Accidental polyamory: is this how it's supposed to work?
February 4, 2013 4:06 AM   Subscribe

Should I be worried about the direction my casual relationship with a married guy is heading in? If so, how do I tactfully deal with it?

I met a guy a couple of months ago online for an FWB deal. He's married but in an open relationship, which appealed to me because I wanted a low pressure situation. He also seemed really funny. I thought we'd get along well enough for a positive short-term experience. After chatting for a bit, he agreed. He asked me what I expected from him and I said "fun, friendship if we're lucky?" He said that was good, because that's what he's looking for as well, nothing long-term.

We met up, were attracted to each other, and got along well in person. We had sex, agreed that we both really enjoyed it, and met up 2 more times within 10 days. We had more sex and laid around joking with each other for an hour or two, then he'd leave. He really made me laugh and made me feel comfortable in my body, which has been a big struggle for me (invaluable!). But if he never contacted me again at this stage, I'd have been fine with it. No strings at all.

He started suggesting that because we get along so well, we might want to do hangout-y things in addition to sex. I said sure, that would be fun. We started going to parties together and watching movies before winding up in my room, talking constantly through all things about our jobs, stupid pop culture, guys and girls we've dated. I'll admit that with him, there's an ease of conversation like I've had with few other people; we both have the same odd, overarching sense of humor, but maturity where it matters. We have very similar values and opinions, if not the same interests. Around the New Year, he called rather than texted me for the first time out of nowhere and suggested we start talking on the phone, since we get along so well.

I was definitely cool with this escalation of the F in FWB, because it makes a huge difference to know that the person you're sexing genuinely likes and respects you, even if there's no future in it. But I still maintained some boundaries, such as not texting him first unless I want him to come over and not being overly affectionate, not initiating physical contact unless we're in bed.

We went through a period of not talking to each other for a couple of weeks because his life became extremely hectic managing their family. I didn't think anything of it, because I go through two week periods of not talking to almost all of my other friends (whom I've known far longer), all the time. When he contacted me again, the first thing he said was how much he'd been missing me in that time. That he wants to make more time to see me, and believes he "should" be able to do so "at least once a week." He thanked me for being patient with him. He started calling a few times a week, sometimes twice in a day, just to talk. Once, we planned to get together around a certain event; as the event approached, he started saying maybe we could just stay in that night and see a movie or go shopping, because "the main thing he was excited about was seeing me." He has expressed disbelief that I am still single, because I am "so amazing." We've started being able to hang out for hours without having sex (though we still do that regularly), just talking, hugging, and kissing. We've also started, indeed, seeing each other once a week. We have plans/non-refundable tickets for future events. He also sometimes talks to me about problems in his marriage. Not for long, but he mentions them, and I don't know what to say.

His wife knows about me definitely, though she is monogamous. I'm not worried that things aren't above ground. But she has also started to behave in ways that make me uncomfortable, calling/texting him several times while he's with me to ask when he's coming home and even what we are doing.

I have no doubt that he loves her, some things he says to me -- or to her on the phone around me -- convey that clearly. And I don't have fantasies about him leaving her for me, not at all; my feelings on that subject lean more toward compersion than jealousy, knowing that they are a good fit for each other. But the more he does/says these intimate things to me as well, the more I wonder about the future of this relationship. How badly it's going to hurt me, ultimately. He has told me before that he's fallen for a few of his FWBs. I've also become more attached because of our increased intimacy. My biggest fear in all of this is that we will become really close, his wife will get upset by the time we spend together, give him an ultimatum, and I'll be the casualty.

Is the way this has escalated enough within the bounds of "normal" friendship that it's not worth worrying about? Can I talk to him about this in a way that doesn't make accusations/destroy our friendship? My ideal result to this situation would be continuing to be friends with him and keep our connection because it seems to make us both happy, even if sex has to come off the table.
posted by houndsoflove to Human Relations (34 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Best answer: My biggest fear in all of this is that we will become really close, his wife will get upset by the time we spend together, give him an ultimatum, and I'll be the casualty.

This seems likely to me based on my own experiences. What also seems likely is that their agreement is that he can have physical but not emotional intimacy with an outside party, and that humans being what they are, your relationship with this guy has evolved beyond that. From her POV, you are looking a lot like his girlfriend, which may not be what she signed up for.

You get to draw boundaries here, too. You can tell him "I am not cool with the way this relationship is evolving and I'd like to just be friends, within boundaries that make your wife comfortable." Or "I think we need to ramp down the casual friends thing but if you want to meet up every few weeks for a few hours in bed, that's good with me if it's good with Mrs. FWB."
posted by DarlingBri at 4:14 AM on February 4, 2013 [13 favorites]

I think you're kidding yourself if you think you can go back to being FW(o)B (Friends Without Benefits).

Everything you've written shrieks 'I'm about to get really fucking hurt'.

He has expressed disbelief that I am still single, because I am "so amazing." We've started being able to hang out for hours without having sex (though we still do that regularly), just talking, hugging, and kissing.

You're emotionally invested in this way beyond FWB, and he holds all the cards. Sorry, but I think you should walk away now.
posted by Salamander at 4:23 AM on February 4, 2013 [30 favorites]

I really do not think it is 'accidental polyamory" I think you are having an affair and emotional hurt is hanging just around the corner. I do think regret, hurt and or disappointment is will be paying an unwelcome visit to either you, he and/or his wife.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:55 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: This is not how you planned it to work. Sometimes plans don't work out. Being just and kind and mature isn't measured in how we react to plans that work, it's measured in how we handle plans that fail. And it does seem rather like Mr. FWB has doused you both in gasoline and Mrs. FWB is fidgeting loudly with a Zippo.

Time to walk away.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:03 AM on February 4, 2013 [14 favorites]

Why are you doing this? The boundaries here are so far away from being clearly observed that it will never end well.

You want to stay sane? Stop messing around with people who are married with their own highly contextualized, and very loaded personal lives. If you want casual sex with up-front talk about not getting into anything serious, DON'T DATE MARRIED PEOPLE. You are a casualty in this set-up just by agreeing to it.

Surely there's got to be someone else you can find who can make you laugh, share your interests, and make you feel good about yourself who doesn't have AN ENTIRE SEPARATE ROMANTIC/SEXUAL/FAMILY LIFE they're deeply involved with also?

This isn't polyamory - this is a disaster waiting to happen. Get out and get help.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:09 AM on February 4, 2013 [9 favorites]

Yeah, this became an affair. There's a big difference in a wife being okay with her husband having sex with other people and a wife signing off on her husband having an emotional relationship with someone. You see the warning signs of her not being okay with that.

So put the brakes on this one and, barring any three way discussion where you hammer out what the hell is going on and what everyone is comfortable with, move on to someone else.

Bottom line, this got way too serious than it should be. He got way too close than what he should have been for casual. You care too much now for it to be casual. So end it now before disappointment becomes tears for all.
posted by inturnaround at 5:22 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

If the risk of total meltdown is worth the chance of valuable friendship to you, then by all means try.

Whatever you do, if it were me I'd try to have a Serious Talk with Mrs. FWB; your relationship with Mr FWB is something she has a right to care about, and if you want it to work well you need her to be okay with it.
posted by contrarian at 5:44 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agree with what everyone has said, but I just want it to be clear that you didn't do anything wrong here. You made the right moves. Now you get to keep making the right moves, which will suck and all because it sounds like a really nice fling, but it's better to end it while it's still just fraying at the edges. This will blow up pretty quickly.

Keep all the nice things: the way he made you feel comfortable in your skin, the ease you felt in a low pressure relationship. Those will come in handy later.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 5:45 AM on February 4, 2013 [12 favorites]

"My ideal result to this situation would be continuing to be friends with him and keep our connection because it seems to make us both happy, even if sex has to come off the table."

If this is how you feel, you're way too invested in this to be FWB. You're prizing the emotional connection you guys have over the physical one and that's the opposite of how this needs to be to not go down in flames. Run.
posted by MadamM at 5:52 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Check your memail.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:04 AM on February 4, 2013

His wife knows about me definitely, though she is monogamous. I'm not worried that things aren't above ground. But she has also started to behave in ways that make me uncomfortable, calling/texting him several times while he's with me to ask when he's coming home and even what we are doing.

She's allowed to do this. She's his wife. He loves her. He may enjoy seeing you and the thrill of a new relationship, but he probably talks about you to her in ways that put you down and you'd be unhappy about but ultimately make you sound less threatening (like how he talks about how his wife doesn't understand him blah blah blah).

He sounds like he knows what to say to make a woman give him what he needs emotionally from her in order to feed his own ego.

You are going to get hurt. Don't mess around with married guys, even if they are in open relationships.
posted by discopolo at 6:17 AM on February 4, 2013 [9 favorites]

It feels like the indirect questions here are:
1. should I continue?
=> No, even though you want the answer to be yes.

2. Does this mean I will never see him again?
=> Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what you both want.

3. can I get through this without being hurt?
=> How do you feel right now? Does it hurt to think of not seeing this guy? Okay, you are ALREADY getting hurt.

4. and by proxy, what will happen with the wife; will he leave her for me?
=> No one knows right now, not even him. Maybe.
posted by zia at 6:33 AM on February 4, 2013

You need to come to grips with the fact that his wife comes first, not you, and he actually may not have had her permission to take on a mistress in the way that he's taken you on, which is why she is acting the way that she is. If you've somehow persuaded yourself that you are entitled to preferential treatment when you're alone with him, you're deluding yourself because you're not the one he's married to.

Stop lying to yourself about this. You're having an affair with a married man. This isn't how safe FWB relationships work. Extricate yourself and only get into these kinds of arrangements with men who are completely unattached.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:38 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

You can't do "accidental polyamory". Everyone has to be in the loop on what the rules are, where everyone stands, what the boundaries are.

This isn't happening here.

You've become a mistress, basically. You're the disposable partner. I'm sorry, but that's where you are here.

Have you found out what happened to the other FWB he's fallen for? That's where you're headed.
posted by Jilder at 6:57 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

He also sometimes talks to me about problems in his marriage. Not for long, but he mentions them, and I don't know what to say.

It sounds like he would like to go further down this road, and that's not cool. Would you like a partner of yours to do that to you?
posted by BibiRose at 7:19 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: His wife knows about me definitely, though she is monogamous. I'm not worried that things aren't above ground. But she has also started to behave in ways that make me uncomfortable, calling/texting him several times while he's with me to ask when he's coming home and even what we are doing.

She is acting with signs of jealousy. I agree with other posters that this is because her definition of an open relationship does not agree with what he is currently doing with it.

You also note that she is monogamous, but that they have an open relationship. I'd bet money that she is not nearly as comfortable with this as she is playing on TV, and the notion of him actually caring about you is a dealbreaker. Something's got to give, and it is probably you.
posted by corb at 7:27 AM on February 4, 2013 [11 favorites]

No, that is not how it's supposed to work. I think you know it. Everyone here knows it.

Did I read it right that he has kids? Then you need to bow out. Seriously, please don't be that woman. What you are doing is homewrecking. I understand you didn't start out that way, and the blame lies with him, not you; but please be decent enough to bow out of this if there are children involved. No friendship, no FWB, just cut it off.

Now if I read it wrong and the "family" that was being managed for two weeks was his SIL or something and there are no kids: it's up to you how you want to play it. You are his gf, he complains to you about his wife, it's pretty classic stuff. Plenty of long term relationships start out with one or both parties abandoning their prior relationship. But, I think even more common in this situation, is that the wife puts her foot down and he has to choose and he chooses her.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:43 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

You've become a mistress, basically


If that is what you are looking for: by all mean continue.
If it is not: this situation is unrecoverable.
posted by French Fry at 7:55 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

She doesn't want this to be happening. It will come to a head inside their marriage and very likely cause your relationship to end poorly. Possibly the marriage as well.
posted by ead at 8:08 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just wanted to chime in.

I'm opposed to FWB, because invariably one party wants more out of the relationship. You might have wanted a sexual playmate, and here you are entangled in someone's marriage, getting more emotionally attached and in general you are vulnerable to all sorts of stuff.

The best thing you can do is to tell your lover this: "We've had some good times and I enjoy your company, but I was looking for a FWB situation and it's evolving into something more. Clearly your wife isn't okay with our relationship because she calls you frequently when you're here. You're depending on me emotionally more and more and it's inappropriate. Also, eventually, I'd like to be in a monogamous relationship of my own, and in continuing our friendship, that compromises my goal. So let's end it while we can still be happy with ourselves."

Shit, I'd email him, and then cut off all contact. But I'm pretty self-protective that way.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:18 AM on February 4, 2013 [18 favorites]

He's trampled every boundary, he's admitted he has a habit of doing this.

He's awful and not your friend. He's a terrible husband.

Dump him. Don't stay friends.

He's a drama llama! His wife is a drama llama, too!

They conduct their marriage through 3rd parties, like you. YUCK. Don't let them use you in their games the way they've used others. How sick.

posted by jbenben at 8:29 AM on February 4, 2013 [10 favorites]

I'm confused about your mindset going into this, because you say you met him online a few months ago, looking for a FWB situation. But in a previous post, from that exact time period (mid- November) you stress that you do NOT want a casual sex relationship, you want love and intimacy. In fact, the first line of your post is “I know I deserve better in my relationships with men. I know that I am worth so much more than what I get. How do I start to stop letting myself make stupid choices?”

So, right around the time you are writing all of this, you get into a casual sex situation with a married man.

I’m sorry, but I think you are continuing the pattern of accepting MUCH less than you really want. Like most of the other posters I think this current relationship will prove very hurtful, ultimately.
posted by aviatrix at 8:34 AM on February 4, 2013 [8 favorites]

He will never, ever leave his wife for you. He gets off on the triangulation.

I am a big supporter of polyamory and open relationships. I am a big enemy of cheating. Everything you've shared here suggests that this dude is cheating on the relationship agreements he and his wife have made.

So. You are in love with someone who cheats on his relationship agreements, someone who trash-talks his wife to you. Why would you even want him to leave his wife? You'd just be signing on to get the same treatment from him down the line.

But I don't think he's going to leave his wife, no matter how much he tells you how amazing you are. Because they have kids together, and leaving her would mean a big downgrade in his standard of living, because two households are way more expensive than one.

As for "maybe we can be friends"---really? So you're going to come over to his house and have dinner with him and his wife and his kids? Because that's what people do with their friends.

You need to work on not getting into relationships that make you unhappy. As others have said, look at your AskMe history and then look at where you are now. Only you can fix these patterns.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:00 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I just want to say a few things, because while I appreciate the advice, I feel like the situation is being interpreted as something it is not entirely.

First, yes, it is only the bond of friendship and getting along so easily and well that I am attached to with him. I can say anything, we crack each other up, and it was an immediate connection. Maybe we were wrong to proceed with the sex and not just keep it platonic. We have talked about getting rid of the sex but keeping the friendship when I start dating again, and have both agreed that we'd rather do that than dramatically sever completely.

Second, of course his wife comes first. I do not want him to leave her (and he won't, you're right, but the point is that I wouldn't be happy if he did). Although the title of my post is offhand and not entirely serious, I wish the situation was such that I DID know her too so that she could understand that I don't want to take him from her. That is kind of, as I understand it from reading past threads, what a true open relationship is and it is something I've considered proposing to him in the scale back to FWoB.

I made this post trying to gauge whether or not this is something I need to talk to him about. As Made of Star Stuff says, I mostly just feel like we're fraying a bit now, though not beyond repair. If the way our intimacy is increasing is problematic (as the consensus here seems to say YES YES YES), then yeah, I need to talk to him.

As far as why I sought this out in relation to my past with men and worth...all I'm going to say is that more than lack of intimacy (which you also find with friendship), the thing that has upset me in the past is being lied to, openly or by omission. I thought an up front casual relationship would likely be...well, not that. Maybe I was wrong. It happens.
posted by houndsoflove at 10:05 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wish the situation was such that I DID know her too so that she could understand that I don't want to take him from her.

The way you convey this message to her is by ending this relationship.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:13 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: With the update: the problem isn't you or any of your behavior.

What you need to do is ask him about what the parameters of his open relationship are. What are his rules with his wife? What is her understanding of you? It may be difficult - it's a hard conversation to work in organically - but it needs to happen before you can make any other decisions about what to do.
posted by corb at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

You ARE taking him away from her.

While you two are canoodling, and hanging out and having fun, she's home with the kids and the laundry.

He's being selfish and taking advantage of his wife, who in all probability agreed to the arrangement out of fear or insecurity.

I suggest that if you want to continue, that you meet his wife, alone, while HE takes care of the kids. Go for a ladies night out, cocktails and a nice dinner and really discuss the relationship with her. Ask for her honesty. Ask her to tell you exactly what she wants.
Ask her the hard questions, "Why are you in a polyamorous relationship if you don't want to explore sex with other people?" I mean, that right there should yield a sinfully interesting response.

The polyamorous relationships I know, involve EVERYONE equally and everyone is friendly and unthreatened by each other, no matter who is doing what to whom.

This doesn't sound like a good polyamorous relationship. It doesn't sound like a good relationships (for you or for her) and frankly, just because someone cracks you up, it's not a basis for a good friendship or relationship.

Please rethink this, you are headed for a world of hurt.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:19 AM on February 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

But she has also started to behave in ways that make me uncomfortable, calling/texting him several times while he's with me to ask when he's coming home and even what we are doing.

Woah, it's so weird that a woman is texting her husband asking him what he's up to and when he'll be home. The nerve!

Just kidding. Her behavior is totally normal.

Everything else is not normal, not ethical, and everyone is lying to themselves if they think it's going to work out.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:30 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: To be clear: her texting/calling only makes me feel uncomfortable when it's frequent. And I feel uncomfortable because of what it suggests to me that she might be feeling...not because I want him to myself.
posted by houndsoflove at 10:52 AM on February 4, 2013

Best answer: OP, I'm not judging or saying you are a homewrecker or anything like that. You're not any of those things, anyway, and I don't see how other commenters are coming up with that.

But there IS a serious flaw in this situation and in your update. You are missing the bigger picture.

Here is that serious issue you are blowing past: It's troubling that when he admitted his drama llama habits (going to far with past FWB buddies) a giant red flashing light with sirens didn't go off for you.

This guy and his wife regularly triangulate with a third party. That's how they get their rocks off, it's what keeps their marriage humming along.

Continuing to be involved now that their pattern and intent has been illuminated for you by him is folly. Now that you are "in the know" you can't continue as though with hope and a lack of malice things will magically turn out differently. Hon, they will not turn out differently because this is how this couple operates. It's what do, it's a prominent feature of their relationship. Don't be an unwitting participant in their psycho drama one moment longer, because your role in their triangle is to embody and act out their emotional torment of each other. Don't play this role for them!

The sex has nothing to with it, and you know it. Their triangulation works with or without sex, because it is the intimacy he has with a third party that acts as the lever for all the drama.

C'mon. Surely you have better things to do than be used in this manner! As enjoyable and charming as this guy is, surely now that you can avoid the next act in their "show" you will choose to leave the stage AND the theater. You do know that your dual role for them is as an implement of pleasure/pain AND as their audience, right?

I'm sure you are a lovely and amazing woman, but you can't conquer, alter, redirect, or heal their dysfunctional relationship patterns. You will not succeed in becoming FWoB, and it will be lots of drama and hurt trying.

Please go back and read your description of the situation. Google "triangulation relationships." It's all there, the pattern of triangulation, the seduction, the statement of intent to use you to create a crisis between him and his wife that will eventually be mended at the expense of your emotional well-being... It's all there in green and white.

Get out of this mess now, while the getting is good and you still have decent memories of this guy.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 11:10 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I'm going to differ from the group here and not jump to the RUN answer.

Poly situations like this only work with very clear communication between all the parties on boundaries. It sounds like maybe its been a while since the two of you checked in on what the boundaries are, and whether everyone involved is respecting them.

You need to have a conversation with him. I disagree that it has to be an end to the relationship conversation, but that has to be one of the options on the table. Think about what boundaries you need, and convey them clearly to him. It sounds like, among other things, you need him to not talk about his marriage with you, decrease the frequency with which you talk and see each other, and hear honestly from him (and perhaps from her if there's a viable way to do that) about what types of relationships his wife is comfortable with. Possibly also no more-than-friendly physical contact outside the bedroom. Figure out exactly what is appropriate for you, then communicate that to him face to face. If he can't commit to and respect these boundaries, or if the indications from his wife continue that she is bothered by what's happening, then it needs to stop.

Also, you need to be really honest with yourself. Are you falling for him? Is, or will, this dynamic stand in the way of you finding your own healthy relationship? If the answer to either of these is yes, you need to stop.

And having said all that, yes, he could be acting massively inappropriately, lying to his wife and to you. He sounds like he is lazy about his boundaries at best, so it might be time to move on and find a FWB who takes them seriously.
posted by dry white toast at 11:37 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I haven't read all the answers but in short all I can say is: this is the classic husband plus wife plus mistress situation of times immemorial. Just because a man today may prefer to give it the fancy acronymisable name of "friends with benefits", doesn't make it any different.

If it makes sense to use the "FWB" definition at all, it's between people who are single. If you have a married man, and he takes the freedom to be involved sexually and romantically with other people, but the wife is faithful to him all along, well that is the classic man with a mistress situation, even if the wife knows (assuming he's not lying about that). Plenty of literature on the knowing wife out there. That she knows doesn't mean that she got any choice on the matter. The fact she herself is faithful to the husband, and that she checks on him so often, is kind of hinting that it may be something she claims to be fine with on the surface, but she is really not happy with it one bit. The things people put up with just to stay with their spouses... This is nothing.

He has told me before that he's fallen for a few of his FWBs.

Yeah... what he should have said is "I've had other mistresses before" but I take it the term has fallen out of fashion, unfortunately.

I've also become more attached because of our increased intimacy.

Congratulations on being a human being and not a robot! You did nothing wrong yourself, and if this has given you some positive things like a sense of intimacy and feeling more comfortable in your body when you needed it, think of it as a relationship that suited your needs at the time, treasure the good things you got out of it, and get out while you sense all these red flags. It's okay, stuff like this happens all the time, they can be a valuable lesson. Good luck.
posted by bitteschoen at 12:50 PM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

As part of a couple who are "open" - I have varying opinions.

To me, it's hot when I know my husband is with another woman and when he's with someone we do occasionally text and update each other. I have also been with married men who are open and this tends to be a trend. Honesty is first, always.

I've had successful EWB relations and they can be fun, but when the person starts to insult their partner, then something is wrong. Being open is about developing intimacy among the initial couple - not the FWB. Also, I hate to break it to you, the wife will always win - as they should.

Falling for the FWB means the openess in a relationship should end.
posted by Danithegirl at 12:55 PM on February 4, 2013

This guy sounds as if he likely lies to himself and others about what he's up to.

Honest and mature conversation with a person like this is not possible precisely because the person lies to themselves and others.

On these grounds, I disagree that a conversation with this particular guy is any sort of a good idea.

Ruthless Bunny's idea of an email and going no contact is probably the best way out of this.

And one more thing.

You know how you describe how unbelievable alike you two are in terms of your personalities and sense of humor? Yeahhhhh, I think that might be something called "mirroring" (again, look up this term along with "triangulation" on google.)

Look. Some people are extra vulnerable to these types until we learn the warning signs and we learn not to be. There is no shame for you in this! But I think the sooner you see this guy and situation clearly, the sooner better prospects for you and your future are guaranteed.

Sorry to pop back in yet again. I see your confusion about how to handle this. Been there myself. It took me a looooong time to realize that when I feel this much confusion, it's a sure sign the situation itself is flawed, rather than me being "flawed" or "needing to figure things out."

It's the situation, not you. The only correct move is to back away and cease engaging entirely.
posted by jbenben at 12:56 PM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

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