Mono/poly tangles

LadyMacbeth

New member
I recently had a very difficult emotional conversation with my monogomous boyfriend. I am married and my husband and I have been practicing polyamory for about 5 months, I started dating shortly after that time.

The relationship has been very beautiful, and I have deep compassion with what he is going through but am struggling and would love some ideas on the best ways I might help him and help myself right now.

We had been close friends for about 6 months before I disclosed that I was poly, and we became lovers. He admitted that he had been secretly in love with me for months, but had not felt that there was any hope. He was ecstatic to have a relationship, but confused about poly (understandably) and it took some time for myself and my husband to convince him that it was really "okay" and not "cheating" etc. He became involved and has always been open about his comfort level and we have been open communicators all along. He has shared often feeling uncertain if he can "settle" to have only "part of me" etc. However, he is also close friends with my husband so has guilt whenever he feels possessive or wants me "all to himself." I have been open and understanding and I believe he would agree wholeheartedly.

So...here is the issue. Long story short, he cancelled our normal Friday date without explanation. I had a hunch, so I asked if he had a date. (I had actually encouraged him to date, just asked that he tell me if he decided to do so.) He admitted he did have a date. I was very hurt, not because he had a date, but because he cancelled OUR date and further, didn't tell me. He apologized for both. He said that he was worried it would upset me, and that it was "no big deal" anyway and was confused as to why this would be a problem for me. I explained that in poly, this is "cheating." He could almost understand, but not quite.

I further explained that if he wants to date, that is a-okay with me, I might get jealous, but it would be my job to work on that. I stated that I needed to know one thing. "Are you seeking an addition to our relationship, or a replacement?" And he can't or won't answer. He became very defensive. I felt it was a reasonable question. I was so hurt that I impulsively issued an ultimatum, stating that if he was seeking "a monogomous life partner which by definition would preclude our relationship," then I could not see him while he dated for that purpose. I stated that if he was seeking to "add a partner to our poly relationship" that I was a-ok and he would have my full support.

I later said I needed to reconsider my ultimatum, because I wasn't sure if that was fair. Anyone have experiences in these relationships? I feel compassion and want to treat him with love and respect, but am not sure I could deal with the emotional turmoil that would come from constant uncertainty about whether or not he had just been on a date with my replacement.
 

MonoVCPHG

New member
Sorry to hear this. I guess it comes down to whether or not your boyfriend truly is monogamous in the wired/nature sense like me or traditionally conditioned sense like a lot of people. If he truly is monogamous, as in he can only love or be involved with one person at a time; I feel your question is answered. If not than teach him everything you can about being poly..because that would indicate he is possibly not as monogamous as even he thinks. That would be a good thing though right?

Best of everything
Mono
 

JonnyAce

New member
I stated that if he was seeking to "add a partner to our poly relationship" that I was a-ok and he would have my full support.

i might be completely off the mark here, but those words could make him believe that you would be a-ok if he dated someone else that was also involved in your dynamic, not someone that he was dating, while also dating you. again i could be completely wrong here, but it might be something to discuss w/him.
 

GroundedSpirit

New member
He admitted he did have a date. I was very hurt, not because he had a date, but because he cancelled OUR date and further, didn't tell me. He apologized for both. He said that he was worried it would upset me, and that it was "no big deal" anyway and was confused as to why this would be a problem for me. I explained that in poly, this is "cheating." He could almost understand, but not quite.

Hi Lady,

Some thoughts on this and more..........
If you think about this, it seems to me this is pretty stereotypical dating behavior for the mono world - which is obviously where he comes from (and still is to a large degree). Maybe you should rethink your expectations. You really are more in the role of a teacher at this point than an equal. Make sense ?


LadyMacbeth said:
I stated that I needed to know one thing. "Are you seeking an addition to our relationship, or a replacement?" And he can't or won't answer. He became very defensive. .............................
I later said I needed to reconsider my ultimatum, because I wasn't sure if that was fair.................

Anyone have experiences in these relationships? I feel compassion and want to treat him with love and respect, but am not sure I could deal with the emotional turmoil that would come from constant uncertainty about whether or not he had just been on a date with my replacement.

Again, I really think you exacerbated the problem here. Partially because of my prior comment (he's a newbie) and because you immediately chose to go on the attack. You provoked a confrontation on a topic he probably is not at all clear on in his own mind and expected an answer - RIGHT THEN <chuckle> Was we being a bit unfair & unrealistic here - ya think ? :)

As to ultimatums etc......where's the love in ultimatums ? Don't you think a better approach to this might be to empathize with him, offer to help how you can, and in your heart hope that he makes the decision that will make HIM the happiest ?
Nope - this isn't 'typical' human behavior in these areas but what is it about poly loving that's typical ? :)

And I doubt he has the foggiest idea if his date was a potential replacement or not. But whether you are "replaced" (big fear word here) depends also to a large degree on your own behavior and living true to what you profess !

Be kind.

GS
 
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rolypoly

New member
I really love the advice you all give each other. I'm in heaven. :)

For what it's worth, this doesn't sound like an ultimatum to me.

if he was seeking "a monogomous life partner which by definition would preclude our relationship," then I could not see him while he dated for that purpose. I stated that if he was seeking to "add a partner to our poly relationship" that I was a-ok and he would have my full support.

It does sound like a way of saying, "I felt hurt when you cancelled our date because I was looking forward to seeing you and I am scared that you might not want to be with me because I can't offer an exclusive relationship..."
 

redpepper

New member
I had a hunch, so I asked if he had a date. (I had actually encouraged him to date, just asked that he tell me if he decided to do so.) He admitted he did have a date. I was very hurt, not because he had a date, but because he cancelled OUR date and further, didn't tell me. He apologized for both. He said that he was worried it would upset me, and that it was "no big deal" anyway and was confused as to why this would be a problem for me. I explained that in poly, this is "cheating." He could almost understand, but not quite.

"Are you seeking an addition to our relationship, or a replacement?" And he can't or won't answer. He became very defensive. I felt it was a reasonable question. I was so hurt that I impulsively issued an ultimatum, stating that if he was seeking "a monogomous life partner which by definition would preclude our relationship," then I could not see him while he dated for that purpose. I stated that if he was seeking to "add a partner to our poly relationship" that I was a-ok and he would have my full support.

I later said I needed to reconsider my ultimatum, because I wasn't sure if that was fair. Anyone have experiences in these relationships? I feel compassion and want to treat him with love and respect, but am not sure I could deal with the emotional turmoil that would come from constant uncertainty about whether or not he had just been on a date with my replacement.

Hi LadyMacbeth, I see how he'd be confused in all this. I think that confusion began when you said you would be okay with him dating. In my experience with Mono, dating would mean that he is looking to replace me and would go underground to do that as in a mono relationship there is no dating option.... Essentially, if he is really mono then you were telling him, "you can try out other women and see if I am the one for you." It's a bit of a double standard to then get jealous and angry because he did just that in his mono way.

Yes, I see his actions as cheating, but to me you told him that it would be okay to cheat, that you expected it.... if he was struggling to understand that you were not cheating then somewhere along the line he began to believe that cheating is okay..... not how poly relationships work. He really does seem mono to me if this is how he handled the whole thing. Especially if he thought he should do it behind your back and break a date. I think you really need to look at him with mono eyes in your empathy, not poly ones.

I think his lack of being able to answer is a two-fold thing.... he was looking to see if he could replace you and is guilty about that, and he is confused about the message you gave him because he is mono in nature. I agree with Mono, he needs tons more poly education to accept that it's different than a mono relationship because he has somehow missed the point.

I have no problem with what you call and "ultimatum." I think it finally clarified for him what it means if he is to date others. It means that he is looking for a replacement. I find in my mono relationship with Mono that these boundaries are needed for his mono mind to understand. It isn't a control thing, but an emotional need that makes sense to a mono person. I don't think you made an ultimatum so much as you were finally clarifying for him something that he was confused about. Actually it was something he already believed, that you suggested could be different. It may just of been the only thing that made sense to him. I don't know what you changed about the ultimatum you gave, but I suspect it put him in a place of confusion again....

Really I think that if I were you I would tell him that you require him not to date any one but you and that you are sorry to confuse him. You can also tell him I think that if he would like to explore the possibility of poly because he really thinks he might be then you can do it together including talking about women he finds attractive, women that you think would work in your relationship and find a woman/situation that you both can accept so that he can continue to love one another?

This last statement has been based on how we conduct our relationship and in no way do I think that it works for everyone. But for what it's worth I hope it helps.
 
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LovingRadiance

Active member
Reading your post LadyMacbeth gave me one thought;

"I wonder if he even KNEW what he was looking for in this date?"

Followed by

"if he said it was no big deal either he didn't know, or he already decided to leave and is letting you down gently."

That was my gut reaction.

I tend to think the advice given prior to this post is invaluable and I don't have concrete advice to add, so I'll leave it at that for now.
 

LadyMacbeth

New member
I have so much gratitude for these responses. I will be talking with the bf this evening, and my approach is going to be radically different based on what you all have said. It has definitely helped me find a place of true compassion and love over licking my own wounds. Many thanks.
 

Macbeth

New member
I also want to thank everyone for the responses here. I've been trying hard to be objective about this situation, and truly understand where he's coming from. I can definitely see where a lot of the confusion springs from in this case.

The levels of interaction that each relationship brings to a poly 'tribe' (which I'm sure I'm not using in the typical sense) is staggering to be sure.
 

MonoVCPHG

New member
Hats off for the support you give both of them Macbeth. You're a great example.

Take care
 
C

Ceoli

Guest
I would add that perhaps it would be helpful for him if you guys were to start discussing what the future of your relationship would look like. The fact is that if he is indeed mono and unable to be anything else, he would have to have a clear understanding of what he gains and what he would have to give up when pursuing a relationship with you. There's a hard truth that if he's mono, he'd have to give up a lot to stay in that relationship.

However, if he's starting to explore the possibility of not being mono, then it also makes sense to discuss what that relationship could develop into. I honestly don't really know "how mono" this guy is, but I don't think that monogamy has to prevent him from understanding the poly boundaries you want.

Either way, you brought it down to the clear question: Does he want to explore staying with you while being in other relationships or does he want to find a lifelong partnership to replace the one you're building. Both of these are fair ways to move forward, it just seems he needs to figure out for himself a bit more of what he really wants. And it's completely right of you to be clear that you do not want to be a placeholder for relationships in his life. Either he commits to this type of relationship with you or he doesn't. Giving him as clear a picture as possible about what a relationship with you can be and can't be will help him figure that stuff out.
 

redpepper

New member
Good point Ceoli. I think that might be what your boyfriend might be thinking of. What is the reasons to stay or not stay with you. Perhaps he also wanted to see how he felt about another woman that he is interested in too, in that train of thought.

Isn't there a thread on what monos get out of poly relationships?
 
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rosevett

New member
LadyMacbeth ~ hope your discussion last night went well. I was lead to this thread I believe since we are going through as similiar situtation with my bf of almost 3 years; this is his first true 'run at dating' and he BLEW IT..ok my opinion..we are communicating through it with much of the advice that I have seen here; thank you everyone for sharing!

Hi Lady,
Some thoughts on this and more..........
If you think about this, it seems to me this is pretty stereotypical dating behavior for the mono world - which is obviously where he comes from (and still is to a large degree). Maybe you should rethink your expectations. You really are more in the role of a teacher at this point than an equal. Make sense ?
GS

I do want to mention to GS that as much as I know what you said here is true when feelings are hurt and exposed, for whatever reason it's hard to be both the 'scorned lover' and counsel.

I give much credit to my mindset for open communication to allow me to not want to kick the cheating bastard out(sarcasim)...because as much as we have communicated and learned in the last three years, as much as I though he really understood the ground rules obviously there is still something we missed.

Hugz and best wishes - Elaine
 
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redsirenn

New member
"dating"

Hi,May I offer another perspective?

It is possible that he is also seeing this relationship as new still, and is dating around, just as many people do in our society. Asking him if he is ready to commit to your lifestyle or find his own way right now might be a huge undertaking for someone. It is possible that he simply wants to date you in the way that he would date others... In the dating world, this isn't strange, but healthy...

So - Clarifying that you'd like to know that he has other dates would be great. he might just not be used to that level of honesty - hence the cancelling of your date and the secrecy (but he did admit it once you asked - once again the level of honesty he is used to in the dating situation)

My suggestion is for both of you to come a little more to the middle to understand each other's situations. Instead of "training" him to act in a certain way, or vice versa. He might just not want that training if he doesn't even know if he wants the lifestyle.

get my drift?
 

LadyMacbeth

New member
Updates

Thanks so much for the amazing support. I have had a very emotionally turbulent 72 hours, but the GOOD news is that my boyfriend and I are still together, love one another more now than before, and understand each other's suffering more than before. I love my husband more than before, and have found out several areas of personal growth that need to happen on my own part. It was just too bad it had to be so difficult! But, I know that's the life I have chosen in this, and he is very worth it to me and I am worth it to him.

A great deal that occurred had to do with misunderstandings on my part, followed by assumptions about what everything meant. First, I had to apologize because I realized that the "date" I thought I had with my boyfriend had not ever been confirmed anywhere other than my own brain...that was hard to admit but I did. Secondly, I had to admit that I jumped to huge conclusions about what his intentions were in the date. (Which, after I found out what actually happened...a facebook friend asked if he wanted to get a cup of coffee and he agreed) was not an intention to seek a lifetime exclusive partner! Now, we both agree that there were completely valid reasons that I might have seen it that way based on the communication, but my head took it to galaxies that it never needed to go.

The good that has come from the situation is that we now understand each other's deepest insecurities and emotions in a way that probably wouldn't have been possible without going through it. And...he has opened up to actually learning and reading about poly, something that he has been closed to before.

In the past, when I have asked him about his needs, he has been cursory in his responses. He might say, "to be respected" etc. He was able to tell me that he has believed that up to this point he has had no say in anything regarding this relationship and has felt he has to "take whatever is offered and try to be happy with it." To clarify...that is in no way how my husband and I operate, but he had initial faulty assumptions that the primary/secondary model involving the primaries setting all rules and parameters was the ONLY kind of poly relationship. We couldn't clarify, because I didn't know he thought that. The issue is, because my hubbie and I are new at this too, we didn't know we were giving off that vibe. So...when he would call and say, "hey, you want to do some second hand shopping together" and I would say, "that would be awesome, let me check in with hubbie," he made understandable assumptions that permission was being sought. When he was extremely ill and felt horribly lonely and depressed, he hadn't realized he could call me to come be with him...since it wasn't a previously discussed time. List goes on.

So...when I explained that anything and everything could be brought to the table and discussed, it made a big difference. He explained that feeling like a "secondary" was humiliating for him and destroys his self esteem and so he's had to wonder if there is any way to do this, no matter how much he loves me, and to maintain his own sense of identity. And, of course, he doesn't know yet and is now willing to try to see. He had assumed when I had previously tried to give him things to read about poly or suggested he review this site, it was my way of helping him be more comfortable with "the way things are" rather than "learning how things might be."

Anyway, thanks for the support all!

Lady Macbeth
 

redpepper

New member
It sounds like you are on a new plateau of your relationship! That's awesome!

The whole secondary thing is so tricky for those in it. So much to work out. It sounds like you are and that it took going through some stuff to come out in a different realm.

Hope to hear some stuff from your boyfriend maybe? I know Mono loves it when he know he isn't the only one in his situation.
 

StitchwitchD

New member
He was able to tell me that he has believed that up to this point he has had no say in anything regarding this relationship and has felt he has to "take whatever is offered and try to be happy with it." To clarify...that is in no way how my husband and I operate, but he had initial faulty assumptions that the primary/secondary model involving the primaries setting all rules and parameters was the ONLY kind of poly relationship. ...He explained that feeling like a "secondary" was humiliating for him and destroys his self esteem and so he's had to wonder if there is any way to do this, no matter how much he loves me, and to maintain his own sense of identity. And, of course, he doesn't know yet and is now willing to try to see. He had assumed when I had previously tried to give him things to read about poly or suggested he review this site, it was my way of helping him be more comfortable with "the way things are" rather than "learning how things might be."

That's pretty similar to how I felt and reacted when I was first in a secondary (well, officially not even a secondary, just with considerable life-entanglement) relationship, I didn't feel like I had any ground to stand on to ask for anything, I was just terrified she'd change her mind about the whole thing.

Since then, I've been dating a man whose wife's boyfriend lives with them, and I see how that works and how the boyfriend fits into their household, and has both rights and responsibilities- and that he isn't constantly walking on eggshells for fear that his girlfriend's husband will demand she end it. Oh, and he's officially her boyfriend, not just a roommate, except to relatives or co-workers or other people who they just don't want to explain the whole thing too.
 

indigo

New member
Macbeth and his Lady,

Remember that there is very little social modeling for these relationship structures so be gentle with yourselves as you move through your process. I am reminded again and again by my own experiences and by those of the community here just how dynamic these love relationships can be; just when I think I've got it nailed some new aspect appears :)


Congratulations for being such self aware people and for your willingness to confront prickly topics.

Not for the feint of heart this.
 
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