Unexpectedly Poly

Al99

Active member
My introduction to Poly was a bit backwards. I’ve been a Heinlein fan since I was ten, and had read everything that he had published by the time I started college, many of the titles multiple times. “Stranger in a Strange Land” was the first Heinlein novel I read, and remains among my favorite novels of any genre to this day – 40 years later. So, when I came home from work a couple of years ago to find my wife’s friend, Carla, sitting in my den reading “Stranger”, I was pleasantly surprised. Conversation ensued, and I soon learned that Carla was polyamorous, had a husband, boyfriend, and a girlfriend - and that Heinlein was a favorite of the Poly community. Carla was also kind enough to give me a brief overview of the Poly concept, as well as some suggestions for further study.

Although I did not feel I had any personal interest in Poly, I did go onto read several articles and forum posts on the Net - mostly due, I think, to the Heinlein connection, as well as knowing a real live polyamorist personally. And I also read "The Ethical Slut", the outrageous title alone intriguing me.

I came away from my brief overview study with a great respect for the Poly lifestyle and those who successfully engaged in it, but still did not believe it to be for me. I surely understood why the authors of "The Ethical Slut' spent so much time on dealing with jealousy - I suspected that I was too far set in my ways at my age to defeat that green headed monster.

Becky, my wife, truly values her friendship with Carla, but was quick to tell me that she thought her Poly lifestyle was just plain strange. And Becky reiterated how weird she thought it all was when I discussed some of my Poly readings with her.

So imagine my surprise when just last month - about two years since the Poly discussion with Carla - Becky informed me that she wanted to "open up" our marriage so she could explore her resurgent feelings for an old college boyfriend (Ben) who had recently resurfaced in her life. She went on to say that she did not want to leave me or do anything to disrupt our family our marriage as we have a young daughter who clearly treasures her home life with both of us, and we both have always agreed that was the most important factor in our lives - but that she had come to believe it was possible to love two people at the same time and really wanted me to let her be free to explore her feelings about Ben. She said she believed that she could have a relationship with Ben "in addition to" our marriage, and without harming our daughter's family environment.

My previous "intellectual" study of poly gave me enough insight not to suffer a meltdown on the spot - and while I understood that feelings can come unbidden, I also firmly believed that the committed partner could choose to distance themselves from the situation for the sake of the marriage. And, in fact, our premarital counselor advised his clients to avoid contact with old flames for that very reason - a lesson point that Becky admitted she remembered. Nevertheless, Becky simply stated (several times) that she was not willing to do that. She did not believe it was necessary to walk away from the idea - that instead we could open our marriage and she could have a relationship with Ben "in addition to" our marriage, and do so with no harm to our marriage or family. She said that she could love two men at once.

So my choice was to accept her proposal (which could have come straight out of a poly manual - even though she had always rejected the notion of poly as "weird") - or risk severely disrupting or even breaking up our family. So, I conceded to her proposal to a point - telling her that I would be willing to working on accepting the idea, and we could head in that direction. Many hours of discussion - as well as a lot of anguish, sleepless nights, and whiskey - were needed to arrive at this concession - and initially it was only out of necessity and practicality - because it seemed the "lesser of evils", as I actually felt at that time that she was being selfish - putting her desires for something new above my feelings which were based on the promises we had made in our wedding vows. It was only later - when I looked at the situation honestly and had to acknowledge that Ben was bringing happiness to her life - that I began to see the concession as an act of love, re-examining my long held beliefs for the benefit of her happiness.

It turned out (as I was to discover later) that she had already been regularly texting and phoning Ben for a month or so - in fact, it had started out as a simple text about some news of a mutual acquaintance. This soon evolved into "daily love notes" and regular phone calls. And at that point, she was asking me to be ok with her seeing him in person when we traveled to his city of residence the next week to spend time with some of our family who lived in his city (about 3 hours away - so at least it will be a long distance relationship). I agreed as long as the three of us met for coffee first - and that she would swear to no sex (at least for this trip - I had already accepted that there would be long passionate goodbye kisses when they parted, but it would have been unrealistic to object to that as well - and any objections would almost certainly have been ignored anyway). She did agree for us all to meet and to put sex on the back burner for now saying that would give as much time as I needed to "wrap my head around the idea" (my phrase for a concept that I never expected to face).

So, we all met and I made the speech that I had prepared, mostly stating that I was not actually ok with a poly relationship but was willing to accept it to a point because Becky has asked me to - as long as, most importantly, it did not interfere with our marriage or family. I also told them that I was not ok with sex at this time - but that I would try to wrap my head around the idea if that was even possible - but it would probably take a while. Ben only said a few words but was polite and assured me that he would do nothing to disrupt our family and would respect my wishes about no sex at present.
All in all - and in fairness - he seemed like a decent fellow.

Becky got to meet Ben for lunch twice during our trip and apparently all went well. Just after the first of the year, Becky told me that Ben was going to be at a training seminar for a couple of days at a town about half way between our two cities - and it was close enough that she would like to meet him for dinner on one of the nights he was there (and that there would be no sex, per our agreement.) I agreed - with him living so far away, it seemed obvious to take advantage of the situation.

In the meantime, I continued to process the situation. I would have just as soon have ignored it and hoped it would go away, but since it wasn't going to go away, I continued to work on wrapping my head around it. I had already done an overview study of Poly a couple of years back (as mentioned above), and I continued to read articles on the Net and forum posts, as well as listen to some of the Poly podcasts while working at the desk at my home office - and yet more hours of honest discussion with Becky. I also include meditation as a part of my personal life path so I had spent some time meditating of the issue as well.

And then, somehow, presumably as a result of the study - processing - meditation, I had a rather sudden and remarkable paradigm shift - at which point I felt like I suddenly "got it - wrapped my head around it" and was able to view the situation positively and let go of my reservations. That evening, a few days before her scheduled dinner date with Ben, I was able - in a very tender and passionate moment - to give Becky my blessing for her to make love to Ben when she saw him the next week if that is what they both desired. I even encouraged her to see if they could make an overnight of it so that it could be a memorable time for them. Becky was surprised but excited, and they did work it out so that they could spend the night and the following day till dinner time together.

I found that I was excited and happy for her but was still concerned that after our daughter went to bed that night and I was all alone, that I might freak out and wonder what the hell that I had done. I prepared myself with a fresh supply of good whiskey, my favorite novel, and my favorite movie. And while I did enjoy a drink and the novel that evening, I somewhat surprisingly found that I was honestly able to enjoy the compersion experience - and feel happiness and excitement that Becky was able to enjoy this experience. In all honestly, there were a handful of moments when I began to feel a bit edgy, but I was able to quickly refocus on her happiness and let go of the fear. I even made it a point to have roses and a candle waiting for her when she returned home the next day - in honor of her first poly experience. And our reunion afterward was also very special.

That was about a week ago - and thus we have begun our Poly journey. I continue to embrace my paradigm shift and support her in this - although the are still some bumps left to smooth out. A couple of arguments have erupted over particular situations, I still sometimes wake up thinking "this is so fucking bizarre - what the hell have I done?" I still occasionally get a bit jealous when it seems that he is getting preferential attention (and I have to remember the NRE - and that overall Becky does a great job of being present for both of us). In general, however, I do have to say that - as or right now - our marriage does seem happier, more passionate, and more exciting than it has since our honeymoon.

Feedback and advice are always welcome.

Best to All,

Al
 
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Magdlyn

Well-known member
All I can say is, congratulations on your open mindedness, research, eventual epiphany, self care, and happy reunion after her first overnight!
 

Al99

Active member
Thanks for the welcome, Magdlyn!

The resources that I found in the online poly community (including this site) were very helpful in helping me deal with our unexpected entry into poly. It would have been a much more difficult situation without the insights that I gained from these resources. So - thanks, poly community, for for all the resources that you have made freely available online!
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Greetings Al99,
Welcome to our forum. Please feel free to lurk, browse, etc.

You have passed through a difficult crisis of the soul to arrive at an acceptance of polyamory in your own life, and I say kudos for your accomplishment. I hope Becky also realizes how big of a deal this is, and how much it matters that you were willing to try this on.

Keep us posted, and we'll continue to post more feedback.
Sincerely,
Kevin T., "official greeter" :)

Notes:

There's a *lot* of good info in Golden Nuggets. Have a look!

Please read through the guidelines if you haven't already.

Note: You needn't read every reply to your posts, especially if someone posts in a disagreeable way. Given the size and scope of the site it's hard not to run into the occasional disagreeable person. Please contact the mods if you do (or if you see any spam), and you can block the person if you want.

If you have any questions about the board itself, please private-message a mod and they'll do their best to help.

Welcome aboard!
 

Al99

Active member
Hi Kevin,

Thanks for the welcome! I do think Becky believes that she understands what a big deal it was for me to come to terms with her having a boyfriend "in addition to" our marriage/family (the way that she likes to phrase it - I think she believes that phrase is the best way she can present the situation so that it is least threatening to me and perhaps best describes how she views it). She has certainly done all the right things - lots of patience, willing to accept certain guidelines on her side, willing to talk about it with me as much as I won't, being understanding of the upset (she does have professional training in helping people accept change - and she obviously applied those skills to the situation - which turned our to be very helpful.) Even so - I do not really think she has grasped the full scope of what a gut wrenching process this has been for me - and it may not be even possible that she would.

It is interesting that you used the term "crisis of the soul" - because in a minor disagreement about a certain detail of the process - I felt like I had to remind her of what this had cost me and actually used the phrase "sold my soul for you to have this" - which is still how I feel on occasion. While I am grateful that I was able to achieve the paradigm shift that allowed me to embrace the inevitable (consider the Serenity Prayer of the Twelve Step programs) and determine that "since this is where we are at" (whether it would have been my choice or not), let's make the best of it and have fun with - the resistance continues to reassert itself at random moments. I suspect these moments will become less frequent as time goes along ...

Best,

Al
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Yeah, things will probably get easier as time passes. Although, the idea of Becky being poly may always sting a little. And there are things you can't create more of ... time, energy, money. Poly is often a sacrifice for the other partner (for you in this case). Not that I mean to argue against poly; I myself am a leg in a V and I don't mind it. It really depends on the individuals involved.
 

RJB

New member
Hi guys. I found this forum a few days ago because last friday my wife told me she wanted to have different experiences and we should consider poly. Its been really hard emotionally on me even though i have been with other women in the past - some she found out about and some she didnt.
Our marrige isnt the perfect fairytale but we have what we have. I think her desire is coming from a place deeper than just physical because of our conversations. But I'll leave those private.

I am hoping to get that paradigm shift but its really a hard pill to swallow. So any help or advice would be appreciated in regard to how to process and handle this.
I am willing to let her do her thing because all i ever wanted is for her to be happy. I just assumed i would be the one to make that happen...the only one. But reality is thats not so and i can understand because of my feelings and experiences with other women. Its just hard to imagine your wife getting involved physically and emotionally with someone else.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Hi RJB,

I think you'll find that things will get easier in time, especially if you read and post a lot on this forum. Check out Poly FAQ, it addresses some basic concerns you may have.

Regards,
Kevin T.
 

JaneQSmythe

Active member
Hail Fellow Heinlein Fan

Hi Al,

Always a pleasure to welcome another reader and Heinlein Fan, my early reading of Heinlein was certainly influential in my life and my view of relationships. When MrS and I first got together (so long ago - 25 years now) I suggested he read my Heinlein collection in order to better understand my attitude on certain topics. He did. (Which I mentioned in MY intro thread from a few years ago.)

You probably have already come across this article ("Influence of the Science Fiction Writings of Robert A. Heinlein on Polyamory") in your readings, but I will post it just in case (since the link in my intro thread seems to be outdated).

Obviously, each person's journey is different, and each poly configuration has it's own dynamic. In my case, it was MrS who was faced with the challenge and had the "epiphany" that allowed our current chosen family to grow to include Dude. None of us has children so that shapes our choices as well. Even now, six years in, I have occasional moments of "OMG, what have I gotten us into?".

Again, welcome.

JaneQ

PS. The long story of our Journey is documented in my Journey blog - link in my sig.
 

Al99

Active member
Jane,

Thanks for the welcome, and the links - I look forward to reading them when I have a moment - and I've already saved the Heinlein essay to my pc. :)

Reading Heinlein since I was ten, I of course knew that he wrote about alternative marriage arrangements, but - due to the heavily conservative indoctrination of my youth - I really just considered it a part of the fiction, so to speak. I did know, intellectually, that there were folks out there who really did practice alternative marriage styles, I just never would have imagined that I would be among them - but here we are. And at least I know that my favorite author thought well of the idea.

Always good to meet another Heinlein fan.

Best,

Al
 

Heloise17

New member
Kudos indeed!

Bravo to you for reaching deep so soon and finding happiness for your partner when she is with her other partner. It comes much easier when all parties are honest and open with their needs. If your needs are being met, then it's even easier! It also helps if you are good at amusing yourself when your partner is off and doing. I happen to love and cherish my alone time, so when my partners traveled out to CA for a week in the fall, I missed them, but did things on my own that I rarely got to do. I also confess to a weak moment or two, when I thought too much time had gone by inbetween communication, in which I thought that maybe they would realize that they were making a huge mistake, but it turns out that they were having cell phone issues and ended up
upgrading while they were out west.
I tried poly with my husband, but he continually failed to be honest and open with me his needs, and about who he was with and when he was with them, and was clearly much more in love and passionate with his partner than with me, so we parted ways. He is still with that partner and I am happily ensconced in my triad.
You are now a month in on your journey as a monogamous person married to a poly person. I'm curious, has your wife invested as much energy into learning about poly as you have? Now that you know and understand how it works, are you interested in all about exploring whether you could be poly as well?
 

Al99

Active member
Thanks for the kind words, Heloise17 - and I definitely agree that openness and honesty are absolutely essential. I simply would not be able to be in an "open" marriage without complete openness and honesty - as I have posted before, DADT would make me bat shit crazy!

You are now a month in on your journey as a monogamous person married to a poly person. I'm curious, has your wife invested as much energy into learning about poly as you have? Now that you know and understand how it works, are you interested in all about exploring whether you could be poly as well?

A little bit more than a month - about 3 months since the initial poly-bomb, and about 6 weeks since the "consummation" (the first overnight - the second one was a couple of weeks ago - and she will see him for a few hours tomorrow afternoon as well - while in his hometown on business - as I covered in my intro, it's a long distance relationship). I still can't say that this situation would have been my first choice - but I am genuinely happy that Becky has found some new happiness and excitement in her life (without seriously disrupting our marriage or family) - and, for the most part, our marriage continues to be a bit more harmonious and exciting since the poly began.

Becky is not really inclined to "study" poly per se - but we are fortunate to have an experienced poly friend - Carla, that I mentioned in my intro. Becky and Carla go all the way back to their college undergrad days and are the deepest of confidants - so we opted to come out to Carla (and no one else) because she is experienced in the world of poly and completely trustworthy. She is supporting us both in this - but more particularly Becky - so although Becky is not reading books or on the forums, she does have a personal mentor. :) Also - I should add that Becky has done an amazing job in the way she has handled this from the start - with her assurances that our marriage and family were safe - that it was "just an addition"' - that it was not about me, etc - as well as great patience, answering all questions without hesitation, giving me time to process, being even more loving and affectionate with me, etc.. I would have sworn that she had "read the manual", but not so - just seemed to come natural - although she is professionally trained in the art of guiding people through change so I honestly believe that helped a great deal.

Becky told me from the beginning that I would also be welcome to find a gf - and I told her that I might consider it a few months down the road - if all goes well with she and Ben. I do actually have a close female friend who offered benefits to go with our friendship if I should ever so desire. My friend is single and prefers not to be in a committed, serious relationship - but does enjoy her fwb partners. It's a standing invitation so I may very well be taking my friend up on her offer down the road a little ways - and join in the poly party. :)

Best,

Al
 
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Tungachie

New member
Beautiful story. Nearly made me cry. Thank you for sharing.

It's the road less traveled that is often the most beautiful. I have lived most of my life on roads less traveled, some by choice and some not. They are harder paths for sure. The rest of the world looks at you, and they either pity you or they judge you. Some days I've really resented it; but then I see the rare beauty, the sweet moments no one else gets to see and I remember that "different" isn't bad. "Different" can actually be pretty amazing.

So when I read about your moment of epiphany, it really resonated. That moment where you "got" it, where you chose the less-traveled road to walk down with your wife... that was truly moving.

Glad to hear things are going well! Hope you get a chance for some poly adventures of your own soon. :)
 

Al99

Active member
So when I read about your moment of epiphany, it really resonated. That moment where you "got" it, where you chose the less-traveled road to walk down with your wife... that was truly moving.

Glad to hear things are going well! Hope you get a chance for some poly adventures of your own soon.

Thanks for the kind words, Tungachie. I, too, have often taken the road less traveled in my life journey so I very much relate to the comments you so nicely expressed in your post. And while I have frequently taken the less common path, I never expected Poly to be a byway that I would travel. I do believe, however, that my experiences on the less traveled roads factored in to the personal paradigm shift that allowed me to come to a degree of acceptance of the poly lifestyle.

As I mentioned in my last post on this thread, Becky has said from the beginning that I was welcome to also find another partner. I have decided to wait to make sure that that Becky's relationship is stable before involving others - but I am fortunate to have a close lady friend who has given me a standing offer to add benefits to our already close friendship - so that may be a possibility a little further down this unanticipated path.

Have a great weekend! Al
 

Bartirah

New member
Your history is really inspiring! I wish you all the best in this new 'adventure' you are sharing and I hope it brings happiness for both of you.

It's so difficult nowadays to see someone caring about what makes another one happy that was really moving to see that you opened your mind and worked in the acceptance just because your love for her was so great and so sincere that make her happy was more important than the selfish feeling of possession that most people have.

Again, I wish you all the best!!!:)
 

Al99

Active member
Thanks for the kind words, Bartirah, and anamikanon! We are about three months into this now - from the time Becky first asked to open the marriage, and about six weeks from the "consummation" (first overnight/first sex since college). We have certainly had our occasional struggles during this time, but for the most part things have gone well enough.

Interestingly, Becky having sex with Ben - which was my biggest fear - hasn't really been much of an issue at all. We adopted one of the philosophies talked about in "The Ethical Slut" and let the sexual energy of the NRE feed back into our own sex life - which has definitely experienced a renaissance of its own during this transition. The bigger issue for me has been my perception of her giving emotional deference to Ben - even something as silly as her answering the phone with a sweet tone for him versus an everyday tone for me. I do intellectually get that this in an NRE thing but it still doesn't feel very good. :) Even Becky reassures me it is just because things are still in the "new romance" stage (give it six months, she laughs) - although she has made an effort to show more of the same "romance" to me as well - and it is clear that she does try to ensure that I am not neglected - and kept reassured through all of this - and, in fact, has done a pretty good job of it.

Best,

Al
 

Shaya

New member
I hear that there is an NRE spillover effect so that the sex you and Becky experience is improved. When this happened to me, I enjoyed it and was simultaneously sad that it was merely a shadow of the real thing the two of them felt between them.

You're dealing with this much more than I did. How does this affect you and how do you cope with it - seeing your improved sex life as merely the dulled reflection of NRE in both their lives?
 

Al99

Active member
I hear that there is an NRE spillover effect so that the sex you and Becky experience is improved. When this happened to me, I enjoyed it and was simultaneously sad that it was merely a shadow of the real thing the two of them felt between them.

You're dealing with this much more than I did. How does this affect you and how do you cope with it - seeing your improved sex life as merely the dulled reflection of NRE in both their lives?

Hi Shaya,

Becky and I have always enjoyed an active and mutually satisfying sex life - i.e. - we've had lots of great sex over the years and even our "routine bed time sex" is usually fairly hot. We're both generally uninhibited and frequently use porn, bedtime stories (fantasy scenarios) and toys to spice things up.

When Becky started having sex with Ben again (they had sex numerous times back in college - but that was so long ago that essentially it was like a new sexual relationship for both of them) - we made the intentional decision to use the NRE sexual energy of their sexual encounters to spice up our own sex life - including sharing details. Unexpectedly, she discovered that it excited her for her to talk about her sexual adventures with Ben - and I - also unexpectedly - found it arousing to hear about them. The end result was that it added energy, excitement, and spice to our own sex life - in much the same way that the porn and bedtime fantasy stories had - but much more vividly. This probably should not have been surprising as we had discovered early on that her favorite fantasy scenarios involved another man entering the scene (MFM threesomes and such).

So, rather than saying the sex we had as a result of this enhancement was a pale reflection of the NRE sex that they had, it is better characterized as adding some hot spice (of a new variety) to our already good sex life. And this actually turned out to be quite helpful in terms of me coming to terms with her having sex with another man. Of course, this type of openness would not work for everyone. Both "Opening Up" and "Ethical Slut" talk about this approach, however.

Becky and Ben have had some great NRE sex - and my attitude has always been that if we were going to do this - we might as well do it right, so I have encouraged her from the beginning to go and have all the hot sex that she can handle when she is with him. But, Becky has said that it is not better sex than we have - different perhaps but not better - especially since we have some damn good sex to begin with. Of course, she might be sparing my feelings by saying this - but we have had in depth talks so probably not. They have the NRE passion right now, but otoh, I know exactly what she likes (and he is younger with better recovery time - but I have more endurance, etc... no, size is not an issue for either of us).

Hope this helps with your question - and thanks for all your contributions to the forum. Al
 
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