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Old 02-19-2013, 10:35 PM
tree166 tree166 is offline
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Default I feel like I did something wrong

Long story short, my boyfriend (primary, J) broke our standing poly agreement with his secondary of 3 months (R) at the worst possible time, and lied about it. Even when I caught him he kept lying. I call this cheating. It sucked. He and I are attempting to repair the damage he caused.

So that leaves R. He wasn't honest with her either, because she thought that everything on my end was fine and I was aware of what was happening. When he told her, she was unhappy that he'd lied, but it wasn't that big of a deal to her. When he told her that he wanted to take a break from her to try to fix the underlying issues in our relationship, she didn't take it well. She didn't understand why she was being punished, and she didn't understand why I was so upset because whatever they had done wasn't taking time away from me, and it's not like he cheated.

Ok, so this bothered me. A lot. It proved to me what I had suspected all along - this girl, who claims to be poly, has zero respect for me or my place in J's life. I was uncomfortable with the relationship from the beginning but am a firm believer in letting people make their own mistakes. After her little outburst, he started devoting less attention to her in their daily interactions (texts, im, phone calls), and went for a few days without making plans with her. It was only 4 or 5 days before she started demanding "quality time" with him, amid incessant "I miss you" and "When can I see you?" texts (he showed me everything). He had explained to her very clearly, several times, exactly what he had done, why it was wrong and why he needed to take this time, but she just didn't get it. Or chose not to. So he ended the relationship completely.

Things were still on a fairly casual level with them after 3 months. They had been intimate, but only saw each other once a week due to R's live-in boyfriend being uncomfortable with her seeing J unless he was working or had other plans. It was probably about 10 dates, total, give or take. I had never met her, despite repeated attempts for all of us to get together.

So here's my dilemma - given the fact that they still barely knew each other, I don't think she was entitled to make demands of him. I don't think her behavior was appropriate or kosher in any way, and if he hadn't done it on his own I probably would have encouraged him to end the relationship because she's not the kind of person I want involved in our lives. Am I just being a controlling bitch, as she implied? At what point does a new person have the right to make these sorts of demands, if ever? Do you think I'm being too hard on her?

It's sad that things went down like this. She looked really good on paper.
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  #2  
Old 02-19-2013, 10:43 PM
ManofDiscovery ManofDiscovery is offline
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Ok...I'm wary of offering advice here, since as a poly newbie, people tend to jump all over it and say 'you have no right to offer advice as a newbie'.

However I'm not a newbie in general relationship terms, and what I have noticed before is that people often accuse you of being controlling when you are simply showing a level of self respect and saying 'this behaviour conflicts with my boundaries'.

I like a utopian idea of poly where everyone has everyone's best interests at heart and respects the group as a whole...as opposed to trying to compete to see who can be number 1. Where somebody is a secondary, but is constantly trying to make themselves primary. I don't see how that kind of behaviour can be conducive to a happy overall group.

Perhaps the more experienced folk here can tell me - is that utopian idea of poly unrealistic? Do any of you have it right now?
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:33 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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given the fact that they still barely knew each other, I don't think she was entitled to make demands of him.
Yes she is. If he is in relationship with her, she is entitled to request he share his time with her to grow/cultivate their relationship tier.

I think you could mean she is not entitled to devalue you as a person -- your feelings, your needs, that you exist in this polyship also. That's different.

Quote:
So here's my dilemma - given the fact that they still barely knew each other, I don't think she was entitled to make demands of him. I don't think her behavior was appropriate or kosher in any way, and if he hadn't done it on his own I probably would have encouraged him to end the relationship because she's not the kind of person I want involved in our lives. Am I just being a controlling bitch, as she implied? At what point does a new person have the right to make these sorts of demands, if ever? Do you think I'm being too hard on her?
Could choose not to take her comment in bold above on board.

The relationship is over. She did not make the cut with him because she was not respecting his request for space. His time is his to share and he chooses where to share it. Even YOU can only request he share it with you. Ultimately he is in charge of his behavior, not anyone else. Ultimately he decides where he spends his time. Hopefully he spends it in a way where he also keeps the goodwill of all his poly people!

Though he lied to her too, once made aware that she (purposely or not) helped him to break agreements with you, she made no attempt as a metamour to acknowledge your hurt and say something like "I am so sorry. I was not aware." You felt disrespected and devalued as a person. It is understandable that this does not endear her to you.

You don't polyship in a silo. You polyship with many players and if the goal is a harmonious polyship, could acknowledge that sometimes the shared sweetie has to be present elsewhere. Could acknowledge that there are times for calling into account and making good.

Quote:
She didn't understand why she was being punished, and she didn't understand why I was so upset because whatever they had done wasn't taking time away from me, and it's not like he cheated.
She processes through her filter. In her own relationship with her BF, the agreements are she doesn't have dates if he's in town and around. So it doesn't "take time away from him." That is their agreement.

She could see that you have a different agreement with J and accept the agreements here are different than her own. She doesn't have to agree or want same agreements for herself. But she could just accept that this is the price of admission to date J. He has THESE agreements with you to keep in his polyship.

That she doesn't get that? Well, it is what it is. Not every person we date is gonna be a runner.

That she views time J needs to make good with you after breaking agreements as a "punishment" to her? It is what it is also. People grow at their own rates.

Hopefully you and J can do the repairs required and come out of this experience on better footing. She is no longer present here. HE is still present here. Could choose to work with who you have present here at this point in time.

GL!
GG

Last edited by GalaGirl; 02-20-2013 at 01:44 AM.
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  #4  
Old 02-20-2013, 09:07 AM
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Emm Emm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tree166 View Post
At what point does a new person have the right to make these sorts of demands, if ever?
At the point at which they are recognised to be a human being rather than just a particularly mobile sex toy, IMO.

She is in a secondary relationship. That doesn't make her a secondary person.
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:51 PM
learninginTN learninginTN is offline
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I don't think you're being controlling at all. You haven't done anything to be controlling. R feels neglected because of the decision by J to focus on repairing the damage he did to your marriage by the deceipt and betrayal of trust, and that's understandable, because she was unaware of the deceipt. But J made that decision, not you. You didn't hold a gun to his head, or threaten divorce, or anything like that.

Once that decision had been made by J to revert to monogamy for a while, R began to feel withdrawal symptoms and started acting up. You ask if she was entitled to make demands on him? Well, that's a pretty subjective question, and not particularly constructive. The point is she did, and now you and J have to make decisions as to what to do about it.

It certainly makes sense to work on your couple issues and try hard to reestablish that trust before venturing back out into the polyamory waters. R won't like that obviously, but she if she doesn't respect your marriage then this whole V relationship is doomed.
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:51 AM
ThatGirlInGray ThatGirlInGray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tree166 View Post
Am I just being a controlling bitch, as she implied?
I think you answered your own question:
Quote:
Originally Posted by tree166 View Post
I probably would have encouraged him to end the relationship because she's not the kind of person I want involved in our lives.
which is a totally fair point of view, imo, but
Quote:
Originally Posted by tree166 View Post
he ended the relationship completely.
You did not control his decision or actions. You did not even get to a place where you felt like you needed to weigh-in on his decision. He did it himself, without any encouragement, pressure, or persuading from you, and certainly nothing like a veto.

So, no, not a controlling bitch.
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  #7  
Old 02-21-2013, 01:25 PM
sparklepop sparklepop is offline
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Hi tree

Can I ask what poly boundary J broke with R, or is that irrelevant / too personal? I'm a nosy bitch, what can I say?

Lying is obviously a red flag and you're trying to deal with that. I actually ask what the boundary was, because I'm wondering why it wasn't a big deal to her that he lied. People usually lie out of cowardice... trying to get themselves out of trouble, trying to spare someone else's feelings, or not being emotionally mature enough to face open communication yet. I do think that this behaviour can be changed over time, providing the person doing the lying genuinely believes in honesty as a core value.

The other thing I'm seeing here is respect.

Respect is a funny one in poly. Relating a little to what ManOfDiscovery said, really - it's a lovely idea that everyone has everyone else's interests at heart. That's how I try to operate in poly. If I'm someone's non-primary, I want them and their existing partner to be very comfortable and not in the least bit threatened. If I'm dealing with my girlfriend's non-primaries, I want to look out for them as *people*. Just because they are secondary to her life priorities, doesn't mean she/we/I see them as lesser *people*. I expect the same in return and I can see that you do too.

However, I have come to find a practical issue with this respect idea, after going through about 5 months of my girlfriend dating someone I find very selfish and quite disrespectful.

I realised that actually... if his actions aren't directly affecting me or our relationship, it doesn't really matter if he respects me or not. As long as what they have works in the box that they have it in, it's fine. I came to this conclusion because behaviour that *I* found disrespectful didn't seem wrong to my girlfriend. Rather than create problems for myself around this, I decided that I simply wouldn't have any contact with him and this has worked very well. It might be something to think about - dating autonomously and not being too involved in each other's relationships? I don't know if that would work for you with your model of poly.

I used to believe that everyone could and should be very friendly, very warm, talk about each other's existence with appreciation and what not. I held every partner to this standard and so did my girlfriend. We found a pattern. The two guys who were very warm and welcoming about me, who respected our relationships, were simply outgoing guys. They were also guys she grew tired of quickly, because she prefers the shy, socially awkward types (projects to fix ~rolls eyes~).

The shy, socially awkward, and/or very self-focused types have been the ones I have found disrespectful. One used to flirt heavily with her, ignoring my presence completely, ignoring my comfort level. Her current one is just... ugh. Don't get me started. He's just inside his own little head (and I do mean 'little head' ) Another one she's dating has no issue with me, but absolutely zero interest in hearing about me, hearing about our relationship, talking to me, doing anything outside of their own personal interaction. Instead of being offended by this and causing myself to struggle with all of these men, I've simply decided that she should date whomever she pleases and the calibre is none of my business.

And I do understand your feelings about attention seeking and whinyness. My girlfriend's current play partner (the 'ugh' one) is very high maintenance and whiny. He gets stroppy when he doesn't get constant attention and he has no empathy when she needs to prioritise something in her life outside of him. This used to... well, piss me off, to be frank. These days I just tell her fondly "he's your mess - you balance him and deal with him " As long as she's meeting the necessary priorities in her life - i.e. (x) amount of time per week spent on: work, our daughter, our relationship/date time, herself, housework, etc. What she does with him the rest of the time is up to her. If she wants a moany secondary, she is welcome to have one.

So, in terms of your situation...

Quote:
given the fact that they still barely knew each other, I don't think she was entitled to make demands of him
Nobody is entitled to make demands of him. He is responsible for prioritising. He needs to be the one to lay out his boundaries and expectations for time with you, time with someone else, time on priorities like work, housework, family, himself, etc. If he isn't making these clear and there is no structure, he needs to work on that himself. If he is making it clear and someone is pushing him, he needs to fix that himself.

Quote:
I don't think her behavior was appropriate or kosher in any way
Ultimately, in my opinion, it doesn't really matter. You are entitled to your own opinion, but who he dates is really up to him. Does that make sense?

Quote:
and if he hadn't done it on his own I probably would have encouraged him to end the relationship
Well, it's up to the two of you whether or not you have a veto rule.

Personally? Yes, I think my girlfriend is selling herself short with her secondary. Yes, I cannot stand him. Yes, I think he's selfish and unhealthy for her. Yes, I think their relationship is unhealthy for him.

Yet... I would never encourage her to break up with him. She has to make that decision. Any encouragement by me will lead to resentment. So, instead, I listen and advise her on both sides of the argument. I suggest ways that she could make it work, or improve his behaviour if she wants to. Then, she is free to make her own mistakes, whilst still feeling supported and warm about having a partner who is there for her, who enables her freedom of choice and growth.


Quote:
because she's not the kind of person I want involved in our lives
It might be a mute point with this specific girl now, but what about the future?

How involved is "involved"? If you are open to other partners being around the *two* of you often, or even moving in with you, you would have more of a lion's share in deciding who you want in *your* life.

If it's that you don't need to / want to / really have much involvement at all, then it isn't really your life; thus, it isn't for you to make such a decision.


Quote:
Am I just being a controlling bitch, as she implied?
I don't think you are a controlling bitch.

Only you know your motivations.

At the very best, you are looking out for your boy's heart and don't want him getting hurt or messed around by selfish women.

In the middle, you don't want the drama that comes with that - i.e. listening to him moaning about their troubles, listening to her whining and pushing.

The lower end, there's something else about her you don't like. You're threatened, or something else. Or, you are trying to be controlling without realising it (as we all are sometimes) and you want to decide what kind of women he can date, even if it doesn't really have to effect you.

(Which do you think it is? I don't know - because I don't know you )

Quote:
At what point does a new person have the right to make these sorts of demands, if ever?
As I said earlier, nobody has the right to make any demands. That includes you.

*He* needs to outline his schedule, his boundaries, his expectations.
*He* needs to speak up if he doesn't agree to your poly boundaries. Don't just cheat on breaking them - renegotiate them.

Then, in return, you are responsible for outlining all of your stuff. As an individual person. Then, together, what you are both happy to expect from your relationship.

Quote:
Do you think I'm being too hard on her?
Possibly... but I don't know her, so I cannot say. If she's a pain in the ass, you've probably put up with a lot.

Quote:
It's sad that things went down like this. She looked really good on paper.
All potential partners look great on paper. That's what dating is for. I've found that it takes about 3 months to figure out if something's got longer potential or not. Usually, by then, the cracks start to show.

As a final note to think about, these are my opinions on other lovers and behaviour:
- They don't have to know me and I don't have to know them
- Friendship is welcomed and lovely if it works
- bad-mouthing me is a no-no
- in return, I won't bad-mouth them
- my girlfriend and I have the right to choose who *we* date
- but... we each have the right to say "I don't want this person around *me*
- we also have the right to calmly and infrequently/when asked express our opinion or concerns, without forcing those opinions onto each other
- we are each responsible for managing our secondary's expectations, being clear about our time restraints and current/future possibilities
- we don't have a veto rule; we avoid leading phrases such as "I think you should break up with them"
- ideally, a new lover would be warm and open about the existing relationship
- if they are not, then it's not an issue for *me* unless:
> they talk about me in any kind of negative way to my girlfriend
> they actively try to meddle in our relationship
> they actively try to take my GF's time or attention away from me
> they actively disregard, push, disrespect our guidelines, or my girlfriend's personal boundaries
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Last edited by sparklepop; 02-21-2013 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:41 PM
jmk jmk is offline
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lion had a girlfriend once who wound up being mentally unstable. she made our lives difficult for quite a while. we now have an "anti-julie" veto rule. if either one of us feels threatened in the same way by our partner's dates, we can say no. it has only been implemented once each, but it is there and we are grateful for it. we give the freedom of each other's other relationships, but we can get us all out by using it if needed. communicating your wants and needs with EVERYONE involved is paramount to a successful relationship, poly or otherwise.
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:29 PM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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Originally Posted by Emm View Post
At the point at which they are recognised to be a human being rather than just a particularly mobile sex toy, IMO.

She is in a secondary relationship. That doesn't make her a secondary person.
Perfectly stated.

In addition, I don't consider three months, ten dates, and physical intimacy to be 'barely knowing someone.'


Quote:
Originally Posted by tree166 View Post
It proved to me what I had suspected all along - this girl, who claims to be poly, has zero respect for me or my place in J's life.

Two issues here. The first, in my mind, dovetails with Emm's statement quoted above. She's not his sex toy. The trick with poly is that you almost must respect her place in his life. I can understand your position, but as a secondary, I also understand how unfair it is to claim to be poly and open to your partner having outside relationships...but know darn well who's going to be ditched if the primary suddenly objects. To my mind, that reduces the 'relationship' to something less than a real relationship, knowing it depends on a third party approving.

The other issue is that when we believe something of someone, it's very easy to take any behavior on their part as proof of what we wanted to believe all along. I have a relative like this, saying the most blatantly ridiculous, untrue things about me. If I were to feed the poor and clothe the naked and bring about world peace, she would tell people I'm only doing it to get attention. (this woman does this with everyone, btw, I'm just one of the lucky winners to get on her bad side, God only knows how! )

If you started out believing something negative of your metamour, is it possible you were quick to take her desire to continue seeing him as proof of what you'd already decided? Rather than see she's gone out with him repeatedly over three months and been intimate with him, she might really like him a lot, and it really hurts to suddenly be cut off, or severely restricted, from the time you're used to having with someone you really like a lot.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:02 AM
tree166 tree166 is offline
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Originally Posted by sparklepop View Post

Can I ask what poly boundary J broke with R, or is that irrelevant / too personal? I'm a nosy bitch, what can I say?
It's pretty personal, but I asked for advice so here's the situation - I had brain surgery, and it was something that we knew about a month or so in advance. J and I discussed the fact that while I was in the hospital, he should probably be with me. Extenuating circumstances and all that. R knew about the surgery date/time etc., and seemed to be understanding about him spending some of what was usually their time with me. The day of the surgery, he left me alone in the ICU to see her. He told me that he was coming home to sleep for work the next day. When they were making plans, she didn't even ask about why he suddenly had time to see her. Now I've been a secondary to many people, and I've been in similar situations. Regardless of my personal feelings or how much I wanted to see the person I have always at least asked what the deal was. It's a logical question, to me. And he broke our arrangement by lying, clearly, but also because we're supposed to tell each other who/where/when we see other people.

I've also had people I was dating tell me they needed time away from me to deal with issues with their primaries, and it sucks, but doesn't it sort of come with the territory? I would never expect someone to put their primary relationship in jeopardy just because I wanted to spend time with them.

I guess I would have felt differently about her if she had ever acted in a way that made me think she respected me, but that didn't happen. I was attempting to keep the original post concise, but there were many other, smaller things over the course of their association that made me uncomfortable. She was always very dismissive and challenging about our boundaries, she made snide comments about me, she "outed" us to one of my coworkers... just general passive-aggressive nonsense that caused stupid drama. I had veto power the entire time and chose not to use it, which is my mistake, but I don't think that I treated her as less than human at any point.
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