Reciprocity and levels of involvement in relationships

Tinwen

Active member
A while ago I wrote about playing with a friend / starting a fwb relationship and not being somewhat afraid of falling in love. Well, that didn't quite happen, at least on my side - I find the biggest part of me only wants to see him say once every two weeks for a scene and then perhaps a follow up date the day after, but not much more involved then that. He however is more romantically inclined, wanting to stay in daily touch, trying to win me over with little gifts etc. While a part of me likes that attention a lot, I feel a need to reciprocate, and then I don't feel free anymore in the relationship.
I also really care for him in the sense of wanting the best for him. I think it comes together with taking on the responsibility of being dominant in the relationship (I do want to lead him in the areas where I'm more experienced), but for some reason this causes me a different kind of trouble with saying "no" then I'm used to. He's doing his best not to be pushy, but his wishes are extremely obvious.

As for the poly part, the boys have done an incredible amount of work in a short time to understand their issues and get along. But that's just a side-note for now.

What I'm really trying to understand now is this preferring of different levels of involvement. I have a part in me that's angry about having to spend more energy then expected, and wanting to break up. It would be relatively easy now, as we've only been involved for 2 months or so and I was abroad for the last 2 weeks on top of that. Then there's another part that really enjoys having another relationship, getting the attention, and getting to lead. And a third which is just afraid of the relationship getting out of hand. I don't want it to be a long-term committed thing. But if he does, what do I do now? And, how do you people deal with the need to reciprocate when someone gives you something, when you feel it but in fact don't want to get more involved?
 

KC43

New member
What you do now is tell him what you've said here. You feel like you and he are at different levels in what you want from this relationship, and you need to either find a middle ground or end the relationship. You *don't* "have to spend more energy; you're choosing to by choosing to think you have to give equal to what you're receiving. You could instead choose to believe that he is giving what he feels comfortable with and has the energy for, and that it's okay for you not to reciprocate. It's okay for you to only give what you're comfortable with and have the energy for.

If you haven't had this discussion with him and set boundaries about the relationship, he has no way of knowing that you're feeling resentful and angry. By choosing to reciprocate, you're giving him the impression that you *are* okay with the relationship escalating to more than FWB. If that isn't the case, you need to tell him that and stop giving him the mixed messages.
 

Tinwen

Active member
What you do now is tell him what you've said here. You feel like you and he are at different levels in what you want from this relationship, and you need to either find a middle ground or end the relationship. You *don't* "have to spend more energy; you're choosing to by choosing to think you have to give equal to what you're receiving. You could instead choose to believe that he is giving what he feels comfortable with and has the energy for, and that it's okay for you not to reciprocate. It's okay for you to only give what you're comfortable with and have the energy for.

If you haven't had this discussion with him and set boundaries about the relationship, he has no way of knowing that you're feeling resentful and angry. By choosing to reciprocate, you're giving him the impression that you *are* okay with the relationship escalating to more than FWB. If that isn't the case, you need to tell him that and stop giving him the mixed messages.
Ouch, you're right :eek: I certainly do give a mixed messages, because it's a fact that I AM conflicted and volatile.

We have a relationship discussion scheduled for tomorrow, so that's why today I'm exploring and airing all the doubts here, to hopefully arrive at one consistent decision. When I arranged the date yesterday I was convinced it would be a breakup, but now I'm thinking maybe re-adjusting the parameters could be enough. I don't get involved with people easily, if I do (at any level of commitment), it means there is something valuable in that connection - question is, can I keep it.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
If you are gonna lead, LEAD. Since you plan to talk tomorrow? Talk plain.

You like the attention, but are not interested in a romantic thing with him.
  • So if he likes giving you attention and gifts and whatnot? And doesn't mind if you don't do it back the same? Carry on.
  • If he's doing it to try to romance you, he needs to know you are not looking for romance here. And you prefer he cut it out then.

The offer on the table is:

  • You want to do scenes every 2 weeks or so with a friendly date the next day for aftercare.

  • You don't want a romance or a long term thing. You see it going til (X months) and then ending it amicably.

If this is not what he wants, then best to let it go now.

If he says he can handle it but then later YOU cannot handle the continuing puppy dog eyes if he's still doing it? End it early.

Just cuz he texts or does whatever to do "daily touch" doesn't mean you have to answer. You can tell him you like getting "Thinking about you!" kinda texts but you aren't gonna answer them. You only talk to him to arrange the scenes and one day after.

Speak plain. Be clear in expectations. Then be firm. Not only with discipline in regards to him but with yourself in holding those expectations up.

Galagirl
 
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kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi Tinwen,

When you have your scheduled discussion, tell him something like, "I am enjoying our relationship, but I don't want to push it any further. I am enjoying the attention and the little gifts that you give me, but I don't have the energy to reciprocate. If that means you'll want to break up, I understand. I just thought it was only fair to let you know. If you want to continue but without the extra gifts and attention, that is okay too." I don't mean to suggest that you should tell him what I wrote here word for word, just giving you a general idea of what I think you should say. You can adjust or discard it according to your own good judgment. Basically, I am just agreeing with what the others have suggested.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

Tinwen

Active member
Thanks, everyone.
Galagirl, your outline is excellent, and I adore everyone who can follow through on detailed plans like that. I guess it's a skill to improve. I find myself unable to set appropriate expectations right now. I resonate with some of what I wrote yesterday, but not other parts.

Having had some rest and quality time with our common friend group yesterday evening, my pendulum has swung back to "I care about him a whole lot" being the predominant emotion.
Also, the advice from Idealist is to focus on what's most important in the relationship and relax all the other parts in the same way you soften all the muscles you don't need when relaxing in a sitting or standing position. I find it inspiring.

So the question is what is important, and I find the most important thing is the friendship and the wellbeing and development of both people involved.
Romance is kinda not important to me. There can be a bit of it or not, I can let my feeling fluctuate somewhat. (I just have to be able to retreat and gain some distance - which is really my inner turmoil.) Bdsm scenes are also kinda not important to me at this point. I'd be happy to do them every now and then when it feels fun. Leadership... is kind of important to practice for me. But although it worked nicely for a bit, I don't necessarily need to practice it here. (That depends entirely on consent after all.)

So these are my starting points. In conclusion, a break up is very much an option, but maybe not necessary.

I'm going into the discussion with somewhat unclear intention after all. Still, I believe I will be able to speak about what I wrote here in a reasonably coherent matter. The plan is to do so and listen to my intuition in that interaction closely to see if there is still a strong positive intention to continue playing, or if breaking up now is the way to go.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
So these are my starting points. In conclusion, a break up is very much an option, but maybe not necessary.

That's interesting you say breaking up is an option but maybe not necessary. Because reading this...

So the question is what is important, and I find the most important thing is the friendship and the wellbeing and development of both people involved.


Romance is kinda not important to me
. There can be a bit of it or not, I can let my feeling fluctuate somewhat. (I just have to be able to retreat and gain some distance - which is really my inner turmoil.)

Bdsm scenes are also kinda not important to me at this point. I'd be happy to do them every now and then when it feels fun.

Leadership... is kind of important to practice for me. But although it worked nicely for a bit, I don't necessarily need to practice it here. (That depends entirely on consent after all.)


To me that sounds like the healthiest choice for both people's wellbeing is to be friends and drop the rest. So you can achieve "friendship and the wellbeing and development of both people involved." It does seem necessary.

  • You want what is healthy for both
  • You want friendship with him.
  • You want more space than you are getting right now.
  • You don't want romance.
  • BDSM with him is not important.
  • Leadership with him is not important.

Rather than causing yourself confusion, you can have the clarity/space you need in this relationship if you go back to being friends only.

Galagirl
 
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Tinwen

Active member
Yes, we did break it off. We discussed options shortly, and decided it's best. There was not enough passion on my part to continue, and we didn't feel like super casual is doable. I'm glad it could be a mutual decision, more or less, and not just me making up my mind.
The talk was peaceful, we even agreed who would skip what social gathering for the next month so that we can be no contact.

Of course, now I'm sad for the good stuff :( But I'll manage.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
I'm glad it was a mutual decision. Breaking up is not fun, but I think in this case it was the best choice. I hope you both can heal and find friendship in each other after the healing time. :eek:

Galagirl
 

Tinwen

Active member
I'm glad it was a mutual decision. Breaking up is not fun, but I think in this case it was the best choice. I hope you both can heal and find friendship in each other after the healing time. :eek:

Galagirl
Thanks. It was a bit of a risk to get involved in the first place, but I think we made it into a positive learning experience mostly.
 

BelleRose

New member
I can understand feeling pressured into reciprocating the level of involvement that he seems to want, especially since you take on the dominant role in scenes and may adopt a sort of caregiving mentality toward him to a degree. It makes sense that you would feel torn between reciprocating for his sake but also frustrated by the diminished freedom on your part and it requiring an extra amount of energy that you don't wish to spend on him.

I don't think the two of you wanting different levels of involvement is automatically problem. Only if it hasn't been discussed. Have you discussed it with him? (As explicitly as you have here with us?) Right now it seems like you are comfortable with the status quo, but he is pushing for more. If he isn't comfortable with the status quo that's something to figure out sooner rather than later, I think.

Best of luck. :)
 
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