He never mentioned wanting to be polyamorous or have an open relationship when we first started dating and only mentioned it after we had been together for around a year, so I feel like it’s kind of unfair for him to spring this on me so deep into our relationship when I feel like that’s something you mention early on (but it also seems like this might be a new revelation for him too). I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place and can’t keep saying “I’ll think about it” forever. — Just Monogamy, Thanks
You have to be true to yourself, especially in a relationship. It’s perfectly fine that you are not open to polyamory, and now that you’ve “thought about it” and have realized that you have zero interest, you need to tell your boyfriend. Yes, you might lose him, and that would hurt, but the alternative is that you stay with a guy in a relationship that completely does not work for you, and that’s terrible.
As for your boyfriend not mentioning before now that he was interested in polyamory or an open relationship, that’s pretty normal. Lots of people don’t realize that that’s something they’d be interested in until they’re “deep in a relationship,” as you say. At least you aren’t married yet and you don’t have children. His springing this on you could be a lot more complicated than it actually is. You haven’t even moved in together yet.
The other possibility is that these steps you’ve been taking toward making your relationship more committed has your boyfriend thinking about the long-term picture in a way he wasn’t before. The two-year mark — and certainly moving in together — are fairly significant milestones in a relationship. He may be feeling some commitment phobia or he may simply be realizing that what you’ve had for the past couple years isn’t going to be enough for him long-term. Opening your relationship may be a way for him to explore adding “more” to his life without losing you. And in the end, he could decide that it wasn’t that he wanted “more” necessarily; it was that he no longer wanted you. And wouldn’t you feel terrible having tried a lifestyle you have no interest in in a bid to hang on to a boyfriend you didn’t want to lose, only to lose him anyway? And what if you don’t lose him? What if you try opening your relationship and he loves it and he absolutely wants to keep you in the mix? Then you’re in a relationship with a boyfriend you share with other women, and that’s not what you want.
Your boyfriend doesn’t sound all that afraid of losing you, to be honest. He’s told you point-blank that your rejection of polyamory may be the end of your relationship. I think you need to tell him that his rejection of monogamy would definitely be the end of your relationship — no maybe about it. If that doesn’t scare him, your relationship wasn’t going to last anyway.
I’m a little confused. You say your husband ignores you at parties, drinks a lot, and then comes home at 3 or 4 in the morning, but when do you go home? Are you leaving before him? Are there parties and functions he goes to without you and is that what you are referencing, and if so, how do you know how he’s behaving when you’re not there? And are you simply upset that he’s coming home late? Or that he’s drinking a lot? (By the way, I hope he is not driving after drinking so much! And if he is, you need to demand that he not drink and drive because that is not tolerable… or legal!).
Despite the specific details that are a little confusing, what is clear is that you seem to have self-esteem issues that you are projecting on your husband. You don’t like this about yourself, and you want to change. You wonder if your issues are tied to getting older, and I don’t know, maybe they are? Are you taking care of yourself, physically? Eating well, getting lots of sleep, exercising, grooming/presenting yourself in way that boosts your confidence? If not, start there. I’d also suggest spending time with your husband just the two of you if you aren’t already doing that. If the only time you’re getting out together is to go to some social function where your husband is easily distracted and you feel “left alone,” you clearly aren’t getting much of his attention, you aren’t connecting, and you aren’t tending to your relationship, which obviously needs some tending to. You two need to make spending time together a priority. Go on dates. You don’t even need to spend much money — here are 52 cheap date ideas. Talk to each other. Listen to each other. Laugh with each other. Remember why you fell in love in the first place. Remind him what he loves about you.
If committing to these things still doesn’t help you feel less angry and insecure, maybe the problem is your husband’s drinking, or maybe you don’t trust him as much as you say you do. In that case, I’d suggest couples counseling to help you get back on track and to address a potential drinking problem.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.