Poly Journalizing!

madgrey

New member
Hi there! I've been discussing stuff over in the Introductions thread, but I think it's time to start a journal.

I don't want to start this with the ghosting/relationship stuff, though--it's getting to me today, and I'd rather not dwell on it more than I have, for now. I'll go there later.

I'd rather start on a more positive note: what my life looks like, generally, and where I'd like to see it go.

So. My husband (hereinafter "Vino") and I have been together for 23 years. We've been poly for about a decade. I have a professional dayjob career, so in the past, we've been guarded about our poly status. The somewhat-unfortunate result is that I rarely meet other partners (I've had four over the last decade), and they usually evolve from friendships, which isn't always an ideal match.

For a while, I thought I was demi, but now I'm pretty sure it's just an effect of being closeted poly. It leads to less-than-ideal matches and lots of awkward half-assery.

My hope, going forward, is to be more up-front and open about my relationship style--like, freely admit I'm poly in basically any non-work social situation, the way any mono person would note that they're dating. I'd also like to feel more secure expressing interest in other poly/enm people; I tend to be a little rejection-phobic. I really want kitchen-table poly, ideally, but at a minimum, I want waaaaaaay better communication than I've had in my most recent relationships. (Like, any communication at all would be nice, if you've been reading my Intro thread. Heh.)

Basically, I'm done stumbling into relationships with friends who have wholly mismatched expectations. From now on, I want to do this with a sense of intentionality, and if there's mutual interest, clearly communicate my needs and boundaries from the get-go.

(That said, I'm old enough that dating apps scare the bejeezus out of me.)
 

icesong

Member
You’re only a smidge older than me and I’ve met all my partners except Knight through apps (or re-met them that way...) - I used to recommend OKCupid for this stuff because there was a lot more text and a lot less swiping, but that’s not entirely true anymore. Still, it’s better than Tinder as far as I can tell...
 

madgrey

New member
Couple thoughts for today.

FIRST. A bit of a plot twist involving a red flag in my relationship with Tom. He had an ex with borderline personality disorder--she dropped him, very abruptly. When he and I got involved, they hadn't spoken in a year and a half.

He seemed...exceptionally fond of her. Soulmate-style fondness. But she seemed like a stable, successful person, and Tom always had wonderful things to say about her. He also assured me he wouldn't drop me if she came back into his life. So the insecurity was all mine.

However. I've learned through friends that the ex has been on Twitter repeatedly expressing thoughts of suicide. Tom is the sort who would definitely swoop in to "rescue," if that's the case. I don't know if or how that plays into him cutting me off. After this many months of silence, it's really none of my business, and I definitely do NOT want to be insensitive toward anyone suffering through complications of serious mental illness. But she does not sound stable at the moment, and I have to wonder whether someone with poorly managed BPD is capable of handling the emotional labor and self-control that poly requires.

She also has an objectively huge Twitter following, and part of me wonders how bad things could get if she felt jealous of my relationship with Tom and "split" me into the bad guy category.

Maybe I dodged a bullet. I don't know.

It still hurts.

(Okay, it really fucking hurts. I love him and I miss him. The feeling is definitely fading, but it's gonna be a long, bumpy road.)

SECOND (and this is better news): a cute guy friend-requested me on beyondtwo.com. He's local and based on his profile, he checks a lot of my boxes regarding relationship expectations. He also seems creative and intelligent.

My shy side has kicked in, though, so it's gonna take a few hours (at least) before I get up the nerve to send him a message. 😊
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Wow, I wonder if Tom's ex is the very reason why Tom ghosted on you. Like either she offered to get back together with him (monogamously) and he jumped at the chance, or she started talking about suicide and he then turned all his attention on her. Who knows!

Congrats on that cute guy showing interest in you. Don't be shy, send him a message!
 

madgrey

New member
Okay. I sent the cute guy a message. Let's see if he replies.

Que sera sera.

**twitches with anxiety**
 

madgrey

New member
Short update.

Found a poly-friendly therapist! I've been looking for one for a while, with no luck--everyone's been booked solid. The first session went really well, although it did leave me missing Tom much more than before. I think it was just a product of thinking about him for the session--I spent a few hours wondering if he vanished because of something I said or did, and really dwelling on those thoughts more than I'd like.

I feel better today, though. So maybe the bad feels just needed to come out.

Still love him. Still miss him. Moving toward acceptance, though, and Vino is being superbly patient with me about it.

I've started a friendship-only convo with someone from Polymatchmaker, which is nice. I very much hope the conversation continues. I'm pretty introverted, but nevertheless, covid has me seriously under-socialized, and I miss having someone to email throughout the day.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Yeah, Covid sucks! I'm glad you were able to start seeing a poly-friendly therapist.
 

annabelle

Member
I had some really bad experiences trying to discuss my relationship with Winter and Space Cadet back in triad/V days and since. I encountered a lot of judgment about me, i.e. that I should 'leave their family alone' or that I placed no value on myself. More than one wanted to discontinue counseling me for 'no progress' meaning I didn't take their advice to leave or ghost them. I was going through some difficult times and was really trying to make sense of my feelings of being hidden, jealousy, and 'secondary' to the marital relationship in terms of rights/etc. Also, support with exploring my sexuality and discussing any kink was sometimes frowned upon. I have been pretty limited by drs in my insurance which are pretty much a conventional lot.

I have suffered from major depressions in the past, SAD, anxiety in the past, and eventually I just stopped trying to see a therapist, in favor of med management provider only, because it was just making me more stressed. I tend to be pretty easily influenced when I make myself vulnerable, which I do quite a lot by choice, and found myself making decisions to please them then.

I also had not discovered this community and all the resources here. I've felt so alone before this.

It didn't occur to me until recently that there are poly/kink friendly therapists especially now with all the telehealth options. It's on my lists of to-do when I can budget it as I'll probably need to self-pay. Blah. 😒

Have you tried to discuss poly relationships or issues with any mono-centric therapists before?
 

madgrey

New member
Have you tried to discuss poly relationships or issues with any mono-centric therapists before?

So...the therapist thing. This will be longwinded, in part to answer your question, and in part because I kinda want to talk about it anyway.

I'm lucky in two respects: first, I have insurance with strong mental health benefits, and second, I've had VERY good experiences addressing anxiety-related issues through therapy. So I knew 100% that if I could find a poly-friendly therapist, it would be worth it.

THAT SAID. My previous therapists were (mostly) mono-centric. I think. Here's a breakdown of my previous experiences:

Therapist #1 (about a decade ago) was an excellent match for my needs, especially for CBT and anxiety, and was also very thoroughly queer-friendly (an important factor for me). She politely pointed out that poly was probably not a great idea, given my anxiety issues at the time. I was young and stubborn, so I ignored her and just didn't talk about my poly relationships with her. I considered her mono-centric at the time, but now, I think maybe she was truly looking out for my well-being. I was new to poly and I didn't know the poly-specific potholes very well; I did end up stumbling on them repeatedly, and I did end up getting hurt, and it did make my anxiety much worse.

Therapist #2 (about five years ago) was a good match for my anxiety needs and was queer-friendly, though I wouldn't say as "expert" at either as the previous gal. I hid poly from this therapist for a long time. At one point, though, I became interested in a friend and I raised the topic with her. She told me, firmly, that all the poly people she knew were emotionally fucked up from it, and that it was a bad idea. So I dropped the matter. (I approached the friend and he turned me down, and after that I backed away from poly for a number of years).

Therapist #3. Oh boy. I contacted this one in May, I think? I was collapsing emotionally over a number of things--covid, the anniversary of my father's death, Tom vanishing from my life--and I badly needed a poly-friendly therapist. I found this gal through my insurance coverage list. During our first call she asked what I needed help with, and I basically sobbed my way through the subsequent hour. At the end, she told me I'd brought this on myself for getting involved with a man who wasn't my husband. So yeah. About as poly-unfriendly as it gets. (I hung up on her, then cried all over Vino for hours.)

I almost gave up, but I've been working on not just "date your species" but also "hang out with your species," so I happened to have a poly friend who gave me a looooong list of poly-friendly therapists in her area (not mine, alas) who could do video sessions. I was prepared to pay out-of-pocket, if I had to. None of them had openings, but they were kind and sympathetic and gave me other leads.

I ended up finding my current therapist on the Psychology Today directory, by searching for LGBT-friendly therapists who could handle anxiety disorders. I also casually looked for ones who did sex therapy, since I figured they'd be more open-minded about, y'know, sex. I also mostly avoided therapists who specified a religious preference, but I especially avoided Christian therapists (apologies to anyone who's Christian reading this--it's not personal, I promise) because I didn't anyone who subscribed to that mono-normative paradigm. I found a few MFTs who took my insurance, and I called them, and this gal had openings.

She's been great. I've been open about Tom and about my past relationships. She hasn't flinched. She believes me when I tell her my relationship with Vino is solid, and doesn't read my desire for other relationships as a flaw in my relationship with him. She hasn't questioned or challenged my feelings for Tom; she's taken my love for him and my hurt at face value, and is helping me move past it.

Which is lovely. And is worth the utter PITA of finding her.

I was going through some difficult times and was really trying to make sense of my feelings of being hidden, jealousy, and 'secondary' to the marital relationship in terms of rights/etc.

Yeah. I mentioned this in your intro, I think, but I've been the hidden partner. I knew it was a DADT arrangement from the beginning, and I agreed to it and duly kept myself secret. Never called without texting first, only emailed a special address. Never acknowledged the relationship to anyone but Vino.

It was a shameful, lonely feeling. Like I was small and dirty and worthless.

I won't agree to that ever again. I want partners who can love me out loud, and are confident, communicative, and kind enough to work through any issues. I treat my metamours well, abide by their boundaries, and look after their feelings; I expect the same in return.

I don't think that's an unreasonable expectation for anyone.
 

madgrey

New member
A quick followup thought on something I wrote last night....
At the end, she told me I'd brought this on myself for getting involved with a man who wasn't my husband. So yeah. About as poly-unfriendly as it gets. (I hung up on her, then cried all over Vino for hours.)

For me, this is super bad news, when I "fall" all over Vino like this. Lately, it only happens when I'm deeply hurt. But for the first decade or so of our relationship, I depended totally and solely on him for emotional support. And I saw that as a trait of a healthy relationship.

It wasn't.

I blame mono-normative ideas of romance.

Learning to self-soothe has been essential. And I'm trying to get better about relying on other poly friends, rather than Vino, when a relationship fails. He shouldn't have to clean up my another partner's mess.

But I do still slip into that behavior. I'm happy he felt comfortable drawing a boundary and asking me to seek support elsewhere this time, and I'm grateful for what support he has been able to offer without hurting himself.
 

madgrey

New member
A few updates.

(1) This particular breakup has been excruciating. I think because it was preceded by friendship, and that friendship seems to have collapsed into silence, too. Also, because of the timing--my household is isolating for family medical reasons, so I tend to sit inside and think. Which is super unhealthy.

And it definitely comes in waves. This week has been rough.

(2) I've been stupidly finding myself thinking maybe I'm just not as passionate or interesting as someone with borderline personality. I've always prided myself on managing my emotions well, even when I'm completely breaking down, and now I feel like that ability has lost me someone I loved. Maybe I should have called and yelled at Tom for ignoring me--believe me, I wanted to, especially at the beginning. Maybe if I'd done that, he would have acknowledged me.

But this thinking is very much a product of comparing myself with his ex (and coping with his apparent eagerness to respond to her, but not to me). And that's toxic and needs to stop ASAP.

(3) We've never had a veto arrangement, but Vino is...essentially vetoing me ever talking to Tom again. The idea of me trying to rekindle a friendship with Tom makes him extremely angry.

And fighting him on it is moot, tbh, because Tom hasn't been talking to me.

So we're going to have to have a talk at some point about whether we're doing the veto thing, or if this is just Vino's reaction to how deeply hurt I've over this particular relationship. (Which is partly a result of the circumstances. See above.) That talk's going to have to wait until the pandemic's over, I think. Neither of us has the stress bandwidth right now.

(4) Except...Vino is also talking about being DONE with poly forever.

Which I'm definitely not.

Another conversation for after the pandemic. Neither of us are dating right now anyway.

But usually Vino and I are on the same (or similar) wavelength about these things, and we tend to talk them out quickly when we're not. So this is another layer of heartache.

Summary: I'm hurting, and trying to keep that hurt concealed for Vino's benefit, but I'm also feeling like I'm somehow a cold passionless bitch for keeping my feelings to myself. UGH.

Like I said, this all comes in waves. Hoping it backs off next week. (Of course...things may be worse, depending on the US election. So.)
 

madgrey

New member
I have...very little to update? But I don't want to let this journal slide entirely. So.

I'm feeling much better lately, for assorted reasons. (*coughelectioncough*) I've widened my circle of friends quite a bit (online-only, for now) and I've been playing Among Us with a group of fellow writers. It's been seriously fucking fun.

I've set aside poly dating until the plague has ended. For one, Vino and I need to talk out our expectations a bit (see above). For two, most of the matches I was hitting wanted to meet up in person, and I can't do that--one of our children has medical issues and the risk just isn't worth it. We'll wait for the vaccine, reassess, and go from there.

I definitely have a couple secret crushes. But they're gonna stay secret for now.

In the meanwhile, I've been putting a lot of thought into what I expect from poly relationships. I've always had this amorphous wishlist in my head, along with a handful of potential dealbreakers--but I tend to get so caught up in learning everything about this new awesome person that I forget about those ideals and just...float on. (Because no one's perfect, right? And the whole concept of soulmates is fundamentally a load of crap.) I need to be more actively conscious of my hopes, expectations, and boundaries.

At some point I'd like to actually write out a "Naughty vs. Nice" list. In one column, things that are absolute dealbreakers at this point: DADT or secrecy. Veto powers. Wanting more children. Being very obviously hung up on an ex. In the other column, things I would prefer in a partner, but aren't absolutely necessary: getting along well with Vino, financial independence, love of the arts, desire to travel.

And then I'll keep that list somewhere I can refer to it often. :)
 
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