Help with recognizing my own toxic traits

darkangel24321

New member
Hi there, I'm fairly new to healthy poly.

So, my nesting partner and I didn't start in the healthiest place. We both came from toxic co-dependent places, both abusive marriages, and now we are a lot healthier but I am struggling with her beliefs on how healthy poly should be that he now agrees with

I struggled early on with jealousy, now I struggle with something different. My perception is that he is giving more loving energy towards his other long-term partner than he is giving towards me. I have no valid proof, it's just how I feel.

I don't know how to stop these types of toxic feelings within myself.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I'm sorry you struggle.

What do you think healthy poly is? What does partner think it is? Are you on the same page?

What do you observe that leads you to think that partner gives more loving energy toward his other partner? What ARE "loving energy" type behaviors to you?

If you need 2 hours a week of those loving energy behaviors to feel happy, that's what you need. Are you getting it or not? Have you asked partner directly to do those behaviors? If YOU get what YOU need... does it matter then if the other partner gets 1 hour or 3 hours?

It may be New Relationship Energy vs Old Relationship Energy or Establish Relationship Energy. Like if he's all NRE with the new person? Well, that's new relationship energy. To be expected. Presumably you and him already had that NRE time together. Rather than trying to recapture NRE stuff, could focus on rekindling the existing connection.

The other thing is learning how to deal with him when he's in NRE. Some partners behave well, some act like they are drunk on NRE and obsessed or something, and take established partner for granted. Maybe even going out to poly hell.

I can't quite tell where you are at with it from the brief post. Maybe a combo of things? Or something else?

Galagirl
 
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Marcus

Well-known member
My perception is that he is giving more loving energy towards his other long-term partner than he is giving towards me. I have no valid proof, it's just how I feel.

I don't know how to stop these types of toxic feelings within myself.

Partner is letting you know that he and Meta are currently aligning on what they consider to be "healthy poly", and this agreement includes the reality that what you are doing doesn't align with their vision of what they consider to be healthy. Did I get it?

How is it that you express your concern that Partner is giving more "loving energy" toward Meta? Has Partner (or Meta) expressed this to you directly?

I agree with Gala that you'll need to be more specific in order for us to have a constructive conversation about it.
 

darkangel24321

New member
To be honest, I came into the poly lifestyle as a part of a toxic hierarchical dynamic where nothing outside of "I'm allowing my husband to have you, don't forget your place" was a common theme. After talking with Meta and my partner about this, I have been given a lot of really good information about boundaries, expressing needs, etc. I think that I had been under the wrong interpretation that any spare time my partner has I automatically assumed was mine, now I know just how toxic that thinking is. I know I need to do more research about non-hierarchical poly and learn more of what toxic traits I have in order to replace them with healthier traits. My apologies for any confusion, and my thanks for the help.
 

Evie

Kaitiaki
Staff member
It's great you're examining your beliefs, I'm glad for you that you are really working on moving through the default settings.

May I suggest that toxicity arises whenever you have a "mine" mentality - you found this in the spare time aspect, and in the granting of your permission for the extramarital relationship to even exist - that you are experiencing the thoughts that might lead to toxic and likely controlling behaviour. If you're doing things to try and control other (grown adults') actions because of a sense of (unexamined) ownership over them (or especially over your husband) then - well, cut it out 😉

I know it can seem strange to use the phrase, "my husband." And also say, "ownership: bad." But rather than you owning your husband as a person, perhaps think about it as being a co-owner of a marriage relationship and you own *your* half of that relationship and he owns *his* half of that relationship and you currently agree that the relationship is one you want to share in. That removes the toxic mentality of owning the other person in the marriage, and thus you don't control them, you instead control your half of the marriage relationship, including how you nurture it.

I know it can take some time to unlearn one way of thinking before learning another. But if you deconstruct the origins of your thinking, it's easier to rebuild something healthier. There's a home renovation metaphor lurking just beneath that if you're at all handy 😊

All the best.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello darkangel24321,

Imagine for a moment that your nesting partner's other long-term partner (your metamour) doesn't exist. Keep everything else the same as it is now, just, your metamour is not in the picture. Now, in this hypothetical, imagine that your nesting partner is giving you exactly the same amount of loving energy towards you that he is now (in the actual case). Now ask yourself, is that amount of loving energy enough for you? Does it meet your needs? You see, in poly, we try to not focus on what our metamour is getting (and whether it is "more" than what we're getting). Instead, we try to focus on our own needs (e.g., how much we need), independent of our metamour. If the amount of loving energy you're getting falls short of what you need, then that is what you should talk to him about. Instead of asking him to give your metamour *less.* That would not guarantee that you would get more anyway.

Just some thoughts,
Kevin T.
 

TomSloan

New member
What traits are “toxic” is subjective. My wife, M, is poly, and I’m mono. M has had a boyfriend, A, for over 4 years. From the beginning, M and I have always agreed that our marriage comes first, and that we will never have any secrets between us. As for A, the only reason his relationship with M has lasted so long is because he understands and accepts the primacy of my and M’s marriage. Some may feel that our attitudes are “toxic,” but it works for us.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Thank you for more info.

For some poly groupings, a primary-secondary model works out just fine and it can be healthy and sustainable. There isn't anything toxic about it. In others who like some BDSM/kink mixed in, setting up a "Queen Bee" situation or similar is wanted. So the primary/secondary thing takes on some of that flavor as well. To outsiders the power exchange might seem weird, but the participants dig it, so it is fun for them. In other groupings, a primary/secondary model can be a little possessive/controlling/restrictive in UNFUN ways. So really it depends on how it's done in the group and what the group wants or consents to do together.

To be honest, I came into the poly lifestyle as a part of a toxic hierarchical dynamic where nothing outside of "I'm allowing my husband to have you, don't forget your place" was a common theme. After talking with Meta and my partner about this, I have been given a lot of really good information about boundaries, expressing needs, etc.

You don't really "let" or "allow" your spouse have another partner. You are not their parent or caretaker. They are adults in charge of their own behavior choices. What you do if your partner asks if you are willing/able to do poly? Is think it over and then consent to participate in a polyship or not. Your consent to do things or not belongs to you.

Presumably you want to be doing this of your own volition. (And not just going along with stuff you do not really want from fear of a break up or something. Right? )

Here it maybe sounds like primary-secondary model is not working out or is being outgrown? I don't know if any of these help you process.






I know I need to do more research about non-hierarchical poly and learn more of what toxic traits I have in order to replace them with healthier traits. My apologies for any confusion, and my thanks for the help.

So far I'm not reading anything toxic per se. Just maybe struggling with the reality of polyshipping and sharing a hinge partner's time and attention with someone else?

I struggle without names. So I'm going to take the liberty of calling your Husband "Harry" and your Metamour "Mabel." I'm happy to go with whatever names you pick if you want something else.

Have you and Harry healed from the abusive marriages you had with other people in the past before you got married to each other? Done any work on leaving codependency behind? So these things are not casting a shadow over the new poly thing? How this this V get started?

At this time, Mabel the metamour has certain beliefs on how healthy poly should be for her. She wants.... what? Are these reasonable/rational things?

At this time, Harry the husband now agrees with these beliefs and wants poly to be like that for him too. He wants.... what? Are these reasonable/rational things?

You think healthy poly for you would look like .... what? Are these reasonable/rational things?

And do any of these things line up together?

Just because two people were compatible enough for monogamous marriage, doesn't mean they are going to be "automatically" compatible for doing open/poly relationships together. There's many models. Then when you add the other people's wants/needs, that adds more layers to work out compatibility in.

Galagirl
 
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darkangel24321

New member
It's great you're examining your beliefs, I'm glad for you that you are really working on moving through the default settings.

May I suggest that toxicity arises whenever you have a "mine" mentality - you found this in the spare time aspect, and in the granting of your permission for the extramarital relationship to even exist - that you are experiencing the thoughts that might lead to toxic and likely controlling behaviour. If you're doing things to try and control other (grown adults') actions because of a sense of (unexamined) ownership over them (or especially over your husband) then - well, cut it out 😉

I know it can seem strange to use the phrase, "my husband." And also say, "ownership: bad." But rather than you owning your husband as a person, perhaps think about it as being a co-owner of a marriage relationship and you own *your* half of that relationship and he owns *his* half of that relationship and you currently agree that the relationship is one you want to share in. That removes the toxic mentality of owning the other person in the marriage, and thus you don't control them, you instead control your half of the marriage relationship, including how you nurture it.

I know it can take some time to unlearn one way of thinking before learning another. But if you deconstruct the origins of your thinking, it's easier to rebuild something healthier. There's a home renovation metaphor lurking just beneath that if you're at all handy 😊

All the best.
Thank you, this was really insightful. I will try to keep this in mind going forward.
 

darkangel24321

New member
Thank you for more info.

For some poly groupings, a primary-secondary model works out just fine and it can be healthy and sustainable. There isn't anything toxic about it. In others who like some BDSM/kink mixed in, setting up a "Queen Bee" situation or similar is wanted. So the primary/secondary thing takes on some of that flavor as well. To outsiders the power exchange might seem weird, but the participants dig it, so it is fun for them. In other groupings, a primary/secondary model can be a little possessive/controlling/restrictive in UNFUN ways. So really it depends on how it's done in the group and what the group wants or consents to do together.



You don't really "let" or "allow" your spouse have another partner. You are not their parent or caretaker. They are adults in charge of their own behavior choices. What you do if your partner asks if you are willing/able to do poly? Is think it over and then consent to participate in a polyship or not. Your consent to do things or not belongs to you.

Presumably you want to be doing this of your own volition. (And not just going along with stuff you do not really want from fear of a break up or something. Right? )

Here it maybe sounds like primary-secondary model is not working out or is being outgrown? I don't know if any of these help you process.








So far I'm not reading anything toxic per se. Just maybe struggling with the reality of polyshipping and sharing a hinge partner's time and attention with someone else?

I struggle without names. So I'm going to take the liberty of calling your Husband "Harry" and your Metamour "Mabel." I'm happy to go with whatever names you pick if you want something else.

Have you and Harry healed from the abusive marriages you had with other people in the past before you got married to each other? Done any work on leaving codependency behind? So these things are not casting a shadow over the new poly thing? How this this V get started?

At this time, Mabel the metamour has certain beliefs on how healthy poly should be for her. She wants.... what? Are these reasonable/rational things?

At this time, Harry the husband now agrees with these beliefs and wants poly to be like that for him too. He wants.... what? Are these reasonable/rational things?

You think healthy poly for you would look like .... what? Are these reasonable/rational things?

And do any of these things line up together?

Just because two people were compatible enough for monogamous marriage, doesn't mean they are going to be "automatically" compatible for doing open/poly relationships together. There's many models. Then when you add the other people's wants/needs, that adds more layers to work out compatibility in.

Galagirl
We didn't get married, we got celebration rings as a sign of our committment. He has next to no desire to get married again, and I am honestly at the same point. We had talked about handfasting, but for now that isn't on the table.

I don't think I fully have healed, I believe he has come further along than I have in the healing process.

I could not say what healthy poly looks like for me because I honestly don't know enough about it. Our relationship is really rocky right now, so I am trying to prepare myself for the possibility of us breaking up. I want to be a healthy poly person moving forward regardless of the situation.

Thank you for your kind words.
 

darkangel24321

New member
Hello darkangel24321,

Imagine for a moment that your nesting partner's other long-term partner (your metamour) doesn't exist. Keep everything else the same as it is now, just, your metamour is not in the picture. Now, in this hypothetical, imagine that your nesting partner is giving you exactly the same amount of loving energy towards you that he is now (in the actual case). Now ask yourself, is that amount of loving energy enough for you? Does it meet your needs? You see, in poly, we try to not focus on what our metamour is getting (and whether it is "more" than what we're getting). Instead, we try to focus on our own needs (e.g., how much we need), independent of our metamour. If the amount of loving energy you're getting falls short of what you need, then that is what you should talk to him about. Instead of asking him to give your metamour *less.* That would not guarantee that you would get more anyway.

Just some thoughts,
Kevin T.
Thank you, you've given me some things to think about.
 

darkangel24321

New member
Thank you for more info.

For some poly groupings, a primary-secondary model works out just fine and it can be healthy and sustainable. There isn't anything toxic about it. In others who like some BDSM/kink mixed in, setting up a "Queen Bee" situation or similar is wanted. So the primary/secondary thing takes on some of that flavor as well. To outsiders the power exchange might seem weird, but the participants dig it, so it is fun for them. In other groupings, a primary/secondary model can be a little possessive/controlling/restrictive in UNFUN ways. So really it depends on how it's done in the group and what the group wants or consents to do together.



You don't really "let" or "allow" your spouse have another partner. You are not their parent or caretaker. They are adults in charge of their own behavior choices. What you do if your partner asks if you are willing/able to do poly? Is think it over and then consent to participate in a polyship or not. Your consent to do things or not belongs to you.

Presumably you want to be doing this of your own volition. (And not just going along with stuff you do not really want from fear of a break up or something. Right? )

Here it maybe sounds like primary-secondary model is not working out or is being outgrown? I don't know if any of these help you process.








So far I'm not reading anything toxic per se. Just maybe struggling with the reality of polyshipping and sharing a hinge partner's time and attention with someone else?

I struggle without names. So I'm going to take the liberty of calling your Husband "Harry" and your Metamour "Mabel." I'm happy to go with whatever names you pick if you want something else.

Have you and Harry healed from the abusive marriages you had with other people in the past before you got married to each other? Done any work on leaving codependency behind? So these things are not casting a shadow over the new poly thing? How this this V get started?

At this time, Mabel the metamour has certain beliefs on how healthy poly should be for her. She wants.... what? Are these reasonable/rational things?

At this time, Harry the husband now agrees with these beliefs and wants poly to be like that for him too. He wants.... what? Are these reasonable/rational things?

You think healthy poly for you would look like .... what? Are these reasonable/rational things?

And do any of these things line up together?

Just because two people were compatible enough for monogamous marriage, doesn't mean they are going to be "automatically" compatible for doing open/poly relationships together. There's many models. Then when you add the other people's wants/needs, that adds more layers to work out compatibility in.

Galagirl
I should also point out that the "I'm letting my husband have you" mentality came from his wife at the time, not myself.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I could not say what healthy poly looks like for me because I honestly don't know enough about it.

Apart from it having more than 2 people in it? You may find it's largely healthy relating / good communication / realistic expectations.


And then agreements around safer sex practices, family planning, money, time management, calendar, etc.

If you don't know much about it... how'd you end up in this V? Like... why agree to do it? You don't have to actually say here. But maybe could think about it, and not repeat behaviors next time if they didn't end up serving you well.

Our relationship is really rocky right now, so I am trying to prepare myself for the possibility of us breaking up.

I'm sorry to hear that. I don't know if this tool helps any. Even though geared toward teens, I think it's useful to anyone who dates.


If you do have to part ways, I hope it is a peaceful parting.

I want to be a healthy poly person moving forward regardless of the situation.

If so, you might consider some reading so next time you try, you go in more informed and not like going in blind. Not definitive, but some starting points.




These are from the "Opening Up" book.

Wayback Machine
Creating Authentic Relationships

Wayback Machine
Open Relationship Checklist

Wayback Machine
Reflecting on Change

Wayback Machine
Self Evaluation

For the healing abuse/trauma part, that might need other resources.

HTH!
Galagirl
 
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Evie

Kaitiaki
Staff member
I should also point out that the "I'm letting my husband have you" mentality came from his wife at the time, not myself.
Sorry, I misinterpreted this with my reply. To me, it's still a horrible starting point, regardless of which person you are in the dynamic. Somewhere along the line, it's going to get messy.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
As for A, the only reason his relationship with M has lasted so long is because he understands and accepts the primacy of my and M’s marriage. Some may feel that our attitudes are “toxic,” but it works for us.

People can get overly assertive with their label guns. Personally I try to only use terms like "toxic" when it comes to things that are not only a bad idea, but most likely harmful to other people.

Using TomSloan's fine example, I disagree that this is a healthy way to approach relationships because it is strictly hierarchical and requires that anyone who associated with them to subjugate themselves to the rule of the one "real" relationship. Can that work? Sure, if everyone involved plays by the rules. Is it toxic? I don't think so, there isn't anything there that I would recognize as being likely to cause harm to either themselves or the partners they take on.

I would put the label gun away and just work on what sounds reasonable to you and something you welcome into your life, and everything else.

Focus on the simple things:

Learn what boundaries are and figure out what yours are.​
Stand up for your boundaries as nicely as you can, while being firm.​
Learn what the boundaries of your loved ones are, and respect them absolutely.​
Figure out what you imagine you want out of a relationship, and compare it to what your loved ones want.​
Design your relationship so that it only exists in the natural overlap of those wants.​

Anything that isn't compatible, throw it out. Don't spend your life trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.
 

IvanTrentBrown

New member
@TomSloan
From the beginning, M and I have always agreed that our marriage comes first, and that we will never have any secrets between us.
Have you ever had secrets that you wished stayed secret?
Maybe something that either of you revealed that changed the relationship?
 

TomSloan

New member
@TomSloan

Have you ever had secrets that you wished stayed secret?
Maybe something that either of you revealed that changed the relationship?
No, I have no desire to keep secrets from my wife. She explains, and I also feel, that total openness between us maintains the intimacy we have in our marriage. For us, total openness is a part of total trust. M’s boyfriend understands and accepts this.
 
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