Help balancing relationships

SwitchLife

New member
I am in a hierarchical poly structure. I have been in a relationship with my primary (house, kids, ring, etc.) for 20 years, have partner A, and partner B. This is a mono-poly relationship and my primary doesn't have any other partners.

Partner A and I have been working to rebuild after I fucked up a few months ago and lied about the activity with a FWB during a period of deep personal mental health issues/spin-out. I sought out mental health treatment and have been doing that work for the last (almost five) months. Those events led to understandable trust issues with them and we are working to rebuild. We are past the crisis stage and working on being a more communicative and functional partnership. We had issues before this that we are working on, as well as supporting growth in areas that were not well-nurtured before.

Partner B is a LDR (almost a year now) which was not negatively impacted in the long run by my mental health crisis earlier in the year. They have been endlessly supportive to me and in many ways in opposition towards the poly style of A.

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What I would like to get some feedback on is how you might approach this scenario:
  • I am most comfortable with parallel poly, it is how I operate by default
  • I will participate in kitchen table poly, but do not subscribe to that approach myself (I can come to your table and participate as an individual, but I don't host a table of my own)
  • A is a kitchen-table poly person and they, with their primary, embrace it deeply.
  • When I spend time with B (or others), and if I don't offer a debrief of the time we spend together, it is sometimes perceived as hiding something, by A
  • A has indicated that it hurts them if I don't offer any debrief, or if it is too high-level.
  • A has also indicated that having those debriefs helps them process and feel compersion.
I feel like I am open to answering any questions for my partners, but I don't have the motivation to have this level of reporting for my partner because while I understand that it feeds their needs (I think), and concerns (more confident about this one), it's not how I operate. They have offered that this could be an area of growth that would be a service to me and others in my life, but it feels like asking me to change for them, which feels less great.

I am afraid that I could be committing myself to something I don't want in the long term, and am having a hard time seeing where the line between recovery from a trust-breaking event lays as opposed to an ongoing commitment to something I don't love doing and doesn't bring me any particular joy.

I wonder what your thoughts are, and what you would advise if I you were in my shoes.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Not sure what "debrief" means. But I guess I wonder... how about a temporary thing? Since you are working on mending trust?

Like debriefs for the next X weeks/months and then taper off and let it go? Because you are open to answering any questions but don't have the motivation to have this level of reporting forever. So after that temp period if they want to know something? They can just ask.

They have offered that this could be an area of growth that would be a service to me and others in my life,

They can think that.

but it feels like asking me to change for them, which feels less great.

And you can think this. And tell them "Thanks. I tried it. I feel most comfortable being how I am."

And there. Done.

When I spend time with B (or others), and if I don't offer a debrief of the time we spend together, it is sometimes perceived as hiding something, by A

After the time period? If A wants to know something? They can ask. Why do you have to "carry" them?

A has indicated that it hurts them if I don't offer any debrief, or if it is too high-level.

Again... what stops A from asking?

Whatever personal work A needs to be doing? They could do it.

A has also indicated that having those debriefs helps them process and feel compersion.

Process WHAT? I don't get it. What's A worried about that will happen if you spend time with B or others?

I think compersion is nice and all, but not a REQUIREMENT in poly.

Galagirl
 

SwitchLife

New member
Not sure what "debrief" means. But I guess I wonder... how about a temporary thing? Since you are working on mending trust?

Like debriefs for the next X weeks/months and then taper off and let it go? Because you are open to answering any questions but don't have the motivation to have this level of reporting forever. So after that temp period if they want to know something? They can just ask.



They can think that.



And you can think this. And tell them "Thanks. I tried it. I feel most comfortable being how I am."

And there. Done.



After the time period? If A wants to know something? They can ask. Why do you have to "carry" them?



Again... what stops A from asking?

Whatever personal work A needs to be doing? They could do it.



Process WHAT? I don't get it. What's A worried about that will happen if you spend time with B or others?

I think compersion is nice and all, but not a REQUIREMENT in poly.

Galagirl

Thanks so much for your response! (editing to add that "debrief" is me telling someone what happened when they were not there)

What I'm seeing here are some of the questions that I've asked myself, and I think I need to flush out these points with A so that we can figure out if there is some middle ground where they get their needs met but it isn't putting the work on me as much or about making me operate differently forever.

I will re-read this in a few hours and see if anything else comes to mind - thank you again!
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Thanks so much for your response! (editing to add that "debrief" is me telling someone what happened when they were not there)

Yes... but WHY? Some kind of fear of missing out? They have to know every minute of your life when they aren't with you? Have they done the work of detangling?

A has indicated that it hurts them if I don't offer any debrief, or if it is too high-level.

But then they aren't going to ask questions and do their fair share of this workload?

You are just supposed to automatically report AND mind reader "how much is too much?"

You see this is not a reasonable or rational request right?

While you might be willing to indulge some of that while making amends, it's not going to be forever, right?

I think I need to flush out these points with A so that we can figure out if there is some middle ground where they get their needs met but it isn't putting the work on me as much or about making me operate differently forever.

Could ask them to circle what the need actually IS.


Because reporting every detail fo the time you are away so they feel better? That's a want to me. Something they want you to do. To assuage whatever X thoughts they were worrying about.

But the actual NEED? Might be "I need to feel safe." Or "I need honesty in this relationship" or whatever else.

If they can articulate what the need actually is? Maybe it can be met / solved in a different way than you reporting every moment of the day you are away. That to me would grow tiresome.

I get that you made a mistake, and had mental health things going on. And are now trying to work on it. And it may take some time. You are trying to do your part of the work.

But A. has to do their work on their side too in order to mend trust.

It's not like you are going to do all this stuff forever and they never actually forgive and let it go right?

  • When I spend time with B (or others), and if I don't offer a debrief of the time we spend together, it is sometimes perceived as hiding something, by A

What does A need to change their perception to "I can trust my partner not to hide things from me" and be able to relax that ISN'T you doing all this debriefing?

If the need is reassurance, could they learn to ask for that directly rather than coming around the side?

Do they suffer from anxiety? Crank their own self up a lot?

Galagirl
 
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SlowPoly

Active member
Galagirl gives great advice, as usual.

I want to say that you seem very clear about your preferences and comfortable with them as far as not needing to “grow” to meet someone else’s rather different way of doing poly. Your “okay with ktp but not hosting” and other preferences resonate with me.

For me? Being partners, and willing to sit at someone’s kitchen table, doesn’t obligate me to sharing info about outside relationships at that table (or with that partner). They’re not dating all my other relationships and activities, they’re dating the me that is present with them.

“Did you have fun with B yesterday?” -Yeah, we always like that museum, and it’s good to spend some down time together.

^That’s the level of sharing I’m open to. “Debriefing” sounds a bit like interrogation, or (at best) reporting. That level of expectation meets a hard No from me. If you don’t trust me to share important stuff (relevant to health/safety, or important to knowing about me as a person), we don’t date. I actually get a “collecting random info until I find something I can poke at” vibe from that.

Anyway, it sounds like you have your shit together. :) Just want to validate that.
 

SwitchLife

New member
Yes... but WHY? Some kind of fear of missing out? They have to know every minute of your life when they aren't with you? Have they done the work of detangling?



But then they aren't going to ask questions and do their fair share of this workload?

You are just supposed to automatically report AND mind reader "how much is too much?"

You see this is not a reasonable or rational request right?

While you might be willing to indulge some of that while making amends, it's not going to be forever, right?



Could ask them to circle what the need actually IS.


Because reporting every detail fo the time you are away so they feel better? That's a want to me. Something they want you to do. To assuage whatever X thoughts they were worrying about.

But the actual NEED? Might be "I need to feel safe." Or "I need honesty in this relationship" or whatever else.

If they can articulate what the need actually is? Maybe it can be met / solved in a different way than you reporting every moment of the day you are away. That to me would grow tiresome.

I get that you made a mistake, and had mental health things going on. And are now trying to work on it. And it may take some time. You are trying to do your part of the work.

But A. has to do their work on their side too in order to mend trust.

It's not like you are going to do all this stuff forever and they never actually forgive and let it go right?



What does A need to change their perception to "I can trust my partner not to hide things from me" and be able to relax that ISN'T you doing all this debriefing?

If the need is reassurance, could they learn to ask for that directly rather than coming around the side?

Do they suffer from anxiety? Crank their own self up a lot?

Galagirl
Thank you again for even more insights ❤️ I appreciate your perspective.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
They have offered that this could be an area of growth that would be a service to me and others in my life, but it feels like asking me to change for them, which feels less great.

That's some treacherous water right there. That sounds like a private conversation you ought to be having with your therapist, not with a partner who has a vested interest in your answer.

I am afraid that I could be committing myself to something I don't want in the long term, and am having a hard time seeing where the line between recovery from a trust-breaking event lays as opposed to an ongoing commitment to something I don't love doing and doesn't bring me any particular joy.

For me, this is the important part of this whole situation. I know you were having some mental health stuff when you broke your agreement, and I'm sure that had some impact on your decision making, but I would assert that it was only a secondary motivator. The primary reason we break agreements is because we don't respect the agreement, don't agree with it, and we shouldn't have agreed in the first place.

So it's a circular problem you are creating for yourself. You made an agreement you weren't fully on board with and you busted it. Now to make up for busting the previous agreement, you are making another agreement that you aren't on board with. Your natural inclination is to be unhappy with it and it sounds like you are currently looking for a reason to justify doing the same thing all over again.

I wonder what your thoughts are, and what you would advise if I you were in my shoes.

Break the cycle. It doesn't matter that you broke a previous agreement, that doesn't change the fact that we should be seeking out relationships that allow us to flourish authentically.

In my world this is the standard procedure for developing a relationship with someone:

  • Determine what my needs and wants are, and communicate them.
  • Hopefully they offer up what their needs and wants are.
  • Find the natural overlap between those sets of needs and wants.
  • Scrap everything that isn't overlap.

They want some kind of full disclosure and you're not into it... don't agree to it. Let them know "here is what I am willing to disclose, and here are the circumstances under which I am willing to disclose it".
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello SwitchLife,

How much information does Partner A want/expect in this debriefing they insist on, every time you are with someone else? Do they want details of sexual encounters? How do you know when you've given them enough information to satisfy them? I get that you have damaged trust with them, but don't they still have an obligation to be rational and reasonable in their requests? I get that they're very kitchen table, but don't you also have a right to be parallel? It's not like parallel poly is inherently wrong.

You seem to be willing to answer any question that Partner A asks. Surely you don't have to read Partner A's mind, and divine what questions they want answered? If not, then the onus is on Partner A to tell you what questions they want answered. That is Partner A's part of the work in this relationship. And of course you also need to respect the privacy of your other partners, so you might not be in a position to tell Partner A *everything.* That's kind of a separate issue though.

Just some thoughts,
Kevin T.
 

SEASONEDpolyAgain

Active member
I feel like that partner needs to realize that not everyone shares their need so it would only definitely be an act of service to her. You're not obliged to poke her into feeling compersion.

You ever get the feeling that people really believe that a relationship with them is the priziest of prizes?
 
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