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Old 07-10-2018, 07:38 PM
Brooklyn Brooklyn is offline
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Default What is cheating in an open relationship

I was in an open relationship but did not establish rules. After four years, my partner told me that six week ago he had sex with someone I never knew about and had never met. Is this cheating or am I confused as to the definition of an open relationship?
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:44 PM
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Emm Emm is offline
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Did your partner have any reason to believe that was something he wasn't supposed to do? If you explicitly had "no rules", then what rule did he break?

Edit: my definition of cheating in a poly relationship is to unilaterally break agreements. In an open relationship with no agreements in place to break I'm unsure if there's even a "cheating" line to cross.

Last edited by Emm; 07-10-2018 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:58 PM
AutumnLeaves AutumnLeaves is offline
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How you define an open relationship is up to you and your partner. It's really very dangerous to rely on unspoken rules because, unlike with monogamy, we don't all operate under the same basic assumptions. And even IN monogamy, there are lines that might be crossed and things you may have to discuss (like is emotional infidelity a thing).

If you consider cheating to be breaking rules, and you had no rules, how can it be cheating?

But I don't think that answers the right question. Why does it matter whether you label it cheating or a misunderstanding? You clearly read as hurt. I think you should figure out why you're hurting (Is it really that he broke "rules"? Or that he didn't tell you? Didn't tell you until well after you could have made informed sexual decisions? Something else?), figure out what you need (A full disclosure of anything else you might not know? To set a boundary about informing you about sex? Reassurances and support?), and then explain why you are hurt and why you need what you need.

Wishing you so much good luck. This is a very tricky subject that I've struggled with myself.
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:59 PM
MsEmotional MsEmotional is offline
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I agree with Emm that cheating implies a decision to act in a way that goes against established agreements.

The situation you described is very common. I think many people go into open relationships without a strong sense of what their expectations/boundaries are. There is a lot of reliance on "unspoken agreements" (which really are just assumptions that others can read our mind) or "common sense" (which is not always determined "in common" with others).

If your boundaries/agreements were not discussed, then no cheating has occurred. That said, I think it is reasonable to have an agreement that you tell a partner that you've had sex with a new person before the next time that you have sex with them. They may have questions that pertain to safer sex, or they may just want to be kept in the loop. It sounds like this was your assumption, but not one that was discussed with your partner. Now that this has come up, I think both of you should sit down and discuss what some of your "unspoken assumptions" are with regard to your agreements.
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Me: 34, F, Bicurious

Amours
Glasses: my husband of 8 years --> 35, M, Queer
Ponytail: my first-poly-date-turned-boyfriend --> 35, M, Pansexual
Laptop: my (not-so-platonic?) poly friend --> 31, M, Straight

Metamours and Others
Ginger: Glasses' partner --> 30ish, Transgender (FTM)
MsPolitical: Glasses' ex and potential new romantic interest --> 35ish, F
LadyLaptop: Laptop's wife --> 30ish, F
Giraffe: Laptop's FWB --> 30ish, F
Glitzy: Ponytail's interest --> 35, F
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:31 PM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Hello Brooklyn,

The one rule that I see as a given is, get your partner's authentic consent. However, there can be such a thing as standing consent. For example, some people have a DADT agreement. In which case, one partner could have sex with someone new without telling the other partner, and it would not be cheating. You need an explicit agreement that you will tell each other about new sex partners *before* you have sex with them. Then it would be cheating. But if you didn't have such an agreement, then it is probably not so much cheating, more a misunderstanding. Communication is key here. Never just assume, always get confirmation. In that sense, maybe your partner should have checked with you to find out if a DADT arrangement was okay. But both of you have to take responsibility here, communication was lacking on both sides.

Now that this has happened, you know you need to sit down with your partner and draw up some rules (i.e. agreements). Is DADT okay? Probably not, going by your (original) post here. But state your wishes whatever they are, state what you would like to see happen in the future. Probably, you would like to know about future sex partners before he has sex with them. Tell him so, and work out an agreement with him.

I am assuming, of course, that you did not have an agreement with him about this. If you did have an agreement with him about this, then he was probably cheating after all. But since you said you hadn't established rules, well ... that's why I assumed.

Hopefully I was of some help.
Sincerely,
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Old 07-10-2018, 11:00 PM
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I agree with Emm as well. Even if you have certain expectations they have to be voiced to your partner.
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:35 PM
Brooklyn Brooklyn is offline
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Thank you. It is painful to read but I appreciate your perspectives. However, it may be to late to repair the relationship. I assumed it was cheating and emotionally exploded. In addition during our argument my partner shoved me over a set of chairs and threatened me. He has had some issues with drinking and this recent physical abuse is painful. Based on the my erroneous perspective...should I call and apologize?
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:45 PM
MsEmotional MsEmotional is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooklyn View Post
Thank you. It is painful to read but I appreciate your perspectives. However, it may be to late to repair the relationship. I assumed it was cheating and emotionally exploded. In addition during our argument my partner shoved me over a set of chairs and threatened me. He has had some issues with drinking and this recent physical abuse is painful. Based on the my erroneous perspective...should I call and apologize?
No.

Everyone here has offered you guidance based on the information you originally gave. If that had been the end of the story, calling and offering to more explicitly discuss boundaries would have been a reasonable choice. In light of this new information, I donít think anyone would recommend calling him and apologizing for your reaction. His violence during your argument was a much bigger and more unjustified reaction. You owe him nothing.

I would get out of this relationship as soon as possible. Physical violence is never okay and, in my opinion, is a hard limit that never results in a second chance. Please get yourself to a safe location and consider filing a police report.
__________________
Me: 34, F, Bicurious

Amours
Glasses: my husband of 8 years --> 35, M, Queer
Ponytail: my first-poly-date-turned-boyfriend --> 35, M, Pansexual
Laptop: my (not-so-platonic?) poly friend --> 31, M, Straight

Metamours and Others
Ginger: Glasses' partner --> 30ish, Transgender (FTM)
MsPolitical: Glasses' ex and potential new romantic interest --> 35ish, F
LadyLaptop: Laptop's wife --> 30ish, F
Giraffe: Laptop's FWB --> 30ish, F
Glitzy: Ponytail's interest --> 35, F
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Old 07-11-2018, 03:04 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is online now
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I agree with Ms Emotional.

Quote:
In addition during our argument my partner shoved me over a set of chairs and threatened me. He has had some issues with drinking and this recent physical abuse is painful. Based on the my erroneous perspective...should I call and apologize?

No. Because while you and he may have made assumptions and not really clarified what agreements were and what is cheating and what is not cheating?

Shoving you over chairs and threatening you is NOT ok.

Stay away from him. Report it. End the relationship.

Galagirl
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Old 07-11-2018, 03:14 PM
Brooklyn Brooklyn is offline
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Thank you. I think I am starting to understand about domestic violence. As a victim you have a tendency to blame yourself. I have been afraid to go to the police but I will seek counseling and hopefully find courage.

This forum has been a blessing. Thank you
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