The Can of Worms and the Long Story


New member
Ok here goes:

My Temperament and Some Clues:

About my angle/history first. I think in my heart (and a lot of my actions) I have always leaned toward polyamory. I never get jealous or understood jealousy, as if I was born without it. Even when my high school boyfriend cheated on me, it was the lying and betrayal of our agreement that upset me, not the fact that he had connected with or had sex with another. Even then I realized I would be ok with it if he had just discussed his desire with me first. But without the trust and respect to our commitment, we had to break up.

I have always been a flirt, and always been upfront with those I date that I am such a way. But most importantly - I have developed non-sexual loving relationships with others while in monogamous relationships. I don't mean friends, either - actual "I love you, if we were available we would date" relationships. I never purposely hid these, but have been guilty of downplaying them. I guess I thought if we never slept together, it wouldn't be cheating. I never asked for more because I thought that building a loving long term relationship was hard enough, hoping for that kind of freedom was just unrealistic.

When I started dating my husband, I thought I could resist getting involved in those other relationships. It worked out that way, until a girl from my past re-entered my life. We ARE full on in love and attracted to each other, but never got to be together exclusively any time during the 10 years we've known each other. I explained it to him and he was not threatened, probably because she is a "she", is from my past (it was established), he knew I wouldn't "cheat" with sex, and she lived so far away.
So my relationship with her picked up again. Let's call her Jessi.

How and Why We Started Swinging:

Fast forward to getting married. I was ready for marriage, excited and confident. But as the date rolled around, I realized I would NEVER have sex with another person ever again! Never develop a new love. Hell, I didn't even remember the last time I was with anyone else. It didn't help that another couple we were friends with (composed in half by a guy I went to High school with) had a "free pass". His girlfriend was free to, even encouraged to sleep with another friend of ours. It worked out very well for them, we had seen and witnessed it, and none thought it was odd.

Why didn't I have a free pass? I had never had difficulty being monogamous before, so why was I freaking out now that it was time to get married? Would I be tempted to cheat? Am I not ready? I FELT ready...

For the sake of honesty, I had to tell my fiancee how I felt. And to prevent the risk of cheating, I HAD to ask what we could do - could I have one last fling? Maybe more? God, that was a scary request to make. But we talked it out, and turns out it wasn't such a big deal!

Our Experience Swinging:

So off I went, and had a wonderful time with the male half of the previously mentioned couple. We were so amazed by the lack of hard feelings, insecurity, and damage that we started discussing swinging. Reading and learning about it made me exclaim "It's so obvious! Why hadn't I realized I was this way before?" Plus, the option of finally getting a FFM threesome probably sweetened the deal! lol.

I was straight-out giddy! It was as if the sun shined brighter and all the world was suddenly more beautiful! We didn't even make any "rules" off the bat. We knew there was no way to predict every variation of every situation, and we would HATE for the other to miss out on a great opportunity because they didn't know if it would upset the other. Plus, you never quite know how something will affect you until it happens. So our strategy was to try it out bit by bit, increasing intensity each time until we found what we didn't like. We knew that even if something went too far, we could simply talk about it and take it off the table for the future with no lingering anger.

We went deeper and deeper and never hit a wall. After each encounter, we would try to talk about it afterward. We thought there would be some big long discussion, but each time we were both OK with EVERYTHING. Truly had little to say about it other than how fun it was or not. We even talked the other couple into joining the lifestyle with us! Everything was great, and the marriage was effortless. We genuinely LOVED seeing the other person get pleasure, not just sexually, either. It improved our sex life, AND our trust. How perfect!

Wait a Minute - That isn't Swinging!!

The safety of the swinging is that you aren't in love with these people. Sure, friends with benefits is great, and I personally prefer "repeat business". What threw everything for a loop was Jessi - I love her, we have history, and she wants to come visit - Is it OK to sleep with her? What if she moves down here? Love AND sex AND relationship - that's not really swinging is it?

Enter another complicated discussion. This is when the polyamory word first came up. It was shorter and easier than the swinging one, and if she did indeed move down, all would be well. We would take it as it comes and my husband was totally fine with it. Again, I think a big part of that was because I loved her before I ever met him, and she was a girl. But what about new loves? What about guys?

Didn't take long for THAT issue to come up! Lol. The first guy I was with other than my husband (from the swinging couple) became very good friends with us. I spent a lot of time with him, we fooled around often, and over the course of the year, my husband could see us getting more and more attached to each other.

Surprisingly, he wasn't even a little upset about these new feelings of mine. After more discussion, we decided we would approach this relationship the same as Jessi. Things just got suddenly real - this is a GUY, he is nearby, this could really be a big thing. Definitely NOT swinging - we had to admit that I, at least, am most certainly NOT monogamous.

Where it Gets REALLY Hairy:

Lets call this guy Moon. I'm a bad bad girl, and I know it. Moon's girlfriend does not know and would not approve of me and him fooling around. I didn't really know this at first, but know it now, and continue. I'm not trying to get them to breakup, but hope that they do because she is so terribly mean to him. I wont justify or apologize for him and his cheating. It's wrong and we both know it.

Also, Moon tried a free pass with another girl who was his friend. He was very clear with her that he loved his GF, she knew about it, and that he had no intentions of leaving his GF or falling in love. Unfortunately, she DID fall in love with him, admitted while crying in the middle of dinner, and tried to convince him to leave his GF. Poor Moon was shocked and distraught. He had to cut ties.

Moon does not know that I'm allowed to "date" him and does not know how much I care about him. I want to tell him all of it, but am afraid that will chase him away. I am not entirely clear how much he cares about me (my husband thinks he loves me) Often when we get "too close" he will back away and disappear for a little while. I won't be hurt if he decides not to progress our relationship or break up with his GF, I will be just fine with the way things are now... I just REALLY want to know how he feels about me, and want him to know that I AM an option. But who would want to date a married girl?

I truly don't know what to do or how to go about this. Its all starting off on the wrong foot with the cheating.
Dangerous waters

Hello Artemis,
Yea - you're in dangerous waters - but suspect you don't need anyone to tell you that :)
The bad part of this is that often these situations are the ones all the horror stories are built from that discredit the whole concept of poly relationships. If he get's caught and she's a nasty type - it can get down right dangerous !
My thoughts are that you two have connected and there MAY be real potential. Kind of like a testing process. Test is basically over at this point.
If it were me - and this is just me - I'd have the discussion with him about "potential" but explain that currently the risks are simply not worth the rewards for all of you. You've tested the water with minimal damage so far. He needs to go back home and make some decisions for himself on what his real relationships is - and can be - at home. Until he has that sorted out, as hard as it probably will be, I'd keep my distance.
In living a lovestyle like this unfortunately we seem to run into situations that show "promise". Reality & practicality often overrule.

Oh I was so happy for you until you said he was cheating. Which means you are too. You are not only distroying his wifes life but yours, his and your husbands. Not to mention the future potential for trust and deep meaningful love for ALL of you. I don't care how mean he says she is. It takes two to create that.
Cheating is for me the most damaging thing anyone can do to another in a relationship. I personally think it is as worse as abuse. If you are involved in it you are damaging other people and therefore are not poly. You are abusing the situation and therefore those in it.

Poly is about love, respect, concern, meeting people where they are at and most of all integrity (emotionally and otherwise). This is my forumla for a good relationship.

I agree with
GS largely on this one. If I were you I would be telling him you won't see him until he stops decieving his wife and works out his business. When he does and if she is okay with it, which is highly unlikely concidering your beginnings with him, then you can meet her and him together and negotiate.

Really, having experienced what I have with cheaters I would find out before getting involved with anyone if their wife knows AND meet the wife first. I have been lied to in this respect and told they know when they don't. NEVER again. Personally I refuse to be involved in that again now that I have seen the damage it does.

I'm sorry this sounds harsh and might not be what you want to hear, but people are not all like you and able to get over cheating. Good for you for not being jealous, but have some empathy and remember how you felt. Then do the right thing.

There is lots on the forum about cheating. We have had some long discussions over the monthes. Have a look and read as it might be helpful.

Unfortunately, she DID fall in love with him, admitted while crying in the middle of dinner, and tried to convince him to leave his GF. Poor Moon was shocked and distraught. He had to cut ties.

...and this:

I am not entirely clear how much he cares about me (my husband thinks he loves me) Often when we get "too close" he will back away and disappear for a little while.

...and this:

I truly don't know what to do or how to go about this. Its all starting off on the wrong foot with the cheating.

..all make for an absolutely huge red flag! He clearly doesn't want any further relationships--he just wants to fuck around. He's cheating, he cuts off relationships where the woman falls in love, and he's unclear about his feelings for you--likely having no deep feelings--and that all indicates that he's a cad. I can see only future heartache for you.
I guess I did expect some dismayed responses to the fact that he is cheating on his girlfriend. I have no intentions of defending his actions here - or anywhere. There simply IS no defense for something like that. But I wound like to clarify and reiterate a few things about it.

First off, I already know it is wrong. I cannot deny it. It doesn't do anyone any good to pretend otherwise. Ugly truths are always preferable to pretty lies. How can I know this and still continue to participate? Well, I could explain how it fits within my ethics, but imagine it would come off here as justification and rationalization. I already risk sounding defensive as it is.

Also know that if he showed any effort or desire to work on his relationship with her, or become honest with her, or make any improvement on that end whatsoever, I wouldn't hesitate to step back and support that. Hell, if I even just suspected that if I stopped fooling around with him, he would no longer cheat, then I would stop. Not that having that stance makes me a good person by any means, or lessons my guilt in the situation. It's only worth mentioning to help identify the options.

Another point I don't think I was clear on: I am not interested in furthering my relationship with him if he continues to date her. I don't see how there is any hope of him being fully honest with her, or that their relationship could ever handle a polyamorous situation. Not to mention that we have been fooling around for well over a year, the chances of her ever being comfortable or trusting this are understandably impossible. In my eyes, their relationship is already so poisoned and dysfunctional that I would never attempt to join it as it is. But more than the low likelihood of success - I obviously don't respect or care for his girlfriend. Pretending to do so would be false.

Fucking around is fucking around, and to me at least, that's every different from building an emotional involvement/commitment. I simply will not progress an emotional involvement in the situation as it is now, nor if he wishes to stay with her and be honest.

Although it seems their relationship is doomed, I do not wish to pressure him to break it up. I'd much prefer to support his efforts in whatever direction they point. If they separate, it must be for their own reasons. I know I've been in a relationship before that I knew should end and stayed too long, but there are important things to learn and I understand you cannot leave until you are ready or are done with it on your own terms. He has to figure out for himself what is going to happen between him and his girlfriend, not just respond to some ultimatum or pressure from me.

GS, you gave great advice. It is true: I mostly wish to let him know of the "potential". As SeventhCrow pointed out this IS likely to end in heartache, and there are many signs pointing to him not being interested in more. But there are also other signs pointing the other direction which I didn't describe, and I do trust my husband's judgment of the situation. I am more pessimistic than my husband about it, though, and am more likely to focus on the points SeventhCrow highlighted.

Despite all that, I still feel that he should at least know about the potential and my feelings for him. If I told him, I would stay away until he figures out what he wants to do about it. Problem is, I don't know how to approach him about this without scaring him off, coming off as pushy, or how to avoid misunderstandings. I already know that the chances of moving this out of the realm of deceit into something that can be built in a healthy way is slim, almost impossible. But I don't think I could live with my choice if I didn't take the chance because I was too scared. Most importantly, I don't want any missteps or accidents made now to hinder that potential future, no matter how unlikely it is.
I can't imagine what it is you stay to learn about? Especially if you have done this before! I can only think that perhaps you stay because of the thrill of deception or the fact that it will never reach any depth. Maybe that is safe for you?

I like the idea of telling him the potential your relationship could have, or any relationship he could have for that matter. I think that would be a big gift to him and yourself for giving it. Then I would leave for good. I suspect the feeling you will have will far outweigh the feelings you have by staying.
oh, maybe I wasn't clear about what I meant when I said I knew I had stayed in a relationship that I knew wasn't good.

No, I have never been in a relationship like the one I have with him before. What I was meaning to refer to is that in my past, I have been in a monogamous relationship with someone (unrelated to this situation) well past the point where it was working. It was hard and unpleasant, and we probably should have broken up before we did. But I think people stay in them because they have lessons to learn, and you can't leave them until you are ready to leave on your own terms. I mentioned it because I can see why he stays, and why I don't wish to pressure him to leave, even if it would make them both happier.

No, I get no thrill of deception, nor do I consider this "safe". I much prefer depth, but am under no illusions that my relationship with him now has depth.
Long Overdue Update

So I took my sweet time considering what to say/do about the situation. I simply felt like I couldn't get enough information! (Or was just being a wuss). Instead, my husband had a talk with him without telling me. He figured something had to be said, and if I were only going to be rejected, he would find a way to dissuade me from bringing it up in the first place.

When I discovered this, I was unhappy with the idea of my husband doing something like that without my knowledge or discussing it. I understand that he had good intentions and was trying to help, but adding another layer of dishonesty/secrets to an already troubled situation is not the strategy I would have chosen.

What did Moon do with this information? Gave it serious thought, looked at his relationship, looked at us, and made a decision. Just as I had reached my limit of waiting and wondering, and was planning on saying something, Moon beats me to the punch. All in a rush I find out Moon has had the secret talk with husband, broken up with his girlfriend, does love me, and wants to date.

I must admit, the positive outcome took some of the sting off the discovery of my husband decision to make a move without my knowledge. It was overwhelming! The odds of something like this... I would never have predicted! The slim to impossible chance became real. I couldn't be happier!

That was almost a month ago and I'm still reeling and giddy. The reality and the freedom is greater than ever thought possible. We are still figuring out the details of how it will all play out, but so far everything is smooth and wonderful. Wow.