This Reddit Family Rift Was Cemented By a Cat’s Birthday Party & No, We’re Not Kidding
Here’s the thing about open relationships: when they have rules, have them for a reason. Open relationships can be challenging, especially for those of us who grew up in monogamous households. Of course, they can also be rewarding, fulfilling, exhilarating, and just plain fun, making them worth the risks (of jealousy, insecurities, and rejection) for some people. But back to those rules. While open relationships can be all of those positive things (and more), if you and your partner(s) decide to open your relationship with some specific rules and boundaries in place, it’s a good idea to adhere to them. It’s when some partners don’t that things always seem to get a little more complicated.
Take one couple on Reddit, who are dealing with some massive fallout from the choices one partner made in their newly-open relationship. The husband — aka our OP, which stands for original poster (the author of the post) — is asking for advice after his wife took advantage of their open relationship to hook up with a friend, one that OP has had some suspicions about for a while. In the process, she broke multiple rules they’d established for their open relationship and threw their lives into turmoil.
Keep reading to see how it all went down and what readers in Reddit’s Am I the Asshole (AITA) forum had to say.
OP and his wife have been married for eight years, and he says they’ve had their share of ups and downs so far. That includes an incident five years ago, when OP found out his wife had cheated on him with a man she met on a dating app. “I was shocked and wanted to divorce because cheating is a no-go for me,” he writes. “However, she told me how sorry she was and that she only loves me and she was really trying her best to show me that I can trust her again, and I did.”
OP also mentioned his wife’s best friend, Chris, who she’s known for about 15 years. OP suspects that Chris has more than friendly feelings for OP’s wife. “He is always telling me that he wants a girlfriend that is just like my wife and keeps telling her that I do not deserve her,” he explains. OP never thought much about it, though, because he “never thought that [Chris] had a chance [with] my wife.”
Six months ago, OP’s wife suggested they open up their marriage. “I was shocked and immediately told her that I don’t want that,” OP says. Once he started thinking about it, though, his mindset began to shift. OP and his wife were in a dry spell and hadn’t had sex for about eight months, something that made him “really unhappy,” he says. “She was never in the mood,” he explains. “And after trying many times to have sex with her iI just kinda stopped because I did not want to push her.”
Eventually, OP agreed to try an open marriage. He says his wife was “baffled,” but they both talked and agreed upon some rules, including that neither of them could have feelings for another partner; they couldn’t have sex with another partner in their shared apartment; they had to use protection; and they would tell each other when they have sex with someone else.
OP decided to start things off by initiating things with a flirtatious co-worker, Sara. After their shift ended one night, he told her about opening up his marriage and said she was “immediately all ears and was very interested. She joked about that if I want to shoot my shot I can always ask her, so I did.”
He explained the rules to her, including about not having feelings for each other, and she agreed, “making it very clear that she finds me sexually attractive but that there are no feelings.” OP told his wife about the possibility the next day, and she gave the OK. A few days later, OP hooked up with Sara at her place.
Over the next few days, OP and his wife “did not talk at all,” he says, and he wondered if she was upset that he’d had sex with Sara. Turns out, that wasn’t the case, he explains.
When he confronted his wife, she told him that she and Chris, her good friend, had had sex. OP started yelling and they “got into a huge fight,” he says. In OP’s eyes, his wife broke two rules: she didn’t tell him when she had sex with someone else, and she had feelings for Chris when she slept with him. Her excuse for the first one, he says, was that they never agreed when they’d tell each other about having sex with someone else (before or after). As for the feelings part, well, OP’s wife tried to convince him Chris had no feelings for her and that he was overreacting. OP wouldn’t budge. At the time of posting, OP hadn’t talked to her for two days and was staying at a friend’s house.
OP wants to know if he’s the asshole in this situation, though he suspects that “Chris is somehow manipulating her so she separates from me.” He asked Reddit for their thoughts, and they didn’t have much patience for the situation.
“What do you even see in your wife? You sound like roommates that just argue all the time,” said the top-upvoted comment. (Ouch, but fair.) Another commenter urged him to “have some self-respect and leave this woman… She cheated on you multiple times, opened the marriage up … and then doesn’t even follow the rules. She doesn’t respect you.”
Other commenters thought that OP’s wife was probably already sleeping with Chris before this — hence the eight-month dry spell — and opened the marriage just to have an excuse to keep doing it. “What a toxic relationship,” one person said. “Why don’t you just go off enjoy your life and find someone who actually cares/loves you …? Life’s too short for this type of BS.”
One Redditor even shared some advice from their own experience. “I have some friends that are non-monogamous and I was casual with the boyfriend for a few years,” they explained. “He had to get permission every single time we hooked up. If the girlfriend was feeling uncomfortable, or said no, it didn’t happen. If no permission is given beforehand, that’s still cheating.” In the commenter’s opinion, OP “did the right thing when practicing non-monogamy. Your wife did not.”
Another person laid out the problem — and the potential solution — clearly. “You aren’t in a relationship. You are in a co-habitation,” the wrote. “Your wife doesn’t respect your relationship. You don’t respect yourself within the relationship.” The commenter acknowledged that while we don’t know what the rest of their relationship is like, it doesn’t sound like a healthy one from this post. “Either get counselling to get to the bottom of what your problems are as a couple or move on,” they said.
It might be tough advice for OP to hear, but we agree that that’s what it comes down to: addressing the root of their issues or deciding to let the relationship go. In either case, it doesn’t sound like an open relationship is going to help.