Talked to Mono Partner - Totally Heartbroken :''(

damama

New member
I posted on here a few months back about preparing to have a conversation about poly with my mono partner of 4 years. I talked to her the other day and it went so so awfully. I wanted to have a broad relationship check in about what our future looks like - I checked in on the subject of having kids, the question of whether we would want to get married -- and then brought the poly discussion up. I mentioned previously that we'd had a conversation about it about a year and a half ago and I thought at the time that it was a difficult but productive conversation, wherein we agreed that it wasn't a good time and I emphasized that it wasn't something we needed to think or continue talking about concretely. The context of that conversation was related to my partner feeling like she wasn't sexual enough to meet my needs --- in my mind, this was one potential avenue of exploration that could take pressure off of her.

I shared in this convo that it had been coming up as a curiosity for me over the last several months, and I wanted to revisit the conversation because of that. Since we had the original talk, I hadn't brought it up and I hadn't heard her express anything one way or the other about it. I found out in this conversation that our original talk had a really intense impact on her and that she had privately been putting a ton of pressure on herself to be okay with the idea of poly, while also continuing to feel guilty and inadequate about her low sex drive. This really broke my heart because it's been so important to me to go out of my way to validate her whenever she would say she wasn't in the mood or need to stop partway through being sexual.

It was my intention to bring this up again as another opportunity to check in about it. She basically said that she is not okay with it... and that it would need to be something we went on a break if I want to explore. Because of the fact that I brought it up again it was really upsetting for her, and when I told her that with the joy that I get out of other dimensions of our relationship that it was okay, that I was willing to accept that boundary, she's not willing to accept that and is expressing her lack of faith in the compatibility of our partnership, is convinced that I need to explore poly on my own, and doesn't trust me when I say that I'm willing to compromise. I'm so fucking sad right now. I'm so sad that she felt like she needed to force herself to be something she isn't, that she didn't express what she was experiencing so much earlier so that I would have been aware of that. I would have understood earlier that I needed to choose between being mono with her and exploring poly -- and would have known how emotionally sensitive the topic was for her.

This morning we were talking and she was using the analogy of someone coming out as gay in a hetero partnership - that there can still be love there but that the relationship has to transition. I said that it felt more like being bi-curious/bisexual - that it's possible to have a curiosity about the same sex and not actualize its exploration if you're in a partnership that you are happy with and are willing to make that sacrifice.

I'm feeling particularly fucked up because she is wanting to talk to her friends to get support for this challenging moment for her -- this morning she said she was convinced that if she brought up our conversation the friends she wants support from would probably be very judgmental of me and have a soured view of our relationship. She said this about her parents too, who I have a really special relationship with :''-( . I feel foolish for not thinking more deeply about all the angles, I hadn't even considered that this conversation could lead to me being outed against my will - and also outed for literally bringing up a curiosity in conversation, not even being a practicing poly person.

If you're reading this, thank you. I think I'm just looking for some validation and empathy, to be seen and to know that I'm not alone in this kind of experience.

PS I am lucky to have a few close friends who I was able to get nonjudgemental support from. That I'm grateful for.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
This morning we were talking and she was using the analogy of someone coming out as gay in a hetero partnership - that there can still be love there but that the relationship has to transition. I said that it felt more like being bi-curious/bisexual - that it's possible to have a curiosity about the same sex and not actualize its exploration if you're in a partnership that you are happy with and are willing to make that sacrifice.

I usually try to avoid using analogies when they aren't necessary, and this is the reason for that. Being non-monogamous vs monogamous is it's own situation and doesn't need some other comparison to make sense... it only muddies the waters and causes frustration.

She's not wrong though about the concept of transition. If you want some form of non-monogamy, and she wants monogamy (and also needs you to be monogamous), that's an incompatibility that needs to be addressed. It sounds like she's viewing this from a pretty hardline position though, which makes "transition" the wrong word and is more like "dissolve".

It could be that this hard line approach is not going to be her long term viewpoint, but since this conversation started quite some time ago that might not be the case.

I'm feeling particularly fucked up because she is wanting to talk to her friends to get support for this challenging moment for her -- this morning she said she was convinced that if she brought up our conversation the friends she wants support from would probably be very judgmental of me and have a soured view of our relationship. She said this about her parents too, who I have a really special relationship with :''-( . I feel foolish for not thinking more deeply about all the angles, I hadn't even considered that this conversation could lead to me being outed against my will - and also outed for literally bringing up a curiosity in conversation, not even being a practicing poly person.

If you telling your friends and loved ones that you are not monogamous ends or notably tarnishes the relationship, I would say that wasn't a very valuable relationship to begin with.

It's a risky thing stepping outside of tradition in a world that puts adherence to tradition as a high (and sometimes absolute) priority. Some people are going to reject you out of hand, while others will be more reasonable and recognize that everyone is different and wants different things out of life. Insisting on living an authentic life is the ultimate in value for me, but that comes at a price.

I'm proud of you for voicing what you want in a relationship, it can be a frightening thing and most people go their whole lives without being willing to take a risk like that. You've done it, which puts you in an elite class.
 

Token2

Member
I'm no expert. Except to say I have experienced having my partner drop the concept on me when I was not ready - and then coming full circle to be the one transitioning our relationship into poly...

When he expressed his desire to explore to me I felt - frightened, unwanted, less valuable to him.

Nothing he could say could convince me otherwise - but his loving energy went a long way.

How much of your desire to explore is motivated by your mismatched sex drive? Maybe you can start there? Play with concepts that keep her central and expand from there.

That said it sounds like she's not willing to compromise for the relationship. Have you read about Dan Savage's Price of Admission? It's a good starting point for couples working out what they're prepared to live with to keep the relationship and hopefully keep it growing...
 
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TinCup

Member
I'm not labeling or insinuating that asexuality is involved in your relationship but I do know that there is a group of people who deal with extremely incompatible sexualities in their relationships and how to work through the options available in this sub-forum: Sexual partners, friends, and allies

Your story is similar enough it might be worth visiting how they work through it.
 

HaloOnFire

Active member
If you telling your friends and loved ones that you are not monogamous ends or notably tarnishes the relationship, I would say that wasn't a very valuable relationship to begin with.

It's a risky thing stepping outside of tradition in a world that puts adherence to tradition as a high (and sometimes absolute) priority. Some people are going to reject you out of hand, while others will be more reasonable and recognize that everyone is different and wants different things out of life. Insisting on living an authentic life is the ultimate in value for me, but that comes at a price.

First, I would like to say that I am truly sorry this is happening.



@Marcus pretty much nailed all of this. However, I would like to add that if friends and family are doing this, if it is not over poly, it would be over something else. And I mean literally ANYTHING else. It could be your job, your other friends, your clothes, your music, your...whatever. I have noticed that with some people, they will sink the whole ship if they cannot be the captain.
 

damama

New member
Thanks for these replies everyone - has made me feel far less alone. If it wasn't obvious, my nervous system was hella flooded when I wrote that post - feeling more centered now thankfully.
I usually try to avoid using analogies when they aren't necessary, and this is the reason for that. Being non-monogamous vs monogamous is it's own situation and doesn't need some other comparison to make sense... it only muddies the waters and causes frustration.

She's not wrong though about the concept of transition. If you want some form of non-monogamy, and she wants monogamy (and also needs you to be monogamous), that's an incompatibility that needs to be addressed. It sounds like she's viewing this from a pretty hardline position though, which makes "transition" the wrong word and is more like "dissolve".
I hear you and respectfully disagree about analogies. I agree that mono/non-mono is it's own situation, but I find metaphor and analogy to be an important entry point into understanding in many different situations. Not sure I would have used this particular analogy if she hadn't brought up the comparison, but that's where the conversation went and I think the gay/bi differentiation was clarifying to some degree.

I think the challenge in incompatibility is more about our sex drives than a deeply seeded need for me to have multiple partners / be practicing CNM. CNM is something that I have curiosity about and some resonance with -- but a need to be monogamous is not a deal-breaker for me.

Thanks for the clarification of language. I think I used 'transition' to refer to the fact that we both have expressed intentions of being in relationship with one another even if our romantic relationship were to end. Perhaps this is a word that would be better used to describe transitioning from mono to poly or vice vesa?

If you telling your friends and loved ones that you are not monogamous ends or notably tarnishes the relationship, I would say that wasn't a very valuable relationship to begin with.
It's a risky thing stepping outside of tradition in a world that puts adherence to tradition as a high (and sometimes absolute) priority. Some people are going to reject you out of hand, while others will be more reasonable and recognize that everyone is different and wants different things out of life. Insisting on living an authentic life is the ultimate in value for me, but that comes at a price.
I hear that. At this moment my feeling is that my partner may have been more speaking from a place of fear, hurt, overwhelm - and as I noted above, I was quite flooded and scared when I wrote this post. Knowing the folks that she is referring to, I think that at least some of them would probably be understanding of the situation. It's true that there is risk involved, and I think that it was much more abstract for me before this conversation.
I'm proud of you for voicing what you want in a relationship, it can be a frightening thing and most people go their whole lives without being willing to take a risk like that. You've done it, which puts you in an elite class.
Thanks - it was hella frightening to have this conversation. I don't personally feel comfortable referring myself in terms of being 'elite' - but it does feel good to affirm myself / be affirmed in my willingness to be vulnerable and speak my truth in this way.

I'm no expert. Except to say I have experienced having my partner drop the concept on me when I was not ready - and then coming full circle to be the one transitioning our relationship into poly...

When he expressed his desire to explore to me I felt - frightened, unwanted, less valuable to him.

Nothing he could say could convince me otherwise - but his loving energy went a long way.

How much of your desire to explore is motivated by your mismatched sex drive? Maybe you can start there? Play with concepts that keep her central and expand from there.

That said it sounds like she's not willing to compromise for the relationship. Have you read about Dan Savage's Price of Admission? It's a good starting point for couples working out what they're prepared to live with to keep the relationship and hopefully keep it growing...

I really appreciate this. Hearing what you shared about feeling frightened, unwanted, less valuable to your partner really increases my compassion for my partner in ways that feel important. It's been good to get these reminders of how much hurt she is feeling in order to orient towards that compassion. Thinking about loving energy helps. The day after our initial talk when things were super difficult she wasn't really able to receive anything I was saying -- am trying to focus on turning towards, offering support and care in different ways, being graceful and respectful of the space she needs right now.

The desire to explore is definitely motivated by the mismatched sex drive. CNM is something I've been curious about for some time - and applied to my life in nonsexual contexts (i.e. general principle of getting different needs met by multiple relationships) - since before our relationship, but as I mentioned above, the need to be mono or poly does not have dealbreaker status for me. We've talked about couples and/or sex therapy and it's something I'd like to explore. I think rn it's a question of whether she is too overwhelmed with everything that is going on in her life to put more energy into exploring those avenues / whether she'd feel better just being on her own and not being in a context that aggravates her sense of inadequacy.

This Price of Admission talk is amazing, thank you so much. Really resonant. As I mentioned above - yes, she's made it clear that poly is not something that she's open to - and I'm not sure within the mono relationship if she is willing to put in the energy working to find middle ground.

I'm not labeling or insinuating that asexuality is involved in your relationship but I do know that there is a group of people who deal with extremely incompatible sexualities in their relationships and how to work through the options available in this sub-forum: Sexual partners, friends, and allies

Your story is similar enough it might be worth visiting how they work through it.
Thanks so much this is super helpful. Re: the asexuality, you're not at all off the mark. My partner has referred to herself as identifying as asexual / demisexual at different points in her life / has talked about sex in her previous relationships feeling 'transactional', and has plainly said that she would be completely okay being in a relationship with no sex. I read some of these posts and they are very helpful / give me a really healing sense of not being alone.

I think right now I'm just trying to cool off and let us both reset a bit before we reconnect and talk more about this. It's been an intense few days.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi damama,

I'm very sorry to hear how badly the conversation with your partner went. It almost feels to me like she betrayed your trust. First she withheld her true feelings about poly, then she threatened to out you against your will. It's almost as if she's punishing you or striking back. I know that's not what's really happening, but that's what it feels like. She's deeply hurt, and it is a very human response for her to want to hurt the person who is causing her hurt. Especially if she is overwhelmed.

Give her some space to reset. Then revisit the conversation later when you are both able to approach it from a place of calm and clarity. Definitely meet with a couple's counselor if you can.

Sympathetically,
Kevin T.
 

Ostrich

Active member
First, I read all the posts, however, reading comprehension is not my strong suit, so I might have misunderstood some posts. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

To the discussion about your wife's 'transition' to a different type of relationship. I agree, transition may not be the correct word, but dissolve sounds like it's ending. Would de-escalation be a more accurate word for her in thinking about CNM?

Also, from your last post about her sexuality. If she is accepting of you having sex with others, would you be open to a fuck buddy/FWB relationship? Is she more worried about a possible emotional connection you may have with your sexual partner? Keep up the discussion regarding your feelings for her, so she absolutely knows where you are emotionally with her. My husband made sure I knew I was his primary partner and his feelings for me had not changed since we got married. He reinforced this through follow up discussions and it helped me immensely.

On the note about her telling family and friends about your wants. There's a lot of misinformation out there about CNM/polyamory, so they may have negative preconceived notions about how it is practiced. You may want to work with your wife to ensure your agreement(s) with her are communicated correctly/accurately with those folks. Granted, there may be other factors not involving CNM which may affect your relationship with them, but if they are better informed by you and your wife about what you are actually practicing, it would go a long way in keeping those relationships healthy.

Again, let me know if I misconstrued anything. I hope my input helps.
 
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