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Old 06-03-2013, 05:58 AM
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WingedVictory WingedVictory is offline
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Default Boyfriend's new relationship having a hard time

I've never been in a monogamous relationship. Even before I knew polyamory was a "thing", I never really understood why it was supposed to be such a bad thing if someone you liked, also liked someone else in addition to you (or vice versa). As such, there is a lot about the monogamous mindset that I really don't understand and would like some help understandinand would like to know if there is anything I can do to help since my boyfriend's new partner is having a hard time.

A bit about me and the situation: I am married and have been with my husband for about six years and I have another partner I have been with for about a year. My relationship with my second partner is the first time a "secondary" relationship has gone long term and he is deeply important to me. Prior to our relationship, he had never pursued a poly or open relationship, but he adjusted easily and quickly and now seems very comfortable with the situation.

A couple of months ago, at some larger gatherings, I noticed that a fairly new friend (one whom I am still getting to know and with whom I am in the process of developing a friendship) was expressing interest in him. They started hanging out a few times as friends and when things shifted to the romantic, he was upfront that he was in a poly relationship with a married woman (me). She seemed fine with that as initially things between them were quite casual. Having talked with her about guys a couple of times I know she's been very much in a "doesn't know what she wants" sort of place. She'd had casual relationships with a couple of different guys not long before starting to get to know my partner, and had been simultaneously not particularly happy with their casual nature, nor willing/interested in creating a deeper relationship.

As things progressed between he and her - though they're not yet to a stage where either classifies the other as their boyfriend/girlfriend - he told her (though I think she'd figured it out at that point) that I was the person to whom he'd been referring. She expressed nervousness to him that I would be okay with her/them, though he reassured her that I was (I knew her before he did, but at this point he obviously had a closer relationship with her than I did).This past weekend, they spent the day together Saturday. He and I were going to a choir performance that night, and since they were already together, I told him to invite her if she was interested in seeing the show.

It was a little odd in that, even though the choir performance was something he and I had planned, because they had been together the rest of the day and because they came together, it emotionally felt like it was more "their" outing. Because of this, and because I knew she was nervous about the whole thing, I tried to be extra aware of and respectful of boundries.

She seemed to get less nervous as the evening wore on. We all went out to dinner afterward, and then she suggested we all go back to her place and watch a movie. We cuddled on the couch - they exchanged light kisses a couple of times, but because it was her house and because of her earlier nervousness, I didn't pursue anything beyond the cuddling.

I thought things had gone very well. When we were hugging goodbye she was grinning and talking about how happy she was that it wasn't awkward and how afraid she had been that it would be. But then this morning she texts both he and I saying how much harder this is than she thought it would be, and how she doesn't want to give up because she really likes us both, but she's really not sure how to handle it. How do I help her? Should I help her? Should I back out of it and let it be something she and he deal with? Why the overnight switch from seeming really pleased with the situation to suddenly not sure she's up for it?

I don't really know what - if anything - I should be doing in this situation. I don't want my partner to miss out on a relationship with someone he likes and who likes him, and I also don't want to lose my burgeoning friendship with this girl. Any advice or insight from people who've been there before would be greatly appreciated!

Last edited by WingedVictory; 06-03-2013 at 06:01 AM.
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Old 06-03-2013, 11:45 AM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WingedVictory View Post

I thought things had gone very well. When we were hugging goodbye she was grinning and talking about how happy she was that it wasn't awkward and how afraid she had been that it would be. But then this morning she texts both he and I saying how much harder this is than she thought it would be, and how she doesn't want to give up because she really likes us both, but she's really not sure how to handle it. How do I help her? Should I help her? Should I back out of it and let it be something she and he deal with? Why the overnight switch from seeming really pleased with the situation to suddenly not sure she's up for it?

I don't really know what - if anything - I should be doing in this situation. I don't want my partner to miss out on a relationship with someone he likes and who likes him, and I also don't want to lose my burgeoning friendship with this girl. Any advice or insight from people who've been there before would be greatly appreciated!
Extreme shifts in emotions are common with people new to poly. Yes, they can really be fine one day and devastated the next (BTDT, got the T shirt). Being in the present, concert, dinner, movie, cuddles can feel fine, but the next day she might be thinking, what the hell am I doing???

Give her time and space to wrap her head around it. Don't push for friendship with her while she is getting used to the idea her bf has a gf. If your bf wants to deal with a gf who has a track record of "not knowing what she wants" in a partner, that's his boat to row. If you are all in your early to mid 20s, it's common to not know yourself and what you want, much less work it out with another partner, much less with your partner's partner, or 2 partners of your own!
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Old 06-03-2013, 07:36 PM
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WingedVictory WingedVictory is offline
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Thanks for that, it's not a reaction that I've come across before and I was concerned that I had done something (or not done something) to cause it. Knowing it's a common reaction makes me feel less like I need to "help" with the situation, and I will simply back off and let her come to terms with things on her own and be there if/when she wants to reapproach.

And while she is a bit younger (she is mid twenties; hubby, partner, and I are all early-to-mid thirties), I hadn't meant the comment about not knowing what she wants to be denigrating of her. I was just pointing out that when she was more uncertain she seemed more okay with the situation, but as their relationship began to become more than casual, that was when she started expressing nervousness.
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Old 06-04-2013, 06:10 AM
london london is offline
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I think you need to step back and let them have their relationship. If I was her, I'd want to know that I can have a 1v1 relationship with him and what he does away from me doesn't devalue what we have. You there, buying in, trying to help, would put me off. It would make me think we have to share everything with you. Leave them be, let them have NRE and do their thing. They don't need your assistance.
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Old 06-04-2013, 01:04 PM
Dirtclustit Dirtclustit is offline
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Default there is nothing better than a metamour who cares

So long as it's genuine care, and not the malicious keep-your-friends-close-and-your-enemies-closer kind of caring.

Many people start that flip flopping because they aren't repressing the emotional attachment that most people are extremely adept at blocking out. By far the majority of people "practicing polyamory" might better be described as "non-monogamy" as often a degree of keeping it casual it maintained but not always admitted.

whatever it is, it is just semantics and it doesn't make it right or wrong, it just means certain mixes or combinations of partners are incompatible. But it really is pointless to design a flag and parade it with strict definitions and claim you aren't poly, or you aren't a real sub, or you are just a swinger etc...

but there does seem to be a trend, at least here, where people subscribe to the flavor of poly where metamours have little to no contact. And if that works for all those involved, it works for them and they are the only ones who get to decide what does or doesn't work.

For me, I won't meet someone if I can't meet the SO. People tend to get VERY weird when it comes to other people having sex or an emotional relationship with their SO, and it is typically very apparent in their demeanor (which is something you won't known until you meet them) After the first time you have the SO of your bf/gf do something crazy, after you had been reassured that everything is fine, but the reality is everything is not fine, and I am still to this day freaked out at the lengths a jealous spouse won't go to rather then just speaking up and saying they are NOT OK,

I suspect you too will eventually decide that never again will you even meet another unless you meet their spouse face to face and can visually see that they are OK with it.

Some aren't and if that works for them, that it awesome, I wish it did for me, but when you do meet them it becomes clear whether or not they just do not care to know who their spouse is with (which is fine) but when they need to deny in their own mind the SO relationship exists, it's generally not a good sign.

When you have no actually face with human eyes that you looked into, it is easy to think of them as an inanimate object that it is easy to be rude to. When you have only seen a picture of your gf/bf's SO it is much easier to do him wrong. When You've met , face to face, it is harder to treatment a person as any less than a human being with worth. It is easier to be disrespectful to a name who you have never met.

Anyway, I won't go into details of the horror stories, but if you really wish to known what you can do,

ask them, and don't take some commentors idea as the best route to take unless you know the commentor is the person you are writing about, because we all have different ways that work and other ways that don't

but if this is their first non-monogamous relationship, talk to them, tell them you understand how confusing it is. I find it hard to believe that you didn't have times of uncertainty, where you flipped and flopped, tell her that it's normal, make her feel welcome and that you genuinely are concerned about how she feels.

Whatever you do, don't make her feel like some idiot newby who couldn't possibly understand,

don't question how she is feeling by saying you are confused as to how she could say she loves you one day, then the next morning not be sure if she can do this.

because it will come across as you playing on their insecurities, it will be perceived as the malicious smiling and pretending to be helpful. Metamours that value you won't ever mislead you, and if they ever realize they did they promptly confess to it.

They understand how in the science realm, psychology today is so far behind the times it's the equivalent to MD's bleeding people with leeches. People who understand are fully aware the several "psychological disorders" or completely due to environment and social settings and can be essentially "cured" without drugs simply by surrounding yourself with the right people

Contrary to popular belief, some circles do preform what could only be called "hazing"

if you honestly want to know how to make her feel comfortable, any idiot knows what that entails. If you want to put her in her place and show her who is in control, most idiots have no trouble doing that too.

It depends what you are going for, if you are going for caring, think back to your first experiences with non-monogamy, it's likely what would help you will be comforting to them but not always, and that is why you need to ask. Communicate with them you understand how awkward it can be, and so that is why you will also back way off if that is what she needs. Share your difficulties, like I know such and such was hard for me in the beginning, would this help you or is not not a problem for you and only make it worse?

if they can't speak up for themselves when you are genuinely trying to help and not being passive aggressive, the relationship probably won't work anyway

be patient with her, because if you keep trying, she will see you do care. That it isn't an act.

just make sure you are genuinely trying to make her more comfortable, and that she understands you are being genuine (which means you need to be genuine)

It may take a month or two, but rarely and I mean very rarely will a person not be comforted when you are genuinely attempting to make them feel that way. If you fuck with them, they won't ever trust you

Last edited by Dirtclustit; 06-04-2013 at 04:31 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 06-04-2013, 03:16 PM
london london is offline
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Default By When Though?

It's not unreasonable to expect to meet someone's SO at some point but I struggle with the expectation to meet before your even sure you want this person around for the long hall. For example, one guy told me that his wife and him always start dates off at their house so they can meet each others date. That doesn't work for me on any level.
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:12 PM
Dirtclustit Dirtclustit is offline
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Default it's not unreasonable to never meet

and actually, if you do insist on meeting their SO, it does significantly reduce the amount of people who are willing to meet. It's what I do because it isn't worth it to me to because I have yet to meet a woman with a significant other who wasn't working through some fairly serious apprehension with their partner seeing other people.

There is no way to tell how healthy their relationship is unless you get a chance to sit down with both of them, and even then things may not be as good a relationship as they claim (no jealousy issues) To be fully honest, the healthiest relationships seem to be those who date others together. It's been my experience that people who have completely separate relationships without any overlap were couples who on their way to splitting up. I don't feel comfortable being a part in any relationship where my presence is the cause of any tension. There is nothing worse than having a jealous spouse or ex-girlfriend stalking you in real-life.

From my point of view, every horror story experience could have easily been avoided had I met their SO first. A person who is aggressive enough to plant a GPS in my car does not keep his cool face to face in real life. Those mannerisms stick out and trouble is blatantly foreseeable.

Had I known I never would have put myself in such a position

but that is just the ugly side of non-monogamy, there are also people who just inherently "understand" people who live honestly, whom I would entrust my life having never met them before based on only the words of someone I do know. Ordinary people who have a way about them that is unmistakable, they don't do anybody wrong, and are consciously aware of all they do.

I have only known maybe 15 of 16 people like that in my entire life, and with the exception of two people, it was having an open mind in regards to non-traditional relationships that was a common thread between them.

Last edited by Dirtclustit; 06-04-2013 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 06-04-2013, 06:41 PM
london london is offline
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But by what point do you need to meet them? What point between first date and romantic commitment?
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Old 06-04-2013, 07:28 PM
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WingedVictory WingedVictory is offline
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London and Dirtclustit - to clarify, I knew this girl before they started seeing each other. I did not "insist" on a meeting or insert myself into any of their activities. They had plans during the day; he and I had plans that night and since they were already together I told him that if she was interested in joining us that evening, she was welcome to do so.

It may seem strange to you, but no, I have never doubted or been uncomfortable with polyamory. It might have been a different story if I had dated when I was a teenager like most people do, but I just never ended up in a romantic relationship until I was in my twenties. That said, I can still empathize with how difficult it would be to find yourself in a situation which is both highly emotionally charged, and completely different from anything your life up to that point has prepared you for. (That is why I came *here* and specifically did not go running to her saying, "Ohmygosh! Your emotional response to this is just completely baffling to me, you must be reacting to this 'wrong'!")

Imagine you have never witnessed a panic attack before and suddenly one of your friends has a panic attack. Even though you may intellectually understand that panic attacks are a natural response to stressful situations, if you have never seen one you might be kind of freaked out; and in addition to not knowing what to do to help your friend, you're trying to figure out if something you said or did triggered the attack. (Please note, I am not trying to say she had a panic attack, I am just putting it in a different context so maybe you will better understand why I came here to ask about this.)

Hearing Magdlyn say it was a normal reaction really helped me to not worry so much. I do understand, recognize, and respect her need to work through her emotions in her own time. Had she not initially reach out to me as well as him to say that she was having a hard time, I don't know that I would have felt so much of a need to "help". Magdlyn, I appreciate the reminder that sometimes the best help we can give someone is the time and space to work through things on their own. I do believe metamores should have at least a "working relationship", though a friendship is preferable when possible. That doesn't mean I am going to push her. She has already reached out to me a second time to say she wants to talk to me as well as him, I just don't think she's quite there yet.

Thank you all for the help and advice. The sudden emotional flip-flop in a partner (or in this case, metamore) was new for me and I'm glad I came to like-minded folks to help me process it.
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:10 AM
MeeraReed MeeraReed is offline
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This may sound sort of silly, but it crossed my mind: does the girl think she is supposed to have a threesome relationship with the boyfriend AND you? Maybe she thinks she's expected to do that but she doesn't really want to?

The movie night/cuddling at her house seems weird to me, is all.

And I learned recently that most people hear "threesomes/group sex/multiple people all dating each other at once" when I say "poly" or "dating more than one person." The assumption came as a surprise to me--I had no idea that I was being so misunderstood.
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