Dear Leon and Mischa,
So here’s the situation – me and the man I love have been at each other’s throats for weeks now; he’s poly and I have been monogamous to him. For the last month or so he’s been taking his ex on trips, leaving me home, telling me to basically eff off, but still wants me around (I think?). He hasn’t given me any closeness or sex or anything lately so I decided to take someone up on an offer while he was away with that ex. It wasn’t full on sex just some foreplay and getting a man’s attention for 4 hours.
Now the poly man I love who throws his poly-ness in my face is hating on me because I sought what I needed. Some more details: he’s full-on poly and I was monogamous until the other day when I went outside everything I believe to get a little comfort. He straight out told me he doesn’t need or want my permission to do anything and will not be asking for it. I didn’t agree to be anything with him; he took me for granted big-time and because he decided to be amazing to me for almost 2 years and I came to expect that.
Out of the blue he shames me, tells me he’s going back to full-on poly but he still loves me but don’t ask or tell him anything, because it’s none of my business. I am not perfect, I have an explosive short fuse, but only because he pushed me to there. It’s because he decided to start leaving me home, no sex, no love, and taking his ex out, whom he says he can’t stand or live with for more than a week at a time. Like now, he ran away from home yesterday because of our fight and where did he go? To the ex’s house. And he hasn’t come home yet, he’s a man-child. He said I restrict his movement, which is ridiculous, I couldn’t tell him what to do if I had super powers. I was so happy to be with just him, but when you start arguing all the time and then he uses it against you, tells you he doesn’t take you anywhere because your teeth need to be fixed, you ask to be held and he tells you to hold yourself!!!! WTF!!!
Loving Woman Who Thought She Was Good Enough
Dear Loving Woman:
You’re in the all-too-common “mutually frustrating relationship death spiral.” You’re pissing each other off, each trying to make your partner miserable since you’re hurting but can’t seem to communicate in any other way than leveraging years of acquired knowledge into the most hurtful ways possible. (Your teeth? Really?)
So… explain to me exactly why you want to save this relationship? This guy sounds incredibly immature, using his version of polyamory as an excuse to be a selfish dick. (Pro tip: polyamory and “none of your business” don’t belong in the same sentence.) That’s not polyamory, other than he’s apparently telling you where he’s going and what he’s doing. There’s that whole thing about AGREEMENTS and BEING ON THE SAME PAGE that he’s apparently forgotten. Plus throwing your playdate in your face – especially after he encouraged you to do it – is an uber-dick move.
Just because you love someone is not a good enough reason to stay in a relationship that isn’t giving you what you need – let alone is mentally abusive. You’re entitled to pursue what you want out of life, and if you want a connection with someone who is emotionally comforting, supportive, sexually satisfying, communicative, and most of all doesn’t act like this guy, go out and find one (or more than one!). Sounds like the totality of NOT being with this guy is way better than all his good parts combined. Jump back into the dating pool and consider the last two years the source of some very valuable life lessons.
I have to agree with Leon that it seems your relationship is in a lot of deep water. Based on recent letters to this column, it seems to me that quite a few people (mostly men, I have to say) define “poly” as a license to “love’em and leave’em.” Being poly does not give him the right to ignore and insult you, and you have the right to call him out for using poly as an excuse for his hypocrisy of applying different relationship rules for you than he does for himself.
One of the key tenets of polyamory is consent. People who enter into relationships with other people deserve to know what kind of relationship they are agreeing to, which is why honest and open communication is so vital. He sounds like he wants a relationship with you where he is free to come and go as he pleases, but when you try to do the same he objects. Do you consent to these unequal terms because he identifies as poly and you self-identify as monogamous? What if you were to identify as poly? Would that change the way he views your relationship?
Whatever the answer, you have to make clear what you are willing to agree to in order to remain in a relationship with him. But before you do that, I think you two have to address the current lack of genuine affection and physical intimacy that you’re describing. And frankly, the anger and emotional abuse you describe is atypical for a poly/mono relationship. I would suggest that you examine your relationship through the lens of a book such as Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (a current Amazon bestseller) because the early warning klaxons of abuse are all going off with the behavior you’re describing.
Good luck and be safe!