“I am not sure if this a rant, or a post seeking advice. I am in a long term, long distance poly relationship so it is challenging to find situations that are relatable and/or to get this off my chest without feeling judged. Most of my friends and none of my family know that I have been in this poly relationship. My lover and his wife have invited me to move in with both of them and my recent visit has left me not wanting to move in. I spent almost a whole week with my lover and his partner. My partner was busy with work and for the most part I felt ignored. I ended up sleeping on the couch one night. There was no sex between me and my partner (but there was lots of sex between my partner and his wife while I was a guest in their home) and overall my partner didn’t seem interested in being intimate with me at all. I know that sex should never ever be expected but I feel like if I were in a monogamous relationship this detail might raise a red flag. My partner and his lover are socially monogamous and we went to a get together where I was treated as a friend. My meta said I kept giving her dirty looks while her and my partner were giving each other PDAs (this was not the case but maybe she felt guilty about the PDAs and projected her guilt into me). She then asked me if I had a problem with PDAs because their last girlfriend had a problem with it. She then blamed me for the reason why she was not able to kiss her husband in New Years Eve. I explained that we have been dating for over three years and this has never been a problem. I asked to not be compared to their ex girlfriend. Overall, I didn’t feel loved or appreciated—-there were no I love yous, no reassurance checking in with me, and I know this sounds greedy or entitled and what not but I was kind of hoping that he would have gotten me a Christmas present (maybe something small like a book, or maybe would have taken me out to dinner, to a movie, or even out to fucking coffee or beer alone while I was visiting him and his wife). I am not sure if i am sounding reasonable or entitled. I also tried my best to be respectful and not rock the boat too much as I was a guest in their home visiting out of state. Argh! Am I sounding reasonable or entitled? I wonder if my reasoning and my feelings are invalid as I feel weird for not getting laid on my trip? Or are my feelings more valid as there was no sex to cloud my judgement? Just some questions I find myself asking as I wait for my plane to board home.”
Your feelings are completely valid. But I’m afraid the issues go much, much deeper than sex. I will outline some of the underlying issues I see based on your post, but the root network runs deep and wide.
The first thing I noticed when I read your post was that there seems to be a very clear hierarchy that his married partner possesses over you. I talked about in a previous post that hierarchical polyamorous relationships can still be ethical. However, the sex priority, PDA priority, and socially presenting as monogamous are all really intense hierarchies even beyond the marriage that your metamour gets to enjoy exclusively. Hierarchies would be acceptable if it was previously communicated by your shared hinge partner and agreed upon by everyone involved, but it doesn’t like they have been.
And I want to talk more about that sexual hierarchy, and how it relates to long distance relationships. LDRs are difficult enough already as it severely limits the physical space you can share with your partner. As such, you and your partner both have to take as much advantage of that physical space when you do share it. I honestly can’t see any positive intention behind your metamour’s decision to overtake that sexual space that your shared partner and you now share, or your partner’s decision to honor her request. I’m guessing here that neither you nor your partner specified that sex is going to be off limits while you’re in town. To continue to engage in sex (that you can overhear) while you were at their house as a guest seems at best rude, at worst a boundary violation.
It is on your hinge partner to manage the shared resource (i.e. time, money, libido), maintain proper boundaries & agreements with each partners, and create space for a meaningful relationship to exist with you. And he has utterly failed to provide for you in all three of those responsibilities.
I don’t get the sense that this was a sudden trip. Your partner had plenty of time to set aside space and plan for dates with you while his long distance partner was in town for an entire week. His behavior is inexcusable.
I also want to touch on the interactions you had with your metamour during New Years Eve. You aren’t taking her husband away for the kiss. That responsibility is falls under your hinge partner’s domain, to commit, to complete, and to reinforce. Her confrontation reeks of unmanaged insecurities, which could also explain why she felt like she needed to assert her sexual dominance over you while you were in town. If she had a problem with her husband not being there for the New Years kiss (which is so cheesy by the way), then she should have approached him, not you. It is so emotionally immature of her to confront you in this manner.
You aren’t his last girlfriend. So it is unfair to compare what she had a problem with you. But I do think that there was a pretty good reason why his last ex left this arrangement, and it is due to how impossible it is to be in a relationship with an impossible metamour. This level of hostility is unsustainable, especially since you’ve had three years to help build a rapport with her.
Now let’s talk about what you can do differently going forward. Recognize that there are some really deep-seeded set of hierarchies present in your partner’s relationship with his wife. Moving in together is out of the question. If this was indicative of what that arrangement could look like, I’m afraid this wouldn’t be the last time you’d be sleeping on their couch.
Determine if what you saw from your partner this past week was indicative of your three year history together. If your metamour has been regularly sabotaging and weaponizing her privileges against you, consider establishing better boundaries around her as to not share space with her. Then think about how this affects your relationship with your partner. You said you were really struggling this Christmas even outside of what you saw through your metamour and other shared times together. If it means never making another trip out to come see him unless he can get his head straight, then it is what it is. Plane trips are expensive. But you know what’s even more costly? The long-term effect of net-negative exchanges that you have to have with your partner and your metamour. If he cannot resolve the ongoing conflicts and manifestations of her jealousy around you, then it might just be for the best for him to visit you are your state instead.
I’m really sorry that you are going through this, and plagued with these negative thoughts on your flight back. You deserve better.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!