Can this relationship become poly after an affair?

JoshuaR

New member
Hi everyone,

I find myself in a difficult situation and would appreciate any clarity or insight that people can provide. My wife and I have been together for 9 years, married for 3. We both have children from previous marriages and have worked hard over the years to make our blended family work.

The past few weekends my wife has been asking me about poly or open relationships and has been making persuasive arguments for it. Then, this last weekend, we were drinking/smoking and one thing led to another where she finally told me she thought she was poly...and that she was seeing and having sex with someone already. At the time I thought it was hot. I was turned on thinking about my partner getting pleasure and being happy.

However, she then proceeds to tell me it is with the same person that was a cause for concern at the beginning of our relationship nine years ago. At that time she was having a rough marriage and this friend/person apparently reminded her of her value and worth.

Anyways, we were on a date and his name came up on her phone. After that I went into a tailspin and was paranoid jealous in a very unhealthy way. We stuck together but it was rocky and over time I came to trust her and moved in with her.

We’ve been doing pretty well, or so I thought, for the last few years but then this. Also, when she told me I took it kind of hard. I was hurt but turned on. During these mood swings she kept asking if I could see it from her position and also if I had done anything similar. I tried to relate and wanted to be honest and I also admitted that I had previously cheated with a masseuse while getting a massage. I freaked out a bit and haven’t had a massage since. I was intent on holding that in because I thought it was/is a mistake.

Anyways, I’ve been feeling unhealthy/sick the last few days. Her fantasy of me being totally on-board from the get go kind of crumpled after she saw my differing reactions. I keep trying to keep the lines of communication open with my wife and it seems like we’re trying to continue to be honest. She says she wants to continue seeing him (I.e. 3 times a month, one of which is an evening) but that I am her main partner. She says that if I want her to stop then she will. That I’m the love of her life and that she doesn’t want to break up her family yet again. My problem is that I feel betrayed/hurt but am also turned on (I had/have a fantasy about sharing her). We’ve talked through a lot and have decided to see a therapist, which we’re trying to get set up. She wants to talk to this other person and let them know what’s going on. Apparently they’re going through a hard time (I.e. multiple deaths in the family, divorce in the last couple years, pandemic, etc). I guess that pretty much brings us up to speed. I feel confused and sad mostly. This doesn’t seem to be affecting her as much as me. She keeps trying to reassure me but her mind is very much on him/his needs. On the flip side we seem to be close and connected and communicating and having great sex right now. Just very confusing and I don’t know if I should let her continue talking to him (she wants to check in and make sure he’s okay) or ask her to stop everything immediately.

Ah - she also mentioned why she started seeing him. She said she was looking out our window and was thinking she had the perfect life. She then saw a post come through from this other person on LinkedIn and she liked it. They started talking and he asked her to come over and chat in person. They had tea and then when she was leaving he starting trying to kiss and grope her. She said she felt sorry for him and left. Apparently it was weeks after and she went back. They were taking and he started fondling her, she asked him to stop a few times and he kept going. It continued from there and she has seen him another couple of times before she finally told me about it. She says she felt powerful, liberated, and is now more connected with me.

So I feel like it’s a question of can I grow to accept this and believe she actually wants a poly life? Can her heart accommodate so much love and it just started out really shitty with an affair and secrecy first or is this something else? She also says her friend is just looking to keep it simple, like a booty call but whenever she talks about him and their conversations it seems like a deeper connection. It’s hard to trust what she says after the fact.

It’s an awkward and confusing position to be in and I still feel like a I got gut punched from finding out about the affair/betrayal. It would have been so much better if she had discussed with me before she started seeing him but she didn’t. Sorry for the long winded recap - just trying to be thorough so insight can be helpful. Thank you in advance.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello JoshuaR,

Any relationship can become poly with one simple ingredient: consent. Consent from your wife, consent from her other lover, and consent from you. It seems to me that you have your wife's consent and her other lover's consent, but I can't tell whether you have your own consent. Do you consent to this situation? Now that you know about it, do you consent to it? Of course, you can't consent to anything you don't know about. Your wife's not keeping any other secrets, is she?

I'm a little unclear on this other lover of hers. What makes him such a bad/problematic guy compared to most other guys? You said you went into a paranoid/jealous tailspin when his name came up on her phone at the beginning of your relationship with her, nine years ago. I am confused about why you had such a strong reaction back then, could you perhaps go into more detail on what you were thinking and feeling, and any reasons you can think of for why you thought and felt that way? also, can you articulate why you have such a strong reaction against him now, nine years later? Going by what you have posted so far, the paranoia and jealousy seem to be dropping out of the sky. I guess you could say you don't like him because he's been having an affair with your wife, however you said that when she first admitted having an affair, you were fine with it, even thought it was hot. It was only when you found out it was this guy she was seeing that you had such a negative reaction. I don't know much about this guy.

I don't mean to suggest that it's easy to start a poly relationship after an affair, especially when one of the guys in the poly relationship will be the same guy that was in the affair. It takes work and dedication, and lots of communication. But I believe it is possible. If you have consent. I can't tell you whether you consent to the proposed arrangement, you have to tell yourself. Do you consent to what your wife is asking? What would your consent require?

Just some thoughts,
Kevin T.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I'm sorry you struggle.

Let me repeat back what I understand happened in chronological order:

9 years ago when you and wife were dating, you got jealous over some Dude she was seeing. Reasons undisclosed.​
3 years ago you both got married.​
__ years ago, you cheated with a masseuse while getting a massage and kept it secret from her. (Not sure if this was before or after the marriage)
___ weeks/month ago, Wife saw Dude on LinkedIn, responded to a message.​
She went to see him and he got handsy.​
She went back.​
He got handsy again.​
She started her cheating affair.​
The past few weekends wife was asking about poly or open relationships.​
Then last weekend when you both were drinking and smoking (tobacco? pot?) she told you she thinks she is poly.​
  • And revealed that she was having a cheating affair with Dude.
  • She did/did not apologize for the cheating start.
  • She was hoping you'd just get on board with changing from cheating behind your back to everyone doing open/poly. (Is that even a realistic hope?)
At first (while drunk? High on pot?) the open/poly idea turned you on.​
Later (As you sobered up?) you were upset because the cheating start was shitty and you would have preferred if she'd talked to you first.​
She kept asking if you could see it from her position and also if you had done anything similar.​
You revealed you had cheated with a masseuse while getting a massage __ years ago.​

Is that about it?

So basically neither one of you is doing great with honesty in the marriage or keeping to marriage agreements right now. That doesn't sound like a great foundation from which to move into open/poly relationshipping.

It's not like open/poly is MAGIC or something. People can cheat on their open/poly agreements too. Then what? Just bigger messes?

She says she wants to continue seeing him (I.e. 3 times a month, one of which is an evening) but that I am her main partner. She says that if I want her to stop then she will. That I’m the love of her life and that she doesn’t want to break up her family yet again.

So ask her to stop seeing Dude. Presumably she doesn't offer to do things she cannot actually deliver on.

My problem is that I feel betrayed/hurt but am also turned on. I feel confused and sad mostly.

It's ok to be turned on by the idea of open/poly and still be pissed/upset about the cheating start. This isn't the greatest intro to open/poly.


Apparently they’re going through a hard time (I.e. multiple deaths in the family, divorce in the last couple years, pandemic, etc).

Who ISN'T dealing with pandemic? And ok he's got deaths in the family and divorce. You found out you have a cheating spouse. Like... who doesn't have stuff?

Sigh.


This doesn’t seem to be affecting her as much as me. She keeps trying to reassure me but her mind is very much on him/his needs. On the flip side we seem to be close and connected and communicating and having great sex right now. Just very confusing and I don’t know if I should let her continue talking to him (she wants to check in and make sure he’s okay) or ask her to stop everything immediately.

You don't "let her" -- I don't know why she's trying to make you the "gatekeeper" of her phone. To assuage guilt or something?

No point in pussy footing around. There's been enough weird. She offered to end it. You could ask for a reasonable pause instead.

Could ask her to
  • Limit contact to one call to check in on him and his problems and also to let him know she told you about the cheating affair. That you are both going to see a couples therapist.
  • She won't talk to him again til after the therapist appointment.
  • And she won't see him again til things are square in the marriage.
Otherwise her jumping to seeing him 3 times a week? That is just more of her cheating on marriage agreements... just out in the open. No chance for you to heal, make new agreements, nothing.

She could choose to meet the request or not.

If all he wants is a booty call? After hearing that he's probably gonna ghost and look for easier booty calls than her. If he has actual interest in making repairs and starting over? More than a booty call? That's gonna involve some work. Maybe he'll actually do it.

As for her? After making your request? She might agree to do it and starts to make good on her word and starts rebuilding trust with you. Or she does not agree. And maybe you find out she's just talking whatever and her Word is still unreliable.

But regardless of what they do?

YOU could get it better together: Speak your truth, make your request, and book the counseling.

She said she was looking out our window and was thinking she had the perfect life. She then saw a post come through from this other person on LinkedIn and she liked it. They started talking and he asked her to come over and chat in person. They had tea and then when she was leaving he starting trying to kiss and grope her. She said she felt sorry for him and left.

That to me sounds like getting FRESH and handsy.

Apparently it was weeks after and she went back.

Back for WHAT?

They were taking and he started fondling her, she asked him to stop a few times and he kept going.

He's NOT listening to her "No." That makes me uncomfortable. Like what if it had turned out rape-y? Then what?

It continued from there and she has seen him another couple of times before she finally told me about it. She says she felt powerful, liberated, and is now more connected with me.

That would not be my reaction to a guy who doesn't respect my "No."

So I feel like it’s a question of can I grow to accept this and believe she actually wants a poly life? Can her heart accommodate so much love and it just started out really shitty with an affair and secrecy first or is this something else? She also says her friend is just looking to keep it simple, like a booty call but whenever she talks about him and their conversations it seems like a deeper connection. It’s hard to trust what she says after the fact.

Maybe knowing another man finds her attractive felt powerful to her, but I would not call this some "deep connection" thing. He was a fresh, handsy Dude who did not respect "no." He's on the divorce rebound. (??) And Dude himself told her he just wants a simple booty call. She could find someone better than that to poly with.

She could become a better poly partner herself.

It’s an awkward and confusing position to be in and I still feel like a I got gut punched from finding out about the affair/betrayal. It would have been so much better if she had discussed with me before she started seeing him but she didn’t.

Could say something like

"I might consider an open/poly relationship later down. But right now? With this guy? No, thanks. I don't want to be in a poly grouping with you and your cheating affair partner at this time.​
He doesn't respect your no, he only wants a booty call, and he was ok cheating with a married woman. I don't admire that. I don't understand why you do.​
I also don't want to do poly when trust has gotten dinged. I was no angel either. I think we could invest in healing from both our cheating affairs, work on rebuilding trust, and figure out what new agreements might be. Because it isn't like open/poly is magic. People can cheat on their open/poly agreements too.​
I want us to get STD/ COVID testing. (Did you inquire as to safer sex / COVID practices during her affair?)
I want us to see a counselor together and if we are going to eventually try open/poly down the road? Approach it better prepared and on the level. Not sneaking around with cheating stuff.​
I don't understand why you didn't talk to me about it first. Maybe in counseling you can explain that."​

However it is you say it... I encourage you to be up front and honest. Speak your truth.

Sometimes people do come to open/poly after a cheating affair. But part of the changes sometimes includes cutting ties with the cheating affair partner. Because a spouse might be willing to work on forgiveness, and might be willing to try a different model, but asking the cheated on spouse to put up with the cheating affair partner as a meta? Sometimes that's just asking too much.

Not IMPOSSIBLE to mend things and start over including the former cheating partner. But rare.

Def see a counselor and do your soul searching.

Galagirl
 
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MeeraReed

Active member
I think you're confusing yourself because you have two new things happening at once--your wife's confession that she's cheating, and your realization that you find the idea of her having sex with someone else hot/arousing.

The latter is a pretty common sexual fantasy. Some men are just wired that way. It may just be part of your sexuality and one of the things you just find erotic for whatever reason. No need to overthink it. Doesn't mean either you or wife need to act on this fantasy. (Some couples who act on it call it hotwifing...I think that's the term, you may want to look it up for more info...similarly, some men have a cuckold fetish but that doesn't quite sound like what's going on with you).

My point is, that fantasy is about YOU and how YOUR sexuality/arousal works. Recognizing this about yourself may be new information...sounds like you have sort of had those fantasies but haven't thought too much about it before? Or maybe you had some shame/guilt/confusion about it? I'm guessing it just has to do with what YOU find erotic...probably you would have similar fantasies if you had a totally different wife. So it's not about your particular wife. It's just a thing you find kind of hot.

So, TOTALLY SEPARATE from whatever sexual fantasies you have, your wife has admitted she's been cheating. She found a pretty cowardly, immature way to admit it--tried to for weeks to drop hints / "suggest" you two consider polyamory, then finally confessed while drunk/high. It doesn't sound like she's really taking responsibility for her actions or for the hurt she's caused you. Sounds like she's even trying to blame the whole thing on the Dude getting handsy with her, as if she wasn't totally responsible for her own choices.

I'm not too impressed with your wife's immaturity here. I can see why you're hurt and why you find the whole thing with the Dude kind of sketchy. Polyamory requires a lot of emotional honesty, and it doesn't sound like your wife is there yet.

You two may decide eventually that you want to be poly/open. Maybe it could be a mutually fun way for you to explore your sexual fantasies about sharing her. But it's reasonable if you want to say no to this particular Dude at this particular time.
 

HaloOnFire

Active member
So, TOTALLY SEPARATE from whatever sexual fantasies you have, your wife has admitted she's been cheating. She found a pretty cowardly, immature way to admit it--tried to for weeks to drop hints / "suggest" you two consider polyamory, then finally confessed while drunk/high. It doesn't sound like she's really taking responsibility for her actions or for the hurt she's caused you. Sounds like she's even trying to blame the whole thing on the Dude getting handsy with her, as if she wasn't totally responsible for her own choices.

I'm not too impressed with your wife's immaturity here. I can see why you're hurt and why you find the whole thing with the Dude kind of sketchy. Polyamory requires a lot of emotional honesty, and it doesn't sound like your wife is there yet.

You two may decide eventually that you want to be poly/open. Maybe it could be a mutually fun way for you to explore your sexual fantasies about sharing her. But it's reasonable if you want to say no to this particular Dude at this particular time.


All of this is spot on and really hits home the crux of the matter, imo.
 

Mbalmr71

New member
I completely agree with everything that has been said so far. I would underscore that there is nothing wrong with you being turned on by the thought of what happened. I really enjoy watching my wife, either pleasure herself or with someone else. I find the ability to sit back and watch her lets me focus on how amazing she is without having to divide my attention as an active participant. That being said, the fact that the idea of sharing her turns you on has nothing to do with her actions and infidelity. Just because you are turned on by the idea does not make what she did or wants to do OK.

Throughout your post I heard a lot about what she wants. What do you want? I think you really have to find out what is in all this for you. Have you even discussed the possibility of you having other partners? Has she even bothered to ask you what you want?

I am in a relationship now that has survived infidelity. Part of nearly everything I have read or heard on the subject of surviving infidelity says that the infidelity partner has to go, 100% cut off.

Some may not agree but I think the healthiest course of action goes something like this:

1. She cheated, pure and simple. You can forgive and move on but creating a poly dynamic in your relationship does not bestow a retroactive permission for what she has already done.

2. She should 100% cut off contact with this other guy. Even if you both decided to open your relationship it does not sound like this guy is going to be a good fit for that. Aside from sounding creepy, he very obviously has a difficult time respecting boundaries.

3. Find a counselor who is open to or specializes in polyamory.

4. Do some searching within yourself and find out what is in all of this for you. What do you want out of this?

5. Then you can begin a conversation with her about having a poly relationship but she should wait and not see anyone until you can reach that understanding and establish healthy boundaries.

Hang in there. I know it must be pretty easy to feel trapped in this situation. You are really going to have to look out for YOU. In the end I think that poly can be a great thing. Just remember that honesty and trust are deep set cornerstones in this and any healthy relationship.
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
Part of nearly everything I have read or heard on the subject of surviving infidelity says that the infidelity partner has to go, 100% cut off.
This "infidelity partner" has been in the wife's life/thoughts for nine years. I guess that's good advice to cut off a partner who is not much of an emotional attachment, but clearly the wife here has an enormous attachment to her affair partner. Cutting "it" off doesn't solve anything and in fact, just makes feelings grow stronger when there's an existing and deep emotional connection. Perhaps there's an illusion that the affair partner is gone, but the emotions linger on no matter what anyone believes. If the affair partner has weak boundaries, the wife has weak boundaries, too. Cutting "it" off doesn't do anything to change the fact that the wife has a lot of internal turmoil going on. Sure, they can kick him to the curb but this situation will still be difficult. And my bet is on the reality that the wife will not stick to the "kick to the curb" agreement anyway. Asking her to do this just begs for more cheating.

Nine years!
 

Mbalmr71

New member
This "infidelity partner" has been in the wife's life/thoughts for nine years. I guess that's good advice to cut off a partner who is not much of an emotional attachment, but clearly the wife here has an enormous attachment to her affair partner. Cutting "it" off doesn't solve anything and in fact, just makes feelings grow stronger when there's an existing and deep emotional connection. Perhaps there's an illusion that the affair partner is gone, but the emotions linger on no matter what anyone believes. If the affair partner has weak boundaries, the wife has weak boundaries, too. Cutting "it" off doesn't do anything to change the fact that the wife has a lot of internal turmoil going on. Sure, they can kick him to the curb but this situation will still be difficult. And my bet is on the reality that the wife will not stick to the "kick to the curb" agreement anyway. Asking her to do this just begs for more cheating.

Nine years!
I agree. Unfortunately there is not going to be an easy way through this. OP has a lot of work to do regardless. It seems like if he tries to get on board with this, then he is being left with all the work. It makes sense to me that if they are going to do this then they need a fresh start with him out of the picture. However, if she can't then I think it is pretty likely that she continues in secret.
 
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