“My Wife Wants to Open Our Marriage, But Only on Her Side”

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My wife and I have been married for ten years, but she recently asked me for an open marriage. I can’t say I love the idea, but I think I could be okay with it so long as it’s open on both sides. My thinking was that it’ll hurt if I’m like, “I want to be with only you” and she’s like, “I also want to be with someone else,” because, well, that sounds like a bad conversation to have. Maybe if we both open it up, then the give and take is more balanced. It’ll be different, but we’ll settle into it.

She insists that she only wants to open it up on her end, and has accused me of being selfish. She keeps saying that, “If you truly love someone, you want the best for them even if it’s not with you,” basically arguing that I should stay monogamous because that would make her happy while she isn’t monogamous. And I understand the beauty of selfless love, but it also doesn’t make sense to me.

It feels like she’s accusing me of being selfish for being sad that she doesn’t want to be with me as much as before, and for wanting to try and adjust my feelings accordingly. It mattered to me (i.e. it made me so happy) to know that she wanted to be with me and that we were together, and I don’t understand how I am being “selfish” when those things matter to me in the breach, too? How could they not? I don’t get it, and it has my head in knots.

Am I unreasonable for taking my stance? Am I being “selfish” (negative connotation) for doing so? — How To Open Up

You’re wife is the one who is being selfish and unreasonable. She doesn’t want an “open marriage”; she wants permission to cheat (aka, she wants you to be a “cuckold”). Fuck that noise. I’d be one thing if you were game – hey, this is a fetish for some folks – but you aren’t. You aren’t even really into the idea of an open marriage. You two want different things, she doesn’t respect you, she’s selfish and manipulative: Is this even a marriage worth fighting for? If so, get ye both to couples counseling, stat, and see if and where there’s room to repair things.

I met my best friend over a year ago, but over that time, I’ve developed strong feelings for him and, likewise, he has admitted that we are “close.” He has also said how unusual it is for him to become friends with someone so quickly, only a few months in since first meeting him. Now, the difficulty lies in that he is already married. So, with the unlikely chance of our being together, I ask if it is possible to find a person you consider to be your true love when you can’t be with them? — In Love with My Best Friend

You might consider him your “true love,” but by definition, this is a love that is shared between two loving, committed-to-each-other partners, and that does not describe you. If it’s any consolation, his spouse isn’t his true love either, apparently. For your mental well-being, move on from this “best friendship” and find someone else to hang with. This guy is playing you, and no good will come from this relationship.

Myboyfriend and I are in a 6-year relationship but don’t live together. I turned 65 yesterday and he will be in September. He got me a birthday card made for a friend telling me what a good person he thinks I am; however, it just sounded like he picked this card made for just any friend. There was nothing personal or special to the woman that has been his girlfriend for six years. At first I didn’t think anything about it, but it hurt. Maybe I am wrong? — Birthday Girl

I think you’re wrong to gauge someone’s feelings for you – after almost six years together! – on what kind on birthday card he got you, yes. Does he make time for you? Does he plan dates? Does he confide in you? Do you trust him? Do you enjoy each other’s company? Does he plan future adventures with you? Does he do little things for you and make you feel special and loved? Does he *tell* you he loves you? Does he compliment you on your talents and your intellect and the way you look? Does he initiate physical intimacy with you? Is he receptive when you do? Does he listen to you when you talk about things and show you how he’s listening by asking follow-up questions or remembering details you’ve shared with him in past conversations? Does he laugh with you and smile at you and, in general, make you feel like he likes you?

If you’re answering yes to all or most of thee questions, then quit worrying about some silly card. Some people aren’t great at selecting them, who cares. If you answered no to most or all of these questions, move on because not only does the guy not love you, but also it doesn’t sound like he even likes you very much.

***************Follow along on Facebook,  and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. LW1: I am not optimistic about your marriage at all. Don’t accept such a deal or consider it over. She is just insulting your intelligence.
    LW2: He likes the ambiguity because it allows him to entertain your delusion that you are his true love. Wake up: he is married. Move on.
    LW3: It is a bit disappointing but why not telling him so? Ask him to write you a really personal birthday card.

    1. Uh huh, sounds totally real.

  2. LW1 — Lots of times, the person pushing for an open marriage is already sleeping with someone else and is just looking for justification.

    Do yourself a huge favor and get out now. You sound naïve and very unacquainted with how manipulators work. She will eat you for lunch, friend. Multiply your current confusion by 200 to imagine where she will take you. Get out now, for your own sanity. You have absolutely nothing to work with. She is not a good person.

  3. Agree with FYI. She already is cheating on you with a new bf. She wants you as her loyal security blanket in case it doesn’t work out with new guy, but she is praying it does work out with him and will leave you in a flash at that time, trying to take way more than her half of the marital property. How do I know that? Because she is super selfish and seems to have decided that you are the idiot patsy she can manipulate at will. See a lawyer. You be the one to initiate divorce — on your timetable, not hers.

  4. I have to third the “she is already cheating ” mantra. She is’ or wants to be with another particular guy but feels guilty or wants to use you and or your marriage for awhile for maybe practical or monetary reasons. Sorry.

  5. LW#3 should look at LW#1 as a prime example of what someone who does not love you looks like…

  6. LisforLeslie says:

    LW 1 – agree with everyone else. The one-sided nature of it is so unbelievably manipulative (This would make me happy, so you need to do it. If it makes you unhappy, you should ignore that because you need to make me happy and my happiness trumps your unhappiness) and circular logic.

    LW 3 – Here’s how he picked the card
    I need a card
    There is a store with cards
    There are the cards
    These are the birthday cards
    These are for cards for sisters, brothers, wives, – she is not any of these.
    Oh! Cards for friends. She is my friend.
    This is a card that says nice things. This works.

    Does he treat you kindly the other days of the year? Is it enough for you? Does he demand more from you than he gives to you?

    1. My god, you have SO summarized my husband’s thought process with cards the first decade or two of our marriage. It took years before I figured this out and I was much better off once I had.

  7. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1) I am a big proponant of open marriages. But not onesided ones like this. Your wife is being most unreasonable here. Hire an attorney and leave her with nothing.

    LW2) You are wasting your time and energy on a fantasy that will NEVER happen.

    LW3) Why do some people go out of their way to create problems where none exist? PS — the best card selectors and gift givers typically routinely BEAT their spouses… but damn! Thosw beautiful cards sure make hearts aflutter.

    1. “the best card selectors and gift givers typically routinely BEAT their spouses”


  8. Prognosti-gator says:

    LW1 – at best she’s hoping that you’ll open things (1-way) up so she can be (already is) with others while you are there as her safety net. At worst, she “relents” and lets you open up your side too, knowing full well that the number of men available for NSA sex with a married partner is way higher than the number of women who are looking for a married guy, basically leaving you in a de-facto one sided open relationship anyway. She has some small risk that you would find someone else and she’d lose her safety net, but chances are you won’t, and then you can’t even play the “unfair” card, because it’s not her fault you’re less successful in getting a side piece than she is.

    LW3: Honestly, it’d be great if there were “fulfilling my social obligation” cards so that you could give one for any occasion. Somehow we’ve bought into this idea that cards ARE gifts. In reality, they’re just holders for gifts (like money), or just the nametags we attach to gifts so you know who they’re from. The fact that we pay $3-5 each for them is a great deal for the greeting card industry.

  9. LW1 exhibits signs of being dominated by his wife and depending on her. He identifies with being “accused” by her of nonsensical reproach, is being gaslit, doubts the obvious, and doesn’t dare to state to his wife what he really feels: he wants a monogamous relationship, he isn’t really interested in opening their marriage.
    It is OK to refuse such a proposition. It is also OK to make such a proposition, I assume, as long as it is reciprocal, but then you have to accept the new situation, or the negative answer. It is not because she makes the proposition that you have to accept it.
    LW, assert yourself and stop remaining in the victim’s role. State that you are not interested, that her condition is unreasonable and her accusation is ludicrous. Get angry and declare that you want to pursue your monogamous marriage, you love her and think that there are other ways to fullfil each other’s needs, or one’s own needs (nobody can be the whole source of happiness for their partner). Ask her her honest motivation (does she cheat?).
    It is your best chance to renew her interest in you. Because nobody likes a submissive husband.
    In your head, and in your files (attorney), get also ready for the possibility of divorce because there is a real chance that this is over. BUt first, give it a try by asserting yourself.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Fun read. Thanks for posting. 🙂

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