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Love FAQ
Honesty is the Best Poly-cy (Except When It Isn’t)

Lara Crigger | 24 Jun 2011 16:00
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Dear LoveFAQ -

So there's me. Then there's my wife.

Then there's my girlfriend. And the guys my wife has BDSM play dates with.

My wife and I mutually agreed to try polyamory, after talking about it a lot. She has had playmates on and off for several years, something which I wasn't particularly comfortable with but went along with because it made her happy.

In the six months since I fell in love with my girlfriend, however, I'm now much more comfortable with my wife having playmates. Now, however, she's struggling to be comfortable with my girlfriend.

Intellectually, she's totally supportive of us. But she's really only fine with it if it's happening out of sight. If she sees us being intimate - cuddling or kissing or even hearing us having sex - it makes her sick to her stomach.

We've talked about it at length, and her fear seems to boil down to feeling invisible or forgotten. Obviously, it's a weird situation, particularly because it's so asymmetrical. I am head-over-heels in love with another woman. She, on the other hand, is not even close to being in love with her playmates.

Our current approach is for my girlfriend and I to pretend we're not involved when we're around my wife, which is awkward and feels artificial to all of us. What advice, if any, can you give us?

Secret Hippie

Let me get this straight.

1) Your wife had sex outside the marriage for years. You accepted it only begrudgingly - until you found a side dish of your own.

2) Your wife isn't in love with her partners and never has been. Meanwhile, you fell head-over-heels on your first go.

3) Your wife kept her extracurricular activities out of sight. You, on the other hand, make out with your girlfriend right in front of her.

Seems like neither of you has been very honest with the other.

The irony of polyamory is that it's all about boundaries. On the surface, it may seem like a convenient excuse for a free-for-all, but a poly relationship is just like any other: All parties must be clear on what's allowed and what's not.

Poly relationships usually fail when the primary partners aren't on the same page about said boundaries, meaning one person feels left out or abandoned. That's something both of you have experienced: You, at the start of your experiment, and your wife, right now.

Think back to the boundaries you two set when you first embarked on this experiment. (You did set boundaries, right?) Clearly you both agreed to sex outside the marriage. But did you ever agree to love outside the marriage? Multiple partners? PDAs?

Marriage isn't a play-as-you-go arrangement; few things that involve a contract and a change of tax status are. Play it that way, and you're bound to be burned.

As I see it, you have two options. Either you and your wife go back to basics, and rewrite the rulebook of your relationship together, or you two decide to play a different game entirely.

Now I'm not saying you need to ditch poly and go completely monogamous. I am saying, however, that if you love your wife, then you owe it to yourself and your marriage to get on the same page with her, and get there fast.
And for Chrissakes, save your wife the headache and your girlfriend some gas. Go visit her once in a while.

Disclaimer: LoveFAQ is written by Lara Crigger, who is by no means a trained psychiatrist or therapist or even a middle school guidance counselor - just a smart gal who wants to help out her fellow geek. LoveFAQ is meant for entertainment purposes only, so don't take it as a substitute for professional advice. If you have real problems, consult your physician.

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