Betrayal and agreement repair. Need advice pleasee!


New member
Hi everyone! I'm currently struggling with a situation and I would really appreciate some advice (and sorry for my English😅).

It's been two and a half years since I got into my first and only non-monogamous relationship with a hierarchical structure, with agreements on sentimental exclusivity and deals about time and energy to spend together. When I first met my actual partner I didn't know anything about these kind of relationships, while he had already known he was non-monogamous for several years. Therefore it was easy for me to follow his path.

During this time, I started having some strong feeling for a person I was going out with. But I put up a lot of boundaries with him because I didn't want to break my deal with my partner, and honestly I thought it was funny just from my side and I didn't do the deconstruction work to be able to accept it from the other side, either

Starting two moths ago, I took some emotional and physical distance due to a period of stress from personal issues and university. (I had to take my last master's exam and it was really hard, so I felt the need to "freeze" from the rest of the word a little bit); this distance, joined to some bad communication, ended up with him thinking that we had had a conversation about evolving our relation into polyamory. But thing we didn't actually do this.

He had been dating two girls for a month and started having strong feelings for them, and from that moment, for a month, he was thinking we were in a poly relationship, while I remained in the hierarchical view.

So a month ago, after I took my last exam, I had a severe crisis of anxiety and panic attacks for a week because I kept a lot inside and needed him by my side. He was with one of the girls he was dating all the time, and I felt that my needs were at the same levels as theirs, and not that I was his primary partner. So after a long and strong conversation, I discovered that he was in love with these girls and the world fell upon me. I felt completely abandoned on the path we were doing together. After we both thought about it, I asked him to come back to get me and do it together and with this he was very comprehensive and, from a relationship point of view, we kinda went back to a hierarchical situation with the attempt from my part to accept polyamoury; also because as I said before, I already thought about it, even if in a superficial way.

Now it has been one month, and from a relation point of view we are hierarchical, but from a sentimental point of view he's still poly, and the process of accepting it is not working. I'm just tolerating it and suffering a lot. I struggle with a lot of insecurities and jealousy, and the mere thought of him saying "I love you" to another person makes me sick. Philosophically, I completely agree with the concept of polyamory, but in practice it feels almost impossible for me, at least now. Because now, as then, when I haven't brought the subject up, it's because I don't want to, I didn't want to and I don't feel mentally ready to do the switch yet, I think. Also I feel that I'm trying to accept it just for him and not to lose him; I'm not doing it for my own growth even a little, and I think is not a healthy way to proceed

I really wish we were two free souls and that I could let him love whoever he wants. But in this specific case, I have not been taken into consideration at all, and now that the damage is done I feel obliged to accept his conditions in order not to lose it.

We are talking about feelings and it's a delicate question. I would really like to go back to how it was one year ago, but someone cannot de-love someone else, and I feel helpless in this. Also I need to take into consideration the people he loves, because they have feelings too and they love my partner too, and to get my love back I would deny it to my partner and other people.

I don't want to blame him for this. Now he's being super caring and careful. He's giving me love, time and energy, but still I have the feeling that he messed up and now he's not able to repair the damage he caused to me, and I feel hurt because, even if i'm aware there is love on both sides, he's equating a 3-month relationship to a 2 and a half-year relationship and it feels like he doesn't want to give up something in order to save a our relationship.

So my question is, what should I do???😭 Is it so unethical to ask him to go back to how we were before romantically and give up something he has and wants, but I don't? Even if maybe in 6 months or a year I'll might want to try polyamory? Or should I leave him free to be whoever he wants, event if he broke an agreement and didn't repair much?

Thank you for any advice, stories or suggestions; they will be super helpful.
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The sad truth you've discovered is that you can't promise not to want more with your partners.

I think you know that even if he breaks things off with other people, you'll know he will just he doing it to save what he has with you.

Ultimately, you want different things.
Greetings Camilla,
Welcome to our forum. Please feel free to lurk, browse, etc.

It sounds like you want a hierarchical arrangement with your partner, where you are the primary partner, and you don't just want that from a relation point of view, you also want it from a sentimental point of view. Whereas your partner wants egalitarian polyamory, and he is in love with these two other girls. You are trying to accept things his way, and it is making you sick. But you do not want to lose your partner, you do not want to break up with your partner, and you'll do anything to keep your partner, or rather, you feel like you have to do whatever he wants, in order to keep him.

When you say he betrayed you, I take it you mean he betrayed you when he fell in love with the other girls. Whereas, you and he had an agreement that you would have sentimental exclusivity, and he broke that agreement. Also he is unwilling to break up with these girls, despite having been with you much longer, he is not willing to give up something in order to stay in his relationship with you. So that's like a double betrayal.

It is not unethical to ask him to go back to how you were before romantically and give up something he has and wants, but you don't. Tell him to break up with those two girls, and do not let him say no to you. You want to keep him, but you need him to give up something too.

Sorry this has happened to you.
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Welcome! And I am sorry you are going through this.

I think it's okay to ask for what you want--for him to put the breaks on polyamory and focus on his relationship with you.

But you have to accept that he may not want to do that. He may choose to end the relationship with you so that he is free to be poly with the two other women.

Rather than framing it as asking him to choose between them and you, you may think about framing it as YOUR choice. You are not happy in polyamory--so YOU will leave if he wants to continue to be poly. You can choose yourself and your own happiness rather than just trying to go along with something you don't want so you can stay with him.

It's okay that you were happy with a hierarchical open relationship and don't want don't need to feel guilty about it. Sounds to me like you are beating yourself up for not being willing to be polyamorous when you understand the philosophy/theory.

It's okay to not be ready. You can tell your partner that you like the idea of polyamory and might be willing to try again in a year, if he is willing to focus on you and give you more time.
It sounds like your original agreement with your bf was to have an "open relationship," with the idea that you'd have just FWBs: sex, maybe friendship, but never deeper feelings or love. You took this seriously. Even when you started to fall in love with someone, you created distance between you and that person. Maybe you even broke up with him.

But your bf, who has been in open relationships longer than you, before he met you, wanted to move to the next stage, from having one relationship and other more casual relationships, to having more than one love relationship. In this case, he now has three women he feels he loves.

In my opinion, love takes time to develop. Usually at least a year, if not two. The current stage your bf is in with his other gfs is what we call "new relationship energy," NRE. (Google that.) It is a very overwhelming time, of heightened interest, lust, obsession. It usually lasts 6 months to 2 years. Your bf might have only just moved out of the NRE stage with you!

But anyway, yeah. He has reset the goal posts for your relationship. He wants full-on non-hierarchical polyamory, while you just want one love relationship and maybe other, much more casual, friendly relationships with fun sex, and nothing more.

If you are sure that's what you want, then you and your bf have reached an impasse. You want different things. At least, at this time, you do not want polyamory. (You might change. I was in your shoes once with my ex h. I was shocked when we opened after a 20 year marriage, that he fell so hard for a new woman and her needs were suddenly just as important as mine, his long time wife and the mother of his three children.)

It isn't healthy to bend yourself into pretzels just to try and keep your bf. I am so sorry for your loss. You've been through a stressful time with exams, and are probably going job hunting, and meanwhile, he's fallen for two women and was spending a ton of time with at least one of them, when you needed his support!

But at the same time, keeping feelings out of a good fun sexual relationship is difficult for many people. It's only natural to fall in love with someone you like enough to get naked with and hang out with, go on fun dates, share intimate feelings, etc.