I need opinions


New member
I'm not sure where to start, so hopefully you can dissect my ramblings.

Me: Lesbian. I have multiple health issues. One is called lichen sclerosis. No, it doesn't turn me into a werewolf. It means that the tissue in my vaginal area is very thin and painful. This has caused me to not feel sexual for a long time.

Her: My wife, missing intimacy and sex.

Situation: We are legally married. She was unhappy because getting aroused actually makes me physically feel excruciating pain. This wasn't this way in the beginning. I love her and want her to be happy. She expressed what she needed. In a very brief conversation I told her I understood and that, if that's what she needed, these were my wants.

1. I don't want to know unless I ask.
2. It doesn't happen in our house.

Here is where I'm having an issue.

Him: My "Best friend"

1. If I didn't want to know, how did she think I wouldn't find out?

2. My trust is broken with both of them.

3. How do I deal with this?

She: I didn't want to sleep with a stranger. And I was comfortable with Him.

I haven't spoke to Him yet, as this just came out today and I don't believe in disrupting someone's work day for personal crap.

I'm happy to give more information. I just feel overwhelmed at the moment.

Thank you,

It seems you made an assumption here that your wife would "know" your best friend wouldn't be an appropriate person. She risked you finding out, and you did. You think it is inevitable you would learn about it; did she? That is, was it careless or willful blindness?

Regardless, you are hurt. You could start with that. And then consider what you might need for future.

Perhaps you think your best friend (and possibly others) are on a "messy list" of people you would prefer her not to have sex with because it would be messy for you (or her, e.g., coworkers - but that's more her issue to navigate.) Is she willing to agree to this?

Also you've posted on a poly forum, but it's not clear if you are okay with her being open to share intimacy/emotions/romance with others, or just sex. "Just sex" sometimes works, but feelings often cannot be contained.

If it's more than casual sex, you might not be able to unwind/veto after the fact as easily, so take slower steps.

I'm sorry you are feeling bad about your wife's choices. I can imagine the physical discomfort with sex is beyond frustrating for you and is a difficult context from which to explore non-monogamy. Go gently, and expect you'll have some bumps on the way, especially at first.
So, how did you find out?
It seems you made an assumption here that your wife would "know" your best friend wouldn't be an appropriate person.

She risked you finding out, and you did. You think it is inevitable you would learn about it; did she? That is, was it careless or wilful blindness?

Regardless, you are hurt. You could start with that.

And then consider what you might need for future.

Perhaps you feel your best friend (and possibly others) are on a "messy list" of people you would prefer her not to have sex with because it would be messy for you (or her, eg coworkers - but that's more her issue to navigate.) Is she willing to agree to this?

Also you've posted on a poly forum but it's not clear if you are ok with her being open to share intimacy / emotions / romance with others or just sex. "Just sex" sometimes works but feelings often cannot be contained.

If it's more than casual sex, you might not be able to unwind / veto after the fact as easily so take slower steps.

I'm sorry you are feeling bad about your wife's choices. I can imagine the physical discomfort with sex is beyond frustrating for you and is a difficult context from which to explore non-monogamy. Go gently, and expect you'll have some bumps on the way esp at first.
I think my first mistake was assuming she knew that my best friend wouldn't be the best option. We had only barely started to discuss her being with someone else. When we discussed things, I expressed that I was not ready to see her be with someone. So in my mind <-- stupid...she would have foundd someone not in our circle of friends, especially my best friend. I am absolutely not an "air my laundry, even if it's clean" person.

This is all so difficult to navigate... sigh. So, careless or wistful blindness.... Through our talks today, in her mind, she thought that it would someone how work out to where we could all be one happy family under one roof. She said she thought I would yell (I'm not a yeller) and then things would cool down and be "normal." This made me feel her actions were pretty selfish, since I had told her I didn't want to know. Before our talks, I could already sense it, and I let my denial take me for a ride because I didn't want to face it or believe that she would do that. So, I'm still in a huge debate.

As for the messy list, I would prefer for her to stay in her lane. Not my people. This may be selfish on my part, but it's what I would prefer, at least for now, and while I'm readjusting to the change in our relationship. She went for him because it was easy, comfortable and convenient for her.

As for posting on the poly forum, my entire life has been poly. But those relationships started as poly. SHE has only been in monogamous relationships. She checked all the boxes of what I wanted in a single person. I didn't think I would have these issues with changing gears. And if she stayed in her lane, I wouldn't be hurt.

Also, coming to a poly forum made me feel safer than talking to my monogamous friends, who would just tell me to get a divorce and move on. They wouldn't understand the situation of me not being able to physically give her what she needs, and being okay with an outside source.

I don't want to lose my wife. I do love her. But I feel my request had no value to her. Yes, I should have been specific. That's my bad. But I feel unvalued.

Today has been such an emotional day. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your words and you taking time to read and respond. I hate that my brain is all over the place. :-( I keep scrolling up to try to touch on everything you said and asked.

I am okay with her sharing, intimacy, romance, etc., with someone else. I'm not okay that it was my best friend. I haven't spoken to him yet. She says she hasn't told him I know. But, let's face it, I don't have trust in that currently.

Blehhh... Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are really helping. I appreciate it.
As for your friend and trust issues, from what you've said I can't see how your friend ought to have known better necessarily. Presumably she said thay you were open and had a DADT (don't ask don't tell) arrangement.
This is a true statement. I don't know what they talked about. She keeps trying to tell me this isn't all her fault. Not knowing what she told him makes it harder. I'm not mad at him. He isn't my wife.
So, how did you find out?
I could tell something had changed in their friendship. It had been riding on my shoulders for a couple weeks. I was in denial because I thought she understood our previous talks.

This morning we were discussing our friend, who is married and slowly coming out as gay. His wife doesn't know. She had said, "I'm so grateful we have always been able to discuss things openly."

Well, that seemed like a good enough foot in the door for me. So I said, "Speaking of, I know I said I didn't want to know, and I've really been trying to deny this feeling. But did you hook up with Him?"

She sighed, the dam was broken and everything came out.
Thanks for clarifying further.

Your wife's fantasy about the three of you being a big happy poly family in the future seems far from your own dreams. I hope that you're able to talk it out and hear each other.

It's not wrong for her to fantasize, but it might be naive at best/manipulative at worst to set plans in motion. That said, it sounds like this was mostly in her own head, rather than carried out in any significant way, apart from having sex with your best friend in the (possibly secret) hope that it might work out that way in the end.

The fact that she had a feeling you wouldn't like it, and did it anyway, is something you could explore more with her. You say you only had a brief conversation about opening up. ENM often forces you to be explicit about things which you would otherwise take for granted. But it also flourishes when people are generous with each other and honour the spirit of their agreements, even if something hasn't been spelt out. In this case, it seems your wife had a "Spidey sense" that this wouldn't be what you had consented to, or that you would be upset about her choice, but instead of checking in with you, she did it anyway.

The difficulty with DADT agreements is you can't easily talk about them once they are in place. Being the most charitable towards your wife, and assuming she isn't experienced in poly herself, this is a "rookie error," with her judgement influenced by the bias of her own desire. Or she possibly thought it would be okay, as it's technically within the rules, since no specific rules had been stated re messy people. In which case, it's time to rectify that. :)

I hope you feel a bit better being able to share your thoughts on this forum and get feedback.

By the way, in case my tone was unclear before, you are most welcome to post here. Sometimes people do post here without appreciating what this community is about. So I was just checking in whether your intention was actually to be open to poly. Again, thanks for clearing this up.

Best of luck with your self-reflection and upcoming conversations with your wife and friend. I hope you can be kind to yourself. It seems you're doing your best in a very challenging transition.
I'm sorry you struggle. I hope you feel a bit better for the vent. I think it is good you are both trying to talk and work through this. Try to be kind to each other while sorting this out.

I think you both learned that you actually have to spell things out to minimize misunderstandings. People are not mind readers.

While you may have had some poly experience in the past, she's a total newbie and is gonna be ... clunky. You might have to remember that.

Maybe you'd want to read some things together. There are many places to look, but here is one.

If you didn't do enough preparation work, consider seeing a poly counselor to make sure your initial agreements cover all they need to.

"Just like before... but with 3!" is a totally newbie way to think about poly. If all one ever knew was monogamy, it's the easiest thing to imagine, and branch out from. Honestly, I would have been surprised if Wife WASN'T fantasizing along those lines. For her, it's not just first time with Dude, but first time doing polyamory, so she's kind of naive in her thinking. She's chasing fantasy "la-las" and hasn't stopped to think, "Oh, that would require 3 people to say yes. Just because I'd be into it, doesn't mean WDIDN or Dude automatically would be." The cold hard light of reality hasn't shone on her yet.

I am not sure how much preparation you did for coping with your wife feeling NRE. This is the first time you are doing poly with her. You don't know this side of her. Sometimes people with NRE act like drunk babbling people who make no sense. They are in the pink fluffy la-las. If you went with a DADT-ish thing, and she's been used to talking to you about her inner life stuff, hadn't lined up a support network (other than you) to talk to about poly stuff with, and just guessed, she ended up guessing wrong.

I get you feel hurt, but it doesn't sound like she was trying to be malicious. She's just a noob.

If neither of you have lined up a support network, you may both be going into this without a net. If detangling is the most skipped step, setting up support systems is the second-most skipped one, I think.

There are stages of emotional change. She might be coming at it on Track A-- "new poly stuff!" Whereas, on your side, you are coming at this from a whole other angle because of your health, on Track B. Here is a visual aid (in the middle of the page). It's not exact, but knowing that the "old normal" is gone and the "new normal" is not here yet, and that there might be an emotional rollercoaster ride for both of you in the first year, but NOT on the same track, might help the transition be more realistic/doable.

On your side, you may be feeling grief. I am not sure how well you have prepared for experiencing poly as a chronic patient. You are going to have all the regular newbie poly problems, PLUS your health stuff.

You may have also discovered that "initial agreements on paper" might not work "out in the field."

DADT -- you will have to spell out what that means to you. In this case, you said, "I don't want to know unless I ask directly." But there were some things you didn't even think to ask about or state out loud at the start. What other things might slip?

To me, you sound like you don't want actual DADT. You might want something more like, "I'm a chronic patient trying to accommodate your sexual needs. Don't overload me. Go slow, and be honest with me if I ask. You can ask me things. Just please don't whoosh your NRE things at me." Is that closer to what you might want, at this point in time?

I could be wrong, but it sounds like the initial agreements were all about you kind of making a "defense bubble" around yourself. But that agreement didn't sound like it made space for her and the things she might want to know and ask about. It shut her out.

Talk over and rethink your agreements, so everyone is being served, and everything is realistic, reasonable, and keepable enough. Clarify what you meant. Ask her to repeat it back so you know she got it how you meant it, and vice versa, then try again with a new set of agreements "out in the field." Over time, you will both learn what works and what doesn't.

Talk about what these agreements actually entail over time, because you might have initial stepping-stone agreements to start out with, and build poly trust, and then update them as you go along and conditions change.

I assume you want safer-sex agreements like health labs and condoms. What about children? Do your agreements include genetic monogamy, like she's not going to make babies with other people?

How about over time, if she ends up with a steady partner, do you want to know their name and phone number, in case an emergency happens? It's not that you want to hang out, or be friends, but you want to be able make a courtesy call to her partner if someone's in the ER.

This "not at our house" thing-- what are the expectations over time?
  • The other partner hosts all the time.
  • They go to hotels. How does that work out with your finances?
  • Or is it a temporary thing? Not in our house until we move and can have separate bedrooms.

You both have your part in this situation. You could both acknowledge that. Then you wouldn't be stuck in the blame game, pointing fingers at each other. You could focus instead on learning from the experience and moving things FORWARD. "We both have our share in this situation. Mistakes happened. Let's focus how to get back on track and make clearer, better-articulated stepping-stone agreements to minimize these sorts of dings as we transition into poly. We have to stop to check if the agreements serve everyone well, and are realistic, reasonable, and keepable."

Which agreements are hard limit, "No, never!" things, that will not change over time? (One of mine is "NO MORE KIDS." We are both done with that.)

Which agreements are, "For now, but this might change over time?" It sounds like your DADT agreement might fall into that category.

As for the messy list, I would prefer for her to stay in her lane. Not my people. This may be selfish on my part, but it's what I would prefer, at least for now, and while I'm readjusting to the change in our relationship. She went for him because it was easy, comfortable and convenient for her.

FWIW, I don't think it is selfish. It's a reasonable request during transition time. But you do have to TELL HER things like this. You could both allow for some learning-curve mistakes. They will happen. Instead of trying to be perfect, you could talk about how to cope with them, if/when they happen.

If they plan to continue seeing each other, you are going to have to talk to your friend. Everyone needs to be on the same page about agreements that affect all of you.

Or you could tell her point blank that you are willing to look past this mistake, but before they get all deep and emotionally attached, request she end it with him, because you aren't cool with her dating your friends. Go date people OUT THERE, not inside the friend circle, because each of you needs friends/support persons, and it's gonna be weird if you need to lean on friends for support, but then can't because it's that very friend who is the other partner. It makes things messy.

Articulate the rest of your "messy people" list, even if you think it goes without saying-- no dating your boss, parents, siblings, roomies, etc.

I encourage you to keep talking things out.

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I don't want to lose my wife, I do love her. But, I feel my request has no value which makes me feel not valued. Yes, I should have been specific. That's my bad.

You recognize this request was not specific enough. She's a poly newbie, and your expectations of her may not have been realistic or rational.

Your request DOES have value. You are learning to share her time and attention with others. It sounds like trying to practice poly is hinging a lot on improving communication skills right now. You both might consider reading about non-violent communication. Marshall Rosenberg wrote several books, but I like this one best.

If you feel hurt now, but want to feel valued, ask her for what you need-- a hug, kind words, reassurance she's going to try to do better and be less clunky with her newbie mistakes, etc. You want her to tell you that you are important to her, she values your efforts in changing the model, she appreciates you trying to accommodate her sexual needs. Speak your truth.

- You aren't getting your sex needs met because of your health condition. -1 for health condition.
- You have to do all this extra work to change to a poly-relationship model, so she, at least, can get her needs met. -1 for extra work.
- You have to cope with your feelings around that: envy, wishing you could have what she's going to have. -1 for emotional management.
- You are IN the system, so you can't be her poly coach. But you have poly experience and she's a total newbie. If you don't give her some hints, then you will be the one getting dinged. So, -2 for this "ugh circle," where it's kind of damned if you do and damned if you don't.

A reasonable way to manage that is for you both to read a poly book together, such as Opening Up, so at least you KNOW she's done some prep work. This will minimize dings, even with a "You go in your lane and I go in mine" approach. You will at least be working from the same book and have common ground.

Free worksheets from that book are here.

Opening Up Book

Wayback Machine
Self Evaluation

Wayback Machine
Creating Authentic Relationships

Wayback Machine
Reflecting on Change

Wayback Machine
Open Relationship Checklist

This experience is totally a Track B thing for you right now. Maybe over time this will change, but right now, ask her, could she please SEE YOU in context? You are coming in with -5 hit points already. Please tread with care so she's not piling extra dings on you from being a total poly newbie.

You are both still defining and articulating what "the lane" for each is supposed to be. Ease up on the gas, slow down, don't drive all over like it's bumper cars.

Maybe you'd want to print our the NVC sheets and circle what the needs and feelings are.

You both sound like decent people. You're just trying to get a handle on these changes.
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2 questions:

Since all of your relationships prior to your marriage with your (now formerly) mono wife were polyamorous, would it be possible to work towards polyamory again, instead of a "sex only" DADT arrangement?

I am very sorry about your medical condition. I am just curious, was this brought on by menopause? We have a member here (also lesbian) whose former wife became asexual after menopause. Sadly, they decided to break up due to their differences in sexual desire/capacity.
Maybe I'm too cynical, but your best friend and she really didn't think you'd notice?

Giving the friend the benefit of the doubt, he knows you're typically non-monogamous, yes? So if your wife told him the situation, he would have no reason to question it, since open is your usual MO.

I think it's great that you're using this as an opportunity to learn about the importance of really clarifying boundaries BEFORE moving forward, especially with people new to nonmonogamy of any flavor.

Your health condition sounds really frustrating. I can understand why you'd want to keep activity out of the house, but that might be one of the things to reconsider. It's inconvenient at best, and a red flag at worst, when someone can NEVER host. If you're not home, and she agrees to clean up (do dishes, change sheets, do other laundry, etc., so you can't see or smell any trace), would it be that bad for her to have someone over?
While I read and read again, take in and process all of your words, advice, opinions etc., etc., I just want to thank you all for helping me have a safe outlet where I'm understood and heard. Please know that you are all shining a beautiful light on me and I couldn't be more grateful.

I did call him last night and we spoke. I'm just going to highlight a few things he said:
1. I'm a dumb fuck.
2. He was told "WDIDN doesn't want to know unless she asks." His response was, "She is very intelligent and will figure this out."
3. Since he is my best friend, he is very aware of my situation. At first he was just trying to be there for her dealing with my health issues. She initiated, and like he said before, he said it again. I'm a dumb fuck.

I don't get along with the majority of females. My friends are 90% heterosexual males. I question how I'm a lesbian and the answer is, I have no physical attraction to males. It's ironic.

Right now, I'm feeling like I need some space. My space WOULD have been with Friend. However, he can't help me right now.

I reached out to another friend who is completely separate from either of them. I'm making arrangements to visit them for some clean air to breathe. I'm grateful that this friend is is nonjudgmental and will give me views and ask me questions I may be overlooking.

With all the information here, I'm going to keep coming back to read and reread, share, ask for help. For now, I'm gathering myself and will come back to reply to questions, suggestions, etc. Thank you all. You are a beautiful wonderful safety net and exactly the support I needed.

Off to work I go! ❤️
Hello WDIDN,
I've been thinking about this, and I'm seeing two points of view.

First, there is your wife's point of view. I think she sees it as, that technically she did not "break the rules." Because she did not tell you it was your best friend until you asked. So, she was complying with the rule that, "You didn't want to know unless you asked."

Second, there is your point of view. And that is, that you kind of did know, before you asked. You knew by intuition. Your intuition told you who it was. Your asking her if it was him, was not you asking who it was; rather, it was you getting confirmation of what you already knew. You knew who it was, before you asked. So, she *did* break the rules.

She should have known that your intuition would give it away, if it was your best friend. But she didn't know, or perhaps she told herself that you wouldn't figure it out, and in so doing convinced herself, because she greatly desired to be with your best friend.

If these are indeed the two points of view the two of you are working from, it stands to reason that you are going to disagree about whether she broke the rules, or at least, about whether she was conscientious about the rules. Yes, the rules should have been more explicit, but now that's water under the bridge.

I tend to think that one of the key "what now" points is, are you going to be able to cope with her continuing to be with your best friend. That's something only you can decide, and if you can't cope with it, you need to tell her with absolute clarity that you need her to break up with him. Then you need to draw up a new set of rules that includes, "Not with my friends."

These are just some of my thoughts.
Kevin T.
Update: I was trying to communicate with her and she was shutting me down. She didn't understand why we needed to keep talking about it. It turns out there was more. She acted before coming to me and talking to me about being able to have her needs met. I was really working through the mistake because the boundaries weren't clear.

I feel completely disrespected and manipulated. My trust is completely broken.

I don't understand, once it was out in the open, why she didn't come clean. Or when we discussed the "agreement," why she didn't say, "What if I already did?"

I have done my best to be selfless in this situation. I have ALWAYS been easy to communicate with. It's one of the things she said she loves about me.

The dragging it out and slow release of truth isn't something that sits well with me.

I'm not sleeping and not eating.

(Side note: we are already in separate bedrooms because she snores like a Mack truck and isn't nice when I ask her to roll over.)

I'm really feeling stuck.
Let me repeat this back in my own words so I know I got it how you meant it.

Basically, your wife cheated on your agreements and slept with your male best friend. She told him it was DADT thing, when really, no such agreements were in place yet. Then, after that happened, she came to you to negotiate a DADT-ish thing to "whitewash" what she'd done, without first owning it and apologizing for cheating on agreements.
And now that it's all coming out, she's shutting down, doesn't want to talk about it, etc.

If that is the case, I would suggest taking a time out. Maybe consider getting a poly counselor to help you navigate conversations in an organized way. The list of things to sort out is getting long.

1) Your illness and how this impacts both of you and your shared marriage/sex life

2) Cheating with your best friend before making open relationship agreements

3) Initial open relationship agreements not being realistic/rational/keepable/articulated well enough

4) Your feelings of being manipulated/taken advantage of when you are trying hard to accommodate her needs in a way that's honest and up front, while she's not doing same thing

5) Her being a poly newbie, dinging you

6) Whatever else

Internet people might be able to help with one thing, but when it's a spaghetti tangle of several things mashed up together, I suggest you really think about taking a time out. Use that time for making an appointment with a counselor, and making some temporary agreements, like, "We don't talk about this on our own right now. We wait to talk it out with counselor present to help us identify and then prioritize the problem areas." Give some time for cooler heads to arrive, the stress/adrenaline to drop, etc.

You might consider individual counseling, too.

I don't understand why, once it was out in the open, she didn't come clean, or when we discussed the "agreement" why she didn't say, "What if I already did?"

Only she can answer that. But it could be feeling shame from mono wiring, or shame from not wanting to put things on you when you have health issues, or whatever other internal baggage she has going on.

She has to do her personal work. You cannot do it FOR her. I get that it's dinging you. Instead of one grief load, you have these bonus grief loads.

  • Grief about your diagnosis, learning to be a chronic patient
  • Grief about how this affects the marriage
  • Grief about Wife cheating and then trying to whitewash it with open/poly
  • Grief about whom she cheated with
  • Grief about your friend betraying you, even if you are more mad at Wife than him right now
  • Then the upset/anger/grief of the whole rigamarole. "Dang it! Do me the respect of telling me about this crap to my face. Not a long, winding road of secret crap. Is this it, all of it? Is there any more secret crap lurking about?"

You may have to tell her and your friend directly: "I am upset. This all started like a cheating thing BEFORE we agreed to have an open relationship. I'd prefer you both stop seeing each other. I want to set up a counseling appointment to help sort all this mess out. And Wife, if you lied to my friend about DADT being in place before it really was, you owe him an apology, as well.

Friend, you have/have not already apologized to me. I have/have not forgiven you. In future, I expect you not to get involved with my spouse without checking in first to make sure all is on the level. I don't want a repeat of this experience."

Don't rant and rave and pile on more crap. But the buck stops here. No more nonsense!

Hang in there. I can see you are doing your best to be patient with navigating all this, while keeping your cool.
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Thank you for posting that update. I'm very sorry that your wife cheated on you. She had a bona fide -- or rather mala fide -- love affair on you (and there was no DADT agreement in place when she did it). Now it sounds like she is dismissing it as "no big deal." Like, "We don't need to talk about it. Talking about it would be overkill." Maybe she's thinking that since you used to be poly, she kind of had your unspoken permission to start hooking up with your best friend? or maybe she wasn't sure, and that's why she was so slow to come clean about it? I don't know.

I guess the next question is, how long has this love affair been going on? Is she really (finally) being 100% honest with you now about it? I am skeptical about that.

I'm so sorry you're going through this.
Kevin T.
I don't understand how once it was out in the open why she didn't come clean... I have ALWAYS been easy to communicate with. It's one of the things she said she loves about me.

When someone takes deceptive action, do something they said they weren't going to do or are dishonest about how they share information with us, they are making a clear statement that they were unwilling or unable to put in the work that it would have taken to "come clean." In short, they didn't trust us to handle it like an adult, so they just lied or omitted.

This lack of trust usually comes from a blend of:
1. We have not demonstrated that we are safe receivers of bad news
2. They have old trust issues from previous relationships that were not safe receivers of bad news.

There isn't much about it that's mysterious. It's just a lack of trust. It originates from the same place and yields roughly the same result every time.

For our part, all we can do is continue to demonstrate that we are excellent receivers of bad news. Really, the only way to demonstrate this is by not freaking out when things don't go our way, being super-supportive and honest when the truth does come out, and lay clear and solid groundwork for open communication going forward.

While it is socially acceptable to get our nose bent out of shape when someone gives us bad news, if a healthy ongoing relationship is what we want, we absolutely must let go of our right to act like twits when we get bad news. If you wouldn't qualify your current behavior as supportive and understanding, I recommend pumping the breaks, and turning it completely around into a supportive and understanding posture.

Anything else is just adding more fuel to the fire.