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  #11  
Old 04-21-2012, 03:55 PM
mostlyclueless mostlyclueless is offline
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Originally Posted by drtalon View Post
It's self-deception to believe that your issues with self-esteem and insecurity are made to be better or worse by your partner dating or not dating other people. Those issues are there regardless. IMO, "taking breaks" is about whether the insecure person gets to ignore their insecurity or not.

If you've got a lot of other emotional issues you're working through, I think it's valid to ask for time to work through them before adding more emotional stuff to deal with. But, if life and your emotional state are good apart from this one issue, there will never be a better time to deal with it.
This was really not very helpful. It may be the case for you that issues with insecurity are unrelated to your partner(s) dating other people, but that has not been my experience at all. Accusing someone you don't even know of "self-deception" when you have no reason to believe that's the case is just not very productive.
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Old 04-21-2012, 05:37 PM
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Huh?I'm not sure what the issue is with drtalon. It seems to me that he is (assuming that you are a he dr) expressing his thoughts just like everyone else. You just happen to not agree. Your post to him comes off as unappreciative of his time an energy on YOUR issue when you say things like "This was really not very helpful" and "just not very productive."

A word of caution. When people read these types of responses from OP's they generally decide not to bother posting as they don't want to feel unappreciated for their volunteered time and effort. Simply stating that you don't agree for your particular situation would of sufficed. If you want people to respond to your thread and offer support and words from their own wisdom it helps to treat them as you would like to be treated. I'm guessing that would be differently than it seems you are treating him in your post?
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Last edited by redpepper; 04-21-2012 at 08:37 PM.
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  #13  
Old 04-21-2012, 07:55 PM
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I understand what Dr. Talon was saying. I think he has a very valid point, which I believe you missed, MC.

What he is saying, essentially, is this: while it may seem rather obvious or easy to focus on the fact that your partner wants to date other people as the reason for your insecurity and jealousy, that would indeed be "self-deception" in the sense that insecurities and jealousies are covers for other feelings and ideas we have about ourselves that we would rather not look at. Sure, his dating is a "trigger" that brought your insecurity to the surface, but that means it was already there. For someone else who doesn't already have such insecurities, being in your situation would not trigger the same response. It is totally possible not to feel jealous or insecure about it. So, what is it about... for YOU?

Usually we have established core beliefs about ourselves that are not very kind. We might feel inept, ugly, unwanted, whatever, but those ideas have been in place since a very early age and just live inside us, influencing decisions we make, and so on. But we've learned to live with them without really being conscious of those beliefs we have about ourselves, like a battery that keeps us going that we don't have to pay much attention to. And we can be pretty happy for the most part until something happens...

And then it's like an avalanche. And we're suddenly enmeshed in these terribly uncomfortable feelings. We want to blame the thing that triggered it ("my partner wanting to date other people makes me feel this way") but that does not get to the root of the problem. "Forbidding" your partner to date will not really help to understand the jealousy and insecurity that lives inside you all the time. That is what Dr. Talon meant when he stated that making your partner take a break from dating others will not allow you to dig deeper and see where those feelings come from. It would just be a delaying tactic.

The real work will happen when you look at why you feel these things, separate from your partner's actions. What does it bring up in you? And why do you immerse yourself in those difficult feelings? It could be a sense that you are less than desirable, for example (not saying this is you, just a hypothesis). But where did that come from? Perhaps a boy rejected you in third grade and you still believe that there's something wrong with you because of that.

I know it sounds silly, but that's where these ideas we have about ourselves come from. I have a friend who always felt inept and clumsy, even though she is an amazing athlete, and she realized one day it all came from being yelled at when she was five years old that she couldn't walk the family's poodle. She was too young, of course, to walk the poodle but in her mind she translated that as she was lacking in ability. She believed she wasn't good enough to walk the poodle and internalized that belief. "I'm not good enough." As an adult, she would go out on the golf course, compete in tournaments, and win prizes, but couldn't enjoy them and never felt she deserved them because she still believed that she just wasn't good enough.

That is insecurity - it isn't rooted in reality. It's rooted in memory, incorrect assumptions, and self-limiting beliefs. As is jealousy. So, yeah, saying it is all because your partner wants to date others is deceiving yourself. You have to look at what's inside you for the answers to unraveling the jealousy and insecurity you feel. Now, once you know where this all comes from doesn't mean it instantly goes away. It will likely come up again, but when you understand its origins you can stop paying credence to it and then those insecurities no longer have power over you.

But Dr. Talon also stated: "If you've got a lot of other emotional issues you're working through, I think it's valid to ask for time to work through them before adding more emotional stuff to deal with. But, if life and your emotional state are good apart from this one issue, there will never be a better time to deal with it."

Here's another way to put it, using an example. I've heard people say, "I'm so bad at relationships, I'm going to take a break and not date anyone for a year, so I can get my act together." Sooo-o, what they're saying is that they want to get themselves ready for being in a relationship by not being in one. Logical? On one hand, sure, that person can take lots of time to meditate and go to therapy and get to know themselves, but on the other hand, it's a relationship that will teach them how to actually be in one. So, I think it's far better to go out there and date, as flawed as we feel we are, make mistakes, and even have our hearts broken, if we want to learn how to relate to people.

It's the same thing for you. While, sure, you can ask for a moratorium and go off and do all your figuring out about why you have such a hard time handling your partner wanting another, or you can meet the challenge head-on and deal with it in the moment while he is dating. Baby steps are okay, but holding on tightly so there is no movement at all is not progress for either of you in handling this kind of change to your relationship. Most of the time the best way to overcome such debilitating emotions is to meet them head-on and challenge them. You might find that you are not cut out for poly, or you might discover that polyamory is great for you. Or you could decide to split up, but why leave the relationship before putting as much effort into it as you possibly can? Why not try to understand what this stuff has brought up for you and how you can create something for both of you that is unique to you and fulfills your needs. You might want to pick up the classic book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, and Codependency No More by Melody Beattie, for some good tools on handling your emotions and creating the kind of life you want.
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Last edited by nycindie; 04-21-2012 at 09:37 PM.
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  #14  
Old 04-22-2012, 01:45 PM
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Dear mostlyclueless,

I'm sorry if my opinion sounded harsh to you. I didn't take any time to couch it in polite language as I'd certainly have done in a face-to-face conversation. I could say, such are the perils of the internet, but that also probably wouldn't be helpful.

So, if you'll indulge me, instead I'll ask some questions whose answers I hope will help me see you as a more complete person than the quick generalized mental image I've created of you from the 2 threads of yours I've seen. Again, I apologize if the answers to these questions are out there and I missed them. (Such are the perils of the internet.) Here we go.

1. What is it about polyamory that's important to you? Why do you want to be polyamorous and/or have polyamorous relationships?

2. Why do you think you have such an intense, negative emotional reaction to the possibility of him falling in love with someone else?

3. Being as specific as possible, what do you imagine might happen in the future (which causes you to cry)?

All the best,
drtalon (who is a he and not a Dr.)
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  #15  
Old 04-22-2012, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by mostlyclueless View Post
We talked and I feel a bit better today. As much as I want to ask for more time, I think the fact that I am crying over literally nothing probably means that we need to dip our toes in again, and hope it goes better this time.
I'm glad to hear the two of you discussing this openly together. IMHO one of the wonderful characteristics of polyamory is being able to talk completely openly about anything, and caring so much about each other that both of you have each other's best interests at heart. (Or maybe I just grew up with rainbows and puppy dogs... whatEVER!)

One of the most important ground rules in my poly family is the ability/right to discuss our personal needs openly, without fear, and to support each other when this is happening. Unmet needs leads to jealousy and hurt feelings. Plus poly relationships are complex enough as it is... we need to have each other's back.

If you need more time, then you should be able to discuss that openly, without fear. My hope is that the two of you can explore the "why" behind that need, wherever that takes you. Perhaps in your heart-of-hearts you really want to be mono. Or you want to be poly, but you need more time with him first to cement your relationship together before adding more people to the mix. Whatever the root cause, it's best to discuss/explore it openly so the two of you can address it together, with each other's best interests at heart.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mostlyclueless View Post
Sometimes I think it would be better if I just left my partner so he could find someone who was better at this. I feel terrible for being so difficult. If our positions were reversed I'd be totally fed up.
You're missing the point here. Your partner isn't with you because you'll let him date around. If what were the case, it'd be a hollow relationship, and you can do better.

Instead, the two of you are together because you both love and care for each other. He loves you for who you are. The point isn't to replace you with an automaton... it's to build a loving relationship together, partners in crime and all that good stuff, nurturing, caring, and supporting each others needs. Don't second guess yourself or your value.

For me, I'd honestly be mono if my wife didn't open up our marriage, but I love her and want what's best for her, so we opened it up. It took a lot of patience, time, and understanding on both our parts, and I'm grateful for all her patience with me (as I'm sure she's grateful for all my caring and understanding with her). In short, we saw polyamory as being about valuing loving relationships, so it'd be silly to sacrifice our own loving relationship in the process.
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  #16  
Old 04-27-2012, 12:27 AM
mostlyclueless mostlyclueless is offline
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Originally Posted by drtalon View Post
Dear mostlyclueless,

I'm sorry if my opinion sounded harsh to you. I didn't take any time to couch it in polite language as I'd certainly have done in a face-to-face conversation. I could say, such are the perils of the internet, but that also probably wouldn't be helpful.

So, if you'll indulge me, instead I'll ask some questions whose answers I hope will help me see you as a more complete person than the quick generalized mental image I've created of you from the 2 threads of yours I've seen. Again, I apologize if the answers to these questions are out there and I missed them. (Such are the perils of the internet.) Here we go.

1. What is it about polyamory that's important to you? Why do you want to be polyamorous and/or have polyamorous relationships?

2. Why do you think you have such an intense, negative emotional reaction to the possibility of him falling in love with someone else?

3. Being as specific as possible, what do you imagine might happen in the future (which causes you to cry)?

All the best,
drtalon (who is a he and not a Dr.)
Sorry for overreacting. I guess it is apparent that this is a sensitive issue. Maybe this is just more self-deception, but I feel like I have been ruthlessly honest with myself, and so far it has caused a lot more additional pain and no relief or resolution yet. I understand the school of thought arguing that jealousy is a symptom of some kind of underlying problem -- I am not entirely convinced I believe it.

I have a hard time answering the kinds of questions that you're asking. I made the terrible mistake of getting an advanced degree studying human behavior, so I believe that often enough, the rationalizations we come up with for our behavior have absolutely nothing to do with the real reasons. On top of that, every time I try to answer these kinds of questions, the answers I come up with are not very satisfactory or convincing to me. I have to remain open to the hypothesis that jealousy is not evidence that there's something broken inside (insecurity, feelings of inadequacy) and is instead a normal (if not desirable) reaction to one's partner being intimate with someone else.

I don't know if I'm right, and I'm not saying this to argue with you or the other posters -- it's just something I've been thinking about. Unlike the stuff I do in the lab, I don't have the slightest idea how to find out which hypothesis is correct.

With all that ranting out of the way...I will do my best to answer your questions.

1. Polyamory is important to me because it seems more honest, more consistent with how humans actually behave, and it appears to create a construction that is more interesting and more full of love and connection and intimacy than the alternative.

2. I think I don't like the idea of my partner falling in love with someone else because some part of my brain is convinced that he is not really in love with me. That is not really it. When I say that, it only feels about 50% true, and as an answer to your question, it feels about 50% incomplete. It feels like there has to be more to it, because why would I have such a strong reaction to something I barely even believe? And even if I believed it, why should that belief cause that reaction?

3. When I think about the worst possible future outcome, I picture my partner giving up on trying to care about my feelings, and leaving me at home alone with his (currently non-existent) kids while he goes on fun dates and makes some other girl very happy.
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:22 AM
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About 10 years ago, I had a kind of epiphany that led to a lot of changes in my outlook and personality. I went from quite high-strung and work-focused, to mostly laid-back and relationships-focused--people focused, really.

One of the big problems I had to work out was my temper and my feelings in general. I really had no control over my anger and very little over most of my feelings. It took a lot of time and introspection for me to figure myself out--for me to learn that what I thought were the causes of my emotions were really just the things that triggered my emotions and that the causes were more complicated.

I had to figure out that I wasn't responsible for my emotions because I couldn't control them. Instead, I was responsible for how I reacted to or acted upon them. It's ok to have emotions; it's not ok to be a screaming lunatic. I know it sounds simple, but it really is a step to sincerely understand you are not responsible for your feelings, only your actions.

In order to control my reactions, I would do my best to excuse myself from others, go find a place to be alone, and allow myself to experience the emotions. Not try to turn them off (which is a skill I'm very good at), but really experience them. I never had a problem with blaming myself for feeling one way or another, as some people do. My issue was always more about trying to understand the disproportionate response my emotions would sometime have to situations.

Turns out, once I stopped asking "Why?" and shutting myself down when no answer was forthcoming, once I just let my emotions run their course, that was enough for me to learn how to handle my emotions better. So, I don't have a magic bullet, or anything. I don't know that what worked for me would work for anyone else. But, I've been to a workshop or two where my experience was common.

Now, I just let myself experience my emotions.

I get the sense from what you've written, that you think you should be able to control your feelings. The best I could ever do was shut mine off, but I'm a much happier person (and happier to be around) now that I know how to let them run their course instead.

I go to conferences and workshops and I hear how a lot of poly people sometimes have emotional reactions they don't understand, or they intellectually disagree with. Our monogamous society has rigged us with all kinds of emotional landmines around "Happily ever after" and similar myths. It's absolutely normal for our emotions to blow up sometimes when were on the poly path.

I think it's ok to temporarily feel lousy as long as you think there's no reason for you to feel lousy. I think it's possible to feel lousy for longer than you want because you're not really giving yourself permission to feel lousy. Other cases, I have to refer to professionals.

Good luck with things and I hope you'll keep us posted.

Last edited by drtalon; 04-27-2012 at 03:28 AM. Reason: clarify responsibilty section
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  #18  
Old 04-28-2012, 06:09 AM
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2. I think I don't like the idea of my partner falling in love with someone else because some part of my brain is convinced that he is not really in love with me. That is not really it. When I say that, it only feels about 50% true, and as an answer to your question, it feels about 50% incomplete. It feels like there has to be more to it, because why would I have such a strong reaction to something I barely even believe? And even if I believed it, why should that belief cause that reaction?

3. When I think about the worst possible future outcome, I picture my partner giving up on trying to care about my feelings, and leaving me at home alone with his (currently non-existent) kids while he goes on fun dates and makes some other girl very happy.
2. It sounds like you need him to give you more attention and hands on loving actions to really believe he loves you. That isn't uncommon. Reassurance is really important when partners go out to find more love in their life. If I were you I would ask him to get on that sooner rather than later. I also wouldn't assume that he knows how to do that or have an expectation that he follow through exactly when you need him to. Often partners need to be told how I understand I am loves and often I have to remind them. They jump too it if I say I need some reassurance and how I want to receive it. I think it is rather relieving to them that I am telling them how to go about showing me they love me. I know I am relieved when they tell me what they need. It takes the mystery out of it and means we can all get to the heart of what is needed.

3. This answer indicates the same need as number 2. that you might need more reassurance. Sometimes I feel so loved and reassured that I push my hubby out the door to go do something with someone. Him staying at home can sometimes mean I don't get a night to myself.

Its all negotiable. If you felt you were staying home with your pretend kids too often then that is when you would tell him that its too much time away and change the routine. You should never feel neglected in any relationship. Mono or poly. There is really no difference between the two when it comes to common sense ways of having loving partnerships. Just that poly means loving more than one. If you would feel neglected because he goes out to bowling too often it would be the same thing... something to think about maybe?
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  #19  
Old 04-29-2012, 05:43 PM
mostlyclueless mostlyclueless is offline
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I don't know what else he could do to reassure me.

We talked more this morning and he thinks I just want a mono relationship and maybe we are forcing this relationship and it isn't going to fit. I don't know if I agree and I don't want this to be the end.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:11 PM
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If you really feel on some level that you're unloveable, poly relationship or no, maybe therapy would help.
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