Long Distance NRE

Your partner interrupts time together for a new long distance love and red alarms are blaring for you.

I'm sitting here feeling very let down. My husband and I have been together 22 years. We opened up last year and largely the effects on our relationship have been excellent. We've had to level up so many skills, communication, honesty, trust.
He's just returned here to NZ after a 3 week visit with family in the UK. While away he had a holiday romance, the first time he's fallen hard for someone, but in a compressed timeline. They were together for about 3 days.
Last night we were deep in reconnection mode, a little wine, some fooling around, lovely chats about where we were at with our poly adventures. He'd had some communication from his holiday connection earlier in the day that had given him some feelings. He said she'd been explicit about her feelings for him in a way she hadn't before. I was feeling pretty good about managing my own anxieties and comforting him.
Then he gets up, says this woman has left a voice message he wanted to check right away, and leaves the room for 20minutes. I was left literally putting my top back on, feeling pretty awful.
Now I'm just feeling so taken for granted. Up to this there were so many words of affirmation and affection but when it came to the actions to back that up he just disregarded me. It feels like, because I'm his ol faithful companion, he thought 'she won't mind' and jumped to respond to this woman while literally being half naked on the couch with me.
Knowing if he was with one of his other partners he would never have done that feels rotten. I keep thinking if he was a new partner for me or someone I was on a date with, that would have been a significant enough red flag that I would likely not see that person again. He's shaken my trust in him massively. I feel like his words are worthless when his actions are so toxic to me.
He recognized that what he did was super shitty when he returned to the room. He knew, but he still didn't cut the call with her short or decide to take it another time.
Anyway, I'm hurt, I'm angry, I feel taken for granted. My sense of self worth is saying fuck that guy. But 20yrs, mortgage, kids etc. I know I need to repair with him but I feel like I'm letting myself down doing this.

Firstly, I’m sorry to hear that you went through this and felt as though you were being disregarded for someone newer and shinier. This is something that I think people don’t talk often enough about in polyamory circles. It’s a particular type of feeling that really cuts into the heart in a way that’s difficult to describe.

Secondly, I think it’s important for you to consider the story you’re telling yourself here. It’s easy for people to get swept up in new relationship energy and this seems like this might also be one of his first long distance relationships. You know the saying, absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Long distance relationships can feel a lot more dramatic at times because of the distance and, especially with this person being an 11 hour time difference away, he may truly have a limited amount of time he can talk to this person one to one. I had my first relationship with someone who lived in Australia. The time difference really does make things difficult — and dramatic.

The other thing here is your assumption that “if he was with one of his other partners, he would have never have done that”. Do you really know that would have been the case? You’re kind of making an assumption here that may not actually be true.

He may have done this with someone else that he had more time with as well. It may seem like because he has an established life with you or spends more time with you that you’re treated like you’ll always be there — and believe me do I understand that — but you don’t necessarily know that he wouldn’t have done this with someone else and telling yourself this does nothing but make yourself feel incredibly rotten and resentful.

Thirdly, of course you would feel differently if this was someone you had just met. You have an established relationship with his person so you’re aware of an overall pattern of behaviour enough to know this is out of character for him. This also didn’t sound like it was necessarily a planned date that you had set aside for one another, but a deep conversation and some fooling around that got interrupted. I’m not denying that it doesn’t hurt, but comparing it to “date” is, again, doing nothing but making you feel rotten and even more resentful about the situation.

Part of the problem here is how your partner behaved and I’m a bit more concerned about whether or not he apologised for it and attempted to schedule some set time with you than whether or not he cut the call with her short or decided essentially to cast time with her aside — that seems a bit more retaliatory than it does an actual sign of care for you.

And if you know how much it hurts to have your time with him cut, it’s important to remember that this other person may also feel just as hurt — and she doesn’t have the benefit of living with him and having access to him.

Part of me is wondering if this isn’t your sense of self worth talking. It’s your fear of pain and rejection talking. There is some element of this dramatic relationship which is causing you to see a small indiscretion in a very different light. And it makes sense. You have a lot here to lose. But it may be that your overprotectiveness of yourself is pushing you to see danger where it isn’t there and to see the situation in a different light.

In going forward, it might be important for you both to establish some boundaries and agreements around this. It might be easier for him to do when he can actually see people in person. When it comes to this relationship, there is an 11 hour time difference and a limited amount of time that he can actually speak to her.

Maybe you can actually schedule some dates together? Maybe you can have certain times when he has dedicated to her and their relationship? And maybe he can schedule a special date with you to actually

I don’t think that you should take this as a bad sign. Sometimes people make mistakes, and non-monogamy doesn’t have a roadmap that people can follow culturally. It’s easy to get swept up within the drama of a new romance.

Unless this becomes a pattern that doesn’t let up after you’ve confronted it, I think you should take it as any other mistake a human being is capable of making.

I hope this helps and good luck!

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