Transitioning to solo poly

Open4love

Member
Hi guys, I've been a primary-type relationship with my partner, Karen, for a few years now. While we've certainly had a lot to work through, I've generally experienced many things that I've wanted to as far as dating others and haven't felt too restricted by our model of relationship. However, lately I've been feeling very clear about wanting more space between her and I, particularly living space (we've lived together almost as long as we've been together), and the amount of restriction I feel by being in a couple has become somewhat overwhelming. Further, I just don't feel connected to any relationship model that seeks to prioritize one person over another anymore. I want my relationships to flow freely and feel more like my friendships do, with less pressure and expectations that they become something like marriage or family, or that we spend more time together than anyone else in our lives.

My question revolves around transitioning more towards this kind of relating. I would like to hear what kind of models people have for practicing solo polyamory or maintaining partnerships where that kind of freedom and independence is felt.

My main issue is that I don't want to seek permission and create power dynamics in my relationships; I want to date as I see fit and inform my partner(s) along the way so they can continue to consent to the relationship. For me, informing my partner about new sexual partners is important because it is about physical health; informing them about my schedule as far as dating is important so that they can know when they can spend time with me. Aside from that, I really feel that the rest should be optional sharing, and I might not want to share every detail in my romantic/emotional connections with those I date.

Another concern I have is living with Karen. Can I be solo poly and still live with somebody? She has a place she can go if I want the house to myself, but I also feel bad because this is her home, too. When I've suggested that one or two nights a week she spend time at her other place, she has reacted in a way that wasn't supportive of the space I need and instead has focused on how I'm trying to "kick her out." I enjoy living with her, but I can't imagine having that interaction again and again every time I want my own space for a while. She says she wants to work on her reactions, but I am in self-protection mode right now because her reactions have hurt me quite a lot in the past and very recently. Maybe I just need to be firm about wanting to live by myself?

Thanks as always for all of your insight.

Much Love,
Open
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I am sorry you are struggling.

I want to date as I see fit and inform my partner(s) along the way so they can continue to consent to the relationship. For me, informing my partner about new sexual partners is important because it is about physical health; informing them about my schedule as far as dating is important so that they can know when they can spend time with me. Aside from that, I really feel that the rest should be optional sharing, and I might not want to share every detail in my romantic/emotional connections with those I date.

For me, that works for any poly. Not just solo poly. That is basically you setting your boundaries.

Is Karen asking for TMI details? Are you able to say "Sorry. I'm not sharing those details with you" if she does?

When I've suggested that one or two nights a week she spend time at her other place, she has reacted in a way that wasn't supportive of the space I need and instead has focused on how I'm trying to "kick her out."

That sounds like taking it personally like an attack -- defensive listening. Does she often do this?

I enjoy living with her, but I can't imagine having that interaction again and again every time I want my own space for a while. She says she wants to work on her reactions, but I am in self-protection mode right now because her reactions have hurt me quite a lot in the past and very recently.

You say you enjoy living with her. But if the main reason you want to not live with her is because she blows up when you want some space, I don't blame you.

If you want to live on your own so you are free from blow ups -- go ahead and do that. Getting you out of the line of fire is one way to resolve that issue in a way that YOU can control. You can choose where you live.

Her coping with her stuff is not dependent on where you live. She could deal with her reactions wherever it is you live. But that stuff is HER work to do. You cannot make her do it. You cannot do it for her. SHE has to do it.


I would say set a time limit. If she resolves it by then, great. If not, move out. Unless you are already at your limit of tolerance or past your limit. If that is the case just go ahead and move.
Galagirl
 
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GreenAcres

New member
GalaGirl, as always, give some good advice. That said, I'm going to differ on one point, which is the girlfriend having to leave so you can have some space. Was this a pre-arranged agreement when you moved in? Is this actually her place, too (as in, she lives there, participates in household upkeep, etc.)? Because, honestly, if someone told me to get out of my home so they could have space, that wouldn't likely go over well.

So, I'm going to assume the answer to the above is yes, you equally share a living space. If what you actually mean is she's just at your place all the time, but has a home of her own, then this doesn't really apply:

If I need space from my live-in partner(s), I don't ask them to leave. I leave. It's my need, and I control my actions. It's his/her/their home, as well, and they have every right to be there whenever they feel like. What if your GF feels like staying home that night? Especially one or two nights a week? That is a huge ask, and not her job. Her time in her own home shouldn't be beholden to your decisions on when that can happen.

My suggestion is that, if you feel you need your own space and you don't want to be the one to leave to get it, that you consider moving out of your place with Karen. If you don't want to, or can't do that, then find somewhere you can go when you need space.

The rest of your post sounds completely reasonable, and how many people (myself included) conduct their relationships.
 

Open4love

Member
Thanks, Gala. I used to believe that sharing all the details of my other love interests was important to be closer to Karen. But her reactions to those details makes it very hard to feel close to her. I also have come to believe that privacy is important for my other relationships' sake, as too much detail can paint a negative picture in Karen's mind about the other person (such as my doubts about them or my attraction level ebbing and flowing), and she definitely runs with that picture as much as I also say the good things about them.

I am getting much better about just keeping my big mouth shut, as tempting as it is to divulge information that she doesn't necessarily need to know. It's hard for me not to this while living with her since we are in each other's space so much, and she sees me come home and senses that I'm pondering something. I need to get better at saying, "I don't think it would be appropriate to share those details with you."

She does often get defensive and uses catastrophic thinking in her reactions. When I want more space, it can often mean to her that I am just trying to break up with her, for example. No matter how much I try to convince her otherwise, she is pretty stuck on the story that I don't want to be with her. Which sucks because after her reacting that way, it really has me considering not being with her. :(
 

Open4love

Member
Greenacres, you touched upon the biggest dilemma for me as far as living together is concerned. She and I moved into a house that I bought (so it is my home technically). She really helped make it a wonderful home with her decorating skills, and I totally understand how it is hard for her to imagine being forced out of a place that she helped create and put energy into.

At the same time, I don't know how to be solo poly and not have my own space. I cannot afford another apartment or home, and I would like my home to be my space to have people over should I choose to do so. With Karen here, I have to seek permission to do something like that because it's her home, too, and it would be inconsiderate to just have people over without informing her. So I'm stuck. I am working on an addition to the house with a separate entrance that I intend on being my own space. But it would still be awkward to have people over while she's in the other part of the house.

Like I said, she has a place that she rents and can easily use as a living space, which was part of the intention of getting it. But she has been using it for a source of income via airbnb and has not ever stayed there, so I am having to go over to my lovers' homes, or have them over when Karen is out of town (which is very infrequent). I thought it would be a good compromise for her to have her own place she could stay when either of us need space. Hmm ... maybe her and I could both use that space, but again it comes down to finances for me.
 

GreenAcres

New member
Her other issues aside, which merit their own discussion apart from the living situation, if you "moved in together," and that was the understanding, it is her home, and really, she shouldn't have to leave whenver you decide you want space. It's not fair to expect her to just pack a bag and get out so you can have a date. She lives there, which you agreed to, and so has the reasonable expectation of utilizing it as her home. Using the "but my name is on it" card to say she needs to leave the place that is understood to be her home whenever you want some space or find her being there inconvenient isn't really fair or ethical, if she's contributing to the home. You can say you'd like her to move out, and give her fair time to do that, which is totally reasonable.

Look, reality happens; and, as much as it often sucks, it's what we have to work with. Even in non-poly relationships, constraints such as time, money, etc. often come into play with dating. Currently, you have financial constraints which prevent you from dating as freely as you want. It's not ideal, but it's not really all that uncommon for either poly or mono people. Asking your girlfriend to give up her home two nights a week isn't a reasonable solution (at least, it wouldn't be for most people I know). So, you'll have some other decisions to make.

Using her place may detract from her income from that place, so you'll need to negotiate that if you and she want to use it for dates (and if she agrees). What was the discussed and agreed upon arrangement when she got this place? Was it that she would stay there a certain amount of time, or certain nights a week?

Solo poly does generally insinuate no live-in partner. What you seem to be talking about is more along the lines of "V" style relationships, with you as a hinge; but, I could be misreading this. When you say "solo," do you mean your partner is not also poly? If that is the case, I am guessing that is actually probably the bigger issue, and is, again, a very different discussion that simply space in a house. Can you clarify what "solo poly" means to you, and if Karen is also poly? That will really help posters give better ideas for how to handle your situation.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
To me the decision you are facing is "Do I end the cohabitation part only? Or end the cohabitation part AND end the dating her part?"

Only you can answer that. I encourage you to think and make a decision.

But since either way the cohabitating part ends, you could focus on sorting that much for now. Give her the heads up that you want to stop living together. You would like it done by X, but are willing to hear her suggestion for a time frame that works for her.

Then she has time to get her finances together and clear her airbnb place of tenants. So it can happen calmly and not abruptly.

She does often get defensive and uses catastrophic thinking in her reactions. When I want more space, it can often mean to her that I am just trying to break up with her, for example. No matter how much I try to convince her otherwise, she is pretty stuck on the story that I don't want to be with her. Which sucks because after her reacting that way, it really has me considering not being with her.

Yup. That sucks. But you cannot change her her thinking patterns or her behaviors. Only she can.

She says she wants to work on her reactions, but I am in self-protection mode right now because her reactions have hurt me quite a lot in the past and very recently.

To me you sound like you are tired of her chronic acting out behavior. If you want to be free of it? Don't have a lot of confidence in her ability to change? Accept it is what it is at this time. Rather than dragging it out, you could end it.

Not just stop cohabitation, but stop dating her.

Maybe I just need to be firm about wanting to live by myself?

Yup. I think you could be more firm.

You want to be free TO solo poly in your own space.
You want to be free FROM drama blow ups.

So... have the honest, direct conversations you need to be having to make it so for yourself. Lean INTO it having them, not away from having them just because you are worried she will have a cow.

If she has a cow, you can say "I see you are upset. I will follow up in a week. Hopefully we can have a calmer conversation then." Then check out and leave the room.

It is ok for her to feel whatever she feels. It is not ok to blow up AT you. She could exercise self control and find appropriate ways to express herself. Like talking WITH you. Blowing up AT you is not cool.

So if she's aiming blow up stuff at you? You could de-escalate the situation by bowing out.

Hopefully you can have the conversation without blow ups. But if she does blow up, you have set your personal boundary of "I do not allow people to blow up at me. When that happens I leave the room so I can feel safe."

Firm it up all around -- in your personal boundaries and in stating up front and direct what it is you want.

HTH!

Galagirl
 
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Open4love

Member
Greenacres, it does feel unreasonable for me to ask that she pack a bag and stay at her other place two nights a week. But that was one of things we had agreed upon using her other place for -- when I wanted to have a date/sleepover at the house. But the reality is that doing so isn't exactly easy. Letting her know I want the home to myself has been hard, even when not putting a timeline on it, due to the emotional reactions she has. She has come around and even felt excited about that possibility, but part of her wants to believe that moving out would mean the relationship is a failure.

Solo poly to me means being more autonomous and having my love life structured in a way that allows fluidity. It doesn't mean that my partners are or aren't monogamous. It means that they are open to change as it comes and aren't attached to the relationship turning into anything in particular (no linear progression). Karen is poly, too, but she is more interested in a primary relationship model while I tend more towards non-hierarchic relationships as of late.
 

Open4love

Member
Yes, Gala, those are all things I've pondered. I really feel like it's just a matter of me not asserting my need for space. If I was better about it, and we restructured our living situation by having her move into her own place, my feeling is that I would feel a lot closer to her. Right now, there is a division in how we see relationships and what commitment means. She appears to be attached to commitment meaning that you stick with your partner and become more and more important in that person's life, co-creating and co-habitating and then having a family. I feel trapped by that kind of linear progression of relationship.

But, yeah, a timeline would be good to negotiate. Ugh. It's tough.

Thanks for your words, you two.
 

GreenAcres

New member
Really, it sounds like the initial issue you brought up about wanting the house to yourself is pretty secondary, more a symptom of a much larger issue. So, solving that symptom alone by asserting your need for space isn't likely to cure the cold, so to speak. It really just sounds like you two aren't compatible. She wants a commitment/primary-centric poly model, and it seems like that is very important to her. It's also very clearly not what you want or need in a relationship structure. So, while asserting your need for space might band-aid the situation in the short-term, there's some much larger stuff going on that is going to keep rearing it's head.

I can't read her mind, but my guess is her reactions are because she is struggling to keep that primary model, and is feeling she may be "usurped," or have to give up what she feel she's put "Sweat equity" into building. Clearly, she shouldn't be blowing up at you, of course, so no excuses for that, just an idea for the possible reason behind it. Feeling fearful or threatened isn't a good place for communication. It's also a horrible spiral much of the time: the more insecure she gets, the more you don't want her around, which makes her more insecure. Wash, rinse, repeat. She has to address those insecurities on her own. Though, to be fair, she's not entirely wrong--you don't want what she wants, and you are, indeed, trying to move to a different model.

Have you two talked honestly and openly about what you want and need, and your differing ideas of relationship structures? There's a large disconnect somewhere, whether it's lack of forthright communication by one/both of you or lack of acceptance. Either way, though, instead of struggling to keep this going when it's clear you two have very different visions of the future, and very different wants and needs in your lives, why not talk to her honestly and tell her that? You can offer her the option of staying in a relationship with you as a non-primary, non-hierarchy based relationship after she moves out (GalaGirl has given you good ideas on that already), of course, but set your boundaries up front, clearly and directly (and nicely--you can be nice and still be direct). Then, it's her choice to make.
 
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nycindie

Active member
There are some great posts over at Aggie's blog, SoloPoly.net. Good reading material to help you find your way as a solo. I like this one, about a solo poly guy who has three lovers and he keeps their things in his "girlfriend closet:" http://solopoly.net/2015/02/12/the-...-for-partners-in-a-solo-poly-home-guest-post/

Anyway, I think that, whatever you wind up doing, it would behoove you to discuss this with your gf. You could start off with a disclaimer, "I need to talk to you and want you to listen first before you respond. I want you to know upfront that I love you and care about you, and still want to be in a relationship with you, but I just don't feel like living together 7 days a week is working for me anymore. I have been feeling a need for more independence in my life and to have less entwined relationships. I don't want to break up,but a primary/secondary kind of approach to poly doesn't feel right to me anymore. Can we work on finding a solution that makes us both happy?"
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Solo poly to me means being more autonomous and having my love life structured in a way that allows fluidity. It doesn't mean that my partners are or aren't monogamous. It means that they are open to change as it comes and aren't attached to the relationship turning into anything in particular (no linear progression).

Fair enough. You prefer not to ride the relationship escalator. You are allowed to want what you want. Everyone gets their own preferences for what open model they like best.

Right now, there is a division in how we see relationships and what commitment means. She appears to be attached to commitment meaning that you stick with your partner and become more and more important in that person's life, co-creating and co-habitating and then having a family. I feel trapped by that kind of linear progression of relationship.

Karen wants a linear progression/to ride relationship escalator. You want to be with partners who aren't attached to linear progression/don't want that escalator.

To me feelings ensue after behavior. If you choose to be here and the result is you feeling trapped? Why continue to be here dating Karen? :confused: How does investing in something that isn't working for you any more helping you get to where you want to be or help you to feel better?

Could change the behavior, see if it feels better over time.

If Karen broke up with you, how would it feel? Would you feel sad but mostly relief? Something else?

I would like to hear what kind of models people have for practicing solo polyamory or maintaining partnerships where that kind of freedom and independence is felt.

When I was a student, I was more into solo poly model. My main focus was school.

I really think it boils down to you knowing what you want, and being firm and clear about your boundaries. What you can and cannot offer a dating partner.

If your dating partner wants something you do not, or wants more than you can give? You say "No, thanks. I am not willing / not able to do that." They will feel however they feel about it. But it really can be that simple on your end of it -- speak up, and be clear.

In order to say "yes" to yourself you sometimes have to sometimes say "no" to others.

Galagirl
 
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