Dating a couple: Do you prefer to know when they have fights/issues? Which ones?
This is a general question for anyone who dates or has dated couples.
I'm one in a triad of polyamorist queer 20-something women. I am primaries with one, and we began dating another about four months ago, and we are all head over heels for each other.
Let's call my primary "G" and my secondary "K." G and I are recovering from a trust-dismantling cheating episode that occurred while K was away for two months and only reachable via snail-mail. K has no limits on us seeing others, nor do we impose limits on her (apart from disclosure of new partners to all parties, as they occur). So, the cheating thing isn't necessarily K's concern, as it wasn't a breach of any agreement she had with us, it was just a violation of an agreement I had with G (more on this in my other threads if you want the gritty details). For the record, K was informed of G's new relationship, so her agreements were all taken care of.
G and I agreed during K's travels that we would not to disclose the cheating situation to K, who is going through an epic career and lifestyle change of her own and has plenty of stuff to handle without stressing about something that happened between G and I and a fourth party.
I, in the past, had a bad tendency to reach out to our mutual friends for comfort during bad times, which G resents because they are her friends as well. In an effort to meet her need for privacy, I have been learning to honor that policy and only talk to old friends that aren't a part of G's life. I have never in past nor current triad situations confided in a third parter about something that was owned by G and I, and I have also honored G's request not to disclose the cheating to K. This has not been easy. Many times I wanted to tell her because I was hurt and in need of K's often comforting and pacifist perspective. But I have successfully refrained.
The cheating led to G and I deciding to move out. Not sure how staying together through the move will work out, but we're taking it step by step. K knows we're moving out, knows the logical, positive reasons we decided to do so, but she does not know the big ugly reason, the catalyst. At least not as far as I know.
Last night, I found out that G made the decision to vent to K about a certain dispute we've had during the house-hunting process (moving brings the best out in everyone!). I felt that G violated our agreement to not burden K with our stuff when it's OUR stuff, G feels that this wasn't a violation because she only asked we not mention the cheating, but it was okay that we talk to K about anything else we have going on. But this dispute is a byproduct of the cheating, so I feel the two are related, and she only told the part of the story that didn't include her infidelity.
That we are suddenly allowed to vent to our partner is news to me as of last night. We are all in a new relationship (4 months), and part of getting to know someone, for me (and clearly for G now) is letting them know what you're going through. It doesn't bother me that G confided in K about an issue. We all care about each other and want to be there for each other. What bothers me is until yesterday, I thought we agreed not to confide in her when our stuff isn't good, and G went ahead and did so without asking me or altering the agreement ahead of time.
But this post isn't about right or wrong, obviously we left a lot of grey area, AGAIN, so another lesson learned there. What I really want to know, and you probably have been wondering why I haven't asked yet, is:
Do secondaries/thirds/newer partners WANT to know when there are fights and bickering between the couple they date? Maybe just some of them but not others? Which ones? Where do you draw the line to prevent them becoming your couples' therapist? Would some rather not know at all, and some prefer to be informed about everything? Having never been a third before, I would love some insight from the forum.
I mean, if one of us were deathly ill, or having serious family problems, of course all three of us (me, G, K) would know. But in a situation where there was a breach of trust between the primary couple, do you have a protocol for informing the third? I don't want to trash talk my partner to her own partner, and I feel, given G's sensitivity on the subject, that even if I told the story fairly, she would feel as if I trash-talked to K. So I've heard and honored this concern of G's, and have kept everything under wraps from K.
So G decided this moving stressfest was worth a long conversation to K (right now G is unwilling to discuss it with me while it's fresh and I'm irate, which is helpful for us right now to keep nerves down and give us time to cool off). Because K asked how G was doing. The cheating is part of the moving dispute (I can explain it if you want), and our third is out of the loop about the cheating, so only knows a small, watered-down portion of the whole story. I'm happy to keep it that way if this is what she wants, but I don't know what she wants or how to ask her. Since I agreed not to tell her about it, I can't really ask her if she would want to know about it. Right? Or should I give her a vague hypothetical and ask that way?
Is nondisclosure in this situation healthy and mature? Or is it inappropriate to leave out this info? Have you guys gone through anything similar?
G is afraid, given I was the one cheated on, that I wouldn't be fair to her side if I told the story to K. So if anyone will tell K, it will be G, not me, since I am under agreement not to spill it (neither of them use this forum, to date). I'm sure K will take a neutral stance, and just try to be there as an ear (I'm guessing, but she is amazingly understanding, so it's an educated guess). I don't think telling K will make her angry, but I do think it will help her understand the state of the relationship she is a part of.
So, all of you couples-daters, give me the low-down, would ya? I need voices! Thanks in advance.
I am very sorry you are hurting and going thru this. :(
Do secondaries/thirds/newer partners WANT to know when there are fights and bickering between the couple they date?
I would want to know what's going on! Then I can understand my partners in full context -- why you suddenly show up grumpy here? Ah, you had fight with Other. Ok, then... now I see.
Is nondisclosure in this situation healthy and mature? Or is it inappropriate to leave out this info? Have you guys gone through anything similar?
INAPPROPRIATE and red flagging me on G's trustworthiness. I don't mean this unkindly to you. But you guys sound messed up over there.
It is bad G cheated and broke a boundary. But in not telling, YOU are now doing lies of omission and aiding G in telling lies of omission. That's not very nice way to treat your triad partner, K. You are also compromising your own self and your ethics.
I don't know why you are surprised about yesterday. G chronically controls what information gets shared and when. So G doing it again isn't a surprise to me reading through the post. It pops up time and again. Sigh.
In my universe, K would have the RIGHT to clear communication. K would also expect me to care for my own and K's buckets of mental health, emotional health, physical health, and spiritual health. Both of you could be out on your hiney's for the lies of omission on first strike. Depending on the cheating circumstances, that could be a 3 strikes thing, but I would NOT be inclined to be working it out because of the lack of clear communication and the lies of omission. Why open myself to more lies in "working it out?"
NO relationship can be solid on a foundation of lies. Not cool. I frown on this. :mad:
Don't you think K has the right to know that one of her partners is a lying cheater? So she can determine FOR HERSELF whether or not she wants to be involved or associate herself with a less than ethical lover? And do you think K is going to feel woooonderful that K's triad partners have decided FOR HER what is or is not "too stressful" for her like a baby rather than treating her like a respected grown up person capable of making her own decisions?
Nah. That's just lame excuse on G's part to not to have to fess up to K sugarcoated in "concern for K." Mostly for G's own comfort. Not because G's REALLY looking out for people health buckets or looking to be uber ethical in relationship management.
If G REALLY did not want to cause you or K the pain of STRESS -- would G be cheating? Behaving in these unethical ways toward both of you?
Again, G is a cheater. Also an information controller -- and that's a manipulation tactic. Check the list at speakoutloud in case more rings a bell -- esp section 1. This smells fishy to me. I am not saying you are being abused. Would not wish it on anyone. :(
But I am saying this smells fishy to me. Take it to highlighter. See what you see.
But you at this time are knowingly participating in a lie of omission. That is less than ethical also. It is not flattering to you.
How are you helping to care for your OWN health buckets as a good triad partner by going along with something that clearly does not feel right to you?
How are you helping to care for K's health buckets as a good triad partner? Are you looking out for her mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well being when you participate in lies of omission? In denying clear communication? Shielding the cheater?
How is G helping to care for YOURS and K's buckets as a good triad partner? (Certainly G is all out for G's own buckets and looking out for G's comfort and interests. Screw anyone else's need to feel safe emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually in relationship.)
I am very, very sorry you are hurting. I know this is very Hard to Hear. :(
But I think you need to talk to K to clear this all up and then IN TRIO call G into account for the shenanigans. Then sort yourselves out for how to be in right relationship to each other. Or just quit this polyship team because of a very unethical player. Because THAT is your main problem. The cheating, manipulation of information shared, lies of omission... The common thread? G is just NOT an honest person and is treating both of you bad. :(
1) Decide to no longer participate in lies of omission and get back in right relationship with YOURSELF first.
2) Then decide to get back into right relationship with K by apologizing for your part in this mess -- enabling lies of omission and preventing clear communication.
3) Then get K's input on how decide what to do about G in a TRIO conversation so there's no triangulation afoot with G playing one off the other.
I would want to know, yes. I think I would do my best to understand the thinkng if something so big was hidden from me, and try to be sympathetic, but I also think I'd be hurt that I wasn't told, like I wasn't trusted, and like I wasn't being given all the relevant info a situation that intimately involves me. You don't need to tell her the details, or vent, but why can't you just tell her that there was a boundary violation?
Firstly I would urge you to reread gala girls post because I think she has summed up my reaction to your story perfectly
For myself, I am the newest member in our triad however we have a long history. And we haves all children involved, which changes the dynamics hugely.
For me,yes I need to be kept in the loop. All three of us live together, I like to be aware when they are simply in shitty moods as well as when there are issues.
Take this week. Both of them have been fighting because a parenting boundary was broken - the fact that it was a child related issue (and biologically the kids aren't mine) meant that the issue didn't need to involve me. And I didn't want either of them venting to me as such (I hate feeling like I need to pick sides) but I needed to be kept informed of where they were at. Speaking/not speaking/angry sex, whatever.
I couldn't be in a triad where I was treated like I was less deserving of the whole story. We either make it work as three people (which means constant communication. Even if it's just to say "hey, I'm a grumpy dick today - leave me alone for now". ) or we change the rules and go back to a different set up.
Hey guys. Thanks for the support. The reason I agreed not to tell K is that K was in boot camp. Seemed a shitty letter to receive when all you want is joy pouring out of your envelopes, you know? She graduated last week, so is back on the grid, but we haven't had any time the three of us since her family was there for graduation. K is not local and may never be. But she can leave base soon, and is planning a visit.
My gut said tell her right away. But given the boot camp, the agreement seemed fair. Now there is no boot camp, and there was more agreement breaking. Less severe but more nonetheless.
Do I inform G that I'll be telling? Do I ask G to tell first and I will follow up? We are going through a move, as stated. But also coming up on a would-be-happy-reunion sexfest with K. I honestly don't think K will be nearly as upset with G as I was, but agree she deserves to know. Regardless of the ethics of G's request for nondisclosure, I've made an agreement to her. Fair to say I need to ask her to lift the agreement before telling K? I almost sent K a long message today but refrained until I heard from you guys.
You could listen to your gut more.
Why? What's up with this avoidy dance?
It was never "fair" to K. Her being in bootcamp just made it easier for you to be avoidy about doing your duty to K in being truthful. It was easier to go along with G's sugarcoating of it like you were "sparing her stress."
The woman is military and serving her country, and her people. How kind is it for her people at home lie to her? This is what she enlists/serves in military for? You and G's freedom to lie to her? Oof. Talk about disrespectful! :(
And again -- who are you to treat her like a baby? She's a grown person capable of making her own decisions. She's a military person for pete's sake. Sometimes having to face her own death! You think facing a cheating partner problem is somehow bigger potatoes than that?
Nope. I think you just were happy to be avoidy and find any excuse to keep on being avoidy.
So again -- wassup with this avoidy dance? I'm not trying to be mean to you. Just trying to help you see where you could improve your dealings so you don't end up here again in future. I'm sure it isn't feeling fun right now. :(
So start at the beginning tier. That is
(your relationship to yourself)
Get that relationship -- you relating to your own self -- back on track and back in right relationship. Listen to your gut more. Strive to be more honest and forthright in your dealing with people even if it feels hard to do. Stop being avoidy.
I don't think you are proud of yourself here or you would not be posting for advice.
Take a deep breath. Decide to clean up you act. Then make yourself proud and do the right thing at long last by K.
Leave G out of it for one minute. Get YOUR OWN relationship to K back on track.
YOU TELL K.
Because in the mini relationship tier of
(You + K) in this triad <--- you lied and have hurt her.
Which is what you are doing there with G. Keeping secrets from your triad partner with lies of omission. It hurts K.
Hell, it is hurting YOU. Why else are you posting? You have a heavy heart and heavy mind on this. Why don't you listen to your gut instinct to tell and come clean? Stop hurting you. Stop hurting K.
You are NOT hurting G in being honest even if G acts out later and says you are.
G brought it down on G by cheating. G has to deal with G's emotional management then on that one.
G and you brought this down by lying. You both have to deal with your emotional management on that one.
I would tell K asap on the phone or email so she's not spending money to visit you expecting warm fuzzies and then gets slammed with this news. (Or was the plan to fuck her first and THEN slam her with the news? Do you guys treat her like a loved and cherished PERSON or like a disposable fuck THING? )
I would tell G AFTER you tell K that the cat is out of the bag.
Because historically? It appears from your post that G often manages to talk you into agreements that are not honest or kind to your other triad partner.
G. is not going to go "Yay! Let's come clean at last!" all of a sudden. If G was going to already? Would have done it already.
Expect G to be angry with you.
But do the right thing anyway. Choose to become a person of your word.
You CAN do this.
Well it looks like you got useful feedback, but I'll add, yes I'd like to know if stuff going on in my partners relationship is happening if it is about me or affects me and I think in a triad it certainly would affect me. Otherwise arguments or bickering between who I date and their partners aren't my business unless they choose to confide in me.
And I sure think you should tell her, because its obviously on your mind, as well as G's desire to alter your agreement about privacy as it suits. It is "polite" to tell G ahead of time, because you explicitly agreed not to, but so I'd feel obliged to say I was going to and follow through. I would do it but I'm sure I'd be nervous they'd try to change their mind or get arguments ready to defend themselves, not sure just what order I'd do things in if I was in a triad, but I would certainly let K know.
K is your friend as well as your lover, and you'd tell a friend if their partner had been cheating I imagine? If you have forgiven, that should come through, so you aren't telling them in order to screw things up, just to inform. Also, if K is a supportive partner as you seem to say, she can be there to support both of you, and might find it not fair that she wasn't allowed to be informed and there for you.
On a side note I went and read those threads. I hope G is acting better now and you'd negotiated some boundaries she can stick to if she's agreed to them.
Not hard to hear at ALL, because that's how I've felt the whole time!!! I am a sagittarius, lying is like... pissing in the wind to me, I find nothing comforting or attractive about it. My intent was always to tell her, but I wasn't sure when/how in this very early, very complicated time in all of our lives/our triad relationship. Maybe I wasn't sure if G was right, and I would get carried away and say mean things about her, I might not be as level-headed as I think in those situations. It's certainly possible. I've been a manic, raging wreck on and off for months. Sometimes I'm cool as a cucumber and sometimes I'm so overwhelmed with this pile of let-downs that I start the argument up all over again. I know it sounds like I'm blaming myself, but I've mentioned before, I am no angel when shit hits the fan. Sometimes I lose my cool and have a hard time getting it back. This forum has been a great way for me to get my shit on the table without throwing verbal punches and getting heated toward G. Safe to say I have temper issues that have been magnified throughout these recent developments.
But I agree, omitting is lying, I preach it all the time. Maybe what I haven't said is it's not really clear what our commitment is to each other, if any; it's been growing organically and unexpectedly and we only actually see each other a few times per year. I think... maybe I questioned whether K would even be interested in being this involved. She is new to poly, and just started a new career... But all of this sounds just like the reasoning that G used to explain not telling ME the truth, right away, so you're right. I participated in this lie. I didn't even see it that way when I made my OP, but I totally see that now, and I'm floored. Thank you, GG, for pointing it out. I've been in a haze, it's SO helpful to know I can post here and folks like you will help me find my feet. I haven't many poly friends, and the ones I have are their own hot messes. I don't know how I'd do this without you guys. :o
Moving out will change a lot of things, I think. It will give me more time to take care of relationship with me. And her too. Living together has made me untrue to myself so many times, usually in an effort to keep the peace in my home, and it's over time had the opposite effect. I'm not happy with me when I'm not true to me. But being complacent means we you know, get to go to bed on time, or get to go out We don't have any escape, there's no "just me, no one else, for as long as I want" time. I couldn't go off and think anything over, everything was always right there in my face.
This morning I let K know there was a breach of trust with fourth party (whom K met last time she was in town, and knows about), and that I/we lied by omitting, and why I did it. And that I am ashamed (I am). I didn't give details of the cheating, just said that things have been really hard and she deserves to know.
She is hurt that we didn't tell her but she understands why. We're gonna talk more about it when she's free. I'm not glad she's hurt, but it's kind of nice to know she cares to know. She wonders why we didn't tell her right out of bootcamp. It was graduation though!! You know? But it's been a week now and I've felt so far away from her knowing there's this huge crater in our relationship and K has no idea. G wants to be able to live life like it didn't happen. She's pretty blown away by the consequences of her actions (I'm blown away she didn't anticipate them but again, immaturity, lack of experience, selfishness... she keeps saying she "didn't know it would be this bad," and I'm thinking.. why not....) It kind of makes me feel more supported just knowing K gives a damn. It doesn't feel good that she's hurt, don't get me wrong. But I feel better that I've given her a heads up that there is trouble in paradise, and that it matters to her to know. When we all started to hook up, she was in a part of her life where she didn't want a relationship of any kind, so she didn't leave for the armed forces with an attachment. And this is what happened the minute she left. Ugh. She's even newer to poly than we are, but she has two years on me, so 5 years on G. She wasn't poly till she met us but she wanted to be. What an example we've set so far. :(
Glad to know I'm not coming across as too tough on you.
It's hard for you right now, I know. Sigh.
So what have you learned from your last post?
Here's what I've learned.
If you are going to create an intentional "triad shaped" polyship -- that's going to take the same goal wanted, same intentional approach wanted, and then the intentional communication to create it with.
It doesn't appear out of thin air!
To get this triad polyship off the ground it is not enough to have the limits/boundary rules like "no smoking in the cabin of the aircraft!"
You have to have the relationship structures/expectations in place so you can hold each other accountable and be in right relationship.
It's not enough to go "Be nice. Don't be a jerk to me!" You have to teach each other HOW. Because you are all different people and what is "nice" enough or what is too much "jerk" to bear?
You emotionally flood because you have conflicting inner emotions playing at the same time. (Google "emotional flooding")
When you lose it and cannot talk any more? G's off the hook. Not being held accountable. Yay for G. Teflon kid slides again!
That's about it there, sweetie.
G is not surprising me there. G is being consistant with her character so far. A dishonest person who puts her own comfort needs ahead of everyone else
2) Playing THAT broken record of "I did not know" when she did know? Makes her sound all miss innocent wayward lamb. And spares her the discomfort of doing the right thing NOW
a) Apologize to the people and ask for forgiveness
b) Make ammends if allowed to
c) Earn back trust
d) Make the permanent changes needed to the behavior required to be in right relationship with her people as an honest responsible, accountable partner in a triad
It's easier to play broken record, be lazy, and just please herself.
Proceed with caution.
You are playing with a KNOWN liar now who does NOT guard your health buckets as your partner well -- your emotional health, your mental health, your physical health, and your spiritual health.
You have to evaluate how Open you want to be to further dings and where YOUR limit lies.
People can get second chances.
But how many strikes is she on with you? With K?
Keep it real over there. Don't go getting all shirky/avoidy on YOURSELF and fall back out of right relationship to yourself.
Living with G you had all this going on too
Be VERY careful with yourself right now and what your self care needs are. Take care of of your own oxygen mask FIRST.
I would want to know and I would want to know immediately. The ONLY caveat being, if I were amidst a MAJOR medical issue. THEN, I wouldn't want to be interrupted with it. By major, I mean life threatening.
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