Hello, so I am in a poly relationship where my friend and I are dating the same person but not each other. We have been living together for a couple years now and things have been good, a few bad moments but they were all resolved after we all would sit and talk about it./u/OtterSupport, /r/polyamory
Recently, we all have been planning on doing a nomadic life style by getting one vehicle for us and our 3 cats to travel in. We have been talking about it, planning it and even went to see a few places to see what our options are. We all were really excited about doing this cause we don’t like the state we live in, we just never felt like it was home.
One day though I went for a walk and I was planning on telling my mom the news, my partner asked where I was and I told them the situation, but before I could my partner stopped me and said not to tell her and to come home. They wouldn’t go into details so I was expecting the worst. After coming home I was sat down by both my partner and my friend saying that they decided to change the plan and instead of all of us going together, it would just be my partner and my friend getting the vehicle and they would travel together without me.
They said I could get my own vehicle and I could do my own thing and at some point when they are done doing what they want to do they will come back and we can meet up again or I could just do my own thing with my own vehicle.
I already told them that I felt betrayed because they made a major decision on something all of us were a part of and they didn’t even consider that I should be part of the conversation. They already talked and made up their minds so I literally couldn’t and can’t really stop them. They did apologize after though.
I do want to add that my friend wants to do something very personal on the trip. The reasoning they had on changing the plan was because it was hard finding something that would accommodate all 3 of us and the cats, so it gives more options to them if it’s just them two. Also my partner is planning on leaving their cat with me to take care of while they do this trip.
I never got unemployment even though I’m eligible and I do have a full time job, but before the pandemic I had 2 jobs and after all the expenses I have to pay for I don’t really have much left over to save a good amount and the same applies now with my current job.
I want to leave my state, I hate and have always hated living here so getting my own vehicle and leaving sounds ideal. But because of the pandemic I don’t really know if leaving is such a good idea. Not only that but my partner and friend have unemployment and haven’t been working since March. They have been getting more money they ever made in their jobs and they have all this flexibility to plan and research all day long to do this.
While I on the other hand am working 40 hours a week, making 9 dollars a hour and I can barely pay a months worth of rent on my first pay check. I work from 9-6 5 days a week and when I’m done I’m so tired and mentally exhausted that I can’t do research or even plan for doing this.
My partner said that there is no guarantee that they will do this by April (that’s when our lease ends). They might postpone it. But I still feel like I’m being left behind and that I’m just dead weight. I don’t know maybe I’m just over thinking this, my biggest fear is living alone and that’s going to be my reality in 8 months so maybe I’m just scared.
I understand why my friend wants to do this voyage and I understand why my partner wants to be there with her on a personal trip, but I still feel like I was wronged and it doesn’t seem fair, but I don’t know these times are very scary and uncertain so I don’t really know how to feel anymore.
I’m sad, scared and I feel like I was tossed to the side. But there’s another part of me that understands their reasoning.
Am I over thinking this?
Dear Otter Support,
The pain that you feel appears to be deeply rooted in a sense of betrayal and abandonment. After all, you three have already committed to a collective plan to leave behind your current state to travel as a polycule. You did not go into detail about what personal feat your friend/metamour would be accomplishing on this trip. But I do have a difficult time understanding whatever it is necessitating your exclusion from this entire trip.
Based on what you have shared, I gather that there is a sense of resentment that you are experiencing through the current income/work imbalance, where you are still working full-time while they are collecting unemployment benefits at home. That aspect does open your polycule up to a significant emotional resource imbalance, which you are seeing through the travel plans they have altered.
Then there is the financial aspect that also needs to be addressed.
I want to use this post to go into more detail about each of those conflict points – altered travel plans, household labor, and financial aspect – before we can talk about what you can do to remedy this situation.
I get the sense that your polycule has mostly operated as a unit – you, your friend/metamour, and your shared partner – when making life decisions. It is as present even how you describe the initial travel plans. And when they communicated their intention to travel without you, that decision could have been a bit of a glass-shattering moment for you. As you laid out, this was a plan that involved everyone. And for your partner and your metamour to make a decision that had such a big implication for you was not only hurtful but also quite dispassionate.
At any point, your partner or your metamour could have approached you about how difficult it is to find housing/traveling accommodations for three people and three cats. But instead of communicating with you in a timely manner, they only approached you after they’ve already made their collective decision about you to exclude you. To further elaborate, they even made a decision about your transportation method while they were on their trip. I’ll get more into why this part is so troubling in the next section.
In essence, they are also asking you to be fine with being alone with the cats they too are responsible for. That is a lot of labor you did not sign up for in order to be in this relationship with your partner, at a cost you do not have to accept.
You said that you understand why your metamour wants to go on this trip and why your partner wants to accompany her. So it sounds like you logically understand and empathize with their decision, but you are struggling with coming to terms emotionally with the feeling of exclusion from a trip that is still early on its planning phase.
Pet ownership is a serious commitment. Their companionship is one that is predicated on their well-being and faith in our ability as pet owners to take reasonable and good care of them at all times. You said that your partner already decided to leave their cat with you while they are on this trip. That is, again, expecting you to do a lot of labor that you do not have to consent to.
What’s more important to discuss here is the growing sense of resentment toward your partner and your metamour that started growing even before this travel plans started materializing. You are still working eight to nine hours a day five days a week, whereas your partner and metamour are not. Instead, you believe that they’re using this moment of laborless income to research more on planning this trip. I want to get away from whether or not that’s actually true, but talk more broadly about how you feel about the current emotional capital imbalance.
Labor balance should be inversely time-reflective, not directly income-reflective. The household chores should be based on the hours they don’t work, rather than the money they earn. The more “free time” they have, more of it should be represented in the household chores they do.
Since you are still working forty hours a week, they should ensure that you have minimal chores to do when you are at home. Unemployment benefits are not perpetual. But even if they continue to earn laborless income through unemployment benefits, they still have a lot more free time to help out with the household chores they might not have been responsible for in the past when they were all working.
Money and Pandemic
It sounds like you definitely have a pulse read on your household finances. And I see a lot of difficult financial decisions ahead of everyone.
Both your partner and your metamour are currently unemployed. How do they plan on funding this trip? With the unemployment checks they’re collecting? In most US states, unemployment certification only applies if they are still actively looking for work but cannot find work. I don’t believe that they’ll get to claim unemployment benefits while traveling since they aren’t also actively looking for work. Not only that, but it looks like unless the Senate Republicans get their sense in order, the unemployment benefits are set to expire this week for majority of the 1.5 million Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week. Additionally, what do they intend on doing with the current place of residence? Do they just expect you to re-sign the lease while pitching in for their share of the rent? Or do they plan on letting the lease expire while expecting you to hold on to all their stuff while you struggle to make your own ends meet?
I also have a lot of questions on how they plan to manage their COVID transmission risk while they’re traveling. I understand that April is quite some time away. But unless an affordable COVID vaccine becomes readily available, they’ll be constantly exposing themselves to new and unknown vectors of COVID transmission. What is their plan just in case one or either of them contract COVID while they’re traveling? How do they plan on managing that transmission risk level when they eventually return?
I also want to talk about the vehicle situation. What did they mean when they said you could “do your own thing with your own vehicle”? Are they saying that you should get your own car? With what money?
What should you do?
Talking about this all the way through with your partner needs to happen. You need a better understanding on why there was this massive gorge of a communicative disconnect before you can talk about the actual disconnect. You are entitled a robust explanation so that you may start preparing emotionally and financially before April.
Talking things out loud with your metamour might also be a good idea. There was a real sense of “me vs. them” in your story and that should really be embraced and resolved before it becomes resentment.
Once you’ve discussed with both of the affected parties, you should start thinking about adjusting your expectations with both your partner and with your metamour. If they are willing to exclude you from a trip that initially involved all three of you without involving you in the discussion, what else are they willing to exclude you from without your involvement? If it means altering your relationship agreement, restructuring your personal boundaries, or erecting some new ones, do so while including everyone on what you personally decide are your own fault lines.
I’m so sorry that this has happened to you. You deserved a much more collective approach to problem solving than a unilateral decision.
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 follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!