Relatively New Poly/Mono Challenges...

prommat

New member
Hello Everybody,

I have been somewhat of a lurker for quite a while and have learned so much from what I have read on here over the last year or so. I have never posted here before. In fact I am not much of a writer usually, but I was inspired today. As I write this I feel a little insecure about what responses or feedback I may get, but here goes anyways :)

To give everybody a little context of our relationship, I am a poly male and I am in a relationship with a mono female. We have been together now in some form for around 5 years. We started dating first somewhat casually and then things progressed to us being monogamous for about 2 of those years. This phase ended in my cheating on her. We really worked hard on our relationship and in that time we took a step back and started dating other people. Eventually things got a lot more serious and we decided to be monogamous again. By the time we got to this place was about year 3 and my beliefs had changed dramatically from before. I identified much more with being poly than before and so our second monogamous phase only lasted 3 months and we were both miserable.

This time however I we had a long talk about what needs were not being met and set up a more clear agreement to open up our relationship with integrity and honesty. We have been in this phase of our relationship for the last 2 years. Once this happened our relationship got much stronger. Stronger than it has ever been in fact in my opinion. We didn't have the same exact vision, but we were working towards a mutual vision and things felt great for a while. We even set up a monthly tradition that we called the "bill or rights" talk which is where we wrote down all of our agreements based on our needs and how to navigate through situations as they occur and as we get triggered. Then we challenge each agreement each month to see if anything has changed and needs to be re-negotiated. This seemed to make things stronger for a while. One thing I am sure of is that I deeply in love with her and I see her being in my life for a very long time if not for life.

She says she is monogamous and wants to get to a place where she lets it be "ok" with herself to be poly, but just hasn't been able to get there. This is really frustrating for her and as a result "I think" I have noticed more and more of her trying to control my behavior. Here are an example:

Recently I have scheduled a date with another woman who has been around for a while. It's not a serious relationship by any means, but it is fun to hang out with her every once in a while. I set it up the way she prefers me to. I checked in to make sure that she was ok with it, was in alignment with all of our agreements in our BOR, and planned it a week in advance so she wasn't caught off guard.

The night before she was overly sexual and I was tired (I had sex with her 2 times the night before and worked all day the next day.) When I didn't comply she started a fight, said things that she says she didn't mean that were pretty hurtful and then said since we just had a fight she is not ok with me going out with the other woman anymore. Now I am usually pretty considerate of her feelings and typically if she gives me enough notice about her feelings, I will tailor my behavior to make it easier on her. However, this particular time she waited until the morning of the date to tell me this which is unfair to the other woman. It also feels to me like she is using my sense of being considerate as a way to punish me for the argument that we had.

I have noticed that lately the night before the date she will pick a fight with me or find a "loop hole" in our agreements to compel me to re-schedule the date. She says that even if we clear up an argument if I go out with another woman, she views it as me running away from the relationship which is primary. To a degree I understand where she is coming from and I could be wrong, but I do not think that is what I am doing.

This type of thing although the situations are different still bring up the same concern with me. After about the 3rd or 4th time this happened I tried to have a conversation about whether she is ok and can handle our relationship or has something changed, and she always seems to say that she is. She has admitted to have a challenge around it and I have offer to close off our relationship for a while to make it easier for her, which she has declined numerous times.

I have been as patient as I can be to move at her pace, but I am a person who needs to see progress or growth or at least be told when she is trying. We have had many conversations around this and it always ends on her saying that I just need to trust her and trust that she is growing. This is really challenging for me to deal with as I am not asking her to tailor her behavior to meet my needs as she is asking me.

So here is what I would love to receive feedback on....

1. Am I looking at this the wrong way? If so I would love to get some perspective of how I can be looking at this differently.

2. How would I approach the challenge of hearing someone saying that they are making progress when I don't (with exception of a few times) see much at all. Of could it be that she is moving sooo slow that I can see it and am just getting impatient?

Thanks everybody for your feedback in advance!
 

sagency

New member
In reading your story one line popped out for me. It was the part about her getting to a place where it's ok to be poly. I read that as ok for her to be poly. In which case, you have an obvious issue.

If I read that right, I'd ask why she needs to be poly? There are many happy mono-poly relationships. The pressure of her adopting your nature may be a major stressor.

If you mean she wants to be ok with you being poly, that's a different issue. Either way, I sense that your patience and her reluctance are producing a lot of stress.

In talking to mono friends, they often have real difficulty understanding that someone can have two or more loves without diminishing them all. Your woman may feel that the OSOs are taking something that is hers. Or she may feel that you are putting more effort into them than her. Or she may be angry at herself because she wants to be supportive, but the adjust is hard, and she thought she was more understanding than that.

On the taking issue, that's a jealousy / possessiveness thing that is covered well in these forums. Look for relevent tags.

The effort issue is easier to deal with. It means that you need to remember that she's an attractive and special girl that needs to be wooed, too. Surprising her with stuff is nice but may seem like you feel guilty. Instead, focus on making sure that you give her as much if not more attention than the OSO. Shave, dress well, and generally primp yourself as though you're going on a date even if you are staying in for the night.

The issue of anger at not adjusting better is much like a self-esteem issue. Be supportive. Comfort her when she struggles. Reassure her when she fears. And most of all celebrate with her when she improves. She may feel you're examining her or judging her for not moving fast enough. Instead, use your observations to find good things. Tell her when you think she's doing well--cheer your partner on.

Your frustration is a you thing. Spilling it on her can be toxic. From some of what you wrote, it sounds like you have a lot of you work to do as well. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say she's feeling pressure to change, and that pressure is making things worse. The only suggestion I can offer there is that sometimes we have to release the grip and have faith.
 
Ditto the above, and as far as I can see you're doing a pretty good job overall.

You might want to suggest something like - ehh, I had something about offering to cancel a date with 24 hour hours notice if something important happens, or saying if you've canceled on a person once because she's asked last minute, you won't cancel a second time, but that is probably just catering to her if she is being manipulative (knowingly or subconsciously) and probably would cause other problems.

In your place I guess I would just say that these people have feelings too, and barring an emergency, you won't cancel plans with them because it would be rude and they deserve better. If you stick to that kindly but firmly, hopefully she will stop requesting you cancel.

Wish I'd had something more insightful to say, but not today :)
 

Snowdancer

New member
In your place I guess I would just say that these people have feelings too, and barring an emergency, you won't cancel plans with them because it would be rude and they deserve better. If you stick to that kindly but firmly, hopefully she will stop requesting you cancel.
QUOTE]

I thought that was pretty darned good!
 

Snowdancer

New member
OK, here is what I'm seeing. There is every possibility she may be mono. That is the way people are groomed in the USA. Don't push her to be poly. Reward her for allowing you your poly lifestyle. Be patient with her as she is trying to adjust.

Thanks for your post. It may help me to deal with some of my own issues.
 

redpepper

New member
A lot has happened in the short time you have been together... monogamous, cheating, poly, monogamy again and now poly again... that is a lot of roller coaster rides. I think you are being impatient.

You cheated on her, I would think there is a certain amount of trust issues there that would make this process longer than perhaps it would of been for starters. Secondly, she might of played at poly because your relationship with her wasn't that stable at the time and meh, why not get affection elsewhere? Thirdly, it sounds to me like she is monogamous and thinks that in order to keep you she needs to be a super star girlfriend and learn to be okay with your dates (the sex the night before etc makes me wonder about that).

My experience with mono/poly dynamics is there is never a boundary that is nicely placed and feels good for all.... I am always compromising and so is Mono. We have just learned to feel uncomfortable sometimes and that it is what it is. Neither of us have been able to figure the other out around the issue of me needing more closeness and connection to others in the form of sex so that is where my relationships stop growing. I haven't been able to understand that he doesn't get that it has nothing to do with my love for him.

On this note, maybe you need to realize that you might never get to a place where you feel entirely free to walk out the door without a struggle and she needs to realize that she might never reach the place where she feel comfortable with you going off to date other women. It might just be that you have to both live in that and see it for what it is. We don't always get our way in life, but if you can get close to it, then that is the best you can do.... that's been my experience anyway.

You might want to do a search in the tags for "mono/poly." There is a lot here on that topic that might help... "cheating" might help also.
 

MonoVCPHG

New member
I haven't been able to understand that he doesn't get that it has nothing to do with my love for him.

.

AHA! See we always continue to learn from the forum :) Now we have something to talk about..but no hurry...it's not my night ;)
 

sage

New member
OK jumping right in here - Sagency: Where does your belief that there are "many happy poly-mono relationships" come from? I recently did a survey with the polymono and living polymono group sites on Yahoo(they cover monos with polys and polys with monos). Maybe they are places of relationships under stress, but what came out of that survey was a resounding lack of working. More monos responded than polys but this was the result: In relationships where the polys were active the monos weren't happy and in relationships where the polys were inactive or minimally active the monos were happy or happier but the poly partner was unhappy.

I can understand that the woman in this relationship feels that she has to 'convert' to find real acceptance. After three years in a similar relationship I am coming to the same conclusion. Initially I was fine with it but it's actually a pain in the neck. I would almost say I am besieged by married guys misunderstood by their partners who say they are poly but don't actually realise that honesty is part of the deal.

I know of only one successful poly/mono on here: Mono and RP. Trucker Pete and Indi are sort of but Indi has described himself as "mono by default" so I don't know if that really counts. If I have missed you and you do consider that you have a successful poly/mono relationship please come forward and share how you are achieving it. There was Vodkafan but I haven't seen him for a long time and I would say that my acceptance of the situation has gone way down since I gave up alcohol.

Sorry if I've hi-jacked this thread prommat but from my experience what you are going through is par for the course. Your girl friend's responses seem emotional rather than rational and I think this is a symptom of loving someone who loves differently to the way you do.
 

polyexplorer

New member
To add to the poly/mono experiences, I am poly (but with no other relationship at the moment) and my wife is primarily mono. My wife doesn't desire other relationships or seem to be filled by other relationship like I know I am. She likes alot of space to herself and is quite happy to have our relationship a mono one.

I am not happy with this and have come to recognize that this is not who I am. My wife doesn't want me to be unhappy so we have embarked on a long and painful journey to come to some resolution.

If I start experiencing other relationships, my wife doesn't want to miss out on the "fun" so to speak so she feels like she really would like something else as well - probably more casual in nature like a FWB whereas I would like something deeper and more connected.

So in some ways our experience adds some weight to the thought that it is very hard for a strictly mono person to be with a poly person. Even though my wife definitely leans more towards the mono side, if she is going to accept me being and practicing poly, she feels she needs to be in on the action at least to some degree too...
 

MonoVCPHG

New member
Even though my wife definitely leans more towards the mono side, if she is going to accept me being and practicing poly, she feels she needs to be in on the action at least to some degree too...

This is a very interesting and no doubt discussion inspiring comment.

I understand this to some degree. The poly person wants to have relationships on thier terms (let's say involving love, sex, metamours meeting, and lots of communication) and the internaly mono person, who only heart loves one but can have sex with others, wants to have relationships on thier terms.

So now we again have two different sets of values coming into play. What if the mono person says, "Hey, I just want to have casual sex if it comes my way but don't want all the emotional and metamourish trappings that poly has". In other words..I want my side to be simply "sexually open" and you can have your side to be more "loving relationship poly".

So now we have a compromise. Maybe the other compromise is having a closed or limited poly aproach where only a specific gender can be brought in or a defintive number of other relationships are ok. This is not the free flowing poly that the word "polyamory" implies but it is a compromise between all or nothing.

If someone says, "hey I want to have my end of the relationship on my terms then should we not expect and afford the other person the same rights? Especially if the new terms go completely against the original terms of the relationship?

Sounds fair to me.
 

redpepper

New member
Good point Mono. I wonder how many couples do this and call themselves poly when actually one is monogamous in the sense of not loving more than one.
 

prommat

New member
Wow! First of all thank you for all of the thoughtful responses. This was way more than I could have ever imagined. I will go through and provide my feedback and also show these to my girlfriend as well to see if this brings her any insight as well!

Sagency wrote "If I read that right, I'd ask why she needs to be poly? There are many happy mono-poly relationships. The pressure of her adopting your nature may be a major stressor."

Yes you did read that right and I have often asked her this question as well and her response has been that she wants the relationship to be more balanced. I have always held the stance that if she wants to be mono then that is completely ok with me and I will support her in that. I never would want to push my values and belief onto her and ask that she change her behavior to reflect that. So that is her thing to want to be more poly.

Sagency wrote "The issue of anger at not adjusting better is much like a self-esteem issue. Be supportive. Comfort her when she struggles. Reassure her when she fears. And most of all celebrate with her when she improves. She may feel you're examining her or judging her for not moving fast enough. Instead, use your observations to find good things. Tell her when you think she's doing well--cheer your partner on."

As much as I can I am supportive when she struggles. Let me qualify what I mean. It is very interesting though as to "How she tends to struggle" She is very sneaky. For example sometimes she will appear to get angry about something totally not related to the poly/mono dynamic such as maybe a comment that I made and she didn't like the tone of my voice, eventhough I considered to be a very calm guy, rarely ever raise my voice at her or call her names. When we talked about it she will bring up poly/mono dynamic type things in an attacking way. She will then later apologize and say that it was because she has been stressed at work and that everything that she said was totally made up and I should forget all of the things that she said. She then will get upset if I bring up any of those statements that she claimed to have issues with as if they were real. So I have tried many different ways to deal with that and the most effective way to date is to simply agree with her and forget about it. This can be challenging since some of the things that she says to me can be quite abusive. So that's what I mean by "as much as I can"

Sagency wrote "Your frustration is a you thing. Spilling it on her can be toxic. From some of what you wrote, it sounds like you have a lot of you work to do as well. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say she's feeling pressure to change, and that pressure is making things worse. The only suggestion I can offer there is that sometimes we have to release the grip and have faith. "

Yes I understand that as well and I would agree with you around what she is feeling although I could be wrong. Releasing the grip is precisely where most of my work has been. Thanks for this.

Anneintherain wrote

"In your place I guess I would just say that these people have feelings too, and barring an emergency, you won't cancel plans with them because it would be rude and they deserve better. If you stick to that kindly but firmly, hopefully she will stop requesting you cancel."


Yes I am in the process of working on this negotiation. Her stands seems to be in the moment that she doesn't care about the date since my focus needs to be on the relationship between me and her. I'm probably wrong though and to her defense though we haven't solidified anything clear here so I'm sure we can figure something out here. Thanks for putting your attention there

Redpepper wrote "Thirdly, it sounds to me like she is monogamous and thinks that in order to keep you she needs to be a super star girlfriend and learn to be okay with your dates (the sex the night before etc makes me wonder about that). "


I would agree somewhat with you here. I think she is monogamous and that she not only feels like that, but also in that she feels that she herself needs to convert to being poly which isn't true. It seems as there is no amount of specific reassurance in this department seems to curb that for her which leads me to...

Redpepper wrote "We have just learned to feel uncomfortable sometimes and that it is what it is. Neither of us have been able to figure the other out around the issue of me needing more closeness and connection to others in the form of sex so that is where my relationships stop growing. I haven't been able to understand that he doesn't get that it has nothing to do with my love for him."

YES! This is a very tough challenge for me as well. As I am writing this I am noticing that this is where I need to work a lot on myself and change how I am viewing my world. There is an answer to this riddle but it is comforting to see that I am not the only one who struggles with this one. And to comment on your earlier statement I can be impatient I know, I am just trying to figure out what being "patient" looks like within our relationship.

Sage wrote "In relationships where the polys were active the monos weren't happy and in relationships where the polys were inactive or minimally active the monos were happy or happier but the poly partner was unhappy."


In my experience this seems to be the case with us, however overall this doesn't translate into it not working for us. I think rather it translates to more work on ourselves for us to focus on the bigger places in our relationship where it is working. There are places where we haven't figured it out and places where we have. My question that comes to me for me is what does successful mean to you?

Sage wrote "Your girl friend's responses seem emotional rather than rational and I think this is a symptom of loving someone who loves differently to the way you do."

I agree here as well and thank you for your feedback here.

Polyexplorer wrote "So in some ways our experience adds some weight to the thought that it is very hard for a strictly mono person to be with a poly person. Even though my wife definitely leans more towards the mono side, if she is going to accept me being and practicing poly, she feels she needs to be in on the action at least to some degree too... "

Thank you for chiming in. You situation seems similar to mine. I find it so fascinating the subtle differences in beliefs within people. What's interesting is your wife's desire to "not miss out on the fun". My girlfriend has more of a desire to "keep things separate" and she doesn't require a lot of alone space at all.

MonoVCPHG wrote "If someone says, "hey I want to have my end of the relationship on my terms then should we not expect and afford the other person the same rights? Especially if the new terms go completely against the original terms of the relationship?"

I love this and that has been my position both intellectually and emotionally. For my girlfriend she has that position intellectually, but has a challenge with that emotionally. Because of that she gets mad at herself which then leads to bad places. So this sparks the question of "if that is your position how do you negotiate the emotional aspect of this stance with the behavior of one side or the other?" This has been another puzzle that I have yet to solve. Great insight!
 

sage

New member
Successful to me means that I am generally happy in the relationship and happy for it to continue in its current form. This was the criteria I used for the survey I did.
 

sagency

New member
Sure thing, Sage.

I'm the poly in a successful poly-mono relationship. I have personal association with other poly-mono relationships. Perhaps I was not applying a scientific level of data analysis to the global poly-mono pool, but I was aiming for reassurance that there are workable situations.

As for how it works, I believe the major factors are the people and the effort. Luckily, I have had many disastrous relationships to learn from, and I have always been analytical about things, so I likely have a higher than average (for normal folk but maybe just normal for poly folk) awareness about relationships.

The people aspect is pretty clear. Some people are hardwired. Some are hardwired straight, some gay. Some are hardwired poly, some mono. Guys out there should give up trying to "cure" lesbians, and ladies should not worry about (and are generally smart enough not to in the first place) converting gay men. That doesn't work, yes? Some folks are in the middle and may be predominantly one way or the other but can be swayed. The same goes for poly and mono nature.

The issue there is two hardwired mismatches. A mono wanting to fix a poly is trouble. A poly wanting to free a poly is trouble. Short term stuff might work, but friction causes pain in the long term. I'm not going to worry about trying to free a mono just like I'm not going to tell a lesbian or a homosexual man that they should try some variety. ;) I also am not going to put myself in a position (again) where I'm with a mono who is going to want to fix me. Learning to recognize the difference and choose an applicable partner is definitely a skill, and sometimes we learn it only after we're in love.

My mono is awesome. I spent years dealing with depression and self-destruction, but even when I want to do bad things to me I'm positive when it comes to my mono. Having a positive attitude is important. Yep, she's an idiot sometimes. Sometimes she forgets to use her "out loud" voice when telling me important stuff. But overall we're good for each other. She is also not a hardwired mono. Let's call her a softwired mono, or maybe you'd say "mono-friendly." She's not likely to ever be poly herself in the full sense, but she understands and accepts the way I am. Yes, this is rare; it adds to her awesome. So I avoided the mistake of being with a hardwired mono (even though I am mono-friendly).

The next part is effort. Talk talk talk. Oh my god, poly folks talk so much I want to just strangle them sometimes. But communication is rule #1 (right? Maybe #2. I'm sure someone will speak up if it's not #1.). We talk about everything that any normal couple would or should talk about. We also talk about what's going on with me and others. I don't make the mistake of oversharing though, and she doesn't dig into details. Her personality (see part 1: people) is such that details are not needed. I've seen many folk get obsessed about the details to negative effect (does it matter who's what went where if you're happy with you what where as is? Whose is bigger or is tighter doesn't matter if everyone is happy. Any difference from my mono just makes me appreciate my mono's uniqueness.). We try our best to be proactive in our talking. No waiting for later, and we understand that we always share based on love and respect.

Beyond talk, you must have action. I make a point to translate any NRE or potential NRE that I feel for someone into energy that my mono receives. Thus, any relationship or potential that comes up causes her a direct benefit. Thinking about how delicious someone else adds to my own hunger for my mono. Beside the obvious benefit, this reassures her that she is and always will be a part of my life. Frankly, the influx of NRE reminds me that my first (think primary in a nonhierarchical way for ya'll pedantic folks) relationship also deserves wooing and fun. One of our simple rules is that when either of us comes home, the coming home person is responsible for seeking out the other and giving them a kiss. It's a simple thing, but it constantly reminds us to connect. Even when I give energy somewhere else, I always try to remind my mono how important and attractive she is. Too many times I've seen polys let NRE blind them to the lovely they have right there already. The NRE may get more E, but that no one gets left out in the cold.

Another success factor is selection. Along with NRE-blindness, I've seen polys make partner choices based on personal preference alone. When you're in a poly situation, you don't get to think only of yourself (IMHO). So when I'm looking at a potential partner (yeah for mono who gets that bonus energy!), part of what I'm evaluating is how that person would integrate with the existing situation. This doesn't mean moving in or group time necessarily. It's a recognition that we all react to personalities differently. Will this new person's personality affect me in a way that will negatively impact others? Is this situation likely to be stable or sane enough for all? And most importantly: is this someone that my mono (who knows me well) would be reasonably (maybe not perfectly but with some insight) able to understand why we're attracted? If the person doesn't get along, move on. If the situation is likely to be full of emo and crazy, move on. If my mono would look and her and think, "Wtf, dude!?" move on. When I make good choices that take me and my mono in consideration, then we're way less likely to raise the stress level greatly, and she's reminded that even her poly's mono is important.

That's how we work in a nutshell. I actually found out just this week that she had been to this site over a year ago to read and lurk. Last night I was telling her about a cute freckled woman that showed up on the radar (bonus energy) and asked why she was looking at poly sites. Her response, "It's how you are; I wanted to learn more." In retrospect, I felt like an idiot asking why she'd be doing research. Duh. She's very thorough about things that are important to her.

For the record, I've been in poly relationships (interspersed with mono ones) for over 16 years now. I finally gave up on trying to fit the mono mould and began self-identifying as poly (without intention of ever trying to be mono again) about five years ago. My mono and I have been together for about four and a half years, married one and a half with a six-month old son and two cats. I also like lasagna, freckles, and intelligence. :D
 

sage

New member
Woohoo!! Sagency you don't know how relieved this makes me feel. I'm rushing off to work (being on the other side of the world and all) and I'm sure I'll have more questions for you. I'd love to post this piece on my blog. I think the outcome of my survey freaked many of us mono/polys out and we need some positive role models.

Thanks
 

sagency

New member
Sage: Brisbane's a nice town. I was there about six years ago. It's stocked full of folks with adorable accents. ;)

RP: I'll move some stuff over there later tonight. I'm glad my disasters both personal and observed have later value.

Prommat: I was explaining to the wife this thread and decided to just have her read it. She pointed out that me telling her I was attracted to the freckled woman wasn't exactly news to her. (Why do I tell her stuff when she knows everything? It's not like I could hide my nature from her if I tried evidently. Ah, but she appreciates my effort even when it's nothing new.)

She sends her love you y'all.
 
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