Poly But Monogamous

May 1, 2012 at 10:15 am (Polyamory, Real Life, Relationship) (, , , , , )


Since the decision made in January to dissolve my marriage, I’ve been in essentially a monogamous relationship with my boyfriend. Monogamous on my side, to the extent of not having slept with anyone else but the boyfriend since the husband moved into a separate bedroom while he buys his own house. I’ve been on a date or two, and we had a threesome, but the boyfriend is presently my only relationship and my only sexual partner.

He is dating others, and having sex with others, though I’m his most regular partner in both the dating & sex categories. So it remains an open relationship, though I am not actively poly for the time being.

And you know what? I’m totally okay with that. I thought it would be difficult for me to only “have” him while he “has” others. But that’s not been the case at all. I’ve had little twinges of the standard, reflexive jealousy over time he spends with other women, but I’ve found those fears easier to acknowledge and let go, much easier than I ever did with the husband. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed listening to him talk about what’s developing with other partners, experiencing some of the journey through him, and have tried to provide support, encouragement, and at times a bit of reassurance as some things took different directions than he’d hoped.

I realized recently why this is so, and the answer is simple: my needs are being met. I’m very satisfied with this relationship. I don’t doubt that I am valued and cared for. I’m content with what we have, exactly as it is, and there’s no need or desire to make it something else, something different. In the realm of emotional support, intimacy and sex, I’m getting what I need. Which makes me pretty gosh-darn happy.

In comparison, I struggled TERRIBLY with jealousy with my husband. During the period where he was dating and I was not (the first couple years of our open relationship), it was extremely painful for me to let him go, and to hear about the women he was dating. He never developed any serious relationships, and I realize now that may have been, at least in part, because he knew how difficult it would be for me. And it probably would have been. I had many unmet needs throughout the course of this marriage, and through most of it I repressed any expression of those needs and was encouraged in that repression. But this post isn’t about throwing stones and blame about the reasons why my marriage ended. The fact is simply that I’m coming to understand that unvoiced and unmet needs lead to fear, and fear leads to jealousy. It’s as simple, and probably obvious to others, as that.

With the boyfriend, I’ve been encouraged and have challenged myself to ask directly for what I need. There’s an understanding that not every need can or will be fulfilled; we all have limits, and sometimes it’s just time and energy that will prevent need fulfillment. So far, though, all my important needs have been met when I voiced them, which is remarkably effective in helping one overcome the fear of voicing a need. And a lot of the time, my needs are simple – just reassure me. Just tell me I’m still loved. No need to change your course of action, no need to block your own feelings, just give me a few moments of attention and affection that remind me I am not being abandoned. That does wonders for helping me quiet the fearful voices and get back to being supportive and encouraging. And it’s a wonderful thing to have those voiced needs met without accusations of manipulation, or criticism of being “needy”. Positive reinforcement of voiced needs doesn’t make me more “needy”, I’ve found – quite the opposite, I feel like I’m needing less and less reassurance.

So, it’s simple – emotional satisfaction is good, and helps poly work. Geez. No amazing light bulb moment for any reader, I’m sure, but for me it has been remarkable to experience this and see it come together.

I don’t intend to remain monogamous to his polyamorous. In some ways, I’m eager to try bringing another romance into my life to better learn how to balance relationships and to share the love and happiness I feel. But I’m picky, and while I fall into limerance quickly I don’t find qualified candidates for it easily; I’ve only found three men in the past six years who really clicked for me. Also, I feel like I shouldn’t risk any emotional overload until my marriage is completely dissolved and I’m once again living alone. When the time is right, I suspect someone will come along. It always seems to happen that way, when I’m not looking or expecting. I want to be ready. And I can do that by nurturing this happiness and contentment I feel, taking good care of myself, and continuing to learn and grow. I see the value in the hard work. I’m willing to keep doing it.

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