Unhelpful NRE Comparisons: “He’s Been Given What I Had to Earn”

oranges on the left of the photo, green granny smith apples on the right
Image by Ruth Hartnup / CC BY

“It just isn’t fair,” he says. “I see them falling in love so much faster than we did. This is zero to sixty in seconds, my partner and metamour.”

“Does the speed make you feel like you’re going to be replaced?” I ask.

“No, I’m actually not worried about that,” he says.

“Well, that’s good.”

“Like I said, it just doesn’t seem fair,” he says.

“What do you mean by that?” I ask. “How is it unfair that they’re falling in love quickly?”

“I worked for years to get the privileges I got with her.  And they’re basically weeks into this, and she’s practically wifed up with him. It doesn’t seem right to me that he is just given what I had to work to earn.”

I get what he’s saying and that the feelings are real, but this isn’t at all what I’ve seen. I’ve known him since he first started dating her. Theirs was a whirlwind romance, too. They fell together in an instant. I knew when I first saw them together that they would get married. Their chemistry was obvious, undeniable. It still is. They moved in and engaged quickly. I don’t recognize the slow slog of earned merit that he’s describing. From the outside it was a lightning-quick flurry of instant entanglement and intense passion.

I consider saying this, but I’ve already told him this once before, and he waved it away like I was speaking nonsense.

So I decide on a different angle.

It’s Not that He’s a Different Man, She’s a Different Woman

“You’re making a huge mistake here,” I say.

“Oh?”

“One that’s been needlessly tormenting you.”

“What’s that?” he asks. He has snapped to attention. I definitely have his interest.

“You’ve been comparing her relationship with him and yours with her.  They’re entirely different things,” I say.

He looks disappointed. I don’t blame him. Don’t compare is poly advice that’s effortless to give but incredibly difficult to execute — humans are social animals. And social referencing is an important part of how we even work. Which sometimes includes social comparisons. Even if to do so is emotionally damaging or distressing.

But I’m actually on my way to a different point, so I continue. “When you met your wife, she was single. She was also younger and less experienced. This is a different woman than the one you met. She is going to fall in love differently. And while it’s easy to compare their NRE with the NRE you had and find that threatening, it’s not a good comparison.”

He sits up.

“You’ve opened her heart and made her more emotionally secure.” And it’s true. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. She’s transformed over the years that I’ve known her.

“Now I need to become secure,” he says. “What a plot twist.”

I laugh.

*

My book is out!

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory

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