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Old 03-21-2011, 04:45 PM
habitat habitat is offline
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Unhappy Boundaries crossed - not sure if I'm okay - how do I respond?

Hey there everybody. Newbie here.

Apologies for the post length. If I've breeched any UAs, please let me know - I'd be happy to edit as appropriate.

I've got some questions about how to deal with boundaries. Any thoughts, experience or advice is appreciated. Thanks.

A quick introduction: I am a female, and woman identifying. My partner, let's call him Pretty, and I have been seriously dating for six months. We are both queer. When pressed to use labels, I am pansexual (note, not bisexual) and he is pansexual/genderqueer. Because this is all still relatively new to us, all of Pretty's sustained relationships so far have been with women, though he has had intimate encounters with men and male-bodied people. Most, but not all, of my relationships have been with men. We use female pronouns for Pretty when we are in safe spaces, behind closed doors. We essentially have a lesbian-esque intimacy. In bed, I have definite (but gentle, and always explicitly consensual) top tendencies that I've also explored in previous relationships, and he is becoming familiar with his bottom-ness.

Something that I was immediately upfront about is my intention to become a mother, and sole-parent by choice. Becoming a mother has always been a pillar in my identity. It's a biological imperative of mine to bear a child, and I know it's in the cards for the near future. In the fall, I will be 23 years old and will begin trying to conceive with a known sperm donor. Amazingly, Pretty has always been very supportive of this and is excited to be involved as a family member, but not as a "parent". We have talked extensively about this and I am determined to be the sole custodial parent of my child in an extended family/community network. This is the choice that is right for me. I will engage in relationships as though I were a single parent. I am reading a lot about poly family situations. I am very open about this in general, to my families and friends, and I have a lot of whole-hearted support from my community.

That's where we're at.

When we began our relationship, I came out right away as poly, and he was nervous but definitely excited, too, and agreed to try a poly dynamic. He is familiar with poly, since his best friend strongly identifies as such and has frequently discussed it with him for years. I had never had a serious poly dynamic before, so this was new for both of us. We agreed that it would take some getting used to, but that it was important to us to make the effort. We are both radical queers, though, and poly is definitely present in our radical/anti-authoritarian urban community, so it wasn't a big stretch in that sense. We dated pretty exclusively for a while, all the while being open with each other about our crushes and attractions, and we got comfy with each other before adding partners to the mix. We essentially lived together, spending at least six nights per week in my bed. We've been through a pregnancy termination together (it was mutual - we weren't prepared to be parents and it wasn't what I felt comfortable with) and we share absolutely everything. We are very much in love.

I was the first one to branch out and start having "outside" intimacies. In fact, three months into my relationship with Pretty (and about three months ago), Pretty went to visit family and I sort of accidentally gained two additional (though decidedly less "serious") partners in one week. One of them was a dear friend and potential sperm donor, let's call him Mailman - a male/man who happens to be a housemate of mine (I live in a community house of ten people). Another was a new female friend, Roo.

I confessed my crush to Roo via drunkie text at a holiday party. Smooth, right? One thing led to another, and we started to become intimate. This was comfy with Pretty, as he is admittedly less conditioned to be jealous of female partners. Then, one night while Pretty was visiting family, Mailman and I snuggled up and shared some nice kisses. It was very nice and long-awaited, but pretty tough on Pretty for a while. Boundaries stayed in tact, so Pretty was able to cope and Mailman and I were happy with that, too.

Pretty and I had one boundary - no PIV sex with other partners. We realized that this was a pretty typical hetero-normative agreement, but it nonetheless seemed like the best way to make a gradual progression without stepping on each other's toes to start. We both have ideals for a totally open situation, but neither of us were ready for that (particularly Pretty, at the time). And, since we were both doing well at coping and communicating as it was, I was happy to keep that boundary in place until further notice. I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it was going. Pretty was spending a night here and there cuddling and flirting with friends, while I was spending a night or two a week with another Love.

Fast forward to the present day. My relationship with Roo is evolving back into a friendship. As partners, she and I communicate in often unhealthy, opposing ways that definitely need more practice. We've decided to give it a rest and work on our connection before we decide whether we want to be sexually intimate again. I doubt that we will. We do very much care about each other and will be good friends, regardless. Mailman is harried and dealing with some stress that makes it harder for him to find time, but we are still very intimate as friends. So, in practice right now, I am essentially exclusively intimate with Pretty. All of this is okay with me. As for Pretty, he started dating a long-time crush of his, Ladybug. I like Ladybug a lot and I'm happy for them. I have been working through it as well as one could hope, I think - with a bit of jealousy and a lot of love. He is very excited about this relationship and wants to pursue it freely. I was very open to that.

Enter Drama :: The other night, he slipped and crossed our boundary with Ladybug, which has been really tough on us. Tougher than I expected. She was familiar with the boundary but apparently it got by both of them that night, and they went for it anyway. I can't stay outright mad at him - it's clear to me that the boundary didn't work for them anymore. They are falling head-over-heels and he's very passionate about her. But it would have been far more ideal of him to approach me about it first and open up a dialogue and be patient. He knows this and is obviously experiencing a lot of anxiety about it. I hate to imagine the moment where he decided that it was just okay to cross the line. I feel disrespected and hurt. He's upset that I'm upset, and wants us to be together. But he also wants to continue pursuing a sexual/PIV sex-ful relationship with Ladybug, at their pace. He says he can't make anymore promises about boundaries, etc... and isn't making any of it an option. I get this. I don't own him and he wants to act on the love he has for her, but my insecurities are getting the best of me. They've been friends for years, but as they've only been dating (and only occasionally) for two weeks, I thought I'd have more time to talk about this and work through it before they moved on to the next step. Though I understand that he has needs and wants to meet them, I feel completely powerless now - to have my comfort levels acknowledged and respected, and to ease into new things with open dialogue and a little fair warning. Then again, I know that if he had really thought that they were definitely facing that progression, and how hard it would be not to act out of passion, I trust that he would have said something. I do understand that mistakes happen. Given that I've been intimate with other partners before, I'm not sure how reasonable or unreasonable I'm being about what is really a technicality. He did come tome and confess right away, with an open honesty and sincere apology. On one hand I want to be the supportive partner, who only has love to give and only acts in love and understanding. On the other hand, I'm afraid that by "allowing" him to just pursue this in spite of the clear boundaries we'd already communicated, and my desire to go a bit slower, we will set a precedent for disrespect and disregard of my feelings. I'm not sure how to feel and I wish I knew how upset I should be getting!

My immediate impulse is to take back some control - to really turn down the volume on my relationship with Pretty and make it way more part-time, and perhaps even PIV/fluids-free. I have a three-nights-a-week scenario in mind, which would be a powerful change for us. I'm not sure if I'm acting out of resentment or common sense - he wants to seriously develop his relationship with Ladybug and I know that if I don't start weaning myself, time-wise, he will do the weaning for me. Regardless of how I might want to feel, that scares the living $%^& out of me. I'm ashamed to say that part of me just wants to be done with it, even, since I can't guarantee that my comfort levels will be taken into account, and neither can he.

But then, I LOVE HIM. I LOVE HIM. I LOVE HIM. I want him to be around and part of my family as I become pregnant, give birth and raise a child. A part of me is afraid that he's moving away from me - that he's prioritizing other relationships over keeping ours comfortable and safe, because they're more important. Maybe these are crazy thoughts, but I'm not sure.


What do people think? How could I most adequately communicate/respond/advocate for myself and our relationship? Am I being too this way or that way?
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:07 PM
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TL4everu2 TL4everu2 is offline
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Ok, pardon me for not picking up on it, but was the "boundary" which was "crossed", a fluid bonding? If so, Pretty has endangered ALL of you, and my opinion, would be to cut it off for a while....but that's just me. And, if you look at any of my posts in any of my blogs, I tend to be kind of a fatalist. So...yeah...There is my opinion. Take it...or leave it. Best of luck to all of you.
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:11 PM
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No, the "boundary" was not fluid bonding. It was protected PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex with a condom. My apologies for leaving that important detail out of the OP!
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:19 PM
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No worries. Maybe I missed it. (I do that from time to time)

Anyway, it really edpends on WHAT the boundary was. Also, boundaries...are there for a reason yes, however, they should be "fluid" and everyone needs to be open to the possibility that they COULD be crossed. Not that they SHOULD be crossed, but they COULD be crossed. Obviously, preferance would have it that they NOT be crossed, but it can and often DOES happen. So have forgiveness in your heart. If it happens more than once...Replace forgiveness with distrust and end the relationship, or get used to it.
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:27 PM
habitat habitat is offline
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Quote:
TL4everu2
No worries. Maybe I missed it. (I do that from time to time)

Anyway, it really edpends on WHAT the boundary was. Also, boundaries...are there for a reason yes, however, they should be "fluid" and everyone needs to be open to the possibility that they COULD be crossed. Not that they SHOULD be crossed, but they COULD be crossed. Obviously, preferance would have it that they NOT be crossed, but it can and often DOES happen. So have forgiveness in your heart. If it happens more than once...Replace forgiveness with distrust and end the relationship, or get used to it.
It's not that I don't recognize that the boundaries should change to fit our needs. Obviously, as I said, that particular boundary was clearly ill-fitting by that point. But we created the boundary out of mutual respect for our feelings. We explicitly stated that we would each take responsibility and open a dialogue to change the boundaries, as needed, *before acting*. My problem is that I wasn't warned and I didn't get to express my feelings beforehand.

I do forgive him, of course. He is wonderful and I understand his needs. I just want to make sure that everyone's comfortable with what's going on.
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:47 PM
TruckerPete TruckerPete is offline
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Originally Posted by habitat View Post
On the other hand, I'm afraid that by "allowing" him to just pursue this in spite of the clear boundaries we'd already communicated, and my desire to go a bit slower, we will set a precedent for disrespect and disregard of my feelings. I'm not sure how to feel and I wish I knew how upset I should be getting!
This bit stuck out at me. Have you communicated this fear to him? He sounds like a pretty decent person, who seems to have gotten caught up in NRE and the moment.

Boundaries are a give and take. He's taken already by stepping over the boundary. What do you need to feel more comfortable with his relationship with Ladybug? Ask that of him, and then set a time to review that boundary, if he feels it to be chafing. The review could be a week, two weeks, a month down the line, but it will allow you time to process, and also gives him a date that he knows such boundaries will be reviewed by, so he's not feeling trapped by you.

As for how upset you should be ... Well, you don't sound too upset with the transgression itself, more the implications of it. (i.e. continued disrespect) So, if it feels natural to let it go, then do so. If you need some time to get over it, take that time. Everyone deals with hurt differently, so don't feel like you have a quota of upsetness that you must fill.
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:52 PM
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It was protected PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex . . .
I just learned a new acronym!
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Old 03-21-2011, 06:09 PM
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i just learned a new acronym!
ditto!
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Old 03-21-2011, 06:12 PM
habitat habitat is offline
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Originally Posted by TruckerPete View Post
This bit stuck out at me. Have you communicated this fear to him? He sounds like a pretty decent person, who seems to have gotten caught up in NRE and the moment.

Boundaries are a give and take. He's taken already by stepping over the boundary. What do you need to feel more comfortable with his relationship with Ladybug? Ask that of him, and then set a time to review that boundary, if he feels it to be chafing. The review could be a week, two weeks, a month down the line, but it will allow you time to process, and also gives him a date that he knows such boundaries will be reviewed by, so he's not feeling trapped by you.

As for how upset you should be ... Well, you don't sound too upset with the transgression itself, more the implications of it. (i.e. continued disrespect) So, if it feels natural to let it go, then do so. If you need some time to get over it, take that time. Everyone deals with hurt differently, so don't feel like you have a quota of upsetness that you must fill.
Thanks, TruckerPete.

You are spot-on about the "implications of the transgression" being my biggest issue. I'm more or less just scared that this means his relationship with Ladybug is *woah* - full speed ahead, now that they're actually having sex. I don't want it to be too difficult for him to consider how I might feel about certain things, in the excitement of this new, super fun, omgiwantyounow thing that they have going. We've always been very supportive of each other, and his being unable to respect an agreement we made in the face of pressure, without any discourse, scares me. And, given that he can't/won't agree not to engage in this act with her (even just temporarily), it does make me feel less important than the act itself, which feels real crummy.

He won't stop having intercourse with her (in fact, they're decidedly going to do it tonight). I don't think it's fair of me to ask, either. I don't know.

I'm not sure what I'm thinking, since it's definitely not as though we don't partake in mutual expressions of sexuality every day that we're together. We certainly do. And it's great and wonderful and all that, but I feel threatened.

Last edited by habitat; 03-21-2011 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 03-21-2011, 06:15 PM
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You feel "threatened"? By what? Do you think he will leave you for her? If so, you need to express your feelings to him immediatly.
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