Long Post - Complex Situation
This is kind of a long and complex situation, so I’m going to start at the very beginning. For anonymity, I decided to use letters; but for ease of reading, I’ve changed them to names.
Adam and Beth met in grade school. Adam liked Beth since he remembers knowing her, but he was rather shy and it took him a few years before he came up with the courage to really talk to her. Right about the time that Adam started to approach Beth (in Junior High, I think), Adam’s best childhood friend (Caleb) asked Beth out. Beth agreed, and she and Caleb began a very tumultuous relationship. Throughout high school, they would break up, Beth and Caleb would go to Adam for a shoulder to cry on, Adam would get them to talk through their differences and Beth and Caleb would get back together. Throughout all this, Adam still had feelings for Beth; but he strongly believed that it would be immoral to come between Beth and Caleb, so he never acted on them.
Then Beth and Caleb had an “oops” and the first child was born (they were about 17?) They both had to drop out of school and have had a hard time of it since. Caleb did not prove to be the person that Beth hoped he would be. He’s run into trouble with the law and has physically attacked her in the past. She now has two kids with him and they are married. Meanwhile, Adam’s family moved a bit and he and Beth grew somewhat apart.
I come in to the picture when Adam and I are about 19. I’ll call myself Dakota. To make a long story short, we ended up dating, and we were married this last summer (I’m now 23). I like to think that Adam and I have a pretty good relationship; we have conflict occasionally, but we handle it well and we communicate a lot.
We’ve also happened to move closer to Beth and Caleb. I’ve always liked Beth – in some ways she is the person I’ve always wanted to be. Beth and I have become pretty good friends (I consider Beth my best female friend), and the four of us have been hanging out on a regular basis for about a year. Beth is bisexual, with a preference for women; I’m bicurious and I think I might really like becoming intimate with another woman, although I think I prefer men. (So far Adam is my first and only sexual experience.) We both had crushes on each other when we started hanging out. It made things awkward at first – both of us were worried that we would make the other uncomfortable – but we’ve talked about it and agreed that far more than anything else, we both want to be friends. Adam and I have talked a bit about the possibility of a casual threesome or just Beth and I, but my past opinion has been that I really don’t want to risk our friendship on what I might feel after having sex. In addition, Caleb would want “in on the action,” and neither Adam nor I are all that close to Caleb – we don’t trust him and mostly hang out with him to get to be around Beth.
The really complicated things started happening in the last month or so. Adam and I have both noticed that Beth struggles with depression. One night Adam stayed late at Beth and Caleb’s, and went on a long walk with her where she disclosed a lot about her relationship with Caleb. She doesn’t love him anymore, hasn’t even liked him in a long time; she says she stays with him mostly because of the kids. She’s tried to change him, tried to talk things out with him, and he doesn’t get it – he’s just fine with the relationship as it is. She confided to Adam that she thinks she made the wrong choice years ago when she decided to date Caleb instead of Adam – in fact, if Adam wasn’t with me, she’d leave Caleb for Adam. But then she’d get depressed again because she cares about me, and feels guilty that she’d even think about being with “my” guy. There was a lot more, but that’s probably enough to get the gist.
Adam came back to me that night and spent a long time letting me know everything that had been going on. He talked to me how he feels horribly guilty that he has feelings for Beth, but he doesn’t think he can just stop – he cares about her deeply and has for a long time. I care for Beth too, and having grown up in a situation where my mom made essentially the choice that Beth has made so far, I have some empathy for her situation. Adam let me know that he would be willing to walk away and not have contact with Beth if I told him I needed him to do that, but it’s easy to tell that would hurt both of them deeply. I don’t want to walk away from Beth – my initial reaction was jealousy, but what it comes down to is that I care about her and enjoy spending time with her, a lot more than I want anything else in this situation. In addition, I trust Adam, a lot, and it helps me a lot too that he’s been very open with me on everything that’s been going on.
Since then Adam and I have talked a lot about what we should / shouldn’t / can / can’t / will / won’t do about this situation. I’ve grown up very monogamous, and outside of this situation I probably wouldn’t be all that interested in poly. With Beth, I think I might be interested; Adam thinks so too. We’ve both agreed that the main decider right now is what Beth decides to do about Caleb. We won’t even tell her that we might be interested in trying something more intimate and committed than just friends unless and until she makes the decision on her own to leave Caleb, and follows through with it. If she makes that decision, we will be there to support her; but we don’t want to set up a situation where she “leaves Caleb for us.” We feel that it would need to be something that she does on her own and because it’s best for her and the kids, regardless of how anything with Adam and I may or may not work out.
If she does leave Caleb – that’s where everything falls into a billion questions. If she wants to, she would be welcome to move in with us, and she would need a place to stay. From things that Beth has said in the past – that she’s sexually attracted to me and to Adam, and that she’s joked around about polygamy – I think she might be open to trying a polyfidelous triad. But from everything I’ve read online in the last few days on poly, I think it would be necessary that we keep anything other than close friendship in the closet. She has two young kids who are nowhere near old enough to “keep secrets,” even if asking the kids to “just not tell” WAS something we would consider – I’d rather not. I don’t know if Caleb would fight for custody, but he has parents who might push if they found out. In addition, we all come from pretty conservative families – one reason I’m bicurious and not bi is because I never felt the familial repercussions were worth indulging my curiosity, not when I was quite happy being with a male. AND Adam and I are both going in to fairly conservative career fields, Adam especially. I lean towards thinking that things might work best if we just set up Adam and I as “uncle and aunt” to the kids, and keep anything intimate (beyond hugs between friends) to when the kids aren’t home.
Finally, I’m all conflicted with my feelings about where this may or may not go. I used to think I was highly monogamous – certainly I didn’t want any other girls coming on to my guy. And I definitely have some feelings of jealousy, and I really don’t want anything to happen where I end up being seriously angry with Beth / hating Beth – she is my best friend. But at the same time the possibility of a triad between us three is weirdly enticing.
So, I don’t know. Has anyone been in a similar situation? Any tips or suggestions? It’s all mostly very theoretical right now, depending on whether or not Beth decides to stay with Caleb; but if she decides to leave him some parts could move along very quickly. (Any kind of sexual intimacy I’m never taking quickly – if the possibility occurs, then that part can move at its own pace.) Honestly, I’m mostly looking for a place to talk about this; other than Adam, right now there isn’t anyone I know that I’m comfortable talking to about this.
Welcome to the board.
Firstly,..wow. I am impressed. How you are handling things, speaks volumes.
Lots of people do not come into poly, looking to BE poly. They are more or less, in a situation where they just happened to find themselves in love with two people. If one of those people left, they would not ever actively seek poly via-dating. Poly hits us all at different levels, in different ways. :)
You and Adam sound,...awesome. Your openess, and your smart discussions leads me to believe you will make some good decisions. This forum works very well for people like yourself. READ, READ, READ. The more you read, the more you know.
Even if you can`t find what it is you are looking for, you will know what you don`t want ! ;)
Ok enough of the fluffy stuff,...let`s cut to the chase.
No matter how smart, well adjusted, open, honest, you and Adam are with this, ..Shit is GOING to hit the fan !. There is NO doubt about it.
Are you prepared for the rollercoaster ? Are you at a spot in your lives, where you think you can reasonably hold on, and see things through ?
Beth (according to info given) has dealt a long time with a ignorant, uncaring, young spouse. A classic case, of marrying to young. She`s bound to go a bit crazy, once (and if) she becomes single.
She is young, and will feel a need to act out for awhile.
She suffers from depression.
She has young children.
You mentioned a family who might give her/you/their son a hard time regarding the children.
Nevermind the drama Caleb could cause. ESPECIALLY because he has known Adam for so long. It`s one thing for your wife to leave you for another guy. It`s entirely another thing, when you know the man.(couple). Even if,...he knows NOTHING about any poly ideas. If Adam helps Beth even as a friend, Caleb will most likely make accusations. Unfotunately that is just life. Be prepared.
The drama will be there. Not only that, but your post gives me a sense, that Beth has not even come close to learning how to find her own autonomy. She might be more 'child-like' to you, or Adam, until she learns how to put on her big girl pants.
Considering your short history together, ( You and Adam haven`t been married that long)...I might otherwise be prompted to tell you to keep things friendly, enjoyable, helpful, but somewhat at arm`s length.
but reading your post,....You two seem to have a good grip on things. It might actually be better, that you don`t have years behind you.
So,...it all depends on Beth. She is about to face a major life challenge of growth, and intensity, with young children at her side.
She will need her friends.
Will she need more ?
Will she even be able to handle it, if she does ?
What if she does, but it`s just a 'phase' ?
Will Adam and you be able to handle the very real possibility of broken hearts, and knowing the realtionship was not meant to be long term ? That you could help her through, fall in love, enjoy the triad, and she ends up moving on ? Can you enjoy the relationship, for whatever it brings, and not forecast to a solid future ?
The more questions you ask yourself, the more answers you will have.
( Read the site ! Both good and bad stories ! )
SJ has had some good things to suggest here. I wanted to reiterate to you the importance of being a really good friend to her at this point and nothing more. She sounds very fragile and vulnerable at the moment and may be confusing the need for a good friend to stand by her while she makes some major changes in her life, with someone that will rescue her from her issue ridden relationship and life by taking her on as a lover. Very different from each other. If this were me I would encourage her to stand on her own two feet and make some changes. That way she will be proud of who she is and a strong woman for those kids rather than feeling like she whimped out and didn't do the work herself but got others to do it for her. Her independence is vital I think if you want to have a hope in hell of having a loving, lasting relationship with her. Assuming that is what you want of course.
Thanks for the excellent advice :) Adam and I are continuing to talk about this - Superjast really nailed some aspects of this situation that we need to keep in mind. We've moved from just not wanting to suggest anything unless and until Beth has left Caleb to now waiting till Beth has found her mental feet, so to speak. Probably we have a lot of waiting to do - right now to see what Beth's decision is about Caleb, and after that to just help her and be the best friends we can be for her. It's well worth it, either way; she's a great person that I will value as a friend even if nothing more ever comes of it.
Again, thanks for the advice - it's really helpful to get some outside perspective.
Well... Kind of an update. As sj predicted, shit hath hitteth the fan. :p We spent a lot of time with Beth over the weekend, and she talked a lot about her relationship with Caleb. She talked to Caleb Sunday night about potentially not staying together. Monday Adam stopped by and met a very angry Caleb (according to Caleb, Beth let slip that Adam had said that Beth deserved better than Caleb). Adam managed to defuse the situation, talked to Caleb for a while. I saw Beth for just a couple minutes Monday - she looked so incredibly sad that I really hated to just leave. We're picking her up tonight so we can get some "girl time" and some space to talk. Really have no idea on what she's going to say. Caleb told Adam some things about how Caleb's treated Beth that makes me really want to get Beth out of there - but at the same time, it HAS to be her decision, not mine or Adam's. Just trying really hard to be there for Beth when I want to go in with a Mac truck and fix everything for her. :p (I am committed to not "fixing" things for Beth - just hate to see her so depressed.)
Wow. I guess I was right that things could move really fast. Tuesday night Caleb was suicidal and we were all up all night - he is now under suicide watch at a local hospital. After that Adam and I have essentially been staying with Beth. Yesterday was mostly just a lot of spending time together, taking care of the kids, and heart to heart talks. Beth has decided that she's going to talk to Caleb tonight and let him know that she doesn't want him to come back when he gets out of the hospital. Last night we all shared a bed (nothing intimate - just sleeping and talking). I've had a few moments of insecurity, but mostly everything feels so completely right. We're definitely making a try of this - talking about moving in together, depending on how things go with Beth's other roommate (another guy, not really a friend of anyone's at this point, and has no funds to pay rent).
It all feels a bit surreal. I don't have any questions ATM, at least not any that I know enough to ask lol, just wanted to let everyone know how this is shaping up.
Wow, that was unexpected (for me at least). Well, it seems Caleb needs to work on himself and I hope he'll be able to and get the support he needs. I think everyone will be better off for this relationship ending, and it seems that the three of you (you, Adam and Beth) are on the way to a good relationship.
I wish you the best of luck.
I too am impressed by the way you are handling the whole situation so far.
And here's a thought that passed through my mind that I might mention because no one has brought it up yet.
Vulnerability can be a dangerous trap for caring people (which you obviously are). It's something I've seen, something I've been victim of and something I have to be on the watch for.
When someone we care for - at most any level - even just acquaintances, is going through tough times our instinct is to try to help if we can.
You add just a splash of 'potential' (or maybe real) attraction to that mix and all sorts of ideas start blasting off. And usually most of them are well intentioned.
But somehow our own desires get tangled up with their 'needs' and first thing you know there's no telling which is which.
And there is where it get's cloudy and mistakes get made.
I wish I had some solid advice to offer - but really I don't other than.....
"Be careful - go slow and try not to let fantasy overshadow reality"
As others have nicely mentioned, the seeds of drama and heartbreak are plentiful here.
And yet so are the seeds of something beautiful.
Which way it falls is probably going to require ....as we say...calling a spade a spade when it is one. And sometimes that's NOT going to be what someone wants to hear. And THAT will become somewhat a test of the viability of this and the people involved.
I hope for you all that it all comes up 'roses'.
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