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Indygirl78 10-07-2013 06:21 PM

My situation. Advice needed.
I'm a 34 years old and I've been married to my husband for 14 years. I've been on and off with my boyfriend for about the past 5 years, but we have been back "on" for a little over a year this time. And our situation is the problem.

My husband and my bf have been best friends for most of their lives. And we even all lived together in our early 20s. My boyfriend has been married to his wife for over 10 years and we are all friends. Here's where it gets complicated. BF's wife has had a close friendship with my DH for most of that time. They took classes in grad school together and have worked together. During this time they started more of texting/emailing more fantasy type relationship. Eventually they convince everyone to try some playing around with the other's spouse. I was hesitant at first, but it turns out the chemistry was amazing.

Things were more of a swing type of situation for a while until BF's wife decides she can't deal with not knowing what BF and I are doing when we are alone and she has issues about feeling insecure that he may like certain things better with me. So, she says we all need to take a break. But about every 6 months she wants to play again. BF and I continue to talk/text pretty much throughout all of this time. As does his wife with my DH. We have on and off periods where everything was out in the open.

About a year ago BF and I started seeing each other when we could with my DH's knowledge and approval. Not long after that BF's wife starts pursuing a relationship of the side with my DH. Here is the crazy thing, the three of us (DH,BF and I) all know when they see each other, but we have to pretend like it is some sort of secret because for some strange reason she seems more comfortable having an affair than telling the rest of us what she wants. On the flip side, she doesn't know about her DH and myself. Any time I've tried to talk to her about things she tells BF she feels "attacked" and when DH or BF try to talk to her she feels "pressured." So, we all spend time together acting like there's nothing going on and only play (I don't care for that word) when she initiates it.

I don't like how things can't be more open with her. I don't like that it makes it so I'm having an affair with her husband and she with mine. And of course we are all betraying her because we can't tell her we all know.

Someone give me some advice. I love everyone involved and need advice on ways to remedy this crazy situation. And I apologize if most of this is rambling. I am just putting it out there as coherently as I can on my phone. TIA for any suggestions!

PolyinPractice 10-07-2013 08:18 PM

Not exactly help, but....
I have no idea what to do with someone like that. So all I can say is, if it's worth it to you, then keep going for it :)

Also, it could be a lot worse. I'm guessing there's a lot here you're not sharing, but you have no idea the hoops I've jumped through for a metamour.

GalaGirl 10-07-2013 08:25 PM

I'm sorry you struggle. :(

I don't knwo if this could help you but this is how it sounds to me....


I love everyone involved and need advice on ways to remedy this crazy situation
Could behave in loving ways to all your partners then -- not participate in "less then honest" and "lies of omission." Those things aren't loving behavior (to me.)


I don't like how things can't be more open with her. I don't like that it makes it so I'm having an affair with her husband and she with mine. And of course we are all betraying her because we can't tell her we all know.
If that is your bottom line?

You could start with YOU being open and honest with your loved ones. 4 players have to do it, but it could start with YOU.

You could tell them each solo (DH, BF, and Meta Wife) that you are no longer will to lie/pretend. Then tell them again in a quad with all there so there's not triangulation he/she said stuff.
  • You want to be together in an honest and open way.
  • She wants to be together in secretive ways.
  • What does BF want?
  • What does DH want?

Where is each person's "willing" and "able? "
  • What blocks people's WILLING?
  • What blocks their ABLE?
  • If some need to grow skills/confidence to BECOME able (meta wife? others?) then how does the group plan to handle that?
  • How can the blocks be removed?

Talk it out and sort yourselves out.

If this talk means the whole things folds, it folds then. It is just NOT compatible with all the wants/needs to exist in a healthy way. If all 4 are not willing and able it will not fly. (Or at least very WILLING to be in polyship together and ALSO willing to work on their ABLE.)

You want to share something more real and authentic? Could go for it then. take the risk it could become that.

It certainly won't arrive or appear by magic -- you have to help make it so with your partners.

Could start by you aligning your own behavior to match what you say you want more of -- be more "open and honest" rather than you holding yourself back from fear of having to deal with her reaction. If you know she is "feeling attacked" or "pressured" when various people bring it up verbally -- how about over email? Written long hand? Could she be willing to talk it out that way? Couples Skype? Something else? Since you want the WHAT (to have the conversation,) you could let her choose the HOW to have it or the WHEN to have it. Negotiate on some points so it moves along and she gets some say somewhere. That could help relieve some "pressure" since she's being talked with rather than talked at.

In the meanwhile, could take a break on the swinging "play" -- that just adds to the complications. If she asks why? Tell her. "I don't want to swing play as a group until we talk things out first. When could we all sit down and talk? Friday work for you? (or whatever date)"

People could bring lists of talking points. Knock 1 or 2 off for each person's. Or 15 min each. Then get pizza after an hour. Everyone got a little something, nobody got overwhelmed. Knock some more off next week. It doesn't have to be broken down in one go.

You could help move it forward, rather than help keep it in the stuck.


Indygirl78 10-07-2013 10:46 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Galagirl, I very much appreciate the advice. I guess I am unsure how to go about things with her. She is very much one to close down and retreat rather than having a conversation (of any type) where she feels uncomfortable. DH and I have been on the same page about what we want (although he is perfectly fine with things staying more of a "swing" type of relationship as well). BF says he wants things to be out there and open enough that we could spend time with the opposite member of each couple and everyone is ok with it.

At one point we did do "date" nights where the kids were with sitters and we went out separately on a date and stayed overnight with the other's spouse. We did this only twice before she said she wasn't comfortable with that. Since then we have gone on weekends (the four of us) and this past summer we went on vacation with them and all the kids. They really are like our family.

My personal feelings are that I think she has insecurities about herself. And BF has told me that she worries that he compares us and that she is afraid he may like some things better with me. I know we have had the "it's just different" conversation multiple times. So far the only thing she seems comfortable with is very light group "play" and the NSSSA(or not-so-secret-affair) as I've come to think of it.

We have already discontinued the group play and all it seems to have done is motivate her to seek attention from DH. He has tried talking to her directly (over drinks) and says she changes the subject when he suggests she talks to her husband about it.

I'm afraid to try to push her anymore at this time because I don't want to jeopardize the friendship either. As I said, DH and BF have been friends for 30 years and I've been friends with BF for 16.

Maybe I just need to vent for now and try to be patient. Thanks for listening.

kdt26417 10-07-2013 10:58 PM

Hi Indygirl78,
Welcome to our forum.

Venting helps. We're definitely willing to listen, and offer support. I have to apologize because I took so long to write this post it is "one post late," so some of it might be backtracking. But I want to get it out there without too much more delay for revisions.

I'm hearing you say you need advice on ways to remedy the crazy situation, but when I read between the lines, I think I hear you say, "How can I get BF's wife to go along with what the rest of us want?"

That question is complicated on a couple of levels. First of all, you can't just "change what someone consents to;" there's no magic wand for that. You can't even directly change what you yourself consent to, as consent is largely an emotional animal. One can choose what to do *about* one's emotions, and some of these choices could be directed at altering one's emotional *environment.* This could include selecting different people to associate with, or working towards removing oneself from a difficult job or locale. It could also include practicing more constructive thought patterns than what may have been a force of habit in the past. But what one can't do is push a magic button that says "change emotions," and presto, emotions are changed. "Changing emotions" is a complex and indirect process.

Secondly, it sounds to me like BF's wife has some pretty deep-seated insecurities that are driving her unwillingness to consent to what the rest of the quad wants to do. She is obviously stressed out about what she perceives as her "probable inadequecy in the bedroom." On some level, she suspects that you're a better lover than she, at least with her husband. Where does this insecurity come from? Why doesn't she have confidence in her own bedroom skills? Is it an event in her past? Something she observes when the four of you play together?

Or maybe, the bedroom insecurities are just a symptom of even deeper insecurities that she's just not as good of a partner to her husband as you are, that she's somehow "less adequate" as a person and "less deserving of love." If she lets you run off to be alone with her husband, I'm wondering if she doesn't fear that he'll decide, "Hey, being alone with Indygirl78 is much more enjoyable than being alone with my wife, so I think I'll kick my wife to the curb and stick with Indygirl78 instead." Certainly this is an irrational fear, but emotions are frequently irrational. The question is, where are these emotions coming from? They seem to be deep and very visceral.

I think you need to increase and improve the quantity and quality of communication with BF's wife. You need a deeper level of trust with her, so she will start to feel free to tell you things that she wasn't even previously aware of herself.

Usually we think of talking when we think of communicating, but actually, listening is the biggest and most crucial part of communication. Listening is an art and a science. Most people listen in a superficial way. They're hearing the other person's words, but what their mind is doing with those words is formulating a snappy retort, or just mulling over whatever they want to say when they get their turn. They're "impatiently listening." They're not quieting their own mind so as to hear the other person's words coming from the other person's mind.

You need to really get inside BF's wife's head. You need to develop a very special sense of empathy and compassion for her. As hard as it is, and as frustrating as it is that she just seems to be trying to thwart your desires, you need to try to truly get yourself into her shoes, feel what she feels, and understand why she does the things that she does.

Sometimes it helps to "repeat back" to the other person what they just said, only in your own words. "I'm hearing you say that ..." and if they say, "No, that's not what I mean," you try to ask questions to get yourself on the same page as them. If they say, "Yes, that's what I mean," your next step is to express sympathy. "I can see how that would be really difficult. Is there anything I can do to help?" After all those bases have been covered, then and only then do you "take your turn" and express how you feel and see the situation. By taking the time to show that you really hear and value what they are trying to say, you earn some of their trust and help them feel more willing to listen to what you have to say when it's your turn.

And of course, maybe you've already tried all of these techniques and it just doesn't seem to be getting you anywhere. Communication is a hard skill to master. Language is complicated, and then of course add tone of voice and body language to it. I think it would take, like, a million years to really master communication. In other words, we will all need to keep practicing and learning more about it for the rest of our lives.

Look for books on communication. Do a search (or better yet a tag search) on this site for the word "communication." See what you can learn offsite about communication by googling it or what have you.

Perhaps your strongest resource here is the ability to post and interact with other members on this site. Try to describe more in detail what it's like when you try to talk to BF's wife. See if you can really give us a microscopic view of the bottlenecks you run into when you're trying to reason with her. Share with us exactly what you have and haven't tried in order to reach her. The more imformation you can share with us, the better the odds that one of us will say, "Aha ... I just saw something new you can try that might help."

Most of all, exercise as much patience as you can. I have a feeling that this won't be a quickly or easily solved problem. It will have to be tackled in tedious, painstaking steps.

And the worst thing is, you still can't guarantee that all this effort will get you what you want. As I said in the beginning, we are essentially talking about BF's wife's consent, and her consent is hers alone to give or retain. Not only that, but even if she *wants* to consent, the emotional chasm between here and there might just be too formidable for her to get across. Sometimes people have damage that takes longer than one lifetime to heal. In which case, have extra sympathy for her because who knows, somewhere deep inside, she could be suffering more than anyone could ever know. Just because she's good at subliminating all the hurt and fear, doesn't mean it's not in there somewhere. As I said, I get the feeling that she is experiencing some really deep insecurities, and we definitely haven't gotten to the bottom of them yet.

I know this all may not be quite what you wanted to hear, and may not be as helpful as you had hoped. But anything that helps even slightly right now, may lead to other posts in the future that will help more.

I am certainly pulling for you, and sympathize with your situation.

Kevin T.

Indygirl78 10-08-2013 01:49 AM

Thanks, Kevin. I think you probably hit the nail on the head. I know she has body image issues, though she is quite thin and lovely. I do know some of her past issues. Her father was abusive with her mother and she has confided that he would take her to mistresses' homes when she was younger, so there is that. She has never admitted, but I suspect there may have been some sexual abuse when she was younger...again, it's just a suspicion I have.

I do think that the insecurities/comparing is a big part of the problem as well. And I am sure she knows any worries that her DH would ever leave or that I would leave my DH are irrational she more than likely has thought. I also think that some of it is jealous that he would have feelings for me that are more than just friendship.

Another thing to consider is that she has done things sexually with my DH, with just me and together with both my DH and I. So, she has no problems with that, but the one time it was suggested that I join both her and BF she said that she was uncomfortable with that. So, there are definitely issues there. I don't know if it's a trust issue she has with him, jealousy or both. Other than what he has with me he has never been unfaithful to her.

I will try to be more attentive and more of a friend to her, but we are definitely opposite personalities. She is a people pleaser and cares what others think, whereas I am more of an outspoken type that has a difficulty sugarcoating things.

Even though I am not terribly happy that she prefers things secretive I am not willing to give up my relationship with my BF as I love him very much and don't want to try to go back to being just friends. And as long as everyone else is ok with the current situation is it so bad to continue as is and keep trying in hopes that she comes around? It may not be the way I want things to be, but she is definitely not ready for things to be out in the open.

kdt26417 10-08-2013 06:12 AM

Well, look, what do you think would happen if she found out about everything before you were ready to tell her? How would she respond? Would she have a temporary freak-out that would ease down after awhile, or would she be like, "That's it! I quit! I'm leaving!"

Take that, and measure it against the chances (per certain amount of time) of "getting caught" ... remembering that virtually no secret will keep forever. Are things reasonably under control for where she's at, mentally and emotionally? Is there an exit strategy to ease out of the secrecy?

When we say, "She doesn't know," do we mean, "She does really know on a certain level, but she's just in denial about it," or, "She knows in a DADT type of a way and that's how she's comfortable with it." Is there anything she absolutely doesn't know at all? If she doesn't know, she can't give her consent. DADT can fly with a type of generalized consent, so that's fine.

If there was sexual abuse when she was younger, that's going to be a tough nut to crack. One thing that's coming to my mind is the thought about getting a poly-friendly counselor for her. A good one, one that she is comfortable with. Might take some research and shopping around. Sometimes an open-minded counselor is good enough if they're willing to learn about polyamory and incorporate it into their practice.

Basic jealousy can usually be managed:

Let us discuss the greeneye monster shall we?
How to slay the greeneyed beastie.

Jealousy, Envy, Insecurity, Etc.
How do you achieve compersion?

The Theory of Jealousy Management
The Practice of Jealousy Management

Jealousy and the Poly Family
Kathy Labriola: Unmasking the Green-Eyed Monster
Brené Brown: the Power of Vulnerability

But in her case, those links will probably only help her treat some of the surface problems. The stuff that's deep down will take a lot of research to get into.

If she is afraid of her husband leaving her, we know that's an irrational fear because there's no empirical evidence that it would be likely to happen. And she may be well aware of that too, but sometimes the mind can say, "I get this," while the heart says, "I don't get this at all." Emotions are like fire. They aren't known to check in with logic to see if they should burn. They just catch on whatever kindling is available.

If she is a people pleaser, she will have an extra hard time opening up, because she will be afraid that her truth will displease the person she's talking to. So, lots of patient encouragement, and sometimes you just need to sit down with someone and share their quietness. Maybe a hug is all the communication a person is ready to receive at that moment.

All three of you can practice communication techniques and work toward building the kind of trust in her that will allow her to open up. Right now I think all you're hearing is the voice of her insecurities. The voice of the source of her insecurities is silenced.

GalaGirl 10-08-2013 12:55 PM


At one point we did do "date" nights where the kids were with sitters and we went out separately on a date and stayed overnight with the other's spouse. We did this only twice before she said she wasn't comfortable with that.
Did anyone ask her "I see that it makes you uncomfortable. I am sorry. What about it makes you uncomfortable? How could this be alleviated? How could I/we help support you so you could become comfortable? Are you willing to try? Or not willing at this time?"


My personal feelings are that I think she has insecurities about herself. And BF has told me that she worries that he compares us and that she is afraid he may like some things better with me.
And what does he do to reassure her?


Indygirl78 10-08-2013 01:12 PM

Kevin, you are such a great source of information...thank you.

I think on some level she has to know that BF and I have strong feelings for each other. She has consented to us seeing each other in the past, but as far as I know she doesn't know we are currently seeing each other. We see them at least ever other weekend anyway as we are all close friends. She definitely has mood swings that are unpredictable. There have been times recently that she gets quite jealous if BF and I meet to go eat lunch. However, it's perfectly fine for her to go out for a drink after work with my DH (and this happens fairly regularly). She was even upset when the guys suggested going to a bar together to watch a particular football game they had bet each other on. She was upset that she was being left out and left watching the kids while they went out. So, maybe it's jealousy, but also fear of not being included.

I admit I do get tired of the "double standard." BF and I have gone out with all the kids (5 all together) before to allow them to go hang out for the evening. The fact that they have sex during this time is what she wants kept secret from everyone else. Yet, i believe if BF and I even suggested we have drinks after work she would very much not feel ok with that. As I said, she has complained about lunch in the past and questioned why we wanted to do that.

She and my DH work together, so they see each other daily and I think that is part of why she feels drinks after work are no big deal. BF and I don't work together, but occasionally work on the same side of town and the one time we tried to plan something after work she complained to him until he acquiesced and we didn't. It's not all about sex. I miss getting to spend one-on-one time with my BF. We talk/text daily, but the only time we really get to see each other is when we are all together hanging out or the maybe once to twice a month we are able to coordinate our schedules to spend an hour together alone. Even when we were all together on vacation and seeing each other every day we only got about 10 minutes here or there where we were alone and able to talk. We have all been making plans for a kid free trip together this upcoming spring and I would love things to have progressed enough by that time to allow more time alone between me and BF and she and my DH.

I'm going to continue trying to be patient with her. I will let her continue to see my DH and hopefully she will gradually open up more to him and see if he has any luck moving things to a more open arrangement. As is, every time he has suggested she adamantly insists not.

Not really related here, but important none the less. In the past she has been untruthful with all of us. She has tried on more than one occasion to tell me that my BF is jealous or hasn't approved of things in the past in attempt to make him look like a bad guy. Or she will tell my DH that BF wouldn't go for something that he suggests. It's frustrating and I can only think she does this to discourage more than a superficial relationship between BF and myself.

There are so many times I wish I would have discovered a deeper relationship with my BF long ago when I lived with him and DH. At least that way when she had met us it could have been a "here's what we are, take it or leave it" situation.

I appreciate being able to vent and get my feelings out. I truly think she wants things to work in a more open fashion, but for some reason she can't get past whatever internal roadblocks she has. I have in the past suggested she get counseling to help her deal with her past issues, but she only said she probably should have in the past, but has no real intentions of doing it now. Sigh.

I guess this is how it has to be for now. We will just keep supporting her the best we can and hope that she finds some peace with her emotions.

Indygirl78 10-08-2013 01:25 PM

Galagirl, in the past I have tried to figure out what she is uncomfortable with and she only gives me vague answers before changing the subject. On the times I have tried to bring things back to the subject at hand she closes down. And them later tells BF that she felt "attacked." We have very different ways of communicating. I'm more the type to put it out there and lets see what we can do, whereas she's more of an "it is getting uncomfortable lets avoid this uncomfortable subject" type.

I know he is very reassuring of her. Almost to the point where I think he coddles her much as one does with a child. She constantly needs reassurance from everyone around her in all aspects, home, friendship, work, etcetera. I've told BF to make sure he pays her extra attention at home. Buying her flowers, taking her on dates and even just sitting on the couch cuddling. And after any time things have happened to make extra sure he is open and supporting of her. It only helps to a small degree. Sometimes she wi briefly talk about what happened. Other times she accuses him of things such as kissing me more than her or saying things that imply he enjoys things more with me than her. This is why I am not comfortable doing things in the same room. She watches BF and I to the point that my DH has told her it's not fair to him because she isn't fully with him. But when we have tried things in separate rooms or even letting the two guys be with her she states she doesn't like it because I'm being left out (though it was my choice).

I'm getting off on a tangent now. But I think I've answered your questions. Thank you again for your input.

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