Q. My husband and I recently discovered that our closest friends (another couple) are having an open relationship. They say they are “polyamorous.”
I am having a very hard time accepting this.How does this change the letter writer's life?
They were in our wedding, and we were in theirs. In the last 10 years I can’t remember having a single disagreement with them, but I can’t seem to get past this.Really? So much history, getting along so well, being so close, and this is just too much?
They didn’t even tell us about it. We found out because the husband was hanging all over another woman very publicly at their annual party. My husband found out what was really going on through another longtime friend.Could that be what was really upsetting? That this letter writer thought this couple was so close but didn't discuss this with them?
The couple says they are both sleeping with this other woman. It didn’t look like that, though. The husband didn’t pay any attention to his wife all night.How does that mean they couple wasn't telling the truth about them both sleeping with her? Did you expect the wife to French kiss her in the middle of the party?
These friends of ours are expecting their first child soon, and have asked us to be the child’s godparents.Your feelings are your own. What you do with them is what matters. Monogamy is often presented as the ideal and default by so much of our society that it can take some getting used to when monogamists find out that someone they know is polyamorous.
I am struggling. I know what I am feeling is wrong and that I shouldn’t care what they do.
For some dumb reason I feel hurt and sadly disgusted.Check your biases. You don't have to like their sex life, but just because you don't like it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with what is going on. Would you really throw away the entire friendship over this? Also, check yourself to make sure you're not just a little envious or jealous.
My husband is willing to act like nothing is going on. I don’t think I can.Sure you can. You have other friends who have love and sex lives that you'd find strange or you'd be turned off by. You just don't know about it or you have decided not to focus on it.
Should I walk away from a 10-year friendship? Should I try harder to get over my own feelings and ignore it?Go for the second choice. Amy responded.
A. When you stood up with them at their wedding, you witnessed their pledge to be sexually faithful.Hold up there. Not everyone pledges to be monogamous to each other when they marry, and even if they do, they can certainly negotiate changes in the terms of their relationship. Many people vow to stay together until death, but later divorce. Would Amy bring up that vow in responding to a question about a friends' divorce?
Because they have declared their marriage to be “open,” you should openly talk to them about it. Express your concerns, focusing on the impact on your long friendship.Here's a little advice about doing that, if you're going to do it...
1) Say "I" instead of "you." For example, don't say "You're doing something that's strange." Say, "I was surprised by this and I'm having some trouble processing it."
2) Do not make them responsible for your feelings about ethical nonmonogamy.
3) Do not talk about disgust. Instead, say you're not familiar with this so it might take a while for you to be comfortable.
4) They don't have to tell you anything. Be prepared to hear "That's none of your business" about any part of it or the whole thing. It could be that they didn't tell you because you have said things before, maybe without even realizing it, that gave them the impression you'd be prejudiced against polyamorists.
5) If you're going to ask them questions about their sex and love life, be prepared to be asked questions about yours.
But this unbridled “openness” will make their parenting tougher, not easier.Not necessarily so. It might have no impact whatsoever on their parenting or it might even be a big help, if this other woman wants to be a parental figure to this child or is willing to babysit.
When you are asked to be a godparent to a child, you are being asked to help the parents provide a spiritual backdrop to the child’s life.That is a traditional role for a godparent, but these days, for many people, it might not carry that meaning at all. It can be a completely honorary designation, signalling a favored position among honorary aunts and uncles, or an actual designation of who will be guardians of the child should the parents die. Make sure you also understand what will be expected of you if you are going to be godparents, if they'll still want that.