Moral compass a little off


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I guess I should start with a little background: I recently underwent some major hormonal changes that resulted in me developing crushes on friends and coworkers. After discussion with my husband of 8 years we decided to have an open relationship, that we are now identifying as polyamorous.

In the process of moving from one state to another I got the courage to let one of my friends know I have a crush on him and we ended up having sex. Now that I have moved I am regularly sending explicit texts to another friend. Neither of these guys knows about the kind of relationship I am in (other than the fact that I am married), but both are in committed relationships themselves. One is just in a very serious dating relationship and the other is married and has kids. Neither are with someone who would be ok with what we are doing.

I can't decide if I am doing something wrong by having these interactions with people who are not supposed to be involved with others. One of the major turn ons for me with polyamory is moving past what we are told are conventional relationships should be. If I don't want to have restrictions put on me (though my husband knows what I am doing and is ok with it), who am I to say that what these guys are doing is wrong?

Now that I don't even live in the same state as either, it isn't like I will have many opportunities to do much. Is it inappropriate to even send texts or emails?

I would just like some additional opinion on this.

You can't control what your two text-friends do. Maybe they have agreements with their partners that they just don't feel comfortable talking about, maybe there are other good reasons they need an outlet (the marriage is loveless but they can't leave cuz she'll take the kids, etc), or maybe they're just plain cheaters. But you're not at fault for their behavior, whatever it might be.

Where you're failing both yourself and them is in not telling them what's going on with you and your partner. Why not be honest? Maybe they're carrying around all this guilt because they think they're ruining your marriage, and it would be a huge gift to them to know they're not. Maybe it would inspire them to bring up poly to their partners and start a beautiful new phase in their lives. Or maybe it would ruin the fun for them, who knows. But either way, if you're gonna call yourself poly you've gotta aim for honesty.

You can then, if you choose, ask them to open up to you more about what's going on in their own relationships, but that's their call.

Personally, I wouldn't want to be involved with a cheater who didn't have a really good reason for it. One, if he lies to his spouse of course he'll lie to me, maybe he's even scummy enough that he'd lie about things like his STD status! Two, what if his wife found out and flipped out and came after me to kill me??! Lies are scary! But that's your call.
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If you are knowingly involved with men cheating on their SOs, you are enabling the cheating and are guilty of an ethical lapse. No two ways about it--if you continue with them knowing they're cheating, you're as bad as they are.
If they are cheating, then you are now cheating as far as I am concerned. I suggest having some compassion for the women they are cheating on... how would you feel. I would take a good long look at your integrity and how much it is worth.

In the mean time you might want to have a look at the many threads here on cheating... you can find them by doing a search on the tags for "cheating" and "affairs."
I would have to concur with Redpepper and Autumnaltone on this one. If they were single guys, and were not involved with anyone else, you would be good to go. If they were involved with someone, and were in an OPEN relationship, then you would be good to go.

HOWEVER, since they are not...I would tell them flat out, that they either need to open their relationship, or stop doing things with you. If the former is not possible, then the later should be their option.
I think it can be challenging to find people you can play with who are open and honest. But it must not be impossible, or we wouldn't all be here! ;)

How important in your life are these guys you are sexting -- ? If they are, maybe you could talk non-sexy with them sometime, about what's going on in their relationships. Who knows, maybe you could help them improve their love lives, in ways they never even imagined! Poly isn't just about sex -- why not bring some love and care into it? The fact that you are even asking about the ethics of your situation leads me to believe you have a good heart. Glad you're here. :)
Yeah, I am/ have been in the same position as you for a few years now, and as I am trying to get out of the situation, it occurs to me that maybe I have a few words of advice for you:

1. It gets harder to remove yourself from lovers as time goes on.
2. You may have only inklings at guilt, kept at bay by willing ignorance, but the guilt will get stronger and stronger. That's what guilt does, it consumes.
3. Just because you might 'get away' with these behaviors now, the nature of life is change, and when you finally get caught, it will probably have all the backlash of previous misbehaviors wrapped up with it.

There are a few other things that come along with everything mentioned above, of course, but those are the top root issues I have encountered.

Part of the reason I am here on this forum might be similar to yours, so I'll add my comment in this post as well. It is great and inspirational to hear about more successful poly lifestyles and relationships. It seems to take a will and clarity and self-knowledge that I haven't yet developed to create such open and honest relationships. I hate to say it, but I personally struggle with cowardice/resignation/lack of integrity quite a bit, which interferes with my fantasy of a positive and fruitful poly life becoming reality. If you can manage to keep yourself upright now, you will enjoy more success in the nearer future than spending your energy trying to back peddle and course correct like me :)

Hope that's helpful.
You haven't told them about your arrangement with your husband, so as far as they know, you're cheating on him, right?

Maybe it's the same for them! Maybe their wives really do approve and they haven't told you, like you haven't told them.

Time for a chat.
Hi Phantom,

Your question will likely be one of those timeless philosophical ones that will never have a universal answer. Not that I am a total relativist, because I'm not, but because I DO believe that these situation do fall under that relative headbar.

There are those (and they will undoubtedly speak here) that believe in taking what "they" feel is the 'high road' and avoid any participation whatsoever with a situation where things could go badly. They feel some ethical obligation to not be a contributor (to an unknown).

If only life were that simple.................

Somewhere along the line we learn that we cannot assume responsibility for 'others' behavior. And that has to even include what we might feel is risky behavior. And that is what we are faced with. RISK. An outknown outcome. But factually, it's just as incorrect to assume our participation will decide this outcome. Things will generally be what they may be and we, as individuals, are not omnipotent. When a path (or relationship) begins to diverg, there becomes many possible outcomes, most of which are totally indifferent to our involvement.

The situation you describe fits that.

The result (if discovered) could turn to an ugly, drama filled mess affecting many.
It's also possible that it could be the springboard to launching several relationships to a higher plateau.

You are NOT the decider on what path this will take. You are nothing more than one factor in a complex equation.
The ego wants to convince us otherwise, of course.

So it seems clear (right?) that this really is about one's philosophy. And that is a very personal thing - to each of the people involved. Whatever path you choose, it has to be one that feels right with your personal philosophy and beliefs.

You are doing your due diligence by questioning. Yourself - and everyone else. Be honest about the answers.
That's about all you can do...........

Been there. Done that. Never ever ever ever ever doing it again. It's way too freeing to be able to be on the up and up. Never allow yourself to be a dirty little secret.
Philosophically, either you are cheating (guilt by enabling), or by opening up your relationship with your husband, you're in the clear (individual limitation of accountability). If you need to have a moral answer, pick one.

I prefer to think in practical terms. What's the likelihood of being found out? What are the likely scenarios if found out? Does the sneaking add value? Would not sneaking add value? What are the motivations?

If we set the moral question aside, and you're not likely to get caught, do your activities matter? Your marriage is fine, but are you destabilizing their relationships? If so, I'd suggest that they need to either fix things or move on. Being a Band-Aid for their relationship problems is bad voodoo. I would suggest that sexting means you're likely running a much higher risk of discovery. If the partner just happens (incidentally or intentionally) to check his phone, there maybe be all sorts of uncomfortable questions.

So what happens if the others find out? The options are basically end the relationship, open the relationship, adjust, or no effect. The stereotypical would be ending or harming the relationship. Thus, you could be contributing to some future distrust in relationships. Or you could be encouraging some people to open themselves up. You have mire data than we do because each case is different.

Perhaps the naughty factor gets you excited. Many responses have cautioned against being the other woman, but some women like that role. If you need the clandestine to be fulfilled, then our moral commentary is unnecessary.

Or you might feel better with everything above board. That fact you posed the question implies you have some internal struggle. Even established poly folks can have moments of doubt, but I find that being entirely open is significantly better than hiding.

You mentioned hormones in your post but talk about staying in touch after moving which implies to me more than hormones at work. What is your motivation, and what are theirs? What do you want to achieve? What makes these guys that special versus finding someone (or at least looking) nearby?

Generally speaking, one of the foundations of poly life is belief in proactive communication. If you and your partners are not being proactive and honest, then yes, you're doing it wrong. The question then to ask is what you want and how do you make that happen?
In the process of moving from one state to another I got the courage to let one of my friends know I have a crush on him and we ended up having sex. Now that I have moved I am regularly sending explicit texts to another friend. Neither of these guys knows about the kind of relationship I am in (other than the fact that I am married), but both are in committed relationships themselves. One is just in a very serious dating relationship and the other is married and has kids. Neither are with someone who would be ok with what we are doing.

So you have cheated with this other friend? You realize that is bad, right? And you moral haziness revolves around if it's bad continuing sexting with both, or just this one other guy, whom you haven't (yet) slept with?

There are differing opinions around whether emotional affairs/sexy talk amount to cheating. Since you know that the partner of your sext-friend wouldn't be okay with what you are doing, then wtf?

Back off. Don't add insult to injury by continuing lying and sneaking around. You've already fucked up once, why continue? As other posters said, what is so special about these guys that you can't keep your hands off?

If I don't want to have restrictions put on me (though my husband knows what I am doing and is ok with it), who am I to say that what these guys are doing is wrong?

Your husband knows and is okay. Their partners don't. There you have it.

Would you want the same thing done unto you, were you in the position of the unwitting partner? And would you want people in general to act like you have acted in this situation?

There's tons of information on ethics around there if you care to look.
Okay, you are asking internet-world.
This to me says somewhere you are feeling guilty, or there is a little red flag going up for you.
We have these little niggling thoughts for a reason. When we learn to listen to them we generally can manage to stay out of trouble.
I really do appreciate the feedback on this, both the positive and the ones that seem to be really against me and my actions. To update; I've come clean to both guys about the type of relationship I'm in. The guy I had sex with and I are in agreement that what we did was a one time thing and wasn't the best idea. We are going to remain friends, but what he decides to tell his partner is his business. The other guy that I have just been sexting with seems to be fine with my relationship, but has some serious hypocritical tendencies and I am cutting off that type of communication with him, though I don't know what that will do to any friendship we had.

Many of you pointed out that even my questioning was admitting to myself that what I was doing was wrong, and I agree with you. I think this was just one of those things where I felt I needed someone else to tell me what I already knew.

Thanks again and cheers to being on the up and up!