“I recently went through major surgery to become who I was always meant to be. I just barely got in before the pandemic kicked off. I feel very lucky. My partner has been my caregiver since the surgery, which was in a different state, but the moment we got home she had to see my meta. I understand missing her but we both know my immune system isn’t back up to par yet and my meta works in a public facing job. I bought up my concerns which were downplayed and she continues to see her partner every couple of days. I’m so hurt that she’s prioritizing cuddles/snogging over my health and well-being.
What do I do?”
Dear Hoe Ray Me,
First off, congratulations on your surgery! What great and fortunate timing. I sincerely hope that your recovery process is going well.
Your partner’s relative lack of regard for taking care of you following a procedure is really concerning. COVID is no joking matter, and your partner’s disregard of your critical health boundary is deeply alarming. She either doesn’t care enough to stay at home – like how many other polyfolks are doing so at this moment – or refuses to acknowledge the gravity of this situation.
Let’s completely take you out of this situation first. It is really important to think about how folks even in non-risky groups also need to be mindful in this critical time of humanity. The real core of the problem isn’t the direct threat of COVID but the indirect threat of the resource scarcity. Almost all fact-based health projections regarding COVID estimates that our healthcare resources cannot meet the spike in healthcare demands that will come with COVID patients in the next several weeks. And when that spike comes, there won’t be hospital resources available to treat other common emergency issues such as car accidents, overdose, or abdominal/chest pains. Severe non-COVID cases will have to go un- or undertreated due to resource allocation being directed to manage severe COVID cases.
By disregarding the stay-at-home stays, your nesting partner could be contracting and/or spreading COVID to not just your metamour but every other human being she interacts with in between, possibly to folks who are in the risk group (i.e. you) or to folks who nest with folks who are in the risk group (i.e. your partner). Her behavior reflects a complete disregard for the dire circumstances that will define our next several years.
It sounds like you have already communicate your personal boundary as well as the justification for such boundary, that your partner subsequently downplayed and rejected.
Next step is escalation by boundary enforcement. If you are finding that the current living situation is too hostile for your health and untenable, strongly consider either moving out temporarily or asking your partner to move out temporarily. AirBnb and local hotels should offer pretty cheap deals since no one is booking right now. And it might be a healthier but pricier alternative than contracting a COVID infection at home. If she doesn’t want to pay for a hotel, then she can stay with her other partner while you recover. If staying elsewhere is not a viable option for either of you, consider maintaining a six-foot social distancing from your partner in addition to adopting a strict self-sanitation process. Sleep in different beds and eat different foods for a couple weeks following her last visit to see her other partner. She will need to maintain a sanitized home-safe clothes that she can keep and wear at home. But in addition to keeping her clothes separate, she will also have to make sure she showers right after coming home to limit the virus spreading inside of your home if any happen to get on her shirt.
I don’t think there should be ifs or buts about health and safety in insane times like this.
We hold partners to a very stringent criteria when it comes to sexual well-being. And a sexual wellness boundary violation often spells an end to any sexual relationship. Why should we treat our actual well-being any different? How is her COVID-risky behavior any different from engaging in sexually risky boundary violations such as not using proper protective measures around new partners? I strongly urge you to address this with the same sense and gravity as a sexual boundary violation. What she is doing to you and others she could be spreading COVID to is frankly dangerous, reckless, and mindless. And she needs to be held accountable for her dangerous, reckless, and mindless actions.
And don’t accept no for an answer.
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 email@example.com. If you liked my advice for this post, please subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!