Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


What to do when your FWB turns out to have a girlfriend? Or does he?
January 18, 2013 5:58 PM   Subscribe

FWB: It's fun and easy and we seem to have no problem keeping it casual-- turns out that's probably because he has a girlfriend!

I was contacted by my FWB's "girlfriend," telling me that it was over between them because he kept cheating on her with me. I had no clue he was in a relationship and looking back I am confused because sometimes we would see each other several nights a week or even spend an entire weekend together. How could he have time to be in a genuine relationship? She said they tried to 'make it work' despite the affair but now their 2 year relationship is over. FWIW I have been involved with him for nearly 1 year myself, which she clearly does not know.

I confronted him about it- he was totally blase and claimed that he knew she had stronger feelings for him, than he did for her, that he was not her boyfriend, but that she was his other FWB. I then asked him if he was going to continue to see her, he said I don't know- wtf!

I'm so confused. With me he was pretty straight forward, we agreed to a sexual, but casual relationship that was explicitly not exclusive. So on one hand I don't feel wronged- on the other hand, I have a hard time dismissing this woman's claim, although there is no way for me to verify or disprove it. In a way it's just as bad to cheat on your girlfriend as it is to string along someone you know has serious feelings for you.

So now I feel very suspicious and that I cannot trust what he says. I am unable to reconcile the possibility that he has had a girlfriend this whole time with my perception of him as a person. When I confronted him, he did not seem nervous or uncomfortable-- in other words he didn't act like he'd been caught.

I don't know who to believe. If she was truly his girlfriend, this is not a person I would even be friends with, never mind the benefits! If they were fwb and she fell for him then that's a different situation. . .

Should I just drop him? Is there any way to get at the truth?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You could try tracking down corroboration via various social media outlets but at the end of the day, who needs the fucking drama?
posted by elizardbits at 5:59 PM on January 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yes, drop him. This guy does not know or care to know right from wrong. Like it's very wrong to cheat on a girlfriend who loves you seriously and would be hurt by being cheated on.

Definitely don't ever trust anything this dude says. Wow. Your gut is telling you the right thing to do. Unlike this guy, you're not a bad person. You are absolutely right. This guy is being super shitty.

Always listen to your instincts. You feel like he's shady, then don't waste time convincing yourself otherwise. No penis is worth self-deception.

Find a better guy to FWB with. There are tons of them who don't mind being ethical when it comes to sex and hurting others.
posted by discopolo at 6:05 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


You could try believing him. It does sounds to me like "GF" tried to upgrade a FWB situation, but the feelings weren't mutual. If she wasn't crazy, why would she send you that email?
posted by sparklemotion at 6:06 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


You could try believing him. It does sounds to me like "GF" tried to upgrade a FWB situation, but the feelings weren't mutual.

And that, rather than making clear to her that he was seeing and sleeping with other people per his understanding of the relationship, he led her to believe that they were exclusive or at the very least knowingly allowed her to believe that was the case.

If she wasn't crazy, why would she send you that email?

Because she believed that she had a boyfriend who was repeatedly cheating on her and who had apparently not respected her wishes that their relationship be exclusive or communicated to her that he was not going to respect those wishes.

Having your significant other cheat on you tends to make people a little angry. And when people are a little angry, they tend to say and do things that are a little more assertive than they might say or do in situations where they're not so angry.

If you take your FWB's word, his girlfriend is understandably upset and your FWB is clearly not the sort who respects other people's wishes or feelings.
posted by The World Famous at 6:14 PM on January 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


If she wasn't crazy, why would she send you that email?

It's pretty misogynistic to just call a girl "crazy" for having feelings and expressing them via email. It's not like she showed up at his apartment while poster and and dude were hooking up and screaming.

We're all familiar with the situation of those guys who lie to and mislead sexual partners without compunction. They rarely act like they've been caught. In fact, they will swear that the girl is "crazy" or "bitches be crazy."

This guy has brought bad stuff into your life. Protect yourself by ending it with him and finding a more ethical situation.
posted by discopolo at 6:17 PM on January 18, 2013 [38 favorites]


Believe him. I hate the "crazy girl" trope, but sending you a facebook message is a pretty crazy move on her part.

You've been sleeping and hanging out with this guy for a while. Who do you believe - him or a total stranger?
posted by ablazingsaddle at 6:19 PM on January 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


It seems like the biggest problem is your lack of trust in him. This is a deal-breaker in a sexual relationship. You need to raise this with him once more, let him know you're not feeling comfortable, and ask him what he can do to help restore a sense of trust. If he's got nothing constructive to offer, it's time to say goodbye. No need to linger in murky waters.
posted by samthemander at 6:23 PM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was contacted by my FWB's "girlfriend," telling me that it was over between them because he kept cheating on her with me.

...

So now I feel very suspicious and that I cannot trust what he says.

Sounds like the "girlfriend" scored her point.

Who knows what the exact details are, but consider this: why was she trying to contact now as opposed to some earlier time, when they were trying to work things out?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:23 PM on January 18, 2013


How did this alleged girlfriend find out about you and get your contact information?
posted by matrushka at 6:24 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


" I then asked him if he was going to continue to see her, he said I don't know- wtf!"

This is the big red flag for me. Even if he's 100% being honest, he's basically saying that, yah, he's been sleeping with this girl who is running around telling everyone they're a couple for two years when they are not, and is now sending lies to his friends over facebook in an effort to destroy his relationship(s), but, you know, he'll probably keep shagging her. What???
posted by Dynex at 6:29 PM on January 18, 2013 [39 favorites]


Drop him.

I've dated him. Yes, he's been leading her on.

Even if if if she was only his FWB and she understood this, it's clear (A) she's very stuck on him and very hurt, (B) he doesn't CARE he's hurting her, he may keep seeing her! Holy shit!!

This guy is actively hurting someone. It's too much drama.

She won't end up with him even if you stop seeing him, BTW, so this isn't about you stepping out of the way. It's just.... Don't be a part of this any further. Don't sleep with anyone who is so careless towards others. Just. Don't.

PS. I don't think you should acknowledge her message. If I can think of some way you might help her, I'll pop back in here. She's clearly pretty obsessed. You're likely not the person to clue her in on how heartless this guy is towards her, even though she really really needs to know.
posted by jbenben at 6:30 PM on January 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


Sounds like the absolute best-case scenario is that he didn't set the boundaries he needed to with her or cut things off when he should have. And apparently still might not do that, even though she freaked out about you. Seems messy.
posted by zxcvz at 6:34 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I then asked him if he was going to continue to see her, he said I don't know- wtf!

Huge flag. If she claims they've broken up, what is he going to do - sleep with her on a FWB basis - which it doesn't seem likely she'd want? Or lie to her and pretend like he's stopped seeing you (or anyone else)? Or he's going to keep leading on a FWB who clearly wants (and thinks she has) more, even though he doesn't?

It's a weird answer that doesn't paint him in a trustworthy light.
posted by rtha at 6:35 PM on January 18, 2013


This: I was contacted by my FWB's "girlfriend," telling me that it was over between them because he kept cheating on her with me.

Then this:

he was totally blase and claimed that he knew she had stronger feelings for him, than he did for her, that he was not her boyfriend, but that she was his other FWB.

Equals confirmation that her allegation is true. That he considers her an FWB is completely irrelevant. He knew she had stronger feelings for him.

I am unable to reconcile the possibility that he has had a girlfriend this whole time with my perception of him as a person. When I confronted him, he did not seem nervous or uncomfortable-- in other words he didn't act like he'd been caught.

That's because he wasn't "caught" cheating on you. He was caught not caring about someone else's feelings. Since he doesn't care about other people's feelings, he doesn't care if he's caught not caring.

If they were fwb and she fell for him then that's a different situation. . .

I think this is where you need to dig deeper as far as your own opinion about the matter. Let's assume that they were FWB, and that, as he admits, she fell for him and believed that they were boyfriend/girlfriend. Then let's assume that he's telling the truth that he knew that she had those feelings but that he nevertheless continued (and may still continue) to have sex with her while also having sex with you.

Ask yourself this: Why is that a different situation?
posted by The World Famous at 6:37 PM on January 18, 2013 [15 favorites]


When I confronted him, he did not seem nervous or uncomfortable-- in other words he didn't act like he'd been caught.

I think it's much easier to fake being generically calm than to fake an emotional response truly appropriate to a situation. In this case, if he were telling the truth, some appropriate responses might include "WTF?!" incredulity or vexation/disgust with his other FWB, maybe even surprise and laughter at her behavior, along with some sort of upset over how it affected you. But calm? Perhaps you know him to be a remarkably even-keeled character who handles stress without nervousness or discomfort, but given the circumstances, it seems more likely to be the demeanor he has practiced for the past year while lying his pants off and hiding everything from everyone. I'm pretty sure that's a situation that would require plenty of very calm, non-nervous lying to pull off.

That's just one point. Based on the whole picture, I'd suggest dropping him like a hot rock.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:52 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


She was inappropriate in her message to you, but he doesn't sound so appropriate in his conversation with you.

Bigamy happens with surprising frequency, where someone has two entire marriages, houses, and sets of children, so I'm not sure why you think someone couldn't tell one person "Oh, we're an exclusive couple" and another person "Oh, we're friends with benefits" and carry it off for years. Maybe she travels a lot for business. Maybe he tells her he travels a lot for business, but he's been spending that time with you.

It really boils down to if you believe him or not. You know him, we don't.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:53 PM on January 18, 2013


Sending a Facebook message is "crazy" these days? Jesus Christ. She isn't a random chick with an unrequited crush trying to stir up shit. It's confirmed that she was at least sleeping with him, and it's pretty much confirmed that he was either cheating on her or stringing her along, both of which are dickish behaviors on his part. Is the former worse? Yes, absolutely. Does he come off well in either situation? No, not especially.

There's no way around it: you are going to have to believe one person and think the other person is full of shit. Personally, based on my own experiences, I'd side with the girl. The sisterhood, you know. YMMV.
posted by dekathelon at 7:01 PM on January 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


Okay, let's be honest.

Nobody in this thread has the first damn clue whether the "girlfriend" is crazy or whether your FWB is full of shit. Or both. You're not getting good advice, you're just seeing a display of people's various biases, assumptions, and prejudices.

You don't know -- and probably can't know -- what the facts are, so what are you left with?

If she's telling the truth, that he was cheating on her, the question you have to answer is whether or not his infidelity is important to you. You're in a non-exclusive relationship. Maybe it doesn't matter that he can't keep from sleeping with other women. If that DOES matter to you, you need to spend more time talking to him about it until you're either convinced that he's being up-front with you, or you're convinced he won't.

Don't get hung up on who you "should" believe.

Trust your gut. Casual sex isn't that hard to find that messing this up would really hurt you that badly.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:03 PM on January 18, 2013 [18 favorites]


No matter what the answer is, this is a drama explosion. Not worth it!
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:12 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The way to get at the truth is to believe your FWB, like people are telling you to - she's a woman who is in love with him that he has no feelings for, who is harassing you, and who he nonetheless plans to keep sleeping with. If there are any clues that this situation isn't what it seems, I can't find them in your narrative.

If he's just your FWB and not your BF, there's not much reason to care about his motives since, by definition, FWBs are supposed to be conducted in a dismissive attachment style. You really can't hold a FWB to even the same standards you'd have for a friend. Which is why a lot of people are saying, "who cares about the details, just dump the drama llama already." If you're deeply bothered by what this might say about him, you and this other girl might have more in common than you'd like to admit deep down, and that thing isn't that you're both bitches be crazy.
posted by tel3path at 7:31 PM on January 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


Believe him. I hate the "crazy girl" trope, but sending you a facebook message is a pretty crazy move on her part.

What. Sending a FB message was probably her only means of contact -- it's not like she's friends with the OP and can sit down with her for coffee.

...

As for the OP's question -- I'm torn on this, but that's perhaps because I was in the position of being the "other woman" and he got caught. In my case, we were FWB and he had a gf, but both of us thought he was being exclusive. Shit hit the fan when I met her at a social event, not knowing they were a couple. He still didn't admit it -- I eventually dragged it all out of him, mostly by asking other people who knew him. I confronted him on it and he wasn't going to tell his gf, so I told her via FB because I thought she deserved to know.

So from my personal experience, yes, it is very possible for a guy to have a FWB while in a committed relationship and pull it off for quite some time. The fact that he is denying that she was his gf means absolutely nothing.

Another anecdote: I worked with someone who was the unknowing other woman. This guy seemed amazing. He was at her place several nights a week, supposedly committed relationship, went to all her daughter's basketball games, proposed to her. Turns out he was married with 2 young children. His wife found out by sneaking on his phone, called up his (unknowing) mistress, and told her what was what. Then the guy left his wife. She went ballistic and ended up in a mental institute for a few days. And this was a guy who was the "perfect" guy -- aka a fantastic actor.

So whether to believe this girl or not? It is very possible she's telling the truth and he's a lying douchbag. It's also possible she was another FWB who got turned down when she wanted to get more serious and went a little crazypants and stalked his phone for his other FWBs and is sending blatant lies to any other girl he's flirted with so that he "has no choice" but to be with her. If it were me, I would do some investigating and try to get at the truth, because not knowing would make me bonkers.

Also, this might not need to be said, but just in case -- make sure you're getting STD checks regularly.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:36 PM on January 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sending a Facebook message is "crazy" these days? Jesus Christ.

Yes, and thank you tel3path for bringing in the word "harassment" into this discussion. Memo to all people (male and female): Don't try to contact the other woman/your ex's new flame/your perceived rival and dump your shit on them. It's confusing, it's not cool, and the motives for doing such a thing are selfish 99.9% of the time.

Why didn't she contact you earlier? If she knew that he was, in fact, cheating on her with you, why sit on this information?

If someone sent me an email/facebook message/carrier pigeon blaming me for their break-up, I would delete that shit immediately. ESPECIALLY if I wasn't seriously interested in the dude in question. If I'm just sleeping with someone, and I've done my due diligence that they're not married or otherwise partnered, I'm good. People try to stir up shit. It's not my problem.

If he's a FWB, why do you care? If it's just sex, seriously, why do you care? If you do care, stop sleeping with him and find someone who's a better candidate for a long-term relationship.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 7:40 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


If he's a FWB, why do you care?

People have different moral compasses. Being an unknowing participant in hurting another person is something that some people would be bothered by.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:45 PM on January 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


I don't have a particular piece of advice, but it seems like the best case scenario is that she has a gross misapprehension about the nature of their relationship, and he's content to keep her believing the lie. What she said in her message sounds off. Likely scenario is that she thought that we're monogamous but he was cheating, and he felt very differently. She's probably contacting you now because she wants to drive you out of the picture. Again, that's the best case scenario.

Even non-exclusive situations have agreed-upon parameters. It sounds like you're not cool with his terms, so you probably should cut him loose.
posted by dry white toast at 8:21 PM on January 18, 2013


Everyone keeps saying we have no idea what's going on but here's what we do know:

Your FWB, after you informed him that the woman thinks (thought) he was her boyfriend and they were exclusive, said that he may or may not still sleep with her.

If you were looking for a clear red line, this is it, and he crossed it. Even if he thought they were just FWB, he now knows that the woman thought they were dating exclusively and is hurt - and he still may or may not sleep with her. Ditch him, pronto.
posted by arnicae at 8:30 PM on January 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


It doesn't matter if he's lying or she's lying. Don't get involved in this drama. I'd break it off with him and move on.
posted by loriginedumonde at 8:36 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where does it say that the other girl thought they were exclusive? According to the guy, she had stronger feelings, but that doesn't necessarily lead to her believing that they were in a relationship. Or does it?

Being an unknowing participant in hurting another person is something that some people would be bothered by.

If the other girl thought they were in an exclusive relationship, yes. If the other girl just really, really liked the guy and wished that the OP didn't exist, not the OP's problem.

I am so confused by all of this - ditch this crazy dude, OP.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 8:40 PM on January 18, 2013


Geez - I'm not sure why you're upset? He didn't wrong you -- you didn't have an exclusive agreement. This is the kind of thing that can happen when you don't have an exclusive agreement with a sex partner - they're free to conduct other relationships and there's really no necessary expectation that they tell you about it. Sorry the other person felt they needed to contact you about it, but that's really on them, and doesn't have much to do with you and your agreement.

Also, it's clear that you're more than "FWB" with this guy, or why would you care? You have feelings for him. Are you settling? What's the deal here?

It's hard for me to find any of this wrong, or even confusing. It's not confusing. If you want a different sort of relationship with this guy, you need to ask for it. If you don't like the type of relationship you're having, which includes his freedom to get involved with other women and talk to them about you, then get out of it or change it.

You seem to be using the word "confused" to cover up for something else. You're unhappy, you don't like how you feel, you have regrets, you have concerns - but are you really "confused?" The only thing you may be confused about is your own feelings and what you want out of a relationship. Sit down with yourself and ask whether you find this arrangement perfectly satisfying, or maybe want something more or different. Then ask whether this arrangement is ever going to deliver that something more or different. And make the changes that result from that inquiry.
posted by Miko at 9:57 PM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd be upset if I thought I was having sexyfuntimes with an honest person who respected my feelings who turned out to maybe be a dishonest or manipulative person who didn't care about the feelings of one of his other partners. Even if all I want is sexyfuntimes and nothing more, to find out that my partner in that was treating someone in a role like mine poorly, I'd feel confused (about my judgement of him) and upset.

That's my read of the OP's situation, anyway.
posted by rtha at 10:34 PM on January 18, 2013 [17 favorites]


Isn't the point of a FWB situation to be able to have the good stuff without having to put up with all the crap that can sometimes go along with a real relationship?
Isn't this FWB situation -regardless of where the truth lies- now filled with unpleasant crap?
Cut bait and find a tidier situation.
posted by Brody's chum at 10:40 PM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


To answer the one answerable question, there is no realistic way to get at the truth.

As people have touched on, even 100% french-fried, certified FWB doesn't necessarily mean comfort with involvement in betrayal, deception, a cavalier approach to other people's feelings.

Even if you'd sooner cut off an arm than be more than FWB with someone, the "F" in those three letters does mean something. Me? Good on ya if you don't wanna be around someone who strikes you as a person of questionable morals, values, ethics, etc.
posted by ambient2 at 10:58 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


So let's say you were involved with some new guy as well as this FWB. Casual thing, no suggestion of cheating. And one day, New Guy comes to you and says "so, uh, this sounds odd, but someone by the name of [Old FWB Guy] just contacted me on Facebook and said he was your boyfriend, but you kept cheating on him with me, even though you and him tried to make it work after your affair. What's going on here?"

Would your response to that be totally blasé? Or to say you might keep on seeing the guy who'd just done that? Because mine certainly wouldn't be.

I have no idea what his official relationship with her is, but he comes out of this looking pretty crappy re: her whether you believe him or not. If you're uncomfortable with that - and you have every right to be uncomfortable with that - cut him loose.
posted by Catseye at 12:56 AM on January 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Which is more likely, statistically:

1. Someone cheats on someone else and then lies about it
2. Someone makes up an entire relationship in their head, contacts someone about it in a state of total delusion

I'm going with #1.
posted by 3491again at 1:20 AM on January 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Basically I find myself agreeing with Miko>
And was just coming to add that his "I don't know" might simply mean "None of your business". Which it probably isn't if you are FWB having safe sex.
posted by sianifach at 1:41 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


So let's say you were involved with some new guy as well as this FWB. Casual thing, no suggestion of cheating. And one day, New Guy comes to you and says "so, uh, this sounds odd, but someone by the name of [Old FWB Guy] just contacted me on Facebook and said he was your boyfriend, but you kept cheating on him with me, even though you and him tried to make it work after your affair. What's going on here?"

Would your response to that be totally blasé? Or to say you might keep on seeing the guy who'd just done that?


This.

You already have all the information you need about this situation.

Taking it further than this, if you go to him with questions about his attitude, I think he will frame this as you being another woman scorned who just couldn't get enough of him and whose feelings he has no obligation to consider.
posted by tel3path at 1:51 AM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I confronted him about it- he was totally blase and claimed that he knew she had stronger feelings for him, than he did for her, that he was not her boyfriend, but that she was his other FWB. I then asked him if he was going to continue to see her, he said I don't know- wtf!

I am not understanding from whence comes the overwhelming conclusion in this thread that this guy is lying to you and is bad news. This would not be the first time we've seen a multi-partner situation where one party is clear on the FWB part (him) and the other party is still saying "boyfriend" (her). So basically: what this guy is saying to you doesn't strike me as implausible. At all.

I'm so confused. With me he was pretty straight forward, we agreed to a sexual, but casual relationship that was explicitly not exclusive.

Well, unless you have some other reason not to take him at his word, it sounds to me like that's exactly what you've got, and one of his other non-exclusive partners may be having some issues with the definition of "FWB."
posted by DarlingBri at 3:01 AM on January 19, 2013


No amount of sex, no matter how good it is, is worth not being able to trust the person you're having sex with.
posted by Solomon at 3:24 AM on January 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Even his own story, which could very well be true, makes him seem like a huge asshole because he is just stomping all over that chick's feelings. So, you know, do with that what you will, but I don't think I would want even a casual, nonexclusive relationship with someone like that.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:07 AM on January 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm a little swayed. I'll amend my answer to say that if your instinct is that you're not getting a fair treatment from him and that he's actually betraying you somehow, that's shitty.

I guess one thing that's unclear is that even though it seems to have been true that you could both pursue other partners - that your arrangement was "a sexual, but casual relationship that was explicitly not exclusive" - had you agreed with each other that you would disclose other partnerships? If not, I can't see what he really did wrong. This is between him and the other partner, despite her attempt to drag you into it.

If you did, then there was a betrayal, because you didn't know about Partner #1 when you became Partner #2. And Partner #1 didn't know about you - which is really worse, since he was probably lying to her - until recently, it sounds like. It sounds like you were a secret from her and she was a secret from you, she may have had more hopes for the relationship, and when she found out about you she must have assumed it was a recent short-term affair, since you say she didn't know you had been FWB that long with him. So she thinks all was going swimmingly until you came along. When, of course, what was actually happening is that the guy was sleeping with you both.

It's probably impossible to diagnose the actual nature of the relationship even by putting together both of their [conflicting] accounts. They are giving you very different perspectives, and so it could indeed be confusing about which to believe or whether to trust what the guy says. But I still think that that doesn't really matter if you didn't have an agreement to disclose other partners that you were pursuing. This is between the two of them, and whatever they work out going forward is also between the two of them. He might be a shady, awful guy, which seems possible, but the thing to get un-confused about is still what your own requirements are in a relationship, even a simple FWB one. It's okay not to trust him even if all the evidence you have is that you just feel like something's fishy. You don't owe anbody your trust and you can revoke it at any time. You could even step away just because it seems like the situation is a little drama-filled and that's not your style. You don't really need a reason. I'd say the main thing is to think about your expectations and what you will need and accept in the future. You guys weren't on the same page.
posted by Miko at 6:14 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I don't know who to believe. If she was truly his girlfriend, this is not a person I would even be friends with, never mind the benefits! If they were fwb and she fell for him then that's a different situation. . . Should I just drop him? Is there any way to get at the truth?

You say that you have a friends-with-benefits relationship... but how long were you friends with him for before it became clear that either one of you were interested in benefits of any sort? Was the context in which you met him one in which friends would meet, or was it one in which people would date and maybe hook up?

I think the heart of the problem here is that it's likely you entered into a non-serious sexual relationship with someone you really didn't know. You called it something you felt comfortable with, but now you're not so sure. Now you consider the character and integrity of your explicitly not exclusive "friend" to be a potential dealbreaker... but you can't make an informed judgment on that, because you don't really know him all that well.

And then he says "I don't know", in regards to whether he is going to see her... which means, yes he will, if he can. If she'll let him. If you'll let him. If the perceived cost of doing so is less than the benefits. He likes having sex with different women. Who says that it's just you two? There could have been several more women that he led on in order to get them to sleep with him, only to back away once they started getting serious. You don't know, but the possibility of that is what you signed up for with an explicitly not exclusive relationship.

I'm polyamorous / non-monogamous. Have been openly so for about 15 years. Most of that time I've lived with my wife and with one of two other partners... one for about 7 years, and one for the last 18 months or so. Been with my wife for about 23 years.... so I have a pretty good track record for long, relatively healthy poly relationships.

What you described sounds like what we would call "doing it wrong".

You don't seem to have clear goals as to what you really want. Is it someone you can get along with on nights out, weekend dates, and in bed? Because you've got that. Or do you really need him to be a completely trustworthy friend, who will confide his secrets to you, or conduct his affairs with others in an open, ethical way?

Because that last one sounds like either a good friend -- which you didn't take the time to really make, I suspect -- or someone who is polyamorous / ethically non-monogamous, who has taken the time and effort needed to think about these sorts of things.

If having someone fun you can frolic on the nights and weekends with is most important, keep seeing him... but take 100% responsibility for your protection, because you don't know what or who he is doing on the side. If you really need a friend you can trust, next time form a no-strings relationship only after you know a great deal more about his life. If you want someone who is ethical in their non-monogamous behavior, consider reading "The Ethical Slut", or going to a polyamory meetup near you...

Or maybe you can let him know the potential problems you have with his behavior, and with the trust issue involved. See if he's willing to take things slow for awhile, going out as friends and rebuilding trust. And if you do get "The Ethical Slut", you might want to go over it with him sometime, and see if you can't convince him that he can be honest and ethical in his behavior with women and still get his crazy on.

(But no, there's really no way for sure that you can know the truth until he is the kind of person who would tell you. People can get more ethical and honest about such things, however. I did...)
posted by markkraft at 7:39 AM on January 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I was just reading an article about monogamy, dating and agreements about exclusivity. Turns out that a large percentage of dating couples are simply not in agreement about whether they have an exclusive agreement or not.
So, both your FWB and the girlfriend could think they are in the right, and that the other has misconstrued their agreement.
From your standpoint, you agreed to FWB with the guy and that's been convenient. The guy brought a relationship drama into your life, which is definitely not part of the agreement. It seems to me that FWB arrangements always have the potential for this kind of undertow given the power of sexuality to create bonding and attachment. So, your guy didn't really manage this well, didn't really set this up in a way that excludes drama from happening.
If you prioritize your freedom and want to not have these kinds of drama showing up, then time to move on I'd say. Having a relationship drama spring up on your radar is essentially the basic reason you chose FWB in the first place. You didn't want this kind of episode.
If you like the guy and want to continue, then you'd have to make an explicit agreement about his behavior that you cannot control or guarantee. If he's not ethical, or unconscious about how he's setting this up, it may well happen again.
posted by diode at 8:35 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


If he's the kind of person who's comfortable with lying to get what he wants, you'll never find out the truth. And you can never know if someone's withholding information or not. I've had calm, ultra-sincerely delivered lies told to me while holding the cold, hard evidence of said lies right there in my hand. The lengths some people will go to to protect their fictions can be very shocking. Instead of asking 'why would he lie?' maybe think, 'why would he tell the truth?' You're FWB so he doesn't really need to be truthful - the stakes aren't so high. He can trot out some blah blah blah excuse in a much calmer way than he would with a livid, serious girlfriend. What's the worst that could happen? He finds someone else to sleep with.

TBH it sounds like they did have a monogamous agreement (he's trying to get her back right now, which is why he tells you he might be sleeping with her in future) and he's doing damage control with you, so he can cop to the stuff he's forced to while maintaining plausible deniability. The whole 'crazy ex girlfriend who's manufactured their entire relationship in her head who's now writing delusional letters to you' (so many guy's exes are 'crazy', right? When they talk about their partner's wrongdoing?) Statistically speaking, it's very unlikely that she is indeed mentally ill and has pulled this out of her ass. Why now and not before? Now there's nothing left to lose. It's only worth keeping your composure if there's going to be a payoff.

FWIW I think there are very few people who operate under genuine delusions. I also don't think you need to be 'crazy' to send an email to the other party, letting them in on the real picture. Not sure it's something I'd do myself as I doubt it would achieve much, but I can absolutely empathise with the motivations behind it. It is not an outre or ridiculous reaction to being cheated on at all, and doesn't need to be even a selfish thing. As a feminist, part of my reasoning would be to protect the other woman and her interests, FWIW.

As others have said, at best he's someone who'll trample blithely over the hearts of others as long as it gets his dick wet. What your relationship to all this is (Not My Boyfriend Not My Problem? Dickweed I Want Nothing To Do With?) is up to you.
posted by everydayanewday at 5:48 PM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please don't listen to all of the people in this thread who are suggesting that your FWB is somehow being deceptive to you or her. Nothing in your account suggests that is the case. This is a he said/she said situation, and all you really know about his other sexual partner is that she is claiming they had a committed relationship. You don't actually even know if she believes that herself, after all. People often have very different ideas about what the "rules" of a romantic connection are, and just because the two of them saw the connection differently doesn't necessarily mean he was either deceiving her or ignoring her stated feelings. You literally know nothing about what went on between them, and apart from any actual evidence, you've got no reason not to believe your FWB unless he's already proven himself to be dishonest to you in the past.

That's why it's a dumb idea for her to have contacted you- you don't know each other and you have no real reason to trust her account of things.

Has your FWB been honest, kind, giving, good to you up til now? Why let the story of a stranger have more sway over the word of someone who has been truthful and has treated you well this far?

If your FWB hasn't been honest, kind, giving, good to you up til now, well, then that's reason enough not to continue with him all by itself.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:01 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older My contract for my current pho...   |  Have you gone to therapy or co... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.