Good answer.
Well said.
I also think you are correct. But let me add that you never really know someone until you've lived with them. So, if you leave hubby for the
"excitement" of BFF, you just might find yourself begging hubby to take you back.
You've got the job, Dr. Ryan.
I like the stipulation that it's okay "as long as you don't leave me." Because if you leave me, I'd have to end this relationship.
I think Christopher's advice amounts to telling her - "life is going to be dull from now on, so just deal." Why would she or her husband want to stay married if they are doomed to a life of dull adequacy and "pretty good sex"?

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.
Exactly what I was thinking, but more smarter.
"We fight like most couples—sometimes, but never very seriously. Never in a way that would make me consider leaving."
I think of serial monogamists like Newt Gingrich or the late Elizabeth Taylor, who perpetually leave the spouse they are with in the dust in order to pursue "passion" and "true love" with their next spouse. You had years to cultivate "romance" via e-mail, where you got to experience your BFF at his most erudite and charming, culminating in a wild session of oral sex when you actually met. Meanwhile, all this time you have had to live with your husband in all the good, bad, and mundane of him in his humanity. Yup, Christopher got it right, because you are due for some rough times ahead, and a brutal lesson (think of Jimmy Stewart's betrayal by Kim Novak in "Vertigo") in the danger of building up a romantic fantasy that can never be the material of a real-life, day-by-day relationship in which both partners put up with each other's farts and annoyances, and grow old and ugly together.

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.

Christopher: I generally agree with your advice. However, I think you are making a big leap in assuming there are kids in the equation. I've been reading Savage Love for nearly 20 years, and most distraught letter-writers usually mention kids if there are any. Dan generally takes the letters at face value, and does not assume facts not in evidence.

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.
EricaP@6: "Assuming there are no kids, I think she should take a sabbatical from her husband. Go live in the same town with the BFF."

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.

We go through a lot of changes from 18 to 30. There's no way on God's green earth I could have been with the same person for that stretch of time. If there are no kids, then put this marriage out of its misery and live a little. There's no reason to feel guilty. It's impressive the relationship has lasted this long, and that, in itself, is a success.

Move on, girlfriend.
@6: I'm imagining how that conversation might go:

"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?"
@12/14 - Granted, the husband might not be there at the end of her "sabbatical." You're right to ding me for assuming he wouldn't move on as soon as she packed her bags. But something about the way he gave his permission ("go ahead, fuck this guy you email with every day for 8 years, just don't tell me about it and don't leave me") led me to that assumption.

Either way - what's the point, for either of them, in maintaining a passionless marriage?
I wonder what the pen pal wants.
I'm going to be the anti-@6 and say that you need a sabbatical from your BFF (a term I didn't know was used by anyone over the age of 18).

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.
@12 - Can't we call number 6's comment stupid and unrealistic without pegging the sentiment behind it on all women? I really don't think most women think they can get away with that kind of shit.
More than anything this letter screams to me "I AM VERY SELF-INVOLVED PLEASE VALIDATE ME."

I guess it must have been too long since HHCAFIT has been a teenager because she clearly doesn't remember what infatuation is.
@16: I wonder what the pen pal wants.

More blow jobs, probably.
@13 That really stuck out to me too, and I'm not even 30 yet. But even between 18 and 27 (when I got married) my personality and outlook have undergone some significant changes, as happens with most of us. I know I definitely looked for different things in a partner then vs. now. While I don't think it's impossible to marry that young and go the distance, it must be a lot harder.

EricaP, I think CR's answer was a little abstracted and didn't quite get to the actual practical part of the advice, but it seems to me like the logical practical lesson to extract is that maybe she should continue to have exciting flings with the "BFF" and not fly off the handle and run away with him and thereby ruin everything.
"Either way - what's the point, for either of them, in maintaining a passionless marriage?"

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.
I always enjoy the guest appearances (even more so when its advice dispensed by some completely unqualified contest winner or charitable donor whom Dan then comes in and lambasts for their ignorance fueled, ridiculous suggestions.)

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.
P.S. A friend of mine's wife left him earlier this year. Her reason was that she loved him but was no longer in love with him. Countless women have told their soon-to-be-ex-husbands the same thing, and this woman needs to tell hers.
When you first fall in love with someone, your brain chemistry goes crazy. Your dopamine (among other things) goes off the charts. It can be rather similar to being high on cocaine. That phase doesn't last.
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.
RP @11: I think Dr. Ryan was bringing up whether or not there were children simply as an aside, based on the fact that she hasn't been completely forthright with her husband on her feelings for BFF and that she might have left other details out of her letter. That's all.

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?
Stop writing the column, because that was about twice as better than Dan’s advice, and it is a threat to his hegemony.

Kidding aside, that was a very well written, very thought out column, kudos..
@23: Relationships are not sustained by "passion".

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.
@EricaP ... The LW never said she was in a passionless marriage. She said she's living a great life with a great guy who she loves. That's probably what makes her decision so difficult. Sure she calls the sex with her husband "pretty good" in comparison to the hot and amazing oral session she had with the BFF, but that's just a description of their first and only sexual encounter so far. Maybe after 12 years of fucking the BFF she would think that was just "pretty good" too and start fantasizing about greener pastures again. She can leave her marriage and try to start over with the BFF, but she should be prepared to lose a "wonderful man" who she loves, who wants to spend the rest of his life with her, and who's willing to have an open marriage. Pretty big gamble.
I'm with 22, if she can get it straight that the "being in love thing" is a chemical side-effect. Why not enjoy it, ride it out, so to speak, and continue to enjoy hubby for the good things he brings to her life as well? It would take work to find that balance, but could be very rewarding for all involved.
@seandr: That's exactly what happened to me. Wife turned 30 and just went at a complete 90-degree angle away from me. And in retrospect it was a great thing for my sanity, as there were a few issues bubbling under (that actually never really got dealt with) including absolute sexual death, that led to me finding a much more compatible and fun-loving mate.

@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.
Eh...I think our guest's advice is about as good as it's going to get. It seems to me that they had what amounts to the bare minimum of discussion of opening their marriage and it amounted to calling each others bluffs. That's the reason that EricaP's advice seems so obtuse...they went too far too fast and moving to another state just multiplies that by 10. Plus, she (lw) never says it's "passionless"...she says the sex is "pretty good", which is not only just fine when it involves someone you're madly in love with and trust, it's also probably getting downgraded in this letter because she's thinking of fucking the BFF. They just didn't go about it correctly from the start and now it's sort of wobbling around. (I think that fantasy about her husband meeting someone to give her an out is just her imagination running wild on her. She needs to breath for a minute).

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.
for dogs sakes people, you cant just take on the sex parts of being monogomish without taking on the honesty, communication and time committment that goes along with the package.

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.
@ 30, how long was the longest LTR you've been in? Just curious.
Been in a relationship since the age of 18, and now itching for something different? Say it ain't so!

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.
I left my first bf after 4 years even though I loved him (and we're still close friends)...Another guy made me realize that what I felt for my bf wasn't the kind of love & sexual passion that makes it possible to stay together in the long run. The other guy was a short-term fling, as it turned out, but I never regretted leaving my first bf. I hadn't understood adult sexuality until I met the other guy.

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.

Mr. Ryan, I hope those other four letters don't all have to do w/ monogamy issues.
As someone who was in a pretty similar situation a few months ago and has left a pretty massive wake of destruction behind me, seriously consider CR's advice HHCAFIT. Although @13 may have a point too, as that also influenced the decisions I made.

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.
"I love you, but I'm not in love with you" is sitcom material, a quasi-diplomatic and hollow way of saying "I like you but I'm bored."

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."
The LW leaped into a physical fling with her BFF before she gave ANY thought to how to prevent feelings from leeching out of her primary relationship. It's not at all cold and calculating to have an intimate head-to-heart talk beforehand, so that you know there are limits (beyond the pleas of her husband).

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.
Lady, you're drunk on NRE (new relationship energy). It's easy, when you're inexperienced in poly, to let that rush of lust carry away everything else. Suddenly, your loving, nurturing, stable relationship seems dull, burdened down by the endless minutiae of daily life. And here's this shiny new toy, over here!

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 want to leave your husband for other reasons, sure, let this be your catalyst.

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.
Holy fuck. Good answer.
Two book references in this answer! I approve!
Great answer. I tend to doubt that she'll take the advice, though.
Here's the thing, people who think she should leave her husband:

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.
@5 is right to consider how the important stipulation that someone can't leave you for someone else could be enforced.

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.)
@40: Oh honey, cut yourself some slack. You acted like a human being. You probably won't make this mistake again. It's ok to feel like shit for a while, but please don't get too attached to that. (I did a bad thing in a bad situation and ergo am a bad person. You're not; you're human.)

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.
amazing answer thank you dr. ryan
My reading was that the "as long as you don't leave me" was a way of saying that at that decision point he didn't want to stay with the LW if she was just going to leave in the near future. It's not that she'll be fired after she quits. It's stay and keep me as your primary, or go on your way sooner rather than later.
@52: Heh, I looked back, and you're right, the LW didn't say "as long as you don't leave me for him." Still, leaving a guy because he let you fool around with someone else on condition you wouldn't leave him is a shitty thing to do. I find it odd that she doesn't really seem to mention that she'd be breaking her promise and backstabbing him in her deliberation: she just says she doesn't want to "hurt him," which is hardly the point.

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.
I've had a few drinks tonight, so I'm reading this with that perfect amount of fog and clarity that only brutal and honest intoxication can bring. And I have to say, as a sworn monogamist, 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. I mean, I can follow the line of logic the whole way, but it's a rationalization made up entirely to get out of the hard work of monogamy, which has stuck around for a reason. And every time someone mentions that, that monogamy is the norm for a reason, and that other peoples' failures do not discredit the entire institution, we get the sigh and rolled eyes and "You just don't get it". But we do. 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 even the people who failed, even a lot of them see their failings as failings, not as proof that the goal was unworthy all along. Absolute faith and trust, even if evidenced by a seemingly arbitrary rule like monogamy, is meaningful. 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 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. Not because the rule makes sense, but because his feelings are that important to me. 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.
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.
@48: Leaving him for her now would be the worst thing she could do.

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.
What the LW is experiencing is "new relationship energy" and it doesn't mean that her love for her husband is "passionless" it just means that it isn't new and shiny and full of the rush of hormones that new relationships have. It's fun while it lasts but it doesn't last, for anyone, ever. It's a very transitory state and when it subsides is when you really see your partner and your relationship for what they are no longer blinded by the heat of things. If you're lucky and the person you are with is a good match then you settle into a loving relationship that isn't as exciting every moment as when it was new but it has much greater value, that of real lasting love, companionship and comfort. I don't know if the LW has that with her current husband, I hope she does, but she definitely doesn't have it with her BFF. She needs to recognize how she's feeling for what it is and deal with it.
@54, the only problem with what you're saying is that "monogamy is hard" is not most people's motivation for going poly. Not really sure what else to tell ya. Cheers.
I think it's a wild thought that some people derive most meaning in life merely from relationships, as if the point of being alive was simply to be in love. What a shallow existence.

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.
@ 55, I asked you a question @ 36...
@43, 56: In your experience, NRE can make a woman fantasize about being free of her husband? "I've started to fantasize about my husband falling in love with another woman and leaving me." I can't read that line and think that their marriage is going to be fine.
"'s gotten to the point where I've started to fantasize about my husband falling in love with another woman and leaving me..."

If you're fantasizing about the relationship ending--for this reason, in this way--the relationship is likely over.
seandr, I think you're a wise man -- I always enjoy your comments
ha, I fantasize about my husband dying and leaving me a grieving widow so that I when I run into a boy I had a hot infatuated summer with years ago, we rekindle and have more hot infatuated sex. Just a silly fantasy. I also fantasize about being some Uma Thurman-in-Kill Bill-like assassin, or about participating in varsity BDSM even though I do not want it in real life. Fantasy's are fun. This lady needs to soul search about her marriage, with a good therapist, as it doesn't sound like she can tell for herself her fantasies from reality
Reading HHCAFIT's story reminded me of why I was terrified of marrying at 18, and ready for life at 25.

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.

@54 charlie
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."

Pure Dopeness.
Poly people run into this situation all the time. After a while you learn that NRE is NOT love. It can turn into love, just like the initial passion can turn into love in any relationship. Since this woman's existing marriage is pretty good, here's what I'd advise:

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.
@60 NRE can make people fantasize about leaving existing relationships if (1) the existing relationship isn't stable and happy, (2) the fantasy is just a fantasy; the person having it knows that and has no actual desire or intention for it to come true, or (3) the person sees the existing relationship as preventing him or her from having what he or she wants in the the new relationship. #3 can happen when people are monogamous or when they are poly but lacking the kinds of deals that make poly work for everyone. I'd need to know a lot more about the nature of the fantasy and the situation before I could have an opinion on whether it's a problem in this case. It could be anything from "I'm imagining running away to Tahiti with New Exciting Relationship but I know I'd never really do this or be happy doing it" to "I'm realizing I'm unhappy in my current relationship and think I really will have to end it to get what I want in the long run."
@24 I also always enjoy the guest consultant. My favorite is when Dan involves some random person sitting next to him. But this is good too.
@60 - See, I read that a little differently. Fantasizing about her husband falling in love with someone else and leaving her is a guilt thing on her part. She knows it'll hurt him if she tells him she's fallen in love, and the whole fantasy takes all that guilt off her. Everyone is happy! Win! It's not as clear-cut to me that she actually wants her husband gone; she just wants the responsibility of telling him she's gone a little over the edge to be gone.

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".

OK So I read about a dozen or two of these comments, but I skipped over a lot of the bickering, so stone me as you will, people.

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!
I couldn't stay with someone who thought of me as an obstacle, who fantasized about me being gone. I'd be gone. But I guess people are different.
@71, dopeness, not dopiness. it was a compliment.
LImerence. Which may or may not develop further. Whether this can work into a poly relationship, I don't know, but not if you wreck your primary in the process.

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.
False choice.

>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.
Poly question: why is it that EVERY poly family or poly situation I've heard of is MMF? Or are they the only ones who write in to Slog? Are there successful FFM situations? I'm sure there are, but no one here ever seems to discuss them (and I follow Slog pretty closely). Hmmm.
LW: My best friend is a man who I've been in love with for about eight years [. . . ] I have always tried to be very honest with my husband about my BFF without coming out and saying "I'm in love with him."

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.
@77 There are lots of different poly configurations out there, though some are probably more common than others. In my family my female partner and I (I'm also female) had been together many years when my male partner joined the family. So we now have a FFM configuration, though my partners, though they consider themselves family, are not romantically involved with each other.

@77 You're just begging for gender stereotypes like "women are more jelaous", "women need more attention; men need breaks from processing", etc, but the the only three successful "triads" I'm personally friends with are FFM.
@80: 77 was noting that FFM triads get talked about less. I'm not sure if that's true, but it might be because people react more negatively due to male/female stereotypes. I suspect women in FFM triads are more likely to be judged as settling or having low self-esteem, and men in FFM triads are more likely to be judged as bragging, lying, taking advantage of women, or being abusive.

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.
My two cents, which likely aren't worth even that much:

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.
I think the husband is a wimp, and is willing to do anything to just keep this woman. She knows he's such a nice guy, and would hate to hurt him. But She's attracted to this other schlub. I think what this woman is doing is natural, and it's the husband that needs to man up. He has to stop being needy, and tolerant, and dump this woman. It's too late for him, she has already framed him as a nice guy. If he really really wants to keep her, or any woman ever, he's going to have to have a come to jesus moment and find a way to be a lot more exciting. And persuing a female like a whipped dog isn't going to cut it.
What's the point of being married if you don't have kids?
@84: Making a public commitment. Expressing your intention and willingness to stay with each other for always. Getting tax benefits. Getting health insurance and social security benefits. Inheritance benefits. Making it harder to break up. Getting wedding presents. An excuse to throw a party and see far-off relatives and old friends.
Okay answer--for this particular set of people, this woman sleeping with this man is playing with fire--but there's more. It's good to tell the woman where she's right and where she's wrong, but it's better to tell her what to do about it. "Stay with the husband" is what I'm getting from this response, but what should she do to keep from losing her mind?

@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.

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