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"excitement" of BFF, you just might find yourself begging hubby to take you back.
Assuming there are no kids, I think she should take a sabbatical from her husband. Go live in the same town with the BFF.
Scenario A: She desperately misses her husband after a few days apart, and realizes that the BFF farts all the time, never lets her finish a sentence, is rude to waitresses, plays video games non-stop, or whatever his human flaws are ... In which case she apologies profusely to her husband and tries to rekindle the excitement there by whatever means necessary. (Maybe one of them has a kink they haven't been brave enough to mention? Maybe a little fear of losing the other person would make them appreciate each other more?)
Scenario B: She is confirmed in her belief that the BFF is her soul-mate. They live happily ever after, and she gets over her guilt once her ex finds someone who really appreciates him.
Scenario C: She realizes that the BFF is not so great, but she doesn't miss her husband either. She figures out how to build a new life living on her own, as an adult.
This woman is in love with her BFF, and likely always has been. She is not in love with her husband. This is about as real and clear cut as it gets.
She should do the right thing and end her marriage, and she should do so regardless of whether things work out with the BFF.
HHCAFIT: You are pining after a mythological creation of your mind. In reality, your BFF is barely more than a pen-pall. One night of mind-blowing sex does not justify dumping your husband in hopes that BFF is the man of your dreams. He probably isn't.
If you have a good relationship with your husband, stay. If you don't have a good relationship, end it. But don't end it over false hopes that you can run off and marry your BFF. The odds are that you wouldn't last 2 weeks with him.
Only the most emotionally masochistic husband in the world would consent to as perverted scenario as Erica proposes: "Honey, you know my 'platonic' male friend? Well, we wound up fucking when we last met, it was way better sex than anything I ever had with you, and I think he might be my true soul-mate, instead of you. So if you don't mind, I'd like to go live with him for a bit, fucking him and all, to see if it works out, and if it does, let call the lawyers for an amicable settlement, and if it not, I'll resign myself to you, even though the sex won't be as good. I'm sure you understand and will be willing to wait it out, okay?"
What women presume of men in relationships never fails to amaze me.
Move on, girlfriend.
"Honey, I think I love my BFF more than I love you, but I'm not 100% sure that he and I are compatible. So, I'd like to spend some time with him, and away from you, to test out whether he and I have any long term potential. If things don't work out, and if I still have any feelings for you, I'll come back and be your wife again. Otherwise, I won't. Sound good?"
Either way - what's the point, for either of them, in maintaining a passionless marriage?
You know where this is going. The more time passes the more this "forbidden" fruit is going to seem oh so sweet. You probably know perfectly well that much of the sweetness comes from the fact that you know you're doing something your husband wouldn't approve of, had you had the decency of actually telling him what it was he was signing up for. You know your magical-thinking fantasies where you get your ass and somehow your husband isn't devastated are never going to happen and actually leaving your husband will be throwing a perfectly good marriage in the garbage for a fantasy relationship that exists largely in your head.
Your contact with your "BFF" is feeding into this second-adolescence drama. You need to tell your friend that you have to break off contact because personal feelings for him are endangering your marriage, which is your first priority (because it is, right?) and you hope to speak again when you've got a better hold on yourself. Then you talk to your husband and actually tell him the truth, and enlist his help in helping you grieve for this marriage-destroying relationship that you aren't going to have.
I guess it must have been too long since HHCAFIT has been a teenager because she clearly doesn't remember what infatuation is.
More blow jobs, probably.
Relationships are not sustained by "passion". I'd recommend some serious marriage counseling before they opt to throw away 12 years. At the very least, if that is what they do, this woman needs to understand that there is no effortless "happily ever after" -- with anybody.
Anyway -- I feel like there's an element to all of this that's not just going to sweep itself under the rug. Not really sure what the best course of action is to try to rectify it, but feel like it probably needs to be confronted by some means or other.
Also Christopher, you might want to fit that formatting error that's causing the second half of the letter to re-appear after the jump. I confuse easily.
Even though she has been in love with her BFF for years, because it's been unrequited and non-physical, she hasn't been through that high-dopamine falling in love phase until now. Of course her feelings are intense, and of course she feels off-kilter and inclined to take drastic actions.
She should stick it out for six months before changing anything. By the end of that time, her neurotransmitters should be more normal, and she will either have come back to an equilibrium (likely), or she will still want to leave her husband, but in either case she can make a more rational decision.
Not following how folks here in comments are suddenly condemning the LW's marriage as "passionless" or that it needs to come to an end. I didn't get that out of her story at all. It may be a bit "comfortable" but the husband seems GGG enough, moreso than many would, and again, she has created this situation through a small lie of omission. As always with these letters, we only ever receive one side of the story. The husband might think they have the hottest marriage around, including the blessing of some controlled non-monogamy.
However, I will also say based on my own and other friends' expereicenes, there seems to be some people who hit 30 and really feel the need to ditch whatever LTR/marriage/??? that they're currently involved in. Really fascinating stuff.
Why do you consider it throwing away 12 years? Does the ending of the relationship retroactively make those year shit or something?
Kidding aside, that was a very well written, very thought out column, kudos..
Speak for yourself. I wouldn't last very long in a passionless marriage, and I don't think I'm alone. Obviously, passion isn't enough by itself, but for many of us (including the woman writing the letter), it's an essential ingredient.
@delwalk: It can feel like a waste or that you "threw it away" due to so much time together. I think it's only natural to feel that way. I did and sometimes still do.
Poly isn't for everyone and I don't think it's for these two...whether that keeps them together or breaks them up or whatever. They just don't have that kind of juice.
Then again, she is with who she started dating at 18, so, shit......maybe she just ought to bounce and be single/poly with the BFF. It's really tough to tell when people are so over-dramatic.
Writer needs to thank BFF for the good time, tell him that she is going to do some serious life introspection and then DO SO. Do not ruin your husbands life until you have worked thru your own shit, hopefully with a therapist.
All that being said, I imagine she has already been immature enough to break her husbands heart, scare the crap out of BFF and otherwise fuck up her life by acting on her hormonal instincts.
Humans, they are so predictable.
VH1 covered this in Tough Love 2, and ultimately broke up the couple.
This also reminds me of the final season of Party Down, where you have to decide between the emotional and the practical, but wherever you decide, you have to run in that direction, no looking back. You gamble and go.
The LW's husband isn't going to fall in love with another woman randomly. The LW is either going to have to hurt her husband hugely, or do away with the BFF. Or, else she'll just suffer.
She's only 30. I think she shouldn't give up on finding a relationship that works better for her. And, no, of course I don't think things will work out with the BFF. But I think it's better for her to experience that out for herself , rather than spend more years imagining that the BFF is so wonderful.
I broke up my own long-term relationship (which had a few serious problems) and ended up breaking up another long-term relationship (that was totally dysfunctional) in the process. Now I would love nothing more than to undo all the damage I've done and put my life back the way it was, and you may have the same regret HHCAFIT, especially since your marriage is still otherwise healthy. Talk to your husband, tell him the full truth about your feelings/thoughts/fears, and then get your asses to counseling.
Fuck. I really could have used this letter/response 3 months ago.
Not that people don't get bored and shouldn't be honest about it, however they decide to respond to it. But if the letter writer is about to split over being bored, she should learn from her mistake and not approach BFF as a potential husband to have and to hold and to love forever. She tried that once already, after all.
And if she decides she does, in fact, need to marry this other guy, she should probably make sure her vow concludes with "... at least until I find something more exciting."
But the LW is so overwhelmed with the new car she's driven (much more exciting than the old reliable model she's had for so many years), that she's getting anxious over the prospect of some other woman driving away in HER car. As for the old car, she's already hoping some other woman will take the heap off her hands. Remember the "cold and calculating" from the previous paragraph? Well, the LW is applying it to her husband rather than to her new toy.
Her husband doesn't deserve to hear any of this unless and until she figures out What. She. Wants. I'd call for self-reflection and solo time with a marriage counselor. ::shudders:: Blech.
But new toys get scuffed up and dented too. If you leave your primary relationship for a new one, then the new one becomes the dull, predictable, everyday one...until someone comes along that gives you a new rush of NRE! Ooh, shiny new toy again!
You have to prepare yourself for NRE when you enter into a secondary relationship. In a sense, you need to armor yourself against it. It's exciting, it's addictive, it's fantastic. But it's not worth ending a loving, nurturing relationship in which you are happy, and it's not worth hurting your primary partner. Learn to recognize it for what it is - the rush of lust.
I know you probably think this doesn't apply, because this guy's been your friend forever, and you've loved him forever - but have you ever lived with him? paid bills with him? had to go visit his parents on Thanksgiving when you wanted to go to your own?
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, and do commit yourself to honest communication with your husband in future, whether you stay or not. Surreptitious loving is exciting. But it does not a long term relationship make.
If you don't, don't do a damned thing. You get to have both right NOW, remember? You can have all the stability of your primary relationship (a guy who is so cool he'll even let you have outside sexual relationships), and you get the excitement that the withholding causes. Stability/love/companionship/shared history AND excitement/hot new sexy energy. You get BOTH.
And you're thinking of giving that up, why, again?
You should be honest with your husband, not inasmuch as the sex is better (you can say it's "great" though, and that you love and appreciate him letting you experience that), and you can say you are having some crush-feelings (which you are), but that you want to maybe see your BFF on a more regular basis - scheduled visits, etc. Structure it, some. If the mere act of structuring it ruins the fun, you didn't want him as your next partner anyway.
She's painted herself into a corner. Maybe she should have left him before, instead of trying to open things up. But she can't now. She promised she wouldn't, and it would be a really shitty thing to do now that he's given her permission under the explicit condition that she can't leave him for the BFF, which is a reasonable and near-essential condition to make an open relationship work. Leaving him for her now would be the worst thing she could do. She'd be taking advantage of him and stabbing him in the back.
If she'd had the courage to talk to her BFF instead, then she could have. But she can't now.
I completely agree that passion is essential in love or in a relationship. And she pretty clearly stated that the passion was gone.
But what's missing in Ryan's answer is that she needs to try to fix things with her husband. Their relationship has been in trouble for a while and the BFF has nothing to do with it. Passion dying isn't normal. It's a huge warning siren that something is going wrong and you need to fix it.
So, she needs to take a break from her BFF. Cut off all contact. Try to fix things with her husband. If that doesn't work, she can leave him, but she can't ever go back to her BFF. That door is now forever barred to her.
First of all, by ethics: it's the ultimate in shittiness, and they'll always know, for the rest of their life, that they're a horrible person. This could be reinforced or solidified with a written agreement (putting things in writing tends to commit people to them more and enhance their emotional significance), or even a tattoo.
Another way would be to tell the other person that they're not allowed to be in a relationship with your partner. The BFF seems like a decent guy. Another way would be to have the person forfeit something if they do: their life, in the extreme, but some large amount of money or property would also work.
Finally, you could figure out a way to break up their relationship, if they do get together: even if you didn't want to stoop to violence there are all sorts of ways to break people up, which the people could even prearrange ahead of time (and all of which would be ethically justified, since he only let them get together because of her promise).
(I realize this is a crazy rant but I just get really upset at the idea.)
Once you're done feeling bad, embrace your new life. It's gonna take a while for you to feel like it, but one of these days you'll wake up feeling a little less shitty than you did the day before, and from then on out you'll coast until you realize that your life is a thousand times richer than it was before.
Trust me on this one.
Really, she just needs a vacation with her husband and to detox from the BFF for a few months. You really can work to recreate passion: giving up passion is not ok, and breaking up with her husband without trying to recreate it is not ok.
So if nonmonogamy works for you then great. The possibility definitely exists that I'm wrong about it all. But don't knock the monogamists, either. The possibility exists just as much that you are wrong. Rigid adherance to arbitrary rules, or hedonistic selfishness. Everyone can pick their own way, but I just hate how monogamy gets a bad rap around here. And for the record, throwing out "For the record, I'm not against monogamy, but..." every few replies doesn't erase the insult.
No. The worst thing she could do is keep her feelings secret and stay with him out of a sense of obligation, pity, or because she decided pursuing her true love was too risky. Sure, leaving him would hurt, but lying to him about her feelings and the nature of their relationship is just cruel.
Her husband is a person, too, and a pretty good one by the sound of it. He should be looped in and given the choice about whether he wants to stay with her under the circumstances. That's what I'd want if I were in his shoes.
Lacking the pursuit of noble purpose, great deeds, undying fame, life is just the waiting room for the grave. But if other men were to sing the deeds of a dead man, he might live on longer, and, being very lucky, may never die.
If you're fantasizing about the relationship ending--for this reason, in this way--the relationship is likely over.
The LW doesn't say if they were their respective firsts, but odds are they were. By 25 I had gone through a number of relationships, including one where I would've been in a marriage (age wise) like theirs if I'd allowed it. Instead I had a variety of relationships, including a crash and burn dumping, that were just what I needed to be ready when I found someone.... Amazing. If I hadn't had those experiences, I wouldn't have been ready for the long haul, and myriad of changes that have been required of me. If I hadn't had that horrible experience of emotional rending, one I live to keep my wife and family from experiencing, I might not have understood the consequences of endangering our marriage.
I'm sad to say that as it was their relationship is over, Pandora's box is opened. And the LW's husband knows it (I view his "allowing" her to be a hope of getting it out of her system). They both will have to make major changes to stay together, or not. Wishes and fantasy don't do the laundry or pick up a kid from a fall, willful, fallible people do.
Monogamy is worth it if that is what truly matters to you. I have been monogamous for a long time and it has been rewarding. However, it is not an essential part of what I need in a deep, loving relationship in the way that it is for my wife. I could easily share that connection with more than one person at a time. I haven't, though, because it's important to her she have the exclusive claim to me romantically and sexually.
"Wishes and fantasy don't do the laundry or pick up a kid from a fall, willful, fallible people do."
1. If you want to be monogamous, you'll have to pick one of your relationships. Do so knowing that a new, shiny relationship always seems marvelous and exciting, but that feeling only lasts for a year or so. After that you settle down and see if there's really something there that will last.
2. If you want to be poly, start being more honest with everyone. If it were me, I would go have my new exciting relationship while at the same time doing a lot to sustain and support my existing relationship. Bring some of that NRE back home and use it to enjoy your relationship with your spouse. When my partners or I have new relationships, this is what happens. The important thing is for everyone to realize that the NRE is temporary, and it will go away if you indulge it for a while.
In order for #2 to work, everyone has to understand and acknowledge that NRE is not love, and that it's a temporary fun distraction, not a huge threat to existing relationships. If you or your spouse or your new partner mistakes NRE for love, it is perfectly possible to allow a new relationship to destroy an old one and regret it terribly. Also, it's important to remember that NRE thrives on uncertainty and distance and newness. The quickest way to get past it is to indulge the new relationship for a bit until the newness wears off. It's your responsibility to be extra loving and attentive to your spouse during this time, so that your existing relationship doesn't get neglected.
But maybe that's just the passive-aggressive part of me talking. I hate confrontation, and daydream about magical ways to avoid it, and this just sounds like that to me. "I don't want to have to have a progress review with my boss - maybe he'll win the lottery and quit, and the new guy won't make me do it!"
Pure dopiness? I prefer "bombastic flourish".
A few years ago, this was almost my exact scenario. Except it was my husband's best friend, who was also a good friend of mine.
Fast forward to now... I have a husband and a boyfriend, and I love both dearly. My boyfriend and I were local for just under 2 years out of 5 of being together. His job moves him a lot, so we are used to a long distance relationship. He can date if he wants, but he doesn't want to marry unless she can accept our family the way it is. My husband is free to date, but he doesn't have much time to do so because of his job. I talk to my boyfriend daily through messages and calls, we see each other when we can get the time off, and after a few bumps in the road and emotional stretching, my husband realizes I love him just as much as I did 10 years ago, if not more, and I'm not going anywhere unless he wants out.
Poly familes CAN work. It just takes willing people to make it happen, and the right chemistry and trust. I have poly friends that have done relationships like this, and others that still are!
Cake Girl, I hope you have the right people, and that things work out for you as well or better than they have for me. Dig deep and work with your husband and bff and see if you guys can make that leap. Go slowly, explore your emotions, and communicate yourselves to death, and you just might find the perfect situation you never thought possible!
Also, what Ryan said about the fact you already have been misleading. Need to start with that.
>I feel so bad for the rest of the non-monogamists.
>This whole theory that monogamy is hard, therefor unnatural, therefor a restrictive social
construct, therefor without merit, it just sucks.
You've got your cause and effect mixed up.
>It's a rationalization made up entirely to get out of the hard work of monogamy, which has stuck around for a reason.
You mean, inertia? Life is too short to spend your "hard work" on something neither of you want.
>...we get the sigh and rolled eyes and "You just don't get it". But we do.
You seem to be proving otherwise.
>The satisfaction, the love after being in love has passed, is worth the monogamy,
>is worth the sacrifice. It just is. Not just to me, but to trillions of other people too.
And I have that with my partner without that sacrifice. So I have more "reserves" of sacrifice to direct toward non-imaginary issues.
>a lot of them see their failings as failings, not as proof that the goal was unworthy all along.
Ironic that we've gotten to the point where the monogamous have started claiming the same discrimination as the poly - and while it's true that on this particular messageboard, there are plenty of those sharing the viewpoint that monogamy isn't as sacred as our society pretends it to be, I don't think anyone in your life is going to try to convince you that your last relationship failed because you were too monogamous. (whereas EVERY nonmonogamous person has that told to them by at least someone about EVERY failed relationship)
>Absolute faith and trust, even if evidenced by a seemingly arbitrary rule like monogamy, is meaningful.
That's absolutely true in every kind of relationship, especially one where you're having to venture out into scary territory.
>And even if you only screw around for one hour every 6 months, the fact that you can't even skip that one hour says something about the level of commitment involved.
If you are doing something against your agreements, I feel the same way.
>If my husband suddenly declared eating omelets with other men to be off limits, even though it's a stupid and meaningless request, if it were important to him I'd honor it.
Let's unpack that particular example; while it may be true, I'm also pretty sure you'd spend some time discussing WHY that was important to him, its history, and perhaps try to figure a way to make him feel more comfortable with whatever his issue with omelets are, for his own health and well-being. Not because you NEED to eat them (with or without other men), but because it's a seemingly unusual request. And monogamy is, to a lot of people, an equally absurd request, but because it's the norm, it's the usually-unquestioned default. Like being an atheist in a Christian majority, I feel like it only makes sense for the person making the assertion that something is necessary to make a happy relationship to have to explain, instead of the person saying that it doesn't have to be that way (that point only needs one counter-example)
>Do I get the urge to fuck other guys? Yes, because I'm human and we are not a mate-for-life >species. Do I do it? No, because I am human, and therefor am capable of empathy.
Exactly. If you want monogamy from him and he wants it from you and you can both do it - hey - enjoy that. But it sounds like fucking other guys would make you happy.
>But don't knock the monogamists, either. The possibility exists just as much that you are wrong.
This is definitely sounding like a religious argument now. Monogamy is rigid and unyielding. Monogamy says "if you break this rule that no one actually wants, you have to break up, even if everything else about your relationship is perfect." If you have a fucked up relationship, and infidelity is what it takes to convince you to overcome the inertia a marriage can take on over time, you should definitely use that. Non-monogamists say that you should write your own rules. Not that there aren't any. You're just thinking about them in terms of what you actually want vs. what someone scared you into thinking you need.
>Rigid adherance to arbitrary rules, or hedonistic selfishness.
>Everyone can pick their own way, but I just hate how monogamy gets a bad rap around here.
Only judgmental monogamists get bashed. Everyone is free to make their own rules.
>And for the record, throwing out "For the record, I'm not against monogamy, but..."
>every few replies doesn't erase the insult.
I'm not against monogamy if it's what both partners really want and they know why they want it. You haven't mentioned a single thing about why you want it, except to martyr yourself as proof that you can sacrifice something you want for the sake of your relationship. What kills me is the idea that you have to sacrifice AND pretend you're not sacrificing (especially to someone who may not even care about what it is you're sacrificing for). That's really the worst of both worlds.
All relationships have problems. Let yours be your own.
If you've been in love with this guy for eight years but you've never told your husband this, apparently you haven't been trying very hard.
It's stupid, but most people's stereotypes of multi-way relationships involve unequal sexist arrangements and fundamentalist religion, which are typically one rich man and many women treated as property, and it's possible people in FFM triads keep quiet more to not get judged or stereotyped.
If she wants out of the marriage, she should get out of the marriage. No one who stays when they want to be gone is doing the other person any favors. But, if she leaves, it shouldn't be for this person or that person, she should leave for herself. Not to be with anyone else, not because the grass is greener over there, but because it's what's right for her. As EricaP suggests in Scenario C, it's time to be an adult here.
This reminds me of Prizzi's Honor, which was largely forgettable. Nicholson does a fine job of illustrating the difference between love and in love.
@84 People get married because they want a life and home together. They're also usually in love. Kids are often but not always a part of that.