“I’m Married, But I’m Heartbroken Over My MIA Boyfriend”

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I’m not in a typical relationship. My husband and I are polyamorous and have an open marriage. My question is about my “boyfriend,” not my husband. I was seeing my boyfriend for 8 months, we broke up for a year, and we recently reestablished our relationship. I usually only get to see him once a week, and for the past seven weeks he has been in a bit of a funk dealing with some legal and family issues and has not wanted to see me at all.

I am understanding, but the fact that he doesn’t even say hello every once in a while really bothers me. He tells me everything is fine with us and that he’s just in a funk. I’m madly in love with him and I’m so depressed over him not communicating with me, and there’s no end to this separation in sight.

I have stopped seeing other people (with the exception of my husband) because we were getting serious. I’m miserable without him, but he doesn’t seem to care about my feelings and I don’t want to seem selfish and tell him how upset I am cause I don’t want to add more stress to his life. I don’t know if I should set a time limit to all this or what. He says by the end of the month things may be better with his legal issues, so maybe I should give him till then? I would wait forever if I knew he was really coming back to me but I don’t know for sure and, like I said, I’m in an open marriage and could be seeing other people though I’ve chosen to wait for him. And I’m miserable in the meantime. — Miserable Polly

Yes, you should set a time limit to waiting around for your boyfriend and that time limit should be, like, when he started ignoring you because if that’s not a sign he’s frying bigger fish, so to speak, then I don’t know what is.

You mention that YOU are polyamorous and are in an open marriage, but what’s your boyfriend’s situation? Is he also married? Does he have other girlfriends/ significant others? Something tells me that you are not the number one person in his life and that his attention is not only being pulled elsewhere, but he also has put a relationship with you on “hold” until he figures out where things stand with the other party/parties in his life.

Your relationship situation may not be typical, but your feelings of rejection are, so I will tell you what I would tell anyone whose boyfriend or, if you prefer, “boyfriend” has disappeared for seven weeks after one breakup already (after only 8 months) and who can only see her once a week anyway and who can’t even be bothered to say “hello” during his disappearance: MOA.

If this guy wanted to be with you, he’d be with you. Regardless of what his issues are or what stresses/ bigger fish he’s frying, he’d make you enough of a priority to see you once a week or, at the very least, CALL you every once in a while. The fact that he doesn’t, means he doesn’t really care all that much. I know that hurts, but the faster you accept this as truth, the faster your heart can heal and you can move on.

But enough about him. Let’s talk about your husband. How does HE feel about your obsession with your boyfriend? I get that your relationship isn’t typical, but I would imagine that even in an open marriage a spouse excepts to be prioritized over supplemental relationships. I’d caution you to make sure you’re prioritizing your husband and not taking him for granted.

As for seeing other people, I certainly wouldn’t let this MIA “boyfriend” stop you from pursuing other relationships. I mean, if you’re not going to let your husband stop you from having boyfriends, you probably shouldn’t let anyone else stop you either.


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  1. Your boyfriend sounds like an inconsiderate douchenozzle. You have a supportive husband who can help you cope with the breakup. Break up with your boyfriend (who doesn’t sound worth the energy) and either get back out there or circle back with your husband and be sad about your breakup for a while.

  2. i get that some people are into polyamorous relationships….what i don’t get is: 1) why would you get married? isn’t marriage by definition devoting yourself to one person? and; 2) is it really a relationship? isn’t it just two people sleeping together who know that the other person is sleeping with other people?…but besides that LW the boyfriend is doing a fade out, if a man wants to be with you he will be with you and nothing will stop him….he is handing you a line of bull right now, maybe to safe your feelings, maybe because he is a coward….either way you should probably move on because its sounds to me like he already has (sorry i know it hurts)

    1. Avatar photo theattack says:

      A relationship is whatever the people in it agree on. Obviously it’s a relationship. If there’s love and commitment, and if the two people want to be romantically involved in a relationship, it’s not just two people sleeping together. Super judgmental question to ask. Same goes for marriage. Marriage can mean devotion and commitment without it meaning monogamy.

    2. kerrycontrary says:

      I think that polyamorous is more than just people sleeping together. So I think it is definitely a relationship. This woman probably lives with her husband but goes on dates or spends nights with her boyfriend just as a normal person would do in a relationship. Some polyamorous couples may bring another person in their household to live. And they probably got married because they are committed to each other and they both agree on this lifestyle.

    3. i have been reading dan savage’s book, and no, marriage is not necessarily devoting yourself to one person. marriage, in our country, legally speaking, is attaching yourself to one person. religiously/spiritually speaking, that depends on the religion and/or the person. but, as dan savage says (and his book is great and im only on the first chapter! highly recommend it so far), marriage is primarily a social thing. a marriage is you partnering up socially with one other person- the person you attend parties with, raise children with, live with (usually), ect. that is different from being with someone sexually. sexual lives and social lives are and can be different things, and they have for centuries- its only recently that we have merged the two, actually.

      so why would poly people marry? because they want to choose one person as their social partner. usually, it is their primary relationship, and others are, like wendy said, supplemental. it is a separation of social partnering and sexual partnering. i think its super interesting

      1. you make me want to get that book 🙂

      2. Avatar photo findingtheearth says:

        I love Dan Savage.

    4. If you really want to get technical, marriage is a legal contract. Marriages and relationships are what people decide them to be.

    5. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Yeahhhhh let’s not judge how others define their relationships. It’s not cool.

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        but judging other people’s relationships is one of my favorite pasttimes! i’m only partially kidding.

    6. lets_be_honest says:

      In cdobbs defense, s/he (?) didn’t sound judgmental AT ALL. S/he literally said “what I don’t get is”…that’s ok people. For someone with little to no understanding of polyamorous relationships, its not surprising they don’t get it.

      1. kerrycontrary says:

        That’s true…a lot of people just aren’t exposed to/aware of it. And it’s only been in the past 5-10 yrs that a lot of couples have been more open about their “unconventional” relationship styles.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        Remember someone wrote an essay on here once about it? That was pretty much my first exposure to it. I asked a million questions, because I wanted to understand it and found it fascinating, not because I was judging people.

      3. i do remember that, and all your questions were much kinder then “isn’t it just two people sleeping together who know that the other person is sleeping with other people?”

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        Thanks katie. I sorta have a similar question though, which I’ll try to word better:

        I’ve always thought that with a poly marriage, your spouse is the primary partner. It was surprising to read “madly in love, depressed, I’ll wait for him, stopped seeing other people…” I’m sure all these relationships are different, but this LW just sounded so, idk, like the boyfriend is The One.

      5. Your spouse doesn’t have to be a primary partner. Sometimes there’s no primary partner, sometimes you’re in a triad or quad (3- or 4-person relationship), and I suppose a non-spouse could be primary.

      6. 6napkinburger says:

        But then why marry the spouse?

        I get the point about marriage picking a social partner, not necessarily an exclusive sexual partner. I do. But in this day and age, where no one here are kings and queens negotiating affairs of state through marriages and alliances and social gatherings, while having the person they “love” be their priority in love, but their spouse their partner in society — why marry the spouse if they are not the person you want to spend most of your time with/live with? And why wouldn’t that person be your primary? What does primary mean, if not that?

        If the point is that you can (truly) love more than one person, and the primary is who you love the most, why be married to someone else? Unless primary means the one you like boffing the most, which then I’d understand if that wasn’t your spouse. Sort of. But then doesn’t that devalue the “polyamory” part and make it just a good ole fashioned open marriage where you like sleeping with someone else more than your spouse, but you love your spouse more?

      7. Avatar photo Imsostartled says:

        What if you couldn’t legally marry your primary partner. There are a lot of polyamorous people who have partners of both sexes. Until recently (in some states) you couldn’t marry your same sex partner. So like Christy said you might want to marry your opposite sex partner for benefits or because you want to raise children with them etc. etc.

      8. 6napkinburger says:

        The only reason I “care” is that I can see it being a recipe for disaster if everyone is not on the same page (unlike the example you gave, where they WERE on the same page). If it’s a marriage for other reasons (visa, health insurance, etc.) ok. But I think most poly people say that their relationships are legitimate, same-as-everyone-else love/affection/endearment relationships and that they just do not limit themselves to having that type of relationship with one person like non-polys do. Which I get. And I get wanting a partner even while you don’t limit yourself to only loving/fucking/spending time with that partner for ever and ever. I just don’t get loving the other people more than the partner. Especially if that partner loves YOU more than any one else. That just sounds horrendous.

        But I don’t really care, and if people can make it work, then awesome. It just doesn’t seem like it IS working for the LW.

      9. I don’t personally know, I’m not poly. And honestly that’s the point. Who cares? It’s not your relationship. (That’s a general statement, not just directed to you.)

        But to answer your question… I don’t actually know of anyone who has a primary partner who isn’t their spouse. I do know someone who was married to a man who had another live-in partner. I don’t think either of them was his primary partner, but I do know that the wife had health insurance through her job, and the other two didn’t. So why NOT marry for insurance? Or, say they got married, and like having their lives intertwine, but they each fall in love with other people. Why not just stay married? If it’s working, why mess with it?

        Honestly, I don’t know, I just read about this stuff on the internet. I’m mostly conjecturing and linking to other articles.

        Here’s an article about what one woman considers a primary partner:

      10. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I think asking if someone’s relationship can actually qualify as a relationship is pretty judgmental.

      11. lets_be_honest says:

        That’s not what cdobbs asked. Cdobbs has one understanding of a marriage and asked how this works. That’s really not judgmental.

      12. Avatar photo theattack says:

        “is it really a relationship? isn’t it just two people sleeping together who know that the other person is sleeping with other people?…”

      13. lets_be_honest says:

        That’s not judgmental. If your only exposure to relationships is a conventional marriage, of course you will be confused and think that. I just don’t see the harm in asking to educate yourself.

      14. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Yeah, you and I read this question very differently. You seem to think it’s a genuine question, and I think it’s just a judgmental commentary on poly folks.

        Imagine someone wrote that about same sex couples: “Is that really a relationship? Isn’t it just two people of the same sex sleeping together?”

      15. lets_be_honest says:

        Maybe I’m in a benefit of the doubt mood, which is odd since I don’t think I ever am, haha.

      16. when something seems generally strange/unusual, it can come off as super judgy when you ask about it. My “thing I struggle to “get” is transmen who choose to give birth and breastfeed. Especially when thy are gay transmen in a gay relationship, and got pregnant the old fashioned way. My initial reaction is “wtf this is just a pair of everyday breeders who don’t conform to mainstream expectations of gender roles/norms; what’s with all the faux trans/homo posturing?” That sounds super judgy, even though I don’t mean it that way. I just genuinely don’t get it, like I don’t get calculus. I get it more now, after lots of thinking and processing with some awesome trans friends who were totally down with helping me explore my own prejudices and work through them. It would have been easy to say “fuck you, you don’t need to get it, just accept and respect it!” and that would be totally valid as well, but working through it and figuring out why I had that reaction (um, tl;dr version is duh of course I don’t get it; I’m not trans!) helped me become a better ally and believe in my advocacy more.

      17. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        ok, i guess she did question “is it really a relationship” – but meh see i’d rather someone ask “well what is a definition of a ‘relationship’ to you? I think ‘relationship’ means….” and then BAM we get into an interesting discussion. But putting a kibosh on the question because of a perceived tone or taking it to “fight” level gets us no where, if that makes sense.

        but whatever, i’m slammed today, so fight away!

      18. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I’m not fighting. Just saying it definitely is judgmental to ask that. Maybe cdobbs meant it as a way to start a genuine discussion about it, but that’s not what she/he(?) said.

      19. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        ok so it’s judgmental. she has preconceived notion about what marriage and “relationship” means. i just feel calling someone “judgmental” doesn’t help them open their eyes to, in this case, other ideas of what marriage and “relationship” mean. and if you can’t talk freely here wehre can you, you know? i mean, i’m not saying the question was the best question i’ve ever heard or anything. this would have been a fun issue to talk about it. and the thing is even if someone is going south with their questions, it’s easy to sort of point the tone of the convo in the right direction by turning the tone around.

        but really i don’t care. i have SO MUCH WORK TO DO it’s not funny.

      20. I’m with you on that. Calling someone judgmental is the easiest, quickest way to get them defensive and worked up. This letter and the questions it brings seem like great opportunities to educate and inform people of other lifestyles they might not be familiar with and might be genuinely interested in, but labeling them as judgmental might make them check out, and lose that chance for growth/increases awareness.

      21. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        re-reading my post i’m not sure if i made any sense, ha.

        anyway, i can see a lot of reasons why people would want to get married, with wanting to devote yourself to one person being just one reasons. other reasons include:
        – green cards
        – spouse benefits – and there are a SHIT TON, i don’t even know where to begin with all the laws that prioritize legal spouses
        – they’re rich and you can inherit from them

        so there you go, there’s a substantive answer for cdobbs, besides “stop being judgy”.

      22. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        ^ so that’s call ignoring the judgy tone and just jumping into the issues, i turned the judgy tone around! go me.

      23. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        i mean the ALLEGEDLY judgy tone.

      24. Avatar photo theattack says:

        You’re right, AP, if the goal is simply to just gently educate someone. But I think it’s also useful for someone to know if what they comes across as rude or insensitive or judgmental or whatever. I know I don’t want to walk around saying something that hurts someone else, and I would rather someone call me out on it. And it still CAN be talked about. It’s not like pointing out that something is judgmental shuts down the entire conversation. Everyone who said it was judgmental also offered some actual dialogue about it.

      25. lets_be_honest says:

        Saying you sound like a judgmental jerk does usually shut down any convo. You can “call someone out” without being all insulted and dickish about it.

      26. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I didn’t think I was insulted or dickish. I also didn’t call cdobbs a jerk (content of the comment vs. character here). Plus she/he (still don’t know which) still responded below so clearly it didn’t shut it down completely.

      27. i’m a she

      28. lets_be_honest says:

        good to know, cdobbs.

        ta, Just seemed like everyone was OMG how dare you ask a question that wasn’t all sweet and prefaced with ‘no judgment, but i have to ask…’ Its just a question. I think Julesoola put it best, below.

      29. Julesoola says:

        Everyone’s so concerned with being PC and non-judgemental these days that nobody has interesting, thoughtful, honest conversations anymore. People have a right to judge and use judgement and have opinions, EVERYONE, not just people living on the fringe as outliers. She didn’t call anyone a bad person, she’s not saying people should only follow what she finds acceptable and do X,Y, and Z. She judged that this situation does not and would not feel like a relationship to her. If people can define their relationship to be whatever they want, people can equally define what a relationship wouldn’t be, for themselves.

        Not being offended or judged sometimes is not a right, that’s what happens in the real world. “Live and judge, but let live.”

      30. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Everyone absolutely has a right to judge something as wrong for themselves, and really they can judge others too. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a social consequence for doing it. People are offended and judged in the real world, yes, (isn’t this all the real world, Julesoola?), but people are also called out on their BS.

      31. i disagree.

        interesting, thoughtful, honest conversations can only happen, in my opinion, if the people having the conversation are non-judgemental. the two go hand in hand.

      32. Julesoola says:

        My point is that it’s hard for people to have honest conversations if they’re so overly concerned with coming across as judgemental (which for whatever reason has only negative connotations these days) for even just asking questions, that nobody says what’s really on their minds. This girl asked a perfectly reasonable question about what is admittedly and unusual situation and now she’s made to feel like a bad person for it. Interesting though that nobody’s jumping on the person calling the boyfriend who nobody knows an “inconsiderate douchenozzle” as being judgemental.

        I judge people, places, things, situations. Do I treat people badly while I’m judging? Nope. But I make judgements on just about everything that comes in my path every single day.

      33. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Well, yes, we are all technically judging all through our waking hours. The difference, and what makes an honest, thoughtful, interesting conversation, is whether or not people are respectful while doing it. Judgment itself isn’t bad so maybe that’s the wrong word for us to be using.

      34. lets_be_honest says:


      35. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        I’m over everyone telling me what I can and cannot judge. I’m judging everyone’s judgment about cdobbs judgmental comment. Let a player play.

      36. And I’m judging your judgment of our judgment of her judgment. 😉

        (Ugh, that word stopped looking like a word to me.)

      37. This reminds me of the whole debate about … uhhh … something? Where we discussed whether expressing an opinion about a lifestyle choice is a statement of what’s wrong for you personally or wrong for others. Anyway, I do think there’s a difference between saying you don’t define a relationship that way and saying that if you were IN that situation, it wouldn’t feel like YOU were in a relationship. Even if it’s your personal opinion, the former is still about relationships in general. It’s like people who say marriage is just between a man and a woman. That doesn’t mean that they are just saying they don’t want to marry someone of the same-sex, they’re trying to say that the shared institution of marriage is defined that way. Thus, they try to create laws about it.

        Anyway, everyone has a right to judge things, but they don’t have a right to judge things without getting feedback about it.

      38. Julesoola says:

        But I don’t understand the feedback “that’s judgemental”. That’s not feedback, that’s not a counter arguement, that’s just “you said something that may be offensive to someone because you’re not automatically accepting a situation that falls outside ‘the norm’ so I’m going to make you feel bad about it”.

      39. Multiple people, including me, have given feedback on why what she said could be perceived offensive.

      40. This is a jumbled mess at this point organizationally speaking, but I’m responding to Julesoola to be clear- I totally agree with her! I think being “judgmental” gets a bad rap. What’s so horrible about using your judgment and applying your negative opinion to things? I dunno, I love DW but sometimes it’s so PC that I think genuine conversation is halted. Especially between all the regulars that are more real friends than anonymous internet voices. Which is cool, except I think there’s a lot of value in having really candid, honest discussions where people’s judgment can come out freely and be debunked/dissected. I love harsh honesty on the web. And sometimes when I see people on DW complaining about “politeness” I wonder if they’ve ever been to any other comments section of any other web site, because this is literally the most cordial site I have ever seen.

      41. lets_be_honest says:

        I agree with you and Julesoola. I like being nice to each other, trust me, but I think we’re capable of being nice and brutally honest at the same time.

      42. i guess it depends on what you deem appropriate judgement.

        if someone says that being gay is a sin, that gay people are unnatural, they are going to hell, ect- i will not stand for that type of judgement. to me that crosses a line from honest judgement to assholery. and i personally dont care if those people actually believe whatever they are saying- its wrong. so then the same goes for asshole judgement of relationships, lifestyles, ect.

      43. Julesoola says:

        I whole heartedly agree and would be quick to counter such statements (though most likely I’d assume such a thing would be a waste of time and breath, idk). I’m just over the default “judgmental” argument as a whole. I just want to see people having actual debates with points and not dismissing points of view automatically as judgemenal or fighting about semantics “well you should have said it THIS way…” type of stuff. It goes nowhere, means nothing, and detracts from the real meat of the conversation. Somebody disagreeing with you or even your lifestyle shouldn’t automatically be offensive without further actual discussion.

      44. actually I don’t care if they do believe that or judge that way, I care if they legislate that way or educate that way. To me those are way bigger issues.

      45. Avatar photo theattack says:

        “And sometimes when I see people on DW complaining about “politeness” I wonder if they’ve ever been to any other comments section of any other web site, because this is literally the most cordial site I have ever seen.”

        That’s why I’m on DW and not other sites. If we stop being respectful and kind to each other, I won’t/can’t stay here. There’s a way to have genuine conversations without being disrespectful. “Judgmental” might not have been the best word to use.

      46. I agree. I don’t think that we have a problem with being candid here, though. Maybe it’s PC, but I think the debate that unfolded is more of proof that we can be honest and talk through things, rather than a sign that we can’t.

        It’s def a lot better than other sites, but I don’t really consider that rudeness so much as people just being hateful. I’m one of those people who wants to be as “polite” or respectful online as I would be in person. I know some people aren’t into that or don’t think it’s necessary, but I definitely get turned off if people are bitchier than they would be if they were standing right in front of me.

      47. “I think there’s a lot of value in having really candid, honest discussions where people’s judgment can come out freely and be debunked/dissected.”

        I think that DOES happen here, though. Everyone is just polite & articulate about it. I feel like that’s ~more~ conducive to debates. And we’ve all definitely argued before. We aren’t against that here…the only comments that get pushed back upon are ones that are expressed rudely. (And also what TA said, that’s why I like DW & come here so often.)

      48. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        “I think there’s a lot of value in having really candid, honest discussions where people’s judgment can come out freely and be debunked/dissected.” “when I see people on DW complaining about “politeness” I wonder if they’ve ever been to any other comments section of any other web site”

        Just for the record, you can have a candid, honest, open and POLITE discussion where people from oppsoing views freely discuss things. There isn’t ever a need to be rude, condemnatory, or self-righteous.

      49. Oh no doubt, I’m not saying that politeness and honesty are mutually exclusive, and a lot of commenters here do a good job with both. But I do think that constantly picking at how people should “word things better” or whatever, because they sound “judgmental” is missing the point of a good discussion. Some people aren’t very articulate in writing even if their point is a smart one… or they sound extra judgmental because they didn’t bother to hedge with “this is how I feel about me for myself etc. etc.”. I’d rather people just blurt out just what they’re thinking than beat around trying to sound P.C. I find it more interesting and honest than people tiptoeing around each other, especially in an anonymous format where people should feel especially free to be honest.

      50. lets_be_honest says:

        Also, getting chastised for asking questions about something you don’t understand really helps no one. Not that its your job to answer others’ questions, but if you don’t want to answer, then just don’t. Cdobbs getting chewed out for asking questions probably will only result in her NEVER understanding it and never asking a question again, which leaves everyone in the same boat.

      51. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Nope, I’m totally cool with calling someone out when they’re being judgmental or rude. It hopefully will help someone learn some sensitivity if nothing else. Plus most of the people responding to her still answered her question.

      52. lets_be_honest says:

        Haha, well I’m cool with calling someone out for being rude too, but as you said, we’re reading her question very differently.

      53. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        i encourage asking questions about something you don’t understand! sure, you might look like an idiot but that’s an opportunity to respond with the answer and help out an idiot! that should be my cause – TAKE TIME TO HELP OUT AN IDIOT!

      54. Skyblossom says:

        Just an observation @theattack

        Isn’t judging cdobbs comment also judgemental? Just like complaining about BGM’s comments. You make judgements all the time and think it’s fine unless you don’t agree with the judgement. Just curious, really, why you think it is okay for you to make judgements but not for others to do the same or do you not see yours as judgements? I’m not trying to start a fight or argument, just really finding it odd.

      55. No? I mean, it depends on how you’re defining the word “judgmental” – and theattack even said she probably should have chosen a different word since everyone seems so stuck on it. But cdobbs made a statement/question that passed judgment on a person’s lifestyle (not just saying, “I personally wouldn’t do this” or “I disagree with this because…” but instead essentially denied that it’s a legitimate loving relationship, reducing it to sex) and theattack responded by saying, “I think that was a rude/offensive/judgmental thing to say and here’s why.”

      56. Avatar photo theattack says:


      57. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Yeah, judgment wasn’t the right word. Judgments are fine. Being rude or dismissive or unkind isn’t fine. When I judge BGM’s comments it’s because they’re rude, unkind, and disrespectful, which is the same reason I judged this comment. I’m not saying that no one should have an opinion about anything. If I’m ever rude, unkind, or disrespectful, everyone should judge me for it, and I hope someone points it out to me.

        So I take back the comment about being judgmental. What I really mean is being judgmental and then either 1) pushing that on other people (a la “You can’t get gay married because I don’t want to get gay married.”), or 2) being rude, unkind, or disrespectful to others based on it.

      58. Skyblossom says:

        Thanks for answering!

      59. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Yeah I don’t really get them either. I don’t get the desire to have one, I don’t get the ability to make two separate relationships work at once. I have a job y’all. I can barely maintain a relationship as it is. I have hobbies too. If you have two relationships something would have to be given up – and I just can’t really give up any of my activities. So I don’t really get them either. To each their own for sure – but the concept is mind boggling to me. I can only impress one person at a time, and even then I often do a shitty job.

      60. Liquid Luck says:

        Eh, I was offended by her second point (“isn’t it just two people sleeping together who know that the other person is sleeping with other people?”). Sorry, but it DOES come across as judgy to reduce a marriage to being mostly about sex, and to imply that if you aren’t sexually monogamous then you can’t have built a more solid foundation of love, trust, and all those other good things monogamous people are capable of . I don’t think she meant it to come across that way, but wording it differently would go a long way in actually facilitating a discussion.

      61. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Right? Because everyone knows that marriage is mostly about NOT getting laid ammiright? Boom.

      62. lets_be_honest says:

        Hey, that’s fine too. I’m not going to tell people what they are allowed to be offended by, haha. I guess I just read it as an actual question by someone who doesn’t understand poly relationships.

      63. exactly. there is nothing wrong with asking questions, leading discussions, figuring out other people and their viewpoints, ect- but just opening with that (“isn’t it just two people sleeping together who know that the other person is sleeping with other people?”) doesnt lead to any of those things, at least not in a positive way

      64. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, still I’m not seeing that as rude. That’s her understanding of poly relationships. That’s probably a lot of people’s understanding of it. Oh well, agree to disagree.

      65. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        I think the rudeness is in the “just.”
        Isn’t it two people sleeping together who know that the other person is sleeping with other people?
        Isn’t it JUST two people sleeping together who know that the other person is sleeping with other people?
        can be read very differently.

      66. lets_be_honest says:

        That’s pretty funny-Peter says he can tell when I’m annoyed because I won’t finish a sentence without the word just in it. Good point!

      67. The reason it rubbed me the wrong way was that it seemed to me like cdobbs was not only minimizing their relationship (“just” sleeping together), but also implying that poly people shouldn’t get married. It’s true, some people have very limited views of what a marriage “should” be – but it’s not like open relationships/marriages are anything new. And with all the gay marriage stuff going on, I think people are more touchy about other people trying to strictly define marriage as having to be just ONE WAY.

      68. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        ok that makes sense and is much more helpful than “don’t be judgmental.” so WCMS.

      69. Avatar photo Imsostartled says:


        That’s how I was feeling too! Thanks for wording it well and I’m glad I read your post before jumping on the “WTF that was offensive” train because I don’t think I would have been so calm and collected.

      70. omg I got *2* WCMSs? And one from Miss AFP herself?! This is the best day of my life.

      71. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I love Cats. She’s my favorite!

      72. I’m dying.

      73. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        My favorite in the whole world!…

      74. AND I’m dead.

      75. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Exactly. It’s all in how it’s said. (And we all know I’m known to stick my foot in my mouth!)

        “is it really a relationship?” Is judging the validity of their relationship, and I’m not cool with that. I might not be able to wrap my head fully around the complexities of a polyamorous relationship, but if people want to engage in them, that’s awesome for them!

      76. I just took them as sort of rhetorical questions/making a point. I obviously could be wrong, but that’s what the phrasing sounded like to me. I guess I assumed that if someone really wanted to learn more, they’d google it? It just also seemed kind of out of place, like if a woman wrote in asking about a parenting problem with her wife and someone responded by asking “Isn’t a child supposed to have a male role model? How do they understand that they have two moms?” Which I’d consider offensive.

      77. Liquid Luck says:

        I agree with this. I have no problem with people who are genuinely curious asking questions (and I’m not an expert, but I do have some experience with poly relationships so I answer what i can), but there are definitely good and bad ways to phrase such questions. I don’t think cdobbs is a judgmental person, but I do think the way she asked was judgy. It’s like when someone asks a dumb question, I think the question can be called stupid without also saying that the person is an idiot.

      78. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        OK that’s a good point.

      79. Yeah I admit when I read this:

        “I have stopped seeing other people (with the exception of my husband) because we were getting serious.”

        my eyes rolled into the back of my head from shear judgment and lack of comprehension. I’m working on being more understanding of polyamory, but it’s really difficult to relate to.

      80. I would get judgy about that phrasing even if it was standard mono dating I admit.

    7. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      also coming to cdobbs defense, the question clearly reflects her view of marriage, which is that people marry – I guess to be exclusive? so the response to that should be someone giving cdobbs other reasons why someone might marry but still pursue other relationships. i didn’t read a judgy tone in the question.

      1. i was not trying to be judgemental at all….i don’t care what two consenting adults do, that is between them….sorry if it sounded like i was judging the LW….i know she is hurting about her boyfriend….i mostly wanted to comment on his behaviour and that she should MOA…..i guess i was more trying to come from a place of “I don’t understand going through a marriage to someone if you aren’t going to be totally devoted to that person”….i mean what if you end up falling in love with someone else? (which it sounds to me like has happended with the LW)….it would be an even worse situation if they had kids…..i think i have come across a number of times as judgemental to people on here….that is not my intention at all….i’m just making comments on the situation as i see them or questioning what is going on….but really if you knew me in person, i am a very flawed human being and the last thing i would try to do is judge somebody else

      2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        The kid issue is so interesting – and I might actually be judgmental about bringing kids into that environment. But I guess I’m judgmental about it for the same reason I judge single parents for introducing every floozy fling to their kids. Kids need stability. If you’re going through an earth shattering break up how are you devoting an appropriate amount of time to your husband – who should be your primary – and your kids – who are also your primary. I know that doesn’t really apply here b/c the LW didn’t mention kids – but I just don’t see it as a stable environment to raise kids in.

      3. lets_be_honest says:


        I could go either way on this. I’m big on thinking the more who love your kid, the merrier. I think kids could benefit hugely from living with a bunch of adults who will teach the kid all different things. At the same time, its exposing them to different ways to live/have relationships. All that said, I don’t know if I would do it myself, mostly because I think the bfs/gfs would come and go, like you said.

      4. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Not everything is about you LBH, GAWD. I’m not going to pull a whole “I feel bad for their kids” gate – but it’s hard sometimes when I feel like I had an ideal childhood. I never had to think about where I came from or that I was loved unconditionally. I’m pretty type A and I had a very structured type A upbringing, and I think it has made me into the (neurotically) motivated person I am – so when I see other ways to bring children up – even if they’re not bad it makes me uncomfortable because I just think, “but but but – how are they going to know who’s in their life forever and who they can get attached too and but but but”.

      5. lets_be_honest says:

        I’d love to read/hear from adults who grew up in poly homes.

      6. I would love to be in a poly relationship with kids, that way I wouldn’t have to take care of them all the time! there’d be another wife to switch off with 🙂

      7. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I’ve always thought it would be awesome to have another wife. Like the polygamous family on that TLC show or on the Our America documentaries.

      8. OMG, yeah, I used to watch Sister Wives a lot and was like, hey, that seems kind of cool.

      9. haha same here. My old FWB once joked about it (I knew most of the other girls he was sleeping with/had slept with) & I remember being like, “Hm, that would actually be fun. Instant friends!”

      10. i have heard of poly people have kids, and i think it is exactly the same as single parents dating. you dont introduce the kids until the secondary relationship is a solid thing. so, like, once you get to that point, the kids just have an extra “uncle” or whatever name they use, and they kids dont know about the actual relationship that is going on.

        i personally like that set up, because the more good adults a kid has in their life the better. also, then you have built in babysitters, built in dinner-makers, ect. so overall i think it can be a super positive thing if its done well (like everything else i guess lol)

      11. Liquid Luck says:

        I’m just going to follow you around this thread and agreeing with you today. I think you’ve been spot-on so far!

      12. Liquid Luck says:

        I want to say that I really don’t think you’re a judgmental person! I just wanted to let you know that I thought that your phrasing was offensive so that you don’t continue to say things that way. Like when I referred to one of my student as “mentally disabled” and was told that “developmentally disordered” was the correct phrase now, so I used that from then on instead. Just because I was offended by your word choice doesn’t mean that I think you were intentionally being offensive. If you really are curious though, I definitely suggest reading Dan Savage or doing some research on different types of poly relationships, because it’s way too much information for anyone to really delve into in an advice-site comments section.

      13. One of the big advantages of polyamory (to those who are “poly”) is that you’re allowed to fall in love with multiple people. I’ve heard it described like this: You don’t have a finite amount of love to give out to one or multiple people. You’re just increasing your total amount of love.

        You’re still totally devoted to your spouse, but you’re also devoted to someone(s) else.

        And for info on kids and poly, check out this link:

      14. I love that you’re posting educational links, hahha

      15. I admit this something I don’t get either really. At the end of the day we only have so much emotional and physical energy, as well as time and resources, to devote to our loved ones. People often compare it to kids “well you have more than one kid!” Yes. And not at once. And children are meant to slowly over time detach from their family move on and form their own family, not become a permanent household fixture. To me being poly was much more comparable to having several not-quite-full time jobs.

    8. Liquid Luck says:

      I agree with everything thaattack and kerry mentioned, and I definitely second katie’s suggestion that you read Dan Savages book if you’re really curious about it.

      And just to let you know, your second question comes of as being pretty offensive. I’m sure you didn’t mean it that way, just wanted to give you a heads up for the future!

      1. Liquid Luck says:

        And apparently I need to remember to refresh before posting, because this thread blew up while I was typing and seems pretty out-of-place by now.

      2. his book is so awesome so far. and i lied, im on the second chapter, not the first, but still. i love it already only in the second chapter. im gonna go renew it at the library today so i can read it while i drive to south carolina this weekend!

    9. Even though this comment is superfluous at this point, I would like to say that I didn’t find cdobbs’ questions judgmental at all. These are the same questions I have about polyamoury and I see nothing wrong with trying to educate yourself. I think people on both sides are being put on the defensive, here. I have asked my polyamorous friends similar questions and no one has gotten offended. (And these people would tell me, believe me.)

      1. I don’t think asking questions is the issue, as some people above have pointed out. I think it’s important that when you ask a question about another person’s lifestyle, particularly one that’s stigmatized, to ask about THEIR lifestyle and not frame it in terms of how it relates to what you consider “normal.” Like asking “Why did you choose to be in a polyamorous marriage?” instead of asking why it’s not like other marriages. Or “What kind of framework does your relationship have?” instead of “Is it really a relationship?”

    10. zombeyonce says:

      I’m in an open marriage (and a very successful one) and I can answer your questions for me. Note that other people in an open or poly relationship (which mean different things to different people) may have other reasons.

      “1) why would you get married? isn’t marriage by definition devoting yourself to one person?”

      Answer: Marriage by definition is the legal tying together of two people (in the US). The law says nothing about this at the exclusion of all others. Socially, it’s standard practice that marriage is monogamous, but that has not always been the case, either, and more people are defining the social construct of marriage in their own way than ever before.

      “2) is it really a relationship? isn’t it just two people sleeping together who know that the other person is sleeping with other people?”

      Answer: Not at all. Why the heck would I have spent the time, money, and effort to get married if it were just about sleeping with one person? I could have just been in a long-term friends-with-benefits situation if that was all I wanted.

      For me, marriage is about having a primary partner, someone that I want to be with for the rest of my life, live with, have children with, buy a house with, and get all the legal benefits with. The sex, while important, is only a tiny part of the whole package of marriage. The fact that we may sleep with other people now and then is nothing compared to the devotion and love we have for each other. For us, opening up our relationship has helped us be great communicators and honest about our feelings that we may never have discussed or understood about each other out of fear if we were monogamous.

  3. Couldn’t there be a chance that the boyfriend might want other things from a relationship? I understand that the couple is poly, but there may be times that a boyfriend you become involved with decides to move on because he wants a more “typical” relationship, where there aren’t other parties to think about. Perhaps the boyfriend’s priorities are changing and he is trying to distance himself emotionally. It would be better to be direct, but people don’t always give us that courtesy.

  4. Yeah, your boyfriend hasn’t seen you in 7 weeks—sounds like the relationship is already done, & you should MOA. And I don’t think the pining away for him stuff is very healthy, for you ~or~ your marriage (despite the fact that it’s open). Let this guy go, don’t contact him, & try to find other things to occupy your time.

  5. LW, with your unique relationship, you have to be extra careful with your heart. Many people don’t understand and the men that will come across you will consider it “friends with benefits” or no strings attached sex because you are already married. He might have considered you just fun on the side. Don’t waste more time on this. Focus on your husband and yourself.

    1. This is a good point. The LW may have it worked out in her marriage that actual relationships (not just NSA sex) are fine to have on the side, but I’m guessing the boyfriend was more, “Oh, you’re in an open marriage, so this isn’t cheating? Cool.” (Even if she discussed the arrangements with him thoroughly, it might still be difficult to “get” that she sees him as her boyfriend, not just a FWB?)

      1. Although, obviously this is speculation. I’m also curious what his situation is (is he married or also in an open relationship?)

      2. yea, this is my best guess as to why the boyfriend doesnt seem to be putting emotion into the relationship too.

        thats kind of lame, though, right? as a poly person, that might offend me. like, the boyfriend doesnt understand my life and situation at all, all he sees is the black and white cheating/married thing… i wouldnt like that.

      3. That is why I said she has to be careful with her heart. I think this situation could be exploited by someone very easily.

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        I wondered the same as you. I’m curious if most poly couples stick with other poly couples. I feel like that would be easier for everyone involved, no? Like, they already have a full understanding of it.

      5. I would think that would be safer. You would think that people in the lifestyle would be more sensitive. but there are jerks everywhere.

      6. Yeah, especially because if you go for someone single, then I feel like it might be hard to get someone who wants to be serious but not monogamous? Like if you find someone who is cool with you having a spouse, they might also be less likely to want to get serious? Seems like a tough niche to find.

      7. Yes, I think with many relationships that have an “end date” it is hard. If you weren’t in the lifestyle, this situation might have existed until he found someone better. I had a guy I dated 5 times starting in high school then summers during college, then in my early 20s. We fell back with each other when we had nothing else going on. He was hot and fun but there wasn’t any real substance. Then we would stop seeing each other when it didn’t suit each other. He called me once when I got engaged and haven’t heard from him since. It was just a situation that we used when we were lonely but that was it. This guy might have been doing the same thing because deep down he knew the lifestyle wouldn’t work for him long term.

    2. thanks for saying this nicely. My experiences with men during the time MrAM and I were open were that basically they will never ever treat you as a real relationship when you have some other man’s ring on your finger (whether or not you literally wear one is irrelevant). Because your relationship will never ever depend on just you and him. It will always depend on someone else as well, someone who isn’t really particularly relevant to his interests. He’ll always have to take this other person into consideration. Working out the differences between two people is hard enough, adding a third or more is very difficult for even the most even keeled people. Many just don’t want to bother (this is why MrAM and I stopped being poly btw. Just too much work and effort).

      I am no poly expert but the poly relationships I have seen work best are those where the “boyfriends” are there to supplement and aren’t super deep serious relationships. Because no man wants a super deep serious relationship with some other man’s wife. Men just generally are not socialized to work like that. They may say they do (typically in affair type situations where he sees you once a week and has sex during office hours and then sends you sexy emails all week but other than that has fairly little contact with your actual life) but it just never has been my experience nor any other woman I’ve known who tried this. Not if he was supposed to be “exclusive” with her anyway.

  6. I agree with Wendy. Unless you’ve established that your relationship with your boyfriend is casual, which it sounds like you haven’t, then I wouldn’t wait around for him. A lot of people go through stressful times and can still acknowledge the existence of the person they’re dating. At the very least, he doesn’t seem to value you the same way that you value him.

    I have to wonder also, did your boyfriend know how serious you two were? You mention that you stopped seeing other people, but nothing about him. I guess my first thought was that maybe your boyfriend assumed that with you in a marriage already that this would be a more casual relationship.

  7. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

    I hate it when people break up with you and forget to tell you. Which is exactly what your boyfriend did. Listen, you’re living the dream! Get out there and get some!

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      Hahaha. So I dated this guy for like 3-4 weeks in college but lost interest so I just stopped seeing him. I was only seeing him 1-2 times a week anyways so it wasn’t a big deal. But I always joke that we never broke up. So now I’m like “he got engaged!? I can’t believe that fucker is cheating on me. Doesn’t he realize we’re still together?”

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I have a middle school bf I joke about the same thing with. Too funny.

      2. kerrycontrary says:

        Ok I may sound like a horrible person because I broke with him because…wait for it….his penis was crooked! Like really bad. And it was impossible to have comfortable sex. And I actually had a class with the girl he’s now engaged to so I always wonder how they addressed that.

      3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        You should totally ask her 🙂

      4. maybe she has an equally crooked vagina?

      5. It’d be a match made in heaven!

      6. OMG I got with a guy like that once… it was so badly curved that sex was hardly even possible!

  8. Avatar photo theattack says:

    Lady, take the hint already. He’s been absent for seven weeks. He’s trying to pull a fade out on you. Stop contacting him and assume the relationship is finished.

  9. Liquid Luck says:

    One, you should absolutely lose the boyfriend, right now. Even if he “comes back to you” at the end of this month like he said, this will become a pattern and will happen again and again every time he gets busy with his life. Relationships where one person is this much more emotionally involved that the other are always unhealthy.

    Two, I’m concerned because you’re spending all of this time obsessing over your boyfriend, and your reason for wanting to let go of him is so that you can start seeing other people instead. I think that’s a bad sign, and that you should be more worried about your marriage. If you’re this upset about a secondary relationship, it has to be affecting your primary relationship (with your husband). So lose the boyfriend and stop seeing anyone else for a while. Focus on your marriage, spend time with your friends, and do a few things just for you. Make sure your relationship with your husband is strong enough that you won’t be “miserable” without a boyfriend, because that isn’t healthy. You don’t need to close the relationship forever, just give it some time to get back on track. I would suggest to anyone breaking up with a boyfriend to wait before getting back on the dating horse, but someone in your situation has more to lose if they aren’t careful with their emotional well-being.

    I say all of this having been in open relationships before, so please don’t think I’m judging your situation. But I’ve known quite a few open marriages that have broken up because the primary relationship gets neglected for an exciting new partner, and the spouse left out gets resentful and feels unappreciated, two things that can poison any marriage. Be careful not to let that happen here.

  10. i think that this is one of the negatives of being in poly relationships- you get to experience breakups even when you are married!

    i mean, this sucks, LW, but you gotta take life as it comes. i would maybe give him one last call, tell him your done, wish him well, ect, and then leave it at that. consider it a breakup. for whatever reason- he didnt think it was serious, it got to be too much for him, his legal issues, whatever, we could speculate all day- he is not putting in the effort that you require to sustain this relationship. you have to take that at face value. i do suggest leaning on your husband, and not from some misguided “you should be with your husband” thing, but because you have a perfect, built in support in your husband about this exact situation.. your life is structured so you have that support you need, right there. so lean on him. if he is busy with his relationships, maybe ask him to cool them down for a week or two to help you. and then get back on the horse! this boyfriend will not be your last, im sure.

  11. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    I ask without any judgment: how do people have time for MULTIPLE relationships?! I’d have to give up work and sleep to make that happen. And I’d definitely have to hire a cleaning leading to free up my time. I probably wouldn’t make it to yoga much either, because I didn’t find time for yoga when I was dating one person.

    Maybe you just get by with less face time?

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      I have no idea. I can hardly schedule a solid date night with GGuy, let alone find time for another BF! Props to them for making it work.

      I watched a documentary about a poly couple (well a woman and her husband and live in boyfriend) and they had a google calendar that they each linked too and it was all color coded with who was spending time with who on what night and such. It was pretty impressive. Another poly couple in the show the husband and wife went on a joint date with the wife’s new BF to make sure the husband was okay with him. It’s a really intersting lifestyle.

      1. kerrycontrary says:

        I watched a show on MTV (True Life taught me everything I know) about 4 gay poly guys that all lived in a house. Well it started out as 3. And then one kept feeling left out because the other 2 would sleep together and he would sleep in a separate bed. So he wanted to bring ANOTHER guy into the house. What’s weird is that they all looked alike!! That’s where I was first exposed to poly couples haha.

      2. omg, I saw that exact same episode!!! the only one I watched. That was like forever ago too

    2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      Who knows. Maybe the have fewer hobbies. I don’t get it at all.

    3. I can see juggling once the relationship is already established, I guess, but I’m completely in awe of polyamorous couples who ACTIVELY SEEK supplementary relationships? Like, those who are on dating sites & go to events & stuff? I can’t see how it’s that, I dunno, ~big of a need~ that you’d actually want to carve out time for the circus that is “meeting people”? (Although I get that other people find that fun, I just don’t, personally, which is why I say “in awe”—not judging!)

    4. Avatar photo theattack says:

      Maybe you can make it work to your advantage. More people to make dinner for you and wash your car? Maybe the second partner makes time in your life by doing stuff for you so you have more time?

      I couldn’t do it either as far as time and energy go (physical and emotional), but I could see it working in theory if people were really deliberate with their time.

    5. i think its one of those things that you find time for because it matters. like, some people who work so much “dont have time for relationships”. but… then when one that matters comes up, they will make time for it. you know? so they have time because its a priority to them.

    6. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

      It sounds like way too much work for me. Maybe they don’t watch tv? Or use their hobby time for it? Like, I don’t knit but I’ve got 3 relationship?

      1. Eagle Eye says:

        Um, this line is incredible, “I don’t knit but I’ve got 3 relationships!”

        FWIW, that’s basically how I think about it, like maybe if I stopped lurking on DW I could find another boyfriend (um, no, probably not, might make my current bf a little peeved!)

    7. I struggle to understand how it works, too, but maybe that’s just because I come from a culture that doesn’t really “do” physical affection, and so I find the idea of participating in more emotionally exhausting.

  12. I find one relationship completely overwhelming and confusing. I am baffled by people who can juggle multiple ones at the same time. Never mind the fact that it’s hard just to find one person who is suitable to be in a relationship with.

  13. Older and (hopefully) wiser says:

    If you’re busy pining away for some guy, what is your “husband” to you? Some shlub who hangs out waiting for you to be in between boyfriends for scraps of attention? Or he in “love” with someone else too? I’m sorry but I don’t understand how you’re in a marriage. What were your vows? Because clearly there’s no sexual or emotional exclusivity. Sounds more like a fwb arrangement. So of course your ex boyfriend jumped right in. Sex with no strings. If he was looking for a committed relationship, I find it hard to believe he would have chosen a “married” woman.
    I’m sorry. I’m having trouble feeling sorry for you.

    1. um, wow. just…. no.

      you clearly have no idea what is going on here, or what everyone else is talking about.

    2. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

      You may be older, but definitely not wiser here. Talk about unnecessary judgement. Just because you don’t subscribe to this lifestyle doesn’t mean it’s not valid.

    3. Honestly…my initial response was along the same lines. And it pretty much still is.

      But I’m really trying to reframe my opinion to this letter based on the other responses.

    4. Avatar photo Imsostartled says:

      From the letter the husband is also able to see other people. She defines it not only as an open marriage, but that they are polyamorous.

      From wiki “Polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly], meaning “many” or “several”, and Latin amor, “love”) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. It is distinct from swinging (which emphasizes sex with others as merely recreational) and may or may not include polysexuality (attraction towards multiple genders and/or sexes).[2][3][4]
      Polyamory, often abbreviated as poly, is often described as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.” ”

      This means that in their marriage they are allowed to have other intimate emotional AND physical partners. So yes her husband could definitely be in love with another man/woman and that would be within the bounds of their relationship and marriage. Like other people have stated vows need not include commitments of exclusivity but rather commitments that they will continue to love them for the rest of their lives.

      There are a lot of documentaries out there that show how couples choose additional partners. A lot of times they seek other polyamorous people exclusively because they know exactly what is going on and that the LWs marriage IS NOT just a FWB situation. We don’t know how her husband and she chose their other partners, so I think it’s very unhelpful and judgmental to say “So of course your ex boyfriend jumped right in. Sex with no strings. If he was looking for a committed relationship, I find it hard to believe he would have chosen a “married” woman.”

      What was the point of your comment? To shame or judge other peoples non-typical relationships? If that’s the case I don’t think you’ll find a lot of support here.

    5. What. The actual fuck.

      I’m sick of how EVERY letter on DW that has to do with open or poly relationships turns into an argument or educational session. If you don’t “get it” then fine. It’s not something you would do? Great. But I never have, and never will, understand why people get so bent out of shape about how other people want to define their relationships or sexuality. It’s not hurting anyone. It doesn’t affect YOUR marriage or relationship in any way. The LW asked for advice, and many people are giving good, solid advice. She didn’t ask for criticism of her lifestyle.

      And I might get some flak for this, but I’m also sick of people expecting the members of a stigmatized group to be the ones to educate those who are ignorant. The onus should be on YOU, the ignorant one. (Also, to clarify, I’m not trying to use “ignorant” in a negative way, I only mean deficient of knowledge in a particular area). Of course, the greatest source of information is someone from the group you’re curious about, BUT simply being ignorant and *expecting* someone from that group to educate you is rude. It’s like with trans individuals – people think it’s okay to ask them really personal, invasive questions. Many, many people will be happy to educate you, but demanding it or expecting the onus to be on THEM to educate is rude. Read a book. Google it. Use your brain to think outside the box.

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        LOVE your last paragraph. Love all of it but super love what you said about the responsibility of education.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        I don’t mind when it turns into an educational session. I think that’s great actually, most of the time.

        Re: onus being on the ignorant one. I know what you mean, and agree, but I think there are 2 sides to this:
        1. ignorant one expects the stig. group to educate them, even if those individuals have no interest in educating anyone. That’s the bad side, which you covered well.
        2. ignorant one just asks questions, and if anyone wants to answer them, great. I prefer asking questions, rather than reading. I feel comfortable asking questions on DW. Just feels more, idk, real? when I’m asking real people who have been there. I’d do that in a heartbeat, whereas I wouldn’t go up to someone in real life and be all ‘how’s your sex working out for you?’ No one is required to answer them, and if they still have unanswered questions, get out there and read a book or whatever.

      3. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        I wish people would ask how my sex was working out for me more often. I would to now have a discussion about why that’s not okay.

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        How’s that sex workin out for ya?

      5. lets_be_honest says:

        You’ll notice that the only poly person to comment yet happily answered questions honestly about how it is for her, without saying she felt judged by someone asking her a question. Now, yay, someone is more educated.

      6. Liquid Luck says:

        I was one of the commenters who felt judged. Does my opinion not count because I’m not currently in a poly relationship (like how BGM would tell me I can’t possibly be a REAL bisexual person since my current sex partner is a man, and bi women don’t exist after college)?

        The problem I have with answering those questions is that it’s not a situation that can be explained just one way. Poly relationships are all different, and there are so many ways you can be in an open relationship/marriage that I would feel uncomfortable answering questions of why and how things work because what I say may literally only be true for me, and I don’t want people to think that what I’m saying is fact for all poly relationships. It would feel like I was telling somebody why green is the best color. I did, however, mention a reputable source on the topic and suggest a place to start finding information if people are really interested. I don’t consider it avoidance to say I don’t think I can personally answer that for you, but I know someone else who can.

        Like Cats said, it’s not on me to educate people on this topic, and if reading a book is too much effort for someone, then they probably aren’t truly interested in the topic anyway.

      7. lets_be_honest says:

        Oh I missed your comment then. I feel like the solution for you would simply be not answering the questions then. I just rarely find an honest question (which I thought her’s was) to be judgmental. Its not a statement. Anyway, rambly now, but sorry you were offended, I just don’t think she meant to be offensive. I’m fairly clueless on this too, but I guess am able to word my questions better. Some people just aren’t good at doing that and then they come across as offensive I guess.

      8. i hate telling people to read a book. A ook is just some ass on the internet with a publishing contract and may be totally off for any one situ or another.

      9. I enjoy the educational sessions, too.

        I agree that the onus is on the one unfamiliar with a concept to find out the information they seek, but I’d also say that if that person does that by asking questions, particularly in a forum setting like this, then I find it hard to judge them for asking their questions, regardless of how “ignorant” those questions may seem. If you don’t ask, you won’t learn, and even if your question might be perceived as offensive, unless you’re an asshole, you probably didn’t mean for it to be offensive, so you just learned something there, too.

        The great thing about the Internet is that it connects people to other people with different lifestyles, beliefs, etc. that they might have limited contact – or no contact – with in real life. It’s a great tool to open your mind and learn. And asking questions in this sort of setting seems like a much better place to learn that just randomly googling for information. At least here, you might get people with actual experience with a particular lifestyle and who can give you “real” information on it and who can sort of “self police” for not accuracy, exactly, but authenticity? If you’re just randomly googling, who knows what you might find. And, if you don’t know enough to know the information you’re getting is wrong, then you might actually end up less informed than you were when you started.

      10. lets_be_honest says:

        I love this so much.

      11. I absolutely agree that DW can be a good place to ask general questions and get answers, and I love that it is. I don’t want that to change And I know that you, LBH, ask questions in a respectful way and out of genuine curiosity.

        I just get frustrated because every single letter involving a poly or open relationship results in the exact same conversation. And I might be wrong, but it seems like it’s the same people asking the same “questions.” And I put questions in quotes because sometimes people just make statements that are judgmental or offensive and then claim ignorance (like, “hey! I didn’t know better so I am blameless! How can I be expected to have the logic or brain power to extrapolate advice from other letters – such as you get to define your own relationships and sexuality, and figure out your own boundaries with your partner and come to an agreement – and apply it to other things I don’t understand?”), OR they play dumb and pose their judginess as questions (“Whaaaaat? If I don’t ask, how will I ever know?” [but they’re not asking because they actually care/want to know e.g., “How can being gay possibly be considered natural?”]).

        Does that make sense? At all? Haha.

      12. lets_be_honest says:

        Total sense! That’s a pretty fair point. I guess I assume that people asking questions that were already covered on another letter maybe just didn’t see that other letter? I’m sure some (as we’ve seen today) just comment to say that’s fucking crazy, or whatever.

      13. I assume they didn’t see that earlier letter, either. But really, who knows when or why someone picks a certain day or time to ask a question? And, what’s the harm if it’s a real question? I mean, even if that person may have seen a letter on that topic before, it doesn’t mean that every single person who sees this column today did, and the conversation has to start somewhere, right? If one person is asking a question, you can bet others want to ask but haven’t.

        It just seems odd to me to acknowledge that sometimes people are ignorant about some types relationships they are not familiar with; get upset with that because often when it comes to relationships, not understanding goes hand in hand with not accepting; tell those people to learn about those relationships so that they might be able to accept them; then deride those same people for trying to learn by asking questions in a place where they might get actual information. No one is obligated to answer questions about their relationship, obviously, and that’s the best thing about asking questions in this setting: no one has to answer unless they want to answer. Shutting down the conversation by intimating that someone should know better than to ask those questions here isn’t going to lead that person to go google more information. It’s just going to make them stop asking questions and trying to understand.

      14. Usually when someone says something that a large group finds offensive, they can react a couple different ways. 1. Apologize, and if they care or are curious, try to understand why it might have offended, or 2. Act dumbfounded because they believe ignorance makes them blameless and proceed to expect the offended party/ies to educate them.

        I’m just saying that #2 annoys me. That’s all. But I agree that DW is an awesome place where people can and should feel free to ask questions, and usually there are a number of people who will step up and politely and patiently explain things.

      15. Liquid Luck says:

        #2 annoys me too. I recall a forum thread (can’t remember when though) aboutpolitical correctness where most people agreed that they would want to know if they used the wrong term for someone (like using “black” and opposed to “African American”) so that they wouldn’t offend others in the future. That was the vibe I got from the thread at the beginning of the comments, that people were just pointing out that that wording could be offensive and that the commenter and others who wanted to ask similar questions would get a better reaction if they were more cognizant of their phrasing.

        I’m always reminded of the notion that just because you didn’t mean to step on my foot, that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. Well just because someone doesn’t mean to say something offensive, that doesn’t mean they can’t apologize when they accidentally do.

      16. lets_be_honest says:

        Oh, I love that LL. (the foot thing)

      17. Liquid Luck says:

        I love it too, and it’s something I always try to keep in mind so that I don’t go on the offensive when I really should be apologizing, which I used to be pretty guilty of far too often. And I did try to make it pretty clear that I don’t think that someone who says the wrong thing out of true ignorance is automatically a bad (or judgmental!) person, so I hope that came across. I know I’ve accidentally stuck my foot in my mouth plenty of times, but I always appreciate being corrected on honest mistakes so that I don’t find myself repeating them. But I’m still figuring out how to convey tone through written comments, so sorry if it came across as being harsh!

      18. I don’t mind the educational sessions, either. Although I agree that it’s not fair to have the onus of responsibility on the stigmatized group (to educate others), it can be tricky educating yourself. Or overwhelming, let’s say. And DW is a safe space to ask questions, where people (for the most part) will happily & politely inform. I remember a few commenters saying things like “before DW, I thought like x or y, but I have a more open mind now” (GG, maybe, at one point said this?) & I like that this site has done that for people.

      19. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I know I’ve said it, but I don’t know if I was the first (or last). I used to be much more closed minded about same sex marraige but now I’m all for it. DW helped me see the light!

      20. iseeshiny says:


      21. Your last paragraph was something that I was trying to find words for, but apparently you had already grabbed them. 😉

        I’m not condemning the idea of asking questions here because I know that DW is a place where people can learn about other lifestyles and relationships. But the LW didn’t come here to defend her relationship or explain how it could possibly work. She came for advice about her boyfriend. Not even anything really related to polyamory at all.

        In fact, before I wrote my response, I was thinking to myself, hmm, I thought I heard once that polyamorous couples like to keep their other relationships casual. But that seems presumptuous of me to assume, so I googled and read a little bit about it first and determined that, no, couples do whatever they want.

        I guess to me, I think it would have been cool for someone who was confused to maybe start a forum topic? That way, anyone who had knowledge or was in an open relationship could respond if they wanted, but it wouldn’t be a direct question of the LW’s relationship?

      22. And when I say “not really related,” I mean to polyamory as a concept.

      23. lets_be_honest says:

        I feel like all letters have side conversations that don’t include any advice to the LW though. Is that so bad? I like it.

      24. No, I like it too. I guess I just mean asking “the group” about things in a general way instead of quizzing the LW on her relationship. I wasn’t suggesting the forum in order to get that stuff out of the regular threads, but just as a way to make it less pointed toward the LW’s particular relationship and more about asking the wider group about the topic in general. I’ve seen people do this before, though, where they go to the forums and are like, “So, today’s letter got me thinking about this wider topic…”

        Also, like with my earlier example about a lesbian asking for parenting advice (and people subsequently asking her whether her kid needs a male role model), I think that you could start a respectful side conversation about how same-sex parents address the question of whether their daughters need a woman to talk to or vice versa, but I think maybe the general-ness is the key there? That you’re asking everyone, and anyone can join in, instead of one stranger about their relationship.

      25. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, I think starting a forum would probably be best.

      26. “And I might get some flak for this, but I’m also sick of people expecting the members of a stigmatized group to be the ones to educate those who are ignorant. The onus should be on YOU, the ignorant one. ”

        I see what you’re saying, but in practice this makes no sense.

        If you have an opinion, and that opinion does not negatively effect you personally, why would you go out of your way to educate yourself and try to change your own opinion.

        Like say you are “ignorant” of poly relationships. Well, if you don’t know anyone who is poly, and are not poly yourself, where is the need/motivation to go “educate” yourself?

      27. Oh yeah, totally. I meant the people who make statements that others are offended by, and then say they were just asking because they don’t understand. OR for people who ARE curious, I just wanted to point out that it can be tiresome to members of the stigmatized group to always have to explain/educate/justify to those who are ignorant.

        But if you don’t know, don’t care, and aren’t hurting anyone, then… Sure. Stay that way if you want.

      28. ” I meant the people who make statements that others are offended by, and then say they were just asking because they don’t understand. OR for people who ARE curious, I just wanted to point out that it can be tiresome to members of the stigmatized group to always have to explain/educate/justify to those who are ignorant.”

        Yes I can definitely see how that would be irritating and tiresome. If you want to learn more, then go out and learn more. Don’t expect others to just explain it all to you.

        I think that frustration is what bred the “let me google that for you” link.

      29. “Like say you are “ignorant” of poly relationships. Well, if you don’t know anyone who is poly, and are not poly yourself, where is the need/motivation to go “educate” yourself?”

        General curiosity? If someone doesn’t want to learn about something they don’t have a direct relationship to (lifestyles, cultures, etc.), then that’s their right, but I guess I’d assume that if someone didn’t know or care, then they wouldn’t go out of their way to comment about it? Or else they’d be prepared for people to tell them they were uninformed?

  14. Older and (hopefully) wiser says:

    Then let’s define marriage because this sounds like a mockery of it.

    1. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

      A legal contract.

    2. Are you also against same-sex marriage?

      1. Also, the history of marriage is that men essentially took women on as property. That’s certainly something valuable to uphold.

      2. Polyamory is a lifestyle choice, not an orientation (and even Dan Savage would agree with that one).

      3. I wasn’t saying it was an orientation. I was just using an example of a type of marriage that people sometimes say is a mockery of marriage, as was said in regard to polyamory.

    3. ah yes, of course- JUST WHAT WE NEED right now is a firm definition of marriage.

      what penalties would you like for people who fall outside of your definition? and who’s definition, exactly, are we going to use, anyway?

    4. Liquid Luck says:

      You know, I’d really love to hear your definition of marriage. Will I still be allowed to own property? Can I wear pants if my husband says it’s ok? And what if I want to stop having children because it’s dangerous, but I haven’t had any sons yet; do I really have to keep doing until I produce an heir or die?

    5. ele4phant says:

      You are absolutely right, marriage as an institution has changed far too much. We need to go back to traditional marriage, I mean way back. When women had no choice in the matter, and when there were very clear gender rules with the husband in total control and his wife completely subservient to him. Hey, at least divor e didn’t exist so they must have been doing something right.

      Or maybe we should go back to an even older model, to marriages in biblical times. Wait a second though, a lot of marriages in the Old Testament *were* poly, so maybe the LW’s marriage is more correct than yours.

    6. I think you, like most people, are having trouble with the concept of a polyamorous marriage due to the “forsaking all others” part that’s typically included in marriage vows? But it’s the LW & her husband’s prerogative whether or not they should be exclusive; there are many different ways for two people to conduct a marriage.

      1. … and lets not even mention the ridiculousness of “traditional” marriage vows and how they already have changed through history, and continue to change…

      2. Oh, definitely. I just think that’s a more intangible concept to grasp, for some? Because the current status quo (which is also changing) is so ingrained in people’s minds.

      3. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Very true. And marriage vows can literally say whatever you want them to. You can vow during your ceremony any promise you want to make, even if it’s dressing up as an elephant every Thursday for sex. I just realized that our vows didn’t even mention monogamy. They were all about the content of our relationship.

      4. Our vows were:
        I give myself to you, David, to be your wife.
        I give myself freely and joyfully, for I see the gift you are to me.
        I will honor you, cherish you, protect you, and love you.
        No matter what happens, as long as we both live, you can count on my love.

        We also had a bit in the beginning that said:
        Do you, Bethany, give yourself to David freely and joyfully?
        Do you promise today to continue to give yourself his whole life long?
        To love, honor, and cherish him for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, when the sun is shining and when the rain falls?
        If so, answer, “I do.”

        Neither of those said anything about monogamy!

      5. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I like those! Simple and sweet. I really like “for I see the gift you are to me.” That’s so sweet!

        Ours were really long. I almost felt bad for our guests, but the ceremony was short otherwise. The minister also asked us questions between each one. Not even one mention of monogamy though.

        “____, I will always respect you. I will respect your beliefs, opinions, and goals. I promise to respect you as a person through everything whether we are celebrating together or in disagreement.

        I vow to become a family with you, to become a part of your family, to make you a part of mine, and to never take you away from the people that raised you.

        I will always support you during your struggles both physical and spiritual. I will protect you from harm and will encourage you during dark times. I promise to be there for you when you need me and to always be a safe place for you.

        I promise to commit to being a team together. I will always work with you and never against you. I commit to making important decisions with you, and I commit to always considering what’s best for our team when I make decisions alone. I will share in adventures with you, as well as victories and defeats.

        I promise that I will always be truthful with you and never give you a reason to doubt me. I will always have faith in you.

        I will always love you as my husband. I will do my best to show you love and to never take you for granted. “

      6. I like those!

      7. Aw, I’m getting weepy over these.

      8. Umm, I think I need to save these. Pretty awesome vows.

      9. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Thanks, ktfran! 🙂

      10. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I totally just realized ours did include faithful! “I, GatorGirl, take you, GGuy, to be my husband, promising with devine assistance to be unto you a loving and faithful wife all the days of our lives.”

        I but I don’t know that that HAS to mean sexually faithful. Regardless, relationship structures can grown and change from the time the vows are said.

  15. Older and (hopefully) wiser says:

    Of course not.

  16. Older and (hopefully) wiser says:

    You’re right. Marriage is a contract. It doesn’t have to be anything more.

  17. Lily in NYC says:

    I think maybe he’s taking the coward’s way out and hoping you will eventually give up. If not, and if he really is suffering from depression, than please respect his wishes and leave him alone. When someone is depressed, even reaching out to say hello can seem like an ordeal and it’s not personal or a reflection on you. However, I do think this is a blow-off. You say you broke up for a year – if you are the one that prompted getting back together, then it’s even more likely he’s done with you. Sorry. I don’t agree with some of the judgmental comments here – I think a lot of married people feel very threatened when reading about poly relationships.

  18. Sue Jones says:

    Poly lifestyles just seem to invite a lot of drama. The more people you have in a relationship, the more complicated it gets. I would love to see an example where it is healthy and sustainable, but all I have ever personally seen in poly relationships is drama, drama, and more drama. Terrible for kids. I personally am too busy to even think about being poly. But it works for some people…. That said, let this dude go. Unless you are OK with an on again, off again thing with poor communication ad infinitum…

  19. AndreaMarie says:

    It may be that you and your boyfriend are just not on the same page with the relationship. For one, he may not have been as emotionally invested as you were. He may have seen you has someone fun on the side that he could hang out with, sleep with, etc but there weren’t any strings attached or serious expectations because you are already married. Also, you didn;t say if he is poly as well. He may be directly less attention to you because he has begun pursing additional relationships. In the end, none of that matters what matters is how you are feeling. He is clearly not giving you the fufillment you are expecting or meeting your needs. It’s probably best to begin pulling yourself away from him as well. Since your husband knows about the relationship you should lean on him for support.

  20. Do you other commenters realize that over half this thread has pretty much been trying to figure whether or not one comment was judgemental (while being judgemental of each other in the process fyi) instead of actually helping the LW.

    LW, he’s gone. Invest time in yourself, your husband and if you feel like it, another relationship.

    1. I think everyone who commented in the debate had also given advice, so she’s not missing out on anything.

    2. Avatar photo Imsostartled says:

      To be honest, I think if the LW wasn’t polyamorous this letter wouldn’t have gotten as many comments. It’s a clear MOA situation, and I think that if the LW was saying this about her singular boyfriend we’d just be like he already broke up with you, he just didn’t tell you, MOA. The complexity (for us) comes from the fact she has a husband so I think it’s helpful sometimes to go off tangent and have these conversations about how people feel about non typical relationships, because not every one thinks they are valid, but if we can converse on the topic more people will understand them and may become more accepting.

    3. eh, we get off topic all the time. its nothing new.

    4. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      That’s what you’re here for 🙂

  21. Grilledcheesecalliope says:

    You got broken up with several weeks ago, begin to heal appropriately. Sorry it sucks and it would have been nice for your boyfriend to have an actual breakup conversation with you but for whatever reason he didn’t.

  22. Wow…lots of comments that don’t really have to do with the actual question from the LW.

    Anyway, I’m going to be the lone voice of dissent apparently and say that it’s not necessarily the case that he’s trying to break it off. Although some commenters have inferred that you’ve had no contact with him for seven weeks, your letter seems to suggest that you have had contact with him but you just haven’t seen him.

    It seems that he’s been telling you that he’s stressed out about some personal issues in his life, and he’s just asking for some time. You’re just impatient because you want to see him, and he’s not had time for that. Since you mention family issues, I’m wondering if he also has a significant other and possibly kids, which would mean that his time and attention are also needed elsewhere.

    I’d just be patient and let him deal with the issues he needs to. Be there for him as a friend and see what he thinks about the two of you once he’s dealt with the issues at hand. As much as we want things to be all about us, we all have our own stuff in life that we need to deal with, and part of being in someone’s life is giving them not only the support but the space to do that. You can take this time to get a grip on your emotions.

    1. But she’s not looking for a friend.

      This is why I HATE the whole hate-on for friendzone/gfZone. There is nothing wrong with “I have enough friends, I want someone to have romance and sex with.” There is also nothing wrong with “I have a boyfriend/husband/both/neither. I want someone to be friends with.”

      They’ve been together a while, he needs to communicate. Thing is I think he is communicating quite clearly he is not NEARLY as into her as she is him, and that spells disaster in any relationship, poly or not.

  23. LW, this guy doesn’t seem interested in continuing your relationship right now. You said it yourself: “he doesn’t seem to care about my feelings and I don’t want to seem selfish and tell him how upset I am cause I don’t want to add more stress to his life.” Let him go.

  24. As a poly myself, let me tell you – this “relationship” isn’t stable. You two dated for less than a year, broke up, got back together, and he hasn’t communicated with you in 7 weeks. Yes, I get that he is having family/legal troubles, but even someone who was somewhat interested in a relationship would make an effort to contact at least once a week to not only update you, but to give you peace of mind.

    Your husband should be your primary relationship, and I’m sure he is to you. It’s time to let him know what’s going on with the boyfriend and ask him if he knows what’s up (never know until you ask) and then ask his opinion on whether or not you should wait until this all blows over, or go ahead and shelf the guy until he’s available, should the two of you wish to continue seeing each other.

  25. Honestly your poly situ has NOTHING to do with this. MOA, he clearly has. You and he are not on the same relationship page (“legal issues”? Girl! are you dating some bad boy on the side for the wet panties factor? Cut that shit out now. It’s not cool single or married). Any man who does not call you in that time is done. You have a full life, no time for this crap. You want men who say “fuck yes!” or yourresponse needs to be NO.

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