Is she really Polyamorous?

Cathal

New member
Hello to all;

This is my first, and probably only, thread on this site. It details my experience in being involved with a woman whom I had just started a full relationship with, who out of nowhere announced to me she was now Polyamorous and was taking a new lover. It's over a year since that relationship ended and at the time I tried, in a cathartic approach, to air it on r/poly on Reddit. I was as much, if not more, ridiculed over my experience as I received support. I still, to this day, have trouble with the relationship and how the term Polyamory was used by my ex-GF. Please note that I am not dissing Polyamory as I am sure it works for many people. Please just listen to my experience with balance. That's all I ask. Locales have been changed to prevent identification.



I used to work in the events industry and travelled a fair bit. Around ten years ago, my colleagues and I were introduced to a friend of an events organiser in Austria. She was a tall, skinny girl with high cheekbones and a flat top and we had an enjoyable night with her and her friends. Over the years we would meet up and then she began to fall in love with the Ireland, where I am from, and gained seasonal work there in the tourist industry. On here free time, we'd meet up and exchange news, nothing more.

I had, however, known that she had a 'thing' for me and I knew she was promiscuous as she always talked about men, boyfriends, and lovers she had whilst with boyfriends. I became a shoulder to cry on when she had man trouble. Then, one day last Summer, after a meeting, she texted me asking to spend a weekend with her. I was in the process of coming out of an abusive relationship and the thought of close, sexual contact with this female friend appealed to me and we set a date. After that first sexual encounter we had many more that Summer and we would often go out on the town together. Something seemed to be developing between us and that November she invited me over to her flat in Salzburg. One night, when out for Dinner in a restaurant, she asked me to be her partner. I'd had previously intimated at one point that I would have liked her to be my girl but, even so, I was a bit stunned at her asking. I presumed that she had given this some serious thought, given our distance apart, so I agreed to give it a go.

Fast forward four months to March, 2020. I was visiting her just as COVID19 exploded in Europe and was lucky to get back home. She then lost her job and applied to be a supermarket assistant. Then she suddenly changed. Silences appeared; the sexy pix, vids and texts suddenly stopped. I began to be concerned. Then, one night during a tearful conversation with her, I was told that she was lonely, that she had 'so much love to give and receive’, that she needed bodily contact. The red flags started to go up. Eventually, I said to her did she want to forget us and look for a man over in Salzburg. Then it came out: there already was a man in Salzburg, a colleague at the supermarket! She then admitted to have been flirting with him for a few weeks, that he gave her 'butterflies' in her tummy, and only when the texts became sexual did she tell him about me. I exploded in rage. A few months ago she wants me as a partner and now this??

Next thing I know is that she's outed herself as Polyamorous on social media. I was told that she was going to pursue a relationship with this man but she still wanted me in her life. At no time had I been consulted about any of this; I was just told that it was happening! Massive arguments ensued. I was told it was my fault, that I didn't appear to be going 'all in' in the relationship; that she had not time to 'puddle around' learning about someone. That she didn’t want to be on a ‘relationship escalator {!!!!} Kinda strange, given she'd known me for ten years and intimately for nine months and understood we lived 500+ miles apart! Eventually, an agreement was reached. I decided to still be involved with her but only if I remained as her 'main partner’. She welcomed this and she suggested we set out rules. This we did, and they included a 'fluid bond' between her and I. These rules were agreed by both her and the Salzburg boyfriend. A few days after this, on the first night they were going to have sex, they broke the fluid bond. I woke to a text from her saying she broke the bond and that she was 'in love' I immediately dumped her.

Then she wanted me to stay! And like a fool, I did! For I had by then fallen for her.

But all other agreements, like me being important, keeping in contact with me, just petered away. I had booked two visits to see her in July and August. July seemed to go well, even though I knew deep down it wasn't. One night after dinner she suddenly wanted to go meet some friends and I was cool with that. On the way to the bar, she said she badly needed to pee and would she mind if she ran on ahead? No worries, I said. When I got to the bar, some 5 minutes later, she was still in the toilet and did not emerge for another ten minutes, creating an embarrassing situation with some friends of hers whom I had never even met!. I knew fine well what was going on in that single toilet booth. Later that night we had a blazing argument about it but we agreed to park it and enjoy our time together, as much as we could.

Back home in Ireland again, I was all but ignored, and when I visited her again in August she burst into tears in bed on morning of the second day I was there and ended our relationship. I was dumbstruck! I couldn't get a flight back out as there were none scheduled to the UK for a few days, due to COVID, so I had to stay with her. She reluctantly had sex with me several times during that period but it wasn't the same; the emotion was gone. She then began criticising my physique one day when we were out and in my despair and shame I wondered how a girl who not long ago told me she worshipped me and looked up to me could treat me in such a disparaging and cruel manner.

I continued to fight for her, saying that I felt we weren't over. I was hoping for the relationship with this guy to falter but then suddenly he was moving in with her, despite her saying this would never happen. She told me she still felt something for me and that we'd have a relationship again the following year, pandemic permitting. This was eventually put on hold as she said she wasn't coming back over to Ireland. I was then told she was building a life with this guy. This was no longer my concern but I asked if she still considered herself polyamorous. 'Yes', she said,'And I always will be!' 'So, will you spend a weekend with me if I come over next Spring, and make that our farewell, given how badly we had parted?' I asked. To this she agreed. But as the months went on she began to step back from this. It culminated in an argument in which she said she couldn't guarantee sleeping with me again, that she might find the encounter 'weird'. 'Things change!' she said, 'I have changed!'

I was devastated by this. I'd been strung along by someone who told me they were polyamorous yet were behaving anything but. It destroyed my confidence with women and 14 months later it still hurts so much to think about it. About what a supposed friend could do to another. I no longer hear from her (she is blocked) but I know she has pursued no further polyamorous relationships since we split up last year. I think, as do my friends who knew her, that I was gaslit on a massive scale. Why do that to someone? Why not just tell them it wasn't working and we could call it a day without animosity? Why drag me along like that?

This is the abridged version. Trust me, a lot worse happened but it would take pages to set out and you guys don't need to hear it all.
 
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Evie

Kaitiaki
Wow, you're really holding onto this chapter of your life, aren't you. I hope you feel better for airing it out here. You still seem very focused on her identity and her behaviours rather than your own, I hope that the replies you'll get here may help you move forward.

Since we are talking about her for a moment, here's my two cents:

Yes, she's poly. No, she's not good at it. No, she wasn't deliberately bad at it, she just didn't necessarily spend time learning how to be good at it. Even if she did, there's also a gulf between theory and practice. Most of the time, life is making it up as we go along, sometimes learning from others' mistakes and successes, although usually just trying to figure it out as we go.
 

Token2

Member
Is she really polyamorous?
I think so, but not passionately so, so is content with a 1 on 1 relationship if it's fulfilling her needs.

My husband thinks he is poly but he's not actively seeking any external relationships.

She sounds really confused too which wasn't going to be easy. And you sound like you were really invested which complicates things further.

I'm no poly expert, I am in a long distance relationship though and can say they're tricky to fix/get back on track compared to a geographically close relationship where you can talk and hug things out face to face.

The last 2 years have been a scary confusing time. Cut her some slack and cut yourself loose from the investment you had in your vision of what this relationship was.
 

TXretired

Active member
Welcome. Poly can be awesome. Most here have a bad story to share. We also have successes to share. Sounds like she used poly as an excuse for her behavior. It sucks when you make such an investment and the partner craps all over you. I encourage you to let go. Appreciate that you invested. Sometimes the market tanks. Sometimes our investments grow.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I hope you feel better for airing out. I'm very sorry this happened.

At the same time? I think both of you share in the situation making. It's not just on her though she did treat you poorly. You didn't seem to treat yourself very well in this either.

It is possible you jumped into this too soon after the abusive relationship so you weren't totally healthy yet. :(

Before you dated her you knew her for years. You were hearing about all her man problems. Was it a lot of problems?

IME, one can have problems here and there in their relationships. But when it's a LOT of problems? And I keep hearing the drama over and over? The common denominator is the person themselves? Then that person doesn't strike me as good dating potential. So I would have said "Thanks for the weekend invitation, but I prefer being friends" and just not taken up with her.

Or made it clear it was once only. "Thank you for the invitation. I'm not ready to date. I could be up for just a weekend, a one time thing. If you are up for that, then ok. If not, let's pass on sharing sex and leave it at friends"

So maybe you could improve your vetting skills if you need to in this area.

One night, when out for Dinner in a restaurant, she asked me to be her partner. I'd had previously intimated at one point that I would have liked her to be my girl but, even so, I was a bit stunned at her asking. I presumed that she had given this some serious thought, given our distance apart, so I agreed to give it a go.

What exactly did you agree to? What were the agreements? That it would just be you and her over LDR? Or was this you assuming one thing and her another? This might be another area to grow skills. Getting clear on expectations and agreements.

Next thing I know is that she's outed herself as Polyamorous on social media. I was told that she was going to pursue a relationship with this man but she still wanted me in her life. At no time had I been consulted about any of this; I was just told that it was happening!

She can want things.

But you don't have to automatically want them too. You didn't have to agree to "the new deal."

You didn't sign up for this. So this was a possible exit ramp for you. You could have ended it with "Thanks for telling me. I appreciate that you like us both and want to see us both But I'm not up for this. I don't want to do poly. I wish you well in your future endeavors" and part ways.

Tell her that doesn't work for you and call it a day without animosity.

A few days after this, on the first night they were going to have sex, they broke the fluid bond. I woke to a text from her saying she broke the bond and that she was 'in love' I immediately dumped her.

Another possible exit ramp. You broke up with her.

But then you didn't STAY broken up. This could be a skill to improve -- to stay DONE when you are done and not get sucked back in.

When I got to the bar, some 5 minutes later, she was still in the toilet and did not emerge for another ten minutes, creating an embarrassing situation with some friends of hers whom I had never even met!. I knew fine well what was going on in that single toilet booth. Later that night we had a blazing argument about it but we agreed to park it and enjoy our time together, as much as we could.

While out with you and her friends she picks up someone at the bar and has some kind of bathroom tryst? If that's not your kink and not part of your agreements? Then that's another exit ramp not taken. Could have ended it then.

when I visited her again in August she burst into tears in bed on morning of the second day I was there and ended our relationship. I was dumbstruck! I couldn't get a flight back out as there were none scheduled to the UK for a few days, due to COVID, so I had to stay with her.

She could have been more forthright and broken up with you sooner. Saved you the travel expenses. Breaking up with you the day after you get there really sucks.

She reluctantly had sex with me several times during that period but it wasn't the same; the emotion was gone.

Sounds like pity sex. That's never fun. :(

And sharing sex is not "we are broken up now" behavior.

I asked if she still considered herself polyamorous. 'Yes', she said,'And I always will be!' 'So, will you spend a weekend with me if I come over next Spring, and make that our farewell, given how badly we had parted?' I asked.

If things were over, why not let them be done? She might be poly but she's really wonky sounding with it. Why would you expose yourself to more wonky? At some point in this journey you have to take personal responsibility for your choices, right?

To this she agreed. But as the months went on she began to step back from this. It culminated in an argument in which she said she couldn't guarantee sleeping with me again, that she might find the encounter 'weird'. 'Things change!' she said, 'I have changed!'

Nobody owes anyone else sex. Everyone is allowed to change their mind on that, even at the last moment. I'm not sure why you two are arguing about that.

I'd been strung along by someone who told me they were polyamorous yet were behaving anything but.

I'm not trying to be mean, ok? But if you keep buying a ticket for "same old song, different day" -- it's on you. You don't have to keep riding that merry-go-round.

I was devastated by this. I'd been strung along by someone who told me they were polyamorous yet were behaving anything but. It destroyed my confidence with women and 14 months later it still hurts so much to think about it.

What is "this" and "it" above? Could you be willing to clarify?
  • Her flaky behavior?
  • Your ability to vet people you date better?
  • Your ability to break up and mean it?
  • Something else?
About what a supposed friend could do to another. I no longer hear from her (she is blocked) but I know she has pursued no further polyamorous relationships since we split up last year. I think, as do my friends who knew her, that I was gaslit on a massive scale. Why do that to someone? Why not just tell them it wasn't working and we could call it a day without animosity? Why drag me along like that?

For the same reason you let it drag on and on.

To me it sounds like both of you don't have a "firm no."

You could develop having a firm no. It might serve you better moving forward in future. Had you ended it way up at the top in purple more FIRMLY, could have skipped all the subsequent things and saved yourself a lot of trouble.

I think you could chalk this one up to a learning experience. You could take the time you need to heal and develop or strengthen skills. Then go out and date again when you are ready. And next time before you agree to partner with someone, be more clear about expectations and agreements.

Do healthy conflict resolution and renegotiate if there's problems. But if it becomes CHRONIC broken agreements and problems? Just end it. Get you out faster and STAY out. Because while there can be genuine mistakes and second chances? It's not gonna be like 100, 1000, 1 million second chances right? You have to be able to say "I love you. But NO. Not even for you will I do stuff that hurts me."

When you can trust yourself to take care of yourself? You have a firm no? Then you can date with confidence. You can't be "strung along" because you will use your firm no to get out of any hinky sounding things brewing.

Try to let this experience go and not feel too bad about it. Sometimes a bad experience is the thing that helps us develop better judgement and better skills. So then things in future can go better.

I hope things get better for you over time.

Galagirl
 
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Cathal

New member
Thx for the responses.

Yes, I understand that I didn't treat 'me' better throughout all of the above. But when someone tells me, over a period of time, that they desire me and eventually ask me to be part of them, I become committed. And I expect that of the other. I know that at the first mention of another man, I should have broke all contact and saved myself a world of hurt that is, unbelievably, still gnawing at me to this day.

The contact didn’t actually cease until May this year when I realised that I had been hanging on to a memory and that she had had absolutely no intention of rekindling the relationship even for one last hurrah. The pain is subsiding, but it is taking its time to go. What made it worse for me to handle was that she was a friend. Friends don't do that stuff to each other.

GalaGirl says:-
' While out with you and her friends she picks up someone at the bar and has some kind of bathroom tryst?'

No. It is my belief she was in contact with the boyfriend whilst in the sole lavatory in the bar. Her WhatsApp status was 'online'. My mind boggled as to what she was up to, given her penchant for sending sexually explicit videos. Perhaps that was just my cynicism and suspicion at work but, hey, we all know it doesn't take 15 minutes to pass water.

Yes, I knew what she was like before we became partners. I recall her telling me of men she found attractive when working in Ireland and how she had had sex with two separate work colleagues. She also told me of sex with a man whom I worked closely with. She told me sex had been a 'sport' for her.

This made me ask myself, in the aftermath, why she wanted us to be an 'item' in the first place. Her promiscuity didn't put me off; I just expected it to cease when we became a couple. I made a serious error of judgement, judgement that had been clouded by growing feelings for her. And, yeh, I hate myself for keeping 'buying that ticket'. Love is blind, etc.

Anyway, thx for listening. Onwards and upwards....
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
But when someone tells me, over a period of time, that they desire me and eventually ask me to be part of them, I become committed. And I expect that of the other.

What are your expectations of "become committed?" What behaviors do you expect yourself to do? Want back from the partner? You don't have to answer here. But maybe you want to think on it and clarify that for yourself for the next time you date?

This made me ask myself, in the aftermath, why she wanted us to be an 'item' in the first place. Her promiscuity didn't put me off; I just expected it to cease when we became a couple.

You didn't ask her why she wanted to be an item when she first asked you?

What about your end? Did you make your expectations clear to her? Did she agree and share in these expectations?

Again, don't have to answer here. But maybe the next time you want to be sure you have shared expectations and agreements for "what the deal is here" before committing to anything.

The contact didn’t actually cease until May this year when I realised that I had been hanging on to a memory and that she had had absolutely no intention of rekindling the relationship even for one last hurrah.

Well, if contact didn't actually cease until May 2021? It's been like 5 mos. You haven't given yourself much space to get past it yet.

Breaking up, and then wanting to hook up again for "one last hurrah?" I'm not sure if that was a realistic idea. You may have been working through the stages of grief like the bargaining stage.

I made a serious error of judgement, judgement that had been clouded by growing feelings for her. And, yeh, I hate myself for keeping 'buying that ticket'. Love is blind, etc.

You don't have to hate yourself.

You could try to understand yourself though. Get to know yourself in NRE, in grief, etc.

So next time if you are dealing with these sorts of things you can take care of yourself a bit better. You can think to yourself "I know me in NRE. I get all ____. I have to look out for ___." Or "I know me in grief. I get all _____. I have to look out for _____."

Become a little more firm of purpose, have a stronger "no" and communicate expectations to partners clearly.

It's ok to want monogamy. It's ok to believe polyamory is fine for other people but you don't want any for you.

It's also ok if you do want to try poly, but discovered doing it with THIS person was just too wonky and you had to stop participating.

I think the main thing is to know what YOU actually want, and firmly align your behaviors to it.

If in your dating life you want this...

Why do that to someone? Why not just tell them it wasn't working and we could call it a day without animosity? Why drag me along like that?

You could honor that value.

If someone is doing things you don't like? Whether on purpose or because they themselves are confused or whatever? And the bottom line is that it isn't working for you? You don't have to wait around waiting for THEM to break up. YOU could do it in order to avoid dragging things out. Because that statement could just as easily be

"Why do that to myself? Why not just tell them it wasn't working and I could call it a day without animosity? Why drag me along like that?

Yes, sometimes in NRE love is blind -- we don't notice or excuse/gloss over the partner's weak spots. Maybe ignore our own weak spots.

Now that you know this about yourself? Next time in NRE, you could try to move head and heart together, rather than just all heart or all head. Slow your roll and not agree to take on any big commitments til the NRE phase is over. It tends to last 6-24 months.

Anyway, thx for listening. Onwards and upwards....

Most welcome. Hope things get better as you finish healing.

Galagirl
 
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Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Minor nitpick, but there are other things women do in toilets besides pee and chat online... (poop, or have a menstrual issue [or both at once] for example)!

It seems you knew your ex was in the habit of dating multiple men simultaneously long before you decided to fuck and then date her. Maybe she just didn't have the word for it (polyamory). You did know she was promiscuous at least. I know reddit can be very harsh, but it seems clear to me you were wearing rose-colored glasses from the start, if you expected her to suddenly become monogamous with you just because she began a relationship with you.

It is possible to be very committed to multiple partners in polyamory. I myself have been committed to my anchor partner for many years, and she is committed presently to me and her long-term bf. I have had committed relationship with other partners over the years, as well. Usually, when you feel and declare love for someone, it implies an interest in an ongoing r'ship, ie: a commitment. You wanted (needed) a monogamous commitment, and you picked the wrong person to have that with.
 

Inaniel

Active member
I think asking yourself (and the world) questions like this is a waste of time. You will never have the answers you seek. People treat one another badly sometimes. It likely comes down to lack of respect, personal traumas, and maturity.

The problem with people is we are so immersed in denial most of the time that it can be hard for us to understand our own behavior, imagine the monumental task of understanding someone else’s, an ex for that matter, who has no interest in speaking with you about the subject.

I think more constructive questions would be:

How did you get into a relationship with someone who you did not respect?

How did you get into a relationship with someone who did not respect you?

How did projecting your ideals onto her identity affect communication in the relationship?

How did raging affect communication and honesty?

I think, at the end of the relationship it is a good time to reflect on the things you are responsible for. That is not to say she is not at fault for anything, but what she is at fault for is her responsibility to reflect on if she chooses to do so.

Being accountable for your half ensures growth from the experience and will lead to a better understanding of yourself, and better relationship outcomes in the future.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello Cathal,

Regarding your question, is she really polyamorous, I think the thing to understand is that someone can *be* polyamorous, internally; while at the same time that person might not be *practicing* polyamory, externally. I see your ex-girlfriend as someone with the makings (potential) of polyamory, but without the ethical orientation necessary to practice polyamory. Most notably, she (when she was your girlfriend) did not get your consent for the second relationship (with the other boyfriend) that she had. Without your consent, her second relationship did not constitute polyamory; rather, it constituted cheating. Cheating out in the open. Telling you how it was going to be, but not asking whether you consented. Your consent was not important to her. So no, that is not polyamory, even if she is polyamorous at heart.

She treated you very badly. There is no doubt about that. And there was no good reason for her to act that way. She betrayed you. And I know that you feel that because you were in love, you had no real choice but to let her do that to you with impunity. In that sense, love itself betrayed you. Love led you down the wrong path. You gave her your heart, and your commitment. You should have been able to expect the same from her. But she did not commit to you. She did not commit to the relationship the two of you had. And there was no good reason for her to be like that. I just hope this experience won't turn you permanently bitter. I hope you'll still give someone else a chance sometime in the future. And yes, I hope you'll be a bit less trusting of love itself, I hope you'll commit yourself a bit less easily. You owe that much protection to yourself.

I'm very sorry this happened to you.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 
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