“…I’ve been married for 2 years to my wife who I absolutely love! However I recently made a new friend who has been over to visit both of us a couple of times. I think I’m falling in love with her as well, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love my wife! But my friend and I are more compatible in ways my wife and I aren’t. Sexually being one of those ways. We haven’t done anything; my friend is just very open about sex, and we’ve talked about what we like.
These new feelings are really strong, and not being able to talk about or act on them is tying my stomach into knots. I’m afraid to tell my wife about these feelings because I don’t want her to get jealous (she’s religious, and I highly doubt she’d be open to a poly relationship). I also am afraid to tell my friend because I don’t want to wreck our friendship. She’s the best friend I’ve had in years.
I don’t know what to do.”
– /u/throwawayadvice437 from /r/polyamory
I once made a promise to my friend that I would let him borrow my notes for a class that we both took together. I wasn’t very fond of letting him borrow my notes because he returned my notes back last time, but I did it anyway because I was a nice person and wanted to stick through my promise.
He ended up misplacing my notes while he was at a local library. I had to call the library and dig through the library’s lost-and-found to locate my notebook. The librarian told me that this was a very common occurrence but I was lucky to have caught it on time as these lost-and-found boxes do get discarded after some time. That friend never asked to borrow my notes again after this incident.
The point of that story is that I made a promise to my friend even if I eventually didn’t feel so comfortable about it. And in here, you too have made a promise. A promise and commitment to be faithful to your wife, and a promise and commitment that you have breached by developing an emotional/intimate connection with your friend and further indulging it without placing proper boundaries.
Let’s pretend here that your wife was actually open to non-monogamy. That she was actually comfortable with you exploring a polyamorous relationship with another woman. And for the sake of this discussion, let’s even go further and say that she was comfortable with you practicing a non-monogamous relationship with this particular friend.
How do you think your wife would accept that you’ve already fleshed out and flirted around sexual compatibility with someone else? This is a breach of monogamy agreement/boundary at best, and an emotional infidelity at worst.
And now I want to go back to that agreement you’ve made. Monogamy is an agreement. A make believe promise that even though you’ll feel attracted to many others, you’ll do your best to remain explicitly and implicitly faithful to your partner. That you’ll do your best to place proper boundaries and stay away from pursuing tempting external romantic connections. Just because you can have feelings for other people doesn’t make you non-monogamous/polyamorous. Being polyamorous is all about upholding your ethics and ideals even when no one is watching, to be honest and timely with your communications, and to respect everyone’s boundaries and commitments.
Please do your wife and your friend a favor and set some better boundaries in the future. Don’t flirt around if you’re not prepared to fall down.