Learning slowly.......


New member
Apologies for my grammar, and the lengthy post.

I'm a male, in a 15-year marriage with my wonderful wife. We decided to open up our marriage several years ago. She was non-mono with a girl early on in our marriage, pretty much anything goes. I hit the ground running, and honestly wasn't considerate or supportive of my wife and her adventures.

My wife's given me my autonomy and been supportive. I can't say anything bad. On the other hand, I've been super insecure, jealous and scared, never fully supporting her or giving her the same courtesy. But that never stopped me from sticking my hands in the cookie jar for myself. As the years have passed I've slowly gotten better. But never ever the support my wife has given me.

We dated a very toxic couple, where I and the other wife were allowed to do whatever we wanted. But the other wife wouldn't allow her husband to have the same rules for him and my wife. I was completely okay with them and never struggled here, but the other couple's wife just wouldn't allow my wife and him to have a relationship. Eventually we broke it off and it left a horrible taste in my wife's and my mouths about dating. I swore off it pretty much, and just expressed it wasn't for me. I was okay with clubs and FWBs, and whatever, nothing serious.

I didn't express that she had to stop, but she felt like how could she, if I wasn't? So she stopped and cut off all her ongoing relationships.

Fast-forward to the last few months, I met someone really amazing and it changed my mind on dating and poly. And I 100 percent think I should have talked to my wife more about my mind change. She kind of saw where it was leading. Now I've been dating this girl for 2 to 3 months, and I've studied a lot and made some NRE errors and corrected them and been fully supportive of my wife and her adventures.

I started reading books and really trying to not be toxic. Now I know it sounds like perfect timing with this new relationship, but I never told my wife she had to stop dating. I honestly believe it's because she knew I was gonna struggle, so she did. And again, I was slowly getting there. But once this took place I really have been trying to vocalize my change and efforts to support and be there for her.

She's had several dates, and connected with a guy and hooked up with him, but it just didn't feel right for her. And she's been very upset about my situation, because I've never been supportive to her and treated her as she's done me. Which I agree with. I've tried to talk and show changes, but of course she thinks it's only because of this new person. But in my heart now, if there was a fallout with this new girl, I feel I'd support my wife and give her that autonomy and be there for her. I'm not saying I'd be perfect and of course I'd have to go through things. But really she's been supportive, then resentful, then encouraging and saying you should do this or that with her. Then again mad and resentful.

Truly, I cannot blame her. I just want to prove to her I'm changing and wanna give her everything she's given to me. I know I've made many mistakes, and I'm far from perfect. But I know I love my wife and I want her to be happy and support her. It's back and forth, with resentment from her, and support.

She and the girl I'm seeing are actually pretty close. So it's nothing to do with the girl. It's me. I just wanna figure this out with her. Any advice or tips on what I can do? Let loose on me.

I know I've made a lot of mistakes and I realize and see them. I've just felt everyone is different. However, I know I should have gone at the speed I could be comfortable with myself, not just dive in.

My wife's a wonderful supportive partner and I just hate watching her struggle. She's told me before she's never felt like this until this time. She's been super supportive of previous people I dated. And she just feels at her rope's end because I've never given her the same support and autonomy. Any support or directions to advice is truly appreciated.
Just a guess… but are you oversharing with your wife about your feelings and activities with your girlfriend? Because without clarity over what poly means to both of you now, that would be bound to throw her.

Take time to date your wife, give her special time, a massage and perhaps do some therapy or couples counselling together with a poly-friendly therapist. Show her that you’re really invested in her and your relationship. Don’t overload her with details about your girlfriend. Use your time with your wife to strengthen your bonds with her, not to discuss your girlfriend. Learn to be a good hinge.

We’ve all made mistakes and acted like dicks at some point in life. Just don’t keep repeating the same mistakes if you truly treasure her.
Hello Trial-and-error,

From what you're saying, it sounds like the answer is to give your wife the same support and autonomy that she's given you. Is there any reason you can't do that right now? What are your feelings, and where are they coming from?

Don't worry, we won't ream you. Your experience is very human, your feelings choose you, you can't help that part of the situation. It's your actions you can help. Is there anything that you do (an action), that makes your wife feel like you don't support her?

I hope I can help,
Kevin T.
Yes. I want so much to give her the same support she has given me. Unfortunately, now I'm dealing with the hard truths of her feeling like the only reason I wanna do it, is because I'm dating someone now. Which is crummy. I've just been a slow grower, but was moving fast and not giving her the same. I definitely feel like I've made progress and want to do everything I can, and have sought out poly couples counseling.

I deal with a lot of anger and resentment from her, which is to be expected. She's trying to be supportive still and goes above and beyond while dealing with her feelings. Truly, I never was very good in the beginning. Jealous, insecure, never considerate or thinking of her. But as I stated, I've been reading books, seeking poly support and all avenues to be better. Unfortunately, as it stands, it just appears I'm desperate only cause I've connected with someone.
It sounds like your wife is saying you wouldn't want poly if you didn't have someone to date. Is there any truth to this? Before you met someone really amazing, were you opposed to polyamory?
No. I was never opposed to poly. She actually had a gf when we where together, well before we actually dipped into this. However, I was very jealous and insecure a lot and definitely not supportive. I let my emotions toxically come out when we both got into the poly world. And I know it wasn't good or healthy.

When she was dating, etc., I've always been slow in this. However, the problem was I wasn't slow in doing what I wanted, only slow in learning to not be jealous or insecure or toxic. That's all my fault. I've been trying to learn, and to do everything I can to change myself for the better and be supportive. And I have been. However, what it's like to her is, Oh you're doing this now because you like this girl. I totally understand where she is coming from. She's always been good. I can't fault her; it's just me being all those negative things and not working through them myself before doing what I want.
So I'd like to note, regardless of her inevitably feeling like that, I know if things didn't work out with this other person, I'd truly support her and still be poly. I have been actively reading books, such as Polysecure, sought out a licensed poly counselor that we will both go to weekly, and seeking support on groups such as this. I've put my best foot forward, and I truly hate so much that I am so late to the party, and have caused her hurt and to feel all these negative emotions.
It sounds like you have been gradually improving, your improvement just happens to coincide with you dating on your side of things. Your wife is rather suspicious of your motives at this time, but I believe she will have more trust in you in the future when she sees that you are consistently supporting her.
I appreciate the feedback and positive vibes truly! Thank you! And hopefully that is the case! I want her to truly see that I have changed. Unfortunately so sluggishly!
No. I was never opposed to poly. She actually had a gf when we where together, well before we actually dipped into this. However, I was very jealous and insecure a lot and definitely not supportive. I let my emotions toxically come out when we both got into the poly world. And I know it wasn't good or healthy. When she was dating, etc., I've always been slow in this. However, the problem was I wasn't slow in doing what I wanted, only slow in learning to not be jealous or insecure or toxic. That's all my fault. I've been trying to learn, and to do everything I can to change myself for the better and be supportive. And I have been. However what it's like to her is, Oh, you're doing this now because you like this girl. I totally understand where she is coming from. She's always been good; I can't fault her, it's just me being all those negative things and not working through them myself before doing what I want.
I might be reading into this, but it seems more like the shoe is on the other foot.

You did not handle her dating well, were jealous, insecure, unsupportive and "toxic". I put toxic in quotes because maybe you were, maybe you weren't.

These feelings are normal, and being poly doesn't magically make them go away. It takes a combination of support, education and exposure to learn how to deal with them.

Now that you are dating this new person, YOUR WIFE is going through what you were going through. SHE needs to learn the skills now.

I understand that in the past she supported you amazingly, but you are not in the past. You two had become monogamous (whether agreed to or not, that's what you were practicing), practiced that for some time and you suddenly decided to see someone.

Change is a shock to the system. It brings on the fight or flight neurological response, which does not feel good, and it exaggerates feelings of fear, insecurity and doom.

Add that you didn't discuss opening up again, or taking time to find someone to date, and you have 3 things at once. You were horrible to her once during your own insecurity crisis. Try to be understanding during hers.

Slow down. Date this new person a bit less until your wife can catch up. Stop playing victim to how you behaved in the past and step up and BE the supportive husband to her that you want to be. Don't let her shame you for how you behaved in the past. Apologize and say you want to be here for her now. The past is the past. Leave it there and create a new way to relate to each other. If you are still shitty to her, then stop it and step up.

If she cannot let things go and constantly brings up the past, then you need a therapist, not a new girlfriend. That can come later.
I'm coming to this thread a bit late, but I agree with Bobbi. The past is the past. People do the best they can with the tools they have. When they get more experience, and learn more social skills, they do better.

An example is how sometimes people can be very good grandparents to their grandkids, whereas they weren't such great parents to their actual kids.

I was in a long marriage, and of course, my husband and I each grew a lot as people during the decades. However, he kept holding on to resentments well into our 40s and 50s, of silly things I did in my early 20s, or simple mistakes I made, and would bring them up 10, 15, 20 years later.

We went to couple's counseling several times, and he just couldn't seem to move into the present and see that I'd changed and matured, plus any mistakes I'd made could be forgiven or let go of, since they weren't repeated, and weren't really that consequential to begin with.

It can be hard for a partner or spouse to see you as the more mature adult you are and not as the younger adult you once were. Some people really cling to the past. Our counselor became frustrated with my (now ex) husband and let him go as a client. She pointed out to him how he wasn't seeing me for the person I now was, for the behaviors I was now doing. He was stuck in feeling like a victim and feeling self-righteous over it. This was just how he was. I saw him being unforgiving of many other people in his life in the same way.

I hope, with therapy, your wife will learn to see the more mature you, and let go of past resentments. I hope there is enough goodness in your relationship for it to mature and become better than ever.
It's good that you and your wife are going to work with a poly counselor. It takes time to find one you can "click with." You could try searching for more at:

as well as other places. You might also do individual counseling. I hope you find counselors that "click" and that you are are prepared to do the required work to become healthy in yourselves and in this marriage.

I get that you behaved poorly in the past and are trying to learn and do better now. The new lady has motivated you. It sounds like your wife is taking that personally, like she's asking, "Why NOW, and why for HER, and not back then for me?"

The simplest answer is that you weren't willing and able to make core changes back then. You are more willing and more able to make the attempt now. And yeah, the new lady was a catalyst. But even if the thing with the new lady doesn't pan out, you still want to do the work now.

Does your wife still want to do polyamory with you TODAY, or not so much? Have you even had that conversation yet?

Maybe, in this decade, your wife settled on casual sex or other non-monogamy, or was wanting to just stop. You certainly changed your mind on things, so how about actually checking in to see if you two are still compatible or not?

I deal with a lot of anger and resentment from her, which is to be expected. She's trying to be supportive still and goes above and beyond while dealing with her feelings.

I get that your wife tolerated a lot in the past. But really, who made her do that? Who made her go above and beyond? She did. She didn't HAVE to. She could have ended it with you back then. She chose not to.

She can have her feelings about this all. But what does she actually want-- for you NOT to improve your way of going? Does she want words of thanks and appreciation for sticking with you this long?

I didn't express that she had to stop, but she felt like how could she, if I wasn't? So she stopped and cut off all her ongoing relationships.

She's mad at herself that she quit poly dating on her side when she didn't have to, and you didn't ask her to? Something else? Is she even able to articulate what she wants? Or does she just want to hold on to grudges?

This sounds all in a tangle. It also kind of sounds like you are going to feel guilty about the past and put up with your wife's poor behaviors in the present, as a result.

Before THAT all makes a new mess, consider both individual and couple's counseling, so that past things can be laid to rest for real. Each person takes responsibility for having a share in creating the past situations, and both let it GO, so it doesn't cast shadows on the present day, new situations, or the marriage.

If people cannot let it go, then the marriage itself might need to be let go because you are no longer compatible. Y'all need to get sorted.

If it means dropping the new lady because you started poly dating too soon and really need to do your personal work first, drop the new lady. It's only been 2-3 months. She doesn't need to become collateral damage just because some couple jumped in underprepared or with pending unfinished business.

You can be honest with her that you really like her, but jumped into too soon, and ask if you can look her back up after you are more solid after therapy. She may or may not be up for that.

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I appreciate all the feedback. It's been tough these last few weeks. She's had this guy that's been in the picture, but doesn't want to get involved with, because she feels she's a mess.

That girl I'm dating is now my girlfriend. We have told each other we love one another. Which was forced. While we were all together, my wife, her, and some friends, my wife was drunk and pretty much called me out to tell her. I wasn't mad about that because we were all drunk. But I know I wouldn't have said anything until I felt that I was more comfortable with my wife, and that my wife was more comfortable.

Weeks before that, my now girlfriend was telling me that she was in love with me, but in Korean, and I had no idea. So, when I told her, she then confessed to that and told me she's been seeing a counselor to deal with how much she loves me, etc. It's happened so fast and I'm so distraught over all of these new developments.

What's caused most of the problems of the last few times is my wife and someone she's dating, my now girlfriend, me, and others going out to drink and have fun. It turned into me spending a lot of time with my new gf, and my wife feels like why do I make her feel like the 3rd wheel. I don't intend or mean to, but I just felt like I see her all the time and my gf 1 time maybe a week. So my wife is fine, etc. Well, that's not the case. She's felt like a 3rd wheel and like she could see how much I loved the new gf, or cared about her.

And just this last time she questioned why she gave up everything when I struggled, and I haven't when she has been. Like, I don't love her as much as she loves me. I know that's not true, but I realize I was willing to put my needs first. She hasn't given me an ultimatum, but in the last few days, there have been a lot of tears from her and me. She said it's either for her, or us, or it's not, and time to move on.

It's such a freaking mess and now, as people have said, I've involved someone a lot more then I've liked to. I've admitted loving my gf (however, like I said, I was cornered when we were all drunk), and she's confessed she's loved me for weeks. It feels so f'ed up. I wanna talk to my gf, but feel like my wife would feel betrayed. It's like I'm waiting for my wife to decide if we can survive this.

I can't put it into words, really. All this is a nightmare, truly. I found us a counselor, finally. Some others didn't pan out. But I just feel like this whole thing is a shit show, and no matter what, it's gonna be bad.

My wife feels an impending doom. I've been supportive. And then she got a boyfriend. We've even had him over, but it's like I forced the issue, or she feels like I'm like that because of what I said before. I've got someone, and now I'm trying to thrust her into it. But I didn't force him to ask her to be his gf, or her to say yes. I didn't force them to have s*x. But she feels she can't commit to him and doesn't want to lead him on.

And with our mess of her trying to decide for herself if we can do this or not, it is just so hard on what to do with my now gf. I hate all this. That it's come to this.

I appreciate all the support and comments, good and bad. It's reality and I can own my bad behavior and choices. I just feel sick over this. And I don't wanna hurt anyone. But it's like 15 years of marriage and love, and now 3 to 4 months of new love. Ughhhh.
Quick tips:

Stop going out on group dates with wife and gf at the same time, and/or with wife and her bf (for now, at least). That way, there won't be any of this third wheel stuff. Keep the dyads separate.
If you want to go out drinking with friends, you can do that, but don't include your other partners (for now, at least). Discuss the drinking problem with your wife. Agree to switch to non-alcoholic drinks before you get drunk. Don't want to fight about poly in front of your friends. Bad things happen when you drink. You and wife get pushy and weak and do and say things you don't mean to.
It's okay if your gf loves you and you love her. This is polyamory.
It's okay if wife and her bf don't love each other (yet or ever). It's not a competition.
Allow space for each dyad.
Make time for regular romantic dates with wife. Do fun things that don't include drinking. Many newly poly couples get so caught up in the New and Shiny partners that they forget to date each other; or they've already stopped dating long ago. Relationships get stale if you don't make time for fun dates and just get in the chores and TV rut.
Hi Trial-and-error,

Thanks for that update, I am sorry that your wife is feeling like a third wheel. It sounds like things are quite a mess right now, like she doesn't know if your marriage can survive this, or if she wants to keep going with the poly. Don't give up yet, I know you and your girlfriend have confessed love for each other, while your wife and her boyfriend are on the rocks. Just don't try to do too much right now, give it some time for things to settle down.

Sympathy and regards,
Kevin T.
Yeah she really likes him or thinks she could. He's a really nice guy and I get along with him super well. He's told me pretty much he's got butterfly for her and she makes him feel good and being around us and our group makes him feel good. She's just super afraid to get involved because it feels to her like my poly behavior has been a light switch on and off. Which I respect and understand. I've just come to realize like what I've wanted and like got all this clarity that it just turns into why all of a sudden? Cause this new girl. Why weren't you supportive of me, slowed down or stop anything when I struggled. Which when I boiled down the facts I realized I was selfish in those moments. Which has led her to feel unsure of if our marriage can handle this or if we need to stop. She's trying very hard to work through that and we've had a lot of tough convos over last few days which has consumed us emotionally. And she realized she needs to talk to someone. Cause all these feelings for her if she pursues someone she don't know how ill act, or if I've fallen out of love with her cause I didn't stop when she struggled etc. Honestly I can't wait for our therapy session Thursday. I hope it starts the road to some clarity and figuring this out. It's difficult not having someone to talk to and sort things out. I truly appreciate all the comments and unbiased opinions that yall been through and feel.
Hi Trial-and-error,

Ah, so maybe "on the rocks" isn't quite the right word, he likes her and she likes him, she is just afraid to go into poly right now because she fears she can't rely on you to be consistently supportive of her polyness, or that maybe she'll keep feeling like a third wheel, and she doesn't want that. In general, she's just worried that her marriage with you can't hold up to the rigors of polyamory.

I hope your therapy session goes well.
Kevin T.
A few random points I'd also love to hit on, so the group dates or setting where I've made my wife feel like a 3rd wheel or she's the extra I know isn't good and I own I haven't known how to navigate a wife and gf together. And probably isn't a good idea until I do. As someone stated.

My wife I feel like isn't giving me an ultimatum but it does feel like she's gonna figure it out for her if this works or doesn't. So I'm in limbo with my gf. Which doesn't feel good. And probably horrible to say but how can I sacrifice 15 years of marriage and my family for someone I've fallen in love with over last 4 months. Makes me feel shitty either way.

I've realized we have gotten complacent in our marriage not dated or pursued eachother which we agreed to start doing. I love her to death and hate that we are here.

Some other random advice I'd like is I'm trying to give my wife respect and her and our autonomy. like I don't like airing out our dirty laundry, especially to the gf. I don't feel like it's fair to communicate my issues to her. I also want to communicate to her in a sense so she's not left in the dark but what's the right thing to do there? I feel like it's betrayal to talk about what me and my wife are dealing with. The gf knows and is understanding it's a lot we just told one another we loved eachother. But that's just the tip....
Yeah, you should limit how much you tell your girlfriend about you and your wife. Something very general like, "My wife and I are struggling a bit," would probably suffice so that your girlfriend isn't totally in the dark. Right now you need to wait and see how your therapy session goes, as well as give yourself and your wife some time to work things out as you have only just now decided to start pursuing and dating each other and working on your marriage. Good luck.