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  #11  
Old 04-02-2014, 08:38 PM
Openbiman Openbiman is offline
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Originally Posted by Eleanor View Post
I'm brand new to this forum, so still pretty excited to see people sharing experiences I often feel alone in having. I just want to say how much I appreciate your openness, and courage. I imagine it's not easy to be a bisexual male in a poly relationship - you are *violating* two major social norms. (It's funny, my lesbian sister has a trans boyfriend, and my liberal open-minded folks are totally ok with that. But my having a lover? SO NOT OK!) I feel for you. It's so hard to have intense feelings for someone and not have…anywhere for them to go (in terms of a *future* like marriage or living together), or anyone besides that person to share them with. And then to have to process your grief alongside your guilt at having the feelings in the first place. ROUGH. I hope you are getting a lot of support on this board. Good luck. Thanks for being a pioneer.
Thanks so much for this note. Good to "meet" another newbie to the forum!

I appreciate your kind words, especially since I don't always feel very courageous, or pioneering. Yes, being bi, and in a mixed orientation marriage, and now in an open (but mostly privately-open) marriage seems to have marked me, sometimes (and sadly) as persona non grata in various communities I might naturally look to for support in dealing with relationship issues. :-)

I've had gay and lesbian people accuse me of fence-sitting, confusion, greed, claiming privilege, yadda yadda; and gay men have made some outrageously misogynistic comments to me about women in general, and even my wife in particular. I've had trans* people, some other natural potential allies and supporters (though I'm the first to admit they need allies and support a hell of a lot more than I do), accuse me of reinforcing phallocentric and patriarchal gender norms. I also get this from radical-left feminists (of all genders) with whom I am usually politically aligned on many issues, at least in part.

Members of the bisexual community, when they find out I'm now non-mongamous, have told me to "just stay in the closet, then, as bi--we don't need more people supporting the myth that bis can't be faithful." When I counter that I was monogamous (more successfully than many straight, gay, or lesbian couples I know) for 20+ years, and that I am still faithful, as my wife and I define it with each other, they don't want to hear it. I've been told more than once that I'm "really letting down the bisexual team by fooling around like this."

(I should have gotten the tee-shirt, first....)

And, of course, the straight, mono and/or married friends we've told? Well.....some have been, wonderfully, very supportive, right off the bat. Others. Geez. Horror show. Broken friendships.

The total exception to all of this, of course, has been the wonderful people I've started to encounter in the open/poly communities. Like here on this board. It helps tremendously, and I hope that's true for you, too, at this point in your journey. I totally understand the particular disappointment of having one's (otherwise) most liberal and open-minded friends just not be able to withhold their disapproval (I have never, and will never, ask for their approval) and support (which I will ask for...cautiously).

And, yes, to update: "things" are better this week, much, on both the home front and with the boyfriend. My insecurities about what's happening on that latter front are still in play, but they are ebbing. In part that's because of some encouragement he's given me (unasked, unprompted), in part it's because I'm getting better at recognizing that, yes, this relationship with him must and will change over time--and reminding myself that I knew that going in, and that not all change must be (always and forever) bad.

My wife's capacity to actually commiserate with me over the ups and downs has amazed me over the last week. Once again, I let fear of hurting her cause me to fail to give her enough credit, and once again was reminded of why I fell in love with her all that time ago, and still am.
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  #12  
Old 04-02-2014, 11:21 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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Just read this thread for the first time. It sounds to me like you love him. You say you don't, and then cite not wanting to live with him and have all the trappings of an entwined partnership as some kind of evidence of not loving him. We tend to have all these "heavy" expectations about what loving someone means. However, love is just... love. It's very simple and natural, and loving someone doesn't have to automatically be equated with marriage-like relationship stuff or any change in commitment level. Love doesn't have to have any kind of meaning other than "this is a person I appreciate for who he is, with whom I connect on a human level and can be myself, whom I care about, enjoy his company, feel alive/happy/excited to be around, and have great affection for." Nothing, really, to be afraid of.

I think you and your wife have good basic communication skills, and obviously respect each other's differences, but you are walking a bit on eggshells around her, and that might be more out of your idea that you need to adjust who you are and your desires so as not to upset her. I used to walk on eggshells around my husband, thinking that I had to be careful about certain things, but basically, I was not happy nor living out my life as I wanted it - and amazingly, I discovered that he hated my doing that, always trying to figure out what he wanted and strategizing to meet it, without just full-on expressing what I wanted. I think maybe you and your wife need to talk more about both of your fears and how to acknowledge them without stepping around them so very very carefully. What does she feel threatened by, and why? You're trying so hard to bottle up who you are in a container that you believe will be acceptable to her and it's stressing you out.

If we can study ourselves, we can observe and become aware of the attachments we have to our partner(s). One clue is the feeling of pain. If we can find a way to objectively step outside a situation and see our own emotional reactions, and high expectations, we might find that we are no longer treating our partner(s) like respected friends, but are instead seeking approval and saying and doing what we do out of fear and insecurity - and that kind of attachment is not healthy.

As to your lover/boyfriend, I think it's important to look at expectations and see if any are unrealistic, be as upfront with your feelings as you can, and strive to feel love for people without attaching extraneous meaning and expectations to that love. I think if people have their eyes open, they can feel love, fondness, affection without letting themselves get attached and needy. But it takes some discipline not to get sucked into the euphoria that clouds our judgment.
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Last edited by nycindie; 04-02-2014 at 11:23 PM.
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  #13  
Old 04-03-2014, 01:05 AM
Openbiman Openbiman is offline
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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
... It sounds to me like you love him. You say you don't, and then cite not wanting to live with him and have all the trappings of an entwined partnership as some kind of evidence of not loving him. We tend to have all these "heavy" expectations about what loving someone means. However, love is just... love. It's very simple and natural, and loving someone doesn't have to automatically be equated with marriage-like relationship stuff or any change in commitment level. Love doesn't have to have any kind of meaning other than "this is a person I appreciate for who he is, with whom I connect on a human level and can be myself, whom I care about, enjoy his company, feel alive/happy/excited to be around, and have great affection for." Nothing, really, to be afraid of.
Thanks. I don't really dispute the wisdom of this at all. I know it to be true. At the same time, my language fails me: I need words to distinguish what I feel, have felt, and expect to feel for my wife from what I feel for this particular outside partner, or for future ones. "Love" covers them all, yes, provided one understands and believes there are different types of love, even of "romantic" love, and different way of living out that love that feel--and are--authentic.

But I suspect this is a common discussion in open and poly circles, with strong feelings all around. :-) For me, for us, for now, at least--I'll continue to use some caution and reticence in using "love" (without lots of qualifiers, at least) to describe what I feel for this boyfriend. Perhaps that's my open/poly-training wheels showing. So be it. My wife and I have not pretended that I--or anyone--can control who I might fall in love with, but have "merely" promised each other that I will not get so emotionally entwined with another as to put us at real risk. Being careful--perhaps inauthentically careful, in some people's eyes--in how I describe and think about my outside relationships is part of keeping that promise. Hope that makes some degree of sense.

I hear you loud and clear about the dangers of walking on eggshells. Trying to do far less of it lately, in fact. And already do far less than I used to, going back to when we first started this stage of our lives together. I struggle with finding the right balance between being open about the emotional experiences of seeing other people, and of this guy in particular, and rubbing her nose in things. I think her fears are entirely understandable in her position, and the ones I would have, and the granddaddy of them is: will I fall so deeply in love with someone else I decide I do want to leave her, to have that person become a primary?

There are lots of other fears that lead up to that one, of course, but that's the main one. And we have talked about it--a lot. But, obviously, we're still learning how--this is the first time, after all, I've actually had this level of emotional involvement with an outside partner.

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
As to your lover/boyfriend, I think it's important to look at expectations and see if any are unrealistic, be as upfront with your feelings as you can, and strive to feel love for people without attaching extraneous meaning and expectations to that love. I think if people have their eyes open, they can feel love, fondness, affection without letting themselves get attached and needy. But it takes some discipline not to get sucked into the euphoria that clouds our judgment.
Thanks--yes, all true, as well. And hard. :-) It's that judgment-clouding euphoria stuff that's tricky, ain't it? I do probably have some unrealistic expectations of him, and am trying, honestly, to readjust them. I think I will be able to, but it will take time. I certainly don't enjoy feeling at all needy--who does?--and am, when feeling better about things, able to see more objectively the importance for all of us of my cultivating an ability to truly accept affection that is given, as it is given, without that insecure "need" for more.

Sorry for the rambling response. Tired--but appreciate your thoughts. You've given me much to reflect on.
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  #14  
Old 04-03-2014, 03:06 AM
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Re:
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"Will I fall so deeply in love with someone else I decide I do want to leave her, to have that person become a primary?"
Hmmm; while acknowledging it as a valid fear of the emotional heart, I'd caution against seeing it as a likely outcome in the rational mind. Many, many people have managed to fall as deeply in love as one could ever imagine with a new partner without desiring to leave their original partner. What this generally means is that someone ends up with more than one primary partner. I am in one of those situations myself, so I know it's possible: three adults, no secondaries.

It would be presumptuous of me to assume that such would be the case for you, and you do know yourself and your wife far better than I do. I am just saying that it's not always like the old Highlander movie where, "There can be only one!" Sometimes there can be more than one. Who knows if/when that might be.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:27 PM
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Re:


Hmmm; while acknowledging it as a valid fear of the emotional heart, I'd caution against seeing it as a likely outcome in the rational mind. Many, many people have managed to fall as deeply in love as one could ever imagine with a new partner without desiring to leave their original partner. What this generally means is that someone ends up with more than one primary partner. I am in one of those situations myself, so I know it's possible: three adults, no secondaries.

It would be presumptuous of me to assume that such would be the case for you, and you do know yourself and your wife far better than I do. I am just saying that it's not always like the old Highlander movie where, "There can be only one!" Sometimes there can be more than one. Who knows if/when that might be.
Thank you. And thanks especially for not presuming or "prescribing." And sincere congrats on having found such happiness in your lives--that's great to hear of.

For us, for now, the Highlander Rule (hah!) is our comfort zone, and our agreement/covenant with each other as to how we will (seek) to incorporate other partners into our life together. I recognize and honor that others who have become open or poly find that other paths work for them, that deep love for many is possible without abandoning any; perhaps that will be us at some point, perhaps not. When we currently visualize and discuss what our "ideal" outside relationships mean for me and for us, we are both pretty comfortable with the primary/secondary schema and approach. Time, of course, will tell--as it does with all such things. Thanks again.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:54 PM
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Thanks so much for this note. Good to "meet" another newbie to the forum!


I've had gay and lesbian people accuse me of fence-sitting, confusion, greed, claiming privilege, yadda yadda; and gay men have made some outrageously misogynistic comments to me about women in general, and even my wife in particular. I've had trans* people, some other natural potential allies and supporters (though I'm the first to admit they need allies and support a hell of a lot more than I do), accuse me of reinforcing phallocentric and patriarchal gender norms. I also get this from radical-left feminists (of all genders) with whom I am usually politically aligned on many issues, at least in part.

Members of the bisexual community, when they find out I'm now non-mongamous, have told me to "just stay in the closet, then, as bi--we don't need more people supporting the myth that bis can't be faithful." When I counter that I was monogamous (more successfully than many straight, gay, or lesbian couples I know) for 20+ years, and that I am still faithful, as my wife and I define it with each other, they don't want to hear it. I've been told more than once that I'm "really letting down the bisexual team by fooling around like this."
Ouch. I'm so sorry. I'm bi, and although I'm one of those bi people who can only handle being partnered with one person at a time, it is really awful that people who ought to know better are blaming you for "upholding" a stereotype that you didn't invent.

Respectability politics stink.

*offers a gentle hand-squeeze of commiseration, if you'd like one*
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  #17  
Old 04-03-2014, 10:44 PM
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Openbiman, I just want to say kudos in general, and thanks for taking my mini-lecture with a grain of salt. Don't let the rest of the "freak community" get you down. Fly your own flag proudly!
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  #18  
Old 04-04-2014, 08:11 PM
Openbiman Openbiman is offline
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Originally Posted by Garriguette View Post

Respectability politics stink.

*offers a gentle hand-squeeze of commiseration, if you'd like one*
*Squeeze gladly accepted and returned.*

Thank you. I love the phrase "Respectability politics stink." In a few of those conversations, I've had to say, "I can only sign on to be a spokesperson for my life, no one else's."

In fairness: there have, of course, been many people in the wider LGBTQ community who have gone out of their way, when I have put myself in a position to be found and welcomed, to welcome me into their circles, without getting all "agenda-y" about my particular life choices. And to be honest, it's all wrapped up in my head a bit: I can respect those for whom non-monogamy is just a bridge too far (after all: I was one of them--and may be again, for all I know), and can even understand the political queasiness that some bisexuals and *trans or gender fluid/gender-queer folks feel about non-monogamy, even if I despair a bit at the rush to (surface-level) heteronormativity--but I get it. What's always harder to accept or understand or even be in the same room with is the bi-phobia and bi-erasure, and its close cousin, misogyny.

So, I usually just politely leave the room, as it were. Thanks for the boost. :-)
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Old 04-04-2014, 08:12 PM
Openbiman Openbiman is offline
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Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
Openbiman, I just want to say kudos in general, and thanks for taking my mini-lecture with a grain of salt. Don't let the rest of the "freak community" get you down. Fly your own flag proudly!
Thanks--you weren't lecturing at all; I appreciate your sharing your perspective.

Flying proudly, as best I can. :-)
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  #20  
Old 04-04-2014, 08:45 PM
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Hi All,

Thanks for reading my rambling. I guess what I hope by posting is to hear from others who've been here, been through this, and come out the other side intact, who've figured out how to deal with the emotional impact of changes in their "secondary" relationships without placing too much burden on their primary relationships nor without keeping too much inside.
Self-quoting by way of posting a little update and another sincere "Thanks" to all those who replied to my original post here, a little over a week ago. Hearing from you, interacting with you, has been tremendously helpful, even if a little challenging in spots. So glad I found this place.

Also glad to be able to report, a week or so on, that I'm feeling perceptibly better about, well....all of this.

As mentioned piecemeal in some other replies, my wife and I have really dug deep and clarified--and enlarged--our sense of what we're both comfortable with in terms of my likely occasional need for "spouse care" if/when things in an outside relationship shift, or end, or merely have me feeling insecure that they might. We're in a much better place on this--which is to say: we weren't in as bad a place as I thought we were, and I had once again let fears keep me from accepting her full, unconditional love and support. Damn you, human frailty! :-) We've been able to establish some new "norms" (for us, of course, others mileage may vary) that we think will help us negotiate these circumstances in the future. And, at the very least, we've now encountered this dynamic, so never have to go through the scary first time with it again.

As if often the case, just knowing I was able to more fully express my fears and feelings about this other relationship, and then doing so, allowed me to see they are, while not totally irrational, more than a little bit overblown. And in the intervening week, unprompted, he's been great. Not back to the level of interaction we had in the early months, but at a level that I can very easily imagine getting comfortable with going forward. And we're scheduled to talk very soon about the next few months' mutual (or divergent) expectations, recognizing we're entering a period where, for both of us, seeing each other even at the limited frequency we had been might not be possible. Again, just giving myself permission to initiate that conversation, and having it be very well received, has taken some of the fear air out of the balloon. I'm getting a little less "moony and lovesick" day by day....

There are no guarantees, of course. And things might still be shifting significantly, even in ways that could be "the beginning of some end." But I feel I can ask him to have an honest conversation about that now, from a position of affection and hope, not from one of insecurity and fear, and it'll be what it'll be....

I've also opened up about the entire situation of these past few years to one close friend who, as I think I mentioned elsewhere, was wonderfully supportive. That made--and will continue to make--such a difference.

Finally, in evidence that the universe likes to mess with me in both good ways and bad, another (former) outside partner reached out this week, and we ended up meeting for just conversation, but are both open to the possibility of a "restart"--some misunderstandings were settled, and our friendship and chemistry is still there, so I'm optimistic that we can pick up in many senses where we left off--a very fun, casual, sexy friendship.

No doubt the ego boost of that, and the support from my wife, and feeling less isolation, and having had good contact with the boyfriend this past week, are all helping lessen the sense of insecurity over whatever may be shifting with him. The last part of that may not last, of course. But for now, at least, I'm feeling stronger in my ability to work through it healthfully if it doesn't.

Thanks again.
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