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My husband and I have been married 22 years and he has cheated on me all throughout, be good and then he’d cheat and I’d find out then we’d work it out. etc….. 2 years ago he started talking to a girl on line was dom/sub. We had played around with it ourselves but then I stopped cause he had cheated on me again and it be a strain on our marriage. So when I found out about the girl he said he wanted to do dom/sub 24/7 I agreed to it. It’s been great! But now he says he wants to be poly[am], he is again talking to another woman, she lives pretty close to us and he went to school with her. And he said eventually he will meet up with her.

But I am not allowed to be poly[am], which I don’t want to be anyways but when we were talking about it I asked him if maybe I could get a gf I have always liked girls but never pursued it. And he said no, he said he knows he is being unfair but he doesn’t want me too. we have been going through this for about a month now. He talks to her on messenger I can see he is talking to her doesn’t hide it, I get upset and he thinks I shouldn’t be upset. Well this weekend. Was his bday weekend we had a great time on Friday and then Saturday morning he asked if I was okay I said yes.

I was fine wasn’t even thinking about the woman he talks to and then he was like well let me put it this way what if I went and saw so and so? well I made a face and uggged at him and he said see your not okay with it. I have told him that he needs to just do it go see her he said he can’t cause he doesn’t want me to be feeling bad when he leaves. I told him I will not get over it that he needs to do what he has to do and then I will have to see if I’m okay or not. I even told him to leave or I can leave and he said no that he needs and wants me. Doesn’t understand why I can’t be happy for him. I told him I want him to be happy and so he needs to do what he needs to do then. He said that he can’t be happy if Im not with him.

I’m his wife, babygirl his everything. Without me he won’t be happy. How can I be happy, doesn’t he want me happy too???? I love him so much, but I don’t know if I can be okay with it and I feel like I’m in limbo right now. I want him happy, so why can’t he just go see this person he likes and then when he comes back home. I can figure out if I’m okay with it or not. Is that wrong of me? I shouldn’t have to feel all crazy and waiting and wondering when he is going to finally go see her.

My first question to you is… why are you with this person?

You not being happy about this new person isn’t about whether or not you want to do polyamory and in fact, I think that your approach to decide to see what happens when he sees this new person is incredibly sensible — but it will ultimately not solve the problem at hand which is that your partner seems to have little to no regard for you, your boundaries, and your feelings.

Throughout your 22 year marriage, he has cheated on you… how many times? Cheating once is one thing. And sometimes, depending on how these situations happened and what the context is, cheating doesn’t inherently make you a horrible human being that doesn’t care for your partner. But the fact that he has continued to do so repeatedly proves that he wants what he wants and will do it whether or not it is part of your agreement.

All his postulation right now about how you’re his baby girl and how he can’t be happy without you… If that were the case, then why on earth would he have cheated on you in the first place? His actions right now are speaking much, much louder than words.

Relationship foundations

Every relationship, whether it be romantic, non-monogamous, or whatever, has to begin on a foundation of trust and respect. And in order for you or anyone else to feel confident and comfortable in that relationship, there has to both consistency and honour. That’s why new relationships are so hard. Because you haven’t had the time to build a history together to build a consistency and build an honour in each other’s word that you will do what you say. Trust is initially given on good faith in a new relationship and the cemented and strengthened by time and people demonstrating that not only will they be consistent in their commitment but also that they will honour it.

Your partner has taken a bulldozer to the foundation of your relationship. He has not only cheated, but he’s changed the nature of your relationship as and when he sees fit, without really acknowledging how it affects you. In summarising 22 years of relationship history, it’s possible you’ve missed out on his apologies and efforts he’s made to make up for his mistakes, but ultimately actions speak louder than words. And you have to realise that the standard you put up with is the standard you will accept.

And not only on top of not providing you with consistent behaviour and a respect for your personal boundaries, he is expecting you to sign off on all of his relationships and adjust your emotions to allow himself to feel at peace about what he’s doing?

This is borderline emotional neglect and abuse. It is not acceptable for anyone to make you feel like you have no other choice but to be happy about a decision they make. In any other circumstance, would this be acceptable? If someone on the street walked up to you, slapped you in the face, apologised and then demanded you be happy that they apologised, would you consider this decent behaviour? I doubt it.

If he’s acting specifically like you are “crazy” to not be happy, that is emotional abuse and straight up gaslighting. He has done nothing but err you in this relationship and now he is demanding you be okay with what he does before it happens. That’s specifically so that if you do get upset, he can absolve himself of all emotional responsibility for anything he does on the grounds that you said it was okay.

I urge you reconsider your future with this person. He has not been good to you over the years. Whether or not you decide to be polyamorous or not is up to you in the future, but you can’t have any kind of decent relationship with a person who lacks a core level of respect for you and your emotional wellbeing.

I hope this helps and good luck!

Note: I wrote this column in 2017, so it is possible my perspective has changed or expanded. Please feel free to write a similar question.

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