Advice – Wife has crush. Wants to try polyamory.

/u/ThrowRA_questionning on /r/relationship_advice writes…

“This happened a while ago. It was all in her head, never revealed any feelings to said friend, nor had physical contact. So, she told me that a couple years back she had a crush on him (before we had kids), then it grew bit by bit. When she finally opened up, she had been fighting this for over a year and having physical pain because of the guilt and anxiety (we now have 3 kids). So.

For my part, this is unacceptable. Those feelings of crush and letting them grow at that point isn’t part of a loving marriage. At least not without seeking some help, etc. She blames me for being absent and preoccupied in my projects for long, and haven’t received the proper attention. (To be fair, I agree to a part of that, but she rarely expressed those needs either.). She is obviously dissatisfied about our sex life at that point, finding it hard to let go which leads to sexual consultations and over a year of trying to work on her sexual health.

As you might have seen from my other post, I agreed to opening our marriage, wanting what was best for us, not wanting to cut her “needs”. This was interesting for both of us. Partly because I now have proof that I don’t have a problem pleasing other women, and that she had a hard time opening up sexually with someone else. Sex together is now better, but for over a year it felt overly mechanical and I often have the feeling that the end goal is for her to get off. My pleasure was thrown out of the equation, as well (and this is the hardest for me) as my need for intimacy, emotional bonding and the like.

… I’ve done a lot of soul seeking lately. Honestly, I’m on the fence between leaving and staying. You see, I like maintaining old things… (still maintaining that 2005 car…). She stills tell me that she don’t know if she can come back to a monogamy style. I know that I really want a true fulfilling mono relationship with someone I can really trust deeply. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to go there with her anymore. She wants to stay with me, but don’t know if she’ll be able to come back as passionate again…

Writing this I think I’m just enacting the old “sunk cost” fallacy… damn… Anyways. I’ll look forward to your insights and experiences in similar situations.”

Photo by Dương Nhân on

Dear ThrowRA_questionning,

I took a look at your first post on /r/relationship_advice and compared my notes to this post. The way I understand it, here is the basic overall takeaway.

  • You have been dating your wife since you were nineteen, now married for fourteen years.
  • You and your wife have three kids under the age of ten.
  • You and your wife have gradually disconnected from each other.
  • Couple years ago, your wife mentioned that she had a crush on your close friend, which was recently confirmed.
  • Last year, your wife suggested to open up. And you agreed.
  • Open relationship was mostly a success and has led to you having a more fulfilling sex life with your wife.
  • You are now questioning if there is enough compatibility here to make your marriage work.

I gave advice to someone in a similar situation last week. And I gave advice to someone in a similar situation as your wife yesterday. I strongly suggest that you and your wife give them a read.

You’ve already had a mildly successful open relationship experience. I have a nagging suspicion that your wife’s decision to open up was partially driven by her attraction/crush to your close friend. And when she tried to explore sexual connection with people other than who she was really interested in, she struggled to find that connection safe or fulfilling. In return, she was able to re-find a safe space with you, which made sex with you a bit more fulfilling. And now she has had time to acknowledge and accept that she has had this deeply repressed feelings for your close friend. She hid them from you in fear of what your reaction was going to be, that it was going to be incredibly negative. And she was right. Your reaction was incredibly negative.

You might also want to reconsider some of your own feelings regarding crushes on people other than you. Crushes are absolutely normal, and quite frequent. Just because you don’t develop crushes on other people, it does not mean your wife isn’t allowed to have those feelings herself. What’s more important is to place proper boundaries around people you have crushes on so that they don’t become anything more than crushes. Some of her developing interest in your close friend might have been informed by the lack of chemistry and passion in your wife’s relationship with you. Some of it might be her inclination towards polyamorous relationships. But those crushes are as natural and legitimate as your faith in monogamy.

If your wife really wants to have this as a one-time experience with your close friend so that she can close it back up with you, you might also want to consider how you expect to rebuild your trust with both your wife and close friend. I have hard time believing that one great experience of non-monogamous experience won’t lead to the next. I certainly can’t speak for my own experience as my first great experience with non-monogamy helped me jump into my next one.

Like I mentioned in this column from last week, I do not believe that you have to be okay with polyamory. You are just a monogamous person by nature, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You only want to love one person and that person to only love you the way you are. Your wife just might be a polyamorous person by nature, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. She wants to love more than one person, and for those people to love and accept her back the way she is. This is a fundamental disconnect at the heart of this issue and it is irreconcilable. You and your wife might consider therapy or couples counseling to see if there can be compromise in one direction or another. But based on how deeply conflicting your perspective is from your wife’s, I don’t see how a romantic relationship can work out here anymore.

The more important question here to be asking is if you want to get a divorce. Plenty of people have maintained perfectly healthy platonic coparent relationship with their ex-spouse for the sake of their kids. Your kids are incredibly important here. Neither your wife nor you are displaying any serious character flaw, and might be perfectly adequate parents together for your kids. To uproot your life and to start your new life in search for your new monogamous partner while your wife seeks polyamorous relationships would be a major, major transition for your children. I understand the concept of sunk cost fallacy, but that advice only applies to your romantic relationship, not regarding your relationship with your wife as co-parents.

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

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