My partner feeling threatened

WestCoastRedhead

Active member
Hello lovely peeps!

In my other thread (Poly Mind, Mono Heart), I mentioned that I currently have a partner (long-distance), Pisces, in an EMN situation, and that since March, I have been looking to form a second relationship here in my own city. That hasn't been successful so far, so about a week ago, I decided maybe my approach was off, and to reassess things. I decided that I don't really *need* a second relationship now, but more just companionship and fun and activity buddies, and that if a romance sprang out of that, it was okay. To essentially just relax about things and not try so hard. I told my partner this, and he agreed it made sense.

Not even 24 hours later, I was on a dating app, and a new person fell into my lap unexpectedly, as tends to happen with me when I relax about things and let things happen. I met up up with this new person, let's call him Ulysses, last Thursday, and we hit it off almost instantly. Like crazy so good. Now, I tend to move more slowly when I'm getting to know someone, but sometimes the chemistry is instant and I'm kissing the person on that first date. It's only happened a handful of times, and Pisces knows that, as I told him. However, the speed of this connection seems to have upset him. He says it's 'out of character' for me, but it's not, he just hasn't really noticed it before. Truth be told, he and I were fast and intense in our connection, first online, then in person when we finally met (we were naked together within 48 hours of meeting). With Ulysses, I met up with him Thursday, then hung out with him Friday night, and then again last night, in part because we really wanted to get to know each other, and partly because Pisces is due to come here this week, so I have to put my energy into him for two weeks, and let Ulysses be during that time.

I'm wondering if Pisces is feeling a bit blindsided because he is seeing this "NRE" from the outside this time, instead of being part of it. Now he is being grumpy/defensive when we do our video calls, and I am feeling like I am being punished for liking Ulysses a lot. I was transparent about all of it as it was progressing, and Pisces did tell me that I hadn't done anything wrong, but he is still upset. The few other guys I connected with, he wasn't threatened by, but he is upset about Ulysses.

Later today I will have a video chat with Pisces to see if we can make peace with this somehow, because now he is reconsidering his upcoming visit time with me later this week. I am pretty sure I'd be hurt and upset if he cancelled, because I don't think I've done anything wrong.

Thoughts?
Thanks.
 
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Let him have his feelings and cope with them. You can't control other people's feelings. You can create boundaries saying that you won't put up with certain actions. It can become oppressive when you try and police how people should feel. I know it seems like the way to ensure they have desirable actions, but it's rarely productive in the long term.
 
I'd ask myself if I should be supporting him at this time. As you have said, you haven't done anything wrong and yet he's choosing to distance himself in what you perceive as punishment.

It may be that he feels he can't communicate in a productive way at this time and therefore he thinks it best to take some time apart. That's a mature decision but is it a sustainable one for you? Is this going to be the way every time something is hard? Are you always going to feel punished regardless of his motivation?

These are all questions I ask myself about such situations. I also suggest you ask him because if he is acting out over superficial feelings, your serious response might call his bluff.
 
Hi WestCoastRedhead,

I don't think you've done anything wrong, I hope Pisces doesn't cancel his visit. It seems to me that he is being visited by a streak of jealousy; he does not like seeing you in such a state of NRE with Ulysses. The kind of support that Pisces wants is for you to stop liking Ulysses so much, and you can't do that. Which I think he knows, and that makes him even more jealous, and grumpy. He probably wants to punish you, even though he knows that would be wrong.

I hope he does some introspection.
Regards,
Kevin T.
 
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Hi WestCoastRedhead,

I don't think you've done anything wrong, I hope Pisces doesn't cancel his visit. It seems to me that he is being visited by a streak of jealousy; he does not like seeing you in such a state of NRE with Ulysses. The kind of support that your Pisces wants is for you to stop liking Ulysses so much, and you can't do that. Which I think he knows, and that makes him even more jealous, and grumpy. He probably wants to punish you, even though he knows that would be wrong.

I hope he does some introspection.
Regards,
Kevin T.
So I had a video call with Pisces just now. Something he brought up that was enlightening. In my thread "Poly Mind, Mono Heart", where I say that I have not yet experienced being in love with two people at the same time, but if I end up with a second partner, I can then determine that. His fear is that because I've not yet experienced that, that the situation with Ulysses could have me transition from being in love with Pisces, to being in love with Ulysses instead. A valid fear, I get that. I told him that as I don't know if I'm capable, the ONLY way for me to know for sure, is to actually TRY having two partners again, to see if I can be in love with them both.

He is going to come to see me, so that's good. We will have to have follow up conversations about this, of course...
 
His fear is that because I've not yet experienced that, that the situation with this new person could have me transition from being in love with him, to being in love with this new person instead. A valid fear, I get that.
That could happen even if you stay monogamous.
 
Hi WestCoastRedhead,

Would you say that you are in love with both Ulysses and Pisces at this time? Or do you need Pisces to come and see you, before you are ready to make that determination?

It seems that you may already have your answer.
Regards,
Kevin T.
 
Hi WestCoastRedhead,

Would you say that you are in love with both Ulysses and Pisces at this time? Or do you need Pisces to come and see you before you are ready to make that determination?

It seems that you may already have your answer.
Regards,
Kevin T.
It's way too early to have the heart "love" right now. Right now, after only a week, it's a sexual chemical, NRE endorphin high, not love. I'm in lust, not love. But Pisces is now seeing from the outside what I look like when in NRE with someone else that isn't him. I am sympathetic. Watching that can suck...
 
Mod hat-- Would you please consider using nicknames for your partner and new dating person instead of a generic word like partner or just an initial? It makes for easier reading, understanding and responses from members.

I am glad you found a new dating potential person! Let's see how it goes. Sometimes (often) initial compatibility/chemistry does not transition to long-term compatibility, because of personality clashes, values or just the logistics of time and place.

I try to tell myself that each time my (new to poly) bf starts dating someone new. He's had about 6 or 7 first dates with people since I've known him (almost 2 years), and a few second and third dates, but so far no one has really clicked. There is no need for me to gird my loins for feeling jealous, fearful, insecure, etc., but I still do haha

Oddly I never felt jealous much when my gf was in her dating mode. I think it's because I have trust issues around men, in general, starting with my dad, but also from exes.

Anyway, I hope Pisces gets the reassurance he needs when he comes to visit you, so you can continue to try out polyamory comfortably.
 
Mod hat-- Would you please consider using nicknames for your partner and new dating person instead of a generic word like partner or just an initial? It makes for easier reading, understanding and responses from members.

I am glad you found a new dating potential person! Let's see how it goes. Sometimes (often) initial compatibility/chemistry does not transition to long-term compatibility, because of personality clashes, values or just the logistics of time and place.

I try to tell myself that each time my (new to poly) bf starts dating someone new. He's had about 6 or 7 first dates with people since I've known him (almost 2 years), and a few second and third dates, but so far no one has really clicked. There is no need for me to gird my loins for feeling jealous, fearful, insecure, etc., but I still do haha

Oddly I never felt jealous much when my gf was in her dating mode. I think it's because I have trust issues around men, in general, starting with my dad, but also from exes.

Anyway, I hope Partner gets the reassurance he needs when he comes to visit you, so you can continue to try out polyamory comfortably.
Yes, I can definitely give them nicknames. :) Pisces for my partner, and Ulysses for the new "s" person.

Pisces arrives tonight, in a couple of hours. I am excited, but also nervous, as I've felt like I've been walking around on eggshells with him all week.

And Ulysses (rightly so) got grumpy with me that I hadn't told Pisces yesterday that I was dropping by Ulysses' place (last minute, spontaneous) after work yesterday for a hug and a drink. He feels that it's not right to not let the other person know, which I totally agree with. I normally share all the relevant information ahead of time, and put it in our shared calendar if it makes sense. I just didn't know how to share the last minute plan with Pisces when he was already feeling shaking (and far away), not knowing if it would make things better or worse. So now I have to tell him tonight, and it has me scared that he may now freak out for a new reason (me withholding when I normally do not).

Pisces and I haven't yet figured out how to communicate around last minute "dates" with other people yet, as this hasn't come up yet, oddly. I'm not sure how to approach it. He says he was triggered by how his ex wife would make these last minute plans and surprise him, so there is history there.
 
Yeah, this is tricky, for sure. One of the things my girlfriend (of 5 months) and I ended up dealing with is that I'm her first fully romantic/love person other than her current partner. She didn't know HOW to communicate what we were doing to her existing partner, and it threw him way off. She's so used to just doing a relationship without having to tell anyone else about everything that she didn't understand what needs to be shared versus kept private. To be fair, that's always a fine line because different people want different levels of info. But this is an important conversation to have. "What do you need to know to feel safe?"

As someone in the Ulysses role, it can feel like you are cheating, which is never the goal of poly (as you well know). I was assuming the whole time that her partner knew what we were up to, but that wasn't always the case. He'd find out after and think "wait, what happened?". Even if he was OK with it, the not knowing made him feel left out, and rightly so. Unfortunately, he overreacted to it a bit by going too far the other way "You need to talk to me before doing anything!" which becomes stifling. I think he's getting that now and is settling into better communciation patterns (in both directions). I'm still worried about the one big reveal that he hasn't had yet. I'm not sure he really gets that we are fully in love. In theory, he should be OK with that...but in practice, things aren't always so clean!

Sorry, sticking to your story, this is where meta-communication becomes super important. You have to have conversations about how to have conversations. I actually think this is a good skill for ANY relationship, but it's critical for poly. There needs to be clear lines of communication and as much clarity as possible about what/when to share information. At the same time, you need containers for each relationship so they can be their own things, too. It's a fine balance, and you should all forgive yourselves for mistakes along the way.
 
I have run into that kind of communication problem with Aries too. He is new to practicing polyamory. (Prior to meeting me, he was a serial monogamist, and he also cheated in those relationships from time to time. I don't hold the cheating against him, because I see him as a friendly outgoing extrovert with a high libido and a heart of gold. He just naturally likes to share himself between many people.)

Anyway, when we started dating, and he was also attempting to date others, some of those other women and I told him that his communication skills were lacking. He had trouble scheduling dates, springing a longer date (say a weekend-long date with someone else) on me. Or he'd think he told me something and hadn't. Or he defined "sex," "fooling around," and "hanky panky" differently than I did (or another woman did). There were several other conflicts.

Then, to be "transparent," he'd overshare details with me. He'd be on a date with someone else and give me a play-by-play-- now we're going out to breakfast, now we're getting in her hot tub, now I'm taking a shower, now we're making chicken soup. Things I didn't really need to know.

Now that it's been 2 years of this, we are almost finding a good balance between lack of communication and TMI!

On the other hand, my gf's communication skills have almost always been perfect for me, matching, comfortable, reassuring, even using humor properly to defuse nervous reactions. I think women are trained in our society on how to be honest and establish trust without oversharing.
 
That could happen even if you stay monogamous.
Sure, it definitely happens. But with poly, you're INVITING it to happen. Greatly increases chances.
 
Hello all,

Just an update. My main partner, Pisces, and I had an amazing 12 days together. We spoke early on to make sure he was feeling reassured and secure, and worked through ideas around communication of last minute plans, etc. All is very solid and loving with him.

As to the other guy, Ulysses - sadly, he just felt too spooked. I don't blame him for having trust in ENM so far, as his ex (a partner of a decade) did poly in unethical way, so he is feeling super wary. Sigh. Me being too transparent about what was going on in my other relationship, and my delay in telling Pisces about my time with Ulysses has bitten me in the behind. He was on the verge of walking away completely, but agreed to stay in touch with the idea of getting to know each other better, as people, as friends, and so we can build trust. I'm relieved but not terribly hopeful. I suspect he just isn't ready for this stuff yet, and suspect he has much healing to do first.
 
Yeah, this is tricky, for sure. One of the things my girlfriend (of 5 months) and I ended up dealing with is that I'm her first fully romantic/love person other than her current partner. She didn't know HOW to communicate what we were doing to her existing partner, and it threw him way off. She's so used to just doing a relationship without having to tell anyone else about everything that she didn't understand what needs to be shared versus kept private. To be fair, that's always a fine line because different people want different levels of info. But this is an important conversation to have. "What do you need to know to feel safe?"

As someone in the Ulysses role, it can feel like you are cheating, which is never the goal of poly (as you well know). I was assuming the whole time that her partner knew what we were up to, but that wasn't always the case. He'd find out after and think "wait, what happened?". Even if he was OK with it, the not knowing made him feel left out, and rightly so. Unfortunately, he overreacted to it a bit by going too far the other way "You need to talk to me before doing anything!" which becomes stifling. I think he's getting that now and is settling into better communciation patterns (in both directions). I'm still worried about the one big reveal that he hasn't had yet. I'm not sure he really gets that we are fully in love. In theory, he should be OK with that...but in practice, things aren't always so clean!

Sorry, sticking to your story, this is where meta-communication becomes super important. You have to have conversations about how to have conversations. I actually think this is a good skill for ANY relationship, but it's critical for poly. There needs to be clear lines of communication and as much clarity as possible about what/when to share information. At the same time, you need containers for each relationship so they can be their own things, too. It's a fine balance, and you should all forgive yourselves for mistakes along the way.
Even if my mistake has now cost me a possible new relationship? Sigh...
 
Hello all,

Just an update. My main partner, Pisces, and I had an amazing 12 days together. We spoke early on to make sure he was feeling reassured and secure, and worked through ideas around communication of last minute plans, etc. All is very solid and loving with him.

As to the other guy, Ulysses - sadly, he just felt too spooked. I don't blame him for having trust in ENM so far, as his ex (a partner of a decade) did poly in unethical way, so he is feeling super wary. Sigh. Me being too transparent about what was going on in my other relationship, and my delay in telling Pisces about my time with Ulysses has bitten me in the behind. He was on the verge of walking away completely, but agreed to stay in touch with the idea of getting to know each other better, as people, as friends, and so we can build trust. I'm relieved but not terribly hopeful. I suspect he just isn't ready for this stuff yet, and suspect he has much healing to do first.
Aww, I'm sorry Ulysses got spooked. It does sound like he hasn't healed enough from how his ex dealt with polyamory and now you're suffering the consequences. I hope he does more work around this. And I hope you have also learned from your mistakes. We can't expect to become perfect polyamorists overnight!

Have you read the book Opening Up? It is very helpful. It covers just about every situation that could crop up with ENM. (Just note that it is a bit outdated in some social aspects, since it came out in 2008.)
 
Aww, I'm sorry Ulysses got spooked. It does sound like he hasn't healed enough from how his ex dealt with polyamory and now you're suffering the consequences. I hope he does more work around this. And I hope you have also learned from your mistakes. We can't expect to become perfect polyamorists overnight!

Have you read the book Opening Up? It is very helpful. It covers just about every situation that could crop up with ENM. (Just note that it is a bit outdated in some social aspects, since it came out in 2008.)
No, I haven't read it yet, though I know of it. I have read More Than Two, and PolySecure, and have the Poly ToolKit book. I might have Opening Up in my e-library.
 
Hi WestCoastRedhead,

Thanks for that update. I'm sorry that things are rocky with Ulysses right now, although I'm also glad that you had a good visit with Pisces. I hope you and Ulysses can develop a good friendship with each other, and that maybe someday it can be more than that.

Regards,
Kevin T.
 
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