/u/SynicalSyren on /r/polyamory writes…
“My husband and I just started seeing a woman together for the first time. We just had our first sexual encounter all together as well. I found that I didn’t mind the sex, that it was great but my husband is developing this strong emotional connection to our new lover a lot faster than I am. I get that it’s normal for that to happen, but sometimes I feel like I just dived head first off of a cliff and like I can’t break the surface of the water. Like I’m drowning in a sense.
My husband and I are very open with each other and honest, but I find myself not wanting to hurt his feelings because he’s forming these emotional bonds to this woman and I haven’t yet. Is this normal? Does it get better with time as long as I’m open about how I feel? How do I manage my own feelings better without pushing either of them away?
I really do like our girlfriend. She’s sweet and kind and caring. We get along great and are becoming good friends. There is some sexual attraction as well, but no emotional connection. At least as of yet. With my husband on the other hand, lately she’s all he talks about. Constantly. He can’t put his finger on what it is exactly, just that he says she “fits” in a way he’s never felt before. This experience is fun and exciting but extremely confusing and I’m just trying to not mess it all up by being too wrapped up in my own feelings.
Any advice would highly appreciated.”
Dear Synical Syren,
Let’s have an exercise. I want you to take a pen and a piece of paper nearby then draw a triangle with your eyes closed. Great. Done?
Then take a look at your triangle.
Chances are, your triangle was not all even at every length. It might also be disconnected, like mine. One of the legs might be thicker than the other two. Whatever the case was, it was probably an imperfect attempt at an equilateral triangle.
This is a very common issue.
Forming a relationship with three people (triad, throuple) is a lot like drawing a triangle with three unequal sides, except that each of the three points of a triangle have already been determined. In some situations (like yours here), one of the legs have already formed and then it becomes a balancing act to keep all three legs fair and even. It sounds like your husband quickly developed a strong emotional connection with the new partner and is wading in New Relationship Energy (NRE for short). And you are feeling disconnected with your husband seeing how quickly he is developing his feelings for your shared partner. There’s a bit to unpack here. So let’s do a deeper dive in each of these four relationships.
You & Girlfriend
Sometimes, feelings take a lot of time to develop. It is not a competition to see who falls in love with whom first. Your relationship with your girlfriend might take some time to settle. So continue to date, and be patient to let your feelings develop more organically as you see fit. My suggestion here would be to see if you can organize more one-on-one dates with your girlfriend to see what kind of rapport you have, without your husband present. And talk about things other than your or your girlfriend’s relationship with your husband. Flesh out and develop chemistry and rapport with your partner in your own way. If that takes a month, be patient while this new bridge between you and your girlfriend forms and strengthens over time.
You & Husband
You and your husband are coming into this three-person relationship with already an established relationship with a lot of existing couple’s privilege. Part of what makes three-person relationships so difficult is because there are so many work to put in before that couple’s privilege can be deconstructed. In specific, your girlfriend is coming into an established marriage where (I assume) you and your husband are nesting together. Learning to create individual spaces for each of your relationships to thrive in an established shared space will be tricky to navigate. Like I suggested for your relationship with your girlfriend, remember to continue to date just each other as well.
Husband & Girlfriend
It sounds like your husband really hit it off with your girlfriend. That was probably a bit of a surprise for you. From what you shared about your husband’s point of view, it really sounds like both he and your girlfriend are swimming in NRE and letting it engulf the other three relationships. It might be meaningful for them to discuss what kind of boundaries they can establish to keep that NRE in check while you continue to develop your relationship with your girlfriend and you to stay connected in your relationship with your husband. That agreement could look something like numbering the days you have for each relationships (one day each for each of the individual relationships and one day for hinge where everyone gets together).
From your perspective, the best thing you can do is to give them space to figure their own relationship out in those structured quality times while your husband and your girlfriend flesh out and discover what kind of relationship they want to have.
You & Girlfriend & Husband
As outlined above, I think it’ll be important for everyone to distinguish what qualifies as “Everyone” time. Your relationships might have started out at first as a sexual connection, and developing an emotional connection with everyone at the same time will be a major challenge. One of the best ways everyone can help manage where this three-person relationship stands is by having a monthly session where you three all sit down and frankly talk about how each of your relationships have been progressing. That way, each of you three can hold everyone accountable for action plans you might develop as part of your monthly check-ins.
I would like to discuss here your question “How can I manage my feelings better so that I don’t push either of them away?”
There really isn’t a clear answer here. The best you can do here is to dig deeper when you feel insecure and jealous about your relationships. And dissect where that originates from. Recognize that they are just your feelings, and while feelings are fair, they are often rooted in something more innate about us. If your emotional labor load gets too much for you to handle, feel free to discuss them out loud in your respective relationships to see if they can provide support or reassurances to help maintain your sanity. There is nothing wrong with reach out for help when you need it.
This is all really exciting times for you. But please do keep in mind that different people love differently. The way your husband develops a relationship with your girlfriend might look very, very different from the way you develop a relationship with your girlfriend.
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