I recently told my monogamous partner that it is normal to have “feels” when your partner meets someone new. Even the most experienced polyamorous people can have some wobbles and stress when they realize their partner is connecting with someone new. Not everyone is filled with compersion the minute they find out about these situations. It’s normal to worry about how this will impact your time with them, how this will impact your level of intimacy with them, and what will this look like with another person in the mix. It’s not all roses and rainbows.
He has been having some serious feels since I told him about NRE Guy. He was kind of surprised I wanted to date someone else. He had expected since I have Hess who I see more or less once a month (usually less) that was how we were going to go on always. (He really does not understand polyamory, despite the many talks and discussions we have had about it.) So when I met Louis, it was a bit of a shock to him. Honestly one of the hardest things was that I would be having sex with YET ANOTHER man. He had a hard enough time knowing I was having sex with one other, and now there are two.
Then we had the discussion that I would probably be seeing a lot more of Louis than I see of Hess and that also was, understandably, difficult to digest. He has been trying. He told me to have a nice night and enjoy my date the other night. And then told me he was fine and not jealous. THAT’S when I told him, “It’s normal to have feels.” He wrote back, “I’m having feels.”
Being in multiple relationships takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of self-reflection, and it takes relationship skills we are not normally taught in a monogamous culture. In our case, he is not only monogamous with me, but he is also solidly monogamous in general and only “puts up” with my “lifestyle” because he loves me and wants to be with me. We broke up once, and we were both miserable without each other. He came back into this relationship with a very clear understanding of what that might look like, knowing I would be with other men etc. But that doesn’t make it any easier. For either of us really.
Because now it’s me having feels. Since I’ve started seeing NRE Guy, Dex and I have had so many heart-to-hearts and a lot of tears have been shed on my part. Partly because Dex has not fully figured out how he wants to handle this, other than keep going and doing us. Which of course makes me happy. He told his best friend to back off (his friend is always telling him how worried he is that Dex will get hurt in this relationship) because he loves me and that’s what matters right now. But also, because he HAS left it a bit open, “I’m not sure what I want to do…” I feel a bit in limbo.
But also because I know now, (probably should have known before but I wasn’t thinking it all the way through- I somehow thought this time was different in this regard) that when/if he meets someone new, and he thinks they are someone he wants to really try to have a relationship with, that US in the way we exist today will cease to be a thing. Just typing that makes me have to stop and cry. I HATED every minute of the six months we were not together. He was dating someone else and she was super jealous and controlling and he didn’t tell her we were trying to stay friends when he met her, and then it was too late. Instead of staying in each other’s lives as we “promised” he was just gone completely.
The thing is, I can pretty much predict the same exact thing is going to happen again. He doesn’t have the skills, the cultural conditioning, nor the desire to throw off conventional ideals to go into a new relationship as honest about our relationship as he needs to for us to even have a chance. He has met someone new himself recently, she is a customer in the store he runs. He gave her his number and they started talking. She invited him over last night. I asked him this morning if he had told her about his current relationship status. He said, “It didn’t come up.”
So let me get this right, you went over there and stayed almost all night, drinking and smoking weed and talking, AND have agreed to see each other again, but it never came up? In his last relationship, the one in between our two, he did the same thing. He was worried to scare her off by saying what good friends he was with his ex. (At the time we were really working at being friends and staying in each other’s lives.) That was when I was already an ex. So, now I am actually the woman he loves and if I would, he would be with me only, but he’s trying to meet other people which is great, but (sigh) I just feel like I can see the writing on the wall… and it says, “The beginning of the end.”
And I am definitely having feels about it. I do not blame him. He is doing the best he can with what he knows and with what he actually wants from a romantic relationship. He wants a fully entwined, live-in, ride-or-die kind of girlfriend. While I am totally ride-or-die, I cannot nor do I want to be the other things. I was monogamous most of my life, and I am so much better as a person and a partner with the current relationship practices I have in my life now. I feel so much more myself since I started dating Louis. It feels right for me. It makes me happy in a way that’s difficult to explain, but it includes a deep sense of self and satisfaction.
I don’t want to lose Dex. I don’t want to lose him as a romantic partner, the man I am in love with, the man who is my full-on boyfriend. I am willing to de-escalate our relationship to friends if that is what needs to happen so he can pursue a monogamous relationship with someone. There is just something about this man that makes me want to have him in my life, regardless of status. But I am afraid that it won’t be a mere de-escalation, but it will be fully over and I cannot bear that thought. (I mean of course I can do it, I was almost ok with it after 6 months, finally, when we reconnected and started our relationship over again.)
So yeah, I am having feels. Maybe I am reading too much into things and it will be fine. But already today after his date with her last night, he is acting differently. Hard to put my finger on, but very obvious at the same time. We’re driving 12 hours to visit my mother for Easter this weekend, (his idea! He loves my mom and has met my dad and step-mom too) and I think there will be a lot of emotions in the car on the drive. (sigh)