Advice on detangling my needs in a relationship

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Deleted member 410576

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Hi everyone! I'm looking for some advice on a relationship that started at the beginning of lockdown. A bit of background on me:

I've identified as being poly since high school but wasn't actually in a poly relationship (mostly because I met mono people I wanted to be with who weren't open to trying poly) until a year and a half ago. That first poly relationship was even better than I imagined poly being. He was my only partner, but he had another long term partner. They didn't live together but were intertwined in each other's lives and had a solid partnership. I never ended up meeting her (though I loved hearing stories about her) because she was in a different country. Everything about the relationship was easy, fun, and open/communicative. My bf moved back to that country. We were supposed to hang out in the spring/this summer again but then covid hit and it became impossible. At first, we talked a lot, but since the beginning of the year when it became clear we wouldn't be able to reunite soon, we've dialled back our communication. It's somewhere between a LDR and comet relationship and while I wish we could spend more time together to deepen the relationship (we only dated for 3 months before he moved) I'm happy with where things are between us.
However, I've been more or less single for five years and am ready for an intimate partner. When lockdown started in March, I downloaded the apps after a long break, thinking lockdown would last a couple months – enough time to build a connection with someone – and then we could date "normally" after that. Well, that didn't happen...
I met someone in March who I really clicked with. Only problem – he is married and they are very new to poly. Even though I am also new, I did have some hesitation with him being so new AND being married. But, it's not often I click with people as well as we did so we kept talking. We texted every day and started doing some video calls. In summer we did a few socially distanced dates and well...
Now: We've been talking for 6 months. We've spent about 10-12 hours together in person. We've spent maybe 12-15 hours talking on the phone. A couple months into our talking I told him that if it was going to work in a romantic way I needed more time on the phone and not just texting (this was before we were comfortable meeting in person. Also, I could go with very minimal texting at the beginning of dating). He apologized for not being more responsive/organized about meeting and we set a video date. Then, same thing happened again. Seems like only once every 2-3 weeks did he have a few hours to talk. Even when we met in person he really only had 3-4 hours because he had to get back home to his wife (weird covid living situation). He has also been dating a few other people. He and his wife also live with several other people. I live alone and am in a bubble with 2 very high-risk people so I don't feel comfortable being in a bubble with him. Honestly, even without COVID it just sounds like a lot of people to navigate in terms of sexual health (both the women he was seeing have other partners and his wife has 2 other partners, though I think only one she is physical with right now. Not sure if he has other partners). If we had all been in relationships pre-covid I'm sure we could navigate this somehow, but seems like a lot of risk for a new relationship.
I was always the one trying to initiate dates and he would say yes but take several days to get back to me about when he was free, or would often say he wanted to hang out but would never make concrete plans unless I gave him specific dates to choose from and even then it would take him several days to get back to me on his availability (okay some people are bad planners but even in friends this is my pet peeve haha).
When we did go on dates it was nice and we got on and had chemistry. Still, it felt a bit awkward, he was on his phone a lot texting others (a bit his wife which was for logistical things, but also other people not sure friends or partners who he just kept saying 'sorry just need to respond to something'). Not only did I find that rude but just like...we only get a few hours every couple weeks and he's not even present.
He is currently not working so he doesn't have a busy schedule that way. Covid is making his living situation difficult so he is chalking that up to the lack of available time. I don't want to dictate how or who he spends his time with but it seems like he does have time to see me more often he is just choosing to prioritize dating multiple people than focusing on one relationship. Which is fine. It's just a value mismatch and I was upfront about wanting a serious relationship the first week we started talking. The problem is when I talked to him about this again a couple months ago he assured me he did want something serious, we just needed to move a bit slow, but he wasn't looking for casual he wanted a long term serious partner.
Well, I'm getting the feeling that either he isn't really ready for that, or he doesn't want it with me. But he is saying he wants both of those things, but not making the time for it.
It's weird because of all the texting we are close in some ways, but in other ways I barely know him. Certainly not enough to know if I want to be in a relationship with him or date him. The pandemic is making his living situation difficult but if it's going to be a normal thing that he's on his phone and has to run home to his wife that's just not a relationship I'm interested in. It's hard to know what dating him would really look like. At the same time, I do enjoy talking to him via text and he's been very emotionally supportive throughout the pandemic. We have a lot in common and I have gotten a lot of positive things out of talking to him. I would be sad to lose the relationship completely and I know it's a possibility if I end things romantically he won't want to be friends. I just know I want more from my romantic partnerships and having a bundle of more casual things doesn't really add up to the intimacy of a more serious relationship. I also have a lot of very close friends that I'm emotionally intimate with. While this is obviously different from romantic emotional intimacy, it's not like I'm lacking a support network in any way.
So, I know that I need more than this. I also know I won't be comfortable exploring the physical side of things with him until it feels safe to do so which is really hard. But here's what I'm struggling with:
Should I end it?
On the one hand, it's giving me low key stress that we haven't been able to move forward at all. On the other hand, I enjoy talking to him and when we do get to talk on the phone or even sometimes with texting it makes me really happy. He's cheered me up from bad moods, we have a lot in common, and he's not holding me back from finding someone else. He's very funny and sweet and supportive of my career and emotional health. He compliments me often and we have a lot of sexual chemistry. It's everything I want in a partner except there's no real partner. Or is that just me being tied into mono ideas of what a romantic relationship needs to be?
I just don't know if the relationship isn't working so I should leave or ask to transition to friends, or if I need to loosen myself away from the idea of a relationship escalator and how much time we need to spend together and just appreciate what the relationship is – sort of a text-based romantic friendship supplemented by in-person time.
It's not harming me to talk to him. But I do wonder if this being "half in" a relationship is harder than just being completely single. I think I'm also struggling with some self-worth issues at the moment (lockdown weight gain, recent career change) and so when he says he misses me and loves spending time with me but then doesn't act on those things, it really hurts. It feels like he's just 'saying the right thing' but those crazy voices inside my head telling me I'm not enough are right. Obviously this is something I need to deal with on my own but yeah.
I feel like I already have the LDR/comet relationship and now I'm just adding another one of those when what I really crave is depth. yet, there's no reason I can't have two LDR/comet relationships while still looking for a more intimate partner. Other than my time and emotional energy, I suppose. I do think if we had more in-person time together we would build that intimacy because we get on well. But if in 6 months he can't even give me enough time to know if I even _want_ to date him do I just leave? Or do I need more sympathy because of the complications of the pandemic? In a few weeks he'll be moving to a much better living situation, but also in a city that's an hour away so it's hard to see our in-person time increasing much. Yet, it's also possible things will change and open up a lot from that move. And yet... unless he cuts down who he is seeing a lot, I'm no comfortable entering into his bubble and winter is coming.

Sorry this got long and rambly, but just having trouble disentangling this specific relationship with what I'm looking for overall romantically which could be this relationship or others. Having trouble differentiating between not liking the casual feel vs. not wanting to prescribe to the idea that every relationship needs to escalate, and then add in all the risks and anxieties from the pandemic and I feel like I don't even know what I want or need. Obviously no one here can tell me that but I'd love any insights, advice, or tips you might have!
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
FWIW?

It sounds like initially compatible, but not deeply compatible.

Even without the COVID stress?

You asked plain for what you needed. And he says one thing but does another. So... not actually compatible. Plus it IS rude to be on a date with you and tied up in his phone. He could be PRESENT.

A couple months into our talking I told him that if it was going to work in a romantic way I needed more time on the phone and not just texting (this was before we were comfortable meeting in person. Also, I could go with very minimal texting at the beginning of dating). He apologized for not being more responsive/organized about meeting and we set a video date. Then, same thing happened again.

That would get old to me.

It's weird because of all the texting we are close in some ways, but in other ways I barely know him.

If you really don't know him that well, don't over think it so much.

I feel like I already have the LDR/comet relationship and now I'm just adding another one of those when what I really crave is depth. yet, there's no reason I can't have two LDR/comet relationships while still looking for a more intimate partner. Other than my time and emotional energy, I suppose. I do think if we had more in-person time together we would build that intimacy because we get on well. But if in 6 months he can't even give me enough time to know if I even _want_ to date him do I just leave?

I would. Could let it go romantically and see if he makes a better friend instead. And if he's not putting energy into being friends, could let that go also.

For me? It doesn't have to be on the relationship escalator to count as a romantic relationship, but I do need SOME regular time spent with me and not like I'm the one carrying the relationship making all the moves. If I have to be "chasing" all the time, it doesn't matter if the few times we connect is good. The rest is off putting. Like me putting lots of effort in for little back.

That's kinda what dating if for. To meet people and find the compatible ones. And initially compatible doesn't automatically mean DEEPLY compatible.

Pandemic is not a reason to lower your personal standards and just accept whoever comes along just cuz they come along. If there are certain things you need to make a romance go, that's what you need then. If it doesn't fly? It just doesn't fly. If what you want is depth, don't spend all your free time on LDR/Comet relationships. It's ok to have them, but leave some space. Where would the time/space for the in depth relationship come out of? Sleep? Does it mean there will be times of bored/lonely because you are holding space for that relationship to come? Sure.

But if you fill up ALL your free time with relationship that aren't quite what you are after... then what? That's not any better.

Since you enjoy his company, could try being friends. Then put your main focus on working on yourself and the low self esteem things first, and then seeking the kind of poly relationship you want.

HTH!
Galagirl
 

Evie

Well-known member
Well, I'm getting the feeling that either he isn't really ready for that, or he doesn't want it with me. But he is saying he wants both of those things, but not making the time for it.

Actions speak louder than words.

I hope you feel better for venting. From all you write I think you already know this isn't going to go where you want it to go.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Hello LegalSmeagol,

It seems like you are trying to decide whether to break up with your more recent boyfriend. It sounds like he is eager to talk the talk, but not so much to walk the walk. Like he tells you, "Yes, let's talk to each other more on Zoom," but then when the time comes to talk to you, he seems to have something come up with his wife, or with the other people he is seeing. So, he does not care about you all that much, he is more worried about the other people in his life. But, when the two of you do talk, you connect on a really deep level. Hence, you do not want to just give that up. Plus, when he is on a date with you, he frequently lets that be interrupted by texts from his wife, or from the other people he is seeing. So he is with you, but he is not really present.

I do not think you should break up with him, but you should let him know of the things that rub you the wrong way. Tell him you are ready to take the relationship to a new level, and in order to do that, you need him to be dedicated to you when he is with you. Tell him that it is giving you low-key stress that you haven't been able to move forward with him at all. Tell him that he's everything you want in a partner, except that there's no real partner. Or if you're worried about saying those things to him, just enjoy the relationship for what it is. Just tell him that when he says he misses you, and loves spending time with you, but then doesn't act on those things, it really hurts. Don't enter his bubble unless you really feel like it's the right thing to do.

Those are my initial thoughts.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

FallenAngelina

Active member
When we did go on dates...he was on his phone a lot texting others....Not only did I find that rude but just like...we only get a few hours every couple weeks and he's not even present.

I know that I need more than this...... It's everything I want in a partner except there's no real partner.

It's not harming me to talk to him.

Yes it is.
You just told us all the ways in which this falls short for you. Why would you try to hang on to someone who is not really there?
 
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