lamenting my poly-ness

aka, “more than you ever wanted to know about my heathenistic sex life” (your cue NOT to read this, Dad…)

So… my long-distance lover, who I’ve not seen since May, is coming to visit for a week next month. glee

Her boyfriend (also my lover) lives with me; he also hasn’t seen her since May.

We’ve been an ongoing threesome for about 6-7 months now, and up to about a month ago, my relationship with both of them was of an open sort of “friends-with-benefits” nature, at least in the paperwork. It came to our attention (when I showed interest in pursuing a monogamous relationship outside of this arrangement) that “friends-with-benefits” failed to acknowledge the emotional connections that had developed… namely, that we’re all in love with each other. These two want to get married & grow old together, however, whereas their relationship with me is considered by all a “quality short-term relationship”, so I try to be respectful of what they have, make sure I’m not getting in the way of their satisfaction with each other, to the best of my ability.

Pretty much since the beginning, there’s been a lot of concern on his part that what she & I have is deeper, and inappropriately so, than the corresponding relationship between him and me. I do sense that they feel differently towards me, but I don’t think her love for me equals or surpasses what she feels for him, as she’s made clear that though it would disappoint her, she’d give me up if he asked.

As part of the threesome-deal, he and I sleep together when she isn’t here. She’s totally fine with this in the context of our being what we call a ‘monogamous threesome.’ We decided a while back that yes, we were going to have another threesome, and my relationships with both of them would remain sexual at least up to that point. However… he’s recently requested that he be able to reserve the right, when she visits, to spend as much time alone with her as he feels he needs to, maybe the whole time she’s here, and fit in some threesome stuff “if there’s time.” I immediately objected to this on the grounds that it would hurt me and suck immensely to be faced with the possibility of not touching my lover during the short time she’s here, so if he needed to reserve this right to feel that things are fair to him, I would simply exercise my right to leave. She objected on grounds that it would not be fair to her, saying that if he wanted her to be ok with not being my lover while she’s here and spending all of her time with him, he had to stop being my lover in the meanwhile. He’s refused to do that, saying that would simply be punishment.

He’s upset because she didn’t have the instinct he would have in a similar situation, which would be to say “sure, baby, I’ll spend as much time with you as you need no matter what, because sure I’d like to fuck this other person if possible, but you’re what’s most important to me.” He thinks the way she’s acting makes the threesome primary and default, rather than his relationship with her, and it’s to the point now that he’s questioning whether they’re even compatible as lifemates as he thinks she would never be happy/satisfied having just him… and yet neither of them wants to end it. I’ve asked them both if they’d like me to back out, and they both urge me not to. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be the source of problems between them; I want them to be happy, but if I do what my conscience tells me to and leave to preserve their relationship, I’m taking the responsibility of prioritizing it out of their hands.

I’m at a complete loss. I don’t know what’s fair or what’s not anymore; I don’t know if it even matters. So quickly with the magical Dope! before I go looking for the other kind. =P

[I’d like to hear any & all thoughts you had while reading this, not just the helpful/positive ones. Chances are I’ll learn something from it. =) ]

So, he thinks him + her > her + you > him + you, without thinking of the relationship as him + her + you? And that her + you threatens him + you? Ouch.

Does this mean, you and he would not be together at all any more, or just while she was in town? The first would suck completely and I don’t think that’s what you meant, as it would mean the end of the three-way relationship and you said they didn’t want to end it. The second would, indeed, be punishment (if you don’t get the attention of either lover while she’s in town… in spite of it sounding like he thought he would be the one being punished). Also ouch.

I don’t have a whole lot of helpful advice here. It sounds like you’re all being fairly responsible about this. It sounds like you’re aware of the long- and short-term realities of what you’re going through, and that you’re willing to talk about stuff. That is a huge advantage. A lot of the (for a while, at least) successful poly relationships I’ve known have broken up due to lack of communication. It sounds like he’s being a bit more selfish than necessary. How long is this visit going to be? Going without the companionship for a few days wouldn’t be that bad, and fairly understandable if she’s only going to be in town a short while. However, if she’s coming back for the entire summer, that’s not so good.

It sounds like your co-habitant wants to have it all. He wants her, he wants you, he wants her to like him more than she likes you. He wants you to like him more than you like her! He is being a bit too selfish. He is not playing by the rules.
I think your co-habitant needs to sit down with both of you and talk this out. Before any fucking occurs. He needs to let go of the idea of controlling your relationship. It can go anywhere from there.

Good lord, being poly looks like alot of work.
Sorry that I don’t have any helpful advice, aside from insisting that the three of you sit down in the same room and re-work the rules of engagement on her next trip.

It sounds like your roomate might be making plans to leave one of you out in the cold and regardless of what kind of relationship-arrangement you have, that’s just unacceptable.
Good luck to you!

Three… is a magic number.

Threesomes are a lot of fun, but only in measured (very measured) doses (IMHO). For the sex only, it can work out. Once emotional ties of differing tightness join the mix everything gets real messy.

Good luck.

First thing’s first, friend o’ mine Jetticon. You need to first discuss with said g/f by herself what she wants out of everything and what she’s willing to agree to. It seems she’s more willing to come up with an agreement that will suit all parties than he is. Then you two must confront the man and let it be known that things will crumble if left to their current state. I must also say that this hierarchy of a polyamorous relationship is kinda destructive. IT’s hard for the 3-way relationship to be fulfilling if you’re the third wheel and are made noticeably so. Ol’ what’s-his-name needs to give more consideration to you and your feeling as well as the feelings of his girlfriend and start hoarding his own sense of security. A relationship with him and his girlfriend won’t even last forever if he can’t get past this possessiveness that’s deteriorating what could potentially be a happy 3-way. Okay now, see if you can dissect this post and I’ll give you a cookie! Good luck, Rave! ;j

That’s all correct, except that the last part is more accurately her + me threatens him + her, but I bet that’s what you meant.

Well, what I’ve told them was that if she came and I had to act like not-her-lover for the limited time she’s actually here, in my physical presence (minus some alone time for them, ‘cause hey, they deserve some), then I’d rather just end it completely, because in my opinion, if the relationship we have isn’t acknowledged in real, actual, physical life, it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) exist. Also, it’d hurt me a lot more to have to ignore my relationship with her while she’s here than to just not have the damn thing at all, so there’s nothing to ignore.

…wouldn’t be that bad for him, or for me?
If you mean me, no, it wouldn’t be all that bad letting them have a few days, and I’d planned on that anyway. What I can’t handle is not being able to act like her lover the entire time, or 85% of the time, or whatever, that she’s here. He wants the right to have that if he feels he needs it when the time comes, and I simply can’t say “sure, I’ll put myself through emotional hell so you can have some time with your girlfriend”… I’d far prefer to let him have whatever he needs, minus the hell.

It’s ok… your response stimulates me to think more about it, and helps me further solidify my feelings on everything. I appreciate it (and all comments thus far) sincerely. =)

With that in mind, I’ll just say that it sounds like you’d be a lot better off out of that situation entirely. From your description, they’re being completely selfish, while trying to make it sound as if they’re not. They want to have their cake and eat it, too – they’ve got their own monogamous relationship, but still want to have you around too, regardless of how that makes you feel. You see it as being in love with two people simultaneously, while they see it as monogamy + an extra.

Whatever the case, y’all aren’t all in agreement on how the situation is working. And you’re the one who’s suffering because of it. My advice is to drop them both.

It sounds like he’s not quite as committed to polyamory as he likes to think he is. “I know we’ve got a threeway relationship here, but can you pretend you’re not involved with either of us this weekend so my insecurity issues don’t make me crazy?”

No. No. No. This is not polyamory. This is someone who’s not working through the jealousy…he’s just trying to look like he is.

Well, he’s her boyfriend, so I do think he’s justified in wanting her to like him more than me… which I know she does, and she knows she does, but for some reason he seems to have some stake in not believing. No matter how much she insists otherwise; he never seems to quite believe that he is primary for her. As for me liking him more than I like her, well, yeah, he’s all but said he’d be more comfortable with an outside partner if he felt like he was their primary interest. shrug

You have a copy of The Rules??
shifty glances
steals it & absconds into the night

Eesh. Sounds like a messy situation. Your option to break off the three-way to form a monogamous romantic relationship was more or less nixed by the two of them wanting you to acknowledge that they had romantic feelings for you as well? And then the fellow wants to be able to put you aside for the convenience of his relationship with your mutual girlfriend? I’m sorry, but to me it really sounds like you’re getting the short end of the stick here, no matter how much you are just trying to respect that he is her primary relationship partner. Sometimes you have to step back and ask if you’re taking care of your interests, not just trying to take care of other people and make things work.

It sounds to me like you’re poly - and he isn’t. Good luck sorting all of that out.

She’s pretty much ok with anything that doesn’t involve the possibility of not being able to do anything with me when she’s around me while he gets to continue to when she’s not around, (anything that doesn’t result in them breaking up, of course, as well.)

Eh, I mean, I knew what I was getting into and that it would be about them first always, and that doesn’t really bother me in principle. And really, my feelings only matter as far as they determine whether I stay or go, as I have no claim on anyone and thus no right to demand or stipulate anything. He doesn’t have to adapt things to my feelings or even take them into account (though this is not to say that he wouldn’t)…all he has to do is tell me how he needs things to be for it to feel fair to him, and I can then feel whatever I feel and decide from there whether those feelings permit me to stay or go. I agreed to this position knowing its limitations, so I can’t really go around making demands.

Well, I guess my big question is:
If you did back out of the poly relationship, how will that affect the relationship between you and your roomate - lover- and friend-wise?

You mentioned that you were pursuing or had pursued a monogamous relationship outside of them. Maybe a way to sort-of “bow out” of the relationship - if all talking and reasoning fails - is to tell them you are pursuing someone else. It may or may not be the truth, but if you are concerned about tension in their relationship because they don’t want to hurt you it may be a way of making them feel they didn’t hurt you (however untrue that may be).
For the record, what I’m suggesting seems like something that would take a lot of guts, a lot of personal turmoil. Something I could never do. But I’m sure good at offering advice I don’t follow. :o

Bad idea, for two reasons. First of all, in a poly relationship, telling your partner(s) that you’re pursuing someone else is neither a reason nor an excuse to end the first relationship. After all, that’s a large part of what being poly is about. Second, poly relationships place a very high value on openness and trust between the partners (IMO, even more so than in most dedicated-monogamous relationships); this sort of deceptive ploy is a great way to create a really bad situation because it’s a betrayal of that fundamental trust.

Far better to just say “I think it’s time I moved on” and move on. Especially for someone whose role seems to be that of a secondary to both halves of a string primary dyad.

Lover-wise, the answer’s pretty simple; we wouldn’t be sleeping together or being physically affectionate (besides hugs & friendly stuff) anymore.
Friend-wise, I doubt it would be an issue… we relate as two people who respect and value each other deeply as individuals, not just as romantic partners. So it might be awkward at first not being able to be as affectionate as we’re used to, but we’d most certainly remain friends, and I wouldn’t have any problem still living with him (we have separate rooms and beds anyway).

mm… well, while I’ve suggested that I leave to make it easier on them, I haven’t really tried seriously to do it. I just don’t have the drive to… I’m in love with them, and I want it to go on as long as they do. I don’t think they want me to leave and are trying to spare me the pain; I’ve asked specifically if that’s the case and they’ve assured me it’s not. If I really wanted to leave, though, I wouldn’t need to be dishonest about it. Actually it’d probably be more hurtful if I was like “yo, I’m going to replace you now” (especially if I wasn’t) than just say I was done… I know if they said that to me, I’d be devastated.

In other words, essentially what KellyM said.
(btw, what did you mean by ‘string primary dyad’? I’m not familiar with the terminology.)

Sorry, I didn’t mean that you be dishonest, although I see now that is clearly how my post would be interpretted. I didn’t follow my thought well. I meant maybe it would be a good time to pursure someone else and that would also “help” you get out of the relationship. I don’t know if I’m making myself any clearer. I’m sorry. I’m just gonna stop now and let the clear-thinking people help you out. :o
I agree you or anyone for that matter should not be dishonest about anything.
I am sorry for the trouble your having. It sounds like it is, or at least was a beautiful relationship. I really hope you all work things out.

I don’t get this part. Saying that he’s her boyfriend means that you think you aren’t. So, what are you, exactly, in this trio, in relation to your two other partners? What is your “role”? Entertaining him when she’s away?

You know, I’m a big believer in doing whatever makes you happy - men, women, cucumbers, all three at once - as long as it isn’t hurting anyone or illegal. But the key is that it makes you happy And if you’re coming to us for advice you probably aren’t happy. You sound upset and stressed in your post and that’s not good. So, I’m echoing what seems to be the growing majority vote here and back out. Maybe go look for someone new, maybe not - it depends on if you’re ready or not. But definetly extricate yourself here. It seems like no matter how it’s arranged you end up with the short stick and you deserve better. Tell them to have fun by themselves, may they enjoy each other for years to come then get out. Hit the bars, the gym, read a book in a park, whatever makes you happier then this current situation is.

I hope it works out for you - whatever you decide.

Now to go mutter to myself about my inability to fine one lover. mutter mutter

I’ve read your posts a few times - here’s my take on the situation (bear in mind that I have exactly no experience in a polyamorous relationship):

This triad doesn’t seem to me to be a triad, per se, so much as a duo with a temporary third. As you say, the relationship amongst the three of you is going to “be about them first always”. They’re ‘together’ in the sense that they’ve made long-term romantic plans as a duo & those plans inform the current method of doing things.

I suspect that one can’t have it both ways; either one’s involved in an equal triad or one’s not - a triad with different rules for different partners at different times seems to me to be a recipe for unhappiness.

Good luck, whatever you decide!