How honest do we have to be?
Thanks y'all for being such thoughtful people. I need help answering a question.
I'm in a non-hierarchical poly relationship. My partner has another partner who has never done polyamory before and is only begrudgingly trying it. He tells me she doesn't want to know anything about his other relationships because she "trusts him." They live in the same town, I and his other lover live out of town.
My partner and I are in love with each other. We talk just about every day and see each other whenever our schedules allow--sometimes every month, sometimes less frequently. This doesn't look like it's about to change. His in-town lover isn't part of his social world (he's even told me that she's "peripheral" to his life) but they have sleepovers most nights a week. Sometimes I want more of his time, but mostly I'm okay with this arrangement.
Here's the dilemma: My partner is something of an under-sharer. I tell him everything I'm thinking and feeling, who I'm dating or hooking up with or even just crushing on. He shares a lot with me, but rarely talks about his other relationships. I've been slowly figuring out that his in-town relationship is more important to him than he's led me to believe. I only just learned--because I pressed the point--that he and his in-town partner love each other, and freely use that word together. I was surprised, and hurt that he hadn't told me that earlier--it's something I had asked to know about if it came up in his other romances.
Before I learned this I had asked him to let his in-town lover know that he and I have a deep emotional attachment--it felt dishonest and sketchy to me for her not to know. I'm guessing her coming from monogamy and "trusting" him means she trusts him to not be in love with anyone else, but maybe I'm wrong. Mostly I believe she deserves to know enough to make a fully informed decision about being involved with this person. Now I that know they have a deeper relationship than I guessed, it seems even more important.
He's afraid to tell her this because he says she already feels less important than his other lovers. I understand he wants to protect her, and I have an interest in their relationship being strong and good and I'm not trying to ask him to hurt her unnecessarily. I'm not trying to cause drama, I'm trying to prevent larger drama in the future. But maybe I'm overreacting, as it's not likely that me and my partner being in love is likely to affect their relationship more than it already has, and maybe I should respect her stated preference to know nothing?
So, should he tell her that he loves me (or at least that we have an emotional attachment)? Is he being untrustworthy by holding that back? Or am I being overly controlling?
Any advice welcome. Thanks for readingl!
It seems to me that you would need more information about what your partner and his in-town lover have agreed on as far as what they will or won't share with each other. Whatever their level of disclosure is to each other, I think that *you* need a greater amount of disclosure from *him.* Maybe it's not what he wants, but it's what you want. You'll need to start looking for some kind of area of compromise.
If his in-town lover truly doesn't want to know about his other relationships, then that is her preference and right. Don't press the issue if that's their agreement, but first you need to know whether it *is* their agreement. In other words, you need him to tell you more about what's going on with her. Then you'll have a better understanding about where you stand, and what the dilemma before you really looks like. Right now you just have some vague information that she "trusts" him, without any idea of what she trusts him to do or not do. You need to find out. You need details.
He seems to want to compartmentalize his relationships as much as possible, so I wouldn't be surprised if he resists your efforts to find out more. He seems to be very "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." You are an open book. You need him to open his book a little (a lot?) more. Seek a time and opportunity to bring this up with him.
Depending on how willing he is to work with you on opening up the disclosure channels, you may have a decision to make as to whether this is the level of communication you can live with and be happy with for the long haul. If all this "mystery relationships" (He has a relationship with her, but I don't know what kind of relationship, and he won't say) gets to be too much, then for your own sanity you should consider cutting your losses and letting him go.
On the other hand, maybe he'll start opening up more about that in-town relationship, and if he does, that's great. To me, the current level of DADT is probably unhealthy. But I'm not close enough to the situation to know. I don't know what his reasons, rationalizations, and justifications are.
For some people, DADT seems to work. But I don't think it's working so well for you. Just my opinion based on what is presented.
I hope you will be able to come to an amicable solution.
Wrote a reply about starting new threads & Didnt notice time stamp.
I replied in your other thread, so my take on your situation is there. But in regard to what you're asking here, all I feel I can say is this: Don't try to manage his other relationships, just manage your own. Whatever he tells her or not isn't up to you.
I answered this more in-depth in your other post, but just focusing on this specific question for a moment.... :)
I think it might help to break it down:
The first part is him and her and their agreement. That's completely between the two of them (and I mean that genuinely - not tritely).
If she doesn't want to know anything, that's not only her choice, but her right. If it works for her, it works for her. We can't judge it, because she could have a myriad of reasons for this - and those reasons could be good ones.
So - part 1 is: what is their agreement?
If he's not telling her because they've agreed not to talk about it, let it go. He's only honouring her wishes.
If they don't have a stone agreement, they need to make one.
If she has asked, or he can tell her, he should tell her. If he's avoiding it because he's being a communication chicken, rather than concealing it because he's honouring her wishes, it's a lie of omission.
My GF and I have this phrase that has gone around and around in our relationship: "It is what it is." That means, if you love someone, you love them. If you love them and I'm less important, make that clear to me. If I am more important, make that clear. If I'm equal, make that clear. If you want to spend your life with me, tell me. If you want to share it with someone else now, tell me. If sex with me bores you, but you love cuddling with me, tell me. If sex with me rocks your world, tell me that too ;)
That doesn't mean that *I* have to know every tiny little detail about how every little action or thought makes my partner feel. It just means that I want to live in the real world and make my own decisions based on the facts. To me, love, commitment and sexual preference are important facts in a relationship. I don't want to waste time and energy investing in a relationship that I am more into than my partner is. So, give it to me straight, on those three key things (the levels of sexual interest, commitment and love). I'll decide what to do from there.
So, that's D and R's relationship. If he's honouring her wishes, great. If he's being a chicken, not great.
What do you want? What does he want? In terms of poly communication stuff.
Get some guidelines written down, if you haven't already. Even if your only guideline is "tell me if you love someone" (or whatever it might be that's important to you).
If he can't, or doesn't want to, agree to that, you have a compatibility issue.
So often, we think we've made an agreement (i.e. your previous request to know if he loves someone) and it gets lost in all the other little day to day chats. If you write things down, each have a copy and read through them every three months, you're unlikely to forget about their importance.
There is one other thing that might be useful for you to think about. Are you happy and fulfilled in this relationship? That's not a leading question; it's genuinely an open one. We can't always get absolutely everything we want - it's often about compromise. But something struck me about your thoughts.
I am similar to you in that I want and expect all partners to know about each other, know where they stand, know what the sexual, love, commitment levels are at. I want that because I think it makes realistic sense. But, there is a part of me that also wants my GF's levels towards me expressed to others, because I've worked hard to earn this place in her life and she's worked hard to find her place in mine. I'd feel disrespectful towards her if I pretended she wasn't as important as she is. It's also important for me to have a relationship where I am seen as a priority, or as being very important. Some people don't care about that - I do care. I'm happy to be a secondary partner to ten different women, providing I have one primary partner who I am important to. That's just what I want. What about you?
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