In a poly relationship (or even a simple friendship) it is not necessary for two people to define the relationship in the same terms or even to have the same level of commitment, as long as each participant’s needs within that relationship are being met.
Before my (former) spouse and I were attached, I had dated Krys. I fell in love with him, but he made it clear he was never interested in marriage or family. Those were things I knew I wanted within a primary relationship and would not compromise on. I respected his choices as right for him, and didn’t pursue defining what relationship we might continue to have. Imagine having “the apology” scene from Bridges of Madison County with your love when you discover you have different paths mapped for your lives.
Krys and I continued as friends, stayed in touch across years and military command changes, but didn’t reconnect in a romantic sense until decades later in an occasional long-distance relationship where he was my only “other.” But we made a fatal poly error: we still never defined what our relationship was or meant to us beyond that we loved each other, and could go visit to the other any time if ever desired or needed.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Krys helped me emotionally through my divorce. Having a love(r) that you can cry your eyes out with over the loss of a relationship with another man is amazing, and not something you ever see in traditional monogamous relationships unless there was cheating and deception involved.
I wish Krys and I had taken time to really explore the what are we conversation. On one visit years ago as I was leaving the hubby we did briefly discuss our beginnings, and he showed me a photo of his extended family and mentioned how his feelings about family had been shifting. But we didn’t explore beyond that. Part of me hoped he would want to be with me if he ever explored his path not taken.
At one point I did ask him to temporarily marry me to help me obtain health insurance (back when you could be denied) but he declined as that would have forever reduced his military retirement. And when it became clear to me that I would be happy living physically mono, did ask him to let me know if he ever found himself without a partner and desiring a mono/mono relationship that I would love to embark upon the journey with him if I were unattached at the time as well… he smiled and kissed me. Yet again, we didn’t define where we both were or what our relationship was.
It seems obvious to my over-analytical mind in hindsight that I was much more emotionally invested in our relationship than he. Otherwise why would I find out he was daddy via an oops with a woman who lives on another continent after the birth instead of being one to call to help process the emotions?
I’m feeling hurt. When you love someone, it is human nature want them to love you as much you love them, to need you as much as you need them. Even when you also love someone else as well. These days I would rather know the full naked truth (when it is consciously known) and deal with it, than find out differently later and feel as if I have been punched in the gut. Perhaps I didn’t want to know how he truly felt. I would not have stopped loving him. I will not stop loving him, even though my heart believes he does not love me in the same way I love him. And I will still be there to support him emotionally if he ever does reach out. And if the opportunity presents itself, I hope I will not hesitate to ask for that defining conversation.