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Just Found Out :
Polyamory and Cheating

Topic is Sleeping.
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 PsiO (original poster new member #83224) posted at 4:03 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Our background:

Last year, my wife (33) told me (35) that after a lot of soul-searching and talking with her therapist, she confessed to me that she feels like a polyamorous life is one she wants to live. We were married for 2 years at that point, and had been dating for thrice as long before that. I told her I wasn't comfortable with that, but went through hell working on my insecurities to set healthy boundaries. I got my own therapist for the first time in my life, and we also went to couple's therapy for a while. We had always had a solid foundation of trust, and our communication leveled up from good to great due to therapy. By the end of it, we had put polyamory on pause to work on ourselves (and the person she was interested in left the area, which made it easier for her), but agreed that flirting is fine. I was comfortable and happy with that; I don't see any harm in flirting that doesn't lead to more serious entanglement. She had also told me that she rarely felt a spark with anyone, so I figured it'd be a rare occurrence anyhow.

Recently:

She got a work contract out of state, and I stayed home to continue working and take care of our pets. Polyamory came back up, and it was a challenge but a little easier to check my boundaries again due to the distance. I said she could go on dates, but there would be no physical touching aside from a hug. When we talked last year, she told me that her interest in polyamory is to develop a romantic bond with someone, but being physical wasn't what she was after. She wasn't happy with the boundary, but agreed to it, and recognized my growth in getting to this point. The guy she was interested in turned her down for a date, and another guy she liked said he was only interested in sex, so she turned him down. I told her that any dates she wanted to go on needed to be run by me first, and she agreed. After her contract ended, she explored the countryside a bit (we both enjoy traveling) before coming home.

The cheating:

During that time she met a guy and they really hit it off. She didn't tell me she met this guy, and she invited him back to her place. She said she was afraid I'd tell her no if she asked me if it was okay to hang out with him at the place she was staying at, so she of course didn't tell me that either.

Two days ago, we had a long talk about this breach of trust. She told me that she invited him over and they just watched a movie and played some games. I went to bed feeling hurt because she had broken my trust, and woke up early feeling angry over it. I couldn't go back to sleep, so I went into work early.

It kept eating away at me, so I told her I wanted to talk with her when I got home for my lunch break. I told her I wanted to see her text conversations with him so I could verify she hadn't broken any other boundaries. That's when she confessed that she cheated on me. She also lied to him, saying I was okay with her having sex (she did tell him she was married and polyamorous), so he's pissed at her, too. She doesn't know if she values pursuing her polyamorous fantasy lifestyle or our marriage, and I don't know if I can forgive her for breaking my trust. Everything we built was based off our foundation of trust, which had never faltered before this point.

The aftermath:

I talked with a mutual friend that she confided in, and was told that she confessed that she cheated on me and was afraid to tell me. So I don't know if she would have confessed if I hadn't confronted her about it. I've talked with other friends as well who've given me good advice. My wife and I looked into mediators, and last night she brought up couple's therapy. I feel like going to therapy will be good, even if it ultimately leads to divorce. I understand her motivations for what she did, but the selfish and harmful actions she took don't make them excusable. I just feel like an idiot for going through hell to accommodate her when she's thrown it away. We watched some TV after work and I would just get an intrusive thought and feel nauseous, then leave to cry until I felt numb again. I told her that more than anything I was disappointed in her, and with how much she prides herself on being better than most other people, that now she's a disgusting cheater. I do feel that she's sorry for hurting me, and not just sorry for getting caught. But I don't know if this bridge can be repaired, or if I have to burn it and move on. Neither of us own a home or have kids, so separation would likely be quick. I just wish she was the person we both thought she was.

Update 1: We're taking a week to ride out this rollercoaster of emotions. We've talked with lawyers and mediators for advice, and are going to IC to get a better idea of where we stand.

Update 2: She's hurt me even more than I knew. I've closed the door to R and will be starting the D process next week.

Update 3: I'm now separated and D is finished. The bridge isn't burned, but it'll stay collapsed. Thank you everyone who helped me along this bumpy journey.

[This message edited by PsiO at 1:46 PM, Thursday, September 7th]

posts: 22   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2023   ·   location: Midwestern U.S.
id 8787333
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BobTheBuilder ( new member #83222) posted at 4:15 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

I'm pretty new to this being the BS thing and having your marriage on the brink of dissolution so, you know, grain of salt.

Divorce is hard but everything I'm reading says that reconciliation is harder. I want to pursue reconciliation because my WS and I have an adolescent child and a house but those aren't things you have to worry about.

You can definitely try because trying doesn't negate divorce as an option but ultimately I think the easiest and fastest road to you being healthy and happy isn't going to be with your wife.

Me: BH

D-Day: 4/13/23

Wondering if "mostly good" is good enough...

posts: 48   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2023   ·   location: MD
id 8787337
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Lurkingsoul12 ( member #82382) posted at 4:19 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

You will get best advices from people here. I will only say this, there is a member here by username Hurthalo who also experienced similar situation. Go and read his thread. You will find some good insights there. Good luck to you.

posts: 457   ·   registered: Nov. 12th, 2022
id 8787338
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HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 4:21 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

In order for poly marriages to work, there must be absolute trust. After an affair, there can never be complete trust. So she's willing to give that up?

Inviting others into your marriage is never a good idea.

She needs to be tested for stds. You to. And if this man she had sex with has a wife,she needs to be informed.

[This message edited by HellFire at 4:22 PM, Tuesday, April 18th]

Our field of dreams,engulfed in fire..and I'll still see it,till the day I die..

posts: 6777   ·   registered: Jun. 20th, 2017   ·   location: The Midwest
id 8787339
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Edie ( member #26133) posted at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Hi, I’m sorry you are here. There seems to be a lot of polyamory on these boards at the moment! Except it’s not really polyamory is it, and not in your case, it’s bog standard infidelity and deceit, boundaries and trust broken and betrayal. It sounds like your WW is needing to sow some wild oats she should have sown before committing to her relationship with you so young. Then there’s the cliche of the 7 year itch and the now recognised phenomenon of the quarter life crisis, all of which could be at play here. Regardless, she cheated even in polyamory, so failed at the first hurdle of the trust and boundaries given to her, something very precious that you worked very hard to give her. No wonder you are so upset, she’s not who you thought she was and treated that precious gift like dirt. Please read the Healing Library and all the posts with target symbols in the margin in JFO, they’re very useful to help you get some perspective on your situation and to realise you’re not alone.

You haven’t said much about her response to all this. Remorse does not sound like it’s present, which must make it all the harder. I would not advise marriage counselling at present. You need time to process your stuff on your own with an IC without any polyamorous justifications muddying the waters from her.

posts: 6646   ·   registered: Nov. 9th, 2009   ·   location: Europe
id 8787342
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NotJustAnotherGuy ( new member #82949) posted at 4:33 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Friend, being coerced into or picking boundaries because they are the least hurtful is not very effective as you've discovered. Not many men and women who flirt, hug and go on dates will not develop a sexual relationship - and that's without the woman in pursuit of a relationship.

Are you sure poly was not just another front for her wanting to be/having been with other men?

Question for you - what would R look like to you? After years of trying to get her trust back, it's doubtful she'll suddenly get rid of all her urges. Since you now know that her being with other men is more important to her than being with you (lying, risking divorce), would you then be willing to live in a lifestyle that up till now you were not comfortable with?

posts: 14   ·   registered: Feb. 26th, 2023
id 8787345
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Lurkingsoul12 ( member #82382) posted at 4:52 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Affairs are transactional in nature. She said she only wants emotional bonding but the guys she likes to hookup with might want complete package i.e both physical and emotional bonding from her. She cannot say no to them all the time. There are lot of women who started affairs for emotional needs but then they had to give into their APs physical needs to maintain their affairs. Your expectation that she will not go physical was your naivity. They always go physical. So, in order to reconcile with her this poly mess needs to be sorted out first. She will do this again if this arrangement continues. You are clearly not into this lifestyle. So, there is nothing to compromise or bargain here. Either she is in or out.

posts: 457   ·   registered: Nov. 12th, 2022
id 8787351
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BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 5:08 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

My advice is to take nonmonogamy off the table. She's lied to you and failed to adhere to some very basic boundaries of respect and consideration that you requested from her.

If your wife says polyamory is an essential part of her identity that she would be suppressing if she agreed to monogamy, then tell her that's fine-- she is welcome to pursue that lifestyle as a single woman.

Although the celebrity therapist Esther Perel is a highly controversial figure on this board and is very much a cheater apologist, I highly recommend that you check out season 4/episode 1 ("You want me to stay home and watch the kids while you date other men?" and season 5/episode 8 ("You want me to stay home and watch the kids while you date other men? Where are they now?") of her podcast "Where Shall We Begin?" In these episodes, Perel counsels a couple in which the wife pursues a polyamorous lifestyle, even though her husband is struggling to cope with it. Spoiler alert: a year after they opened their marriage, the husband is completely miserable and their relationship is one-sided in every respect.

BW, 40s

Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

posts: 2021   ·   registered: Jul. 13th, 2020
id 8787355
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 PsiO (original poster new member #83224) posted at 5:47 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

BobTheBuilder


I think reconciliation will be very hard, you're right. Having broken my trust for the first time in such a big way, I know I'll need to see our relationship differently. Reading "Your old marriage is dead" from https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/documents/library/articles/recovery/three-years-(and-a-day)-what-I-did-to-reconcile/ helped with helping me realize this.

Lurkingsoul12


If you're talking about https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums/?tid=656412&HL=41782 it's a very good, relatable read! Though rather than a book to feel more validated about polyamory, her source has mainly been TikTok. When we went to couple's therapy, I had even mentioned that she was taking in snippets of attention-grabbing info from the app but not really processing them, and relying on this pro-poly bubble to reinforce that I was the issue, being uncomfortable with polyamory. Which I told her I wasn't even against polyamory as a system - it seems great for people who do it, and I have poly friends who talked about their experiences as well - but I was against the notion that the only reason someone wouldn't be comfortable with it is due to societal values, toxic misogyny, misplaced insecurities, etc. Those are real issues that should be addressed, but it's also fine to be monogamous and expect a marriage that was formed with that understanding to not be uprooted due to sudden incompatibilities. She initiated the change, and wanted me to bend over backwards to accommodate her.

HellFire


When I confronted her and she confessed, she said that she doesn't think she can give it up. She feels polyamorous (side note: to date, there has been nothing inherently biological that predisposes you to polyamory in the same way that you can be predisposed to other lifestyles), and would rather stop hurting me by separating so she can be "true to [her]self." That makes a lot of sense, which is why I figured we would go down the route of separating. Now we're reconsidering, but I still feel that's the most likely outcome, even if she says she's changed her mind. I feel like that's something that might not ever go away, so why risk my life's happiness on it. I'm also getting tested after work today for STDs (we had sex once when she got back, before the confession). She says she used a condom with him, but I want my own peace of mind.

Edie


Thank you, your words really helped validate my feelings. I'm learning as much as I can, and have already found this site's resources to be incredibly helpful. Her response has been regret and remorse, as best as I can tell. She knows she betrayed me, knows she would have to do a lot to make up for it if that's even possible, and has been deferential in letting me get my feelings out. She said she would cut ties with the HW if I wanted (I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but it seemed to mean a lot to her), and I asked her to write up a timeline of what happened, and she agreed to do it. I'm sure she feels as uncertain as I do. I know she loves me, but she prioritized herself at the cost of hurting me when I gave her plenty of avenues to not do so, and she'll have to reconcile that.

NotJustAnotherGuy


Absolutely, and I should have taken an article I read last year more seriously. You can't try to be okay with polyamory just to accommodate your partner's happiness. Like my friends also told me at the time, you both have to be on board with it. But I was trying to improve as a person and work on my insecurities, and blinded by love and the fear of hurting her, I tried to change myself over it. I don't regret the changes I eventually made, but I do regret all the unnecessary pain of both the process and, now, who it was for. I definitely don't believe she was looking for just physical fun when she got into being poly, or even now. I know it's hard to convey years of backstory into a forum post, but I do feel like she was intoxicated and made a stupid decision while trying to validate her independence and feelings of being held back. Despite that, she's still going to feel held back if we do R, so I don't have very high hopes for it. I considered polyamory myself, even years back when I was in my early 20s, but I was very happy with my monogamous relationship and recognized that polyamory comes with a LOT of extra effort from all parties involved, even if she was a hinge and I didn't interact with the other person. Plus, I just don't feel happy thinking about her sharing the special bonds and activities we do with other people. It's something I value in part because they're unique to us, and even though every relationship is different, it encroaches too much for me to be comfortable with it.

Lurkingsoul12


Very true, and partly why I think trying to get someone okay with a polyamorous relationship is doomed to fail unless they want to try it as well. You not only need to trust your partner completely, but now have to trust someone else you don't know, and only at your partner's word. Which ideally, would be fine, because 100% trust transfers to 100% trust, but you can be so easily deceived by people you've known only a short length of time, there's no way you should be expected to trust an amor.

BluerThanBlue


That's exactly what I told her. If we ever hope to R, nonmonogamy is a non-starter. That might change in the future, but we can't hope to rebuilt trust if there's anything that MIGHT challenge that, and I can't trust her right now to stick to the boundaries we set. And the thing is I even told her a year ago that if I can't keep pushing my boundaries, and she's unhappy with monogamy, that we need to separate. She cried over it, upset that I'd suggest separating for this reason. I think she was frustrated that I "just couldn't see the light" basically. And I'll note those episodes for future listening - thanks!!

Everyone


Thank you so much for all the advice. I'm happy to provide more information when I can, and really value your encouraging words and thoughtful questions!

posts: 22   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2023   ·   location: Midwestern U.S.
id 8787367
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Confused282 ( member #79680) posted at 5:56 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Ha that episode of Ester Perel’s podcast is hilarious.

Her book state of affairs as well. They fail at much higher rates and have even more rules than regular monogamous relationships but we should try them anyways.

I could ramble about them.

But let me stay on topic.

It sounds like your wife wants to keep dating. But she wants the comfort of a home life.

The problem is she will bond to one of these men and she will leave you if this continues.

Also early thirties. She may want to have a kid and what happens when she gets pregnant by another man.

2 years married and you can’t trust her already.

You’re already starting counseling and going through this just to return to normal relationship.

I just don’t see any way if you continue this that it won’t lead to a lot more wasted time and a lot more pain.

What happens when she gets another work trip. It’s always going to drive you nuts.

She can not take another one ever. She not going to like that. She not invested in your relationship enough to work to fix it.

Honestly no kids or tied finances you should just divorce.

I would get your own place.

There is nothing that says you can’t date her but you can’t be married to her.

You need to be open to forming a relationship with a woman that values you.

I’m sorry for what happened.

Moving on is the only way. If she values you she will voluntarily be doing all the things and taking the initiative to fix this.

posts: 171   ·   registered: Dec. 16th, 2021   ·   location: USA
id 8787369
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 PsiO (original poster new member #83224) posted at 6:20 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Confused282


It's almost the opposite, really. She wants to keep me while still having the fun independence of having non-monogamous relationships. It's having your cake and eating it, too. She never wanted to leave me for someone else, I'm sure of that. But she's also apparently incapable of staying with me if she can't see other people (pansexual). She also doesn't want to have kids, which is a feeling we both share. It really is to maximize her independence, and happiness by extension.

But you're absolutely right that if we reconcile, her being away is going to be mentally taxing. And her not being away is just a reminder of the pain, so there's no good near-term solution. I've also considered divorcing and going back to dating. Outside of this, we have a great line of communication, similar hobbies, and get along really well. I dated for 6 years to make sure my marriage would be one-and-done. I guess you can never really know.

I am standing back a little to see her initiative. It's easy to go along with things like "I scheduled for us to talk with a mediator." "I set up a therapy session for us." "I want you to do XYZ so we can talk about things in the future." It's quite another thing to see where her motivation takes her. So far she's talked with a couple lawyers to explore her options, and with a couple friends/family to confide in. Let's see what she does for me.

posts: 22   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2023   ·   location: Midwestern U.S.
id 8787372
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Lurkingsoul12 ( member #82382) posted at 6:41 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Can you explain what this maximum independence is? How does it work? How can she have maximum independence by hooking up with too many people while being married to a monogamous person? It's counterintuitive. She will have maximum independence if she was single and was only looking for casual dates and fwbs. This seems like some kind of insecurity of her which she needs to be addressed through IC. This is clearly a teenage mentality.

[This message edited by Lurkingsoul12 at 6:43 PM, Tuesday, April 18th]

posts: 457   ·   registered: Nov. 12th, 2022
id 8787378
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 6:58 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

You set boundaries for polyamory ahead of time, and she still left those boundaries and cheated.

Honestly, the "urge" to be with others is not hard for me to understand. Getting permission for a specific set of acceptable boundaries, then ignoring them is a decision with intent that goes well beyond the slippery slope of porous and ill defined boundaries leading to a strong attachment that are often the issue with monogamous people that go down the route of cheating.

She went looking for this and found it, and did it outside your agreement. I think this is as hopeless as someone that starts an affair on ashley madison ever becoming a safe partner.

Neither of us own a home or have kids, so separation would likely be quick.

I would recommend that path.

[This message edited by This0is0Fine at 6:59 PM, Tuesday, April 18th]

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 2673   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8787384
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 PsiO (original poster new member #83224) posted at 7:23 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Lurkingsoul12

She wants the independence while still valuing what I give to the relationship. She wants to get drunk and know I will tend to her hangover. She wants to be a rolling stone that keeps the moss. Basically she wants to pursue risk while mitigating it with my love and support. I don't feel that it's very fair to me. If I also wanted to pursue risk, we'd be in the same boat. But with our relationship, I just feel like I've been a cheerleader for a team that deflates the ball! She definitely needs to continue her IC (which stopped half a year ago).

This0is0Fine

I agree that based on her motivations and her actions, it will be a monstrous challenge, if not impossible, to trust in her completely. After going through the Tactical Primer, I feel better equipped on my next steps and the boundaries I need to set, regardless of the path forward. I'm trying to hold back a little and not jump into a rash decision, as I'm still raw from just finding out, but I'm keeping D in mind as I try to navigate the future.

[This message edited by PsiO at 7:32 PM, Tuesday, April 18th]

posts: 22   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2023   ·   location: Midwestern U.S.
id 8787389
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HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 7:29 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

She wants to go out, and have fun,and keep you as her security blanket.

She wants to be with other men, and if they don't hold her interest enough,she always has you,as Plan B.

Our field of dreams,engulfed in fire..and I'll still see it,till the day I die..

posts: 6777   ·   registered: Jun. 20th, 2017   ·   location: The Midwest
id 8787390
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 7:29 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Complete trust is gone forever. It is permanent damage. R happens with uncertainty acceptance, not complete trust.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 2673   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8787391
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Lurkingsoul12 ( member #82382) posted at 7:35 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

She wants to get drunk and know I will tend to her hangover. She wants to be a rolling stone that keeps the moss. Basically she wants to pursue risk while mitigating it with my love and support.


She can get drunk. She can go for solo trip to Amazon forest. She can to LA and have wild days and nights. She can do all of that being in a monogamous relation. She can have maximum independence within a monogamous marriage. So, her pursuing poly lifestyle has nothing to do with maximum independence. She just like too many attentions and the ego boost that she gets from it. She might be suffering from low self esteem and that's why she is constantly seeking external validation to feel better about herself. It's just my opinion.

posts: 457   ·   registered: Nov. 12th, 2022
id 8787392
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 PsiO (original poster new member #83224) posted at 7:38 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

HellFire


That's what I felt like and conveyed that to her. I know she sees it differently, but there is definitely overlap with your view. She wants to love who she wants, when she wants, and somehow expects everyone to be not only okay with what she does with literally anyone else, but to keep those attachments when it's convenient for her. It's a myth born out of her independent nature. That's not how people or relationships work, and I hope she realizes that before she hurts even more people with this fantasy.

This0is0Fine


Thank you, that's really helpful to me. I need to really do some soul-searching to see if I can be happy with a level of trust uncertainty in my life with my spouse. I don't think I can, but it needs to be examined carefully.

posts: 22   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2023   ·   location: Midwestern U.S.
id 8787395
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Cooley2here ( member #62939) posted at 7:40 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Whether covertly or overtly if you are being coerced into a lifestyle that you don’t want it is like being in prison. You are never being true to yourself. And that goes for both of you. She has taken a smallish step over your boundary which she felt coerced to obey. You have felt coerced to allow it to keep your marriage.
I see two people who should not be married to each other because you are both going to give away to much of your core values to stay together.

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. Elvis

posts: 4277   ·   registered: Mar. 5th, 2018   ·   location: US
id 8787396
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 PsiO (original poster new member #83224) posted at 7:43 PM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Lurkingsoul12


And you're absolutely right, and I've been there for her for all the other trips and adventures we've gone on. I tended to her when she had COVID overseas, got a stripper for her 30th birthday (terrible but funny experience), and so much more. I guess her desire to deepen romantic relationships is just another journey she wanted to explore, and couldn't accept that I marked off bits of the map I wasn't comfortable with. I have lower self-esteem than she does (though this has actually helped with my self-confidence somehow), but her validation-seeking is still there, just different. We all want people to like us, but I feel like her motivations were to tend to her sense of freedom, even at the cost of potentially ending the enormous safety net I provided.

posts: 22   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2023   ·   location: Midwestern U.S.
id 8787398
Topic is Sleeping.
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