Girlfriend's Poor Judgment Throws Wrench Into Open Relationship

Comments

1

Never buy a house together without a ring together. You're just asking for trouble, even without throwing a third into the mix. That's why a wise man once said:

Good Fences Make Good Girlfriends.

3

Honestly I blame the guy and his expectations of an open relationship. I don't see why the woman is at fault; she is a woman and guys are horny and will flirt trying. You told her she could be on the market to guys; so you really have no room to complain if she gets flowers or a guy wants to screw her and masturbates.

Looking for a hall pass to cheat or dump her likely; what a piece of crap

4

Also, does anyone believe LW's girlfriend didn't actually fuck the first guy? I'd put any amount of money on they fucked and GF is downplaying it.

This is not so much an "open relationship" as a cucking scenario, from the looks of it. I assume a partner who respected their primary partner would be a little more choosy with her additional partners. Jesus Christ, she swiped right on a late-20s virgin who'd never been in a relationship of any kind? Those standards must be so low as to be nonexistent. Regardless tho, what's going on is that you have an issue, and she's rejecting it out of hand rather than engaging with you and taking your feelings seriously (which doesn't require admitting being "wrong", it's just a place to begin a discussion), which indicates that this relationship is on the way out the door. That your "open relationship" is only a year old suggests she's trying to alienate herself out of a relationship with you.

W/R/T to '[women] will sometimes "consent" to sex because they fear violence' - IMO, that doesn't hold up after the string of decisions that starts with 1) Red Flag dating profile 2) Red Flag dinner etiquette and 3) Red Flag acceptance of an invitation to his apartment. Sorry, you don't get to make those decisions and THEN decide you are physically fearful only once the guys dick is out unless an actual physical threat is made. Your girlfriend isn't a 6 year old who believes that the stranger with candy really wants her to help find his dog, she's an adult who knows what it means to go to someone's apartment alone. If someone is so weak you can't say no at any point along that journey, you are too emotionally weak to hold a job or date anyone at all. And besides, that dude probably did masturbate in front of her, only it was after a period of fucking and sucking, so whatever. Do you think she let him cum in her mouth and then swallowed?

5

"Yes, it's annoying when someone asks for sex again and again after you've told them no—"
How about a little editing: Yes, it's blatantly wrong when someone asks for sex again and again after you've told them no—." You're welcome.

SCB, you don't state your age, or your girlfriend's age, but it could be she is at an age (late 20s) when she wants the freedom to make her own choices good or bad, and doesn't want to feel like she is not mature enough to have developed good judgment around dating and sex. Perhaps she thought she could handle Boyfriend No. 2 after the flowers came, but things go further out of hand, and she doesn't want to admit to having misjudged the situation early on, even if she knows now that she made a mistake.

At this point, you have made your case and belaboring the point isn't going to help your situation. I think you may need to let your girlfriend make a few mistakes and learn from them on her own if that is she want, which is her right.

6

Just the fact that Girlfriend is in an open relationship puts her firmly in the "unconventional" end of the bell curve, IMHO. Now it's fairly obvious that in addition to unconventional you can add "strange, verging on bizarre" to the things that excite her. And while "strange, quirky people" are generally harmless, and mostly just enjoy living outside society's expectations, you would be a fool not to recognize that this is also the neighborhood that the Jeffrey Dahmers of the world inhabit and if you are going to play in their backyard, you'd better have a good radar or risk ending up as somebody's lampshade. There's enough evidence here to suggest that GF isn't paying close enough attention to that radar. So I'd have a serious risk discussion with her and strongly ask that she keep either you or a trusted friend informed of her wherabouts on these dates. As everybody's mother used to say, "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye".

7

I don't know, I might be minority here, but I think Dan's response is opposite of mine regarding the two guys. I think the first one was more dangerously creepy and the second one was just more pathetically clueless. Neither would be my cup of tea, but to the LW all I can say is- weird dates, creepy dates, overly-eager dates, dates who push boundaries- these are all things a person is going to experience if they date, and they are all things that women who date men experience, and well, you have agreed that you want your woman to date other men, so...

I say figure out what boundaries you two expect as a couple - this is an open-ended conversation and can include updates as new situations arise (like, now you can make a rule that no seconds can send gifts to the primary home) but you should stop freaking out about your girlfriend's "judgement". She is who she is and she's going to handle the inevitable weirdos the way she handles them. You've chosen to be open.

8

@4 You are taking Dan's explanation of the girlfriend's possible feelings and reaction as what really happened. That isn't what the woman said to the OP, is it. So getting angry about an interpretation of an interpretation is a bit inappropriate and judgy.

Maybe she was thrilled by it? Maybe she believed he was harmless? She was right in her judgement wasn't she? It is usually possible to tell whether someone's request for sex is opportunistic and can be brushed off, or is a genuine threat. She was there and you weren't and comfortable enough to go along with it. (BTW going to someone's flat with them is STILL not consent to sexual contact of any kind. Why on earth would you say that!)

What evidence do you have for her lying about the amount of sexual contact they had? Are you describing what would have happened if the guy had been you? That, seriously, is much more worrying.

@7 I agree - dating is 'varied' not necessarily risky. It is possible for a man to be overprotective as a veil for controlling behaviour, too.

9

Sheesh, so much dissension. I thought Dan’s advice was bang on target.

10

I'm with Emma@7 a bit. I was more creeped out by the Example#1 - were her body parts going to end in his freezer or something?

Example#2 could be viewed as charity work gone awry. And WTF is the double standard on "30-year-old virgins"? Everybody would expect dude to be excited about banging a virgin so why doesn't the GF get a pass on the appeal of, if it all checked out, of his "giving her his virginity". And when it didn't check out, she left it at a kiss. (I realize the letter is unclear if he was a virgin or just never been in a r-ship).

11

More fundamentally, we have a LW who is complaining about the GF hooking up with some marginal cases (spoiler alert: straight women encounter far more marginal cases than straight guys do). What if the reverse was true? What if the GF was hooking up with guys who completely had their shit together - great career, fabulous dressers, paid-off house, witty conversationists, unmatched as lovers, and exactly as present or absent in her life as the GF wanted?
I'm guessing he'd feel rather insecure about that and contrive some reason to complain if the GF was picking dates who were "too good".

12

To put my last post in Dan-speak:

He doesn't like her dating 0.37s. Would he prefer she date a 0.98?

13

Sportlandia @4 "Sorry, you don't get to make those decisions and THEN decide you are physically fearful only once the guys dick is out unless an actual physical threat is made."

I think I remember you were sexually assaulted, so I don't want to be harsh here. But I was sexually assaulted by a man after I'd gone to his house on purpose for sex. I'd told him a limit, and he laughed at me and ignored my limit. Why didn't I leave immediately? Because someone who will laugh at a stated limit is a dangerous person, and it didn't take an "actual physical threat" to make me wary of violence.

You don't have to believe me, and you don't have to believe any particular person who says they didn't really consent to the sex they had. But your opinion isn't binding on the rest of us.

14

Does the LW want Dan to order his gf to admit she's wrong and start letting him vet her dates? I can't figure out what he's asking for.

And I'm confused by the way the LW distinguishes between the first 10 months of open relationship ("good for us, both individually and as a couple") and the last two, where his gf has dated two people he finds problematic. What changed?

Did they used to date together, and now they date separately?
Did she used to date women, and now she's dating men?
Did he used to have other partners of his own, and now he's going through a dry spell and resenting his gf's continued dating?

The bottom line is here: "I've tried talking to her about this several times and I constantly get shut down like I'm being too dramatic."

She's not interested in changing her behavior for him. He can decide that means he no longer wants to live with her (too high a risk of stalkers), or that he no longer wants to date her. But he doesn't get a say in her dating choices if she doesn't give him a say.

15

Maybe I missed something, but I don't think we know if the GF disclosed that she was in a relationship, open or not, with immature guy #2. If not, and if she continued to see him, that would constitute leading him on/lying by omission and not just having poor open relationship judgement.

16

I meant "disclosed to #2," not "in a relationship with" in the above comment.

17

Good partner choice is learned through trial and error, unfortunately. I would ask in the first case whether the gf had let the bf know where she was.

18

@13 Me being sexually assaulted/raped depends on your definition. I'm somewhere between 0 and, I dunno, two dozen times? Really depends on your definition tho. Is agreeing to sex just to avoid dealing with other shit count? If your live-in partner will be openly angry at you, does that count? If Randos that you'll never ever see again try to grope you, does that really count? (I mean, a hand on your junk is kind of just a hand on your junk, not awesome if you don't want it but it's not life altering or really even afternoon-altering, you get more play in a heated game of pickup basketball and no one goes to therapy for that unless someone gets murdered on the court).

19

Sportlandia, there is absolutely nothing in that letter that even has a whiff of a cucking scenario - the letter writer says they're in an open relationship and that it's been going well until recently. It's pretty clear that they're both seeing people outside their relationship, isn't it?
In one interpretation, it looks like she might enjoy the company of quirk types, or that she has poor judgment. I've always liked quirky (ideally shy) guys very much, so I appreciate that potential explanation. There's really not much to go on in this letter.

20

Being in an open relationship sounds exhausting. How do these people find the time to live the rest of their lives?

21

The straight, late 20s/early 30s men who are willing to date someone with an established partner in an open relationship are going to be a LOT quirkier, weirder and/or more desperate than the average dude (outside of maybe the Pacific Northwest anyway). 99% of guys with their shit together at that age have an eye towards starting family in the not-to-distant future and have their choice of women who DON’T have another committed dude in the picture. What did you expect? Doctors, lawyers and stockbrokers? Be realistic! Her pool is going to consist largely of kinksters, basement dwellers and other non-mainstream people. Many of them could be lovely people but there will be a lot who have issues that don’t allow them to compete with their peers.

22

As a female tinder user, I would have to agree with the LW that his gf used bad judgment for both examples. I've turned down many an invitation to a man's apartment, b/c he creeped me out during the date. If a guy wouldn't let me feed myself, I would never go home with him no matter how good he looked. Just makes me picture some kinda Kathy Bates scene, like god knows what he might do once alone. And a virgin? So...just throw the beginner into some type of varsity-level open relationship and expect he can handle the emotions? Noooooo. I think it sounds like she has low self-esteem, b/c when I meet creepers on Tinder I'm like hella no thanks. I move on to the next one b/c it says on my account that I have over 99+ dudes that want to talk to me. And the guy who tried to lure me back to his apartment by advertising his big screen TV and booze (probably no furniture lol)? So gross. Seriously wtf is she doing and who the hell are these dudes she is picking up? Sounds desperate AF. Or doesn't know how to screen out the weirdos. Usually, by the time I meet a man in person, I already have an idea that he's at least somewhat socially acceptable and worth my time. Not saying I have prefect judgement- we all make mistakes. But...I agree with the LW, both those guys sound horrible to me.

23

What boundaries, if an, did they establish when they opened their relationship. Obviously not the right to veto a potential partner or unilaterally close the relationship if either of them became uncomfortable or threatened. Admittedly supposition on my part, but LW didn't say anything about any rules, it's possible that they kicked open their relationship without establishing any. Not a good idea. Freedom of action is great until it isn't. He is unhappy about her recent choices. She supposedly shut down any attempt at discussion about his concerns. Instead she dismisses them as being dramatic. That does not bode well for the future of their relationship.

24

@4 someone hates women huh?

25

"she's an adult who knows what it means to go to someone's apartment alone. [...] And besides, that dude probably did masturbate in front of her, only it was after a period of fucking and sucking, so whatever."

Jeez, Sporty, you're really not trying to play the "I'm just being logical and facing facts" today are you.

26

@15: This. I'm not sure if that second guy is pathetic, or if he was treated badly. Imagine if you're the guy relatively new to dating, who encounters a woman in a situation like hers. Was there full disclosure? Was there any disclosure? Did he think he just met the woman of his dreams, but who turned out to be, well, as described? Or did he barge ahead despite the disclosures? If the latter, do you really blame him for sending flowers? If the former, it makes perfect sense that he would send flowers.

The first guy is easier to dismiss. He sounds like a kinkster who didn't disclose his kink up front. I needn't repeat Dan's advice on this topic. Of course, merely posing with babies isn't necessarily a red flag; there are photos of me holding friends' babies out there. Someone holding babies may just have a strong paternal instinct and want to meet a woman with whom to start a family. Or maybe a strong avuncular instinct. That said, I'm not going to feed someone someone else like that, unless I'm doing a favor to someone close to me with two broken arms or equivalent. Call it a yellow flag, turned red by the feeding scenario.

Big picture? This couple is clearly not on the same page. They need to fix this, pronto.

27

@25 does that not follow? She knew what it meant, and was down with it, and maybe probably followed through. Does that sound.. illogical to you? Not sure I understand what point you are trying to make.

28

Disagree Dan re man no one. He sounds very very creepy and he committed sexual assault by his constant badgering till she relented to let him masturbate. Huge red flag at the dinner, wanting to feed her.
Why is this woman being so reckless? No idea LW. I agree with you that you have reason to be worried. I’d say you need to pause the open relationship for a week or however long it takes for her to stop avoiding your fears. Silly woman. That first man sounds like he could have got super weird, and the poor second man, got his heart broken.
Is she happy with the open aspect LW? Or could she be trying to sabotage it.

29

Sportlandia, why would she lie? If she had sex with the man, she’d not need to hide it.
Someone’s lampshade indeed Donny. Spooksville that first man.
So what’s this woman on about and why. The LW sounds intelligent and emotionally hooked up, so she knows how to pick a good partner.

30

I agree for the most part with Dan's advice and have never commented before. But I really think he missed the mark on this one. Dan micro-analyzed the 2 examples the LW gave; but there are likely other examples he didn't bring up, otherwise wouldn't have said "for example".
The Crux of the issue is that he's concerned and has every right to ask to renegotiate the terms of their open relationship without being dismissed. A relationship (open or not) is an ongoing discussion and boundaries may change a little over time as issues are encountered. They need to respect each other's concerns.
I also thought compromises could be found -- would he feel better if she took a self-defense class and shared her location with someone? Or maybe they both need to swing the door to half-open by having veto power for 6 months to see how that goes.
It felt as if Dan's response nitpicked the validity of the LW's feelings rather than helping with solutions. Hopefully the suggestions above help.

31

Wait a minute, Dan. Continuing to ask for sex after receiving repeated "no's" is okay but sending flowers is not?

"Because when you're dating someone in an established open relationship who has a longterm partner—and one date ≠ dating—you don't make grand romantic gestures without first making sure they're allowed. Sending those flowers to the home she shared with her partner was an act of aggression masquerading as a romantic act." Now this is a rule I have never heard of in all my years of poly. Sending flowers to two different places after one date is a sign of clinginess and RUN in big neon letters, sure. Sending flowers to a partnered person's shared home? That's not an overstep. "Am I allowed to send you flowers," really? I've never met any poly person who has a "no flowers from non-primaries" rule. I think you've missed the mark here, Dan.

So, yes, both these guys are waving big red flags. It must be more difficult to be poly and cohabitating, because he's closer to the red flags; it's not as much an option to let her handle these things herself. But I agree -- these were two bad choices in a row, compared to how many good ones? If safety is a concern then perhaps new rules should be negotiated, such as no going back to anyone's place on a first date and no giving out your home or work address. And they both need to follow these rules.

I will say that it's a very good sign that she is openly sharing these details with SCB. Much better for him to have full knowledge of the situation than to assume the worst, or to react badly and lead her to think she's better off not talking to him when things like this happen.

32

Like FirstTimer, I believe there are other examples of bad judgment on the girl friend's choices of casual sex partners. Maybe she hasn't sought casual sex in the past.

I also doubt she made it clear to no-experience guy #2 that she was in a primary relationship. If so, that was unfair to both guy #2 and the boyfriend. That needs to be sorted out.

33

Sublime @5, well said.

EmmaLiz @7, I agree the first guy seems infinitely creepier to me than the second, though we don't know what the "behavior about an inch away from stalking" was.

Kriss @8: "So getting angry about an interpretation of an interpretation is a bit inappropriate and judgy." That's what Sporty does. Gets angry about anything involving a woman because of course she is Guilty of anything his addled brain can fabricate. Sporty, ever heard of Louis CK? Men asking to masturbate in front of women is a thing that happens. There's no incentive for someone in a relationship that allows them to fuck other people to make something like this up.

EricaP @14, I agree he is probably taking a paternalistic tone. Dates are a crap shoot. Perhaps she didn't want to hurt the second guy -- many of us have been there. Everything is clear in a rear view mirror. If SCB is coming across like "I don't trust your judgment," (and yes, what is it he's seeking? Veto power? To attend these first dates with her?), then of course she will get defensive. Perhaps if he took a "men can be dangerous, let's think about some sensible safety precautions" he'd be listened to.

Girlie @22: Could just be rookie errors or not having a well-enough-tuned filter. Agree that these are learning experiences and hopefully she is learning. Agree also that "I have a primary partner" will put a lot of men off. She should be pursuing men who also have primary/multiple partners, rather than single men.

34

Ms Erica - Good questions.

My first impressions are similar to those of Mizz Liz, and Mr Kenai's first few sentences. I've been on one or two dates like D1 with men who could have broken me in half; one gets out of them as best one can, and makes of them what one will.

As for D2, as M? Crusher points out, we can surmise only that LW appears to believe GF's account. I could conjure about six different scenarios for that situation, each painting D2 in a light distinct. I'll end where I began, agreeing with Ms Erica.

35

I don't think there's any reason to presume Girlfriend didn't tell Guy 2, or any of her dates, that she is in a primary relationship. Stalking can and does happen even when people are openly poly.

36

I'm very willing to bet that the gf's judgement of what's dangerous is far more accurate than the bf's. He just doesn't know what it's like to date straight dudes. Now he knows and is understandably squicked. If you don't think he's going to kill or rape you, he's sexually attractive to you (and it sounds like in this case maybe feeling a little sorry for the guy is an attractant to her - the bf may want to be very careful about questioning that), he's an option. She's not shopping for a new serious partner ffs. Especially if in an area that isn't heavily populated the bar is extremely low and very easy to clear, this should not be news to anyone.

37

Asking after repeated no's can be done in a charming and delightful way, it just requires emotional intelligence. If he did it well, that's to his credit and maybe why she stuck it out. Very few guys can pull this off.

38

@31 BD yeah on the flowers - a partner might ask, you want me to set him straight for you? Or, be careful with this one, don't want him to get his hopes too high, or, just, kudos, but sending flowers isn't a problem unless you're don't ask don't tell. Sideeye or high five but not condemnation. Showing up without asking first after one date - that's radioactive territory. But flowers is fine. A tad much but understandable if you devirginized the guy or busted a decade long dry streak.

39

Interesting perspective, no @37. However charming the request might be, her answer was no. Why didn’t she leave though. Some straight men now behave like this, on a first date? Guess the babies in the photos were a dead give away.

40

@1 That makes no sense. The ring isn't some magical orb that makes its owner a better person. The only thing the ring does is make sure that if the relationship breaks up, the value of the house will be split. There are other ways to accomplish that fact without a ring.

A better test would be the amount of time you've been with someone. Buying a house with someone you dated for three months and married is way worse than buying a house with someone you've dated for five years. You just need to build in some legal documents that specify how the property will be handled if the relationship fails

41

@5 Agreed. This seems like a lost opportunity for LW to affirm the open relationship works. Maybe part of the messy side of an open relationship is being there to help your primary partner when dating gets weird. Not judging, not saying "I told you so", just being there to laugh about it. It's like your partner's job - your role isn't to tell them where they went wrong on something, its to have their back by calling Marcy a bitch even if she was maybe kind of right, and maybe offer gentle advice if asked.

I feel like part of his issue is he has forgotten what dating is like since he's been partnered so long. Everyone who has dated extensively has a bunch of weird stories of things going sideways. I didn't even date that much and I have three solid party stories. That's part of the reason to get into an open relationship - some of it is the new sexual partner thing but some of it is the new experiences thing. Ask anyone who is happily married - they love marriage but they also kind of miss all the excitement of just meeting someone. The potential something strange will happen on a third date balanced with the potential of having that night where you barely sleep and just talk and fool around all night. There's excitement in early dating and bad choices and fun happenstance and that's why you do it.

42

@37 I think the issue is that of the total number of people who think they have the emotional intelligence to pull that off, maybe 1% actually do. Like George Clooney probably does/did but I'm not George Clooney. I think I probably have one ask and then maybe a second that's pretty nonaggressive and then I'd become a weirdo.

We'd probably be better off just having a "one and done" rule

43

What if he wanted to open the relationship and she wasn't as excited about it and none of these guys is real and she's just pushing back on the open relationship. If she makes the dates weird enough and messes with his equilibrium she won't have to say "I don't like this" because he will just back off the whole concept. It kind of fits:

They've had to do tons of talking about jealousy and its been rocky. That's a sign that at least one of them is having some issues with the concept. No reason it couldn't be him but its out there.
Each event involves some light sexuality but nothing over the top. Light kissing in #2 and a dude jerking it at her in #1. She made each one "weird guy getting sexual" to make him feel strange about things.
The first one seems almost made up its so weird. Like what person who is allowed to hold three babies by three different mothers also lacks the social skills to not come across as insane weirdo on a first date? Maybe the date gave her a bite of his meal by extending his fork with a bite (which is maybe weird but not that weird) and she got an idea for how to make her primary partner feel strange.
The second one is a little harder but how many romantic comedies feature a person sending themselves flowers to make a person jealous? The phone calls are harder to explain, though she could get a trusted coworker to just dial a few times and she acts it out from there. This one is more of a stretch.

This may be a crazy theory but I enjoy it.

44

@39 Lava and @42 Larry oh, I'd put it at well below 1%. Why didn't he stop? Because he was charming as hell and she didn't want him to. I mean, he was respectful of her and followed her orders. Imagine how fucking enchanting you'd have to be to make feeding someone an entire meal in public fun. Maybe the guy's that good. You'd have to be if you are trying to make an adult baby situation happen on a first date with a supposedly vanilla rando and have it work!

Does no one else out there appreciate the absolutely unimprovable and permanently unfuckable but extremely (EXTREMELY) well mannered unrepentant horndog who can effectively get away with conversational murder because they're so respectful? Just me?

45

@44 an adult baby situation in which the vanilla rando on the first date is the baby! I mean, the mind reels!

Also, and again maybe this is just me, but does no one else do stuff (that you correctly assess as safe, as she did) just for the story? Does no one have a sense of adventure?

46

@29 why would she lie? You're really asking? Cause her bf obviously didn't like the dude and if she'd copped to fucking this dude with more red flags than a soviet military parade bf world have blown a gasket. And because she doesn't respect him.

@40 the ring awards certain financial protections and obligations regarding ownership of the house. I've known too many people who've bought a house with a non spouse and someone ends up with a ruined credit rating every time.

47

Like, when are you gonna get another crack at the "he only takes pics w babies and I'm not allowed to use my own spoon" guy again? Don't ya kinda wanna see how weird it's gonna get? How is he any less safe than anyone else? If he's able to respect her boundaries (he did) what's the big deal? He advertised his kink in his pics, he introed it at dinner, plenty of time to reject, didn't spring anything on her. #2 didn't respect boundaries but you're gonna get that dating guys, it's just par for the course and only one a year is pretty decent depending on her numbers.
If these were the only guys she dated maybe concerning, that's a 50% failure rate, but if she's new to dating ok. I'd be interested to hear her take on what he's hauling home.

48

Also, can you imagine going on that date not knowing what adult baby was? Maybe HE doesn't know. This coulda been a rescue mission, all I'm saying. She was just trying to get him to listen to Dan's podcast so he wouldn't feel so alone. Anyway, I wish them the greatest happiness, given this guys nerves I figure baby man and gf have got more of a future as a couple. Good luck out there you guys!

49

@46 marriage is outdated. House means more. Everyone I know who bought a house together stayed together. Can't say the same for the marriages.

50

Soul Crusader & Musicbiker. "If the former, it makes perfect sense that he would send flowers."

No."After their first date, which they only lightly kissed, he started sending her flowers both to our home and to her work"

Sending flowers once after a date to a personal address that one had been given might be a corny (to some) but totally fine perhaps even charming thing (to others). Sending flowers once after a date to a personal address that one had not been given but assumed would be OK to send anyway is the same though naive at best, regardless of whether or not he knew the primary partner lived there but if he did then it's also questionable in terms of motivation. Sending them to someone's work address without permission- foolish, probably embarrassing, potentially creepy, etc, but again could be excused by naivety, ignorance, etc.

But sending flowers to both work and home? And "started to" implies it was multiple times?

No. Never OK under any circumstances. This is pathetic at best, creepy/desperate/overbearing/embarrassing at worst- it's not OK.

And he clearly says it was after one date.

What it's not is a situation in which you feel you are alone with someone who might rape you which is much more horrifying to me, hence why I said I feel that Dan mixed the two up. But maybe he's right that actually the difference is the way the LW told it- perhaps the woman did not feel threatened but to me that first situation seems way more scary and creepy (the babies omg, the spoon feeding, the sexual pushiness, no no no no no no). The second guy seemed more like a run of the mill overbearing desperate dude, easier to handle, more common, less scary IMO.

Also I think it's weird that she kept seeing him, but if her interpretation was that he was naive (never been in a relationship) then maybe she did not see him as creepy but just "hey don't send me multiple flowers to multiple places".

Or... she could be the sort of woman who is all "how romantic! These men are so persistent! They must really like me, I'm such a snack!" in which case, well she's getting the sorts of encounters she likes I suppose.

Or... she might be a freak who enjoys other people who fly their freak flags high.

It's not really about "poor judgement" since that's subjective, it's about what their boundaries are as a couple and what they expect from one another. You can't tell your partner they can get it on with others and then be all like "I'm disturbed by the people you find attractive and what you want to do". But it is reasonable to be like "hey are you sure you aren't going to get yourself killed/raped?" We have no idea how naive the LW's partner is either.

But anyway, circling back, Soul Crusader and Musicbiker- no, don't send flowers to someone's house/work after one date without permission, don't send flowers to multiple places at all, and don't send flowers multiple times. Unless you're very sure you've stumbled across the odd woman out who would find this cool after one date, there is no "makes perfect sense" about this behavior. It's weird, potentially disruptive to the other person's life, makes you look like a desperate naive weirdo.

51

@50 El - there are extending circumstances we don't have in which she judged that behavior to be not unsafe. If someone gave me a diagnosis, say, that also explained why they hadn't dated ever at an age well beyond normal, I might not feel like it would be appropriate to share that w my bf.
I've never found men to have a better gauge on the safety of other men than women. Maybe your mileage varies.

52

@51 Exception: abuse histories. But that applies to men's judgement as well. Bf doesn't mention it. You'd figure he's on that axis too if her judgement is impaired due to that though in which case can we trust his account?

53

@51 extenuating, not extending.

54

@NO

Didn't say he hadn't date, only that he hadn't been in a relationship. Which in itself does not seem weird to me anyway, he's in his late 20s. There could be a million explanations for that including social awkwardness, being a late bloomer, or simply enjoying the freedom of youth and not wishing to be in a relationship.

I was talking about whether or not it "makes perfect sense" to send flowers to both home and work multiple times after one date and the answer is absolutely NO. It does not make sense. It may not mean you are a creepy threat- the most generous read is that you are desperate and naive. But it does not "make perfect sense" and a diagnosis might explain it in the way that mental illness can often account for illogical and outlandish behavior, but that doesn't make it "make perfect sense" unless by that you mean "ah so there's an explanation for why you did this strange thing".

55

Very interesting thread. I particularly loved BiDanFan@31 starting with:

"Wait a minute, Dan. Continuing to ask for sex after receiving repeated "no's" is okay but sending flowers is not?"

57

Larry @41, that's a good point. Perhaps Girlfriend feels "safe" throwing herself into these situations because she feels secure with SCB. Who knows, maybe when Adult Baby-Lover was literally feeding her, she was thinking how hilarious it would be to share this story with him later.

Larry @42, maybe it's 0%. Look at how this sort of thing is coming back to bite even Jeff Goldblum on the ass. I agree, ask once; no means no.

Larry @43, at least you admit your theory is crazy!

Sporty @46, happy to prove you wrong again. Bought a house with ex-husband, ex-husband did not pay mortgage, house was repossessed, credit ruined. Bought a house with ex-shackup, now own house, and he owns his own. A ring does not cure financial irresponsibility. Maturity and making better choices, now that's the difference.

Thanks, Curious @55!

58

@57 BiDanFan
"Bought a house with ex-husband, ex-husband did not pay mortgage, house was repossessed, credit ruined."

That reminds me that my credit was hosed (for 7 years here in the USA) because it didn't occur to me that my ex-wife would default upon the payments for the major assets I mostly let her have in our divorce 30 years ago.

59

I'm assuming typical dating experience starting at 16.

I really wish we had some idea of how old the two are and is there an age difference . Buying a house together suggests people in their 30s (student debt etc), but then again we have no idea of their financial condition (wealth, student debt, jobs etc,) which affects how old they are.

Bottom line: She may not have the real life experience necessary to recognize and access the dangers of inherent in dating sketchy characters. He's questioning her judgement. I don't think this would (or should) an issue if she is 30 and had 9 years previous of dating experience (starting at 16) rather 25 and only 4 years of high school and college dating, If she is 30 then she would at least some real life dating experience (beyond high school or college dating). There is a big difference if she is 30ish rather than, say, 25. Depending on what he means by being together (when they started dating versus in a committed monogamous relationship) Do the math, they've been together 5 years which means they would have begun the relationship while in college and had little chance for sexual exploration until now..

60

From someone with no dating experience:

I agree that the first situation sounds sketchier to me than the second, at least initially. The overall risk level of the second situation depends on exactly what behaviors were "an inch away" from stalking. I'm struggling with feeling like I don't know enough about either situation to assess whether the girlfriend's judgment was good or poor, and my gut telling me that I would run from the first situation well before going back to his apartment. Then again, I'm an overly anxious person and would probably run from most situations, whether they were sketchy or not.

In the second situation, it's conceivable to me that she thought he was just being naive in sending multiple bouquets to multiple places. If he was just being a little cartoony and she wanted to continue seeing him, she could have used that moment to establish clear boundaries. Maybe she did and he became more stalker-y nonetheless.

But I'm going to err on the side of insufficient information. Whether or not the girlfriend's radar needs tuning up, the key for the LW is to do everything he can to avoid being patronizing. Even if he has a point (and he very well may, but I'm unclear on whether he does), it would be so easy to step on her autonomy here or make her feel like she's being punished for being honest with him. I don't know what the right tack is for him to take, but caution is paramount. Tread lightly.

61

Marriage is outdated, no @49! But I just bought the celebration of same sex marriage in Australia, stamps.

62

Sorry to read of your misfortunes curious and Fan.
Re safety around men, I can’t speak for men with men or men’s view of safety around women.
This first man sounds unsafe, and that was obvious from his profile picture. So why did she pick him. As it turned out, he didn’t rape her, though he badgered and coerced her. The second man her behaviour was plain thoughtless, and brought the guy home, to where she lives.
All up, this woman is not being discrete or safe.

63

I think BF has some right to be concerned. With Date #2, his GF gave out BOTH her home and work addresses!!! Who does that? The date certainly didn't need either of them if they're communicating via an app or texting. And, now, Date #2 is exhibiting stalkery behaviour. Lovely. /sarcasm.

I wonder about the judgment of Date #1. Is showing only photos of him with babies the new code for "looking for AB (adult baby) woman"? I cannot imagine her letting him feed her in public the first time they met. So she appears to be naïve about that scene. I'm sure Date #1 could find enough women who'd be into it without the element of surprise as well as coercion.

I also wonder whether the dating pool for the LW has dried up recently, so he's paying more attention to her dates.

64

Reading the tea leaves or between the lines (whichever metaphor appeals to you).

OK , this is a very bad analogy and I'm using a stereotypical situation. Think of a father whose (not all that experienced) 18 year old daughter has gone on a date with someone he doesn't know. She was supposed to be home by midnight. It's now 3 AM He doesn't know where she is and can't contact her. He is experiencing extreme anxiety.

My take is this. They are relatively young and obviously not all that experienced with having an open relationship. LW is now in a situation similar to that of an anxious parent, emotion wise. Previously he relied on his GF's good judgment and didn't really worry all that much when his she went on a date. (She's an adult after all, she can take care of herself, no need to worry). Rightly or wrongly, he is now questioning her judgment and having an open relationship has lost some of its appeal (or not). Feeling anxiety will sour how you feel about almost anything. As does jealousy and insecurity.

Paternalistic perhaps, but she is someone with whom he is in love. There isn't anything he can do (now that would be paternalistic) except discuss it with her (Something she refuses to do. So much for having good communication).

Instead of focusing on her judgment (what adult likes to have their judgment questioned), they should be discussing how this makes him feel and whether they need to close the relationship. Somehow I get the feeling that she won't agree to closing relationship.

It's almost 4 AM, so cut me some slack while dissecting me. .

65

Curious @58, sympathies! For this and many other reasons I plan to never marry again.

Helenka @63, it's possible that the guy googled her work and/or home address, which would put him over the stalker line in my book. We don't know for sure that she gave this information out. I also don't think the only reason he would be concerned is jealousy. They talk about their dates, and both of these situations would/should be concerning even to someone getting lots of outside nookie. Also, if Guy 2 is sending flowers and calling/texting constantly, he's going to be a witness to that. I don't think he's blowing up these situations because he's bored.

Skeptic @64, I also get the feeling that HE wouldn't want to close the relationship, cutting off his nose to spite his face. I do agree with most of the rest of what you've said, particularly about how his couching this in terms of her "poor judgment" is not productive because of course she's getting defensive and closing down the conversation. As I said upthread, I think the focus of their talks should be safety, with whatever "rules" applicable to both of them (so it won't be paternalistic). Perhaps they vet each other's Tinder matches. Or perhaps they just agree to whatever rules will best avoid dangerous situations and he accepts that there are some loonies out there and that if nothing else, they'll make funny stories -- Mr Feeder would have been a great story if she'd avoided the sex pestering by going straight home after the dinner.

66

LW: welcome to the world of Women Dating Men. Lots of creeps out there - and yeah, like others have said, if you're searching for NSA men or men ok with you being in an open relationship, you're left with an even less favorable dating pool. Guys just be like that - she'd be better off focusing on other poly men - although even that isn't gonna get rid of all the creeps.

Consider this a learning experience for your own dating life. These are the kinds of guys women encounter, so focus on making women feel like you're not gonna pull weird shit like that. Also, be understanding if they're a little skittish at first - because the last guy they dated may very well have been like one of those dudes.

As for your gf, yeah, she needs to get better at noping out after the first couple red flags - but you know what? Experience is a good teacher and she'll figure it out for herself. That or, like Larry @41 says, she's got a man at home, and she's not looking for a primary partner, so why not take bigger chances and get some hilarious stories to tell over mimosas? Chill and learn to laugh about it.

67

I rather think that most persistent propositions are much more inclined to take on the nature of Mr Collins' proposal to Miss Bennet, E. The assembled company will doubtless recall Elizabeth's relieved certainty that applying to her father would mean that Mr Bennet would refuse Mr Collins in a way that both must be decisive and also could not be mistaken for the affectation and coquetry of an elegant female.

68

I think LW can go a little beyond safety and reasonably object to the flowers on his own account. Technological advances have eliminated some of the old ways in which outside partners might intrude on one's life. I can recall friends' attempts to establish rules about telephone calls back before cell phones were common.

If (and granted, it's not a given) LW objected to the first appearance of flowers, that GF continued seeing D2 after the second appearance is unpleasant. But we don't know, and perhaps LW doesn't know either, whether GF made no or insufficient attempts to dissuade D2 from continued flower-sending, or whether D2 was bound and determined to pursue his perceived course of True Romance despite any objections from his inamorata.

69

BDF @ 65 I'm not sure he wouldn't agree to close to relationship. Worry and anxiety are powerful motivators. If he can't conquer (live with) his fears then the options boil down to close or end the relationship. That may seem excessive, but his fear will over time alienate her and undermine the relationship.

70

I think that’s true skeptic. Worry and anxiety about other’s safety are debilitating over time.
And his worry is well founded. How to deal is the hard part. They could close the relationship for say a month, and draw up an agreement re their open arrangement, and factor in some words which allow mutual checking of prospective dates.
I don’t feel the LW wants to close it down, he’s been having safe fun, for a short time it may be the only option. These two need to talk, find a middle way.

71

LG @ 70 He may not want to. The question is what are his alternatives. What can they live with.

72

It sounds like LW and his girlfriend should have a detailed discussion about boundaries and then consider some kind of don't-ask-don't-tell policy going forward. If they are going to keep discussing her dates, LW should be sure not to put his girlfriend down or make fun of the guys she's seeing. He might not realize it, but the way he talks about these dates might make her feel stupid or insecure, which in turn might make her feel defensive and unwilling to consider his perspective and take seriously his concerns about her safety.

73

Good points visualworld, except DADT wouldn’t ease his worry.
I think something else is going on here, a deeper message she’s giving the LW. Goes off with a weirdo and then finds a stalker. Maybe she’s not happy with having the relationship open.
Or she’s very young and not aware of signs of trouble.
Whatever is happening here LW, you have the right to be heard, re how you’re feeling.

74

Skeptic @69 (congrats), and lust is an even more powerful motivator. I think given your three options, "conquer his fears" would be the preferred option of most straight men in non-monogamous relationships. (Or "close it for her but not for me," but most people would recognise that this is unfair and a DTMFA move and therefore off the table for the -ethically- non-monogamous.)

Lava @73, I agree that DADT both wouldn't solve the problem -- most people would worry MORE about what their partners aren't telling them -- and seems unworkable when you are living together. "Where are you going, honey?" "I'm not telling." Hmm. I think they're right to have an open-discussion open relationship, which is what they both seem to want. (IMO, DADT contravenes the spirit of an "open" relationship and should only be the preference when the relationship is opened for reasons of one person being unwilling/unable to have sex; one or both people experiencing jealousy issues that hinder disclosure; or distance. I understand some people prefer it but I personally would not last long in a relationship where I had to sneak around behind my partner's back and was constantly worried about what they were doing behind mine.) LW's concerns are valid and she should think more about safety precautions, but they can't have those discussions if they clam up about what they're up to.

75

My reaction may be unlike that of some other commenters, in that I'd think a guy in an open relationship is within his rights to insist on the relationship's implicit boundaries.

All my sympathy is with the LW--but I'm not quite sure as to what he should do. As Sublime @5 says, it doesn't look as if he'll gain by belaboring his point (he'll come over as jealous). My suspicion is that his gf is semi-consciously (at least) testing him, or acting out: she may have some dissatisfactions with the relationship (too serious too soon? Too settled? Unequal? Not fun enough? Boyfriend gets the best of their arrangement?) and be pushing at its boundaries. If she's not going to speak about these clearly, then the lw can only make his own conditions and potential break-points clear.

76

@11. David. We only have his side of the story. We don't know, for instance, about whom he hooks up with, and whether his partner has any concerns (over e.g. safety or fidelity).

Having said that, we can only go on what we know. I'd like to believe in the ideal of partners behaving in a respectful, rule-bound way in an open relationship.

@14. Erica. He's asking her to exercise good judgment. How huge an ask is this?

@21. Truthspeaker. 'Date'--or just have sex with? I'd think there would be more straight guys in their early 30s who'd be happy with something very casual than their counterpart het women. And does your equation of 'kinkster' and 'weird' hold up?

77

@28. Lava. Yes. You're the first commenter I'd agree with re what's going on--I'd think she's trying to sabotage the open relationship.

I'd ask why she tells as much as she does about the creepy feeding guy. Why not just say that he insisted on her not touching a utensil at the restaurant and that she dodged a bullet--lived to tell the tale? She's fishing for a reaction in some way.

78

@33. Bi. Sure--a paternalistic tone is not going to get him anywhere. Saying 'I can only lay out my own boundary; I can't be with anyone who I believe compromises our safety' might put something on the table to discuss between them.

He's partly writing to Dan for reassurance that his response isn' t just a matter of his jealousy taking things too much to heart. I'd be happy to provide this reassurance: whether he's jealous or not, his concerns are valid.

@36. 'no'. Perhaps--but I don't have the sense that she's straight-up said, 'I'm a better judge of what's dangerous than you' to him.

And ... with someone wanting to feed you with a fork and spoon--is anyone subjectively a good judge of what's dangerous at that point? 'I want to play at mock euthanasia with anaesthesia--you can see that I have a sweet personality'. Let's say my date proposing this was really good-looking or ingratiating. I would still run.

79

Only a year, and this many problems? One couple I knew had an Open Relationship policy where they had to approve of each other's dates in advance. Funny coincidence, it just happened that she approved ALL of his and he approved NONE of hers. For 20+ years. To each their own, but I can't imagine the extra sex being worth the bureaucracy. I don't have a moral issue if everyone's on the same page, but it just sounds exhausting!

80

"Implicit boundaries," Harriet @75? Which boundaries are those, and how does he know whether what he thinks of an an "implicit boundary" (such as, possibly, don't send flowers, if he's Dan) is the same as what she thinks of as one? No, there can't be a reliance on "implicit boundaries" if one wants an open relationship to work; these must be EXPLICIT boundaries if everyone involved is to know when they're being respected and when they aren't. And one cannot insist upon something one has previously not asked for. It sounds like he's asked her to tell her about her outside dates, and she's done so, meaning in her mind she has complied with everything he expects from her. The "implicit boundaries" are not sufficient.

And I'd echo those who note that you haven't dated straight men. Naivety is the Occam's Razor answer to this problem; there's no need to read between the lines for sinister motives, to jump to a suspicion that the girlfriend somehow, what, found someone she suspected would go stalker, or encouraged him to do so, or put herself in harm's way with Mr Feeder, on purpose rather than speak to her boyfriend if SHE had concerns about the relationship? That makes no sense to me. As you yourself say in the next comment, we can only go with what we know, and all we know is that the open relationship went well for 10 months before she pulled two red flags and didn't immediately run, like a disinterested third party on the internet surely would have (ahem).

Alysounn @79, usually the problems DECREASE after the first year, as people learn through trial and error what their "implicit boundaries" are and make them explicit. So there is that.

81

As for your friends, Alysounn @79, that wasn't really an open relationship, was it? But your friend didn't really want one, or she'd have got sick of his vetoes and either started issuing her own or walked out after about year one. Either she was a doormat or she was less concerned with outside dick than with knowing where her husband's was.

82

Fan she saw the profile pictures, of date one. Red flag. Could see his weirdo self coming. The stalker.. who knows? Never had a relationship before, was she careful to let him know she was in an open relationship she gave him her addresses. She is very naive, reckless or she’s up to something.

83

HbtB @ 76 Forget implicit boundaries. That's the problem here. What's obvious and implicit to the LW and which he "thinks" should be obvious and implicit to his GF isn't. They need to sit down and do what they should have done before they opened their relationship. A frank discussion establishing explicit boundaries and rules.

84

BDF @ 74 Thank you. I'm not sure about lust, but fear, worry and anxiety will wake you up in the middle of the night and not in a good way.

85

@80. Bi. Re 'implicit boundary': they're in an open relationship where they don't vet each other's dates. I would have thought an implicit boundary might be 'don't date a crazy person'. 'It's not good if they're giving off a Manson vibe'. Perhaps this has been spelled out, so it's an explicit boundary; but I'd have thought explicitly discussed boundaries are more likely to be e.g. 'don't date anyone more than twice every three months'--i.e. don't threaten the relationship by being with any plausible alternative--or e.g. 'give me a week's notice' i.e. procedures for assuring the partners' state of mind and the functioning of their home.

No matter how thorough their conversation has been, there are always going to be some implicit riders to 'open'--about e.g. dating others psychologically unsuited to casual (as here); getting involved with lovers' social and family lives (their children); dating workmates; dating friends, borderline friends, acquaintances; dating people with whom one has a childhood connection, or link through one's past, etc. And etc. and etc. I guess it doesn't matter to me whether we call these 'implicit boundaries' or just rules-of-thumb or norms. Since the list of circumstantial embargoes can't be exhaustive, the issue becomes as it's framed here--one of good judgment. It may go without saying that the lw here expects his partner to respect her safety on any date--or it may sufficiently have been said--but, in the end, it devolves on her judgment to determine who is and who isn't safe. Her judgment in these cases may be better than his--though on what we know it doesn't seem that way.

Thank God I don't date straight men if they all come with a bouquet in one hand and plastic feeding spoon in the other! Really, are you saying that straight men are on average nuttier, less attuned to, or bound by, community norms, than gays? Maybe ... I know what you mean ... but there are some pretty desperate and off-the-wall gays.

The reason I think Lava and I are right (viz. at some level she's trying to sabotage the openness) is that there's absolutely nothing in the letter about who initiated it. Why go to open after four years of monogamy? When you've just (presumably) bought a house together? The letter is him complaining about her. If she had initiated open, it would say something like 'despite assuring me the extra dates would not impinge on my comfort or peace of mind, or jeopardise our future together...', blah blah blah la-di-dah; but instead it says nothing. He's proposed open, maybe as a trade-off for the house. (I also considered larrystone's hypothesis independently). At least this is my two-bit anti-Occam (Occam is overrated). One can ask, after all, 'what is the simplest explanation?' or one can ask, 'what is really going on?'.

He should ask her, 'are you happy with open? Are you trying to undermine it?'

86

Lava @82, exactly. Naive and reckless. Those explain the behaviour without having to add in "up to something."

Harriet @85: "I would have thought an implicit boundary might be 'don't date a crazy person'." And how would you have known the person was crazy? How are you defining crazy? Most of us have had mental health issues at some point. Guy 1, with the babies, that was a red flag to be sure, but all that was known about Guy 2 up front was that he lacks relationship experience, which doesn't necessarily make him a write-off (how is he supposed to GET relationship experience if everyone decides he's "crazy" and won't date him?). "Don't stick your (literal or figurative) dick in crazy" is universal, not open-relationship-specific, and rarely observed because usually the crazy comes out only after the dick goes in.

All of the items on your list of "implicit boundaries" are your own guidelines, they cannot be assumed universal. How on earth am I supposed to know whether any given partner will have a problem with my dating, for instance, someone I work with, an "acquaintance" (really??) or someone linked through my past? That seems to leave only people one meets online, and that does need to be spelled out -- "online dates only." No; if there are going to be any restrictions, they need to be spelled out. My only "implicit boundary" would be "ethical non-monogamy only," meaning don't date CPOS's, but that is MY boundary; if I want my partners to observe this as well, I should have a discussion with them on what ethics means to me. Assumptions are a direct route to drama. What isn't said could be absolutely anything; you can make up anything you like. But again, as you yourself said, all we have to go on is what was said, so we need to take his report of everything being fine until these two at face value.

That said, of course partners should be checking in with each other, so it would not hurt for him to ask whether she is still happy with the arrangement. Of course, if he does open this line of inquiry, he has to be prepared for the answer to be no, meaning he has to stop dating other people as well, and again, if he's going to resent her for that, perhaps he should not make that offer.

87

@83. A skeptic. I can see them ending up having a row about whether her judgment is bad. He should start any conversation with 'is your heart in open?'. He hasn't, maybe, because he suspects the set-up suits him more.

/break/
My non-Occam theory would be that she's bought out or taken over part of his mortgage. We know they live together. It's unlikely they jointly bought a house in the first three months, say, of hooking up. He doesn't talk about marriage or family--which may suggest he's more cautious or commitment-phobic than her. With cohabitation in principle, one person can pay the other rent (depriving them of a deposit if the relationship founders), one person can live rent-free (forcing the homeowner to shoulder the mortgage and leading to arguments in which they're proprietorial) or the owner can cut the originally live-in partner in on the loan. It's consistent with the letter that he's done this for her--fairly, or even in a way that offers her a good deal. The quid pro quo (I'll say 'implicitly') has been her agreeing to open--because the situation would otherwise be too marriage-y for Mr Fancy Free. She might like monogamous marriage, but is in no position to request it having acceded to open and snapped her bf's hand off with his house offer. So she tries to introduce the lw to open's downsides.

They need to talk. He's thinking of not marrying or having kids with her over her played-up stories. (All wild projection and anti-Occam fabrication, of course--but I would like to know the fuller picture).

88

@86. Bi. We're getting tangled up over the word 'boundary'--especially over whether it has to be spelled out or whether it can be implicit.

I think it can be tacit, in that a boundary pertains to something that a partner wouldn't like or wouldn't be able to live with, without their needing to denounce a certain behavior as always wrong or specify it so closely that it could be the subject of a rule. If a partner can sense, 'hmm, well, I don't think my lover would like that' eg getting drunk with one of their partner's exes and sharing indiscretions, then they are violating a boundary, but not necessarily breaking a rule.

Are we in agreement that the boundaries in a relationship can never be exhaustively and explicitly spelled out?

89

@86. Bi. We end up in exactly the same place--that he should check in with her that she's still all right with open.

Are you saying it's /impossible/ that, for you, a partner could violate one of your boundaries without going against something you specifically told them not to do?

90

Harriet, now you are saying boundary doesn't mean what boundary means. No, a boundary is not something one thinks one's partner might not like. A boundary is a limit. Something that is beyond the boundary is off limits. What you are talking about is, in some cases, being foolish (dating people who are clearly unsuitable) and being considerate (not sharing "indiscretions" with a third party). Neither of these are boundaries.

One can have boundaries for oneself and boundaries for one's partner. "No dating crazy people" is a boundary one sets for oneself. One cannot set it for one's partner, because that would involve YOU making the determination of whether someone you haven't even met is "crazy." You could decide that you won't date someone who has terrible taste in partners, but again, that's a boundary you are setting for yourself. A boundary you set for your partner IS a rule. It is indeed possible to set out all one's rules, and the more general these are the fewer rules you need. For instance, if one's rules are "be safe, be honest, be considerate," one would not need a rule for "do not get drunk and laugh with your ex about my small penis" because that falls under "be considerate."

And of course a partner could unintentionally violate one of my boundaries, but they could only unintentionally do so if I hadn't made it clear what those boundaries were.

91

@90. Bi. OK. I use the word 'boundary' slightly differently. For me, a (primary) relationship can be governed by both 'boundaries' and 'rules'. A rule is an injunction laid on a partner in general form e.g. 'I have to approve any secondaries'. Should a partner violate a rule, he or she is acting wrongly--here, cheating. A 'boundary' is a bit different and pertains to preferences or tastes. In this sense, I may say e.g. 'scat' or 'more-than-moderate physical pain is a boundary for me'. The effect of insisting on a boundary may be the same as laying down a rule--we (the partners in the primary relationship) aren't go to do scat; but I'm not saying it's wrong, and my partner would be free to go out and indulge in it providing he abide by all the explicit rules of the relationship.

I think your usage is more current than mine. But there must be couples who have another word than 'boundary' for a more-than-personal guideline?

My thinking was that the number of rules a relationship had would be comparatively few, and the rules could be easily stated, but the things one person turned out not to like--her boundaries--would in practice be impossible to itemise.

92

I'm very very disappointed in Dan's advice to this guy. The scenario he's describing -- girlfriend is looking for only sex on Tindr -- is highly analogous to gay men looking to hook up on Grindr. She's broken several of the well established and broadly recognized rules about NSA sex: said "no" but allowed him to proceed, went to his apartment when he was clearly a weirdo, told a dude her full name and where she worked (how else would he get flowers delivered), I mean, she needs a clue.
@10 If she's doing charity she needs to be more clear in her own mind going in, and discuss limits with the charity case. "I'm in an Open Relationship, it would be really hot to mess around and even fuck, but you and I will never date"
@21 Why would a guy in his late 20s bang a woman if all he's ever going to get is sex? Hello? Who says he isn't dating marriageable bring-home-to-mom Becky and in the meantime just wants to get laid?

Finally, all of the letters about Open Relationships just makes me wonder if there are people who've found nirvana there or is all one endless drama filled path to breaking up?

93

His girlfriend is being an idiot - this could be because she's a poor judge of men (many women have this problem, though few of them admit it), because she's new to ethical non-monogamy, because she doesn't get that "different rules" doesn't mean "no rules", because she's insecure and really likes the outside attention, because she's thinking with her clit (it's not just men thinking with their dicks), because she's very inexperienced with dating in general and is still trialing and erroring, because she's bad at communication and asserting boundaries in general (and not just with these partners), because she's trying to prove that she can navigate this world on her own, because she's trying to get back at LW for something, because she's trying to sabotage the relationship, or some combination of those reasons. The fact that she ended up with LW isn't proof of her good judgment - maybe she got lucky right off the bat, or maybe he's not such a great catch either. But Dan's response was pretty bad (how is badgering a woman into letting you masturbate in front of her any less disrespectful than sending her flowers??? Seriously?), these two dates were bad choices, and they do need to have a conversation about it ("I'm uncomfortable because of these legitimate concerns, what's going on?" is way more likely to get a good response than "you're doing a terrible job of this, stop it"). If she's had previous good interactions and these are just two duds in a row there's hope. If she's had a string of bad choices (they've had bumpy patches in the past, apparently) these may be two straws too many.

94

Complicating things in the non-monogamy world: finding a guy who is emotionally functional enough to not be a creep and who is still okay being just a fling can be really difficult. If she's trying to avoid getting too emotionally entangled with outside male partners (perhaps because it's proven to be a jealousy trigger in the past...) it's possible she's leaning too hard into the "clearly not relationship material" pool. The sweet spot is "decent person, good chemistry, fundamentally incompatible except for casual dating" and that can be tricky, especially for women who have been programmed not to have sex with someone unless there's an emotional connection.