My lesson for you is this: do not have a idea about what agreements should or should not be made, without realising that they might change and probably will. What you might consider instead are your principles.
I’m happy for you experiencing intense crushes, there really is nothing like them! But from a biological standpoint it’s a whole bunch of hormones rushing round your body… namely adrenalin and phenylethylamine which is putting you in a state which diverts your bodily functions away from those minor inconveniences like eating and sleeping. Basically, you’re high.
In this context, ethical is the umbrella term whilst consent and responsibility fall under this. By general consensus, ripe timing and my own personal opinion, it seems that the More Than Two definition may rapidly be becoming the definition of ‘polyamory’ itself and if that is the case, then it is these underlying beliefs which distinguish ethical (to be redundant) polyamory from other forms of non-monogamy, consensual or otherwise.
The amount of jealousy we feel corresponds to the style of attachment we have; scientists agree that adult attachment is likely to mimic childhood attachment, even if they currently disagree about the overlap and extent.
We all have a tendency to mimic familiar relationships because they feel in some way comforting. It’s a basic reptilian survival mechanism, our fears are of the unknown, not the known–even if the known is not the best thing for us. But I’m not talking about your exes, I’m talking about you.
Most likely he is already worrying that you will break apart. You are who you are and you have made the choices you have made. If you do not tell him, if you act as if it is something to be ashamed of then it is more likely he will think it is shameful.
Sex itself is not a need. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t important, just that we can choose to define it differently and this may be more helpful in figuring out what to do. It’s important that you reconsider your perception of sex as a need, because–in a hopefully hypothetical and extreme case–if you consider it a need you will have to add more and more people to your relationship if they stop having sex with you (for whatever reason!) and you risk treating them as objects to fulfil this ‘need’. Such a paradigm is unsustainable.
The only way for him and his self esteem to improve is for him to take responsibility for his actions and emotions. But that must be his choice. Can you reach him?
Only by continuing to assume your own agency and by taking responsibility for your agency–and only yours.
If he cannot get what he wants from you, if he cannot force you take responsibility for his actions and/or emotions, he has very few options available to him.
If we consider our actions and abilities as a function of an inevitable pre-programmed script, then we cannot manage them, or change them. This is why you feel lost and out of control. But you have chosen this narrative (it is the easiest script for you–ask yourself why it is that you choose a state of ‘no agency’ in your relationships).
To boil it down to basics, right now there’s two sides of the story. What you can do to influence others’ opinion of your relationships, and what you can do for your son, so that he can still feel good about himself when faced with (the perhaps inevitable) society backlash.
She’s 27 years old, it’s time to let go. If she does have mental health issues as many might over the course of a lifetime, you are only stigmatizing her by under-estimating her capabilities and agency to sort it out herself. And if she does face challenges she doesn’t need you to sort it out, she needs a therapist (and that should be her decision). Be her support, but support her in being an adult.
Why should you consider not being romantic with your boyfriend in front of your child?
Romantic behaviour infers intimacy. For me, it’s not about whether intimacy is a harmful thing (or a ‘bad’ example – we’re not talking sexual behaviour, just ‘closeness’). It’s about the signals that you send your child regarding your new partner. Your intimacy with them is a demonstration of trust. Your child is attached to you, and implicitly trusts your judgement.
I want to be absolutely clear, that even though you are in a power exchange relationship, this does not mean you have to give up control of your life all the time. In a healthy D/s dynamic, you have the option of stopping the play at any given moment.
And it sounds like his involvement with this woman makes you feel unsafe.
Where does your own responsibility lie? Well, because women are used to emotional labour and programmed by society to run the ‘carer/nurturer’ script, it is perhaps also the case that you took on this work – in all likelihood without asking for help, without communicating your wants, needs and expectations – and are now left feeling resentful.