Hopeless mismatch of needs? Or?? Need advice please.

jenlou

New member
Hello everyone,

This is my first post on the forum, though I have checked in here many a time to see how other people handle issues that come up in poly relationships. I am in awe of the level of smartness and self-awareness here, and first off want to say thank you to all the posters who share and try to help…

I am at a critical point in my relationship with my boyfriend, and am asking for thoughts, advice, & support. I’m not sure how to do this without writing a tome, so I apologize for the length of this post!

Background: “Steve” and I met as play partners several years ago. It’s my first poly relationship. Over the past 2 years, our relationship has deepened considerably, and continues to deepen. We love each other tremendously; our adoration and enjoyment of each other is mutual. We have so much fun together, and are a big part of each others’ lives. He is my only partner right now; I’m actively pursuing dating with the goal of finding a poly life partner.

He is happily married to “Susan”. They started as non-monogamous & over the past couple of years they’ve opened up to being in love with other people. They are solid. Susan also has a serious long-term relationship with her girlfriend. I like, respect, and trust Susan.

It’s been a bumpy ride with Steve. And, it’s been the most amazing, incredibly exciting growth experience, and I feel like I am learning to fly! But we have major issues that we try repeatedly to solve with limited success. We want to do therapy but scheduling’s been difficult. Now things have come to a head and I’m not sure I can go on.

Main ongoing issues: 1) he’s excited about our love deepening, but also fearful about how it might threaten his marriage. A year ago we said we were going to let our relationship flourish into whatever it might become. Then he got scared and wanted to limit it to a traditional primary/secondary. I agreed though it was painful. But I’d rather do P/S than not have him in my life, plus I was confident I could do it. Then he changed his mind again to multiple primaries. Now it seems back to P/S. He’s had a really hard time figuring out what he wants in terms of commitment. He tries, but he’s not high on the self-awareness scale. His yo-yoing brings up old abandonment stuff and hurts my feelings. Many opportunities to look at my stuff, which is great. And painful.

2) It’s a theme that I’ve needed him to be more consistent, and dependable than it seems he can be overall. Our depth of love brings with it for me a need for a certain level of dependability and consistency from him. But it's sometimes more than what he wants to or can provide. He cancels on me fairly regularly, often due to his scheduling issues (present for him in all his relationships). He forgets phone dates, etc. I’ve asked him to use an online calendar, even do one with me, but he’s resisted, until recently—I think because of his mixed feelings re wanting a full-blown Relationship with me, and his desire to just live his life bachelor style.

3) When sh*t goes down, I need him to be present with me and my feelings, and to have open communication. He’s working on it, and sometimes he can be very present. But his core issue is that he’s quite threatened by the disappointment of those he loves. He often gets defensive when I express my feelings (I am careful to own them and not blame or hold him responsible). Sometimes he can’t hear them at all which leads to me feeling abandoned. My codependence can kick in and I “disappear” myself so I won’t have to deal with his anger/frustration. I’m working on this. But my new commitment to honesty isn’t going over very well, understandably.

4) He’s taken on some new commitments, which means we have less time together. This is very challenging for me. I feel not prioritized, and I miss him. On his end, he’s stressed.

5) I so want to grow, and welcome the way poly’s lack of false security (“you are my one and only forever") really makes me deal with my shit. Freedom! Yet at the same time, I’m human and I do need connection and some sense of dependability in a partner. I have a hard time figuring out what’s reasonable to expect, and when I might be being treated disrespectfully…or what that even means. Is it disrespectful if someone simply acts according to their desires, and means no harm?

The most recent incident: we made a date in May to see a very special performer, and then spend the night together. We’ve been excited about it. First, he didn’t tell Susan we had that date, even after she started to make plans for them to attend the event with their friends (his aversion to conflict). When she found out Steve and I were going, she was hurt and disappointed. But they agreed she would still go (fine with me).

He says he’s very stressed about the event due to a semi-disaster not long ago at a party, when he and I were on a date and he basically abandoned me for Susan (he missed her and was kind of drunk). Then, somehow, they invited an out-of-town friend for the event/performance weekend. He says he didn’t realize it was that weekend but he’s fudged the truth before so I don’t fully trust him on this.

He tells me that there’s a chance he and the friend may play. I say great, have fun! And let’s really plan this event carefully so everyone gets some of their needs met, and use it as an opportunity to grow. He agrees. Then later he tells me that he actually wants to cancel our date to the event, because he wants to be there as a free agent, and to be available to play that evening and all weekend with the out-of-town gal (they have a firm date on Friday) as this is an unusual opportunity and he’s very attracted to her.

I’m really hurt and feel expendable, and like he doesn’t value our plans and I can’t trust him to keep plans. I feel tossed aside. Also we had said we would make efforts to minimize our ups-and-downs because it's been so hard lately, but I don’t feel his behavior reflects that commitment. He got angry at me for expressing my hurt, and accused me of just thinking of my own needs. Why couldn’t I just give him my blessings, seeing how happy this would make him, and say sure, have a great time; why do I have to make a big deal about it. Later he apologized. But I expressed my hurt again, and now he is distancing and not communicating much with me.

Is there some way I could stretch so that I could say what he wants and mean it? I’ve been saying I want to try backing off somehow to lower my expectations—is that even possible? Is he being a dick? Am I being selfish? Are my feelings of hurt and expendability part of “attachment” and my old issues, and is that something I should strive to grow out of? Am I being a doormat? Are my feelings reasonable (what does that even mean)? Is it a hopeless case of mismatched needs: I need to know he’s dependable and will show up, and he needs to act freely without considering my feelings, as if we had a much more casual type of relationship. Do I accept he’s ambivalent, will continue to give me mixed messages, and leave him?

I’m inclined to the latter, but would really welcome any input. Again, sorry this is so long. I am not the greatest at summarizing.

Thank you for your help!!!
 
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KC43

New member
This sounds like a very difficult situation for you.

Going by what you've said in your post, I would say that first, no, you are not being selfish by expecting him to keep plans and commitments he's made with you. You are asking him to respect you and to respect his own word.

He *is* being selfish by accusing you of putting your own needs first instead of letting him break your plans because it makes him happy to do so. He is telling you to put his happiness ahead of your own, and essentially saying that his promises and your feelings don't matter.

It sounds like he is increasingly giving you mixed messages and is becoming unwilling to communicate or give you support or answers. He does not sound like he is fully "into" this relationship with you, or like he is entirely sure of what he wants.

If the situation is causing you pain, you have to decide whether your feelings for him and the good times in the past are worth putting up with his current behavior. You can't predict the future; you don't know whether things will get better or worse or remain as they are now. But you can judge how you feel about *now* and make a decision accordingly.

There's no right or wrong way for you to *feel* in this situation. You feel how you feel, and however that is, is valid. It's how you *act* in response to those feelings that matters. If you feel hurt, devalued, and angered by his behavior, which is what I'm reading from your post, you can choose to continue this way or to leave. It doesn't sound like he is willing to consider your feelings or needs, and to me, it is unfair of him to expect you to consider *his* feelings and needs if he isn't willing to do the same for you. You're beginning to question whether you even have a right to feel hurt, and that, to me, is a red flag.
 

jenlou

New member
Thanks so much for your feedback KC43. I read your first sentence and cried for five minutes, so I think it rings true. And it feels so, so good to read those words...I guess I was really needing some validation.

And thanks for the reminder about any feeling being valid. I do think that I've allowed this relationship to erode a bit by sense of being okay in my feelings, because he has such a hard time dealing with them, which brings up old crap for me around feeling "too much" and my feelings being invalid. I've tried to keep my eye on this, but old patterns have a sneaky way of creeping back in.

I do actually think he is being selfish--but that is *such* a hard word for me to use with someone else, because of how it was used to invalidate my needs as a child. I get confused sometimes about what actually is selfish. And I work hard on not coming from a judgmental place, so I worry that using that word is just a label, a way of saying "you're taking what you need and not giving me what I need." Maybe it's about balance; selfish = wanting your needs taken into account but not wanting to do the same for others. Which definition would fit what's going on right now.

As much as it hurts to read, I would also have to agree that he's not fully into our relationship. It's confusing because I know he's deeply in love with me; he says it often, I feel it in my soul, and our time together is transcendent, magical, super fun and full of joy. But one thing I'm learning, is that love does not mean a desire for commitment. You can love someone tons, and still not want to have to take them into account when planning your life, I think...

And more and more, I think the only person he wants commitment with is his wife, although he has never said that. I'm trying to learn to "listen" to behavior and not words. Hard for me as I am a very "take people at face value" kind of person, almost to a clueless degree at times. You say your hair is blue but it looks green to me? Okay, I can get that, I could see how it's blue for you... Silly example but it's kind of how I am.

This is enormously helpful to write this all out, and to take in your comments which make me reflect even more deeply on the situation. Thank you!!!
 

KC43

New member
I completely understand where you're coming from. I was brought up to believe that I didn't deserve to have anything, didn't deserve to have my needs met, didn't deserve to speak up for myself.

I was taught that I existed to take care of others and meet their needs, but I didn't matter.

I was taught that I was only allowed to be happy, and if I felt any other emotion I was bad, a troublemaker, not worth the effort. Being angry was flat out dangerous.

My first husband, whom I left in 2006 after fourteen years of marriage, reinforced those beliefs.

When I met Hubby, it took me a very long time to find my voice. To express my needs; to demand respect and consideration. He had to teach me to do those things, and had to help me fight the "programming" of my upbringing. I had to learn to feel emotions again, and then I had to work my ass off to learn to moderate them, because for a while when I got angry or sad, I was nearly 40 years' worth of angry and sad instead of just about that single situation.

Hubby's definition of "selfish" is "doing what's best for oneself *first*", but not *only*. Not at the expense of someone else, which is usually what people mean when they say selfish. He just has a different way of phrasing things.

You are putting yourself first by wanting him to meet your needs, and there is nothing wrong with that. You NEED to put yourself first; you should be the most important person in your life. Each of us should.

But that doesn't mean ignoring others, or treating them badly, or telling them their needs don't matter. It just means taking care of ourselves first. Oxygen mask. You know on planes, when they tell you if an oxygen mask drops, put on your own before helping anyone else? That's because it isn't going to do the person you're trying to help any good if you die in the process... You can't take care of others in your life if you aren't taking care of yourself.

You deserve to be valued and important to someone, not shoved aside because something shinier comes along. (And damn if I'm not saying this to myself as much as you right now...if you check out my blog in the blogs section, you'll see why.)

He might say he loves you. He might even mean it. But the way he's treating you doesn't sound loving, and it sounds from your posts like you don't *feel* loved by him. Actions speak louder than words.

And you have the right to be happy. If someone isn't making you happy, you have the right to end that connection.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I do actually think he is being selfish--but that is *such* a hard word for me to use with someone else, because of how it was used to invalidate my needs as a child. I get confused sometimes about what actually is selfish

IME, some selfish people not getting their own way sometimes like to accuse other people of being selfish as a tactic.

Then in their anxiousness to prove how not selfish they are or to avoid the selfish person mega tantrums aimed at their head the other person sometimes capitulates to that sort of underhanded bullying.

Persons with healthy boundaries do not fall for that game. They just say "No, thanks. Not willing and able at this time" and are ok leaving the selfish person to figure out alternatives just like any other ordinary person would. Or leaving them to tantrum alone out of the line of fire.

I am sorry you had that experience as a child from family... It is hard for a young child to see family as fallible. A child has to get older before being able to recognize the flipperoo being pulled.

As an adult, you can update though, and leave behind what no longer serves you from your family of origin. In case it helps you....me? I think it is a see-saw with the tilted ends being "selfish" and "selfless." I like Marshall Rosenberg describing the balanced place in the middle "self full."

Selfish = wanting all others to meet my needs ahead of their own

Selfless = wanting to meet other people needs ahead of my own.

Self full = meeting my own needs and that of other people in a balanced way. I meet my needs first, then I can gift what is left to others freely. That approach is healthy and necessary, otherwise I deplete me, run ragged and grow resentful. And who did it? Me!

Your personality seems to value being cooperative and collaborative. To meet your needs and that of others in balanced way in polyshipping and try to do that kind of necessary coordinating at times.

He does not. He wants to not have cares or responsibilities to others. His personality and what he values do not match yours.

So... Maybe you just end it and accept it as great when he is great, when he is not he falls short of what you seek. Accept that "sometimes great" is not enough to make it a a good long haul runner for you?

Falling in love is easy. Hormones mostly.

Sustaining it is another thing. That requires doing loving behaviors consistently toward partners and pulling together with a shared vision. You guys are after different things. No shared vision. If his vision is "memememe" and he loves what you can DO for him? And saying he loves you is primarily a vehicle for getting more from you?

You could not sign up for that.

I'm trying to learn to "listen" to behavior and not words.

Yup. When talk and walk do not match? Evaluate the walk. Cuz talk is cheap. Only meaningful when there is substance to back it up.

Galagirl
 
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bookbug

New member
I agree with KC43 - Steve may love you very much, but his behavior is disrespectful and selfish. And while you may bear the brunt of it because you are not his wife, it sounds like he is disrespectful to her too (as in not letting her know you two had plans from the get-go, which ended up hurting her feelings).

Ditching your long term plans when he found another play partner was coming to town was rude. And if he can't see why, well that's a problem too.

Of course I can't tell you what you should do (only you know your own limits) but I would relegate him to FWB at the most - if I didn't back off completely. You deserve better.
 

YouAreHere

Active member
Ditching your long term plans when he found another play partner was coming to town was rude. And if he can't see why, well that's a problem too.

This.

I'd get pissed at friends if they did this with me, and if they did so on a regular basis, I'd quit making plans with them. It's common courtesy to keep plans with someone, or at least to try to reschedule if something falls through, period, regardless of whether it's a friend or a partner. In a relationship, being discourteous feels even worse, since this is someone who's purporting to love you, but isn't acting in a way that shows it.

You're asking for a courtesy that anyone should be able to deliver. That isn't selfish.
 

jenlou

New member
Boy oh boy. This is all helpful and clarifying. And saddening too. Thanks for the perspectives on selfishness and courtesy, everyone. KC43, I like your oxygen mask analogy. No, I don't think he's treating me in a loving manner here either. I think he's treating me like a very casual play partner or acquaintance, where there's a much lower level of expectation and commitment.

Galagirl, you hit the nail on the head around selfish people accusing others of selfishness. Yep, that's exactly what I grew up with, and I do think that's what's happening here. I don't think he means to be unkind; I just think he is so scared and clueless when it comes to knowing his own needs that he lashes out like a child at times. Not that there's any excuse. And yes, I do sometimes react in exactly the way you describe and I plan to be more vigilant about that. I shudder in horror at the thought of being perceived as selfish. Work to do...

Now that I'm reflecting, I know that I've often had the impression of him as a "baby" (not taking responsibility for his actions; casting himself as the hapless victim when it comes to scheduling mishaps; lying to avoid conflict; even pouting) but I've kind of suppressed that reaction because I think it's judge-ey and mean and I feel bad thinking that about him because I love him. Oh dear. And (trippier part) I think I actually do this thing to myself where I say "But Susan is so great and emotionally smart and aware, and she's in a happy successful functional relationship with Steve, so he must not really be a baby because she would never tolerate that and it couldn't possibly be such a great relationship then." Questioning my own reality is also something I got tons of early training in.

Aaaand Galagirl your assessment of "He does not. He wants to not have cares or responsibilities to others. His personality and what he values do not match yours" feels pretty right on. Indeed, I don't think we have a shared vision. I've been trying to get us to talk about "what do we want in this relationship, where do we want it to go", but he's resistant. Or saying "I don't know what I want!" And I back off because I hate how frustrated he gets, and who knows, maybe I didn't want the answer even if he could figure it out.

I do think he's totally dedicated and committed to his wife, but I think it's pretty clear he doesn't want to have responsibilities towards me. Or more accurately, he has major ambivalence about it but he decides on a regular basis with his actions.

Ouch. My head is coming out of the sand... :(

jenlou
 

bookbug

New member
Jenlou, in regard to Susan having it together, being self-aware, etc., despite that, she may tolerate more than you think. I was with a couple (male was the Philosopher in my signature), and initially, before I moved in with them, it looked like their marriage was a good partnership. Upon moving in, I found out this wasn't so. While the wife presented well superficially, she had the same immature characteristics you describe in Steve. The marriage looked successful from the outside because the Philosopher was always compensating for her. In reality, the relationship dynamic was very skewed with her behaving like a child much of the time, and the Philosopher doing all the heavy lifting. And like Susan, the Philosopher was very self-aware, together, logical, etc., but he loved his wife and did his best to take care of her.

(He was not able to do this indefinitely. Over time, he found he wanted a real partnership, and his wife had no interest in being any other than taken care of like a child. They are divorced.)
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I think he's treating me like a very casual play partner or acquaintance, where there's a much lower level of expectation and commitment

Yes, less commitment and less expectations. But even so? Casual play partners or acquaintances could be treated with basic polite and some respect, hon. :eek:

Know what? You could not base your happiness and way of going on what Susan is doing or not doing or Susan's judgement of a situation. You could base it on whether or not your own needs are being met and your own evaluation of a situation. You are perfectly capable.

Indeed, I don't think we have a shared vision. I've been trying to get us to talk about "what do we want in this relationship, where do we want it to go", but he's resistant. Or saying "I don't know what I want!" And I back off because I hate how frustrated he gets, and who knows, maybe I didn't want the answer even if he could figure it out.

See you backing off from addressing inequity because you dislike tantrum aimed at your head? (Understandable, nobody looooves fusspot.)

See him successfully stonewalling and blocking clear communication? :(

That behavior does not leave you any healthy option other than to disengage. :(

I mean this kindly, ok? :eek:

But I think you ascribe more noble things to his behavior than I would. Like he does not mean to be unkind, he cannot figure it out, he is not able.

I think he flat out is not willing. And it is kinda hard to reconcile with yourself that you actively choose to hang with a dude just not willing to treat you well. That is not self respecting behavior. Hard to swallow.

Easier to digest if you think to yourself that he is unable at this time and make excuse, because then you can continue to hope he will learn the skills at some point in time. You can continue to think your love and effort are not going into a black hole. So no, you are not really hanging with a dude who treats you poorly on purpose. You recognize this excuse making thought pattern stems from childhood baggage. So you could choose to change that pattern.

Like evaluate with no excuses... Because this is not the start of a relationship, but assessment now that you have been together a while.

Whether on purpose or not? You are being treated poorly. Bottom line.

  • Most adults can handle feeling frustrated. Exactly what is so horrible about it? It passes.
  • And what is so horrible about checking in to make sure people are still on the same page and all players needs are being met ok? It is necessary from time to time in healthy adult relating.
  • Your needs are not being met. Not for clear communication, not for consideration, not for basic polite, not for equity, etc.
  • You call it right. All this stuff is not helpful in healthy, respectful adult relating: not taking responsibility for his actions; casting himself as the hapless victim when it comes to scheduling mishaps; lying to avoid conflict; even pouting

As uncomfortable as it is to think, maybe he is resistant to talk or goes vague as tactic also. Because things as they are suit selfish him just fine. So he is not eager to change it. Him having a temper fit gets you to back off, so he also gets what he wants then too. To NOT have this conversation. And to NOT have anything change. Do only enough to keep you hoping and on the line. It isn't like saying he loves you takes much breath. Showing he loves you in behavior is another thing.

If you have been going along with his "mememe" vision so far, it is awesome for him. Explain from his POV why selfish him needs to give that up in favor of more work for him just to get less for him?

(In real life you deserve waaaaay better treatment than this, but I don't think he lives in real life. If he wants casual play only it would be kinder to tell you so you can seek serious partner elsewhere. But I do not think he is about kindness. He is about memememe. Giving you clear communication so you can seek serious partner elsewhere = less of your attention for him. He likes and benefits from what he gets now. Ergo no clear communication. No! No changes in his supply from you!)

I am very sorry you feel pain as you wake up. :(

But I am not sorry you are waking up. :eek: I think in the long run that is healthier for you.

Determine how YOU want to be treating yourself from this point on:
  • Keep you here unhappy with unsatisfactory partner?
  • Or free you from this unsatisfying dynamic?

Which is more self-respecting behavior? Which is you treating you kindly?

It sounds to me like you are coming to terms with ending it. If so?

When you break up steel yourself for a lot of "sweetie pie honey bunch" or "sob story and promises of a better tomorrow" or accusing you of being selfish and unappreciative of him ..... All designed to hook you back into serving Mr Selfish Baby. Guard against that.

I could guess totally wrong, of course. But that would be my guess.

Hang in there!

Galagirl
 
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KC43

New member
Speaking as someone who (from the sounds of it) had a similar upbringing to Jenlou:

I learned that my needs and feelings didn't matter. That I had to accept however I was treated and be happy about it, because that was what I deserved.

I learned to make excuses for others' behavior and to put all the blame for it on myself, because otherwise they were bad people, and since I'm talking about my parents, grandmother, etc., when I was a child, it was unthinkable that *they* might be bad or be doing bad things. *I* must have been the bad one, or else they would have been good to me.

I learned to be afraid of others' anger and frustration, because it usually resulted in me being hurt, and I learned to placate, peace-make, and do everything in my power to avoid eliciting those emotions in anyone so I would be "safe."

I can't speak for Jenlou, but her Steve sounds an awful lot like my first husband, and I know in that marriage, I responded, reacted, and excused much the same way she's doing. Because it was "safer", and because I'd already had over two decades of learning that if someone behaved badly toward me, it was *my* fault for being a bad person, not their responsibility. I might guess, based on what Jenlou has said, that she's in a similar mindset, maybe without even realizing it.

But Jen, you aren't a bad person. You don't deserve this. It is not your job to moderate and ameliorate other people's emotions and actions, especially other adults. It is your job to take care of *you*, and you are the only one whose thoughts and actions you can control.
 

nycindie

Active member
I have two questions. Am I correct in assuming your use of the word "play" is a euphemism for fuck? Also, exactly what is a "a traditional primary/secondary?" There is no traditional anything in poly, so what does that mean to you?
 
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wildflowers

New member
Sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time right now. Much of your story sounds very similar to some of my experiences, so I think I understand how challenging and painful this relationship has been.

As the others have said, your feelings are not unreasonable at all. Your needs have not been met, you have been disappointed, and your boyfriend has not been giving you much support in dealing with the issues between you.

That said, I am getting the impression that others feel that a relationship between you and you boyfriend (as he is) can't be good for you, and I'm not convinced it's that simple. This is undoubtedly coming out of my own experience, so perhaps I am rationalizing or being too self-defensive, but I thought it could be worthwhile for you to have another perspective.

I too have dated someone who cannot or will not plan, and found it very frustrating, because I also like consistency and dependability. And I have found it difficult to have productive discussions about aspects of the relationship that were not working well, because my boyfriend has a hard time being criticized or hearing that I am upset with him. (In fairness to him, I think this description actually applies to the majority of people.) And he's not great at defining what we wants in a relationship - this could be because he's avoiding the question, or simply because it's not the type of question he thinks to ask.

So - in some ways we are very mismatched. Our underlying needs or expectations differ. But - I enjoy his company. I am happy being with him, and he seems happy with me, and I don't see any reason for him to fake it if he is not. My life is better with him in it than out. We may not be great at relationship talks, but we can talk about many other things that matter to each of us, and we each feel cared for and supported.

I honestly don't know whether it has been hard for him to make this work. He probably does more planning with me than is natural for him to do, and has shown gradual changes in other areas as well. *For me, the key to making it work *is simply saying "this is who he is". The behaviors that I find challenging are not specifically targeted at me; they are just how he runs his life. He cancels sometimes because his life is unpredictable. So does my best girlfriend, and I don't freak out at her, so I try to not have a stronger reaction towards him. And I try to not take cancellations or absences personally in cases when it is not warranted.*

I should definitely acknowledge that this is how I respond 3 hrs into the relationship, and that in earlier stages I "managed" with far more angst and less skill. And it is also important to note that this only works when I see him with some regularity, because I do need to feel that the positives outweigh the challenges. *still, you asked if it is possible to change expectations, and I think that it is, and that moving to expectation that suit who your partner is, rather than an idealized picture of who s/he should be, is a reasonable adjustment. I know that I resent people asking me for actions or emotional responses that are not natural to me, and so try to avoid triggering a similar response in others. Friends and lovers will each have strengths and limitations; I'd rather appreciate what each can do rather than continually set them up for failure.

I don't think that being realistic makes you a doormat. And if you are frustrated I don't think you have to deny that feeling. But if you know he will not change, an alternative to giving up might be to vent elsewhere (here?) and avoid creating unproductive*conflict with him. Even people in good relationships drive each other crazy at times.

Of course, I really don't know what is best for you, whether your needs have any flexibility, and how the positives from your relationship compare to the negatives. Maybe coping with him is not worth *it. But i think it is not a good assumption that any relationship that requires such coping is inherently too flawed to maintain.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
Wildflower -- jenlou has this as some of her last sentences in the original post:

Do I accept he’s ambivalent, will continue to give me mixed messages, and leave him? I’m inclined to the latter,

If leaving is where she inclines, I think that's ok.

I don't think people are urging her to just dump him for no reason, or like there isn't a certain amount of give and take to any relationship. But each trying in their own way to support her in the direction she already inclines in for herself.

Just not quite ready to pick up the phone or tell him in person "That's it. I am breaking up with you" -- but getting close in the processing of it and in mourning the decision. And maybe needing to hear that it really is ok to leave for needs not met. Which it is. And it really is ok to leave even if the person says they love you. Which it is.

Love is not enough.

It's sad, but can't make a thing fly that just won't fly. :(

Galagirl
 
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wildflowers

New member
Fair enough. I didn't think of all the responses from quite that perspective, I.e., encouraging her towards where she wanted to go. I guess I read the initial post as also wondering whether there was a workable solution beyond ending it. For her or many others, perhaps not, but I was uncomfortable with leaving the responses so heavily tilted towards "no".

OP, I think the others' responses, are entirely valid and may suit you well. I just wanted it to be clear that not everyone was quite so hopeless, if you do not actually think ending is the best option.
 

jenlou

New member
Oh my god. Ok, I am so totally blown away by the perceptiveness of you all, and your beautiful articulate precise way of expressing yourselves!!! Just have to say right off, this experience of posting and then interacting with you has been so unexpectedly amazing and nurturing and growthful. Wow.

So I think I got the quote thing? Hopefully this turns out looking right…

Yes, less commitment and less expectations. But even so? Casual play partners or acquaintances could be treated with basic polite and some respect, hon. :eek: .. . . Know what? You could not base your happiness and way of going on what Susan is doing or not doing or Susan's judgement of a situation. You could base it on whether or not your own needs are being met and your own evaluation of a situation. You are perfectly capable.

Galagirl, yes, thank you for pointing that out, and it’s now clear to me that if I do disengage some and we move to a more casual level, I am going to have to clearly state my personal boundaries around canceling. And yes again, what I was doing comparing myself with Susan was questioning my own reality and ability to assess what’s okay with me. “You are perfectly capable” made me cry and thus I know was directly on mark ;-)

But I think you ascribe more noble things to his behavior than I would. Like he does not mean to be unkind, he cannot figure it out, he is not able.
I think he flat out is not willing. . . Easier to digest if you think to yourself that he is unable at this time and make excuse . . . You recognize this excuse making thought pattern stems from childhood baggage. So you could choose to change that pattern…Like evaluate with no excuses...

Um, yes again. Light bulb over head. Shit. Yes. I learned this behavior with my abusive alcoholic mother because if I didn’t make excuses for her I had to conclude that she chose not to love me well ,or that I was not loveable… And I know this stuff, 12 years of therapy. But it’s like I just…forgot. And I’ve been doing that with him ALL ALONG.

I wrote the following to him and we are talking soon. First I acknowledge my behavior, that I have been making excuses for his behavior and then “And I need to face your behavior, and not make excuses for you. You choose your behaviors. You do what you want because that’s what you want to do. Because that’s what people do. If you really wanted to figure out what you want with me and tell me, you could. If you really wanted to communicate without blowing up and shutting me out, you could. If you wanted to keep our plans and collaborate with me if you needed to change them, rather than just deciding on your own, you could. But you choose what you choose because you want it. I need to accept that.”

Him having a temper fit gets you to back off, so he also gets what he wants then too. To NOT have this conversation. And to NOT have anything change. Do only enough to keep you hoping and on the line. It isn't like saying he loves you takes much breath. Showing he loves you in behavior is another thing.

While I am certain there is no conscious intent to keep me hanging on, you are right about the stonewalling/tantrums and how he gets what he wants with them. And I do think he avoids confronting shit because he doesn’t want to lose me. Again, not intentionally but this doesn’t matter. No excuses for unconscious behavior either. We’re adults and we can learn ourselves if we want to.

But I am not sorry you are waking up. :eek: I think in the long run that is healthier for you. . . .When you break up steel yourself for a lot of "sweetie pie honey bunch" or "sob story and promises of a better tomorrow

I am very glad I am waking up…If we do break up, he will cry but honestly I think he’s just going to agree with me. It’s been super painful on his end too, to see that he’s hurting me over and over. Again, he’s not consciously manipulating me, he’s actually a good, sweet guy, and he truly has tried to change, though not with huge success. He feels like an asshole and a failure with me a lot of the time and that’s understandably been hard on him. But he doesn’t want what I want, in terms of commitment, whether he admits it or not. And I need to call it as I see it. Which I will, very soon (we’re actually going away this weekend and are going to have a lot of talks).

if someone behaved badly toward me, it was *my* fault for being a bad person, not their responsibility. I might guess, based on what Jenlou has said, that she's in a similar mindset, maybe without even realizing it. . . But Jen, you aren't a bad person. You don't deserve this. It is not your job to moderate and ameliorate other people's emotions and actions

KC43, yes, I totally internalized my mom’s abuse. It was easier to blame myself than to think she might not love me. Thank you for the reminder, perspective, and your support…

I have two questions. Am I correct in assuming your use of the word "play" is a euphemism for fuck? Also, exactly what is a "a traditional primary/secondary?" There is no traditional anything in poly, so what does that mean to you?

nycindie, by “play” here I mean BDSM play, which may or may not include fucking (but knowing my bf, it very probably will J) And yes, you’re right, no such thing as traditional primary/secondary; I think I was trying to find shorthand for the model that’s most frequently described in a lot of the poly books I’ve read—Couple relationship considered primary, has precedence over others, they live together, share finances, no other relationships are seen as equal, primary partners get first consideration when scheduling, more time, the vacations, couple makes most of if not all the rules, etc. I have major issues with this model. But if certain personal boundaries were agreed to, I think I could make it work for me, if it’s worth it to have that person in my life.

I am getting the impression that others feel that a relationship between you and you boyfriend (as he is) can't be good for you, and I'm not convinced it's that simple. . . I too have dated someone who cannot or will not plan, and found it very frustrating, because I also like consistency and dependability. And I have found it difficult to have productive discussions about aspects of the relationship that were not working well, because my boyfriend has a hard time being criticized or hearing that I am upset with him. . . And he's not great at defining what we wants in a relationship . . . And it is also important to note that this only works when I see him with some regularity . . you asked if it is possible to change expectations, and I think that it is, and that moving to expectation that suit who your partner is, rather than an idealized picture of who s/he should be, is a reasonable adjustment.

Wildflowers, yes!! I truly was needing this other perspective—thanks! Yes there IS part of me that is seriously questioning if it’s good for me and if I should just end it, and I am hurt and weary and very close. But it is so great to read your post! Because that question I was asking; about changing my expectations and accepting him for who he is—this is a big part of my dilemma and my process, figuring this out. This area is where there’s already been a huge amount of growth for me. It feels very juicy indeed. Maybe just a change, rather than an end?

Yes, maybe I’ll decide our needs are just too far off and it’s best for me to cut the sexual/romantic part of our relationship (no doubt we’ll be friends). But the situation you describe with your bf really sounds like mine with Steve. And there is part of me that is excited to see if I can let go of him, in part—or rather, let go of my desires for him to be a true partner, to be able to plan and have commitments/a future with him; close that “door in my heart”, grieve what I couldn’t have with him, and enjoy what I can have with him. And also if I go that route there will be a lot of work for me in figuring out personal boundaries and communicating them. I think if I’d had a primary partner while Steve and I were involved, I may not have felt some of those needs with him anyway…

I have more to share on my thoughts around “judgment” and how to communicate with someone when treated in a way that feels disrespectful… aka when someone’s being a jerk, ha ha… Have been reviewing my Non Violent Communication printouts… will do so when I get back. A HUGE thank you to everyone for all their brilliant thoughts and sweet support. xoxo
 

Magdlyn

Well-known member
jenlou, I have had a similar experience with my now ex bf of 2 1/2 years. I have blogged here about it over the past year and started a couple threads about specific issues this spring and summer.

In a nutshell, Ginger spent the first year being all attentive to me, but in the 2nd year, spent so much time pursuing new relationships... especially since this spring when he took up with a married MF couple new to poly, in a crazy kind of triad where the husband was jealous and demanded all sex be 3somes... One major issue (besides me not approving of this couple and all the trouble they caused with their naivete) was that they refused to schedule dates with Ginger and wanted to be spontaneous all the time. I was constantly having to schedule myself around their sponteneity! And Ginger just went along with whatever they wished, despite him and me having a much longer history with certain expectations set up.

Like your bf, he said he loves me, a lot, especially since taking up with this couple. Like your bf, he wanted the fun of the new and shiny and to "come home" to me as the safe secure balanced loving partner. The new people, while sexy and shiny, caused him much anxiety.

But he was not "willing or able" as GG says, to meet my needs for security and constancy. I really felt betrayed. He has Asperger's syndrome and misses a lot of social nuances. That might be his excuse, but it didn't help me feel any more valued. So despite my great love for him, and vice versa, I broke up with him a month ago. Perhaps after I heal some, we could take up again as much more casual friends/sex partners. But now I know his limits, his desires, his needs do not match up enough with mine to carry on as we were.

PS, the husband of that couple pulled the plug and now Ginger has no one, not that couple, not me, not my gf miss pixi who was his FWB. He has his wife, but they aren't much more than friendly roommates. I hope he learned something.

I did. I learned that the impression I got of him during NRE was incorrect.
 

northhome

New member
I learned that the impression I got of him during NRE was incorrect.

Welcome to the club. Just learned that one, and it took 4 bloody years. Talk about being a slow learner....
 

Magdlyn

Well-known member

nycindie

Active member
I wrote the following to him and we are talking soon. First I acknowledge my behavior, that I have been making excuses for his behavior and then “And I need to face your behavior, and not make excuses for you. You choose your behaviors. You do what you want because that’s what you want to do. Because that’s what people do. If you really wanted to figure out what you want with me and tell me, you could. If you really wanted to communicate without blowing up and shutting me out, you could. If you wanted to keep our plans and collaborate with me if you needed to change them, rather than just deciding on your own, you could. But you choose what you choose because you want it. I need to accept that.
You don't need to accept that. Well, not in the sense that you need to put up with it. You can accept that you can't change him and this is how he behaves, but you don't have to accept ridiculous behavior in your relationships, as a part of your life.

And yes, you’re right, no such thing as traditional primary/secondary; I think I was trying to find shorthand for the model that’s most frequently described in a lot of the poly books I’ve read—Couple relationship considered primary, has precedence over others, they live together, share finances, no other relationships are seen as equal, primary partners get first consideration when scheduling, more time, the vacations, couple makes most of if not all the rules, etc. I have major issues with this model. But if certain personal boundaries were agreed to, I think I could make it work for me, if it’s worth it to have that person in my life.
Egad, that sounds like a prison sentence.
 
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