What you may discover in a poly relationship


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When we began to explore our sexual fantasies in a virtual world, one of them was a threesome - which I'd sort of been part of several times (I mostly watched, with limited participation), but he never really had any interest in. We did it once, and remarkably, I wasn't jealous. Then we did it with our now girlfriend - who I "picked up," btw. With her, it was obviously immediately different. We wound up going on virtual dates. It was something totally unexpected and wonderful.

I've seen a few posts from people who are even less into this whole poly thing than I am, and I've seen people ask what things - what potential pitfalls - to expect. I was thinking about the things that I did NOT expect that sort of threw me for a loop. Most of these are things I've worked through, but I was highly motivated to work through them because I love them both, and want them both.

There were a couple of big things that came up on our first visit to meet her.

1) Our GF has this odd thing where laughing too hard can make her puke. We all crack each other up a lot, and one of the first nights we were there, she had to run into the bathroom. I said to him, wow, her gag reflex must be really sensitive. He - not thinking about how it might affect me - says, oh, no... she has NO gag reflex (I am going to clarify, though I think I don't need to, that he was referring to oral sex). Well, this particular comment brought back some self-confidence issues from our early relationship that were specifically tied to sex... and it made me worry that he didn't like how I did it.

2) Sounds. In a triad where all parties are involved, you will hear sounds from your partner when he or she is having sex with the third person. These sounds may be very, very different than the ones you hear when YOU are with your partner. My husband is often fairly quiet during sex, so the first night they were together that way, when he was (for him) pretty loud, I felt like a rug had been pulled out from under me and I couldn't figure out how I'd gotten on the floor. Oh, he also said her name - and he's NEVER said my name during sex. Mind you, he rarely uses my name at all. I'm pretty much officially Sweetheart and have been for about ten years now. However, in the moment, I didn't think of that. In the moment, it was very distressing for me... but, I've since figured out a few things.

One is that I make different sounds with her. In fact, even before we met her, he was teasing me that I had a certain moan or sigh that I only made when we were on the phone with her. Furthermore, I've never had sex with another woman... so I've got some major "first love" stuff going on with her that fuels my relationship - and responses - where she's concerned. The other thing is sort of born from the first, which is that I realized she is not me. Their relationship is really different from mine with him - as it should be. My relationship with her is even MORE different from mine with him, because a) she is my first (female) love and lover, and b) she's, uhm, female. Totally different dynamic.

3) I struggled, initially, with the idea of him being able to love another woman. Now, this was partly his own doing. When we first got involved with her, i told him what a major crush I had on her, and he told me several times that he didn't think he could have a crush on another woman - because he loved me so much that he couldn't imagine those feelings for someone else. Early on, I had a bit of, okay, I'm bi. He's always known that... so it's not SO shocking that I might love a woman AND a man, but how can HE love TWO women when he told me he couldn't even have a crush on another woman? After some talking to him, and some soul searching, I came to the conclusion that gender isn't relevant in that conversation. I love another person. So does he. It's about that person. Her gender is only even slightly relevant because he is straight. But he thought very firmly he couldn't love another woman. I've thought - as firmly - I couldn't love another man... but the reality is, I don't know that for sure. Odds are, I could... the thing to remember is that I don't *want* to love anyone but the two of them (and a triad is complicated enough... adding more would make my head explode). So, what I realized is that love is not something you can actively seek (which I already knew, for the most part), and it is something that can sneak up on you and shock you out of a paradigm you believed only because it's the socially acceptable one.

4) Try to avoid comparing your "compersion" level to that of the others in the relationship. Everyone is unique. If you honestly believe you want this sort of relationship, and you're emotionally committed to working through issues that arise, it doesn't matter if you're not THERE immediately or when your partners are. I have struggled with that one, because a) I'm competitive (and I'll address that next), and b) I tend to be really hard on myself. Also, since I am the one who wanted to pursue this, I feel a sense of guilt over not being as "compersed" (lol) as they are. I recognize, however, that I am happy for them. There was something very intense they shared not long after she moved in, and I was there for the initial portion of this moment, but realized (despite being pretty crazy from meds, as I've mentioned in previous posts), that this was a moment for the two of them. I gave them some time - and expected it to be a few minutes (long enough to shower), but when I came out, the moment had taken over them and they were having sex... I was stunned, hurt, taken aback, and it was HARD to walk away and tell them it was okay for them to go ahead... BUT... under all of my selfish emotions, I recognized that they were having a beautiful moment - something I couldn't be a part of because it wasn't about me, and shouldn't have been about me. I saw this as a major milestone... because even though I was hurting, I was happy for them, too. I was glad they were able to have that (and I'm sorry for not sharing more details, but the situation involves intensely personal information for the two of them - and I don't feel right saying what the "moment" was about. Suffice it to say, it was something I have no firsthand knowledge of and could not even remotely relate to... a past experience they've both been through and bonded over). In that moment, she was able to give him something I, in ten and a half years, never could... and even if I'd been able to, because I lack the firsthand experience, I'm not sure if would've happened or been as therapeutic for him. So, even as I hurt, I saw all of this beauty. I realized then that while I may still have a long way to go with compersion, I AM capable of feeling it. Furthermore, because it happened during my medication induced craziness - which we hadn't figured out yet - I felt even better about it once I was off the medicine and saw that as 'crazy' as I'd been, I was able to walk away and give them that moment. The bottom line is, I am not like him, where I never have a doubt or struggle with envy, but I am self-aware and working through it. As the third, she has some insecurities of her own, so she relates a bit better to mine... but she also wants us to be happy with each other.

5) It is NOT a competition. If you are competitive, it will make you crazy. You will worry that Partner C is better at everything. You will worry that Partner A is better at everything. It will make you nuts. I finally came up with an analogy that has helped me greatly - I came up with it related to sex (shocker, I'm sure), but it works in general, too.

An SUV and a Ferrari are both motor vehicles. They can both take you from Point A to Point B. However, they are very good at very different things. You wouldn't want to drive a Ferrari in the snow. You wouldn't take an SUV on a racecourse. The point being, beyond the whole "they both go" thing, they are radically different. You may want to own one of each. Doesn't mean you like one better than the other. All it means is that one meets one set of needs and the other meets a different set of needs. You enjoy driving both (wow, I don't think I realized how dirty this analogy could sound). SOME needs overlap. You can use either to run to the store to pick up milk... but they serve very different purposes, even if you love both cars.

Anyway... these are just some thoughts I've had about our foray into poly. Some of the things that came up where not expected, and others were - at least by me. I remember saying to them both before we all moved in together that there were bound to be times when two were sharing a moment that led to sex, and the third might walk in... and that third might not be exactly desired in that moment. They both said they couldn't imagine that happening, but that if two people were having sex and the third walked in, the third should feel free to join (alone time is obviously an exception). Well, they were wrong and when it did happen, it involved the two of them. IF I'd joined them, they'd never have turned me away... but he admitted that it would probably have taken something away from the moment for him, and she didn't deny that, either. Furthermore, it would've been difficult for me to be in that moment... it's hard to be married for ten years and know you've never been able to do something for your husband that he needed... it was something I was glad he was able to experience, but it was challenging enough to know he was experiencing it. I don't know if I could've handled being there (again, especially thanks to gabapentin).

I figured I'd share these thoughts. Whether they will be helpful to anyone, I do not know... but it helps me to write these things down, so there you have it. :)


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Hey, I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to say thank you for posting. This is very beautiful, and really strikes a chord. :)


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Unfortunately, she was a compulsive liar who believed her own lies. She didn't want a committed triad. She wants to use poly as an excuse to sleep around and cheapen herself, which is sad.

I still think poly is a viable lifestyle for some people, but one thing I learned is that I am not one of them. I am very happy that it's just me and my husband again. The pain of what she put us through is something that will take me a long time to recover from... simply because I don't know how someone can do those things to someone else, but I guess in her case, she's also doing it to herself. She creates a situation where she's never gonna be happy or satisfied with anything or anyone.

But my marriage is as strong as ever... and he has realized that he never loved her. We got caught up in something that we never imagined would happen to us... and maybe if she'd been who she said she was, it would've worked and been different. We'll never know, and we'll never try again. That's not because I think badly about poly now... that's just because I see how much pain it can leave behind when it goes badly, and considering what my husband and I already have with each other - it's just not worth it. He's all I need... and all I want.

But good luck... I see now that a lot of the issues I had, I was rationalizing. I mean, I wanted it to work... that is very true. Now, though, I'm glad it didn't. Again, maybe that's only because the partner we chose was a lying whore (and if you knew the behavior she's exhibited since we broke up, you'd understand that that is NOT an indictment of poly, but of HER actions)... but I'll never know, and I guess on some level there's a part of me that thinks maybe it's for the best she screwed it all up, because maybe I'd never have gotten over my issues - and if she'd been what we thought, and the feelings he had for her HAD been real... that could've been an ugly situation, had I not been able to handle it somewhere down the road.
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I'm sorry that things ended so poorly. It really sucks when people aren't who you think they are. I think we've all been there in one way or another, but of course it's much worse when it's a partner.

Rationalizing is both very hard to resist and *very* important to resist. I am trying hard not to let my desires and hopes cloud my assessment of reality.

I appreciate that you've stayed open minded to the idea that poly can work for some people, despite the bad time you had. Best of luck to you and your husband!!