A little freaked out, but hopeful

My name is Adam, I am a 40 year old, white, cis male, and I'm about to start an adventure with the love of my life!

I was trained to be monogamous, but I've recently been questioning if it's the right lifestyle for me. I experimented with ethical non-monogamy once, with a previous partner, but I was bullied Into it before I was ready. I saw it as a kink, and nothing more. I ended up getting hurt, and for a long time, I thought it just wasn't for me.

Then I met my wife. I fell for her completely, and the past ten years have been the most fulfilling of my life! When we started dating, she let me know that she's comfortable with non-monogamy, and that I always had the freedom to pursue other relationships, if I wanted. She also said that if I need monogamy, she can do that, too. For the past ten years, I've seen it as a freedom to explore sexually, but I was never motivated to seek it out. My was was my second ever sexual partner, and I thought I was just being given a chance to sow my wild oats, guilt free. Then I learned what polyamory means.

My wife was poly before she was with me, and it's something she's set to the side, for my comfort. Well, it came up in conversation recently, and I'm trying to figure out how I feel about it. Mentally, I am totally on board! It souds like a great way to live. Emotionally, I'm a wreck.

I know that all the negative feelings I'm having about trying this out are rooted in things like possessiveness, jealousy and fear. I honestly don't want those feelings in my life. Of course, the easy way to avoid them is to just remain mono, right? (Not really, as it turns out.) But I refuse to make such a decision out of fear, especially when that decision would mean asking my wife to abandon that part of herself forever. She assures me that she is willing to do just that for me. But I can do better for her!

I know I have codependency issues, and I'm very aware that those issues can lead me to sacrifice more than I should for the sake of my wife's happiness. I'm trying to learn if this is something I can really make a part of my life, and if it can be healthy and fulfilling for me, as well as for her.

Thanks for reading, looking forward to learning more about myself!
 

TXretired

Member
Tow book, More than Two and the Jealousy Workbook. Both are great resources. Talk your feelings and thoughts over with your wife. She needs to know your fears as much as your support.
 
Tow book, More than Two and the Jealousy Workbook. Both are great resources. Talk your feelings and thoughts over with your wife. She needs to know your fears as much as your support.
Thanks for the suggestions! And don't worry, I've been talking with my wife about this constantly since it came up. Our conversations are going great, and we're not holding anything back! I'm here to find other poly practitioners to talk to, mostly. It still feels like I'm contemplating doing something "bad", and I think talking to people who live the life will go a long way towards helping me accept it as healthy and natural. If the conversation is only with my wife, it's too easy to see it as a dirty little secret. I need it to be more than that!
 

icesong

Moderator
The initial guilt can *definitely* be a thing, I've felt that too and even still do occasionally - society really has it drummed into me that I'm having my cake and eating it too, in many ways. At this point though it's only the occasional twinge.

You mention codependency, which is why I'm going to mention an article that hasn't been mentioned yet: https://medium.com/@PolyamorySchool/the-most-skipped-step-when-opening-a-relationship-f1f67abbbd49

The disentangling part is *really* good advice I wish I had had before my earliest forays into dating-as-an-individual-person rather than dating-as-part-of-a-couple (unicorn hunting, frankly, and seeking quad-type arrangements.)

The only thing I'll quibble with is Step 4 and the timeline in there - there's no chance I'm gonna see someone for over a month without kissing them or two or three without making out etc. We are not in eighth grade here... come to think of it I wouldn't have done the former then either. (Part of this was because my eighth grade dating life was limited to summer camp so things had a time limit, but I digress).
 
Thank you icesong! It really does help to hear you say that you still deal with those feelings sometimes. I have a full on brew of toxic conditioning that I'm dealing with right now, not just guilt. My ideas about love and affection are infected with things like possessiveness and jealousy. Those feelings have no place there, and I want to change, but it still feels like I'd be losing something if I got rid of those feelings. Maybe this is the disentangling that I need? And maybe if you still deal with those feelings, then I really don't have to worry about losing anything of myself. I'll read that article, for sure. Thanks!
 
Oh wow. Just read the article. I just learned a lot about codependency, and I felt nailed to the wall! I didn't realize how codependent I've been. I just ugly cried for a minute! My wife met me when I was single! That's the ME she fell in love with! Why did I let myself fade away? Thank you so much! I think I'm about to go have a moment with my wife!
 

icesong

Moderator
Don't feel bad - modern American society has pushed people into an ideal of marriage where one person IS expected to be your everything. Seriously, I could put a whole RANT here about capitalism and the death of community and and and... but I won't steal space on your post to that degree.

I've been there on the codependency thing, and probably worse, given that Knight and I were high schoolers when we met and did things like "live in the same intensive hobby" and "work at the same place in adjacent cubes" for over a decade. It's taken most of the _last_ decade to even *begin* to really be my own person again (or ever?), given that in certain social circles we were/are still known by a collective nickname (the ___'s, censored for a vague sense of privacy which is silly given I have my picture up, but the picture can go away any time and I won't be able to edit this later.)

My point here is that really poly isn't how I've *lost* myself, it's how I've *found* myself, in SO many ways.

As for the possessiveness and jealousy? Those are definitely a "only way out is through" thing to experience, but in a lot of ways becoming less codependent makes that easier. If you're your own person, then it follows logically and emotionally that your spouse is ALSO their own person, and that if they don't own you, you don't own them - not their time, not their attention, not their body or their heart. Sounds so obvious when I type it out like that but really *feeling* that is another thing entirely.

So obviously once you lose the possessiveness, the jealousy follows it out of your life... but that doesn't fix the third emotion that tends to be the problem in polyamory, which is envy, and tends to kick in if your partner(s) relationship(s) are more successful than yours. That's several steps down the way, though...

But yes. I've been in fully polyamorous relationships for 8 years now and non monogamous for a long time before that, and I still occasionally feel possessiveness or jealousy. It's not, at this point, over my partners' bodies or hearts or even really their time anymore - more that life entanglements with other people lead me to fearing my own place in their life isn't as strong. I mean, it's *weird* sometimes to know that Joan and Knight are planning for the foreseeable future and it's *not* just his life and my life into the sunset anymore... and it's weird to watch Artist shop for a new house with his spouse and not really be (much of) a factor in that, despite us being partners-with-almost-no-desire-to-live-together. But... feelings aren't emergencies. They're waves that pass, hopefully teaching you something that will still be there when they're gone, and it doesn't make you a bad person or "not poly" to feel them, despite how much some people in the community preach about compersion. What matters is what you *do* when you feel them.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Greetings Adam,
Welcome to our forum. Please feel free to lurk, browse, etc.
Here are some links to help you with jealousy:
Hopefully that helps.
Sincerely,
Kevin T., "official greeter" :)

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