Struggling with poly relationship

George Edmonds

New member
I'm finding my relationship increasingly difficult and not really got anyone to talk to about it/make sense of it.

My struggle is that the more we fall for each other, the more difficult I find it, knowing she sleeps with her long-term partner.

What makes this even more difficult for me is that she finds it very difficult even when I see a platonic female friend. On the occasions I have spoken to her about whether me starting a relationship with somebody else might help me understand polyamory better, even the thought of it has had a huge impact on her, seemingly triggering similar fears and anxieties to my seeing female friends.

I guess effectively I am in a monogamous relationship with somebody who is in a poly relationship and is fearful of this changing/me being with somebody else. I do feel I am cut out for polyamory, but this situation is difficult. So I am feeling a lot of internal conflict.

I am not sure what help I am seeking, but any thoughts, reflections, advice, encouragement would be helpful. I'm starting to wonder if I am crazy, finding this so difficult.
 
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All I can see is that both you and your gf are struggling with fear of loss, resulting in jealousy. You don't trust the ethics of polyamory, wherein people can have sex with multiple people and still maintain healthy relationships with each.

Ironically, she is even fearful when you relate to platonic female friends. That shows even more insecurity. I hear a lot of talk these days about attachment styles, including anxious attachment. Could that be part of what is going on?

My ex-husband and I were mono, but he was always anxious even about my platonic relationships with my sister and my other female friends. He assumed I was "talking shit about him" and them about their husbands. He had low self esteem. Ugh. One more reason we broke up. Despite much therapy and years of trying, he couldn't move out of this suspicious mindset.

It sounds like you were both caught up in the heady feelings of NRE at first, but now that you're sobering up a bit, your monogamous programming is kicking back in and you're getting caught up in the stereotypical feelings that having sex with more than one person is disloyal, bad, to be avoided. You're missing the basic trust in the basics tenet of polyamory, of fully being able to romantically love more than one person.

Our official greeter has a list of questions and answer links about jealousy and what do do about it, but before he comes along, you could search the term jealousy here, or just Google "jealousy in polyamory" on the web, to give you more information on how to deal with it, face it, analyze your fears and overcome them.
 
Do you have sleepovers with her?

Do you have relationship or life objectives (like kids) which she is unavailable to fulfil?;
Hey thanks for your reply.

Yes, we have lots of sleepovers, normally weekly for 1 or 2 nights.

And no life objectives for me that are conflicted here. Same for her as far as I am aware from our conversations.
 
All I can see is that both you and your gf are struggling with fear of loss, resulting in jealousy. You don't trust the ethics of polyamory, wherein people can have sex with multiple people and still maintain healthy relationships with each.

Ironically, she is even fearful when you relate to platonic female friends. That shows even more insecurity. I hear a lot of talk these days about attachment styles, including anxious attachment. Could that be part of what is going on?

My ex-husband and I were mono, but he was always anxious even about my platonic relationships with my sister and my other female friends. He assumed I was "talking shit about him" and them about their husbands. He had low self esteem. Ugh. One more reason we broke up. (Despite much therapy and years of trying, he couldn't move out of this suspicious mindset.

It sounds like you were both caught up in the heady feelings of NRE at first, but now that you're sobering up a bit, your monogamous programming is kicking back in and you're getting caught up in the stereotypical feelings that having sex with more than one person is disloyal, bad, to be avoided. You're missing the basic trust in the basics tenet of polyamory, of fully being able to romantically love more than one person.

Our official greeter has a list of questions and answer links about jealousy and what do do about it, but before he comes along, you could search the term jealousy here, or just Google "jealousy in polyamory" on the web, to give you more information on how to deal with it, face it, analyze your fears and overcome them.
Hi, thanks for your reply.

I think theres a lot of helpful stuff and likely true stuff in what you say.

I think the main thing that is making it more difficult for me is that I am trying to de-programme myself to be more OK with her being with somebody else (through therapy and self study and research) but find the fact that even me seeing a friend is so triggering keeps taking me back to square one and a feeling that something isn't right here. I really want to feel the trust and maybe even compersion I sense is possible for me to feel (I have had glimpses of it). Maybe it is that I'm not feeling the trust both ways that is making it difficult?

But thank you. And for the resources tips.
 
I'm sorry you struggle.

Polyamory requires you to have both hinge skills and meta skills. New relationship energy (NRE) lasts 6-24 mos. It sounds like you two were caught up in that for a time, and are just coming out of the "rose-colored-glasses" phase. Now you're seeing how she actually is. And you see some problems.

This makes my difficulties even worse, as it feels unbalanced and unfair, given how hard I work on trying to be okay with her additional relationship.

You seem to be seeing clearly enough. It IS unbalanced and unfair.

You aren't a hinge yet. You have yet to date other people, mostly because your GF gets all upset, when she's got another partner too. And that person is also dating. What's the deal there?

You had to develop your meta skills first and deal with the fact that your hinge came with another partner, and might poly-date more. You are a bit wobbly there, but trying. I think that's reasonable for where you are at in your first poly relationship. It's only been a year. It's okay to be a newbie.

But I think it's unreasonable for you to limit your dating life just because the hinge gets jealous/sad. If she can't even deal with you having friends, she could work on her skills some. And you could work on detaching some-- not like you don't care about her at all, but you can't be all up in her feelings, and then shrink your own life because she feels yucky, not see your friends, not poly-date, etc.

If you think talking to a poly counselor could help you, you might try:


You could ask her if she'd be willing to do couple's counseling.

I think the main thing that is making it more difficult for me is that I am trying to de-programme myself to be more OK with her being with somebody else (through therapy and self-study and research) but find the fact that even me seeing a friend is so triggering keeps taking me back to square one and a feeling that something isn't right here.

That's the thing. You can be doing individual therapy, and doing the work on your side, but you can't do HER work for her.

She's triggered with you just seeing your friends? Wassup with that? Is she doing her therapy to resolve that, or putting it on you to "solve" it for her, like, you shrink yourself into a box so she's never triggered?

I really want to feel the trust and maybe even compersion I sense is possible for me to feel (I have had glimpses of it). Maybe it is that I'm not feeling the trust both ways that is making it difficult?

If the trust thing can't be resolved here, it is possible that she might be your first poly relationship, but not a lasting one. You could break up because you're not deeply compatible, after all. Just like in monogamy, someone might have their first monogamous relationship, but they break up because they aren't compatible, after all.

I am not saying this to be mean, but more to encourage you to maintain some perspective here-- I can see you love her, but you ALSO have to love yourself and take care of your own long-term well-being. Don't go bending into pretzels just to keep her happy, or to help her avoid doing her personal work. YKWIM?

Galagirl
 
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Hello George Edmonds,

It sounds like you and your partner are having a harder and harder time sharing each other with others. It's almost like the two of you wish you were in a monogamous relationship with each other.

If you want to be polyamorous, you'll have to get okay with sharing your partner with others. At the same time, if your partner wants to be polyamorous, she'll have to get okay with the idea of you dating others. If the two of you can't do that, you may need to consider breaking up. I hope it doesn't come to that.

You would not be the first person to struggle with poly like this. Many other people have been there before. Sometimes it gets better if you can just endure it over time. Communication with your partner also helps. Here's the list of jealousy links:
I hope that helps.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 
she finds it very difficult even when I see a platonic female friend. It hurts/effects her as if I am sleeping with them/having an affair.
What makes you poly isn’t your ability to be comfortable having more than one partner, it’s your ability to be comfortable seeing your partners have other partners.

This makes my difficulties even worse, as it feels unbalanced and unfair, given how hard I work on trying to be okay with her additional relationship
It is. She needs to experience it and learn how to manage her feelings as well. You are in a poly relationship of her choosing. Go date and give her the chance to either grow or decide she isn’t poly after all. It is difficult work but not impossible. We all go through it in one way or another.
whether me starting a relationship with somebody else might help me understand polyamory better, even the thought of it has had a huge impact on her, seemingly triggering similar fears and anxieties to my seeing female friends.
you should! It’s not okay for her to have multiple relationships and relegate you to only her. You are not responsible for her feelings. This doesn’t sound like love, it sounds like obsession which tries to control.

Im curious about how she thinks things have changed in her first relationship since becoming poly? For me, I became more secure in poly because I got to experience first hand loving someone else did NOT effect how I felt for my established partner. In fact, the support from my established partner in being with my newer one actually made me feel more love for him.

Maybe things did change for her. Maybe she is more monogamous than she wants to believe because that night mean her other relationship is over but she’s to afraid to break up with him because she thinks they are too entwined? Maybe her feelings are stronger for you and she doesn’t want to risk you finding someone where your feelings are stronger for them than her?

I would unpack your own stuff and lead with that. It sounds like being poly is something you are interested in and want to explore. So go explore! Tell her about it and listen to her but dont let her feelings change your mind. You can sympathize with her feelings and choose to date. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
 
It's not uncommon for a highly-partnered poly person to worry that their "single" partner might find a "primary" relationship too, and that relationship will push out their "secondary" relationship. It happens.

I'd not advise someone who wants the traditional relationship escalator to allow a secondary relationship to prevent them from
finding a spouse. The OP here doesn't seem to have those goals, but who knows?
 
I'm sorry you struggle.

Polyamory requires you to have both hinge skills and meta skills. New relationship energy (NRE) lasts 6-24 mos. It sounds like you two were caught up in that for a time, and are just coming out of the "rose-colored-glasses" phase. Now you're seeing how she actually is. And you see some problems.



You seem to be seeing clearly enough. It IS unbalanced and unfair.

You aren't a hinge yet. You have yet to date other people, mostly because your GF gets all upset, when she's got another partner too. And that person is also dating. What's the deal there?

You had to develop your meta skills first and deal with the fact that your hinge came with another partner, and might poly-date more. You are a bit wobbly there, but trying. I think that's reasonable for where you are at in your first poly relationship. It's only been a year. It's okay to be a newbie.

But I think it's unreasonable for you to limit your dating life just because the hinge gets jealous/sad. If she can't even deal with you having friends, she could work on her skills some. And you could work on detaching some-- not like you don't care about her at all, but you can't be all up in her feelings, and then shrink your own life because she feels yucky, not see your friends, not poly-date, etc.

If you think talking to a poly counselor could help you, you might try:


You could ask her if she'd be willing to do couple's counseling.



That's the thing. You can be doing individual therapy, and doing the work on your side, but you can't do HER work for her.

She's triggered with you just seeing your friends? Wassup with that? Is she doing her therapy to resolve that, or putting it on you to "solve" it for her, like, you shrink yourself into a box so she's never triggered?



If the trust thing can't be resolved here, it is possible that she might be your first poly relationship, but not a lasting one. You could break up because you're not deeply compatible, after all. Just like in monogamy, someone might have their first monogamous relationship, but they break up because they aren't compatible, after all.

I am not saying this to be mean, but more to encourage you to maintain some perspective here-- I can see you love her, but you ALSO have to love yourself and take care of your own long-term well-being. Don't go bending into pretzels just to keep her happy, or to help her avoid doing her personal work. YKWIM?

Galagirl
Hi,

Thanks so much for your reply. It didn't sound mean - just honest and helpful. There's a load of good stuff in what you have said for me to think about and us to talk about, so thank you.
Geo
 
Maybe things did change for her. Maybe she is more monogamous than she wants to believe because that night mean her other relationship is over, but she’s too afraid to break up with him because she thinks they are too entwined? Maybe her feelings are stronger for you, and she doesn’t want to risk you finding someone where your feelings are stronger for them than her?
This is very helpful. Yes, it feels like this is maybe what is happening here.

I would unpack your own stuff and lead with that. It sounds like being poly is something you are interested in and want to explore. So go explore! Tell her about it and listen to her but don't let her feelings change your mind. You can sympathize with her feelings and choose to date. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Thank you. Your reply has been sooo helpful.
 
It's not uncommon for a highly partnered poly person to worry that their "single" partner might find a "primary" relationship too, and that relationship will push out their "secondary" relationship. It happens.

I'd not advise someone who wants the traditional relationship escalator to allow a secondary relationship to prevent them finding a spouse. OP here doesn't seem to have those goals but who knows?

That all makes sense and is helpful to read. Thank you.
 
You had to develop your meta skills first and deal with the fact that your hinge came with another partner, and might poly-date more. You are a bit wobbly there, but trying. I think that's reasonable for where you are at in your first poly relationship. It's only been a year. It's okay to be a newbie.

Hi @GalaGirl this might be a dumb question, but where can I read more about meta skills and developing them? I did some searching but couldn't find what I think you are referring to.
 
Hi @GalaGirl this might be a dumb question, but where can I read more about meta skills and developing them? I did some searching but couldn't find what I think you are referring to.
If you check our Glossary, you'll find definitions of terms we use in polyamory.

Meta, in this case, was shorthand for metamour. You can also look up hinge, V, etc.

Edited: Here is a glossary, which was composed in the early days of this board. I actually don't like the definition of metamour that appears down the list. It's weirdly skewed, gender-wise.


I'd define metamour as a person your partner is dating, that you are not dating yourself. So, say, Alan is dating Barbie, and Ken is also dating Barbie. Alan and Ken are metamours. This is a V relationship.

If Alan and Ken are also dating each other, then they are all (Barbie, Ken and Alan) metamours of each other, as well as partners, and the arrangement is a triad.
 
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If you check our Glossary, you'll find definitions of terms we use in polyamory.

Meta, in this case, was shorthand for metamour. You can also look up hinge, V, etc.

Thank you. I was wondering if Meta meant something else other than shorthand for metamour so thank you for clarifying.
 
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