SL Letter of the Day: Evidence of Absence

Comments

1
While this is mostly spot-on, I feel like there's a difference between non-serious fooling around and hand-holding all summer. It's a little less pointless fling (not compromising emotional fidelity of the relationship) & a little more Grease.
2
Oh whoops, "see AND sleep with other people." I take it back. Kind of.
3
she should ask her boyfriend to remove his 'tag' from the photos
4
First, if your boyfriend is amenable to a plan that keeps your arrangement discreet, he can adjust his facebook settings, starting with:
privacy settings >> customize settings >> photos and videos I'm tagged in
This is a good way to prevent surprises as people tag you in a picture that shows up in your friends' news feeds.

Another good step towards managing privacy in general?
edit friends >> create new list >> "nunya business contacts"
Now make sure that photos that aren't for general consumption are blocked for the 'nunya business' group. At a minimum, prevent these people from viewing tagged content.

Finally, the best way to have actual, old-school privacy is to not use facebook at all.
5
I agree with #1 entirely.
6
There's always the truth! Thanks Dan!!! Love it!
7
For what it is worth, Study Abroad Summers, for the indefinite future, that other woman will be looking at pictures of you and the boyfriend. In the long run, that'll be the image that lasts.
8
Seriously y'all, learn how to manage your privacy on Facebook. Fucking Facebook!

Anyway, I can see how it would suck to be able to actually see the piece on the side... The LW should discuss this with her boyfriend and let him know how the pics make her feel, so as not to build up unspoken resentment. And get him to untag/hide them.
9
The following status update should do the trick:
"SASBST is fondly reminiscing about the especially long and thick cock she enjoyed this summer."
10
Maybe it's me, but I get the impression she was assuming a much more physical-oriented arrangement, but the boyfriend went ahead and got himself a GIRLFRIEND-on-the-side. I think what's bothering her is the emotional messages of the pictures... hand holding, hugging-that sort of thing says "love," "dating," etc. That feels to me a little bit like the boyfriend crossed the line. Especially the "I don't expect him to cut off contact with her"... as if the foreign lady's feelings are so friggin important!
11
Easy. Stop wasting your time looking at Facebook.

People ask you about what they saw on Facebook: respond "what's Facebook?"

Seriously, get a life elsewhere.
12
Me wonders whether the foreign lady was briefed on how transitory she was.
13
I'd ask him straight up to not rub my face in his summer girlfriend with pictures. If he won't comply, you know where you stand.
14
Agree with @10. It's quite possible that she assumed that the "no serious relationships" clause would ensure only sexual encounters and preclude dates and cuddling. There is a not-clear-at-all border between those things.

However if it serves as any consolation, I would like to tell the writer that cuddling and dating does not neccesarily indicate an actual romantic commitment. I've been in such a situation before. In appearance, no one could say that my friend and I were anything but a couple, but we were not. It's just that physical intimacy in the bedroom, if combined with friendship, can lead to public intimacy (holding hands, hugging etc.). However this does NOT have to mean that he considers her a second girlfriend or you less of his priority.
15
<< We agreed that, for the duration of the program, we'd be free to see and sleep with other people as long as the relationships we pursued weren't serious and we practiced safe sex. >>
ACtually, it does sound like he stuck to the rules. perhaps the rules could have been fleshed out a little, like defining what 'serious' means as far as relationships goes... when you open up your relationship like this, you have to be really specific.

Also, I see nothing in the rules that stated they had to tell anyone they slept with that they were in a primary relationship. This other woman may have no idea it was a fling.

Personally, I would try talking to the BF about being uncomfortable with the pictures being on his facebook site where I can see them and ask him if he knows how I can block them - then let him know that he can untag himself off the images...

there, problem solved. Jealousy is something you find ways of dealing with internally because if the BF does his part, which is protect you from the pictures, then your jealousy is your own self esteem issues and not his problem
16
What @10 and @13 said.

Maybe this situation will prompt SASBST and boyfriend to more clearly define the 'rules' next time.

I'm impressed at SASBST's ability to admit that her jealousy isnt completely fair. Just dont facebook-stalk the summer lady! I'm sure the less you know about her, the better.
17
4's instructions on FB are helpful, but there is a problem.

I just went to my FB account and, lo, I had three choices about who could see pictures "Photos and videos I'm tagged in": "everyone", "friends of friends" and "friends only". There isn't an option for "no-one". The most private (heh) FB setting is one which means that exactly the people who are going to ask her questions can still see them.

The only way the bf can stop someone tagging him, it seems, is to completely delete his FB account.
18
The guy needs to quit being a douche and do whatever it takes to get the photo(s) taken down. The lady deserves a fucking medal for being so reasonable about this. And they both need to have a good, long talk to make sure they're both on the same page. Easy as pie.
19
@ 17: Actually, you can set up a custom group (you name who is in the group) and choose to show certain pictures only to them, or exclude only them from seeing certain pictures. It actually works just fine. For example, I have a group called "work" with my co-workers in it. I have albums that are visible to all "friends" except "work," so my co-workers can't see them but all my other friends can.
20
@17: "Custom" allows you to select which contacts can see this. This is where groups come in. You have both "make visible to" and "hide from" options. You can be as selective as you want, but managing this with lists is the easiest way. Either a group of people you don't mind seeing tagged content, or a group of people that you wish to hide it from.
21
Whoops. @19 beat me to it.
22
Added to say,

People, seriously. As a person in a non-manogamous relationship that goes pretty well, other than some bumps in the road.

If you are going to set up an arrangement like this, whether temporarily or more long term, you have got to be VERY SPECIFIC in your arrangements. no passive works like 'serious' or 'just for fun' or 'no feelings should get involved'.

I would go so far as to say process the whole thing as much as a lesbian couple - I can say that, being a lesbian; that means talk it all over until a normal person would be sick of the topic, then talk about it for another hour.

And realize that sometimes the arrangements or rules need changed or updated as your own relationship changes.
23
What 5280 said.
24
I agree with @18. Seriously, she isn't a jealous freak. She allowed the relationship to open up for summer flings, as long as they were not serious. It may be very girly of me, but hand holding, hugging, and going to formals together sounds like they were close. If I were the European girl, I certainly would feel a connection. The girlfriend is jealous because of the seemingly emotional intimacy that the photos show. I would also be threatened by emotiional attachment. A fuck is just a fuck, but becoming close to someone is a different matter. It was only supposed to be over the summer after all, and it doesn't sound like she keeps in contact or has pictures with her and the boys she fucked.
25
Dude, why is it so f'ing hard for people to go without sex and attention for a couple of months. Of all people, grad students should have the easiest time of it.

Jesus Christ.
26
You beat me to it, @25. If they consider themselves a couple, maybe they could --oh, I don't know -- hold out for three months until the boyfriend gets back. That way you wouldn't have the momentous problem of explaining to friends who the chick is who's obviously boning your BF on facebook.
27
@25 & 26, these are not practicing monogamists and why should they have to define their lives by your (or mine) standards.

I may be a monogamist, but I am okay with anyone who isn't as long as they don't try to drag my a$$ into their world. I don't share period. You want to share, good on you, and we can be friends without any kind of sexual connections.

With that said, tell the friends who are asking you to speak with him. Let him explain it and then go on your merry way with him. If you cannot then the appropriate response is "Why? Are you jealous?" After all, this may be a way for these "friends" to create a rift between you. Or explain it to 'em if you want, but as most people cannot deal with other people's life choices, I would say why bother.

Finally, next time set up better ground rules.

Also, if this was a summer fling, then why is he keeping in contact with her? Or are you keeping in contact with your's, too? Flings do not imply further contact but that just may be my monogamist compass and in open relationships you keep in contact with your casual partners, too. Don't really know.
28
What exactly does "see and sleep with" mean, anyway? Specifically, what does "see" mean in this context? Does "seeing" someone allow for dates? But not to formal events, only to hole-in-the-wall greasy spoons? Maybe you're only allowed to date in places where there are no cameras?

Personally, the whole "allowed to fuck but not allowed to hold hands" thing strikes me as very contrived. If someone can fuck without getting their feelings all involved, surely they can hold hands without getting their feelings all involved?
29
Definitely agree with correcting the Facebook privacy issues. Just because a person may be out to their friends about being non-monogamous doesn't mean they're out to Cousin Sue in Yakima, or their former boss. It's just better to not have to answer those awkward questions at all.

I have most of my family in a custom group that does not see anything by default. They see things I post specifically intending them to see them.

Facebook, like any tool, is what you make of it. Don't want your business made public? Then adjust your privacy settings appropriately.
30
@27 I don't give a rat's ass whatagamists they are. You can't even imply from the letter in the first place: the letter writer could end up deciding that they ARE more comfortable with monogamy or polygamy or nonygamy or whateverygamy.

Who even freaking knows anyway, it doesn't sound like she knows what she wants from a relationship ygamy wise. I just want to know: if it was going to cause issues, which it obviously did, why not go without for a few months? Maybe she's polygamous but only when he's around? Ugh who even cares, I hate people.
31
what's the problem?

Free Sex! is the key to happiness, girl.

Open Relationships™ make your relationship AllTheMoreSpecial!!

get with the times, girl-

Gommorah is just around the next curve.....
32
@30: "ygamy wise" = so useful! "I still don't know what I want, ygamy-wise!"
33
"Hey, [boyfriend]. I keep getting awkward questions about who your seasonal lady friend is from people on facebook, and since our relationship isn't any of their business and I don't really like to go into details, any chance you could untag yourself from those as they come up?"

Communication: not just for bees anymore!

Alternatively, to the nosy fb friends: "That's his sister."
34
Don't be too harsh, there's obviously more issues going on there that weren't included in the letter. Plus we all do things sometimes that we can't foresee being a problem that end up a problem. Who hasn't tried something they didn't like before?!

Tell him that it's disrespectful to leave those pictures up (which it is). Sure she deserves respect too, but just not where it comes to the letter writer. They have their zones and each must keep in her zone. You stay in your area, she stays in hers and you ignore each other as much as possible.

I speak from experience. Oh just wait until she's his 'friend', goes often to the gym with him and he invites her to dinner with you. Every insecurity you ever had will arise and drown you in crazy. Sure you like her as a person, she's really cool. But she reminds you of a not so great time in your life. And really, do we ALWAYS have to be ok with everyone our partner has fucked?
35
How do you get over the anxiety? You power through it, you shrug it off, you pretend like it doesn't bother you until it actually stops bothering you

Savage is gay?
36
His privacy isn't the issue. Agreeing to sleep with other people, knowing you're coming back to each other, means that you have an open honest understanding about sex BUT that your relationship is reserved for each other. That means that intimacy with an outside person, on those levels, is a violation.
It's not that he should hide things better- it's that if he wanted this then he should have been clear and they should have agreed to other Relationships- not just sex- which was their deal.
If he was spending that much time with the other woman then it was a relationship. There is a big difference between open, ignore, share and poly (etc etc etc). I think she gave what she could and he took what he wanted. bullshit.
37
If it doesn't bother you that your boyfriend fucked somebody else, why in the world should it bother you if other people know about it? Or is it a rule that he can only fuck them, not be seen out in public with them? And do you really think you have the right to tell someone else how they can or can't communicate about their own life, including information about people they've fucked who obviously willingly fucked them back?
38
No matter how long I live, I'll never understand the people who insist that monogamy is unnatural, while simultaneously saying that people have pinpoint control over their feelings and that sex never causes unexpected emotional attachments. Assuming the boyfriend was honest with everybody, it's a pretty shitty thing to tell him he has to cut someone off due to your insecurities. If he's been dishonest, vacation girl is the only one with a legitimate beef.

How do you deal with friends who ask what the deal is? Simple. Say you two were taking a break. It's not too far from the truth, and it's common enough that people should accept it without too much trouble.

What should the boyfriend do? If he's a good one, he'll understand that you're feeling fragile and schedule more time/effort to make sure you understand you're #1 in his life. You, in turn, plug your fingers in your ears and try not to think of her any differently than you would any other female friend your boyfriend has. It's not that hard: reassuring your SO when things get rocky is an essential skill for any relationship. Insisting that your SO isn't allowed to keep somebody as a friend is controlling and unhealthy. And sometimes experiments don't work out the way you expected they would, at which point you make note of the fact and move on.
39
@ # 17...but why would a person post photos on FB if s/he didn't want anyone to see them. I think *that* privacy setting is simply not posting them.

What #3 said. The bf can't take down someone else's photo, but he *can* untag himself, which means that it stops showing up in "pictures of X," and leaves him unidentified in those photos. Nobody can retag, either. Is he willing to do this? His answer should tell all.
40
@ Dan and others, it's not hypocritical to have a non-monogamous relationship and not want the details thereof to be public. I think my vibrator and nipple clamps are great, but I don't feel the need to share photos of them on facebook. People are allowed to want privacy about sexual practices for reasons other than shame, i.e. it's no one else's business, there may be plenty of people in their life who don't want to know, etc.

@ Several other posters, this couple made and agreement that summer relationships were to be "nothing serious" and only for the duration of their respective programs.There's nothing strange or unfair about her holding him to that agreement and asking that this summer fling not spill over into their post-summer lives..
41
@ #37 Guess what?? It DOES bother her that her boyfriend fucked someone else! That's the whole fucking problem here! Her boyfriend fucked someone ELSE!!!!!!

Yes, she's "cool" with it. She's a "modern" woman trying to negotiate a "modern" relationship. Surely she wants to be open to this kind of thing, she wants to give her boyfriend, a person very close to her who she presumably cares very much for, some freedom. And maybe she liked the idea of having some summer fun herself, and a fair agreement like this is kind of the only way into it.

But, that brings me back to my first point: NO ONE WANTS THEIR BOYFRIEND TO FUCK SOMEONE ELSE!!!!!!!! Unless, of course, that person gets off on that kind of thing. Or that person is a stated non-monogamist, or whatever. Other than that, the vast majority of women in the world, especially young American women who have exclusively heterosexual relationships (my assumption about the writer)--a demographic I am quite familiar with--DO NOT WANT THEIR BOYFRIEND TO FUCK SOMEONE ELSE!!!!!!!!! Ok?
42
By the way, time for a reality check: "and they were even each others dates for a formal event the program hosted."

Of all the things you list, this is the least inappropriate. It sounds like they were both participants in the program, so of all the events that the two of them could have attended together, this seems the most logical. Sure, the fancy dress and all looks very romantic, but this event in particular was about his program. For all we know, the event was open only to program participants. Expecting him to go stag, or expecting him to maintain a careful arms' length from the rest of the participants, on that night of all nights, makes little sense.

The rest of the summer is another deal, in that all of it seems to add up to something resembling an actual relationship. But the formal party is the one thing that you really should consider giving him a free pass on.

Unfortunately, it's probably the thing that generated the most photographs. And I don't see that setting up an "exclude these people" group on Facebook is a good idea. First, it officially kicks the letter writer out of her boyfriend's inner circle, which is itself a betrayal of her status with him. Second, the pictures will continue to be visible to the rest of the world, and they will continue to come to her with questions. If she is denied even access to the pictures, the impression given to the rest of the world will be that much more embarrassing. "Dude, your boyfriend spent the summer cheating with this girl! And he's showing everybody, but blocking it from you?" Not going to look good. Not going to feel good either.

I think the only good response at this point is to own up to the idea that you and he were taking a break over the summer. That is the most straightforward explanation to the rest of the world, and will provoke the fewest questions. It also is the best way for you to get a handle on it. You were on break, all bets were off. (Which is true. Even if you had never agreed to open the relationship at all, you totally ran the risk that he would come back all aflush over some new girl and wanting to break up with you.) Now you are together again, and that stuff is done. I also think that as part of being done, you would not be wrong to ask him to break contact with her. His willingness to consider it over and done with, and just a happy summer memory -- or not -- speaks volumes not only as to how deeply he got involved with her, but where he and she, and you, stand today.
43
@41, they agreed to fuck other people. She fucked other people (one more than he did, from the limited information we have). She not only expresses no issue with either of them fucking other people, she says she's cool with him staying in touch with the person he's fucked. Her only stated issues are photos that have nothing to do with fucking and the fact that they've made a private arrangement about their private fucking habits public knowledge. And what you glean from that is that because she's a straight, young, American woman, you know better than she does that her problem is obviously her boyfriend fucking someone else, and that her problem is universal?

What a crock of shit.
44
To everyone who assumes he can sever all ties/communication with the OW if she was in fact a participant in the program. Professional/career considerations may make that impossible. The academic world, particularly in the more arcane fields, can be real small/insular. If this is the case, the BF was stupid to get involved with the OW. Then again his possibilities were probably more restricted than those of the GF. He was an instructor for a serious academic program, not a student or on vacation. There had to serious constraints on his free time. While the GF doesn't state her employment status or whether she is also a student (undergrad or grad) she probably had more free time and opportunity to fuck other people than the BF. She was also at home while he was in a foreign country among strangers. I am curious about who proposed the arrangement. Since her opportunities were more likely much greater than his (she admits sleeping with two guys, but not how many times), it was oh so magnanimous of her to (suggest?) agree to the arrangement. It sounds awfully like buyer's remorse to me.
45
A couple of troubling questions

How did she read his emails and was it with his knowledge and permission?
Does he have another email account and a computer that she doesn't have access to?
Is she still in communications with the two guys she fucked and is the BF aware of it?
Does the BF know she fucked two othe guys?
Is that likely to get back to the BF?
Do the guys know who she is, where she lives, and are they likely to try for more benefits FWB?
Is there any physical evidence (pictures/videos/emails) that could come back to haunt her?
Does she now have a rep?
Guys like to brag and they have nothing to restrain them trashing her publicly?
What is she to them beyond another piece of ass?

I doubt the BF would be happy to find out. It is one thing to agree to something intellectually and something intirely different to have deal with the reality on an emotional level.
46
She doesn't say who posted the pictures. There is even the possibility that the university posted them to document/advertise the program. The BF would have to be a real douche bag to post them since anyone with any common sense would realize that posting them would be problematical. All this assumes the BF in fact fucked the OW. If this is troub ling her so much, the GF should work up the nerve to ask the BF directly and if he says yes, she should explain how uncomfortable the pictures make her feel and why. She should also expect some pointed questions in return. This could easily end their relationship.
47
So, WHOA, I'm honestly 100% surprised to see how many posters think this is such a serious problem! I guess I've learned a thing about jealousy today... thanks? I think?
48
Agree with #10. She ok'd some purely physical recreational activity on the side and instead he got himself a girlfriend, complete with cuddling, hand holding, dates and probably a lot more romance than she ever gets back at home. Also, he rubbed her nose in it big time, by failing to prevent her from finding photographic documentation of the entire summer romance he had abroad. He sounds more passive aggressive or completely clueless than anything.

It's like, dude, your girlfriend is so cool that she ok'd some nsa action abroad. The least you could do- and I do mean the very least you could do, to show some appreciation- is to be discreet and make sure that your girlfriend's feelings come first. It's ok to keep some contact info for your piece on the side, should you ever be abroad again, but don't make a big public show on facebook of your daliances. Now your girlfriend now has to answer some embarrassing questions, because you weren't at all discreet.

If this guy really loved his girlfriend he wouldn't have had a relationship with another woman while abroad. He would have respected the terms of the agreement and had a meaningless fling. You don't take pictures of you and your meaningless fling cuddling together. You have drunken sex or afternoon quickies and then leave through the back door of the building with your meaningless fling. There is a huge difference between hooking up with someone a few times for a physical release and dating someone. This guy was dating another woman and basically violated the terms of his agreement and his actions speak way louder than words. In my opinion, this is his way of ending the relationship, because it's a huge, inconsiderate, indiscreet, slap in the face to his girlfriend. If he wanted to stay together he would have respected the terms of their agreement.
49
#10 nailed it on the head. It's one thing to find a little outlet for your physical energies when you're apart but it's another thing to find a girlfriend on the side for your trip. But I agree with Dan insofar as - does this other woman KNOW she was just a fling? If she posted the pix, I'd say no. If HE posted the pix, it sounds like he thinks he has girlfriends in two locations, and I'm sure that's not what the advice seeker wanted. I feel bad for her. Is she his girlfriend or is she just A girlfriend due to geography?
50
So I'm puzzled as to why jealousy rears its head over pictures of hand-holding and going to events and whatnot... I, a woman with a long-term committed boyfriend, have attractive male friends with whom I exchange casual/intimate hugs, gropes, and snuggles, and I would definitely make a move towards more if I could on a bunch of 'em...but while I love all of my friends dearly (and would be highly irritated if anyone tried to tell me I wasn't allowed to be friends with whom I choose) I place none of them over my actual boyfriend in terms of relationship/emotional importance, and more importantly HE KNOWS IT. Confidently.

So, he feels no reason to be jealous even if I get my butt groped in front of him. By comparison, what's the deal with holding hands and hugging in photos? They're not sloppily making out in photos, right? How hard is it to say "oh, that's so-and-so, some friend he met on this summer trip" and shrug it off like you couldn't care less? If you act casual and genuinely project an appearance of NOT being bothered and you know all about it, nobody will question you. While that's not helpful for the jealousy, that'd at least deal with being embarrassed. If you have nothing to BE embarrassed about, then so what?
51
Sometimes you think you can handle something when it is hypothetical and come to find out when it becomes reality that your emotions and reactions aren't what you anticipated they would be.
This goes for both parties.
Maybe the bf didn't intend to genuinely *like* the woman he was given permission to fuck (and by the way, I'm disturbed by the number of people who see the concept of a summer fling as some sort of piece-of-meat-cum-dump, not a person you might actually want to spend time with and enjoy out of the bedroom. To me, "summer fling" connotes a non-serious, temporary relationship, but not merely an outlet for "physical release," as someone here put it. If I just wanted physical release, I could just masturbate; a summer fling implies a bit of flirtatious romance), but to his surprise and the LW's consternation, he turned out to enjoy this now all-too-real other woman's company.

People are complicated. If he was with a woman who shares his interests and profession, and there was good sexual chemistry, it is easy to see why he might become at least slightly emotionally attached. Frankly, I prefer the version of the BF who has fond feelings for a woman he is fucking, rather than seeing her as something to be used, but I'm not his girlfriend, the letter writer. If I was, I would be upset and disturbed and jealous, too. (Yes, even if I had given permission for him to fuck around. Yes, even if *I* had been the one to suggest it, because I wanted to have a little sexual adventure.) And while that response might make the LW unsympathetic to some, it makes her more sympathetic, because more human, to me. To quote Walt Whitman: "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."

Agreeing to "see and sleep with other people" sounds fairly detached in the abstract; the reality of seeing photos of your bf with a real person, not an abstract idea, can be difficult. I think the LW was trying to be non-possessive and modern and GGG and then the complexities and contradictions of human emotional response affected her, and now she's in a position where she's trying to suppress them because they represent a violation of the "enlightened," sex-positive person she's trying to be. She's beating herself up for having the human emotion of jealousy, and lots of people are blaming her for it, too.

As for rubbing her face in the realness of the fling by posting photographs, we don't know who posted them. If it was the boyfriend, then that shows either an enormous lack of sensitivity, or a passive-aggressive way to provoke a breakup with the LW so that he can (maybe) legitimately pursue the other woman full-time. If it was the OW, then it signals the possibility that she was/is unaware that she was supposed to be a piece on the side. It may signal that she is unaware of the existence of a girlfriend back home. Maybe she thought that even if there was a gf back home, the relationship that she and this guy embarked on was strong enough for him to want to break up with gf-back-home and be with her (OW) more permanently. You can all call her a douche or a bitch or whatever you like, but again, when people hit it off and start having sex, emotions tend to get involved.

People aren't abstract ideas, they're people, and not always capable of controlling their emotional responses coldly or logically.

I'm sorry that all three of the people involved have/are/will be hurt by this, and hope hearts heal all around.
52
@44, re: severing ties in a specialized field -- well, yes and no. This was a study abroad program. (As opposed to a "study a broad" program, which seems to be what happened, and has the letter writer's knickers in a twist. Sorry, couldn't resist. ) Chances are quite good that Boyfriend and Other Woman will spend the rest of their lives on separate continents, and will never have more than occasional professional contact by email. Given the geographical constraints, as long as he ceases communicating with her on any level other than professional, it is well and truly over.

The Letter Writer, on the other hand, hooked up with contacts back home. They are still in arm's reach of each other, if she or they want to maintain contact, and they don't have the excuse of continuing contact being due to professional association. I'd say LW's homeboys represent a far greater potential of ongoing threat to the relationship than this foreign woman does. If Letter Writer makes a big deal of the jealousy, she should be prepared to explain why she has greater cause to be jealous or worried for their future than he does. (Hint: she doesn't.)
53
The "untag" thing is the way to go. Pretty much, that will disappear the photo for anyone unless they know the poster or anyone else tagged in the photo.
54
I've never understood this thing about sex being okay, but worrying about the cuddling, the hand-holding, the kissing, et cetera. I would bet a substantial portion of my paycheck that if they were fucking, they were holding hands before, they were kissing during, and they were cuddling afterwards. It was happening, folks. Pretending it wasn't takes suspension of disbelief to a level that would make the Golden Gate Bridge green with envy.

I'd be willing to bet that Letter Writer did a fair bit of kissing and cuddling with her one-night stands, too. Frankly, I'd hate to think she didn't. It's as if people have heard of porn star on-camera ethics, and want to apply them to the real world. Why would you want to emulate that?

The idea that they are allowed to screw -- in my book the most intimate act of any of the ones that usually lead up to it -- but not allowed to cuddle is laughable. It's like saying that when you are fighting with someone, you are allowed to draw blood, but you aren't allowed to use sarcasm. Also the idea that they wouldn't WANT to kiss/cuddle/hold hands if they wanted to screw, which kind of obviates the idea of cuddling as an indicator of too much intimacy.

Well, okay...but absolutely no DANCING, dammit!
55
Unless the OW was a foreign instructor in the study abroad program, she was one of the instructors or students came from the couple's University. That is how most study abroad programs work with the students and certain instructors coming from the sponsoring University. Consequently, there is a strong possibility that the OW not only attends the same University, but is part of the same school or department as the BF.
56
I know word meanings change with time. But it always bugs me that people misuse "monogamy" to describe one love&fuck relationship at a time. Monogamy means One Marriage Per Life. It's a concept that should not be lost even if the practice of it is. What most people do these days is more like a serial polygamy/polyandry. Let's use our language and stay smart. oxolewlew
57
Technically isn't mono=one and gamos=marriage? Nothing in the word about "per life."

There's the term polyamory (multiple loves at once, without the implication of marriage as in polygamy) but um, I don't think there's a convenient term for...monoamory? Being in love with one person at a time, without the etymological implications of marriage overtones. So, until someone comes up with something less wonky than monoamorous, monogamous is the handy adjective of choice.
58
@50: You appear to be a practicing non-monogamist. (Or at least flirting around the edges of it with PDAs; you don't say whether sex outside the relationship is okay). Other couples have different boundaries. The letter writer appears to have tighter boundaries than even she herself had realized, and their little experiment is causing her some grief.

Regarding your situation: a) does your boyfriend get a free pass to grope other women (in front of you or not), and b) are there other women in his life who let him grope them (in front of you or not)? In the average social circle, once it becomes known that that is how you two roll, I suspect there are a lot more guy-friends who are happy getting to squeeze your ass than there are women happy to have your boyfriend squeeze theirs. It's very easy to be sanguine about granting equal rights when pragmatically the other partner has little chance of actually fulfilling them. (Maybe you run in exceptional social circles, in which case, congrats.)
59
avast2006: I like your analyses. (the spell check on this program doesn't like "analyses," but I like more than one of your analysis-es. Happy now, spell check?)

You seem perceptive, insightful and free from harsh judgment.
Thanks: it's appreciated.
60
Poor woman. She was kind enough to let her boyfriend fuck someone else all summer--she doesn't need it rubbed in her face, and the faces of all her acquaintances. That's just tacky.

Her boyfriend should see what he can do about having the most romantic-looking photos taken down, and then she can insist her her friends that the girl is "an old friend" of her boyfriend's.
61
I wish more straight ppl would just come out a bit more about nonmonogamy, so that less folks would have to suffer through monogamy.
62
@19 and 20,

I shouldn't have to set up a custom group to keep FB (which stands for F'ing Bastards) from sharing photo tags uploaded by OTHERS with MY friends. There should be a choice that says I want to share photos with no one. End of story. FB doesn't do this because they want us to share as much info as possible because that is their business strategy. But it's not right.
63
@60: I'm going to have to side with Avast here. SASBST's graciously allowing her BF to see other people sounds less like an act of saintlike charity when you consider she probably had the two other guys in mind when she made the offer. It's not like she sat on her sweet virginal rump the whole time.

Best case scenario, she thought she could handle opening up her relationship and found out it wasn't the case. At which point she and her BF treat this like any other rocky patch that couples are bound to hit, strengthen their fundamentals, and learn from the experience. Worst case scenario, she thought she could get a few outside orgasms out of the deal, while her BF wouldn't be able to actualize what was offered. I'm going with the former assumption, partially because I'm an optimist at heart, and partially because the latter is quick and simple DTMFA material.
64
@60 & 63: The letter does not specify whether one of them was pushing harder than the other to open the relationship. The only thing that is made explicitly clear is that both of them took advantage of the agreement. She definitely slept with two people, he definitely slept with one. She implies that she treated hers casually (she is kind of vague on just how casually), but she thinks he was more serious with this girl.

The problem as I see it is that the two of them did not settle on a clear, shared definition of "as long as the relationships we pursued weren't serious." I can't imagine that he thought that what he was doing was violating their agreement, while still posing freely for photographic evidence. If he knew he was pushing the envelope, he would have taken more pains to hide it. Instead, he's back home, all happy-go-lucky, and she's seething because she feels like he didn't play by the rules, which he apparently didn't realize he was breaking.

I don't recommend that she lies about the identity of the other woman. The fact that photos are cropping up (I'm guessing from third parties, not from the boyfriend; if it was him, she would be that much madder at him and surely would have mentioned it) means that other people are aware of the situation, and the story will fall apart eventually. When that happens, she is going to have to explain herself, as well as explain him.

I don't see anything in the original letter to indicate that the Letter Writer was scheming to get some on the side while expecting the boyfriend wouldn't be able to actualize his own. (I made that comment only in reference to commenter "Scribbles.")

I say, if it is in fact over, let that be what is important. If he is done with her, why are you still in relationship with her?
65
Some people are capable of monogamy, some aren't. Some people are capable of poly relationships (amory, gamy, whatever) some aren't. Making someone try to be something they aren't and can never be isn't GGG, its extortion. Everyone should know what their core beliefs are, that which defines who and what they are. It is reprehensible for anyone to ask someone to do something that costs that person their self respect. What you may consider to be reasonable may be totally unreasonable to the person being asked to do something. I doesn't matter how you perceive that something, you aren't the person who has to pay the price and deal with the consequences of the action.
66
Dan, yes there's always the truth, but there's also "mind your own damn business". She should also learn to set boundaries with people about her privacy!
67
Amazonvera (@40, @43): Thanks for the sanity amidst all the judgment and topic-drift in these comments.

The LW isn't reneging on the arrangement she agreed to. She isn't a hypocrite regretting her choice to be non-monogamous. She isn't objecting to her boyfriend's cozy-cuddly behavior with the summer partner -- or even his continued contact with her. She's uncomfortable -- and taking ownership of her unforeseen discomfort -- on seeing evidence of their canoodling, and the fact that others, to whom she owes no explanations, are seeing and inquiring about that evidence.

This kind of unforeseen response can come with the decision to open up the relationship. It seems to me she's facing up to her unease in a realistic and honest way. Dan's advice addressed that discomfort. The commenters who are trying to make this a referendum on monogamy and open relationships are off the mark.
68
I'm very curious about how this turned out. I hope the original letter writer will fill us in, or email Dan so he can fill us in.