Polyamory.com Forum  

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

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 06-21-2013, 01:47 PM
charmedquark charmedquark is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Bay area
Posts: 4
Default Broken agreement or misunderstanding?

Hi everyone. I am new to this site, although not entirely new to polyamory. I have been having a difference of opinion with my live-in boyfriend and hope to get some input on it.

So my live-in boyfriend, I'll call him Brian, and I were preparing to spend an evening with our other partners, who were a married couple. I had been involved with my other boyfriend for quite some time, but Brian had only dated boyfriend's wife for a couple of months at that point.

Because of some issues that Brian and I had been having, I was uncomfortable with Brian doing one particular thing with other girlfriend that particular evening. I did not feel that I could, or should, try restrict him from doing that thing, but I told him that I did not want to witness him doing it that night. I made it clear that I was fine with him doing that thing with her in general, even in front of me, but that particular evening I was struggling. I asked that he at least not do it in front of me that evening.

Brian said, "Don't worry, I don't need to do that thing with her tonight." I thanked him for his sensitivity and stopped worrying about the upcoming evening.

During the evening, I went off alone with other boyfriend in order to give Brian a chance to discuss with other girlfriend what was going on between us. I was prepared to talk it over with her too if she wanted that, but thought that he should speak with her first. In the meantime, I told other boyfriend what was going on between me and Brian, and he was supportive.

Brian not only did not discuss with other girlfriend what was going on between us, but instead, did exactly the thing he had (I thought), promised not to do that night, and it was very clear to both me and other boyfriend that they were doing it.

Other girlfriend heard about what was going on, from her husband, after they left our place, and was upset. She said that she did not want to be a source of friction between me and Brian, and that he should have told her what was going on between us. She also made it clear to all of us that she would have been fine with that one limitation on their activities together that evening.

Brian says that saying, "Don't worry, I don't need to do that with her tonight" was not a promise to limit his behavior that evening, and that he never considered it to be a promise. I maintain that saying that is of course a promise, because if it is not, then one is just pointing out that an optional activity is indeed optional, which makes no sense. It would be like me saying, "Don't worry, I don't need to eat that candy bar." Of course I don't need to eat that candy bar, the only reason anyone who doesn't struggle with blood-sugar issues would ever NEED to eat a candy bar is if they were starving and it was the only food available. It's a want, not a need. So I don't see why saying "I don't need to give in to my want tonight," especially in the context of a partner's discomfort with said want, can be anything but a promise to just not go there. It seems very disingenuous for Brian to keep telling me that he never made me a promise. I think he's just rationalizing breaking a promise in his mind because he doesn't want to be a person who breaks promises.

I really don't know what to do about this issue. We may have to agree to disagree. Brian insists that he never promised me anything. But that makes me feel that I can't trust him to honor agreements in general.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 06-21-2013, 02:08 PM
gorgeouskitten gorgeouskitten is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: New England
Posts: 364
Wink

OK...im trying to follow you. just for my sake of reading this, lets say you didnt want him giving her oral. you said, brian i dont want you giving her oral tonight because im uncomfortable. THen he went ahead and gave it to her anyway, yes?
Here is my take on the situation....Hubs and I have rules ( i ask that he not give oral at all, unless ive agreed to the particular woman) that are pretty much encompassing of all situations, but when it comes to the nitty gritty you can not run the other persons relationship. If my boyfriend said to me, Kitten...spouse and i are in a fight, and she doesnt want me sleeping with you this weekend on our time together, i'd be pretty upset that their relationship had just imposed a "new" and "one time effect" rule on our relationship. I DO hear what youre saying, but Im also not in total agreement wtih you for asking in the first place (and im sorry, because I do have compassion that you were in a tough spot)

We got into a bit of a scuff the otehr night where i mentioned my BF and oral (this is an actual thing, i was just making an example for you) and mmy spouse was like, "wait a minute...you dont like me doing that to people!" i was surprised, and said oh...well true but you never said you would prefer I did not recieve either. Miscommunication. But my main point is, you can not dictate their relationship, you can only make ground rules about your and his comfort and let them do their own thing. (in my thinking)
__________________
keep on keeping on
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 06-21-2013, 02:22 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is online now
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,951
Default

I see that you are upset. I am sorry you are upset.

When you are ready to take a step back from it... could consider this POV. (I am tired so a bit rambly. My apologies....)


Quote:
I told him that I did not want to witness him doing it that night. I made it clear that I was fine with him doing that thing with her in general, even in front of me, but that particular evening I was struggling. I asked that he at least not do it in front of me that evening.
That's what I perceive as the bottom line. "Don't do it in front of me if you are going to do it. "

Now you are upset this happened:

Quote:
Brian not only did not discuss with other girlfriend what was going on between us, but instead, did exactly the thing he had (I thought), promised not to do that night, and it was very clear to both me and other boyfriend that they were doing it.
Well, he met the bottom line didn't he? He didn't do it in front of you. Nowhere did you state:
  • Could you be willing to not do that thing at ALL tonight?
  • Could you be willing to let me know you updated GF what's going on with us before doing that thing?

If this is not what you wanted and you had unspoken expectations and really you wanted him to do something other than your bottom line? How would he know it?

Could change your communication so you ARE getting the message you want out there in a way he hears it. And then doublecheck to make sure it got absorbed. Could say something like "Ok, repeat back what you just heard/understood so I know we're on the same page."

Quote:
Brian says that saying, "Don't worry, I don't need to do that with her tonight"
It seems he went off thinking "Bottom line is don't do it in front of you. Ok. I don't need to do that with her in front of you tonight."

You went off thinking "Yay, he won't do it at all."

I think that's where it went wahoonie.

Quote:
I think he's just rationalizing breaking a promise in his mind because he doesn't want to be a person who breaks promises.
He didn't make or break any promises. He heard your bottom line and met it. It wasn't a promise, but he met your request.

You are projecting what goes on in his mind. You can't know what goes on in his mind. Doing that causes you distress with all the "what iffing" you are doing in your own mind about it. Could not do that. Could assume positive intent of your partner. Could bring it on down to practical things to be doing to move it forward and improve communication between you.

Could take a step back and LISTEN to each other. Conflict is opportunity for greater understanding.

Quote:
Brian says that saying, "Don't worry, I don't need to do that with her tonight" was not a promise to limit his behavior that evening, and that he never considered it to be a promise.
Ok. So to HIM, it is not making a promise. Could ask him how he makes his promises and learn when you want to ask for one how to approach him then.

You now know the "DO NOT do it like this." what is the "DO?" for him? You could listen and understand how he operates rather than be upset he doesn't operate like you.

Quote:
I maintain that saying that is of course a promise, because if it is not, then one is just pointing out that an optional activity is indeed optional, which makes no sense
He could listen to how YOU operate rather than fuss because it is not how he operates. He could avoid making statements that register as "promise" to you now that he has that understanding of you. Or agree that between you it will be a promise only when the word "promise" is invoked so both of you can be clear next time.

Quote:
It seems very disingenuous for Brian to keep telling me that he never made me a promise. I think he's just rationalizing breaking a promise in his mind because he doesn't want to be a person who breaks promises.
Alright, let's say he promised you. Stop quibbling about "was it a promise or not" for a moment. Let's just say it was a promise. Then WHAT was the promise? To not do the thing in front of you. Which he met. He met your bottom line. So why this arguing?

If you are unhappy that he met "only" the bottom line and you wanted him to meet the other line of "Don't do it at all?"

Could stop giving the man a "range of options" and just give him "one key point" to consider when you ask if he's willing to meet it. Maybe that could serve you better going forward?

You could also flip YOUR behavior and try on how that seems.
"She said the bottom line is X. I meet X. She wigs out. So how can I trust her NOT to wig out and tell me what is REALLY the thing next time? I cannot mind reader her. "
So he could be frustrated with you also, right? You guys could talk this out, come to new agreements, and then let this go and see if next time you both handle it better. Could think of improvements to your communication like "Ok, repeat back what you just heard/understood so I know we're on the same page."

Maybe other techniques people could share?

Hang in there. Talk this out.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 06-21-2013 at 02:41 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 06-21-2013, 02:25 PM
CattivaGattina CattivaGattina is online now
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 374
Default

Part of me sees this as a mis-communication. Your request was not to see it which he agreed to and stated that whatever it was, was something he did not need. I don't see that as him saying that he wasn't going to do it but that he was making sure you knew that since he didn't need it then he would make sure that you wouldn't see it.
__________________
Cattiva: Me
Woodsmith: My husband
Tighearn: boyfriend/dom
Merry: Tig's wife/slave
NT: Merry's boyfriend/owner
Elle: NT and Merry girlfriend
Umbra: Elle's Dom
Pet: Umbra's slave/wife, Elle girlfriend
Domo: Pet's submissive
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 06-21-2013, 02:30 PM
gorgeouskitten gorgeouskitten is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: New England
Posts: 364
Default

ah yes, agree with other posters too..i forgot to mention you only asked not to the see the act, not that he couldnt do it at all. communication is the key to success
__________________
keep on keeping on
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 06-21-2013, 03:15 PM
kkxvlv kkxvlv is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 74
Default Obviously struck an irritating nerve rant

In my opinion whether he followed the exact letter of what he said or what you said is a lame argument. You discussed some activity and rather than refrain, it sounds like he ran to do it immediately. He could have just said, "NO I don't agree to that limitation" at the time you discussed it and let you deal with the fact that you can't limit his relationship beforehand. Instead he acted like the activity wasn't important enough to fight that battle today and off you both went. I felt his statement was actually more encompassing than agreeing to not do it in front of you. I wouldn't expect to have to hear someone expressly say they promised not to do it to think that "Don't worry, I don't need to do it" meant we don't even need to get in to the details of how I will or won't do it, I just don't need to go anywhere near that activity today.

Honestly my boyfriend and I get in to crap like this all the time and we both do it when we know we aren't really right and the fall out is days or weeks of sitting around having to pick each word precisely like its life or death and its miserable.

For example we could sit here and argue that if he did it while you were both at the same location, in such a fashion that you and your other bf KNEW he was doing it, does that meet the definition of being "in front of you?" You were aware, you bore witness it some way or you wouldn't have known he did it. Arguing about minutiae like that just doesn't feel loving to me. What is the harm in both of you saying well I guess its possible we didn't understand each other, apologize and move on. Then you learn the lesson of what you can expect from him, which is to not accept limitations on his behavior with her.

Saying that you should have been more specific is a no-win effort. You can never be specific enough to make sure that someone looking for a loophole won't find one. He could have been more specific by saying no. Instead he possibly gave some response technically vague enough that he could argue its meaning later or just took advantage of that after the fact. Who knows. If anyone is going to blame the language you could be equally at fault. Ultimately who cares who was lingustically closer to right or wrong if you've hurt someone you care about by accident.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 06-21-2013, 03:34 PM
YouAreHere's Avatar
YouAreHere YouAreHere is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: SoNH
Posts: 806
Default

You know what would set me off more than the "I don't need to do it tonight" is the "Don't worry" part. Telling her not to worry basically cuts off all discussion and implies that the thing she's worried about is a non-issue.

However, in fact, it wasn't. If he'd owned up to that, they could have had a discussion that could have outlined the terms a bit more clearly. Instead, she expressed her feelings, he brushed them off, and then - surprise!

I've had similar experiences, tabling big discussions of how something might feel with a "well, let's wait and see" and having it spectacularly backfire. We learned that we need to address these things head-on due to our own mistakes. Hopefully, this leads you, OP, to figuring out a better communication style as well.

Last edited by YouAreHere; 06-21-2013 at 04:16 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 06-21-2013, 04:13 PM
Marcus's Avatar
Marcus Marcus is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Haltom City, TX
Posts: 1,288
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by charmedquark View Post
Brian said, "Don't worry, I don't need to do that thing with her tonight." I thanked him for his sensitivity and stopped worrying about the upcoming evening.

Brian not only did not discuss with other girlfriend what was going on between us, but instead, did exactly the thing he had (I thought), promised not to do that night, and it was very clear to both me and other boyfriend that they were doing it.
You said you didn't want to see it tonight.
He agreed.
You saw it anyway?

That's the part I'm not really clear on. It sounds like you weren't in the room but it was somehow "very clear" that they were doing it. How exactly? Is there some audio queue which you also didn't want him to give you? Is the event (is it a secret what the event is?) really noisy and sloppy so you could hear it sloshing through the walls? Was she screaming out "I love it when you event me like that!!!"?

Honestly I think it was in poor taste for him to tell you not to sweat it and then to do it anyway. If he didn't want to agree to it he should have been honest with you and said "No, it's what I enjoy so I'm not going to deny myself that. Maybe you need to stay home tonight or have other boyfriend come here to stay with you". Since he did agree to it though, I think he was being a little childish by doing it in the next room.

So, while I don't see this as a real issue I would say that he's being a bit of a tool and you need to be much more specific with your language if he's going to play games like that.
__________________
Independent (Anarchist) Non-Monogamy

Me: male, 40, straight, single
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 06-21-2013, 04:19 PM
Marcus's Avatar
Marcus Marcus is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Haltom City, TX
Posts: 1,288
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by charmedquark View Post
Because of some issues that Brian and I had been having, I was uncomfortable with Brian doing one particular thing with other girlfriend that particular evening.
This needs to be your focus though, really. Him being dodgy is its own strange issue but that shouldn't distract you from dealing with what's actually going on.

I get that it was a temporary fix, asking him not to event her, but your insecurities (or whatever the secret is) are not his to deal with. I encourage you to own up to your issues and work them out instead of restricting his actions in service of your personal emotional deal.
__________________
Independent (Anarchist) Non-Monogamy

Me: male, 40, straight, single
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 06-21-2013, 04:52 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Nowhere
Posts: 1,647
Default

OP - if, at any time, for any reason, you do not want to hear/see/witness other people having sex, don't go to the place where other people will be having sex.

It really is that simple.

If it was an issue about "tonight only", then stay home. Or go there and have them stay at your place. Get a hotel room. Go for a car ride. Pitch a tent in the back yard. You make it sound like you had no choice. Do you folks have one of those "rules" that you can only hang out or fool around when all 4 are present under the same roof? If so, then you should expect that there are going to be problems when one or more are up for it or down for it, and the other(s) are not. If you have that rule, and the purpose of it is supposed to be to keep things "equal" or to "avoid jealousy", well... "how's that workin' for ya?"

Another way of putting this is "don't go to the beach then bitch about all the sand." "Don't go to a rock concert and then complain about the loud music" "don't go to a bakery and complain that you can't eat the bread because you have that gluten-free disease" "don't go to Mexico and complain that there are too many Mexicans" etc.

The End.
Reply With Quote
Reply

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 04:59 PM.