DEAR AMY: My husband and I recently discovered that our closest friends (another couple) are having an open relationship. They say they are “polyamorous.” I am having a very hard time accepting this. They were in our wedding, and we were in theirs. In the past 10 years I can’t remember having a single disagreement with them, but I can’t seem to get past this. They didn’t even tell us about it. We found out because the husband was hanging all over another woman very publicly at their annual party. My husband found out what was really going on through another longtime friend. The couple says they are both sleeping with this other woman. It didn’t look like that, though. The husband didn’t pay any attention to his wife all night. These friends of ours are expecting their first child soon, and have asked us to be the child’s godparents. I am struggling. I know what I am feeling is wrong and that I shouldn’t care what they do. But I do care. For some dumb reason I feel hurt and sadly disgusted. I don’t know what I should do. My husband is willing to act like nothing is going on. I don’t think I can. Should I walk away from a 10-year friendship? Should I try harder to get over my own feelings and ignore it? I thought I was a better and more accepting person.
DEAR CONFUSED: Your own feelings are the natural consequence of your closest friends’ choice to confound all of your expectations about them. When you stood up with them at their wedding, you witnessed their pledge to be sexually faithful. I assume that their choice to let you learn this important detail about them from others might hurt more than your judgment about their behavior.
Because they have declared their marriage to be “open,” you should openly talk to them about it. Express your concerns, focusing on the impact on your long friendship.
In this case, the wife’s pregnancy might have upended their connection. But this unbridled “openness” will make their parenting tougher, not easier.
When you are asked to be a godparent to a child, you are being asked to help the parents provide a spiritual backdrop to the child’s life. Are you willing to carry on this job of being this child’s loyal and constant adult friend through life? I hope so. But this will be a tough choice.
DEAR AMY: I’m a woman who has been dating another woman for about a month now. I see this blooming into something more serious. Over the phone, we were talking about spending the night at her place for the first time when she mentioned that her roommate was one of her ex-girlfriends. I felt blindsided. I told her why it made me uncomfortable. She said she didn’t want me to think it was anything more than a rent situation, which I believe to be true. Her exes figure prominently in her social life: two of them are in her circle of college friends and she visits another regularly out of state. While I don’t think this is a deal-breaker, it’s a new situation for me — my exes and I are on good terms, but we don’t hang out. I don’t know how to hash out my feelings about this. Is my gut waving a red flag?
DEAR UPSET: Your gut is not waving a red flag. If it does, see a gastroenterologist immediately.
However, your instincts are kicking in, and you should never diminish your own natural reactions. Your instincts are informing you about how to proceed.
There is no downside to having a serious conversation about this. You should be inquiring, transparent and honest. Your girlfriend should be, too. If she downplays your concerns or says that you are somehow “wrong” to feel the way you feel, then this tells you something very important about her.
Many people maintain no-big-deal friendships with their exes, but you obviously don’t. The best thing for you to do is to get to know all of these people, observe the dynamics and trust your gut to be your guide.
DEAR AMY: “Worried” caught her boyfriend in a number of small lies. She should consider that he might even be lying to her that he is single. The future with an untrustworthy person is not an easy one.
DEAR BEEN THERE: Once you’ve been lied to, building back trust is a very tough lift.