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Advice – Partner broke a boundary.

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/u/zmeyka_ writes on /r/polyamory…

“My partner H and I have been open for a few years. I had a casual relationship with someone for two years with no issues that ended a year ago. Recently H started dating someone he met and they have been hanging out once or twice a week for the past two months. This is a lot more serious than the relationship I had.

We don’t really have rules or boundaries and just communicate with each other however we did discuss safety sex and talking about recent tests and always using condoms. My partner agreed to this and agreed to use condoms. They have had sexual contact multiple times but had PIV sex two days ago. H says they talked about testing and birth control and decided not to use a condom. The person he has been dating is not on any birth control and relies on condoms.

They got plan B and we all plan on getting tested but I am completely devastated. I am totally upset they both knew they are not on birth control and we had agreed on using condoms.

H has had impulse issues before with money and stuff and said it was just impulsive. I found out they didn’t use condoms because I asked when he told me they had sex. He has been upset and apologetic but I don’t know what to do. I feel like I have to start over trusting him again and it doesn’t feel worth it. I also feel highly disrespected by his partner who agreed to not use condoms despite having other partners and not being on birth control. Does anyone have advice for me?”

TL;DR – Partner had unprotected sex with his other partner.

Dear Zmeyka,

I am really sorry that you are going through this.

The first thing that came to my mind when I read your situation was that your partner has made a really short-sighted decision. Ethical non-monogamy and safe sex practices go hand-in-hand. And his decision not to use a condom with his new partner clearly broke an implicit agreement you had with your partner about practicing best safe sex practices with all other partners.

His explanation that his decision was not impulsive but intentional and precise tells me that there is something more to worry about here. It is downright dangerous to have unprotected sex with no birth control methods. I think it might have been a bit more understanding of they have been dating each other for a long time with established barriered sexual chemistry. But they only had their first intercourse two days ago. Do they plan on not using any protections going forward? How do they expect to avoid pregnancy while she isn’t on any birth control? Even if she starts taking oral contraceptives, how do they expect to limit the risk of possible sexually transmitted diseases and infections from spreading?

His decision to be fluid bonded with a brand new sexual partner is disrespectful, dispassionate, and selfish.

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What is trust in another but a developed and intentional faith in others to look out for our best interests? And what is infidelity but a gross negligence and mistreatment of strongly assumed agreements to be kind to our partners even in their absence? Your pain is completely and wholly understandable.

Your next steps are intense. Internally, consider the extent of damage this broken boundary has caused. Determine if/how you want to continue to be sexually connected with a partner who does not display a good behavior in safe sex practices. You could choose to step away from this sexual connection or decide it might be for the best for barriered sex for you and your partner going forward. Risks of pregnancy is a major emotional cost, so you’ll have to start establishing some really fundamental boundaries around your relationship with your partner and possibly distance yourself away from this dangerous situation. At the end of the day, you cannot control what kind of sex your partner has with his other partners. The only thing you CAN control is whether or not you remain sexually entangled with someone who makes sexually unhealthy decisions.

Then you’ll have to communicate your newly realized boundaries with your partner, review the consequences of broken boundaries, and enforce the consequences if boundaries are broken.

If you decide that you’d like to work on rebuilding this trust with him, understand that it will be a mutual effort to rebuild the trust. However, the onus of convincing falls upon him to display that the rebuilding of trust is a worthwhile emotional and romantic endeavor for you.

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.

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