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Old 10-31-2012, 04:56 PM
kissapolygrrl kissapolygrrl is offline
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 12
Default When your partner is having problems with their primary partner

I have my primary partner and another person I'm seeing, we'll call him Charlie Brown. We've only been seeing each other a short time but I can see it growing. Charlie Brown also has a primary partner. Both of us have been married to our partners for a long time and they are number one. Which is okay with both of us, it's just how it works for US. I know that's not how everyone "does poly" but it's just what works for us. Anyways, when Charlie Brown and his partner have issues regarding our relationship, I always worry that our relationship (mine and Charlie Brown's) is threatened. I know communication is key in this of course, but when they are having whatever issue, I tend to back off out of respect so they can work through it, even if it's just for a day or a few days. During this time, I truly am not sure what's going on or what is appropriate for me to ask. I don't want to seem ridiculous or selfish by asking if this is threatening our relationship, but I just don't know. We've had 2 issues, which I won't go into the details of, that were somewhat "major" and thus far have worked through them. How do you deal with situations like this? There is a part of me that is holding back from feeling more for Charlie Brown because I'm afraid of it ending and being completely crushed.

Last edited by kissapolygrrl; 10-31-2012 at 05:07 PM.
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:23 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 7,045

Hrm. Well... You could sit and think out what YOU might need to weather the storm even if it is happening in "another country." Then you could ASK him if these things can reasonably be provided by him.

I am hearing something like...
"I want to give your privacy and space if/when you are having issues in your marriage/primary relationship. I am willing to step back to give you the room you may need for emotional management on that tier of the polyship.

However after X days, could I please get a (text/phone/call/something) to reassure me that you haven't forgotten I'm here in the wings? I don't need to know your private business, but it makes me worry when you are out of touch for a while. Even just "Hi. Still working on things here. But I do think of you and miss you!"
Maybe you could tell him something like that.

Some care and concern for YOUR well being too as a secondary. Some acknowledgement/grateful for your willingness to step back and how you are trying to be an agreeable/easy-to-get-along with type poly partner. Not all up in their biz, but you know... Just a "Hey, thanks for that. I appreciate you" doesn't hurt.


Last edited by GalaGirl; 10-31-2012 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 10-31-2012, 08:08 PM
Stevenjaguar Stevenjaguar is offline
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: In a flat place in the middle of the US.
Posts: 95

I went through this as a secondary also. I really didn't want them to split up as they had two beautiful kids but I found out I really wasn't welcome to try to do anything to make things any better. The problems in their marriage were deep rooted and had more to do with other issues than their both dating other people. Maybe something like that is going on here as well.

Her problem with him is just that, hers, and I think you've done all you could possibly do to ameliorate the situation. You didn't mention that there had been any sort of agreement as to under what conditions his seeing you would be okay with her, so I assume there wasn't. The only situation where I saw someone say they were dating another person and "take it or leave it" was doomed from the start.

Have you talked to her? Would that help?
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Old 10-31-2012, 11:52 PM
monogamishSF monogamishSF is offline
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 48

I've been in a situation where there were issues around my partner's behavior with her metamour that very much affected their relationship. I think it depends on what the issues are. GalaGirl is spot on, kudos to you for stepping back, auto-pilot style! I'm sure that is extremely helpful for them, so yeah, you have a right to (a proper thank you/acknowledgement and) a check-in after a certain amount of time! Of course you do. Can you elaborate on the nature of the conflict at all?
under-30 cis femme- and queer-identified female. in a primary relationship with G, genderqueer female, with separate apartments. I also have a FWB, N, that I see every few months. K is a member of a 2012 triad that has since ended.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:14 AM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 373

I am in such a situation currently. I am married, not currently seeing anyone while my partner is seeing someone he has been enjoying for coming up on a year now.

In working on myself to get better at poly, I have learned that when I am triggered I can't just stop at whatever BAD FEELING and take it back to last time I felt that way. I have been working on all the times I have felt that way and ran smack dab into some seriously unaddressed and nigh buried scars. These are the kind that I cannot do work on without feeling those moments all over again. It has had me at times flooding and freaking out but not shying away from what those moments caused in me anymore. I'm not working on getting better at poly anymore like I was initially. I am grateful to trying poly for the way it has brought my real issues to the forefront. And I won't kid you, what I'm going through splashes all over my primary and his GF's relationship. I do see that but it will only stop when I have put in an amount of work that makes my primary relationship stronger and me more healed.
I can only hope that the amount of time it takes me to work through this stuff stays in a time line that results in a brighter association for us all. She is growing impatient and talking to him about exactly what you're worried about.
It might sound pretty crappy to her and maybe will to you but to me and to my partner, preventing her inconveniences through this are low on the list in the face of what getting through this means to us and our relationship. I can only go at the pace that works for me. It is work I already have to push myself to do because its not fun, it IS disruptive to my life and my relationship let alone how it inconveniences her now and then. I've ran from dealing with it for 20 years already. How it inconveniences her isn't going to have me putting it aside. I cannot as she can (she is married), go home to my primary relationship for comfort when I am already struggling within it. As someone's primary, she should get that or move on to someone who doesn't have a primary partner at all or one not dealing with what I am working on.
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Old 11-01-2012, 05:56 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Apple
Posts: 10,083

You say that when they are having probs, you back off "for a day or two." Does that mean that, when everything is hunky-dory, the norm is to be in contact every day?

Perhaps you might consider scaling back your involvement all the time, not just when they are having it rough. Maybe if she knew there was more "space" in his relationship with you, it would help keep things running more smoothly between them.

Do you know whether or not his wife has veto power? If you don't know, find out. Is that possibility what unnerves you?

You expressed near the end of your post a few things that I see as perfectly reasonable to say to your secondary. Specifically, I would tell him this:
"Whenever you two are having issues that need working on, I back off so you can get through it without distraction. I have no problem doing this because I respect your relationship, but - when this is going on, I am never sure what the outcome will be or what is appropriate for me to ask. I don't want to seem selfish but I admit that sometimes I can't help but wonder if my relationship with you is in jeopardy when you two are having trouble. I am glad we worked through things in the past, but I want you to know that there is a part of me that is holding back my feelings for you because I'm afraid it will suddenly end over issues you have with your wife, and I don't want to be completely crushed. I just want you to know how I am affected by what you two go through, and I'm hoping for some reassurance from you about my place in your life."
And see what his response is.
The world opens up... when you do.

"Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me." ~Bryan Ferry
"Love and the self are one . . ." ~Leo Buscaglia

Click here for a Solo Poly view on hierarchical relationships
Click here to find out why the Polyamorous Misanthrope is feeling disgusted.

Last edited by nycindie; 11-01-2012 at 06:01 PM.
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