How do you move from an affair to healthy polyamory?

Anthony77

New member
Hello

My wife and I have been ENM for 5 years (18 years married). We have been mostly swingers.

We never had much interest in polyamory until my wife met someone she really liked 2 years ago. We read about it, slowly opened our heart and we jumped into poly. My wife has had several partners, we ran into newbie issues but they all got solved with a therapist.

On my side, I met a lady (Rachel) 8 months ago at a swinger event, the sexual chemistry was intense. We kept in touch and we fell hard for each other. My wife really liked Rachel and Rachel and I started a secondary relationship.

Rachel is married (8 years). I had never met her husband who was working out of state but Rachel told me they were both ENM, playing separate, he had several partners. When we started our relationship, I told Rachel in our relationship agreement that I would like to meet her husband but she told me he prefers to not know details about her partners. I got frequent reassurance that her husband knew about me.

The relationship with Rachel was intense. Our feelings grew exponentially. We got to I love you in 2 months, started traveling together, went on crazy adventures. We read poly books together. She came to our house, went on weekend with my wife and I, gave Christmas gifts to our kids. After several months, I sat her down and told her that I really loved where our relationship was going and I would I like to think about long term with her. We opened our hearts deeply, talking about being there for each other as secondaries until one of us dies.

However, everything came crashing down a few weeks ago when she confessed that she had been lying to me and her husband. Her husband and her were not even in an open marriage at all. She decided to explore swinging by herself as her husband was unsure and she fell in love with me unexpectedly. She told me she had been lying to herself, imagining that her husband would be accepting of polyamory but when she finally came clean to him, he told her monogamy or divorce. Her husband had no idea his wife was swinging and that I existed until a few weeks ago.

So we broke up abruptly. The last few weeks have been confusing and painful. She is going through counseling and couple therapy. So am I.

She called me last week and told me that we had to go no contact for the rest of our lives. Her marriage is on the line and she is trying everything she can to see if it is salvageable. She told me she would regret for the rest of her life if she didn’t try to save her marriage. She loves her husband. She also told me that her husband wants me out of her life forever and he can’t accept in his wife loving someone else. He is generally open minded, was a little interested in swinging but discovering all of his wife secret activities has been a really tough pill to swallow. I offered to reach out to him but he doesn’t want to talk and prefers for me to just go away and pretend I don’t exist.

Rachel and I had a heart to heart and I asked her if no contact forever is what she wants. She told me no, that she both love her husband and I, that she wants poly and that she knows she fucked up badly and treated her husband poorly but she has to make a choice and give her 100% to save her marriage. She told me she has been fighting with her husband against being forced to go no contact forever with me if they stay together.

She also told me last week that even if she ideally wants both her husband and I, she is choosing to try to be happy again with her husband now that she is forced to chose. She can’t imagine losing her marriage even though she knows it is a possibility.

Overall it is a shit show of hurt. I have decided to stay away, but I can tell that Rachel is struggling on letting me go. She sent me a long text recently that she can’t live with the thought of not seeing me again for the rest of her life and has shared that with her husband. He is not happy about that but they are working on being radically honest with each others

I am respecting the no contact and accepting that it is over and that I may never see her again, despite the deep feelings we have for each other. There is not much I can do anyway as I don’t want to help Rachel destroy her marriage inadvertently.

Any words of wisdom or any advices on how to proceed or re-frame the situation are appreciated.

This was my first poly relationship :(
 
Oh man, that's brutal. I'm so sorry that you got duped and it's caused so much pain. Her cheating ended up closing the door on you two and honestly, I'd stay broken up with no contact, i.e. block her for 6 months so you don't get sucked back in to any more mess or get used as a sounding board as she's trying to do monogamy with her husband. She wants to give 100% there, then make it easier for her to do so, and for your mixture of limerance, love, lust, and loss to move into your past rather than continuing to be your present.

Then take the time to grieve and heal. Time really is remarkable for that. You're already working with your own therapist; I'm not sure what words of wisdom you're looking for here, but we have some really insightful members so I'm sure someone (or more than one person) will say something helpful.
 
Oh man, that's brutal. I'm so sorry that you got duped and it's caused so much pain. Her cheating ended up closing the door on you two
Yes, it a brutal crash of the relationship. We were about to discuss future plans and how we wanted to take the relationship to the next level. I was totally blindsided.

and honestly, I'd stay broken up with no contact, i.e. block her for 6 months so you don't get sucked back in to any more mess or get used as a sounding board as she's trying to do monogamy with her husband. She wants to give 100% there, then make it easier for her to do so, and for your mixture of limerance, love, lust, and loss to move into your past rather than continuing to be your present.
Good advice. The first few weeks after we broke up, I stuck around as a friend to help her out but yes I started feeling like I was a sounding board and it made her husband even more uncomfortable. He was initially fine with friendship but after they started couple therapy, their therapist strongly suggested I had to get kicked out of her life.

She is reluctantly trying monogamy with her husband for now but she is also hoping to start swinging with him when they get to a stronger place.
Then take the time to grieve and heal. Time really is remarkable for that. You're already working with your own therapist;

Thanks for your perspective.

It is my first week of no contact. The first 2 days I couldn’t sleep. After a week, I am starting to see more clearly and I am focusing on moving on vs hanging on to what we had.
I'm not sure what words of wisdom you're looking for here, but we have some really insightful members so I'm sure someone (or more than one person) will say something helpful.

Words of wisdom i am looking for is what to do in this situation? How should I look at the entire situation?

I feel like Rachel was honest with me with what she wanted and desired. I feel like I got to experience the woman she wants to be. Yes she hid that fact that she was cheating, which is a major trust breaking event, but beyond that she was honnest.

She has had a hard time being honest with her husband and he only now discovering who she truly is. I feel for the guy.

I am also trying to understand why we fell so hard for each other. My wife and I have had 100s of partners in swinging and she is the one that stood out and captured my heart. It is the same for Rachel. She went into swinging for fun and she fell for me hard. The mutual love is real and strong, which causes a lot of pain since we have to accept that we are done and have to move on
 
Should I be contacting her husband to say I am sorry about the entire situation and make it clear that I was as duped as he was the entire time?

I want to send him the message that from my perspective it wasn’t an affair. If I had know he was not on board, I would have never started anything with his wife Rachel. As soon as the truth came out, we broke up.

I want to show him that I have empathy for him over what happened and open a direct line of communication if he wants to.

I have offered to reach out to him directly after the truth came out but Rachel told me he doesn’t want to deal with me and prefers to act as if I don’t exist and wants me to just go away from her life.
 
Should I be contacting her husband to say I am sorry about the entire situation and make it clear that I was as duped as he was the entire time?

I want to send him the message that from my perspective it wasn’t an affair. If I had know he was not on board, I would have never started anything with his wife Rachel. As soon as the truth came out, we broke up.

He'd know you're not the bad guy.
I want to show him that I have empathy for him over what happened and open a direct line of communication if he wants to.

I have offered to reach out to him directly after the truth came out but Rachel told me he doesn’t want to deal with me and prefers to act as if I don’t exist and wants me to just go away from her life.

She might have had to tell him a story that will differ from what you would tell him.

Her husband might find a source of support in you, but it's unlikely. The most likely thing is that he will feel more negativity towards his wife. He will either leave her, or it will add toxicity to an already fraught situation.

Is it worth those potential outcomes?
 
He'd know you're not the bad guy.
Ok. Thanks.
She might have had to tell him a story that will differ from what you would tell him.

Her husband might find a source of support in you, but it's unlikely. The most likely thing is that he will feel more negativity towards his wife. He will either leave her, or it will add toxicity to an already fraught situation.

Is it worth those potential outcomes?
Good thinking. I will skip that step.
 
WOW. :oops:

I am so sorry this happened. FWIW?

I think Rachel did some really poor behaviors towards her husband, you, and your wife.

Whatever you thought you had with her? It was all based on lies. And she lied for a long time.

Your wife was welcoming to Rachel as a meta. She also got burned here. Now your wife is watching how you deal with this as a hinge. So I think best you chop it off and get rid of Rachel fast now that you know.

Your wife is not going to be excited to poly with you again if she sees you foot-dragging here. Because it opens her to new hurts because you don't have the sense to get rid of crap fast when it happens.

You were duped. You didn't pick that. You DO get to pick your behaviors now that you do know.

So protect you and your wife. Be decisive. Then apologize to your wife. She didn't deserve any of this any more than that other husband did. None of you did.

Might also rethink how fast you let people you date meet your kids.

You sound like a nice person who is very open and generous. Don't let this experience make you become hard or mean. Do learn from it though.

Rachel and I had a heart to heart and I asked her if no contact forever is what she wants. She told me no, that she both love her husband and I, that she wants poly and that she knows she fucked up badly and treated her husband poorly but she has to make a choice and give her 100% to save her marriage. She told me she has been fighting with her husband against being forced to go no contact forever with me if they stay together.

To me it's like why bother? There is no need to fight.

She was stepping out on her husband.

He's not happy to learn this.

Her actions have consequences.

He told her monogamy or divorce. She is being given an opportunity to do the clean up work with him and stick to monogamy. Or go for as peaceful a parting as possible. How peaceful that actually can be remains to be seen.

He's being a lot nicer than I would be. Given the level of betrayal, I think I'd prefer just divorce, no repair option. Because it wasn't a one time mistake, and quickly confessed to. It was series of encounters.

If she doesn't actually want monogamy, best she be honest with him as he is with her. She could tell him "No, thanks. That's the whole reason. I didn't want monogamy. I was too chicken to say so up front. If we cannot work something out for eventual poly, best we divorce rather than take the long way around to that. There's been enough wonky and enough hurt."

But doing that requires integrity of character, being super honest with her own self, and super honest with him. She's not there yet.

That's why she's created this mess in the first place. She's NOT honest with her own self. She's NOT honest with him. She's also NOT honest with you.

Whatever is going on over there? That's problems from the other side. Not your problem or business.

And she's your ex now. So even MORE not your problem or business.

She also told me last week that even if she ideally wants both her husband and I, she is choosing to try to be happy again with her husband now that she is forced to chose. She can’t imagine losing her marriage even though she knows it is a possibility.

Par for the course. Still framing it as being "forced to choose."

Overall it is a shit show of hurt. I have decided to stay away, but I can tell that Rachel is struggling on letting me go. She sent me a long text recently that she can’t live with the thought of not seeing me again for the rest of her life and has shared that with her husband. He is not happy about that but they are working on being radically honest with each others.

Yes. She is your ex. Stay away.

Tell her it is over and you prefer no contact. Then go block her phone, emails, social media, all of it. It is not your concern any more. You are an ex.

So WHAT if she's having trouble letting you go? Her healing process is her stuff to deal with.

Your healing process is your stuff. She's betrayed you deeply also. And what is this? Wanting to keep you for a back up plan in case the husband dumps her? Wanting to make you her "free therapist?" Ugh.

Should I be contacting her husband to say I am sorry about the entire situation and make it clear that I was as duped as he was the entire time?

Do you even have a means to do so?

Cuz it won't be good going through Rachel. She's not an honest person. Who knows what stories she told him about you to still keep him on the string. And if you tell her to tell him, can you even trust she will deliver message as said? Or twist it to her advantage? Or even give it at all? She's not a trustworthy person right now.

I want to send him the message that from my perspective it wasn’t an affair. If I had know he was not on board, I would have never started anything with his wife Rachel. As soon as the truth came out, we broke up.

I want to show him that I have empathy for him over what happened and open a direct line of communication if he wants to.

Then do what you want, if you have the means to do so WITHOUT going through Rachel. You were duped. But you did hurt him, even if you didn't know. So your desire to apologize and try to clean up your part of the mess is rooted in good character. That part is ok.

It also doesn't have to be RIGHT NOW. It'll keep. It's ok to get your own self better together before apologizing to Dude.

If you do send a message somehow eventually? Expect him to want nothing more to do with you. He's been hurt.


I have offered to reach out to him directly after the truth came out but Rachel told me he doesn’t want to deal with me and prefers to act as if I don’t exist and wants me to just go away from her life.

That might be true. He's probably struggling with "How could someone I love do this horrible behavior to me?"

It's always easier to blame "the other person" like you mesmerized her or something. Than to take a good look at Rachel's behavior. He is not well right now.

On Rachel's end? It would be really inconvenient for her if you show up telling him your truth, and it just shows her up as doing more lies.

But she's your ex. You don't have to consider what is convenient for her or not.

You are doing your own healing. You have to consider what YOU need to heal.


Any words of wisdom or any advices on how to proceed or re-frame the situation are appreciated.

This was my first poly relationship :(

How about you reframe it as "What I THOUGHT was my 1st poly relationship? Turned out to be me getting sucked into a cheating affair."

Rachel duped you. It was not ethical polyamory.

How to proceed?

1) Cut Rachel off and apologize to your wife FIRST. It wasn't your doing, you got duped. But do yourself and your wife that much courtesy so no more NEW Rachel weird comes in here.

Both you and wife go get your sex health labs if you haven't already. I will assume you use condoms and safer sex practices with your partners. But just for the peace of mind. Rachel was stepping out on her husband. She wasn't honest with you. So... take care of your sex health business.

2) Second? You decide if/when/how you want to apologize to other husband for your part in the situation making or not. To take personal responsibility for your actions and your part in causing him pain. You were a newbie and believed Rachel rather than actually verifying consent.

If you can't actually reach him yourself or are worried about an angry husband with a gun? Change the how. Do the right thing another way. At least apologize and wish him well in your head. And then stay away and stop talking to Rachel in your actions. Do him that much courtesy.

3) You and wife talk.

Could talk about verifying consent and your stance on DADT. Both could refuse to polydate anyone who practices DADT. What happened to you is WHY some people take that stance. DADT might be true and on the level. Or just a cheater telling you whatever story to gain access to you.

Talk about vetting potentials and managing NRE and not getting carried away.

Talk about what to do if this horrible somehow happens again from either your side of things or wife's side.

Talk about slowing your roll in letting people meet the kids, form relationships with them, buy them gifts, etc.

4) You could seek a counselor to help you get past your own feelings of betrayal and hurt. Rachel did not treat you well. She made you her unknowing cheating affair helper. Whatever nice things she may have done? Are negated by her lying to you in a big way. Don't know if wife also needs professional support in healing from all this.

Don't let your lingering soft feelings for Rachel cloud the view. You are not obligated to keep talking to her or support her through her mess clean up. Cut off her access to you.

SUMMARY

I'm very sorry this happened to you. It's just a horrible experience. :(

You deserve to be treated way better. So YOU treat you well and move on to your healing process. If you need extra support, I encourage you to seek a counselor.

I hope over time, you are able to heal and move on.
 
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WOW. :oops:

I am so sorry this happened. FWIW?

I think Rachel did some really poor behaviors towards her husband, you, and your wife.

Whatever you thought you had with her? It was all based on lies. And she lied for a long time.
That is the hard part I have struggled with. I felt what we were building was real. She admitted it was real for her too but she also showed up not authentically
Your wife was welcoming to Rachel as a meta. She also got burned here. Now your wife is watching how you deal with this as a hinge. So best you chop it off and get rid of Rachel fast now that you know.

Your wife is not going to be excited to poly with you again if she sees you foot-dragging here. Because it opens her to new hurts because you don't have the sense to get rid of crap fast when it happens.

You were duped. You didn't pick that. You DO get to pick your behaviors now that you do know.

So protect you and your wife. Be decisive. Then apologize to your wife. She didn't deserve any of this any more than that other husband did. None of you did.

Might also rethink how fast you let people you date meet your kids.

You sound like a nice person who is very open and generous. Don't let this experience make you become hard or mean. Do learn from it though.
My wife has been very supportive. She has had her fair share of bad Poly when we started. Interestingly enough, she does really like Rachel and the two of them are still in contact.

My wife was the one to suggest not cutting Rachel off after everything blew up and let things play by ear. She knows Rachel well and had a suspicion that Rachel was cheating since we had never met her husband.

But overall she thinks highly of Rachel but also admits Rachel fucked up badly.

We have been swinging for years and we have seen good people do stupid things and also bad people.
To me it's like why bother? There is no need to fight.

She was stepping out on her husband.

He's not happy to learn this.

Her actions have consequences.

He told her monogamy or divorce. She is being given an opportunity to do the clean up work with him and stick to monogamy. Or go for as peaceful a parting as possible. How peaceful that actually can be remains to be seen.

He's being a lot nicer than I would be. Given the level of betrayal, I think I'd prefer just divorce, no repair option. Because it wasn't a one time mistake, and quickly confessed to. It was series of encounters.

If she doesn't actually want monogamy, best she be honest with him as he is with her. She could tell him "No, thanks. That's the whole reason. I didn't want monogamy. I was too chicken to say so up front. If we cannot work something out for eventual poly, best we divorce rather than take the long way around to that. There's been enough wonky and enough hurt."

But doing that requires integrity of character, being super honest with her own self, and super honest with him. She's not there yet.

That's why she's created this mess in the first place. She's NOT honest with her own self. She's NOT honest with him. She's also NOT honest with you.
She is not honest with her own self. That is the core problem.

The Rachel my wife and I know love the lifestyle, group play and poly. She was honnest about that part with me.

She completely lied to her husband about that side of her and betrayed him.
Whatever is going on over there? That's problems from the other side. Not your problem or business.
And she's your ex now. So even MORE not your problem or business.



Par for the course. Still framing it as being "forced to choose."



Yes. She is your ex. Stay away.

Tell her it is over and you prefer no contact. Then go block her phone, emails, social media, all of it. It is not your concern any more. You are an ex.

So WHAT if she's having trouble letting you go? Her healing process is her stuff to deal with.

Your healing process is your stuff. She's betrayed you deeply also. And what is this? Wanting to keep you for a back up plan in case the husband dumps her? Wanting to make you her "free therapist?" Ugh.
I agree. The healthier thing is to stay away and have no contact. I need to heal.

Do you even have a means to do so?

Cuz it won't be good going through Rachel. She's not an honest person. Who knows what stories she told him about you to still keep him on the string. And if you tell her to tell him, can you even trust she will deliver message as said? Or twist it to her advantage? Or even give it at all? She's not a trustworthy person right now.



Then do what you want, if you have the means to do so WITHOUT going through Rachel. You were duped. But you did hurt him, even if you didn't know. So your desire to apologize and try to clean up your part of the mess is rooted in good character. That part is ok.

It also doesn't have to be RIGHT NOW. It'll keep. It's ok to get your own self better together before apologizing to Dude.

If you do send a message somehow eventually? Expect him to want nothing more to do with you. He's been hurt.
Yes I have his phone number, address, email. I am torn. I will likely wait.

That might be true. He's probably struggling with "How could someone I love do this horrible behavior to me?"

It's always easier to blame "the other person" like you mesmerized her or something. Than to take a good look at Rachel's behavior. He is not well right now.

On Rachel's end? It would be really inconvenient for her if you show up telling him your truth, and it just shows her up as doing more lies.

But she's your ex. You don't have to consider what is convenient for her or not.

You are doing your own healing. You have to consider what YOU need to heal.
I don’t think I need to contact her husband to heal myself. It is more to open a line of communication if he wanted to but most of the feedback I have received is that he won’t be interested in hearing from me anyway.
How about you reframe it as "What I THOUGHT was my 1st poly relationship? Turned out to be me getting sucked into a cheating affair."

Rachel duped you. It was not ethical polyamory.
That part was hard to swallow. We read Poly books together, discussed many topics like poly parenting, nesting partners.
 
How to proceed?

1) Cut Rachel off and apologize to your wife FIRST. It wasn't your doing, you got duped. But do yourself and your wife that much courtesy so no more NEW Rachel weird comes in here.

Both you and wife go get your sex health labs if you haven't already. I will assume you use condoms and safer sex practices with your partners. But just for the peace of mind. Rachel was stepping out on her husband. She wasn't honest with you. So... take care of your sex health business.
Done.
Agreed on learning and not getting duped again.

We are good on the sex health side. We are super active swingers, so Rachel was 20 sex partners away. We get tested monthly.
2) Second? You decide if/when/how you want to apologize to other husband for your part in the situation making or not. To take personal responsibility for your actions and your part in causing him pain. You were a newbie and believed Rachel rather than actually verifying consent.

If you can't actually reach him yourself or are worried about an angry husband with a gun? Change the how. Do the right thing another way. At least apologize and wish him well in your head. And then stay away and stop talking to Rachel in your actions. Do him that much courtesy.
I have a hard time taking any personal responsibility since I had no idea. I frequently asked Rachel how her husband was feeling about us and expressed that I would like to meet him.

I get that I unknowingly hurt him, i want to show him empathy. Still debating if I will do that.
3) You and wife talk.

Could talk about verifying consent and your stance on DADT. Both refuse to polydate anyone who practices DADT. What happened to you is WHY some people take that stance. DADT might be true and on the level. Or just a cheater telling you whatever story to gain access to you.

Talk about vetting potentials and managing NRE and not getting carried away.

Talk about what to do if this horrible somehow happens again from either your side of things or wife's side.

Talk about slowing your roll in letting people meet the kids, form relationships with them, buy them gifts, etc.
100%

That is the step we need. The DADT rule left us a bad taste and Rachel way of practicing Poly (when we fought she was honest) was bizarre.

We are going to be extra cautious now, especially when in NRE
4) You could seek a counselor to help you get past your own feelings of betrayal and hurt. Rachel did not treat you well. She made you her unknowing cheating affair helper. Whatever nice things she may have done? Are negated by her lying to you in a big way. Don't know if wife also needs professional support in healing from all this.
Both my wife and I have a therapist who has been helping us opening up to poly, fix the mess with Rachel and help us individually.
Don't let your lingering soft feelings for Rachel cloud the view. You are not obligated to keep talking to her or support her through her mess clean up. Cut off her access to you.
Yes. There were a lot of hope after the breakup that we might get back together. Rachel admitted that to me last week that she was hoping to have more with me.

But that didn’t sit well with her husband and therapist who told her she has to cut me off otherwise she won’t be able to save her marriage.

I felt really hurt by that, especially hurt that I had kept giving her access to me, she enjoyed it but now I realize it is not healthy.
SUMMARY

I'm very sorry this happened to you. It's just a horrible experience. :(

You deserve to be treated way better. So YOU treat you well and move on to your healing process. If you need extra support, I encourage you to seek a counselor.

I hope over time, you are able to heal and move on.

Thank you. Yes I need to be treated better for a long term partner. I enjoyed the relationship with Rachel for what it was. I learned a lot. But I have to move on.

A good Poly friend of ours was is in a similar cheating position (she was the other woman) and eventually started a poly relationship with her ex-affair partner and his wife. They have a happy polycule for over 10y. Her advice to me was clear: don’t help destroy Rachel marriage, let her do that herself. Stay away and enjoy your life while Rachel is trying to figure out what she wants with her husband. Rachel may come back later in your life but only give her a chance if she has changed. Big red flag is the fact that she had no problem lying to get what she wants.

Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective 🙏
 
Hello Anthony77,

It is really up to Rachel's husband as to whether you can keep seeing Rachel in a healthy polyamorous relationship. He has to decide whether he can forgive her for the affair, and whether his forgiveness includes consenting to her continuing to see you. If he does consent, then it is fairly simple to move from the affair to healthy polyamory: You just keep seeing her, but with his knowledge and consent.

Now if he doesn't consent, if he's willing to forgive Rachel but only on the condition that she stop seeing you, but he's willing to consent to her starting a poly relationship with someone else, then that is her pathway to healthy polyamory, and alas you can't be in that picture. And he might decide not to consent to her being poly with anyone, you or anyone else. Healthy polyamory hinges on his consent.

Also, there is the question of whether you can forgive Rachel for lying to you about whether her husband was on board. Now reading further into your initial post, I see that when she did finally tell her husband, he said monogamy or divorce. So you kind of have your answer. You can't continue to see her, no matter how epic your relationship with her is/was. Your healthy polyamory will have to disclude her from the picture.

I suppose there's a theoretical chance that Rachel's husband could change his mind. If so, I don't know how to bring that about. Maybe if you and Rachel sat down with him and discussed it? or would that make him angrier? Maybe if Rachel discussed it with him, without you present? If that worked at all, I think it would take a long time. He's not going to change his mind right away -- if ever.

The only other path I can think of for you, is for Rachel to divorce her husband, and then resume her relationship with you. This could be healthy polyamory -- if you can trust her. Can you? She hasn't exactly been honest with you in the past. Could that dishonesty be a one-time thing, are you willing and able to believe that? If not, then you must break up with her. I'm sorry it comes to that.

Because her husband has said no contact, I think the path for you is to refrain from contacting her. If she contacts you, I suppose that is on her, but you must remind her right away that her husband said no contact, then promptly draw the conversation to a close. I suppose the moral of this sad story is that in poly, the participants must be 100% honest with their partners at all times.

Alas, her husband won't let you move from the affair into healthy polyamory. Even their therapist declared that you must have no part in her life. I'm so sorry you have to go through this. I am reluctant to advise you to contact her husband. I don't think that would end well. Yes, you could explain to him that you, too, were duped, but I think he is not ready to hear that right now.

Let's say she told her husband that you knew it was an affair, and that you encouraged her to continue in it with that knowledge. By telling her husband that that wasn't true, you'd be making things worse for her, assuming her husband would even believe you. These are some of the reasons why I think you have to let her and her husband work it out, figure it out, between the two of them.

I feel bad for everyone in this situation.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 
Please just treat this as a closed door. Make the non contact solid. Walk away like has been communicated to you. We can't win them all and I know I should have gone non contact with an ex despite how intensely we felt for each other even at the time of the break up. He chose his wife, too.

I'm on mobile and this is probably going to end up with typos, but I wanted to address this:

I am also trying to understand why we fell so hard for each other.
The answers to this can be biological (you had extremely complementary chemistry and your physical drive caused hormonal attachment to occur quickly and deeply) or spiritual (she and you have a karmic connection, you met one of your soul mates, or however you want to phrase it) or social (you had enough personal similarities and differences that were extremely compatible, you may have connected due to your upbringing, life experiences to date, and consequent philosophies, values and hopes). You may even think of other reasons, but these three are a good starting place for reflection.

You've encountered hundreds of swingers but it's likely there were certain agreements in that circumstance that prevented you from truly engaging on the same level. Then with her, you could, and whoosh. Connection. Love. Joy.

When this type of connection ends one tends to tell oneself that there will never be another like it. I'm rather pleased to report that that is incorrect in my experience. Although some connections do end, either abruptly or fading with familiarity, there definitely is the possibility for more. Of course not everyone we meet or share sex with, but the "one true love" notion is dismantled with polyamory. When you are open to it, it's remarkable who will come into your life. We can have many soulmates, many people that socially 'get' us, many people our bodies send out and receive every love signal with. I'm childfree by choice but have loved two people so hard in this life that I've seriously wanted to mix our DNA. Neither was practical, so I'm still childfree. But it's incredible what bodies and hearts and minds and souls can want given half a chance.
 
I get that I unknowingly hurt him, i want to show him empathy. Still debating if I will do that.

Staying away IS showing him empathy.

Do not mistake your need to assuage guilt or assuage regret for his need to reduce all other stimulus, esp right NOW.

Dude has tons on his plate right now.

If later down when all heads cool off you still want to send a note to apologize? You can run it by counselor and figure out if actually appropriate.

Like months or years later.

Just barely took the hot pot off the burner. Let things cool off.

A good Poly friend of ours was is in a similar cheating position (she was the other woman) and eventually started a poly relationship with her ex-affair partner and his wife. They have a happy polycule for over 10y. Her advice to me was clear: don’t help destroy Rachel marriage, let her do that herself. Stay away and enjoy your life while Rachel is trying to figure out what she wants with her husband. Rachel may come back later in your life but only give her a chance if she has changed. Big red flag is the fact that she had no problem lying to get what she wants.

Listen to your friend.

Get out of the splash zone. Attend to your healing.

Not going to say it never happens -- cheating changing to healthy poly. But it is RARE. And it certainly is not instant.

Time has to pass, people need space to heal and do their personal work, and really actually change.

So don't hold your breath.

Focus on your own healing right now instead.


My wife was the one to suggest not cutting Rachel off after everything blew up and let things play by ear. She knows Rachel well and had a suspicion that Rachel was cheating since we had never met her husband.

Wife suspected Rachel was cheating? Did wife tell you before this all came out? Or kept it to herself?

This "play by ear" thing and letting Rachel still have access to you and to wife -- for whose benefit is that?

Cuz if you need a clean break so YOU can heal, you cut it.

I just cannot imagine that it feels good to get used like Rachel's "tricycle poly person" where she could learn skills and experiment while keeping both you and her husband in the dark.

And then your wife still being friends with her after it comes out?

Are you ok with this or do you prefer wife let the friendship with Rachel go?

Cuz that's pretty rough sounding.

I'm glad you are working with therapist.
 
Hello Anthony77,

It is really up to Rachel's husband as to whether you can keep seeing Rachel in a healthy polyamorous relationship. He has to decide whether he can forgive her for the affair, and whether his forgiveness includes consenting to her continuing to see you. If he does consent, then it is fairly simple to move from the affair to healthy polyamory: You just keep seeing her, but with his knowledge and consent.
Rachel contacted me yesterday and told me that is what she is working through with her husband. She has been explicit that after self-reflection, it is the direction she is hoping for.

Since we are no contact, I didn’t reply.

Not sure how realistic it is for the husband. He is still very angry about the entire situation.
Now if he doesn't consent, if he's willing to forgive Rachel but only on the condition that she stop seeing you, but he's willing to consent to her starting a poly relationship with someone else, then that is her pathway to healthy polyamory, and alas you can't be in that picture. And he might decide not to consent to her being poly with anyone, you or anyone else. Healthy polyamory hinges on his consent.
Makes sense. I told Rachel I am not doing anything unethical now that I know the truth.
Also, there is the question of whether you can forgive Rachel for lying to you about whether her husband was on board. Now reading further into your initial post, I see that when she did finally tell her husband, he said monogamy or divorce. So you kind of have your answer. You can't continue to see her, no matter how epic your relationship with her is/was. Your healthy polyamory will have to disclude her from the picture.
Monogamy or divorce was his initially reaction. He had softened and is open to swinging at the moment. It is soon to say. They have a lot of thing to figure out.
I suppose there's a theoretical chance that Rachel's husband could change his mind. If so, I don't know how to bring that about. Maybe if you and Rachel sat down with him and discussed it? or would that make him angrier? Maybe if Rachel discussed it with him, without you present? If that worked at all, I think it would take a long time. He's not going to change his mind right away -- if ever.
Both are working and discussing through this. She sent me an update yesterday, that is where they are.

I am not keeping my hopes up and we are still broken up/no contact.

It is going to be a process that will take a few months. At least she is now clear about what she wants.
The only other path I can think of for you, is for Rachel to divorce her husband, and then resume her relationship with you. This could be healthy polyamory -- if you can trust her. Can you? She hasn't exactly been honest with you in the past. Could that dishonesty be a one-time thing, are you willing and able to believe that? If not, then you must break up with her. I'm sorry it comes to that.
I would trust her I think. As swingers we tend to lie/hide who we really are (fake names, fake jobs, etc) to protect our privacy.

Once we got serious she should have told me the truth. She learned my real name a few months inside the relationship when we flew together.
Because her husband has said no contact, I think the path for you is to refrain from contacting her. If she contacts you, I suppose that is on her, but you must remind her right away that her husband said no contact, then promptly draw the conversation to a close. I suppose the moral of this sad story is that in poly, the participants must be 100% honest with their partners at all times.
Right now I am sticking to no contact / broken up. She sends me messages but I don’t reply.
Alas, her husband won't let you move from the affair into healthy polyamory. Even their therapist declared that you must have no part in her life. I'm so sorry you have to go through this. I am reluctant to advise you to contact her husband. I don't think that would end well. Yes, you could explain to him that you, too, were duped, but I think he is not ready to hear that right now.

Let's say she told her husband that you knew it was an affair, and that you encouraged her to continue in it with that knowledge. By telling her husband that that wasn't true, you'd be making things worse for her, assuming her husband would even believe you. These are some of the reasons why I think you have to let her and her husband work it out, figure it out, between the two of them.
100% agree with not contacting the husband until she cleans up her mess in her marriage.
I feel bad for everyone in this situation.
Thanks. She is younger than I am. I used to have a problem with lying and BSing my way through things. Lost friends, almost lost my wife.

Honesty and integrity are core values of mine now.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
thank you 🙏
 
Please just treat this as a closed door. Make the non contact solid. Walk away like has been communicated to you. We can't win them all and I know I should have gone non contact with an ex despite how intensely we felt for each other even at the time of the break up. He chose his wife, too.
Tell us more!
I'm on mobile and this is probably going to end up with typos, but I wanted to address this:


The answers to this can be biological (you had extremely complementary chemistry and your physical drive caused hormonal attachment to occur quickly and deeply) or spiritual (she and you have a karmic connection, you met one of your soul mates, or however you want to phrase it) or social (you had enough personal similarities and differences that were extremely compatible, you may have connected due to your upbringing, life experiences to date, and consequent philosophies, values and hopes). You may even think of other reasons, but these three are a good starting place for reflection.
Thank you. This is very insightful. I feel I met one of my soul mates with Rachel. The last soul mate I met is my wife and we have been married 18 years, 1 kid.
You've encountered hundreds of swingers but it's likely there were certain agreements in that circumstance that prevented you from truly engaging on the same level. Then with her, you could, and whoosh. Connection. Love. Joy.
That is a good point. I tend to swing with single women so there is always the potential of more. But nobody has passed beyond the FWB stage.
When this type of connection ends one tends to tell oneself that there will never be another like it. I'm rather pleased to report that that is incorrect in my experience. Although some connections do end, either abruptly or fading with familiarity, there definitely is the possibility for more. Of course not everyone we meet or share sex with, but the "one true love" notion is dismantled with polyamory. When you are open to it, it's remarkable who will come into your life. We can have many soulmates, many people that socially 'get' us, many people our bodies send out and receive every love signal with. I'm childfree by choice but have loved two people so hard in this life that I've seriously wanted to mix our DNA. Neither was practical, so I'm still childfree. But it's incredible what bodies and hearts and minds and souls can want given half a chance.
Thank you. That is really helpful. I am moving on knowing that I may find another connection like had with Rachel. I want to open my heart to meet another person like her in the future if that happens.

I agree with your concept of many soul mates. I believe that.
 
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Staying away IS showing him empathy.

Do not mistake your need to assuage guilt or assuage regret for his need to reduce all other stimulus, esp right NOW.

Dude has tons on his plate right now.
Great point. I am sticking to the no contact.
If later down when all heads cool off you still want to send a note to apologize? You can run it by counselor and figure out if actually appropriate.

Like months or years later.

Just barely took the hot pot off the burner. Let things cool off.



Listen to your friend.

Get out of the splash zone. Attend to your healing.

Not going to say it never happens -- cheating changing to healthy poly. But it is RARE. And it certainly is not instant.

Time has to pass, people need space to heal and do their personal work, and really actually change.

So don't hold your breath.

Focus on your own healing right now instead.
I agree. I got another update from Rachel yesterday and she said she is being honest with her husband with what she wants vs agreeing to monogamy under duress.

Since we are no contact I don’t reply.

But yes, I am treating the situation as we are done done, I am moving on. If things change in the future, we need a break in the middle to keep things healthy and clean.
Wife suspected Rachel was cheating? Did wife tell you before this all came out? Or kept it to herself?
She kept it to herself. We are from the swinging world. In club you never know who is cheating or not.

She suspected she was cheating because we never saw her husband.
This "play by ear" thing and letting Rachel still have access to you and to wife -- for whose benefit is that?

Cuz if you need a clean break so YOU can heal, you cut it.

I just cannot imagine that it feels good to get used like Rachel's "tricycle poly person" where she could learn skills and experiment while keeping both you and her husband in the dark.

And then your wife still being friends with her after it comes out?

Are you ok with this or do you prefer wife let the friendship with Rachel go?

Cuz that's pretty rough sounding.
I need a break and I am taking it now. I don’t mind if Rachel contacts me or if my wife contacts her.

I am not replying to Rachel anymore.
I'm glad you are working with therapist.
Once a week individual and once a week couple therapist.

My individual therapist told me that me sticking to the no contact is helping Rachel figure out what she really wants. He said that as long as I stayed in contact with Rachel, I was helping stabilize her marriage. Now that I am gone and no longer in touch, she has to figure things out with her husband.
 
My individual therapist told me that me sticking to the no contact is helping Rachel figure out what she really wants. He said that as long as I stayed in contact with Rachel, I was helping stabilize her marriage. Now that I am gone and no longer in touch, she has to figure things out with her husband.

Well that therapist is a fucking keeper.
 
If Rachel is still able to contact you, and you can see her messages, that is NOT "no contact." No contact means you don't hear from her, she doesn't hear from you. If you keep getting these "updates" from her, and she sounds increasingly lost, sad, lonely, horny, hurt, plaintive, or (god forbid) suicidal, I am afraid you'd be tempted to reply and white knight her.

I once dated a narcissist, and after I found out who he really was, and I broke up with him, I went no contact. My nesting partner had become pretty good friends with him, but out of respect for me, and to reduce my load of being duped and hurt, she stopped talking to him too. He didn't have the balls to keep trying to keep in touch with her. (He did stalk me online though, and 5 years after I broke up with him, he wished me a happy birthday on 2 websites where I had not thought to block him. For all I know, he is STILL reading my every word here on polyamory.com, another few years later. I can't block him here because it's a public website.)
 
Hi Anthony77,

It sounds like you are handling the situation in the best way possible. Rachel's husband doesn't want you to talk to her, and you aren't talking to her. Since she is still sending you messages, I guess she can tell you if/when it's safe to talk to her and/or her husband again.

Regards,
Kevin T.
 
If Rachel is still able to contact you, and you can see her messages, that is NOT "no contact." No contact means you don't hear from her, she doesn't hear from you. If you keep getting these "updates" from her, and she sounds increasingly lost, sad, lonely, horny, hurt, plaintive, or (god forbid) suicidal, I am afraid you'd be tempted to reply and white knight her.
it is “no contact”-ish

Right now Rachel and I need space to heal and she needs to figure out what she wants with her husband.

I am staying away. I told her I would not respond to any updates she sends me.

I do appreciate the very transparent update she is sending me, since she wasn’t 100% honest about the status of her marriage before.

Once she figures out what she wants with her husband or if her husbands consents, then we will talk.

Right now it is: we are exes and we are moving on.
I once dated a narcissist, and after I found out who he really was, and I broke up with him, I went no contact. My nesting partner had become pretty good friends with him, but out of respect for me, and to reduce my load of being duped and hurt, she stopped talking to him too. He didn't have the balls to keep trying to keep in touch with her. (He did stalk me online though, and 5 years after I broke up with him, he wished me a happy birthday on 2 websites where I had not thought to block him. For all I know, he is STILL reading my every word here on polyamory.com, another few years later. I can't block him here because it's a public website.)
OMG that sounds horrible.
 
Hi Anthony77,

It sounds like you are handling the situation in the best way possible. Rachel's husband doesn't want you to talk to her, and you aren't talking to her. Since she is still sending you messages, I guess she can tell you if/when it's safe to talk to her and/or her husband again.

Regards,
Kevin T.
Thank you 🙏

I am confident we are all in a position now where the raw emotions are going to cool down, there is going to be a lot of discussion between Rachel and her husband and the best outcome will reveal itself for everyone.

I am going to be at peace regardless. I had an amazing time with Rachel, I learned a lot about myself, my wife and I learned a lot about poly, and Rachel is hopefully going to land in a happy place with her husband.

We all need a break to restart something healthy or move on in peace.
 
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