Pushing onward in the face of adversity

It's been a while since I've posted. I've struggled with time management, but I'm doing a bit better with that lately.

Even though I have some friends who know of my poly arrangement, I have sometimes felt very isolated and alone in my pursuit of poly. Some of this stems from how badly one of my brothers reacted to it, some of it from seeing my husband struggle with it, and also just not feeling comfortable coming out to some friends and family about it. I successfully came out to my other brother about it and he handled it infinitely better and has been understanding. A lot of my general friends know. Still, there are people I want to know about it, and I feel very apprehensive about losing respect in their eyes. Yet not telling them makes me feel like I'm lying to their faces and that doesn't set well with me either.

I know if my husband were in a happier place with this, I'd be far more confident in talking about it with others. I just know they will sense his discomfort and see me in less than a pleasant light because of it. I still feel there is a chance for my husband Y to be in a better place at some point, but in the meantime time drags on and I feel like I'm putting up some kind of facade. Probably at some point in the next five months will be the moment of truth for what my husband feels he can handle, and I'm hoping that regardless of the living arrangement that poly is still an option. I'm open to the idea of E not living with us if it makes Y happier, and I can still visit E.

I feel that I am trying to handle this with all parties' feelings in consideration, but I still feel like I'm just not that great of a person for wanting to be with two people. I struggled with this before poly and still do. I feel a lot of guilt still. Yet more than ever, I just want the three of us to live in some sort of harmony for a long time to come.

I'm having a hard time reconciling this with the philosophy of monogamy that I grew up with, and that I see prevalent in society. A little voice inside me tells me that I'm being harmful somehow with this.

I also feel guilty for choosing a secondary that frankly has difficulty with being well received by others. I think this is contributing to my husband's issues with being okay with this arrangement. E has rubbed Y's family the wrong way just by being himself and also being obviously enamored with me at the Christmas party we went to over a year ago. I'm concerned that if they knew of the poly they would see me in an even lesser light because of me choosing E, a person that they saw as possibly wanting to take me away from Y. I see the better side of him, but good luck on me explaining that to them.

I even wonder if I overplay E's better qualities because of the NRE bit, but I'm hoping the better parts of him will prevail in the long run. I guess time will tell.

I don't know. I wish I had been more able to visit this forum the last few months, because I feel less alone when I do. If I'm doing something ultimately harmful to the people I care about I want the clarity of mind to see that for what it is, and not have my insecurities of being an immoral being clouding my judgment. More than anything I want everyone to be in a happier place with me, despite my feelings for two people.

Anyhow, the purpose of all that, besides to vent, is to ask: have any of you struggled with these kinds of concerns, and if so, how did you deal with them?
 

Helo

New member
My coming to terms with being poly fell, essentially, on three key ideas. You can evaluate and discard/modify/adopt/torch as you see fit for your needs.

Point one, monogamy is, at its core, an authoritarian relationship based on ownership of another person. When you are in a monogamous relationship with someone, they are YOUR husband, YOUR wife, YOUR boyfriend, YOUR girlfriend and they are only allowed to give their love and affection to you. If they stray outside that, they are committing infidelity which is considered a bad thing by most people. You control that other person in that respect. You are only allowed to get certain forms of personal fulfillment from your partner and going outside the bounds of that is "bad." I am fundamentally uncomfortable with that sort of relationship.

Point two, mutual happiness. If I love someone, I want them to be happy. If they are happy with someone else while still being with me, that should be a good thing. If I feel threatened by that, then perhaps I have some insecurities I need to deal with.

Point three, my own feelings. I got to a certain point in my life when I realized that people I'd loved and cared about prior to that point...I still felt that way about most of them. I realized that not only was I capable of feeling genuine love for more than one person, I actually DID. That sort of negated the "monogamy = loving one person at a time" idea.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
Point one, monogamy is, at its core, an authoritarian relationship based on ownership of another person.

Agreed, but I would argue that this is less an issue of monogamy and more an issue about views on independence. I say this because, permission based relationships are not exclusively monogamous - far from it.

Consider people in open relationships who self-identify as swingers. Every swinger I have met had VERY specific rules about how their partners were allowed to interact with other lovers. Some of these rules are so specific and so numerous as to be comical to me. However, these relationships are not technically monogamous but follow the same restrictive removal of independence.

Poly style relationships fall into this category as well, many of them it seems. When people have direct say in how another grown person behaves, that is agreed authoritarianism (in that it is not a forced situation). Rules about when they need to be informed of new lovers, rules about meeting and "approving" new lovers, rules about how many nights per week each person gets, the list is exhausting.

For me, this is really the discussion that most people are having on these boards, but it is almost never identified as such. The issue revolves around how a person views interacting with romantic partners and how much responsibility they take for their own feelings; and whether they live by "right or permission". Most advice I have seen is centered on "how to deal with your partner" when really, the only valuable advice is "how to manage your own emotions and make healthy decisions for yourself". My partners do as they will, I am not their boss, and this is the primary distinguishing characteristic between relationship styles; not the incidental factor of how many people you choose to love.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
I'm having a hard time reconciling this with the philosophy of monogamy that I grew up with, and that I see prevalent in society. A little voice inside me tells me that I'm being harmful somehow with this.

Who is that little voice? You or social tradition? If it's you then you might be living in a lifestyle that doesn't suit your temperament or approach to autonomy. If it's social tradition (which is what it sounds like) this is simply a hurdle to overcome.

There are some great reading materials out there. There's a sticky link at the top of the Polyamory forum listing.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Anyhow, the purpose of all that, besides to vent, is to ask: have any of you struggled with these kinds of concerns, and if so, how did you deal with them?

Sure. Welcome to hinge land. Remember to BREATHE. You will be ok.

It's easy to get sucked into the people pleaser/diplomat role as a hinge. Neglect your own needs for rest because hey! You are the "greedy" one wanting to be with 2 people right? You SHOULD be clocking double time, right?

Nope. If you are in a V shape polyship? ALL of you entered into it of your own free will. That you are the Shared Sweetie position makes no difference. Everyone puts in 33.33% of the work here to make this polyship fly true. That's how I dealt with it when I was there. I also had to develop my personal standard -- but that took a while. It was part of the learning process to be able to articulate and state my expectations, wants, needs, and limits. Perhaps you guys could take the time to develop your own standard for how to be in right relationship with each other on this journey.

It can be hard to digest wanting things and giving it your all, if your polyship partners are not pulling their weight. Because your 100%? Is only 33.33% of the fuel the larger polyship needs. You cannot give more than your 100%. It is not humanly possible. That is a limit of reality. Learning to accept that as a hinge person helps.

You have various layers there to balance.

1) Your desire to be accepted by your family. All you can do there is tell them or not tell them. That part is YOUR behavior you can control. Their reaction/behavior is on them to execute as they will.

Since you did NOT tell Y's family and they perceive E's affection at the family gathering, the only other slot that can file him in is "fresh guy, maybe cheater person." You paint them into that corner because neither you or Y told them it was otherwise and there is another model at play here.

2) Your desire to make peace with your upbringing. That is in your control -- reconciling the beliefs of childhood with the beliefs of adulthood. There's 6 maturities. Physical and chronological you get "free" by just hitting another birthday. Emotional maturity, social maturity, intellectual maturity, philosophical maturity people have to work on themselves. Not freebies. You sound like you are working on your philosophical maturity perhaps?

So spend the soul searching time to reconcile. Part of life journey is "crossroads" times in life where you must examine your beliefs in side your baggage and see what still fits or what has been outgrown. Everyone has to hold their own bag. We all have baggage. You could choose to travel light and efficient and periodically see what still serves you and what no longer serves you well in the baggage you carry around -- your expectations, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, etc.

3) Being a 3 people partner person. Dealing with E -- and seeing where he could be growing in his social maturity. And seeing how his behavior pings you. Dealing with DH and seeing how his struggle pings you as he works on his emotional maturity? Philosophical maturity? (Cannot tell from here which it is. Maybe you all have a combo bucket thing going on? )

Whatever the buckets, it is like you sitting on a waterbed with them. One person flinging themselves on there sends the rest bobbling about. That's polymath -- do you understand the tiers of your polymath configuration? All those "mini rships" inside the bigger polyship that require tending. Some of those tiers you are in. Some you are not in. All require a degree of tending for the polyship as a whole to fly true though.

When I was last a hinge person there were very little resources -- and a large part of it is DIY. Just remember to BREATHE, choose self respecting behavior and good ethics and you will be mostly ok. Don't be so hard on you. Take it one thing at time.

HTH!
Galagirl
 
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Helo

New member
Agreed, but I would argue that this is less an issue of monogamy and more an issue about views on independence. I say this because, permission based relationships are not exclusively monogamous - far from it.

Consider people in open relationships who self-identify as swingers. Every swinger I have met had VERY specific rules about how their partners were allowed to interact with other lovers. Some of these rules are so specific and so numerous as to be comical to me. However, these relationships are not technically monogamous but follow the same restrictive removal of independence.

Poly style relationships fall into this category as well, many of them it seems. When people have direct say in how another grown person behaves, that is agreed authoritarianism (in that it is not a forced situation). Rules about when they need to be informed of new lovers, rules about meeting and "approving" new lovers, rules about how many nights per week each person gets, the list is exhausting.

For me, this is really the discussion that most people are having on these boards, but it is almost never identified as such. The issue revolves around how a person views interacting with romantic partners and how much responsibility they take for their own feelings; and whether they live by "right or permission". Most advice I have seen is centered on "how to deal with your partner" when really, the only valuable advice is "how to manage your own emotions and make healthy decisions for yourself". My partners do as they will, I am not their boss, and this is the primary distinguishing characteristic between relationship styles; not the incidental factor of how many people you choose to love.
Point taken, but at the risk of derailing the thread, poly relationships are generally more focused on the idea of integrating the needs and wants of their members into the structure of the relationship. Monogamy is one way and one way only.
 
I hope you are able to gain some clarity from writing. There are all manner of ways that our families can see us as lacking and express disappointment. I agree - sometimes it's a struggle to keep going with what you feel is right for you in the face of the norm.

I don't do it much but sometimes I find myself feeling anxious because of my choices to not get married and to not have children.

It's easier as I get older and I remind myself that I am living the life that seems most right for me. It isn't perfect - nobody's life is perfect - but I think it's the best life for me. Reminding myself of that helps whenever I have wobbles.

IP
 
Monogamy is one way and one way only.

Hmm - I don't know if I'd agree.

Seems to me like people approach monogamy very differently. Some live with their partner, some don't - these choices will result in very different relationship structures. Some have children, some don't - again marking a massive difference.

Some monogamous couples spend all their spare time together, do the same hobbies as each other, have almost no friends or family and only each other.

Others do the spending all their spare time together but also mix with lots of friends and family.

Others don't. Others spend lots of time apart pursuing their own interests and keeping their own groups of friends.

Some are only friends with other couples or with people who they are not sexually attracted to.

Others have a wide variety of friends who they see apart from their partner. Some of whom they may hold hands with, snuggle up to, kiss, hug, go to for emotional support and engage in hobbies with.

These all exist in monogamy just as they do in polyamory. I see it as a spectrum and I don't think that any one model is better in and of itself.

Just like I don't think it's better to have children than it is to not have them - depends on the wants and lifestyle and interests of each individual.

I use the words 'MY sister', 'MY brother', 'MY mum', 'MY friend' etc. Doesn't mean I'm indicating ownership - rather that I'm describing the relationship I have with those individuals. 'MY brother' has a sister who isn't me. 'MY mum' has 2 other children. Any of one 'MY friends' have loads of friends that aren't me.

IP
 

Helo

New member
Hmm - I don't know if I'd agree.

Seems to me like people approach monogamy very differently.
I'm talking about the very base of the idea, bricks one and two. Monogamy is, OED, a relationship involving a single other mate. Before you even get to how you spend time with each other.

I use the words 'MY sister', 'MY brother', 'MY mum', 'MY friend' etc. Doesn't mean I'm indicating ownership - rather that I'm describing the relationship I have with those individuals. 'MY brother' has a sister who isn't me. 'MY mum' has 2 other children. Any of one 'MY friends' have loads of friends that aren't me.
I'm the first to admit that the overwhelming majority of people dont intend to convey the idea of ownership when using words like "my" and most of them dont feel as though they own the other person or even agree with the concept.

That said, it still reinforces the idea on a cultural level. I'm not advocating we play Marxists and reinvent the language but we should be aware of the connotations inherent in the language we use.
 

Cleo

New member
When people have direct say in how another grown person behaves, that is agreed authoritarianism (in that it is not a forced situation). Rules about when they need to be informed of new lovers, rules about meeting and "approving" new lovers, rules about how many nights per week each person gets, the list is exhausting.

For me, this is really the discussion that most people are having on these boards, but it is almost never identified as such. The issue revolves around how a person views interacting with romantic partners and how much responsibility they take for their own feelings; and whether they live by "right or permission". Most advice I have seen is centered on "how to deal with your partner" when really, the only valuable advice is "how to manage your own emotions and make healthy decisions for yourself". My partners do as they will, I am not their boss, and this is the primary distinguishing characteristic between relationship styles; not the incidental factor of how many people you choose to love.

This. Yes. Thank you Marcus! This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately.
 
Helo: I am struggling with feeling like my husband wants a lot of my time. It feels like he sees it as his right, whereas I see it as my gift to give. I understand I've pulled out the rug with the whole poly thing and he needs support and love, but he's given me crap for talking to a friend for an hour because it took time away from him. X_x; Which is taking it a bit far, in my book. Otherwise, I don't feel our marriage has too much of an "ownership" perspective. I see marriage as a partnership where both people get a say, and if that work monogamously for some I think it's okay. I don't like the ownership perspective either.

Point three: There's the saying, "Old loves never die." I feel this has been true to some extent in my life, too.

Marcus: I can see the ownership perspective in a poly setting as well. I see it a bit in my own life. I do think logically my voice of self-doubt does result from the social pressure more than anything.

GalaGirl: "It's easy to get sucked into the people pleaser/diplomat role as a hinge. Neglect your own needs for rest because hey! You are the "greedy" one wanting to be with 2 people right? You SHOULD be clocking double time, right?" I couldn't have phrased it better myself. Lol.

Unfortunately, E painted that model of himself at Y's gathering BEFORE the poly happened, and before he knew of my reciprocated feelings. That's why it seems stickier to me.

InfinitePossibility: I struggle with the concept of children because of this, but that's a whole other bag that I don't have to handle this second. But I haven't figured out if I want kids or not either.

Thanks to everyone who posted. It's given me some food for thought, and I always welcome more comments. Sometimes I just need someone to tell me it's okay. XD
 

Marcus

Well-known member
Helo: I am struggling with feeling like my husband wants a lot of my time. It feels like he sees it as his right

Was entitlement to your time, emotions, or body a standard thing in your relationship prior to your announcing that you are not monogamous? I only ask because, if so it might be an uncomfortable learning curve for him to realize that things have changed in that regard.

Marcus: I can see the ownership perspective in a poly setting as well.

This is not a monogamy issue; people thinking they are entitled to own aspects of other people. I suspect it is more rampant in monogamous couples but poly arrangements seem to have the same difficulties. My only guess would be that most of us came up as monogamous and still live in a monogamous society (at least I am, here in the south U.S.) so those traditions are engrained and endlessly reinforced.
 
I probably will view this differently than my husband, but I have seen a HUGE shift in our time spent together since poly started. I used to work and go to school so lack of time with me was a norm. The time we spend now, in my opinion, is far more than it's been. He argues that we had all kinds of time before I went to school, which I vehemently disagree with. Back in those days, I was working ten more hours a week than I do now and I usually was commuting to two or three different jobs.

When I was in school I felt the time we spent together lacked quality. I like to say I was a video game/tv widow. If anything I do feel the circumstances after poly began forced my husband to be a bit more proactive in slotting aside time with me. So I'm feeling a huge improvement, whereas he still feels he's coming up short. It's been problematic for us.
 

Helo

New member
Helo: I am struggling with feeling like my husband wants a lot of my time. It feels like he sees it as his right, whereas I see it as my gift to give. I understand I've pulled out the rug with the whole poly thing and he needs support and love, but he's given me crap for talking to a friend for an hour because it took time away from him. X_x; Which is taking it a bit far, in my book. Otherwise, I don't feel our marriage has too much of an "ownership" perspective. I see marriage as a partnership where both people get a say, and if that work monogamously for some I think it's okay. I don't like the ownership perspective either.
Perhaps I should explain more clearly the specifics of the ownership but first I want to address your example of time. From where I stand agreeing to enter into a relationship with someone, romantic or otherwise, generally includes some tacit form of agreement to share your time with the other person. The specifics of when and how much are up to the people involved but the act of sharing time is fundamental to a relationship otherwise it wouldnt be there, you cant have an ongoing relationship with someone you spend no time with. If one person is demanding another share their time with them, that is a demand and it is an authoritarian demand though I would hardly couch it in such sinister terms; more often than not such demands are the most familiar way for people to simply ask for greater amounts of time to be spent with them developed in our culture where we're never really allowed to express our needs and desires in a direct way.

The ownership aspect of what I would call hard monogamy extend to controlling the actions of a partner in the terms of whom they are allowed to give their affection to as well as simply have feelings for. Telling someone "you cant have feelings for anyone but me otherwise you're a bad person" is a textbook example of an authoritarian relationship; someone has made a demand for something they want and are backing up the demand with a threat that they can carry out because of the power they have, in this case its power given to them by the structure of the relationship and the society it exists in.
 
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