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The Pick Me Dance and Polyamory

Hi Chump Lady,

I think I’m almost out of the woods with getting over my cheater, but right as I get to “meh,” I realize that I’m still quite angry at him and want to contact him.

We began in an “open relationship” where he assured me that he wasn’t interested in the other woman as more than a friend, and that when he said “I love you,” it was just as friends, and that it would be no problem to leave her for me since I wanted monogamy.

Thus began 10 months of the pick me dance and cake eating except that I couldn’t very well be angry about it because, as he often liked to remind me, I had agreed to it.

Finally, when we became monogamous, he cheated on me with her less than a month or two later because, woe is him, he’s just not cut out for monogamy and he was “shooting himself in the foot because he knew he couldn’t handle it.” When he confessed to it about it four months later, I did the whole “we can fix this” thing for a few months, before becoming completely swept away in my own emotional affair shortly after finding my boyfriend was getting close to his ex/affair partner again.

When we broke up, he figured out that I had started seeing my emotional affair partner while we were “on break” and quickly turned our breakup into a victimizing event, crying to everyone who would listen about how “while he had his flaws,” I had moved on without so much as a sniffle for his feelings and that my new boyfriend and my ex boyfriend had “overlapped.” Hence, I have a community of people who think I’M a cheater while my ex-boyfriend cries, and his affair partner has swooped right back in to play the “best friend” role while helping spread the news that I’m a sociopathic bitch.

I’m having trouble getting past this because he’s the one who cheated, and I kind of fucked up my chances at having our community on my side (we share a friend group and a few hobbies) by getting involved with someone else so quickly. Any advice on how to ignore the smear campaign?



Dear SorryNotPoly,

Here’s some advice you didn’t ask for — don’t agree to be something you’re not.

You can’t really be mad at a person for being something they’re not, if you’re something you’re not.

You want monogamy, but for a chance at the pick me dance and all those fun, fun prizes (low self-esteem! hypervigiliance! matching luggage!), you’ll pretend to be polyamorous. He states, upfront, that he’s not monogamy material. And then you’re shocked when…. he’s not monogamous?

You guys both seem to suffer under the same delusion, because he’s shocked that you’re… seeing someone else?

I kind of fucked up my chances at having our community on my side

Change dorm rooms?

I mean, I don’t know how old you are but I’m guessing early twenties, tops? If I need an organizational chart to figure out the character plot in a letter — it isn’t polyamory. It’s just old-fashioned fucked up. Let’s do our best to untangle this.

We began in an “open relationship” where he assured me that he wasn’t interested in the other woman as more than a friend, and that when he said “I love you,” it was just as friends…

So you got involved with a guy who has a girlfriend? Who he says he loves? As a friend? Is everyone aware they’re in an “open relationship” or is this woman being chumped?

Have you considered that you might’ve begun this relationship as the Other Woman? Or do you think straight guys have non-sexual relationships with women friends and just profess their “love”?

and that it would be no problem to leave her for me since I wanted monogamy.

If they’re “just friends” there’s no relationship to “leave” — right?

DIRECT YOUR FULL ATTENTION TOWARD ME is rarely a winning relationship strategy. I encourage people to avoid performing the pick me dance, but then… polyamory.

Look, I’m the wrong person to expound on polyamory. I’m a happily married, squidgy, middle-aged mom with uncombable hair. I watch PBS. I go to bed before 9 p.m. (Okay, unless is Mystery Hour in which case I might make it past 9 p.m. for Hercule Poirot.) In short, I am the poster child for staid monogamy.

But it seems to me, that if you’re going to be all edgy and polyamorist, you’d have some rules of engagement. About who is a significant relationship, and who’s an extracurricular. There’d be trust and boundaries and discussions. There’d be safety precautions.

Instead, the polyamory letters I get are full of spackle. It’s not cheating! It’s polyamory! Did we have a monogamous marriage? Well, upon discovery of secret fuckbuddies, let’s open it!

Are we immature and selfish? Impulsive? Wouldn’t know a healthy relationship if it bit our left nipple? Hey, just spread polyamory over that shit and –voila! instant sophistication!

Maybe it’s just fucked up and not “polyamorous” — okay?

I did the whole “we can fix this” thing for a few months, before becoming completely swept away in my own emotional affair shortly after finding my boyfriend was getting close to his ex/affair partner again.

Having an affair is not a good life skill for conflict. And you weren’t “swept away” — you were just performing another dance step in the Pick Me cha-cha — LOOK! I HAVE ANOTHER BOYFRIEND WHO CAN LOVE ME BETTER!

You tried to goad him into the pick me dance.

How’d that work?

When we broke up, he figured out that I had started seeing my emotional affair partner while we were “on break” and quickly turned our breakup into a victimizing event

I’m tripping over “on a break.” That assumes there was a continual Thing to break. It’s on, it’s off. It’s friends, it’s open, it’s committed, oh hang on, it never was.

And now he’s butt hurt? And says you’re the cheater?

Not your problem. He’s the past. You wanted something with someone who was unavailable — like, with another girlfriend, or interested in another Pick Me contestant, not the monogamous prospect you’d hoped for — and now you’re with a fellow who IS available. (I assume. Not a lot of details on Mr. Emotional Affair.) Why are you obsessing on your sorta-ex?

Because he said mean, untrue things about you that conceal his true Douche Identity?

You don’t control that. By the time you’re my ancient age, you’ll shrug at character assassination. (YOU’RE THE MEANEST MOM, EVER! Yeah, whatever, go wash the dishes.) It stings, but the way forward is to be your best self, and forget the haters.

Any advice on how to ignore the smear campaign?

Know who you are and what your values are. Invest in the people who share your values, cull the people who don’t. I think you’ve got some work to do there, kid. Good luck.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Ah, the dramas of youth. I think this person needs to take some time to figure out who she is.

    If you want an exclusive relationship with your partner, hanging out with a Poly Comunity is not the best place to look for true love.

    I would say you need to be alone, figure out who you are and what you want and then go find those who you can relate to. A hiking club? Bowling League or Charity would be a better place to meet other like minded people.

    It’s kind of like going to the pet store and buying a bird and trying to wish it into being a puppy.

    • This is fucked up on so many levels. Why did you even answer this one? It feels insulting to the rest of Chump Nation. Nobody described in that cluster fuck of a relationship is ready for one. I have no sympathy and don’t see how its helpful here. My response would have been two words… Grow Up

      • Hey SpoonRiver,

        Being cheated on sucks no matter what your emotional maturity level is. Just because I made some mistakes in my relationship choices doesn’t mean I asked to be cheated on. Thanks much.


        • Neither did the woman he was already in a relationship with when you wandered into it, demanding he pick you.

          • Yes, yes, yes to this, someone else got hurt because she chose to involve herself in this twisted idea of polyamory which by the way means he should have loved them both equally otherwise it’s just an open relationship

            • “Open relationship” was how it was described to me. They also emphasized they had no “rules.”

      • I just don’t understand any of these kinds of ‘relationships’ Polyamory, swingers, etc, and I know I never will. Why do they even bother getting married?! Many years ago I had neighbors that were ‘swingers’ and talk about weird. Everyone ended up leaving their spouses for everyone else. It was so fucked up, all I could think of was ‘What did YOU expect?!’ when all the tears started. Just NO.

        • We get married to have families and be treated like everyone else, also legal benefits. I’ve been is a poly relationship for five years and we’re getting married next year. Why? Because I want to be able to see him in the hospital if he gets hurt after visiting hours and I currently can’t bc I’m not his wife. It’s a small example, but those examples add up. Theoretically we, could opt for a civil union where we are and make a series of contracts about what we to do in terms of medical emergencies, financial assets etc, but those can be legally contested bc we’re not married.

          Most poly people are married and have children.

      • Yes. This whole “story” is just yuck on too many levels. Unfortunately, I believe this is the classic ‘relationship’ type of thing going on out there …. I’m so glad I’m as boring as ChumpLady says in this article, but choosing no husband. I have a good life and this article reminds me just how great my life is.

      • Many of us were in situations where we didn’t have the full view of what was going on. We trusted our partners and they deceived us. They told us lies and it effected our view of the relationship.

        While this might not have helped you Spoonriver, it does illustrate a point we all can learn from, that not everyone is worthy of our trust. All of us here have a lot to learn…or we wouldn’t be here.

        Personally I never had a healthy relationship modeled for me growing up. Maybe you did and it was easy to see the problems and you got out at the first sign of a red flag. This letter writer does not have 1) a clear view of what is going on with all the players in this “relationship” and 2) a good grasp of what a healthy relationship is. To me it sounds like the letter writer is going along with things wondering if this is normal or if this is how things are supposed to be. The writer doesn’t have a good idea of what it is to define their wants and needs and to create healthy boundaries that are enforced. I didn’t understand these things until I was 40 something and I came here to be blessed with the wisdom and understanding of Chump Nation.

        • Well-said, AllOutOfKibble. Pain, deceit, confusion and naïveté happen at all ages and in all stages of life.

          Overall, CN is very compassionate and understanding but I sometimes feel that if you don’t fit into that ‘monogamous and partnered for XX years before my life imploded’ mold, commenters here can dismiss you, in occasionally sanctimonious fashion. (As proven by certain comments today.)

          I was married for 18 years (with a child) and am so far past ‘meh’ with that relationship, I don’t even mention it here. We divorced six years ago.

          But the cheating ex-boyfriend of three years – my first relationship post-divorce – seared me because I thought I had it right the second time. Talk about naïveté. And I’m 48. CL has given me an expedited education, and for that I am grateful.

          Let’s not belittle anyone’s confusion or pain, unless they’re a clearly idiotic, selfish and knowing OW or OM.

    • “If you want an exclusive relationship with your partner, hanging out with a Poly Comunity is not the best place to look for true love.”

      And how many people did you meet and how many people do you think saw you who saw you?

      “Oh wait, your face looks familiar, you were at the key party last month!…………

      How do live that down?

      • To be fair I wasn’t hanging out with the poly community. I met this guy through a mutual hobby, he told me he was single, then brought his girlfriend to my house saying that an open relationship counted as being single. I should have left then but….here we are.

  • Keep It Simple is brilliantly applicable advice, especially when it comes to relationships. I have no desire for a relationship which requires spreadsheets and a Secret Decoder Ring.

    I feel tired again and have to go back to bed.

    • Oh so many spreadsheets. I will avoid such complicated relationships in the future.


    • Velvet Hammer,
      I live your perspective and wordplay! You always make me smile.
      This was a tough letter to read, but can we not let chumps identify themselves, like alcoholics are the only ones who can truly label themselves? I get there was a lot of ambiguity underlying SorryNotPoly’s letter. I thank all that is sacred that I came of sexual age “just” during the beginning of the AIDS tragedy and sophomore season of sexual revolution (late 1970’s to mid-’80’s). I would hate to be in my 20s now and trying to find a moral foothold. I am very grateful for all the progress toward acceptance of a sexual and gender spectrum, but I think it’s so easy to miss the individual trees in the growing forest. Being open, accepting & tolerant aren’t synonymous to knowing oneself. They are good tools in that journey, but cannot substitute for clarifying one’s own values and declaring that confidently.
      In (some people’s) desperate loneliness, they see what they want to see and believe what they’re told, as opposed to what they see, know, and intuit. In my opinion, that defines a chump, as it is my story. The red flags of real danger were waving so large when I met Boss Hogg that they might have easily strangled me like Isadora Duncan’s scarf in the car. But my denial – honed at home since childhood – made me blind and a born spackler: “My love will change him, ground him, heal his past pain, end wars, stop hunger and poverty…!”
      In the words of John Cleese’s medieval Monty Python character, accusing a “witch” who “turned me into a newt!” …”I got better.” Several Ddays, 30 years of my life, 2 kids later, I wised up, git a brain & a backbone & sent Boss Hogg out the door with, “Find somewhere else to live and someone else to lie to!”
      I got better.
      ChumpLady helped. CN saved my butt…with blunt truth and warm welcome and experience. I found hope here.
      I want that glimmer of hope to always shine for everyone who visits this site. Indeed, it helped me to save my own life.
      Just my thoughts.
      Peace, all.

      • ChumpDiva, thank you for your wisdom. So much of what you said here resonates with me, and is strengthening me even now as I am just embarking on my exit-stage-left (I’m somewhere between D-day, surveying the damaged rubble of my marriage, and filing the beginning of the “dissolution” paperstorm). I’m also nearly spitting out my tea laughing at “BossHogg” moniker. I’m sure it’s perfect.
        Grateful to you and all others here who are shining the light and showing what the REAL hope is (and it sure ain’t hopium).

        • MamaSparky,
          I’m happy to think I helped you. I hope SorryNotPoly is still with us. Life is messy, relationships moreso. Especially with these partners we’ve chosen. I’m so sorry to hear of your own hurt. We’re here for you…both & all. A little understanding goes a long way. I can even see the points made by those here who speculate about roles & more of each person in SNP’s letter. We’ve all been burned and want to have clarity. We’ve seen letters that look like chump bait.
          BTW, Boss Hogg is bc my dowdy xhtb skanked down with a married ho-worker & bought her lingerie, cheap ($6!!) perfume, a vibrator & some Daisy Dukes cutoffs for 3 years before I discovered it all in one night last year. Dirty old man, indeed. She referred to him as her “boss man”. Ugh. (I used to “just throw up in my throat a little” at that tired cliché I married, but now I smh & wonder how I settled for his crumbs.) See how I did that? Focus AWAY FROM f*wit back to how can I improve ME? Yeah…thanks, Tracy & CN!
          Mighty is sprouting up and my Tuesday is looming closer!
          Love y’all!

  • I admire your energy in answering this, Tracy, think I’d have sent it to my spam folder 😉

  • I am the Poster Child of the Smear Campaign.

    I handled it by dumping the smear audience and listening to Jimmy Buffet’s song “If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me.”

    • Totally agree! I cut bait on everyone associated with him. The result is I don’t have to listen to his rumors

    • yes, if they believe lies about you, without asking at least your side, they are not your friends. Get new ones that know you, and be somebody worth knowing. You are known by the company you keep, and the people who end up with those two will have that prize. All theirs and you are free to move on up.

    • There are 7 billion people in the world. It might not feel like it sometimes but they can’t tell their lies to everyone. There will always be someone new to meet and make friends with.

    • I was stunned at how many “friends” believed the smear campaign. My life as I knew it imploded before my eyes…, I let all Switzerland friends go. I no longer have anything to do with them. I was left with only two loyal friends from all the people we had known. It’s like the trash threw themselves out.
      I remember at first wanting to defend myself then it occurred to me, if they’re going to believe the absurd stories from cheater after knowing me then they don’t deserve my friendship and they deserve his.

  • OMG! She started out as the OW and is in denial! What goes around comes around!

    • I become “friends” with the OW and she repeatedly assured me she was happy we were in each other’s lives. Thanks, though.

      • Your new boyfriend’s girlfriend knew you wanted monogomy from the man you were both f-ing and was ok with that as long as he didn’t tell her he loved her?

        I guess I’m also too old to understand.

        • She knew I wanted monogamy but just assumed he was telling me that he wouldn’t do that since he “loved” both of us. I admit it’s messy and involved him lying which I didn’t see until too late because I’m young and dumb.

          • Lying aside, you wanted monogamy. He wanted and was practicing polyamory. You didn’t pick me dance and he wasn’t eating cake for 10 months because you were NOT a Chump during that time. That’s the part in your letter that didn’t add up for me. You became a chump in the short time (1-2) months he was in faux monogamy.

            It’ll take time and deep work to sort out your experience, craft your true story and identify what you need to work on to become involved with people who share your values. I wish you luck.

            • I am friends with a poly couple and there are rules and there are open discussions about what is truthfully going on.

              If he was lying then he wasn’t practicing polyamory. He was practicing manipulation and deception and was cheating.

              • You’re only being cheated on if you both agree to monogomy. At the start of their relationship, he did not agree to be monogamous and she accepted his polyamory. So she wasn’t chumped from Day 1. She was actually well informed. It’s after she got her unicorn that she became a chump. Why did she ever want this man and work hard to change him when she knew from the beginning he didn’t share her values?

      • From a poly lady to a monogamous lady, don’t put yourself in a relationship model you don’t want and that makes you unhappy, it’s not worth it.

        There are shitty people in the poly community too,and some cheaters on the dL.

  • This kind of relationship is so sad. He wants lots of girlfriends and you are just one of them. When people allow themselves to be the powerless one in a relationship it changes them. Maybe they don’t see it because it happens over time. They go from being who they are to being who they think will please, and keep, their so/spouse so they won’t cheat and leave. Don’t give your power away. The next time if a relationship begins with doubt, sadness, suspicion, begging, bargaining then leave. Right that minute leave.

      • SorryNotPoly, for all that came to throw stones at you, let me offer you a hug. We were all young and optimistic once, many of us with hearts that we let get tangled up in some complicated shit, if we’d be brave enough to admit it. I have plenty of stupid relationship choices I did in my past, and even into my mid thirties before life bashed me over the head enough times and I finally got it. (I’m a slow learner).
        As long as you’ve learned, grown and changed, no shame. Good for you for reaching out. Heal your heart and wait until someone healthy comes along before you offer yourself to a relationship. It might be a long while and that’s perfectly OK.

      • I second the hugs.
        You were lied to and deceived. You tried to fit the square peg of polyamory into the round hole that is monogamy and it didn’t work. You lived to tell the tale. You will learn from it.

        Unfortunately many folks in this world don’t understand that we don’t all get the same experiences in life to draw from. Let them crow that they would have known better or that they wouldn’t have done the same as you. You’re doing a great job of standing up for yourself today. Keep it up and keep moving forward.

        When you get to a safe space take a long hard look at the relationships that were given to you to model. What were they like? What was missing from them? How do you want yours to be different? I didn’t realize until I was 40 something that the relationships modeled to me were crap and terrible examples of how people should treat each other and themselves. Thanks to this wonderful nation I have new ideas, I have expectations and I have boundaries I will enforce until death. In order to realize what I did want I had to also realize what is unacceptable to me. Hope you can find the time, energy and space to do that too. It’s absolutely blessed for me on the other side of all the hard work. I found an incredible human to spend my time with and it never would have happened if I didn’t take the time and energy to define those things I wanted, needed and could never accept.

  • Hey Tracy,

    I am a member of the Poly Community, and no – I’m not in my twenties.

    I really appreciated that you said: “But it seems to me, that if you’re going to be all edgy and polyamorist, you’d have some rules of engagement. About who is a significant relationship, and who’s an extracurricular. There’d be trust and boundaries and discussions. There’d be safety precautions.”

    You’ve really nailed it. Poly does include healthy guidelines and expectations of appropriate responsibility. It’s been my experience that people engaged in respectful, loving poly relationships don’t pretend, and they don’t expect their partners to do the pick-me dance. Yes, it’s a non-standard relationship style, but it isn’t a license to act like a narcissistic jerk. The people in our community who do that give poly a black eye.

    • Agree. I am as non-poly as you can get, but I have known enough humans to know that emotional health and honesty are critical in poly relating – in any relating, of course, yes, but poly requires more depth of proactive honesty.

      It’s kind of like the difference between doing accounting data entry and signing off on the accounting records. Both require integrity and skill, but the stakes are higher when you are taking responsibility for understanding the records well enough to ensure that they are accurate and complete, so you have to deeply review them before you put your name on the line saying so.

    • Agreed. Been poly for 5 years and getting married next year. Very few people see the work that gets put into poly relationships and poly families. Everyone DOES see when something dramatic or crappy happens.

  • SorryNotPoly, your group of friends are going to change, a lot From elementary school, to middle school, to high school, to college, to work, to next job, to next job. I bet you only keep a few through all of this. So, don’t sweat the smear campaign. Life changes and attrition will take care of it.

    However, if it’s bothering you…. the honorable thing to do is to say, “I was wrong (for agreeing to a poly relationship). I did it to please him. It’s not in my DNA and I was miserable. I left.” You are not blame shifting. You are telling the truth.

    Poly relationships happen to older women too. Under the guise of “we’re separated…not together.. but let’s make love tonight because it feels right…” Or the “we’ll watch porn and then let’s join up with other couples….” Many older women screwing around with their ex-Baby Daddy. They end up feeling devalued, hurt, used, … because like you, their DNA isn’t wired that way either. And, Baby Daddy (or young, college punk) is learning that he can get alot more intense, female attention and pining for him if he triangulates, polygamy, pentagamy, sextagamy….(ok, making up words now, but you get the infinity and beyond message). But, there is something very wrong with the guys that do this. Control freaks? Sociopaths? Narcissists? Sex Addicts? The question for you at this young age is, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life in this type of relationship?”

    Go for the uncomplicated guy. The honest, stable, almost boring guy.

    • Ex was boring and unambitious. He went to work, called when he would be late, worked overtime and didnt go out with the guys or have female friends. He sat in the garage reading and smoking every night. Seemed safe.

      I later discovered an intense hooker habit that was taking place around work hours (before/during lunch/after work/on the way home from school) and when he made quick 15min trips to the local truck stop has station.

      There is no “safe” type. Dont fool yourself and settle for the hope and appearance of safe.

      • That as the Dickhead as well. He was off on Fridays and I now know that he was paying hookers the last 2 months of our marriage. I think he had a side fling with a ho-worker as well. Not my problem now. His exit affair partner can have him and one day, she will wake up to the same problems that I had with him. Good luck, honey.

      • I’m sorry. 🙁 There is no hope!

        My first serious relationship was the complicated guy….never satisfied, pondered life’s meaning, foo issues, claimed his dead grandpa’s ghost guided him, had crystal s, used a hair brush and hair spray…. He banged his secretary, drank, worked late (stayed out late at bars…), drugs, and beat me. I simply left. I remembered I made a list of every good guy I knew, and had faith that better men were out there and that I deserved a good guy because I was a good girl. Four months later, I found Mr. Right and have been with him for many years. He’s faithful and boring, doesn’t drink or cheat. We got our degrees, worked, and we started small and grew. Find people with some values (oops, meant same…). Don’t weigh yourself down with a jerk at any age, and especially a young age.

    • I realize you can’t hang your hat on types, but I may get part of what you are driving at here. I just watched a video the other day about how when people get addicted to the feeling of being lovebombed, they see stability as boring and lose the ability to find it attractive. I related to that, maybe not in the extreme, but some.

      I love stability now. So much. When somebody asks me “what’s new?” And I say “nothing much”, it feels like a zen win. ????

    • My ex counterfeited this type well. He was always where he was supposed to be, physically present but emotionally absent. He was a computer programmer, so would often be up late working on his computer, where he also conducted online emotional affairs with a rotating lineup of old high school flames and theater buddies. All those times he ignored me I thought it was because he was working hard to make his business a success, and he was having affairs right in front of my face. Oh, he also decided he was “polyamorous,” too.

  • My takeaway is this: leave that friend group, replace it with a new group of people, and don’t share your hobbies with your ex-boyfriend or any of the friends you share.

    Sadly, at every age, a breakup of a relationship or marriage means not sharing friends or hobbies.
    The word breakup applies to most parts of your life together.

  • The age of the writer (a) isn’t clear and (b) isn’t really a primary point. I was well into early midlife with a bucket of emotional intelligence skills in hand when I became divorced. I had been through life events people of advanced age are typically only just starting to learn about before I entered college. Loads of them.

    However, I had only had one boyfriend in my life, and he had just rather suddenly become my ex. Smart and life-experienced as I was, I had terrible relationship skills considering my age, both in terms of a healthy view of myself and my worth and in terms of a skillset for relating romantically with others.

    We all feel valid no matter what age we are, and I would submit that we feel valid because we ARE valid. We are never really fully formed in life, are we? We get better at life with time, but there is always more growth available, too.

    In this writer’s letter, I hear a person who doesn’t have strong self-value and is seeking validation and definition from relating with others. The thing is, that’s out of order from a healthy relating perspective. First you have to understand how you define you. THEN you tell others how you are, not the other way around.

    This requires constant self-evaluation because it can change over time — though a person’s core usually doesn’t really change, just the specifics of how the person intends to express that core in life.

    When I was a child, a doctor told me I was going to die. Obviously, I didn’t. I have lived my whole life on borrowed time. As far as we can corporeally validate, we only get one life. The one thing I ache with longing to have learned earlier was to get solid with me first before choosing a partnership of any sort, exploratory or long-term.

    If I can impart any wisdom to our writer, that’s the piece I’d infuse into that person — and anyone else who needs it.

    Nobody owns you, nobody defines you, and nobody who doesn’t respect you is worthy of the lion’s share of your attention and effort. You don’t have time for this horse shit. You have a life to kick ass at living.

      • Awwww, thank you. ????

        I want us all to feel happy when we can. We earned it, big time.

        • Amiisfree – thanks. I should have read farther before I posted mine. We seem to agree on some basics.
          CN is a space of healing and hope. A lot of people paint themselves as one thing and live as another because cake. Burn wounds from these fuckwits are warrior battle scars that can corrode or build us. We choose. I choose empowerment.

          • I love that post of yours – you are a great writer! Thanks for sharing here. I grow because of the things you and others share, and that’s a great gift.

            • We ALL do, Amiisfree. Hugs!! There is some synergistic alchemy here that transforms chumps into mighty. I love how it works…all boats rise when the tide is higher. I love your writing & wisdom as well.

    • This is an excellent point. I long have found validation through my friendships and relationships, and part of my current self-growth is to focus on loving myself first.

      • It’s a lifelong journey for sure. My brain gets it, but my heart takes a lot of guidance to maintain it. Early learning stays with us.

  • Tracy thank you for not just slagging on the Poly side of things.

    Poly is not something that someone should dive into because they can’t keep it in their pants, or because they are built to cheat. Poly if anything is built on the same incredibly important trust and communication that monogamy is. And it involves that for more people, so it can be very complex. Cheating and then moving to ‘an open relationship’ makes poly/open relationship people cringe because it’s already based on falsehood. And people who are actually poly… it doesn’t fly.

    Here’s the thing, a lot of people on this site slag poly or open agreements, often because their experience comes from their really shitty partners who they have now left. I know a lot of incredible poly people, and a lot of incredible monogamous people, and a bunch of shitty people in both camps also. And… that’s because a persons way of deciding their romantic involvement doesn’t signify if they’re a shitty person or not.

    One of my strongest allies is poly, and her amazing boyfriend and his wife (and her boyfriend and his girlfriend) are pretty awesome. They go to music festivals and hang out as a crew of friends from time to time although usually their interactions are as couples alone. Their community and trust among each other is admirable. They don’t just have one person they depend on. They have lots of love, and they can be grown ups about it. What matters is they are transparent and the relationship is built on honesty. So again, Tracy I applaud you not ripping the idea of poly a new one here.

    The main issue for the writer seems to be the lack of boundaries. Decide what you want and what you’re doing. Stick to it. The ex is the ex, doesn’t matter what he did or didn’t do. And you did cheat, emotionally. And he didn’t keep to the open relationship rules of saying he loved someone but only meaning it as a friend. So he sucks. So you both fucked up. Just say that. Who cares people can figure out for themselves what that means. What matters, or what would matter to me… is that you went down a path and started being just as awful, by cheating, (blah blah emotional or otherwise) and you need to figure out how to not be that person again. Cheating is SHiTTY. You know it. So live it. If you can’t be that honest, you’re not ready to be in any relationship.

    • Totes. He can debate all day about what is and isn’t cheating in a poly relationship to distract you. The dishonesty, putting you at risk without your knowledge, and triangulating against you with your friends are the actual problems.

      • Ding ding ding!

        The things he did which are shitty, are shitty no matter what relationship style you partake in.

        Poly celebrates the idea of ‘compersion’ which is basically happiness you experience from your partner finding joy with another partner. It’s the opposite of jealousy. It’s kindof a cool concept. But here’s the thing- you only get that kindof good feeling when you and your partners are being honest about what’s happening. People who choose poly learn to share their lives and it’s definitely a skill, not just a big free for all to bang anyone around you, nor is it really reasonable to tell one partner that you’re just friends with another person. That’s… the opposite of the goal of poly. Much like that is opposite of monogamous relationships. The goal of both is to challenge partners to be their best selves and to love them. This dude was a user and a turd, regardless of how he describes his relationship choices

    • Not gonna lie. I had to laugh at the line about your allies…that in itself was a heap!

    • YES to this comment. I was also with someone who cheated and then cried “Poly!” to warp my perspective as to what was happening. And even as it continued, he was never able to be ethical or honest about it, he kept cheating and hiding things. Oh, and his “other girlfriend” never knew about me. She was under the assumption they were exclusive. Something I didn’t know for a long time. So yeah…people like that give poly its bad name even though ethical nonmonogamy can be so enriching.

    • YES to this comment. I was also with someone who cheated and then cried “Poly!” to warp my perspective as to what was happening. And even as it continued, he was never able to be ethical or honest about it, he kept cheating and hiding things. Oh, and his “other girlfriend” never knew about me. She was under the assumption they were exclusive. Something I didn’t know for a long time. So yeah…people like that give poly its bad name even though ethical nonmonogamy can be so enriching.

  • Yikes it doesn’t sound like anyone here is ready for a real, mature relationship. You need to find out who you are and what you want. Then stand firm to your values. When someone doesn’t match up, no harm no foul and go your separate ways.

    Many of us have figured out, sadly AFTER we married, that our values don’t match. We expected monogamy and found out we were merely a place holder while the cheater continued to look for something else. And then we didn’t believe them when their actions showed us who they really were. We signed up for more Ddays thinking they really were sorry when they cried for their loss of cake.

    • The expecting monogamy and finding out we are merely a placeholder while the cheater continues shopping is what chaps my hide the most. They like taking us off the market so we’ll devote our attention to them alone, and then they feel secure playing by different rules we aren’t aware even are in effect. In other words, they have exactly what they want, but still feel entitled to more. They just don’t want their chumps to have the same privilege.

  • It’s hard to get a grasp on someone’s emotions and intent through a letter. My first thought was you knew he was a snake and you picked him up any way. It’s hard to cry foul when you know what someone is like and expect them to behave differently. You were willing to enter into a relationship when you knew he had someone else and yet you wanted him to be monogamous with you? Doesn’t make sense to this reader. If you want a better chance at an honest relationship, go for the ones that are unattached.

    One more thing that affects the chump – don’t downplay the role that emotional affairs have on a relationship or a marriage. Affairs do not have to be physical to cause damage. Not once in my marriage did I have an affair, emotional or physical.

    As for the smear campaign, shit happens. We can’t control what other say about us. I’m sure the Dickhead has told his family members, including his son and daughter who I helped raise, a story that exaggerates my shortcomings as well as lie to make himself look better and less deranged. There’s nothing I can do about it and what these people think of me does not affect my life. I know what went down, I know the truth about our marriage.

    • Your last paragraph is so true. At the end of the day I know what happened and I don’t need it validated by everyone else

  • Wow, this one just made my head hurt. Can anyone actually “cheat” if you know you’re in a poly relationship to start? Except of course for the “OW,” who I think most of us would agree was a poor chump.

    I think the best choice would be to leave all of these people forever – the non-boyfriend she wants, the-non-EA-partner-for-the-non-boyfriend, and all the supporting cast – and start completely over. No more “poly” relationships at all.

  • I think her partner was never really committed to the relationship. Poly was just another word here for ‘I am not that into you’. It was a misused term. Maybe this guy has found out that there are women out there he can keep dangling by using this concept. The fact that he turned on her later shows who he is.

  • Maybe the bottom line lesson is that when someone tells you or shows you who they are – BELIEVE THEM!

  • There was an interesting Louis Theroux show on TV about this last week. He met 3 groups of poly people. One group it seemed legit although one guy was having a hard time because the mother of his child had taken a shine to another guy. Seemed to be ok though. Another was tragic with a guy whose wife wanted something else and he went along with it. He looked miserable. The cake eaters looked like they were having a great time. The other case was in the middle. It looks pretty hard to do poly unless everyone’s getting their fair share. Only in 1 of the 3 cases did that seem to be happening.

    • I don’t care what the terms are you decide on…when everyone starts screwing everyone else, you’re playing with fire. Bottom line.

      • But that’s not poly. That’s the misunderstanding. A lot of poly people I know have very solid primary relationships and often limit secondary relationships- and there’s knowledge of these things.

        Poly is also different from swinging and or open relationships. Open/swinging generally means more ‘screwing’, physical one off meetups are common/prescribed.

        Poly has emphasis on stable emotional connections with their partners. It’s not a bucket-o-fucks

    • People who move to poly for one partner… generally aren’t going to be successful. There’s even a term for a couple who are ‘experimenting’ and looking for a bi/curious third to their relationship… they’re ‘unicorn hunting’ because who wants to be the weird plaything shared by a couple who are probably headed for destruction? (Not most women in good relationship health…)

      • I know one couple (have known them about 35 years) who brought a third partner in some years ago, and they seem solid. But the marriage clearly gets top priority, and I believe all were fast friends for years before attempting that arrangement. I don’t think it works for most people because most people can’t feel secure that they won’t be cut out and left behind.

    • Ha ha! I need to check myself on poly shaming, though I can’t help but notice some structural sexism in pretty much all of the examples in this thread it is a dude banging multiple women, not the other way around.

      • Oh I’m not poly shaming. My head was hurting trying to read this and all I could do was crack a tacky joke. One of my best friends in the world is poly and when he read this he was confused lol. But you are right. Most of the poly relationships I see are a guy with several girlfriends. It’s an issue even poly people discuss amongst themselves

  • This letter made me feel tired. I’m tired of cheaters, word salad, mind games, gaslighting, and trying to reframe what we’ve experienced. A good therapist can help us find and set or reset the boundaries that we need.

    Tracy, I met you in the DC area a few years ago and you have BEAUTIFUL hair, comb-able or not!

  • Here’s some advice (meant sincerely, not snarkily) since you asked–get some new friends and new hobbies. I once heard this saying that I love–Mind your own business and have some business to mind. Good advice for anyone in unhealthy relationships.

  • I do question whether this relationship was polyamory. And when you demanded exclusivity was his time to tell you his philosophy of relationships. Which it sounds like he did but you didn’t believe him. Having a ‘too many women too little time’ philosophy is not poly. It’s playing the field. I assume involving yourself in an emotional affair was to get his attention back or make him jealous? As to get out of the social group penalty box, come clean about how you really didn’t understand his rules. Own your part and learn from it. I dare say, you are not polyamorous. I believe that means loving a person enough to be happy they are happy and you’re okay with non exclusive sex and vice versa. I’m not sure I’m secure enough to tolerate that. But as an ex of a player cheater who struggled with truthiness, I’m sure I was periodically part of a triangle where I got the short end of it. Thinking it was work stress and such to explain his lack of time and attentiveness and sex with me – instead of realizing there was third someone he was involved with. Then it would end and he’d worm his way back. But never 100% because he was always on the look. Cheaters aren’t polyamorous because your happiness isn’t part of their reasoning for what they do. Or dont do.

  • Hey guys,

    Thanks for the comments. Some missing details from my alphabet soup letter are that a) ex-boyfriend agreed to become monogamous with me the day we started dating, just that it would “take time” to break it to his partner. I chumped myself, perhaps, but he did promise monogamy because I made no pretenses of being okay with poly long term. B) The emotional affair happened after I had already decided to break it off with the ex. I was never planning on using him to make my ex jealous; it was more of “hey I found what I’m finally looking for in a partner, just a little bit before I end this fuckup of a relationship.” The real issue there is that my ex has used the emotional affair to play the role of “victim of cheating” when he was the person who cheated initially.

    Keep the hard truths coming, I can take ’em.


    • Well I’m glad you’re out of that mess. But, like others, I urge to consider your emotional affair more seriously. Personal responsibility matters. Even if you’ve been cheated on, even if you’re at the ass end of a terrible relationship. You could have ended things first before taking up with another man. That’s the honorable thing to do. Even a text, “I’m done here,” would be better than cheating.

      So, inasmuch as you did, actually, cheat on him and he is, actually, upset about it…there appears to be valid reason why he’s telling people he’s angry with you. Pointing to his wrong does not obviate yours, or justify it. That’s not how accountability works.

      And when I’ve wronged someone, I apologize and try to make it better, if I care to keep them in my life. Since you don’t, that bits irrelevant. But, owning your wrong, intrinsically, should be something you look harder at. IMO

      • I did my best to get out as soon as I developed feelings for someone else. There was only a week or so where I had feelings before breaking it off, and it was enough that I was sure I should end my relationship regardless of whether things panned out with the other guy or not, because I deserved to be in a relationship with someone who actually would put in effort to save the relationship instead of cozying up to his OW.

        • You do you. A lot of codependent people, who do not feel secure without a partner, also do the “monkey barring” thing like you did. In the future, though, learning to be undesperately alone for a season, and much pickier, is a valuable life skill worth honing.

        • “I did my best to get out as soon as I developed feelings for someone else.”

          I refer back to my accountability point. It doesn’t even take your best to say to a future partner “You know, I need to pump the brakes on this for a couple days until I end the thing I’m in” and then to your present partner “I’m not happy in this relationship and I want it to end today.”

          I realize things can’t always be that clean and uncomplicated, but some version of that exchange can happen. It’s not rocket science to completely end one relationship before starting a new one. But it is the decent thing to do, no matter whether the other person’s an asshat or not.

    • If he had to “break it to his partner” he wasn’t single and you were the OW. The fact that he told you he’d be exclusive right away, does not make it ok or not cheating on that first partner. You both shouldn’t have been discussing any relationship parameters if he had a partner he had to “clue in.” You can’t believe a man will be monogamous when you meet him by him trying to get a new partner (you) alongside the partner he currently had. If it were truly a poly relationship you and he could have walked up to his partner at that instant and had the discussion. LESSON: Whenever you or any aspect of your relationship have to be kept a secret in any way from anyone you are dealing with a liar/cheater of some description.

      • Lesson learned. I trusted too much that he was having open dialogue with her, and didn’t do my part to ensure that this was “true poly.” I fully accept responsibility for that part of it, and I have since apologized to her, though she was adament that “he was completely honest with both of us.”

  • Another missing detail is that the “primary” partner knew about me the whole time (I met her as his partner before we started dating). I was not the OW in the sense that she always knew we were having a relationship, that it was serious, that we were in love, etc. He may have lied to both of us, but in all my conversations with her it seemed that she knew what was up and was fine with it, “happy” about it even.

    • Hey SorryNotPoly, I’m thinking you got in over your head with your ex cheater (lets call him narc head) and his so-called poly partner (lets call her desperate). Desperate apparently was not ok or happy about your relationship with narc head as it appears she hung on for dear life. I also wonder if Desperate became “poly” as it was the only way to be cool with Narc Head being with different women. From what I gleaned from the posts describing the “poly” lifestyle, cheating and sneaking around is a no no. Desperate is no more “poly” than you she just needs to go along with Narc Head’s agenda to keep him in her life.

      • I get Narc Head is just being a narc. Desperate would be the type of woman you need to give a wide berth. She could be extremely unstable. Whatever these defects are or aren’t you need to keep them out of your life. They’re toxic.

      • I had a conversation with Desperate about this before NarcHead and I dated, and she said that she had been exclusively poly for over ten years. When she met NarcHead she told him it was the only way she’d do a relationship. Not saying I understand it, but she was adament that it was the lifestyle she wanted and her own choice, not his. That was the only reason I was okay with being in his triangle; she seemed fully aware of me and invested in making “whatever would make him happy” work out for him.

        • Maybe Desperate is legit, I don’t know, but please take with a grain of salt what people say, she could be lying through her teeth. I know some posters on here spoke highly of some people/friends they had/knew in the “poly” community but make no mistake it is a lifestyle that will attract deviants.

  • You knew he was with someone, but you probably deceived yourself that you were the special one. I personally think to cheat when you know your partner is with someone, means you have something wrong with you, ill be surprised if this was your first time of being a ow, you can kid your self that this was a poly relationship but only if the other lady knew, I bet she didn’t. Your only kidding yourself its a type of self harm, being a ow your not treating yourself with self respect.

  • CL- I also don’t really understand how this letter helps us chumps. Maybe to show how completely out of touch OW/OM are and their complete lack of morals as it relates to committed relationships. It is almost like someone else is writing this blog. The CL I have come to love would have passed on this crap. Confused. For all you chumps out there who are struggling with a sucker punch of infidelity-hugs and remember that they suck as do their tranps -kinda like this dork and move on!

    • Dear Thrive,

      I provided the poly information as background. The cheating happened after he had committed to monogamy and ended his relationship with his poly partner, who was fully aware that we were dating and was happy for us. I was not the Other Woman in her relationship. I assure you that my pain in being cheated on is just as real as everyone else’s who read this blog.



      • @SorryNotPoly- you are not a dork. You are a chump who got duped by a particular type of douche bag cheater. The fabulous “I’m not a cheater, I’m just Polyamorous!!!” Yes, I know one well. My divorce from him became final a week ago today.

        I personally have nothing against the practice of Polyamory. It just isn’t my cup of tea, and my Asshat knew that and agreed to be monogamous with me. Didn’t stop him from continuing to fuck around behind my back (which isn’t acceptable to people who actually practice the lifestyle properly). It also didn’t stop him from blaming ME for his actions. He’s not “special”. He’s just a covert narc that likes cake.

        As others here have said, cheaters of this type give the community they pretend to embrace a very bad name. Don’t waste your time contacting him. Just stay as far away from him as possible and build your life YOUR way, dear. You’re going to be fine.

      • Your pain is a little different, in that you knew he was inclined to multiple partners and had lived that lifestyle. While it must have been a surprise that he didn’t keep his word, it was who he was when you met him. It’s a fine point.

        The majority of us started in monogamous relationships and were totally blindsided.

        Why can’t you just tell mutual friends the truth, he agreed to be monogamous and he lied? So you moved on.

        • Alright, I apologize for being blindsided. My pain should have been expected, I should have gone into monogamy assuming that he’d cheat on me.

          But in all seriousness, everyone’s story here is different. Let’s not cast stones of who has suffered more pain, let’s support and build each other up. That’s my interpretation of what this site is meant to be.

          • (Good boundaries!)

            We are bound to disagree with one another here sometimes, but as I like to put out there every so often, we’ve already been torn up by cheaters, we don’t need to do the same to each other.

  • It is disturbing to me how quick people are to dismiss those they deem unworthy or flawed. I will point out that the writer was told one thing, while her partner did something else. She was lied to and taken advantage of…ring any bells? In terms of “knowing” what kind of person she was dealing with, I would also point out that one also “knows” what kind of person their spouse is after DDay #1. If they stay and spackle, are they unworthy of empathy when it happens and happens again? We can all learn and support each other. Nobody here is perfect. Nobody here is the arbiter of acceptable behavior. One would hope a victim who comes here for support and understanding would not feel the need to apologize and retreat because their pain does not meet someone else’s paramaters. I shake my head when people that come here have their motives questioned or their pain questioned. Let’s be respectful and understanding. This community is not about some of the comments I have read here. If you don’t agree with someone, one should not say “don’t ever address me ever again”…that’s a ten years olds response. Let’s try and remember how all of our heartbroken souls ended up here to begin with. Think twice, speak once.

    • Thanks, QueenBee. I am completely willing to admit that I’m a younger person (as others have guessed) who is navigating some of these waters for the first time with my own blend of emotional immaturity that I’m working on. My cheater was 12 years older than me, and I was an overly trusting person that things would work out because he said they would. I didn’t mean to upset anyone with my story; I know everyone here is dealing with their own pain and I’d like it if we could all support one another’s growth through our common issue.

      • I’m sorry you are getting so much flack. Honestly, I have ADHD, and while reading is my strong suit, this one was really hard to get through. I’m going to be the controversial one and say younger women should rarely ever date men much older than them. There’s a power imbalance involved. many men seek that out because they know you don’t have as much experience and it’s easier to manipulate inexperienced people. One thing I will say is you seem to be awfully worried what people here think. Let it go. What’s done is done. I think you would benefit from therapy to unpack some of the issues you are presenting here. You are way too invested in what others think of you. This is generally an indication of low self-esteem.

        • Therapy and finding happiness from myself instead of other people are both good suggestions.

          • No shame in it. I’m doing it myself 🙂 I get yelled at sometimes here because I’m a bit of a dry wit and somewhat brutal in my honesty. Raw nerves abound. I’m a bit detached as I’ve always felt like more of an observer than an actual member of society. I’m sure that sounded odd.

    • Good point, QueenBee. I have been chumped twice; the first when I was only 24 years old and had been married for a year. If I could’ve discovered this site (and what went wrong) after that abandonment, then I could’ve done the work I needed to fix my picker and not find myself with an even more disordered asshole. I even had kids with the second one–ugh.
      I hope SorryNotPoly can do that work for herself and figure it out at a much younger age than I have.

  • Advice: use active verbs, not passive verbs.

    For example, you were not “swept away.” That is grammatically incorrect because it doesn’t have a subject acting upon an object. It implies that there was some mystical, unexplainable force that “swept” you away. In other words, it’s bullshit.

    A better description would have been “I made a series of small/large decisions that collectively strengthened the bond I felt with another man, and he did the same with me. I did this while I was committed to another person; so, by definition, I had an affair.”

    Affairs–whether emotional or physical–don’t “just happen.” We aren’t “swept away.” We CHOOSE these occurrences.

    And don’t make me out to be some calculating, cold-hearted dick. I’ve been head-over-heels, deep deep deep in love. At the time, I almost definitely said it was unavoidable; that there was a connection that we couldn’t deny; etc. But that “explanation” focuses on the feelings of love, instead of how you got there in the first place. Choices lead to feelings lead to bonds.

    • My apologies, JC. After two years in a relationship in which I was cheated on halfway through and did everything I could to save it, I started falling for someone else a week before ending my relationship. Better?

      • SNP, I do empathise with you, however–there have been several comments that either you have deliberately misunderstood the response, or you may not have the emotional maturity to understand the commenter’s point.

        JC is saying…you made a series of choices while you were still in a relationship with this man. Unless, of course, you are trying to have everyone believe that you met this new “emotional affair” man exactly a week prior to your breaking up with poly man and “fell in love”?

        You made choices while you were still in a relationship with poly man, that led to your emotional affair. There had to be some. Period. You chose. Whether it was a response to being cheated on, or not—-you chose certain actions that involved another man. Full stop.

        Now. If you really want anybody to believe that you met this emotional affair man exactly a week before you broke up and fell in love in 7 days…then you are affirming some of the commenter’s opinions that you thrive on drama, need to grow up and are simply too immature for a healthy relationship. Because there is no HEALTHY “falling in love” in 7 days. Sorry.

        The snark that you have been putting forth is another indicator of immaturity. These people have had 20-30 year (oftentimes longer) relationships, children, grandchildren, homes, jobs, families…all blown up by liars and cheats. They have collective experience that can spot someone that is flailing around, trying to get their sea legs, BECAUSE of their experiences with liars and cheaters. You would do well to listen carefully.

        First, I would like to ask you…what would make you okay with dating a man that is in a poly relationship, if you are not poly? Whether you told him “this needs to change into monogamy or I am out” or not? There are a set of boundaries that everyone has–criteria, if you will. I won’t date a married man. I won’t date a woman. I won’t date a man who wants to be a woman. Etc.

        If you wanted to be in a healthy, monogamous relationship, why did you choose someone who, from the get go, professed to be polyamorous as well as IN ANOTHER RELATIONSHIP AT THE TIME?

        Then it goes on to….why did this last more than 1 date after he promised to break it off with the other partner? Because….that is not considered cheating if you are okie dokie with someone else in your relationship…whether you “made him promise” to leave that other relationship…and it took a ridiculously long period of time for poly man to make good.

        I think this is where the Chumps are wondering…why is this person here? It’s not an attack, saying…YOU weren’t cheated on therefore you have no right to be here! I think it’s more that they can’t wrap their head around the fact that from DAY ONE you knew he was into having more than one partner at a time–and you went along with it for a very long time.

        It’s disturbing that you cannot see nor seem to understand that overlapping relationships is….CHEATING. You wrap one relationship up….THEN you move on to another. I don’t buy that you met, fell in love with and had an “emotional affair” in exactly one week and then you dumped poly man…and I suspect nobody else here does either.

        You have serious judgement issues. I don’t know why because I don’t know you. I do, however, suggest that you divest yourself of relationships for now—and seek therapy to deal with these issues that makes it okay for you to be involved in such triangle drama as you just extricated yourself from.

        Youth does not excuse you, either. You have a brain, you have the ability to comprehend that this situation is not in any way “normal”, you have resources—use them. You know you need help, or you wouldn’t have written to CL. If you need a 2×4, you’ll get it here—but what you’re doing is asking for help and then not liking the response. Typical of immaturity. If you only want sympathy—this isn’t the place for you.

        • Wow, the ‘Listen here, young lady’ response here is really strong. Everybody needs a 2×4 once in a while, but it probably works most effectively without the moral superiority and slamming her repeatedly for her immaturity.

          • Please, friends. Give your good advice and warnings. And support! That is who we are, and our new friend is communicating, which is why we offer advice, so listen please as well.

        • HomeBound: I did meet him only a week before I broke it off with my cheating ex. I didn’t “fall in love” that week, I merely realized that I could do better than my cheating ex. I broke off my relationship regardless of what would happen with the person I was developing feelings for. As The Path of Totality has pointed out, a 2×4 approach will not do much except help me feel isolated further from people I’m trying to be in community with. You don’t have to understand my situation to empathize with the fact that we both have experienced pain at the hands of people who were supposed to love us. I empathize with your pain even if you don’t with mine.

          • SNP…. you’re not alone. Some folks don’t totally get your world but if you want to talk- find me in the forums. I’d like chat a bit

            • Hi Creatverational, somehow I’ve been unable to find the forums on this site. Is there a link? Thanks 🙂

              • Sorry I didn’t see this earlier- right at the top of the page you can login.

          • CN-speak includes the term “2×4” for a reason: it is part and parcel of how we share and heal. Getting and giving feedback, including stuff you are maybe not ready to hear, is part of doing the work on ourselves. Sure, you’ll always have people who take the other side, too. We contain multitudes. If you cannot handle 2×4’s, and you don’t really share the value of nonsparkly monogamy in your heart of hearts, then this is not your personal tribe. No harm, no foul.

            • YES! and while she may not want to hear that she was no more “swept away” and out of control in her cheating actions than her “boyfriend” was in his–it is true. The fact that everyone wants to reframe and rationalize their own bad actions is what we complain about here so often. Is hers “smaller scale” than his? Maybe, I don’t know. Many chumps who have suffered under an emotional affair might not think so. One of the reasons she found her self in this mess is because she had difficulty drawing hard boundaries and enforcing them. That shit starts at home with our own actions. It is a LOVING gesture to point out to her that she is buying into the cultural narrative that people can’t help their feelings and/or control their actions where “love” is concerned. If she didn’t believe that crap she wouldn’t have believed her “boyfriend” here either.

              • I’ve become aware of my emotional boundary problem and my general lack of emotional intelligence. It’s something I’m working on. I can handle hard truths, there’s just a few commenters here that I think are possibly being a bit more on the “hard” side than the “truth” side. That being said, I didn’t expect to be coddled on a blog like this and I appreciate the input that’s been given, even if not all of it is easy to read.

      • My advice SorryNotPoly, Please do not jump from a frying pan into the fire. Take some time, our friend. For yourself, and your healing. I get the idea of someone wanting to end your pain, but it isn’t his job to do. And in my mind, it’s kind of controlling and advantage taking to go after someone in a state of trauma. If you want to know this person, put the brakes on for a bit so you don’t end up a possession transferred from one man to another. Know yourself and make your own rules. It’s your right. Your life.

  • I’m amazed that anyone knows “a lot of” polyamorous people.

    (I’m amazed that it even has a cute-sounding abbreviation – “poly” which sounds like Polly, which reminds one of Pollyanna, which suggests sweet and cheerful. Yikes!)

    But I do know people who are HIV positive. And someone who got genital herpes from a jerk that didn’t disclose he had it. And someone who got oral cancer due to HPV.

    Their lives are forever changed.

    Whatever floats your boat – but I don’t see how people having multiple sex partners is life-affirming. It’s truly risky and possibly life threatening.

    • Hopium4years
      I totally agree with you..having multiple sex partners is
      incredibly dangerous & degrading.

  • I don’t get the whole poly thing. I did find out I was in a poly relationship! Just didn’t know it!!!

  • Golly, everyone is grumpy today!

    Nothing this young woman did was any dumber than what I did at 42! And divorced with kids!

    I met a man, was love bombed, lied to (and the lies were pretty transparent) but… I MARRIED him and spent 22 years in hell.

    Yep. That is dumber!!

    Sweetie, thank heavens you escaped him relatively unscathed.

    Live, and learn!!

    • I sure as heck wanted to marry him too. I’m only slightly older now, but maybe a little wiser. Thanks for your kind words. Hugs!

    • “Golly, everyone is grumpy today!” That’s exactly what I was thinking Dianne! And the people telling CL she shouldn’t have answered the letter and was being mean to chumps to do so. WTAF?? Apparently SNP’s letter struck a raw nerve. I’m sorry she didn’t get a better response from Chump Nation. I may not relate to her story (and I don’t) but that’s true of quite a few of the Chump tales I read here. Even if I personally don’t relate to that particular story, there is always someone else out there who will. Let’s keep the light on for all our fellow travelers, CN!

      • Hi Beth, from what I can tell, some people are reading me as the OW in the original poly couple. This is something I’ve also struggled with but both my ex and his partner were adament that our relationship was “sanctioned” in their agreement. I think the fact that I could have been an OW is what is triggering the strong responses from people.

        • Good insight, SorryNotPoly. It’s not CN’s “grumpy” reaction that’s the problem, it’s that the perception of OW-ness is triggering. Your story is also very factually distinguishable from most here because of elements such as your open dialogue with your boyfriend’s girlfriend, which implies a measure of your consent and you volunteering to be poly — vastly different from the typical CN gaslighting abuse, epic deceptions, devastating financial losses, etc.

          • Hi Hush,

            What makes my story different is true, however, I was just as blindsided as the next chump when he came to me four months after agreeing to “monogamy” saying that he’d continued sleeping with her after they broke up. Their break up was genuine (we share that community, after all, and they talked) and so was my shock.

            I understand being triggered by my story and I’m truly sorry for anyone who is. But despite the beginnings of my relationship, I had the same expectations of monogamy that anyone else would when having “the exclusive talk” with their partner: namely, that they wouldn’t still be sleeping with their ex behind my back.

  • When I posted (above) this morning, I did so only after weighing the potential ramifications of “outing” myself on Chump Lady as a poly person (and that’s a decision I have to face in a number of potentially risky situations).

    Right before I hit “Post Comment”, I thought to myself, “Don’t worry, Monkey…this is an accepting, supportive community of people. It’ll be fine.”

    So…imagine my sadness to see some commenters passing judgment on those of us who choose a particular relationship style. What a disappointment.

    Okay…it may be fair game to question @SorryNotPoly about beginning one relationship before properly ending another, especially on this site…but that’s got NOTHING to do with being poly.

    Disguising/excusing cheating as “polyamory” is the same as calling cheating “monogamy”. Cheating is in a class by itself, and is not a part of legitimate polyamory, nor legitimate monogamy.

    It’s not helpful for commenters to describe us as “weird”, “yuck”, “screwing everyone”, “deviant”, or “lack(ing) morals”.

    How would it feel to those of you who are monogamous to have we poly folk criticizing your decision to have “only” one partner?

    (BTW, @Hopium4years, researchers have found that people who engage in consensual non-monogamy tend to have lower rates of sexually transmitted infections than people who don’t.)

    • Hi Monkey,

      As someone else who’s been jumped on in this thread, I sympathize with ya. Other poly people I’ve discussed this situation have been very adament that honesty and clear boundaries on relationships are a big part of making this lifestyle work and that I experienced a very odd situation. In no way do I blame the inital poly couple’s “polyness” for my ex being a cheater. Hugs!

    • Happy Monkey, when Tracy mentions research here she generally cites the scientific journal that published the study.

      You say “researchers have found that people who engage in consensual non-monogamy tend to have lower rates of sexually transmitted infections than people who don’t” – what researchers and which scientific journals have published this research? Names of authors (since you mention researcherS – plural) and their publications, please.

      I freely admit I’m doubting this “fact” to be true.

      “Studies show” and “researchers have found” can mean that someone polled 30 people and wrote an article on a blog. Not the same as scientific validity.

        • Happy Monkey, NEITHER of those studies showed that, as you had suggested, “people who engage in consensual non-monogamy tend to have lower rates of sexually transmitted infections than people who don’t.”

          The first study you cited showed that “unfaithful individuals are less likely to practice safer sex than openly nonmonogamous individuals.” No finding here regarding rates of STIs.

          The second study, which used an online survey, found no difference in rates of STIs (based on self-reported history) between the monogamous and consensually nonmonogamous people who answered the survey. So no evidence here of a lower rate of STIs for “poly” people.

          However – having known someone who underwent treatment for oral cancer (an oncology nurse I know said oral cancer treatment is so brutal that it’s the cancer treatment regimen she would least want to have to endure), I learned a lot about oral cancer and its increasing prevalence.

          Here’s a study in the Annals of Oncology:

          Men are more likely to get oral cancer, but women too are getting oral cancer at higher rates than in the past. Some sources (like WebMD) have referred to the rapid rise in oral cancer as “epidemic.” HPV is the culprit.

          And more oral sex partners means higher risk (actor Michael Douglas can attest to that). HPV-related oral cancer is “projected to be more common than cervical cancer in the United States by 2020.”

          “Oncogenic oral HPV prevalence was highest among men who currently smoked and had ≥5 lifetime oral sexual partners (14.9%…). Men with only one of these risk factors (i.e. either smoked and had two to four partners or did not smoke and had ≥5 partners) had ‘medium risk’, with 7.3%… oncogenic oral HPV prevalence.”

          (… in the quote above is where I left out confidence interval info, because CI is probably not of interest to most readers here – check out the link if interested.)


          Trust me: you don’t want to get it. The treatment is horrible, and there are several long term consequences (like tooth loss due to the radiation).

        • QueenBee, this is the same study Happy Monkey referenced.

          It does not show that “people who engage in consensual non-monogamy tend to have lower rates of sexually transmitted infections than people who don’t.”

    • Ok. I have some questions…. Logistics.

      How long from the time you meet a person(s) until you are switching some sort of body fluid? And, if they are going out kissing or f*ing other people, then do you wait again before swapping ANY bodily fluids. I know exponents, and the risk is super great the MORE people there are. Do you get a doctor’s note each and every time? Chlamydia – 3 weeks incubation to onset; gonnorhea – 10 days; Tric – 28 days; HIV 6 weeks flu symptons…10 years incubation; Herpes – weeks; HPV – always present and not always a symptom; Hepatitis – several weeks. Syphillis – 3 months.

      And, don’t tell me condom. Because I’m talking about all bodily fluids… and condoms do break too.

      Are you (just) bi-sexual and (can’t decide)? Did monogamy hurt you so much or have FOO issues? Is it religious?

      I can fathom having love for many children, animals, and respect for other adults (like in a peer-work relationship), but romantic love, to me, is a trust and a bond of 2, exclusive people. Somewhere, somehow, someone is going to get very hurt in all of this. And, an emotional affair is even harder. Because the mind is the biggest sex organ of them all.

    • The operative word is consensual. Most chumps never consented to what came to pass, and I’d expect that is just about all, no matter the format of the relationship. To each his or her own, but if it wasn’t agreed to, it wasn’t okay.

      Can we all agree on that?

    • If people are ethically poly, they have control of their sexual partner interactions and be safe. That’s more respect than I ever got from my husband who was fucking whores and impregnating co workers. He was terrified he had given me an std, but not terrrified enough to stop….

      I back you on this, the responses today make me really sad. Misunderstanding doesn’t make it ok to be predjudiced.

    • Just to be clear I said the poly lifestyle would attract deviants as they are predators that like to hide behind alternative lifestyle groups. I never said the poly community was deviant.

  • Is there a difference between an “open marriage” and polyamory. When I think of “open marriage” I think of two people who are married but allow their partners to have sex with others as long as it stays on a strictly physical level. Typically on CL this turns into cheater got found out and tries to claim “open marriage” rights after the fact. In some cases it might come up before the actual cheating but it is after several years of marriage and an attempt to change the rules so even if the other partner “agrees” it is because they fear they have no choice if they want to keep the spouse. In the case of cheating, staying with the known cheater is basically the same as having an open marriage by default like it or not. I never personally would have, nor will I ever agree to an “open marriage” because even if it is agreed by all parties, one or the other is bound to eventually fall head over heals for somebody new and there goes the marriage. In that case, why get married in the first place unless it is nothing more than a business decision anyway? That is just my own personal view. If others want to risk it, that’s up to them.

    In the case of polyamory, I think of a group of people who are committed to some kind of group relationship of some sort among all freely participating parties. I don’t know if that is accurate or not, but that is how I think of it. That might work a bit better as it is a commitment to keep it within the group and all are looking out for each other. If some members are having a falling out, others can act as mediators and provide emotional/physical support so nobody feels abandoned. I don’t know how that really works but I can see where it might possibly have more success than two people in an “open marriage”. Not something I would want to try because I would be too busy trying to please everyone else and that would be exhausting but it might work for some. It would also need to be more than three, however or they will just take turns ganging up on each other.

    In any case, whatever arrangement others prefer is their choice as long as it really is a choice for everyone involved and not some Schmuck trying to justify his/her betrayal of a long term partner who thought they were in a monogamous relationship.

    • “Polyamory” and “group sex” are different. Polyamory really only refers to any arrangement that is non-monogamous. The details of what that arrangement look like could be group sex, or a variety of other things. In my situation, my ex had a relationship with his other partner and myself. She was dating other people, he was dating both of us, and I was only dating him. This would be considered “polyamory” though there could be more specific terms for our situation like “partnered non-monogamy,” a “vee,” or “he lied to both of us about loving us more than the other and pretty much was just a lying cheater who failed at being truly polyamorous.”

  • Two cents…

    I trust Chump Lady to know what she wants. I support her entitlement to choose what she wants to post on her blog based on her own smarts and skills and decision making processes without questioning her reasons. She has my unwavering support. Sometimes I don’t like it, and in those cases, I can choose not to read it that day. Life in our culture is empowering like that.

    We are all free to make our own blogs and control our own content there as we like. If anyone wants to make their own blog, I’ll be interested in reading it, and I will give that person the same respect.

    For the time being, though, I embrace CL’s blog as she offers it, because she is kind and true and passionate and generous and we don’t have to be exactly in harmony all the time for me to appreciate the gift.

    Thanks, Tracy. ????

  • Oh, my fuckwit tried the “I’m polyamorous” on for size. He also tried on the “I need a muse” for size. Then came the blameshifting when neither of those stuck to the wall that is me.

    I actually came across an email from the OW to him in which she compared loving two men like loving her two children. Right. Bet she didn’t tell her husband any of that. My fuckwit and the OW managed to convince themselves that, hey, what they were doing was JUST FINE. If it was truly JUST FINE, why didn’t they bother to clue in their clueless spouses?

    You wanna be polyamorous? Then have integrity and be upfront with it from the beginning. Don’t yank it out after the affair has been uncovered. Don’t try to whitewash it as anything other than “I enjoy sneaking around and having sex with other people”. Hello, HPV.

  • So disappointed today…confused about why any space and attention was given to this letter??

  • The situation made my head spin. I can barely keep up with keeping 3 bathrooms stocked with toilet paper.

  • Hi SorryNotPoly, you brave person!

    Welcome to the adult world, where people think you’re crazy – and you realize that they may be on to something. This is an awful discovery to make, but it heralds the coming of MUCH better things in the future as you get smarter from experience.

    You want monogamy, you go get it, with full speed and utter determination. Don’t compromise ever again. Let this whole present stupid game of snakes and ladders be a really, really lasting lesson in being true to yourself.

    Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. The guys who want monogamy are a bit thinly spread these days, but you are young, and they are OUT THERE. Go gettem, tiger!

  • Dear SorryNotPolly,

    This letter is uncanny. You basically described my own situation of the last 2 years to a T. I honestly could have written that letter, all the things that happened to you happened to me too. Like, exactly. This is why I am glad that CL posted this.

    First of all, I am on the other side of this. I extricated myself from both men and did months of therapy and introspection. I am of course still pining for the cheater, and yes, he is still with the OW, after having “tried to break it off” several times. It took lots of reading about narcissism to understand that it’s all nothing more than a game to him. You were triangulated and conditioned. He never loved you. I am sorry, but that was the hardest thing for me to accept too. I felt massively guilty for hurting my other partner, he was collateral damage in all of this. I was just as shitty as the cheater, justifying my grossly selfish actions as “I deserve this” and “I need to feel loved and secure, this guy will do while I wait for my cheater to realize how valuable I am. I took his jealousy about it as a sign of caring and the usual growing pains of a poly lifestyle. But I never got any commitment, and my cheater still reaches out now to tell me how he wants me as his “life partner”, but he first needs to “figure out his feelings” for the OW, who still has no clue about me. My life became a mess with this person, and going no contact was the thing that saved me. You HAVE to get out of this; I promise you that the initial pain is worth the gain. And I will also tell you that you’ll get over all this much faster than you think right now. That’s something that also surprised me.

    Please do reach out to me if you want to talk more. I so relate to this whole letter, you have no idea. But you need to get out, please trust me on this.

  • SorryNotPoly, your ex isn’t polyamorous. Not in the least. He’s a garden variety cheater.

  • SorryNotPoly, your ex has figured out an unusual way to gaslight you – he convinces you that you have agreed to this so you can’t complain. Or he can’t help himself and you should have known better. Than when you sensibly leave him for someone monogamous, he says you were cheating for liking someone else while dating him. Even though you weren’t monogamous?

    Along the way, he gets you to do everything you can to please him so that he will consent to the kind of relationship he promised was coming in the first place.

    Polyamory is far too often used as an excuse for bad behavior.I think you’ve learned to avoid it in the future. I wish there were more sympathy for people who get drawn in by it and burned.

    For someone like your ex, he claims he didn’t promise anything, so if your feelings are hurt, it’s your fault. This, I think, ignores the reality of how human beings work. Most people feel pain if their partner has other love partners or just sex. Adults know this. Your ex choose to do something he knew would hurt you. Because he wanted to have his own way.

    Your ex went even further, though. He knew you wouldn’t agree to polyamory, so he gave you the impression that he would be monogamous eventually. This was dishonest.

    One final thing – I want to push back against the idea that he just isn’t made for monogamy and has to be polyamorous. Human beings naturally feel jealous. They also naturally are attracted to people who aren’t their spouses. It’s all about what choices you want to make. Do you want to choose to be faithful so that your partner is happy? Or do you want to choose – together- to work through the jealousy?

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