Polyamory and affairs

Honestheart

New member
Can you have an affair if you are in a polyamorous relationship?
polyamory for me is about having an open and honest relationship that thrives on open and honest communication. without this, it just doesnt work
so...here's the thing. how do you deal with your partner hiding another lover/partner from you?
for example
lets say you dated somebody and your partner knew about that relationship. that relationship broke off for whatever reason. you then again engaged in a relationship with that same person you broke up with but this time you did not tell your other partner until months later.
you've always had the understanding with each other to be upfront about interest BEFORE you dated...
would this be considered an affair?
I personally don't think so, after all you are in an open type relationship in dating others while still dating each other... you were just beign true to your heart. altho i do agree that it is a serious concern that needs to be addressed because it is a breach of communication and honestly but i dont think its an affair. i really dont think its possible to have an affair if you are poly. because the flip side to this is, isnt polyamory about being tru to your heart and all the possibilities it provides in that you can and do fall in love with more then one person at a time. then again, if you and your partner turly beleive this then why hide other partners from them?
does anyof this make snese?
anyways looking for thoughts as this came up in a relationship and i was wondering what people thought.
disagreements? anybody care to comment?

does anybody know of any support systems out there for situations like this?
 
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SourGirl

Member
Define 'Affair"

First,..you would need to Define the word "affair" as it is subjective and open to interpretation.

I don`t think it`s being used quite correctly here.

If affair in the simple logic is 'cheat'....then yes, I believe what you describe, is cheating.


Cheating, has nothing to do with what you do, how you do it, or who you do it with.
It has everything to do with being upfront and honest about any actions.

If you betray, sneak, hide, distort the truth from your partner, in a physical, evident way, that is a cheat in my eyes.

---

I believe the 'essence' of being poly, is openess, honesty, and communication. Lying to others, or yourself is not part of being Poly.

I hope this doesn`t come across as judgemetal. This is my own thought process. We each have to come to terms with things in our own ways.

The bigger thing, is what your partner thinks. If THEY feel betrayed, then THAT is what matters. If they don`t, then it is a non-issue.


I have been in a position, where I had a on-again, off-again romance, that my primary was not thrilled with. Some topics were very, very hard to approach, and I hurt when we didn`t agree. Still, he always knew what I was doing, and when. I never betrayed that trust.

If you simplify, and don`t get caught up in the details, it`s easy to remember what makes being poly different from cheating. Blur those lies, and it taints the wonderful aspect of poly.
 

vandalin

New member
I have to agree with SJ here. If you break down and go with the intended meaning of affair, poly is all about affairs if you are married or in an LTR.

Affair=having relations with someone who you are not married to.
Cheating=lying or misleading to get what you want.

What you have described, not telling the primary partner that you are having relations with someone, anyone, is cheating. The only time this is not cheating is if you have an agreement with the SO that all relationships are Don't Ask Don't Tell. That I believe is usually uncommon in poly though more likely in a sexually open relationship that is not for the purpose of emotions as poly is.

But also as SJ says, this is just my $0.02.
 

thunkybunny

New member
I'll go one further and define cheating as fucking around first, and THEN informing significant other(s) AFTERWARD. That's the cowards' way to poly.
 

GroundedSpirit

New member
Hi Honest,

I like to avoid getting all tangled up in terminology (affair, cheat etc) and try to keep the focus on whats, right, fair, healthy & wise.

1>Nothing cuts the legs out from under a relationship (ANY) like lack of trust.
2>Trust is built through honesty & openness

Does what I am doing (or considering) meet at least these two conditions ?

If not - maybe I need to backup and rethink.

Because, quite simply, if and when the lack of #2 ever surfaces-comes to light- it has no option but to ripple back up the tree to # 1 . Trust is weakened. And that''s a REALLY slow healing wound which some never recover from.

My thoughts anyway............

GS
 

AutumnalTone

New member
how do you deal with your partner hiding another lover/partner from you?

That is cheating, as others have said. No ifs, ands, or buts. If somebody is actively hiding another relationship and they've agreed to a poly relationship that relies on openness and honesty, it's cheating.

does anybody know of any support systems out there for situations like this?

Other than someplace like this? No. Perhaps some of the folks in your local poly community are available to provide emotional support, so you could ask around there (if you know any poly folk locally).
 

CielDuMatin

New member
If you have agreed that the rules of your relationship are that you tell each other about and you break those, then that is cheating on your relationship, no question.

You ask about support systems - what sort of support do you feel you need? Maybe if you could give us some idea we could point you in a better direction.
 

Honestheart

New member
wow guys, thanks!!!! no i honestly do not think anybody is being judgmental. I really appreciate the replies! I was on the fence, but thought hey...if i'm gonna do this take a stance then see what other think!
I'm not hung up on the terminology per se but...its kinda important for me to understand and part of understanding is a label... you know what i mean?
and yes, now i agree that when it hurts the other person... and it is hidden...its cheating/an affair
so hears the question...when a hurt liek this happens...is it time to close the doors on poly? after all, if this happened because of a lack of trust and openness whic is the core part of poly lifestyle... do you end it and go back to monogamy. maybe, if you did this you're just not "cut out" for a poly lifestyle?
does any of this make sense?

and as fer support.. ANYTHING! online support groups perhaps? theres not really a poly community here, small town. backwards thinking. for example, when i mentioned to a therapist about "open" relationships to try and explain the difference between poly and "open" well... they didn't know what an pol relationship meant and they automatically thought polyamory was polygamy....

and i agree now.... fucking around, even if there's emotional attachments involved (ok even if there love involved) and its with a previous partner, and the break up was recent well... it is cheating/affair...
gotcha ;-)
 
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StitchwitchD

New member
I'm curious about perspectives of people who have been cheated on in the context of a poly relationship.

The only situations I've heard about this happening were along the lines of Person A and Person B make a relationship agreement, when put in practice it works much better for A than B, B wants to renegotiate, A insists on sticking with the original agreement, B expresses frustration and unhappiness, A ignores B's attempts to communicate, B finally violates the agreement, A gets hurt and upset with B for cheating, and either leaves B, or uses the cheating and lack of trust to guilt B into agreeing to even stricter terms for their relationship.
 

saudade

New member
@Honestheart, welcome!

I'm sorry that you seem to be in a predicament. Finding your way to poly is often ugly.

Dishonesty does wreck trust, and makes it hard to have a relationship, open or not. Does that mean you should stop being poly? Not necessarily. It does mean, I think, that you should slow down and think things through. Talk to everyone romantically involved and work things out... which might involve some monogamous couple time to rebuild trust, or it might not.

Here's a thread on seeking poly-supportive counselling:
http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2235

Good luck!
 

AutumnalTone

New member
I'm not hung up on the terminology persay but...its kinda important for me to understand and part of understanding is a label...

Descriptive terms are not destructive labels. Describing what is done with a discrete term is not a bad thing to do.

[/quote]
so hears the question...when a hurt liek this happens...is it time to close the doors on poly? afteral, if this happened because of a lack of trust and openess whic is the core part of paoly lifestyle... do you end it and go back to monogamy. maybe, if you did this you're just not "cut out" for a poly lifestyle?
[/QUOTE]

The underlying cause of cheating will be present whether one does poly or one does mono. It's not a question of whether or not somebody is cut out for poly, it's a question as to whether that person is capable of doing *any* relationship. The honesty and such are necessary for healthy mono relationships, too.
 

GroundedSpirit

New member
so hears the question...when a hurt liek this happens...is it time to close the doors on poly? afteral, if this happened because of a lack of trust and openess whic is the core part of paoly lifestyle... do you end it and go back to monogamy. maybe, if you did this you're just not "cut out" for a poly lifestyle?
does any of this make sense?

I'm not sure that anyone is "cut out" for poly because of the culture we were raised in. Hell - I'm not anyone is cut out for relationships PERIOD LOL

The majority of these type issues happen because of a couple things.

1> We really aren't taught much about real communication skills (until we're forced to learn them).

2> Many , many people aren't aware of the importance of living in a genuine manner. This is especially true in the dating/mating game. We're taught to construct this 'desirable' image and sometimes lose our real self in the process. When you're practiced at hiding things or repainting them in some favorable manner, it takes some work to break that habit.

I don't know that closing doors - or minds - is productive unless we're absolutely clear that what's on the other side of that door presents a real and present danger or other negative component.
More of the mis-steps and complications of these things is just due to lack of skill, understanding and practice. The question then becomes - are you really interested enough in the benefits to be up for the task of mastering it. They say nothing is free in this life.

Only you guys can figure this out................

GS
 

thunkybunny

New member
As far as I'm concerned, any behavior that can get your partner(s) killed is cheating. Life is a real-world limit. Your partner(s) needs choices on risks in a relationship with you. Unfortunately, some people are so afraid of rejection or so self-absorbed that they'll construct elaborate rationales for lying/cheating. Fucking around before informing partner(s) is not only disrespectful and inconsiderate, it's potentially deadly. Even dating can be deadly if one's existing partner(s) is given to extreme jealousy. I wish there wasn't such a convenient label as 'poly' behind which liars and cheaters could hide.
 

Honestheart

New member
wow stitchwitch (did i spell that right, sorry if i didnt)
yeah, i've heard of that before, and actually had it happen!
i think it all boils down to not just about open honest communication...but respect.
point blank, i can understand the need to "renegotiate" however sometimes when you "negotiate" you don't always see the curve balls.
for example, you negotiate sunbathing works for sort term relationships outside the primary relationship but then find that same rule either doesnt apply or it hinders a long term relationship that has developed outside the primary relationship.
if you respect all parties involved, and are open and honest... you should be able to cover sum common ground.
but when that does not happen.... it leads to disaster and danger! it can lead to one partner feeling the need to hide for fear of losing a secondary relationship to the demands of "the rules"
dont get me wrong i'm not condoning cheating... hell no. secrecy, hiding, even when love in involved is wrong. it leads to wrong. it destroys...

Thunkbunny
and yes, part of me thinks that people use "poly" as a way to "legitimize" having cake and eating it too...
i don't think in this case i used at the very beginnign of this post it was huge elaborate rationale to justify cheating... or about being self absorbed etc. it was plain confusion.
but the situation just brought up the question of what by definition is an affair, and if you have an open poly relationship can you really be cheating... again, confusion.
i appreciate being able to pose such a question... cus it helps to clear sum of that confusion. yes, it is possible to cheat in a poly relationship. and yes fucking without telling no matter what the reason (confusion or not, recently ended relationship or not) is cheating.
Grounded
as for "not being cut out for poly" .... i think if there is a serious pattern of hiding things, not being open and honest, and flat out lying then it is time to take a break (if not permanently) to evaluate the primary relationship and to work things through via monogamy....
my feeling is... if a person cant be open and honest.... if a primary relationship is weak because of a lack of trust... then perhaps said persons are looking at poly for something that is missing in a primary relationship...a kind of "i dont have strawberry cake here because i have vanilla, but i can get sum over there and still have my vanilla cake too" which is not what poly is about. least i don't think so. poly is not about fixing what lacks with one relationship by having another secondary relationship that has that quality the primary relationship lacks ...
right?
 
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redpepper

New member
I am thinking that perhaps in a situation whereby someone cheats in poly they are possibly getting lax. I might be wrong here, but I for one get tired sometimes of the constant communicating and honesty, if someone thinks that for sure they know it will be okay to just be with someone one time because their partner won't mind then there is some complacency going on in my book and that might mean reining in a little to reconnect and establish some new boundaries around assumptions such as that. No one ever knows for sure, but when things are ticking along and we start thinking that nothing can touch us, it can happen that some un-discussed fucking can come about :D that doesn't necessarily mean throwing in the the towel on Poly, but reconnecting on boundaries. Really, coming together to get on the same wave length sometimes can be a good idea.

Is it okay to just go with assumptions that we think our partner will be okay if we sleep with someone without them knowing? Well sometimes it is and it is okay. A boundary is established without really discussing it... but sometimes there is an eye opener for people that means that there is actually some boundaries to discuss and that it isn't necessarily okay to do whatever, whenever. It really depends on the couple and what they think is best.

If you are uncomfortable honestheart then that should be a good sign to talk to your loved one and set some boundaries that you both feel comfortable with... cause really whether they knew it or not, they got away with cheating.... kind of soft cheating perhaps, but cheating nonetheless.

I have a story here and that is that on new years I kissed someone I really liked at the party I was at. I was with Mono and Nerdist and our close friends and assumed (under the influence of alcohol) that they would be fine because she was female. Well, it turned out that my assumption was incorrect, briefly.... they were both surprised and had to kind of regroup in their thinking and came to the consensus that we needed to talk about it.

We did and established that they would prefer that if I felt like kissing girls I wasn't previously involve with then I should take them out of the public's eye and smooch them elsewhere. They would just feel better if they knew I was doing that and that I wasn't getting it on in public. I agreed to that and it was all good. It took some talk and some on the spot sorting out, but we got on the same wave length and re-connected as a result...
 

Honestheart

New member
Redpepper,
your views do have a sound feeling to them. thanks. reconnect, re-evaluate, set boundaries. all healthy things to do.
and yes, soft cheating seeing as how involved relationships recently broken but cheating none the less and a definite need to have sum hard core re-evaluating, communication, and well... *gulp* therapy
thanks for the insight on your situation too. sheds sum light. i assumed he was actively hiding as a kind of subconscious or fully conscious thrill? but perhaps it was more like complacency, gray area, boundaries not firmly set kind of situation... hmmm... interesting. actually that would explain A LOT.
none the less what was done by both parties (that is, hiding the relationship from the primary whether it was actively conscious hiding or a slip of communication either way WAS WRONG and was cheating.
THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL YOUR VIEWS GUYS... YOU'RE BEING A HUGE HELP!

basically what i am saying is though this general discussion i am finding out that in a poly relationship you can have an affair/cheat. call it what you want, it is possible.
 
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redpepper

New member
I don't know if its necessarily the fact that a primary was not told. I have gotten into the habit of telling anyone I am involved with. Whether I think they care or not. I remember having to do all this when a condom broke. It made me realize that all that tough communication is important.
 

StitchwitchD

New member
As far as I'm concerned, any behavior that can get your partner(s) killed is cheating. Life is a real-world limit. Your partner(s) needs choices on risks in a relationship with you. Unfortunately, some people are so afraid of rejection or so self-absorbed that they'll construct elaborate rationales for lying/cheating. Fucking around before informing partner(s) is not only disrespectful and inconsiderate, it's potentially deadly. Even dating can be deadly if one's existing partner(s) is given to extreme jealousy. I wish there wasn't such a convenient label as 'poly' behind which liars and cheaters could hide.

I'm assuming this is about something someone you know actually did, and I'm confused about why someone would act this way, because as described it sounds like someone in a poly relationship just went out and screwed someone of questionable HIV status, and then lied to cover it, and then used poly as an excuse for the whole thing. That sounds crazy.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
Thinkbunny
and yes, part of me thinks that people use "poly" as a way to "legitimize" having cake and eating it too...

What's wrong with having your cake and eating it too? What's the point of having cake you can't eat? And if you're eating someone else's cake, well that's just stealing...

I'm only half being facetious... I think that poly IS having your cake and eating it too! You get to be in love with different people AND you get to do it without guilt. You get more faith that your lovers are not cheating on you, because they don't have to. Which brings us to...

basically what i am saying is though this general discussion i am finding out that in a poly relationship you can have an affair/cheat. call it what you want, it is possible.

Absolutely. I think of cheating as having another relationship or random sexual encounter that your partner doesn't know about but would want to, whether or not they would approve of it if they did know. So that excludes "don't ask don't tell" agreements, because they've agreed it's ok and that they don't want to know about it. And if you think your partner would be ok with it if they knew, but you keep it from them, then that's definitely still cheating.
 
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