Advice needed - open marriage, want poly relationship
OK, here’s my situation. Sorry this is a long post … would love some real advice.
Last month I started my first poly relationship since my wife and I decided to approve of being open. (We had hinted at it in the past, or that it was not a big deal, but my only other experiences have been a one-night stand and making out with someone who wouldn’t go further since I am married …)
I’ve always known I want more in the way of relationships, good friendships, sexy friendships, and maybe just sex. I’ve also always had a side of me that is open to different lifestyles. I guess I didn’t expect to really explore it. When my wife would hint at having sexual variety, I wasn’t quite approving (her: artist working odd hours, making little money, attractive; me: shy, working hard at the office to pay our bills … you get the picture). I thought I had to try first to see if things would work out for me.
My marriage relationship has gone thru good periods and bad, good times and times when we struggled with job stress, my wife’s depression (several years ago) which has resolved into her being a “temperamental artist,” etc. Right now it seems things are getting better.
Two years later and while she is away for a month, I have a better job, much less stress in my life, I am exercising and I learn to be less shy, meet a few girls (just dancing and making out at this point) hanging out with friends. When she gets back we talk about it and decide we can seek “variety” if we want. She enthusiastically puts up an online ad (OK, I already had one for about a year …) We even talk about going to a swingers club. I want to discuss and set some rules, she simply thinks it should be “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I let her know I am looking more for a “friend with benefits” than one-night stands. This makes sense to me – I am an INFP personality and need to connect with people, and the girls who like me are generally looking for someone who is nice, cute, not a one-night-stand type.
A few months later I meet someone I really like – and who really likes me! – online. We have a couple of amazing sexual encounters and spend the next day having brunch, walking, shopping. I have a great time. I haven’t had to tell my wife, because I often see music with friends and stay overnight at their place. But after the second night, I say, “Well, actually I wasn’t at my friend’s place …” She says she knew, gives me a high five, asks me a couple questions, and says of course she’s not mad, and by the way she’s done it too. (Typical guy, I had no idea … but did suspect I guess). Later, though, she says, “well, if your relationship with her lasts more than three months, let me know so I can be ready for you to leave me.”
She then tells me I and my friend are not following “the rules” which include no overnight stays, limiting conversation and hanging out time, and moving to a new partner if we get attached. A couple days later she became even more direct, saying I shouldn't see other people anymore, that open relationships aren't good. She says she won't snoop but that she'll know if I see someone. At one point she says if I need to do it, I should switch partners. My wife tells me a bit about her previous meetings (unclear if it was one or more than one) but doesn’t want to tell me any details b/c although the sex was great, she felt bad, did it because she felt I wasn’t listening to her, and felt I’d get jealous. I’m quite surprised (coming from my wife who just 2 weeks before openly told me she’d like to be with two guys at once) and work hard at spending quality time together – realizing this is what had been missing for a few months. Since then our relationship is good, we go on dates, communicate, have good sex, and I am cooking and taking care of her and things happy at home. ☺
Looking back I realize I broke my wife’s desire to not ask and not tell and she realized I really like my new friend … my feelings and what I’ve read online seem to indicate open communication is important. I felt it was respectful. My wife OTOH feels that being discreet is respectful b/c you spare the other’s feelings. This may be partly cultural – my wife is not American and her culture would value being discreet. Looking at our reactions, I can see my wife is most afraid of me becoming attached to another. I OTOH am more comfortable if she were with a friend than meeting a random stranger for sex.
So … few weeks later I am still seeing my friend. We really like each other, and aside from the first couple weeks I don’t feel conflicted – it’s like having two great relationships, my wife primary but my friend important. Friend is also very open to poly lifestyle. We manage to arrange an overnight once a week and maybe another date just hanging out (I travel for work and wee friends a good bit). Quality time with my wife is great and my new relationship has reminded me of what its like to be romantic with my wife of 11 years. I can’t imagine not living a poly lifestyle …
The thing is, the closest I got to getting approval from my wife after telling me not to do it anymore was, “well, if you need to do it, change partners.” After this we haven’t really talked about it. She told me she wouldn’t snoop but she’d know. I am still assuming “don’t ask, don’t tell” is the way to go but won’t bring it up.
What to do?
First, I really like my current friend. Having her in my life has really made me happy and actually its improved my marriage both emotionally and sexually.
Second, I can’t imagine being purely monogamous for the rest of my life. and I’ll probably not want to “swing” primarily for brief sexual encounters.
And third … I need to be discreet which makes things difficult, but manageable for now. I know I should feel bad about fibbing, but I know this is what my wife did when she met someone(s) (or she waited 'til I was out of town or out with friends) and she told me she values/prefers being discreet.
I know now isn’t the right time to talk about it – perhaps in a few months/years when I know out relationship has been very good for some time? Do I continue to assume my wife simply wants me to be discreet and not let my activities interfere with our lives? I’ve also thought about suggesting my wife and I go to a swingers’ club together so she can see I won’t get jealous. I think I’d like for things to be more open but not sure how to proceed…
so you two started out your open relationship as swingers then? Do you have long term cultivated friendships within the swinging community? Has she had a deeper relationship with anyone else? Did either of you ever contemplate falling in love before? And was this kind of a "newsflash" for you when you realized you REALLY liked your new friend?
I only ask all of these questions because my husband and I have kind of already been through all of this (quite intensely I may add) and have come out on the other side stronger and happier than ever. AND I have the most amazing "other primary ;-)" relationship!
"Honey, are you still good on the "don't ask don't tell" agreement? I'm starting to feel a bit of a pinch on that, but can still operate ok with it. Where you at? Can we schedule some kind of appointment to go over current wants, needs, and limits? "
You want a relationship here that is solid to the core? Or one that is solid only on the surface and hollow inside? (No judgement, you seek what you want in your life. Just confused because you SOUND like you want a solid. But you do not act in ways to support a solid.)
She does not choose to own her responsibility? Then she owns her resulting baggage herself. You cannot be a mind reader.
It is one thing for her to want and need your activities with your Spice to be discreet and not paraded about in your mundane life. That's not unusual.
She might not want TMI details. That's not unusual.
But in my universe? She's denying you the right to support and nurture by trying to be like a whole significant part of your life does not exist at all, and you want to share some non-TMI things with her. And she does not want to be Open to receiving it. So you are hurting a bit.
In my universe?
Speak your truth to your wife. It's fine that you want poly and she wants swinging. But build the framework for how to be together in right relationship that fits your configuration. So you can STAY in right relationship to each other and things come and go in your Shared Life.
Otherwise you have no shared life, no relating back and both. Ergo not much relationship. Just surface solid. Hollow inside.
Then what? You would not be here asking if you wanted that.
I apologize if this is Hard to Hear. But while these things are hard to feel, or hard to think about, they aren't especially complicated. It's dead simple in my universe: People not wanting to hold up their ends of the rights and responsibility sticks for whatever reason. *shrug*
Talk to your wife and sort yourselves out. Stop shirking that duty to your marriage vows. I don't know how your marriage vows read, but I figure you made SOME kind of promises there that need upholding. So hold them up! :)
OK, good questions ...
First, I suppose you could say we "started as swingers" if accepting an open relationship and putting up an online ad (or meeting people when I go out) counts as that. I think it was more kind of generically being "open" although not talking about it in detail ... even before being officially open we've always agreed that having sex with someone else wasn't a sin or something to split up over.
As for me, I always knew I wanted a real friend, not just swinging ...
My wife does not want to swing anymore... she said the sex was good but she doesn't want to do it anymore. I don't know if this is her final decision since she was really enthusiastic about it before and has talked about this for a couple years. She thinks swinging would hurt me or our relationship. She also thinks its not possible to have another person in your life without getting attached and eventually going to that person. That's why I thought maybe suggesting to her (in a couple months) that we try it together (go to a club) so she'll be more comfortable ...
Yes, I totally shared TMI with her and now she doesn't want to know about it at all. Would prefer I didn't do it. And I suspect has not been forthcoming with me (in the past, she implied she had tried something before we were officially open). That's why I don't want to check in with her ... maybe in a couple months I'll feel more comfortable. She's still comfortable with me going out with my friends so knows something could happen ...
As for craving emotional intimacy in my relationship with my wife, yes that had become an issue but is better now since we are taking time to spend quality time together. (Used to be she was often off working on art, I was hanging out with friends, she said she didn't need to spend more time with me, and we used fight about something as mundane as housework as she is much neater than me ... we were developing bad habits ... lately we take time to schedule dates or just hang out.)
Let me get this straight...your wife stated that she wanted you to stop and you are SERIOUSLY asking if it's okay for you to keep doing it? You need to stop for the time being. If you want to open the marriage back up you need to discuss it with her. As soon as she said "Please stop doing it" that nulls any prior agreement. So no you can't hide behind the "Don't ask, don't tell" agreement. It's clear she doesn't want this to keep going on. Have you tried therapy? It really sounds like you both need to open the lines of communication. You both are ignoring/not saying what you really want, need, think, and feel. Ya'll need to be honest with each other.
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