“I [33M] and my spouse [34F] had grown close to a friend [28F] since May or so of this year. In August, my spouse came out as bi (which was known by me but she didn’t admit until then) and admitted feelings for the friend. My spouse admitted the feelings to the friend, and immediately established boundaries that would basically prohibit a real relationship from forming.
Friendship continued, friend and I also got closer, and about a month ago the friend admitted she had feelings for the two of us, and wanted space to figure it out.
Friend took the past 3 weeks as space, and after dropping the bomb of “I have feelings too” decided she just wanted to be friends because this would be the first poly relationship for all of us, and she doesn’t want to deal with the difficulty of none of us having experience there.
I’m at a loss for what to do. I like her, I love that my wife is exploring this part of herself. I feel a little sad that we’re at this place and I feel at a total loss for what to do with this.
Spouse and I have both determined that we’re interested in forming a bigger circle (likely beyond 3) separately and together, but we’re feeling like we just got rejected, kinda sorta, because friend doesn’t want to close the door either. Just “not right now.” “
Dear the One with a Beard,
I am really sorry to hear that you are going through this.
There is a lot of positives to take away here. First, it sounds like you and your wife had to grow a lot in one short month. Your spouse acknowledged her sexual orientation, bravely approached her friend, and immediately established boundaries to save the friendship when the romantic relationship wasn’t evident. Also, it sounds like your friend has done a lot of digging around and came to a very valid conclusion of saving the friendship over attempt to form a triad relationship with you and your spouse. Triads are very difficult to get right, especially since your friend is coming into an established relationship. Most importantly, you and your spouse are moving forward to form your own relationships and continue exploring polyamorous relationships with others after this experience. In that floating three weeks while your friend was considering the triad relationship, you and your spouse might have had respective opportunities to create emotional spaces for different relationships beyond your relationship with each other. That space is not wasted. This exercise was a learning opportunity. So take it for what its worth, a chance encounter that helped you and your spouse get a better idea of the kind of relationships you two wanted to develop.
Rejections always hurt. Both you and your spouse made yourself vulnerable (twice for your spouse) and got turned down. Understand and accept that your pain is legitimate and fair. Try to set and communicate those boundaries with your potential partner and friend so that you and your spouse can gain some emotional distance from this pain. If she ever decides to re-enter into your life after you and your spouse have had some real polyamorous relationship experience, then that door can be left open for interpretation as well. But you should first focus on yourselves and keep doing you.
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.
I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at email@example.com.