The Best Life Yet

AutumnLeaves

New member
You aren't your best when you're burnt out. No wonder you're having such a hard time processing right now. You're throwing so much time and energy into balancing yourself and pleasing everyone else that you have no time to please yourself and do what YOU want.

Here's another option: schedule a "you" day.

I date myself on Sundays. This means mostly that I spend time at home and enjoy doing the things I enjoy doing alone. I deserve time with me as much, or more than, other people deserve time with me. I can't fight that I'm an introvert and recharge on alone time.

As adults, we sometimes have to schedule "unscheduled" time. Set a boundary there and keep it. Pick a day, tell everyone you're busy that day if they try to make plans. Because you will be busy, taking some time for you. You don't owe ANYONE your time.

If they love you, they will understand and respect that you need some time to yourself. Set aside the worry about how you taking time for yourself might hurt others' feelings and think about how NOT doing so is ACTIVELY hurting YOU.

(PS: fantasies about running away from your life is a form of suicidal ideation.)

(PPS: Oona, I swear, from your blog, she spends most of her time wishing you were someone you're not and trying to make you into that person. She isn't responsible to answer for you and her trying to put her choices on you is crappy friend behavior.)
 

breathemusic

Active member
I very much agree with what AutumnLeaves said.

It sounds like you need to set aside a day for you at least once a week. That would still leave 3 days each for the guys, but you would get your down time to introvert and recharge. They might not like it, but it's your time, your life, and I think they'd rather you have that day then feel like you're ready to just give up on your relationships because you hit your "done" point!

I also think that you should stop censoring yourself so much around both of them. Sounds like each one needs a stern talking to about handling their own jealousy and not dumping it on you so that you can express yourself as needed. And if they get jealous? So be it. Maybe they'd feel less jealous if they also knew that you were talking positively about them to the other partner. Rider might feel like he hears all about Dustin and then you go spend time with Dustin, and not realize that you probably also talk about Rider around Dustin. So he's feeling like everything is all about Dustin. And then if Dustin hears you talk about Rider, it's the same thing. So they need a good "guess what, yes, I'm in a serious thing with someone else besides you and I love you both. So I'm going to talk about you both and be happy about you both and enjoy my life with you both, and you can deal with it, or if you can't then you can re-evaluate whether you can handle being in a poly relationship with me... because I'm not going to continue feeling like I have to constantly censor myself to protect your ego."


It sounds to me like Oona has never been and never will be understanding or on board with poly. She doesn't get it and never will. If she doesn't want to defend you to friends, then she should stop gossiping about you with your mutual friends and if they bring up something she could say "if you want to know something, go ask Reverie." But it's not like she's some model of relationship perfection considering how on and off again she's been with Toby for years. Don't feel like you have to sit through rants like that. You're clearly busting your ass to make these relationships work, which is all anyone can really do in the end. You consistently try to be thoughtful with your partners, consider their feelings, etc. even to the detriment of your own. I hope that you start feeling better soon and that all of these people who mean so much to you can get their shit together!
 

Spork

Active member
And there ya go, what's needed said is said.

Look, as we grow and mature, we have to leave the high school gossip ring behind. You have to really think about what you know and believe, your own core values, and if some of your friends are not compatible with that, you do NOT have to keep them on board your ship. You gotta live your life by your own rules, and if Oona has a problem with that, then cut her loose. I don't care how long you've been friends. I had a best friend of 20 years I parted ways with not too many years back, and it sucks but sometimes that's how stuff has to be. She has no obligation or need to manage your reputation, and if anyone else is demanding she participate in gossip, SHE can opt out. A good friend doesn't come at you like, "Hey look, the way you live your life is very inconvenient for me. So if you could just be someone easier for me to explain to other people, that would be great." That's nonsense.

You've got a lot of STUFF riling you up. Break it into each piece and think about them separately. You know how false this 50%/100% thinking is. Dustin has never had a 100% healthy relationship with anybody in his damn life. If he's happier with you than he's ever been with anyone, he's going to have to work through the issues that make him not happy if he wants to keep this. As a grown dude, he ought to know that. It's not like you dangled false hope in his face that one day you were gonna leave Rider for him. He has known the score ALL ALONG. He can do it, or he can not.

But FFS, dude needs to get off the fence. If he's a monogamous fella, he needs to quit foolin' around and be monogamous. If he's poly-hearted, he needs to do that ethically. You wouldn't have had an issue with him messing around with another gal, but he needs to ditch the shame and hiding and the spite piece of it. It never ceases to amaze me how the "ethical" part of "ethical nonmonogamy" is what people seem to have a struggle with. Like they understand cheating, sneaking, lying, but being openly nonmono without bringing a bunch of icky wrongness into it suddenly makes it SO WEIRD. Like does he just want to be a jealous, possessive cheater?

I say ya need to take some time for yourself, indeed, and frankly if you could find a way to do it, I'd say even a little solo getaway wouldn't be amiss. Like instead of scheduling a thing to go enjoy with one of your boys or any of your friends, schedule a day trip for YOURSELF. Take some art supplies and make something, whether it's good or not. Take a great book. Take a camera and go photograph things. Go away from people for a minute. You need to reconnect with YOU. And quit letting a bunch of muggles use your love life as a punching bag.

You don't. Owe anyone. Anything. Not explanations. Not justifications. Not "100%" (whatever that even means.)
 

GirlFromTexlahoma

New member
(((hugs)))
I feel you on the " hingeing is hard" thing. I don't need alone time much, but I do need downtime, and it's a struggle to even get that. I would be going insane if I couldn't recharge while watching tv with Andy or going on a walk with Castle.
Don't forget to make time for you, whether that's introvert nights or just having your guys spend some of their Reverie-time helping you get day to day stuff done.
And tell nosy friends to butt out. Breaking up with someone for their own good, as noble as it sounds, is depriving that person of their chance to make their own choices.
Hang in there :)
 
Oh Reverie. I'm sad to read your latest update. It does indeed sound very tough. You seem to have lots of stuff going on all at once and you seem unsure of what it is that you want in the long term.

I hope that you are able to work it all out.
 

Tinwen

Active member
Oh Reverie, I'm sorry you're feeling worn out by the demands posed on you and by the social stigma to the point of having suicidal thoughts :( I've only had them a few times in my life and always in a moment of exhaustion, so hopefully some healthy rest will bring you relief.

I agree with others about Oona. It's none of her business to tell you what you should do. As for the "having to explain" part, she's doing you a disservice if she indeed tries to explain anything about your relationship. Tell her to please refer people to you directly.
I also agree that you will have to firm up your boundaries around alone time.
Look, if you feel like you're "hurting" your guys by not giving them all they want, drop that shit. You can only sustainably do the things together that you both want and are able to do.

You wrote me a post a while ago about the doubts Dustin has - and thank you for that! (I've been a bit off of polyamory.com lately, I actually came to your blog because I remembered to say thank you.) My position indeed mirrors his position. So although our concerns are a bit different, I there are also similar sentiments.
That also means that your position mirrors Idealist's a bit, and I've read your current posts and saw the concens he's also had (including friend telling him he should dump me and his own mother telling him he should dump Meta). Except... he's very much a "fuck social pressure" kind of person. Also, he'll try his best but certainly won't selfflagelate about letting someone down if he "fails". I guess it's a healthier attitude in this case :(
I admitt that I have had thought of "It would be so much easier if he just dumped me." But for all the times that were challenging there were also incredible rewards. I would not choose NOT having this relationship.
Dustin can also decide for himself.
I admitt I tend to side a bit with Rider since you're newly married. But of course, he needs to accept the limitations of reality too. I hope you can work out your libido! You could visit some tantra together, it works.

Anyway, best of luck to you...
 

Reverie

Active member
Have you and Rider reviewed the poly hell article that's frequently shared here?

PinkPig, we decided to actually go over that last night after dinner, and he said that it's actually nothing that article can help. The underlying issue is that he's (understandably) freaked out about my reconsidering my reproductive choices, and he won't be able to feel fully secure in the relationship until that is no longer something that is stirring around in my mind. I totally get all of that, and all I can really do is just continue to treat him well and continue to be honest with him while I work to better know my own mind.

1) you've turned a picnic on the grass, something that loads of couples do all the time, into an amazing unique gift that few people will be into. Go to any college campus on a sunny day and you'll see lots of couples doing what you just described. Maybe it's that you haven't met many people with shared interests. Either way, it's actually sad that you see something so basic as this sign that you are meant to be. I'd read a book with you under the trees if you want and I can assure you that we aren't meant to be.

I never said "we're meant to be." That sounds like some kind of fate thing or something, and I don't believe any of this was preordained. What I was trying to relay with that anecdote was something like this: Here is a person who shares a ton of my interests and often suggests before I do the sorts of things that I love to do. This has been rare in my life. We also share a lot of love together. Given that we like a lot of the same things, have a lot of fun together, and are in love, it seems foolish to break up with him before it becomes necessary to, if it ever does.

I'm not sure what's "sad" about that, other than it'll suck if it ends. If you mean it's sad that I place such a hefty value on the shared-interests aspect (ways in which we are compatible) over ways in which we might be incompatible in the long run, I guess I can sort of see your point—maybe it'll turn out to be a fool's errand—but I feel like "try to make it work" is better at this exact point than giving up would be.

2) You can't only be okay with polyamory when it benefits you. It's not okay that your husband was seeing someone and they were enjoying a relationship that moved at a seemingly appropriate pace. A reasonable pace. And you gave him an ultimatum of either changing the boundaries of that relationship so she is disposable or ending his pending/new marriage with you. Then you met a guy who liked you and sprinted full speed into this thing where you're reconsidering MAJOR life decisions.

This whole section doesn't make a lot of sense to me in the picture of what is happening currently. Are you referring to my struggling with hinging as being "not okay with polyamory" because it's not currently benefiting me? I'm trying to get better at it. I do suck at it, admittedly, with the reasons why enumerated in my post, but I'm not making any rash moves to change things just because I'm frustrated.

I'm not sure what the Hannah thing has to do with any of this, but these days I am fine if Rider wants to date people at whatever level he feels like. It's the hinging that I'm struggling with—not any kind of relationships that Rider might have.

And, yes, I'm reconsidering major life decisions. It is a thought process. It's not one I'm taking lightly or being quick to turn into actions. As I say in so many of my posts lately, I plan to sit, think write, consider, and not make any premature moves. It's a wild feeling, to be re-examining questions that I thought were settled. It's making me dust off parts of myself I haven't looked at in a while. All I can really do is feel my feelings, consider my options, be honest about my thoughts and feelings, and refrain from acting rashly. To bottle the thoughts and feelings up, or to hide them from others who might be affected, or to actually act, all seem like the worse options.

If I was Rider, and this is *all* projection, your actions would make me feel really low.

Which actions?

And honestly, from reading them, sometimes you sound like an infatuated teenager and not a thirty something married woman with responsibilities and goals.

I kinda figure . . . if I can't sound like an infatuated teenager in my blog, which I basically treat as a diary, where can I? I'm definitely infatuated. I do, at least, tend my responsibilities, even if I am currently reassessing my goals.

I think at the very least you need to pause before you really hurt a lot of people. Including yourself.

"Pause" is literally my exact strategy right now. I am pledged to myself to do nothing—take no kind of action—till I figure my shit out. This means no breakups, no additional promises, no pregnancies, no changes in living situation, no adding more partners or pets, no quitting my job, etc. I find myself in a tangle, and I believe that being very still is the only way that I will figure out how to untangle it.

I'm sorry to hear about your recent struggles, Reverie. :( I hope it all works out somehow! *hugs*

Thank you. Hugs are welcome!

If she doesn't want to defend you to friends, then she should stop gossiping about you with your mutual friends and if they bring up something she could say "if you want to know something, go ask Reverie." But it's not like she's some model of relationship perfection considering how on and off again she's been with Toby for years. Don't feel like you have to sit through rants like that.

It sounds like they your friends are behaving like teenagers....gossiping about you and your relationships. Not cool. I don't blame you for wanting to live alone on an island. I hope things settle down for you. ((Hugs))

Thanks. Yeah, it feels a bit like a childish gossip mill sometimes. I'd be fine if they were just talking about me. Sharing stories, including other people's stories, seems to be human nature. But it's the clucking and judgment that gets to me.
 

Reverie

Active member
You aren't your best when you're burnt out. No wonder you're having such a hard time processing right now. You're throwing so much time and energy into balancing yourself and pleasing everyone else that you have no time to please yourself and do what YOU want.

Here's another option: schedule a "you" day.

I date myself on Sundays. This means mostly that I spend time at home and enjoy doing the things I enjoy doing alone. I deserve time with me as much, or more than, other people deserve time with me. I can't fight that I'm an introvert and recharge on alone time.

As adults, we sometimes have to schedule "unscheduled" time. Set a boundary there and keep it. Pick a day, tell everyone you're busy that day if they try to make plans. Because you will be busy, taking some time for you. You don't owe ANYONE your time.

If they love you, they will understand and respect that you need some time to yourself. Set aside the worry about how you taking time for yourself might hurt others' feelings and think about how NOT doing so is ACTIVELY hurting YOU.

I very much agree with what AutumnLeaves said.

It sounds like you need to set aside a day for you at least once a week. That would still leave 3 days each for the guys, but you would get your down time to introvert and recharge. They might not like it, but it's your time, your life, and I think they'd rather you have that day then feel like you're ready to just give up on your relationships because you hit your "done" point!

I say ya need to take some time for yourself, indeed, and frankly if you could find a way to do it, I'd say even a little solo getaway wouldn't be amiss. Like instead of scheduling a thing to go enjoy with one of your boys or any of your friends, schedule a day trip for YOURSELF. Take some art supplies and make something, whether it's good or not. Take a great book. Take a camera and go photograph things. Go away from people for a minute. You need to reconnect with YOU.

(((hugs)))
Don't forget to make time for you, whether that's introvert nights or just having your guys spend some of their Reverie-time helping you get day to day stuff done.

So, I basically did this Monday, to mixed results. I canceled my concert plans for tonight, telling Rider that I needed a night home alone. And, after we talked over dinner last night about a bunch of this stuff, I told him that I think I might need to start scheduling myself some alone time each week.

His reaction was mixed. First, he said, "That sounds like a good idea. Of course I want you to have the time that you need." But then, after a few minutes, he said, "Promise me you'll be fair about it, though."

I asked him what he meant by that. He said that he wants me to make sure I carve my alone time out of "Dustin's time" as often as I did out of HIS time. I boggled. "Dude," I said, "IT IS ALL MY TIME. IT'S NOT YOUR TIME. IT'S NOT HIS TIME. IT'S MY TIME."

"Well, sure," he said, "but you know what I mean. I want to make sure it's not coming out of my hide."

"I'm talking about three nights a week with you, and three with him, and one for MYSELF. During which I'll probably still sleep next to you. Is that unreasonable to you?"

This is where things took a turn for the weird.

"Knowing you," he said, "you'll need more like three nights. And I just want to make sure they're not all mine. I want to make sure you're not out partying with him three nights and then have nothing left over for me."

"First of all," I said, "when have I ever, the entire time you've known me, needed three entire nights alone? Where did that number come from? Secondly, if you suspect I'll need three nights, why on earth are you balking at one? Thirdly, who said anything about adding in more partying? It doesn't make sense . . ."

And then he explained that by "three nights," he didn't mean three nights completely alone. He meant that before I had any other partners, I'd generally spend a few nights a week having my introvert time where I surfed the internet or read books or did extra work or whatever. And so he doesn't want me to have one night actually alone, and then two nights where we are "alone together," since he is craving intense connection to me.

I get that, for sure, but I guess what he doesn't understand is that THAT much face-in-laptop time is not a pure necessity for me. The amount I used to do that was not all my introversion. It was also as much a product of just us having different interests, and not being able to fill intense one-on-one face time constantly. He wanted to play guitar or watch wrestling shows or football. I wanted to write here, pin pretty things on Pinterest, research etymologies, look up recipes, or plan hikes. And some of the time, we'd share a thing together or goof off together or go out drinking, etc. Those stretches of time in between were the times that I don't think we could have filled with each other, post-NRE, so I filled it with other stuff. But I think that now, since I'm gone nearly half the time, we can fill all our time. Our time together is compressed, so there is less space to fill, if that makes sense. I didn't go into all that. I did tell him that I didn't think it'd be a problem for us to actually make the most of our time together.

I also told him that, for self-care reasons, I needed to get back to being a stickler about my bedtime, at BOTH locations. I've fallen into a bad habit of staying up too late with each of them because it feels like there is never enough time. It's surely contributing to the burnout.

I thought we'd gotten onto the same page by the end of the night: to protect my mental health, I would take one floating night a week by myself, and I would be stricter with myself about bedtimes, especially this week.

But then yesterday morning, Rider asked me if we could please "make some QT" after he gets home from the concert tonight. I told him sure, if he's home before I'm asleep. He wasn't happy about that, and I reminded him that I'd already told him I didn't want to stay up past bedtime this week. Then he said well maybe he, too, should not go to the concert. I told him OK, but he should let me know, so I can leave the house for my alone time. "Oh, that's right. Fuck. :( ," he said. "OK, I guess I'll just try to get home from the show as soon as possible."

I was not expecting to have to defend that boundary so soon. It's like he totally forgot everything we'd discussed, or, if he hadn't forgotten, he was hoping to push it to get what he wanted. He ended up apologizing when I pointed this out, but sheesh.
 
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Reverie

Active member
(PPS: Oona, I swear, from your blog, she spends most of her time wishing you were someone you're not and trying to make you into that person. She isn't responsible to answer for you and her trying to put her choices on you is crappy friend behavior.)

It sounds to me like Oona has never been and never will be understanding or on board with poly. She doesn't get it and never will. ... You're clearly busting your ass to make these relationships work, which is all anyone can really do in the end.

Look, as we grow and mature, we have to leave the high school gossip ring behind. You have to really think about what you know and believe, your own core values, and if some of your friends are not compatible with that, you do NOT have to keep them on board your ship. You gotta live your life by your own rules, and if Oona has a problem with that, then cut her loose. I don't care how long you've been friends. She has no obligation or need to manage your reputation, and if anyone else is demanding she participate in gossip, SHE can opt out. A good friend doesn't come at you like, "Hey look, the way you live your life is very inconvenient for me. So if you could just be someone easier for me to explain to other people, that would be great."

And tell nosy friends to butt out. Breaking up with someone for their own good, as noble as it sounds, is depriving that person of their chance to make their own choices.

She really does have very strong opinions about what I "should" be doing. I know she tries to advise me because she loves me and has known me a long time, and she sees patterns in my behavior that she thinks she sees solutions to. But I'd honestly rather be the author of my own misery and do things my way than try to live how someone else thinks I should.

I have made up with her though. Here's an excerpt from what I sent her yesterday:

I was thinking about the stuff you said to me yesterday, and it occurred to me that you actually don’t have to carry the burden of “covering for me” like you were saying you’re tired of. If people have questions about me and are too timid to come to me about them, feel free to answer any of them honestly, or refer them to me. The fact of the matter is that I am questioning my life path in several different ways, Rider knows about all of it, and I really don’t care who else knows, so you’re not jeopardizing me and it will not wreak any special havoc if you tell people whatever you feel comfortable telling them.

I came to you yesterday looking to vent about what I viewed to be poor handling of a situation by Dustin, and I really wasn’t looking for anything beyond that. Your response to me kind of felt like kicking me when I’m down, reaching back through the years to tally up my wrongs and mistakes to tell me all of the ways in which I am bad or wrong.

By the time I sat down to dinner with Rider last night, I was feeling . . . not quite suicidal, because I don’t have any plans or anything, but . . . kind of like I just wished I could not exist, had never existed, and if I am such a plague on you, myself, and everyone who has decided to love me, then maybe it would be better for everyone if I just either offed myself or faked my own death and started over somewhere where no one gives a shit.

I don’t care what people think of what becomes of me. I don’t care about “success” or “failure.” If I have to scrap everything and rebuild because I’ve gone so far down a path that doesn’t work for me that there is no small course correction that will fix things, then that’s what I’ll do. I do know that I am feeling done with hedonism and am ready to build SOMETHING.

...

I don’t know if any of that makes sense to you. I don’t have it in me to try to explain further. I think I’m probably done talking about any of it with other people till I figure my shit out, and I’m not sure how long that will take. The upside of that is if people ask you stuff from here on out, you can just say you don’t know.

She wrote back saying this:

I did not mean to make you feel kicked when you’re down. I realized later I leaned in heavily yesterday, and wished it had been a convo that could have happened in person because I know it would have come off differently. I’m only so hard on you because I love you and expect a lot from you, and this thing with Dustin feels very emotionally dangerous and stupid for all parties involved. I feel like you keep making the same mistake and I’m watching your life on a loop that I still don’t know that you really, truly see.

I’m sorry you’re struggling. But I never feel like you’re willing to do the one thing I’m convinced will help you. I get that it’s just my opinion, but I’ve observed you for a long time. I don’t think I’m wrong in feeling like you’ve never taken the space to know yourself, sans a partner, and that this is why you still get into these kinds of situations. I don’t want you to do this anymore. I want you to figure out exactly what will make you happy before you commit to anyone or anything else again. But it’s your life and even if I see around the corners of it, I can’t do anything but be a downer with my “advice” that is never what you want to hear. But even still, I’m earnestly sorry you’re struggling.

I feel that if you take time for yourself, your problems CAN end.

The thing is, she does it out of love. And I know that. I think it's often misguided, but I do know that's the motivation behind it. When she says "I feel like you keep making the same mistake and I’m watching your life on a loop that I still don’t know that you really, truly see," what she is referring to is how I don't take time to be single between relationships. She has a strong objection to the idea that—if things between me and Rider DO end at some point—that I might continue on with Dustin if we're still together. Basically, she thinks that if the Rider relationship ends, I should also end the Dustin relationship just so that I can get some of that single time she believes that I need.

She's probably right that it's bad that I've never been single for any stretch of time. But it never seems like the right time to cut people out of my life in order to go do that. Historically, it's not a matter of "Oh, I had a breakup and now I'm single and terrified of it, so I have to go desperately find someone to make my boyfriend." It's always been that there's someone else already in the picture when the other relationship ends.

It hasn't always been a legit poly/open situation where the "someone else" was "leftovers" from that polycule (though it has happened before a couple of times). Sometimes it's been a mono situation, and I've had a close friend with whom things were starting to evolve, so I'd end the mono relationship in order to be free to pursue it. In the distant past, sometimes it was even a cheating situation where I'd leave for the cheating partner. But pretty much, unless I was the dumpee, which has been rare, there's already been someone else.

Oona believes that lacking single time has stunted me—that I would learn more of my strengths and weaknesses and what I really want if I didn't have a partner or partners to supplement my weaknesses and influence my opinion of what I might want. She believes this because she says that is how it worked for her. I'm not sure that's how it would work for me, but I guess I couldn't really say. It is true that I do change my mind a lot about what I want, always passionately chasing in the moment whatever thing/person/path/city/hobby has sparked my interest. But, like, maybe I'm just LIKE THAT. I don't know how she seems to be so sure that singledom will magically solve something that has been a lifelong trait of mine.

I dunno. What do you guys think?

Is a period of single time necessary for a healthy psyche? (But then how do people in lifelong relationships get by? How do poly people with long-term overlapping relationships get by?)

Has not being single caused or contributed to my "always changing what I want" syndrome? (Aren't there plenty of perpetually single people that this also happens to?)

Does being in relationships prevent people from developing their own strengths and working on their own weaknesses? (Then how have I accomplished as much as I have? Then how have so many of the strongest and most brilliant people in history married young and stayed married?)

The strongest argument I personally can see for having stayed single is that I would have hurt fewer OTHER PEOPLE in my jumping from thing to thing to thing—I would have done all the changing completely by myself, never even having anyone to leave behind when it all changes again. But I also feel like I learned a ton from each relationship I've had—whether that's about what I want or what I definitely do NOT want, and how to relate, and sexual skills, and navigating emotions (my own and other people's). So maybe it comes down to a question of ethics: has it been unethical for me to keep dragging others around on my wild journey of self- and world-exploration, gaining knowledge at, perhaps, the expense of their hearts? Is it unethical that I'm STILL doing that—still learning about poly and considering major life-plan changes and yet loath to let go of people I love who might not fit into those shapes and plans, until I "figure it out," knowing from experience that even that "figuring it out" might well be temporary?
 

Reverie

Active member
You don't. Owe anyone. Anything. Not explanations. Not justifications. Not "100%" (whatever that even means.)

You seem to have lots of stuff going on all at once and you seem unsure of what it is that you want in the long term.

Whether I owe anyone anything or not, one thing I definitely don't want is to be an asshole. And it's a delicate balance right now. It's a (perhaps involuntary but nevertheless) dick move to be making the ground under Rider's feet tremble so much, so soon after our wedding. But I'm not sure what the alternative is. Deny that I'm having these thoughts and feelings, to myself? To him? Like, it'd be one thing if I could say to myself "well, you just do you!" but to what degree does doing ONLY that make someone a great big jerk? But also what degree of self-sacrifice is reasonable? Sometimes I really feel like I just don't know anything.
 

AutumnLeaves

New member
In my experience, new boundaries have to be enforced the hardest and most often until they settle in to being the new normal.

I get that you're burned out and lacking in benefit of the doubt right now, but since it's a change for you, Rider probably just forgot. Him needing a while to adjust to things you've already talked about is (judging from your blog) pretty consistently Riderish behavior.

I think his worry that you won't give him the three nights he needs right now is coming from a place of insecurity about the floating nature of the night. It seems like he's worried about Dustin getting more time and you backing away from him until he's replaced. I'd tell him something like: I don't think that fear is warranted, but if I DO start doing that, let's talk about it then. I love you and I'm not looking to replace you. I do, however, need one day/night/whatever alone per week, I need consistent bed times, and I intend to enforce this boundary evenly.

Add to all this that you're not sleeping enough? Triple no wonder you're feeling like shit. Sending you all the best wishes that your two competitive men get their heads out of their asses and see that you need to act in the best interests of you.

They'll either adjust, or they won't, but you aren't responsible for that. If you're running yourself into the ground you're not the best you. Part of being a good hinge is trusting your partners to handle their own shit. I know you're worried about losing either of them, and their poor behavior isn't helping, but taking all the stress of THEIR shit onto YOURSELF is just going to get you right where you are now. Not enough time, not enough energy, and ready to throw everything away. Taking care of yourself isn't being an asshole. It allows you to be a better partner to them both.

As far as Oona goes. I don't think people need "singles time" to figure themselves out, and I think it would be downright UNETHICAL to break up with someone just because you've broken up with someone else. People are not things. And do you dump all your friends when you lose a friend/lover/whatever?

Maybe it's just my ace coming through, since lovers are just friends+ to me, but I have never been alone. I always have friends or lovers. Not in an unhealthy codependency way, but in the sense that humans are social animals. It just sounds ridiculous to me.

But even if the things she says are true, it doesn't matter. You aren't asking her for advice on fixing your life, you're asking her to be a supportive shoulder while you're having a tough time. Maybe she needs to hear that you are looking for support, not solutions? She might think you're looking for solutions from her, which would make it make sense that she's frustrated you're not acting on her advice.

Or maybe she's just not the friend to go to for poly problems. I love some of my friends, but they just can't relate to or understand poly issues, so I have to take my poly problems to my poly friends.

Anyway, wishing you the best on your presently trying path to joy. If you ever need a poly-friendly ear on the fly, you have my FB, and feel free to send me a message.
 

Reverie

Active member
Bolstered by the support of y'all, I had the butting out conversation with Oona. It's actually her birthday, so it was not ideal, but she instigated it. This is what I ended up saying:

After hanging with Dustin last night, I just . . . when I was talking to you yesterday, it seemed POSSIBLE to imagine a future in which I broke up with him to take some time off and “find myself” but I really don’t feel like it’s ethical to break up with him if my other relationship ends just because that’s when it ends and that’s when I’d be “more logistically capable” of being alone—one down, only one to go, instead of two.

Like, we’re not talking about a situation here where I go through a breakup and am suddenly single and am terrified of staying that way, so I go find another dude lickety split.

We’re talking about a living, breathing human who loves me and is already invested in me and has done nothing wrong, himself. He’s just risked his heart by being with someone who’s already in another relationship.

For me to break up with HIM just because my OTHER relationship ends, if it ends—completely unrelated to anything he has done or deserves—is so very cruel and heartless. He looks at me, and I can FEEL his heart in my hands, loving me fully but a little nervously, hoping that I don’t crush it.

It is true that Dustin may eventually get fed up and move on, bitterly. But that’s a decision he needs to make for himself. I can’t make it for him.

And it is true that Rider may tire of waiting for me to make a decision about procreation, and move on, bitterly. That’s also a decision he needs to make for himself. I can’t rush my own process for him.

And it is true that my decision may cause me and Rider to split up even if he is able to remain hopeful during the waiting process, breaking both of our hearts. That’s a decision I need to make for myself, no matter how painful it is for everyone.

I think, at the end of the day, as always, I have to do what I feel is right for my own life, whatever that ends up being. I think that to care enough about whether you or my friends or Rider’s friends or Dustin’s friends like and respect me for my decision that it influences my actions is to take my own authenticity and agency out of it to a degree that risks my being true to myself.

I do, however, plan to sit and think for a long while about what “what is right for my own life” ends up being. If I lose one, or both, of the boys during that process of sitting and thinking, well then, maybe THEN I get my period of solitude. But I will not be rushed, and I will not be persuaded.

Her response: "I'm not going to upset you by writing more, but just NO to this. No. NO. No."

And my response to that: "I love you, and I do hope you have a happy birthday. The last conversation made me a lot more upset than the inside of my own head makes me, so that’s probably a good idea. ❤"

I feel like I set another boundary there—I will not be persuaded on decisions that are mine alone to make—and I have already been thinking of ways to defend that boundary against unasked-for advice. I think I can just do it by saying, "I don't want to discuss that, but thank you for your concern." And repeating it each time until she gets the point. And if she is maddened by that and wants to walk away from our friendship, that's on her.

Meanwhile, Rider got legitimately sick and ended up not going to the concert, so I lost my "alone time" night anyway. But it hasn't been so bad. We've just been chilling. And I got enough sleep last night for once, despite Dustin's tossing and turning due to the extreme heat our area is experiencing.

I think that Rider and I are going to find a poly-friendly counselor to go to, to discuss Rider's anxiety around waiting for me to figure out WTF about babies, and also to help me talk through the decision itself. He said that is the main issue that's making him wig out, and he's worried that the waiting is going to make him anxious enough that he can't hang and the waiting itself will make him leave even before the answer does. I told him that I can't rush for him, but that counseling will probably be able to help him manage the anxiety. That's part of what it's for, right, to help handle emotions in sticky situations?

I also have been poking around some other forums with my questions about my situation in terms of this issue, and some kind posters there pointed out to me that even adamant people change their minds about this issue sometimes, and I shouldn't feel guilt or inadequacy that it might be happening to me. Most suggested counseling and taking my time, which are the conclusions I had already come to. One also suggested that it might be the very seeming permanence of my decision—now being married to a committed childfree person—that might be making me question it, the same way a newly pregnant person might suddenly have moments of "oh, shit, what have I done?" All of that was very helpful to my mental health.
 
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I wouldn't worry too much about time spent single or otherwise. I have a very close childhood friend who has never been single. She is one of the happiest people I know. Kind to those around her. Generous. Knows what she wants out of life and good at directing her life the way she wants it to go. She's never liked being alone. As a child, she always had friends visiting her family home. When she grew older, she always overlapped her boyfriends so that she was never alone. She does get some people who are jealous of her ability to always find lovely boyfriends tell her she should be single for a period of time. So far as I can tell, being with somebody really suits her. Being single for years on end really suited me but she and I are very very different people and what suits me wouldn't suit my dear friend.

Not having long single periods works perfectly for loads of people. :D

The kid thing, while I'm sure it's horrible to go through, I don't think it's unusual for women who have been utterly sure they don't want children to change their minds or at least go through a period where the desperately want a child. The urge to reproduce is a strong one.

I have two friends who married in their 20s saying that they never wanted children. That was all fine with their husbands who really also didn't want children. A few years down the line my friends both changed their minds and went through tricky periods with their husbands. One marriage came close to ending altogether over the child issue - although they did work it out in the end. Between them the two families now have 7 children.

Watching them raise their children has convinced me utterly that it isn't something I want. The lifestyle they are living while they do that holds no attraction for me at all. So I've chosen to stay child free and to ignore any passing yearnings to be a mother as just my body's hormonal trickery.

I even have one friend who had a sudden craving for a baby when she was 48 (I'm told it is not uncommon in child free women as they approach the menopause). She managed to conceive but later had a miscarriage - something she says she is utterly grateful for now.
 

Confused

New member
I’m 38 and happily married with two kids and I’m still agonising over whether to have another. I know you’re a little younger but I think there’s something about being in your late thirties/early forties as a woman that feels strongly last chance-ish and strangely compelling. I know a few people who said they had completed their family suddenly decide to have another at this stage. They sometimes are really glad they did and sometimes less so. It’s a real tricky thing for relationships as it impacts SO heavily on all involved.

As to being single, I think you probably learn very different skills and that’s not to say there isn’t value in learning to manage by yourself (I’ve never done it) but I don’t think Oona is valueing the lessons you learn and the way you grow from being in a relationship. It’s very monogamously minded but David Schnarch who wrote Passionate Marriage describes marriage (and committed relationships) as People growing machines for a reason.

Honestly, Oona sounds controlling and bullying and possibly jealous as her relationships haven’t been particularly successful. I think you are right to set clear boundaries about not discussing your choices with her anymore and stick to them but that does mean probably needing to find someone else to talk to as the first step in setting those boundaries will be to not share those details with her anymore if she can’t respect your right to make your own way.
 

GirlFromTexlahoma

New member
I'm sorry Oona isn't a good sounding board for your relationship stuff right now. I'm glad you realized that and can work on separating your friendship with her from your need for poly advice and support.

On the being single to figure yourself out thing... I think it's bullshit. Mostly because it assumes that at some point in life we have it all figured out and know exactly what we want. Ha! We're human, and part of that is growing and learning and changing. Whether we're single or not. You could very well be single for years, set goals, learn your strengths and weaknesses, then meet someone and boom, change your mind about all of it. Reevaluating our choices and changing our minds is just part of life. I plan to be doing it until I'm 100 years old :p Sometimes it means relationships end, sometimes it means they change, sometimes it means we go on a new journey with our partners.

And the having kids thing... I know how tough that is. FWIW, even as someone who absolutely, positively, 110% knows that having bio kids is a terrible idea... I want them every time I experience NRE. There's something about that falling in love and bonding experience that makes me want to make babies with my person. Biology is a bitch. Not saying that's what's happening to you, but I am glad you're waiting and evaluating before jumping in.

(Also, from the bio kids are a terrible horrible no good very bad idea side... If adoption is something you could consider, then the whole biological clock thing becomes less of a worry.)
 

Reverie

Active member
IP and Confused, thank you so much for your input. It's really, really helpful to know that even though this stuff is tough, I'm at least not alone in it.

And on the Oona stuff . . . I was really thinking about it (among a million other things) in the shower this morning, and I realized something: there are always going to be people unhappy with and judging me for the decisions I make in life.

There were people who judged me for getting with Rider, and there will be people who judge me if we split. There are people who judge me for being at the same job since right out of school (rather than hopping companies to try to make more money) and there are people who will judge me if I quit to change careers. There are people who judge me for going to protests, and there are people who judge me for not being active enough when I get burned out.

There are people who judge me for having two partners, and there are people who will judge me if I end my relationships. There are people who judge me as self-involved for not having kids, and there are people who will judge me if I decide to leave my marriage to pursue having them. There are people who judge me for having brightly colored hair, and there are people who will judge me if I go back to henna.

People like to judge other people, and they like to think they know what the right thing to do is as they look in from the outside. They like to feel knowledgeable, and even sometimes superior. They like to compare their own lives to other people's lives and use that comparison either as a stick to beat themselves with or as a reason to pat themselves on the back.

Hopefully, one's friends will love them and support them and stand by them while they do the (sometimes tough) shit they gotta do as they (like everyone) bumble around looking for happiness, as long as they're not being toxic, malicious, or callous to other beings. Or at the very least, if the friends decide that their lifestyles and outlooks are no longer compatible enough to support and stand by them, then they should be willing to step away rather than try to change the course of someone else's life to better suit them.

I may have never been single for very long, but that does not mean I'm afraid of being alone. Indeed, I can easily picture a life of relative solitude. I don't have a need to be surrounded by a large circle of friends the way Rider does, and I don't have much of a free-standing sex drive that is independent of my feelings for a particular person. I'm not dependent on my family, and I don't socialize much at work. If left to my own devices, I'll write or read or learn something or go spend time in nature. And if I have one or two people to do that stuff with, all the better, but I don't mind doing it alone. All of this is actually part of the reason I think I may be ready for a child—I can picture myself pretty content for a few years in a small family unit with limited social contact, focusing on teaching and learning and exploring the world.

So I feel a lot more stable emotionally right now than I did a few days ago, even if my situation itself is still unsettled. It's a long-term kind of unsettled, so I can't let it get to me every day. And I'll come to a more solid decision if I'm doing it from a place of peace instead of turmoil.

Another thing that happened was that Rider and I were talking about healthy expression of emotions. I've recently discovered about myself (not sure if I ever mentioned it here) that I have not usually processed certain emotions, including anger, in a healthy way. I've usually denied anger and transmuted it into annoyance or sadness. I've been working on getting in better touch with all my emotions and learning to recognize them and feel them and sit with them. One thing that helped me was this article, which I then showed him.

I told Rider that it's OK for him to be angry with me about all of this, and to express it, if that's what he feels. I'm not going to hold it against him. Because he'd said a lot of things, and none of them were about anger, and I thought that if I were in his situation, I probably would be angry. At first, he was confused. "You want me to be angry with you, and express anger at you?"

I told him that it's not that I wanted that. It's that, if that's how he feels, I won't hold it against him for feeling that way and for letting me know about it. He seemed thoughtful and said that makes sense and he would think about that for a while.

When he came back to me about it, he said that he does think that he, too, has problems recognizing and feeling and expressing the emotion of anger—that he puts pressure on himself to turn it into something less threatening to other people. He said that, thinking about it, he was angry about the whole thing, as well as angry at some things in the past, too.

I asked him what they were, and he said that he was angry that I'd wanted to close the relationship in the winter, and that I became interested in someone so soon after our wedding, and that my NRE with Dustin was so strong that it made me want to renegotiate agreements we had on things such as how much time we spend with other partners. He'd never expressed anger about those things before, so I guess it is a good thing that he did. I didn't know he still had negative emotions bottled up from as far back as January.

I thanked Rider for expressing his feelings, and I apologized for the poor timing and for the game-changing nature of my relationship with Dustin. I acknowledged that my decision to date Dustin was a choice I'd made, and, while I hadn't realized at the time that it could get as serious as it has, I suppose I did know conceptually that it was possible, so I could have chosen otherwise to avoid the risk. I cannot honestly say I regret that I chose to start seeing him, but I can honestly say that I feel sorrow about the negative things it's made Rider feel. I wish it had happened sooner, or later, or maybe unfolded a little differently.

I had to take longer thinking about the January thing before figuring out the parts I could apologize for. Rider had seemed so genuinely happy and peaceful with his decision back then—and I had been so relieved—that I was surprised to learn only now of his anger. After I thought about the abovementioned stuff about Oona, still in the shower, I spent some time thinking about that.

At the time, I was trying to prepare for a wedding and a honeymoon and was overwhelmed by all kinds of emotions. I was emotionally exhausted by Jasper and by processing with Rider about Hannah. I honestly couldn't see moving forward with a wedding while I felt that way. To me, it seemed like my options were 1) postpone the wedding and keep the status quo of my own exhaustion, 2) break up with Rider and begin healing in peace, 3) give Rider the choice of partially closing the relationship and proceed with the wedding.

#1 did not seem tenable to me at the time. My exhaustion was too great. #2 seemed unfair to do unilaterally without giving Rider #3 as a choice. So I gave him the choice. But I do understand that he was angry about it. So when I got out of the shower I ended up apologizing for making him feel that way. It’s OK to have emotions when all the options suck!

He said that it bothers him that he doesn't have Hannah anymore now that I have Dustin. I was briefly confused, because in the interim, he'd said a lot of things about how she wasn't exactly right for him anyway. But when he said this, I asked him why he hadn't reached out to her. After all, she'd told him that she'd be open to dating him again if our agreements changed, and they'd left things friendly and hung out a time or two since—why not ask her? What's the worst that could happen? She could say no . . . he's lost nothing!

He didn't seem keen on it, though. He said that he thinks there might be weirdness between them. I asked why he thought that, if she'd seemed so open and friendly and the end, and they'd hung out, and he eventually sighed and said he was probably not a very good friend to her in that time period. And he said that he probably DID want to find someone who was a better fit for him. So I can at least recuse myself from blame for that part of things—Rider doesn't want Hannah, or he'd want to try to rekindle things. He wants some person in the slot that Hannah had briefly filled.

Rider also apologized to me. He said he's sorry that he was holding on to anger from old stuff, and he realizes now that was unfair, but he hadn't known how to express it until I talked to him about it. He thanked me for talking with him and said he feels a lot better today and actually slept well last night.

(continued . . . )
 

Reverie

Active member
( . . . continued from previous)

In addition to the talking and agreeing to seek a counselor, we also decided to adopt Tinwen's suggestion and look into tantra (we'll probably try to find a book) and just focusing more love and attention on each other when we are together.

Oona BLEW UP at me today for asserting my boundary. She was pretty nasty about it, saying that I don't "get to" talk about who my "true self" is (citing that I struggle with deciding between poly and mono), accusing me of not really even being interested in having kids but rather just looking for a way out of my relationship with Rider so that I could be with Dustin. Which is absurd, because she was ON BOARD with the idea that I might need to leave Rider over the kid thing. It's only that I wouldn't also break up with Dustin that she is flipping out about. She called me childish, delusional, horribly selfish, and crazy, and telling me I make bad decisions and she needs a break from discussing this stuff.

Since a break from discussing this stuff is EXACTLY what I'd asked for (it seems she just had to have a tirade first and have the "break" be on her terms), I simply said this: "A break from talking about this stuff sounds like a good idea. I'm not really interested in discussing any more of this with people other than a counselor and my relationship partners anyway. We can talk about other stuff."

Sending that message, and receiving her "fantastic" in return (whether sincere or sarcastic, I do not know or care), I went from feeling rising anxiety and stress to feeling instantly calm again. Boundaries, yay! They work!

Tonight I am going with Dustin to a "haunted ship" experience, and then we are staying aboard the ship, which is also a hotel. I took tomorrow off so we could stay till check-out. I'm greatly looking forward to it.

So, for the moment, things are good with Rider, good with Dustin, and contained with Oona. I've had to do a lot of relationship work and boundary laying (I didn't even get into how I had a talk on Tuesday with Dustin about the lying), but it appears that doing so has bought me some peace and reprieve. I'm mostly caught up on my work, and I've given myself a three-day weekend. Things are looking up!
 

Dagferi

Well-known member
I never wanted kids.. Well the universe thought it would be funny to make me one of those women for who hormonal birth control is useless....lol.

I have a pill kid... A nuvaring kid. The third was planned.

Oh my tubal ligation failed too. But that pregnancy probably would have killed me and so Murf decided he wanted me more than his one last shot at biological children.

I still do not enjoy other people's children. But my own are awesone dudes. My 23 yo is off being an adult. My 14 is a sarcastic sweet young man with who fits his name. My 10 yo we affectionately call The Juggernaut. He is a force to be reckoned with in a good way. Easy going and sweet. But a powerhouse. He was the easiest baby ever.
 

Reverie

Active member
I'm sorry Oona isn't a good sounding board for your relationship stuff right now. I'm glad you realized that and can work on separating your friendship with her from your need for poly advice and support.

On the being single to figure yourself out thing... I think it's bullshit. Mostly because it assumes that at some point in life we have it all figured out and know exactly what we want. Ha! We're human, and part of that is growing and learning and changing. Whether we're single or not. You could very well be single for years, set goals, learn your strengths and weaknesses, then meet someone and boom, change your mind about all of it. Reevaluating our choices and changing our minds is just part of life. I plan to be doing it until I'm 100 years old :p Sometimes it means relationships end, sometimes it means they change, sometimes it means we go on a new journey with our partners.

And the having kids thing... I know how tough that is. FWIW, even as someone who absolutely, positively, 110% knows that having bio kids is a terrible idea... I want them every time I experience NRE. There's something about that falling in love and bonding experience that makes me want to make babies with my person. Biology is a bitch. Not saying that's what's happening to you, but I am glad you're waiting and evaluating before jumping in.

(Also, from the bio kids are a terrible horrible no good very bad idea side... If adoption is something you could consider, then the whole biological clock thing becomes less of a worry.)

Thank you for ALL of this! I swear, you—and nearly all of you here—make me feel so sane and supported and understood sometimes. If I were to just listen to my friends (mostly Oona) and family, and sometimes even my partners, I would often feel like a deranged basket case who is doing everything wrong.

I pour my genuine heart out here and tell even the ugly stuff and my doubts and the things that I feel like a stupid, irrational jerk about, and you all reassure me that it's at least understandable, and probably even normal, while at the same time y'all are not afraid to give me a little nudge if I'm not seeing the whole picture or could stand to be a little softer on others.

Such sincere and giant thanks!
 

Reverie

Active member
I never wanted kids.. Well the universe thought it would be funny to make me one of those women for who hormonal birth control is useless....lol.

I have a pill kid... A nuvaring kid. The third was planned.

Oh my tubal ligation failed too. But that pregnancy probably would have killed me and so Murf decided he wanted me more than his one last shot at biological children.

I still do not enjoy other people's children. But my own are awesone dudes. My 23 yo is off being an adult. My 14 is a sarcastic sweet young man with who fits his name. My 10 yo we affectionately call The Juggernaut. He is a force to be reckoned with in a good way. Easy going and sweet. But a powerhouse. He was the easiest baby ever.

Wow, the universe really wanted you to be a mom! Sounds like your kids are amazing. I hope that I have it so good if I do decide to go that direction. :D
 
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