In new/old situation....

WestCoastHeart

New member
Hi everyone:

I could use a sounding board for the place in which I find myself.

Last fall I found myself wanting to move forward in my life in many ways, including possibly forging a new relationship. My last partner died five years ago; I haven't dated since then due to a few verging life crises. But those have grown manageable now, and I've grown wiser, and I felt more ready. As part of that, I contacted someone with whom I had had a very important relationship 30 years ago...not to rekindle anything, but to speak my mind about painful parts of the past and clear out my future.

He emailed me back within hours, and we spent the next six months talking through the past, with emails and weekly zoom calls. We now live on opposite sides of the country. Our history was very difficult. He was my employer, he was married, he left his marriage to be with me, grew conflicted, and our relationship of several years imploded under the pressure as I walked away from both him and my job. It was a devastating loss for me on so many levels, and it formed much of the following years for me. I was very young at the time, and he was quite a bit older. In the midst of so much that was difficult, our relationship also had a great deal of validity and love. At the time, the only way I could handle the situation was to put all my memories of this relationship behind a locked door in my mind clearly labeled "Married Boss Mistake." They stayed there for 25 years.

This man has now turned 80, and he has had a degenerative disease for the last 14 years, so his ability to communicate is continually deteriorating. Typing and speaking have both become difficult for him, but he was so grateful that I opened that door to him. We have both found our reconnection deeply illuminating and meaningful. I flew out to visit him in March, and we worked through much of what we had both been feeling 30 years ago that led to our losing each other. It has made both of us feel far more complete. We both also feel many of the same feelings that we felt before....although we didn't begin a sexual relationship again, or cross any boundaries that he wanted to set. He is still in his marriage, which is not faring well under all these pressures. He has tried talking to his wife of many decades about the truth of his relationship with me, both past and present, and their very differing views on commitment during their marriage. That is not going well. She has not agreed to going to counseling with him, so he is trying to arrange that for himself. He deeply wants to stay in touch with me, as I do with him.

I know that this situation is not typical. I know it doesn't live up to the ethical and communicative standards for polyamory that I see on the boards, and that are impressive. I don't know how much my friend can bring his life into the place of honesty he has been telling me for seven months now that he really wants. He has talked about how his love for his wife and his love for me are separate, and neither takes away from the other. I am comfortable with that, in terms of his attachments. I've had many questions for myself about my own other attachments, about how comfortable I might be with not dating other men, or dating other men, given the strong and committed feelings I have for my friend. COVID restrictions are ending, my mind is more open now to relationships than it has been for years, and I am feeling the lack of in-person and physical romance. I've not had a poly approach to life in the past, and often quite the opposite. But I've been reading these boards over the past month or so, and the opening of viewpoints and possibilities that I've seen here have really given me thoughts and maturity that I think I've needed in my life. They've also given me some ways to think through my situation with my beloved friend.

If my friend were not deteriorating, if he were 10 years younger, this would be a different picture. But we don't know how much longer he'll be able to clearly communicate, or even live. I want to be able to give and receive love from him while I can; it brings so much to both of our lives. Each day I hold the knowledge close that this man has loved me for over 30 years, and it makes me live my life more fully. I don't clearly know what else I want right now, although I do know that I want to open my life to more discussions like this. My current social life is fairly coupled; many of my friends want to find me someone to partner with....sometimes, I feel, too much so because it will make me look like them. I'm looking for poly friendly people to talk with about the messy, complicated, but fulfilling parts of my love life, and to hear similar things about their lives.

So here I am.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Welcome.

I mean this kindly, ok?

While I can imagine the feelings seem messy and complicated? The actions are pretty straightforward to me.

Your other partner died. You had some life crisis things. You contacted your old cheating affair partner looking for some kind of closure, not intending to rekindle anything. You sound like you got the closure. Could call it good enough and end it there.

Could give this guy a hard pass because he's not living honestly in his life and you already did the cheating thing in the past. You might think you deserve better than that either for LDR friendship or for an LDR romance in the present.

I contacted someone with whom I had had a very important relationship 30 years ago...not to rekindle anything, but to speak my mind about painful parts of the past and clear out my future.

Why him rather than a counselor to you help you process and give yourself your own closure?

But we don't know how much longer he'll be able to clearly communicate, or even live. I want to be able to give and receive love from him while I can; it brings so much to both of our lives.

What does that even mean? You want continue the LDR Zoom friendship?

He has tried talking to his wife of many decades about the truth of his relationship with me, both past and present, and their very differing views on commitment during their marriage. That is not going well. She has not agreed to going to counseling with him, so he is trying to arrange that for himself.

I could be wrong but it sounds like wife is not thrilled to hear an old cheating affair partner from his past is back in his life. (You.)

Were you the only one? Did he also cheat with other people in the past?

I don't know how much my friend can bring his life into the place of honesty he has been telling me for seven months now that he really wants.

Could tell him to look you up when he has it better together and is living honestly in his life and he and his wife are more at peace.

And in the meanwhile? Go do what you wanted to be doing. You are not obligated to be waiting around on him to get his life together.

My last partner died five years ago; I haven't dated since then due to a few verging life crises. But those have grown manageable now, and I've grown wiser, and I felt more ready.

You wanted to start dating again. At this point in time, you are a free agent and can have your pick. If you want to do poly now that you are older and more mature? It doesn't have to be with THIS guy -- an 80 yr old with health issues, lives across the country, is still married, and his wife is not on board for open marriage, etc.

Why pick getting involved in other people's messy marriage problems?

My current social life is fairly coupled; many of my friends want to find me someone to partner with....sometimes, I feel, too much so because it will make me look like them

Your other friends being coupled when you are not and maybe feeling lingering grief, lonely, or adrift? Don't sound like good reasons to latch on to this dude just cuz he's familiar.

If you haven't seen a counselor for the passing of your other partner and the life crisis things, do think about it.

Be careful you aren't romanticizing this thing with this dude because you feel lonely, grief, or scared to start a new chapter and are trying to cling to familiar (even if not great) stuff. Not trying to be mean... just saying be careful with yourself post grief.

I don't clearly know what else I want right now, although I do know that I want to open my life to more discussions like this.

Could do some soul searching. Could be super honest with yourself and carefully consider what you are thinking about getting yourself into.

You seem to recognize it is messy and complicated. What part of it makes you go "Yay! Let's do THAT!" right after coming out of a 5 year period of mourning and other life crisis things?

Galagirl
 
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WestCoastHeart

New member
Well, he can’t look me up later because he might well be dead.

ALL this judgment? Seriously? You don’t have any concept that people sometimes have compromised unions because they do the best they can, for the sake of their children or a variety of reasons? Or that they might deserve grace at the end of their lives?
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Not judging. Just trying to understand your story and what your desired outcome is here. It doesn't seem clear.

Who is the grace for? Just him? You? His wife? Whatever adult children they have?

To me it sounds like grace has happened -- you both talked, came to closure, and are at peace with the past. So what's missing? You aren't being very clear on what you want to happen next.

For his other relationships, he's got to figure out what end of life grace is going to look like with those people as he does his end of life preparations and tries to make his peace with them.

I do understand that sometimes people participate in compromised unions and they do the best they can. I'm suggesting you do some soul searching to determine what your best is in this situation, since you yourself recognize it is messy and complicated.

Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to let go rather than try to hang on.

I get wanting to comfort him as he contemplates end of life. But if you being around is going to cause problems with his wife and adult kids... then what? It's tricky.

Galagirl
 
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Evie

Mod
He deeply wants to stay in touch with me, as I do with him.
Seems quite simple, really.

It's long distance, you email or video chat, you're not sexual together, you have unpacked the past so you can move forward, and you would like him in your life until he dies.

I get it. And I get why his wife may not get it. And I get that she may not tell you when he dies, at least until after the funeral. I've had that happen.

I also get that you started writing just to write and weren't seeking advice and this is your introduction. Welcome, it's always nice when someone who has been lurking introduces themselves.

May I suggest a blog? People usually don't try to give advice on a blog.

All the best,
Evie.
 

WestCoastHeart

New member
No, my desired outcome isn’t clear at all. I don’t feel that I need it to be.

Sure, there was judging. My “cheating affair partner”? His marriage was always pretty far from a traditional mono marriage, in a number of ways. He and his wife always lived very separate lives, which was not at all of my doing. They had an unusual balance and unusual understandings, and his recent attempt to bring more honesty into their balance shouldn’t mean that suddenly their marriage should be compared to one of traditional monogamy. That would also be dishonest.

While I put away any positive memories of this person, I never put away all my own guilt. I scoured myself raw about it, despite the fact that I was a very young employee, and I’m far done with that. I also most certainly went to a counselor while handling multiple life crises, which I did well.

And what do I want from this situation? The connection that I can uniquely get from this person. I think writing this response has helped me clarify that. I’ve loved some of the concepts of control and agency that I’ve seen in polyamorous writings. I want that.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
He was my employer, he was married, he left his marriage to be with me, grew conflicted, and our relationship of several years imploded under the pressure as I walked away from both him and my job.

I didn't see "open marriage." it sounded like a workplace affair.

His marriage was always pretty far from a traditional mono marriage, in a number of ways.

Now I stand corrected. They had some kind of non-traditional marriage thing going on. Thank you for more info.

I apologize for causing you pain.

And what do I want from this situation? The connection that I can uniquely get from this person. I think writing this response has helped me clarify that. I’ve loved some of the concepts of control and agency that I’ve seen in polyamorous writings. I want that.

I'm glad you are more clear with what you want.

I guess you have to work out what that looks like with him?

Evie said:
I get it. And I get why his wife may not get it. And I get that she may not tell you when he dies, at least until after the funeral. I've had that happen.

Just tread with caution. As Evie says... wife might not even tell you when he dies and may not ask you to his funeral. So be prepared. I've seen things like that / had it happen too.

Galagirl
 

WestCoastHeart

New member
Seems quite simple, really.

It's long distance, you email or video chat, you're not sexual together, you have unpacked the past so you can move forward, and you would like him in your life until he dies.

I get it. And I get why his wife may not get it. And I get that she may not tell you when he dies, at least until after the funeral. I've had that happen.

I also get that you started writing just to write and weren't seeking advice and this is your introduction. Welcome, it's always nice when someone who has been lurking introduces themselves.

May I suggest a blog? People usually don't try to give advice on a blog.

All the best,
Evie.
Thanks! I do want some comments back, as I did say I want a sounding board. But I think terms like “marriage” can be really relative.

The point about letting me know when he dies brings up an issue....he’s really becoming fairly limited physically, and the effects of this were heightened under COVID. His ability to communicate with his very wide circle of friends was becoming limited, which was hard on him. When he tried to truthfully talk to his wife about their marriage, she became very distrustful of many of his friends and didn’t want him to spend time with them. It alarmed me. His physical state was really showing the strain.

It was hard to watch. Thank goodness COVID has shifted, and he is working on getting a counselor.
 

WestCoastHeart

New member
“.. wife might not even tell you when he dies and may not ask you to his funeral. So be prepared. I've seen things like that / had it happen too.”

Apologies; I’m not sure how to highlight sections of a previous post. But for both of you having had the experience of not being invited to funerals....that is very difficult, and I’m sorry that happened to you.

I think I will be able to speak to my friend about that, and figure out a plan. I think it’s unlikely that his wife would be in charge of that.
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
Given his age and your presumptive age (and mine!) I would grandfather this into the "acceptable discreet liaison" category. It is perhaps difficult for younger people to imagine a time when pretty much all long term married couples did not have divorce as a viable option and instead tacitly agreed to allow (usually the man) to have other loves. Spencer Tracy was married his entire adult life to a woman we don't even remember, while Katherine Hepburn was accepted and even celebrated as his love spouse for decades. Camilla Parker Bowles is a more controversial figure, but she has been known by many as Prince Charles' love spouse all along - and now she is poised to become the Queen of England. Whether one agrees or disagrees that affair love-spouses are ethical, the truth is that this kind of relationship has existed for millennia. It's only recently that we advise people to be "ethical" and separate because they can. Up until very recently, the only viable social and financial option was to remain married and show discretion with one's love spouse. For thousands of years, this has been the most "ethical" and the kindest option to the monogamy dilemma.

So to judge this as a workplace affair is rather off the mark. To infer that the ethical thing is to turn away is to misunderstand the voluminous social history of discreet love spouses living in tandem with legal spouses. Whether the situation is satisfying for the particiapants remains a different question.
 

HaloOnFire

Active member
IIRC, it's in the marriage contract that Camilla will not be titled Queen, but something like Princess Consort, like Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband. /hijack


/also hijacks


IIRC, only the reigning King can confer the title of Queen Consort. However, in the case of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, royal protocol dictates that a man who marries a reigning queen, he may only take the title of prince consort—not king consort—though Philip was not officially given the prince consort title.

The title of King Consort for the husband of a reigning queen is rare. Examples are Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, in Scotland and Francis, Duke of Cádiz, in Spain. Antoine of Bourbon-Vendôme in Navarre and Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in Portugal gained the title king, not king consort, and were co-rulers with their reigning queen wives because of the practice of Jure uxoris. The title of Prince Consort for the husband of a reigning queen is more common. An example is Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who, upon marrying Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and because of her insistence that he be given a title of his status, became Albert, Prince Consort.


Ok, I am done now. And apologies to the mods for the further hijacking of the thread. This is a favorite topic of mine and I could not resist. :)
 

ref2018

Maid of All Work
Staff member
/also hijacks


IIRC, only the reigning King can confer the title of Queen Consort. However, in the case of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, royal protocol dictates that a man who marries a reigning queen, he may only take the title of prince consort—not king consort—though Philip was not officially given the prince consort title.

The title of King Consort for the husband of a reigning queen is rare. Examples are Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, in Scotland and Francis, Duke of Cádiz, in Spain. Antoine of Bourbon-Vendôme in Navarre and Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in Portugal gained the title king, not king consort, and were co-rulers with their reigning queen wives because of the practice of Jure uxoris. The title of Prince Consort for the husband of a reigning queen is more common. An example is Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who, upon marrying Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and because of her insistence that he be given a title of his status, became Albert, Prince Consort.


Ok, I am done now. And apologies to the mods for the further hijacking of the thread. This is a favorite topic of mine and I could not resist. :)
I apologize to myself and the other mods for further hijacking the thread (this is also a favorite topic of mine (ETA: my current fascination is with Alexandra and Dagmar of Denmark), and we can split it off to another thread in the Fireplace if there is a lot of interest in talking about it), but I googled "will Camilla be called Queen" and basically, the internet says "no". I'm not posting any of the links, since anyone can use Google to find out the same.
 
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MeeraReed

Active member
Hi WestCoastHeart,

I can understand wanting closure even after 30 years, and wanting to stay in his life as long as his life lasts. Since you've already lost a partner to death, you understand how short our time is.

However, I think you're showing a serious lack of empathy for his wife. Unless your ex has nursing care, I'm guessing his wife is and has been doing the bulk of daily care for him during his degenerative illness?

My mom is doing the same for my dad with Parkinson's, and it's A LOT of daily work and stress for her. And instead of appreciating it, my dad is lashing out at her and blaming her for being too controlling. (She's not). He refuses to admit he can't do a lot of things now. He fixates on strange things that cause more burden for my mother (such as keeping his yard equipment in working order even though he can't use the equipment). Etc.

Since you aren't able to see what your ex's daily life is like from his wife's point of view, I would be more hesitant about being"alarmed" at her for discouraging him from contacting his friends. There is probably more to the story.

My mom would not be thrilled if an ex of my dad's showed up back in his life wanting connection while she was doing all the grunt work of caring for him. Doubly so if the ex were a relationship that had caused her pain 30 years ago.

If you truly want to be in his life, you might want to offer to help the wife with relief care. Like, come and take care of him for 2 weeks while she has a nice vacation.
 

ref2018

Maid of All Work
Staff member
For those interested, a new thread has been created here:


I left the posts in this thread for continuity.
 

WestCoastHeart

New member
Hi WestCoastHeart,

I can understand wanting closure even after 30 years, and wanting to stay in his life as long as his life lasts. Since you've already lost a partner to death, you understand how short our time is.

However, I think you're showing a serious lack of empathy for his wife. Unless your ex has nursing care, I'm guessing his wife is and has been doing the bulk of daily care for him during his degenerative illness?

My mom is doing the same for my dad with Parkinson's, and it's A LOT of daily work and stress for her. And instead of appreciating it, my dad is lashing out at her and blaming her for being too controlling. (She's not). He refuses to admit he can't do a lot of things now. He fixates on strange things that cause more burden for my mother (such as keeping his yard equipment in working order even though he can't use the equipment). Etc.

Since you aren't able to see what your ex's daily life is like from his wife's point of view, I would be more hesitant about being"alarmed" at her for discouraging him from contacting his friends. There is probably more to the story.

My mom would not be thrilled if an ex of my dad's showed up back in his life wanting connection while she was doing all the grunt work of caring for him. Doubly so if the ex were a relationship that had caused her pain 30 years ago.

If you truly want to be in his life, you might want to offer to help the wife with relief care. Like, come and take care of him for 2 weeks while she has a nice vacation.
It’s a good point to be aware of this, and I have certainly thought about it, as has he. One of the first things that he said to me when we first got in touch last fall was that his wife was preparing to be a daily caregiver, for when that was necessary, and that he was not at all happy about it.
And I concur. Even before their relationship had the strain added by his recent honesty (which was not all about me, but also about the ways they both lived with compromise for over 50 years), it seemed like an unwise burden for her to be doing daily care, at the age of 80, for her spouse, someone who has long had an extremely full emotional life outside of their home life, a life which she did not share.

I very much doubt that their balance is what your parents have; it really is quite unusual. It doesn’t seem appropriate for me to analyze it much to others, because it’s not my life. I don’t know what the best solution for his future care would be, but I think anyone would not suggest that the two of them suddenly convert to a more duo-based approach to life, at a time when there are so many strains on them.

I saw how much it unsettled him, even physically, to have his wife begin saying that she didn’t trust him to relate to numerous close friends of his. It wasn’t related to his illness, but to the discussions they had been having. That kind of attempted control is not healthy. I’ve been encouraging him to talk to other people and counselors about this situation in his life. He’s also considering talking to his adult children about all of it.

I understand that I don’t know all of her feelings on this, but I’m not without empathy. I am quite sure that she would never want me in her realm taking care of him, and I wouldn’t suggest that. I don’t think there’s a clear answer for her on this, but I didn’t create the unusual balance in their relationship that leaves those questions unanswered. My presence is far from the only thing that brings those questions up for her. In ways my reconnection to him has spurred them to have conversations they might never have had otherwise, and in ways it has given her a voice between the two of them that she had been lacking for years. I’m happy for her to have more of a voice, as long as she’s not trying to take away his close friends that are important to him, especially following a year of such limitation and depression for everyone due to isolation.

I hope your parents keep finding a good path forward...Parkinson’s is very hard.
 

WestCoastHeart

New member
Given his age and your presumptive age (and mine!) I would grandfather this into the "acceptable discreet liaison" category. It is perhaps difficult for younger people to imagine a time when pretty much all long term married couples did not have divorce as a viable option and instead tacitly agreed to allow (usually the man) to have other loves. Spencer Tracy was married his entire adult life to a woman we don't even remember, while Katherine Hepburn was accepted and even celebrated as his love spouse for decades. Camilla Parker Bowles is a more controversial figure, but she has been known by many as Prince Charles' love spouse all along - and now she is poised to become the Queen of England. Whether one agrees or disagrees that affair love-spouses are ethical, the truth is that this kind of relationship has existed for millennia. It's only recently that we advise people to be "ethical" and separate because they can. Up until very recently, the only viable social and financial option was to remain married and show discretion with one's love spouse. For thousands of years, this has been the most "ethical" and the kindest option to the monogamy dilemma.

So to judge this as a workplace affair is rather off the mark. To infer that the ethical thing is to turn away is to misunderstand the voluminous social history of discreet love spouses living in tandem with legal spouses. Whether the situation is satisfying for the particiapants remains a different question.
Thank you! I quite appreciated this, and I think there’s a lot for me to draw from here. I am in my 50s, FWIW, and while I have often thought of this 80-year-old man as free from many traditional social conventions, that’s actually not at all the case, especially as I consider it in retrospect. The financial points are relevant as well. I don’t really think that it’s fair to his wife to discuss many of their specifics, and yet I can see that that lack contributes to many people reverting to a certain narrative about this situation. That’s really helpful for me to know as I move forward.

Thank you again.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Greetings WestCoastHeart,
Welcome to our forum. Please feel free to lurk, browse, etc.

It sounds to me like you have lost 30 years in which this man could have been in your life, and now, he has very few years left. I don't blame you for wanting to build a renewed connection with him, I think I would do the same thing in your shoes. I hope you find your stay on Polyamory.com to be helpful and rewarding. While people here don't always see eye to eye, their motivations are to help. Sometimes that just takes some sorting of perspectives and expectations.

Sincerely,
Kevin T., "official greeter"

Notes:

There's a *lot* of good info in Golden Nuggets. Have a look!

Please read through the guidelines if you haven't already.

Note: You needn't read every reply to your posts, especially if someone posts in a disagreeable way. Given the size and scope of the site it's hard not to run into the occasional disagreeable person. Please contact the mods if you do (or if you see any spam), and you can block the person if you want.

If you have any questions about the board itself, please private-message a mod and they'll do their best to help.

Welcome aboard!
 

WestCoastHeart

New member
Greetings WestCoastHeart,
Welcome to our forum. Please feel free to lurk, browse, etc.

It sounds to me like you have lost 30 years in which this man could have been in your life, and now, he has very few years left. I don't blame you for wanting to build a renewed connection with him, I think I would do the same thing in your shoes. I hope you find your stay on Polyamory.com to be helpful and rewarding. While people here don't always see eye to eye, their motivations are to help. Sometimes that just takes some sorting of perspectives and expectations.

Sincerely,
Kevin T., "official greeter"

Notes:

There's a *lot* of good info in Golden Nuggets. Have a look!

Please read through the guidelines if you haven't already.

Note: You needn't read every reply to your posts, especially if someone posts in a disagreeable way. Given the size and scope of the site it's hard not to run into the occasional disagreeable person. Please contact the mods if you do (or if you see any spam), and you can block the person if you want.

If you have any questions about the board itself, please private-message a mod and they'll do their best to help.

Welcome aboard!
Thank you Kevin.

I found this all really helpful. Thank you everyone.
 
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