I’m 33 and I live with my girlfriend who is 28. We met 3 years ago while she still had a boyfriend. A that time I was physically attracted to her (she is very beautiful) but as I knew she had a boyfriend I did not approach her. However, during a party we got close and ended up kissing. For me this was just physical and after few months we ended up having sex (she still being in a relationship). I did not care much as I thought it was just sex but things started to escalate and long story short, she left her boyfriend to be with me. Since the beginning (when we were lovers), she always told me that she always had this need of freedom within a relationship, she wanted to be able to have sex with anybody she felt attracted to. This with the consent of her partner. This of course was a problem with her ex and I guess was partly why the relationship ended.
After a few months she started pitching me the idea of an open relationship. I was not thrilled with it (I guess I should have seen this one coming) and I said I would feel bad because for me having sex was something very intimate and I thought that if you look for sex outside the relationship, your partner doesn’t satisfies you sexually. She had all these arguments of “sex is just physical”, “I just want to be in a relationship with you” and also that she felt really bad if she could not do it (have the freedom). She started by asking me to let her have sex with one of her female friends (who btw is in an open relationship, that seems to work very well). I opposed and she respected that.
However she asked again, an now she told me she was doing a big sacrifice for me, because I was worthwhile and she didn’t want to lose me by cheating on me, but she still had this obsession. I told her that I understood her arguments but that I thought it was a big step for me and that maybe it was easier if we tried to first have a threesome (After all that’s how her friend started her open relationship). She thought the idea was not good enough because she had this urgent feeling and that she wanted to do that herself. So after she appealed to my reason and some insistence I told her that I would be ok if she had sex with girls (but only girls). She calmed down for a while.
It was ok for a while (actually she didn’t do it with her friend, although I explicitly told her it was ok), but then came the obsession with a guy she met at a conference. Again she started trying to convince me about letting her do it with him. I told her I had already gave in with girls, but that was not enough for her. She wanted to be with this guy and only that guy. You could see how obsessed she was with the topic when she talked about it. I said it was ok for her to go out with him but no sex, but it wasn’t enough.
After many talks and months, we came to the conclusion that she having sex with this guy was something inevitable and although I was clear telling her I didn’t know how I will react and where this would lead to I told her to go ahead. And it finally happened, yesterday she had sex with him. She arrived home and told me “It’s done, no big deal”. It took some minutes to sink in, and then I freaked out. I left while she was showering and came back 2 hours later. I had a frenzy of feelings (anger, sadness, fear…). I ended up sleeping in the guest room. She tried to talk to me but I didn’t want to. Then I couldn’t stop picturing her having sex with the guy, which is quite an uncomfortable feeling (didn’t let me sleep).
Right now I don’t know what to do. I cannot understand what I feel. I don’t even know if I love her because of this rejection feeling I have now (but I guess I do otherwise I wouldn’t care so much). I have been feeling that I have put her happiness and feelings over mine and that somehow that is not fair, because she has put herself over me and the relationship. I guess I feel angry at myself on not putting myself first. To be honest I never asked for an open relationship (I don’t feel the obsession she has) and I think I won’t be having sex with girls although I have the “freedom” to do so (I like having sex with her, so I don’t need to seek this elsewhere). She is a very beautiful girl and she could have sex with whoever she wants, so that also skews matters.
In this kind of situation sometimes I advise people who have some interest in non-monogamy or at least have some interest in trying it about some common pitfalls they might explore or things they might think about when opening their relationship — but you don’t want that.
With all due respect to your girlfriend, she may be polyamorous by nature but she is also someone who has consistently demonstrated a lack of respect for the boundaries of her partners. You got with her through infidelity and I don’t really believe it was as easy as her partner not wanting to open their relationship — she cheated on them. And that’s not acceptable behaviour. Maybe she needs to come into her own and figure out how to pick partners who want the same thing she wants, respect people enough to let them go if they’re not what she wants, and, instead of trying to hound people into non-monogamy, simply date people who are non-monogamous.
Instead she is taking a bit of a cowardly way out. Instead of breaking up with you because she clearly does not want monogamy and you do, she is just trying to harangue you into letting her do what she wants. And when you give an inch, she’ll ask for a mile. It’s not going to be ‘enough’ for her because she wants what she wants and she’s clearly not going to accept your ‘no’ as a complete sentence.
Honestly, she barely sounds polyamorous. Someone who does not respect their partner enough to accept their boundaries and either break up with them if they are not acceptable or accept them is not someone who is going to have good relationships in their life, monogamous or not. You deserve better.
Maybe you could attempt a monogamous/polyamorous situation with someone who had shown a pattern of respecting your ‘no’, but this person has not done that. Break it off and find someone who respects you. I wish I had something different to offer you but you can’t force a person to respect you or your boundaries.
I hope this helps and good luck.
Do you have a question?
If you have a non-monogamous relationships question to ask, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your question will be posted anonymously.