Sharing personal info with metamours?
I've posted before about issues with my metamour, but since then things have gotten much better. Still not best buddies, but we have been able to share things and support each other and it has been something I have looked forward to working on and growing.
Fast forward to this past Sunday, when i was having sex with our mutual partner "Joe"...and the condom broke. Both of us were not very surprisingly quite stressed and upset by this. Joe has been in a very similar situation before and has a child because of it with his now ex-wife, so because it really hit home to him, he was especially upset. He tends to shut down a bit when emotionally stressed like that and while he tries to keep himself in check, when he is upset it is pretty evident. (At least to me, anyway)
The following morning, I took Plan B. I was pretty upset myself and feeling pretty unsupported by Joe, as he was being very in his own head. I had a really bad response to the medication and was very sick and in pain for two days. During this time, "Sue" texted me to thank me for being there for her when she had recently been upset and asked how I was. I had seen Sue on Sunday evening post condom incident and she knew something had made me upset, but I hadn't told her then and Joe hadn't either, although she had noticed his moodiness as well. I decided to be honest with her and tell her what had happened, and I asked her not to bring it up to Joe. I thought it was fair that she be filled in why we both might be more stressed over the next couple weeks while we wait to know if I'm pregnant, so she can make informed decisions, but I wanted to let Joe know myself that I had told her before she said anything to him, so it didn't take him by surprise that she knew. She was very kind and supportive and checked on me via text a few times while I wasn't feeling well. The three of us saw each other on Tuesday night and things seemed fine, although there wasn't much time for talking.
I woke up this morning to an email from her stating that she had a problem with my asking her not to say anything to Joe. We are both in D/s relationships with Joe and transparency is part of that- we are supposed to be open with any information. I didn't feel that I was doing anything wrong by asking her to not bring it up as Joe has made a point of saying that anything said between Sue and myself could remain private from him, as he wants us to be able to form a friendship and he understands that being able to keep confidences is a basis of trust and relationship building. On top of that, this is information that Joe obviously already knows (he WAS there after all!)- I just wanted the opportunity to let Joe know I had confided in Sue myself, and I have been looking forward to being able to tell him that she has been a great support, because I know that will make him really happy with her. I informed her of all this in my response email, but have not heard back from her.
Honestly- I was pretty taken aback by her email, but tried to put myself in her mindset so I could understand her. I think one part was pretty telling of how we differ in personalities- if the situation was reversed, I would immediately understand that the situation was about supporting the two actually involved and would quietly keep the information to myself until told I could talk about it. This was what she said in her email about her feelings: "I guess what got me was that I could not tell him something about me, namely that there was information in my mind. If you told me something about you and asked me not to tell him because you wanted to be the one to tell him, you can count I would respect that and I don't think it would make me uncomfortable. But the idea of me being aware of something and having to keep it from him, somehow makes me feel uncomfortable." I really didn't know how to respond to that- I felt like she was making it very about her and adding more stress to a situation that is stressful enough. I just reminded her that while she has the knowledge in her head, it is actually happening in my body and is my experience.
Obviously, I wish now that I just never told her, as I really don't need more stress right now, but this makes me concerned about ever really sharing with her about anything. Any advice for both navigating this particular situation and also for navigating sharing of information in the future?
You won't like this... but I want you to have a think about what your motivations were. Not your main motivations, but any small, subconscious motivations that you may not have considered. Is there any truth in any of the following possible reasons for sharing this information:
- altruistic act: wanting her to be in the loop
- personal need for comfort, support, to offload to someone
- inability to think before speaking
- inability to keep 'secrets'
- lashing out at Joe for being secretive by forcing open communication
- lashing out at Joe for not being supportive by getting him into potential trouble
- lashing out at Joe for not being supportive by hinting at this negative behaviour to another person (i.e. frustration-dump)
- wanting to bond with Sue
*Who* we choose to confide in about certain issues can teach us something about ourselves, by looking at our motivations. Even if it's as simple as "I choose the wrong people to confide in, about the wrong things." or "I open my mouth without properly thinking through". (I am guilty of these things often).
But this situation actually involved him *and* her. It wasn't just about feelings or struggles.
- if it was something about *only* you, I would keep your confidence relatively easily
- if you want to confide in me, I *want* to be here for you
- I feel that I am in a difficult position with *this* particular incident
- I feel this relates to *me* because a baby/STD/hiccup like this *could* effect me
- *I* have to watch him struggle and deal with *my* own struggle about this revelation
- *you* are the one who could be pregnant
- *you* are the one who didn't have support from Joe
- *you* are the one that needed to confide in someone who wouldn't add stress
But, on her end, it is about her too, because:
- *she* is affected if you get pregnant
- *she* is affected by Joe keeping this from her
- *she* is affected by you revealing this to her
- *she* has to take on the stress of this situation
Once something leaves your mind and enters somebody else's, it *does* affect them. It then becomes *their* thought - which belongs to *them*.
Does that make sense?
It's not necessary to tell Joe if metamour needed:
- a simple, human, vent / frustration-dump
- constructive advice on how to better understand his personality/behaviour through someone who knows him well
- the other person's opinion on Joe's feelings for you
- to ensure both of you are on the same page regarding guidelines
- advice on something outside of your V relationship
It might be realistic to expect metamour to drop CONSTRUCTIVE hints / divulge bits of information if one of you is:
- is feeling neglected
- is unhappy with his behaviour in some way and you agree
- feels they cannot talk to him openly but would like to
It would be realistic to expect metamour to share with Joe if other person:
- keeps coming to you with unhappiness and it seems like a red flag
- isn't being heard by Joe despite efforts to be heard
- has betrayed Joe and/or is not respectful about him
- alerts you to something Joe did that might effect you (i.e. a broken guideline, a lie, wanting to leave you or them)
It's not always easy to know when to keep quiet, when to break a confidence, when to share something with a metamour and when not to. We can only do what we feel is right in the moment and analyse it afterwards, if we might have made an error.
When confiding in a metamour, I think there are four things to consider:
Issue - what is it? are they the right person to talk to? if it involves them, could this make things tricky?
Timeline - can you sensibly confide, if you choose to let yourself confide during spontaneous moments of vulnerability?
Sharing policy - can you realistically expect them not to want to share this issue? are you putting them in a fair position, using examples above?
Reason for confiding - do you really need to talk to *them*? is there any passive-aggressive stuff going on, like wanting to change Joe's behaviour through your metamour?
What happened in your case was this:
Issue - feeling unsupported by Joe, feeling in emotional stress and physical pain, something that could potentially effect all three of you
Timeline - told her during a moment of vulnerability. told her before asking Joe for permission to tell.
Sharing policy - asked her to keep it to herself. Was this fair?
Reason for confiding - needing someone to lean on. Possible passive-aggressive behaviour: needing to override Joe's secrecy and push for transparency?
Overall, I think that Sue wants you to confide in her, and vice versa. She wants trust between you. But, she doesn't want to be put in an awkward position. The best scenario for the future would be to agree together on what you should and shouldn't share with each other. It is also probably very realistic to tread with caution when confiding in a metamour - they do have a relationship with your partner too; therefore they will have their own need to be honest and stick to their own coupleship rules.
Hopefully her response is positive, as your reasons make perfect sense to me. I also think the only thing you could've done differently is to not ask her not to talk to him about it - her reasons for wanting to be able to talk to him about it also make perfect sense.
I'd just apologize for putting her in a position that made her uncomfortable and say I'd do my best to not do it again, and that I hope she would speak up if she felt uncomfortable with any of my requests in the future. Yep, I would suck it up because she felt bad, I wouldn't take it personally as nobody did anything wrong, was just an unexpected emotional response. Unless there's been anything else that's happened, it was just asking her to keep it to herself that was a problem once she realized she had questions to ask him about it and didn't know if she'd agreed to never bring it up EVER since you didn't originally explain to her your "why" you didn't want her to talk to him (yet).
Maybe requests like that are suitable for a friend, but not a metamour under this circumstance. It seems like you two have a good relationship so I wouldn't shut down the lines of communication unless she can't let it go and is bothered on an ongoing basis by it.
From what you have said, all your intentions were good, and you handled the situation as best you could. I think she had a right to know what was going on, but I also the Joe should have been the one to tell her. It may have happened to you, but there is no way a pregnancy with you will not affect his relationship with her.
As for asking her not to tell Joe, I guess I understand that, but if I were in his shoes it would bother me. Your reason for asking her not to is valid, and I don't think there was any reason not to say it. I do think a reasonable time frame could have been included with the request though. (eg. I will talk to Joe tonight/tomorrow/Monday/whatever, please don't say anything until I have.) That way you still bring it up, but she doesn't feel like she is packing some unending burden.
The stress of a bad situation, a lack of support from your partner, and a lack of firsthand information for her, all of this makes for a lousy conversation, and it is no surprise that some feelings were hurt along the way. Best advice, apologize for anything you feel guilty for, and deal with anything that is left after that. Better communication between all three of you could help in the future, but all in all you did well in a crappy situation.
These things happen, we gotta roll with it.
All the best to you and yours,
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