I wanted to message you (as I’m sure most people who message you do) about a poly/open relationship I’m in. As for the background, I’ve been separated for about 11 months and have been seeing someone for the last two and a half. He is also divorced and on the third night that he stayed over, I told him that I was not interested in an exclusive relationship. He said he felt the same and we agreed on condoms with others. I told him I wanted to know what was going on with him and that I was potentially interested in meeting, hanging out with or even being involved with other women he dated. He said he wasn’t sure what he wanted regarding my dalliances, so we agreed to play it by ear. First time try at poly/open for both of us.
Recently, he went on a dinner date with another woman without telling me. He later texted me what happened after he went AWOL and I didn’t anticipate how insecure I would feel after finding out. I decided, though, that I wanted to be open because I wanted to know that our time spent together was because we *wanted* to be together, and not because exclusivity made each of us our only options.
But then he brought his “date” to a party that he had invited me to. He didn’t tell me she was coming and when I arrived she was clinging to him in that tell-tale way that women in the early stages of an exclusive relationship do.
I would like to say that I flipped out, but instead I bit my tongue and ignored the two of them until such time as it was no longer socially awkward to leave. And then I cried my eyes out.
I know that part of my hurt was because I got blindsided. I also felt betrayed because I was honest with him about my intentions, and I was honest with my secondary about my intentions, but because he was not honest with his date about *me,* I suddenly felt like a mistress or a dog eating the leftover scraps.
In all your entries (well, the ones I’ve read at least), I’ve never read your stance on information sharing and honesty with the “others.” Why is it that when I imagine him with other women, I see myself meeting them, laughing, chatting about our time with him, and just generally getting along and being friends, but now that I see it actually happening, the very fact that I know what’s going on and she doesn’t just boils my insides?
I updated our contract and told him that my new conditions were that he be honest with the women he sees as well. I told him I’m out if he doesn’t. Is this unreasonable? Uncommon?
Thanks for being out there!
I think that asking your partner to explain why he didn’t want to give you what you asked for in terms of disclosure specifics would be an excellent start. Note the way I phrased that: “ask your partner”. Be open to an explanation rather than make an accusation. However, if I’d outlined something that specifically and had gotten a yes to the request (I’m presuming you got on here. Did you?) I would feel pretty insecure, myself. Habits of evasiveness or concealment can come from a lot of places and many of them aren’t necessarily teh ebbil, but they’re not very trust-building. This is a bit of rules-lawyering, but if you didn’t specifically say, “I want to know about dates before they happen” then he can very legitimately point out that he did volunteer the information about the date to you.
The party incident? That was pretty insensitive, if nothing else. Asking your partner if he’d explain the choice not to tell you that his other romantic interest was going to be there would be a good way to open some communication. Again, ask. While I’m having a hard time thinking of a good reason he would have neglected to convey the information, there are people in this world who are emotionally clueless on occasion, and direct and explicit dialog about what you want can be a real help here.
I have no idea in the world why you say you would have preferred to flip out about the zinger you got at the party. I think it’s perfectly okay not to make a scene at a party and wait until a more appropriate time to display/discuss your feelings. Wait, go cry one’s eyes out, then get a bit of equilibrium and talk about what you want strikes me as a good way to handle intense emotions. By the way, calmly stating, “I felt hurt” is expressing the emotion, too, as well as giving some information. We’re presuming the man cares whether or not you’re hurt so saying how you feel is a good idea. It’s not necessarily a command to him to make it all better, mind, but information is good.
I also think that not wanting to be a dirty little secret is a pretty common desire among poly people. It is not unreasonable or uncommon for this to be a pretty hard boundary with many polys. I would say that among the poly people I know, it’s more common than not. That’s the way I like to do things, myself. If you think about it, not telling someone something that they would end the relationship if they knew means that you’re coercing the person to have a relationship with you. I’m into freely-chosen relationships, myself.
I hope this works out for you.
Addendum: Now that I’ve made this blanket statement about whether or not it’s common to agree to be someone’s secret, I gotta ask you that have been poly awhile, would you be someone’s secret? Never. Sometimes? Under what conditions?