Ok, here's the short synopsis :-)
Met a woman online who was poly, bi, "happy with her man" and looking for bi women, or cool people to get to know in the area. We chatted for a few months, then had lunch a year and a half ago. It went great. Hours of talking, a hug for goodbye, and then she didn't write back.
This summer she writes me and we get back to talking. We have a few lunches and she tells me that last summer she didn't write back because she found me attractive and hadn't broached the subject of having a boyfriend with her primary male partner. In the spring she finally did, and he was totally ok with it as if she didn't even have to ask.
We date for a few months, it gets serious, she divides her time between us for a while. I check with him directly to make sure he really is still ok with me becoming intimate with her. He is.
She tries to plan things for us to all spend time together. But he and I quickly realize that we are not at all on the same page for how to have a mature conversation with other humans. We don't talk much, but I am at their house about 3 times a week and she divides her time between us.
Over time I come to see very clearly that she is in an emotionally abusive relationship with him. He is 14 years older than her and she was 23 when they met. She has grown up and out of her "wild and crazy" college phase, but he continues to treat her like he's her father. He constantly disrespects her, ignores her, doesn't enjoy doing anything with her, expects her to do all the housework, and plays his favorite online video game morning, night, and weekends -nonstop.
By then I've come to really love and care for her and it hurts to see this and have her confused by the way he is acting, and in the worst times crying on my shoulder after he is particularly hurtful. She says he's always been like that. She makes excuses for him. She says it will blow over.
More time goes by and she starts to see a significant difference in how she feels with me and with him. She starts hinting with me that she's thinking about leaving him. She's honest with him that she's in love with me and things may change soon as they had always known they could.
One day about a month ago he just becomes cold to her. He won't talk to her at all, won't touch her, won't be near her when he doesn't have to. She is completely confused and hurt and tries to pull it out of him. But he won't say why. He just does what he always did and walks away expecting her to just deal with it till it blows over.
She tries for a month to get through to him because she loves him and he must be hurting. But she also feels that he's hurting her and me with his actions and talks more seriously with be about leaving him. She decides that she is leaving him. But she wants it to be as friends, not like this.
So she is in this pattern of trying to get through to him while I wait, unable to do much about any of it because of my conflict of interests, and her need to make the decision herself.
At this point I was going to ask for advice on how I could, as a boyfriend, help her out of this trap. Or should I just be patient and loving and supportive until she gets out herself. But last night as I was going over all this and decided to post here, things came to a head. They had spent the whole weekend with friends and had a lot of time they had to be together. She finally had the blowout conversation with him where he told her that he knows she's not happy, he isn't either, they are separating and so on.
Their break up wasn't over me. It was very between them. But it's obvious to all of us that my relationship with her was the catalyst.
So, that's probably all resolved now... I see her tonight and we will talk about everything that happened and how things will start to be. I already know that I'm not welcome at their house anymore. But they have been living together for over 4 years and have a lot of pets, cars and stuff to get sorted out. So she's not just leaving overnight.
My request for advice is now this. What do I need to watch out for in this developing relationship with her? I know things can change emotionally about one partner when another major change happens. I love her and want to be with her. We talked about living together. But haven't discussed any details. I know she will be maintaining some sort of relationship with him as a friend.
She's emotionally stable when not dealing with major challenges, and very mature and rational. I'm generally very rational, stable, and attentive. But I still worry that she will find a reason to go back to him, or not actually leave. Relationships have a tendency to feel much better when they find a form that's comfortable. If friendship is comfortable for them, will they make another go of it? Of course you can't know the answer to that. It's just a worry of mine.
Thanks for any experiences or advice you can offer. And yes, this was the shortened version. ;-)