To be or not to be?

Token2

New member
Some background for anyone interested...

I'm the hinge in a straight Vee with my very long-term partner and a semi long distance boyfriend who I had been having a sex only relationship with for a while.

Calling that new relationship love is a way off but it opened me to recognising poly was an option for me, and my partners. I'm yet to describe what we have as poly to the boyfriend because I don't want him to feel having him 'fall in love' with me is a driving force for my connection with him. We were friends 1st and I adore him and we're so good when we're together but I don't need to put a label on us...

My long-term love has been super supportive sees himself as poly and wants us to find our groove.

So I initiated telling the boyfriend I'd like to have him in my life as a boyfriend not just a fuckbuddy. At the time he came back with a few limits on his availability on a few levels and I stayed pretty steadfast on that I wasn't seeking change to our routine just an acknowledgement of there being some kind of us.

Now I am really good with boundaries and respecting other people's needs, so I accepted all these reasons I'm really a secondary to his life but since I initiated a change in our status he's become less emotionally available to me.

I was coping ok with that and understood this is new and scary to him but then yesterday when the 3 of us met up he was talking a lot about at some point wanting someone to sit on the couch at home with the kids, needing more one day, etc - basically a whole bunch of focus on what he feels I can't give him.

It didn't hit me until later how this feels so unfair to me - that not only am I given barriers from him but then he's not giving us a chance and focusing on what we may not ever be instead of enjoying what we are.

I've said I'm happy to come out as seeing 2 guys with him staying seen as a mono individual but because his kids know me as 1/2 of a couple he doesn't want them to ever know about us.

We come from a swinging background so it's not a major insult or anything and like I said this is all a completely new concept to him.

Am I behaving like some kind of doormat here? I feel pretty indignant about the blatant hypocrisy between his limits and my inability to be a nesting partner.

I should add - he's unexpectedly become a 100% carer to his 3 kids and as a result doesn't even have his own bedroom at home, has minimal spare time so any thoughts of having a normal relationship is pretty much a fantasy right now. Sure a girlfriend could sit on his couch but besides meals there's not much else she could do in his house with him.

All I ever wanted from us what to enjoy the amazing connection we have together, be supportive of eachother when needed and have fun.

I fear the NRE is dwindling fast as he falls to really show up in anyway besides in person once a week. I'm left feeling sad instead of excited and my desire for emotional self preservation is beginning to outweigh the very limited warm and fuzzies.

Remember this is a dear friend of mine and partners. My partner has been a strong ally for him, helping me try and see how confusing it must be for the boyfriend and to give him a chance to settle in and get past his fears before throwing in the towel.

Anyway - I have told myself I'll give it a month. Can anyone share their experiences of dating partners new to poly and any tips about how to make things feel safer for everyone?

Plus interested to know if I'm being overly sensitive to his comments yesterday and if not, how to so I express this without sounding accusatory (which never goes down well)?

Any tips at all will be most gratefully received.

I do believe we can work through this and I want to. He may read like an insensitive ass but really he's a very simple guy, capable of being very kind and loving.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Let me repeat back what I understand. You correct me if I get it wrong, ok?

You have two partners.
  • One is very long term.
  • One is a semi long distance FWB.
  • FWB and your other partner are also friends.
  • You all come from a swinging background.

FWB is a relatively new relationship. (<-- how long?)
  • FWB is overwhelmed at recently becoming the main caregiver to his 3 children.
  • FWB doesn't even have his own bedroom in the home.
  • FWB comes over to see you once a week.
  • FWB has limited availability right now.
You recently told FWB that you'd like him in your life as a poly BF not just FWB.
  • FWB came back with with a few limits on his availability on a few levels.
  • He's also worried about the future.
  • One day he also wants someone to sit on the couch at home with the kids, needing more one day, etc. More like a nesting partner.
    • You see yourself as his secondary and know he eventually might want to have a nesting partner and that can't be you.
    • FWB is not sure about polyshipping.
    • FWB is not sure about trying to date to find a nesting partner with you as a secondary. Because that might impact his dating ability. Not everyone wants to be in that kind of set up.
You want to be "out" as poly and seeing two guys.
  • You are ok with FWB being in the closet and presenting to the world as mono.
  • At this time, he's not ready to be "out" to his kids as your other partner because they know you as part of a couple already.

Right now you are mad/upset/sad at his reaction.
  • You didn't want to change anything about your routine together.
  • You just wanted to start calling him poly BF instead of FWB.
  • You think he's being hypocritical when he has his reaction to all this because it feels like he's listing all these ways you can't be a nesting partner to him when he's not able to be "more" back for you either. (<---But you just said you didn't want to change anything... yet you are asking him to. DID you want more?)
You worry you are being a doormat or being overly sensitive to his comments yesterday. So you have decided to give it a month for the dust to settle.

Is that about it? If so? Go ahead and give it the month for the dust to settle. Both on his side and on your side.

All I ever wanted from us what to enjoy the amazing connection we have together, be supportive of each other when needed and have fun.

Honestly? I think you are being overly sensitive to his reaction. Your timing was off. From out of nowhere you just dumped a new load of stress on to an already stressed FWB who is dealing with suddenly becoming main caregiver all his kids. Not esp supportive sounding to me, esp when you say you didn't want to change anything. I could be wrong, but it sounded like jumping the gun a bit.

Maybe it could have waited to talk about this a bit later down when he's not THIS stressed. Waiting a few weeks or even a month or two while his kid thing calms down some wouldn't have hurt anything.

So no surprise to me that he's wittering about this and that now. It's like throwing a rock in a pond. There's going to be a big splash, and then all these ripples. He's basically going "Ack!" because you want to change a bunch of things. It was not expected, and he has a full plate as it is.

And not just one thing but a triple whammy. These are big deal things to some people.
  • Changing labels from FWB (which he was comfortable with) to BF (which he's unsure about) <-- kinda big to the "no labels" people
  • You want to be "out" as poly on your side where he doesn't want to be out to his kids about dating you, any maybe not out to others <-- Some people don't want to "out" at all EVER
  • You want to starting calling this this polyamory (which is new to him) rather than casual FWB. <-- kinda big, esp for those new to poly.
I think you could apologize for dumping all that on him just out of the sky. Tell him again you are happy with the routine and don't want to change anything right now. Maybe ask to talk again in a month about clearer expectations for this FWB and where it might go and how long it will last so you are both on the same page about it.

So over the month of "chill" you might think about this relationship from your side.

Are you going to be ok with it if he comes back with "No, thanks. I don't want to be called BF. I don't want to do poly. I don't want to change things. I am happy being called FWB. I like how things are. Eventually though, we're going to have to taper off and be only friends because I'm going to want to find a nesting partner, and I can't see me dating to find one with a FWB on the side."

Or DID you want something more?

Can anyone share their experiences of dating partners new to poly and any tips about how to make things feel safer for everyone?

What is unsafe here? It's just sorting things out to be on the same page.

You don't say how long you two have been doing the FWB thing. To me the FWB thing has to end after about a year max. It's not dating. It's casual sex with a friend. There's no commitment and there's no talk about the past or the future. It's very much "relationship of the present" and it's light and fluffy. Which can be a lot of fun.

To me? It ends because it tapers off and the people go back to "friends, no sex." Or it ends because they want to invest more into it, and change over to the BF/GF types of labels.

You said you are happy with how things are... but you also wanted to change it. Those things are opposite each other. It's not "casual FWB" any more if you want him to be "poly BF." It doesn't sound like you both agreed when to taper it off either.

So do your soul searching and figure out what you REALLY want here. And whatever page it is? See if he is on the same page about it.

Galagirl
 
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Inaniel

Active member
I do not think your FWB sounds like an "ass"... And I don't think you are a doormat at all, to the contrary maybe...

Perhaps your relationship with your mono FWB is nothing more than a sex holdover until he finds the type of relationship he desires.. It sounds like he might want a full-time mono partner that can be a mother-figure to his kids... In conventional mono dating; graduating from FWB to GF basically means he's off market... If his goal is to find a nesting partner; his situation is already difficult, add poly to the mix and now you have alienated the majority of the conventional dating pool... It could be strategically devastating for him; compare and contrast that with your desires to call him BF...

I have experience turning a mono FWB into a GF. All I can say is that it uprooted my life just as much as it did her life. Relationship escalation should dictate that each person feel good about the situation and have their desired needs met... A mono vs. poly mindset might have differing perceptions about what those needs are and how they can be fulfilled. From the perspective of your FWB, It sounds like the label "gf" comes with some baggage that you don't want to mess with.. He is telling you that he needs more one day; if you cannot be "more one day" maybe you should reconsider escalating this relationship and enjoy it for what it is, while it lasts.
 
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Polymark

New member
Doesn’t make sense. You say your relationship doesn’t need a label and in the same breath your upset that he doesn’t want to put a label on it.
Doesn’t make sense.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi Token,

It sounds like your boyfriend (who doesn't want to be called "boyfriend" at this time) has something different in mind, for the future, than what you can provide. To summarize, he wants a monogamous nesting partner. I don't think he means that as a slam against you, I just think he sees his relationship with you as something temporary that will probably eventually change from a FWB relationship to just a friendship. He seems to not want to carry the aura of expectation that, at least to him, seems to accompany the word "boyfriend." I think he wants to enjoy this relationship right now for what it is, but he perceives that it is starting to change, and that is making him want to draw back.

You are right to give it a month. Use that time to figure out whether you can be satisfied with what he seems to be offering: a temporary FWB relationship that will eventually morph into a platonic friendship. There is nothing wrong with you or him if that's not something that can satisfy you. It just means the two of you are growing apart, or discovering needs and wants that are incompatible. It could mean that the FWB relationship has to end right now (a month from now), which is certainly a bummer, but not a sign that either of you has done anything hypocritical or wrong. Some relationships (and they may be great relationships while they last) aren't meant to last forever. It is okay to love someone enough to let go.

With sympathy,
Kevin T.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
It helps to pick nicknames for our partners/friends. I'll suggest Ben for FWB and Jake for your long term partner.

Did you meet Ben as swingers? You know that swingers and polyamorous people have different guidelines and boundaries. Maybe he wants to go by the swinger rules still. The MF couple is paramount. Other sex partners are meant to be for sex only, maybe for friendship, but they never come between a couple. So, Ben thought he could have some fun with you. (Or maybe there is some threeway sex going on, 2 straight guys focusing on you?)

You haven't known him that long. It sounds like he broke up with the mother of his kids fairly recently, and it has not been easy, since custody is still in flux, and he doesn't have enough bedrooms for the kids.

So he was enjoying you for fun and sex. You felt deepening feelings, and since Jake IDs as poly, you thought maybe Ben would be down for a redefinition of your relationship with him. So far, he's not down for it.

But you planted a seed. Give him some grace. Maybe he can accept you define you feelings for him as more than just FWB and maybe he can be cool with that. If he goes running, or ghosting, he's probably not the right guy for you. And you should probably quit having sex with swingers, if you're open to having a BF/OSO and not just a fuckbuddy/FWB. That's how this looks to me anyway.

I've got a dear FWB... We've had an ongoing relationship for 12 years. Sometimes a year will go by when we won't see each other or even chat much. Sometimes we talk a couple times a week and get together once a month. It's kind of long distance, a 90 minute drive. I've never declared love to him, even though I do feel affection. We just kind of have this thing. It enhances my life. It's great, as far as it goes. That's the joy of polyamory. You can hit a certain level and enjoy that level and there's no need to go further up the escalator.
 

Token2

New member
Hey thanks everyone for your honest thoughts and to Galagirl for taking the time to dissect. I had thought about coming in and editing it down for ease of consumption but I am glad I didn't.

Timeline for the BF is we met nearly 2 years ago, had a close sexual and platonic relationship as 2 couples.

He broke up with the mother to his children 10 years ago or close to. His most recent breakup with our friend was 14 months ago and it was a 3 year relationship.

We started seeing him solo as a couple last August about this time he went from 50% care of his kids (12, 16, 18) to 100%. Late Feb I realised I was feeling a deep connection, verbalised it early April.

So yes very fresh for a relationship but we've cared for eachother for quite sometime. He has actually been quite receptive, I guess that's the thing about real connections is that they're hard to deny.

Just to clarify something Galagirl wrote - we hookup or hangout once a week, I drive about 80 mins each way to do so.

Also in the case of the conversation we just had, I didn't present any new info, he was chatting primarily with my long-term partner, and I offered me 'coming out' at some point as a possible solution to his couch dilemma. I'm not terribly attached to that being an outcome, more I am ok with the concept if it was something that made him happy.

I wrote the OP when I was still feeling a bit frustrated, I do want us to just enjoy the moment and I consistently give him space to put all other areas of his life 1st.

What I realised after writing is that in that same conversation he had mentioned trying to find a girlfriend who would welcome being open, and when he had said 'this can't last forever' he had followed it with 'well maybe it can'...

To be honest I think the crux of the issue is whilst being great at hooking up and connecting without connection I have been out of relationship dating for nearly 3 decades so I get unnecessarily anxious, overthinking a lot of what's happening in the 'space between us' and letting my mind dwell on the negatives.

My primary love language is touch but also I think time & words are a close tie behind, when he tells me he's missed me I feel really secure but he saves all his nice words for when we're together.

I know he means them, I keep coming back to the fact that we were deep friends first, so I know him, his personality etc a lot more than most people coming into a relationship and we've been sexual from the 1st night we met.

When I stay positive it feels positive, I appreciate your comments and I will attempt to keep seeing things from more than just my inexperienced and insecure viewpoint.

I worry I am not cut out for polyamory since I appear to really need external validation and feeling 'met' to enjoy opening my heart to others.
 
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Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Timeline for Ben is that Jake and I met him nearly 2 years ago. We had a close sexual and platonic relationship as 2 couples, along with his gf.

Ben broke up with the mother of his children about 10 years ago. His most recent breakup with his gf was 14 months ago. They'd been together 3 years.
Jake and I kept seeing him solo last August. About this time he went from 50% care of his kids (12, 16, 18) to 100%. In late Feb I realised I was feeling a deep connection to him. I verbalised it in early April.

Ben and I have cared for each other for quite sometime. He has actually been quite receptive, I guess that's the thing about real connections, they're hard to deny.

We hook up or hangout once a week. I drive about 80 mins each way to his place.

Also, in the case of the conversation we just had, I didn't present any new info. Ben was chatting primarily with Jake, and I offered me 'coming out' at some point as a possible solution to his couch dilemma. I'm not terribly attached to that being an outcome, more I am ok with the concept if it was something that made him happy.
I paraphrased your words above.

I'm not sure what you mean... you'd tell Ben's kids you're his lover, so that you can have sex with their father on the couch while they're there in the bedrooms??

If his kids are all teens, couldn't he leave them there and come see you at your place? Do you have kids? Do you have plenty of bedrooms? Could the kids go spend times with a grandparent or with friends sometimes to give Ben some space?
I want us to just enjoy the moment. I consistently give Ben space to put all other areas of his life 1st.

What I realised after writing was that in that same conversation he had mentioned trying to find a girlfriend who would welcome being open, and when he had said 'this can't last forever' he had followed it with 'well maybe it can'...

To be honest, I think the crux of the issue is while I am great at hooking up and connecting without connection, I have been out of relationship-dating for nearly 3 decades, so I get unnecessarily anxious. I over-thinking a lot of what's happening in the 'space between us' and let my mind dwell on the negatives.
For 3 decades you were mono with Jake? Or you and he did casual swinging for some of this time and you just never "caught feels" before?
My primary love language is touch, with time & words close behind. When he tells me he's missed me I feel really secure, but he saves all his nice words for when we're together. I know he means them. I keep coming back to the fact that we were deep friends first, so I know him, his personality, a lot more than most people coming into a relationship. We've been sexual from the 1st night we met.
You mean you knew him well from texting him and his ex-gf, in conversations between the 4 of you?
When I stay positive it feels positive. I appreciate your comments and I will attempt to keep seeing things from more than just my inexperienced and insecure viewpoint.

I worry I am not cut out for polyamory since I appear to really need external validation and feeling 'met' to enjoy opening my heart to others.
Confidence does come from within. Maybe things are fine and you're in your head too much...

So now that he will have 3 teens at home, will he be getting a bigger place? Will the oldest be going off to college, freeing up more space? Again, why can't he come see you? Do you and Jake go to see him for threesomes? Or has it become more of a one-on-one sexual thing? Does Jake date others individually?

Why can't the kids know that Ben has a gf? Surely at their age, they would understand that he broke up with the other gf but is seeing you now. Teens usually think their parents' sex lives are gross, but they generally understand that they do have them.

Many questions!
 

Token2

New member
Thanks Mags - firstly
I'm not sure what you mean... you'd tell Ben's kids you're his lover, so that you can have sex with their father on the couch while they're there in the bedrooms??

If his kids are all teens, couldn't he leave them there and come see you at your place? Do you have kids? Do you have plenty of bedrooms? Could the kids go spend times with a grandparent or with friends sometimes to give Ben some space?

Yuk to sex in front of kids - he literally is talking about the act of just sitting on the couch, hanging out.

My house is full of older kids too, we generally have a quality overnight catch up in hotel every 3 weeks or so and just steal moments where we can weekly in between.

For 3 decades you were mono with Jake? Or you and he did casual swinging for some of this time and you just never "caught feels" before?

2 decades mono, 1 swinging - no feels

You mean you knew him well from texting him and his ex-gf, in conversations between the 4 of you?

No, I'm in Australia, we have been free of the havoc covid reigned over connections, our 4 way was in person, very regular, very deep and fun friendship with great sex.

It has turned into a mix of 1 on 1 or the 3 of us, mostly 1 on 1.

His place is amazing, it's why he'll sacrifice having his own room for as long as he possibly can. 4 bedroom apartments on the ocean are hard and expensive to find, 3 bedrooms are dime a dozen, his oldest is already in college and I guess a boyfriend MIGHT be a catalyst to move out but I doubt it. Australian kids live at home FOREVER these days...
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks Mags - firstly


Yuk to sex in front of kids - he literally is talking about the act of just sitting on the couch, hanging out.
No, I didn't mean in front of them, of course. Is he sharing a bedroom with one of the kids? If there are 3 bedrooms, why can't he have his own room, and 2 of the kids bunk together? Surely that is the more common thing to do...
My house is full of older kids too, we generally have a quality overnight catch up in hotel every 3 weeks or so and just steal moments where we can weekly in between.

Well, that's good at least.
2 decades mono, 1 swinging - no feels
Ah, thanks. So 10 years of swinging and you finally fell for someone. We get a lot of ex-swingers coming here with this problem. I think most people equate sex with feelings, especially if you've been seeing someone for a while. I guess with younger people distracted by college and getting started in careers, they can just hookup or be satisfied with cybersex for a while, but I think most humans get to a point where sex triggers great affection or love. If you're not on the mono relationship, let's settle down escalator, you have to decide your own path and hope both people agree on it.
No, I'm in Australia, we have been free of the havoc covid reigned over connections, our 4 way was in person, very regular, very deep and fun friendship with great sex.

It has turned into a mix of 1 on 1 or the 3 of us, mostly 1 on 1.

His place is amazing, it's why he'll sacrifice having his own room for as long as he possibly can. 4 bedroom apartments on the ocean are hard and expensive to find, 3 bedrooms are dime a dozen, his oldest is already in college and I guess a boyfriend MIGHT be a catalyst to move out but I doubt it. Australian kids live at home FOREVER these days...
Millennials live with parents all over the world, I think. My son is almost 30 and lives with his dad, my ex.

Again, would you explain why, in a 3 bedroom place, 3 kids get private bedrooms and dad is on the couch? I don't get it.
 

Token2

New member
He's over compensating, he wasn't there for them for a few key years and their mum has real issues - gambling mainly.

One of his 2 daughters has mental health issues inc rage so he can't bunk the girls without causing damage to the balanced one...

I don't get it either as far as moving/mixing it up but it's his life/house/family dynamic not mine.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for sharing. I didn't mean to pry. We are anonymous here though.

That does sound tough and complicated, and a lot to deal with. I think he likes you a lot, but also has a lot on his plate.
 

Token2

New member
Well I said I was going to give this relationship a month to feel better and it's a month later and we're both still signed up for the ride.

It occurred to me soon after posting that it's probably going to take a few months until things don't feel awkward for us. That helped me dial down my own feelings about wanting things to move quickly.

We've had a couple of quality dates, he's stopped mentioning the things we're not, he's starting to verbalise affection too and playing with some longer term concepts. So yeah it's feeling safer for both of us. It feels like the trajectory is promising.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Glad to hear things are looking up for you and him. It sounds like his heart is really in this, and he is a good man, just maybe you have some anxiousness from time to time. Hang in there.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Well I said I was going to give this relationship a month to feel better and it's a month later and we're both still signed up for the ride.

It occurred to me soon after posting that it's probably going to take a few months until things don't feel awkward for us. That helped me dial down my own feelings about wanting things to move quickly.

We've had a couple of quality dates, he's stopped mentioning the things we're not, he's starting to verbalise affection too and playing with some longer term concepts. So yeah it's feeling safer for both of us. It feels like the trajectory is promising.
Thanks for the update and I hope things keep improving!
 
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