Negotiating Relationships

Neverwhere

New member
I need help as a new poly person in how to negotiate relationships.

I am in my first poly relationship and its an intense one. It's a distance relationship with someone living with a nesting partner of two years and her husband and their (her and husbands) kids. It's an intense dynamic to enter into and I was always so accommodating and respectful of that. I guess my fear is that I wind up secondarying myself (we have no hierarchy) because I am too concerned about their dynamic and not stepping on toes that I sacrifice my own feelings and needs.

This was made worse a few weeks ago when my meta, who I thought I got o nsuper well with, freaked out one weekend when partner was away and opened up to me about her jealousy. She wasnt just jealous of my relationship with partner, but of my relationshops with our poly support/friends group and what semed like everything about me. She said she was worried he was going to love me more and never want to go back to her. I tried to be kind and help talk to her about it, but it made it worse. She started instructing me on how to be poly and how i couldnt expect too myuch from partner, that i was used to mono and it was natural, that i was free to seek connections outside of him etc. Honestly, I was angry. It was insulting and there were a lot of assumptions made when she knows nothing about me or my connections.

It's all been sorted since. Partner was so mad, expected me to break up with him. He told me that it wasnt true and everything is fine and im really reasonable and dont ask for too much and although I've gotten over the anger, the words are still in my head and make me really insecure all the time.

I now don't know how to negotiate our relationship or communicate about some things. We have discussed it in the past loosely - like minimum once a week call, once a month visits etc but it feels like they aren't really enforced sometimes. We don't have set times where we spend time together in advance etc. A few times, I ask for what i need (which can be hard for me) and he just forgets. I've kind of learned the housees routine and all the times they do stuff together or standing daily times they spend together etc. Yesterday, he communicated wanted to talk more because we hadn't been able to as much. I said i really missed hearing his voice and could we voice note that evening IF he had time. He said he did, set up the time, told me had until 9pm (it was 6,30) and then disappeared and didnt check anything before resurfacing at 8 to say he was going to watch a movie with the household.

I was really hurt by that. I think he could tell, and i diplomatically tried to explain without getting upset. He offered to bail on the movie, but i felt uncomofortable and said no. Meta was just super in my head and i felt uncomfortable. I know im solo poly and pandemic makes it hard to do or see anyone, sometimes i do struggle ab it and get lonely. I didnt really want to talk to him about it because I wanted to try and get my own thoughts in order and deal with my own emotional shit. It did make me feel something verging on jealousy for the first time though, and jealousy isnt really something i experience much.

I just dont know what is okay to ask for or expect. I feel like maybe we havent negotiated our relationship enough - we're so on the same page for the most part maybe he felt it not necessary? I don't know what it is I'm able to ask for. I don't ask for a lot and i dont expect everything. I am someone who needs quality time to feel connected.

Any help on how to establish dynamics or negotiate relationships is really appreciated. I feel like if I'm not able to work it out and get metas words out of my head I'll just double down on accomodating and disappear or wind up resentful because I am not communicating my own needs or getting my needs met.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello Neverwhere,

Sorry about the delay in responding to your post. Your first five posts are in moderated mode, and it can take awhile for them to get posted. I hope you'll be patient during that process, I for one am sympathetic toward your situation, and want to help.

It sounds like you are in a situation where your voice is getting squashed, due to your meta's unreasonable jealousy, and your partner's tendency to forget about you, your needs, and his agreements with you. You need to speak up for yourself. Do not become a doormat.

Think of it this way. What if you had a friend who was in exactly the same situation? What would you suggest to this friend? Would you suggest that she walk on eggshells, forget about her needs until she was either super unhappy or simply left the relationship because it hurt so bad?

Hell no! You'd tell that friend to stand up for herself, to make her needs known, and to not let her meta push her around. And that's what I would suggest. Next time your partner disappears for over an hour, only to tell you he's going to watch a movie with the household, you tell him that's not acceptable!

Your meta's jealousy should not really be your problem, that's something she should be working out with your partner, and with herself. When your partner makes a commitment to you, like say to call you at a certain time, he should stick to that commitment, no matter what your meta says. He can work that out with her later.

I hope you can get your meta's words out of your head.
With sympathy,
Kevin T.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I'm sorry you struggle. I hope you feel better for airing out some.

I mean this kindly, ok? :eek:

I think you are making this harder than it needs to be on you.

Go ahead and take up the space you do in the world. You are allowed. You don't have to keep shrinking yourself so much. That seems to be the core problem coloring the other three problems I see. Along with anger.

Any help on how to establish dynamics or negotiate relationships is really appreciated. I feel like if I'm not able to work it out and get metas words out of my head I'll just double down on accommodating and disappear or wind up resentful because I am not communicating my own needs or getting my needs met.

Could put that on top as firm statements to yourself and align you behavior toward them.

  • I will communicate my own needs so my needs have a chance at getting met. People are not mind readers.
  • I will not put other people ahead of me and accommodate them so much I get resentful I'm always putting me last on the list.

Let me repeat back what I understand in my own words so I know I got it how you meant it. I quote just to visually block it off. Blue is mine. I am guessing on some. I might guess wrong. You correct me, ok?

PEOPLE

  • You live at your place.
  • Your partner lives with his other partner, her husband, their kids.

BACKGROUND

  • I am too concerned about their dynamic and not stepping on toes over at that household.
  • So I sacrifice my own feelings and needs.
  • I wind up "secondarying myself" even though we do not practice hierarchical poly.

I do not like this behavior. I am going to work on...

  • Start telling my partner I need regular date times.
  • Start saying “No” to meta weird and start keeping better personal boundaries?
  • Stop being “too nice”?
  • Stop taking other people stuff on board for myself?
  • Something else? A combo of stuff?

(what behaviors would you list to start/stop doing?)



PROBLEM #1 Meta Freak Out

  • Thing: Meta freaked out.
  • Behavior: I tried to be kind and help talk to her about it.
  • Result: I feel crap after listening to her dumping. Now I have a hard time shaking her words from my head. I'm letting it color my other choices later.

Next time:

You could tell her “Meta, I'm sorry. I'm not the right person for this. Can I go get someone for you? Call someone for you? ”

Then you are being kind to her. AND being kind to YOU rather than setting you up for a big unload of wacky that makes you feel ugh later.


META STUFF

  • She is jealous of my relationship with our shared partner.
    • (She could talk to shared partner about her concerns over in their dyad)
  • She is jealous of my relationships with our poly support/friends group
    • (She could improve her own relationships with the group.)
  • She is jealous of what seems like everything about me.
    • (She could work on herself. Ex: If she's jealous you draw or paint better and she wants those skills? She could sign up for online art lessons.)
  • She is worried he was going to love me more and never want to go back to her.
    • (If she needs him to reassure her, she could ask him for that herself.)

This is all HER stuff to sort out, not yours. You don't have to advise her to do it either. I just put that there there so YOU can see this is not anything that is YOUR job to fix for her. Her baggage = her stuff. Even if she asks you for help? If you think it is too weird? You can say "No, thank you.
I am not able to do that."


PROBLEM #2 Meta giving me unsolicited advice and intruding in my dyad

  • She started instructing me on how to be poly
  • how i couldn't expect too much from partner
  • that i was used to mono and it was natural, that i was free to seek connections outside of him etc.

Listening to that stuff made me feel....

  • angry
  • insulted
  • annoyed she's assuming stuff about me when she doesn't know anything about me.

Behavior: I told her nothing at the time. (???)

Result: Now I'm mad and carrying it around my head because I don't know how to process my anger in the moment or after. (???)

Suggestion:

Express your anger here or to a safe person that is NOT in this poly network.

Decide to speak up promptly and exercise better personal boundaries next time.

You could have said.

“Meta, I have not asked for your polyshipping advice at this time. This is unsolicited. I prefer you not do that behavior. In this area, you don't need to worry yourself for my sake."

State your personal boundaries. Then get up and leave the room/hang up .


PROBLEM #3 BF stood you up and you don't know if it is reasonable to be mad


  • You have a hard time telling BF your needs. You manage to tell him that you miss talking.
  • He sets up a date, but then stood you up.
  • He apologizes and offers to do it now and just miss family movie night.
  • You say no, putting the other house ahead of you again. Without addressing your own needs.

Suggestion:

Next time?

Say "YES, date now." To get your own need for connection met now. You assume he would not even offer solutions that are not workable to him.

Or say "No, not now. I'm mad at being stood up now. I need time and space to process that first. But yes to setting a new appointment date before hanging up. I am free on ____. " So your need to cool off gets met and your need to have a date night soon also gets met.

The running theme under all that seems to be anger to me.

Do you know how to be angry? Express healthy anger? It's like you stuff it away or put it aside and then are worried about becoming resentful (angry with your own self) later on.

I just dont know what is okay to ask for or expect.

You asking for time together with your partner like a phone date during pandemic is totally reasonable.

You being annoyed when he agrees and sets a date up and then he goes and stands you up? That's reasonable.

I feel like maybe we havent negotiated our relationship enough - we're so on the same page for the most part maybe he felt it not necessary?

Are you actually on the same page naturally? Or because you sort of bend yourself around everyone else? :confused:

If YOU need to get on the same page with him you could say...

"BF, I think we need to get on the same page with expectations in this relationship. When can we talk? "

Then tell him what you expect from a dating partner.

  • I expect regular date nights, adjusted for pandemic.
  • I expect you to show up on time and not stand me up without giving good reason. Emergencies like (list them) are forgiveable.
  • I expect safer sex practices like...
  • whatever else.

What do you want in a poly partners? How do you expect to be treated? List it.
He can do same. What he expects from a dating partner. Then you both talk and sort out what is doable and what is not in pandemic and then what can "turn on" once pandemic is calmer in your area.

"Relationship" to me implies some relating two-way street conversation going on. So I encourage you to talk to each other. Get on the same page. Articulate the stuff so you can both be clear.

I don't know what it is I'm able to ask for. I don't ask for a lot and i dont expect everything. I am someone who needs quality time to feel connected.

Why don't you ask for stuff? You can ask anything. The other person will either say "ok, yes" or "no thanks."

Why don't you articulate your expectations? I think it would be a pretty good guess if I say you probably have an expectation that your BF won't rob you and steal all your money. Right?

If you value quality time? Then that is one of the things you ask for. You ask for regular quality time and you set up some regular date nights (pandemic adjusted).

Deal with yourself and with your ACTUAL dating partner. You and him are here in the (you + BF) dyad.

Put down the "ghost words of meta" floating around in your head. She is not in the (you + partner) dyad. You don't need that clouding the view.

You don't need to carry her baggage around. She can choose to carry it around herself and do nothing. Or she can choose to sort that out over there in the (BF + meta) dyad. Nothing to do with you.

You have enough baggage of your own to carry, unpack, sort out. Maybe focus more on making your load lighter so you can be happier rather than piling on more stuff, esp stuff from other people that doesn't even belong here in your suitcase?

I hope you talk to your partner and clear the air some and get more on the same page.

I hope you learn to express yourself more, figure out how to handle healthy anger, and TAKE UP MORE SPACE.

You don't have to be shrinking yourself. You don't overexpand yourself step on people's toes.

But it's totally ok to take up your fair share of space. The space that you take up in the world! And be picky about what goes in your "suitcase" that you are gonna carry around. Pack light. And don't carry stuff for other people.

HTH!
Galagirl
 
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breathemusic

Active member
Sounds like your partner is bad at time management. If it's important to you to have a certain amount of dedicated time, ask him to be willing to schedule it, and really schedule it. Put it in his calendar, set an alarm or reminder, and be willing to commit to that time that he has agreed to.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
I hope you talk to your partner and clear the air some, and get more on the same page. I hope you learn to express yourself more, figure out how to handle healthy anger, and TAKE UP MORE SPACE. You don't have to shrink yourself.

You should not overly expand yourself, and step on people's toes. But it's totally OK to take up your fair share of space! Be picky about what goes in your "suitcase" that you carry around. Pack light. Don't carry other people's stuff.

This is simple advice, but it can be hard to do. It should be repeated.

My counselor once told me, "It's OK to ask for what you want." It's funny, but women are often brainwashed into thinking it's not OK to ask for what we want, or to even tell people what we like.

This takes practice, but it gets easier the more you do it.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
My counselor once told me, "It's OK to ask for what you want." It's funny, but women are often brainwashed into thinking it's not OK to ask for what we want, or to even tell people what we like.

This takes practice, but it gets easier the more you do it.

Yup. Keeps life a whole lot simpler too.

I'd like to think it's better today for my kids but growing up? There was still so much of that -- women going to passive communication because simply being assertive/direct in communication wasn't always encouraged.

Galagirl
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
I'd like to think it's better for kids today, but when I was growing up there was still so much of that: women using passive communication, because simply being assertive and direct in communication wasn't encouraged.

My ex husband is male, but was raised to be very passive in his communication. (So then, he became passive aggressive. Yay.)

He still does that! When we discuss our adult kids, if there is a disagreement of some kind, he says to me, "Don't make her wrong," if I disagree with our daughter or want to offer any kind of personal viewpoint. It drives me nuts! I can't "make anyone wrong." What does that even mean? Will I destroy their self esteem if I have a different viewpoint? Apparently, according to him, you have to unobtrusively pretend to agree with someone, while working underground somehow to get your point across. That's a rural PA upbringing for you.

I've called him out on this expression, but he still says it: "Don't make her wrong."
 

MeeraReed

Active member
OP, you sound very thoughtful and kind!

But now you need to learn how to stand up for yourself better. Here is one sentence of yours that stood out to me:

"I was really hurt by that. I think he could tell, and i diplomatically tried to explain without getting upset."

If there is one piece of advice I would give my younger self, it would be GET UPSET. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SHOW THAT YOU ARE UPSET WHEN YOU ARE UPSET.

Instead of trying to tamp down your anger & hurt feelings, SHOW those feelings.

I am like you; showing my negative feelings is very hard for me. (I am solo poly also). Sometimes it's easier in writing/IMs rather than talking or in person. Even using harsh language, in a written form, has helped me. For example, "I am pissed off that you forgot our date. It made me feel like shit." Contrary to what I was taught growing up, SHOWING strong feelings actually gets a more positive response from others. Someone who cares about me won't want to make me feel like shit. (But if he doesn't know I feel like shit, he might not realize it's a problem.)

My partner(s) meet my needs better after I learned to express how strong my feelings are.
 
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