Hey there. This might be a little lengthy, but it needs a lot of backstory, I think.
My boyfriend and I have been dating long distance (Virginia to North Carolina, and now Virginia to Boston) for three months now, and in the beginning we had a few conversations about whether we wanted our relationship to be monogamous or polyamorous. My only previous experiment with polyamory didn't go too well, so I was hesitant but willing to try it out. We decided to be poly, but that meant two different things to each of us. He thought it meant that he could date other people, like romantically, as well as have sex with other people, and I thought it just meant having sex with other people- an open relationship, rather than true polyamory. We talked about that and decided that since he was going back to Boston and needed people to hang out with, having the option to date other people might not be a bad idea. It's very difficult being so far apart, and I thought it would only be fair that he have the opportunity to date other people until we could be closer together. He promised that I would be his primary partner, and that if I wanted it to end I could just say so and it would. And I don't mind having the opportunity, either, I just never take it because I'm not really interested in anyone else.
Basically it was fine for a while, when he was just sleeping with other people, because he didn't tell me and I didn't want to know (that has always been part of the arrangement). I don't care who he has sex with at all. But recently he's been really emotionally interested in this girl that lives rather close to him. I didn't want to say anything at first, because I wasn't sure anything would come of it, but they've been getting closer and closer, and I'm discovering that I'm really not okay with it. Honestly, I think I've realised now that I'm a pretty monogamous person.
I've told him that I'm uncomfortable with it, but I always follow it up with saying that I know it's not fair because he should be allowed to be with people and I don't want to limit him. And he usually apologises and says that he's not LOOKING for another romantic relationship, but he can't help it if he crushes on people. And so I let it go, because I'm afraid I'm being ridiculous and selfish.
But then today he met her for the first time and they went on a date. I don't know, or want to know, the details, but I know he was gone for a very long time and had a great time. And I'm trying to be happy for him, but all I can feel is anger. I'm jealous that she gets to see him and I'm jealous that he really likes someone else. He says he loves me and I really believe him and love him too, and he swears that I am always first. He even said that everyone who's interested in him should be jealous of me, because he loves me and I'm his actual (and so far only) partner. But I just can't deal with the thought of him being romantic and cute and stuff with someone else, or with him having another partner. I don't want to share him romantically.
Sorry that was very lengthy, but I guess what I'm trying to ask is: am I wrong to ask him to stop seeing her? Part of me thinks it's completely valid, because it's my relationship and I am allowed to be happy, and him dating other people (I still don't care if he sleeps with them) is making me extremely unhappy. But the other part of me thinks it's selfish and kind of awful to ask him to stop, because I want him to be happy and to have the chance to meet new people in Boston. It's not easy for us to be apart, and it's only fair that he be allowed to see other people, even though I probably will never take advantage of that. And I know polyamory suites his needs better right now, and we're only in our early 20s, so it makes sense that he should have those opportunities. But I honestly think I'm just monogamous and it's making me very unhappy with myself and sometimes with him when he's with other people.
I am sorry to hear that you are having such a tough time of things, Haverforth.
The good news is that you are being neither ridiculous nor selfish. You have feelings about this situation, and they are completely legitimate and valid. So my very first suggestion would be that you stop judging yourself, and instead accept your feelings for what they are and go from there.
Navigating relationship models can be tricky. Our wants and needs can change over time. Sometimes, when we try something new, it can take us a while to realize that it is not for us. And not everything works equally with each new partner, so a model we preferred before may not be ideal for a new relationships. All of those are things we may realize in time, and those feelings are not silly or selfish. They are important, and they bear listening to.
I think the most important thing for you right now is to stop trying to tough it out, and talk to your partner about your feelings. No one is served if you try to pretend you are fine, when you are really not. Talking about it does not have to equal you asking him to stop seeing this other girl: where to go from there is something for the both of you to work out together. But one of the most important things in poly arrangements is that everyone is upfront and honest about their feelings. Your partner can only take your feelings into account if they know about them.
You have plenty of options here, once you start looking for compromises and solutions. It might turn out that talking about this helps you out already, and you don't need to reasses your relationship model. You might decide on some new rules and boundaries, and change the rules of your poly-relationship. Or it might turn out that you decide that poly is not for you at all right now and you'd rather be monogamous.
I hear you saying pretty clearly in the last paragraph that you think you would actually prefer a monogamous relationship right now. If that is how it is and that is how you feel, then that it is all the more important that you let your partner know. You are both in this relationsihp, and I hear you saying that you do not want to limit him, but ideally in a relationship, the needs of ALL partners are met. It is no good if you are sacrificing yourself to meet your partners needs, while you are hurting. So if you prefer monogamy and your partner would prefer to be poly right now, then that may mean that you two are just not a good fit for each other right now.
How do you feel about all of this right now?
-------------------- Johanna Scarleteen Volunteer
"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand Posts: 9192 | From: Cologne, Germany | Registered: Sep 2005
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