Savage Love Letter of the Day: Do I Tell My FWB That He Isn't Treating His GF Right?


I was pretty confused about 2/3 of the way through, but read on anyway in hopes of seeing Dan lay into her for use of the shorthand "sitch." Came away disappointed.
Omg, all that drama!
I need a flow chart to help me keep track of the people. I need a stiff drink to help me want to read about the drama.
I hope they're paying you the biiiiig bucks, Dan.
@4 perfect
Even devoted Savagistas are entitled for a break every now and then.
So _that_ is why I am monogomous.
Friday and Sunday. That's a decent offer. I'm at the point in my life where I pay to fly friends in rather than pay to visit my friends (it's cheaper) and honestly having a day off in between would be sweet.

I'm inclined to say you guys aren't poly but simply all in FWB relationships. You fuck each other when it's convenient. Y'all ain't married. Most exclusive relationships don't survive distance, let alone a relationship with a guy who you KNOW is openly fucking at least two other local woman.

IMO, Your friend needs to not look a gift horse in the mouth and either choose to accept what her part-time boyfriend is offering and if that's not enough for her, she has you to hang out with, she has another boyfriend back home, and if she's feeling lonely on a Saturday night she can literally just hang out at bait shop until she finds someone who's good for the night.
People don't break up with each other anymore, do they?
All these people are fucking a bunch of other people, it’s a given. Out of town girlfriend knows boyfriend has other partners, she shouldn’t be surprised that he might have other plans, and two days seems totally reasonable to me. If she’s not happy with that, she should feel free to spend time with other partners or reassess her relationship with boyfriend. This is not your concern LW, keep your nose out of it unless asked.
In her own analysis, FLAG minimizes the fact that OOTGF moved to a city some distance away from the Dude, and that they only saw each other occasionally. It’s not even clear that they were otherwise communicating regularly. So while they may still be dating, OOTGF is now in a decidedly tertiary status, behind his current primary partner and local FWB, even if their relationship predates the Dude’s new relationship, and it’s only natural that his prioritizing his primary relationship.

It’s also not clear how much advance notice OOTGF provided the Dude, or whether she just assumed he would free his schedule for her.

I would note, I understand the Dude to be willing to see OOTGF on Friday night and Sunday night, which amounts to about one-quarter of the weekend, not two-thirds, and some others are suggesting. Although that calculation would vary if OOTGF spends Friday night to Saturday morning with the Dude, and whether OOTGF is staying overnight on Sunday.

In any event, I think the Dude is making a reasonable accommodation to OOTGF given the reality of their current relationship status, and FLAG should butt out.
I can't wait for next weeks "My poly boyfriend is shunting me to the side so he can see his other girlfriend who's in town for the weekend, is he being a dick or what?"letter.
Where do Poly folks find the time for all this drama???
People like this must live for the drama.
Jeez. What is the deal with all the self absorbed crybaby "What title can I give myself this week" whiners?
They must be so bored with their lives this is what they do for attention.
My head hurts and FLAG is only writing about what she knows is happening, which is not what is actually happening. The Rashomon effect strikes with vengeance. I suspect everyone involved (subjectively) knows part of what is going on, but I doubt if one knows (or can know) all that is going. All of the parties are (consenting) adults. No one is coercing anyone into anything. Chaos is the natural order of the universe and Murphy's rules supreme.
Getting serious now. I do not understand poly and I have never claimed that I do. This situation may be an anomaly, but it does reflect my understanding of the inherent confusion in complex relationships and organizations (That is a general statement) What I have been able to glean from FLAG's letter is that dude is not poly (nor does he want to be), but has several casual, on going FWB relationships (including FLAG and her GF) [semantics perhaps, but then I'm no expert on what is and what is not poly[ He currently has a primary relationship which he is focused on. GF was his primary? until she moved away. FLAG (and her GF?) apparently expects dude to act as if GF was still his primary. FLAG wanted to be dude's primary and he said no (wasn't interested) Hence her hurt feelings (and jealousy?) BDF I really would like your take on this situation. Is FLAG being a drama queen?
BDF and LavaGirl I hope your holidays were enjoyable. Me, I baked (and ate too many)Christmas cookies.
Sportlandia @12: For once, I agree 100%. My money is on "thoughtlessly exceeded his romantic bandwidth and unintentionally found himself in a situation where he had to cancel on someone." This has happened on a number of occasions in my poly life. It's why Google Calendar was invented. And yes, when you're the one who mixed up the plans, it's on you to honour both sets of plans to the extent that you can. Poly Dude is doing the right thing by not saying to New Girlfriend, "Sorry, I forgot I scheduled a weekend with OOTGF, I'm ditching you on Saturday night." He does owe it to OOTGF to make it up to her.

I don't see anything "manipulative" about moving to be with a partner who has more time for you than the other partner. Sounds like Poly Dude is happy to be "solo poly" and OOTGF wanted a live-in relationship; the beauty of poly is that she could have that live-in relationship without breaking up with Poly Dude.

Also, haters, scheduling mix-ups aren't "drama." The only drama llama and attention-seeker I see here is FLAG herself. How is this any of her business? She should follow her instinct and stay out of it. If she holds such contempt for "poly" dudes that she has to refer to them using quotation marks, she shouldn't be regularly fucking one. Which, hello!, makes her "poly" too.
Skeptic @17: Apart from your assertion that someone who is involved in multiple non-primary relationships is not "poly" (they are -- they're "solo poly"), I agree with your take.

From my reading, OOTGF is not FLAG's girlfriend, she is just her friend. And New GF is not Poly Guy's "primary"; to my reading, he does not have, and probably does not want, a "primary." Not all of us poly folks do; it's not a necessary ingredient to define yourself as (or behave as a de facto) polyamorous person. I agree that FLAG is probably choosing to side with OOTGF against Poly Guy because she herself is jealous that Poly Guy did not want to ramp up his relationship with her when OOTGF moved, and instead found someone else. I can see how that would hurt her; but if she's hurt by not being prioritised, retaliating by inserting herself into an issue that doesn't concern her isn't a mature way to deal with that. She should bow out, let these three settle this among themselves, and continue trying to find someone else for the primary relationship she wants.
FWIW, I think it's a very common and natural reaction for a non-primary partner to think that a breakup or change like a partner moving away will mean they get an "upgrade." This may or may not happen; it may be that you're not the primary not because that slot was full but because they don't want that sort of relationship, or don't think you are compatible in that way. I've been both the non-primary who didn't get an "upgrade" (I realised that my partner's primary relationship ended because they didn't want to be in a primary relationship, and that of course applied to me too -- and that a non-primary relationship was what we both in fact wanted; we are still together) and the partner whose non-primary hoped for an "upgrade" after I had a break-up, which unfortunately for her isn't going to happen. I quite like my personal space, thank you. And that's why I'm solo poly, not "for the drama."
@19 amended - the "sitch," as FLAG says, was not that Poly Guy "forgot he scheduled a weekend with OOTGF," he forgot he had previously scheduled Saturday night with New GF, which is why he shouldn't blow New GF off for subsequently scheduled plans with OOTGF.

If she weren't so new, and if it's difficult for OOTGF to come back, he might be able to grovellingly go to New GF and ask to be let off the hook for their date so he can spend the weekend with OOTGF. But I wouldn't do this so early on. Another idea is that they could combine plans, and he could introduce the two partners to each other (before going back to New GF's for the night). Only he knows if New GF is established enough to do this yet, and whether the two of them would get on.
Did your friend *ask* you to talk to him? No? And why is this a situation where she couldn't ask if she wanted to?
One last comment (why yes, this is far more interesting than the work I need to do today): OOTGF gets one llama point, not for being understandably a bit miffed about having to find other plans for Saturday night because of Poly Guy's scheduling mixup (thought: why not spend the evening with FLAG, if they're such good friends?), but for venting to FLAG, who, as Dan says, is not an unbiased observer.
BDF Apart from your assertion that someone who is involved in multiple non-primary relationships is not "poly" (they are -- they're "solo poly"), I agree with your take.

I didn't assert that. "semantics perhaps, but then I'm no expert on what is and what is not poly"

Does partner equal primary?. "I know that the dude had a partner when he first met my friend"

GF was his partner (?) until she moved away. FLAG wanted to become partner, but dude wasn't interested. She keeps referring to GFs, while she was just a FWB. Does GF equal primary?

I interpreted partner/GF to mean a primary. FLAG's mixing terms (I know she doesn't use primary) is confusing.

Wow, either the LW knows a whole lot of specifics we don't, or she's bringing some heavy willingness to see red-flag passive-aggressive breakup moves.

Is it worthwhile to keep FWBing this guy? Doesn't sound like you like him much, so I hope he's hot.
What is unclear (unstated) is how much time has elapsed since GF moved away and how much communication/interaction there has been between them (dude and old GF) Does old GF still consider dude a BF or just a FWB?
@18. S&C.. it was a laid back couple of weeks, thanks for asking. At first I thought, oh this guy must live in the subtropics like me. Then I realised you meant baked = cooking. Happy New Year🎊
Skeptic @25: "I didn't assert that."

Quoting your @18: "What I have been able to glean from FLAG's letter is that dude is not poly (nor does he want to be), but has several casual, on going FWB relationships (including FLAG and her GF) [semantics perhaps, but then I'm no expert on what is and what is not poly." So yes, you did assert that dude is not poly.

No, "partner" does not equal "primary." All of them are partners. A primary is one who is prioritised above the others; usually a life partner, cohabitant, spouse. A poly person will make it clear to non-primary partners if they have someone who comes first in their life. A partner is someone you are dating, as opposed to a FWB who is just someone you stay home and have sex with. Granted there are fine lines between these; I would personally not draw distinctions between "my partners" and "my FWBs," so long as they are people I am seeing on a regular basis and care about. It's up to the people involved in a relationship to choose their terms. But it is clear that FLAG is not considered as important as the others, and isn't happy about that.

OOTGF has a live-in partner, so I would guess that he is her "primary," whereas Poly Guy is a(nother) "partner."
Is OOTGF still the primary? Was she ever? Or is she (still?) just one of the gang?

Nevermind, either way she has Friday and Sunday, and if it were me, I would fuck the ever-loving shit out of this dude on Friday and Saturday mornings, leave the exhausted remains for Saturday night, and pick up the pieces on Sunday. Plus, if I were feeling my oats, I would find a one-off on Saturday night to ease my wounds.

But feelings are feelings. If OOTGF feels the BF needs to prioritize her as the primary then they have a conversation in the works. If BF is being all passive-aggressive and not taking responsibility for his feelings, then OOTGF needs to call him on his BS.

Aside from that, FLAG probably got the call because OOTGF wanted to touch base with her about how BF is treating her, too. Like, OOTGF got the feeling that it wasn't her, it was *him* that was pulling away in favor of NRE.

Anyway, FLAG should recuse herself from the drama if she wants to keep BF coming around. However, if she feels solidarity with OOTGF, or if she doesn't think OOTGF can handle the "sitch" if she and BF break up but BF continues to fuck FLAG, and/or if FLAG doesn't want to continue fucking BF if OOTGF isn't a part of his life, then she should speak up because she has nothing to lose.

Did all of that make an iota of sense or logic?
4-Nocute-- I'm with you on the flow chart and the stiff drink. One thing that could have made the flow chart easier than "BF" and "other GF" is this weird concept of ... NAMES! Even fake names! Call them John and Mary or Jafari and Clodagh, and help us keep them straight.

And 1-Blob-- I'm glad I wasn't the only one to object to "sitch."

And Dan-- Kudos for "this isn't any of your business." I skimmed after I realized I wasn't going to keep the characters straight. (Is everyone in this scenario straight? Does anyone care?) I skimmed after coming to the conclusion that this was a MYOB situation. I'm often surprised and delighted how few really new sitches there are out there. Being poly doesn't really change the basics like when to butt out.
@11. SublimeAfterglow. No, I would think that the LW's FWB, 'Dude', always assigned a higher-status to his out-of-town official gf than he did to her (almost certainly her), that is, to FLAG. FLAG wanted to elevate the importance of their connection to something closer to 'boyfriend-girlfriend', though both would still have other partners on the side; and his grounds for demurring at this were that he had a more immediate commitment to, or greater emotional investment in, his now absent gf. He was sad she'd gone and was working through missing her, and on this basis was happy to keep the LW to an arrangement where they had sex every five days, with no presumption of the other responsibilities or emotions that come with a relationship.

Having said this, I would agree (if it's your idea) that a lot of FLAG's feelings of indignation at her friend's being ill-treated are a sublimation or deflection of her own discontent at not being more important to Dude.


As I see it, Dude has done nothing wrong. Everyone involved, as far as we know, has been honest and honorable. The tell-tale word in the letter is 'serious'. FLAG does not feel that a relationship where she is a secondary (and actually, it sounds, a rather low-priority secondary) is 'serious', satisfying, committed or long-term. In my mind, a primary-secondary relationship _can_ be these things. Perhaps this is just not a strong relationship she has with DUDE, or perhaps she's not temperamentally poly. Whatever. It’s her prerogative; and the longer game for her is to find some partner(s) offering something more emotionally substantial.

One undercurrent in the letter is a sense that the guy, the dude, can more easily navigate the psychological turbulence of multiple partners than a woman. My response to this would just be 'roll with it'. If the jealousy is too much, or at bottom you want to be with just one guy, poly may not be with you.

I find the previous commentators, almost certainly older than the people involved, who deplored too much drama, or who claimed not to be able to follow the plot line, quite moralistic. What! Do they think the young in their 20s should go back to serial monogamous relationships? Do they not see normative poly as an improvement?
Harriet @32: I agree wholeheartedly with your post, with one exception. The ages of the people involved were never given. You've only made the assumption that they are in their 20s. I see nothing in the letter to indicate that this is the case. FLAG sounds as though she is new to poly, and I agree, probably not suited to it; Poly Guy appears to be her stopgap until she can find something more serious. But she could just as easily be a fortysomething on the rebound from a divorce as a millennial in search of "the one."
@31. Fichu. Consider whether you'd have been more attentive to another scenario: the woman is more into the man than he is into her, and he wants to open the relationship. My sense is that someone of our generation (one generation older than the young people in the letter) could quite easily enter into the young woman's feelings in such a case.

The 'sitch' in this letter is also that FLAG cares for Dude more than he does for her. But there is no question of them being monogamously involved. The starting-point for their relationship or arrangement was that he was the boyfriend of a good friend of hers. Eventually he found another partner he found more exciting, and the NRE got in the way of them seeing each other as much as she would have liked. But she wasn't moping. She had another lover--at least--and was looking for more serious relationship partners besides the one day in five fuck with him.

It’s easier for people to empathise with the woman just wanting more commitment. People with your reaction, to my mind, are complicit in socialising a thoroughly unsatisfactory gender role for women.
@33. Bi. Ha, you've trumped me! I think they're millenials and was going on the vocabulary and writing style. Otherwise you're right.
"Sitch" = short for "situation", I suppose?

Never heard of that until today.
Why can't these morons just enjoy fucking each other? These fantastical, imaginary drama narratives they create always ruin the fun the are supposed to be having. Fuck your FWBs, enjoy it, and leave it at that. You wreck it yourself when you begin weaving these fictitious drama (princess?) narratives in your head about other people and then attempt to push those fantasies into reality. In the LW's mind, she is at the center of some great important human sexual convulsion. In reality, she is a piece of ass that likes to get fucked and thinks a little too hard about it.
Popelick @37: Oxytocin is a thing. Oh, that it weren't, but it is. Good sex causes humans to catch feelings. Most of us are not empathy-free husks like yourself. Bring on the sex robots, I say... until then, there are going to continue to be "sitches" like these, and Dan will keep his job.
@38) Emotional immaturity is also a very real thing. People with this condition often blame their hormones for their immature actions, aka 'feeling catching' aka 'drama'.
I'd also take the view that being someone's FWB makes you more, not less, sensitive to the drift, in ethical terms, of their behavior--makes you more likely to find him (as here) basically unreasonable, to cavil, to pick over the bones of his words and actions, to take exception, to take up the cudgels for someone else (in this case, OOTGF). The advice is right--butt out; it's not for you to tell your FWB he should be spending more time with a declared 'gf'--but the LW's impulse, to care about and have a moral stake in the guy's behavior--is surely natural and comprehensible.
@33 I'll give you 9:1 that the dude is under 35 and the women are under 30.
Here's why I couldn't do poly (and I did briefly try): to me, someone not wanting me to be their primary partner means they aren't that into me. And if they aren't that into me, why are we even dating each other?

I realise it's different for people who enjoy poly relationships.
Dan: just for bookkeeping purposes - I think "I know that the dude had a partner when he first met my friend, now his GF, and that she possibly left because she felt neglected" referred to the woman who he was seeing before her friend. Does it matter? Probably not
Does your friend know about you and him ?
BDF@29 Please calm down I am not arguing with you. First, thank you. I was not familiar with solo poly. My (flawed) understanding of poly was that a primary relationship was required, which dude may or may not have (whatever partner means) I (and others) found FLAG's letter confusing: Hence, "My head hurts (from trying to make sense of the letter) I will try to deconstruct what I was trying to convey. I began @18 with "I do not understand poly and I have never claimed that I do. (an admission of ignorance). Nothing after that could/should have been taken as an assertion of fact. What followed was a statement of my understanding of the letter (not an ex cathedra statement of fact).
I followed the statement with "but then I'm no expert on what is and what is not poly' and ended with a request for your help to understand the letter. I'm sorry that you took my comment as a statement of fact and not my confusion over what FLAG's letter meant.
Popelick @39: Emotions have a way of dragging even the most mature of us back to adolescence. I don't know whether to be envious of or to pity your hard heart. Calling people "morons" is also a sign of "emotional immaturity," is it not?

Skeptic @45: Yes, I took your post to essentially be, "Correct me if I'm wrong," so I did :) The misconception that "poly is when a couple decides to open their relationship" is widespread and annoying as fuck, so forgive me if my reply took an argumentative tone. All polyamory means is having, or preferring to have, multiple concurrent relationships; those relationships could be as serious as a marriage with kids or as casual as an LDR you see a couple of times a year. Still partners; still poly.

For reference, asking some poly people "who's the primary" could be seen as just as ignorant as asking a gay male couple "so who's the woman?". "Non-hierarchical polyamory" is considered by many to be the most ethical, as no one is in the position Elmsyrup @42 describes; all partners' needs are considered to be equally important, even if those needs are not equal (for instance, Partner A has two other partners but Partner B has none, so you spend more time with Partner B, but would not dismiss either of their concerns in favour of the other). Assuming the existence of a "primary partner" is still using a couple-centric model for relationships, which solo and non-hierarchical polyamorists reject.

If you want to learn more, try or
Skeptic: If you're still reading, I had a recollection that "partner" has a substantively different meaning in the monogamous world. It essentially means a relationship that is more serious than a "girlfriend/boyfriend" but not yet (or never to be) a fiancé/e or spouse. Bearing this in mind it makes perfect sense that you would think "partner" in the poly sense must mean a person's most significant other, aka synonymous with primary. In poly vernacular partner is just a synonym for lover. Perhaps we use this word in our ongoing uphill battle to have our relationships recognised as meaningful, though they may be non-exclusive.