/u/Channy_Bananny on /r/polyamory writes…
“I’ve been with my partner for 10 years. We have recently entered into a polyamorous relationship that consists of myself, my partner and my new boyfriend. My partner has permission to have hook-ups when he feels the need to (with permission) but I am exclusive to my partner and boyfriend only.
One thing I am having trouble with is explaining the whole self expression of loving two people being possible to my partner. He does not understand how that is possible. We have talked about this poly relationship and he is okay with it but he is not understanding the “WHY” and the “HOW” about it all. I am finding it very difficult to explain it to him in a way he can understand.
When I am spending time with my boyfriend, away from my partner, my partner has a hard time with it. He will message me, tell me he’s not okay with it, tell me we should break up, etc. But once I am with my partner, he says “I overreacted” and everything is all better. He will even tell me to go back. Or he will tell me to get handled by my boyfriend and he wants me to tell him everything about it when I’m home.
Partner has separation anxiety and I feel that when I am not within the same vicinity of him, he starts to get panicked and overwhelmed with feeling alone. This is also why I am okay with him having hook-ups because he says that having another person present (physically) helps ease this feeling.
Some help from anyone would be nice. Thank you.”
Dear Channy Bananny,
Quick sidenote: I fucking love your name. I am a sucker for rhymes and your username deserves all the recognition for how lyrical and musical it sounds. Thank you for bringing me this brief joy on this dreary Wednesday morning.
Okay. I know this comes from a place of compassion for your partner of ten years. But why is this your responsibility to justify your own relationship orientation to your partner? Should that not be his own emotional labor to undertake in learning to accept your new relationship orientation/identity?
The kind of push-and-pull tactics he is using when you are with your boyfriend and when you are with your partner closely resembles a very scary underlying issue that he does not accept you, but is merely consenting to your other relationship to merely appease you.
I sometimes ask myself if I would choose to be in the same relationship configuration with each of my partners if I met them fresh again tomorrow. I don’t think about the progress we’ve made, the history we’ve written, and the places we plan to go in the future. Instead, I take them for who they are today. And if my answer to the question “Would I still date my partner if we started over tomorrow” is a no, then I dive deeper into why I felt that way. Once I recognize the source of my discomfort, I engage with my feelings and work towards appreciating my partner for not just who they are today, but for all the steps they’ve taken in the history of us. Consider whether you would be in a relationship with your long-term partner had you met him afresh and anew tomorrow. Would you still want to pursue a relationship with this very monogamous man? What kind of progress would you need to see before you felt more comfortable in your relationship? What does that reconnect process look like for you?
You have taken a lot of steps together in the ten years that you have shared together. I hear you when you say that he has separation anxiety. But it is not really your responsibility to help him deal with his insecurity. You can be there to support him on this journey, but you cannot take those steps for him. Doing so will only be detrimental to his own self-discovery. As scary as it sounds these are muscles and calluses that he will have to build and establish on his own.
Give your partner an opportunity to prove himself to you by taking responsibility and working on his own insecurity on his own accord. He at least deserves that much .Success will beget success. Over time, he will recognize that you keep coming home to him. And through those reassurances, he will develop his own habit and pattern through this sketchy exposure therapy that you will keep coming back. And just like he’ll get more comfortable with you finding your ways to come back, you’ll also get more comfortable with him doing his own emotional labor.
So, Channy Bananny, choose to give him an opportunity for success!
Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.
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