'Complicated' is one way to put it.
Here's my situation, which I'm sure is not unique. I just haven't met another soul who's been there done that/doing that and I'm hoping perhaps I will here.
I have been married for 21 years. We have a FANTASTIC relationship. We married young and sure, we've had some rough spots like anyone, but we always worked through it and only became more devoted. About five years ago we began evolving in our views of the world, etc and eventually came to find that the idea of polyamory was completely acceptable to us.
Since I am the jealous one my husband realized that I would have to be the first one to experience loving more than one to really grasp how this could work without meaning that our relationship is anything less as a result. I am not the type of person who can have casual sex. There has to be a deep emotional bond for me.
I really made no attempt to go find another man to have a relationship with. I knew that I was free to do so if I wished but I was perfectly happy with my life and didn't feel like I was missing out on anything or needing anything more in the relationship department...until....
A new guy was hired at my place of employment about a year ago and I recognized instantly that I was attracted to him. (I find many men attractive, but this was very different.) We got to work together several times and a friendship developed quickly. I became quite intensely fond of this man fairly quickly and told my husband about it. He encouraged me to flirt and let this guy know how much I liked him.
I'll skip all that and just say, we are now in a relationship.
Here's the complicated part; He's married. His marriage is void of all physical affection and emotional closeness. He has two children and has no intention of leaving his wife which I am totally fine with. In fact, it breaks my heart how unhappy his marriage makes him and I wish so much that it could be repaired. He has asked her if he could have a 'friend with benefits' since she will no longer do anything to meet his sexual/physical intimacy needs. She has made it perfectly clear that she would leave if he were to do that. (I should add that she is Japanese and there are some very intense cultural issues on the table.)
He has never cheated on her....until now (and the physical aspect of his marriage died over 5 years ago). I NEVER, in my wildest dreams, EVER thought I would be someone that would have a relationship with someone who is married, let alone behind the other spouse's back. I assure you, I do not need any judgement from others on this. I have NO INTENT whatsoever of trying to ruin this man's life, break up his marriage, break his wife's heart, etc, etc.
I am genuinely in love with him and want nothing more than to see him happy and give him that which he is not getting and yet deserves and needs. He insists that the spark will never again be there in his marriage. I am powerless to help in this arena. It's not like I can call her up and ask her why she doesn't love him or why she thinks it's okay to tell him he can't meet his needs if she is not going to be there for him in that way.
It gets even more complicated. We've only been together physically, twice, and he is having some guilt issues. Part of me can completely understand this and I actually feared this would happen because he is a good man. But the other part of me rationalizes it in this way; 'it's just not okay for one person to tell another person, "You cannot have a basic human need met because I'm not going to meet it for you and I won't let you get it met by anyone else either, or else I will _fill in the blank_."
Frankly, it's abusive in my opinion. It would be different if she was at least loving toward him. She no longer sleeps in the bedroom with him, doesn't tell him she loves him, doesn't hug or kiss him "hello" or "good-bye". As he puts it, 'it's more like a roommate situation."
But even despite all that he feels guilty about having developed an attachment to another woman, and acting on it. As a result we have slowed down on the physical aspect, which if fine with me. I just want to continue to love him, spend time with him, and be the best friend I can to him. (I admit, I am EXTREMELY physically attracted to him and hope, that someday, we can work through these issues.)
Perhaps I am not necessarily looking for any advice here, but rather, some shared experience so I don't feel so, well, like I'm the only one on the planet who's experienced something like this.
Cheating is not acceptable in a responsible/ethical poly relationship. Do some research on here and see what you can find in terms of this situation... a tag search for "cheating" will bring up many threads on this topic and how it has effected everyone involved. He feels guilty because he is destroying another persons trust, faith and his commitment to her. Very valid and his gut is telling him something that he is not listening to.
I can understand that he is unhappy. This marriage he is in is over and neither of them are doing something to move on. I suggest he leave her or fess up. It has hardly ever come to pass that this ends in good things. If he cheats on her he will cheat on you. In my opinion its cowardly behaviour and extremely damaging to all those involved. There is no integrity in it and that to me is one of the strongest foundations of poly.
Frankly, this isn't poly at all. Its about you helping him cheat on his wife that he no longer has a relationship with. He wants one with you and is too chicken shit to end his marriage. It sounds like he has no intention of making it work with his wife.
I don't see why he should stay. There isn't anything noble about hanging on to this marriage... just because. The kids certainly don't need to be raised in a household where the parents are so cold to each other. I don't understand why he doesn't consider leaving as a viable option, unless he's addicted to being miserable somehow.
As far as continuing to see him, well, you've said that you are only spending time with him as friends now. Okay. Your conscience, and his, will guide your actions. You know people will judge you but only you two can know what is right for you. If I were in your place I might encourage him to examine all the angles, and just look at the possibility of leaving her. Not for you, but for himself. I am sure your friendship will mean a lot to him.
Has your husband met or gotten to know him, as well? He probably could use a good male friend, and male perspective, to help him through making tough decisions.
I'm going to preface this post by saying that I am not going to respond to any comments about why my opinion is wrong or awful. I have done a lot of soul-searching; this was my opinion before coming to this forum, and after reading many legitimate, logical arguments against cheating here and reading awful stories about people who have been cheated on, I have found that my opinion still has not changed.
I'm offering my opinion to the OP, but after finishing this post, I realized that her coworker should be the one reading it. Only he can make the best decision about what to do.
I have to say though, and this is something I've always felt, Dan Savage hits the nail on the freaking head. (No, I have not "always" known about Dan Savage, but when I heard him speak about this topic for the first time, it was like being hit by a train with the realization that I wasn't an awful person for feeling this.)
Sometimes, IN VERY RARE CASES, cheating is the least evil thing to do.
On an unrelated note, and also very good advice:
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put on my flame retardant suit.
TP, I kind of danced around the issue by saying "Your conscience, and his, will guide your actions. You know people will judge you but only you two can know what is right for you." I did have that sense, too, that maybe reciting the "no cheating" line of thought might be too heavy-handed for THIS situation. I didn't want to step in shit, so I focused more on the possibility of him leaving the marriage. The OP did say that there was no emotional closeness as well as no sex between her bf and his wife, so to me that seems like a relationship that isn't "perfectly amazing" in other areas.
But I also can see, IN THIS CASE, that having a clandestine affair might indeed be the lesser evil for this man. I would rarely, more like never, take that stance. But it is true that sometimes people do what they have to, despite what we "know" is "right." And yes, many good healthy poly relationships started from cheating in the beginning.
I met a guy at a poly cocktail party here in NY who told me he was cheating on his wife with one of the other women who was there at the party with her husband. She and her husband are quite prominent in this circle. I was kind of shocked that they weren't being shunned and shown the door. He (the cheater guy) told me his wife would never go for poly. He described her as "an old Italian Catholic housewife" who wouldn't have sex with him anymore.
I don't think I could feel comfortable being with someone who's cheating, but I can feel for these men. Someone like that, who refuses sex, will probably also refuse to go to therapy to look at changing that. A marriage is over, but people choose to stay together for whatever reasons, and it's possible the wife could be saying she would never accept it when really she would, but she just would rather look the other way and not know for sure, instead of giving her blessing. This happens all the time.
I always say to people that I would never want to be the reason a man lies to his wife. And I wouldn't. But if the man has a miserable cold wall to greet him every day, and there is nothing between them either emotionally or sexually, what does he have to go home to? The biggest lie is holding onto a marriage which isn't supposed to be how it is now. And we never quite know who will come into our lives and draw us to them. The OP fell in love with this man. I don't believe in accidents. So, while I make an effort not to be in that kind of situation, "never say never."
No, cheating is not ethical non-monogamy. But are we always ethical in everything we do in life? Have I always given back the money when I was handed too much change in a store? Nope. I wouldn't encourage the OP's bf to do it, but it is something they need to wrestle with and decide for themselves.
However, the OP stated that he is wracked with guilt and in anguish over what they already have done on the sly, so it would take a lot of soul-searching to move ahead with whatever choice he makes.
Ah, thank you. I thought you might have been dancing around it, but didn't want to put (such drastic) words in your mouth.
Also, I missed the part about emotional closeness, so yeah, the kids are more than likely suffering.
Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies. I am still digesting but there were many useful things said. I don't necessarily agree with everything, but I'm not going to get into a debate.
I will say this real quick: Yes, my husband and he have met and my husband is quite fond of him and is sympathetic to the issues I struggle with in this relationship.
I do believe the children are suffering, as indicated by things my bf has shared about the home life. There is sooooooo much I need to talk about with my bf to get him to think about his situation more, but as of late we have had almost no time together due to work.
I, too, do not believe in accidents. Right now, my main focus is just one day at a time. I might reply more later. Got to get the kids to school and I'm going on a field trip with my youngest today.
So how long has this relationship been going on?
And how has your husband handled it. Have the decks been clear for him to find other loves and lovers? Can you see yourself get jealous now with this new experience and perspective?
As might be expected, I'm to fall over on Trucker Pete's side of this.
I respect what many choose to feel as the "high road" (hands off). But like Savage (quoted) and TP, I don't think that philosophical stance always reflects (or envelops) reality.
There are MANY reasons that one may need to stay in a marriage regardless of it shortcomings. Or that out of all choices, that is the best one. There are kids, finances, taxes, insurance etc etc that all are important factors and are big components of "marriage". I've often said, marriage is little more than a legal contract - a business arrangement - that may or may not include fringe benefits (affection, sex etc). And in many cases those elements are the ones that go missing first-if they ever really existed.
And those needs ARE REAL ! And they deserve to be addressed in some way. Ideally they could be addressed in a positive fashion - whether it be poly or prostitution. But unfortunately, we're not there yet as a species. So most, as you are, do the best we can.
It's always risky, often gets ugly, but sometimes blossoms. You can't know until you try. It just depends on how much of a risk taker you are and what's really at risk.
I thought to add another point of view. I'm generally a very trusting person, but if I were to start a relationship with somebody who was cheating on somebody else (don't think I would but never say never), I would find it hard to trust them. How do you know he's telling the truth about all the stuff going on in his marriage? How do you know you're not just one of the many women he lies to?
I'm also the kind of person that in the end I cannot take it when people don't help themselves. Even if I understood the reasons somebody stays in their (dead/dysfunctional) relationship, I couldn't be there to support them in that decision if it's making them miserable. My empathy will run out at some point. Will yours?
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