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post #31 of 69 Old 01-01-2019, 07:04 PM
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Do you think you are worthy of a happy, fulfilling relationship? Because I am reading a lot of things that amount to self sabotage. First of all, I don't buy "polyamorous" and "want to get married" uttered in the same breath. Secondly, people whose self worth was destroyed by an abusive upbringing run a risk of feeling unworthy of finding their piece of happiness, so if you should find yourself in a string of relationships with the kind of partner you have described in the original post, keep in mind what (or who) the common denominator is: you. "Charming until the prey is bagged, and then the gloves come off" sounds sociopathic to me: you may have got yourself one of those. He may just be under the impression that you are too weak to stand your ground.

Anyway, I'm writing this in my proverbial armchair, with nothing to go on but your post, but you should take a good look at your outlook on romantic relationships. You may have been damaged in that area more than you realize.
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post #32 of 69 Old 01-01-2019, 08:53 PM
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I have to admit I am confused how someone can be polyamorous with zero sex drive. Am I not understanding some definitions here?
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post #33 of 69 Old 01-01-2019, 08:57 PM
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I teach in a small college. About 80% of my students are girls and women. If they don't learn anatomy, if they don't learn physiology or microbiology, I hope that they will learn this one fact:

If you let someone totally support you financially, he (or she) will control your life. Every woman needs her own job and her own money. I see nothing wrong with staying home with small children, but it still can't hurt to work one day a week. When they are in school, get a job. Get training. Make money. Keep some for yourself.

Whoever controls the money controls everything that you do. It only gets worse as things go on down the road.

Please have more respect for yourself than to marry a man just so he will keep you up. That is neither fair to him or to yourself.

When I was a young woman, we did not have the right to get good jobs. Those were kept back for men. All the protesting that my generation did, all the bras that we burned, all the work that we did, is it all for nothing?

Women have rights in the civilized world. Most of us on this forum are lucky enough to live in countries in which women have rights. We could have been born into countries where women are considered to be property.

But you have to earn those rights by taking pride in yourself. By working to earn the money so that you will have power in life.

And this is a horse forum. I hear people say all the time, "I used to have horses, but my husband made me give them up to save money when we got married."

For me, no way. No how. I will never let somebody keep me up while I can stand on my two feet.

Marriage is a partnership in which two people join their lives so that they can become a family.

Polyamory and true love are polar opposites. And the only cultures in which "polyamory" occurs are cultures where men own several wives.

You know that you should not marry this guy or you would not have brought it out on a public forum. If you want to use him a while for money, you will have to put up with his anger. Be fair to him. Be fair to yourself. You don't love him and he doesn't love you.

Carpe Diem!
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post #34 of 69 Old 01-01-2019, 09:09 PM
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Sounds like you are setting yourself up for failure. Anyone who is verbally or emotionally abusive before marriage won't get better after marriage.

Wanting to be married to one guy and be messing around with another. That's called adultery if my current hubby said anything of doing that, I wouldn't of ever married him. Had he been verbally abusive or emotionally abusive I'd been running far far away.

Marriage is between one man and one woman, you vow to be there for better or worse, in sickness and in health. No where in those marriage vows doe it say to be seeing another man and having a sexual relationship with.

Think you need counciling with a therapist and get yourself straighten out emotionally. You are not ready to be married. Marriage is a commitment to be faithful and devoted to the man you're married too.

I would NEVER consider stepping out on my husband and he'd never do so either. He's my love my companion and we talk about and workout any problems together. We are on the same page when it comes to any important decisions.

Last edited by rambo99; 01-01-2019 at 09:18 PM.
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post #35 of 69 Old 01-01-2019, 10:27 PM
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Dear Mythilus,

Hello from another person with complex PTSD because of being exposed to serious and often shocking violence and emotional / verbal abuse from the time I was a toddler. I'm two decades on from you and it's been a bit of a road. I didn't even know I had complex PTSD until four years ago, when the whole thing became very obvious due to some really disturbing recovered memories from very early childhood (on top of existing ones). That was an a-ha experience. I always knew that my childhood wasn't roses and objectively knew from the time I was a teenager that my birth family were physically, verbally and emotionally abusive, but I could never connect the emotions with the memories - it was like watching a movie in a really detached way.

Of course, as you'd be aware, that's because children in those sorts of situations have to put their emotions mostly to one side all their young lives just so they can survive childhood - there's noone to process them with, and you can't get on with constructive activities that will help you get away if you're falling down a black hole. As a child, I concentrated very seriously on schoolwork as a road to eventual independence, and that paid off. I entered university on the fast track at 16, graduated with a double science degree and the top student prize, and worked initially as a research scientist, and later on as an educator, first at university and later on in high schools, where I taught freely across the physical and life sciences, as well as English and English Literature, in academic courses for students aiming to enter university. I really enjoyed working with the 12-17 age group in part because they have amazing brains, and in part because I knew what life was really like behind closed doors for some of these young people, and could be a warm, positive, encouraging adult for them in the way some of my own teachers along the road had been for me, which had made a huge difference to my life.

Tellingly, all my adult life, and particularly around times of stress, I had these intermittent weird episodes where I would wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat with my heart racing and shocking nausea. There was no remembered nightmare, I'd not been mulling over anything, there was no reason I could see for it - the whole thing was like someone injected a load of adrenaline into my backside when I was sleeping - an entirely physical thing. Medically, adrenal tumours were on the list of possible explanations, but I didn't have those. As it didn't happen too often unless I was stressed out, I just shrugged my shoulders and decided I had a weird, but mostly harmless, physical malfunction.

Around four years ago though, I was getting a lot of these (in the lead-up to Christmas and our traditional visit to our birth families) and then suddenly had actual visual memories during these episodes, and then it became rather obvious what was going on. I asked my GP, "Why now? Why all this delay?" - and she said it's typical for these things not to be allowed to surface, by that survival mechanism, until you've been in a healthy, supportive relationship for years and you feel thoroughly safe - and until potentially falling apart doesn't threaten your physical survival, e.g. because unable to do your paid work when processing something so enormous.

The weird episodes I'd been having were emotional flashbacks, initially divorced from the specific situations which had produced them. (I wrote about those here if further detail would be helpful or interesting for anyone - emotional health issues ought to be better understood by everyone, whether or not they had childhood adversity.) Turns out there's the cerebrum, where we do our thinking, and then there's the more evolutionarily ancient, basic-equipment parts of the brain, which are responsible for emotions and survival. These very effectively store and process potential survival threat situations, in a non-verbal manner - and guess where else everyone here can really see this in their lives? With horses, of course - all that hypervigilance and run first, ask questions later setup that's completely necessary for an animal whose biggest survival threat along all its evolutionary history has been predators jumping at them... (and that's one big reason so many of us with those kinds of histories are drawn to horses and very good at understanding and communicating with them...)

This is a huge subject, and I'm going to cut it short here. Anyway, I got married in my mid-30s to a decent, supportive, funny, clever, highly interesting and ethical man - also from a dysfunctional (although not violent) family. Like in most relationships, we had some teething problems - you're going to get those more if you don't come from a loving, healthy family, as you'll certainly be aware. Like in every healthy relationship, you can't take things for granted, you have to keep working on it, and you're going to bring your emotional baggage to the table in times of stress and then have to work on that baggage again (it does get smaller if you don't shove it under the carpet), you have to keep learning and growing, but you should also be having a ton of fun and companionship and shared adventures, and be best of friends. (If people were to ask me what the most important foundations for a healthy marriage are, I would say close friendship and respect. Close friendship also implies mental compatibility.)

Hello! This is us half a year ago on Brett's traditional mountain climb to celebrate his birthday. The internet is a bit impersonal, so I try to always underscore that we're all real human beings, not some sort of detached blobs floating in a void.

Brett and I are monogamous by disposition, and in our case have no romantic or other interest in getting together with other people on that level. Mind you, a really good friend of mine, when we were both in our early 30s and single, used to joke that one man was not enough, you had to have three - one for the bedroom, one for helping with home maintenance, and one for meaningful conversations. My husband thinks this is hilarious, but then he ticked all three boxes, so he may well laugh. We're coming up to our 11th wedding anniversary next month, and are really enjoying our journey with each other.

I have no moral quibbles with consensual polyamory - we're all different - and I'm a staunch supporter of LGBTQI+, marriage equality, etc. I do understand that some people have open marriages and some are happy with that, and that to some people, marriage is a lifelong commitment, but not necessarily to the exclusion of all others. There's polygamy through a lot of cultures and traditions (oddly, usually about the male with a female harem and moral outrage when it's the other way around), and in the history of the Western middle and upper classes, marriage was often a business and family arrangement, rather than about love and respect.

My alarm bells about your situation aren't to do with the idea of open or polyamorous marriages. I actually had a little side thought - when you come from a really traumatic background, the idea of your world falling apart again is so hideous that I can see why some people wouldn't want to put all their eggs in one basket (in my case, I refused to put my eggs in any basket for much of my 20s, and learnt to live on my own, which was actually really good for me). We're all mere humans, and it's one heck of a gamble to give another fallible person so much power over our wellbeing and happiness. A friend of mine is just struggling with being ditched for a 20-something by her husband of 30 years when he turned 50, and is completely unimpressed and dealing with a world that has exploded without warning. It's a really rough ride. Had she been married to two people, she'd have some sort of buffer I suppose. (But part of becoming healthy people is also that you have to know you'd be able to cope with the potential death of, or defection by, your partner, and to reinvent yourself and create fresh meaning after such a possible event. Healthy love starts with healthy self-love and with assuming adult responsibility for our own feelings and lives, rather than finding someone else to do that for us.)

OK, back to the alarm bells, from that little side track. I agree with everyone else who says "run" here, because a relationship is not healthy without respect. There's a big difference between someone losing their temper occasionally and then assuming responsibility for working on that issue of theirs, while making amends with anyone who was hurt or harmed in the process, and a consistent pattern of disrespect and abusive outbursts that has developed (sometimes with the empty "I'll never do it again" and subsequent "love bombing", presents, flowers, heart-rending letters of faux repentance etc characterising some early-stage abusive romantic relationships).

Once you have a pattern like that, a) most relationships won't graduate to healthy lifelong material, and b) the few that do can only do so by the people involved drawing back from each other and working seriously on their own stuff, not for the sake of keeping the relationship, but for the more fundamental sake of wanting to become better people - and it doesn't work unless this is genuine and each person is seriously doing that. If people only go through the motions to "save their relationship" then they'll revert to square one the moment they feel secure of their relationship again. This will then become a permanently dysfunctional, in all probablility codependent, relationship, in which neither person can substantially grow or evolve or develop seriously as a human being, and reach anything near their positive potential. And many, many people in this world are stuck in such relationships, which are like Neanderthal caves (/little shops of horror).

In a healthy relationship, you bring out the best in each other, both consciously and unconsciously. You actually become objectively better human beings. You each become better at being kind and respectful, at understanding, learning and achieving goals, at honouring commitments, seeing other points of view, engaging in healthy activities, connecting with community and the planet etc etc. You each become more like the sort of person you want to become - but at the same time, you're already valued for who you are right now.

If a relationship makes it harder for you to be you and to grow and to contribute to the wider community, then it's not a healthy relationship.

If I was put in your shoes, I'd not marry this guy (but I'm not in your shoes!). You intended may be a fundamentally OK but immature person with their own baggage to work through, who's not yet ready for a healthy relationship, and won't be unless he does some serious soul-searching on his own and for the right reasons. Or, your intended may be the sinister sort of person who picks up vulnerable young women who come from traumatic backgrounds, trauma bonds with them (the difference between trauma bonding and healthy bonding is worth knowing), and after seeming like the knight in shining armour, once completely secure of you, throws the switch and becomes possessive and abusive and your worst childhood nightmare all over again.

This happens all the time, to lots of real people from dysfunctional backgrounds - and it happened to me, in my first serious relationship when I was in my early 20s (thankfully, not married, no children and eventually got away). The problem is, when your birth family was violent and abusive, you're a prime target for bullies and narcissistic romantic partners when you're young - because it's a familiar pattern, and because people who grew up in respectful, loving environments are better at recognising and calling out this sort of stuff, and at having relationships which aren't fundamentally based on trauma bonding. When you're not from a respectful, loving family, you have to learn that either the hard way, or educate yourself on the ins and outs of human dysfunction.

This is the resource I wish I'd had as a teenager:

This is also very useful:

It's probably more useful to thoroughly understand and work through your family of origin stuff, than to work on the current-relationship stuff, because it's our family of origin that's shaped us so much originally (and much of it unconsciously, for us, and against our own wills and covert ideals), and all that holds the hidden key to the patterns you see in your early romantic relationships (20s is still early ). Also, to keep finding healthy, safe, decent people to hang out with, and to minimise your contact with people who are destructive to your wellbeing and emotional health.

This thing you said: Not to mention, because of my childhood, I want to raise my own future children with the kind of father that doesn't get aggressive. I want them to be raised with an experience that cements "violence is not the answer".

...I think that's a really important idea you've got. Isn't it funny how our own maternal instincts can tell us things about the men we may be attracted to, that's not in their favour? The deciding crunch factor in my leaving my first serious romantic partner (dysfunctional relationship) at age 24 was thinking to myself one day, "I'm never going to have children, because I wouldn't want them to live like this." And then a little voice at the back of my mind said, "So why are you accepting that for yourself?" Wow. Point taken - that was it for me. Now get that very live and strong maternal instinct of yours, and put it to your own service - and mother your own self, and the little girl you once were, and be to her the kind of mother that you ought to have had.

Love and best wishes


PS: Still awake?

SueC is time travelling.
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post #36 of 69 Old 01-01-2019, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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SueC, thank you so much for your thought provoking post. Another round of questions to answer;

I have to admit I am confused how someone can be polyamorous with zero sex drive. Am I not understanding some definitions here?
Polyamoury doesn't have to be about sexual intimacy, it can be emotional, or sexual, or both. That said, I have a sex drive for my other partner..

Around four years ago though, ..... and then suddenly had actual visual memories during these episodes.
This happened to me about a year back. Fiance doesn't believe what I saw actually happened, even though a ton more details have come to light since the initial 'dream'.

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post #37 of 69 Old 01-02-2019, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by waresbear View Post
You are engaged? Keep in mind what is happening now is the best as it gets. The engagement is the fantasy period, then things get real. If you don't like what's happening now, hang on for worse.

Hello, @waresbear ! Had to smile, and I generally agree - if it's troubled before you're even married, it's unlikely to get better.

One caveat - a good relationship with an untroubled start can get even better after marriage. Nearly eleven years in, our marriage is better than the (somewhat rose-tinted, even for us when in our 30s) engagement fantasy period, as you so eloquently put it - because it's more real now. Because we actually know each other, and ourselves, a whole lot better, and because the relationship has been tested, and because we're no longer in love with idealised versions of the other, but in love with who each other really are, and even though we now know each other's flaws and foibles very well. And because we've shared the same road for a quarter of our lives now, had many adventures together, and managed to do things together that we could not have done by ourselves. And more importantly, because love, respect and being each other's best friends is more important than being "in love".

PS My DH thinks mammary glands should come into what I'm saying somehow.

SueC is time travelling.

Last edited by SueC; 01-02-2019 at 01:25 AM.
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post #38 of 69 Old 01-02-2019, 03:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Mythilus View Post
Around four years ago though, ..... and then suddenly had actual visual memories during these episodes.
This happened to me about a year back. Fiance doesn't believe what I saw actually happened, even though a ton more details have come to light since the initial 'dream'.
Hmmm. Sometimes it's hard to know what was real, especially if people have been gaslighting you. But if it's coming back with flashbacks that were previously emotional / physical only (no memories, not a nightmare) then there's a good chance it's from an early traumatic memory. Brains aren't renowned for completely accurate recall, but they do tend to do better when it's about survival, and it's worth taking it seriously, and then doing a bit of forensic work if you're so inclined.

Talking to old childhood friends from primary school, for example, just in recent years, I was surprised to find that they had picked up on a lot of what was going on for me, even though I didn't talk much about it to other children as a primary school child (and not at all to adults, for fear of reprisals, which is exactly what happened when I went to the police because of intolerable domestic violence at age 14). They too remembered some of the things I was told I had only imagined.

From the time I was a teenager, some of the things (like getting dragged behind a car when I was 15) happened with citizen witnesses around who actually wanted me to go to the police about it (but I had to put it to one side emotionally as I was studying for crucial examinations, and the police hadn't been very helpful when I was 14 anyway - they warned my family and then put me back with them, and you can guess what happened next). Oh, and yes, my parents still insisted for a long time that this citizen-witnessed car incident never happened, or at least that I'd gotten it wrong and it was somehow my fault. Yet with this, and with quite a few other disputed things, when I started asking people who'd known me as a young person, I have had so many people back me up along the way and tell me they were seeing it too - including teachers, friends, and the parents of friends who met my parents. Although hiding it is one of the main aims of chronically abusive people, it wasn't always possible for them, so the supporting evidence just started stacking up that said, "These things did really happen, you're not some crazy person with a warped brain making it all up, they're simply pretending it didn't happen, or didn't happen like that."

It's been said that the truly crazy people never actually doubt their own sanity. I'm not sure how correct that is, but it does seem to apply to the few objectively crazy people I have met - and I don't mean good-crazy, as in an exuberant person, I mean deranged-and-destructive crazy, like a methamphetamine addict in the neighbourhood who's gone after backpackers with an axe, kicks his animals, etc. He's all sane, according to him - it's the world that's the problem, apparently.

It's really hard to accept emotionally that the people who were supposed to love and protect you abused you, and lied to you. Stockholm Syndrome is an interesting topic to look up.

Just going to comment on two issues brought up by others:

1. Financial Independence - completely crucial so you can't get trapped in dysfunctional situations, and also for all the reasons @Celeste outlined - standing on your own feet, connecting with community, using your gifts in the service of others, etc. I loved @loosie 's idea of a pluck-off fund. In dysfunctional relationships, people are often encouraged to become financially dependent on the abusive/controlling person, or even forbidden to work, as my mother was by my father, and as married women generally were by society not so long ago. Thank you @Celeste , @knightrider and all the other women senior to me around here who burnt their bras in the 60s and 70s to help draw attention to glaring double standards in dire need of fixing.

Women's shelters are available to help women who aren't financially independent to leave situations of domestic violence and emotional abuse and find their own feet, work etc - even "just" emotional abuse, although these services would classify your fiance's behaviour as physical intimidation. These are also places where you can talk to people well versed in all the forms of domestic abuse to get your bearings, without payment, even if you're not actually planning on leaving. The really sad thing is how hard it is to get access to good-quality mental health professionals in Australia if you don't have much money. This brings me to the next point:

2. Professional help - two problems: Access and quality. In theory, all Australians who need it have access to mental health services via their GP, through a mental health plan. This usually works out to five discounted sessions with some sort of person with a certificate, and unfortunately, some of the people you can get referred to are basically McCounsellors, not trained psychologists or psychiatrists, and may have very little idea about things like PTSD, domestic violence, etc. Even some of the trained psychologists are sadly lacking in that department, since you only need to score 50% in your final university examinations to get your piece of paper, and also you don't actually have to be a nice person either. So all this can be really hit-and-miss, and expensive.

From the time I was a university student, I periodically consulted professional people to extricate myself from the morass of my upbringing. Some of these people were extremely helpful, some worse than useless. The good ones were usually expensive, or had expensive gaps - and it can be really difficult to afford them. One of the best people I ever talked to was a specialist psychiatrist who was available to us for free because I was in the public service at the time in a high-stress job, and it would have been difficult for me to pay him otherwise, especially on a longer-term basis. But, he drew things to my attention that were incredibly useful - the biggest bombshell was, "All of the tests you've done indicate you had extreme emotional deprivation as a child, but you've compensated incredibly well, which is rare." Whew. I was 28, and had only gone because I wanted to know why I had such a gap between thinking and feeling at the time - why I could know I'd not done something I'd been accused of, for instance, and yet feel like the guiltiest person in the planet. And suddenly, here was someone saying I was basically unnurtured and unsupported by my parents in my childhood - which opinion I'd already been given on paper by a teacher when I was 16, which I'd felt all my life, but pushed to the side, and of course, my parents are the biggest martyrs imaginable when they list all the sacrifices they made for their offspring (which, when it comes down to it, was actually just their legal obligation to feed, clothe and shelter their children and supervise them when they weren't at school - they had no clue about nurturing and supporting).

Another bright spark amongst the professionals for me was someone from the Anglicare relationships section in Perth, through whom I first got introduced to family-of-origin work when I was 23 and at the tail end of my first serious (and dysfunctional) relationship. That's really, really valuable stuff, and Anglicare/KinWay actually have discounted services that are generally affordable for working people (and apparently they will work with unemployed people for a gold coin donation - you may want to check that), both on relationship counselling and on dealing with a childhood background of domestic violence. I went back to that again later at intervals as well. Sometimes there were excellent people, sometimes there were mediocre people - but everyone there was trying, and added a piece to the puzzle.

Interestingly though, nobody raised the concept with me that I might have PTSD under the surface from chronic and often extreme violence in childhood, and that is a big thing to have missed. I know I wasn't symptomatic (other than the nighttime episodes described earlier), but from what I've read since, it's basically a given for people who come from violent families.

It can take a long time to put the pieces together, and while good professionals can be really valuable (when you can find them/afford them), I think doing your own homework and educating yourself extensively when you're on your own is also crucial to getting through all this stuff, and making it more affordable, so that time spent with professionals isn't just spent going around in circles, or talking about how you're feeling etc.

When you do talk to professionals, make sure you talk to professionals trained in the ins and outs of family violence - I think both Anglicare and Relationships Australia have specialised programmes for that now. If you're in a capital city, you're likely to have a great deal of useful services on offer these days (I've spent most of my life in rural areas).

Hope some of that is helpful. And because I'm Generation X and enjoy a good laugh, here's one of my favourite poking-fun songs on the topic:

SueC is time travelling.

Last edited by SueC; 01-02-2019 at 03:38 AM.
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post #39 of 69 Old 01-02-2019, 06:50 AM Thread Starter
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Short response just to update that we had a talk and I told him if he doesn't change this behaviour I will be leaving him and he has promised to seek help.

**EDIT** Also if he doesn't show signs of working toward change within the month, I am done and I'm going.

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post #40 of 69 Old 01-02-2019, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Mythilus View Post
Short response just to update that we had a talk and I told him if he doesn't change this behaviour I will be leaving him and he has promised to seek help.

**EDIT** Also if he doesn't show signs of working toward change within the month, I am done and I'm going.

I'm glad you have come to a conclusion that you can accept. I would like to suggest though that in a relationship the problem is never just one person. I think maybe you should seek some sort of couples help if you really want to make this work but honestly, I'm old fashioned and I don't understand more than two in a relationship. It makes me feel as though you have disposeable partners. Is he also of the belief that you can love more than one person at the same time?
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