Didn't Go So Well
Hi everyone, brand new member to the site.
My wife and I have been together for 4 years, we met in the swinging lifestyle and recently (about 6 months ago) decided that we liked the idea of polyamory and would open ourselves up to the idea of having additional relationships with others. I have not had any issue with her having sex with other men so I felt I would be ok with this too. I had a couple of girls for a bit I texted with met but did not make any emotional connections. I currently am not seeking any other women either in the swinging lifestyle or the poly lifestyle.
My wife has been texting with a guy for a couple of months and they recently got together two weeks ago. He was coming back from a business trip today and she asked if it would be ok for him to come by since he lived about 3 hrs away. The idea was the both of us could meet since we had not yet, then I had to work tonight so he was going to stay, they would play, he would stay over and leave for work from our place in the morning. I wasn't 100% sure how I was going to feel but I agreed to it.
I was coming home from the gym and when I got home he had already arrived. I walked in the door and my wife was sort of straddled on his lap which kind of caught me off guard a little. She introduced us to each other and that was about it. She asked me how my workout was and a couple of other questions but that was as far as his and my interaction went.
I made myself something to eat, sat at the kitchen table with them and made a little small talk. During this time they were cuddling together. When I finsihed I went at sat on the couch. At this point I was starting to feel very uncomfortable, like a third wheel. I stayed for a while, she cooked supper for them both (it was my choice to eat earlier) while I sat on the couch in the other room. After about 45 min I decided to go upstairs and have a nap before I went to work. I was feeling very uncomfortable and wanted to remove myself from the situation anyway.
She came up after about 5 minutes to see how I was doing. I told her I felt ignored, uncomfortable and out of place in my own home. She asked if I wanted him to leave and I thought about it for 3-4 minutes before I told her I did, that I did not want him staying the night and I was very uncomfortable. She went downstairs and told him I was uncomfortable and that he should go home.
We lay in bed and talked until I had to leave for work. I communicate much better over texting or chat as i can get out my feelings and what I am thinking better, things I have a hard time saying face to face. I let her know that I felt unwanted in my own home and I did not want anyone coming to our home again. T
Ultimatly the poly lifestyle is much more her thing than mine but the problem is that now she has developed deep feelings for this guy and I think she is in love with him. I am really struggling with this, I feel like I have opened Pandora's box and there is no going back. she told me it is going to hurt if I ask her to stop seeing him that she has developed deep feelings for him. I have no idea what to do or where to go from here.
I needed to get this out, not sure what I am looking for, I guess just thoughts on the situation. I have read a bunch of posts and I think the situation was flawed from the beginning with him and her planning to be intimate after I left and him staying the night. They would have been sleeping together until I came home from work this morning.
Oh and to top all of this off I suffer from depression and have been going through some med changes lately which has caused me to be somewhat emotionally numb, meaning I dont get depressed but I dont experience good feelings either. This has meant i am not as interested in sex lately nor have i been meeting her needs emotionally. She also suffers from anaxiety and she has gone through some very rough times over the past couple of years but is now very stable.
I know this is long, I hope someone has some feedback, previous experiences they can relate with or what else I am not sure.
It actually sounds like you both handled that bump in the road very well.
Negative, uncomfortable feelings happen-to everyone and OFTEN when we try new things.
I suggest going with "not at our place" FOR NOW. No need to rush.
Also suggest that you reach out to him. Invite him to lunch, golf, coffee, a beer. Somewhere you feel comfortable and confident doing something you enjoy.
Don't try to push a "where is this going talk". In fact-tell him, You dont want to get into that, you just want to get to know him. Let him know (briefly) that this is a new dynamic for you, you expect to have some "2 step forward, 1 step back" moments but you look forward to the challenge and hope he can be understanding of the complicated course you all are traversing.
Then-ask about his job or talk about sports, shoot a game of pool. Whatever.
Its so much easier to deal with our partner loving someone-when we like that person. Its much harder if we dont know them-we imagine the worst.
Get to know him.
As to your wife; let her know you love her and are committed to working through the hiccups for this. BUT, you need some extra tlc from her because this is more difficult than you imagined. Explain that your med changes are likely exacerbating the situation (I can SO understand that one personally). Let her know that for right now you need to limit the amount of physical affection she shares with him in front of you.
Also-something I find helpful is having my partner NOT reduce the amount of physical affection they normally give me just because a new partner is there. So for example, I get my kisses, hugs, cuddles on the couch, hand holding.
Both of my lovers live with me; they have a... Tentative friendship and how we got here was a mess. My husband is the one who is most insecure. I try to support his security, so, I am making dinner, I make a point of reaching out to him, being physically affectionate. My boyfriend understands, I love them both. There's no expectation that he can expect me to minimize my affectionate behavior with husband while he is present.
"Love As Thou Wilt"
So I felt like crap the entire night at work. I was hurting and did not want to go home, I did not want to crwal into bed and face the hurtfulness that would come from the conversation that would take place. When I arrived in my driveway i went in the house just to grab my gym clothes and thats where I went.
My stomach was in knots the entire time and still is tonight. I had not been monitoring the situation very closely so I decided this morning I would read through all the text messages they had been sending back and forth. My wife gave me her phone and I spent about 2 hours reading through 2 months of texting. Everything was ok until I reached last week in the messages. this was the first time they met in person. They had gone for supper and then back to his hotel room to be intimate. Well the next day the texts were full of messages describing how deeply they felt for each other and how strong the emotions were. This was a blow to me as I felt she had not expressed to me how far the emotional bond was becoming between them. She had told me she had feelings for them but that was it, it really hit me hard and I cried, it hurt. I felt like she was keeping it from me a bit being afraid I would ask her to stop, she says she did not do that and she felt she was open to me. I know how much of a blow it was reading those words and that degree of emotional attachment was never expressed to me.
So after spending the day in bed feeling like crap, talking, crying and stuff we decided that she is going to take a break for a couple of weeks from seeing him and texting with him so we can focus on each other. The problem (which I anticipated) is that she is hurting really bad because she feels so strongly for him now and it hurts her not to be able to communicate with him. I left for work tonight still feeling like crap and she was still pining over him.
I have no idea what to do now, I feel like crap if she continues to have contact with him, she feels like crap if she doesn't. I am pretty sure poly is not for me, but now that we have opened this door and she has these feelings is there any going back?
I told her i wished I could turn back the clock six months and never have started down this path. I never dreamed it would be so painful.
I'm so sorry to hear that you are having such a hard time. It is completely understandable. I know that 'Pandora's Box' feeling very, very well.
This is going to be extremely long.
I'll start with some of my 'foundation level' thoughts... I'll just put them out there:
- emotional connections can definitely be much harder to cope with (as a partner) than just swinging/sexual play
- it is perfectly ok not to want to be in a Poly relationship
- on the other hand, it's also NORMAL to feel pain. Poly can take years to become comfortable with
- you've acknowledge a gap in your relationship: sex
Swinging can work to fill a sex gap, but there are two reasons as to why this can stop being fulfilling. a) if the person no longer wants to have sex without an emotional bond / if sex feels unfulfilling that way / if it feels 'icky' b) if it's not *just* sex that is missing: it's emotional/erotic/affectionate/romantic/sexual intimacy
If you are suffering from depression, there may be long periods of time where you are very closed down with your wife. Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to be poly can be related to whether or not you can cope with someone else helping to fulfil that need for your wife; especially during those times that you cannot. If you cannot deal with it, it doesn't make you a terrible person. You are completely entitled to live by whatever relationship model you prefer!
From the outside, looking in, I can see some obvious issues here that have made this problem worse.
1. Overshare/oversee - sitting and watching them together (too aggghhh)
2. Pacing - planning a sex date the very first time you both met him in person; with the very first person you are exploring poly with (too soon)
3. Lies of omission - you feeling betrayed, that she was hiding feelings from you (too unclear/private)
Do you guys have any poly guidelines? When I became poly for the first time, we hated the idea of guidelines. We were all about freedom and love. A right royal mess that turned out to be. We now have about eight or so guidelines and we review these every 3-6 months. They are actually written down. We do not have guidelines to restrict each other - we have guidelines to *remind ourselves* to behave in a considerate manner.
If you have guidelines, it means that you have expectations. If you have clear expectations, it's easier to appreciate them being met.
Guidelines, in my opinion, are there to help manage specific issues. For example:
First meeting to be in a public place; not at your home?
No major PDA until primary expresses comfort at seeing this?
Avoid sex in the home altogether - go to their place instead?
No sex on first meetup / second / third?
Work out a 'warning' system? (I'll explain this in a minute)
Lies of Omission:
No saying "I'm falling for you / I love you" until primary has been spoken to? (i.e. to avoid that feeling of 'emotional affair' secrecy?)
What needs to be shared and what doesn't?
Traffic Light System (will explain more)
Reading, Learning, Research
How much reading and research have you done so far?
Have you seen the MoreThanTwo website? It's brilliant. (google it)
Have you read about NRE? (New Relationship Energy)
The following links are the two things *I* have found more useful than anything else I've ever read:
This one talks about why we feel those painful pangs. Pages 5 and 6 are a very useful starting point in terms of nurturing each other:
This theory really made sense to me. There are so many different kinds of love. If you know the love between you and your wife is one type; it can be easier to understand how she could get another type from someone else, without needing to leave you:
Timescales and Pacing:
Something like... "For the first three months, (x) amount of dating activity"
It's about expectations and balancing.
For example, the two of you agree that seeing her other lover once a week/fortnight/month is reasonable. Flexibility is obviously really important - but the idea is that you know what to expect. If you're not ready for, or happy with, him coming over twice a week and she's not happy with once a month, you can strike a compromise. She can learn self-control and prove your importance to her by slowing herself down - you can learn to accept and prove her importance to you by compromising.
My girlfriend and I use a number system and this has helped us immensely. Before this, one of us would get carried away with a new partner and the other would just sit there freaking out, not being heard effectively.
0 - no problem whatsoever
1-2 - usual poly pangs, uncomfortable, but can deal with it ok
3 - an orange flag for more communication/work/slow down
4 - a red flag: very uncomfortable, unhappy, too fast, treading on very dangerous ground
5 - a potential relationship dealbreaker or guideline crossed
If you feel a '4' about seeing her on someone's lap, in your home, the first time you meet, she can assess this as your wife and decide that this isn't a good option. If you keep feeling '4 4 4 4 4', it's a big sign to slow down. If she suggests something you simply, flat-out, cannot deal with yet that would effect your comfort in your marriage .... i.e. she says "I want to go away for a weekend with boyfriend" and you say "that's approaching a 5 for me", it should help her to see if she's moving too fast.
It's completely ok to have 4 and 5 feelings. The idea isn't to restrict behaviour, it's to express what you're comfortable with and try to do work to get to that stage. If you cannot get there, after working on it, you cannot get there.
Level 5 warnings for me used to be:
sex on first date
girlfriend dating someone I strongly dislike / disrespectful person
girlfriend dating particular people in my life
pushing level 4 stuff and not pacing / listening / paying attention
Level 5 things now are:
girlfriend dating particular people in my life
pushing level 4 stuff
The rest have moved to:
weekends away = 3-4
sleepovers = 3-4
sex on a first date = don't care when
gf dating someone I don't like = don't care who she dates
It's taken me two years to get to that point - it didn't happen quickly and I definitely wasn't sure poly was 'right' for me. But, these days, I am comfortable.
Emotional Traffic Lights
Red is very basic casual attraction.
Amber is really like this person, care deeply, comfortable where we are at
Green is in love
This could be a very clear way of your wife expressing how she feels. She could also use Sternberg's descriptions of love. If she said to you "I'm amber on this guy... green is a potential" it's very, very clear that she is, or could soon be, falling for him.
What Works For You
I've given these only a suggestions. I'm not saying you should have a million 'rules' and codes for explaining things. Just to start thinking about how the two of you can help each other.
If this helps at all, after two years and a lot of change, this is what currently works for me (alongside lots of talking and nurturing):
- Using number system to communicate comfort
- Using Sternberg's theory to describe new love for someone
- Understanding NRE
- Weekly dates in the house and monthly dates out of the house *with* girlfriend (so that all the fun isn't just happening with our other lovers!)
- Not being required to meet her partners (sometimes it helps me not to meet them)
- Outlining expectations of 'how much dating time' given to new people
- Outlining long term expectations and foreseeable goals
- Accepting that love happens
- Not seeing my GF with others: dating outside the home
And finally, if this helps you to feel reassured at all:
I'd freak out, after two years, if I saw my GF on her boyfriend's lap, if they had sex in our home, if I was there during some part of that process. I don't want to see that stuff. I'd freak out if she planned sex with a new person the first time I, or she, met him. I don't like hearing details. No two people are the same - these are things *I* don't like. Some people are totally cool with all of that. It's your right to decide what *you* are comfortable with and when.
Wife and Boyfriend
I think it's time for a big chat to get some things outlined. What does she want from him in the future? How does she feel for you? Is she poly-educated? Does she realise she's going through NRE? Is she being respectful and pacing? If so, are you appreciating this? If not, can she change that?
Nobody here can tell you that you should be poly. It's completely and utterly your choice. All *I* can tell you is this:
- is poly painful for me? much less than the start, but some things are very painful
- why am I poly? because I don't believe in possession, I don't believe in control, I don't believe one person can be completely fulfilled by one other person, I don't trust monogamy/cheating/affairs
The less I try to restrict behaviour, the happier I have become. I 'let' my girlfriend work out her own attractions. If I try to put a stop to something, it only increases her desire for this forbidden person, and lessens her warm feelings towards me. Your wife is pining away for this new guy, because she's going through her first poly NRE. If she can have him all she wants, it might fade out. Or, through him, needs are being met that will *keep* her in your marriage, because she doesn't need to go off and have an affair, or stay completely monogamous but unhappy. Regardless of poly, relationship holes exist.
I'm sorry this was so long. I really hope you find some of this useful. And I genuinely wish you all the very best of luck... please keep us updated, if you want to.
Me: (30f) open poly
Serious long-distance relationship with GF (40f)
Casual FWB with Descartes (27f)
ďPeace comes from within. Do not seek it without." ~ Buddha
Last edited by sparklepop; 02-21-2013 at 12:39 PM.
I do agree that you may have opened Pandora's box here...I imagine to tell her to close it again will be difficult, and even if successful, will ultimately cause resentment.
I do think that perhaps your wife and the other guy could have tried harder in that situation.
I would like to think that she would be trying extra hard to get you involved in a conversation with him, where you think 'actually, he seems like a really good guy'...instead of this awkward situation you describe where you turn up and they are all over each other, and you feel like a spare part.
In that situation, it seems to me like you would have to feel like you were breaking up their party, just so you could talk to them. You probably know that the other guy doesn't likely want you round that much either. I don't blame you for getting out of there.
Perhaps you could put that as a suggestion to her for next time? (if there is a next time)
I'm guessing if she had had better manners in that first meeting, you'd be feeling much less stressed right now. When my husband meets people I am dating, I give them a kiss hello and a kiss goodbye. I can't even picture doing more than that unless I'd made sure any and all partners were comfortable with it ahead of time, or everybody was friends.
I'll also imagine that you wouldn't feel so hurt by the texts you read if you hadn't already been tender. Hopefully you can negotiate on that subject, and that she understands if she wouldn't straddle a guy (etc) in front of her parents or coworkers, it's probably not appropriate to assume you'd be comfortable with it either without checking.
Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.
you should give yourself more credit
I donít think youíre giving yourself enough credit, not to knock on your wife because not being hyper-cautious and extra-considerate about everything new seems to be a mistake that is the norm. Not everyone handles little mistakes like that as well as you did, and how respectful your wifeís lovers are makes all the difference in the world. You and your wife can choose to close any box you open, so donít worry about if you need to stall for moment and do nothing for a few weeks.
Hormones rage when you meet someone new, if it really does help when the other guy recognizes what happened and talks with your wife and agrees to a chill for week or so, but really indefinite until they approach you and ask first, get your explicit permission. I realize this is beyond your control, but just in case any readers who find themselves in the other guys position, it really does go a long way to making people comfortable with small gestures of respect. Showing that they do care about how you are doing makes a person feel a lot less ignored.
A lot of people inadvertently make things a whole lot more painful then it could have been by overlooking seemingly insignificant details. When things enter the realm of less casual, people donít always fore see ahead of time how great an effect those emotions have. Often because we casual relationships the emotions are can be set aside for short periods.
I think you're handling it extremely well
What he said........
+1 for dirtclustit
You are doing well, try not to get too worked up. Best advice going forward, try to look at all of this as honestly as possible. Understand what you want, what you need, and what you require before discussing these things with your wife. Trust yourself, trust your wife, and deal with issues thoughtfully. It is ok to feel hurt, jealous, or whatever, the most important thing now is how you deal with those feelings.
Sparkle has some good suggestions above, I would advise you at least consider some of them. Do not crawl into a hole, or try to ignore the situation, it will just get worse.
Best of luck,
Life is all about connections. Love is infinite. Spread the wealth.