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-   -   Ethical/moral dilemma with bf's secondary (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=21073)

lolalondon 02-07-2012 10:41 PM

Ethical/moral dilemma with bf's secondary
Hello to everyone, I could really do with some insight on this!

Just a quick intro, I've always tended to be non-monogamous in my relationships (but never cheated). Female, 32, have been with current bf for nearly 2 years. This is my second non-mono relationship. Started as an open relationship but as we're becoming more secure and comfortable and happier with each other I can see it going poly. He even has a lady friend I'd be happy for him to be poly with. However, this issue is about a lady friend I'm, well, realllly confused and conflicted about.

My man is 40 and like most people has some issues of his own - namely ADHD which has been undiagnosed for most of his life and caused him a LOT of untold suffering, depression and low self-esteem. He's sorted through most of this and in a good place. Also he has delayed ejaculation which can make him go all night but also self-conscious. I'm generally secure but have some abandonment anxiety and jealousy and stuff, we're both very open and try to understand each other and support each other.

When he was still married (he separated from wife before meeting me) he had a lady friend, let's call her M. She's in her early 20s, was a virgin when they met, socially awkward and shy and at the same time passive-aggressive and with anger issues. Doesn't sound emotionally mature or stable really. Anyway... he ended up sleeping with her while breaking up with wife. They were together for a while but she really drove him mad with her aggression and general demand and attitude (she'd sulk for whole evenings, or just not talk all night if she wasn't in the mood). She's also generally unstable, changing jobs/getting sacked every 3-6 months, moving flats every 6 months or so, just something odd going on there. And doesn't seem to have friends, only him.

He pulled away from having a relationship with her, he tried going open at first and it was still an issue so he ended up not sleeping with her anymore and telling her they were just going to be friends. For the next year, she'd still come over once a week and spend the night (they both work until late so it makes sense, she'd only arrive at 11pm or so). He'd speak to me on the phone in front of her, she knew about us and obviously was upset that he stopped being romantically involved with her but never talked about this directly because she's just not very communicative. He avoided letting us meet for AGES until I had enough and insisted, I met her a couple of weeks ago. She's young and pretty enough, but walks around like a puppy that's been kicked, avoids eye contact, speaks in near whisper and is apparently always like this. Like a fairly traumatised girl who has no self-esteem.

I'm a therapist by profession and, well, she just reminds me of some of my patients. He's asked if he could start having sex with her again as a fuck buddy at some time in the future if I get to know her a bit better and decide I'm comfortable with it. He said sometimes when she's around he feels like sleeping with her, and that he doesn't like feeling so constrained since she doesn't constitute a threat to our relationship (I agree). The way he sees it, she'd make a good fuck buddy as they get on well as mates and apparently she has a low sex drive and only wants it once in a while so they wouldn't be having sex every time she visits. But I have the following worries:

1. She was a virgin when they met and I believe hasn't had any sexual relationships since, so no experience or sexual experimentation. Is this really mature enough to get involved in something like this? I just feel she'll end up getting hurt and it'll have an impact on our relationship.

2. She is so devoted to him and he's her only close friend and person she's been intimate with, I know she is in love with him and he's not with her in the same way. She's asked him several times why they couldn't be together and he keeps telling her they don't work together as partners but make good friends - she seems to accept this but could change if they start sleeping together again. He does however have genuine affection for her but would always put me first. He said I should trust him to manage this if there's emotional fallout, but it doesn't feel fair on her... I know he's been clear with her but I do wonder if she'd just put up with whatever he gives her as she doesn't know any better. The last two times she moved flats she's been getting places closer to him, and he doesn't see why it's freaking me out!

3. As I mentioned, he's not had an easy life and it's like sometimes he thinks he's as emotionally damaged as she is so it's ok, but actually he'd be going home to a loving relationship and she wants one with him but can't have it, it's as though he won't accept that this might not be in her best interest - or tell me poly people, is this simply non of my business and I should trust him?

I feel bad about being so controlling of their interactions and feel I should just set him free, our relationship should survive it even if it's a mistake, but...

I also feel a bit creeped out that he'd be so into sleeping with this vulnerable, emotionally messed up and isolated girl who is nearly young enough to be his daughter. Is it moral? Do I have a right to say no? Should I stop assuming I know what's good for this fully grown adult I don't know very well? Or should I pull him up on potentially doing her some real emotional and psychological damage? Help, so confused!!

And thanks to all :)

AutumnalTone 02-08-2012 03:42 AM

They are both adults, yes? How about you let them figure out what will or won't work in the manner that adults do? Yes, she may be late in learning lessons the rest of us did at an earlier age--it's still a part of growing up that she needs to accomplish. He may see quite different things in her that lead him to believe it would be good for her; whether he's mistaken or not really isn't your concern.

ThatGirlInGray 02-08-2012 07:01 AM

I would say if you've talked to him about your concerns they same way you've expressed them to us, then you're stuck with leaving the decision up to him. I would definitely mention the creeped out bit. This is one time where you need to rein in your therapist side (and boy do I understand that!) and, instead of focusing on the harm it might do to her, focus on how it makes you feel. Once he knows how the situation bothers you, then it's up to him to choose his course of action.

ThatGirlInGray 02-08-2012 07:09 AM


Originally Posted by AutumnalTone (Post 123932)
How about you let them figure out what will or won't work in the manner that adults do?

And how do adults do that? By seeing a therapist, maybe, which she is, so I get the gut reaction to act like one. Or sometimes by completely screwing up relationships and causing unnecessary amounts of hurt and pain. I can see where she'd want to avoid that. Oh, I'm sorry, did you mean the way HEALTHY and STABLE adults do?? From what I read that may not apply here. (Lola, that bit's not directed at you OR your guy. You're right, everyone has problems of some sort. That was in reference to the girl.)

whether he's mistaken or not really isn't your concern.
Of course it is- if something negatively affects him it's quite likely it's going to (at least for a while) affect her, and even from a less selfish standpoint there's nothing wrong with her being concerned about the person she loves getting hurt. There may not be anything she should DO about it, but there's nothing wrong with being concerned.

AnnabelMore 02-08-2012 07:31 AM

If I were you, I would say clearly to my partner that I was NOT comfortable with him being intimately involved with this woman and probably never would be. Too much dysfunction there, it'd be inviting drama into your lives. And yes, it's ok also to recognize that this is probably not a healthy situation for her and to not want to see that continue/worsen. Hell, I don't think I'd even be ok with the sleepovers... she needs a chance to move on...

lolalondon 02-08-2012 08:39 PM

Thank you all for your input. I guess that's my problem - you all represent the different angles I take on this, and in a sense the different voices in my head ! That's why I'm so torn :)

ThatGirlInGray, I think you're right and I should just explain it to him. In fact, I'm going to ask him to read this thread and I guess, well... then let him make his own mind. I feel like he needs proof that I trust him to take care of things, even if this means trusting him to make his own mistakes. And the power dynamics here are already so fucked up - he has ultimate power over his relationship with her, deciding they're friends when she would rather they were more, and then I have power over their interactions and I want out of this. I've spent so long feeling bad that my existence, and the fact that he fell in love with me and decided to commit to me, has hurt her and I'm sick of feeling this way. I know I do tend to think too much about how other people feel, maybe I'm overdoing it... it's great when I get paid for it but a headache in my spare time!

Anyway, do I have any reason to feel a moral obligation towards this girl or wanting to protect her from having her heart stomped on? Do I have a right to feel he's being a little bit amoral and selfish by being so careless about the psychological or emotional impact it could have on her? He's normally an incredibly caring and conscientious person, but he's also a very sexual and sexually experienced man and I feel he's just totally blind to the fact that sex and intimacy could mean a hell of a lot to her than it does to him. I mean, if she found sex easy she'd be having it with other people by now. It's like he thinks that because he made it clear they're just going to be friends he's not going to break her heart, and I'm surprised he's so naive. I also know he has a tendency to try to please everyone and maybe he thinks if he gives her a little of what she wants (to be physically close to him) she'll be happy even though she won't get what she really wants (to be his in a relationship with him) and seems cruel to me to give her a taste of what she can never have. Then again he knows her better than I do... Idk, maybe I'm just reading too much into all of this :confused:

Anneintherain 02-09-2012 12:57 AM

Just a quick note - in your position I would probably tell him I was not comfortable with him dating her because she has already said she is in love with him. I get people get to make their own decisions, but I find it cruel when somebody doesn't love somebody who loves them, but is willing to use them for a fuckbuddy while it is convenient.

That just doesn't strike me as a caring friend. I don't think I could be in any relationship with somebody who consciously did that though. I might not be vehement in my feelings with a secondary sort of partner in this case, but I certainly would be with my husband if he was to want to do something like that. In either case, if it impacted our relationship at all in any way that I had to see the negative effect it was having on her, I would probably feel obliged to end the relationship if the woman's pain and misery and un-returned love wasn't enough to get my partner to end it.

edit: I really do want to say I don't envy your position. It is nice to see you considering all the angles.

lolalondon 02-09-2012 02:03 AM

^ I'm not sure she clearly stated she loves him, but it's obvious and she has asked him before why they can't be together, several times. I know it's been a source of pain for her.

My bf's counter-argument is that I've had a fuck buddy who would have liked something more with given the chance and who had feelings for me. This is true. But it's also true that the situation involved a man who lives far away and I used to see him occasionally, and who is experienced and older and dates other women, and I did talk to him before we entered a sexual relationship about the fact that I'll never be his gf. He said he is happy with that and never ever caused drama or acted in a hurt way. My bf thinks it's an example of him trusting me to manage a situation where a secondary had feelings for me and I should have the same trust in him. Whenever I try to say it's different because the guy I was involved with wasn't so majorly hung up on me and was far away and emotionally mature enough to deal with it, bf gets annoyed that it's always ok when I do things then I judge his actions by a different set of standards.

Maybe he's right, but I also think that if he doesn't take emotional responsibility for the power he has over this girl and how vulnerable she is, and if she gets hurt and has a breakdown or something I will lose a lot of respect for him. And I'm not denying that I'm jealous of the special connection they have, I am, still I'd deal with it if I didn't think he was being a bit flippant. At the same time, he'd argue she's an adult, and she's been clearly told they'll never be more than friends, so if she's happy doing it who am I to say it's not ok? I'm not her mum, thank god, and not his dad, it just makes me feel like I'm taking a moral high ground or being controlling and I don't know if it's justified... but it all just feels a bit... icky, and dysfunctional like AnnabelMore said. He's had a lot of dysfunctional relationships in his life so maybe he's comfortable with that but I've generally had healthy, nurturing and mutually respectful relationships (on the whole) so I'm not used to this way of thinking/ treating people like this. Maybe he needs to keep some dysfunctionality in his life to feel happy? ;)

Still, I do feel sorry for her whatever happens... and not sure how to get my point across to him without seeming like a controlling bitch - I mean, he's not had sex with her for a year, introduced her to me, made sure I was comfortable and also that she was ok with it, stopped her staying over every time she visits, etc... so he followed the rules and should get his reward now, right?

lolalondon 02-09-2012 11:50 PM

...and I guess the other difficult thing to get my head around is that, having been around since before I even met my bf, this girl is around for the long term. She's not just going to disappear, their friendship is important to him as he doesn't have a large group of friends to socialise with and I definitely don't want to damage this friendship. I just need to accept that she is and going to remain a big part of his (and our) lives, sex or not sex. I do feel better for no longer trying to fight this, letting go of possessiveness and I'm hopeful that I can meet her a few more times and for things to be less compartmentalised (I've been seeing him for nearly two years, only met her for the first time last month so you might be able to understand that this has been getting bigger and scarier in my head). I think I will just share all my anxieties with him, but ultimately leave it up to him. I trust him and know he is a good man, even if he might end up making a mistake on this one. I do hope that he'll realise it's a bad move when left to think about it for himself but I need to prepare for the possibility he might do it anyway.

Thank you all for the support and advice xxx

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