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  #1  
Old 03-22-2015, 07:54 PM
ManTheMyth ManTheMyth is offline
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Default Being a Mono in a Mono-Poly Relationship: How to Cope?

Hello everybody,

So this is my first post here as this is really the first time this has become an issue in my life. I guess I'll start with the back story.

So I have been with my fiance for nearing 2 years now, and we are madly in love with each other, and perfect for each other in every way, except sexually. My fiance has a regular sex drive, and I am leaning towards being asexual. I'm not fully asexual, I do have sex, but I don't desire it.

We realised this was an issue early on but kind of hoped it would solve itself. It didn't, obviously, and actually became a larger issue in time, and even after trying therapy we still don't have a real solution.

We have discussed the idea of opening the relationship a few times, but this weekend we finally seriously discussed it, and decided it was a viable solution. I am a monogamous male, and while my fiance is not polyamorous, for the sake of her sexual desires and sexual attraction being fulfilled, we have agreed to enter a mono-poly relationship.

I understand that my fiance is not really polyamorous but I do understand polyamory can come in all shapes and sizes, so this is our situation.

Getting to the stage of accepting to open the relationship was difficult, and I am unsure as to how successful this will be. Not actually being polyamorous entering a poly world will be hard for my fiance, and will obviously be a big challenge for me too.

So far I am okay, since nothing has happened yet, it's just been approved so to speak. We have set our ground rules and are both content with them.

However, I am scared how it will ACTUALLY be, living with it for our entire lives. How will I cope being at home, knowing my fiance is out with a guy? How do I sit by watching her get ready to go on dates when I'm not invited? How do I sleep at night in an empty bed, knowing my fiance could be lying next to someone else?

To anybody who is the mono side of a mono-poly relationship, how do you cope? Does it get easier in time? I feel it's going to be extremely difficult to begin with, for both of us.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 03-23-2015, 04:50 AM
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Hi ManTheMyth,

Re:
Quote:
"How will I cope being at home, knowing my fiancée is out with a guy?"
Poorly at first. But it will help if you can find things to occupy your me time. Stuff you enjoy. Hobbies. People. A social life that is independent of your fiancée.

Re:
Quote:
"How do I sit by watching her get ready to go on dates when I'm not invited?"
I would suggest you avert you gaze. Go do something else; don't be in the same room. If you obsess over the problem it will only make it worse.

Re:
Quote:
"How do I sleep at night in an empty bed, knowing my fiancée could be lying next to someone else?"
Perhaps not at all, at first at least. I guess that's what sleeping pills are for, though I can't guarantee they'll do the trick (at first).

Re:
Quote:
"How do you cope?"
Franklin Veaux's poly/mono web pages might help.

Re:
Quote:
"Does it get easier in time?"
Usually -- but not always. There are cases where the monogamous person is just "too monogamous" to be able to stand the polyamorous element. You won't know whether you're able to do it until you try.

What you have to decide is how long you're going to try it before throwing in the towel. Only you can decide that, although I'd suggest that if you've been trying for a year and nothing has improved, that might be long enough.

Another thought is to set up sessions with a poly-friendly therapist. I have some links for finding one if you're interested.

Proposing to embark on a poly/mono journey isn't an easy proposal. It can be worth it in the long run, but for now it's mostly just a way to show your fiancée that you have her best interests at heart.

Good luck and please keep us posted.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
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  #3  
Old 03-24-2015, 04:52 AM
ManTheMyth ManTheMyth is offline
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Thanks for your advice Kevin. Are you in a mono-poly relationship yourself?

We haven't been trying for a year yet, we have only just agreed to do it (she hasn't actually been with a guy yet).

I think you're right that time will tell. It's a little different for us as it's not just me that is going to struggle, my fiance is finding it hard too. She is really monogamous as well and the only reason we are exploring this is because she isn't fulfilled sexually. The whole process of dating again for her is not something she enjoys and I think it will actually take a long time for her to find the right person.

It's going to be a journey for both of us, I just hope it works out.
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Old 03-24-2015, 10:40 AM
tenK tenK is offline
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This is a tricky one, because you are here claiming that both you and your wife are monogamous. You've bumped up against the dark side of monogamy, in that committing yourself to just one person emotionally and sexually means that you each control the others means and frequency of sexual expression, and have realised that this is unfair in the current situation. I am not surprised you have a lot of fear here - I would too. For many people, monogamous or not, the act of having sex with another creates opportunity for deep emotional bonding to occur. I think you both need to acknowledge the fact that she is likely to develop feelings for the person she is fucking, regardless of whether that is her intent or not. If she *is* strongly monogamous, she is going to find it very hard to reconcile those feelings for another with her feelings for you.

Many mono partners of poly people on this forum have described the differences between mono and poly ways of relating quite articulately. The analogy that sticks in my mind (sorry - can't remember who actually posted this!) is that of a pendulum. The mono person feels like developing feelings for a new person actually detracts away from their ability to feel close to their existing partner - the pendulum can swing from person to person, but can't be in both places at the same time. For them, love is not an infinite resource (or perhaps love in general is, but the specific energy and intimacy that go with a romantic relationship really is singular), and therefore when a new partner enters the situation, they feel like there is a lessening of energy for the existing partner. Obviously, we most often see this playing out in the context of the mono partner reflecting this mind-set on their poly partner, and feeling scared that their poly partner is going to leave them for another. This is easy to counter, because poly people don't seem to see the world this way. Mono-poly relationships can do well when both partners understand the other mind-sets, but can realise that their own fears are not based on anything real because that's *not* how their lovers mind works.

You don't have the luxury of this logic. Your partner is mono. You are mono. You have no idea whether your wife becoming sexually intimate with another will lead to her falling in love, and whether that love will naturally supersede her feelings for you. And that really sucks.

I think the ideal situation the pair of you are looking for here is really more like a swinging, 'sex-only' arrangement, that looks only at getting her needs met in that domain. I do believe it's incredibly unrealistic to expect her to not develop feelings for someone she is intimate with, but I also think it's incredibly unrealistic for her to suppress her own sexuality because of your needs, just as it's incredibly unrealistic for you to go against your own grain to try to meet her needs. The only advice I can offer if you both go down that route, is to encourage her to find sexual partners who she likes, has great chemistry with, but who lacks some of the key attributes she normally seeks in a long term partner. I've been thinking about why some of my partners are ones I fall for versus why some of them are just good friends who I have good sex with of late, and that's what it comes down to. The sexual friendships I have exist quite comfortably and naturally, without any desire on either part to make it more romantic, because on some levels we are incompatible as a couple. Interestingly, I find those incompatibilities attractive in small doses.

As an example, Scandi and I have been dating for about six months or so. He is a very charming, very cocky, slightly arrogant, confident-on-the-outside-insecure-on-the-inside, highly extroverted, bouncy, fun guy. We have a fabulous time hanging out, but in many ways he is the opposite of my 'type'. Cockiness and arrogance and putting on a front are big turn-offs for me normally, because they are usually barriers to intimacy. If I want a full on relationship with someone, I don't want those to be in place. If I were mono and single I would either be attempting to knock down those barriers with a sledgehammer and asking him to open up more to me, or I'd be walking on by. Because I'm not, and I have others in my life who I can be more emotionally intimate with, I can just accept him as he is, and just enjoy our friendship. I'm sure he is more open with his wife and other girlfriends, but with me, he likes to play the outgoing extrovert and I'm very happy to let him. I can be more outgoing and playful too in some sense.

In short, I think there is a way for your wife to explore sexually outside of your relationship in a satisfying way, but I fear it will take a bit of a leap of faith from you both. Perhaps she will discover she really is a little bit poly, deep down, and come back to you energised and happy, and with you happy too. Perhaps she will discover she is still mono at heart, but find a way of nurturing some intimacy with others in a way that doesn't take away from you - either by keeping the other person at a distance, or just finding the right kind of dynamic where they both feel content to keep it on a friendship level. Perhaps she will discover that she would be happier leaving the relationship with you and pursue something mono with someone more compatible sexually. Perhaps you will discover the same. I don't know. I know it won't be easy, either way. I do think it's great that you are talking so openly about this together though, and I wish you both the very best.
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Nina (bi, f, late 20's) <- life-partners with tenK; Scandi (hetero, m, early 30's) <- dating/fwb with tenK; Aries (heteroflex, m, early 40's) <- fwb with tenK and Nina
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  #5  
Old 03-24-2015, 10:43 PM
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Re (from ManTheMyth):
Quote:
"Thanks for your advice Kevin."
Of course.

Quote:
"Are you in a mono-poly relationship yourself?"
No sir, although as one leg of a poly-fi V, I only have one partner whereas my partner has two partners.
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Old 03-25-2015, 05:37 AM
ManTheMyth ManTheMyth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenK View Post
This is a tricky one, because you are here claiming that both you and your wife are monogamous. You've bumped up against the dark side of monogamy, in that committing yourself to just one person emotionally and sexually means that you each control the others means and frequency of sexual expression, and have realised that this is unfair in the current situation. I am not surprised you have a lot of fear here - I would too. For many people, monogamous or not, the act of having sex with another creates opportunity for deep emotional bonding to occur. I think you both need to acknowledge the fact that she is likely to develop feelings for the person she is fucking, regardless of whether that is her intent or not. If she *is* strongly monogamous, she is going to find it very hard to reconcile those feelings for another with her feelings for you.
Hi TenK,

First of all, thank you so much for your response, it has actually opened up my eyes a lot more as to what this is going to be like. I knew it was going to be hard, for both of us, and I think you are right that there is every chance she might develop deep feelings for any guy she is with sexually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tenK View Post
Many mono partners of poly people on this forum have described the differences between mono and poly ways of relating quite articulately. The analogy that sticks in my mind (sorry - can't remember who actually posted this!) is that of a pendulum. The mono person feels like developing feelings for a new person actually detracts away from their ability to feel close to their existing partner - the pendulum can swing from person to person, but can't be in both places at the same time. For them, love is not an infinite resource (or perhaps love in general is, but the specific energy and intimacy that go with a romantic relationship really is singular), and therefore when a new partner enters the situation, they feel like there is a lessening of energy for the existing partner. Obviously, we most often see this playing out in the context of the mono partner reflecting this mind-set on their poly partner, and feeling scared that their poly partner is going to leave them for another. This is easy to counter, because poly people don't seem to see the world this way. Mono-poly relationships can do well when both partners understand the other mind-sets, but can realise that their own fears are not based on anything real because that's *not* how their lovers mind works.

You don't have the luxury of this logic. Your partner is mono. You are mono. You have no idea whether your wife becoming sexually intimate with another will lead to her falling in love, and whether that love will naturally supersede her feelings for you. And that really sucks.
I love this analogy, it really simplifies the differences between a poly and mono mind frame. What you say makes sense too, I think this would be easier in a mono-poly relationship, where you can be confident the poly side does have enough love to go around, so to speak. I'm not sure I can ever be sure her feelings won't change if she does become sexually involved with another guy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tenK View Post
I think the ideal situation the pair of you are looking for here is really more like a swinging, 'sex-only' arrangement, that looks only at getting her needs met in that domain. I do believe it's incredibly unrealistic to expect her to not develop feelings for someone she is intimate with, but I also think it's incredibly unrealistic for her to suppress her own sexuality because of your needs, just as it's incredibly unrealistic for you to go against your own grain to try to meet her needs. The only advice I can offer if you both go down that route, is to encourage her to find sexual partners who she likes, has great chemistry with, but who lacks some of the key attributes she normally seeks in a long term partner. I've been thinking about why some of my partners are ones I fall for versus why some of them are just good friends who I have good sex with of late, and that's what it comes down to. The sexual friendships I have exist quite comfortably and naturally, without any desire on either part to make it more romantic, because on some levels we are incompatible as a couple. Interestingly, I find those incompatibilities attractive in small doses.
In an ideal world, a swinging sex only situation would work, but unfortunately that is not something my fiance would ever be comfortable with. She needs to be comfortable with a person and have known them for a while to be able to be intimate with them. I don't think she can ever be that vulnerable with a stranger. As such, it pretty much has to be someone she has developed at least a friendship with already.

I do like the idea of trying to find a person who she could not be in a long-term relationship with though, and I think that would help me be more comfortable with it. One of our rules was the guy would have to be in a long-term stable relationship himself, otherwise I wouldn't trust his intentions. your suggestion would also help with security knowing she is unlikely to see herself with the guy long-term.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tenK View Post
In short, I think there is a way for your wife to explore sexually outside of your relationship in a satisfying way, but I fear it will take a bit of a leap of faith from you both. Perhaps she will discover she really is a little bit poly, deep down, and come back to you energised and happy, and with you happy too. Perhaps she will discover she is still mono at heart, but find a way of nurturing some intimacy with others in a way that doesn't take away from you - either by keeping the other person at a distance, or just finding the right kind of dynamic where they both feel content to keep it on a friendship level. Perhaps she will discover that she would be happier leaving the relationship with you and pursue something mono with someone more compatible sexually. Perhaps you will discover the same. I don't know. I know it won't be easy, either way. I do think it's great that you are talking so openly about this together though, and I wish you both the very best.
Thanks again for your advice, I really do appreciate it. I have no idea how this is going to unfold, and neither does she. We are both open to exploring, but it's difficult to even start.

The one thing she needs to sleep with someone (closeness, intimacy etc.) is the one thing that makes me uncomfortable about the whole situation.

The one thing I need in order for her to be with someone (security and knowledge that it won't develop into anything serious) is the one she can't guarantee.

A leap of faith it will be for sure.
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Old 03-25-2015, 07:18 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Sounds like you and your fiance are talking together well and that you have tried other options before arriving at the decision that this is your best option to being able to stay together and both be happy.

It's good that you are aware that this option may also not work out but that you are both willing to try.

I think it would be important for both of you to sit down and talk about how you will end things between you as kindly and gently as possible if this doesn't work out.

I see it as a big ask for a person who prefers monogamy to be seeking outside relationships to fill a sexual desire. Along with the sex and love comes a need to maintain the new - for sex - relationship. That's a whole pile of work for somebody who really only wants one romantic relationship.

There's work about scheduling of dates, dealing with places to have sex (especially if both parties have partners at home and may not be able to go there). There's the usual work of resolving conflict as it comes up and finding out if there is enough of a match to make a relationship viable. In a poly relationship, there may well be additional work. Acting in ways that allow space for the new person's other partner(s) if there are any - which may mean backing off sometimes if they are struggling. Dealing with feelings of jealousy or anxiety that might arise from the partner seeking others or already having others.

There may be a working through of grief as the mono person finding themselves living a poly life feels sadness for the loss of the life they wanted to live.

At the same time as all of this, there is the usual work of maintaining the existing relationship. Plus possibly additional time needed to reassure and soothe the worried existing partner who isn't all that comfortable with poly themselves.

It may be that this is all too much for your fiance and she decides that she would rather lose the romantic element of her relationship with you, seek to remain friends and look for a new romantic relationship with somebody who has a sex drive that is more matched with her's so that she can have just one romantic relationship.

It certainly seems possible that might happen and it probably would be a good idea to talk about that too and make plans to handle it rather than going along and hoping for the best.

Also, how much exploration have you done about what things the two of you could do to make the relationship between you more satisfying. You say that your fiance has a regular sex drive. Does that mean that she wants to have sex once every few months? once a month? A couple of times a week? Once a day? Multiple times a day? These all fall within the range of regular sex drive as far as I'm concerned.

You don't desire sex but you can have it. I wonder if there are forums for asexual people that you could also start to read - maybe you would find support and help that might make things easier between your fiance and you.

Just some thoughts. Good luck. Sounds like you are both being caring and empathetic as you discuss this.

IP
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Old 03-28-2015, 07:05 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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I don't view people as poly or mono; I see polyamory or monogamy simply as approaches to relationships that any human being can choose, based on a number of factors. So, I don't really think this would really be a "fish-out-of-water" kind of issue for your fiancée (btw, fiancée is the female form of the word. You are the fiancé.), like you describe.

It might be helpful for you both just to see it as something you have both chosen to incorporate into your lives - in her life as a participant and in your life as a supporter. Like anything either of you would want to pursue, it should be done with as much awareness, empathy, and consideration for the existing partner as is possible.

Yes, love can happen. When people have sex, and especially if they look intro each other's eyes during sex, all kinds of chemicals flood the brain, like oxytocin, endorphins, etc., and this creates euphoria and stimulates an instinct for pair-bonding. A lot of people feel that it is difficult not to fall in love with a sex partner. However, there are also lots of people who can separate sex from love much more easily. She really won't know how she will feel until she does it. But I think, if you are going to embrace polyamory in your lives, be prepared that her liaisons may not remain purely physical/recreational/no-strings. Polyamory is about having multiple loving relationships and all that entails.

As far as how you can cope, there are many threads here about that, which you may find helpful. The Search function is very useful. Here are a few to start you off (I suggest to everyone to change their default thread view to 40 posts per page, as this makes it much easier to read the longer threads - you can change your setting by clicking the "User CP" link):

The Struggling Mono Thread

Resources for Mono/Poly Relationships

(The first response from YouAreHere has some good links to follow)

Partner is out on their first poly date . . .

Date Night....the Struggle.

Overnight jealousy

My next poly-challenge: boyfriend going on date, how to stay calm?

Mono partner needing some advice.

Ethics in Poly/Mono dating.
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An excellent blog post on hierarchy in polyamory:
solopoly.net/2014/10/31/why-im-not-a-secondary-partner-the-short-version/
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ManTheMyth View Post
Hello everybody,

To anybody who is the mono side of a mono-poly relationship, how do you cope? Does it get easier in time? I feel it's going to be extremely difficult to begin with, for both of us.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I am. We have transitioned from a mono-mono realtionship to our current mono-poly.

And would say that from my experience, it does get easier each step seems a little less difficult than the last. But you need to work at it, both of you.

Rather than write general advice I would strongly recommended the book More than Two. It helped me a lot. If you have specific questions please ask me here or by PM.
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Old 03-30-2015, 04:19 AM
ManTheMyth ManTheMyth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
I don't view people as poly or mono; I see polyamory or monogamy simply as approaches to relationships that any human being can choose, based on a number of factors. So, I don't really think this would really be a "fish-out-of-water" kind of issue for your fiancée (btw, fiancée is the female form of the word. You are the fiancé.), like you describe.

It might be helpful for you both just to see it as something you have both chosen to incorporate into your lives - in her life as a participant and in your life as a supporter. Like anything either of you would want to pursue, it should be done with as much awareness, empathy, and consideration for the existing partner as is possible.

Yes, love can happen. When people have sex, and especially if they look intro each other's eyes during sex, all kinds of chemicals flood the brain, like oxytocin, endorphins, etc., and this creates euphoria and stimulates an instinct for pair-bonding. A lot of people feel that it is difficult not to fall in love with a sex partner. However, there are also lots of people who can separate sex from love much more easily. She really won't know how she will feel until she does it. But I think, if you are going to embrace polyamory in your lives, be prepared that her liaisons may not remain purely physical/recreational/no-strings. Polyamory is about having multiple loving relationships and all that entails.

As far as how you can cope, there are many threads here about that, which you may find helpful. The Search function is very useful. Here are a few to start you off (I suggest to everyone to change their default thread view to 40 posts per page, as this makes it much easier to read the longer threads - you can change your setting by clicking the "User CP" link):

The Struggling Mono Thread

Resources for Mono/Poly Relationships

(The first response from YouAreHere has some good links to follow)

Partner is out on their first poly date . . .

Date Night....the Struggle.

Overnight jealousy

My next poly-challenge: boyfriend going on date, how to stay calm?

Mono partner needing some advice.

Ethics in Poly/Mono dating.
Thank you nycindie, I'll be sure to browse these threads when I get a chance. I like your approach of just considering it to be something we are both incorporating into our lives and so far it actually feels like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zigzag View Post
I am. We have transitioned from a mono-mono realtionship to our current mono-poly.

And would say that from my experience, it does get easier each step seems a little less difficult than the last. But you need to work at it, both of you.

Rather than write general advice I would strongly recommended the book More than Two. It helped me a lot. If you have specific questions please ask me here or by PM.
Thanks ZigZag. I am actually finding it okay so far, like you say I think the small steps makes it not seem such a daunting task. So far I've been fine with my fiancee going out with a guy, without really knowing what they are getting up to.

At the moment, for my peace of mind, one of our rules is I don't want to know the details of what she is doing, but I'm not sure if this is a realistic approach in the long-term. I know she will want to talk about her experiences, and just shutting her out may be difficult for her, but allowing her to openly talk about her relationships will be difficult for me.

I see you are good friends with your wife's partner. I've read a lot of people say that it is important to be friends with your partner's partner, but I am having difficulty with that for now and it's another rule of ours for me to not meet her partners. I feel quite emasculated by having somebody else satisfy my fiancee, and the thought of discussing anything along those lines with my fiancees partners embarrasses me and would make me extremely uncomfortable. I hope in time I will grow comfortable and not see my fiancees partners as enemies, so to speak. Did you find this difficult to begin with?

I think overall I am coping well so far.

I appreciate your advice, I think this forum will be a great resource for me as this progresses.
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