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  #1  
Old 07-26-2013, 05:36 AM
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Anyanka Anyanka is offline
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Default New to poly and struggling with a few things ..

Hi everyone .. I am brand new to the forum, brand new to poly ideas and brand new to trying to articulate a potential poly relationship.

Met my current guy about 9 months ago .. he is 'poly' in that he wants to have sex with people other than me and wants me to do the same - and I have no real issues with this (I don't think!).

There are no specific 'others' in the mix at the moment and we both still have crazy lust for each other. When we talk about involving other people, it is usually couched in terms of us sharing or watching the other - ie: we are not going to separate relationships, sexual or otherwise, but rather bringing other people into our bedroom.

We have a pretty great 'relationship' in that we talk every day - the sex is amazing and we both trust each other. We can discuss without arguing and are both able to accept that the other person has a valid point f view without needing to imposr our own. It is warm and caring .. but, undefined and, therein lie my problem/s.

We don't live together and have no immediate plans to - we have both had bad experiences with living with partners and ideally, we want to live close-by to each other, have a key to each other's place and see each other a few times a week.

At the moment, we live on opposite sides of the country - the plan is for him to move here in the next few months and this is a huge deal as he will be leaving a good job etc .. essentially to be near me (although he does also want to get away from the city he lives in).

Oh yes .. most importantly I think: I love him.

I am currently struggling with 2 issues:

1: He says he doesn't 'love', he has never been 'in love'. He says he can really, really like somebody and that he feels lust .. but not love.

The issues with this part is that he not only acts like he loves me .. he has said it a few times as well .. so, it's confusing.

I am not sure if this is an issue that may arise in the poly community more than anywhere else (I hope my reasoning here doesn't come across as insulting to anybody) but if anyone has any insight or experience it would be very, very appreciated as, well, I am confused. (yes, I think he was possibly hurt and yes, I think he sometimes uses this claim as a way to keep things at an arms length if he is feeling unsure.

2: I am happy to (actually, I am a little excited about) explore having some type of poly relationship. As stated above, I am not 100% sure whether, for him, this means just seeing others as a 'couple' or, if having distinct, separate relationships is also on the table.

I am okay with addressing this as it comes up .. he and I have only been together for 9 months so, right now it is mainly about 'us' and i think we are both happy for the sex/intimacy to be about him and me (if that makes sense).

But, what I want, what I need, is to have him be a commited, stable presence in my life .. I don't see these things as contradictory at all. BUT, I don't know how to spell out my wants/needs or have this disucssion.

We have tried - many times, but the words/definitions get all tangled up - and it ends up being undefined.

I don't want to scare him away by making him think I want to box him in or control him - I don't. He has jusrt come out of a very controlling 3-year relationship and I have experience with this myself .. so, I know what it feels like.

I just don't seem to have the vocabulary to explain to him what I want/need without coming across as saying "I insist that you be mine" .. because it all seems to end up coming out like this whenever I write it out (I have tried emailing him about this but I never send them).

I feel awkward and clumsy when he asks me about my expectations/needs .. the words get all gluggy and thick and I really struggle to articulate.

Admittedly, I am unsure if I am just afraid of scaring him off in general or, if this is due to my inexperience with poly dynamics or, if the two together just exacerbate each other.

Long post, long and possibly incredibly confusing post.

Welcome to my world
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  #2  
Old 07-26-2013, 12:09 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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I think what I hear you saying is that you want to know what aspects of the relationship you can depend on. What aspects will be there consistently. When we are used to monogamy this means sexual exclusivity. So what is the replacement in poly?

The short answer is that it is whatever you agree on. I will return to this momentarily.

The second thing we are taught with default societal view is that people become "couples," and identify as one half of a whole. Can't use that thought process in poly. Too many possible configurations. Hopefully Marcus will chime in as he excels at explaining this, but try to view yourself as an individual first foremost who loves another individual.

We are taught that ones self identiy is partially tied to who they are with. And we think we are going to feel all warm and fuzzy when we can announce to the world that are someone else's main squeeze, because now part of our self-identity is that someone wants us. Kind of hard to let go of that way of looking at things. Doesn't mean that wanting to be with someone, and someone wanting to be with us is unimportant, but we don't use it for self-identification purposes.

So back to your original question. Given the emotional baggage with the word commitment, perhaps a better way of approaching it would be to say, here is what I need in our relationship (whatever they are) - and give specific things. I will give examples:

I need to be able to talk to you at least once a day.
I need a good night text every night.
When he lives closer, I need to see you twice a week.

Don't add your wants to the list; just your needs. You can tell him your wants, but it would be something along the lines of I'd like to see you 4 times per week, but I need to see you at least twice a week.

Anyway, this approach is likely to give you some sense of consistency which is what I think is what you are saying.

As for his concept of love, perhaps his actions speak louder than his words.
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:18 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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One more example from my own life in regard to specific communication. My SO is going through a divorce, and he is wholly focused on his children - which I support. However, it makes the times he can get away somewhat infrequent. The other day he said this to me: if you suggest we meet for dinner, I am going to take it as that - a suggestion. But if you NEED to see me, you tell me, because I will move heaven and earth to get it done.

See the difference between need and want? Be very clear about what your needs are.
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:50 PM
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Anyanka Anyanka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookbug View Post

So back to your original question. Given the emotional baggage with the word commitment, perhaps a better way of approaching it would be to say, here is what I need in our relationship (whatever they are) - and give specific things. I will give examples:

I need to be able to talk to you at least once a day.
I need a good night text every night.
When he lives closer, I need to see you twice a week.

Don't add your wants to the list; just your needs.

Anyway, this approach is likely to give you some sense of consistency which is what I think is what you are saying.
First of all many thanks for your thoughtful response Bookbug

I am going to process what you said about identity and coupling .. so, I won't refer to it for the moment - but, it's interesting and I do want to ponder it a bit more.

I can see exactly what you are saying with the wants/needs and with depoliticising the landscape by avoiding some words. I think this is going to be really helpful.

The only question still hanging in there re 'commitment' is this: when someone tells you/indicates that they are commited - that means (to me) that they are in in for the long haul - it may not work out that way of course, but the intent is there - and verbalised - there is a feeling of safety that comes from this. Can this be emulated? Does this cross the boundary or odea of thinking of yourself as an individual first?

My guy has a bit of a history of falling in lust, only to have it evaporate 3 months in and he wants to bail .. this hasn't happened with us. During our 'expectations' chat last night I asked him if he feared the lust fading between us (as he is planning on giving up so much to come here) and he answered that he doesn't think it ever will, that it may hibernate but that he thinks it will always be there ... so, I am taking that as a good sign?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bookbug View Post

As for his concept of love, perhaps his actions speak louder than his words.
That is how I feel - it FEELS like love, we talk every night, he texts me and emails me regularly, we are the most involved in each other's lives and he is wamr, caring and giving to me .. so .. I am going to drop this and let him have his discursive internal battle .. love for me is what I feel for somebody else, not what they feel for me ..

I guess I am really, REALLY worried about ending up in a FWB type-thing .. thinking that someone is more emotionally invested than they are/assuming feelings that aren't there - this is my main concern.

I am happy to explore, happy to be open, happy to see where things go .. but I am NOT happy to be deluded ..

He has told me over and over how he tried to tell his EX that he didn't love her, had never and could never love her and she would insist that he did - but that he wasn't admitting it to himself .. I don't want to end up that way.

Last edited by Anyanka; 07-26-2013 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:07 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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I understand you wanting the security of feeling like he is in it for the long haul. However, may I offer the idea that it often proves to be a false sense of security? People in mono and poly relationships declare their commitment all of the time, and guess what, if a relationship is going to fail, it will fail regardless of commitment.

The fact that he is moving across country to be nearer you speaks volumes. If that isn't commitment, I don't know what is. I mean holy shit, he is upending his entire life to be with you!

If over time, his focus on you becomes distracted, it is going to happen whether he makes promises to you or not. See him for who he is. Allow him to be who is. This behavior is what will keep him in it for the long haul.
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anyanka View Post
When we talk about involving other people, it is usually couched in terms of us sharing or watching the other - ie: we are not going to separate relationships, sexual or otherwise, but rather bringing other people into our bedroom.
Just for your edification, polyamory is having multiple loves. What you are talking about would most easily be described as swinging. Unless one of these threesome buddies becomes some kind of romantic love interest for one of you, it isn't poly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anyanka View Post
If over time, his focus on you becomes distracted, it is going to happen whether he makes promises to you or not. See him for who he is. Allow him to be who is. This behavior is what will keep him in it for the long haul.
Agreed, making promises of longevity actually apply negative pressure to a relationship. It builds a barrier to exit which makes it difficult to discern what decisions are made from genuine interest and which ones are motivated by being in it "for the long haul".

My goal is for my partner to do exactly nothing for me that they do not have a genuine desire to do. I don't want to emotionally bully them, guilt them, or coerce them into doing something nice for me... I want them to do it because that's what they wanted to do. If they don't want to do a thing for me then PLEASE don't do it!! While most people can get behind this sentiment they have a hard time being able to recognize the fact that they are building agreements into their relationship which are contrary to this idea.

If IV leaves me tomorrow I will be crushed; my heart will be shattered into a thousand little splinters. HOWEVER, if my alternative is for her to stay with me because she is "committed to our relationship" then I'll take my broken heart any day. Love should be genuine and offered freely, building a longevity clause into a relationship is synonymous with saying "I want you to stay with me even if you'd rather leave"...
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Old 07-26-2013, 07:39 PM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
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Words are labels intended to convey to someone else a picture in our head.
Nothing more.

Actions are the results of our inner truth.

Thus the reason actions speak louder than words. We could lie in words-but really actions don't lie.

I can SAY "til death do us part" but I can't be certain that is true until one of us dies-because i can't predict the future.

I understand wanting the words-because they make us FEEL like we have more certainty-but the truth is-they aren't ACTUALLY increasing the certainty.

GG and I have 20 years now. At no point have we agreed to "life". Our dynamic has altered from "just friends" to "fwb" to "just friends" to part time lovers, to boyfriend/girlfriend, to roommates, to just friends, to co parents etc.
As needs have changed, the dynamic has changed and because we both accept that-the relationship hasn't ended.

I would focus more on authenticity then labels.


Also-kids. Kids need a lot from their parents. They need MORE during times of crisis and a divorce is a HUGE crisis for a child. It could be YEARS before they are settled and secure again.

One of the reasons I limit myself from casual dating is because of my kids. They are my first priority. I won't put them off for a job or a lover. Which means-lovers DO get put to the side for my kids.
That isn't true when the child is grown (I do have one who is grown). I tell her, "sorry, I have a date tonight". But-the ones still at home, they hold priority and it doesn't have to be a "legal emergency" for me to cancel my plans for them. If my 6 years old is an emotional basket case for some reason-I'm going to remain home and deal with it.

Some people find that to be TOO much when trying to date. I accept that. But, I don't alter my reality to meet that. They can date other people instead.

It's something to consider for you. Because he seems to be saying you ARE important but you need to be clear about need versus want. This is true for me too. If my bf says "I NEED you" and my kids just need tucked in but they are otherwise good to go-I will leave them with their older sister to tuck them in and go to him. But if he just wants to go dancing? I'm going to tuck them in first and he's going to wait.
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Old 07-26-2013, 07:58 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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He sounds like he wants to be polysexual not polyamorous to me.


Quote:
1: He says he doesn't 'love', he has never been 'in love'. He says he can really, really like somebody and that he feels lust .. but not love.
I subscribe to love theory. Could print triangle chart.

Have him point to the one he is on. You point to the one you are on. Sort it out so you each understand where you each are coming from. Maybe you just need different vocab to describe what you feel toward each other?

And then just let it go and be ok doing loving behavior toward one another?

Quote:
I think he sometimes uses this claim as a way to keep things at an arms length if he is feeling unsure.
Up you you if you want to date someone who does this chronically. I would find it tiresome and an impediment to sharing emotional intimacy -- always being "stiff armed" away.

Quote:
2: I am happy to explore having some type of poly relationship. As stated above, I am not 100% sure whether, for him, this means just seeing others as a 'couple' or, if having distinct, separate relationships is also on the table
.

Could ask him to clarify what it means for him.

And could make him aware of what it would mean for YOU.

Could cover things like
  • What sort of open model you'd be willing / not willing to practice.
  • Talk about jealousy and more jealousy.
  • How you plan to cope with potential pitfalls and more pitfalls.
  • What safer sex practices and labs are expected. How to deal with accidental std or pregnancy.
  • What are the boundaries? (could looking at these worksheets help you define them?)
  • What are dealbreakers? How you want to be toward each other if/when you come to a breaking up place -- good exes and friends or good exes that just walk away? If you can't talk about now when it is good? Sure don't want to be first talking about it if/when it goes nuts.

And so on.

Could map it out to see if you both are even compatible polyship partners sharing the same idea of polyshipping or not before jumping in to polyship together. Make sure you are both on the same page first.

You are responsible for your own preparedness.

HTH!
Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 07-26-2013 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 07-26-2013, 08:50 PM
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BigGuy BigGuy is offline
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I might be able to speak to point number 1.

I don't believe I experience love as an emotion like most other people do. I experience NRE, hard, but when that is over, there's not much there. That being said, I enjoy the company of cohabitation and prefer it to being alone. I am where I am because that's where I want to be.

For me, love is a conscious decision. It is making decisions every day about doing things that enhance our relationship. It is making decisions every day about doing those things that I know will enhance my life in the long run. I love my wife. I want and do that which is best for her taking into account that which is best for me. I just don't experience it as an emotion.

It's taken her some time to wrap her brain around that just as it still takes me time to feel comfortable with those who make decisions based on emotions.

If he wants to be with you, he will be with you. As long as you can communicate your needs to each other and are willing to adapt to meet them, does it really matter if he's "faking" it?
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Old 07-27-2013, 05:33 AM
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Anyanka Anyanka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookbug View Post
I understand you wanting the security of feeling like he is in it for the long haul. However, may I offer the idea that it often proves to be a false sense of security? People in mono and poly relationships declare their commitment all of the time, and guess what, if a relationship is going to fail, it will fail regardless of commitment.

The fact that he is moving across country to be nearer you speaks volumes. If that isn't commitment, I don't know what is. I mean holy shit, he is upending his entire life to be with you!

If over time, his focus on you becomes distracted, it is going to happen whether he makes promises to you or not. See him for who he is. Allow him to be who is. This behavior is what will keep him in it for the long haul.
More excellent advice - thanks.

I need to do some adjustment in my thinking and in particular my vocab.

Just so you know, we had a video skype chat this morning for a couple of hours and (based upon what you had said here) I told him that I had considered his question about my 'expectations' and that really, what I want is what we already have .. just with him closer .. he seemed a little surprised but very happy with that response.. I am going to bring up the needs/wants list as per your suggestion when we are next face to face (I am off to visit in a couple of weeks) .. but, for the moment, this seems to have made us both feel better - so, thanks.

I know moving all the way here is a big thing and I appreciate what it means in the large scheme of things .. I really do.
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