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-   -   Polyamory and affairs (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2353)

Honestheart 03-21-2010 03:59 AM

Polyamory and affairs
Can you have an affair if you are in a polyamorous relationship?
polyamory for me is about having an open and honest relationship that thrives on open and honest communication. without this, it just doesnt work
so...here's the thing. how do you deal with your partner hiding another lover/partner from you?
for example
lets say you dated somebody and your partner knew about that relationship. that relationship broke off for whatever reason. you then again engaged in a relationship with that same person you broke up with but this time you did not tell your other partner until months later.
you've always had the understanding with each other to be upfront about interest BEFORE you dated...
would this be considered an affair?
I personally don't think so, after all you are in an open type relationship in dating others while still dating each other... you were just beign true to your heart. altho i do agree that it is a serious concern that needs to be addressed because it is a breach of communication and honestly but i dont think its an affair. i really dont think its possible to have an affair if you are poly. because the flip side to this is, isnt polyamory about being tru to your heart and all the possibilities it provides in that you can and do fall in love with more then one person at a time. then again, if you and your partner turly beleive this then why hide other partners from them?
does anyof this make snese?
anyways looking for thoughts as this came up in a relationship and i was wondering what people thought.
disagreements? anybody care to comment?

does anybody know of any support systems out there for situations like this?

SourGirl 03-21-2010 05:55 AM

Define 'Affair"
First,..you would need to Define the word "affair" as it is subjective and open to interpretation.

I don`t think it`s being used quite correctly here.

If affair in the simple logic is 'cheat'....then yes, I believe what you describe, is cheating.

Cheating, has nothing to do with what you do, how you do it, or who you do it with.
It has everything to do with being upfront and honest about any actions.

If you betray, sneak, hide, distort the truth from your partner, in a physical, evident way, that is a cheat in my eyes.


I believe the 'essence' of being poly, is openess, honesty, and communication. Lying to others, or yourself is not part of being Poly.

I hope this doesn`t come across as judgemetal. This is my own thought process. We each have to come to terms with things in our own ways.

The bigger thing, is what your partner thinks. If THEY feel betrayed, then THAT is what matters. If they don`t, then it is a non-issue.

I have been in a position, where I had a on-again, off-again romance, that my primary was not thrilled with. Some topics were very, very hard to approach, and I hurt when we didn`t agree. Still, he always knew what I was doing, and when. I never betrayed that trust.

If you simplify, and don`t get caught up in the details, it`s easy to remember what makes being poly different from cheating. Blur those lies, and it taints the wonderful aspect of poly.

vandalin 03-21-2010 06:11 AM

I have to agree with SJ here. If you break down and go with the intended meaning of affair, poly is all about affairs if you are married or in an LTR.

Affair=having relations with someone who you are not married to.
Cheating=lying or misleading to get what you want.

What you have described, not telling the primary partner that you are having relations with someone, anyone, is cheating. The only time this is not cheating is if you have an agreement with the SO that all relationships are Don't Ask Don't Tell. That I believe is usually uncommon in poly though more likely in a sexually open relationship that is not for the purpose of emotions as poly is.

But also as SJ says, this is just my $0.02.

thunkybunny 03-21-2010 07:06 AM

I'll go one further and define cheating as fucking around first, and THEN informing significant other(s) AFTERWARD. That's the cowards' way to poly.

GroundedSpirit 03-21-2010 03:17 PM

Hi Honest,

I like to avoid getting all tangled up in terminology (affair, cheat etc) and try to keep the focus on whats, right, fair, healthy & wise.

1>Nothing cuts the legs out from under a relationship (ANY) like lack of trust.
2>Trust is built through honesty & openness

Does what I am doing (or considering) meet at least these two conditions ?

If not - maybe I need to backup and rethink.

Because, quite simply, if and when the lack of #2 ever surfaces-comes to light- it has no option but to ripple back up the tree to # 1 . Trust is weakened. And that''s a REALLY slow healing wound which some never recover from.

My thoughts anyway............


AutumnalTone 03-21-2010 07:10 PM


Originally Posted by Honestheart (Post 24531)
how do you deal with your partner hiding another lover/partner from you?

That is cheating, as others have said. No ifs, ands, or buts. If somebody is actively hiding another relationship and they've agreed to a poly relationship that relies on openness and honesty, it's cheating.


does anybody know of any support systems out there for situations like this?
Other than someplace like this? No. Perhaps some of the folks in your local poly community are available to provide emotional support, so you could ask around there (if you know any poly folk locally).

CielDuMatin 03-21-2010 07:28 PM

If you have agreed that the rules of your relationship are that you tell each other about and you break those, then that is cheating on your relationship, no question.

You ask about support systems - what sort of support do you feel you need? Maybe if you could give us some idea we could point you in a better direction.

Honestheart 03-21-2010 08:28 PM

wow guys, thanks!!!! no i honestly do not think anybody is being judgmental. I really appreciate the replies! I was on the fence, but thought hey...if i'm gonna do this take a stance then see what other think!
I'm not hung up on the terminology per se but...its kinda important for me to understand and part of understanding is a label... you know what i mean?
and yes, now i agree that when it hurts the other person... and it is hidden...its cheating/an affair
so hears the question...when a hurt liek this happens...is it time to close the doors on poly? after all, if this happened because of a lack of trust and openness whic is the core part of poly lifestyle... do you end it and go back to monogamy. maybe, if you did this you're just not "cut out" for a poly lifestyle?
does any of this make sense?

and as fer support.. ANYTHING! online support groups perhaps? theres not really a poly community here, small town. backwards thinking. for example, when i mentioned to a therapist about "open" relationships to try and explain the difference between poly and "open" well... they didn't know what an pol relationship meant and they automatically thought polyamory was polygamy....

and i agree now.... fucking around, even if there's emotional attachments involved (ok even if there love involved) and its with a previous partner, and the break up was recent well... it is cheating/affair...
gotcha ;-)

StitchwitchD 03-21-2010 10:16 PM

I'm curious about perspectives of people who have been cheated on in the context of a poly relationship.

The only situations I've heard about this happening were along the lines of Person A and Person B make a relationship agreement, when put in practice it works much better for A than B, B wants to renegotiate, A insists on sticking with the original agreement, B expresses frustration and unhappiness, A ignores B's attempts to communicate, B finally violates the agreement, A gets hurt and upset with B for cheating, and either leaves B, or uses the cheating and lack of trust to guilt B into agreeing to even stricter terms for their relationship.

saudade 03-21-2010 11:01 PM

@Honestheart, welcome!

I'm sorry that you seem to be in a predicament. Finding your way to poly is often ugly.

Dishonesty does wreck trust, and makes it hard to have a relationship, open or not. Does that mean you should stop being poly? Not necessarily. It does mean, I think, that you should slow down and think things through. Talk to everyone romantically involved and work things out... which might involve some monogamous couple time to rebuild trust, or it might not.

Here's a thread on seeking poly-supportive counselling:

Good luck!

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