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  #1  
Old 11-03-2012, 05:23 AM
irina irina is offline
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Unhappy Advice on a bizarre situation?

I've had a friend for years that I am very close to. We spend most of our time together and though for me it didn't feel overtly romantic, he informed me that he was under the impression we were dating. That was fine with me; I don't really care about terminology as long as I can maintain my close and important relationship with this person.

However, he started dating another woman as well who is poly and started doing everything with her that he used to with me. They've started spending the night together at least half the week and she's often at his house, which used to be my safe haven. I don't have a problem with her, but I do feel displaced. I expressed feeling sad and alone (my other partner left the state for a year, which has made this way harder) and after he realized that this intense depression was causing me to feel suicidal, he readjusted the relationship a little.

But it seems like he's constantly swinging between making her happy and making me happy. I have social anxiety (which causes intense depressions) and prefer to do things with him alone. If it's a group event, I like to go with just him because I know he will be attentive to me and my needs and is an incredibly safe person for me. But she is upset because she feels that she can't go to public events because I want to be alone with him, and feels excluded.

It's a really complicated situation, because she feels like the newcomer in our relationship but he and I were never officially dating, so there were no agreements made before they started dating each other. Now anything I ask for as a concession to my feelings is a direct negative impact to her, and so I'm uncomfortable asking for anything.

At this point, the whole situation really triggers my anxiety and I want to just avoid them and any of the events I used to go to. But I can't imagine losing him as a friend -- our entire social network is tied up together and we're also business partners. But most importantly, I really care about him.

Any advice?
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  #2  
Old 11-03-2012, 06:21 AM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
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I have severe anxiety and depression issues too-but its important to understand these aren't an excuse for depending on any one person to be the 'solution'. You need to expand your support network so he can maintain a life AND yojr friendship.
I know that is easier said than done, but it is the key to preserving this meaningful friendship.
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Old 11-03-2012, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irina View Post
. . . it seems like he's constantly swinging between making her happy and making me happy.
No, what he's doing is swinging back and forth trying to please two people who want him to make them happy. Big diff.

Happiness is an inside job, it isn't up to him to keep either one of you happy. You need to find that within yourself and bring it to your relationships, not the other way around. He cannot split himself in two. You think you need him, but that isn't the case. You need and want something and have attached those needs to him. If I were you, I would start asking myself questions about what I expect and hope for and start seeing the reality of the situation, which is that he obviously cares about you and values his friendship with you. He also cares about and values his other friendship and, unfortunately for him, both women he cares abut are having tantrums, in their own way.

Now, how do you start taking care of yourself so that your relationship with him can be more easygoing and less fraught with dependence and expectation? Only you can figure that out.
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Last edited by nycindie; 11-03-2012 at 06:15 PM.
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  #4  
Old 11-04-2012, 02:23 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Quote:
It's a really complicated situation, because she feels like the newcomer in our relationship but he and I were never officially dating, so there were no agreements made before they started dating each other. Now anything I ask for as a concession to my feelings is a direct negative impact to her, and so I'm uncomfortable asking for anything.
So you sit down in trio and make the agreements now that are necessary so that all players are able to get along in harmonious manner. Time management, calendar, etc.

Clearly it's not working for you as it is in a loose structure. So articulate your needs and see if they are willing to meet them. Maybe they have needs of their own going unmet. Air it out and sort yourselves out.

GG
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  #5  
Old 11-04-2012, 10:55 PM
irina irina is offline
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Thanks for the replies!

I agree that it's not his job to make me happy -- that's not really my intention. I'm just wondering if there's any support that I CAN ask for, and what that is. I am really afraid to express my needs because whenever I do his SO gets upset, because her needs are pretty opposite seeming from mine.

In terms of scheduling in advance, he's made it pretty clear that he's not into that. He's only willing to commit to certain nights of the week, like Mondays, where we could only spend a few hours together (he is only free after 8, and I usually need to go to bed at about 10). If there are events, he's not willing to commit, and that's one big issue -- feeling comfortable going to events.

The other big issue is just feeling unwanted. He also says we have to ask in advance, and doesn't ask us to do anything. So it's a matter of who asks for time first. It just makes me not want to ask for time unless it's really important to me, because I feel like he might commit to something with me when the other girl wants to be with him and I don't want that to happen. And it feels really shitty to have to ask your friend to hang out with you all the time...
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  #6  
Old 11-05-2012, 12:51 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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SHORT VERSION:

In general - my advice is still the same. Air it out, sort yourselves.

YOU can only control your own behavior. How you feel about how you behaved -- that only happens after the behavior. So if you don't like how you feel right now? Could consider choosing to change your behavior by speaking up and getting clear with him on what it is you relationship you have here and where you wants, needs, and limits are. Ask where his wants, needs, and limits are at. And hers too. Talk in TRIO and see if TRIO is willing to be in polyship V and HOW to do that well.

Since you do not feel happy HERE in vague -- could change your behavior. See if you feel better or not after the change.

GG
----------

LONG VERSION:

Maybe you don't know HOW to talk in DUO then talk TRIO because you haven't finished talking to YOURSELF inside yet to ID all issues? I'll try to help but don't stop going in your process. Keep sorting YOU first!

Quote:
I'm just wondering if there's any support that I CAN ask for, and what that is.
You can know and state your wants, needs, and limits. In fact, it is your responsibility. Nobody can mind reader you. YOU control your mouth and what comes out of it when you communicate. So you can state and ask ANYTHING you want! Mere asking does not mean you get a guaranteed fulfillment of those wants, needs and limits. But the first step in communicating is to voice all that out so it is known.

What his SO feels is not your deal. So long as you are being respectful, there is nothing wrong with you communicating your own wants, needs, and limits in your relationship.

She is allowed to feel whatever she feels just as you are allowed to feel whatever you feel and he can feel whatever he feels.

Quote:
I am really afraid to express my needs because whenever I do his SO gets upset, because her needs are pretty opposite seeming from mine.
So what? How are you being disrespectful? Is it reasonable for you to know and state your wants, needs, and limits? YES. Everyone is allowed to have those.

How do you even know she is upset? Does she tell you direct? "I am upset you have your own wants, needs and limits in your relationship with the Shared Sweetie!"

Does he tell you inappropriate things like a "leaky hinge?" Where's the TMI wall at in this polyship?

Could part of the problem HOW you make your things known?
Do you state your things to him in calm, clear, non-pressuring, respectful of this time manner? Something like
"I would like to see X movie that is out with you if you are willing. Are you willing? If so, would you like to see it with me perhaps on Friday? Is another day better for you?"
Then he can just say yes or no and jiggle the calendar date around til you find the fit.

That's a different HOW style than saying

"I want to see a movie with you. You keep seeing movies with her. How come I never get to? She's such a movie hog! How come she always gets Fridays? Wah!"
I exaggerate on purpose to make a point. Is your communication style clear, assertive and respectful of his time and the fact he has another Sweetie?
Is the problem HOW he presents the fact that he's busy already to the OSO?
If so, that's on him as a hinge problem. NOT you. If she's mad at you, I'd check out if he's a "blame shifting hinge" when he talks to her.

It is one thing to say to her

"I'm sorry. I have plans on that date already. How about on ____ instead?"
and
"I can't do that with you on friday because my other GF is making me go see a movie that day."
Or could part of the problem him laying emotional baggage at YOUR door inappropriately?
Him saying things like...
"I know I promised to go to the movies with you on Friday already. But I would like to make a change. Can we move it to ....? Would you be willing to release me from my promise?"
is one thing.

It is another thing to go

"She's having a cow so I'm breaking my promise to you. Deal with it."
Again, I exaggerate. But how is her having a cow your problem? It isn't. Your problem is him breaking promises to YOU. The fact that it is because he is unwilling to deal with her having a cow-ness is a separate issue that belongs just to him.
Conflict resolution does not have to be scary.

It does not have to mean automatic all out war. All conflict means is people who do not agree. That where conflict resolution skills step in to try to find the happy medium. This skill muscle gets stronger with exercise. It is possible to use logical conflict resolution skills.

Conflict is opportunity for growth and understanding. You still may not agree, but you could learn something about where the other guy is coming from. Is that a horrible thing? Understanding your polyship people better?

Then you have more information to make help you make decisions about your OWN behavior.

Quote:
In terms of scheduling in advance, he's made it pretty clear that he's not into that. He's only willing to commit to certain nights of the week, like Mondays, where we could only spend a few hours together (he is only free after 8, and I usually need to go to bed at about 10).
That is a current time/schedule limit with him then. He has done his job. He's made it known.

You next step there is deciding if you want to accommodate to this limit and live with it for now so you can be with him.

Is this a soft limit? Or a hard limit on his time? If soft, you might be willing to put up with it for a short while. If hard, maybe you are not. Where is your willingness?

Because if you prefer something else you can always choose NOT to be with him because this is a limit you cannot deal with. Or you could choose to stay with him and his time limit but see others too. Because YOUR time doesn't have that limit. You are in charge of YOU.

Quote:
If there are events, he's not willing to commit, and that's one big issue -- feeling comfortable going to events.
I do not know what this means. What makes this an issue? Like there's some event you really want to share with him but it is not on "your night" of the week -- he's not willing to go? Is that what that means?

If so, that is a limit of his. You could ask him to renegotiate. But if he's not willing, he is not willing. Then you have to examine your own willingness to accept this or not and to what degree.

Quote:
The other big issue is just feeling unwanted. He also says we have to ask in advance, and doesn't ask us to do anything. So it's a matter of who asks for time first.
He sounds like maybe he loves to have the women "fighting" over him.

Or he's a lazy hinge not committed to continuing to court his ladies now that he's got them.

Or he's a lazy hinge not doing his part keeping a healthy trio by being good about his calendar management so he spends his time well balanced across his own alone time/resting time, his time with you/his time with her. He is not creating an environment of goodwill if he's letting this "competition for my time" thing go on.

Quote:
It just makes me not want to ask for time unless it's really important to me, because I feel like he might commit to something with me when the other girl wants to be with him and I don't want that to happen.
You seem to worry a lot about her feelings. Why?

Can't she be allowed to own her own feelings? She owns her emotional baggage, you hold yours, he holds his? If she's acting out and spilling her baggage all over everyone over you asking him on a date, it's his job as the hinge to tell her to take a chill because she is spilling on to one of his loved ones and that's a line with him. Isn't it a line with him? Why not?

Is he doing his hinge job well or not?

Again, you merely having wants, needs and limits is not a horrible thing. Everyone had those! And you wanting to articulate them -- that is your responsibility. People cannot mind reader you. So play ball already -- why aren't they playing ball with you? You seem to want to. Wassup with that?

You can only control YOUR behavior. You could always choose to walk away if what time/effort he has to offer you simply isn't enough time/effort given to nurture and sustain a healthy relationship in for you at the level you want it at.

You could choose to get clear on what sort of relationship you have NOW since you never bothered to define it well when it was just you 2.
  • If this now is a "V" thing -- define it.
  • If this is NOT a "V" thing, dial it down to just friends with him. Break up any romantic relationship you have there -- even if it was undeclared before.

Basically my advice is still the same.
  • Could choose to sort yourself out first. KNOW your own wants, needs and limits.
  • Next you could choose to bravely seek clarity for yourself about this relationship and see if you feel better or not. So you talk to him in DUO first. Is he even willing to still be with you while he sees her? If not, no point in talking in trio is there? If he is, he can know you are willing, and then he talks to her to see if she is willing, and he sets up a date to talk in trio. You can give him 3 dates you are good with just to get the ball rolling.
  • Then you all talk in trio to come to agreements for how to run this "V" polyship what the trio wants & needs and where the trio limits and expectations are at.
There.

Or you could choose to not to do any of that because you are not yet willing.

Feelings ensue after behavior. Change the behavior or not -- that's up to you.

HTH!
GG

Last edited by GalaGirl; 11-05-2012 at 01:37 AM.
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  #7  
Old 11-05-2012, 01:28 AM
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BrigidsDaughter BrigidsDaughter is offline
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I think OP is confused as what her rights in this relationship are because she'd seen it as a friendship while he thought they were dating. I wonder if the new girlfriend also viewed their relationship as not dating/ friends/ business partners and didn't realize what she was getting into.
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Old 11-05-2012, 04:32 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irina View Post
Thanks for the replies!
You're welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by irina View Post
I agree that it's not his job to make me happy -- that's not really my intention. I'm just wondering if there's any support that I CAN ask for, and what that is.
Okay, well we can't tell you what to ask him for. What is it that you want? What sort of ideas come to your mind when you think about this? Throw them out here and we can respond with constructive ways to formulate your requests.

Quote:
Originally Posted by irina View Post
In terms of scheduling in advance, he's made it pretty clear that he's not into that . . . He also says we have to ask in advance, and doesn't ask us to do anything.
Well then, he's a hypocrite or just totally confused and not sure what he wants. Or maybe he's on an ego trip and gets off on two women fighting for his time. It also sounds like, since he is simultaneously stating that he is against making plans in advance yet expects you and she to request his time in advance, that he is shirking a major part of responsibility for his part in his friendships/relationships. People who care about their friends let their friends know when they want to see them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by irina View Post
I am really afraid to express my needs because whenever I do his SO gets upset, because her needs are pretty opposite seeming from mine.
Why is she even privy to what you ask him for? Your conversations between you and him are private and shouldn't be shared with her, especially if it starts a shitstorm. And why should her needs even factor into your needs? Now, if it's just that when he chooses to be with you she gets upset about it, how is that your problem? Answer: it's not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by irina View Post
He's only willing to commit to certain nights of the week, like Mondays, where we could only spend a few hours together (he is only free after 8, and I usually need to go to bed at about 10). If there are events, he's not willing to commit, and that's one big issue -- feeling comfortable going to events.
Quote:
Originally Posted by irina View Post
The other big issue is just feeling unwanted. He also says we have to ask in advance, and doesn't ask us to do anything. So it's a matter of who asks for time first. It just makes me not want to ask for time unless it's really important to me, because I feel like he might commit to something with me when the other girl wants to be with him and I don't want that to happen. And it feels really shitty to have to ask your friend to hang out with you all the time...
Well, hmmm... first of all, to me, it seems he is just being so totally hands-off and not proactive at all that the dynamic has been narrowed down to being you and her duking it out to get his attention. Secondly, though, there isn't anything wrong with a general first-come-first-served way of handling multiple relationships. It is a sort of "relationship triage" in which a person responds to whomever asks first or needs them the most. I just think he could be handling that approach a little better by being more proactive himself. When a person engages in multiple relationships, it is up to that person to manage his relationship with each of them as well as he can. He needs to make the effort - it isn't up to each of his paramours to take care of the other.

But what I find glaring about this last bit I quoted is what seems like your sense of feeling undeserving of asking for his time and attention if she also wants his time and attention. You are so afraid of her getting upset, even if it means you are upset -- what's that about?

I also think it would behoove you to look at why and how things changed for you after he told you he thought you were dating. It seems that you were fine with things they way they were up until then. Does this perspective suddenly make you feel like there are more expectations you should place on him? Why can't you go back to the way things were, and if you want to spend time with him just ask. I also think you may want to consider dating other people yourself so you are not so focused on him.
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Last edited by nycindie; 11-05-2012 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:09 PM
irina irina is offline
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BrigidsDaughter:

Yes, that's a HUGE part of it. I've been trying to talk to them about it but I feel like I haven't been able to get a good answer.




GalaGirl:

This post was REALLY helpful. I really appreciate you taking the time to write all that out. Just a few responses to questions / some stuff I wasn't clear on:

Does he tell you inappropriate things like a "leaky hinge?" Where's the TMI wall at in this polyship? Is the problem HOW he presents the fact that he's busy already to the OSO? ... I do not know what this means. What makes this an issue? Like there's some event you really want to share with him but it is not on "your night" of the week -- he's not willing to go? Is that what that means?

I'm not sure, which is part of the problem. Maybe it would help to give an example:

I had been spending time with Hinge for the day and asked him if he wanted to spend the night. He said that he'd asked OSO to spend the night there, but that he'd drive me home. I was fine with that, I knew we had spent a lot of time together and his OSO was probably missing him. There was a potluck (a weekly thing at rotating locations) near my house, so we stopped at that on the way home. He later informed me that OSO was mad that she hadn't been invited to the potluck, because it's an event he's been bringing her to (a thing we always used to do together). She felt like it was a public event and she wasn't invited because I was there. He also told me that he would have picked her up on the way there but didn't want to ask because he thought it would upset me. I think he communicated that to her.

When he got to my house, he wasn't interested in interacting with me because his OSO was upset. He was just texting her and crying. I tried to be supportive and told him if he needed to talk or wanted a hug he could wake me up but I had to go to sleep because I was getting up early.

Now I feel guilty for having put them through that but the truth is, I don't know if I would be able to have fun at the potluck with her there. I don't know anyone else that goes to them that well, and he's sort of my safety. For example, if I start getting nervous and it's just me and him, I know I can tell him that and he'll take me home. If there's three of us, I have to wait for the OSO to be ready to leave and risk having a panic attack.

I don't want to make it sound like I'm nonfunctional, because I actually have a lot of acquaintances and friends (just nobody I'm really really close to, other than him). I go into social situations regularly. I just have to make sure that they're carefully controlled (there is someone there that I sort of know, or I can leave when I want to, etc) so I don't risk having a panic attack.


Or he's a lazy hinge not committed to continuing to court his ladies now that he's got them. Or he's a lazy hinge not doing his part keeping a healthy trio by being good about his calendar management so he spends his time well balanced across his own alone time/resting time, his time with you/his time with her. He is not creating an environment of goodwill if he's letting this "competition for my time" thing go on.

Occasionally I've brought up stuff like "I feel like you're spending more time with OSO than me, and I'm kind of bummed out because I've been going through a rough patch and your support really helps me" and he says stuff like "Well, she always asks me to do things first." I get the sense in general that he doesn't really do time management/courting and just does whatever people ask him to. Which doesn't make me feel especially wanted. He talks a lot about being afraid of losing one or both of us, and that makes me feel like he's motivated more by fear than by actually enjoying our company.


You seem to worry a lot about her feelings. Why? Can't she be allowed to own her own feelings? [...] loved ones and that's a line with him. Isn't it a line with him? Why not?


I care about her, and I think she's a good person and that she tries to be supportive/respectful, even though she's not somebody I would hang out with. I just want things she doesn't want -- like the event example. I don't want to ask for things that depress her or cause problems with her and Hinge (both for her and the fact that it will make my relationship with Hinge worse)...

I don't think he knows what his lines are because he's never been in a poly relationship before (he doesn't even identify as poly, which is a reason I always classified our relationship as a friendship).


Is he doing his hinge job well or not?
I'm not sure. I'm trying to be objective, but I am aware that I've had a tough few months with my friends leaving town and all, so I'm probably more sensitive than usual. I've also only been the hinge or in a secondary relationship to someone's primary, never in such an undefined situation (he says he thinks of us as equal, that's actually a lot more stressful to me than being secondary because it complicates decision making.)
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:22 PM
irina irina is offline
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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
I also think you may want to consider dating other people yourself so you are not so focused on him.
Kind of scared to do that if our relationship is on the rocks. I feel like it'd hurt his feelings and that I'd lose him entirely.

Not saying that's right -- just might need to work out stuff between us first. I'm not sure.

For example:
Last night, my roommates/neighbors threw a house show at my collective. I had a lot of work but planned on going for a little bit and expressed this. Hinge texted me to ask if he could spend the night. He was bringing a guy that I've had a crush on for a long time that has since moved out of town. (Hinge was aware of my crush on that person). I also thought he was bringing his OSO because he had asked to. I told him I didn't really want him to spend the night that night, and that I sort of wanted to flirt with Other Guy. He got really offended that I was hitting on someone he was bringing to an event and that I would "plan on doing that in front of him." I was really confused on how that was different then him bringing his OSO to all the events at my house. (She didn't end up coming because she didn't want to, but at the time I didn't know that, and she was invited).

So my conclusion is that he's feeling insecure in our relationship and to get into a close friendship or relationship now would probably just make him withdraw (that's what he does when he's upset) and that I would lose him a lot to his OSO. Puts me in a weird situation, though.
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