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  #21  
Old 07-25-2012, 10:07 PM
monogamishSF monogamishSF is offline
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Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
"But yeah, obviously we weren't ready. Like I said in the beginning, I thought I was strong enough for this and I totally wasn't."

Be fair to yourself. You thought you were strong enough for poly and, who knows, maybe you would have been if you were treated to a healthy, respectful poly relationship that moved at the pace that had been agreed to! Not being strong enough to respond well in the face of cheating and deception is not the same thing as not being strong enough for poly.
But isn't part of poly knowing how to negotiate? And knowing the difference between a demand and an agreement? I made demands, and she agreed to them, but when she realized she was in too deep, there was no plan in place. If she had come back to me and said, "these guidelines are too strict for me" wait. In fact, she did. When I said she put the pressure back on re: sleeping together, that was her telling me that my boundaries weren't working for her. But I was unwilling to negotiate. I was just. Not. Ready. And this is what happened.

It's funny, people on here will say never break your own boundaries (like you said), but also that there needs to be compromise. I had compromised plenty of my time for this girl and it wasn't all bad. So holding onto the sex part until I felt safe seemed totally fair.

My expectations were that she would honor my boundaries. Not that they would be easy to honor, but that she was invested enough in them to honor them anyway. That she was up for the challenge. That she could put the integrity our relationship ahead of a casual desire. And it sounds like that was asking too much?

Last edited by monogamishSF; 07-25-2012 at 10:11 PM.
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  #22  
Old 07-25-2012, 10:38 PM
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Knowing how to negotiate =/= agreeing to be ok with something before you're actually ok with it, which is the only thing that I see that you could have done differently. In the end you didn't even try to restrict her, you said she could go ahead and have sex with her secondary, you just added the caveat that you wouldn't be okay with it and would need some time. That's called honesty. Sacrificing honesty for the sake of giving her what she wanted wouldn't have been compromise or negotiation, it would simply have been emotional falsehood.

The fact that she didn't live up to what you asked of her doesn't mean it was too much to ask. It just means that she screwed up (and then massively compounded it by lying). It's on her to do the work to fix it and become a better partner, if indeed she wants to.

It seems to me like you're trying to find ways to shift some of the blame for this situation on to yourself. And I get that there are two sides to every story, but I'm just not seeing where you messed up here. What if you actually didn't? Why, then, are you invested in figuring out how you did? Maybe it's a function of the low self-esteem thing, like it just feels natural to believe that you must be at least in part at fault if something has gone wrong. Or maybe it's about the totally understandable desire to think well of your partner. Just some things to think about.
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  #23  
Old 07-25-2012, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by monogamishSF View Post
But isn't part of poly knowing how to negotiate? And knowing the difference between a demand and an agreement?
You can't know by magic, though, and nobody ought to expect that. It's not human.

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It's funny, people on here will say never break your own boundaries (like you said), but also that there needs to be compromise.
It's entirely possible. I have absolutes from which I do not stray, and then I have the stuff that doesn't matter as much, so there is room for compromise. If I have to be stubborn about my absolutes and it loses me a potential lover, so be it. Better than finding out the hard way that he's willing to run roughshod over me. (Which I did. With the person with whom I first had sex. That was a kick in the head.)

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My expectations were that she would honor my boundaries. Not that they would be easy to honor, but that she was invested enough in them to honor them anyway. That she was up for the challenge. That she could put the integrity our relationship ahead of a casual desire. And it sounds like that was asking too much?
Perhaps from this woman, it was. Polyfidelity isn't easy. What you want (and what I happen to appreciate as well) comes with a lot of working together to make everyone comfortable. It sounds from here like your SO wasn't willing to invest that time and work. It is absolutely normal to be upset and sad over that. The end, or the fracture, of a relationship is a cause for sorrow, so grieve.
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  #24  
Old 07-25-2012, 10:49 PM
monogamishSF monogamishSF is offline
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Thanks. I've gone back and forth from feeling justified to yes, feeling like I did this to myself. Like I made it so bad for her that it was impossible for it to go well so it was impossible for it to continue so in the end we were back where we started and I'm safe again. I'm not saying that was my goal, but that was the result...

Her impatience with me definitely made it clear that "work" wasn't something she was equipped to do. She was willing...ish. To a point. I think part of this is us learning to understand what "work" really looks like. So far, work for us is just listening and talking and making agreements, but in the face of NRE, logistics don't feel that logical for any party.
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  #25  
Old 08-27-2012, 06:59 PM
monogamishSF monogamishSF is offline
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I found out two days ago that she lied about the first date too, so she's been carrying a string of lies along while I've been coping with the one I knew about. I thought I was cool with them dating, enough to be cool with them sleeping together, but then was suddenly struggling unexpectedly even though (she claimed) she was behaving so well. But she came clean last weekend, because I got information that didn't match up with her story (ie not voluntarily).

The new info: They hooked up on the first date. Which would have been well before I ever gave any blessings. Which is, by everyone's definition, cheating. The second cheating incident supposedly happened in a bar (by her story), but I found out that it didn't. It was at the third party's apartment, in her bed. Partner lied that she had been there, and lied to third party that I was cool with it. So, two new lies to me, another to third party.

And it's been long enough and we've talked enough that I wonder if there's any sense punishing her now, but it feels fresh and tender on my little heart all over again. And exhausting. And I'm wondering what else she didn't tell me. And I'm so mad that this, our first experience with a secondary, began and ended with a bunch of lies (not just one). From both of them. I trusted this new person, I trusted my partner.. I thought I knew all of the missing info, and now find that I didn't. And I'm wondering what's left, but I remembered your comments that what's left doesn't matter, that once burned, why dig for details.

I'm not as floored as I was then. But I do think it's safe to say I was way more ready, going in, than I gave myself credit for. What I wasn't ready for was the lying. And that's what my trigger is: dishonesty. That's why I'm poly! To stop the lying! And now that I know the timeframe, it matches up completely to when I started to panic. I thought for no reason but jealousy. But I could tell, you guys! I just know her, and I know what lying looks like on her. I do not have any history of wrongly accusing anyone of cheating, even in monogamy. The only times I've freaked out this way, like I did, was when I smelled a rat. So I didn't just go crazy and ruin this for her before it started, like she's been trying to tell me. She began her first secondary relationship on a pile of lies.

She did say that she's afraid to be honest with me. That's something I need to work on: giving her a safe place to talk. I think this is a common denominator in my past relationships when cheating was a problem. I'm a formidable opponent during arguments. I don't think I'd want to come clean with me that I'd cheated either, hah. And that's what I've depended on this whole time to keep people from cheating/hurting me. If they're afraid of me (I have sharp eyes and a sharp tongue, I'm not talking physical intimidation), then they won't cheat on me. The reality is, they'll just bend over backward so I don't find out. But I always do, eventually...

I can't really blame her for why she lied. She owned up. She knows it'll take a long time for me to heal. Sometimes she still loses patience. But usually not.

I'm posting today because I can't get over the part about how she's been lying about it the whole time, through my recovery process. And how she only comes clean when she's been caught. She doesn't volunteer the info, and when confronted, since this all happened, she's still been lying to me.

I was well on my way to forgiveness before I found all this out. And I feel helpless. I've already resolved not to leave her for what happened, and piling on this new lying stuff, I feel like... leaving is so far away now. And staying leaves me open to more abuse. But if I give her a safe way to tell me things, if I give her the freedom she wanted, maybe I'll be free too? Of all of this? But why bend after I was essentially duped? When is it a "negotiation" and when is it just being walked all over?

Her way of repenting this time (I didn't ask this of her, she offered it) is to say that she had a little freedom, and ran away with it. And SHE wasn't ready. And she wants to focus on her career, and on us, not new partners (we have a secondary out of state that will remain, and I have a friend with benefits that will also remain). So basically saying, she wasn't ready, so she won't date, for as long as it takes. Was comforting to hear, for now... but it can't be permanent. Cuz this isn't her first slip. And I want so badly for it to be the last.

When she changes her mind again, and finds someone new, I'll need a new approach, I think. We're getting separate places next month, which will give us the time apart between partners that we'll need to grow. I also miss having my own bed sometimes.

In the meantime, I have new baggage to add to the old. I keep wanting to ask her about what she left out. But so far, I've tried on the whole... handle your own pain yourself thing. She knows I'm hurt. No reason to keep rubbing it in, even if stuff is haunting me. Or maybe I let it sit in my head for a week before I ask about it again with time allotted, planned for. Maybe we plan a check-in, weekly, so I can recover with her instead of all alone or in therapy, but also so she doesn't get ambushed with the convo every time it crosses my mind. I've been very careful about that this time, since this new painful info. But it's hard not to try to wring out more from her. I've just reminded myself that more info might only hurt more, so why bother. And I have a happy place I think about whenever I can't get it all out of my head. That's been working as a short-term. Helped me sleep last night like whoa.

Not even really asking for specific advice, just giving an update. But it's always nice to hear from any of you. So if you have any other thoughts, send them my way!

Last edited by monogamishSF; 08-27-2012 at 07:02 PM.
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  #26  
Old 08-27-2012, 10:08 PM
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Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
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I'm so sorry to hear that - you sound a lot like me with the sharp tongue and the smarter questions that get us all the information we want and more.

I just want to say your instinct to not ask for more information is probably a good one. My first marriage ended because of cheating in our first time poly attempt, and when he came clean I ferreted out every detail I could think of. I don't think it made a difference to how it turned out since breaking our safe sex agreement was a dealbreaker. All the other stuff just gave me more sad/angry things to think about, and occasionally flip him shit over 8 years later.

Since you don't plan to separate and want to give her a safe place emotionally, it seems like a good start. I see you say you have a therapist, I don't recall if you say she goes to therapy too? It helped my ex a lot to work through the reasons he acted out, and he's a much happier and mentally healthier guy these days.
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Old 08-27-2012, 11:51 PM
monogamishSF monogamishSF is offline
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Anneintherain, thanks so much for relating your experience.

We had a therapist, but didn't feel she helped us progress. It was only two sessions, but we can't afford more, so will likely cancel our third one in favor of finding our own separate ones. She genuinely wants to work on the self-esteem issues that make her feel pressure to sleep with people quickly. A lot of it was her trying to please a girl the way she always would. This being her only long-term relationship, she reverted to single ways, and those ways usually required a lot of uhm... story-telling.

Having been raised by a cheater, though, (my dad; lots of therapy around that already), I know a lie when I see one. And it's a serious trigger.

I'll need therapy for sure, but I'd be going back to continue my work. She's never been, and I think yeah, it would help a ton, for her to have another person to talk to about stuff.

I just hope she doesn't tell her shrink the same "stories," or new ones. She has a really hard time talking about her feelings to anyone else but me, and talking to me, well... will only get her so far on this one. She's needed it for a long time, and she's willing. We just haven't found our doctors yet as we are in a new city, blah blah blah...

Would it be fair if I told her another strike (this last one was strike two) and we will cease to be primaries? Or are ultimatums not a healthy thing? I get the impression the severity of her behavior didn't occur to her until it was too late. And I know nothing I say or do will ensure 100% that she won't pull this again. But I have faith that she's sorry. I just know I won't be able to handle another lie. And I need to find a way to make that as clear to her as it needs to be so she will understand the decision she is making the next time she's faced with a choice like that. WITHOUT me being a witch about it. You know?
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  #28  
Old 08-28-2012, 02:04 AM
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Would it be fair if I told her another strike (this last one was strike two) and we will cease to be primaries? Or are ultimatums not a healthy thing? I get the impression the severity of her behavior didn't occur to her until it was too late. And I know nothing I say or do will ensure 100% that she won't pull this again. But I have faith that she's sorry. I just know I won't be able to handle another lie. And I need to find a way to make that as clear to her as it needs to be so she will understand the decision she is making the next time she's faced with a choice like that. WITHOUT me being a witch about it. You know?
I have some hard questions for you that you may not be able to answer right away.

Is your partner able to be trustworthy right now?

By this I don't mean 'a cheater always cheats' thing. Your partner sounds damaged in ways that can make it really fucking hard to be trustworthy. Folks who lack a strong sense of self, and/or a sense of worth can be impulsive and unthinking in startling, self-destructive ways. They don't always have the capability to really understand and weigh consequences. It is possible that your partner will hear that '3 times and we're done' clearly and still be unable to stop herself. That hit of self-worth from a willing sexual encounter can be powerful. To repair this damage takes work and commitment and it can take a long time before someone is willing to actually take this on. It's hard and painful and involves suffering and facing unclean parts of one's self, one's past and present.

The answer might be 'No', she is not capable of trushworthiness right now. Are you willing to leave? To end the relationship? (And 'downgrading' the relationship from primary to something else will likely just prolong the mutual pain. I encourage you not to go that route.) You will also need to ask yourself the above two questions if she does break your trust and lie again.

The answer might be 'Yes'. In that case, what about your part in this? It is possible that how you act and react is reinforcing her tendency to cover up. No one likes admitting being wrong, to having done stupid things, and hurt those we love. It's so human and we all do it. I personally hold a grudge like a Hatfield against a McCoy.

I'm not saying that her actions are thus your fault. You did not cause her damage, nor she you. But you might be reinforcing negative behaviors and actions in each other.

Also, I do NOT mean to imply that your partner is broken past all hope. Not at all. People have made themselves whole and healthy from some truly awful shit. It is very possible that she will do the same. I am hopeful she will.
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  #29  
Old 08-28-2012, 06:22 AM
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Would it be fair if I told her another strike (this last one was strike two) and we will cease to be primaries? Or are ultimatums not a healthy thing? I get the impression the severity of her behavior didn't occur to her until it was too late. And I know nothing I say or do will ensure 100% that she won't pull this again. But I have faith that she's sorry. I just know I won't be able to handle another lie. And I need to find a way to make that as clear to her as it needs to be so she will understand the decision she is making the next time she's faced with a choice like that. WITHOUT me being a witch about it. You know?
I'd really think about the questions opalescent raises, they are good. I was also raised by a cheater (one who sadly thought the correct response to me telling him my husband had cheated on me (I included the detail it was with an older woman) and we were breaking up... was to unburden himself and tell me he'd had an older mistress for a couple of years instead of showing any empathy...I know far too well how that behavior in a parent can shape our ideas and cause difficulties about making our own boundaries)

You say you know you _cannot_ handle another lie. Whether you tell your partner this or not, it likely wont have a result on her behavior, unless she is trying to self destruct, then she might act out badly in a hurry to prove she's un-loveable. A rational person will know that they cannot hurt you repeatedly, and you don't need to tell them one more strike and they are out. It wouldn't do much good, and would probably cause more baggage (for you, not her) if you end up having break up because of another issue.

I don't think there is anything wrong with saying "I wont accept you breaking agreements we make together again, I love you and I want the best for you, but I want the best for me too, and if our relationship isn't going to be good for both of us, it doesn't seem to be a smart place for us to be." or whatever it is you want to convey. As long as you are prepared to go through with whatever you say - as it wouldn't be too useful to cut her slack again and ending up screwing your own well being in the process.

I don't see that as an ultimatum so much as making sure they know you love yourself enough to look out for yourself - and to look out for them, as you don't do her any favors if you enable her to self destruct. I'll just project myself onto you though and say - if telling them this wont do any good except for being another chance to "tsk" them into behaving, its a good growing experience to keep it to ourselves if its not productive.

Sorry for all the babbling, I just got back from seeing my ex and this subject came up in our discussion tonight!
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