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  #1  
Old 08-28-2013, 11:53 AM
polywannacrackeryo polywannacrackeryo is offline
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Unhappy Third Wheel Syndrome: my relationship with a married woman

Is there such a thing as communication overload? Should I express my insecurities to my partner, even though they are things that cannot be changed?

Here's the deal: I'm an arm of a V in which the other two are married. Love them both to pieces. My metamour[M] is a fantastic, longtime friend. My partner[F] is unbelievably amazing. Although I never expected to find myself in this situation, here I am. I've fallen, and fallen hard. I never expected to experience jealousy, as it really wasn't a problem for me early on (probably due to NRE). But now, I find myself feeling those horrible twinges... and more often than not, if I'm honest. I think some of it stems from the secrecy surrounding the poly lifestyle. It bothers me knowing that I will never be able to hold my partner's hand in public, or brag about her to my friends and family. For holidays, they have their families.... they get to be together. They have the security and promise of marriage—of eternity. When I think of it in this perspective, I feel hopeless and alone. While my partner has always done a perfect job at making me feel included and wanted, I still hate knowing that I'm secondary... because she consumes me... every thought. I would never want them to separate... ever! But sometimes I find myself wishing that things could be different, and I feel quite selfish. I never thought that I would feel this way. If anything, I should really be so grateful that her husband is okay with our relationship. I feel guilty for my feels.

I generally do a pretty good job at keeping a handle on my emotions. I can recognize the fact that these insecurities are sometimes just part of a poly relationship. I know I must learn to deal with these feelings in an effective way, or else I will make everything that is good about this implode. I know that being open and honest is the key to anything poly. My question is: Should I talk with my partner about things that can't really be changed? Is it okay to tell her my insecurities, even though they are irrational? Or, should I just suck it up, and keep telling myself that I need to get over being in second place?
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  #2  
Old 08-28-2013, 12:02 PM
gorgeouskitten gorgeouskitten is offline
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Hi I think what your feeling is normal, jealousy is the hardest part to over come when being poly and having a metamour. my big thing with jealous is this, are you actually upset your partner is doing something or is it just that you want to get to do it with them too?
take the secrecy thing, that is something you can discuss with her. My boyfriend and I hold hands and act affectionate in public because we all (we are both married) have agreed that if people find out, they find out. Nudge (BF) and i are already "outted" at work, and some of my family knows. My biggest concern was my spouses family and I asked him if i should not be touching Nudge in public, he agreed that if they saw something its none of their business and they'll deal with it. I couldnt handle complete secrecy either. I have my own family to have holidays with, but would i like to see Nudge at christmas? Of course! so we will probably try to work something out.

I dont think its ever wrong to discuss your feelings/insecurities with your partner, whatever they are. Both nudge and my spouse hear from me whats going on in my head a lot, i think the nature of poly is that you will be discussing relationships quite often.

Also, have you considered dating to take a little focus off this relationship? not to lessen anything, but to give you anotehr focus as well. just a thought.
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  #3  
Old 08-28-2013, 12:24 PM
polywannacrackeryo polywannacrackeryo is offline
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Default thank you

Thanks for the quick reply, and for your kind words! I'm glad to know this is normal. I'm new to the poly world, and I really don't have a clue what to expect. I think my sensitivity about secrecy is doubled by the fact that I'm a lesbian. She bisexual, and we live in the Bible Belt. So, due to her fears of being outed as bi AND poly, showing PDA isn't really an option.

I have definitely considered finding a new relationship, but I'm hesitant because I recently moved on from a long-term relationship. Maybe I should start looking anyway? Just to get out there and explore? I don't want to be with someone just because I'm lonely, though. I want to make sure it's for the right reasons. I really want an emotional and spiritual connection, you know?

Thanks for your advice. I really appreciate it. Everyone is so nice here! I'm so glad I found this forum!!
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  #4  
Old 08-28-2013, 01:46 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I am sorry you are struggling.

While the primary-secondary type of open relationship model comes with certain limitations, what you seem to be struggling with are the problems of "being out" and the problems of "new relationship."

Going by your post alone, it seems to be your thinking behavior and not your poly partners behavior that connects "secondary" to "less than."

You also seem to be struggling with being willing to feel vulnerable and go out on a limb to ask your partners to meet your needs. You call yourself "selfish" for even having those needs. You crave connection, then shame yourself for craving it. Then you feel guilty for even feeling what you feel -- like you ought to "just be happy" with whatever you get here even though you have unmet needs.

You don't seem to write using need words. So I am guessing that your could be the needs for
  • reassurance
  • security
  • belonging
  • inclusion
  • to know you are an important poly partner (what stops this?) and be known as an important poly partner (by who? how?)
  • to see yourself as an important poly partner (what stops this?) and be seen as an important poly partner (by who? how?)

I could be guessing wrong.

Here's what you write as your bottom line:

Quote:
I know that being open and honest is the key to anything poly. My question is: Should I talk with my partner about things that can't really be changed? Is it okay to tell her my insecurities, even though they are irrational? Or, should I just suck it up, and keep telling myself that I need to get over being in second place?
Several places in there you make evaluations that put you in "less than" category.
  • You seem to assume "things can't really be changed." I don't know what "thing" that is. I am guessing "secondary" stuff. Have you asked if "starting as primary-secondary and working toward co-primary over time" is an option here?
  • You prejudge your worries and insecurities as "irrational." When in a new relationship, the need to stabilize and secure it is normal. You seem to envy that their relationship is NOT new and they don't have to be doing/feeling this.
  • You tell yourself you need to get over being in second place. Who is putting you there and valuing you "less than" at this time? So far going by what you write only? Just you.

That whole thing could be reframed without evaluations. Could change "should" to could." Could NOT combine sentences but take it one thing at a time. It then could become:

I know that being open and honest is the key to anything poly.
  • Could I talk with my partner about things that bother me? (Is this me being open/honest?)
  • Could I ask to find out if ____(whatever the things are)_____ can be changed or not over time? (Is this me being open/honest?)
  • Could I talk with my partner about my worries/insecurities? (Is this me being open/honest?)
  • Could I ask for reassurance or support in handling these emotions? (Is this me being open/honest?)
  • Could I withold information about my emotional state from my partner? (Is this me being open/honest?)
  • Could I tell my partner I want try to cope with my emotions alone? (Is this me being open/honest?)

Which options support "being open and honest with my partner?" And which options support my long term health and well being?


Quote:
I don't want to be with someone just because I'm lonely, though. I want to make sure it's for the right reasons. I really want an emotional and spiritual connection, you know?
If you want to build connection here? I'd suggest asking your poly partners for support. Start connecting. Could ask if they are willing to help you. You have already been doing the last one -- coping with your emotions alone. It does not seem to serve you well, because you continue to suffer. Could change that, and see if your suffering lessens.

I'd also suggest you let go of putting yourself as "second = less than" kind of role in your head thinks. It colors your whole outlook in a way that does not seem to serve you well.

If these are NOT the people you want to build connection with and are just having them as "keep me from being alone filler" people? Could break up with them and seek the authentic relationships you seem to want. Could ask yourself to BE authentic and not get you tied up in "filler" relationships.

HTH!
Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 08-28-2013 at 02:48 PM.
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  #5  
Old 08-28-2013, 02:22 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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I understand your issue about the need for secrecy. Many times it is a necessary evil if relationships with parents could be destroyed, a job could be lost or there are young children in the picture that are too young to deal effectively with the consequences. In both of my poly relationships (one was a v in which all lived together for a couple of decades until our v passed away), I was the one who was added to a marriage - and hence kept secret. (I prefer not to use the term secondary, because in no way was I secondary in importance.)

So here are some of the questions I asked myself in regard to the same issue you are now having:

1. Would telling people about the relationship increase the love I share with this couple? The answer for me was that it would not.

2. Would telling people about the relationship make it more likely to last or be successful? Again, my answer was no.

3. Would telling people about the relationship boost my self-esteem, preventing people from viewing me as a lonely loser? Ding-ding-ding-ding! So I'd uncovered my first reason for wanting to tell the world - I wanted to incorporate my relationship into my self-identity, as in now my self-identity says, I am a successful, desireable person because I am involved in this fantastic relationship. Armed with these facts, I decided to incorporate these into my self-identity WITHOUT the need for external validation by the society at large.

Now as to the security issues, first of all marriage is a false sense security. Marriages end in divorce all of the time. I expect this feeling that marriage creates security actually goes back to the whole self-identity thing.

While this is all new for you all, the thing of it is if your relationship gets to the point where you become a permanent fixture in their lives, there are things that can be done to increase actual security like buying a house together that is all of your names.

Since I am not clear on how new all of this is, whether you live with them, etc., I am giving generalities. I hope you find these helpful.
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  #6  
Old 08-29-2013, 05:56 AM
SchrodingersCat's Avatar
SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by polywannacrackeryo View Post
Is there such a thing as communication overload?
Yes, there is such a thing. Whether and when that point is reached depends on the people. Gralson's head starts to spin if our "difficult conversations" last too long. That would be an example of communication overload.

Quote:
Should I express my insecurities to my partner, even though they are things that cannot be changed?
It is often helpful to express them, with a disclaimer that you know things can't change but you just need her to know where you're at with it.

Quote:
I think some of it stems from the secrecy surrounding the poly lifestyle. It bothers me knowing that I will never be able to hold my partner's hand in public, or brag about her to my friends and family.
For the record, secrecy is not an inherent attribute of the poly lifestyle. While it happens to be a necessity for many people, it isn't a universal.

That would bother me too. I personally choose not to date people who need to keep their lifestyle hidden. I believe it puts me in the closet with them, and I do not want to be there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by polywannacrackeryo View Post
I have definitely considered finding a new relationship, but I'm hesitant because I recently moved on from a long-term relationship. Maybe I should start looking anyway? Just to get out there and explore? I don't want to be with someone just because I'm lonely, though. I want to make sure it's for the right reasons. I really want an emotional and spiritual connection, you know?
I never "look" for relationships, but I'm always open to new people. One of the great things about being in a poly situation is that you can go out and explore without giving up what you already have. Don't change anything with F, just broaden your horizons.
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Auto: my girlfriend (lives with her husband Zoffee).

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Old 08-29-2013, 09:15 AM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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How long have you been in this relationship ?


Were you in that long term relationship when starting this new V?


Upon enter this relationship with this women/ couple was a hierarchy discussed ...the term second used...or restrictions or time availability discussed ...meaning I can offer a once a week or once a month time slot.
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  #8  
Old 08-29-2013, 11:29 PM
RickX RickX is offline
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Hi! I'm also in a V for almost a year now with a married couple. I'm a single guy, my gf is married, and is lucky to have an awesome metamour. While it appears I'm merely the "3rd wheel" or a secondary, but I never felt that way. They treated me as co-equal. She assured me that it is only from the legal perspective that I'm a "secondary" since I'm not married to her. I can hold her hands in public and display some modest affection, date or dine anywhere (except to some "hot spots" near her workplace or where her colleagues usually hang out). I also introduced her to my family and friends as my gf (not mentioning she is married, of course). They also bring me to their family gatherings as a family friend. I care about her and so I dont want her to get into trouble. Those minor discreetness arrangements (on some "hot spots") don't bother or annoy me at all. Just sharing my experience.

Last edited by RickX; 08-29-2013 at 11:33 PM.
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  #9  
Old 08-30-2013, 12:16 PM
polywannacrackeryo polywannacrackeryo is offline
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Default yes

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
You don't seem to write using need words. So I am guessing that your could be the needs for
  • reassurance
  • security
  • belonging
  • inclusion
  • to know you are an important poly partner (what stops this?) and be known as an important poly partner (by who? how?)
  • to see yourself as an important poly partner (what stops this?) and be seen as an important poly partner (by who? how?)
Yes. Yes. Yes. I think you're exactly right. After processing this for awhile, I think that I'm the only one who is making myself feel this way. As far as poly relationships go, I think ours is just about as healthy as they come. I think the real challenge is just for me to learn to adapt to this new dynamic. You also mentioned that I seem to have a fear of making myself vulnerable... which now I see is true, although that was a shocking realization for me. I usually pride myself in being able to open up to people I love. But this time, I think the fear really got to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bookbug View Post
Would telling people about the relationship boost my self-esteem, preventing people from viewing me as a lonely loser? Ding-ding-ding-ding! So I'd uncovered my first reason for wanting to tell the world - I wanted to incorporate my relationship into my self-identity, as in now my self-identity says, I am a successful, desireable person because I am involved in this fantastic relationship.
This was enlightening. Although not the only reason for my feelings, it is certainly one of the biggest. I hadn't looked at it from that perspective before. And I'm used to secrecy... growing up gay in the south had its limitations. Maybe this new situation just drudged up all those old emotions again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat View Post
It is often helpful to express them, with a disclaimer that you know things can't change but you just need her to know where you're at with it.
I ended up doing this. I talked with her last night. The conversation sort of organically evolved, as I wasn't really planning on doing it. But I had spent so much time writing out my thoughts, I felt fully equipped to express myself. She was wonderful, as always. And now, I just wish I hadn't waited so long!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
How long have you been in this relationship ?


Were you in that long term relationship when starting this new V?


Upon enter this relationship with this women/ couple was a hierarchy discussed ...the term second used...or restrictions or time availability discussed ...meaning I can offer a once a week or once a month time slot.
This relationship evolved to everyone's surprise. Neither of us had been open to a poly lifestyle before... but we had undeniable feelings for one another. Our respective partners, although taken aback a little, were completely open-minded and supportive. My other relationship ended for reasons outside of poly... but yes, we were together when my current partner and I got together. As for boundaries, no explicit ones were discussed, but we all agreed that open communication was the most important thing. Her husband actually made the comment to me once that he didn't have much respect for the traditional institution of marriage, and that he knew I could give her things he couldn't, and vice versa. Even though I know he's had his struggles along the way, just as I have, he has been extremely supportive and open-minded the entire time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RickX View Post
Hi! I'm also in a V for almost a year now with a married couple. I'm a single guy, my gf is married, and is lucky to have an awesome metamour. While it appears I'm merely the "3rd wheel" or a secondary, but I never felt that way. They treated me as co-equal. She assured me that it is only from the legal perspective that I'm a "secondary" since I'm not married to her. I can hold her hands in public and display some modest affection, date or dine anywhere (except to some "hot spots" near her workplace or where her colleagues usually hang out). I also introduced her to my family and friends as my gf (not mentioning she is married, of course). They also bring me to their family gatherings as a family friend. I care about her and so I dont want her to get into trouble. Those minor discreetness arrangements (on some "hot spots") don't bother or annoy me at all. Just sharing my experience.
Thank you for sharing this! It made me smile. I talked with my partner last night, and she helped reassure me of some of these fears. I hope it won't be long before I learn to navigate this new dynamic, and be able to appreciate my situation more, and see it for the positive thing it is.

For me, I feel guilty when I experience jealousy... because I'm the one being "added" to their relationship. Does that make sense? Her husband is awesome for being open to this, and I feel that I have NO right to feel jealousy. Did you ever experience jealousy in your relationship? How long did it take to overcome it? What were some things you did to help yourself overcome those feelings?
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  #10  
Old 08-31-2013, 02:37 AM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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Does this relationship have any hope of fulfilling your long term hopes for your life?
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