. Seeing Lily.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 08:45 PM.