Can I ask what poly boundary J broke with R, or is that irrelevant / too personal? I'm a nosy bitch, what can I say?
Lying is obviously a red flag and you're trying to deal with that. I actually ask what the boundary was, because I'm wondering why it wasn't a big deal to her that he lied. People usually lie out of cowardice... trying to get themselves out of trouble, trying to spare someone else's feelings, or not being emotionally mature enough to face open communication yet. I do think that this behaviour can be changed over time, providing the person doing the lying genuinely believes in honesty as a core value.
The other thing I'm seeing here is respect.
Respect is a funny one in poly. Relating a little to what ManOfDiscovery said, really - it's a lovely idea that everyone has everyone else's interests at heart. That's how I try to operate in poly. If I'm someone's non-primary, I want them and their existing partner to be very comfortable and not in the least bit threatened. If I'm dealing with my girlfriend's non-primaries, I want to look out for them as *people*. Just because they are secondary to her life priorities, doesn't mean she/we/I see them as lesser *people*. I expect the same in return and I can see that you do too.
However, I have come to find a practical issue with this respect idea, after going through about 5 months of my girlfriend dating someone I find very selfish and quite disrespectful.
I realised that actually... if his actions aren't directly affecting me or our relationship, it doesn't really matter if he respects me or not. As long as what they have works in the box that they have it in, it's fine. I came to this conclusion because behaviour that *I* found disrespectful didn't seem wrong to my girlfriend. Rather than create problems for myself around this, I decided that I simply wouldn't have any contact with him and this has worked very well. It might be something to think about - dating autonomously and not being too involved in each other's relationships? I don't know if that would work for you with your model of poly.
I used to believe that everyone could and should be very friendly, very warm, talk about each other's existence with appreciation and what not. I held every partner to this standard and so did my girlfriend. We found a pattern. The two guys who were very warm and welcoming about me, who respected our relationships, were simply outgoing guys. They were also guys she grew tired of quickly, because she prefers the shy, socially awkward types (projects to fix ~rolls eyes~).
The shy, socially awkward, and/or very self-focused types have been the ones I have found disrespectful. One used to flirt heavily with her, ignoring my presence completely, ignoring my comfort level. Her current one is just... ugh. Don't get me started. He's just inside his own little head (and I do mean 'little head'
) Another one she's dating has no issue with me, but absolutely zero interest in hearing about me, hearing about our relationship, talking to me, doing anything outside of their own personal interaction. Instead of being offended by this and causing myself to struggle with all of these men, I've simply decided that she should date whomever she pleases and the calibre is none of my business.
And I do understand your feelings about attention seeking and whinyness. My girlfriend's current play partner (the 'ugh' one) is very high maintenance and whiny. He gets stroppy when he doesn't get constant attention and he has no empathy when she needs to prioritise something in her life outside of him. This used to... well, piss me off, to be frank. These days I just tell her fondly "he's your mess - you balance him and deal with him
" As long as she's meeting the necessary priorities in her life - i.e. (x) amount of time per week spent on: work, our daughter, our relationship/date time, herself, housework, etc. What she does with him the rest of the time is up to her. If she wants a moany secondary, she is welcome to have one.
So, in terms of your situation...
given the fact that they still barely knew each other, I don't think she was entitled to make demands of him
Nobody is entitled to make demands of him. He is responsible for prioritising. He needs to be the one to lay out his boundaries and expectations for time with you, time with someone else, time on priorities like work, housework, family, himself, etc. If he isn't making these clear and there is no structure, he needs to work on that himself. If he is making it clear and someone is pushing him, he needs to fix that himself.
I don't think her behavior was appropriate or kosher in any way
Ultimately, in my opinion, it doesn't really matter. You are entitled to your own opinion, but who he dates is really up to him. Does that make sense?
and if he hadn't done it on his own I probably would have encouraged him to end the relationship
Well, it's up to the two of you whether or not you have a veto rule.
Personally? Yes, I think my girlfriend is selling herself short with her secondary. Yes, I cannot stand him. Yes, I think he's selfish and unhealthy for her. Yes, I think their relationship is unhealthy for him.
Yet... I would never encourage her to break up with him. She has to make that decision. Any encouragement by me will lead to resentment. So, instead, I listen and advise her on both sides of the argument. I suggest ways that she could make it work, or improve his behaviour if she wants to. Then, she is free to make her own mistakes, whilst still feeling supported and warm about having a partner who is there for her, who enables her freedom of choice and growth.
because she's not the kind of person I want involved in our lives
It might be a mute point with this specific girl now, but what about the future?
How involved is "involved"? If you are open to other partners being around the *two* of you often, or even moving in with you, you would have more of a lion's share in deciding who you want in *your* life.
If it's that you don't need to / want to / really have much involvement at all, then it isn't really your life; thus, it isn't for you to make such a decision.
Am I just being a controlling bitch, as she implied?
I don't think you are a controlling bitch.
Only you know your motivations.
At the very best, you are looking out for your boy's heart and don't want him getting hurt or messed around by selfish women.
In the middle, you don't want the drama that comes with that - i.e. listening to him moaning about their troubles, listening to her whining and pushing.
The lower end, there's something else about her you don't like. You're threatened, or something else. Or, you are trying to be controlling without realising it (as we all are sometimes) and you want to decide what kind of women he can date, even if it doesn't really have to effect you.
(Which do you think it is? I don't know - because I don't know you
At what point does a new person have the right to make these sorts of demands, if ever?
As I said earlier, nobody has the right to make any demands. That includes you.
*He* needs to outline his schedule, his boundaries, his expectations.
*He* needs to speak up if he doesn't agree to your poly boundaries. Don't just cheat on breaking them - renegotiate them.
Then, in return, you are responsible for outlining all of your stuff. As an individual person. Then, together, what you are both happy to expect from your relationship.
Do you think I'm being too hard on her?
Possibly... but I don't know her, so I cannot say. If she's a pain in the ass, you've probably put up with a lot.
It's sad that things went down like this. She looked really good on paper.
All potential partners look great on paper. That's what dating is for. I've found that it takes about 3 months to figure out if something's got longer potential or not. Usually, by then, the cracks start to show.
As a final note to think about, these are my opinions on other lovers and behaviour:
- They don't have
to know me and I don't have to know them
- Friendship is welcomed and lovely if it works
- bad-mouthing me is a no-no
- in return, I won't bad-mouth them
- my girlfriend and I have the right to choose who *we* date
- but... we each have the right to say "I don't want this person around *me*
- we also have the right to calmly and infrequently/when asked express our opinion or concerns, without forcing those opinions onto each other
- we are each responsible for managing our secondary's expectations, being clear about our time restraints and current/future possibilities
- we don't have a veto rule; we avoid leading phrases such as "I think you should break up with them"
- ideally, a new lover would be warm and open about the existing relationship
- if they are not, then it's not an issue for *me* unless:
> they talk about me in any kind of negative way to my girlfriend
> they actively try to meddle in our relationship
> they actively try to take my GF's time or attention away from me
> they actively disregard, push, disrespect our guidelines, or my girlfriend's personal boundaries