Disclaimer: I realize that I look like an insecure, immature, irrational person who is not cut out for ethical non-monogamy (all of which might be true). In my defense, I’m a work in progress and I truly want to grow. Writing this in a self-deprecating humorous tone helps me get prospective on the areas I need to work on and also helps me not to be so hard on myself for not being a pro at this.
Okay, enough of that, bear with me as I provide way too many details to explain my recent distress. Here’s the latest situation that flipped my world and highlighted my flaws:
  • My partner and I have had yet another great week filled with fun times, doing nice things for each other, talking about life, cuddling, great sex, and tons of silly laughing and jokes. We continue to build a strong foundation and I notice that I feel totally at peace. Early in the week, my partner tells me that he plans to go Utah for a couple weeks to do a week long wilderness survival skill class to prepare for his new business adventure (which is starting his own primitive skill/survival school- I know, it’s pretty rad right?). He shows me the class online and the instructors and drops a casual comment that he had a major crush on the beautiful female instructor, we will call her K. He tells me he was interested in her but she was dating the other male instructor and nothing really ever came of it. When he told me I thought of it as just a piece of historical information and I filed it away in my mind without much thought.
  • Fast forward to the weekend, I made a commitment to be an old friend’s date to a wedding in the city I used to live in which is about an hour and a half away from the city that my partner and I live in. He was not going to go to the wedding but he offered to drive up with me and drive me home afterwards since we planned on getting up early to go hiking with some friends who are a part of the poly community we have been creating (more on that in another post). I tell him that I’d love it if he came up and told him that I might need help with the yard at a rental property I own too. Because he is a a great self-less partner he agrees to help me without griping and even adds that he is most excited about being in the car for 3 hours with his “babe” (aka me- I know he’s so cheesy and cute).
  • So now we are at the rental property just working away and I realize how grateful I am that he never seems to be irritated or flustered and just does everything with such a light and positive attitude. I tell him that I appreciate him as I’m all hot and sweaty and annoyed by doing yard work. Then my partner gets a voice message and then tells me, “my friend K got kicked out of her campsite and needs a place to crash for the night and is headed into town. I’m going to call her real quick”. He offers his place in the town we live in or the empty guest house at the property I own as both are on her way back to where she is going. For some reason I think he’s talking about his friend C so I’m like “cool” and don’t think any more about it. K and C’s names are very similar and C is another previous love interest but I know he has no current romantic desires for her. My partner and C have hung out  since we’ve been together and he’s told me quite a bit about her. Now we have a couple hours to kill before the wedding and we are just relaxing, I want to play my annoying game of “what if” questions and he lets me know that he is tired and “can’t really think right now”. I still don’t think anything of it as this is a natural state of mind for me sometimes too.
  • I go to the wedding, he picks me up and we start the hour and a half drive back to hour town. We are having a grand old time talking about love, life and our relationship. We talk about what we appreciate about each other, we affirm that we are on the same page about open relationships, we even talk about what annoys us about each other (which isn’t much) and what some of our differences are. Somehow the topic of K comes up and he gives me a little more information about his feelings towards her because whether or not she crashes at one of our places tonight she will be coming back to visit him in a week. Thinking he’s talking about C but a little confused because it seems inconsistent, I say, “yeah you’ve told me a little about it her but I guess I didn’t think there were any romantic feelings there”. He goes on to tell me he thought she was “out of his league” and she was with this other amazing guy and they had this one epic conversation last summer and they have a lot in common. I say “she’s the one you went hiking with a few weeks ago right? Why didn’t you tell me all this earlier?” He says, no that was C and now he’s talking about K, the same K that he showed me who is instructing the class that he has a “major crush” on. He says that she’s no longer with her boyfriend and seems to be making an effort to spend time with my partner which has ignited his old feelings and fantasies of her. Ohhhhhh….. I see……….(gag)
  • He says, “how do you feel about all that?” I go right for the jugular and say that I feel he was keeping something from me, that now he’s been stewing about this girl for a week and while he wasn’t necessarily dishonest, I felt he was omitting this information. He says he didn’t really start seriously considering it until tonight when he realized she was making an effort to see him. He said he wanted to sort his thoughts out before he told me in case it turned out to be nothing and then he would might cause me to feel worried for no reason. He also says he didn’t want to tell me before the wedding for fear of me being upset and not enjoying myself at the wedding. I say, “so you don’t trust me to handle my emotions?” I tell him he’s projecting because he’s not handling his emotions and he realizes this girl is a threat to our relationship so he assumes I’m going to feel the same way, which now I do. He backs down, acknowledges that I have a good point, apologizes for not really knowing how to deal with emotions or what thoughts of his he should share with me and when etc etc. I tell him I feel triggered by my old wounds of betrayal and I’ve lost some trust in him. We get home and neither of us can get to sleep and I feel sick. As I write this, it’s the morning after this discussion.
  • So I’m freaking out I’m amazed at how fast I can vascillate between thinking our relationship is so strong and well suited for me to convincing myself that it has to end. How can it be perfect one minute and literally just hours later I’m certian it’s doomed to fail. It doesn’t make sense except to point how insecure I actually feel about myself and the relationship even though it has so many things that I love and appreciate.
  • Like a good sabateur, I’m pulling out all the classic techniques of sabotage and poor communication skills- blaming, projecting, shutting down, internalizing, personalizing, worst-case scenario irrational thinking etc. The fact that I’m witnessing myself do that makes me feel even lower which makes me want to regress back even more to those egoic defenses.
  • Don’t get me wrong, I feel that I have a decent point about not keeping things from me but I also think I let my old wounds influence me and affect my emotions which made me believe what has happened to me in the past was indeed happening right now with my partner. My fear of being betrayed and not having full disclosure got in the way of me listening to his points and seeing that he did what he thought was best for our relationship. I totally trust his intentions but I let my fear and old pattern of thinking convince me he was being elusive and then of course, I looked for evidence to back up my theory. It’s funny because we were just talking about how the same event can be interpreted in different ways and it’s all your choice of how you interpret it. I could have looked at this recent situation in two ways:
From an insecure, irrational, accusatory standpoint (the one I took in this case)
  • I would be upset that he “kept” it from me for a few hours
  • He knew it was a big deal and he didn’t think I could handle it
  • He doesn’t trust me as a partner
  • I assumed he has been thinking about her this last week even while we were hanging out and he didn’t share what was on his mind
  • He thinks about her all the time, sees her as the one that got away and would rather be with her which was never an option until now
  • I can’t trust him to have full disclosure with me
  • He’s probably going to leave and I have reason to be concerned
  • I should be defensive and protect myself, strike first and then run
From a healthy, rational positive standpoint
  • He told me about this girl only hours after he had been stewing about it
  • He tried to be considerate and not dump a potentially upsetting situation on me before I go hang out with some friends at a fun wedding
  • He was trying to do full disclosure when he felt ready
  • He was concerned about my feelings and what’s on my mind
  • He listened to my concerns without being defensive or trying to flip the script
  • He isn’t doing anything wrong by wanting to connect with someone he is excited about and it’s not an attack on our relationship because that is something we have defined is okay
  • He trusts me and our relationship enough to tell me these things
  • I would be secure and I would be excited for him that this experience has come into his/and by proxy my life
  • I would look at it as another opportunity to grow and appreciate it for it’s role as a mirror with which I see all of the work that still needs to be done on my self-worth and relationship capabilities

So where do I go with all that? Writing helps, I plan to talk with my partner more, and I also plan to keep it about me. Focus on what’s arising internally and why. While it’s very uncomfortable, I’m grateful for the experience to overcome my insecurities and old patterns regardless of the outcome.