- November 26, 2016 at 17:42 #5813
Spoiler alert: This post was written in an emotional state of hurt and vulnerability. My foray into poly was less than ideal and I continue to work through it. This post will piss some of you off and I am okay with that.
Compersion. NRE. Two of the most popular terms thrown around in poly circles.
Compersion is defined as “the positive feelings one gets when a lover is enjoying another relationship”. Jealousy be damned, if you are polyamorous, compersion is the mecca of feelings. If you are successful in feeling compersion, then Welcome, Friends! You are officially amazing at being polyamorous; you are in the poly ‘cool club’. A club I tried so desperately to be a part of but did not have the emotional tool box to manage. Which always brings me back to this: poly is intellectually pretty simple to grasp, but emotionally, a much more difficult feat to manage.
Jealously is a totally normal feeling and should not be ignored – it often signals that something deeper is going on and needs to be examined and hopefully worked through. And in no way am I saying that jealousy should be equated with love. It isn’t. It is insecurity within one’s self and usually the existing relationship.
Compersion can seem, to many, a lofty and unattainable goal. And, to be honest, it seemed that way to me during my failed attempt at polyamory with my husband. I felt brief glimpses of it – moments where I could think of his relationship with his metamour (your partner’s partner) as something amazing and fulfilling for him. I mean, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to fall in love all over again with someone after 16 years of marriage and monogamy? However, those fleeting moments of compersion were filtered through the eyes of someone who was in no way getting her needs met. And worse, that relationship became the vehicle through which my husband hurt me more deeply than anyone ever has in my entire life. A post for another time…
Enter in another catch phrase of polyamory, NRE (new relationship energy). NRE is that heady, happy, lofty feeling of, you guessed it, being smitten with someone in a new relationship. NRE and compersion should, ideally, go hand in hand. Your partner comes home glowing with NRE and bam! you feel compersion for them. Maybe these two things can compliment each other, but certainly not when the primary relationship is already struggling and deeply flawed.
My needs within my marriage were in no way being met (for a number of reasons) and hadn’t been for years. So, when my husband came home from being out with his metamour, I was left in this confused state of feeling ‘less than’, ‘not good enough’, and certainly not ‘special’. I totally own that this was, in part, my lack of self-esteem, but it was also the fact that as my husband dated this other woman, he did not ‘date’ me. The two of us rarely went out together and yet I was expected to watch him leave, two to three nights a week, to go have adventures with someone else, while I baby-sat our children.
Yes, I was, and still am, bitter, hurt, and resentful. Like I have said before, this is my journey and I have a lot to sort through. My relationship with my husband came with baggage; children, a mortgage, responsibilities. And I have to be honest, I am not sure how any long-term relationship can compete with a brand new one with a woman 12 years younger who lives in a van.
I think that NRE can become a toxic space for the primary partner that many people in the poly community celebrate and simultaneously use as an excuse for their partner’s behavior. NRE should not be something we need to ‘deal with’ or ‘get through’. NRE should not be the existing partner’s nightmare (as was the case for me). I challenge you to think of it instead as something the person in the extraneous relationship needs to own and help the primary partner through. Be it with extra support, extra love, and extra attention, whatever, but in no way should NRE be seen as something that the existing partner should suffer through.
It is difficult enough when opening up your marriage after 16 years of monogamy to unwind all of the cultural lies and confusion regarding monogamy. Soul mates? Bullshit. One person for the rest of your life? Bullshit. Someone to complete you? Also, bullshit. Add to this total-upending and reevaluation of fidelity, the heady mix of NRE and the pressure that you ‘should’ or are ‘supposed to’ feel compersion for the person walking out the door, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. This is especially true if you are emotionally unprepared for the hurt and the jealously that are TOTALLY NORMAL. I think in our situation, there was a severe imbalance – my husband kept up walls around me due to my codependency and trauma. I could be explosive at times, and he began to dread and fear accidentally triggering me. Things got so bad that he began to purposefully damage and hurt our relationship. And the more he distanced himself, the harder I fought back.
Until I stopped fighting and began to live a lie just to keep my family intact. It was a slippery slope of emotional confusion and exhaustion.
A lie, a dance, a nightmare that I woke up from one day and said, “I AM DONE”.
- November 30, 2016 at 16:55 #5862
I agree with you, it’s all bullshit. The fact that your husband can go off and date some other woman while you’re expected to sit home waiting for him is complete and utter bullshit. What about you? The nights when he has to babysit and wait for you? Withuot that you’re just feeling like a sucker. He’s a dick to make you feel that way. If I were you I’d put some serious effort into finding my own younger man. Hell, find two! The feelings you’re having are completely normal and no one should tell you to dismiss them. Who gives a shit what you’re “Supposed to” feel. THat’s all bullshit. You are a brave woman and I salute your efforts to keep your marriage together in spite of your husband’s selfishness. Now it’s time foor you to be selfish. Don’t feel guilty about it. Go be someone’s MILF and to hell with what hubby might say about it. Sometimes it’s better for your soul to let go. Don’t hold on so hard to something so toxic to your soul. Just my humble opinion. My marriage ended 5 years ago, and now I’m just dating, so I’m not in the same place you are, but I have watched my favorite lover fuck someone else (literally) and it takes some time to come to terms with it and be okay with it. I went from being 100% manogamous in my marriage and LTR to a year of realizing maybe I wanted to explore this polyamourous deal. But it has to be something you WANT. You can’t force it. Peace to you sister. I hope you find some.
- January 19, 2017 at 20:30 #6282
Like most things, (kids, quitting your job, travel) if there is a problem with the relationship already these won’t fix them. Polyamory doesn’t work if the people aren’t poly. Or if the relationship is not fully communicative already. Personally I prefer not to deal with “married” people.
It sounds as if certain things weren’t discussed BEFORE your husband found his new infatuation. You might talk to polyfriendly therapists but frankly I would sue his ass and leave. He has been selfish and not very poly at all.
- February 5, 2017 at 16:51 #6432
AGREED. With everything you said. He still doesn’t think he did anything wrong which is very disturbing.
- February 3, 2017 at 16:42 #6385
I completely agree with all that has been said here.
That IS a recipe for disaster, being neglected like that! Ugh! I am so sorry that that has happened to you!
This particular line spoke to me on so many levels: poly is intellectually pretty simple to grasp, but emotionally, a much more difficult feat to manage.
I think there’s a false rumor spreading around other circles that there’s no such thing as cheating in the poly world. That is utter bullshit! Cheating is ANY TIME a partner’s feelings have been betrayed or a partner has broken their word!
I hope things have improved for you since this post. Could you give us an update? I hope you’re ok!
- February 5, 2017 at 16:49 #6431
I am doing better all of the time – I blog about it weekly. Up and down and all around. Life is hard but I am picking up the pieces. And as to the poly doesn’t work if a relationship is broken? I agree. But we didn’t know that we were.
Follow along if you’d like.
- February 4, 2017 at 08:35 #6398
Going into a poly relationship when a relationship is already broken can only create more problems. If there is a problem adding more variables, can only make the problem worse. Fix what is wrong first, then explore other relationships. Anything else just doesn’t make any sense.
- February 5, 2017 at 17:10 #6436
A really interesting post – I agree with other comments; there has to be an equality in relationships that meets people’s emotional needs as far as is practical. Not easy but possible. I recommend your blog, Amy, to other readers here – poetic and heartfelt.
- February 6, 2017 at 00:50 #6449
Thank you. Means a lot
- February 5, 2017 at 21:44 #6445
Thank you, Amy. I will be reading
- February 6, 2017 at 07:40 #6456
I’m taking a little different approach. The jealousy SHOULD BE the aphrodisiac, not the thing you fight on a daily basis, and I’m not saying that as in “you’re a bad person if you do not enjoy feeling jealous” but that if you enjoy feeling jealous and competing for your partner(s), you should probably be a polyamorist. It brings the spice back into it, the challenge of multiple partners… Not that “OK so I’m not that attached to you that I would feel jealousy or anything else for you… you go do whatever you like…”
I do understand the enjoyment of having your boyfriend have a sexual relationship with another one of your boyfriends, but I am not at all interested in sharing my guys with another (equal) woman (of whom I cannot hate). As such, I thought, originally, in my 20’s that polyamory wouldn’t be for me, because I wanted to LOVE several men, but would not share them with another woman who I would have to pretend to be OK with to call my equal. No way, Jose! If my guys have another woman, she’s a god damned enemy, and my guys can have a good laugh about that, too. And yes, I enjoy hating on another woman, and the hate is actually quite genuine, and I want my guys join in that hate. “Our love – those sluts”, you know? :p
- February 6, 2017 at 13:26 #6462
Now that’s a first for me, Alpha Rinkineva. I think that’s really intriguing I hope it works out well for you and your loves
- May 1, 2017 at 01:28 #7472
I’m sorry you went through that, it was highly insensitive of your husband to go out on dates like that and not take you out on dates. (As in you and him date not all three of you, unless that was the hope of course.)
Do you feel some people use poly as an excuse for getting their kicks? I think they do sometimes.
My NRE at the moment is ridiculously high, we can’t get enough of talking to each other and everything is so energised and buzzing… maybe nit surprising seeing as it has only been 3 months! I’ve never felt this much “charge” / emotions like this before. The connection is so strong and deep, I fell for him almost from the momebt we met and that is not something I have ever experienced before. It has made me realise how much more effective a relationship is when you are so open and honest about everything, and communication is key. It has also given me a LOT to think about, I’ve learnt more about myself than ever.
As for compersion…that is another hurdle I am yet to be faced with
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