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-   -   In Love With My Best Friends Wife: Looking For Advice (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25051)

openminds 06-26-2012 01:06 AM

In Love With My Best Friends Wife: Looking For Advice
sorry if there's another thread like this out there. I looked, but I didn't see one.

backstory: My best friend and his wife are poly. They are both currently dating other people, and have a very good setup regarding negotiation, boundaries, communication, etc. I've been spending a lot of time with them recently, and I've found myself incredibly attracted to his wife on a very deep emotional level (I don't want to actually call it "love", because I think that's kind of melodramatic, but it was the easiest thing to say in the title). She acts very much like she reciprocates these feelings, but of course, I can't know for sure unless I ask.

So my question is, how should I see if this is something I can pursue? I'm currently single, and I've always been monogamous. I've never tried poly, but I've talked with them before about how I don't think its for me. but I would really, really be interested in trying to date this particular woman in this particular poly setup.

my problem is that I'm worried that my best buddy, who usually doesnt really have any problems with his wife dating whoever, might have a problem with me, specifically, dating her. I consider the friendship of both of them to be very important to me, and I'm don't like the idea of putting my ability to stay friends with them in jeopardy.

So. If I were smart, how would I do this? Should I try to talk to my friend first, or his wife first? Should I get them both together and bring it up at the same time? If I think my friend might have a problem with it, should I suck it up and leave them alone? What kinds of issues can I expect to run into that might surprise a usually mono person?

Tonberry 06-26-2012 05:10 AM

I would probably talk to both of them. If you talk to one of them first, it might seem like you went behind the other's back, and you're friends with both.

Tell them something along the lines of "listen, I want to be clear that I value our friendship the most. But I wanted to let you know I really like [wife]. I don't know what either of you think about it or how to go from here, if anywhere. If you want to stay friends, that's fine, I don't want to lose you guys. But if you're both fine with it, I would like giving this a try".

There is no telling if the fact that you're best friends will make him feel more or less comfortable about your dating his wife. So you just need to ask. If you do it right, even if nothing happens, you should be able to stay friends. After the talk, don't expect everything to get decided right away, give them time to think about it, assume nothing is going to happen unless told otherwise and wait to see if they approach you about it.
Make sure you've cleared it with both of them before anything happens, if anything happens.

Good luck!

SchrodingersCat 06-26-2012 05:16 AM

I can certainly understand why you're treading lightly here. Having recently been in more of the husband's position (only it was about sex, not romance), I'm going to give it from that perspective. I'm also assuming here that you and your best friend are much closer than you are with his wife. In other words, if they got divorced tomorrow, you would still be his friend but you probably wouldn't see her any more (this romantic issue aside, of course).

I personally would talk to the husband, your best friend, first. He's the one caught in the middle; if this goes south, he could lose his best friend and feel strain in his marriage. Make sure you tell him you're not expecting an answer right away, you just want to tell him how you're feeling and give him a chance to talk about it with his wife. He may then give you his approval and suggest you talk to her yourself; or he may tell you that he needs to see how she feels before he shares his opinion.

It's possible that for him, this will be a no-go. In that case, it's best not getting the wife's and your hopes up if it's not going to happen. In other words, it's easier to "turn it off" before it really "gets turned on."

Chances are, upon bringing it up with the husband, there will still be a need for a conversation between the three of you, whether or not anything is going forward. But my feeling is that if you talk to just one of them at a time, it doesn't put them "on the spot" in front of their spouse before they get a chance to talk privately as husband and wife.

Another option is to give them both a letter declaring your feelings, and giving them time to talk privately with you not there, and to get back to you when they've talked. That way you're not going behind anyone's back, but you're also not putting them on the spot to talk to you about it before they've had the chance to talk to each other...

Tonberry 06-26-2012 05:29 AM

The letter is a good idea. This way it won't seem like you're asking for an answer right away, and they can talk about it.

Going to him first... honestly, I would take it pretty personally if someone told my husband he liked me before he told me. It would feel like going to my father to ask for my hand before proposing to me. I don't belong to another person, and I can make my own decisions. Don't negotiate me like that before I'm even in the loop. I understand talking to your spouse before you talk to your person of interest (so, in your wife's case for instance, I do think she should talk to him first if she likes you) but talking to your person of interest's spouse before them doesn't sit comfortably with me at all.

That's why I suggested talking to both of them at once. And once again, I think Cat's suggestion of doing it in writing is a very good one.

SchrodingersCat 06-26-2012 06:00 AM

I myself wouldn't think of it that way, but I can see how some people might. Regardless, I think the worst thing you could do is talk to the wife before talking to your friend.

Asking your friend if he minds you dating his wife is showing him that you respect your friendship above some hypothetical romance. It doesn't assume that the wife will have no say in the matter.

Asking a father to marry his daughter is showing him that you view the daughter as property. It assumes that she will have no say in the matter.

Marrying someone, in my opinion, implies that you have agreed to consider their feelings and respect their wishes, when reasonable. That means that if your husband thinks it would hurt his friendship if you date his friend, then you respect that... not as property but as a caring, respectful partner.

Having been in a similar situation recently, I'm speaking from personal experience when I say that your best friend and your husband negotiating relations before asking how you feel can be hurtful if not done carefully... and that's when they didn't even actually discuss it, just allowed the sexual tension to reach a point where he felt it had to be discussed with me. Then I felt pressure from myself to approve of the activities, on the basis that I'm poly and that's "the poly thing to do." Where my situation diverges from this situation is that I ultimately realized the source of my discomfort had nothing to do with it being my best friend and husband, but rather her current situation combined with my impression that they were behaving naively.

Since this couple sounds practised at these conversations, I agree that telling them at the same time but giving them a chance to discuss before they respond is a viable option. However, having personally been in the situation, I still think it's better to ask the husband first if he would mind. I just think of it the same as when you're in high school, and your friend's crush asks you out on a date. Your friend doesn't own you or her crush, but the respectful thing to do for the friendship is to ask your friend how they feel about you going on a date with their crush, knowing they might put the kabosh on it... and then respecting your friend's wishes.

Also, emphasize that their marriage and your friendship are more important to you than a romance with his wife, and that you will not make him feel bad or guilty if he isn't comfortable with it.

GalaGirl 06-26-2012 06:18 AM

My gut response?

Should I try to talk to my friend first, or his wife first?

Husband. He's your friend first, talk to him first. UBER-respectful.

Make clear you will NOT do anything, or even let her KNOW of your crush. Because you value his friendship, and hers and you aren't having prurient interests but struggling to pay a compliment and ask if there's interest.

You've always been monogamous. You've never tried poly. but you would really, really be interested in trying to date this particular woman in this particular poly setup if all is good because you admire their communication ability and admire their skills and you feel good and safe with them, good enough to share this... even though inside you wobbly.

So even if it comes to NOTHING... take it in the spirit offered, that you hold them and their rship in highest esteem and aspire to something like it someday even if there's no spark here.

Should I get them both together and bring it up at the same time?

Hubby (your friend first). He can choose to let her in on it or not in his own time, and then initiate negotiation for just a trio talk, nothing more. Everyone respected and on the level. Just trying it on in their heads in a talk and no more.

Nobody ever DIED from going uber slow and uber respectful. ;)

And if y'all decide not to go there you can at least enjoy friend intimacy and a titillating talk.

If I think my friend might have a problem with it, should I suck it up and leave them alone?

Depends. That's your call, you know the details there. Maybe you just want to put out there low key.

That you admire what they have going on. You wish you could try that one. Does he have suggestion for how to approach in safe way?

Take the temperature there. Maybe he's gonna reveal they crushie on YOU for all you know. Or maybe you pick up that there's no spark there, still friends, just no magic. Still happy to help guide.

But then spit it out. Maybe it never occured to them... but hey now that you bring it up... hrm.

If friend has prob? I'd suck it up. Apologize for rocking boat, make ammends for even bringing it up.

There's plenty fish in sea, man. Don't need to wreck a friendship with drama. Esp if it isn't one you want to risk losing.

What kinds of issues can I expect to run into that might surprise a usually mono person?

Sigh. IME, it was from my being the overlappy poly. Dating some open minded mono's and sorta another young poly. Overall it went well. In hindsight I am amazed this well for the age!

But I came across surprises -- like one relationship that got all huffy we weren't lovers. Like how come HE gets to be your lover and not me?! And I was offended because I'm not a candy bar -- everyone gets a piece? The rship needed to see if it would grow to there, you don't just get there because I'm there with another! (this one broke off fast)

Then I was surprised at tender spots. I was clear I was not exclusive, I was clear I was honest, I swapped names and numbers, I thought I was being as transparent as I could be and my second guy threw me for a loop. Because once we became loverly he found himself disturbed at the idea of my being loverly with #1. Like it BUGGED him -- he wanted to know but didn't want to know what the spacing was between him and other. Did I wait a day? An hour? Before having sex again?

I didn't think to talk this out, and neither did he and we were both surprised at it being so tender. We broke up and were good exes as friends and then his next GF wigged at me still being in his life as an ex-now-friend. I checked out to make his life easier and give space. He was annoyed by me doing that and annoyed with the GF, because he thought being good exes was a GOOD thing but... later when they broke up he called me me to thank me. Even as friends I kept putting his needs on up there with friend respect and well, she was an ex too now. Only a huffy broken one rather than a friend one. What kind of ex do you aspire to be?

I'd also be cautious of this in your case.... is it REALLY her? You sure your crushie isn't because your exposure to a poly pool of people is so limited? How big is your in real life poly pool? And are you actually crushie on her for HER or just because of the IDEA and pinning the ideas on to her as the handy holder? (I'm not sure I explain that well)

Another friend went thru a mega breakup with her V. She was the hinge. Because the quad ended because one male died in accident. They grew close in V for a time in the intense mourning (natural enough) and she thought it was permanent but then the arms of the V changed in their personal growth later. So it was a divorce of the "V" config commitment even though she and her DH arm were still married. (legal) It took flak. And she was STUNNED at the lack of support -- from her own DH even!

I comforted.

I told her too "I am so sorry. Had this been your legal marriage, people would be outpouring in support, I'm so sorry, divorce sucks, etc. But because this was a V marriage thing you are getting the SHUN. The "Whaddaya expect? You went looking for it" crap rather than comfort."

So if it ends -- not even if it goes SOUR and ends but just ends because the season is over? Are you prepared to mourn solo? Because you break up with the exes so can't mourn there necessarily with them. Will you have community support? Being afraid of the end is no reason not to relationship, but go in with eyes OPEN, ykwim?

Another poly newb friend had NO idea -- just jumping into the new adventure with wife. And he sometimes seems overwhelmed with the metamour management. Are YOU prepared for that? What if your loves have others, or if YOU find other? How will this impact the trio there and how will you handle? And do read up on poly math a bit.

Some monos I meet aren't even aware that there's at least 5 foundation rship in a 2 person config.
  • me in relation myself as part of a couple. (as opposed to me to myself as a footloose single who answers to nobody but ME. I am different as a single -- my talk, my walk, ykwim?)
  • me to him in couple
  • him to him in couple
  • him to me in couple
  • us to us -- the couple as a unit, a team.
  • (ghost layer that may or may not ever come to pass but needs talking about: Us to us if we become exes because we'd like to be good ones)

So they seem blindsided by poly math. My friend was boggled that when they opened up, he had to deal with his newbie nervy at dating AND deal with his wife being alternately depressed/delighted because her experiments weren't going as hot initially. They kinda had to shore up their foundation 5 some to be able to carry on.

Just streaming thoughts in no particular order for you to consider.


Tonberry 06-26-2012 09:28 AM

I guess ultimately it depends on the kind of relationship the OP has with his friend and his friend's wife.

What I dislike about the idea of asking my husband first instead of at the same time is twofold. First, the idea that my husband knows first that someone likes me, when I feel I should be the first person to know (tied first, in this case). Secondly, and the more important one, it's the idea that my husband could say "no, not a good idea" and that I wouldn't be told what happened behind my back, and have no control over it. Someone else would have made a decision about my life without consulting me first.

I think everyone should always have the option to make an informed decision. If someone wants to date me and my husband says no, I want to be aware. I might decide to divorce my husband over it, for all we know. I think hiding that kind of thing from me is a form of cheating, and I would feel very betrayed.
If my husband went to me first thing and asked what I wanted to do about it, then I wouldn't be upset with my husband, but I would still be upset with his (our) friend.

I do feel the proposal example is close: if the father says no it means no, if he says yes you can go on and propose to your girlfriend (who always has the option to say no as well). But the idea that the father or husband is a first step rather than a step to be taken at the same time (in the case of a husband) or not a step to take at all (in the case of a father) is I feel disrespectful of the spouse.
We're not talking about people who like each other and are asking the husband if it's okay. We're talking about someone who hasn't disclosed his feelings yet. What is he going to do if the husband isn't comfortable with it? Tell the wife "I like you but your husband doesn't want me to date you", which is putting them against one another? Or lie, which is disrespectful considering her husband already knows, and she'd be denied the right to know about something that concerns her when a third party was told already? Talking to the husband first is putting himself in a bad position with no good answer if the husband was to say no.
It's also putting the husband in a position where he might be blamed for making two people unhappy by making the decision himself on his own. If the decision comes from both of them at once (regardless of who said "no" to it), then it seems to me it would be less harmful to both the relationship and the friendship.
For the same reason (the last one), I believe talking to her first would be a bad idea, as if she is fine with it, it would also put the husband in a position of saying no to both of you and taking all the blame for it not being an option.

I personally believe telling the wife first, although a bad idea, would be the least worse of the two. If it happens, both have to say yes, and the order isn't that important. But if it doesn't happen, the wife saying "no" and therefore the husband not being asked isn't as big a deal as the other way around: it's her life, not his. Ultimately, even if he isn't fine with it, it's still her choice, not his. I'm not suggesting she would do something that makes her husband uncomfortable, or that the OP would be fine with it in any way, but in theory, ultimately it's her life, her choice, and other people's opinions and feelings are just influences on her decision, nothing more.

It seems to me we have strong disagreement on the issue, which I assume is because I see myself in the position of the wife and you see yourself in the position of the husband. While I can imagine my friends telling me first that they like my husband, I can't imagine giving any answer other than "why the hell are you asking ME for?"

GalaGirl 06-26-2012 02:28 PM


I do feel the proposal example is close: if the father says no it means no, if he says yes you can go on and propose to your girlfriend (who always has the option to say no as well). But the idea that the father or husband is a first step rather than a step to be taken at the same time (in the case of a husband) or not a step to take at all (in the case of a father) is I feel disrespectful of the spouse.
Thanks for sharing that! I could see it that way now.

Me? I cannonball into the pool and have the confidence to do it and deal with the result. The OP is a mono thinking about stepping a toe in the water... not even stepping a toe yet but thinking about it.

The "pre-contemplation" or "contemplation" stages and not really taking "action" stage yet.

So there I'd suggest tell the friend first because I assume the friend was made first and wife came later. And telling her in trio would follow pretty quick there after -- so... why nitpick it? Open up to them one at a time.

I always ran my open rships with a "Look, I trust you. Do whatever, tell me when there's something to get excited about like sex hygiene. But I don't need to be excited over every little thing or know everything. If I wanna know I'll ask."

I see crushies as little things, not big ones. But I know to others crushies could be bigger than my feeling on them.

So interesting to see other POV!

GalaGirl :)

ksandra 06-26-2012 03:01 PM

What if you were to talk toyour friend at a time when his wife is around if not within earshot? That way if he wants to bring her in on the conversation he can.

I also have another question, if nothing were to come of the attraction you feel for your mate's wife, would you still be interested in maintaining the same type of friendship you have with them?

km34 06-26-2012 03:44 PM

I like the idea of either talking to them together or writing a letter to BOTH of them.

I agree that I would be rather upset if someone approached my husband before approaching me, unless it was a random romantic gesture about figuring out what I like with his help. Asking his permission? Not cool.

I also understand that talking to the wife first might seem like going behind the friend's back, but I would think as long as it was brought to his attention within a day of the discussion happening (or even later on in the first conversation), it wouldn't be too devastating. This would depend on him and his personality, though.

I think the safest bet is to talk to or write to both of them together so that neither one feels slighted. The only problem with this is that if she doesn't return your feelings you have to do deal with the rejection in front of your best friend.

Sticky situation. I hope whatever you decide to do works out well!

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