Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My Metamour Doesn't Know What's Good for Her (And That's Bad for Me)

Dear Viny,

About eight months ago, my husband started dating a friend of ours. (We've been poly for a long time and I also have a long-term partner.) She is not poly nor really poly oriented but had such strong feelings for my husband that she wanted to give it a shot. (I get it. He's a pretty awesome guy.)

She is struggling with reconciling what she wants out of a relationship (and similarly, what she can expect) and what is possible. Unfortunately, her big picture wish list includes a husband and a monogamous relationship. I know this and I can't not know it... especially when she asks for things. I can't help but wonder if she's subconsciously trying to make this fit her needs even if it's fruitless. (And to answer the looming question, I am not concerned she is going to "cowgirl" away my spouse.)

Her getting more pretty much equals me accepting less, and because I can't see this as a "forever" situation, it's difficult to agree. I'll take this moment to say that I already have trouble understanding why anyone would engage in a relationship that ticks a number of the emotional buttons but leaves fundamental things unfulfilled – to each his or her own I suppose, but my brain always comes back to this.


Feeling Uncomfortable, Concerned and Kicky-Screamy


Dear F.U.C.K.S.,

That's one hell of a sign-off. I may need to establish an award for acronymic awesomeness. (So many of life's difficulties can be made just a little less onerous by getting some small token of recognition, don't you think?)

It seems that this question is a follow-up to a question I received several months ago. What I said then, about letting other people make their own mistakes, is still true. You may be entirely correct in your estimation that your metamour's needs would be better met in a relationship with someone other than your husband. However, monitoring her relationships is her responsibility, not yours. Yes, it is a royal pain when someone else seems to be floundering around, making less-than-enlightened life choices, especially when you are close enough to the flounderer to start worrying for your own emotional safety. But taking on someone else's personal issues is a quick ticket to Crazytown, because ultimately, you have very little control over anyone other than yourself. Influence, yes. Control, no.

The best way to approach this situation, in my opinion, is to operate from the assumption that your friend knows what's best for her, and your husband knows what's best for him – and to make peace with the possibility that what's best for them may include making messes you wish you didn't have to watch them clean up.

Your job is simply to do what's best for you. Obviously, what's best for you will include some consideration of what's best for other people, but stay focused on your relationships with them, rather than worrying about their relationships with each other. And avoid the temptation to wander off into “wonder” land. When you are asked to give, don't waste your precious emotional resources trying to figure out whether your sacrifice will end up being worth what someone else gets out of it. Instead, stick to questions you can actually answer, questions that will help guide you in your own relationships – such as, "How can I support my husband in his other relationship in a way that feels sustainable to me, regardless of what I see as the likely long-term outcome of that other relationship?" And, “How can I engage with my metamour in ways that feel good to me?”

In other words, keep your eyes on your own paper, pumpkin. Easier said than done, I know – especially for those of us who pride ourselves on how well we “read” other people.

Finally, may I suggest spending some one-on-one time with your metamour, sometime soon? Swear off conversing about the heavy relationship stuff, and just have a fun girls' night out. She's your friend, too, and reconnecting with her on that level might help you dial back the judgement and jack up the compassion – which would be good for everyone involved. Perhaps, if your friend feels more globally supported, she will be able to ask less and give more, too.

Peachy schnapps and lemondrops,

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