need advice on whether truth is best in this situation
It's a little complex but I'll try to be as succinct as possible.
I am a single poly woman, and I started dating two men within a couple weeks of each other just about 2 months ago.
I met Rob first and we hit it off. He was recently separated and because he anticipates a lengthy and difficult divorce process, he was specifically looking for just a friend and lover, trying not to involve anyone in his mess. Since I was also coming out of a disaster of a relationship, it sounded like the perfect fit - keep things on the light side, commiserate about challenges with the situations we were leaving, and both get our sexual needs met as we did.
We had talked, met and then been intimate on 2 occasions and a few days after the last he told me that he had agreed to more counseling with his ex for the sake of his child - she presented him with the deal that if he did 6 weeks of counseling and it still didn't work out, she wouldn't fight him on full custody. I told him at that time that I could remain his friend but couldn't be intimate with him while he was “back” with his wife, even if it was a charade. He understood.
Around that time I met Tom. Tom is poly, married, and I met his wife before our first date. We hit it off like gangbusters - nearly instant attraction - and have spent every weekend together since meeting just over a month ago. His wife fully supports our relationship. Tom and Rob know about each other and that I am developing feelings for each of them.
In the time we were being just friends, Rob and I got much closer than I think we would have if we'd continued just down the whole friends with benefits road. We talked intimately about our situations (my ex has been stalking me during this time, too) and became each other’s support systems.
So, here's the rub. A couple of weeks ago Rob and I had a heart to heart and he expresses that he is absolutely sure his marriage is not going to work for myriad reasons and he is in the process of gathering what is needed to end the marriage and obtain full custody of his child. I think long and hard and decide I am ok with being intimate with him given the circumstances - we had a night coming up where we would have the opportunity - as I trust him and that he is telling the truth. We've been in each other’s lives for so little time, I am sure that he is not leaving his marriage FOR me, and even though we are developing feelings for each other, we are both committed to relationships with more than just each other.
Now, when I first met Tom, I told him about the current situation with Rob (no sex at that time) and he is fine. Well right about the same time that I decide I'm ok with being sexual with Rob and then we are sexual, Tom seems a little insecure that I'm seeing Rob and spills that he has deep issues with cheating (due to past experiences) and is not comfortable with me being intimate with Rob until he is actually separated. Tom's reaction is so strong that I repeat that I'm not intimate with Rob, even though I just have been.
It was a spur of the moment decision to not tell Tom the complete truth, and now I'm really confused what to do. At the time, I was thinking that both of these relationships were so new that I'm just feeling my way with each of them. I didn’t really know where each of them were leading exactly – we were just starting to talk about ‘feelings’ and ‘relationships’ rather than just dating, so I reserved my right to privacy on my decision that I was comfortable, morally, with being intimate with Rob at the time that I was. I mean, I don’t really compare notes about sex between partners anyway, and really only talk about intimacy with others in the context of safer sex.
Now, though, as I find myself becoming emotional about both of these men, I wonder if I owe Tom the truth and even if I owe it to Rob that Tom know the truth. I’ve read the theory that some truths are best kept to yourself, and I’m having a difficult time deciding if this is one of them. Would I merely be salving my conscience in coming clean to Tom? Is it useful for him to know about this if I don’t believe this is commentary on my character overall? And, on that note, is that my decision to make – do I owe it to him to let him decide that matter for himself? I blurted to Rob one night that I hadn’t been able to tell Tom we were intimate again, and Rob thinks I should come clean, so if I ultimately determine that I think that truth shouldn’t be told, do I risk damaging the relationship with Rob?
By the way, Rob is now separated, and although I won’t see him much for the coming weeks as he contends with the fallout, we are confident we will see each other again and have a relationship in the future. And with further discussion, I am confident that Tom is fine with my having an intimate relationship with Rob just that it would upset him to know an instance occurred during that period of time before he became separated again.
I’m interested in opinions on how I should proceed. I’ve already contended with my conscience on the initial decisions that led to this quandary, and understand my motivations and I am secure that I won’t repeat any mistakes I made in the future. My main concern is that if I decide that withholding the truth is the right thing to do under these circumstances that I’m not actually doing so as a measure of self-protection but rather because it is the best thing to do.
So you and Rob had sex while he was separated and before you met Tom. You stopped having sex with Rob when he said he was going to do a 6 week trial with his wife. You started dating Tom.
I would say that if you were to resume a sexual relationship with Rob that Tom needs to know. As far as I can see though you acted in good faith under the impression that Rob was already separated from his wife and then you broke off the sexual part of the relationship when you learned that wasn't the case anymore.
You can tell Tom about the past if you want to and if it will sit easier on your conscience but being that what transpired between you and Rob happened before Tom was on the scene I don't think it's something that needs to be shared if you just think it's going to cause more pain than it's worth.
ETA If you're going to resume a sexual relationship with Rob Tom needs to know. If it's going to be extremely painful for Tom why not just wait till the 6 weeks are up and the separation is official?
I don't know if it is necessary to recount every little detail in chronological order to Tom. I do think it's time to say to him, simply, "Rob's separation is now official and we have decided to have sex again." Why get into it anymore than that?
I think the above quote is important. And maybe it will help you decide where that fuzzy line draws.
It seems as though Tom places a potentially high value on honesty and ethics. Reality is, unless everyone is comfortable otherwise, your choices of sexual activity are your own. In the sake of honesty and trust, yes, it's best to share the fact that you are intimate with "others", are being "safe" about it etc and THAT has to be trusted and respected.
The details of whether your 'others' are in or out of a relationship etc are really only your stone to carry. IMO that level of detail is not necessary to be shared. As you mentioned, both these relationships are new and there's no projecting whether any of them will have any lasting power. If that does happen then my thoughts would change/have extensions for the long term stability of a poly configuration. But that's not where you are now.
Your challenge it seems is to substantiate your ethical side to Tom without also giving him the impression he is 'entitled' to in-depth details of your other lovers. At this point it's all exploration on everyones part and given the fact that you are up front and honest about the fact that you are poly and intend to stay that way is really 'notice served'. More than that requires everyone to EARN rights to more detail.
That's my thoughts anyway..........
Info is important, details are not.
Whoever is out of the loop deserves to know if he is sleeping with someone, who is sleeping with others. He reserves the right to plan/protect his own health.
Flip-side : Shouldn`t YOU know if either of them have other sexual partners ?
As for details,...not needed, not owed. For the 'stage' you are at in dating, I`d say anyone demanding details, is looking to control the situation.
I agree with GS and SG. Neither of your lovers need details about each other's other relationships; all they need to know is that you are sexual with other people.
You need to stop lying especially because this man has issues with cheating. If he figures it out he will feel betrayed and your relationship may end.
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