First Poly Relationship, Need Advice

TankDiveGirl

New member
Hi everyone,

I've got a little bit of a situation that I need some advice about, so maybe you guys can help?

A little background: my wife L and I have been married for 2 years and together for 5. I have considered myself a lesbian identified bisexual for a really long time, and she has had sex with men but considers herself a lesbian as far as emotional, romantic relationships are concerned. She enjoys sex with men, but doesn't have a deep emotional connection with them as she does with women. We're new to poly, though we've both been curious about it for quite some time. I'm the hinge of a FFM vee, with my boyfriend S being the other end of the vee. He's monogamous, or has been until he met me, and is not currently interested in seeing anyone other than me (and my wife, but he's not "in a relationship" with her, if that makes sense).

The issue: I went about opening our relationship entirely too fast. I take full responsibility for this, but am, of course, dealing with the fallout now, and I have been since the beginning. Things are slowly beginning to resolve, and i'm trying very hard not to hurry them along. Currently, the main issue is that I have felt like I have had to either not tell the whole truth, omit details, or cover some aspects of my relationship with S to keep L comfortable with how the situation was progressing. We have pushed past her boundaries in many many ways, and it has, of course, come back to bite us in the butt. L and I have been discussing and rehashing a lot of the things that have happened in the past, and she had been in a better place with things mentally until yesterday, when it came out that an old friend of hers confronted our roommate (entirely different person and not involved with either of us romantically) to see if she knew that i was "cheating on her" because she had seen me holding hands with S at school. L blew up and has said that I've betrayed her trust (which i have, i will acknowledge that) and that she doesn't know if she can forgive me this thing. Admittedly, I wasn't clear with S that we couldn't be open about our relationship at school, because the majority of the people that he and i are friends with already knew that he and i were dating and that my wife was okay with this. I see that this was a major mistake on my part.

The three of us love each other deeply and are committed to making this work, so please don't tell me to drop him and try again later with someone else. We know there are issues to be worked out, and we are addressing them. What I would like to know is if there's a way to show her that I still absolutely adore her and that I will respect her boundaries and her limits from now on, even though he and I have both screwed up in the past? We're still involved in a lot of NRE (which is why i covered up some of the things previously, because she felt like she was getting short shift in the relationship), but things are becoming more even keeled, especially since school has ended for the semester and I have much more time to spend with both of them and my time isn't crunched into an hour here, a minute there, etc.

I apologize for the book,

Thanks for listening,
Jamie
 

River

Active member
What I would like to know is if there's a way to show her that I still absolutely adore her and that I will respect her boundaries and her limits from now on, even though he and I have both screwed up in the past?

Tell her. Show her. Show her. Tell her.
 

WaywardDruid

New member
Talk

You guys really need to just sit down and talk. (Communication - Communication - Communication) From what I've read you are the middle Female in a V with S at one end and L at the other. That's great but what I also read was L really didn't know that S was sharing sexual relationships with you? or maybe she did know that but she didn't know that you two were out and sharing - hand holding , kissing , whatever with public displays of these.

You all have to sit down and communicate your needs, your boundaries, what you are welling to do about scheduling time for each other. There's a good chapter in The Polyamory Handbook that deals with Resolving Issues, both past and present. Also a good look of how to put together a Polyamorous Relationship Agreement between everyone involved. Talk Talk Talk I know it's easy to know that you have to do it but hard to actually get down to it. Be honest and be yourself if you want to be happy in any relationship. I hope you 3 can come to an agreement that will meet everyones need's and wants and desires.

talk_to_me.jpg


Just Me,
Tim
 

TankDiveGirl

New member
From what I've read you are the middle Female in a V with S at one end and L at the other. That's great but what I also read was L really didn't know that S was sharing sexual relationships with you? or maybe she did know that but she didn't know that you two were out and sharing - hand holding , kissing , whatever with public displays of these.




L knew that S and I were being intimate sexually; she did not know that we were holding hands and whatnot at school. We were being discreet, we thought, but obviously not discrete enough. She had told both of us that she wasn't comfortable with us being out at school, and I should have been much more "aggressive" about how that boundary was respected than I had been, so I can totally see why she's upset and where she's coming from.

The three of us do talk, a lot. I will say though that speaking about emotions and relationship issues and stuff is NOT easy for me and never has been, so this whole thing is super challenging for me. Fortunately both L and S are understanding and also both very in touch with their emotions and needs.

I agree that all three of us need to sit down and discuss boundaries and needs in this relationship -- we haven't done that yet, and I haven't pushed it. Though I feel like I should have been the one to arrange that conversation since i'm the one who is the center of the vee. One thing that we have all spoken about is everyone's comfort level -- the three of us work really really well together, and i think as a functional unit we're pretty great, but you're right. We need to talk and talk and talk and talk, and we don't always do that.

Thanks for the advice!
Tankie
 

River

Active member
L knew that S and I were being intimate sexually; she did not know that we were holding hands and whatnot at school.

Handholding is such a serious matter! My god! Imagine ... pretty soon mere friends will be doing it, in full public view! That would be the end of civilization as we know it! Stop immediately! No more public displays of affection! Civilization is at stake!
 
Last edited:

TankDiveGirl

New member
The issue wasn't the holding of hands, the issue is that none of us are supposed to be out because she's not comfortable with the general public knowing that we're poly... or more specifically, she's not comfortable with people knowing that we're poly that she hasn't told. I understand this; she wants to have control over who knows and who doesn't, and she also wants to be the one to decide which of our groups of friends that he gets introduced to and in which order. This is okay with me; and it's okay with him, because we understand the importance of moving at the pace of the least comfortable individual... we just thought we were being more discrete than we were, apparently.
 

River

Active member
All of that I can understand well enough. The part I find strange is that handholding plays a role in it. I can and do hold hands with friends. So what?! I have been known even to kiss friends on the cheek or forehead! or walk with my arm around them! in public!
 

TankDiveGirl

New member
I think that the fact that we were out at school at all is the issue, not the fact that we were holding hands. I do hold hands with my friends (female), but when S and I are together, I'd venture to say it's pretty obvious that there's something other than just friendship going on. Add to that deep seated fears on L's part because all of her past relationships have ended with her partner (female) leaving her for a man, and you get one scared cookie. I've tried to be very aware of that, but I know that S and I moved too quickly at the beginning for her comfort, and when she expressed her feelings about that, I didn't respect them.

There's a whole lot going on in this situation, lots of background that's getting worked through and rehashed, but the main issue is that she feels like I don't care about her feelings or her boundaries -- which I do, an incredible amount, but I'm not very good at the reassurance part. And while I'm working to improve that, things keep getting mired in triggers for her and defensiveness for me. I'm being honest though, and I'm doing the best I can at the moment. I know these things take time, especially when they've started off in about the worst way possible.

J
 

Quath

New member
I think you just have to show her over time. It sounds like you know where the boundaries are and you knew you were going over them. It seems that you have figured out that it will go a lot better to talk about it to her beforehand instead.

Is she feeling insecure or just angry that other people will know what she may consider intimitate details about her life?
 

chad

New member
tankdivegirl,
You are smart and sensitive to understand that the the comfort levels of everyone have to be respected, even though you were not able to do so. And indeed, it seems so trite and innocent the hand holding. But nevertheless it was a betrayal of trust. It is so easy for those of us who betray to justify it, explain it, and minimize its significance. But for those who are betrayed, the foundation of their world disappears.

I think that you need to do what your wife needs to heal the betrayal and get the trust back. Hope this helps!
 

TankDiveGirl

New member
It's both.... she's feeling insecure because she feels like I've been trying to create a life that's separate from her, and she feels like i'm more excited about him than i am about her (like i said before, LOTS of NRE going on between he and i...), etc. She's scared right now that I'm going to leave or, conversely, that I'm going to try to force her to accept him as another primary partner when she's not even entirely sure that being out as poly is an okay thing.

I'm totally willing now to go back and take the time i didn't take before. I know that I put us in this place where she's scared and hurt and jealous, etc., and it's up to me to make sure that she knows that I still love her and don't take her for granted or anything like that. It's a tough situation though, because like i said, i never really learned to talk about my feelings and my needs, and I'm getting a crash course in it now.

Thanks for the replies everybody, I've been reading them as they come in and I appreciate everyone's point of view.

J
 

Quath

New member
It may also help if you read some books on polyamory. We grow up in a culture where wh know how couples are suppose to act. We have to guess and figure out how poly relationships are "suppose" to be. So some books on the subject may help out everyone involved to feel more comfortable and understanding.

There are other poly groups like these forums, podcasts and conventions that may or may not be your thing.
 

Danny40179

New member
Tank,
I think you've gotten one of the biggest pieces. Communication. You all have to be able to sit down and talk about everything that goes on in your relationship. When my wife and I first started out, we had a lot of the same issues/concerns. I needed to make sure that my wife understood that the new excitement was part of ANY new relationship. Had nothing to do with wanting to be with the other person more, it was just...new.

Like others have said, you have to constantly show and reinforce to your wife that you love her and are never going to leave her. In our situation, my wife has always had total "veto" power and she's known that. She knows that she has complete ability to say no to someone that she doesn't feel comfortable with. Whether they be someone I date separate, or bring home. I think that's helped her tremendously.

The other part is to show your wife that you're not hiding anything from her. More importantly, DON'T HIDE ANYTHING FROM HER!! :) I know there are going to be things that she might not like, but you won't know that until you tell her. She's also got to understand that until those things come up and she discusses them with you, she can't get upset about them. (IE...handholding in public. If she didn't specify that this was a no no, then she shouldn't get upset with you until AFTER she's already talked to you about it and you decided to do it anyway...not that you would of course)

I know how it feels to want things to work and to feel like you're the one that has to be that catalyst. I think you're doing a great job of trying to make sure that everyone is happy, but in order to really ensure that, you have to have those totally open lines of communication.

Look forward to seeing how things go and please please ask any questions that you might have.
 

TankDiveGirl

New member
That's the thing that I wasn't totally clear about. I knew that being out at school (handholding, etc.) was one of her boundaries, and I knowingly crossed that boundary. The reason isn't so much that she's uncomfortable with us being out at school, though she's not comfortable with that, but it's that i work in the building where her department is housed, and i work with S. Her friend that saw us together works in that building also, and many of L's professors and colleagues either have offices or teach classes in this building. So it's not just a matter of her not wanting "people" to know, but of her not wanting to jeopardize her professional and academic career because her colleagues are uncomfortable with her lifestyle choices.

L does have complete veto power; she and S are friends and get along famously, so she hasn't felt like she's had to use it, which is good, because I think that things will work out, it's just a question of going back to basics and making sure everyone is REALLY on the same page before we continue rather than just barging ahead and assuming.

I have embarked on a policy of complete and total honesty, which i think will serve us all well in the long run. I don't want to cause any more hurt or distrust between us, because she doesn't deserve that. I love her more than i've ever loved anyone, which is why i married her, and I appreciate so much that she's willing to take this journey with me. And i know i've done a lot of wrong things in starting this out the way I did, but i'm working on rectifying the situation and making it mutually agreeable to all three of us -- and i know that open and honest communication is really the only way to do that.

J
 

Danny40179

New member
You are now ready for the Jedi Poly trials. (Man I'm a geek!!) Seriously though, you hit it right on the head. Open and honest communication is key. I'm not going to wish you luck, because I'm sure you all will work this out.

If you have any other questions, please ask. Also, let us know how things are going. I know I LOVE seeing another successful poly group out there.
 

TankDiveGirl

New member
I do have one other question, actually... This is something that's really really frustrating to me, and I'm not sure how to fix it.... L constantly compares herself to S, especially in sexual situations, etc. I KNOW that this is one of the worst things that she can do, but the few times I've brought it up, she just gets her feelings deeply hurt... I've tried explaining the differences between how i love each of them, but she isn't reassured by that for more than a day or so... Is there a way to make that easier? Or is that another one of the things that will just take time (and wearing off of NRE) to get through?

You guys have been so helpful so far...

*hugs*
J
 

Danny40179

New member
Yeah, that's another one of those time things. In my experience in this lifestyle, that was the only thing that really showed my wife that I didn't love someone else more than her. That along with constant, and I mean constant reassurance. Make sure your wife knows that it's not a comparison game. Has she read, or done any research on the poly lifestyle? That might help her. Maybe if she came here and asked a few questions. Big thing to remember too, is to put no pressure on her. She'll come around on her own time. That may not be the schedule that you were hoping for, but if you want it to work (and I know that you do) then she's gonna have to work through things on her own.
 

TankDiveGirl

New member
Yeah, that's another one of those time things. In my experience in this lifestyle, that was the only thing that really showed my wife that I didn't love someone else more than her. That along with constant, and I mean constant reassurance. Make sure your wife knows that it's not a comparison game. Has she read, or done any research on the poly lifestyle? That might help her. Maybe if she came here and asked a few questions. Big thing to remember too, is to put no pressure on her. She'll come around on her own time. That may not be the schedule that you were hoping for, but if you want it to work (and I know that you do) then she's gonna have to work through things on her own.

She does know it's not a comparison game; I've made that abundantly clear... I also have given her tons of reasons why I'm not leaving and why I haven't stopped loving her or even CHANGED my love for her at all. We've both been doing a lot of reading about poly and stuff, and I've requested some books from the library too, so as soon as those get here we'll start looking at them more.

She's been reading this thread; she hasn't joined the forums yet, but she probably will.

My attitude about this is that we have all the time in the world -- S says that he doesn't want anything else and that he's not going anywhere, and L says she wants this to work out, and I know I'll do whatever it takes to help that to happen. I have nothing but time, and, being a student, all i have this summer is my summer research and the two of them, so by the end of the summer (3 months from now), I think we'll have some sort of workable schedule and whatnot for next school year. S just graduated, so he's doing the job search, and L is about a year and a half behind me, so we'll be in this area for quite some time yet. And i'm not pushing things, because i tried that and it blew up in my face ;) , so i won't be doing that again!!

Thanks again,
J
 

Mark1npt

New member
Tankgirl......sorry for not putting my 2 cents in earlier, but have been away on vacation and not near a computer........welcome to the forum.....and try to get L & S to join in too.....I am a relatively new member myself, my wife has just joined as has our 3rd.....they are doing plenty of reading, I am doing all the commenting (I'm the big blogger in the home).....I'm sure that will change as they become more comfortable with the forum and start opening up themselves......now back to you, L & S......

You said something critical earlier about how L had "lost a previous partner to a man".....there has to be some serious baggage for her on that topic and clearly it could be a big reason for her feeling that, "uh, oh here we go again" sensation. Clearly she doesn't want to have to live thru that situation happening again, with you. I can sense her panic at the thought of having to live it again.....panic and fear make us react, in not so nice or measured ways.

Secondarily, she may have issues with control in this threesome, and needs to control who (in the public arena)knows about it. I can relate there. My wife and I have lived in the same small community for 26 years and literally know thousands of our town folk. As we moved into the poly lifestyle, one of the things that most worried her, was that someone would see me and our
3rd sharing some PDA......part of her worry was about shame, I think, and having people calling her to let her know that they saw her husband out about town with another woman on his arm...yikes! She was afraid they'd giggle under their breath or perhaps offer their sympathy which would in turn be very embarrassing for her. Not fun. So I can see in your predicament, with school, departments at work, etc that she might have a whole range of feelings she's going thru.

As everyone else here has said, talking is the only way to solve any of this.....and of course developing a little "thick skin" as to what anyone else in town thinks of your threesome never hurts, either. The poly lifestyle has indeed been an education and a fantastic growing process for me, personally. It sounds like you have a really good three going too. I'm sure you all will be able to iron out your issues over the next few months.....keep at it. Keep loving!
 

Quath

New member
Yeah, society projects a feeling of shame on a person who appears to be cheated on and doesn't know it. When I was in my triad, this was one of the worries of my first girlfriend. Neighbors and people at the resturants we go to would judge her as being "cockold" (I dont think there is a word for a woman).

At first we just hid and PDA and all acted as good friends. But my other girlfriend kind of felt left out since she had to act as a friend. So we went the other extreme and showed PDA while all three of us were around. So neighbors would just assume we were kinky instead. (I guess that is better than neighbors feeling synpathy for you.)
 
Top