“I’m a 29/m in my first gay relationship with a 23/m. I genuinely love him with all my heart, he’s my favorite person. He had always talked about his best friend who lived out of state who was moving back home to where we are (friend is 20/f). I knew something was up by the amount of time they’d talk but passed it off. When friend moved here last month, he totally changed. Spending most of his time with her. His friends are telling me something’s up and i confronted him multiple times. He denied it. I flat out asked if he was interested in dating both of us, he denied it.
Then the other night i picked up his phone and went through text. He’s been dating and sleeping with this girl the whole time. Now, after confronting him he admits it obviously and so does the girl. We’ve had long talks about it, and she is ok with it. I would’ve been ok with it had he told me beforehand. Now I’m just so unsure because of the lying. What would you do? The girl is nice, sweet, and attractive however she also has been lying the whole time. They both claim they’ll do whatever to make it work.”
Dear Hank Scorpio the 3rd,
Let’s get a few things straight.
Ethical non-monogamy is a relationship model in which…
- All the parties have consented to
- Honest and sensible set of agreements and boundaries
- To facilitate non-exclusive sexual, romantic, and platonic connections.
Number 1 is straight forward. I talked a bit more about consent in a previous column here. But the gist of it is that consent must have three characteristics. It must be clear (i.e. were the terms definitively communicated?). It must be well-informed (i.e. did everyone know what they were agreeing to to a reasonable extent?). And it must be mutual (i.e. did everyone involved agree to the same terms?). The best kind of consent will have the following two bonus characteristics: proactive and ongoing.
You did not consent to having a non-monogamous relationship in practice. You were not informed and it was not mutual. So it was non-consensual.
Number 2 is relative. Most people arrive to some basic set of rules or agreements which essentially outlines the kind of relationships they would like to have. Almost all sets of agreements and boundaries will shift throughout the course of their non-mono journey.
Since you didn’t even explicitly consent to a non-monogamous relationship, I don’t think the agreements you previously had (implicit monogamy being one of them) was honest or sensible.
This is a classic case of unethical non-monogamy.
I don’t think you should excuse him because of his age. ENM is not rocket science. And if he is disguising his unethical behaviors under the guise of ethical non-monogamy, then he is continuing to be dishonest with you about the harm he is continuing to inflict on you.
Even if you decide to stick around, at the very least you should consider de-escalating and taking sex and relationship off the table while you sort out if you want to have a non-monogamous relationship with a person who so clearly displays dishonest relationship and sex philosophies. He is either so incredibly deep in denial about what infidelity looks like or is so incapable of understanding reasonable and informed consent that he is currently unable to have healthy relationships.
I really hope for his own sake that he can work things out. But you certainly don’t have to be his romantic / sexual partner while he works things out. I’m really sorry.
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!