I need help with preventing messy results
My husband and I have always idealized, even before we were together, a committed relationship that does not involve monogamy. While I always thought it sounded great, I had doubts about how many people were truly capable of living up to it. I've been in monogamous relationships before and did not find it difficult to remain faithful. I try to keep my word no matter what the circumstances are.
We've been together for 6 years. We were apart for 8 months fairly early in our relationship and had a "don't ask don't tell" policy for those 8 months. We weathered it and when I moved to be with him, he asked if we would continue as we had been while long distance. I said no as I felt we needed to establish intimacy in my new surroundings. He was already familiar with the city and had already made friends. I didn't want any weirdness coming up while getting to know the friends he had made if we were in any way not viewed as a serious couple. I understand that many people struggle to respect less than conventional relationships. We remained monogamous for 4 years and it has been really great. I brought the open relationship subject back to the table because I felt we were at a place where we could explore this.
He was happy about it. I pointed out a woman who was on the outskirts of our social circle that I thought was familiar to this relationship style. I thought it would be nice for him to have his first experience in this to be someone he was somewhat familiar with and who was not likely to be confused about our arrangement.
We have friends who know about this. We have friends that don't. The friends we don't tell are the ones we know who have dealt with infidelity and are still sore about it or are more conservative and unable to respect this lifestyle. We also don't just tell every one about it because - well why does everyone NEED to know?
Our boundaries to start out were:
no one long term and/or steady (see someone steady- keep it short lived; see someone long term- only see them very occasionally and we are as yet undecided on what constitutes long term and what constitutes steady TO US)
no spending the night
no forcing the people we see on our friends
safe sex only
we each have veto power on who we see for whatever reason
no out of town trips to see someone and no vacations with outside partners
no one is lied to about our situation
no one who is in a relationship and sneaking around
The problems that have arose is that the first person he went out with, he continued to see. He had a few dates with others and slept with one, but he ended up only seeing the first person after that for going on three month now. On two occasions, he said he was not going to see her while he was out and he ended up seeing her anyway. All this while pushing for her and I to become close friends. We have all been intimate together, but I don't really fancy her enough to continue at that. I do enjoy her company and so I gave it a go and even asked her to help me with the final finish to my project. I don't have a problem with her or really find her threatening. Our problems are due to his actions not matching his words and that she is a big drinker. We don't drink much so he has trouble following through with what he says will happen when he drinks around her.
- On a side note: I'm not sure how I would react to her being over and seeing them be affectionate in front of me while I have removed myself from the sexual aspect of our mutual interactions. I think it would make me feel like a third wheel and compared to them.-
The first time he ended up seeing the woman he has been seeing without clearing it with me, I gave him opportunity to make it a date night with her and he said he wasn't going to. He did anyway and my only issue with it was that I was assured it would be okay to stay up till he got home and he did not call me when his plans changed. I went to bed not sure where he was but suspecting he was with her.
The second time he ended up at her place after saying he would not was by far much more of a blow out than the first time. I gave understanding and communication to deal with it the first time. The second time was not a request to not see her ever, only that he put off seeing her for 5 days so there would be no weirdness coming from me while I worked with her on a project on the last of the 5 days. I had been bogged down by my deadline and missing quality time with him. I recognized within me an impulse to feel slighted in that time frame and only asked for help in avoiding those feelings till I had more time to devote to self examination. I intended to talk to her about it as well after my deadline.
Instead I get a call from her the night I asked him not to make a date night saying he was with her anyway and an intoxicated mess. She let me know he was safe but she was putting him up for the night. I reacted poorly to this because it is HIS rule about no sleep overs and it was still early enough that I had no problem picking him up if he was too intoxicated to see to it himself.
I only found out after the fact that he had not requested to be put up for the night, he only requested for her to call me while he was dealing with his nausea. This poor communication caused most of the problem as well as put a bad spin on my perception of what was happening between them.
He moped around the next day calling himself a screw up doomed to fail at everything. We talked about it and he spent that time reassuring me how important I am to him. He explained that he likes seeing her only because he doesn't have to go through the speech on how I know what he is up to, he doesn't have to put much time or effort into seeing her. I wanted him to stop seeing her, but took a couple of days to think on the points he made. As soon as I said I'd think on it, he brightened up and we got on better.
After a couple of days, I still felt it best that he not see her anymore. I felt that her typical level of consumption and how that effected his own drinking would continue to be problematic for us.
I wrote him a letter explaining all the reasons why I was still not okay with it and also about what I found out he had been saying about our relationship to others. When he read it, he went right back to being upset and moping. I couldn't even try to comfort him, be affectionate, or try to lighten the subject without making him feel worse. He says he is not so much disappointed about not seeing her in that context again as he was to have all his mistakes outlined and listed so soon after he had began to feel we could fix things.
While dealing with all this, I heard from a mutual friend that my husband was over at his house bragging about how he is "living the dream" to all our friend's roomates. These are not good friends of ours but they do know us both. I was told that they all spoke negatively about the relationship style my husband and I have and he went further saying "I don't care who my wife effs, I love her and I got a big d; I know she will come home to me".
I am hurt by all this. I was hurt that he can't tell me he won't see her and follow through I was further hurt by how trashy he spoke of our relationship to people who didn't need to know about it. I didn't think we started this because our relationship needed improving; I thought we were "living the dream' well before we were in an open relationship and this was only adding to that.
I have spoke to him about all this and he acknowledges that he has really screwed up. He still wanted to see the person he has been seeing even though I wanted him to stop and even though the two of them have made some of our friends uncomfortable with their drunken public behavior.
To the boastful moment he had: He says it was a moment of bravado in the face of having his masculinity questioned for my seeing other men and I can understand that. He also said he was given no choice in discussing it with them as our mutual friend chose to make it known to his roomates for reasons I don't understand.
We are currently on hold with the open relationship thing. I'm wondering a bit if he has always been respectful to my face but brag tracking behind my back. I am also sore that I lived up to all our agreements and now I'm also shut down on it.
This has all made me wonder if we should instead take a more poly approach to things. That way who we see would be in communication with us both, we could also see where our limits are rather than just claiming them our of fear and avoidance.