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Author Topic: Tough thinking and negotiation - relationship changes
amarra
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But please, do give your honest opinion on what has happened, I have asked for it, and respect that you are coming from a position of knowledge. I've taken on board many things you have already said.

It has without a doubt been a textbook example of a messed up way not to do non-monogamy, but I don't feel that that means there is no future for us, or that we are a bad fit. We both need to learn better communication.

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Heather
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But it sounds to me like right back to when you first started posting some of these conversations were being had, you know? And that was this summer, not in the last month.

But I hear you saying now that as things stand right NOW he has made an agreement with you that he will NOT be engaging in any kind of sex with other sexual partners without discussing that with you, yes, and having that happen in ways you both agree on? Including sex with his ex? And that all that needs to be done now are for the two of you to make very clear agreements about what those agreements mean.

If I have all that right, do you want to talk about any concerns he won't honor those agreements or be honest when he won't (especially since I'm not sure it really is just about him not having a lack of clarity before)? Or let that go and just plan to move forward? Do you need help when it comes to figuring out what you need or want per guidelines, agreements, limits and boundaries and how to talk them out?

(I guess I just heard you coming back with things sounding pretty darn broken to me, and feeling pretty awful, so I didn't realize that you just wanted to move forward from here, including in an open relationship.)

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amarra
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He's not taking any action on re-kindling a full thing with G now, out of consideration for me. I did want to explore the root causes of why I feel threatened about the prospect of that, because I don't fully understand the reasons. If there was any way that I could come to terms with the idea, I would like to say that it could go ahead, because I've listened to him explain how he feels about his sexuality now, and about what doors are possibly open or closed to him.

To be clear, I don't know if I will be able to come to terms with the idea. I feel a kind of guilt to be a barrier in the way of that relationship. If it's not going to happen then I'd like to explore that feeling because I don't think it's really warranted.

If he is going to have any casual encounters with G, then it would be planned and we would discuss this in advance. He would also discuss with me beforehand any other pre-planned hook-ups with other people.

I will from now on be getting tested more regularly.

I would probably prefer sexual exclusivity, but I recognise that that has never been agreed. It may well be that in practice sexual exclusivity is what results, circumstances being what they are. But principles are what are being established here.

I have considered sexual non-exclusivity and feel that although not my first choice I can handle it, and I am keen on maintaining a feeling of (responsible) freedom in the relationship. I have asked for a degree of discretion (such as with physical displays of affection) and this has been agreed to.

I do not need to be informed of one-off sexual encounters in advance. We have agreed that if he is arranging to see a person for a second time, or if it somebody that I know (not a friend), he will tell me afterwards.

This still means that he might sleep with someone random one time and I would not know about it.

He has considered telling me who the people are that I currently know who he might feel attraction towards, so that if something did happen it might be less of a shock. I don't know how I feel about that though. He has also explained that he is really not especially motivated to act on his feelings, for the reasons already described. (It could happen if the other person was very pushy or something like that...)

This is the main reason that he wants to rekindle his thing with G, lack of motivation to pursue casual encounters, the convenience, comfort aspect.

We have even spoken (initiated by me!) about practicalities if he was to start seeing her again, now that I am calmer and less tearful - what would we do about his birthday etc? things like that - but he concluded based on the fact that I have been struggling with my other life responsibilities during this that right now it would be too disruptive. He suggested that we could revisit the issue again at some pre-set future date. I said I'm not sure when would be a good time to agree something like that, so I basically said to him I'm going to keep on thinking about this for now (meaning I would talk to my other friends and post on here about the way I'm feeling), also talking with him as much as is needed (which he agrees we should do more now) and hopefully sort my head out so that I can get back to full functioning.

My first choice is not non-monogamy. His first choice is not having one main relationship. I would prefer non-monogamy to friendship (or nothing) with this person. He would prefer to have one door (a second main relationship) closed to him (with the possiblity of occasional other partners) than to not have the relationship with me that he currently does.

So I welcome your comments on this status quo - or the wider questions I have raised about feelings to do with sharing a partner and why that might feel hard.

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Heather
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A lot of this sounds really good, even though I, personally, don't tend to feel like the outcome is going to be good any time someone agrees to an open relationship when that really isn't what they want and feel good about, or agrees to things in any model they don't feel good about.

I don't think it makes sense to talk about your feelings about sharing a partner in general. I think it DOES make sense to talk about this specific situation with the specific people involved. I can certainly see some reasons from what you've written already about everything with him and G that would make you -- and probably anyone -- feel reticent. Would you like me to list those for you so we can talk about them and maybe work with that list, adding, adapting, as need be?

(Also, is HE going to get tested more frequently, too? Just you getting tested more often only solves half the problem. Are you also agreeing that safer sex practices will be a given, and good ones, not just condoms for intercourse, etc?)

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amarra
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I share the wariness about agreeing something open when it's not what I really want, but I have communicated this to T, and we'll obviously have to keep on talking as we go now. I've also reflected over the fact that we have not been exclusive up to this point, and how that makes me feel, and I think I can handle it in future. Especially as that fact is not going to be the defining factor of our relationship.

Yes please do list those concerning things you've identified, that would be really helpful. Thanks.

He already does get tested several times a year, and always has. The only agreement at present regarding safe sex is condoms for intercourse, so if you'd like to comment on what else you think is needed, I'll listen.

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Heather
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Well, STI risks are also present with any kind of oral sex, and are present, but a much smaller risk, even with manual sex (fingering or handjobs). And all of these risks go up with the more partners someone has, especially outside a closed dyad or circle where everyone involved isn't practicing safer sex to the letter, including getting tested often and treated as need be. STI risks are also higher once anyone has one STI. In other words, the HSV means you both are more susceptible to picking up another STI because of having that one. So, condoms for intercourse alone offers you both some protection, but that's kind of the minimum.

Also, do either of you have any good reading at all, per books, when it comes to all of this? It's sounding like you don't, or like if you do, both of you haven't spent much time with them, and if not, I'd advise that and would be happy to make some suggestions.

Give me a few minutes and I'll take some time to gather that list for you.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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amarra
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Yes, I'm aware there are other ways that STIs can be transmitted... maybe that's just another broad discussion we will need to have. I know there are detailed resources on this website about safe sex.

Re. reading, I have done a ton online, on many poly type websites. I could conceiveably print some stuff off for him to read (did include some extracts in my letter to him). What is quite frustrating actually is that T has been very resistant to accept that other people have been down the same road and that therefore there ARE basic tried and tested formulas for all this. I have kept on labouring this point. He's not a big internet user but he might be more keen to read a book. I know w few of the famous titles but welcome any recommendations you have.

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Heather
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So, looking back, and bearing your feelings in mind, here's what I've come up with to look at per some of why you might be feeling the way you are (besides non-monogamy just not really being what you want in the first place, which is major all by itself):

• You say the sexual relationship with G ended initially because G wanted commitment, and T did not love her. When you first posted in July, you said she said she still loved T, but he said he still did not love her. And yet, even back then, he said if she was available, he'd very much want to be involved with her again. You make clear you're very invested in him as your primary partner, and yet, I can see how it might feel like to some degree, he's a got a kind of investment in her that's similar to the one with you, even though he keeps saying he doesn't love her. Especially with the moving-in stuff: do you live with him yourself? If not, his expressing a desire to have her move in but not you is obviously going to sting may represent of a bigger commitment to his relationship with her than the one he has with you unless you've made clear you don't want to cohabitate.

• You're identifying as asexual, and it sounds like she doesn't, so you seem to have voiced concern his sex life with her will be more satisfying or interesting than his with you.

• You have no wish to even see G, you have said, or to have anything to do with her, but that's pretty much impossible if she's anything more than a one-off partner for him, and certainly if she moves in with him. For this to work, you couldn't have the kind of separation it has sounded like you want: you would need to have some kind of relationship with this person, too. (That's the thing about this kind of poly.)

• He's been dishonest about some things with you, and yet, a model like this requires a lot of trust and good faith. he's said things in the past that make clear he doesn't feel any kind of obligation with you to be forthright about a lot of things.

• And then you say this: "My main fears and concerns remain that having made myself very well-informed on non-monogamy through poly resources and the real experiences of 8 of my friends, the odds are shall we say not stacked in favour of success, especially when it's in effect a mono-poly pairing, at present anyway... I've told him we would have to expect and be prepared for extra heartache, extra difficult conversations (him with G too), extra hard work that simply isn't the case at the moment. To be honest that does not sound good to me." Which, I think, says an awful lot.

• Plus there's the part where someone who, it seems, has a history of handling this kind of relationship model badly is someone you're engaging in this relationship in. When we know someone has done a lousy job of something, it's sound for our confidence in a major change to be low.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Per books, The Ethical Slut is a classic, and is pretty solid, but there are two newer books that are good, two, Tristan Taormino's Opening Up and Jenny Block's Open. But I agree, I'd say that if T just refuses not to read anything about this and get better educated? That does not bode well. He's clearly seriously lacking on education here, and if that doesn't change, this is likely to continue to go very poorly.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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amarra
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• He has fully explained to me how he feels about her, which is that he likes her very much and feels comfortable with her. They are a good fit and he enjoys time spent with her. He recognises that it is not possible to say that he will never develop feelings of love for her, especially if he is pursuing a regular relationship with her again. So there is an investment there for him, it is less than the one he has with me but not possible to say that will remain the case. But why is that in itself a problem for me? Does that mean I am possessive? Is that a socialised feeling? Am I insecure? I didn’t believe that I was...
I don’t live with him, I live a few suburbs away, very happily with my sister and that is the plan for the foreseeable future. I lived with him once for about 6 weeks when my ceiling collapsed and it was very nice. I was very stung by the original idea for her to live with him as firstly I had thought he liked his independence (it turns out he likes both, independence and companionship are both OK for him). If he was feeling a desire for a girl to live with him, I would have hoped that he would maybe let me know and see what I thought? Even though I am not keen that we share a house... I would still prefer that we had discussed it.
Secondly she would then by default be sharing a much greater amount of time with him and get to see him all hours of the day which I have never enjoyed.
Just to be clear this is a major issue for me and so it has been agreed she will NOT be moving into his house, and it has been agreed that neither will any other love/sex interest, only standard lodgers. If he was to start up seeing her again she would have to find her own place.

• OK, the fact that I am asexual means that I don’t feel attracted to people of any gender. It doesn’t mean that I am boring at sex... I do masturbate and can experience arousal and desire, and use porn, and I’m very physically fit and good at satisfying T (I have checked)... I did express concern that he might want to try something and think ‘G likes that’ and only do that with her, and not even think to mention it to me, meaning that although he experiences variety, our individual sex life could be at risk of becoming stale. That is not because I am asexual and she is not (it’s just as if I was heterosexual and she was bisexual or vice versa that’s all.) But we have both recognised that our own sex life is for us to work on. We should talk about what we like and would like to do anyway, and are going to do that irrespective of what else happens. My real concern sadly is what will happen with the erectile dysfunction...

• She’s definitely not going to move in. But I have made this very point to T, about how the 2 relationships would inevitably affect each other. He seems to think that practically our paths would really not need to cross that much. Maybe he would realise this more if he read something like a book. There is time for this to happen as he is not going to re-start anything with G right now.

• The thing is that before, he was literally living with a no rules approach, and following all this discussion he has recognised that compromise is essential, and although his toddler-self is protesting, he’s shown that he is now willing to disclose stuff and make some agreements that weren’t previously in place. I do trust him, and he has shown himself to be trustworthy in so far as that he has always been completely faithful when monogamy has been explicitly agreed with previous partners (even being on the receiving end himself when a fiancée cheated on him).

• Well yes. There is this. This for me is my point of uncertainty. I feel that with other partners only being casual (essentially the status quo, but more responsibly!), the amount of work involved might be more manageable. Hopefully if he would read a book in the meantime while G is not around, he might begin to realise this for himself. He is starting to, he said as much, and I am maintaining that this is my main objection.

• The only thing is that now we are setting something up together with both of our input, whereas before he just thought that he could do what he wanted because we are not a couple and had not discussed anything at all beyond a couple of limitations (none of my friends, not in my presence).

[ 01-06-2012, 02:37 PM: Message edited by: silat ]

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amarra
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Of those books you mention, which is the least 'hippy/new age' in tone?
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Heather
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..she asks the hippie. [Razz]

The Ethical Slut is the oldest of them, so you or he would probably prefer the other two if you're after the most modern.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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amarra
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Thanks for that. T has agreed to read a book. I'll probably get the Taormino one. I've found the Ethical Slut online as a PDF.

He has also agreed that we can establish what the new agreements about other casual partners are in writing... not as any sort of contract that we even have to keep in a physical form (and either of us can ask to discuss it again and revise it), but just so that we can start again as it were with 100% clarity and be on the exact same page. Looking back I do find the fact that we both thought something different was going on to be pretty disturbing, and I never want that to happen again.

Do you have any comments on my response to your list? I really appreciate your input.

To return to the issue of anxiety/jealousy about the quality of other sexual couplings. I expect it's not unusual but I'm more uneasy about the other intimate stuff, naked cuddling etc, that I feel is something quite special and bonding, and would prefer didn't happen with others (but inevitably will).

Also occasionally there are the invasive thoughts - I can stomach the fact that he is being with others at the same time as me, but I don't want to have a thought like 'has he done this/does he do this with so-and-so?' popping into my head. This has happened. Unhelpful.

I think if he was to pursue another main serious relationship, I would feel like it was a competition. I know that may be illogical but I think that is how I would feel. Another important relationship of a different nature (such as when I previously had an intense non-sexual relationship with another friend) would not be such a problem for me, it is the fact of there being 2 comparable relationships ongoing.

One thought that my asexual nature does bring to this is about wants, needs, desires, choice and pleasure. It seems to me that even fully consensual sex can often be a painful thing for somebody somewhere. I don't find the idea of monogamy as oppressive if 2 people have acknowledged that they will likely feel attraction for others, but that they appreciate that what they have got now is a pretty excellent deal, that they have chosen it, and that they are therefore happy not to pursue other options. Sometimes in life you just can't have everything. That doesn't have to be a bad assertion at all, although I imagine polyamorists would say that it is.

I know that the other 99% of the world do experience sexual attraction, and so to understand other humans it is in my interests to try and empathise with what appear to be strong urges that cause unhappiness and disturbance if unfulfilled. However it does seem to me that there are so many myriad pleasures in life that are nothing to do with sex or relationships. I guess polyamorists are all about the depth in terms of exploring sex and relationships. I am happy with the breadth of experience - sure, something good (hopefully wonderful) in terms of a sex/love/a partner, but also experiencing the best of this world through all of the senses, friendship, community, empowerment, nature, food, exercise, music, other artforms, drugs if that is your bag, even working hard on a project... I respect if people do feel that they absolutely have to be with every sexual partner that they desire (and they have not agreed not to), but it seems to me that it does undoubtedly cause complication. I would argue that voluntarily limiting who you are intimate with in that way does not have to be boring... unless you yourself are boring...

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amarra
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Heh, just looking at the introduction for the Ethical Slut - they're at it straight away - creating this notion that they are so heroic and adventurous, and against boredom (by implication, the monogamous are not?). That really winds me up.

I mean sure it's good to love yourself, but there is such a thing as too self-congratulatory! I guess it comes from receiving a lot of disapproval.

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WesLuck
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Monogamous can be heroic and adventurous, but they do it in their own way (pun intended). [Smile]
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September
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There's plenty of boring poly people out there, and plenty of adventurous monogamous people. How interesting you are as a person has very little to do with how many partners you have at any given time.

Too, being poly or having open relationships doesn't necessarily mean that having lots and lots of sex is all you care about. It's simply about being open to those experiences when they arise. Sometimes people identify as poly, but have only one partner (or none at all!) for long stretches of time, simply because they're focused on work or a hobby or friends and not open to meeting new partners, or because nothing interesting has come up. Poly people aren't single-minded sex machines, they simply conduct their relationships in a different way. That doesn't make them "better" or "worse" than monogamous people, or more interesting or adventurous. It just makes them people who happen to be poly.

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amarra
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I agree with every word of your post September. But that's not how it comes across in the book! I've now read all of the Ethical Slut and there was not a lot in there that I wasn't kind of aware of via all the websites that I have been looking at (well apart from the stuff about Ren Faire maybe!). I guess it is just written in a subjective way.

Anyway... sorry to say... the plot thickens. We were speaking some more earlier this week about the HSV1 and safe sex, and yet another surprise came dripping out. Honestly, it has been one little thing revealed after another. T told me a couple of weeks back that he'd had 2 one night stands last year - news to me. Well, it turns out that one of them happened twice (i.e. 3 occasions, 2 people), and that was with G, unplanned, but behind her boyfriend's back. Yet another shock (and why could he not have shared this fact at the time of revealing about the hook-ups?).

Oh, so you're that guy. I am so disappointed, doubly, becuase not only did I not think that he would do that in a million years (having made such a big deal about how he had never cheated on a partner who he had agreed to be exclusive with), but also that he is so into being with her, if she thinks that is an OK way to treat people.

As some context, in my previous long term relationship, I was that girl, with someone else who was cheating, to begin with. And I think it was terrible. The worst thing I have ever done. With a lot of conscious effort that person who I was is no more. I have striven (is that a word?) to be better and more considerate and treat others as I would like to be treated. Now I find out T has done/is doing the same, and is fine with it, because her boyfriend will never know!

And this brings me back to the safe sex, and I'm now angry. T keeps maintaining that he does not think that he has been 'undutiful' in anyway by witholding or not disclosing his other concurrent partners, because we had not agreed to be an exclusive couple. I genuinely thought that I was having sex with him, and he with me. It turns out that I'm also having sex with G, her boyfriend, anyone else who either of them are also sleeping with, plus anyone else who T has slept with. And now I have HSV1.

I don't feel sad now. I feel disrespected. I am an adult woman and I have the right to know the truth of the situation. In order to make choices about my own health and safety. I feel like I have had a bag over my head. I don't feel like I know T now, after 10 years, he has withheld so much. T now seems almost shady.

But - in your opinion, is non-disclosure dishonest? Have I been wronged? It's certainly not frank and upfront, but we are both at fault for not having clearly established agreements. I have learnt some major lessons here. And I have also been giving serious thought to Heather's points about finding future relationships. It is possible.

Also, G is likely to be moving back to our city soon (living with different man who is also happy for her to see other men). That's just not filling me with happy based on the latest bit of news - my opinion of her, already neutral at best, has lowered considerably. T is coming over later tonight and I will be telling him how I feel right now. It's very different from the start of this thread [Frown]

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Heather
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I'm so sorry you're going through all of this, silat.

But I'm not feeling surprised. Of course, I have the luxury of seeing this from the outside, without being in it. But my feeling is that T has struck me as shady right from the start of our conversation about this. I think suggesting this is all just about him not understanding he should disclose strikes me as...well, bullshit. It seems pretty clear to me he's made choices not to disclose things to you and others quite intentionally around his own interests, without considering you or maybe anyone else at all. And lack of clarity with agreements aside, and you agreeing to a model (however obtuse) that I really don't think you want and feel good about aside (though like I said, I wouldn't with someone like this, either), I think you feeling disrespected is sound, because I do think you have been. If we're not sure about an action or choice that involves a partner we're invested in, or aren't sure how they'll feel, we ask: we don't just keep hiding things, only pulling them out into the open later when our partner is paying a price for them.

(I also keep getting the sense some of the way he's doing the disclosing to you might be about trying to amp feelings of jealousy or upset. can't say for sure, but going with my gut, that's kept coming up for me with some of the things you've said.)

I feel like it's pretty important to revisit parts of this conversation we've already had and for you to figure that with your choices around this, you've seemingly got to accept that this person is just not likely to manage poly well, at all, and all the ways he's managed it so far are probably not going to change. In fact, I think he's kept making pretty clear with his actions that he has no desire to change them and doesn't see why he would.

I also really want to say that from all I can gather about your, silat, you sound like a really excellent person and a really thoughtful partner. I don't mean to be cliche, but I *do* think you deserve something better than this, and I do think that you could find it and be a whole lot happier, be treated with more respect, and have something that's a whole lot more in alignment with what you actually want.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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(Also, I'm so sorry I missed a big reply from you back there! You must have made it as I was replying to your shorter question. I can revisit those comments if you want, but at the same time, I think my response to most of them would sound a whole lot like my last paragraph in my response to you above. [Smile]

I mean, yes, we can't have everything. But we CAN seek out and have relationships that are as close as possible to what we really want and feel good about, and I don't think this is anything close to that for you in a lot of ways. You know?)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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amarra
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Regarding the future, as I said I feel like I've learned several really big useful lessons here. This experience has almost helped me in that respect. I could have something closer to what I want. I could even conceiveably have something poly/open that was just done in a healthier way. I feel better about the future, that there are other options for me, and that maybe I should keep that in mind.

Back to the present. As I said my feelings have moved on from sadness. I feel blank now, as well as disrespected. In fact I now feel sad not about the situation, but for the loss of my recent beautiful happiness. T's birthday was in early November and I remember saying to my sister that I couldn't think what image to put on the front of his card, because really I just wanted to put a giant heart on it. [Dry bitter laugh.] It may sound cheesy but it was very strong, and very very positive for me. I felt it was mature, at least from my side. Of course I did not know it was based on illusion. Now? There is pure emptiness in my chest when I think about T. This concerns me. I don't know if it is temporary.

I can see why reading the posts here you think he might be releasing info/facts gradually to provoke jealousy. He's not THAT much of a dick! [Razz] I put it down to shadiness. I have questioned him on exactly why he has decided to withhold the truth about his sex life. He quotes privacy, 'no duty' to share. He thought I would be aware somehow because he was sleeping with others in the early days (I 'could have asked at any time' - but I had no reason to think there was anything to ask about). It is also inconsideration. I think he wants the easy life. He thinks it's not such a big deal as the other partners have been infrequent. It's not about the number though, it is the fact of choosing not to give me the full picture. If it was the other way around, I would without a doubt have told him everything. I guess that is another reason why I assumed we were exclusive. It seemed so unorthodox and weird that he would not tell me.

I need him to know the end result of all this on my feelings towards him. This is a new development following the cherry on the cake, the fact of him sleeping with G while she has a boyfriend. Friends' opinions of him have also changed and lowered. Everyone saw him as a decent, and sensible , person. I will just have to see what he says in response. I don't think that he is cut out for responsible considerate poly/open relatinships at all. And finally, now, I am questioning if he is trustworthy after all. 'It's fine if nobody knows' seems to be his mantra for life. I thought to begin with we had a possible mis-match in what we wanted out of a relationship. Now I'm thinking we actually have a moral/value system mis-match, and that is a big problem. It would be a problem if we were simply platonic best friends.

I'm not a person who just gives up on things. When I said to my previous long-term partner that I wanted to end the relationship, I agreed to see a relationship counsellor together one time, to prove a willingness to try and salvage it if possible. I don't believe that love can just fizzle away in a few weeks. I don't know if disappointment is currently masking my feelings of love, or what. But I expect T will be shocked to understand quite how much my feelings have changed, and how quickly. I know I am. I will see what he says.

Thanks for your kind comments [Smile] I want to say a huge thank you for all your support and advice, and also thank you for the fantastic Scarleteen website which has helped me out lots of times before now. I bought my sister the book a few years ago [Smile] I'll also now be making a donation for sure!

[ 01-12-2012, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: silat ]

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Heather
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Silat: I really admire how deeply you're thinking through all of this. I know that that can be really hard to do when it results in tough feelings, but I think you're doing a pretty darn amazing job. I also feel like the way you're thinking this through, for sure, may jet you towards some more positive approaches for and towards yourself, and for sure, that's good stuff, even if it came from not-good stuff.

I think it's important to recognize your efforts here and know what whatever you decide, now or later. this doesn't look ANYTHING like just giving up on things. You know?

And I've been totally happy to help, and glad you've been able to find the help you need here. Rock on with your awesome big sister self, too! What a great thing for an older sib to do. [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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WesLuck
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Go silat! Go Heather!
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amarra
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Just to update. I let T know how I was feeling - all of the above. It was a heavy conversation. We both listened to each other. He has done some reflection and now recognises that he should have told me certain things, and has apologised for the fact that he didn't (as well as given some more insight into why he chose not to - partly to avoid what he knew might be difficult or upsetting conversations), and for being inconsiderate. When I spoke about the issue of trustworthiness he was adamant to the point of anger that he keeps promises - when they are explicitly made.

About the sudden numbness/blankness/emptiness that I described feeling, maybe it was a temporary defense mechanism by the brain, after several weeks of extreme heightened emotion. Deep feelings do not evaporate in an instant. Our relationship - in whatever form it takes - is very important to us both. He said to me that he is prepared to do whatever it takes to make it work because our relationship is worth it. He is demonstrating a real genuine willingness to compromise and change.

On his moral choices - on reflection, I can't judge him too harshly. We are all only human and none of us perfect. I do think that he has been shady (and I told him so), but that one behaviour that he has exhibited does not write his entire character off forever. My emotions have taken several twists and turns while I have thought all this through and I've now arrived at a new destination. I'm not a person who holds grudges. I also like to live in the present as much as possible. There is no benefit at all for me to be hung up on what has happened in the past, or to feel like any sort of victim. I do have pretty robust self-esteem. I think the fears and concerns I have flagged up are not major or insurmountable.

I read the Tristan Taormino book, and have now passed it on to T to read, after which we'll talk again about what will be best for us. I said to T, 'things have obviously been handled badly up to this point, on both our parts, but I would like us to take it from here'. I hope he will learn a lot from the book. Please believe that I have now got my eyes wide open. We will work something out with both of our input. I do deserve something better, and we will try to start creating it from here onwards. If I feel things aren't working, or need more discussion, I will say so without hesitation. And I will also make sure that I don't see our new relationship format as something I have agreed to for his benefit, but for both our benefits. Flexibility is good and healthy. I'm happy with monogamy right now, but I may well want to pursue closer relationships with others myself in future.

Thanks once again.

-------------------------------

P.S.

One thing I was horrified to hear from T when we spoke again about safe sex was that among his peers, using a condom is seen as the gold standard - most of his male friends NEVER USE ONE and see it as the girl's responsibility to be on the pill! This trend was established in teen years and continued into young adulthood. I can't believe they would be so cavalier about their own health (herpes, HIV!) and the possiblity of pregnancy. It displays a terrifying inability to think long term. I find that is common in all walks of life and all ages of people here in the UK.

Donation on the way!

[ 01-15-2012, 01:49 PM: Message edited by: silat ]

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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This all sounds like really good stuff on your part, and like you're absolutely in a very different place when it comes to advocating for yourself than where you started out. Big kudos to you! So glad to have been of any help to you so far in all of this, including that process.

And yes, that's actually common pretty much everywhere, and in fact, at the present time in the states, we know younger people (in their teens) are much better about it than their older counterparts, especially from the start of being sexually active (the numbers get lower, unfortunately, as time goes on). Like you -- especially as someone who came of age in the 80s right in the midst of HIV, and quite directly -- I find it really distressing, too.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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