The poly talk with my girlfriend

hightreason

New member
Last night I started the conversation with my girlfriend about me taking on a second girlfriend. But before I get to that, here's some background.

I have been with my girlfriend about 4.5 years. It has been a completely sexless relationship for about 3.5 years. There is still physical affection: hand holding, kisses, cuddling while sleeping, and that sort of thing, but nothing even remotely sexual. We live together. I get my sexual needs met (somewhat) by sex outside the relationship (one night stands and prostitutes). She is well aware of this, and is fine with it. She was not completely fine with it at first, but it has at this point become just the way we do things. She minds MUCH more if I stay out drinking late with my buddies than if I screw a random stranger and come home in time for dinner. As for her part, as far as I can tell, she has no sex drive whatsoever.

I have become increasingly unhappy with this arrangement, however. I just need more sexual intimacy than occasionally finding a random hole to relieve myself into. It's not all about sex, either. There are other relationship needs that my girlfriend can't meet. She's not going to change and suddenly become everything I need (not that I want her to change anyway). So, the only sensible solution is to date another person as well. I love her, and certainly do not want to break up.

The above has all been the case for quite some time. We have talked about my dissatisfaction with the situation a LOT for quite some time. Last night was the first time I had a serious talk with my girlfriend about dating other people, though. Sure, I have casually mentioned it before, and she casually dismissed it, and it never became a discussion. Last night, I persisted and made sure we discussed things seriously.

To put things succinctly, she's not very happy about the idea. However, she also said that I should do it if I want. This presents me with a bit of a problem, though. I guess I technically have the "permission" to date other people, but it is very clear to me that she doesn't want me to. Staying in this relationship monogamously (well, emotionally monogamously) is not an option. The only option I have then is to either do something that I know will make her unhappy (which I don't want to do) or break up with her (which I do not want to do).

Do I have the obligation to break up with her "for her own good" to help her avoid the situation that might make her unhappy? I am pretty much certain she will not break up with me, so the only way we break up is if I do it. Of course, I don't want to do that. Also, who am I to decide what is best for her? If I am dating other people and being honest with her about it, then it is up to her to leave if she can't be happy in that situation, right? I can't enforce her happiness.

I think a large part of it is just indoctrination into the way things "should" be. She's not very open-minded in general about doing things "differently." I assured her multiple times throughout the conversation that I loved her very much. I corrected her a few times that I was NOT breaking up with her and have absolutely no desire to break up with her in the foreseeable future. I think the whole thing is just a bit hard for her to fathom.

Even though, she will accept the situation, she is still against it, and I wish there was some way to change that. I told her there would be nothing sneaky going on. I told her she was free to meet the other women I date if she wants (she made it clear she did not want to, though). I told her that she was also free to see other people (she doesn't want to). I don't really know what to do or say. I either make me unhappy (staying monogamous), I make her unhappy (dating other people), or I make both of us unhappy (break up). There seems to be no winning.

A big part of me thinks she's just scared. That I should just do it and she will see for herself that I still love her, and likely very little in our relationship will change.
 

central

Member
You have her permission, regardless of what you think about her level of enthusiasm. You can't decide for her, so act in your own best interests. That may lead to meeting someone who is a better overall match, and eventually breaking up with your present gf - or she may decide that she doesn't like the new arrangement and leave you. It sounds like a win-win situation no matter how it works out eventually, despite your current misgivings about breaking up with her. And maybe it will all work out well for everyone - still win-win.
 

Dagferi

Active member
If you truly love her WHY would you start a relationship with another woman KNOWING it hurts your gf. Put her through poly hell because you want another gf.

In my opinion you have two choices continue with the status quo. Or be merciful and break up with you gf and seek someone who shares your sexual needs.

Forcing your gf to endure a situation that she is against because it is what you want knowing she is too weak to breakup with you is a douchebag move. Sometimes we don't get what we want.
 

hightreason

New member
In my opinion you have two choices continue with the status quo. Or be merciful and break up with you gf and seek someone who shares your sexual needs.

Yes, I mentioned the "mercy break up" in the original post. It's one of the options on the table. I guess the question is what makes you so sure that she is better off getting dumped from a 4.5 year loving relationship than she would be learning to adapt her expectations of that relationship? Honest question.
 

Dagferi

Active member
Because it is SELFISH AND SELF CENTERED to force someone into a relationship model they do not want.

I get you have found a shiny new toy in the new girl you met the other day but it is unfair to your current gf o force her into a situation she doesn't want and that she is to weak to leave.

Why do you think you deserve to have your cake and eat it too? At the expensive of your gfs emotional health and feelings. Self centered much?

Just because she "gave you permission" doesn't mean she wants to be put through possible hell.
 

hightreason

New member
@Dagferi. Your opinion has been noted. Thanks for the response.

P.S. I think your condescending and rude tone is uncalled for. If I were a self-centered prick, I would do whatever I wanted and wouldn't care. I would not come onto a forum asking for advice on making the best decision. Possibly you have some experiences in your life that make you emotional about this issue. However, neither I nor my girlfriend are you, so please don't act as if you definitively know what's best for us and that if I make any other decision, I'm a huge asshole.

Once again, thanks for your opinion. I will take it into account.
 

Dagferi

Active member
Nope my poly life has been quite smooth thanks.

I am going into year 3 of being married to two wonderful men. I have been married 13 years to Butch.

Over half that marriage I have been actively poly. I would have divorced Butch instead of making him miserable over what I wanted. His happiness matters to me and I would rather put him through a small rough patch brought on by a break up than a lifetime tied to someone whose needs make them miserable.
 

KC43

New member
It sounds like either way, in Hightreason's current relationship, one or the other of them is going to be stuck in a relationship model they aren't fully okay with. Either he continues not seeking sex and companionship outside the relationship, or she has to deal with him doing so.

Breaking up might be the best option, because there really isn't much way to compromise in a situation like that. Compromise means meeting each other partway, but it's hard to see where "partway" is between having a second girlfriend or not having one. The only thing I could suggest is setting a time limit: Try seeing the second girlfriend for a month and then revisit the situation with your current girlfriend. The problem with that is that it would be extremely unfair to the second girlfriend, who would then be more of a guinea pig than anything.

Hightreason... if your girlfriend has said she isn't okay with the idea of you having another girlfriend and is just tolerating it, there's a huge potential for resentment, anger, and the eventual collapse of your relationship with her. I don't think she's "just scared." I think she's flat out opposed to the idea and is only willing to go along with it because she doesn't see any choice. And doing something because you feel like you have no choice rarely ends well.

I would advise you to break it off with her if you aren't willing to set aside the idea of having a second girlfriend. The two of you may be compatible in many ways, but it's very clear that you are NOT compatible sexually or in terms of your ideal relationship model, and I think it would be best for both of you to go your separate ways.

And edited to add: When you post for advice on a public forum, it's a good idea to realize that some people will have strong opinions and will phrase them as they choose. You might not agree, and you might not like what they say, but that's the risk you run by posting.
 
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hightreason

New member
@KC43: Thanks for the respectful response.

You are absolutely right that I am stuck in a relationship model I am not ok in. As I said in the original post, staying in this relationship monogamously is NOT an option. It's not about a "shiny new toy." Yes, that incident was what kick-started the conversation, but it's not what started the problem. The problem has been there for years.

I mean it's not like I have to find a new girlfriend tomorrow or anything, but the thought of being trapped only being allowed to love one person is a horrific thought to me. If this relationship stays monogamous, we're basically just biding our time waiting to break up anyway. That's just a waste of time for both of us, and neither of us wants to break up. We've even discussed possibly getting married at some point in the future.

I have broken up with her before, a few times. It never sticks. We keep getting back together. Yes, I realize that I could just move far away, unfriend her on facebook, refuse to take her calls, avoid places she might be, etc. and make it stick by brute force. However, the primary issue here is that we love each other and want to be together. We were recently physically separated for 2.5 months, and it got to be torture.

So far everyone has said that we should break up. Even central kind of said that in a round-about way. We've tried breaking up. We don't like it. It's easy to tell random online people that they should break off their relationship. I guess also you don't know the really great things since this thread is focused on the problems.

Our relationship is not fraught with trouble. We get along amazingly well. We rarely ever fight about anything. We care about each other and love each other. I know 4.5 years isn't an eternity, but this isn't some fling that we'll cry about for a couple weeks and move on from. We are major parts of each other's lives. We've lived together almost that whole time and might as well be married in every way but legally.

The relationship has one specific problem. But I guess, what people are saying to me is that they believe the problem has no solution. That people who are not into open relationships never will be and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm listening. I really am. I'm just having a hard time accepting the idea right off the bat that the relationship is irredeemable and it's time to just scrap the whole thing.

I can do what I have been doing... knowing that there's a problem, being unsatisfied, and putting off fixing it until tomorrow. I hope it doesn't go back to that. Yes, I realize the relationship started out monogamous, and I'm the one who's "in the wrong" for suddenly trying to change the rules. I'm in the wrong in a lot of ways I guess. I knew I wasn't into monogamy when I started the relationship. I thought I could do the monogamy thing again because we were so in love right from the start. It was just one of those things that happened, and in all the euphoria, I didn't think ahead. I suppose I deserve the misery I get.
 

YouAreHere

Active member
My situation is a bit different from yours, since I knew my partner was poly when I decided to get into a relationship with him, however...

She has stated that she doesn't like it, but she's also said that you can do it. I'd take her at her word.

HOWEVER, I would make sure the lines of communication are WAY, WAY open. Talk things to death, even if she'd rather not discuss them. Keep asking her how she's feeling on a regular basis, to let her know that even though you're not monogamous, you do care about her and she *is* important to you. Talk when anything changes, and be prepared to make baby steps for a time, so she knows you're not going to steamroll her. Heck, I'd even suggest a weekly "take everyone's emotional temperature" talk, and to stick to it until you both look at each other and go, "I really don't have anything to talk about" (and you both mean it).

I had quite a few struggles of my own at the beginning of my relationship (even though I went in "eyes wide open"). Chops would constantly apologize for "dragging me into it". I had to keep telling him that I *choose* to stay. He's not holding a gun to my head (and neither are you). He's not emotionally blackmailing me (and neither are you). I'm a big girl, and it's up to me to determine whether or not I can do this. I didn't like it when he (or anyone else) felt that, despite what I said, they knew better. Making decisions for me essentially tossed away all the work I'd done to *get* to that point, and it pissed me off more than anything. Taking away her agency may make her feel the same way (then again, it may not... YMMV).

Tell her that you're taking her at her word, and then keep reassuring her and talking to her about things (with compassion, of course) over, and over, and over again. Tell her that if she can't take it, she needs to be honest with you, because you're being honest with her. Tell her that you are trusting her to let you know when enough is enough. And then hold her to that. But ask her now and then how she's doing.

Chops *still* asks me now and then, and I appreciate it. 9 times out of 10, my answer is "still good" but it's better to have nothing to talk about than to have stuff bottled up inside.

Best of luck.
 

Candiedlove

New member
@KC43:As I said in the original post, staying in this relationship monogamously is NOT an option

If you choose to stay with your mono girlfriend and live poly, knowing she doesn't like it and it will hurt her, you really only have one option: A "have your cake and eat it too" life. It's impossible of course, to have that happen. It's also impossible to get what you say you want; a happy girlfriend and a poly life.

You can choose to be poly AND be with your girlfriend. But guess what? You don't get to be poly AND be with a contented, happy girlfriend.

What do you really want?
 

Kimbre

New member
While I am certainly no expert and am new to poly myself, YouAreHere's post was much in line with what I would say. Keep communicating with your girlfriend, extensively. If you two have had previous breakups, it would seem to be a valuable and needed relationship tool anyway. No one deserves to unhappy.

As far as that goes, I think it could be argued that you aren't necessarily the one who changed the rules of the relationship anyway. From what I've read in your posts, when you two first began your relationship it appeared to have been one that included romantic love as well as an active sexual life that would conceivably had emotional overtones attached. I've no reason why her sex drive diminished and am aware there could be a variety of reasons, but that seems like an obvious component which was removed from your original relationship. That it is an important lack for you should have been obvious and you have said she was aware of your outside affairs. If your forced abstinence is by her choice in particular, I don't see how that's any more of an egregious violation of the relationship than you wanting to have another girlfriend. Even if it's not a choice of her own volition, not all of the concessions need to be made on your side.

What is seems to boil down to is that you do both love each other and want to be together. She should be just as concerned about your happiness as you are with hers and so the only practical route is compromise. Communication is the best way that will be achieved, else anything short of breaking up for good now could be a futile effort. I wish you the best of luck.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
It sounds like you have been straight up with her in your talk so far. But neither of you is talking about break up pros and cons straight up.

You could show her the poly hell article and talk about that.

Take a look at these sheets. That could also help some.

Tell her that while you do not want to break up, you also do not want to put her through hell and want to have a realistic conversation about that.

What would be your deal breakers? What would be yours? How does she feel about a mercy break up? Can you expect her to speak up for herself? Or is she going to linger in something that does not work for her silently?

You both could thrive rather than survive the relationship. I could be wrong but I get a vibe like you both have been surviving rather than thriving? Could talk about that too. Are you better suited to continue loving each other as friends?

I think you guys could talk more first, esp about breaking up. Because if you can talk about the dealbreakers, it could actually REDUCE the odds of it happening some if you do move on to Opening.

It isn't going to be one or two talks either... It it a series of conversations. Take breaks. Don't try to cover it all in one sitting. Print your first post and show it to her. Actually talk to your partner about what is on your mind.

Galagirl
 
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Garriguette

New member
I am a mono person whose partner of 10 years discovered last year that he would like to have multiple partners and is planning to open when I file my dissertation. Our situation is a little different from yours: He hadn't always had trouble with monogamy-- he got surprised by falling in love with someone else.

For the love of Pete, if monogamy is dealbreakingly unacceptable for you, and you know it, tell her so. That is only fair.

Then she can determine if she is willing and able to participate, either as a mono partner to you or as someone who also seeks other partners. If she *is* willing, she can decide how long she is willing to try sharing you before removing herself from the situation, if that is the healthiest outcome for her.

For what it is worth, typical adjustment time for monos whose spouses pushed for an open or poly relationship on the poly/mono list seems to be about three years (or roughly until their spouse has made it through the NRE phase with the first partner since opening).

Are you yourself prepared for the possibility of being with someone who goes through three years of hard-core grieving and difficult adjustment?

Are you prepared for the possibility that she may *never* be thrilled by the relationship configuration you want?

Are you prepared for a lot of conversation and reassurance?

How good are you at handling deeply painful emotions in someone you care about a great deal, without feeling as if you are responsible for those emotions?

Are you prepared for the possibility that she will leave? Do you know, in your heart of hearts, that you and she would both survive that outcome?

There is nothing wrong with what you want. There's nothing wrong with what she wants, either. And there is no easy way to find a solution that will satisfy you both.
 
Hello!
I have been in a similar situation.
I wanted a poly-relationship, my girlfriend didn't. In the end, she broke up with me before I could even start seeing other people.

My gf was hurting INCREDIBLY much. It was heartbreaking to see this.
She herself said, that the mere idea of being one out of many girlfriends of me was way, way more painful than ending the relationship with me.
However, for a very long time she really didnt want to break up with me, at all. She wanted to "force herself to try it".
She was suffering for months (even though I didnt even meet any other woman). She just could not feel loved knowing that I was interested in dating other women. She said, she wished she could feel loved, but it seemed impossible for her.

At one point, she just said it's enough now and she broke up with me.
That's about 6 months ago.
Soon after that, she was doing great. She didnt regret it at all.
I however felt (and actually still feel) horrible about it and miss her everyday.

We do still talk sometimes, and she said that she wished I would have broken up with her earlier, to end her suffering. She felt like she "had" to give me the permission to date other women, even though it would make her feel very bad. She thought because she loved me, she had to make me happy.
She says that monogamy is (at the moment) the only relationship model that she can be truly happy with.

So ... my opinion is... do not bring her in this situation. My girlfriend often didnt show how much she was hurting, but this was just... bad. I know one could argue "If she gives me the permission, then its her choice, she can decide for herself"...
But, especially with younger people (in the 20's, 30's) this is not so easy... and if you love her ... why make her feel this pain?

You can find someone who is more compatible with you and she can find someone who loves her the way she is, monogamously.

After the experience I made, I clearly say, I would NEVER try to convince someone getting into a poly-relationship again, if they dont absolutely want that themselves. It created SO much pain.
 

hightreason

New member
ok, a lot of responses here. I guess I should get down to replying.

@YouAreHere: I think you are absolutely right about taking it kind of slow, and have some good suggestions for communication. I just hope she is open enough to communication to make it possible.

@Candiedlove: I'm still not entirely sure that this is true, that she will never be happy again as long as she stays with me if we open things up. I appreciate your input, though.

@Kimbre: Yes, you are actually right about that, and I have brought this issue up with my real life friends as well. I fell in love with someone who loved to go out with me and do things, and loved sex. I mean, my god, there was so much sex in the beginning! Now I'm with someone who stays at home all the time, and has no sex drive at all. Really, I have two lives. One is at home with her, and the other is out in the rest of the world, and there is barely any interlap. That's how rarely she leaves the apartment. That is not the woman I fell in love with, but I also still love the woman she is now. Is it so much really to ask for her to compromise a little in my direction after I have compromised so much in hers?

@GalaGirl: Thanks for the resources. You have also given me some things to think about in our upcoming conversations.

@ConfusedFeelings: Thanks for your story. I'm sorry that happened to you. Here's the conclusion I have come to, however. It might not be the final conclusion, but it's the one I am leaning toward now.

She is a grown woman, six years older than me, in fact. I can't force her to do anything, and it would be very pretentious of me to assume what is best for her and dump her on those grounds. We are not married, we have no kids, she has a father who would be delighted if she moved back in with him if she has no other place to go. There is nothing stopping her from leaving if that's what she chooses.

All, I can do is be honest with her. I have been honest with her. However, I resolve to try to be even more honest which means more than just not lying, but making it completely clear to her what my needs are for this relationship. I have told her plenty of times before, but I have always accepted it when she dismissed me, and then I went on being dissatisfied. I aim to stop doing that, and make this into a relationship that can satisfy me. I also resolve to do whatever is reasonably within my power to make her comfortable and satisfied in that relationship as well. If some of you are right, and that is impossible, then she is free to leave. It will sadden me if she does, but nothing is stopping her.
 
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