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Old 02-23-2016, 09:39 PM
Liliangrae Liliangrae is offline
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Unhappy BF told metamour about my childhood trauma

I recently learned that Eric* my BF of 6 months told my metamour, Babs* about my childhood trauma. I shared this info with him earlier when discussing my need for patience engaging in sex. It never occurred to me that he’d tell Babs especially considering where and when and how I told him. (Lying in bed, in tears after a discussion between the two of us about being open and transparency in our relationship). Babs and I have met twice & aren’t separate friends.

When Eric initially told me she knew I felt weird not necessarily angry or hurt just confused. Eric suggested that my previous partners being solo polyamory therefore that's probably why it wasn't an issue with them. He explained that they were married, kept no secrets from each other and are completely open and honest. He apologized that telling her made me “feel weird.” I too am married but maintain his privacy when discussing things with my husband. He said that I’d need to be explicit about telling him things that I’d not want him to tell Babs.

A week later, I realized that I’m furious and hurt. I found a great article on More Than Two that has helped me find the language to discuss the violation I feel. It is great that they don't keep secrets from each other nor am I encouraging him to do so but that was MY secret and I didn’t give him permission to share with anyone. What about my privacy? In fact, I explicitly told him that only a few people knew about this only past partners that I told because it was relevant to our sex life. While I knew that his wife maintained an quite free relationship (she reads my text, emails etc) I feel kind of blindsided that he would share something so private.

I don’t believe he was malicious nor am I trying to play the victim. I take responsibility for not addressing issues of boundaries earlier but am I wrong for feeling surprised or angered by this? Unfortunately, I can't change the past but any tips on negotiating through this…

Last edited by Liliangrae; 02-23-2016 at 09:39 PM. Reason: Spacing
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Old 02-23-2016, 10:24 PM
Leetah Leetah is offline
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Hi Liliangrae. I am sure it was a shock that needed processing when you found your confidence had been broken.

There was a discussion here not too long ago on this very topic. People's responses, if I recall correctly, ranged from "Well, yeah. That is what long term partners do" to "That is a gross violation of trust and privacy".

A number of people thought that their texts and emails should never be casually shared, and only shared at all with specific permission each time. It seems to be one of those areas that need to be consciously discussed as people take it for granted that their feelings are shared by all.

I completely get where the total privacy advocates come from as I think that might be my baseline assumption looking outward, but at the same time, my husband is my most intimate confidante to whom I go for help with all my friendships and family problems. It would be very hard to try to deal with a serious issue without telling him about it. I am not saying that is how it must be, just how I actually do things.

So yes, you have a right to be upset, but as you say, it seems like it was a misunderstanding of boundaries. You two will have to discuss this in detail and see if you can agree on general sharing standards. I would say Eric at least owes you a decent apology for inadvertently overstepping your bounds just as he would had he accidentally shattered your great grandmother's Ming vase when you allowed him to hold it. You have to think if you feel safe letting him hold anything fragile again.

" I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant"
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Old 02-24-2016, 09:59 PM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is online now
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Hi Liliangrae,

Re (from OP):
"I take responsibility for not addressing issues of boundaries earlier but am I wrong for feeling surprised or angered by this?"
That's just the thing, you see, if you aren't very specific ("Please don't tell anyone about this, not even Babs"), you can't assume that Eric will know your wants/wishes. I don't think he would have told Babs if he had known you didn't want him to. At the very least he could have warned you, "Please don't tell me anything you wouldn't want Babs to know, I tell Babs everything."

"Unfortunately, I can't change the past but any tips on negotiating through this ..."
About the only thing you can do is make sure there won't be this kind of mix-up in the future. So, have a talk with Eric and get on the same page about privacy and what the boundaries are.

I'm sorry you're going through this difficult time.
Kevin T.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"
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Old 02-25-2016, 09:45 AM
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Emm Emm is offline
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Liliangrae, I think you have every right to be pissed off at him doing that. If anyone did that to me they'd be dumped so fast their heads would spin.

Until I read people here—who otherwise sound quite sensible—saying that they would automatically consider every detail up for discussion with their other partner unless specified, it had never crossed my mind that anyone would see that as anything other than a gross breach of trust and privacy. At least now I know that some things have to be spelled out up front.
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Old 02-25-2016, 11:35 AM
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FallenAngelina FallenAngelina is offline
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Sounds like he didn't realize that what you told him was a secret and that his intention was not to hurt you or betray your trust. You have every right to feel violated, but it doesn't seem as though his intention was malicious. It's important to know your boundaries, what you will and will not tolerate in a relationship, but I wouldn't be so quick to toss someone out just because he unwittingly broke an unspoken rule or crossed a line in the sand that he did not see. This can be an opportunity to come closer together, for each of you to see the other's point of view more clearly and to move forward with even more intimacy than before. Just an alternate choice to looking at this as a gross betrayal and getting rid of him.
~ Karen
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Old 02-25-2016, 01:57 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Sounds like you guys had a misunderstanding. It's ok to feel upset, since you wanted this kept private and it wasn't. But it sounds like he ididn't do it on purpose with malicious intent and he's contrite.

I am not clear on where you guys are at.
  • Have you both recognized a trip happened?
  • Has he apologized for assuming?
  • Have you forgiven him?
  • Has he made amends?
  • Have you forgiven yourself for assuming he works like you and not clarifying communication boundaries sooner?
  • Have you both made a plan for "from this point forward we will...." ?

It is not the same thing. But when I was young I remember a friend calling me upset because their mom yelled at them unfairly. They were calling to vent. I asked why and they said it was because Mom asked them to get the groceries. They did and put them on the kitchen table.
Me: Wait...Did you put them up?

Them: No. That's why she's mad and yelling!

Me: Well, why didn't you? The ice cream and stuff can melt if you leave them out.

Them: Because she didn't ASK me to put them away. She only asked me to bring them up. I figured she was cooking and wanted them out. I did my job. I brought them up!
I saw their point. They wanted Mom to own that she did not specify what she wanted, and that they did in fact, meet her request. Yelling was unfair.

But I also saw Mom's point. Don't just assume that she's cooking and leave stuff out and walk away. Common sense should tell you that unattended ice cream will melt and make a big mess all over the table. At least check in. "I brought them up. So I am done with your request to bring them up. You need anything else?"

That was my first brush with needing to "calibrate" with some people and be specific. Because to me as the outsider, both of them had a share in the situation making because both of them assumed they worked the same. When they did not.

Because to me and Mom, "bring them up" meant the whole process of getting food put away. On the other hand, my friend was a very literal person. "Bring them up" meant bring them upstairs to the apartment. They did the request, so why is mom mad? If she wanted "bring them up and put them away" why didn't she just say that?

You have discovered that you need to calibrate with Eric on where the line is with secrets/confidence keeping.

You are right in that it was your secret. But once told, what happens to that information?
  • For him the line was in one place -- "Secret to everyone else, except Babs. She doesn't count."
  • To you the line was --- "Secret between you and me. Nobody knows. Not even Babs."

You both assumed you work the same.

In this case I think you could calibrate with Eric on what you need from him. Have a talk about information management. What is...
  • Bucket 1: ok to share with others freely
  • Bucket 2: not ok to share with anyone else
  • Bucket 3: the discernment bucket of "that info we decide case by case."
  • If not sure which bucket, check in before telling.

He's told you what he needs -- he needs you to tell him "I'd like to tell you something between you and me only. Do not tell anyone else. Not even Babs. Are you willing to hear it and do that?"

Here is your opportunity to tell him what YOU need from your side. "I need to you to double check and repeat things back. Like "I hear you say X. Is that a confidence just between you and me? Or can I tell Babs if it comes up?"

That way both of you are looking out for potential trip ups in future.


Last edited by GalaGirl; 02-25-2016 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 02-25-2016, 07:21 PM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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I agree with what everyone said about this particular incident.

But I did a big "What??" hearing that your metamour reads all your texts and emails to your boyfriend. No, no honey, no. I would never agree to this. It smacks of couple privilege and some big trust issues your bf and his wife have.

My partner and I never ever read each other's texts and online conversations to others, not even to platonic friends. Now, if said friend or lover has no problem with her and me talking about things they have talked about, we will, and do. But to read the actual texts. Nope. My phone and laptop are mine. I might read a short phrase out loud to her from time to time, but we give each other privacy otherwise.

Once in a while I have passed her open laptop and seen an online convo by accident, and I always regret it, especially if there is explicit sexual content. I have felt envy and jealousy on the rare occasions when I read their private coochy coos, whereas normally I have no jealousy at all.

If the wife is reading all your texts and emails, don't you feel you need to censor yourself when writing to your bf? I would. How embarrassing!
Love withers under constraint; its very essence is liberty. It is compatible neither with envy, jealousy or fear. It is there most pure, perfect and unlimited when its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserve. -- Shelley

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Pixi (poly, F, 41) my partner since January 2009, living together full time 6 years
Master, (mono, M, 37), Pixi's bf since April 2013
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Old 02-26-2016, 12:12 AM
KC43 KC43 is offline
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I would be thoroughly pissed off if Woody told any of his other partners about the trauma and abuse in my past without consulting me first. It's a slightly different situation in that Woody doesn't have an entangled partner right now; all of us are married to other people, and I'm actually the closest he has to entanglement at the moment. But still, even if he had a spouse or live-in partner, it is not his place to tell them my stuff.

In my situation, because I am married, I make it clear to other partners that I will share things with Hubby, and that if they have something they don't want shared, they need to tell me. On the other hand, I also tell Hubby that I will share things with my other partner and that if he has something he doesn't want shared, he needs to tell me. It goes both ways, and I always make sure everyone involved is aware that I tend to TMI, and that I will respect their privacy if I know they want something kept private, but I am not good at judging what to shut up about so they need to be clear about it.

But I do exercise some common sense; there are some things that, to me, are pretty obviously not my place to talk about, and so I keep those to myself. And I would only share a text, email, etc. with Hubby if it was something amusing, or something he needs to know (e.g. plans between Woody and me that impact when I'll be home), or if the other partner says "Tell Hubby this."
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Old 02-26-2016, 03:23 AM
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River River is offline
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Weirdly, I think BOTH Emm in post # 4 here, and FallenAngelina in post #5 share equally valid and useful--though highly contrary--perspectives on this matter.

The fact is that we don't all share a common sensibility about what should and should not be shared which we've heard from others. What is shared in strict confidence, at great personal risk, may not be seen as such by the listener unless the listener has been clearly informed to please keep the specific information in confidence.

And yet it would seem obvious that this or that bit of information is personal and private, right? Well, yes. And also ... no. Not always. Unless the disclosure has been clearly stated as a confidential sharing. And yet...! Some things are rather obviously shared as private, personal sharing, and should be kept to one's self unless it is indicated otherwise.

So I think both Emm and F.A. have very valid, though contrary, perspectives here.
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Old 02-26-2016, 04:00 AM
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Bluebird Bluebird is offline
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I have trauma in my past that I don't just share with anyone. If someone knows this about me, then they've heard it from me personally. If either of my husbands told someone, I would feel betrayed. In fact, DarkKnight and WarMan were having a conversation the other day and DarkKnight alluded to it. WarMan told him that I had not yet shared the information with him, but that he knew I had issues surrounding something specific. DarkKnight was surprised that I hadn't shared the story with him, but immediately shut up about it. I know this happened, because WarMan let me know what had transpired, and DarkKnight came to me as well, contrite and a little bit anxious. There was no harm done, but there is definitely an awareness that I have a boundary around information I consider private.

My husbands and I are open with our emails and texts, but we don't snoop. I would never hide anything, but they never ask to see anything either. We sometimes share - omg, look at this funny picture that so and so sent me! - but I would never show them sexual texts or heart talks between me and my other partners. Nor would they ever expect that or ask.
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boundaries, metamour, privacy, secrecy

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