Storytime

As was suggested to me in my introductory post thread, I am posting the full story of why I'm here and how I got here in this subforum. Hope I don't meander too much.

I have always known I could love more than one person at a time. I always had multiple simultaneous crushes. However, I was also always very sensitive and eager to not hurt anyone, and all I knew was mono-normity and swore I would never cheat.

My Dad raised me to be very sex-positive, but he had his own issues. He was in a closed V for a while and was very one-sided on who had freedom, and I knew I never wanted to be like that. I knew it wasn't fair to ask for freedom to love others but deny the same freedom in return. And as a lonely and insecure young man I didn't think I could be comfortable with a partner seeing other men as I would feel jealous and anxious of my worth (though interestingly I never had a problem with bisexual partners seeing other women one-on-one while seeing me. And while that had its own shades of ignorance and nobody ever took me up on it, I do think having that mindset helped me later).

I was extremely unlucky in love in my own area, though I had several LD flings and relationships - as someone who is neuroatypical, I found it easier to express my real self online. Then halfway through college (2008), I met "Marsh" through a Craigslist personal I posted at the height of my desperation.

"Marsh" was controlling, toxic, and verbally abusive, but she did love me sincerely and my being so lonely and starved for that affection I chalked the rest of it up to "everyday relationship foibles". She pressured me to get engaged early, though we didn't marry until four years later (2012). She was also obsessively eager to start a family, but health issues plagued that dream. She underwent a procedure in 2016 to finally take care of those issues and exactly a year later she became pregnant.

It was our last honeymoon period before an early ultrasound gave grim news: our daughter would be born with a congenital heart defect that would require several open heart surgeries in early childhood and diminished (though very much existing) chances to lead a long healthy life.

"Marsh" coped by throwing herself into her work as usual. I threw myself into my friends. One of which was fairly new to our group at the time, "Gremlin", a young woman who I had become closer to than any other friend before because we just got each other in a way nobody else had.

So Gremlin and I became closer still. I was nursing a decent crush and maybe even strayed into emotional affair territory, but I was adamant to keep physical affection innocent and platonic. But it felt nice to share who I was with someone and not be judged for it, not made to feel lesser, to be wanted for the things I was told to hide away.

I had my feelings, but I still stayed faithful. As a measure of good faith, I was even open about hanging out with Gremlin to Marsh...but Marsh flipped at me. Marsh considered a married man spending time alone with an unmarried woman cheating. I wasn't about to give up the best friend I ever had because of some archaic rule that was never discussed and I morally disagreed with. So I had to see my friend in secret, which made me feel worse.

Now, during this time, Gremlin told me she was poly, and told me anyone she was with would have to understand she was sharable. My earlier hangups came to my mind, but I started mulling it over..."what if..." Could I do it? Would it worth it?

Things came to a head with Marsh when I was in a play that dealt with emotional abuse...in uncomfortably familiar scanarios...and Marsh degraded me for growing my beard out for the role (technically the role after that, but it takes me a while to fuzz). That started the downward spiral that eventually lead to me leaving the marriage in late 2017, after our daughter's birth and first surgery.

During this time, Gremlin was my rock. She had said she had similar feelings for me but would never be "the other woman" (and I didn't want her to be either) and not to let her be a deciding factor on whether or not I leave (the potential intimacy was not, but knowing staying with Marsh would mean giving up on any contact with Gremlin was).

After I was on my own, Gremlin and I did start a brief fling. We never went all the way due to Gremlin's own issues, but we came very close. She introduced me to a lot of kink that I was never into with anyone else, and she taught me to really explore myself. I loved her more than I had loved any other partner, but for both of our emotional safety I tried to downplay it as much as I could (I'm sure she could tell though). At the same time, we were sharable. I would flirt with others, though nothing much came of it, and generally be happy knowing I had someone positive in my life and could accept more. And I finally broke out of my limitations - seeing how jealous Marsh got over little allowed me to battle my own and allow myself to be okay with a partner seeing any other partner (as long as I got my fair turn of course ;))

Unfortunately, in the fall of 2018, Gremlin suddenly decided she couldn't be poly and wanted to be mono with a friend out of state I wasn't even aware of. There had been no indication this was coming, and the poor communication and lack of closure hampered our ability to stay friends. We haven't spoken in months outside of her telling me she's "not ready to talk yet" but indicating she's also not ready for me to let go entirely.

I was so depressed and nobody was around for support...except Marsh. She had been working on herself since the split, and while she's still too toxic for me to be in a relationship we were able to become good allies and co-parents for our daughter's needs. Stupidly, I accepted the support where I should not have and one thing led to another and now our second child is due in December.

Marsh and I still hook up once in a while due to just proximity from me helping with our child and the new pregnancy, but that probably won't/shouldn't last much longer for both of our mental healths. Marsh also has an infrequent FWB on my encouragement, though I doubt that she's suited for poly in the long run and, as I said, we still don't do well as a relationship.

I don't feel I am in an emotional or economic state to actively look for partners, though I am always open for new experiences offered and making new friends and seeing where it leads. I feel I need at least some minor form of friendship to feel comfortable getting physical (though it doesn't take long to form).

My current understanding leads me to believe I would be happiest with 1-3 nesting/primary partners and a mutial freedom to confer benefits on any friend we see fit - whether we exercise that freedom or not. Though as I gain more practical experience, that could very well evolve. I'm here to find a community that will help me evolve and continue to refine my understanding - and also validate that I can meet people as open to nonmonogamy as I am when people try to convince me "it could never work" or "it's a pipe dream". I've just always loved big, and I love to share my love regardless of the form it takes.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
Welcome.

I'm here to find a community that will help me evolve and continue to refine my understanding - and also validate that I can meet people as open to nonmonogamy as I am when people try to convince me "it could never work" or "it's a pipe dream".

Well, people here don't think it could "never work" or like it's a "pipe dream."

Marsh and I still hook up once in a while due to just proximity from me helping with our child and the new pregnancy, but that probably won't/shouldn't last much longer for both of our mental healths

Could stop sharing sex with Marsh and don't have her for your "stand in" emotional support. Leave it just at coparenting with her. Turn to your friends instead. I am in close to proximity to people at work. I don't shag any of them. Stop "falling into things" with her. Be decisive. For your own mental health.

And consider using a condom. You prob don't want or need any more "oopsie" babies with her or any other partners. You have one child who has health things and now a new child coming... your plate on the kid front sounds pretty full already.

I don't feel I am in an emotional or economic state to actively look for partners, though I am always open for new experiences offered and making new friends and seeing where it leads. I feel I need at least some minor form of friendship to feel comfortable getting physical (though it doesn't take long to form).

Then you are not "always open." You have conditions to meet before you take up with someone new. You want to be friends first. And even before that? You sound like you want to heal emotionally and financially first.

And this is GOOD. You SHOULD have a personal dating standard for who you will and will not take up with. And WHEN you want to be actively dating.

Maybe you want to think out what the rest of your personal dating standard includes? You mentioned it has to be Open on both sides -- not like open for them but not for you. That's fair.

I've just always loved big, and I love to share my love regardless of the form it takes.

I don't know about other people, but that would put me off.

I would prefer you NOT want to "share your love regardless of the form it takes." Are you saying you are up for a NEW toxic partner? Gonna take up with that stuff again? :confused: And if I take up with you, I'm gonna get some of that side rain on me too? No, thanks!

I get that you are getting over the Gremlin break up and want to be open to new things, and starting over. That's fine.

But you don't have to be up for EVERYTHING. YKWIM? It is ok to say "no thanks" to some stuff.

Esp if some of the things you were up for in the past led to "unlucky in dating" stuff. Learning from past experience and being more selective when moving forward might serve you better.

I suggest you finish healing and in that time? Work on actually listing out your personal dating standards. What you will and will not put up with. What sorts of things you are and are not seeking. Develop your personal standard.

Having a personal standard is no guarantee that the next person you date will be deeply compatible, but it does help thin out the non-starters.

It's not being mean.

  • If you have NO interest in sports, why would you take up with a big sports person? Or them you?
  • And if your finances are tight and your plate is full with kids maybe you don't want to take up with someone looking to have more kids? Cuz raising kids takes up time and money and energy!
  • If you are leery about toxic people? You want to guard against that too.

YKWIM? Be selective about who you want to keep company with. Polyamory doesn't mean "up for everything and anything any time."

GL!
Galagirl
 
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Welcome.



Well, people here don't think it could "never work" or like it's a "pipe dream."

Thank you. :)



Could stop sharing sex with Marsh and don't have her for your "stand in" emotional support. Leave it just at coparenting with her. Turn to your friends instead. I am in close to proximity to people at work. I don't shag any of them. Stop "falling into things" with her. Be decisive. For your own mental health.

And consider using a condom. You prob don't want or need any more "oopsie" babies with her or any other partners. You have one child who has health things and now a new child coming... your plate on the kid front sounds pretty full already.

Oh it is a mistake I do not mean to repeat. At the time, though, I felt as if I truly had no one else to turn to. I am rectifying that, as well as never trusting Marsh when she says she's "safe" in any meaning of the word.


Then you are not "always open." You have conditions to meet before you take up with someone new. You want to be friends first. And even before that? You sound like you want to heal emotionally and financially first.

And this is GOOD. You SHOULD have a personal dating standard for who you will and will not take up with. And WHEN you want to be actively dating.

I think of it more like...it doesn't feel right asking anyone to come into all this, but if the right person(s) really want to I'm not going to turn my nose up. Now that doesn't mean I won't be discerning, it just means I'm not going to let a good opportunity slip by out of some false sense of nobility. I'm not going to try to make anything happen, but if it happens and it's good I won't stop it.

I have to maintain that balance or else I'll either regress to stupid desperate teenage me or be alone forever. Neither of which are good options for me. And of course I will continue to work on ME but that will take time and resources.

And also being open to new people helps keep me from falling too far back into the old again.


I don't know about other people, but that would put me off.

I would prefer you NOT want to "share your love regardless of the form it takes." Are you saying you are up for a NEW toxic partner? Gonna take up with that stuff again? :confused: And if I take up with you, I'm gonna get some of that side rain on me too? No, thanks!

I get that you are getting over the Gremlin break up and want to be open to new things, and starting over. That's fine.

But you don't have to be up for EVERYTHING. YKWIM? It is ok to say "no thanks" to some stuff.

Oh, I never meant to imply otherwise. I know more or less what to avoid. That doesn't mean I'll never be with someone who's damaged - I'm always going to be kind of damaged goods myself - but I will protect myself based on how that damage is expressed.

Like I'm okay with you having issues because I have issues. As long as we can equally accept one another and our criticism is kind and constructive. If our damage leads at an impasse or you try to mold me too much into what you think I "should be", I'm having no more of that thanks.

Having a personal standard is no guarantee that the next person you date will be deeply compatible, but it does help thin out the non-starters.

It's not being mean.

  • If you have NO interest in sports, why would you take up with a big sports person? Or them you?
  • And if your finances are tight and your plate is full with kids maybe you don't want to take up with someone looking to have more kids? Cuz raising kids takes up time and money and energy!
  • If you are leery about toxic people? You want to guard against that too.

YKWIM? Be selective about who you want to keep company with. Polyamory doesn't mean "up for everything and anything any time."

Again, I have considered a lot of this. And I think to be clear, there are different degrees of friendship. I am okay sharing sex with a friend because I care about them and want them to feel good. But for a primary/nesting partner? I need a BEST FRIEND who is compatable in a lot more areas.

Your sports example is perfect because I only like three sports and they're all fictional (Podracing, Quidditch, and Calvinball ;)). Now, I would be friends with and confer benefits onto a major sports fan if they were a nice person and we shared one or two other big interests. But to be a primary/nesting partner? That person would have to be deeply into enough of my other loves and hobbies that we'd have stuff to gush about and do together, and be understanding and supportive if I had an area they disliked as much as I disliked sports. Which is a huge caveat and a good screen.

I want primary/nesting to be someone who is into the same kinds of things the way I am. It doesn't have to be exactly the same, in fact I welcome a decent amount of diversity so we can turn each other on to new things. But similar enough sensibilities so we can be reasonably sure we'll like what the other shows us.

But I want to give people that chance if they wish to take it.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Hi SenatorBinks,

You seem to have a pretty level head about how you'll approach things going forward. You've taken some classes in the school of hard knocks, and have learned some valuable lessons. So I don't have a huge amount of advice, but I'm guessing you'd be interested in a little advice, as well as feedback in general. I'll try to offer both.

I'm a strong believer in the ability of most (all?) humans to fall in love with more than one person at once. For some interesting perspective on this subject, there's a book I think you'd enjoy, it's called, "Sex at Dawn: how we mate, why we stray, and what it means for modern relationships," by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá. It introduces the radical notion that monogamy is an artificial construct, relatively recent in human existence, and that humans are actually evolved to be nonmonogamous. It's a little over 300 pages, but an easy read, a fun read, smart but not overly technical. I actually didn't agree with everything it said, but I liked and respected it. Tasty brain food. And a strong argument against mononormativity, against the doctrine that nonmonogamy "could never work," or is "a pipe dream." Au contraire; it is monogamy that is so fraught with natural difficulties!

Re: Marsh ... you're walking a fine line in that area; you do need to maintain amicable relations with her in order to smoothly co-parent; however, you already know that she is a toxic person, so you do not want to get too close. I don't know whether that means you should refrain from sex with her, you'll have to be the judge of that. Do use protection, unless you're sure you want (and can afford) a third child. I believe that getting a divorce was the right move.

Re: Gremlin ... it is unfortunate that she did that sudden about-face, and damaged your friendship. As far as I can tell, there's no way you could have seen that coming, and I don't think you're at fault in any way. If she wants to rebuild the friendship, I suppose that would be okay, but do so slowly and cautiously, bearing in mind that she is now in a monogamous relationship. (So for example, you couldn't be friends with benefits.)

You are open to new experiences and that is a good thing. Exercise good judgment in whom you get close to and in how close you'll get, but I believe you're already doing that. As you said, you're not going to try to make anything happen, but if it happens and it's good you won't stop it. This is a healthy attitude. Everyone is a little damaged, you can't expect to meet someone who is perfect. Nor is anyone going to be "the perfect match."

And one to three nesting/primary partners, plus friends with benefits, sounds good. Polyamory comes in all shapes and sizes, and what's right for you will be unique.

In short, I think you're doing fine, and you will learn little by little as your situation evolves, that's hopefully how we do things in life. I encourage you to continue participating, reading and posting here, both giving advice and receiving. I've found that giving advice actually helps me in my life, so I recommend it.

Sincere regards,
Kevin T.
 
Thank you for your kind words!

I used to be an avid reader, but the last few years I have struggled to get into new books. So I can't guarantee I'll take the recommendation but I profusely thank you for it all the same and I will keep it in my mind.

I am normally a very sexually safe person and will make sure I have an ample supply of protection when I am putting myself out there again - I always had them on hand just in case with Gremlin even though we sadly never ended up needing them. With Marsh, condoms were always difficult, so I was more ready than I should have been to trust how "safe" she said she was. Again, no longer making that mistake.

My current plan is to wean Marsh off my benefits once our second is born, unless something drastically changes that allows things to continue in a healthy way without danger from any avenue. Which is highly unlikely, but I just believe in acknowledging nonzero chances no matter how infinitesimal.

I still feel like a part of me will always want Gremlin back, and want to be available to her just in case, but I am redoubled in my resolve to make sure my needs are met no matter what. No matter how much I care for her, I won't let her lock me down or string me along. Both for my sake, and the sake of potential partners I meet down the road who deserve better.

I will probably add them both to my signature key for context eventually (as well as my two children when I think of cool codenames), but I want to wait until I have actual partners so that it's not just them on there. I'd find that depressing, never mind anyone else who sees me post here.

I hope I can continue to add meaningful insight and have this resource as I walk down my next path in life.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Cool beans, we'll be here whenever you need us. I think it's very natural to still want to be there for Gremlin, as long as you don't commit too much of yourself in that direction. There will be others, I'm sure of it! I look forward to your future signatures. KDT
 
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