I decided to be honest with her and tell her what had happened, and I asked her not to bring it up to Joe.
To be honest, if this was my relationship, I'd want to know about this stuff. If my GF had a condom break and kept this to herself, this would be a big problem. I actually think Joe should have told her about this in the first place.
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.
I can understand your thoughts here. I think she deserved to be in the loop, too. The problem is doing this without telling Joe, I think.
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).
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.
I can understand her position. She's obviously had to sit on this information and had to keep a secret. You didn't want it to be a secret from her - so how can she realistically be expected to keep a situation quiet from Joe, comfortably?
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.
I think that this is good and works in the sense of you two confiding in each other about feelings and struggles etc. Taking the pressure of him as the hinge.
But this situation actually involved him *and* her. It wasn't just about feelings or struggles.
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.
The fact that you wanted to talk to Joe yourself, though, implies that perhaps subconsciously, you knew that you should have asked Joe first, whether it would be ok to tell her.
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.
In reality, would you really be able to do this? I'd struggle, because I'd want to offer support to my partner above my metamour.
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."
- 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
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.
I do completely understand your point. On your end:
- *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?
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.
I think that she wasn't the right person to confide in about this particular situation, but it seems that she does want to try to be someone you can confide in about other situations.
Any advice for both navigating this particular situation and also for navigating sharing of information in the future?
I have two main metamours. My girlfriend's husband and my girlfriend's online partner of two years. I confide in them in different ways and always encourage them to confide in me. The outcome of confidentiality varies depending on the subject. Here are some ideas for both of you based on what I believe and implement in my V relationships:
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.