Is This Jealousy, Or Something Else?

BelleRose

New member
Hi, everyone. You may remember me from two years ago when I attempted to have my first relationship with a poly person, only to be pulled into a really crappy V with a guy and his mono gf. Anyway, I tried to go back to mono relationships. I thought it was all just too hard. Being objectified by men I'm interested in because they don't hear poly, they just hear sexually available. Feeling like I couldn't have the things I wanted, like commitment, love, and maybe kids, if I was openly poly. Like maybe I could try being...I don't know...monogamish, as it were, and maybe that would be enough. But the fact that I am and have probably always been poly by nature has torpedoed everything I tried. And I want to say that that's why I'm giving it a real try now. Because I'm all brave and strong and enlightened. But really it's because I fell in love with someone I can't avoid. Wouldn't want to avoid if I could. And it finally got to a point where the fear of being with him no longer outweighed the pain of being without him.

So I'm trying. And honestly, it's been mostly effortless. He has a girlfriend he's been with for eight years. He introduced us...well, no. We'd met. I just hadn't realized who I'd been meeting at the time. I thought it would be awful. I thought I'd feel jealous and insecure and have to grit my teeth and fight through it, but it was just the opposite. She's lovely. She was welcoming, and kind, and honestly I like her a lot and look forward to getting to know her. I thought that if she didn't make me feel threatened, this amazing woman he's shared his life with for nearly a decade, that no one else would. And then I found out that wasn't true. I can feel all those things. The fact that I didn't feel it with her is a testament to the kind of person she is. Who she and my partner are. But other people...

So at the risk of being too honest. We work together. We didn't always. He works at my favorite bar, that's how I met him. And now I work there too. And that's always complicated - work relationships - because in a way it's like high school, all the different personalities shoved into a microcosm. And then add booze - and other stuff, for some - and it gets even more fun. I think the difficulty comes with everyone sort of having their roles; their respective labels. I don't even want to guess at what mine is, but for him, people see him as a ladies man. Like a player type. One of the things that's been so hard about embracing a relationship with him is knowing that people I'm surrounded by on a regular basis will devalue it, chalking it up to sex. Making it feel insignificant - making me feel insignificant.

In any case, we were out the other night with friends from the bar, in the bar, and there was a fair amount of PDA. We were sitting next to a woman who used to work there but she's still a part of our bar family. I would consider her a friend. Not a good one, mind you, but someone I'm on good terms with. She's engaged but in the last few weeks she's been off the rails. Sort of going on benders. I'm fairly certain alcohol wasn't all she was on that night. In any case, she was sitting next to us, and being sort of hostile toward me. That's never happened before and I didn't want to dwell on it but I assumed it had something to do with my obvious involvement with my partner. Apparently I was right. The next morning he told me that she followed him into the bathroom and propositioned him. And nothing happened because he knows her fiancé. And told her to talk to him about it first. Or, if you interpret the way that I heard it, his decision not to have sex with her in the bathroom in that moment was about not wanting to be a part of her cheating on her fiancé, not about the fact that I was sitting at the bar. And that hurts a lot more than I expected.

I'm confused because if I'm okay discussing his relationship with his girlfriend, with his girlfriend, then why is this upsetting me so much? I suspect it's about the lack of respect. I already felt offended and hurt by the way this woman treated me at the bar that night, even before I had all the information. The idea that he would have been game if she hadn't been involved with someone else hurts me even more.

There are still boundaries without exclusivity, right? Am I being unreasonable for feeling like that would have been cruel somehow? I didn't even realize how upset I still was until writing it all down. I just wish I knew what was at the core of what's bothering me. Is it the idea of him having sex with someone else while we're on a date (that seems reasonable, though, no?)? Is it the idea of him sleeping with someone else with me in an adjacent room? Is it him having sex with someone who is actively hostile regarding him to my face? I don't know what it is, which is making it really hard for me. Because I feel like I need his support in this, but because I'm not entirely sure what's bothering me, I don't know what to ask him for.

When he brought it up and I expressed discomfort - albeit in a joking way, because nerves - he seemed to be focused on the fact that she was clearly on drugs and alcohol and had been off the rails lately. But he also mentioned that she'd expressed interest in him before and clearly returns it. Which I have no issue with on it's face. But I just wonder - is this a thing I have to worry about? If we go to dinner and he meets an attractive woman on line for the bathroom do I need to be ready for him to come back to the table and tell me that he just had sex with someone else? I don't think I can handle that. I sort of don't think I should have to.

Advice?
 
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pittarotaro

New member
[q]...his decision not to have sex with her in the bathroom in that moment was about not wanting to be a part of her cheating on her fiancé, not about the fact that I was sitting at the bar. And that hurts a lot more than I expected. [/q]

This would bother me too. He seems to have no regards to your feelings, putting it even below the feelings of someone that isn't part of your circle of relationships. No one owns each other but it feels like he was inconsiderate in the least?

I mean kudos to him for rejecting her advances...I guess?
 

pittarotaro

New member
BelleRose said:
...his decision not to have sex with her in the bathroom in that moment was about not wanting to be a part of her cheating on her fiancé, not about the fact that I was sitting at the bar. And that hurts a lot more than I expected.

This would bother me too. He seems to have no regards to your feelings, putting it even below the feelings of someone that isn't part of your circle of relationships. No one owns each other but it feels like he was inconsiderate in the least?

I mean kudos to him for rejecting her advances...I guess?
 

BelleRose

New member
[q]...his decision not to have sex with her in the bathroom in that moment was about not wanting to be a part of her cheating on her fiancé, not about the fact that I was sitting at the bar. And that hurts a lot more than I expected. [/q]

This would bother me too. He seems to have no regards to your feelings, putting it even below the feelings of someone that isn't part of your circle of relationships. No one owns each other but it feels like he was inconsiderate in the least?

I mean kudos to him for rejecting her advances...I guess?

...I guess.

I know he does love me though. And I know my feelings matter. That scenario is just...it doesn't sit right with me. And the longer it festers the more it bothers me. I guess I'm torn because feeling like I need him to tell me he wouldn't have done it even if she hadn't been involved - at least not like that - feels like I'm asking him for something I shouldn't ask of him, or like I'm being territorial.

But I think you hit the nail on the head. It isn't about ownership, it's about consideration. I don't expect that from her, but I do expect it from him. I should.
 

vinsanity0

Active member
Has it occurred to you that maybe he just took the easiest reason to say no to a drunk and high woman? That if he told her no because he was out with you right now, that would leave it open to future negotiations he doesn't want to have?

But if it's bothering you then discuss it. It's not out of line to expect someone to not screw somebody else when they are out with you.
 
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lunabunny

New member
I fell in love with someone I can't avoid. Wouldn't want to avoid if I could. And it finally got to a point where the fear of being with him no longer outweighed the pain of being without him.

Clearly you're in the midst of NRE, which is normal and natural at the start of any new relationship.

What you said about "(I) wouldn't want to avoid it if I could" might just be an expression. However, beware of any propensity you may have for becoming overly attached to a love interest too early on.

And it's the old cliché of course, but for some people - some women especially IME - they have a tendency to be attracted to "difficult" relationship situations (unavailable people, "bad boys", the kind of men who are incredibly charismatic but still keep a part of themselves emotionally aloof)... which they then obsess over and become addicted to, all the while knowing their needs will never be truly met.

I'm not saying this IS the case here, as I don't have enough info on this new partner of yours, however a couple of things you said below would be yellow flags for me:

We work together. And that's always complicated - work relationships - And then add booze - and other stuff, for some - and it gets even more fun.

people see him as a ladies man. Like a player type. One of the things that's been so hard about embracing a relationship with him is knowing that people I'm surrounded by on a regular basis will devalue it, chalking it up to sex. Making it feel insignificant - making me feel insignificant.

You already know work relationships can be dicey. Now take into account the fact that your workplace is a bar (alcohol+whatever); you're both poly, and not in a closed relationship (bars are traditionally environments where people go to pick up/score/hit on others); this man has seniority in the workplace; AND he is a renowned "ladies' man"... and it all adds up to some potentially dramatic scenes.

We were sitting next to a woman who used to work there but she's still a part of our bar family. She's engaged but in the last few weeks she's been off the rails. (...) she was sitting next to us, and being sort of hostile toward me. That's never happened before and I didn't want to dwell on it but I assumed it had something to do with my obvious involvement with my partner.

The next morning he told me that she followed him into the bathroom and propositioned him. And nothing happened because he knows her fiancé. And told her to talk to him about it first. Or, if you interpret the way that I heard it, his decision not to have sex with her in the bathroom in that moment was about not wanting to be a part of her cheating on her fiancé, not about the fact that I was sitting at the bar. And that hurts a lot more than I expected.

I can understand your hurt. The way you read the situation means (in your eyes) he was thinking more about what was ethical from his own POV, rather than being concerned about your feelings in the matter. Besides this, he did not appear fazed that this woman was being hostile to you, his SO - someone he's supposed to care about.

You can look at this a couple of different ways though:

- At least he was honest with you about what happened, without prompting.

- He chose not to take advantage of a woman who was clearly drunk or high. And he did not wish to help her cheat on her fiancé, his friend(?)

- He may not have noticed or realised she was being rude/hostile to you specifically.

^ The above all gives him the benefit of the doubt, which is only fair until you gain further clarification, which I'm not sure you have sought (yet).


There are still boundaries without exclusivity, right?

That all depends.

In order to have "boundaries" around a relationship, a person has to SET some first... which necessitates having had the relevant discussions pertaining to relationship AGREEMENTS.

If you and this man have NOT discussed your individual needs, wishes, boundaries, agreements etc (which may range from safe sex practices to whether it's cool to hit on or have sex with other people in the presence of the other), then you've discovered a grey area, or several, in your relationship that needs clarifying.

What is your particular arrangement with this guy, BelleRose? Obviously you know about his long-term girlfriend and get on well with her. But did you guys discuss the addition of other partners? Did you discuss boundaries/agreements surrounding casual sex with others? If not, why not? Until you do, you can't really "blame" him for behaving as his reputation suggests (being a "ladies' man").

That said...

Am I being unreasonable for feeling like that would have been cruel somehow?

I personally don't feel like you're being unreasonable here. For me, the very idea of any partner of mine randomly picking someone up in a public place (while we're on a date!) and having unplanned sex with them in the next room while I wait outside, sipping my wine, would be a veritable nightmare.

It would be, at the very minimum, highly insensitive, and at worst, borderline emotionally abusive.

But the fact is, he DIDN'T do it - AND he told you what this woman proposed.

Your issue, as you state, is that despite this, his reasons for not doing it don't seem to take YOU, your feelings, or your relationship WITH him into account.

THIS is what you need to clarify: where you stand with him... what poly/non-monogamy actually means to him... how he intends to conduct himself in such scenarios, moving forward. Then you need to spell out YOUR needs, expectations, dealbreakers i.e. your boundaries.


I just wish I knew what was at the core of what's bothering me.
Is it the idea of him having sex with someone else while we're on a date (that seems reasonable, though, no?)?

To me, this would NOT be acceptable behaviour! (Unless you've discussed it prior to the event and (willingly) agreed that anything goes.)

Is it the idea of him sleeping with someone else with me in an adjacent room?

Only you can answer this. If you're truly "poly by nature", you may be fine with your partner sleeping with another in the same building, the next room, the same bed, even - as long as you've discussed it between you at some stage and ascertained that it's acceptable to both parties. WITHOUT that agreement, I believe that for most people, sharing sex with some random person while in the presence of a partner is unacceptable and frankly pretty callous. (Bear in mind, he didn't actually do this.)

Is it him having sex with someone who is actively hostile regarding him to my face?

First, you have to clarify is he KNEW this woman was behaving in an unacceptably rude or hostile manner toward you. If he did, and didn't care, and/or would have been willing to share sex with her anyway, had she not been off her head, and already engaged to someone else, I would most certainly take issue with that! A partner should care about your feelings... and care for your welfare. They should never ignore or dismiss someone's objectionable behaviour, no matter how attractive the other person is to them.

When he brought it up and I expressed discomfort - albeit in a joking way, because nerves - he seemed to be focused on the fact that she was clearly on drugs and alcohol and had been off the rails lately. But he also mentioned that she'd expressed interest in him before and clearly returns it. Which I have no issue with on it's face. But I just wonder - is this a thing I have to worry about? If we go to dinner and he meets an attractive woman on line for the bathroom do I need to be ready for him to come back to the table and tell me that he just had sex with someone else? I don't think I can handle that. I sort of don't think I should have to. [/QUOTE]

You don't HAVE to do anything you don't want to do - including worry or put up with a partner having sex with random hook-ups. But in order to put that fear behind you, you firstly have to clarify the terms of your relationship WITH your partner.

IF you decide to stay with this person (which I believe you want to at this stage), I'd start asking all the questions you seem to have put off till this incident.
 

BelleRose

New member
What is your particular arrangement with this guy, BelleRose? Obviously you know about his long-term girlfriend and get on well with her. But did you guys discuss the addition of other partners? Did you discuss boundaries/agreements surrounding casual sex with others? If not, why not? Until you do, you can't really "blame" him for behaving as his reputation suggests (being a "ladies' man").

Absolutely in NRE! No doubt about that. I do feel that I may have unintentionally conflated my personal struggle with essentially "coming out" poly with my new partner's character, though. His reputation isn't a reflection on his character so much as a reflection of the fact that everyone we work with is mono. To them, if it isn't exclusive, it means nothing, and because he is quite frankly just plain gorgeous they view him as being unattached and uncommitted even though he isn't - it just doesn't fit with their ideas of commitment.

To answer that though, no, we haven't discussed those things. We definitely should. I guess I've felt odd about bringing up anything too "heavy" because while this relationship is new, we aren't, and I've panicked and bolted on him twice in the past. I overthink absolutely everything (can you tell?) and wasn't ready to admit to being poly. I can tell that he's sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop with me (again) so I didn't want my prompting him with eleven thousand questions and concerns, my Polyamory for Dummies guidebook in hand, to make him doubt that I'm really in it this time. But I guess this experience goes to show that those conversations are necessary. Can't stay in the NRE bubble forever.

I personally don't feel like you're being unreasonable here. For me, the very idea of any partner of mine randomly picking someone up in a public place (while we're on a date!) and having unplanned sex with them in the next room while I wait outside, sipping my wine, would be a veritable nightmare.

::sigh:: Thank you for saying that. I'm not crazy.

Your issue, as you state, is that despite this, his reasons for not doing it don't seem to take YOU, your feelings, or your relationship WITH him into account.

Yes. And even though he didn't do it, if he had, I would have been incredibly hurt. It seems as though it's almost incidental that I wasn't hurt in this situation.

You don't HAVE to do anything you don't want to do - including worry or put up with a partner having sex with random hook-ups. But in order to put that fear behind you, you firstly have to clarify the terms of your relationship WITH your partner.

It looks like I have a talk coming. Yay.....::sigh::

Thank you. This was very helpful. Not that he is anything like this (he's not) but I have had abusive partners in the past, and as a result I have a lot of anxiety around asserting boundaries, asking for what I want and need, etc. You're right, a lot of this is coming from the fact that I haven't actually told him what I am or am not okay with. And when I did express my discomfort I did it in a very minimalistic way - if I can't express my feelings how can I expect him to consider them?

::clicks tongue::
 

lunabunny

New member
His reputation isn't a reflection on his character so much as a reflection of the fact that everyone we work with is mono. To them, if it isn't exclusive, it means nothing, and because he is quite frankly just plain gorgeous they view him as being unattached and uncommitted even though he isn't - it just doesn't fit with their ideas of commitment.

To answer that though, no, we haven't discussed those things. We definitely should. I guess I've felt odd about bringing up anything too "heavy" because while this relationship is new, we aren't, and I've panicked and bolted on him twice in the past.

Thank you for shedding further light on these two points. It helps the forum understand your situation a little better.

You're saying he has falsely acquired the reputation of a player because of his non-mono status... and he has doubts about your own seriousness because of your past history together.


Thank you. This was very helpful. Not that he is anything like this (he's not) but I have had abusive partners in the past, and as a result I have a lot of anxiety around asserting boundaries, asking for what I want and need, etc. You're right, a lot of this is coming from the fact that I haven't actually told him what I am or am not okay with. And when I did express my discomfort I did it in a very minimalistic way - if I can't express my feelings how can I expect him to consider them?


I overthink absolutely everything (can you tell?) and wasn't ready to admit to being poly. I can tell that he's sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop with me (again) so I didn't want my prompting him with eleven thousand questions and concerns, my Polyamory for Dummies guidebook in hand, to make him doubt that I'm really in it this time. But I guess this experience goes to show that those conversations are necessary. Can't stay in the NRE bubble forever.

You're welcome. As a fellow anxiety sufferer and veteran of an abusive relationship, I understand your hesitance re: bringing up potentially contentious topics.

However, given your past issues with this particular partner, I'm inclined to think that coming to him armed with the Polyamory Handbook and a list of specific discussion points might actually prompt him to realise you're finally serious about being with him, rather than the opposite.

After all, you wouldn't be approaching him in a spirit of doubt and accusation, but rather, with the intention of building a stronger, clearer and more stable relationship. It would show a willingness to work on issues... communicate... and commit more deeply.

At least, that's how I'd broach your need to talk about this stuff with him.
 

BelleRose

New member
Has it occurred to you that maybe he just took the easiest reason to say no to a drunk and high woman? That if he told her no because he was out with you right now, that would leave it open to future negotiations he doesn't want to have?

But if it's bothering you then discuss it. It's not out of line to expect someone to not screw somebody else when they are out with you.

Honestly, I haven't considered that, but mostly because I don't really think that's the case. He didn't only tell me about the occurrence, he also told me that she's expressed interest in the past. And from his tone it seemed like he returned that interest. He even told me that he asked her to talk to her fiancé if that's what she wanted, so it seems to me as though he's perfectly comfortable with future negotiations taking place.

I don't think he was making any excuses. I think his reasons given were the actual factors in his decision not to do it. And I don't know that I was one of that factors in his coming to that decision, but if I was, that wasn't made clear. Going forward I would like to be. Discussion pending...
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi BelleRose,

It sounds somewhat like this guy you're seeing doesn't have a complete grasp on rules of basic etiquette. Like, it just hasn't occurred to him that there might be a problem with having sex with one woman (in the bathroom) while another woman is on a date with him just in the next room. I am chalking this one up to cluelessness on his part; I am hoping/assuming that he just doesn't care about you, because I think he does care about you, he just doesn't realize that certain things could be hurtful to you.

I also suspect that he was clueless about the fact that this woman was being hostile toward you. I'm assuming that if he had known, he wouldn't have considered having, well, sex with her. Not sure how to prevent this one from happening in the future. Shy of you announcing, "Hey, note that this woman is being hostile towards me." Otherwise he would have to notice on his own, and he may be too clueless for that.

I think the main thing for you, is that you would much rather he not hook up with another women while he's on a date with you. So, this is what you should tell him. Short and simple, so that he can easily understand. This way, even if he's a clueless type of guy, he understands how you feel and what you would prefer. And I hope that he would then honor that.

Ordinarily, you would not have to tell a guy to lay off the other women when he's on a date, but, as I said, I am giving this guy the benefit of the doubt and assuming he is more clueless than most guys. This doesn't mean he's a bad person, it just means he needs specific instructions.

Hopefully the posts in this thread are helpful.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

Ravenscroft

Banned
Labelling (potentially valid) doubts "jealousy" will get you LOTS of well-intended advice on how to ignore your intuition. Set that aside.

There's a downtown bar I hang out at. I know a lot of the staff very well, & have encouraged them to NOT hang out there after work, because it can so easily undermine their authority with regular customers who might come to see them as a "buddy" & thus expect them to overlook social errors that the bar owner WANTS to be called out. (Yah, I know him, too.)

And IMO this becomes even messier if they spend evenings there with someone they're dating. Moreso if there's (or has been) fraternization.

So my first suggestion would be to stop that, & actively avoid "poking the bear."

It'll probably be beneficial to back away from the "my bar family" thing. Maybe get a job that's a job, & have friends that are friends, & step back from intentionally blurring the lines.
I don't really think that's the case.
from his tone
it seemed like
it seems to me
I don't think
I think
if it was
You're avoiding the sort of direct responsibility that separates polyamory from general nonmonogamy.

Your feelings are your feelings. But you show a strong tendency to avoid discussion, clear statement, & actual conversation, instead mind-reading what he thinks, how he feels, what he wants or intends or at some unspecified time in the future might do.

If you're going to rely upon your feelings, then stop cherry-picking them. If you cannot trust him, then stop trying to twist yourself around to trust him. If your core says he IS trustworthy, then it's not "jealousy" to ask him if he could take some relatively simple steps to validate such trust -- if he does so, & that's still not enough for you, THEN you can begin to examine what it is within you that is ACTUALLY worrying you.
 
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BelleRose

New member
Post-Talk Update

Thanks, everyone! As always this forum was really instrumental in my being able to approach this topic bravely. I can't express my appreciation enough.

As it turns out one of you was absolutely right about the boyfriend just being the excuse that my SO gave her in the moment. It turns out that he would never have considered having sex with her under those circumstances, and upon realization that I was worried he would have were the boyfriend not in play he literally squealed, "That's crazy!"

Phew.

I'm quite relieved, but also glad that it was an ice-breaker for talking about boundaries, expectations, etc. The biggest relief is in how easy the conversation was. He's so compassionate and never fails to consider my point of view. It's possible (read: likely) that I made this a lot bigger in my head than it needed to be.

:p
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
I'm glad things worked out.
 
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