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  #1  
Old 03-24-2014, 09:19 PM
Apple Apple is offline
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Unhappy Partner waffling on feasibility of new relationship

Hello all; I'm new here.

I have a long-term (nearly a decade) serious relationship with a woman (N) that has slowly become mostly platonic (her choice). We hug and sometimes kiss, but that's it. We're both okay with this level of intimacy (although I wouldn't mind being more intimate, it's not a high priority for me) and we're as close as two friends could be.

I also have a new relationship (~6 months) with a woman (C) that is currently long-distance. I entered this relationship with the blessing of N, as we had discussed it as a possibility before. I had met C in person at the beginning (without N present), but have since grown the relationship via e-mail, IM, and video chat.

C recently visited for a short stay, again with N's blessing. We have a spare bedroom, so she stayed there. Everybody agreed that I would sleep next to C during the stay, since it's a short stay and it would again become a long-distance relationship for a very long time after the visit was over. Both C and N decided for themselves that they would not be affectionate with me in front of the other. Also, to the outside world, N is my only girlfriend and C is just a friend.

Given all three of us are new to this, it went somewhat smoothly overall (I expected more doom than there was). C left happy and looking forward to another visit, and wants to get to know N much better to become her friend. N, however, at best tolerated the experience and didn't seem to enjoy it at all, even coming to the point of tears several times.

I have a very open dialog with N and we discussed things at length over the last few months before the visit and discussed things further during the visit. She thinks that C has something that she doesn't or provides something that she can't. I assure her that this isn't the case, at least not in the sense that she thinks where she is failing in some way. She also felt extremely lonely during the visit and feels very disconnected from me and doesn't want to feel that way anymore.

Now that the visit is over, it has become a difficult and painful subject to bring up with N. She has been waffling between trying to make it work and wanting it to end. Ultimately, if she decides that it cannot work, my friendship to her is important enough to me that I would have to end the relationship with C. Before it comes to that, I would like to salvage it if I can by making N feel more secure and less lonely. I'm new to this, though, and I think that I'm making a lot of mistakes that are probably pretty common here.

Any advice on how I might discuss this with N and reassure her? I'd love to get to the root of whatever is making her sad and lonely and fix that if it's possible.
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  #2  
Old 03-24-2014, 09:29 PM
vanquish vanquish is offline
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You should bring her here.
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  #3  
Old 03-24-2014, 09:36 PM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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Could we get nicknames for the women? Initials are so offputting.

N is your long term love and you live together? Now this upstart is invading her space for an entire weekend... Maybe you should've taken C off to a hotel. Might've been too close for comfort.

Of course C brings you things N doesn't. Doesn't everyone bring things no one else does? We are all unique. This is just a given in human relationships. This premise is just brought home in polyamory in a way mono minded people have a hard time wrapping their heads around.

I did too.

The thing is, do we leave our long time love for the new and shiny? Most people in our culture do.... poly people don't, unless the relationship is bad, in which case, it's not the fault of polyamory. It's just a relationship that has outlived its expiration date.
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Old 03-24-2014, 10:36 PM
Apple Apple is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magdlyn View Post
Of course C brings you things N doesn't.
I think that this is true, but I'm having a hard time convincing her that it's not a failing on her part. In her mind, society sees her as a failure for not fully satisfying my desires, even though it's unrealistic to expect that in any relationship (it reminds me of supermodels in magazines that have been Photoshopped) and this makes her feel very insecure. I think this is a personality trait of hers and it's visible in other ways, like the aforementioned unrealistic views of appearances; despite nearly a decade of trying to convince her that she's amazingly good-looking, she still doesn't believe it and hides every time there is a camera. If I continue with this track-record, my new relationship is going to be a perpetual source of insecurity for her.
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:27 AM
westVan westVan is offline
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What work has she done to come to terms with poly. You say you have discussed it a lot. But what work has she done on her own to help her with the issues.
Has she read any books, joined any groups , talked to anyone besides you?
There are a lot of resources that are available on line that she might find useful and insightful .
This is work she needs to do on her own with your support.
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:51 AM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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Well, gosh, if she has such poor self esteem and image that she hides from a camera because she thinks she's too ugly, you're right, she won't do well with poly. Poly generally works best when the participants have good strong self esteem and confidence. Has she been in therapy?
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Love withers under constraint; its very essence is liberty. It is compatible neither with envy, jealousy or fear. It is there most pure, perfect and unlimited when its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserve. -- Shelley

me: Mags, 58, living with:
miss pixi, 37, who is dating (NRE):
Master, 32
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  #7  
Old 03-26-2014, 05:27 PM
monogamishSF monogamishSF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magdlyn View Post
Well, gosh, if she has such poor self esteem and image that she hides from a camera because she thinks she's too ugly, you're right, she won't do well with poly. Poly generally works best when the participants have good strong self esteem and confidence. Has she been in therapy?
This is an interesting comment, and a common point of view on this forum. I've certainly read about and appreciate the value of being 100% down with YOU before you can get down with your partners having other people in their lives (or before you can be a good partner when you have others in your life). But if that is the only way poly can work, why would there be so many chapters on reassurance? On jealousy? Why is there this forum?

I think it's a tall order to just "be" completely comfortable with yourself when you are new to poly. Being new causes all kinds of doubt!!! I can totally understand where she is coming from, and the work she needs to do to overcome feelings of not being good enough is a life journey, not a quick pit stop she opted to blow off while you explore a new relationship. If she is resisting doing the work at all, that's what you need to tackle first, and lovingly. "Hey, this has been a struggle for you since before we were poly, and it's hurting you more now, can we shine a light on this together, and can I do what I can to help you through it? Research therapists? A couples therapist? A hotel next time? Etc."

Given how much she has to work out, change may not happen in time for this new relationship to flourish. Are you okay with that? If not, what does that mean for the two of you? Staying in a 10-year platonic relationship and being exclusive with that person is asking an awful lot of you, and I agree that it may be that you two need to take a hard look at your own relationship before delving into others. Is this new person a way to make up for things you want in the primary relationship (you mentioned wanting more intimacy from you primary, but not getting it)? There's a difference between (1) wanting something from one person and going to find it from another instead and (2) having your needs met from one relationship and having different needs met by another relationship. The first is a band-aid and recipe for disaster, the second is a healthy new and separate thing from your long-term healthy and separate thing.

Agreed that therapy helps, and it's up to her to make an effort to work through those feelings over time (if not, she risks being in the same amount of pain every time you have an encounter, which isn't wise of her).

But to Magdlyn, I ask: can we give insecure poly folk a break? Why dismiss this struggling partner's business even exploring this new reality because she has hangups? We all do. "Gosh," as though she's a leper to the poly community and has no business being there since she's having a hard time? Are there people on this forum who don't know what that hard time feels like? And are those the only people who deserve to practice poly? That kind of attitude seems very elitist to me (though I agree it's founded on very solid principles, this forum is for helping, not pushing people out who aren't on your level yet).

I do agree with another poster that this sounds like too much too fast for her. And I say that's okay. Normal, even. As someone who is in her boat and has been poly for 2 years, if my first poly experience had been a weekend sleepover in the home I share with my primary, I would have had an utter meltdown.

You two have a lot of work to do before smooth waters, so dig in now! Know that nothing is a quick fix. This is all a process.
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Last edited by monogamishSF; 03-26-2014 at 05:30 PM. Reason: typo.
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Old 03-26-2014, 05:53 PM
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Marcus Marcus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monogamishSF View Post
Why dismiss this struggling partner's business even exploring this new reality because she has hangups? We all do. "Gosh," as though she's a leper to the poly community and has no business being there since she's having a hard time?
No one is treating her like she's a leper or dismissing her issues. Stating (correctly) that she has demonstrated very low self esteem/confidence and asking if she has been to therapy is merely recognizing reality for what it is. Gosh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple View Post
despite nearly a decade of trying to convince her that she's amazingly good-looking, she still doesn't believe it and hides every time there is a camera.
The response you [monogamish] are labeling "elitist" was prompted by Apple explaining the above, that his platonic partner of many years has deep insecurity issues entirely unrelated to polyamory. It is a reasonable statement that someone with this level of insecurity is HIGHLY unlikely as a functional poly candidate. That's not to say that it isn't possible, but the deck is stacked against it and she likely has a great deal of work to do.

Defending someone from reality is not doing them any favors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by westVan View Post
What work has she done to come to terms with poly. You say you have discussed it a lot. But what work has she done on her own to help her with the issues.
Has she read any books, joined any groups , talked to anyone besides you?
There are a lot of resources that are available on line that she might find useful and insightful .
This is work she needs to do on her own with your support.
Very well said westVan. I'm not sure how much work N has put in to her emotional well being, where jealousy comes from and how to deal with it, and what poly might mean to her but I AM pretty sure there is much more work to be done. Unfortunately for our OP, that work can only be done by her.
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Last edited by Marcus; 03-26-2014 at 05:56 PM.
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  #9  
Old 03-26-2014, 06:33 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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What I have noticed lately is that many people here seem to treat polyamory as this "thing," in and of itself, that they have to master somehow. I mean, the word is just a description, not a methodology. Yes, there are poly groups and poly lingo, but ultimately there are relationships - and what makes relationships? People. So, it's really not hard to know what to do if we can remember that it isn't about mastering some esoteric technique, but just... how well do you treat yourself and the people you care about? What needs to be done to nurture the bonds that connect you with others? Is it more clear communication? Is it taking time for oneself? Is it getting out and socializing more? Is it better apportioning of one's time? Is it therapy and improving self-esteem? Everyone is different, and every relationship is different, so instead of focusing on "what makes poly work" or not, the way I see it is if we want to manage multiple loving relationships, all we have to do is open our eyes and hearts and respond to the people in front of us (including ourselves) in order to know what the fuck to do and how to handle the difficult shit.
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Last edited by nycindie; 03-26-2014 at 06:39 PM.
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:42 PM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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I don't think it's doing her any favours to pretend that nothing's missing in your relationship. You don't sound very convincing when you say you're okay with this level of intimacy. You said yourself you'd like more.

In essence, you began a romantic relationship 10 years ago, and now you have a friendship. Friendships are great, but they don't satisfy the need for romantic connection. There's nothing wrong with admitting that you need romance. That's not a failing in your partner, but that's not something you can "make" her see.

It's impossible for one person to build self-esteem in another person. It has to come from within. That's why it's called self-esteem. The exception might be the caregivers of young children, but she's not a young child and you're not her caregiver so that window's closed. There's no amount of compliments, reassurances, and lies you can tell her that will build her self-esteem. Mag's right, it's a therapy issue.
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