Cheers Sexy People!
I hope that you are having a great week! I am experiencing a challenging week I’m not afraid to say. I find that when I’m vulnerable with my sharing and what’s going on with my polyamorous life, I connect better with my readers creating a win-win for all of us. It’s great to talk about all of the wonderful NRE (New Relationship Energy) feelings when we are enjoying them. But if there’s one thing that’s for sure, particularly in polyamorous relationships, there will inevitably be bumps in the road along the way – so hold on tight for the ride! More people can often mean more misunderstandings, challenges, and opportunities for growth.
This week marks the first full week of four that my sweetie is with his family (right now locally) consisting of his wife, his young son, and his mother. They all live out-of-state, a several hour plane ride away. I am still trying to understand how my sweetie and his wife’s relationship works. He does welcome me to ask questions. But occasionally some of his answers are simply “I don’t know.” As human beings, sometimes in the absence of information, we make up stories. I am doing my best not to fill in the blanks incorrectly. All I know that he has told me so far is that she knows about me, knows he’s moving in, and she’s generally a monogamous person who is not currently seeing anyone else. Also I know at one point she said to him in regards to me “I never have to meet her.” When I asked earlier this week if he can please tell me more about what rules and agreements he and his wife have so that I can have a better understanding of how it works and what I am signing up for, his answer was “we don’t have any as of yet.” When I reflected on this later, I do have to wonder what is taking so long as he has been identifying and practicing polyamory at this point for several years.
I had anxiety about this approaching month of his family visiting since I learned about it. I feared and worried about what would happen. As I understood it, I would not really be able to see him while they were with him except maybe at lunch a day or two on days he is at work downtown.
Part of the struggle that I am having is immediately moving from what normally feels like a co-primary (very significant other) to a (very INsignificant other) secondary. Actually I am not even being treated like a friend of my partner, let alone as a valued person in his life. Almost non-existent. Or like a dirty little secret mistress. I feel unwelcome and not deemed as relevant in his life from his family’s eyes. It feels like I’m a doll that is being put on a shelf – “stay there, doll, and I’ll take you back down when I’m ready later. It will all be good then!” Also I am bummed to not get to know important people in HIS life. Short periods of time like this (such as a long weekend) I can handle. But long periods (like a month) is very difficult for me.
At this point, my beau and I have had a couple of heated and uncomfortable discussions about all of this. These are the messages that I seem to be hearing from him.
- You knew about this before you/we got into it. Why are you upset now?
- These feelings you’re struggling with are your issue. It has very little (if anything) to do with me or my actions or or beliefs.
- You just have to accept this the way it is. Once this month is over, everything will go back to normal and it will all be awesome!
If I had to say it in a nutshell what I am seeing and feeling, it is the following:
It seems to me that my sweetie is protecting one relationship and family at all costs while potentially jeopardizing the other. In this case that cost is my feelings.
What are the ethics in this situation? What is the right thing to do for either party? On my end, should I just chill, be patient, and shove my feelings aside? In a moment of clarity, I looked up the amazing and awesome Franklin Veaux’s famous bill of rights for wisdom and a way to try to reach an understanding hopefully with my boyfriend as he seems confused and unsure how to support me through this.
Secondary Bill of Rights (click for the full article, this is just an excerpt):
The best tool you have as a secondary partner is information. One of the defining characteristics of a secondary relationship is a power differential, and it’s vital to understand how that power differential will manifest itself in your relationship. As a secondary partner, your needs may not be given the same weight as those of the primary partners, but that does not mean that your needs are not important. It also does not mean that your needs should be disregarded by the primary couple. It is up to you to decide where your limits are, what needs are non-negotiable, and what you want to get out of your relationship. Bring these things to the table, and all the relationships involved will be healthier…
I have the right to have and express all of my emotions. I knowingly and willingly accept that being secondary may place limits on many things (e.g., sharing family holidays or vacations with my partner, having my partner with me in a time of crisis or celebration). My acceptance of that possibility does not mean that I won’t be disappointed or even sad during such times. Further, being secondary comes with some built-in challenges to security (especially in the beginning) and there may be times I need reassurance as to how and where I fit into my partner’s world. I promise to do my best to keep things in perspective and to avoid guilt, drama, temper tantrums, and pouting, but I ask that my partner and his or her partners accept reasonable expressions of doubt, disappointment, etc., on my part.
I have the right to be not just tolerated, but actively wanted by everyone in the primary relationship. I have the right to feel that I am not a problem or a compromise, but that I add value. This may sound unreasonable to some people, but the fact is, if I’m not wanted by my partner’s partner, that has an effect on me.
When I am in a relationship with one person, I am in a relationship with all the other people that person is involved with, especially the primary partner(s)—even if there is no romantic connection between us! If I am resented in any way by them, that resentment serves to undermine the secondary relationship and keep it from being “real.” It creeps into the rules that are created and the definitions that are set in place.
When one partner has problems with a poly relationship, it can tend to negatively affect a secondary partner, creating unhappiness for everyone. Compassion demands that everyone involved work to resolve any resentment that may exist on the part of any of the members of a primary relationship toward the secondary relationship.
I have the right to have a voice in the form my relationship takes. I am a person, with my own needs and my own ideas about what’s important in my life; even when I am joining a pre-existing relationship, I have a right to have some say in the time I can spend with my lover and other things about the form and structure of that relationship. If my partners attempt to impose pre-existing agreements about the form, time, or circumstances under which I may spend time with my lover, I have a right to speak up if those agreements do not meet my needs, and I have a right to have my partner and my partner’s partner hear me and consider what I say. That doesn’t mean they have to do whatever I say, but it does mean that I can and should have a voice.
Wow. Right? Franklin, that is flipping AWESOME! And that’s just an excerpt. I want to hug you SO BIG right now, Franklin! Actually, I kinda love you. 🙂
Anyway that helps put everything in context for me. Also I had great coaching training this past weekend and we discussed how we all have energy “blocks.” I tried to play out below what some possible blocks could be in this situation by any of the parties.
Limiting Belief – Something that you accept about life, about yourself, about your world, or about the people in it, that limits you in some way.
“Poly people who are not in the true primary position should be grateful for whatever they get. There are no “minimum requirements” needed or allowed for a non-primary relationship. Take what you get when you get it and be grateful.”
“Those in a secondary position or lower just have to wait their turn after the primary for however long that takes with no discussion or compromise, because their feelings do not matter as much as the primary.”
“When entering a secondary or lower relationship, one does not need to fully understand what they are signing up for, such as pre-existing or yet to made rules and agreements. They should just roll with it and wait it out indefinitely and see what happens even if they are not certain what they are ‘signing up for’ exactly.”
Gremlin – Your inner critic that tells you, in one way or another, that you’re not enough.
“I don’t deserve any better than this. It’s OK for me to be pushed aside and treated as irrelevant and non-existent by my partner’s family. My feelings don’t matter much, and it’s OK to not feel like a valued member of my partner’s life.”
“I’m fragile and must be protected.”
“I don’t deserve to have my questions answered in a reasonable timeframe. I have to abide by the ‘rules’ even if the rules have not been defined at all. Just wait indefinitely.”
“It’s OK if even my minimum requirements I deem as appropriate and respectful or what I will allow in my life are not met.”
How do those statements feel to you? Have you ever felt them? Have you internalized any in your polyamorous journey? What would your life and relationships be like if you dropped these beliefs?
Briefly, what could my sweetie do to support me in this situation? If indeed I do need to wait this out, give him the benefit of the doubt that he is working on bettering this on his end (such as defining agreements, helping create acceptance if possible, having needed conversations, etc), what can he do? Here’s a three step process I can offer:
- Acknowledge – When we acknowledge what someone has said (by paraphrasing), we let them know we have really listened, and care about what they are saying.
- Validate – We all have feelings and many feel guilty for having them. When we validate, we let others know they have a the right to feel the way they do. Example: “That makes perfect sense that you feel that way. Anyone in your shoes would.”
- Appreciate – If you are asking something of someone that feels uncomfortable for them or is out of the range of what feels acceptable to them (whether for five minutes or a month+), show appreciation for their efforts, patience, and sacrifices that they are making for you. Show in words, or a thank you card, or a thoughtful gift. Realize how far a show of appreciation can be to bridging gaps and creating connection. This is HUGE!
I do love my boyfriend very much, and I do have faith and confidence that we will both do our best to get through this and come out the other side with more personal growth and experience under our belts.
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)
If you would like to have an authentic, clarifying conversation with me so we can discuss ways to help you create loving, happy, secure, and exciting open relationships, feel free to learn more about my coaching services here. Then the button at the bottom of that page will offer you the opportunity to book a FREE Breakthrough Session with me – taking you directly into my calendar. I look forward to speaking with you!
GREAT PIECE !
Thanks so much!
YOU ARE WELCOME !
This is tough – sorry you’re going through it! I’ve seen this sort of dynamic before and it leads me to the question: can a person already in a mono relationship truly be called “poly” if their partner had no interest in polyamory? By FV’s definition – polyamory describes a state of being where all partners are open to the idea of non-monogamous loving AND to relationships each other. When one partner is, “tolerant” or “ok with it” it seems to me that this negates that definition – so the people involved cannot really call themselves polyamorous. In an open relationship? Yes. But in these cases – the primary partner’s power is their “NO!”. And the secondary partner is really a mistress. And maybe that’s OK – that’s sort of sexy and be it a pro or con – you don’t have to deal with anything but your relationship with your man. But this definitely sounds like the wife is taking a traditional European wife stance – fine – go ahead and get involved with someone else, but I don’t want any part of it. Kitty, you are a wonderful person – and if anyone can break down her walls, I bet you could. But maybe it’s not worth it – and maybe she doesn’t want then broken.
If this stuff was easy EVERYONE would be doing it.
I’d say there is a distinct possibility of someone being poly at heart, but for various reasons, being mono in practice (and not wanting to actually practice polyamory themselves). They do not want to look or find any other partners, but they actually and truly do understand and embrace polyamory and want their single partner to follow their heart wherever it leads.
This is what I understand to be a poly-mono relationship, to distinguish it from “vanilla” (?) polyamory, but in my mind, it fits with the “state of being where all partners are open to the idea of non-monogamous loving AND to relationships [with?] each other” that you propose.
Good point! And yes – I agree, this would be a polyamorous relationship. Both partners committed to the same goal – together.
YES! I agree! I will add that in a polycule, it is more than just TWO partners. That’s how it gets even more complicated as ALL the parties somehow need to get on the same page, working towards the same goal.
Very insightful. Thank you for adding your insights and thoughts here to the conversation. I have a very good friend that identifies as polyamorous though he only has one partner (who is married), mainly because he is completely open and supportive of full polyamory though he has no time or desire for a second partner.
Wonderful insights and observations. And yes, it may not be worth it. I foresee that the boyfriend may throw a fit if she even tries. Better to not cross those lines. But Kitty definitely deserves better treatment. He is not even treating her as an equal in this way, in my opinion. But it is her life snd her decision always.
What I found in this situation was by creating a safe space for all of us, keeping the mind and the grip on “what was” very open to possibilities, and allowing people time to come to their own conclusions to make moves when THEY are ready, things progressed in a positive way without huge amounts of effort or pushing. What a miracle! I did not push. I did not make demands. That is pointless and would only make matters worse. And my boyfriend did not “throw a fit” about anything to clarify. That’s not his way. He is a very calm, calculated type of person who tries to not overly show emotion actually. He is learning from me that sometimes showing emotion is not only good but necessary. Thanks for your words!
Hi Clarathegreat. Thank you for always being in my corner, offering your very valuable insights and having my back. You so rock! Love you, lady! Last week was definitely rough up until Friday. It got plenty better after that (see below). All of the input that I received from this post helped me sort through my thoughts and feelings, and I am forever grateful. Your points were very valid and I brought them up during the talk with my BF. All partners ideally need to be on board and supporting the larger mission of healthy polyamorous relationships. If not, then tension may be a-brewing! I know firsthand, lady! I like your distinction between “open relationship” versus actual “polyamory.” Very insightful. And yes I felt like a mistress last week for sure, if that even. And lastly of course, thank you for your kind and complimentary words of my character and perseverance. That means alot to me. And yes polyamory ain’t for sissies!
Here is the latest blog post that tells where I/we are now:
Three years past expanding our family of five to a family of eight my wife, who suggested (and kinda demanded that we could and should do this) came to me one day and asked, “Do you love her more than you love me? Do you love her kids more than ours?”
All I could do was blink, my mind stunned stupid because of her questions. My brain reengaged, took a split second to review everything that happened in the last three years to see if I was screwing up – and saw that I hadn’t – and asked, “What makes you ask such a thing?”
She explained her feelings, which I had expected to appear way before they did and I actually relaxed – this was going to be easy to resolve and I did so by first reminding her that I’ve always loved her and always will and that while our children often makes me want to ship them overseas, how could I not love those adorable idiots?
I also reminded her of a conversation the three of us had, um, after about three hours of happily destroying our bedroom where I had told both of them that it was probably going to take three to five years before the eight of us would finally get settled down and function as if three adults and five children living together was perfectly normal. I pointed out that since she set this task upon me, it made me responsible for this integration process and it wasn’t as simple as saying, “This is how things are gonna work now so get with the program!” and that I had to spend a bit of extra time with the three of them and bring them up to speed with this new idea of family.
Did I love our new additions? Yes; otherwise, what was the point of all of this? Did I love unequally? That’s the thing I knew I couldn’t do, to show any favoritism at all and I was doing my very best to see to the job I was given, to be husband, father, friend, lover, and confidant in this most unusual setting… and to smooth over thoughts and feelings like those we were talking about.
She went away from the conversation with her faith in this relationships – and me – renewed and I made it a point to sit with our lover and talk to her and see if she had similar feelings (and she did). It showed me that this thing was much harder than I believed (and I thought it was impossible at first) and that when you’re dealing with these kinds of feelings, wow, uh, why did I accept the challenge of this again? Oh, that’s right – because it made sense and all eight of us would benefit as a result.
While your situation is, even in my experiences with this, a little unusual, it’s gonna take some time for everything to settle into place and for everyone to be comfortable living with the decision that was made to do this. But one of the keys to a successful integration is open, honest, and communication to maintain the shared vision of the expanded family and the adults have to be mindful that we are all in this together and be doubly dedicated to making this work.
Feelings have to be addressed, any negative thoughts and feelings have to be dealt with and assurances given that things are working – and will work – the way we envisioned them. Don’t panic, don’t assume, deal only with the proven facts of any matter but, yeah, if there are questions, ask them because if you don’t ask, you won’t know how the expanded relationship is going.
The overall mindset, I believe, is one that should have everyone thinking, “We can make this work and we will make it work come hell or high water!” and working diligently toward that end. There will be rough patches – count on them – and now it’s about smoothing them out and, yes, it’s a lot of work but if you guys do it right, you won’t ever regret one minute of this decision.
Wow…..you leave me almost breathless. Bravo! Kudos! You are my new hero and my spirit immediately said, “This is a man. A real man and one worth knowing.” Dare I say it, but by simply reading your words and feeling your heart and spirit, I grew to love you. It brings tears to my eyes and I thank you for so eloquently putting into words what needed to be said. I’m certain Kitty will appreciate them fully, as they deserve.
I learned that even though extending the family is a good and even practical idea, you can’t just “throw it together” and expect everything to run as smoothly as planned. I got “stuck” with the job of integration and making it all work but if everyone involved can help work toward this important goal, the easier it can be, although, admittedly, I’m not sure how I’d work the integration issue with Kitty’s situation – I’d figure it out, though, and I know it wouldn’t be easy but, eh, I love a good challenge…
You are so adorable and awesome, Steven. This note made my heart sing. 🙂 You have such a BIG HEART. That is quite clear. And a very empathic and caring nature. Keep that awesome stuff alive in you, my friend! You rock! And yes I did appreciate all of your words here. You guys are amazing! I love this community. Yay!
KDaddy23! You always have such a wonderful insight and way with words. Thank you for sharing your wisdom that you have gathered from years and years of experience with all of us, and our community. You are also a wonderful storyteller, using humor and rawness to get us right there with you in your stories. Well done!
“…it made me responsible for this integration process and it wasn’t as simple as saying, “This is how things are gonna work now so get with the program!” and that I had to spend a bit of extra time with the three of them and bring them up to speed with this new idea of family.”
YES! My boyfriend it seems is now responsible for the “integration process” of my family and his family with him as the pivotal person in this V with myself and his wife at the end points. I think we are all feeling the push and pull of the process, but here we are. It definitely takes one out of your comfort zone on occasion, but greatness and great things come from hard work and much personal growth. In this case some of that needs to come from all parties to a certain extent if this is going to work for all for any substantial length of time. We are on the path to this I believe and going in the right direction.
To your point, part of my anxiety was feeling the sting of being told how this was going to work, whether I liked it or not. Some of that is just not realistic. I can also choose to walk away if things start to feel un-acceptable or not healthy. So far we are OK to good through this process now that last week is behind us. As you said, after a pivotal conversation with my boyfriend last week, I had renewed faith in our relationship and I think he did also. And it showed in follow up conversations after that.
This is totally awesome and right on:
“But one of the keys to a successful integration is open, honest communication to maintain the shared vision of the expanded family and the adults have to be mindful that we are all in this together and be doubly dedicated to making this work.”
YES! And this was not fully happening earlier in the week, but now I do believe we are moving in the right direction towards this shared vision little by little.
I like these terms such as “integration process” and “expanded relationship” as they help us put words to things that monogamous partnerships don’t have to deal with. So thank you for that vocabulary. You rock! And thanks for ending on such a high, positive note.
Here is the latest blog post that tells where I/we are now:
The other key phrase is “shared vision;” the adults have to do whatever has to be done to set a directional goal – what the whole relationship is gonna look like, how it’s gonna flow, how it works for the day to day business of being a family and, yes, even sorting out the sexual situations.
Set the vision… then everyone buys into it and works toward making it work for one and all. It’s an “us” thing, not purely a “me” thing although individuality cannot be set aside – without me there is no us. Otherwise, it’s about what’s best for us, how can we make things better and a steadfast dedication to the shared vision.
As you’ve learned, this isn’t easy to implement and there will be major growing pains. This is a complicated puzzle and everyone – even the one who hasn’t joined in – is key to putting all of the pieces together and making sure they stay together. The good part? Years from now, you’ll all look back at this crazy time and wonder why harmony was so hard to establish.
Has your bf read FV’s Poly Bill of Rights? if not, maybe he should.
Hi Jim, he said he had read it in the past. While his family is in town, it seems he has very limited time between being with them, including a rambunctious five-year old, his job, his commute, etc. So he did not have time to re-read it last week. But we did have a great conversation last Friday where I summarized it for him.
Here is the latest blog post that tells where I/we are now:
Ouch! My heart aches for you, Kitty. Of course your feelings are valid. They are yours and they are real. That already validates them. And for him to say it isn’t any of his concern is to push you away, in my book. It would make anyone question his motives.
I have never been one to play favorites with my love. There is no hierarchy in my relationships, so I don’t understand this attitude. When I love someone, I give my all. I’ve had a few who asked how it is possible to give ALL my heart to more than one woman. I simply say that it may not add up on paper, but it does in the heart.
I know one thing for sure, Kitty. You are a strong woman and you will get past this, whatever comes. You will have the happiness and validation you deserve. He is treating a diamond of a woman as if she were a lump of coal. Hugs without end, Kitty.
Steven, you are such a dear. Thanks for your empathic and heartfelt response. Thank you for validating my feelings and really “hearing” me. You rock! To clarify, he did not say that my feelings themselves were not any of his concern. He actually was so concerned about them that he started to feel anxiety about our relationship and get upset himself it turns out! But at first, he was not giving me the impression that he truly understood that he had the power to alleviate some of my concerns and worries. It seemed he was watching feeling powerless to positively impact me. We got on the same page eventually and met in the middle.
It was less about his “attitude” if you are implying it was a bad attitude. And more about he is in a pivotal “V” position feeling pulled in seemingly opposite directions. He has been married to his wife for over 20 years. And they are still together in whatever way works for them. He cannot ignore her wishes and desires. But yet he’s trying to account for mine as well. I get the luxury of spending oodles of time with him when they are not visiting him or he them. So when they are here, he feels the pull to devote his time to his biological and legal family. I get that. I was struggling with the apparent lack of acceptance, acknowledgement, and the long duration of time without him where I had no voice in the matter. Also I felt I was a round peg being put in a square hole against my will. We had to work to come to terms with not only where we both are at, but also where his family is at. And understand how to move forward together, re-confirming our commitment to do so.
Today I do feel happy and validated. And thanks for your kind votes of confidence on my strength, and for your protective nature of me. You are a sweetheart.
Here is the latest blog post that tells where I/we are now:
So sorry, Kitty, that the beautiful loving soul that is you is not feeling fully loved, supported and appreciated in the moment. It is difficult when the love we come to expect from beings we love and deeply care about gets suddenly withdrawn. Like the cloudy cover that dulls the brightness of everything around us, it makes things a bit less predictable, less certain. It makes our hearts ache.
Is it possible to ask your partner for a bit of extra support during this difficult month in your life – sharing of extra love notes each day while he is away with his other family, telling you his favorite memories of you as a couple? Are there things that you love to more fully engage in your own life – your art, creative adventures, loving kind interactions with JJ?
May this in between time give you space to experience the vastness of the beauty that is all around you. May your heart experience peace and love that goes beyond the limits of personal. May you always know that you are enough. That you are beautiful, powerful, full of magic. May your light always shine bright. Storms pass. Skies clear. Hearts dance.
Wow! Thank you for calling me a “beautiful loving soul”! What a compliment and it warmed my heart to read that, especially when I was having a bad moment there. You made my day, my friend, and I thank you whole-heartedly! Well said about the difficulty of feeling care and love withdrawn in some way. To me it is so natural to realize how that would cause anxiety and upset, and it seems a bit elementary on how to alleviate that at least some. But polyamory and the dynamics of that add new opportunities for growth or AFWO (Another Fucking Growth Opportunity).
This was just beautiful and so profound:
“Like the cloudy cover that dulls the brightness of everything around us, it makes things a bit less predictable, less certain. It makes our hearts ache.”
Actually, I could just copy your entire note here and tell you how every single sentence is a work of art. I thank you so very much for your kind, thoughtful, loving and compassionate words, getting right to the heart of the matter of how I was feeling. You have such a lovely heart yourself. Thanks for sharing it with me and our community here. You are AWESOME!
Actually I’m going to copy and repeat some of the awesome here because I can and I think it is majorly worthwhile to do so:
“May this in between time give you space to experience the vastness of the beauty that is all around you. May your heart experience peace and love that goes beyond the limits of personal. May you always know that you are enough. That you are beautiful, powerful, full of magic. May your light always shine bright. Storms pass. Skies clear. Hearts dance.”
Here is the latest blog post that tells where I/we are now to update you: