Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > Poly Relationships Corner

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-11-2013, 01:30 AM
Pol Pol is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 4
Default New Poly Relationship Trauma

New poster to the blog, new to poly, and new to a partner experiencing a break-up. Needing advice!

Iíll briefly tell our story. Iíve been married for over 15 years in a perfectly happy monogamous relationship. We have kids. In short, very happy life. And then I had an affair. I developed feelings for someone much younger than me. They developed over a 3-year period. During that period he nearly died, and that was when I realized I loved him. I waited about 6 months (due to distance) to tell him how I felt with no intention of it turning into an affair. I know that is hard to believe, and Iím sure there will be plenty of doubters out there, but my intention was just to tell him because I couldnít stand the thought of something happening to him (such as death) without him knowing. I told him it was just a tragic love story: two people meeting at the wrong time or in the wrong lifetime. He agreed. And thenÖ

My husband learned of it very shortly after it happened. He learned of it in the worst possible way: my teenager overhearing a conversation and then searching through texts and emails to find proof. (After months of counseling with her, we are healing.) My husband was amazing, and after a few short hours of thinking and talking and hating me, said, ďHave you heard of polyamory?Ē I hadnít. He heard about it on a podcast somewhere sometime that he doesnít recall. He thought of it because I told him that I honestly did not feel less love for him, and this other person filled no unmet need in my life. He simply added to it. I couldnít understand how it could happen, but it did. Of course, I told him, I would end it. But we talked for hours about polyamory. We read about it. Listened to podcasts. And talked and talked and talked. And decided to try it.

My secondary lives overseas, so we were able to work on all this without interruption. We have never been closer. Everything I read on poly made sense to me. I was feeling it! Full love. This processing and learning and falling in love with each other all over again went on for about 4 months. Then he started dating. At first it went OK. He went on a few dates with different women he met online. It was a bit unsettling (as anything new is), but we did it. Granted, I didnít feel too threatened, physically or emotionally by these women. They were cute, but not stunning. They seemed nice, and he had a good time. It resulted in sex a few times. One relationship is continuing. Occasional dinners, kissing, sex. Weíre a busy family, so there isnít time for a huge focus on a secondary.

Then he met someone at work. A younger, beautiful, married, former stripper. The problem is that he had fallen for her without communicating it with me. He says itís because he couldnít believe someone like that would be attracted to him, so he didnít believe it himself. So, he concealed all the flirting, gift giving, etc. When I learned of it, it was when she started to pursue an affair with him (by revealing that she used to be a stripper, and he is the only other person she ever told, besides her husband). So, he said his marriage was open, she got excited, and they started to make plans. Well, our agreement is no affairs and no married women (unless open marriage). He was willing to have an affair. I said no. So, that halted everything. We processed again, all of our feelings about this, and we grew closer as a result. It was a very up and down closeness because more and more kept getting revealed (all the various flirting he did, without my knowledge). So, Iíd feel close, and then another small bomb would be dropped and Iíd retreat. It went on like this for about a week. It felt like an affair, even though nothing physical happened, simply because it broke the rules of our new poly agreement (open communication about all relationships, budding or existing). This may seem stupid, but it did feel awful. But we worked through it OK. She decided to talk to her husband about opening their marriage. So, it looked hopeful. I was threatened by this woman due to 1) jealousy (beautiful, younger, sexy) and 2) fear (he already really, really liked her before I ever heard her name, what if he replaces me with her?). I journaled, read poly blogs, and worked really hard to get past those two feelings. It was hard, but I think I was succeeding. Everything was open and honest and they were moving forward by her working it out with her husband. And thatís where the problems really started. Let me describe a typical week:

Monday: She would say: ďMy husband and I are reading about poly and thinking, so heís asking that you respect this time by not flirting. We can work together, talk as friends or colleagues, but not flirt.Ē

Tuesday: She would flirt, leaving my husband confused.

Wednesday: She would flirt harder. My husband would ask, ďDoes your husband know you are saying stuff like this to me?Ē She would say, ďYes. Heís OK with me flirting, but not you.Ē

Thursday: More one-sided very confusing flirting. Our conversations would be focused on trying to figure out if she was lying and if her husband really knew. I was very uncomfortable with the power differentials there. One can flirt, the other canít. Talk about a tease!

Friday: More aggressive flirting.

Saturday/Sunday: silent

Monday: She would say, ďI spent all day Saturday crying because my husband said no to an open marriage. He canít do it. Iím so sorry.Ē My husband would be sad. She would cry at work. Total emotionally draining day, which would turn into a totally emotionally draining night for us, processing all of this.

Tuesday: She would flirt again, and suggest he ask her on a proper date because sheís a proper girl (informing him sheís not a feminist, and likes old-fashioned romantic notions). (BTW, as a feminist, this conversation just infuriated me!) He would text or call me all excited that there is potential, but so confused because the day before she said it was over and she couldnít stop crying.

Wednesday: When heíd probe as to if something changed, she replied, ďLet me worry about my husband. I can be quite persuasive.Ē

All of this killed me! It felt like every day we were renegotiating the rules of the relationship. It felt so dishonest. It felt like trickery on her part and we (me) were supposed to just be patient and ride this emotional roller coaster. We started fighting quite a bit about it. I saw it as manipulation, he saw as someone who really liked him who was trying to make it work. I saw it as one big giant striptease. Look, but donít touch. I can flirt, but you canít. You canít have me. Oh, wait, you can have me. This caused me nearly daily crying for the last two weeks of the 2-month long attempt at adding her to his life. And he just kept pushing for this to happen. And I kept wondering, when he saw how much pain it was causing me, why he couldnít stop? It felt to me like my pain was not worth more than his desire for her. And that was too painful to grasp for me. Yet, I was too prideful to veto. I learned a lot about myself, and the most important thing I learned is that I have way too much pride. I wanted him to stop it, but I didnít want to be the one to put a stop to it. So, in addition to my feelings of jealousy and fear, I know I have to work on pride. I also felt so guilty, because I got to keep my secondary, yet I couldnít settle my emotions enough for him to work to get somewhere with his. Guilt.

Finally, I said, either do something with this woman, or it has to be over. I thought that if I could just get off the roller coaster, I could make it work. So, he asked her on a lunch date, they went, and then they went and parked andÖ They didnít have sex because the car was too small, but they certainly engaged intimately. It was hard for me, but I got through it. It wasnít harder than all the processing they did about their feelings for each other everyday. And then at work, she hinted that her husband didnít know (but was coy about it), but that he did know they had lunch, but needed at least two weeks before they could see each other again outside of work. When he came home and told me that it looks like all her husband really knew was that they ate soup together, and still needed a two-week break, I lost it.

So, hereís where we are at: Instead of stopping it honorably and using my veto power, I acted dishonorably, and threatened divorce, even though I really, really do not want to divorce this man. As we processed the fight, he knows I do not want a divorce, and knows that I knew that in my heart and head, even as the words poured out of my mouth. So, he stopped it. And itís painful for him. He misses her. She is really sad (cried at work for over a week, which I also found to be so manipulative). She is also really angry and told him it was unfair. She said she did all this work to open her marriage and then I get to pull the plug. I see that, by the way. But it doesnít matter. I canít keep going the way it was going. It was so painful!

But now I am left feeling terrible. Can I be polyamorous? I know I can love two people. Can I see my loves love others? I think there were so many things wrong with this, from how it started dishonestly to how manipulative the other person seemed to be, that itís hard to pull apart what are my struggles with poly and what are my struggles with this situation. I donít know what my questions are for the forum. I just want to hear. I am bracing myself to hear how wrong I am. But even if you all say that, Iím not sure I can be at peace with this particular relationship. Help! Tell me what to read. Give me ways to think about this.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 04-11-2013, 01:44 AM
AnnabelMore's Avatar
AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,229
Default

Honestly, I am hugely anti-veto (as a person in a secondary relationship with a married woman, I find it really really messed up and awful), and yet I think this is one circumstance where it would've been completely warranted. You had a mutually agreed-upon boundary -- no cheaters. She was almost certainly cheating (the real test would've been for your husband to just say "give me his email address, I'll talk to him directly"... which I'm sure she would never have agreed to).

I mean, no cheaters is an awesome rule!!! If someone is cheating, they are lying to the person who is supposed to mean the most to them. And if they're willing to do that, you can be damn sure they'll be willing to lie to you too. So, bottom line, you can't trust this woman. Why should you be ok with your husband opening his heart and body, and by extension yours, to someone untrustworthy? Just, no. He clearly didn't respect that rule the way you did, because he was infatuated. I can certainly see why that would make you upset, he was opening both of you up to danger.

No crazy people is another awesome rule. And she seems crazy. Just, completely unable to be straightforward about her desires, or to stop engaging in manipulative behavior. Ick.

So, yeah, I'd say the one place you messed up was by not putting your foot down sooner. You recognize that, clearly, so next time you'll know the right thing to do. I don't think there's any reason at all to think that you can't watch your partner be with other people. I bet this would have gone down way, way, way differently if he'd been honest with you from the start (really, his excuse is kinda lame... sounds more like he was just scared), and if she hadn't been so messed up about everything.

Give it a little time, then maybe he can try again, but IF AND ONLY IF he can promise that this time he'll adhere to the honesty, no-cheaters, and no-crazies policies. Seriously, it's not that much to ask. Hopefully he's learned something from all this too.
__________________
The major players. Me, 30ish bi female. Gia, girlfriend of 4+ years. Clay, boyfriend/dom. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eddie, roommate & fwb.
The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy and Nikki, Clay's partners. Liam, Eddie's husband.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-11-2013, 02:13 AM
choctaw103's Avatar
choctaw103 choctaw103 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: chicago, il
Posts: 38
Default

Sometimes I wish there was a like button here, I would totally use it for annabel's post.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-11-2013, 02:38 AM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is online now
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 513
Default

I agree No Cheaters is a great rule. However, veto-power would never have been an issue had your husband followed the rule in the first place.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pol View Post
We have never been closer. ...This processing and learning and falling in love with each other all over again went on for about 4 months.

...

I didnít feel too threatened, physically or emotionally by these women. They were cute, but not stunning. They seemed nice, and he had a good time. It resulted in sex a few times. One relationship is continuing. Occasional dinners, kissing, sex. Weíre a busy family, so there isnít time for a huge focus on a secondary.

.... [from later in the post]: I was threatened by this woman due to 1) jealousy (beautiful, younger, sexy) and 2) fear (he already really, really liked her before I ever heard her name, what if he replaces me with her?).
As a secondary, this is exactly the sort of thing that makes me cringe as I try to understand how poly couples really regard secondaries. I struggle as it is to understand how these outside relationships are not regarded as toys and marital enhancers, and your post would certainly make me think that's exactly what it is to you. You and your husband are closer than ever and more in love than ever, thanks to these other women...but, meh, they're no threat to you, cute but not stunning, most definitely not all that, and you and he don't really 'have time' for much of them, anyway, (beyond his sexual encounters with them?)

If I'm taking the wrong impression from this, please elaborate on what safeguards you and your husband have in place to remember that these women, as much as they're so very much not all that, that they're no threat to you, are still human beings, with real feelings and real lives. Are these women single or married/with boyfriends? From the poly world or is dating your husband their first experience with poly? If they fall in love with your husband, what will the response be? If they want more out of the relationship, what will your response be? I do hope you'll consider these things before continuing.

Quote:
So, Iíd feel close, and then another small bomb would be dropped and Iíd retreat. It went on like this for about a week. It felt like an affair, even though nothing physical happened, simply because it broke the rules of our new poly agreement (open communication about all relationships, budding or existing). This may seem stupid, but it did feel awful.
I think everyone here will understand. It's not stupid at all. Lying and deception are the essence of affairs, moreso than actual sex.


Quote:
She decided to talk to her husband about opening their marriage. So, it looked hopeful.
Just curious what your thoughts were on a woman dropping the "I'd like to have sex with another man even though we agreed in our marriage vows to monogamy" on her husband as a result of her interactions with your husband and encouragement from him?


Quote:
This caused me nearly daily crying for the last two weeks...
Quote:
She is really sad (cried at work for over a week, which I also found to be so manipulative).
Quote:
Instead of stopping it honorably and using my veto power, I acted dishonorably, and threatened divorce, even though I really, really do not want to divorce this man.
Her tears are manipulative, yours are heartfelt and should be honored? Her tears are manipulative, your threat of divorce is....not?


Quote:
She is also really angry and told him it was unfair. She said she did all this work to open her marriage and then I get to pull the plug. I see that, by the way. But it doesnít matter. I canít keep going the way it was going. It was so painful!
Your pain matters. Hers doesn't. This is at the crux of my problem with veto power, and my feeling that there are serious inherent problems with polyamory: how often is the core couple going to drop the secondary if he/she threatens their relationship, vs. how often does the secondary have any power to drop the spouse (metamour) if the spouse interferes with his/her relationship? Divorces do happen in polyamory in which the OSO becomes the new spouse, and yet there's also this inherent imbalance that is unfair to the OSO.


Quote:
I think there were so many things wrong with this, from how it started dishonestly to how manipulative the other person seemed to be....
If tears are manipulation, there's been that from you and her both. But I do agree he should have stayed away from a cheater to begin with.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-11-2013, 09:23 AM
Pol Pol is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 4
Default

Thanks for the responses. I want to clarify a few things. It's so hard to put everything in one of these posts, so be patient with me! Also, I can't seem to figure out how to insert the quotes from posts to respond to each thing. I've cut and pasted a little, and hopefully you can follow it.

Whathappened wrote:

As a secondary, this is exactly the sort of thing that makes me cringe as I try to understand how poly couples really regard secondaries.

My response:
Yes, I know. I am considering all of the things you mentioned and we are talking a ton, which is what is producing the closeness. The one secondary he is continuing a limited relationship (which is open, everyone knows), has been working for me. In theory, I do see the secondary relationship as important. But in practice, I only could do it by someone I didn't feel terribly threatened by, and that worries me. The other relationship that went so wrong is what I'm focused on examining. This is what I mean: Why am I OK with one secondary and not the other? I think/hope it's because it all went wrong (dishonest, manipulative), but not because I'm just more threatened by that one (I've had feelings of jealousy, fear, and pride). So, I am worried about what part of my terrible feelings about the work-based secondary relationship are poly-based (I just can't share my husband) and what part are based on this actual relationship and all that went wrong with it. I will say, with the secondary relationship that seems to be working, that I can imagine being friends with her. And she wants it to be light as well, which helps. She is not looking to fall inlove right now. They both seem to be on the same page, which is a page I'm comfortable with. But your question: "What happens if he falls in love?" is the question that I'm worried about. I know the feeling of loving two people, so that should be assurance enough that it can happen without diminishing anyone. But that seems to be what happened with this other relationship and I didn't do well with it. I'm examining if I'm not doing well because it was done dishonestly, or because I simply am too jealous of a person. I don't know, but I'm working a lot to figure it out!

Whathappened wrote:
Just curious what your thoughts were on a woman dropping the "I'd like to have sex with another man even though we agreed in our marriage vows to monogamy" on her husband as a result of her interactions with your husband and encouragement from him?

My response:
Yes, this is why we have a no married women rule. I was so upset that we could possibly cause problems in another marriage. But everything just happened at break-neck speed once it started. He also is a good guy, and rationally doesn't like this either. It has caused him to question his morals. But the reality is that NRE was a factor and clouding his judgment. And, possibly more importantly, how can you do this if you don't have access to a poly community? We don't live in a big city, and poly is not common. We're on some local poly sites, but they really seem to be sites for young women looking for "sugar daddies," and don't seems to really be about poly at all. So, if you are limited to the people you meet through work, the gym, etc., might it happen that way? I don't mean an affair, but I mean two people making a connection and then deciding to ask their spouse to consider opening their marriage? So, I'm torn on this. I don't like it, but I think that it sometimes does work. I would love other thoughts on this.

Whathappened wrote:
Her tears are manipulative, yours are heartfelt and should be honored? Her tears are manipulative, your threat of divorce is....not?

My response:
Of course not. I knew threatening divorce was manipulative and even as my head said one thing, my mouth said another. It was wrong, and I feel like my "wrong" reaction is continuing. I am so mad! It's like my emotions are taking over all rationality. I have never experienced this. I am typically very rational and very honest. The tears? OK, here's the difference in my mind. I cried alone and with my husband. It was part of our communication and my emotions. I am sure she cried alone and with her husband and with my husband, which is also legit. But, she also cried non-stop at work, stating, "Expect people to ask you what's wrong with me." She cried for over a week AT WORK. This could damage their careers. People don't know anything about their relationship. I don't know, I just found it to be too much. I also found that level of emotion to be too much for a relationship that lasted only 2 months. I know that it was intense with anticipation and there was lots of NRE, but come on! There was other manipulation, too. I think the "My husband said no, I'm so sad (one day)... and ask me on a proper date (the next day)" is very manipulative. This back and forth went on almost every week. Touch me, don't touch me. Flirt, don't flirt. I can't describe that behavior as anything except manipulative. However, my husband definitely sees it as her just trying and working on negotiating new boundaries with her husband.

Let me address the lying aspect brought up by all the responses:
Did she lie? Did her husband know? What did he know? On the day of the break-up, my husband said, "I'm not sure your husband knows or what he knows. You've been really coy about that. (Note: she said part of her agreement with her husband is not to tell what he knows or doesn't know.) This has caused my wife to lose respect for me, that I'm willing to move forward anyway, and has caused me to question my own ethics." After that, her husband send my husband a text stating: "While I am not OK with what has happened the past 2 months, my wife has been completely honest with me about everything." So... Perhaps she was. That was all the text said, except that he doesn't want to communicate with us. To me, whether he knew or not, he states "I'm not OK with it." With every new thing that happened, my husband would ask, "Your husband is Ok with you flirting with me... with you rubbing your foot up my leg... with us talking for hours every day... with meeting for lunch... with kissing... etc." She always responded with either, "Yes." or toward the end, "You let me worry about my husband." So, I don't know what to think.

My honest struggle right now is this: Can I do poly? Can I forgive him? Sigh.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-11-2013, 03:28 PM
nancyfore's Avatar
nancyfore nancyfore is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: CA
Posts: 162
Default

Pol,

Hubby and I have been through much the same situation as you have from Jan of this year until a few weeks ago.. The same person and scenario you describe to the T..

I encouraged poly, and accept all forms of it. When Hubby (nutbusterx on here) decided to pursue a relationship with a co-worker I was very encouraging. At first she told him she had broken up with her bf, but we eventually found out that she was less than honest. Hubby broke up with her twice over a 2 week period with her continuing the flirty texts and flirting at work etc. I was the one that actually encouraged him to stay with her and continue to try to talk to her about being honest with her bf.

I had lunch with them once and all my insecurities came crashing in on me. She is everything I am not and gorgeous. But with hubby's help and reassurance I got through it and feel alot better about myself and my ability to work through things.

Hubby ended it finally about two weeks ago, after we had talked and talked about the emotional roller coaster we had been put through with her telling us one minute she would be honest and promising it to talk to her bf and the next saying she was taking a break from him, then the next saying she couldn't talk to him just quite yet.

We had the no cheating rule, but like your situation ours went fast and we told her she would have to be honest and in the end she admitted she wasn't interested in being honest.

So this situation didn't end well, but I know that being poly is right for us. We learned alot about each other, our relationship, and our selves..

I sympathize with you though I have just gone through the same situation and quite frankly it's a relief to have it finally be over and not have the daily roller coaster going on..
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-11-2013, 03:52 PM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,269
Default

From what you've written the question " can you do poly " seems to be segmented in several different categories.

1) You yourself believe you can love 2 equally but can't handle the same from spouse. Dating, having fun with less attractive people is ok but young, sexy, and LOVE is out of bounds. Was poly a means to an end ? Busy family

2) The roller coaster. My question is are you asking to be this involved with all these details or is he just sharing them now as way to build trust and right a wrong. Why not let him work this all out on his own concentrate on your BF or your kids or get a hobby.

3) Busy family and time and focus for secondary partners. Are you speaking about your available time? Do you as a couple have imbalances in personal time. For example I coach several of my kids sports which left me with very little after work free time. The work and risk and pain involved for the benefit gained. When things are working and love and happiness is abundant and is flowing in all directions many argue it's very much worth it.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 04-12-2013, 03:18 PM
Pol Pol is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 4
Default

1. An end to a means? I think it started that way. We were in a situation, and this was a solution to make it work. Stay married. Not have potential resentment over this affair. Build something positive, and new. I do not see it that way now. I see this as something that is so hard (at least right now), but has the potential to be amazing in the long run.
2. He's telling because I'm asking. I keep reading on here that we should both manage our own relationships and I know that means break-ups, too, but since trust is an issue for both of us, we've been using complete transparency. I trust him not to be with her, so I could let this all be done privately (the getting over her part, since that's where we're at). My rational self knows this is how it will work best, but my emotional side wants to know how he is thinking of her or what he is thinking or where I stand in relation to her or a bunch of other things that cause nothing but pain, anger, frustration (for both of us). My goal right now is to try to stop asking.
3. We do take enough time for each other, but are definitely busy with careers and kids. Is that what you meant? We both think the flowing love will be/has been worth it, too. This is just a painful moment. We're meeting with a counselor on Monday to help us through the crisis.

Thanks to everyone for your comments. You have been really helpful both in your support and in challenging me with self-examination and pushing me to grow.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
affair, break-up, jealousy, new poly, pride

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 12:42 AM.