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Ethical non monogamy

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by searchin, Jan 5, 2019.

  1. searchin

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    Anyone who is bisexual and married, that has explored non monogamy with their spouses support?
     
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  2. Nickw

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    I have. Sort of. I'm married to a woman who knows I'm bi and is OK with me having casual intimacy.

    The caveat is that my wife lost her sex drive with menopause. She is also happiest when I am happy.

    But, I don't believe we would have done this ten years ago. I wouldn't have wanted it and she wouldn't have been OK with it.
     
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  3. SoulSearch

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    I’m a married to a man lesbian with a girlfriend. My husband is sort of ok with it. My girlfriend is not. It seems like finding two people who are cool with non-monagamy is an even bigger challenge.
     
  4. Chip

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    The key to the ethics of this is that everyone is open and authentic about what's going on. And that's the tricky part. A spouse may agree because s/he figures it is the only way to preserve the relationship, but isn't really comfortable with it. So it takes time and real openness to have those conversations and get to an authentic answer. (It doesn't help that the spouse asking for this usually really wants it, so may be less inclined to probe whether it is an authentic answer.) And as the previous poster said, it is also really difficult for the same-sex partner to be comfortable; again, if s/he does this, it is more likely coming from a place of lack of worthiness (belief that s/he can't do better) than from a genuine place of being OK with it.

    What we're really talking about here (unless it is a temporary thing to get to the married couple separating) is polyamory. It is quite possible to have a healthy polyamorous relationship, but it isn't common, mostly because issues of worthiness, unclear communication, and difficulty asking for one's own needs or honestly stating one's feelings tend to get in the way.
     
  5. Nickw

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    I agree with Chip. I would like to also add that it is really important to set up rules and review them often. In my case, I was to only have limited intimacy with men, was not to become involved with married men who are not out to their wives, and to let her know when I am meeting someone. This changed over time but I never pushed her to change the rules. It just evolved.

    I was pretty low key in asking my wife for this because I didn't want her to feel like it was this or I would leave her. I wanted it to be a positive thing for both of us. She, actually, approached me with opening up my side of the marriage. She felt I needed to experience intimacy with men because I never had. She's met a couple of my intimate friends and we've gone out to dinner. We even picked up a guy in the backcountry with issues with his bike and he stayed in our guest house. My wife is convinced he's gay (her gaydar sucks though although I think she's right this time) and she has maintained a communication with him and keeps trying to get me to contact him and "go for a bike ride".

    I think my situation is extremely rare and I am very careful to only engage men where the relationship has defined boundaries or is unsustainable. This means my lovers are a LOT younger than me. The guys my age, that I have met, are into finding a life partner and I am afraid to mislead. I am also asked, often, to be a "third" for gay couples who cannot practice intimacy because of health issues (ED). But, I haven't done that.

    What would be really hard to do would be to have a full on relationship with a man and with my wife. I have no idea how people can do this. One relationship has to be the more important one and the other relationship will suffer.
     
  6. searchin

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    In my case my husband is encouraging me and not for him to be involved, but he wants me to be able to be intimate with women, something that I never explored. We are setting ground rules and this may take months as it is only in talking stages. One thing we ageed is our marriage is priority number one.
     
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  7. Nickw

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    It's great that your husband is so open and accepting.
     
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  8. looking for me

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    so, I'm in a Polyam relationship. my partner has another girlfriend and they are the primary, while I'm the satellite. we're all good with this. I'm learning about Polyam, as I go. I even go to a support group for Polyam, and we chat and talk to each other about things like time, jealousy, compursion, communication etc. the biggest there is communication. My thought is that communication, respect, and trust are the three main pillars of a Polyam relationship, I know that it's true for a mono relationship as well but it's even more so when you have 3 or more people in full blown committed relationships with each other to various degrees.
     
    #8 looking for me, Jan 7, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2019
  9. smurf

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    No bisexual, but been nonmonogamous for 6 years now and its been one of the most beautiful experiences for us. We have been together for 7 years, started being open after 1 year of being together and we are as happy as can be. Best thing that we have done for ourselves and we have met so many wonderful people.

    The main tool, and you will hear this a lot, is constant intentional communication. If you can do that with your partner then the lessons are easier to learn and easier to avoid hurting each other. A good couple therapist will also do wonders, but make sure you find a therapist that is experienced with nonmonogamy. A bad therapist that has internalized the shame of nonmonogamy will do horrors.

    Its really not that hard to do, but the hard part comes from being in a society that doesn't give us the tools to do nonmonogamy correctly. This means we rarely have mentors for guidance and advice, movies don't really exist showcasing healthy nonmonogamy, and there is a bit of hiding that one must do which kinda really sucks.

    But the actual relationship once you learn the right tool is completely doable and it becomes quite easy once you get into it like any other relationship.

    Books that I recommend: More than Two and The Ethical Slut.

    I'm hesitant to say connect with your local polyamory group since some of them are really a lot for some people. The interconnection of poly/ BDSM/ Kink/ geeky communities is STRONG. If you aren't in any of the other communities then it can be quiet a shock for people. But if you want to meet other people there are tons of groups out there. Meet up is super popular for poly people.

    If your partner has any of those toxic qualities listed above then you will have problems in any type of relationship that you have. So yeah, make sure your partner isn't toxic and has been able to learn how to communicate effectively. If they aren't toxic, then an open relationship isn't that much harder than a mono relationship.

    Its actually quiet easier than we imagine.

    If you live in a world that your spouse is more important than your friends and family then maybe, but if you have close friends who you cherish and family members who you respect then its quite similar balance that you do but with other romantic relationships.

    There are quite the ways to do this. The other thing that can be done is create a hierarchy or relationships where once is the "primary" and the other ones do come after. This is done with everyone's consent and understanding so people can create the right expectations in their heads for each relationship. Works for some and it can be horrible for others.
     
  10. smurf

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    Funny enough, this article just popped up in one of my poly groups. Great advice for couples that are seeking to open up their relationship for the first time.
     
  11. Nickw

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    This is an excellent summary. My wife and I are new at this and out arrangement is, mostly, for my benefit. I am a better man because of my relationships however.

    But, there is this element of lingering shame for me. The other night we were having dinner with some friends and the subject of a mutual friend marrying a woman twenty years younger came up.

    My wife and I glanced nervously at each other and I stared at the ground. I've only had two regular lovers and they were both thirty years or so younger.

    I so wanted to tell my friends how great this experience has been but I had to keep silent because I knew it would freak them out.

    My new friend and I haven't yet had "the talk" yet. We've only been together a couple of weekends. And, he hasn't met my wife yet. It's time to ask him how he feels about what we're doing and discuss expectations.

    Smurf, when it works it is a wonderful thing. The other guy i have a long term, casual, and intermittent love life with is a dear friend and enriches my life and I think I do his.

    I still wonder, though, how much my wife benefits having me a happier person these days. For so much of our marriage I was her support system, caretaker, and friend. But, she never had to do anything in return and I loved doing it. That relationship seemed so good but was toxic in its own way. We're re establishing our relationship and it is good but it takes work.
     
  12. smurf

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    Ask her!

    Have you ever heard of the word compersion? Its the most beautiful word. Its the opposite of jealousy and its widely used in poly circles to explain the happiness that one can feel simply because their partner is happy. For people that are not poly, its most easily seen when a parent is incredibly happy for their kids being happy.

    For me, when my husband comes back giddy as hell from a night with a great guy it makes me smile. I love seeing him be exciting about this new guy, love hearing where they went to eat and if they had chemistry. When sex gets involved, I love hearing it all too. I just love having a happy husband in the house. Brings me joy haha

    My husband experiences more jealousy than me so doesn't like as many details, but he enjoys meeting the other guys and seeing us interact.

    Yeah, this is part has been the hardest part of it all. Having to go back to lying or at least not telling my full truth has been beyond annoying.

    Luckily for us, my core group of friends know of our situation and we have even invited some of our guys to join us for game nights and such. Its been a wonderful thing for us.
     
    #12 smurf, Jan 7, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2019
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  13. OnTheHighway

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    Smurf, when I read this:

    And then you follow it up with this:

    Taken as a whole it reads as if your trying to justify your non monogamous experiences to manage the shame brought on by the mutual jealousy that exists between each of you. Now I am not a therapist by any means, so I might be totally off base. But I am curious if you are as comfortable with the open relationship as you are otherwise suggesting?

    By way of comparison, my last relationship was open. My current one is monogamous. I am much more content within my current monogamous relationship as compared to my last one which was open. And with experience and hindsight, I never could see myself in another open relationship, there was too much real underlying shame. Further, when I was in my prior open relationship I would have found similar ways as you to express how happy I thought I was with it. Only in retrospect am I now able to see the underlying issues that actually existed.

    This probably has no bearing on your relatiship, but I thought I would just put it out there.
     
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  14. Chip

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    So much "YES" from me in this post. The shame issue (and the related lack of vulnerability that comes with it) is the enormous gremlin that gets in the way of just about everything in so many relationships, and (at least based on everything I've seen) especially so in non-monogamous and polyamorous relationships.

    The problem is... most of the people experiencing the problem, exactly like OnTheHighway is describing, don't see it in the moment, because the shame is so far down there they've convinced themselves that it isn't an issue. That's part of why I addressed the point above about really spending time with a partner when asking to open up the relationship, because s/he may not even really know whether s/he is OK with the idea.

    So I fall back on my earlier comment that I suspect that much of the time, the people involved in poly or open relationships are dealing with difficulties with emotional intimacy, but it's so deeply down there that they may not even understand that the issue exists.
     
  15. Pret Allez

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    Nope, but I am in a relationship with someone who is poly, and things are open on both sides.

    Monogamy is kind of not suited to bisexuals imo.
     
  16. Lexa

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    Interesting topic. I have problems with emotional intimacy and I know it. But in my case it was my therapist who brought polyamory up. I had never thought about it up until then.
     
  17. Chip

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    For the record, an awful lot, if not most, people have some issues with emotional intimacy. It's only when they find themselves working on it that they really understand and "get it"... and at that point, the quality of their relationship (and their friendships) improves dramatically.
     
  18. smurf

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    Phew, okay this took me off guard hard. Its a cool mental exercise though. Really curious what made you make the mental jump to projecting shame onto my relationship.

    Is it the fact that I don't experience jealousy or the fact that he does but I don't? Like, does it sound like I'm faking how happy I am to conceal the jealousy? Or what was it that screamed "hidden shame" to you?

    Yeah, I have tried monogamy. Like you, I finally discovered what relationship dynamic works for me. I'm super glad that you found what works best for you and your partner. I do remember reading some of your posts and I'm glad that you are in a far better place now.

    For me, this is the part that is hard about being openly poly and why only my closest friends know. People are understandably concern about us as a couple. Like there is something broken and that is the reason that we became poly. And I get it, its such an odd thing to be. It breaks every single one of our rules that we have been taught about couples in the western world, but for me it works so well.

    It honestly feels like telling straight people "Hey, being gay and out makes me happy!" and straight people just mind-blown that I can be gay and happy. Its hard to explain to monogamous people the concept. Harder to convince them through an online forum, but we are out here man haha I know so many couples that are doing poly happily for years now. Its fantastic.
     
    #18 smurf, Jan 8, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  19. Elle993

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    @searchin - question for you - has your relationship with your husband changed? Specifically do you continue to be physical with him while exploring intimacy/relationships with women? I ask because I have not come out to my husband yet and while I would like to remain married while I explore and figure all this out I do not have a desire to connect with my husband physically...
     
  20. OnTheHighway

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    I don’t think what you articulated screams “hidden shame”. However I do see parallels based on my own experience, which triggered my response.

    From my perspective, the perception of jealousy being brought on by my own actions between my former partner and I in of itself created shame, even if my partner had agreed to such actions that were being taken and he participated just the same. And my desire to bury my own jealously by expressing to others that everything was ok with how my prior relationship was structured created for me a diminished sense of self esteem - and more shame.

    I am acutely aware of how I presented my relationship to others; and I was not only being dishonest to them, but I was being dishonest to myself.

    The time did come when my own need for self respect lead me to unsuccessfully try to close up the relationship and shift back to a monogamous structure, but by then the damage was done. We had lost the vulnerable we once shared and the jealously was too overpowering to rebuild. Neither of us intended nor wanted our relationship to end the way it did. But nonetheless we both mutually agreed our relationship had taken its proper course and we both needed to move on. Even now, where I previously argued my prior relationship dissolved because of other things besides our relationship structure, at the core, I now see how the jealously that developed as a result of such structure was fundamental to the breakup.

    My experiences are obviously specific to my own situation, but some of the themes would seem to apply to any relationship that were open.