I am in a relationship and in love with someone who is poly-curious, but I also currently don’t trust him. I met him several years ago and we had a strong connection that left me broken-hearted when he (very sheepishly) admitted that he had a long-distance girlfriend. He then left overseas for a winter, during which time, I was catapulted to a whirlpool of self-abuse. I am currently realizing and coming to terms with low self worth issues and am making great strides!
After the winter, he contacted me and wanted to patch things up. He had broken up with his girlfriend and had felt guilt over what happened. I forgave him and we eventually became a couple. But I soon realize that our perception of our relationship were not aligned. Last November, he revealed to me that he met another women that he felt a strong connection to and have similarly led her on, betraying both of us. I cannot tell you how bizarre it was to be on the other side of this and how stupid I felt to be deceived twice. He is also on his own journey of self-discovery and has made indications that he might be polyamorous or at least poly-leaning. I am trying to figure out if I am okay with being in a poly relationship, but it has been a big struggle. He is genuinely sorry and promises to be honest from now on.
In a way, polyamory seems like a utopia where all of my worst flaws – insecurity, jealousy, obsessive behavior – have to be dealt with and resolved in order to work. I wondered if I could be poly if only I didn’t have this past or maybe in other relationship. However, we both know that our past cannot be separated from us and I am currently in this relationship.
He is clear that he wants me to be his partner but in order for him to be happy, he has to not feel constraint to explore the connections he feels with other women. He said that he would not pursue a physical relationship, but does not want to and will not stop an emotional one. I press him to define if he means polyamory, but he refuses to label it. Would it be fair to ask him to use labels? I feel like I am being accused of being restrictive and closed minded if I do, but using strict vocabulary would be so helpful!
I am working on myself every day and he has been supportive and a big part of my self-discovery in this and other areas. I know that love clouds judgement and would appreciate some observations on this situation. I am trying to trust him, but I am always thinking in the back of my mind – if i am betrayed again, i will be the biggest fool of them all for not ending it sooner.
Thanks again for your time and thoughts.
You are right that working on jealousy, insecurity and obsessive behavior are great things to do. No matter what path your life takes you down, this would be a good thing.
The thing is, when we work on trust issues, this isn’t to tie ourselves into knots to trust people who don’t deserve to be trusted. He has to earn your trust, cupcake. You’re not being closed-minded. You’re being told you’re not The Cool Chick because you expect some damn honesty, and want some expectations set. This isn’t about his needs or any confounded journey of self-discovery. It’s about you being told you’re more developed if you’re convenient.
If he really, honestly, wants a relationship with you, he is going to have to re-earn your trust. Thing is, earning trust is not necessarily about him always telling you what you want to hear. It’s about telling you the truth, even when it’s hard and he’s worried that the truth is going to be a deal-breaker. We do not want relationships under false premises, right?
I would encourage you both to read the article I wrote sometime back on How to Rebuild Trust. The tl;dr version is basically that the person who has broken trust has to commit to being fully truthful and forthcoming – no rules-lawyering, and volunteering info they know the partner would want to have, even if it’s uncomfortable. The person whose trust has been broken will need to presume benevolence and not put the person’s behavior under a microscope.
As I think about your situation, though, it’s not as if he screwed up, is very sorry, and is committed to repairing it. He’s developed a pattern of dishonesty. He still refuses to commit to saying specifically what it is he wants to do. By not nailing it down, he denies you an opportunity to make an informed decision about whether or not this is really what you want. From your letter, he does not exhibit behavior that looks in any way to me like someone who wants to repair a relationship. It seems to me he just wants to get the demanding bitch off his back. Sorry for putting that in such a harsh way. I don’t think insisting on honesty as a condition for a relationship is particularly demanding. However, people who are into emotional manipulation are past masters at using any compassionate feelings you have combined with insecurities as a choke chain strong enough to hold Fenrir.
While a healthy polyamorous relationship is not supposed to be some sort of “get out of jail free” card for the commitment-averse, I’d be a diamond-studded liar if I said that the label was never used that way.
I know there’s a lot of pressure to be the Cool Chick—the tolerant one who’s just so damn easy to be with. I’ve given in to that nonsense myself. While I think kindness, forbearance, and being forgiving are all excellent traits, and even necessary in a relationship, being the Cool Chick means giving up your own needs and identity to keep a relationship.
I don’t think that’s really a great way to live.