Theoretical vs reality

GroundedSpirit

New member
I (we) are wondering how various people - primary pairs (or more) feel about including others in their lives when that other person has their own primary relationship in which they don't/can't share that fact.
In general this is considered "cheating" - the "dirty little secret" people often refer to etc.
In theory we'd consider this bad behavior but we don't live in a theoretical world. In reality things are seldom so cut & dry.
By example, over the years we have had several long term relationships with others (M or F) in which their SO had no knowledge of us. It was a warm, loving & genuine relationship and we all benefited from it, as it supplied things that were desirable to all of us that weren't available otherwise. Although sex played some role in this, it was really as much about shared interests & passions about the world around us that was a big part of the bond.
We've always struggled with this from an ethical perspective but yet there's pieces of all of us that acknowledge that these connections were real and important and that in reality (as long as it stayed under the radar) it was highly beneficial to everyone. The 3rd party was happier & more fulfilled and therefore their home life was actually better that it was prior, when there was stress from lack of fulfillment etc.
So it's a bit of a conundrum.
We acknowledge the risk and dig pretty deep first to learn the reality of the other person's situation, but in the end we fall back to the belief that all people (individuals) should have freedom in how they live their lives and where they source their happiness and fulfillment from.
Have others here experienced such relationships and how does it sit with you ?

GS
 
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rolypoly

New member
I posted in the personal blog section a while ago that I was struggling with this dilemma. The guy I'm dating has also been seeing a guy long distance for the past year or so. When he and I hooked up, he didn't tell his guy about me.

I've never cheated on anyone, never lied about my activities outside a relationship, so it's hard for me to wrap my mind around dishonesty. But, as you say:

In reality things are seldom so cut & dry.

No kidding.

So, I'm stretching myself to consider all the variables. I don't think they had an exclusivity agreement with each other. This might sound silly, but my date's facebook status was "single". So, it's sort of out of the realm of outright "cheating" and in the grey area of deception, not telling the whole truth.

He's lived as a gay man for 20 years and I can just imagine him telling a monogamous gay man that he's been sleeping with for a year, "By the way, I met a woman that I like and we kissed". Especially when his ex, who he was poly with, freaked out when he liked a woman.

So, it really depends, I guess. He explained how he was trying to be compassionate and I understand how he sees it this way.

Years ago, I met a guy at a bar and we hooked up. After we'd made out, I looked and saw a picture of a woman. I said something about his sister and he confirmed that the woman in the picture was his girlfriend.

I panicked and then hummed and hawed for a couple hours before choosing to fool around with him. We never had sex. His "cheatin' heart" drew the line at sex.

The next morning, she phoned and phoned and phoned about every 5 minutes. Now, I'm not that naive and I realize that there's a huge possibility that he'd cheated on her before and possibly regularly. But, the way he expressed it, she was clingy and he couldn't handle it. He'd tried to break up with her, etc, etc.

I learned something from that experience. If someone's cheating, there's something wrong. Whether it's because they're poly at heart and don't have the language for it, whether it's because they feel stuck in an unhappy relationship... whatever.

If you are the cheatee, I don't believe that you are the cause, but a symptom of a problem that has nothing to do with you.


Another thing I'm wrapping my mind around. We all have different needs. Some people really would rather not know the truth. As long as in their world, the sun shines, their partner comes home at night and they eat dinner, then all is well. Why scratch deeper?

Personally, I'm not like that. I like to peer in dark corners and honesty is very important to me. So, I request honesty from those close to me and I'm honest in return.

Because this is my need does not make it everyone else's.

all people (individuals) should have freedom in how they live their lives and where they source their happiness and fulfillment from

I really like this. You are giving the power to others to choose for themselves. You are not withholding your affections based on a moralistic judgment. You are loving them, even though they're lying.

Phew, I have so much to learn.
 

MonoVCPHG

New member
I (we) are wondering how various people - primary pairs (or more) feel about including others in their lives when that other person has their own primary relationship in which they don't/can't share that fact.

GS

Affairs are affairs. I would find it very difficult for those who have participated in them (such as myself) and those that have been hurt by them (such as my ex wife) to think anyone could be be happy or healthy in this. No matter how trapped a person feels in a relationship there is always an option. If someone did engage a partner under these conditions I fail to see it being sustainable or rewarding. Affairs scar everyone in my opinion.
 
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CielDuMatin

New member
For me, I insist on talking to the other person's partner before I will invest any time into the relationship. For me it's about openness and honesty and I expect that of any person I am with.

I haven't been like that in the past, have been willing to "bend" on this type of issue and it has pretty universally ended in grief of some sort. I don't have time for that in my life.

Part of what I need in my relationships is trust. If they can't be completely honest with their partner, someone that they supposedly have a committed relationship with, then how can I expect them to be honest with me about issues vital to me like sexual history/STD testing and the like?

It may work well for others, I know, but I can't, or am not willing to do it.
 

Fidelia

New member
I (we) are wondering how various people - primary pairs (or more) feel about including others in their lives when that other person has their own primary relationship in which they don't/can't share that fact.

I respectfully submit that this thread doesn't belong on this website, as it does not relate to polyamory. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand polyamory to be loving relationships between multiple partners, based on open communication and love, concern and respect for all the people involved. At the bare mimimum I hope polyamory can be defined as multiple loving relationships between consenting adults. The arrangement described is not polyamorous, as it places such diminished value on open communication shows disrepect and lack of concern for the "other" person's primary. Applying even the minimum standard, this arrangement falls short, in that one of the adults concerned has no opportunity to consent or decline. IMO this type of arrangement direspects and degrades everyone it touches, but at least the cheaters are making informed choices. The other's primary is being treated like a mushroom, which is to say, s/he is kept in the dark and fed a load of shit.

I hope that one of our esteemed moderators will consider this point and remove this thread.

Until that time, let's go on:

In general this is considered "cheating" - the "dirty little secret" people often refer to etc.

Establishing agreements around which relationships grow, and then violating those agreements IS cheating, and cheating is wrong. Why? Because it's dishonest and unfair.

In theory we'd consider this bad behavior but we don't live in a theoretical world. In reality things are seldom so cut & dry.

I am so enormously, unimaginably, unutterably thankful that I do not live in your reality. Yes, there are many gray areas in life, but this is not one of them. I have chosen to make my "yes" yes and my "no" no. If I say I'll do a thing, I'll do it to the best of my ability. (Hey, that reminds me of something I need to finish . . .) My word really is my bond. Not that I'm infallible and never screw up, but I do my level best. I place high value on my personal integrity, and I require the same level of integrity from my chosen family. If my situation changes and I cannot do what I've agreed to, or am no longer willing to, it's time to revisit the agreement in question, to renegotiate or dissolve it. Not ignore it, or obfuscate it.

. . . but in the end we fall back to the belief that all people (individuals) should have freedom in how they live their lives and where they source their happiness and fulfillment from.

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. With all due respect, I don't think YOU do, because there is a contradiction between what you say and what you've done. You say all people should have freedom, but your past actions indicate that you think it's okay for some people to be treated like mushrooms.

Have others here experienced such relationships and how does it sit with you ?

I have experienced such relationships, in the role of the mushroom partner. Guess how much I liked the experience? :mad:

But I can honestly say it was a valuable experience for me, because it motivated me to seriously consider my own bottom-line values and resolve to never allow myself to be disrespected in that way again. And in the end I believe my shit-shovelling ex gained some valuable wisdom too. At the very least, he knows now why he ought not to have done that, certainly not to me.
 

River

Active member
I hope that one of our esteemed moderators will consider this point and remove this thread.

While you and I are in basic agreement, Fidelia, on the content of the thread, I don't think we should remove this thread at this time. I see a silver lining in letting this be discussed openly and respectfully. I hope my fellow moderators will agree. But I'm willing to reconsider this decision, as well -- and to discuss it.
 

River

Active member
Continued ...

On Censorship:

Censorship is sometimes warranted -- under specific conditions involving clear guildlines
-- within the pages of this website. I think more harm than good would come of censoring this thread, because it is perfectly possible to say all that has been said (and more) in defense of the values and traditions of polyamory under discussion here.

I'd appreciate hearing what other moderators think about my view.
 

MonoVCPHG

New member
I think this is a valid discussion because it is a situation that does come up on here and in reality. Historical threads on here discuss this very dynamic.
I personnaly do not see this type of situation as "poly" but, ironically, I have very lofty and idealistic views of what it should be even though I frundamentaly struggle with the concept on a continual basis.

I hope others weigh in on this .

Peace and Love
 

River

Active member
He's lived as a gay man for 20 years and I can just imagine him telling a monogamous gay man that he's been sleeping with for a year, "By the way, I met a woman that I like and we kissed". Especially when his ex, who he was poly with, freaked out when he liked a woman.

As a means of opening the topic, I recently asked my boyfriend / lifetime committed partner (we're both male), "Would you really freak out if I was dating a woman?".

Kevin & I already had established a polyamory agreement (we're both poly) years before, and Kevin knew I'm also attracted to women, but that was all rather "theoretical" up to the moment that I actually had a sort of date with a woman.

I mention this because it was frankly a little uncomfortable to be telling my bf I have a date with a woman! (This was the day before our lunch date. And I've had very damn few dates with guys during our 14 yrs, as well.)

This stuff is tricky! A man may unwarrantedly worry that, because he hasn't got a certain kind of "plumbing," he may not be "enough" for his male lover. A woman could worry in the same way. It's all the typical hetero- poly stuff layered with a lot of "stuff" about gender/sex! Not easy.

But honesty is honesty is honesty -- and polyamory is all about honesty.

And my man loves me. A lot. And I love him.

And I'm probably going to have date # 2 with this gal "J", tomorrow!
 

crisare

New member
Coupla thoughts .. and I'm going to quote a couple of people. IN the interests of full disclosure, my first relationship outside my marriage started as an affair. I did eventually tell my husband about it and my relationship with this person continued ... my husband and I separated for a while and then got back together. But ... ultimately, it was an affair. So that said:
If you are the cheatee, I don't believe that you are the cause, but a symptom of a problem that has nothing to do with you.
I cannot express how strongly I disagree with this. I was the cheater. My husband was the cheatee. The reason I cheated on him was that in 10 years of marriage, we had not had sex in the last 5 - not because I didn't want it, but because he didn't. He has different sexual drives than I do, different desires, and ultimately he rejected me over and over an over and over again until I quit asking. We went to marriage counseling. I begged him to see a doctor. Etc. Etc. Etc. Five years later a flirtation turned to more ... and I realized what I'd suppressed and been missing in my life. To say that the reason I cheated had "nothing to do with" the cheatee (my husband) is patently ludicrious. And I know that I'm not the only person - male or female - who has been in the same position. And whether it's sex, affection, romance, whatever .. to say that the "cheatee" has nothign to do with the problem is ... quite simply ignorant. It takes two ... cheating doesn't happen in a vacuum where there is one completely evil wrong person and one innocent blameless victim.

I'm not saying cheating is right. I'm not saying what I did was right. But the "cheatee" was not innocent or blameless either.

From the OP:
in reality (as long as it stayed under the radar) it was highly beneficial to everyone.
That's completely and totally justification. How is it beneficial to everyone to hide and lie and cheat someone you love? And I say that as someone who did all the above for what I thought was a valid reason - it was beneficial, my husband is happy being married to me, I can get what I want elsewhere and stay with him. I'm happy with him other than sex. No one has to be hurt. Etc. I totally told myself that it was "highly beneficial to everyone" involved. That's a lie you tell yourself to justify lying and cheating to someone else.

Period, the end.

I realise that my stance is probably not the popular one here, but it's very much how I feel .. having been there myself.

Does it happen? Sure. Would I do it again? I honestly don't think so. The fallout from the finding out (on all sides) was devastating. It destroyed relationships. It destroyed trust. It was the worst thing that has ever happened in my life. I accept full responsiblity for my role and actions in it as well.

Justification is exactly that ... and if you're honest with yourself you'll admit that the truth is that it's only "beneficial" in the sense that you/your partners are "getting away" with something.
 

crisare

New member
Oh also as far as removing this thread becuase it's not "about poly"? I disagree.

Many people learn about poly because of an affair (I did). Many people think having an affair *is* poly. Discussing this here IS entirely 100% appropriate to this forum, IMO.
 

rolypoly

New member
crisare, by the term "cheatee", I meant the person who's cheating with, not the person who's being cheated on....

In other words, if you're faced with the choice to sleep with someone, knowing that they are cheating on someone else, whether or not you do it is a choice you make for yourself. Because if the person is going to cheat, whether or not you do it isn't going to erase the reason they're wanting to cheat.
 

crisare

New member
crisare, by the term "cheatee", I meant the person who's cheating with, not the person who's being cheated on....
Ah ... gotcha. I've never heard the word used in that sense. I've always heard cheater (the person doing the cheating) and cheatee (the victim of the cheating).

In other words, if you're faced with the choice to sleep with someone, knowing that they are cheating on someone else, whether or not you do it is a choice you make for yourself. Because if the person is going to cheat, whether or not you do it isn't going to erase the reason they're wanting to cheat.
Hm. I'm not *entirely* sure I agree with this. I would not have cheated on my husband if the person I had the affair with didn't encourage our relationship to continue and become a party to my lies. He was complicit - he called me when I told him he could, sent me things to my office, not my house .. etc. Was he involved in the problems in my marriage? No. But I wouldn't have cheated (with him) if he hadn't made himself available and been very clear that he didn't care that I was married and that we were going to lie to my spouse.

Now, would I have cheated with someone else later .. I honestly don't know. I know that there's every possibility that my husband and I would be divorced right now ... because it was cheating that led me to realizing I could love two people at once, an therefore led me to learning about poly. It was cheating that made me realize that there *could* be an ethical way to be with my husband and led me to open a discussion with him on the subject - as well as to ask him back into our home to try to work this out. If it wasn't for that, I probably would have left him and pursued another monogamous relationship.
 

ladyjools

New member
Ok first i want to say that i think this thread is very apropriate and useful for this forum, i know that some people will find it offensive and we will all have strong opinions on this matter but it is def useful to learn from each other and see diffrent points of view!

I have been in the situation where I fell in love with a man who was already as good as married. I did not plan for this to happen and i was young and far to nieve about love. I am very aware what i did was wrong. I would not ever put myself in this position again EVER. BUT

I do not regret it.

The situation was not black and white. He was in a relationship that had no affection, physical, emtional, sexual. I would say infact that he was being constantly verbally abused and so worn down by this that he didn't believe he could leave,

then we became friends and gradually fell in love. What we should have done was build up that friendship and not given in to the physical need for at first touch. Even though myself and montianboy are poly he was not and so i would not consider the relationship i had with him to be a polyamorous one it was simply an affair. I am glad that i had the strength to end that affair and take a big step back so that he could resolve his current relationship. We broke up for 18 months.

Now that he is single, we have spent the past 6 months just talking, working things out between me and him, him and montianboy and very gradually healing the wounds that where caused in the affair.

I will never have an affair again, i am not a mistress nor do i enjoy being one but i was an experience that i learned a great deal about myself from and i met someone that i truelly loved, and still love. I belive it happened for a reason and though i wouldn't let it happen again the same way i feel like i came out of that experience stronger, more positive and with better values.

Jools
 

rolypoly

New member
Hm. I'm not *entirely* sure I agree with this. I would not have cheated on my husband if the person I had the affair with didn't encourage our relationship to continue and become a party to my lies.

I hear you on this. I guess I was coming from a place of knowing that I would never go so far as to encourage an affair. And from the assumption that as a cheatee, (a person that's being cheated with), I discovered afterwards about the other person.

I am still processing everything I'm reading here. I am enjoying reading this thread, (and definitely feel that it's valuable on this board, though I definitely understand why Fidelia feels it's not relevant to poly).

All of this brings up the question: If I am open to stretching parts of myself, where does it stop being healthy, good-for-me growth and simply being untrue to myself? That's what I'm mulling over and don't have much else to contribute than that.
 

nikkiana

New member
I wanted to add that I think this thread does have merit and should remain on this site. I think the vast majority of people on this forum would agree that cheating is a bad idea and it's very strongly not advisable to get involved with people who are cheating on others.... However, I think that it's extremely unwise to forbid the discussion of situations that have involved cheating.

Like it or not, there are a lot of people who have discovered that they were poly because of an affair, and realized that while their behavior was wrong and then made right of the situation. Should we be discounting their experience that brought them where they are today? I don't think so.

There are also a lot of people out there that have ended up in situations where they've been involved with someone else who happens to be cheating... whether it be because they didn't have the foresight to ask about the person's other relationships, or because the person didn't end up being honest with their first partner, or whatever. That's a hard situation to find yourself in and break yourself away from.

People make mistakes. People learn from mistakes, both from their own and the mistakes of others. It's extremely unwise to pretend that mistakes don't happen and suggest that discussing them has no place in the community.
 

crisare

New member
Like it or not, there are a lot of people who have discovered that they were poly because of an affair, and realized that while their behavior was wrong and then made right of the situation. Should we be discounting their experience that brought them where they are today? I don't think so.
[...]
People make mistakes. People learn from mistakes, both from their own and the mistakes of others. It's extremely unwise to pretend that mistakes don't happen and suggest that discussing them has no place in the community.
Thank you nikkiana - very well said. :)
 
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