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Not sure how to handle a casual relationship getting deeper...


Cynder
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Some people here might already know this story, but some background...  The guy I'm dating, (I will call him D) and I started seeing each other in August.  But we met and became friends all the way back in 2017.  Ironically I met him on the day my ex husband died. 

He is in a polyamorous marriage with another man.  His husband knows about me.  His husband and I are friends on social media and we talk now and then.  There is no deception here.  Him being poly doesn't have much to do with our situation but I feel like I need to mention it just for the sake of keeping the facts straight.  But, I don't want this thread to devolve into a debate about the ehtics of open relationships, etc.  Monogamy is awesome for those who choose it.  But it isn't the only way to live. 

D first asked me out back in March and I politely told him no because I was still in love with my ex.  But then over time I started thinking about what a great person he is, etc.  And in August I basically asked him out.  And in the beginning we decided this is not going to get serious.  This is just fun.  And by fun I don't mean sexual.  We actually have never had sex.  We have held hands, cuddled and kissed a few times.  That's all.  We have our reasons for this, but I don't want to make this too confusing, so I am just leaving them out for now. 

But, relationships change over time.  How many times have we all heard the story of the couple that started out as just FWBs, and similar.  I know a couple that started as FWBs who have been married now for 20 years and have 4 kids.  D and I don't really qualify as FWBs because we aren't sleeping together.  But you know what I mean...

We started seeing each other in August, and I am still in the puppy dog, high school crush stage of things.  I mean, my phone goes off and I see it's him and I get all giddy and happy.  Whenever he is coming over to see me I get all excited like a teenager.  I make sure the house is clean.  I look my absolute best.  Etc.  And it's awesome.  It feels so good being in this position with someone. 

But, tonight I woke up (I work the graveyard shift so I sleep during the day.) And I immediately saw two emails that really stressed me out.  (I'm a business owner.  This was business related.)  And D texted me right then.  I was venting to him about this situation that I got the emails about, and he was comforting me.  And, long story short, he told me his feelings about me have changed and that he really is in love with me.  Since August isn't a long time.  But seeing how we've known each other for 5 years, it's not like since August is all he has seen of me.  He has seen me ugly cry behind my tent at a festival.  He has seen me pissed off.  We took a road trip together in 2020 where he was in a car 2 ft away from me for 9 hours.  A year and a half ago when my whole life fell apart he was one of the few people who actually helped me get through it. 

I didn't say it back because I am not there.  But this has gone beyond something casual at this point and I am starting to fall for him, too.  And this really scares me.  Because in this past, once I love someone, and once they know it, that's when it all goes to hell.  I'm scared he's just going to do a massive 180 if I let my guard down and let myself love him.  Everyone I love hates me in the long run.  I mean, I've had exes who literally wanted me dead.  And I told him this.  I don't keep things from people I'm involved with even if the truth hurts.  I told him this was a lot to process and that I don't know what to say, etc. 

And now I'm not sure what to do because I feel like I really hurt him.  He apologized for saying it and for moving too fast, etc.  I wish I could just be normal.  This awesome person tells me they love me and instead of just being happy and returning it, I cry and feel like crap because I'm confused and don't know how to handle it. 

I'm not even sure if there is any real advice that can be given here.  My head is just spinning and I wanted to get it out.  I have a therapy appointment in 2 days.  Any thoughts are welcome, but debates about polyamory will be ignored.  If you want to talk about how it's so wrong, fine.  But I won't be replying. 

Thanks for giving me a platform to air all my... stuff. 

 

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Given how wary you are about relationships getting deeper I would limit myself -if I were you- to someone who is single and interested in a potentially monogamous committed relationship so that if you do choose to be more vulnerable, deeper and invested you don't risk regretting that you chose someone who is already in a serious relationship with someone else, whether or not they agree to a polyamorous arrangement.  Or at least someone who is single to start with so that if you two then decide to be polyamarous it's just you two as the baseline.

They are serious about each other and have been for a long time -certainly much longer than the two of you.  The time you were friends does "count" but not for purposes of how you would interact in a deeper, more serious, more vulnerable way. 

Since you feel fragile about giving away your heart so to speak I wouldn't risk it in this situation and I don't blame you for not being happy about what he has shared because it's from the context of him already being seriously involved long term with someone else whether or not they agree they can be serious AND be involved romantically with others. 

If there comes a time when he is on his own and healed from his relationship (you'd mentioned he was thinking of separating) and you then want to pursue being serious with him I'd have a different opinion even if you two decided not to be monogamous.

I think it's great you forewarned him about your approach -that you will be open about what you think no matter what, no matter the context or timing, even if it could hurt the other person. That's not about honesty as much as your approach to sharing information others might choose not to share or share at a certain time.  You want to let it all hang out.  That's great and if he's up for that then it works!

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1 hour ago, Batya33 said:

Given how wary you are about relationships getting deeper I would limit myself -if I were you- to someone who is single and interested in a potentially monogamous committed relationship so that if you do choose to be more vulnerable, deeper and invested you don't risk regretting that you chose someone who is already in a serious relationship with someone else, whether or not they agree to a polyamorous arrangement.  Or at least someone who is single to start with so that if you two then decide to be polyamarous it's just you two as the baseline.

They are serious about each other and have been for a long time -certainly much longer than the two of you.  The time you were friends does "count" but not for purposes of how you would interact in a deeper, more serious, more vulnerable way. 

Since you feel fragile about giving away your heart so to speak I wouldn't risk it in this situation and I don't blame you for not being happy about what he has shared because it's from the context of him already being seriously involved long term with someone else whether or not they agree they can be serious AND be involved romantically with others. 

If there comes a time when he is on his own and healed from his relationship (you'd mentioned he was thinking of separating) and you then want to pursue being serious with him I'd have a different opinion even if you two decided not to be monogamous.

I think it's great you forewarned him about your approach -that you will be open about what you think no matter what, no matter the context or timing, even if it could hurt the other person. That's not about honesty as much as your approach to sharing information others might choose not to share or share at a certain time.  You want to let it all hang out.  That's great and if he's up for that then it works!

Actually right after the conversation my first thought was I need to just end it.  But I will admit, I don't want to. 

I am not one of those people who needs a relationship to be happy.  I love being single.  Most people in relationships are miserable and in denial anyway.  But when him and I started seeing each other a lot of people who know me commented on how much happier I am, etc.  And he does make me happy. 

He told me his perfect situation would be to be with me and his husband equally.  But you're right, him and his husband are having problems and they've been talking about separating for a while now.  I really don't want to be just a band aid for someone's failing marriage.  I'm not saying that's definitely what I am, but I wonder if he would feel the same if he was completely single.  The relationship he has with his husband doesn't bother me at all.  I know that love is a whole different thing between two women than it is between a man and a woman.  So it's reasonable to assume it's the same way with two men.  I know I can never give him what his husband gives him and the other way around. 

I wish this didn't have to be so complicated...

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Awww, I hear, Cynder. It's natural to be a bit frightened by feeling tender. Tender is soft. Soft is vulnerable. And of course, vulnerable can hurt.

But what's the alternative, numb out? 

See if you can coach yourself into reframing love as less threatening by allowing it to have many dimensions. You can love someone like family. Your can love humanity. You can love a kitten. You can love your Self.

I understand you've come to assign love to mean that you're circling the drain. But what if you made some room for the idea of loving as an action rather than a condition that you catch with a predictable prognosis?

I'm HAPPY that you've been happy. I hope you'll flirt with ways to suspend your fears for just long enough to consider facets of a loving spirit that you can't douse without losing who you are.

Maybe journal about that without allowing yourself to nosedive until you can take it to your therapist? Then go bLAt! 

Write more if it helps, and big (((HUG))) to you and D.
Cat

 

 

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7 hours ago, Cynder said:

Everyone I love hates me in the long run.

Cynder, I think this is what you need to work on with your therapist. As long as you think this way, you will be in some self-destruct mode to protect yourself and thus you won't be able to enjoy love. Also, thinking like this puts your self worth and self esteem in a very low and vulnerable position around other people.

Otherwise, love always comes with risk. If you do not feel ready to take a risk, then listen to your heart and don't go ahead.

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10 hours ago, Cynder said:

I am not one of those people who needs a relationship to be happy.  I love being single.  Most people in relationships are miserable and in denial anyway. 

If you really feel this way and believe this to be true then your answer should be a hard no because it's not fair to enter a relationship with this negative mindset. I don't think it's complicated from that perspective. His arrangement and the arrangement he wants with you is complicated because he's chosen to interact with people in a complicated way.  So if you choose to interact with him on a deeper level, his arrangements are likely to impact you in some way and likely not in a positive way.  

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9 hours ago, catfeeder said:

Awww, I hear, Cynder. It's natural to be a bit frightened by feeling tender. Tender is soft. Soft is vulnerable. And of course, vulnerable can hurt.

But what's the alternative, numb out? 

See if you can coach yourself into reframing love as less threatening by allowing it to have many dimensions. You can love someone like family. Your can love humanity. You can love a kitten. You can love your Self.

I understand you've come to assign love to mean that you're circling the drain. But what if you made some room for the idea of loving as an action rather than a condition that you catch with a predictable prognosis?

I'm HAPPY that you've been happy. I hope you'll flirt with ways to suspend your fears for just long enough to consider facets of a loving spirit that you can't douse without losing who you are.

Maybe journal about that without allowing yourself to nosedive until you can take it to your therapist? Then go bLAt! 

Write more if it helps, and big (((HUG))) to you and D.
Cat

 

 

That's a good question... what is the alternative?  I know a lot of people my age who have given up on relationships and are just intent on staying single forever.  But none of them are very happy. 

It's funny in a way that all those other kinds of love come so easy to me.  I have friends that I've been close to since high school who are all like family.  They are my brothers and sisters even if not by blood.  I do random acts of kindness all the time just for the hell of it because I try to send good vibes out into the world. That is loving humanity.  I don't really understand why being in love with someone is such a terrifying thing.  I think the first time I ever really let myself fall all the way in love with someone was with Z, and look what happened.  I know I can't take that again.  If I have another situation like what happened with her it will kill me.  But with her there was so much more to it than just her ending the relationship.  It was the way she did it.  The fact that she took a few of my friends with her.  She left most of her stuff at my house.  And then in the following two weeks I lost my job, my cat died and I had a serious medical scare.  All that at once would traumatize anyone. 

I like the idea of loving as an action and not a condition.  That is actually brilliant. 

I feel really bad about the way things went yesterday because I know he was hurt that I didn't return the sentiment.  I'm just not there yet.  But if nothing else at least I didn't lie.  I had to stop myself from getting a little emotional at work last night because I just kept thinking about him, etc.  His Dad taught him how to fix clocks when he was younger.  And so occasionally he finds an old clock at a yard sale or whatever and fixes it just for the hell of it.  He has been working on one from 1947 and last night he actually got it working.  He was so excited.  He was sending me videos of it, etc.  I was really excited for him but I also wonder if he spent a lot of time working on it last night to keep his mind off what I didn't say. 

Every night I wake up to these really sweet messages from him.  This time last year I used to wake up every day disappointed that I didn't die in my sleep and pray for a car accident before leaving the house.  Now I wake up and can't wait to see what he sent me. 

I feel like this reply is getting way too long, so I'm gonna cut it off because I need to get some sleep here soon.  But thank you for your thoughts.  Always appreciated. 

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This is just typing but I want to convey.  I love how  you put all that.  I can't even explain "why" but who cares -you just know it's all so meaningful and wise -and hopefully helpful to you -I'd reread what you wrote to yourself IMO.

I love the clock story so much.  This shows you know him, this shows you want to know him, this shows you want to "get" him even more than you do now.  He most likely knows and senses this and this adds or creates the spark and emotions because as you say you've known him personally for a long time so there's a foundation of trust there.

I still have the opinion I do on romantic entanglements with him and I also, from reading what you wrote do see a real distinction - you deeply love your friends and friends who are like family, etc -that is true -that is not less than romantic love in the deep sense.  But for you, and for so many of us -in love as part of a relationship then puts you in a different type of vulnerable situation.

You clearly value your loving friendships and connections to people.  You clearly would be deeply hurt if one of them left you or mistreated you. 

It's just that I think for you it's a different sort of hurt and impact if this should happen in a romantic relationship.  Which is understandable and which you are so anxious about.  I do see a difference and again it doesn't diminish the depth of your friendships - it's just different and different in a way that frightens you.  A starting point maybe for more work on that aspect? Look it's just my perspective.  Again I love how you put this all.  

 

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5 hours ago, DarkCh0c0 said:

Cynder, I think this is what you need to work on with your therapist. As long as you think this way, you will be in some self-destruct mode to protect yourself and thus you won't be able to enjoy love. Also, thinking like this puts your self worth and self esteem in a very low and vulnerable position around other people.

Otherwise, love always comes with risk. If you do not feel ready to take a risk, then listen to your heart and don't go ahead.

This is a good point.  Like... does everyone end up hating me because I deserve it or just because I expect them to? 

I'm not exaggerating when I say I had an ex who wanted me dead.  I mean, he tried to hire someone to kill me.  My ex husband's family thinks it's my fault that he's dead.  I was one of the last people he talked to.  I'm sure they could get into his phone and see that, but they don't know what we talked about because it was a call, not texts.  I have another ex who has been trying to ruin my life for years.  He's just really bad at it. (And since he apparently found out I'm seeing D now, he has called animal control on D twice, and nothing happened because D does everything by the book with his pets, especially the exotic pets he has.) A lot of things get projected onto me.  I am a lot of people's scapegoat and that has a lot to do with so many people hating me. 

But, maybe because I expect it it becomes self fulfilling in some cases.  That will be an interesting one to bring up on Thursday at my appointment.  Thank you. 

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48 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

If you really feel this way and believe this to be true then your answer should be a hard no because it's not fair to enter a relationship with this negative mindset. I don't think it's complicated from that perspective. His arrangement and the arrangement he wants with you is complicated because he's chosen to interact with people in a complicated way.  So if you choose to interact with him on a deeper level, his arrangements are likely to impact you in some way and likely not in a positive way.  

I'm not miserable in my current relationship, though.  I'm happy as hell.  I'm just not in love, yet. 

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22 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

This is just typing but I want to convey.  I love how  you put all that.  I can't even explain "why" but who cares -you just know it's all so meaningful and wise -and hopefully helpful to you -I'd reread what you wrote to yourself IMO.

I love the clock story so much.  This shows you know him, this shows you want to know him, this shows you want to "get" him even more than you do now.  He most likely knows and senses this and this adds or creates the spark and emotions because as you say you've known him personally for a long time so there's a foundation of trust there.

I still have the opinion I do on romantic entanglements with him and I also, from reading what you wrote do see a real distinction - you deeply love your friends and friends who are like family, etc -that is true -that is not less than romantic love in the deep sense.  But for you, and for so many of us -in love as part of a relationship then puts you in a different type of vulnerable situation.

You clearly value your loving friendships and connections to people.  You clearly would be deeply hurt if one of them left you or mistreated you. 

It's just that I think for you it's a different sort of hurt and impact if this should happen in a romantic relationship.  Which is understandable and which you are so anxious about.  I do see a difference and again it doesn't diminish the depth of your friendships - it's just different and different in a way that frightens you.  A starting point maybe for more work on that aspect? Look it's just my perspective.  Again I love how you put this all.  

 

Omg, him and that clock...  It makes me feel so warm and fuzzy.  He said when he actually got it ticking again he teared up a little because it's over 70 years old and has so much history.  I love clocks.  I have a clock tattoo and I put them in the background of a lot of my paintings.  I think it's so cool that he knows how to fix them.  That's a dying art.  He amazes me in that respect.  It's like there's nothing he can't do.  As a fire performer he is awesome.  And his artwork is amazing.  And he can fix anything.  He speaks multiple languages, etc.  There are times when I wonder how he doesn't think I'm boring.  But I also wondered that about Z, too.  Maybe that's where some of this anxiety comes from, too.  Like, I was so in awe of Z.  I just thought she was this amazing, insanely talented person.  And I think of him that way, too.  

I actually wonder if deep down the reason I am so afraid to really let myself fall in love with him is because we've been good friends for years and I don't want to risk losing that.  I am alive today because of 6 people.  One of them is my nephew.  One is my brother (My actual brother, not a friend who I think of like a brother.)  And the other four are close friends.  He is one of them. 

He has carried this torch for me longer than I realized.  His feelings have had more time to grow than mine have. 

And thank you for the kindess.  I'm glad you love how I put it.  🙂

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