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Old 01-26-2015, 05:00 AM
murkycrow murkycrow is offline
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Default Difficulty With my Partner's Other Partner

Hey guys. I've been reading the forums for awhile now but this is my first post.

I'm having a difficult time dealing with my partner's long-distance partner, and I guess I'm looking for advice or insight into how other people handle things when they're not going well.

My situation is particularly difficult for me because my introduction to polyamory kind of started out on the wrong foot. My girlfriend and I have been together for about seven years. Last Christmas, we traveled back home to see family and friends. A longtime, what I considered good friend, had a house party one night. We went to the party together, but I left early because I was coming down with the flu. My girlfriend was at the party early into the morning, and when she came home, she told me that our friend had gotten really drunk, professed his feelings for her, and tried to kiss her. He and his girlfriend had an open relationship, and he told her that he wrongly assumed she and I also had that kind of relationship because of things he had heard. She told him that was not the case, and he apologized to her the next day. When she told me about this, I tried not to get mad about it and chalked it up to people doing stupid things when they're drunk and told her it wasn't a big deal. I thought that would be the end of it, but it wasn't.

A few months later, my girlfriend came to me and told me that she also kind of liked our friend too, and that she thought she might be polyamorous. Our friend had introduced the idea to her, and I guess it resonated with her and how she had felt during ours and her previous relationships. I was pretty hurt at first, but I wanted her to be happy, and I was intrigued some of the freedoms open relationships offered, so I agreed to stay in the relationship and see how it would go.

He and his girlfriend have visited us twice now since then, and I have discovered that each time, I have felt increasingly more annoyed/angry with him. The first time they visited, we just kind of tested the waters. His girlfriend had expressed being attracted to me and been flirtatious before, so I went with it. We went out to a club and had a really fun time, and then the next day my girlfriend ended up making out with him and his girlfriend made out with me. Some sexual stuff happened too, but each of us only had intercourse with our own partner.

After our friends went back home, everything was fine for a long time. My girlfriend was more affectionate to me that usual, we were communicating better than we ever had before, and things were just generally going very well. However, I began to notice that my girlfriend was texting with him more and more, and I could tell that they were becoming closer, which made me have some jealous feelings, but I tried to work through them. She later confided in me that she would be interested in something more sexual happening with him since they were becoming closer. I was nervous at first about what would happen, but I had fun the last time they visited, so I agreed when an opportunity came up for them to come back. This time we all actually did end up swapping partners. The next morning, I was kind of a wreck, but I tried not to let it ruin the rest of everyone's weekend. My friend noticed that I was agitated and looked "sad", and so he backed off for the rest of the time they were in town, which I appreciated.

I began to resent his presence over the following weeks, and the more I thought about things, the more angry I became with him. I realized that I was still mad at him for trying to kiss my girlfriend at his party last year. I thought it and opportunistic since I has gone home ill, and I felt that even if he did have feelings for my girlfriend, that's not how one should go about telling her. Those feelings stewed for awhile and I developed this long list of reasons why he's a bad friend and my girlfriend shouldn't have feelings for him. I realize now a lot of that was jealousy I never dealt with, but I'm still struggling with some of those feelings a few months later, and it's making me pretty unhappy at times. He and I have had conversations about how I feel, but nothing has really come of it. He admitted what he did was selfish and callous, but he never actually apologized to me for it and doesn't feel that he wronged me because I acted like it was no big deal back then and allowed thing to progress since.

I had started to think that maybe I was overreacting, looking for reasons to be mad at him, or holding a grudge. But then last week he did something that made me really angry and brought all of those feelings back and reinforced the negative feelings I had developed about him. When all of this started, it was explicitly stated that I did not want our large pool of mutual friends to know about our open relationship until I had more time to figure things out. He met up with his very unstable ex-girlfriend one night last week, and she confronted him about hearing that he had slept with her (ex)best friend, my girlfriend. He told her the truth, and she proceeded to go on a drunken rampage in which she publicly called us out on facebook, and she sent harassing texts to both of us. I was furious for the next few days because he had broken the boundary that I had established, and I thought he agreed to. Just because she asked him if it was true, he was in no way obligated to tell her the truth, and now we've been outed to lots of close friends and acquaintances.

The next day I sent him a series of texts explaining that I was very angry about the situation, and that it was further evidence that he is not willing to respect my boundaries or to consider how his actions affect other people. He again did not apologize, and tried to minimize my feelings by saying that not a lot of people saw and the whole thing would blow over soon.

I talked about all of this with my girlfriend as well, and while she was also angry about everything that happened, she got over it very quickly and began telling me the same minimizing things he did. She basically told me that she can't deal with he and I not getting along, and handling both of her relationships with us as completely separate is the only solution she has right now. This is not ideal because I know that it is hard for her to not be able to talk with me about important parts of her life out of fear that it will upset me. It is also tough for me because we all have been part of a large group of mutual friends for over seven years, and it feels like the two of us not getting along isolates me from everyone.

A few days ago he texted me and asked what he should say if people ask him about what his ex said about us all. I appreciated it a lot because it showed me that he's considering my feelings now. So, I replied and then told him that I'm not as upset about it anymore, I know he's not responsible for what she did with the information, and that I'm sorry I've been kind of aggressive and difficult lately. I also asked him if he had any other things he'd like to discuss, but he hasn't responded. I'm worried now that maybe I've pushed him so far away that we won't ever be able to work out our differences. I do miss how things were when we all got along, and I know my girlfriend wishes we could all be close, but I don't know what to do.

Sorry all of this turned into such a long explanation. I guess there's more to the story that I first realized. I suppose what I'm asking is: what do you guys do when you have differences with your partner's partners that can't seem to be worked out? Have any of you had a situation like this where things are further complicated by your partner's new partner being a close friend? Any advice or insight would really be appreciated.
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Old 01-26-2015, 08:31 AM
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graviton graviton is offline
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Pretty much the same thing happened to me and I am no longer part of that circle of friends because of the bad feelings. The experiment of poly is over because nobody was truly prepared to deal with the emotions or do the necessary reading. Feelings got hurt all around and its one of my biggest regrets because I lost a lover, a friend and a social circle. Trust me...things can get a whole lot worse for you. Some tips...
1. lose your ego and self righteousness about your friend expressing his feelings to your girlfriend
2. treat him the way you would like to be treated, even if its the exact opposite of what you're feeling, swallow your pride and jealousy and love your girlfriend by focusing on your relations with her rather than your friend
3. talk to your girlfriend and really decide if you want to continue further down this path knowing what you know about being outed and some of the other aspects
4. really do some work into understanding that you do not own your girlfriend and I believe that's where your anger is stemming from about him telling her his feelings, you feel he has stolen your property. Remember she shares herself with you and she shares herself with him, your jealousy and anger towards him is likely to only cause a rift between you and her
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Old 01-26-2015, 01:58 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I am sorry you struggle.

Quote:
He admitted what he did was selfish and callous, but he never actually apologized to me for it and doesn't feel that he wronged me because I acted like it was no big deal back then and allowed thing to progress since.
I get his POV -- if you act like it is all cool, how's he supposed to know you still want closure on this ages later?

Quote:
he told her that he wrongly assumed she and I also had that kind of relationship because of things he had heard. She told him that was not the case, and he apologized to her the next day.
He did the right thing. He apologized to the person he made a pass at for going on erroneous data. Why do you think he need to apologize to you? To me it sounds like you want him to apologize for not approaching both of you sober to see if you guys were for a quad. But you frame it as "for kissing her while I was away."

Well, he was drunk. It is a reason and not an excuse for broaching it less than awesomely.

But you could make him aware of your wish it had gone differently and with you included. You sound like you need to air that out with him. So ask if he's willing to hear you express what you still need to express. Make a date.

You being included and considered is a theme in most of this post. You could ask your quad people to know this is something you really value and would like.
Along with examples for how to do that behavior.

Quote:
I had started to think that maybe I was overreacting, looking for reasons to be mad at him, or holding a grudge.
Possibly. Are you doing that?

Apart from that, I think you could be suffering some poly hell feelings and not sure how to process them. Maybe you all read that article together and talkabout how to weather out this transition time while avoiding most of those pitfalls and caring for each individual in the quad?

Quote:
I was furious for the next few days because he had broken the boundary that I had established, and I thought he agreed to. Just because she asked him if it was true, he was in no way obligated to tell her the truth, and now we've been outed to lots of close friends and acquaintances.
You "thought" you all agreed to? Did they think the same thing? That this was making an agreement across the 4 about how "out" you are? Or did they think it was you expressing a preference?

The crazy ex gf had no call to behave this way, but it might be worth checking in with the quad to be sure you are all on the same page for how "out" you are to people.

But who "owns" that data? When you friend and gf sleep together? They do. Who is AFFECTED by that data? The quad. Just because the friend has had poly experience before doesn't mean he is still not just as new in THIS quad as everyone else. Everyone is on a learning curve for this particular quad.

You guys could talk about information management and how "out" you want to be with other people, and how you make agreements so everyone understands this is an agreement being made.

Quote:
The next day I sent him a series of texts explaining that I was very angry about the situation, and that it was further evidence that he is not willing to respect my boundaries or to consider how his actions affect other people. He again did not apologize, and tried to minimize my feelings by saying that not a lot of people saw and the whole thing would blow over soon.
Why are you doing serious relationship talk over text? Text is for setting an appointment to talk it out. It is not the forum for having the serious relationship talk. You miss out on the non-verbal and paraverbal parts of communication on "flat & narrow channel" like that. Email is better. Still flat, but not as narrow. Phone is better than email. Face to face is better than phone. Choose the right channel for serious relationship talk. Is some of the turbulence coming out of that -- trying to do serious convo over text?

We teach others how we want to be treated. Have you told him you prefer he validate your feelings by saying "I see you are upset" rather than trying to comfort you by scaling it down because it feels minimizing to you? Does he do defensive listening?

What about you? How's your approach? Do you come out of the gate aggressive seeking "to punish" him over something? Or seeking understanding and solutions for the next time? Does your approach provoke defensive listening rather than active listening?

Both people's communication style (talking and listening skills) contribute to how a communication exchange goes. Is some of the turbulence coming from something there?

Quote:
A few days ago he texted me and asked what he should say if people ask him about what his ex said about us all. I appreciated it a lot because it showed me that he's considering my feelings now. So, I replied and then told him that I'm not as upset about it anymore, I know he's not responsible for what she did with the information, and that I'm sorry I've been kind of aggressive and difficult lately.I also asked him if he had any other things he'd like to discuss, but he hasn't responded.

To me the simplest is something like "Thank you for your concern. My ex and I have things to work out that I want to keep between us. More people involved just blows it up more. I'll let you know if there's anything you can do. Thank you. "

Sounds like you told him your preferences already. Did he have anything? Not in the moment. You could follow up and check in to be sure. Then let it go rather than fretting.

Quote:
I'm worried now that maybe I've pushed him so far away that we won't ever be able to work out our differences.
If you are trying to have open, up front communication, and he with you... how is this "pushing him away?" There's bumps, sure. But you both are still showing up at the table. It's a good thing.


If you need reassurance that he's good, you could ask. Maybe something like
"I appreciate you have been communicating with me even through emotional stuff. I feel better. I appreciate you hanging in there with me and your willingness to cover my stuff. I'd like reassurance that you are feeling ok and don't have anything pending we still need to cover. I'm willing to cover your stuff too."
Quote:
I suppose what I'm asking is: what do you guys do when you have differences with your partner's partners that can't seem to be worked out? Have any of you had a situation like this where things are further complicated by your partner's new partner being a close friend?
Could remember he is a friend for a reason -- well before you guys started a quad thing and he became your metamour. To me it is way better to deal in this transition stuff with a friend than a stranger!

I think that there's always some turbulence as you find the "new normal" and it just feels WEIRD til it arrives. It's the stages of change. It just feels roller coaster at some points in the process.

It sounds like overall he tries to work with you through the transition time. That's good.

I think you guys need to talk about relationship management more, and examine if all have the skills required for what this is going to take. I think you jumped into sex share too fast without covering that first. Could cover it now and reduce turbulence coming out of that area.

http://www.practicalpolyamory.com/do...documents.html
http://www.kathylabriola.com/articles
http://openingup.net/resources/free-...om-opening-up/
https://www.morethantwo.com

are hub pages to get you started. There's many more resources out there.

If you are just not up for quad any more? Bow out peacefully and continue to be friends while letting go of being lovers.

If you are still up for quad? I think you could focus on these things to help make the journey easier even though roller coastery-- that he is your friend, overall he tries to work with you. Things on the "forest level." Rather than focussing on every bump in the path rattling you wagon. Expect it to have some bumps, expect to lean into it, and expect to ride it out. Expect to feel weird until you arrive at the "new quad normal." Hopefully experiencing some bumps and seeing you and the quad manage it and pull through increases your confidence. Then over time they come less often and feel less jarring when they do because you have experience under your belt and confidence this quad can deal as whole and the individuals can deal as individuals.

You guys don't sound like bad people to me -- just struggling people in transitional time.

Hang in there!
Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 01-26-2015 at 02:26 PM.
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  #4  
Old 01-26-2015, 10:28 PM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Hi murkycrow,

I think that sometimes it just take times to work out your differences with a friend. Maybe he needs some time to lick his wounds, maybe you need some time to lick your wounds.

Everyone has different ways of communicating. Some people are quick to apologize. Others find it awkward. Some people tend to say, "I'm sorry that you're feeling bad," where others might say, "Awww, you don't need to feel bad." Sometimes you can ask for a certain communication style and that's fine, but you can still forgive someone if they haven't used that style in the past, or even if they still find it hard to do.

GalaGirl and graviton both gave plenty of good advice, so I won't belabor any of it. Just wanted to add my few cents. I can see how things have been difficult for you. Give it some time.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
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Old 02-01-2015, 05:24 AM
murkycrow murkycrow is offline
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Hey guys. Thanks for the advice, and sorry for the late reply. We had a death in our family this week, so I've been pretty busy and distracted.

Graviton:
Sorry to hear you've had similar difficulties. My girlfriend and I have talked a lot this week about things like where my jealousy comes from and where we want to go from here since we were outed to some people in a way that wasn't on our own terms. I also realize he can't "steal" her from me, but it's difficult to shake the traditional ideas about love and relationships that have been ingrained in me. I'm working on it though, and I feel quite a bit better about things now compared to when I made my first post.

GalaGirl:
Thanks for your thorough reply. You gave a lot of good advice.

You are right that inclusion is a theme in my first post, and that I have been going through a lot of the things in the poly hell article you posted, particularly intrusion and demotion. I struggle with the fear that I might be replaced, or that my partner will forget about me and/or I'll get demoted. But like I said, she and I talked about things a lot this week and I feel a lot better. She has been great about being patient and reassuring to me from the start.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
You "thought" you all agreed to? Did they think the same thing? That this was making an agreement across the 4 about how "out" you are? Or did they think it was you expressing a preference?
"Thought" was the wrong word choice. We all did agree to keep things between the four of us long before anything physical actually happened. My girlfriend was upset about the breaking of the agreement as well, and he has since agreed that he messed up. It's fine now though. She and I are both over it, and after talking about it, I see that its not really fair for me to expect everyone involved to be totally secretive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
Why are you doing serious relationship talk over text?
We've been talking via text because it's just the way we've always talked, even before he and my girlfriend became more than just friends. He also lives over a thousand miles away, and up until now we have only seen each other a few times every year. I'm sorry I wasn't clear on that. I agree that text is probably not the best way to communicate, but meeting in person isn't possible, and living in different time zones/work/etc. make other methods difficult. I can try email though and see if that helps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
If you are just not up for quad any more? Bow out peacefully and continue to be friends while letting go of being lovers. text?
This is another thing I don't think I explained well. My friend's girlfriend and I were just in this with each other as something casual. Neither of us are interested in being anything more than that. As for he and I, we're just friends. There's no romantic involvement there either. We're now a V configuration, where my girlfriend is the hinge.

Thank you for the links as well. I read the More Than Two book, and it helped a great deal.

kdt26417:

I agree that maybe we both just need space to lick our wounds. We're both kind of awkward anyway, so that doesn't help. Thanks for your input.

As for an update, I have not heard from him regarding my question to him if he had anything else he'd like to discuss. My girlfriend told me that she doesn't think he is intentionally ignoring me and that he probably just missed it or forgot to reply. I'll give him a little longer and try checking in again if I don't hear anything. I am also planning to take a trip home by myself in the next month or two to visit family. I'll probably see if he wants to get a beer or something and we can talk and catch up in person. Thanks again, everyone.
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