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.
Last edited by monogamishSF; 09-11-2012 at 07:18 PM.