“My primary partner wanted to bring his new girlfriend to our home and engage in sexual activities. I had initially requested to meet her ahead of time in a neutral location so that I might feel better about this. I’m not comfortable with people I don’t know being in my home, especially while I am also there. At the same time, I understand that it is his home too. After we set up to meet at a neutral location, I ended up coming down with the flu. He then canceled the meet up, but still chose to have her come to our home as we have separate bedrooms. When they started having loud noisy sex, I had to leave our house because I was so angry at them. I’m now not comfortable with her being here at all and no longer wish to meet her. She also knew that I was sick and still in the house. Am I being unreasonable? He has apologized after the fact but I feel like if I see her all of that rage will come back. I’m mad at both of them but is it unfair that I’m not willing to give it another chance, or am I just going to be hurting myself in the long run?
It is a known thing between us and I also think he’s not the only person who suffers with this. But his brain seems to forget to function beyond the moment when his dick is involved. No, that does not excuse his behavior, and yes he is working on it. And by all means it sure as hell is not get out of jail card free deal.
Am I the asshole?”
Dear The Fox Raccooon,
There is a lot of things going on in here. So let’s start with what is happening from your own perspective.
It appears that you and your primary partner have agreed to set up a meet and greet before he gets intimate with his girlfriend. And when he invited his girlfriend into your home after the meet and greet was cancelled, he directly violated the agreement that you two set. As you outlined, you’ve communicated the rationale on why you strongly prefer / need to meet your metamour before all of this happened. And in his break on your mutual agreement, you sense that your partner does not respect your personal wishes. You are feeling betrayed and upset at his personal disregard for your comfort level. You are feeling upset at your partner’s girlfriend also participating in this breach of personal boundary and relationship agreement. So your feelings make sense.
Now let’s talk about things from the perspective of your partner’s girlfriend – your metamour.
It sounds like your partner at least communicated to his girlfriend that you would like to meet with her first. So when she was invited over, it could be possible that:
- She didn’t know or realize how important this particular relationship agreement was to you and – by extension – her boyfriend;
- OR thought that her boyfriend had talked it out with you about making concessions on easing this agreement due to the circumstances;
- OR she knew about this particular agreement and how important it was for you, but chose to overstep her boundaries anyway.
Out of the three possibilities, I think the first or second seems much more likely that she was either misled or uninformed about this broken agreement.
Either way, she has granted a lot of good will and faith upon her boyfriend to do his job as a proper hinge to communicate your personal boundaries with her, communicate her personal boundaries with you, and to communicate any relationship agreements that might impact the two relationships managed by the hinge partner.
So when you asserted a physical boundary to walk out, she could have felt really uncomfortable mid-coitus about that particular illusion being shattered. It is awkward to be in a hostile environment for everyone involved. And I’m not sure if they’ve had any further conversations on why you are so furious with both of them, which could make it difficult for her to be in the same space as you anyway. As you can see, she’s also in a very difficult situation.
I do think that you are putting an immense amount of burden on your metamour – which is understandable considering she is an outsider to your primary partnership. But it might be more prudent to take a step back and realize that she too is in a very difficult situation, one that she isn’t wholly responsible for. Please recognize that the anger you feel toward your metamour – while fair – is not entirely justified.
Now let’s talk about your primary partner.
In this column, I have long since maintained that it is the hinge partner’s responsibility to manage each relationships. His failure to communicate the importance of this relationship agreement, his inability to reconcile his sexual desire in new relationships, and his lack of personal insight on why this might upset you all reflect attributes of a very poor hinge. You mentioned in a later comment that you two have been open for four years, and this kind of breach in agreement is simply not acceptable.
And he needs to take responsibility for what has happened.
It is entirely within your own personal rights to own your own dominion, which in this case is your own personal bedroom. Since you share a home, he is welcome to conduct his relationships in a way that is agreeable to you in a shared space within a reasonable timeline and set of expectations. It doesn’t matter that you two have separate bedrooms. If he is inviting people you are not comfortable with in your shared space, then that could very well be a boundary violation (“I will not be in a relationship with someone who invites people into our home without my consent.”). If you personally consider the ongoing sexual relationship between your primary partner and his girlfriend to be unacceptable and a continued violation of this specific boundary is not sustainable, then it is time for you to move on to establishing and following through on the consequence phase of your boundary setting.
Take a really deep look at and assess what you do have control over in your own personal relationship with your primary partner: convenience of living in a space that is shared with you, the status of your relationship, and your ongoing companionship. And strongly consider de-escalating or reassessing certain aspects of your relationship with your primary partner until he is ready to show that he will respect the relationship agreements you two have established. That could mean reiterating your personal boundary that you will not be in a relationship with a partner who invites people you don’t feel comfortable with into your shared home. And in the meantime, if he plans to continue to be intimate with his girlfriend, then they can go over to her place where there is a space for them to be intimate.
I want to wrap this post up by talking a bit about new relationship energy (NRE). We often associate NRE with temporary surge of lust and vigor in presence of an exciting new connection. And while many do experience it, most experienced ethically non-monogamous people know how to manage it. That could mean establishing a time/energy quota on how much you are investing in your new connections. It could also mean mindfully redirecting and channeling some of that surge of new energy into your old relationships. Proper management of NRE is essential to making any long-term open relationships work, and it does take work to manage it.
You mentioned that your partner generally likes to dive headfirst into his relationships. So I get the sense that this isn’t the first time he made a big mistake in managing his own NRE with other partners. And like it will continue to be a challenge for him to manage his NRE, recognize that it also takes work for you to manage your own anger at this situation as well. I sense a lot of undue anger and frustration projected upon your partner’s girlfriend. It wasn’t really her job to make sure your partner has dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s; that was his own.
Going back to answer your initial question, no. I don’t think you are the asshole. I also don’t think that your metamour is an asshole either. Before you decide to wield your anger to suspend any future activities involving your metamour, decide if you want to step away and recognize that your relationship style is very different from his, and consider if that difference is too wide of a gap for you two to arrive to a compromise on.
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.