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Advice – My metamour feels insecure.

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/u/thorulfheonar writes on /r/polyamory…

“Ok so my wife and I have been poly for like 7-8 months. About a month ago I met this woman. She is incredible. Her and her husband are also poly. He has a girlfriend. My wife goes on dates with guys and girls all the time. I’ve got [no] issue with that. Everything has been great so far until tonight.

So here’s the rub. Her husband has been feeling more and more insecure about his wife’s relationship with me. I should note that we have seen each other once and it was in public. We aren’t physical at all yet nor are we falling or doing anything sexual. Moving on. So he has been feeling really insecure. Apparently this all came to a head a few hours ago. Throughout this whole thing, I’ve done my best to be open, clear, flexible, and respectful towards him and their marriage. I love that they are married and happy together. Now, he seems to have a problem with the relationship. He hasn’t really cared up until now. This past weekend he had her move our planned date to this coming weekend. That date is now also canceled, as far as I know. I have strong feelings for this woman. She is amazing.

She is saying that this is all her fault because she has been giving me too much of her time and emotional investment, and neglecting him.

I don’t want to lose her. I don’t want them to have marriage problems. I don’t think that I’ve done anything wrong. However, I feel like I have contributed to this man’s pain. He is a good man. He loves his wife and is incredibly caring and nurturing and supportive.

As it stands, she is saying that she no longer wants to text or call me at all when he and her are home together. She also feels like she should back off talking to me even when they are not together so that she still has emotional investment to give to him. I have no issues with this honestly.

Can I get some advice or other possible solutions? Should I try and reach out directly to him. Should I ask her if she even wants me to? My heart is aching over here that this good man is feeling hurt and neglected. I have to try and help fix this. Or is it even my place to fix it?”

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Dear Thorulfheonar,

This situation is worse than you give credit for. There is a lot of warning signs in your post. Let’s walk through them, one by one.

First thing that stuck out to me was how much you appeared to know about your metamour. I think a lot of polyfolks get caught up on the idea that the fully open communication with everyone is the best. I disagree with that idea and here is why. Not everyone needs to know the full details of the ongoings behind the curtains. You deserve to know what you’ve honestly earned through mindful practice of trust building. You’ve only gone on one real date with this woman, and you already know way too much about how much he is in pain and what kind of marital problems your new interest and her husband are having. That is way too much, way too fast.

This is bad for two possible reasons. It could be that your hinge partner is sharing too much information, or it could be that you are reading too much into your hinge partner’s marriage. I have long since established that it is a hinge partner’s responsibility to do the emotional labor to consolidate and filter out to only the necessary information. By communicating her husband’s insecurities directly onto you, she is passively asking you to do accept her husband’s insecurities and make concessions on your own budding connection with her. If you’re reading too much into their relationship, then it might be a time to take some step back and recognize why you are approaching their relationship with such a harsh microscope. I can see that you feel a lot of responsibility for some of their relationship struggle. But is that really your responsibility to handle? Don’t you deserve better than to be the face to which they pit their marital problems against?

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The second thing I noticed is in the boundaries your new interest is establishing. From your post, you said you’ve had to push back and reschedule your second date, which has unceremoniously been cancelled. Your new interest then went on to establish firm boundaries around when she can text or call you, with possibility of scaling that boundary up even tighter depending on how much more emotional investment her husband needs. So instead of establishing and reinforcing the proper boundaries after she had to reschedule and cancel on her dates with you, your new interest decided to appease her husband and establish and reinforce her husband’s boundaries with you.

This is bad because it sets a tone for how this relationship might develop in the future. It is apparent from her inability to establish healthier boundaries with her husband to not directly interfere in her own relationships that they might be codependent. Her “self-sacrifice” to cancel on this second date with you and to establish when she can text or call is satisfying the enabler (her husband in this scenario) no matter what the expense is to herself and her connection with you. That seems grossly disrespectful not just from her husband but also from her as well. She is implicitly communicating that she will continue to set boundaries to appease her husband instead of looking out for herself or her connection with you. What is going to happen should you continue to develop this relationship and her husband is suddenly deeply uncomfortable with her being sexually intimate with you? What happens if he decides to issue an ultimatum to choose between him or you?

I’ll add here that it is really difficult to establish and enforce proper boundaries with the people you care the most about. It’s not easy feeling responsible for someone else’s pain, as you have recognized. But boundaries are necessary for healthy relationships. It is imperative that she understands and accepts that as well.

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The third thing I noticed is the overall polycule structure. You mentioned that he has a girlfriend of his own, but is struggling with his wife’s new interest. The easiest part of polyamory is in loving multiple people. It requires almost no emotional labor to have multiple relationships yourself. What makes polyamory so difficult is in that you have to accept that your partners are going to have multiple relationships as well. That aspect of polyamory forces you to face your innermost insecurities and develop the necessary tools by yourself (or with the help of a poly friendly therapist) to address those issues.

This is bad because it does not sound like her husband has done the necessary emotional labor to accept that his wife too can develop fulfilling relationships of her own. You did not disclose if they have had many poly experiences or if he has struggled with these insecurity/jealousy issues in the past. But I am assuming based on her lack of proper boundaries, his inability to recognize emotional load imbalance, and their mutual lack of respect & understanding for people outside of their marriage that they are not very experienced. Your new interest’s husband need to recognize that his insecurity is hurting his wife and her connection with you, and take it upon himself to work on those issues by himself (or with a help of a poly friendly therapist).

I will add that this is a very common problem among a lot of polyfolks. Some polyfolks struggle with this early on in their poly journey. Some struggle with it decades in. But it is definitely a resolvable problem – just not an easy or a straightforward one. And certainly not one you can resolve for your metamour on his behalf. That is not your labor to do.

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At the end of your post, you asked what should you do for your new interest and your metamour to help them. And my sincere and honest advice is, “Don’t.”

Give them space to work through this, but you have not been treated with respect or kindness by your new interest or your metamour. Neither of them have earned your compassion or trust yet. Don’t talk to him to make him feel better. It is not going to make him feel better. Instead, it’ll prematurely force him to face his insecurity, which will exacerbate this situation. Their marital problems is for them to fix. So let them work this out on their own, and have her reach out to you when this has all been settled. There is nothing more you can do here. You’ve done the best you can.

Good luck!

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 teatimetomato@gmail.com. If you liked my advice for this post, please subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

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