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Old 12-08-2013, 05:46 AM
Brianne Brianne is offline
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Default When is it NRE and when is it something else?

I've been with my husband (Allen) over ten years and married for two. I would describe our relationship as loving and honest to a fault but not overly sexual due to a medical condition on my part. While we had shared a lover in the past (one time), our relationship is new to poly (he's brand new, I'm not). When I met my bf (Lee) last year I kept my NRE to a minimum around him out of respect because I knew he was new to this and honestly, while everything was open and communicated honestly, when I was with Allen, I was with HIM and I wanted my focus to be on him and our relationship.
Allen recently met a woman who he wanted a relationship with. I introduced them actually. I can honestly say I was happy they connected sexually as well as emotionally. Lana is younger, but smart. I like her, but honestly she's not the most honest person. She admits this and says she is working on being a better person. I believe this.
Recently, something changed. I feel like I'm not getting the physical and emotional attention from Allen that I used to. All our conversations seem to be about her. When they fight, I seem to be the referee. He's even turned down sex with me because he was planning on having sex with her later that night and didn't want to be disrespectful. When I bring this up, Allen says that our relationships are different, ours is set in stone and nothing can change it, and theirs is new and fresh and exciting (NRE, duh) and I'm just overreacting. I say just because you have a new seeding to water, it doesn't mean you stop watering the 20 year old tree. My needs seem to be minimised.
I know I'm probably leaving things out, but am I overreacting? I've never been a jealous person, but I find myself feeling that way. I don't want him to stop seeing her, and I would never ask, but I feel that because they have good sexual chemistry that he is willing to overlook her behaviors at times and the fact that I'm damn near begging for time that's not constanty about him and Lana. I've spoken about this to one of our friends who knows the situation and hes noticed some of the same behaviors, but also does not understand poly ( is just a supporter.)
So wise hive poly-minds, please lend me your advice and comfort if possible.
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  #2  
Old 12-08-2013, 07:02 AM
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Marcus Marcus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianne View Post
When they fight, I seem to be the referee.
This statement concerns me, and might serve as a flag to let you know that something is breaking down in how you are relating to your partner.

A person cannot be a referee between a couple unless they choose to allow themselves to be there. So you are putting yourself in this situation and if that is not good for you then you need to stop doing that to yourself.

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Originally Posted by Brianne View Post
He's even turned down sex with me because he was planning on having sex with her later that night and didn't want to be disrespectful. When I bring this up, Allen says that our relationships are different, ours is set in stone and nothing can change it, and theirs is new and fresh and exciting (NRE, duh) and I'm just overreacting.
Similar to the situation of being a referee between them, you might consider the type of information being passed to you from your partner. I know the desire for a lot of people is to have a totally open-book relationship where EVERY passing thought is shared... but in practice that is not always positive.

Saying "Not tonight honey" is always perfectly fine. ALWAYS.
Saying "Not tonight honey, I'm going to shag my younger, hotter babe girlfriend tonight and I want to make sure I am ready to perform" might be ok... in the totally open-book relationship... if everyone involved can handle brutal and naked honesty at all times.

Since this is rarely the case, people should look to be a bit more realistic about the information they volunteer to expose themselves to; certainly since hubby doesn't seem to take your feelings very seriously. "You are just overreacting" might need to be followed with "That might be true, so in the future just leave off information about your sex life unless explicitly requested"

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Originally Posted by Brianne View Post
I say just because you have a new seeding to water, it doesn't mean you stop watering the 20 year old tree. My needs seem to be minimised.
Relationships fluctuate over time. This happens for any number of reasons, including taking on a new lover. There are different schools of thought about the responsibilities of maintaining multiple relationships, but I for one prefer to look at them as entirely independent from one another.

That is, if you are getting less of X from your husband and you want to keep as much X in your life as you can... then figure out how to positively encourage his giving it to you. The fact that he has a girlfriend seems to be influencing how much X he gives you doesn't get you very far... it's better to focus on how to fix it than identifying a good scapegoat. Also, an important thing to keep in mind is that you may not be able to entice him to give you any more X. Sometimes we just don't get the things we want and that is perfectly fine.

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Originally Posted by Brianne View Post
I feel that because they have good sexual chemistry that he is willing to overlook her behaviors at times and the fact that I'm damn near begging for time that's not constanty about him and Lana.
Good for them.

I can't offer you any comfort but this, you are entirely in control of how you emotionally respond to this situation. Being envious of someone getting something you want is perfectly normal, but it's not something you want guiding your emotional state and CERTAINLY not your actions.
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:08 AM
Maleficent Maleficent is offline
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I spent over a year in the NRE phase with my girlfriend in some ways we are still there but both of us can feel things shifting into something with a more solid foundation. During that time I can admit that I took my husband for granted. I expected him to just be ok. I'd had so much time with him. I felt that we were unshakable and it didn't cross my mind that he was feeling something else entirely.

It took a good deal of work to get things on the right track with him again.

Now he is starting his own relationship with another woman. The NRE is just beginning. I don't know if I'm ready for it. I don't know how he will handle it either. I let it sweep me away, will he? How will what we went through with my first relationship translate into how he conducts his?

It's exciting and scary at the same time. I really hope that your husband hears you. That he can still give you what you need from him. It can make you so much stronger. If it is NRE then it will run its course and if youre lucky you'll be able to feel that same energized feeling with him again.
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:57 AM
london london is offline
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I'm not sure it matters. If your partner is neglecting your relationship does it matter why? If his NRE is going to mean that you feel neglected, then his NRE is always going to be an issue and he will either change how he behaves during that period or you'll have to change how you perceive his behaviour during that time.

I agree that you might need to put up boundaries about general information sharing. The sex thing is difficult. Men work a little differently to women in terms of sexual function. I came across a poly guy once who admitted that he has had to restrict sex when he has more than one or two partners to ensure everyone gets some of the goods. That might be easier to tolerate if you know from the offset that a potential or new partner operates in that fashion rather than hearing it on arrival of a new partner but it is still a reality for some people.
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:22 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianne View Post
I feel like I'm not getting the physical and emotional attention from Allen that I used to. All our conversations seem to be about her. When they fight, I seem to be the referee. He's even turned down sex with me because he was planning on having sex with her later that night and didn't want to be disrespectful.
It sounds like you're feeling hurt and disappointment because your needs for connection and intimacy are not being met. Maybe you feel some jealousy because you perceive that he values sex with her more than he values sex with you. And you feel frustrated because you believe he's putting her needs and their relationship above your relationship and your needs. Am I understanding correctly?

Most of us have been educated to express our feelings in terms of what other people "make" us feel, and to express our needs in terms of what we'd like other people to do for us. But as Marcus pointed out, no one can make us feel anything. And needs are entirely independent of any person or strategy for getting those needs met.

Perhaps it would help to set aside some time for he and you to connect. Tell him what your needs are, your basic fundamental needs that you would have whether or not you were married to him and whether or not he was dating someone else in a way that doesn't work for you. Once he understands what your basic needs are, ask him if he can think of some strategies to meet those needs. Feel free to make requests, but make sure that they are not demands (i.e. that he is free to say no), and also make sure that they are only about things he can actively "do" rather than things you want him to "not do."

Most of us are more than happy to do things for people we love if we see how it helps them meet their needs, but we have to see them as requests and not demands, and they have to have clear, positive actions rather than "don't do this, don't do that" (then what am I supposed to do instead?).

So some strategies might be working out problems with his girlfriend between him and his girlfriend; scheduling time for sex or cuddling; only talk about non-Lana topics when you're together (unless there are matters that pertain to your own relationship, e.g. scheduling); getting a counsellor or speaking to a friend if he needs help sorting out problems with Lana; doing whatever actions he used to do when you were getting more attention from him (be specific -- I can't because I don't know what they were, but surely you can think of examples).

Bottom line, focus on yourself and your needs, and be empathetic to his needs and feelings. You can express all of this without making one single reference to Lana. Your needs are only about you, your feelings are only about whether or not your needs are being met, and your requests are only about how he treats you. Lana doesn't have anything to do with any of that, and leaving her out of the discussion will emphasize that this is not about her.
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Last edited by SchrodingersCat; 12-08-2013 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 12-08-2013, 02:22 PM
wildflowers wildflowers is offline
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Wow, SC, you are really convincing me on the non violent communication approach :-)

OP, I think SC broke that down really nicely.

One other idea that might help is to try to assess what your husband's motivations are, and fact-check them against what you may be assuming.

E.g., I understand that you're feeling frustrated and neglected, and that your needs for closeness aren't being met. It can be easy to leap from there to assuming that your partner doesn't care, in fact is deliberately neglecting you or trying to "make" you feel bad. But in actuality, it seems unlikely that either is true, and far more likely that he's just very distracted by his NRE, which can be pretty overwhelming. I wonder, since he (unlike you) is new to poly, whether he is less aware of how the emotional cycle will affect him, and has less capacity to modulate it.

For me, assessing my partner's abilities and motivations might make it easier to reframe the situation and not simply see his actions as coming from a lack of care.

HTH
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Old 12-08-2013, 02:41 PM
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BigGuy BigGuy is offline
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Jealousy, like physical pain is not always a bad thing. It lets us know when something is wrong. It tellls us when something needs attention, either within ourselves or with our relationship.

I suggest you may want to introspect what needs you have that are not being met. And if your husband were meet those needs, what that that would look like. Communicate that to him.

Relationships can be solid, but they aren't rocks. They are living organisms that need care and maintenance. Some are like cactuses which need very little and bloom with every little rain. Others take more.
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:53 PM
Brianne Brianne is offline
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First of all thank you for the kind, thoughtful responses. It's interesting and relieving that the responses I have recieved are somewhat varied even though the general consenus is the same.

I don't if maybe I didn't make myself clear, but I dont feel that my husband has "made" me feel any way, nor that I think he's trying to hurt me or neglect our relationship on purpose. I do feel that, at times, (which he readily admits) that he tends to hear what he wants and what is positive in his mind, instead of the problem. He also is very good at projecting his own feelings into others where I'm better at reading other's emotions and protecting/reacting to them (which I admit fully, is my cross to bear.) Here is an example:

Me: Yay! NRE! I know I would be upset if someone flaunted this or talked about it constantly, so I'll tone it down, especally if I'm with another partner that I care about because my time with them is their time.

Him: Yay! NRE! I'm happy so everyone else must be happy and happy for me. Therefore I must share this happiness all the time. What? You want to talk about something else? But I'm HAPEEEE!

In different scenerios, either outlook can work, but in this scenerio its not the best imo.

As I said we are honest to a fault, so we've had countless talks about this. I've told him what I needed (quality time that is Lana free, recently no relationship advice about Lana and attempts to try new things with me that I find interesting to re-create a bond). There are things that I agreed to do as well to smooth the tension but so far I feel that I have made attempts, where he has not. At this point, of course, I have a choice whether to wait it out, or not deal with it, and leave.

After I made this post I felt a bit of relief just getting it out there. I then asked myself, "If Lana was not in the picture and I was getting treated in this manner, would I feel the same way?" I wasn't really able to answer that questions fully, but it did put things in perspective. I think when it comes down to it, one of the main issues I have is that there were things that were dealbreakers to him in our relationship that are suddenly not dealbreakers to her in their relationship. I feel upset and hurt by this. Or that he was asking me for advice about her and their relationship constantly and after talking to me (which he had said he appreciates) he was able to be with her and be happy (which, duh, I want him to be happy), while I felt I was stuck with with the job of mentor/teacher when I'd rather be the wife that has fun and has quality time with her husband. Again, its a moot point now since I have asked that he utulitize a friend for that, which he agreed to.

Anyway, whether behavior continues or fades out, I know I am responsible for how I deal with it.
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Cast of Characters:
Brianne- Hi, that's me. Mid 30's, Bi, Poly.
Allen- My partner of ten years, legal husband of two. Mid 30's, Straight, Polywog (for now).
Lee- My boyfriend of one year. Late 20's, straight, also new to poly. Has no other partner at this time.
Lana- Allen's girlfriend of a few months. Early 20's, Bi, New to poly as well. Is married, but husband is unaware of other relationship(s).
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  #9  
Old 12-08-2013, 08:45 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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It is great that you and your husband are able to communicate so honestly. Have you tried posing it to him like this: "So back when I was seeing (insert name), how would you have felt if he was all I ever talked to you about? How would you have felt if.... (finish the sentence with whatever applies). Now how do you think I feel?

As others have said, it isn't Lana that is the problem; it is your husband's poor poly skills. He needs to stop and consciously think about his behavior affects others - specifically you.

In regard to your husband talking to you about Lana, I am sure he is eager to share his happiness with his beloved wife. That is somewhat normal. Say the situation were over a favorite hobby. He would want to share. However, even hobbies can get too much. I have one acquaintance who got in bad with his wife because he was spending every spare moment on the golf course. Same result - less time spent together which would erode a feeling of closeness.

I would suggest altering your behavior when he begins to talk about Lana. Say something to the effect, "I would love to talk you, but I'd like to talk about our relationship. Come find me when you can do that." Then leave the room. You don't have to do it angrily. You're just letting him know, it isn't acceptable.
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Old 12-08-2013, 10:47 PM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Quote:
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I don't if maybe I didn't make myself clear, but I dont feel that my husband has "made" me feel any way, nor that I think he's trying to hurt me or neglect our relationship on purpose.
That's good to hear. I'll just add one other tidbit of human socialization: many men have been raised to believe that they are responsible for the happiness of their female partners. The lesson goes: If your wife is sad, it's your job to make her happy. If your wife is scared, it's your job to make her feel safe. If your wife is angry, figure out what you did wrong and fix it. And so on. So even when we ourselves take ownership for our feelings, it can still happen that other people feel responsible for "making" us feel that way.

In Gralson's case, the lesson was explicitly taught by his mother. She literally blamed him for making her sad, angry, or scared, and genuinely expected him to make it better. If he didn't want to, then she played the guilt card. So even though I'm completely different and I don't blame him for my feelings, he sometimes blames himself for them.

I'm not saying this is the case in your relationship, and I hope that it isn't; but it's helpful to be aware of this cultural education, because no one is completely immune to these lessons. I find that for me, being aware of when Gralson is going into "make the wife happy" mode, it's a sign that I need to be more explicit about owning my feelings and be clear that I'm just asking for support and compassion.
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