Savage Love



Seems to me that big part of HUSBAND’s (aka LW 3) struggle with the idea of his wife dating others is due to her being very specific as who this “other” is, someone she knows for a long time who may come across a threat to their marriage.
A possible first step could be starting with people they don’t know, like attending a swinger meeting of some sort.
It would be also nice of the wife to help hubby get some action as well as a goodwill gesture.
@1: CMD, it seems to me that attending a swinger meeting of some sort is not at all what the wife wants. She doesn't want to just meet people who are available for sex for the purpose of having sex with someone other than her husband for variety's or novelty's sake; she has a crush on a specific person (as you pointed out) and she wants not only sex, but a dating--a romantic--relationship with him. She wants her husband and her boyfriend, too.
("Recently, my wife said she would like us to be able to date others, have sex, romance, etc., but still remain a married couple. She specifically wants to date her friend. I am struggling. I am not closed off to having a conversation about nonmonogamy, but I struggle with the thought of her having a boyfriend.")

I think her husband might be open to an open marriage, but it sounds like she's trying to open this one for the sake of being able to date someone she has a crush on. I can definitely understand the lw's unease, and I don't think going to a swinger's club is the solution.
nocute- yes, you’re right, she wants more than just sex. Maybe there are other ways she can ease hubby’s anxiety as well as making sure he has an incentive to go along.
I've never had sex in my sleep but when the weather gets hotter I have these experiences from time to time where my I'm half awake and half in some kind of dream state (akin to smoking super heavy weed) and I become more of a sleep groper. Luckily my partners have figured this out because my speech is pretty incoherent but it does create a situation where I become worried about sharing a bed with friends when traveling.
So in terms of sleep hygiene.... last fall, I started watching TV for 2 or 3 hours before going to sleep. I know all the sleep guides say "that's bad". But for various reasons, I started watching.

My sleep has improved A LOT since doing that. It was almost immediate. For the prior 6 months my sleep had been especially bad due to various stress factors. but as those stresses eased, I still had lousy sleep, even though I was being careful to avoid TV before bed.

Now I watch TV and I sleep better. I think maybe the things I used to read before bed were too serious or required too much thought, maybe? so they didn't relax my brain like watching TV does?

At any rate, "mileage may vary". In terms of sleep advice, try lots of different things to see what works. For me, oddly, against all expert advice, watching TV works....
@4 surfrat: I won't share a bed anymore with anybody I'm not having sex with, because of the weird sleep stuff that is sometimes sexual.
@3: It's not just a case of "just sex" vs. a relationship. It's that the person proposing polyamory has a date lined up the minute they get permission, while they have reason to believe their partner won't find someone new to hook up soon. Believing that one can have their cake and eat it too is a classic poly newbie mistake.

I'm tempted to say that HUSBAND should agree to open things up after he knows he already has dates lined up too, and ask his wife to help him with that. There's an off chance she'll be enthusiastic about the idea, in which case they have to figure out how to make their tastes mesh together. Smart money says that when she's asked to pick between mutual monogamy and mutual openness, though, she'll wind up picking the former.
RACK: That's not how dungeon hire works. When you rent a hotel room, you don't have to "put out" for the hotel owner. Renting facilities is renting facilities. Have fun.

Agree with Nocute and ChiTodd's assessments of what HUSBAND's wife wants. It's not sexual variety. It's this guy, whom she's developed feelings for. That's what's threatening to HUSBAND, and understandably; the risk that she'll leave him for some rando is small, but the risk that she'll leave him for someone she's already chosen as her next partner is much higher.

I'd offer as consolation the fact that Friend is poly and therefore less likely to leave his marriage and run off with Mrs HUSBAND than a man in a supposedly monogamous relationship. It does happen, but the likelier scenario is that he'll want to keep his Kate while having Edith, too. And hey, at least she's asking permission instead of cheating, right?

Questions I would ask are:
- How long has Friend been poly?
- Does he have other partners?
- What is Mrs HUSBAND looking to get out of this secondary relationship?
- How well does he know Friend? It might be an idea to spend more time platonically with him and get to know him better, then he may seem less scary and more of a person you like having around.
- For that matter, is he attracted to Friend's wife?
- Does Mrs HUSBAND consider herself poly, or is she only interested in this particular person? As in, would this be a one-off relationship hall pass, or something that will be an issue for the duration of their marriage?
- Is there anything HE wants that his wife can give him permission to seek out? Perhaps he's happy with one relationship, but open to casual sex with others. Perhaps he'd like an MFF threesome.

Whatever they do, they need to proceed v-e-r-y slowly.
Dan, I think you're openness toward non-monogamy might be giving you rose colored lenses towards HUSBAND's wife, because her request should be considered a red flag large enough to lead a Soviet military parade. Frankly, it should be read as:
"She wants to date HIM, have sex with HIM, be romantic with HIM, etc. without having to divorce me." So she decides to spin it as "I want to be poly" in an attempt to make it seem less focused on the specific guy she can't wait to start fucking.

What to do? @7 is on the right track, pointing out that the wife's proposal has all the hallmarks of a newbie POLY mistake (and that is if you give her the benefit of the doubt). So HUSBAND should require being POLY means his wife is equally invested in him having girlfriends, of going to poly meetups and groups, that HUSBAND is her primary. And this has to be done BEFORE the wife gets to jump in bed with her "waiting in the wings" partner.
If she balks, then HUSBAND has confirmation his wife wants poly to mean "open ended hall pass to her friend." If they explore being poly before the wife jumps in bed with her friend and HUSBAND finds that being poly simply won't work for him, then it is the wife's decision whether she wants to be in a relationship with HUSBAND or her friend. And if either of those is the case, it means the relationship was already ending and HUSBAND should look for a better, more honest relationship.
Maybe I have been reading too much Savage over the years but when things started getting really serious with my boyfriend and got to a place of general trust I just gave him blanket consent to do anything to me in my sleep that I would be OK with when I was awake. Suck me off, cum on my face, whatever, he gave me the same.

And you know what? He likes it. I normally wake up before him and just lay in bed with him and when it's a reasonable time for us to get our morning started he never complains about waking up with his dick in my mouth even though he didn't consent at the time.

My feeling is that if your partner is OK with it and given consent when he was able to for these activities don't worry about it.
Unknown @9: I disagree. Mrs HUSBAND has made it clear to HUSBAND that it is about this specific guy. She's not hiding her feelings by saying "I want to be poly," knowing full well but not admitting the reason. She's been completely honest.

If the "red flag" you see is that she wants this guy to replace the husband, then, as I said, I think they'd be having an affair instead of seeking permission (unless it's Friend who's made clear he won't proceed without HUSBAND's permission, and also won't leave his wife, which I suppose might be the case).

I agree that the wife needs to be just as okay with HUSBAND's having other partners as she is with having a boyfriend, that she needs to confirm HUSBAND as her primary, and that she needs to proceed at a snail's pace until such time as HUSBAND is completely comfortable. But I don't think she's put a poly foot wrong here. People can't help their feelings, and she's been honest and up front about hers.
"'It's perfectly acceptable for HUSBAND to self-identify as monogamous while his wife practices polyamory,' said Minx. 'It's a difficult path, and will require a high level of internal security and self-awareness on his part, but ultimately your self-identity is your own decision.' " I don't really see this as ever being a satisfactory compromise for a couple in which one partner wants monogamy and the other seeks outside sexual contact.

If I were HUSBAND, I would be wondering what has already transpired between Ms. HUSBAND and her friend. What has this friend done to egg on Ms. HUSBAND to purse this path? Certainly, guides to ethical non-monogamy would frown upon actively enticing someone in a monogamous relationship to press their partner to open the relationship up, particularly when the poly instigator expects to be a direct beneficiary of the newly opened relationship.
With respect to HUSBAND, I think sometimes everyone on this site, including HUSBAND, feels the need to be (or appear to be) a little too enlightened. What she did is a dick move. She found some nice sounding progressive language to slap him upside the head with an ultimatum (we all know the marriage is likely done if she doesn't get permission...and it may be done even if she does get permission). And HUSBAND, wanting to be a good progressive, is feeling guilty about figuring out the right way to deal with this?

HUSBAND even said "I want to be able to give this to her, but I feel like my mind and body are not letting me." Maybe it's because your pissed off that your wife threw this at you in one big heaping ball? Maybe you know that divorce is inevitable if you don't agree to this lopsided proposal, and you also know deep down that your wife didn't have the courage (or at least the tact) to do this the right way. You know what else, it's OK to have an emotional response to this, and it's OK to be pissed about the way she did it (I would be).

So now that my old man rant is done, let me say that I hope this comment is not interpreted as a catchall damning of any non-monogamy. Yes, I myself am monogamous, but I totally get that the various forms of non-monogamy work for lots of other people.

It just seems to me that you can't flip the relationship switch in an instant from completely monogamous to "I have a polyamorousg boyfriend waiting in the wings." I think the wife did this knowing there's a good chance it would/will blow up her marriage, and she's OK with that. However, she's the one that should be more grown up: either just break it off and divorce, or approach a life changing thing like polyamory with a little more grace, and a lot less speed.
I read HUSBAND's letter as his wife wanting to do a test-run of a relationship with her friend without the actual risks of having an affair. HUSBAND probably feels threatened because he feels that, if the relationship goes well, she would dump HUSBAND for the friend (at the risk of sounding sexist, a lot of women are prone to believing that they are THE ONE for whom a man will change his ways and life. Hence the popularity of series like Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray). And if the friend doesn't show any signs of leaving his wife for her, it becomes "I just wanted a fling, it's not like I LOVED him or anything" and she has the safety net of her marriage to go back to.

I agree with #7 ChiTodd and #9 unknown_entity, this sounds a lot like wanting to have her cake and eating it too.
There is a big difference between "I want to see other people as well as you, so let's go meet some people!" and "There is this one guy I have known for a really long time, and I want to date him, and have sex with him."

HUSBAND should feel threatened, to be honest. To my knowledge, polyamory is about loving other people, not fawning over one guy for years who happens to not be your husband.

After admittedly only reading one side, it does kind of seem like the wife wants to have an affair without it "technically" being cheating, while still being able to fall back on her marriage if things do not work out with the other guy. Or the fantasy of being with this long term friend has become too much to bear, and this is the only way she can eat that cake and still have it.
Of course she's trying to have her cake and eat it too! People tend to want to do that, if they can.

And she's clearly already been having an emotional affair with this guy, at the very least.

The male "friend", such a GOOD friend, is quite happy to risk breaking up his female friend's marriage if that's the price she has to pay for him to put his dick in one more pussy.

Although it's not obvious that wife really wants to stay in her marriage much. If she's been having an emotional affair for so long, that's a pretty big yellow flag for the health of their marriage.
I'm not sure which would be the most painful:
1) being dumped
2) being cheated on
3) being put in HUSBAND's position

They all suck, but option 3 sprinkles salt on the wounds by shifting blame to the abandoned party.
@8 BiDanFan *Whatever they do, they need to proceed v-e-r-y slowly.*

Having lived through a very similar situation myself, this is spot-on.

Ideally, both husband and wife will have veto power over the other's actions, and these relationship experiments, when successful, move at the pace of the slowest-paced partner and no faster. If HUSBAND decides to allow his wife this experience, she must demonstrate with her actions that her priority is her marriage because letting things get as far as they have without cluing in the guy she married is already shady.

Sir, if you're reading this, take it from me that this kind of thing can improve your marriage and your life. It can also torpedo both if somebody loses their head or decides to do something cute.

There's a fallacy in our culture that the person you marry has to be your everything, and realistically, it works out that way maybe half of the time. Non-monogamous relationships are an acknowledgment that the ideal doesn't work for everybody. But there has to be respect, trust and consideration, or things can crash and burn like the Hindenburg.
I have to disagree with the notion that Ms. HUSBAND is being honest with HUSBAND. While it is true she has not (so far as we know) engaged in a sexual relationship with her friend, she is not really being candid about her motives or interests in requesting the marriage move from monogamy to polyamory, and this is a case where being honest and upfront with HUSBAND (and herself) is really important.
@19: If she's lying, it's more likely that she's lying to herself than to anyone else.

Even people who supposedly know all the pitfalls are still prone to doing things like getting caught in NRE or being a little set back when faced with the reality that their partners aren't exclusive with them. And here you have someone excited about the idea of all the early dating thrills with someone else. She doesn't sound like she's seeing any farther than that.

Which is why I suggested something that would make her viscerally aware that HUSBAND would be getting intimate with other women, physically and emotionally, as well. Many people are excited about the idea of polyamory when they only think about how they're getting more, and attempt to cram the genie back into the bottle once they're aware that their partners will also be seeing other people. Monogamy is more about wanting your partner to remain faithful (and offering you own faithfulness in exchange) than it is about only ever having eyes for one person.

The newcomer who's only seeing the parts she wants to see does need to have her face rubbed in the messy reality of poly before she can give useful information to anyone.
Point one: The wife does not want to proceed slowly, cautiously. She wants what she wants, now. In pursuit of which she has created a crisis in her marriage.
Point two: The friend is in a poly marriage, but no specifics are given. What exactly does that mean (composition:how many individuals of each sex, are any bisexual, is it open or closed (at least the friend apparently has the unfettered right to engage in extra-marital sex), has the wife met the other members of marriage (doubtful), has the friend created a harem for which he is recruiting her. Is he playing her?
Point three: The wife most likely has unrealistic expectations (blinded by years unrequited lust/love, she hears what she wants to hear, she believes what she wants to believe) for what she can expect from her friend. After all he is already part of a multi-person (female?) marriage that presumably is his primary relationship towards to which he has obligations/responsibilities (limited amounts of time, energy, money to allocate to the wife)
Point four: The wife has stated what she wants. HUSBAND needs to decide what he wants and act accordingly. (what is and is not acceptable to him)

Personally I would DTMFA. Any lasting marriage or long term relationship requires commitment, compromise, and sacrifice of one kind or another. Both of which should fulfill your emotional needs, when they don't it is time to move on. Sex is a different story. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the cardinal rule of open relationships no emotional attachments. The wife wants to leap into, at least, polyamory without any prior discussion . A real douche bag move throwing the HUSBAND into emotional turmoil he doesn't deserve. Put in that position, my commitment to the marriage would be in serious doubt.
would be sorely tried
In a just universe, HUSBAND's wife has already begun a sexual relationship with her poly friend, and he turns out to be micropenis-guy from the SSLOTD.
If "Hey, I have this friend I'd also like to explore a relationship with" isn't the standard impetus for exploring polyamory, what is? "Hey, I'm really bored in this relationship, can we see other people?"

It is a pretty common refrain here that if you find yourself wanting sex outside your marriage, instead of being a CPOS, or not being satisfied with the sex in your marriage, you should ask your partner about opening up the marriage. Yet here we are vilifying Mrs. HUSBAND for doing exactly that.

It is, however, fair for HUSBAND to say, "I'm not opposed to opening the marriage, but let's meet some other poly people as a couple first." Their foray into polyamory is unlikely to go well if it consists of wife having a boyfriend and the husband staying at home. (That's cuckoldry, of which HUSBAND does not seem to be interested in.)
"Either you'll have to accept polyamory or your wife will have to drop it. There isn't really a middle ground here — or is there? "It's perfectly acceptable for HUSBAND to self-identify as monogamous while his wife practices polyamory," said Minx."

Oh, please. That's the kind of cheap-ass sophistry that gives poly people a bad name. That isn't "a middle ground," it's "capitulation." For him, it's the worst of both worlds: she goes off and does that thing that makes him miserable, and he stoically does nothing whatsoever other than putting up with it and trying to convince his uncooperative nervous system that everything is just fine, while he slowly develops a case of emotional PTSD. Framing that as some sort of super high-road for him to tread is bullshit, because it implies that he is the one being unenlightened if he fails to sign on for the challenge.

Bottom line advice for Letter Writer: if you can find something positive about the freedom that you will get for yourself out of opening the relationship, enough of a benefit that poly becomes something you want for yourself, then go for it. If that doesn't work for you, then there is nothing wrong with requesting that your wife recommit to honoring her vows. Lots and lots of monogamous people find themselves faced with desire for an outside party, and facing having to keep their commitments if they want to keep their spouse. Don't be bamboozled into the idea that there is some sort of "middle ground" that you are refusing to consider where she gets all the benefits she wants while you get nothing other than a misplaced sense of sticking to your principles.
Sounds like your wife is already half way out the door LW3. Why not give her a push and close it after her.
Yes Fan @11, people can't help their feelings, they also don't need to be dictated to by them. This man is being taken for a ride and yet he wants to accomodate his wife.
Sweet of him but stupid.
Polyamory can be great when it works for all concerned, but frequently it's a self-righteous, passive-aggressive way for assholes to make their partners take the blame for their own selfishness.

I'm in agreement with the general consensus: there's a huge difference between "I want to have an affair but you can't object because it's just an expression of my infinite capacity for love" and "I think it would be fun for us to explore some additional sexual or romantic relationships, what do you think?"

The most important question for HUSBAND - far more important than any of Minx's questions - is "what do YOU really want?"
Sublime @19: Where do you see a lie? The wife has openly said that she wants to open the marriage, and that the impetus for this is that she's met someone else she'd like to date, in addition to her husband. If "she is not being candid about her motives and interests," what do you believe those motives and interests really are?

Theodore @15/Skeptic @21: Where do you get that this crush has existed for "years"? OK, perhaps it's taken them "years" to get "very close," but LW does not state this. Perhaps they've been platonic friends for years and her feelings have only become more romantic. And where do you get the conflicting impressions that she's desired Friend for "years" but that she also wants him "now" and can't wait until the husband is on board? Lots of assumptions of facts not in evidence.

Biggie @26: 'If "Hey, I have this friend I'd also like to explore a relationship with" isn't the standard impetus for exploring polyamory, what is?' Right on. I understand lots of people have a visceral objection to the concept of anyone being allowed more than their karmic allotment of one lover at a time, but Biggie is right. Many of us do have romantic feelings for more than one person at a time. What is cake for, if not to be eaten? LW's wife states that "she would like us to be able to date others, have sex, romance, etc." She's open to her husband getting to eat some cake too.

I'm not saying the husband has to agree. Polyamory isn't for everyone. Many of us have put aside crushes on others because we'd committed to monogamous relationships; it's entirely fair for HUSBAND to conclude that he doesn't want to change the relationship terms they both agreed to. This is a request, not an ultimatum, on her part. Of course, if he says no, it's too late to close the barn door on the knowledge that she has strong feelings for someone else. It's not an easy situation; whatever they decide, the relationship may not survive. From where I sit, though, it looks as if everyone is doing their best to accommodate each other's happiness. Well done them for being grown-ups.
How Fan is the husband's happiness being accommodated here? I don't see it. This woman wants to fuck another guy, that is all that is going on here. She's covering herself with suddenly wanting to be poly, but it's a con.
If the marriage isn't strong enough for the LW to say no, then that's how it is. And personally I'd rather know that before my heart was ripped out watching my partner, against my true wishes, going with another.

Lava @31: "How Fan is the husband's happiness being accommodated here?"

She's being honest.
She's extending the same freedom of dating that she wants for herself to him.
She's (as far as we know) waiting to act on her desires until her husband gives her the okay.
She's not (as far as we know) making this a condition of staying married. She's made a request for permission. Will the marriage survive if the husband says no? We have no way of knowing.

I don't see any "con" or "cover-up" anywhere here, as she's been 100% up front about what she wants. She's covering up for wanting to open the relationship so she can date Friend by asking to open the relationship so that she can date Friend?

For those who think she's being dishonest, again, what do you think are her true undisclosed motives? That she doesn't want to be poly; she wants to be monogamous, but with Friend instead of HUSBAND? Only Friend doesn't want to be monogamous, so that's not an option?
"I want to fuck my friend" is very different from "Honey, I'd like to explore opening our marriage." Being open to nonmonogamy does not mean he has to agree to this, and fearing he might lose her if he doesn't agree is the wrong reason to open their marriage. LW3 is under no obligation to "examine his fears." If he's uncomfortable with this situation (a more than fair reaction), he should be able to tell his wife that. If she doesn't respect his feelings, then they shouldn't open their marriage and if she does unilaterally, it's just cheating by another name and he should DTMFA.

I don't get Dan's advice on this one at all. If she developed feelings for the "friend," kudos for being honest; but she's the one re-negotiating the terms of their marriage and the onus should be on her to demonstrate patience and compassion. What happened to communication and honesty being so critical to nonmonogamy? Now it's: "she wants to open it, well guess you got no choice dude, since you're open to it in theory"?
Everything lavagirl said.
It's an honest con, Fan. So what? It's better than her going behind his back and cheating, that's all.
There really is scant details to go on here. What ages are they. How long married. What's the background with this friend. So I'm going with the LWs words. He wants to give her what she wants ( kind man) yet his mind and body are resisting.
Is he feeling like going poly is the new expected norm, is that why he writes to Dan. "Everybody does it honey, so I want too as well", that's how it sounds to me.
"And, I've got just the guy in mind for myself."
Selfish woman. How is this adult, caring behaviour.
I'm with you BDF @30/32. And so long as we're jumping to conclusions about Mrs. HUSBAND's motives I'd like to offer an alternate take: maybe she really misjudged the situation and thought HUSBAND would be reassured that
a.) she isn't interested in fucking All The Dudes, just the one.
b.) "close friend" has a primary and (assuming that's going well) is good at poly
HUSBAND is interested in nonmonogamy, but the specifics he cites of this particular situation make him uncomfortable, which is fair. Regardless of his wife's motives he has the right to be insecure about it, but I think it would behoove him to explore those insecurities. Is it because she want to date this particular guy (because they're so close?) , or is it that she wants to date a guy at all vs. NSA sex with randos?
Centrists @33: Where do you see "you've got no choice, dude"?

Quoting Dan:
"You can say no to opening up your marriage"
"basically, this is a circumstance where one of you [not necessarily HUSBAND] is going to have to pay a pretty steep price of admission"
"Either you'll have to accept polyamory or your wife will have to drop it."

Dude does have a choice. As with any choice, there are consequences; one consequence, as he says, is that his wife may leave. But she may not leave. She may decide that her crush isn't worth losing her husband over.

And where do you see "What happened to communication and honesty being so critical to nonmonogamy?" Where is the lack of communication? Where is the lack of honesty?

Lava @35: "Honest con" is a contradiction in terms. She agreed to monogamy; now she wants a change. Changing one's mind is not a "con." You're correct that there is very little information in the letter, which is why I suggested my long list of questions to ask. Ultimately, Dan is right -- one of them will need to make a sacrifice. Which one is not a foregone conclusion at this stage, nor did Dan imply it was.

If HUSBAND says no and Wife proceeds with the affair anyway, THEN you can revoke her "adult, caring behaviour" card. But not until then.
If y'all were saying "she agreed to monogamy and therefore she's out of line for even asking," I'd grant your point. But there's no dishonesty or deception here. Completely the opposite.
@37 - he slid that after telling him tot ale an inventory of his fears and then this "You can say no to opening up your marriage, HUSBAND, but your wife may decide she wants out of the marriage if no is the answer..." He closes with the advice that hey, he can always identify as monogamous while his wife is non-monogamous. They got a word for that - cheating, CPOS, cuckoldry...
That should have read: "he said that after he told him to take..." bad typing!
@38 - that's not what I said at all. She can want to open the marriage, and that could be just fine; but she's boxing him into a corner. She's already found this other guy, who was supposedly just a friend. That's the dishonest part. She should take a pass on the "friend" and then talk about opening the relationship separately.
I completely agree with BiDanFan. We spend so much time around here arguing for communication of desires, being honest, etc., and now everyone's all pissed at this woman for doing that? She hasn't demanded; she's asked. She hasn't had an affair and left just because she's got the hots for this other guy; she's trying to deal with it in a way that allows her marriage to survive. She's asking for this and offering the same in return--if that's not what the husband wants (because he doesn't feel comfortable giving it, or because he wants something else in return) he can say so!

Also--he may be uncomfortable with this, and that's fine. But everyone is assuming there can't be asymmetric poly situations, and I think that's untrue. Sometimes a pair have asymmetric wants. I don't think the poly/mono mix Dan suggested is about taking the high road or about being a martyr. It's just one option that people might take, if one person wants more sex/interaction/variety, and the other doesn't. I think that's less unlikely than y'all are making it out to be.
Also note that she's not asking to open the marriage; she's asking for "dates, romance, etc." i.e., to be poly. If you have an open marriage where the rules are yes to outside sex but no to outside emotional attachments, then asking about starting up with a friend would be a breach of that implied contract. But that's not what they have, and not what she's asking for. There's nothing sneaky about this. It may be problematic, but it's not underhanded.
@30/BiDanFan: "Recently, my wife said she would like us to be able to date others, have sex, romance, etc., but still remain a married couple. She specifically wants to date her friend." Is that being honest? If your perspective is literal truth, yes, we could say that is truthful. However, like others who have read this letter, it seems that Ms. HUSBAND may be talking about opening the marriage and/or being poly, but that is a fig leaf for her desire to have sex with her friend. Is there a difference between asking to open the marriage to explore being poly and wanting to have sex (and possibly more) with a friend outside of your marriage? I think so, and it seems that the commentators who come down as distrustful as to how Ms. HUSBAND has rolled this out do too. As @20/ChiTodd suggested, perhaps she is first and foremost not being honest with herself.

@36/Ivg: "HUSBAND is interested in nonmonogamy, but the specifics he cites of this particular situation make him uncomfortable, which is fair." Where do you get that? What HUSBAND actually says is: "I am struggling. I am not closed off to having a conversation about nonmonogamy, but I struggle with the thought of her having a boyfriend." "Not closed off to a conversation about nonmonogamy," doesn't sound like a guy who is actually interested in that prospect. And "struggling with the thought of her having a boyfriend," is more general than being uncomfortable about this one situation.
@ciods: It's not wrong of her to ask, anymore than it's wrong of her to dump him. Either option, however, is a shit deal for HUSBAND.

Now he's stuck feeling like he needs to be the hero and accept this deal despite the fact that it offers him nothing but pain and humiliation. And once your partner has told you she's in love with another man, there's really no going back to the way things once were.

We can only speculate about her motivations, but given the way things went down, it sounds like she fell in love with the other man but wants to keep HUSBAND around as an emotional backstop since the other guys isn't available for monogamous commitment. Maintaining financial stability may also be part of her calculations. If so, I think that's a shitty way to treat people, regardless of whether it's underhanded or overt, and HUSBAND should dump her rather than putting his life on hold and let himself be used until circumstances make it more convenient for her to dump him.
There's a lot of loosey-goosey vocab going on here.

@23 Open relationships have different rules, but polyamory is generally DEFINED as emotional. It's in the name: love.

@26 You're right that a pre-existing attraction is often a goad to people to explore poly, and you say a lot of good stuff here. That said, 'cuckoldry'? In the modern sense, it isn't, because the situation you describe isn't something the husband's getting off on. In the ancient sense, yes, but that's pejorative and based in a sexist 'you own your wife' scenario. So kind of gross to throw around.

Admittedly, I'm biased because this is more or less how my marriage opened up. So I want to ask the people who think she's being an asshole, what /SHOULD/ she do? Just never say anything and stifle her own desires without checking with husband whether it's a possibility? Roll out the topic in a series of tiny gradual conversations (which actually WOULD be dishonest and he would be quite likely to find upsetting when the 'and I have a crush on Friend' part came out?)

We have no indication that she's made a deadline or ultimatum, or anything. All we know is that he's not comfortable with it yet even though his brain says it's worth talking about. (And let's give him the credit of the doubt that his brain is not saying that based on 'trendiness' or conformity to new Cool Guy rules, guys.) There are a lot of complicated things rolled up in this -- masculinity, identity, fears of being alone. My husband is on the asexual spectrum and it still bothered him on a deep level that took a while to work through. Now you know that, have I flipped from the assholer in this scenario to the assholee, because it's pretty unfair to refuse to fuck your wife but not want her to go elsewhere? It's almost like this stuff is nuanced.

As for whether she's having an "emotional affair": my poly, married close friend had no idea I had a long-standing crush on him. It's very possible hers doesn't either, or knows and reciprocates but is behaving himself. There ARE poly people who push boundaries and cheat, but it's pretty shitty poly practice and frowned upon.

LOADS of commenters here are not poly, and are looking at this through a totally serial-monogamist lens. "She really wants to dump him and move on to Friend" is a serial-monogamist viewpoint. It means the commenter can't imagine actually wanting to be with more than one person, to find that fulfilling on multiple levels and to nurture and delight different parts of oneself. That means fuck-all about the person on the other end of the letter.

Bottom line: He can say no. He can (and should) go slow. He can ask for other explorations first. He can make a lot of different decisions. But the idea that she's somehow an evil duplicitous [insert biblical woman's name here] for honestly confessing her feelings and asking HUSBAND to consider polyamory is pretty shitty.
*Just to clarify: in the last para, I meant going slow is a better way to proceed toward poly if they do than going fast. I didn't mean he 'should' do that rather than any other option, that's on him.
Centrist @39: Cheating is the word used when your partner does not know about the other partners, and would not be okay with it if they did know.
I agree that "let her have other partners while you don't" sounds like an unrealistic solution here, but it's neither cheating nor cuckoldry, which is when men get a sexual kick out of their female partners fucking other men.

Centrist @41: There's, again, no evidence that the "just a friend" part is "supposedly." If this guy is an ethical non-monogamist, he would have told Wife that he would not get involved with anyone in a relationship without the knowledge and approval of their partner. This seems the most logical explanation for what's going on here. The likeliest scenario is that they've developed feelings, confessed their feelings, and he's asked her to clear it with HUSBAND before acting on those feelings, which is where we are now.

SA @44: I'm still flummoxed as to how "I want to have a relationship with my friend, with your blessing" is a "fig leaf" for "I want to have a relationship with my friend, with your blessing." She's told him exactly what she wants. She can get what she wants in the context of a relationship that is poly, so she has asked that the relationship be poly. There really isn't any dishonesty whatsoever going on here.

Woof @45: "given the way things went down, it sounds like she fell in love with the other man but wants to keep HUSBAND around as an emotional backstop since the other guys isn't available for monogamous commitment."
This, I believe, is a reasonable uncharitable interpretation of the situation.

Cat in Fez @46/@47: Thank you.
Further to my point above, @44 I think the difference in views stems from whether one thinks that Ms. HUSBAND deserves praise for asking HUSBAND to accept a transition to a poly marriage so that Ms. HUSBAND can engage sexually with her friend before doing so. Or whether Ms. HUSBAND's motives (and truthfulness) should be questioned because she appears to have gone through all of the steps necessary to find a new relationship partner, including developing mutual romantic feelings with her friend, without ever discussing what she was doing or feeling with HUSBAND.

And as I noted @12, here I also question the motives and actions of Ms. HUSBAND's friend, who I think in all likelihood was encouraging her behavior with the expectation that he would be the beneficiary of her new relationship status. As the more experienced partner with respect to poly relationships, why didn't he encourage her to speak with her husband sooner?
Hang on a minute. I think I see where the charges of "dishonesty" are coming from. Woof and Cat, thank you. Now, have I read this correctly...
Viewed through the lens of monogamy, y'all don't think it's possible that Wife has developed feelings for Friend AND still loves her husband. Is that what you think she's lying about? Not the fact that she wants to date Friend, but the fact that she wants to remain with HUSBAND?

Skeptic @23: I, too, will correct you, as you're wrong. There are many different kinds of "open relationships," and "you're not allowed to have feelings" is one of the least workable rules there could possibly be. Some people do have one emotional relationship and casual sex only with other partners; this would be termed "monogamish." Polyamorous people have multiple, emotionally connected relationships.

Bias check: I did not become poly via an existing monogamous relationship that was opened up.
SA @44, You're right, I didn't recall the first part of the sentence correctly by the time I was that far down in the comments... it was the last part that stuck with me:
"I am not closed off to having a conversation about nonmonogamy, but I struggle with the thought of her having a boyfriend."
I took the "but" and everything after as "I might be okay with it under different circumstances."
Which might be reading into it too far, but he also never said he's totally against nonmonogamy... this letter really does offer a frustrating lack of information.
@50/BiDanFan: "Wife has developed feelings for Friend AND still loves her husband. Is that what you think she's lying about?"

No. As I said above @49, its about developing those feelings for her friend (and acting on them to some extent), and then suggesting to HUSBAND "let's be poly," when want she really means is "I want a romantic and sexual relationship with my friend." You think she's wrapped that all up into one honest statement. I think others are reading HUSBAND's letter to suggest that she opened the discussion focusing on being poly, while being less than candid about what was driving that request and how she came to want a change in the makeup of their relationship. That would be, as I noted above @44, using being poly as a fig leaf to negotiate what she really wants.

This may be a distinction that doesn't trouble you, and that's fine. But I do gather that fact troubled HUSBAND and looked like a red flag to some readers who l think are questioning what she really knows about being poly, what her friend has discussed with her, and how ethically her friend has been practicing non-monogamy (my point @12).

In any event, I think there is a consensus that if HUSBAND agrees to open their relationship up. Things need to progress slowly, Ms. HUSBAND may have to accept that a relationship with her friend may be off the table for a long while even if they are exploring non-monogamy.
As someone who was in a long monogamous marriage which opened up and is now polyamorous, I agree that it was easier on me because Mr. P. didn't have a love interest waiting in the wings. He just wanted both me & more variety. I found that comprehensible and acceptable, even if it took me some time to adjust.

So I agree that the wife in this case should understand that her best chance to keep the marriage strong is to go slow and let HUSBAND have six months or more to get used to the idea. If she can give him time to read and learn about it, he may find it appealing. Or not. I wish the letter said more about the current health of their marriage & sex life. I'd read the situation differently if they laugh, touch, and have sex regularly than if they are more like housemates.
The Russian phrase for "she wants to have her cake and eat it, too" translates as, "she wants to eat the fish and sell the bones".

I'm not saying that's what's going on, i merely wanted to give ppl some colorful extra vocab to play with.

That's all. As you were.
@53 - well put. I think your personal experience sums up what a lot of us are trying to say.
@37, Fan. It's a con because she says she wants to be poly when, as I read it, she just wants to fuck the friend. Honest because she's told her husband about it.
I'm late in this week's SL after my beloved VW and I hit the beaches (and the sun came out--YAAY!). I don't have much to add, and right now I'm just playing catch-up with this week's comment threads.

Okay, I know this is SO last week, but----no magic number recipient?
Ricardo, I was sure you, Bi, CMD, nocute or LavaGirl would have scored the big number while Griz and her Love Beetle were our cruising the San Juans.
As EricaP once said, the timer is reset!
@31 LavaGirl: I share your thoughts regarding HUSBAND's situation.
@53 EricaP: Thank you for sharing and so beautifully expressing your own personal experiences.
@58, clarification, re@31 LavaGirl: I totally agree with your comment: "And personally I'd rather know that before my heart was ripped out watching my partner, against my true wishes, going with another." That's how I would feel, too.

Sorry I don't have much to add this week, but I'll keep reading.
I guess I'll repeat/rephrase a question from above, then, and say: how do y'all imagine poly relationships happen? People know innately *before they are in a relationship* that they're poly, and negotiate that up-front? Sounds great, but it also sounds to me unlikely. I imagine most people start off in a monogamous relationship, since that's how our society is set up, and then later decide they want more--and my guess would be, that realization often comes with another person attached. Maybe you think that they have to dump their current partners to get that 'more' in a new relationship where they are clear from the start? But what if they do love the person they're with?

I can totally see that this might be a stepping stone into a different relationship, wife with the friend, ditching hubby. (Although if friend is poly, wife doesn't think she gets to have him all to herself, does she?) I don't mean that's impossible. But if you do believe that poly relationships are possible, it seems to me you have to admit some/many would start like this. And if that's the case, the wife here is being nothing but honest.

I can't imagine claiming I wanted to be poly without there being at least two people I could imagine myself in love with. Wanting to be in an open marriage, sure, because it's easy to imagine wanting to screw someone else. But poly? That's about emotional connections as well as sex, right? So you can't say "You can't want to be poly because really you're already emotionally connected to this other person and you just want to screw them!" That *is* poly!

It's just...maybe hubby isn't.
Oh, I should have added: " my understanding." I have no idea what I'm talking about, as I'm not poly. I'm just confused as to how people think poly happens if not like this.
@48 - if he stays with her, despite her dating this other guy over his wishes, and he's monogamous, while she's not, that to me is cuckoldry - in the archaic, not fetishistic, sense. She has in fact forced him into a subordinate sexual position at that point. She has cuckolded him. It's the most accurate term.
@48: "I agree that "let her have other partners while you don't" sounds like an unrealistic solution here, but it's neither cheating nor cuckoldry, which is when men get a sexual kick out of their female partners fucking other men."

Technically, what you just described is "hotwife." If all they get is a sexual kick from her fucking other men, that's "hotwifing." If they experience anguish and negative feelings in the mix of sexual arousal from her fucking other men, that is called "cuckold fetish."

But the "cuckold" part of "cuckold fetish" is still all about how it's at least nominally against your will and makes you feel bad. Plain old "cuckold" still means when a partner has sex with others against your will or without your knowledge. When that happens, you are being "cuckolded." And yes, it is still "cheating" even when the spouse knows about it, so long as it is happening against spouse's will.

By the way, an interesting archaic term for the man who knows his wife is fucking around on him, and doesn't mind (or approves), is 'wittol.'
@BiDanFan: Viewed through the lens of monogamy

I don't see monogamy as some sort of lens or paradigm, it's just a practical, realistic compromise that most people prefer over the available alternatives. Ideally, I'd have a harem full of adoring women who knit lingerie and beg me to spank them (Monte Python reference). But it's hard to find women who share that dream, and I'd rather not prey on the vulnerable, and I'm mostly not into sharing my girlfriends with other men. Ergo, monogamy.

y'all don't think it's possible that Wife has developed feelings for Friend AND still loves her husband.

We know nothing about this relationship, so anything is possible. The key thing I'd like to know is if the power in the relationship is fairly distributed between them. If it is, and it somehow stays that way once she gets her second boyfriend, than all is good as far as I'm concerned. On the other hand, if her emotional investment in the relationship is notably less than his, or she's just a generally domineering and selfish spouse, then this letter boils down to someone who's in a position of strength exploiting someone who's in a position of vulnerability. I've yet to see a power-imbalanced relationship that didn't make me think "ick".
ciods @60 said: "That *is* poly!"

That's how I see it too. But it's a hard path forward, compared with: opening up, starting to feel romantic feelings, and keeping your longtime partner informed along the way.

WoofCandy @64: Both my marriage and my newer relationship are power-imbalanced (D/s) by mutual agreement. Do happy power-imbalances make you think "ick" too?
Biggie: Mrs Husband did not begin a discussion on opening the marriage. She made a unilateral decision and bushwacked her Husband without any warning at all. HUSBAND needs time and space to deal with the emotional shock and turmoil he must be experiencing. Mrs. HUSBAND is not going to give that to him. HUSBAND has had his life just turned upside down. Mrs. HUSBAND has stated what she wants and has not considered or cared about her husband's feelings. What does HUSBAND want (as if he has any clue at this point)? My reaction would be to suggest a trial separation (of at least six months) during which he can process his emotions and decide whether he wants to stay in the marriage or move on. He is in no condition to make any life decisions at this point. She is besotted by NRE and needs to understand (unlikely) that what she has done to her HUSBAND is just plain wrong. Some people say she is showing integrity by letting her husband know in advance what she wants. What this does allow is for her to proceed without the guilt for the lies, deceit and betrayal of being a CPOS. My argument is that she is a CPOS since she has been having an emotional affair FRIEND (now she wants sex, etc as well)
BiDanFan: Where do you get that LW is interested in an open marriage much less polyamory. His reaction suggests otherwise. It's really big of Mrs. HUSBAND to grant something to her husband that he has not considered or probably doesn't want. (Read what the LW has written: I am not closed off to having a conversation about nonmonogamy) You are green lighting the wife without there having been any prior discussion on the subject. She is already past the point of considering, much less coming to agreement on the ground rules. How many couples go directly from monogamy (not monogamous) to polyamory?
not monogamish
BiDanFan: You accuse me of making lots of assumptions of facts not in evidence. Maybe so, but you are as guilty of making at least as many assumptions about the LW without any facts in evidence to support those assumptions. Isn't normal progression to take baby steps when opening a marriage (something both parties have to agree to)?
ivg Where do you get that the LW is interested non-monogamy from " I am not closed off to having a conversation about nonmonogamy" The only he is saying is that he is willing to discuss non-monogamy, not that he is interested in something that is causing a great deal of emotional turmoil.
Sublime @52: But she literally said "Let's be poly because I want to have a romantic relationship with my friend." She didn't, as Cat_in_Fez says @46, "roll out the topic in a series of tiny gradual conversations (which actually WOULD be dishonest and he would be quite likely to find upsetting when the 'and I have a crush on Friend' part came out)." She laid all the cards on the table up front. "Recently, my wife said she would like us to be able to date others, have sex, romance, etc., but still remain a married couple. She specifically wants to date her friend." I just don't get how you see any omitted information there.

Erica @53: "I wish the letter said more about the current health of their marriage & sex life." Agreed; that should have been Question 1 on my list. That would reveal whether she is in fact being honest about loving both of them, or whether "I want to be poly" is in fact a fig leaf for "I don't love you anymore, I love this other guy instead, but he won't leave his wife so I won't leave you either."

Lava @56: These are not contradictions. She wants to be poly because she has developed feelings for her friend and wants to have a relationship with him, alongside the relationship with her husband, which is known as being poly.

Ciods @61: Your understanding of poly is bang on. (I agree that the husband does not seem to be poly, or even generically non-monogamous. If he were, his reaction -- after the shock wore off -- might well be, "hey, then I can fuck other people too, right? Great!" But it wasn't, hence the problem.)

I'll let Hunter tackle @62 and @63 ;)

Skeptic @67: I never said I had the idea that LW is interested in opening the relationship. I also said, more than once, that the husband is not required to agree, if an open relationship is not something that he thinks will benefit him in any way. And @69 (congrats!), yes, it is the normal progression to take baby steps, which I said in my very first post @12. Step one, be honest with your partner about what you want. Step one, let them process it, all the while communicating, communicating, communicating. That is the step they are at now. I have assumed nothing; I have merely read the facts as stated in the letter, and as a poly person, they made sense to me.
Whoops, my first post was @8, not @12.
He might need an open marriage like a fish needs a bicycle.
She might think she's an inter-tidal fish, and turn out to be a freshwater fish after all. Whether she turns out to be a fresh- or salt-water fish, or an inter-tidal fish, may not matter to the fish struggling to make the bicycle work.
OK, sorry for the mixed metaphors!
And, of course, step two comes after step one, not a second step one. More coffee is needed.
Fan @71, sounds like she wants to have an affair. Is that poly, or she's just using the word poly because it's so hip. I still contend it's a con.
And is there hothusbanding.
Semantics point: When I say "open the marriage," I am using "open" as a verb to mean "end the requirement of monogamy." I am not using it to imply that they should move to an "open relationship" (defined by some here as "casual sex only") instead of a "poly relationship," when what Wife has asked for is specifically a poly relationship.
Wife should agree to whatever form of ethical non-monogamy Husband wants for himself, that's only fair.
Lava @75: Yes, it does sound like she wants to have an affair, and she has asked her husband's permission to have this affair. There is no con. Poly does not mean you want to fuck everyone under the sun. Poly people - surprise! - can be quite picky. She's using the word poly because poly means having more than one relationship and what she wants is to have more than one relationship. She wants to be poly. With her husband and her friend.
Lava: Let me see if I can state this simply.
Having a sexual relationship with a third party without your partner's knowledge or consent = "an affair."
Having a sexual relationship with a third party with your partner's knowledge or consent = "polyamory."
*knowledge and consent. Copypaste error.
She just wants an affair with consent!
Just words Fan. Doesn't excuse her behaviour how she phrases it. Her intention is to fuck this one guy and she's asking her husband to hang around, pay bills etc, while she does it.
Oh, and I guess he's allowed to go fuck someone else as well, once he picks his heart up
off the floor.
Using the word poly is just a cover because it sounds so modern and hip.
Why would you assume I don't know poly people want to choose their lover(s), just like monogamous people do, from their hearts.
I'm not in any way disparaging poly people.
I, naively I guess, assume most people either go this way as Erica and her husband did or both parties move towards this lifestyle together. Not have a lover lined up and then surprise surprise want to be poly. She is disparaging the care, I assume from reading, most poly people take.
A Rorschach-blot letter here. My gut reaction was "uh oh, I think she's partway out the door but wants a fallback position." But there's still a good chance that she really wants to make poly work, and it's even possible she has the skills to do it. We can't tell from here. Hell, they can't really tell from there. Clearly she's not doing Picture-Perfect Poly, but it might be salvageable.

But LW, before you get to any inventory of your fears, do an inventory of your wants. Do you want this relationship-with-poly? Which is a little different than "do you want poly", as a side dish, but do you deeply want this relationship if this is what it's going to look like? Not do you need it, do you flinch from the idea of losing it -- do you positively want this relationship. Does it feed your soul if this is what it is. You deserve that. If you don't want it, say no and save yourself (and her) an extraordinary amount of pain.

If this picture is something you want, then think about what could make it work for you, and what would make it not work. For example, if it were me, I'd need her to be active and whole-hearted in maintaining your relationship while she has a crush on this dude. Which she can and should do right now! Does this seem artificial, like a good relationship wouldn't need that? Okay fine, but I see a lot of poly relationships that are excellent with the help of this kind of "artificial".

She can't go back in time and do Perfect Poly, but she can do the best she can from here. Frankly she's asking a lot, and if she wants this to work, she should not only throw herself into whatever you tell her you need, but also she should actively do anything she knows she should be doing. All that Poly 101 stuff, do it.
Lava @80: Yes. Since you insist on your own terminology, she wants her husband's consent to have an "affair" with this man. Which is known in modern circles as "being poly."

Now, you can say that it's not fair for her to ask, because she committed to a monogamous relationship. You can say that he doesn't have to agree, because he does not want to be non-monogamous himself. Both of those views are completely valid. What is inaccurate is these allegations of dishonesty on her part. She has been nothing but honest about what she wants; whether she should get what she wants is what's at issue here.

There are several ways people go from being monogamous to being poly. As Ciods, Cat_in_Fez and Biggie have observed, being in a monogamous relationship and developing feelings for someone else -- as many long-term partnered people do -- is one very common way. If you're happy with your spouse, you might not want amorphous others, but then blam, someone rocks your world and makes you reconsider. That's not a "con"; that's real life. In the world of monogamous expectations, partnered people are expected to either repress their crushes or leave their partners. This woman has seen a third way, a way that she feels could work for all of them. She may be wrong; it may not work for her husband, but she'll never know unless she asks, which, possibly after seeing how Friend's poly marriage is working well, seemed an attractive option.

There is, of course, also the Mr EricaP impetus for going poly, which is having many crushes on many people that he wanted to be able to act on, and the BDF method, which was being single and getting involved with people who were in existing poly relationships. I'm sure these paths are not exhaustive. Wife is not "disparaging" anyone else's journey by experiencing her own reason for wanting non-monogamy.
Fair enough Fan. I stand corrected and educated about the way poly evolves for some people.
It still feels like an emotional betrayal/ affair, or has this woman gone on this path without any input from the friend. Planning the future without his knowledge, just assuming he'll jump at the chance to bed her? Threatening the marriage without some guarantee this friend is on board.
However way you try to give this woman some decency Fan, it just doesn't wash, for me.
* Whatever way you try..
@71BiDanFan: "She laid all the cards on the table up front. 'Recently, my wife said she would like us to be able to date others, have sex, romance, etc., but still remain a married couple. She specifically wants to date her friend.' I just don't get how you see any omitted information there."

Did she Bi, noted above, you believe Ms. HUSBAND is rolling out this information in one neat package, but I, and I believe others, see two parts to how she intentionally broached this with HUSBAND. First leading with a conversation about opening the marriage "she would like us to be able to date others, have sex, romance, etc., but still remain a married couple." And then when HUSBAND began to question what this meant, acknowledging " she specifically wants to date her friend."

In your view, admitting to these facts was total honesty. In the view of others, leading with an intro about opening the marriage, while relegating into a secondary part of the conversation the fact that Ms. HUSBAND had already taking all of the steps leading up to the start of a romantic and sexual relationship (with the possible exception of having sexual contact) with her friend was a bit of intentional misdirection. For us, how you present facts (as this case highlights) can be as important as not omitting facts. We see Ms. HUSBAND eliding the nature of her relationship with her friend, which we don't see as being honest.
@EricaP: To be clear, I'm a big fan of consensual power exchange for fun, intimacy, and fulfillment. I'm not a fan of the kind of real power imbalances that actually hurt people.

An example that's fresh in my mind: I have a friend who cycles through a new girlfriend every year. About 9 months into each relationship, he starts pulling away, nitpicking and criticizing her imperfections while she becomes an insecure mess and desperately tries to appease him, until he inevitably dumps her. That last phase is really hard to watch.
@69 a skeptic and a cynic: Congrats on scoring the magic number!
@71-@85 comment thread between BiDanFan and LavaGirl: Upon reading between what is nowadays consensual polyamory and just plain marriage-ending CPOS bullshit, I see additional reasons why I'm infinitely better off just staying unmarried, and possibly why my ex has moved on to #3.
@88 WoofCandy: He sounds like a totally abusive jerk. Have you ever called him on his bullshit?
@71: Hey, the difference between "cuckold" and "cuckold fetish" is pretty important to get right. Mistaking the former for the latter is how people end up divorced, or shot.

Letter Writer sounds to me like the sort who would experience this more toward the anguish side of the spectrum, and not so much on the sexual charge side At least that is how I take the phrase "I struggle with the thought of her having a boyfriend." He is trying to be giving and accommodating here, but this situation doesn't give him pleasure.

His wife had best be clear on that about him, and what that means in terms of how he feels treated by her. She had better be careful to be extra good to him, lest fears and resentments accumulate. If she gets caught up in the excitement of New Relationship Energy with the "very close friend," and forgets that there is someone supposedly important to her waiting at home, she may lose the marriage that she claims she wants to keep.
Lol. "Wants to *start* dating said friend"

I think you're being cucked, bro.
WoofCandy @88: I'm confused by the distinction you draw between "consensual power exchange" (fun, fulfilling) and "real power imbalances" (which hurt people). The power imbalances in my relationships are both real and fulfilling. Why not contrast "consensual" with "non-consensual," rather than suggest that anyone enjoying themselves is only pretending to give up power?
@92: EricaP, I can't speak for WoofCandy, but I think you two are talking about two entirely different things. To you, power imbalance is essential to your core being and being in a relationship with a power imbalance is a positive experience for you and your partners. And to a certain extent, you are only pretending, because you are choosing to keep the relationship on a D/s level.
Whereas I read WoofCandy as describing the imbalance of a relationship in which one partner loves the other more than the partner loves him/her, and both of the partners recognize this, and it doesn't necessarily make the one who loves more happy. That person is always at a disadvantage and both of them know it, and often, the one who is less in love exploits the other person's love for him/her in a selfish way. The one at the disadvantage has the potential to be made miserable by it and likely wishes that the power was more evenly balanced, or that they were as loved by the partner as they themselves love the partner.

Sorry for the pronoun mess.
nocutename @93 -- "And to a certain extent, you are only pretending" -- nope. That's a long discussion, which has been written about more eloquently than I can do here. But the short response is, no, it's not pretend and I can't turn it off, any more than I can shut off the power imbalance between myself and a police officer, or between myself and a longtime mentee.

In a relationship, there are many reasons that power can be unevenly distributed. In the case you describe, the one who loves more is unhappy and exploited. So the relationship could be described as an "unhappy power imbalances" and I wouldn't object. I'm only objecting to reserving the word "real" for the unhappy kind. There are plenty of real power imbalances in life which are not thereby unhappy or unethically exploitative. Employer/employee, for instance, is a real power imbalance which is not inherently unstable, unhappy, or unethical.
@auntie grizelda: He sounds like a totally abusive jerk. Have you ever called him on his bullshit?

He's actually one of the most wonderful men I know - I just wouldn't recommend falling in love with him.

He's not playing games or lying, he genuinely wants to settle down, always wanted a family, but can't seem to do the necessary rounding up to one, and this has been a source of distress for him. If losing interest and criticizing is abuse, then I suppose he's abusive, but then so is every woman who's ever dumped me. What makes it icky for me isn't the way he treats them, it's just the inherent tragedy of a someone putting all their emotional chips into making a relationship work with someone who's started the divestment process. It's no different that what I fear is happening with HUSBAND and his wife.

He's still friends with a couple of exes, as am I. My only involvement has been giving them a shoulder to cry on.
@Mtn. Beaver @82: "A Rorschach-blot letter here." Very well said. This seems to be a case of us all projecting our various experiences onto the letter. I think there are lots of possibilities, and without a lot more info, we have no idea which it is. But I'm interested to hear everyone's impressions.

Statistically speaking, it wouldn't surprise me if the wife is on her way out the door, or pulling some kind of fast one. But it's good to realize that that's not always the case; sometimes poly happens like this, and sometimes it works for people, even if (like EricaP, if I recall correctly, and like this LW if this all works out) it took some adjustment on the part of the partner who didn't first bring it up.

@EricaP @94: You always have such interesting comments. If you ever decide to write a memoir, I'd totally pay money to read it.
@95 WoofCandy: Sorry---I guess I misunderstood your comment (@88) about his consistently dumping GFs after 9 months, and your not wanting to witness the breakups, broken hearts and broken pieces. It does sound a little like he's stringing prospective LTRs along, though, just to love them and leave them. Maybe if your friend offered a "no strings / let's see what happens" disclaimer, there would be fewer broken hearts....? But you know him way better than I do.
I seem to have been misunderstanding a lot of people lately.
BDF @ 71 “I'll let Hunter tackle @62 and @63 ;)”
sdpunkbutter @ 54 mentioned a fishy Russian expression in regards to have her cake and eat it too. Your seen above comment reminds me a Swedish one: “Don’t wake up the bears.”

As for HUSBAND’s situation I’d say that so far it is cuck-free. Yes, it may come across as an ultimatum, but he is still in the process of processing and did not agree to anything. There may be some pressure on him to go along, but he can still negotiate or even push the ejection button.

WoofCandy @ 88
I think the relationship imbalance you describe is not a consensual D/s one, but rather plain abusive and/or inability/no desire to keep a relationship.
I’m with Nocute and EricaP in this regard, though I identify some differences in their approaches. One seems to be more into a full blown D/s relationship, the other may see it more as an on/off play time scenario of some sort.
No right or wrong, just my observation.

My personal experience and inclination in this regard is similar to my gender exploration journey. What started as sexy dress up is now more on the gender fluid side, and D/s bed time play made me look into a full-blown relationship of that nature.

Shabbat Shalom to all.

@EricaP: I'm confused by the distinction you draw...

It's is a complex subject, but for me it boils down to this. How real can a power be if it vanishes the moment you withdraw your consent?

Certainly the lines between reality and fantasy grow blurrier the further down the D/s rabbit hole you go, and I haven't personally ventured that far, but as long as consent is still part of the deal, it seems to me you're talking about "power" instead of power, no?
I think the whole "poly discussion" derives from the fact that the wife already had someone else in mind when she put the issue on the table. I don't think it's dishonest, although I can see why that would cause LW to have insecurity or maybe just feel a little wounded in his ego. However, I don't think there was any other way she could have approached the issue without being shady. opening a relationship is a sensitive topic for most monogamous couples, so I think a little discomfort (at first) is something to be expected even when everyone is being honest and upfront.

LW1 surprised me though. he says he's afraid he's being rapey in his sleep, while most times I heard of sexsomnia or similar, it's always the other way around: the asleep person usually ends up feeling like they were taken advantage of. however, it seems that neither him or his fiancé have issues with sleepy sex, and that it even warms the fiancé to things he's not used to doing (like rimming being off the table when LW is awake). it seems that being asleep, much like being drunk, is lowering the LW's inhibitions and may be helping him to ask for things he doesn't dare to ask for while awake.