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Just Found Out :
Polyamory and Cheating

Topic is Sleeping.

WhatsRight ( member #35417) posted at 8:00 PM on Friday, April 21st, 2023

Conceding that I have very little knowledge of the polyamorous lifestyle, it seem to me that as with many other things, it can be a real thing between some trusting couples (certainly not for me). But, as with so many other things, can be just an excuse / justification for cheating.

It would be my guess that if you are in any way uncomfortable with that lifestyle it would not work for the two of you. I would think that those special circumstances would only have a chance when both individuals are "all in" with the concept, and have the upmost respect for, and trust, for their partner.

I’m sorry you find yourself in this situation.

"Noone can make you feel inferior without your concent." Eleanor Roosevelt

I will not be vanquished. Rose Kennedy

posts: 8210   ·   registered: Apr. 23rd, 2012   ·   location: Southeast USA
id 8787967

sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 8:04 PM on Friday, April 21st, 2023

I think this thread focuses too much on your W, PsiO.

As much as you hesitate to set your own boundaries, that's where you need to do a lot of work. IMO, you need to define what you want from your M. You need to define key 'metrics' for R. Your wants need to fit with your W's, or you need to walk away.

Couples counseling treats the relationship, but the relationship didn't fail. Your W did. IC before CC is a good decision.

You've stood up for yourself here, and - optimist that I am - that makes me think you won't sell yourself out IRL. I'll wish you the best of luck, though, since top notch luck trumps all sorts of crap.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 8:07 PM, Friday, April 21st]

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29988   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8787970

Western ( member #46653) posted at 1:46 AM on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023

I will give my opinion and by the way, I am one of the most anti-open relationship people you can find but I will make this post as respectful as possible,

1) Open marriages is absolutely cheating. It's just cheating by consent. Which then asks the question why the couple got married in the first place.

2) If an couple decides on this route, then you have to ask the question of why the first rule of marriage (Fidelity, exclusiveness and loyalty) wasn't attainable in the first place. Why adopt a second set of rules when the first one wasn't able to be adhered to and why you two needed to go the open route ? Were one or both of you not good enough ? and if so, why wasn't this taken into consideration before marriage ?

3) Where is there equity ? If one side gets all the opportunities and the other side gets fewer, resentment will set in. I know if my wife bedded 20 guys in the first 6 months and I had one opportunity, then it is not working for both sides and the one with less opportunities will get angry as one side is clearly benefitting.

4) The filth involved. Constant STD tests, pregnancy scares, sloppy seconds. Any ethical person who cares about themselves will not put themselves in that position.

5) Being captured. What if the person you are married to falls for the other guy or woman ? Because they are better sexually ? or more emotional or has more in common ? Then your marriage is toast. However, you can only blame yourself for opening it to that because you could have put your foot down and stopped it before it began. So you are wasting time waiting for the disaster to happen.

6) The Optics. Very few people want to associate with open marriage people because they can't tell if you two are in there as friends or scoping you out as potential sexual partners. Trust get's destroyed.

7) My updated count is 19. 19 people got or had open relationships in my circles and 18 are in divorce with broken families. kids who are disjointed.

8) What kind of lesson are you teaching your kids ?)

9) what kind of marital emotional efforts are she taking away from your marriage. You do realize that open marriages are only 5% of them and they fail most of the time.

My answer is doing it is going to destroy your self esteem and marriage and keep you damaged for a ong time.

Don't do it

posts: 3608   ·   registered: Feb. 4th, 2015   ·   location: U.S.
id 8788039

 PsiO (original poster new member #83224) posted at 2:20 PM on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023


Thank you for being here with me. I appreciate it <3


I promise to make time to read your situation. I'm sorry for what you're going through, and hope it ends well for you and your kids!


I'm having some chamomile tea this morning :) Yes, I'm not entirely sure what my ideal relationship arrangement looks like. I feel like a swirling mix of oil and water right now. The A had me rubber-banding to monogamy, since it is the least complicated and makes me feel the safest since that was our original arrangement, but I'm hoping to get these thoughts out with a therapist who can help me discover what's best for me in the future, as well as my current situation.


I'm helping explain our situation better, in part by explaining her motivations to a bunch of strangers who are on a forum designed for people who have been traumatically hurt in relationships. It makes absolute sense for literally everyone here to be skeptical, and I don't fault any of you for it. I take everyone's opinions and advice here with serious consideration, but keeping that in mind, my therapist, friends, and I know our past much better than I can portray here in so many words. R is a hard consideration. I also know that I'm going to be run through the stages of grief, so I'm giving myself time to settle and talk with a professional before jumping to a solution. I need time to process, and the more I can explain things, even on this forum, the more it helps me sort myself out when I re-read it.


I agree that if it brings a lot of discomfort, it isn't right. I was thrown into what's called "poly under duress." I was not enthusiastic about it and tried to change myself to better accommodate what my partner wanted. I was too giving back then due to my love for my WW and didn't see it was too much for my personal well-being. Thank you for being here with me.


I think you're right. I didn't even realize it until you said it. My problem is I'm a very flexible person and willing to put in the work to try to be a "better" one, whatever that would mean. I'm going to write it down and bring it up when I talk with my therapist on Tuesday. Your comment made me smile this morning. You have no idea how much I appreciate that.

Thank you for the good luck. My FIL, one of my closest friends, would say "good die rolls beat good tactics any day." I hope I get both in moving forward with my life.


I appreciate your opinion, because it comes with considerate and considerable thought and effort. I'll always see value in it. And thank you for the numbered opinions/questions - it makes such a long list easier to respond to:

1) Cheating means you broke the rules. ENM (or any relationship) is about setting boundaries (rules) for each other based on what you're comfortable with. You can cheat in any relationship.

2) People and the relationships they build almost always change over time. Everyone here has a different relationship than they did before an A, whether that's through R or with future people post-D. It doesn't take an A for that relationship to change, and if both parties give enthusiastic consent (!) for the change, there's nothing wrong with it. You've never heard people say "I discover new things about myself and my spouse every day"? We change and grow all the time, my friend.

3) This is true nearly all of the time, and I'd consider it true in my case as well.

4) Also true that it takes a lot of trust involved, especially if the ENM involves sex. You trust your partner to VERIFY (not just trust) these things for your own health. The recurring theme in ENM is trust and effort, and I feel like it's too much to deal with. I pay my bills with auto-pay because I don't want to deal with the effort of keeping up on them manually. Keeping to monogamy is a much simpler arrangement, and I'm a simple guy, which is why I feel it suits me better.

5) This is a common mindset for people who aren't versed in ENM. It's not about shopping around to find a better spouse, like a zero-sum scenario. It's additive - forming additional bonds to supplement the ones you already have. If you feel like you're already happy with the bonds you have (as I mostly do), you don't see the need to go out and form more, and that's totally fine.

6) This is something I struggle with, but recognize it's a more surface-level problem. If you're confident in what you want and happy with the arrangement you have, then you shouldn't care how other people see it. What matters is you're living your best life. Of course if you're not happy with the arrangement, this becomes a big problem, and I feel that 100%.

7) My count is 2. I have 4 friends (plus myself) who are married and have either dabbled with or still openly practice ENM, and it only caused issues for 1 of them (plus myself). Maybe I befriend more mature people, maybe it's a small sample size, but statistically half of all marriages end in divorce, so that needs to be kept in mind, too. Failing relationships may opt for an open marriage as an approach to try to help it - that doesn't mean the relationship would have succeeded otherwise. Statistics, like chess knights, are tricky bastards.

8) If we had kids, I'd be teaching them that it's good to consider unconventional options, it's good to work things through and develop your communication skills, and it's essential that you work on yourself so you know what makes you happy.

9) I'm not entirely sure what you mean, but maybe #7 answers it.

Thank you for all the effort you put into your reply. I hope I gave the genuine answers you were looking for <3

posts: 22   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2023   ·   location: Midwestern U.S.
id 8788077

becomingaware ( new member #78672) posted at 5:49 PM on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023

I have nothing against ethical non-monogamy. In fact, I've been in situations remarkably similar to yours. And I share some of the same problems with flexibility, boundaries, and self-protection.

Reading about your situation, here's what I see:

She could have given you adequate time to consider poly. But she didn’t.

She could have pushed you to try poly, and when you agreed, she could have followed the rules the two of you set up. But she didn’t.

She could have pushed you to try poly, followed the rules when you agreed, slipped up, admitted it, taken full responsibility for her actions, worked on herself to understand her behavior, and tried to make things right. But she didn’t.

Instead, here’s what she did. She pushed you to try poly, then she deliberately broke a serious rule, then deliberately broke another serious rule, each time fully aware you’d object, so she deliberately chose not to tell you. Then she deliberately kept it secret from you afterwards, admitting it only when caught. She did not take full responsibility for her actions, but instead said your supposed societal toxic baggage is partly to blame.

That’s what she did. That's what she wants you to forgive. And she wants you to trust her again.

Just be clear on all that.

You know, your earlier metaphor is great, but it doesn’t go far enough: "I just feel like I've been a cheerleader for a team that deflates the ball"

...and expects you to inflate it. Then throws it at your face and blames you for having your face in the way.

posts: 6   ·   registered: Apr. 19th, 2021
id 8788089

Lurkingsoul12 ( member #82382) posted at 5:54 PM on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023

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.

She lied here. She knew she wants to be physical but still lied to you about it because then you wouldn't agree to this new arrangement. She was grooming you through lies to make you bend towards her. That's not how poly relations work. And all her info regarding poly came from tiktok videos?? I don't know man but this is a big red flag to me. Has she ever went to IC who is expert in poly relations? How serious and deep was her preparation and research regarding poly life before entered this new lifestyle? I seriously doubt that she is poly.

And how do one realize that they are poly? Is it biological, psychological or just lifestyle they want to pursue?? I asked this question to many poly people but I never got any convincing answer.

[This message edited by Lurkingsoul12 at 5:57 PM, Saturday, April 22nd]

posts: 457   ·   registered: Nov. 12th, 2022
id 8788090

Tallgirl ( member #64088) posted at 6:14 PM on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023

I am sorry you are in pain. I haven’t read all of your string, it’s really long you’ve had a lot of feedback, but here’s just a little bit of a different for perspective , perhaps.

Having a marriage between two people work is absolutely challenging. It’s hard work it’s emotional and it requires some very Clear boundaries.

If you add gray to the boundaries in my mind, the likelihood of a successful marriage depletes.

I do not agree that flirting is OK, spending excessive amounts of time with a friend of the sex thatyou are interested in, putting yourself in situations where it is easy to cheat. I don’t agree that any of this is OK it’s like putting chocolate in front of people and saying you can smell it. You can touch it. You can have a tiny nibble but you can’t take a bite. It seems to me a recipe for failure.

If you want a one on one marriage with this person, ask for it. If that is not something that she can do then maybe this isn’t right, maybe this can’t work, it does feel like there’s heartache ahead.

I wish you the best. This is a very complicated situation. I really hope it works out and that you’re happy.

[This message edited by Tallgirl at 7:21 PM, Saturday, April 22nd]

Standing tall

posts: 2216   ·   registered: Jun. 11th, 2018
id 8788092

This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 9:46 PM on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023

Here's my simple read once more.

I don't think you are cut out for ENM.

I don't think she is cut out for any boundaries.

You aren't compatible and have no good reason to R. Let her be free and happy without you.

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

posts: 2644   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8788120

 PsiO (original poster new member #83224) posted at 5:06 AM on Sunday, April 23rd, 2023


You're absolutely right on all counts. She doesn't deserve me and she showed it with every traumatic injury she made. She knows better now than to expect me to trust her ever again.


I don't know how she felt back then. But I do know that there were red flags back then as well as now. She hasn't seen an IC that was versed in poly, and I'm sure it would have helped both of us if she had. I don't doubt that she's poly / interested in poly, but regardless, the lies and trauma she inflicted on me are what's eating at me, and I can't forgive what she did.

There's nothing innate about being poly. It's just a preference. If they're telling you otherwise, they're lying.


I think these things are okay if you have a mentally stable partner and a foundation of trust. If you don't have both, absolutely stay away. The only good thing that's happened to me today is some closure in knowing that D is the best route forward for me.


She can be free and try to be happy without me. I don't think she's going to find happiness again for a long time.

Update: She's hurt me even more than I realized. I've closed the door for R.

posts: 22   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2023   ·   location: Midwestern U.S.
id 8788160

This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 5:32 AM on Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

Sorry to hear about the trickle truth.

Sending strength. Consider posting in the D forum.

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

posts: 2644   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8788161

leafields ( Guide #63517) posted at 6:14 AM on Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

So sorry that you're hurting. The end of the M can trigger grief. It's a good thing that you're realizing the hurt is too deep now, rather than hanging on for years.

BW M 34years, Dday 1: March 2018, Dday 2: August 2019, D final 2/25/21

posts: 3459   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2018   ·   location: Washington State
id 8788163

WonderingGhost ( member #81060) posted at 1:57 PM on Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

I'm so sorry for what you're going through PsiO. I'm kind of in the same boat so I can surely empathize. Early 30's, not married, no kids, partner said he always felt non-monogamous rolleyes It's hilarious how common that line of thinking is amongst cheaters.

A regular marriage/relationship between 2 people is already difficult. I have no idea how these waywards, who have already broken the rules in the relationship structure they started with, think they can handle more people and more rules! Crazy. From my experience reading around on SI, it seems WS are less likely to actually be polyamorous and more likely to simply be selfish and want the freedom of a single lifestyle with the comfort and security of a partner/spouse at home.

Please be sure to take care of yourself. Go to the gym, drink water, supplement meal replacement shakes if you find yourself having trouble eating. You are young and have plenty of time to find the right person for you who will actually treat you with respect. Happiness awaits us somewhere out there smile

[This message edited by WonderingGhost at 2:06 PM, Sunday, April 23rd]

posts: 110   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2022
id 8788182

Tallgirl ( member #64088) posted at 6:53 PM on Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

I am sorry for your pain. I can tell that it is taking you a lot to come to the decision to divorce and you know what, it’s a good decision. Whatever you decide is right for you is a good decision.

Please keep posting here there is a ton of really really good support

Standing tall

posts: 2216   ·   registered: Jun. 11th, 2018
id 8788203

DictumVeritas ( member #74087) posted at 2:51 AM on Monday, April 24th, 2023

There is no such thing as "polyamory" (not a person alive would not have their cake and eat it if we can find an excuse to do it) it's a made up term that simply translates to, "you WILL excuse me F-ing you over, because I have a word to excuse it" as it applies here.

The sooner this is excepted, the sooner this marriage destroying excuse is eliminated.

Your wife is an adulteress because she wanted to become one and for no other reason. She's just clever enough to use a reason she knows you will fall for.

There is no sugar coating the fact that she is a run of the mill adulteress and this "poly" excuse of hers is just is simply a way to wrap adultery in PC terms the "woke" would accept because it's [insert current year].

[This message edited by DictumVeritas at 3:05 AM, Monday, April 24th]

Your life is but a flicker to the cosmos and only the brightest flickers are recorded by history for good or bad. Most of us just want to live our lives without being interfered with.

posts: 285   ·   registered: Mar. 22nd, 2020   ·   location: South-Africa
id 8788235

Bigger ( Attaché #8354) posted at 12:33 PM on Monday, April 24th, 2023

I have a neighbor born and raised in a remote village in Nepal. He was raised in a family where his father had several wives, and the one he calls "mom" and cares the most for is not his biological mom. From what he’s told me he had a great childhood with lots of care and loving. So yes – polyamory does exist, has done so for years and is a real thing. In this instance based on polygyny, but polyandry is also known.
However… This guy lives a monogamous lifestyle. He’s happily married to his wife as far as I know and can see. In street-parties we have joked about how having one wife is hard enough.

Look – emotionally a marriage can be whatever all participants agree to. That agreement can change over time but should always be based on discussion and acceptance. We can have a couple that decide not to have kids, only to change their mind some years later. What wouldn’t be correct is for one to stop birth control without talking to the other. Or decide to never be burdened down by a mortgage only to find the dream-house some years later. Or decide to be vegan only to develop a love for leather boots. Opening up a marriage the way your wife wants… that’s a pretty big ask IMHO.

To me though the main factor is that she does it in the wrong order…
A basis for agreement is open discussion, a common decision and acceptance.
Had she realized she wanted a polyamorous life then there wouldn’t be anything "wrong" in her telling you that she has made that realization and wanted your acceptance. It then becomes an issue you two finding common ground. That common ground could be anything from having a "true" polyamorous relationship, you turning a blind eye and pretending to believe she’s "out with the girls" yet another Saturday evening or that the common ground being that you two go your separate ways. The key being that you two discuss and decide BEFORE the act.

Like the wives of my neighbor’s father… they probably knew because of the social norms that they would be sharing the husband. That was the common ground.

I think that if you two have this big gap in your views on marriage then divorce is the best – or maybe least bad – option. Only I would not focus on divorce because she wanted a polyamorous lifestyle, but rather a) you are divorcing because she cheated and wants to remain in infidelity and b) you want a monogamous marriage. It’s a slight adjustment in mentality – you aren’t divorcing because of what she did (thereby giving her some power) but because of what YOU want and expect.

"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone." Epictetus

posts: 12436   ·   registered: Sep. 29th, 2005
id 8788265

becomingaware ( new member #78672) posted at 8:23 PM on Monday, April 24th, 2023

Just a few comments on lifestyle:

1. I do think poly can work. I have close friends in healthy, rewarding, long-term poly relationships. It takes a truly impressive commitment to total honesty and to caring about others.

2. "Well, some people just aren’t cut out for poly. It isn’t for everybody." I heard that a lot. Some said it without value judgment. As if they were saying, "some people like egg salad; some don’t." But others meant this: "Poly is better. You might not be ready for it yet. You’re not a bad person. You’re just not mature enough." That's incredibly condescending.It's a pernicious attitude. It's mean. It's wrong. And it sounds like you’ve encountered it. Don’t buy into it.

3. Very simply this: It’s called ethical non-monogamy for a reason. The "ethical" part is essential. If it’s absent? Selfishness, lying, betrayal, cruelty, devastation, pain.

It’s missing here.

[This message edited by becomingaware at 8:28 PM, Monday, April 24th]

posts: 6   ·   registered: Apr. 19th, 2021
id 8788357

LightningCrashes ( member #70173) posted at 6:58 PM on Tuesday, June 6th, 2023

How are you doing PsiO?

posts: 139   ·   registered: Mar. 28th, 2019
id 8794170

leafields ( Guide #63517) posted at 5:55 PM on Thursday, August 31st, 2023

Bump per OP's request.

BW M 34years, Dday 1: March 2018, Dday 2: August 2019, D final 2/25/21

posts: 3459   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2018   ·   location: Washington State
id 8806075

Clint ( member #11711) posted at 7:07 AM on Sunday, September 3rd, 2023

Poly marriages...pfft. Ridiculous. Why bother getting married? You were never into the idea in the first place so it was doomed to fail. It's like building a house next to the airport and then being irritated by the airplanes. Find a normal woman.

posts: 3478   ·   registered: Aug. 16th, 2006
id 8806390

 PsiO (original poster new member #83224) posted at 12:37 PM on Thursday, September 7th, 2023

Thank you to everyone who's given me advice on this thread. I value each and every response, even if I disagreed.

At this point, I am finally divorced, and my ex moved out a month ago. We still talk, and we've been there for each other, like when our oldest cat passed away earlier this week. There was a lot of pain during the breakup process, but we worked together and found a way through it. I consider myself lucky that while it was incredibly stressful at times, the messiness was kept to a minimum, and we can both move on and start a new chapter in our lives.

Let me know if you have any more questions for me. And Clint, her interest in polyamory happened after we got married, so it was a blind spot. Otherwise, of course we would have talked about it beforehand and resolved it, one way or the other.

posts: 22   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2023   ·   location: Midwestern U.S.
id 8806787
Topic is Sleeping.
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