Old Friends coming out as polyamorous

I need some advice. My husband and I have a group of friends, all other couples, whom we’ve known for a long time. The husband in one of the couples, let’s call him “C”, we’ve been friends with for over 16 years. We knew him well before he met “W”, his wife of 10 years. In fact, my husband was in their wedding party. They now have three kids.

Over the past year or so it has been brought to our attention that this couple practices polyamory. While this kinda squicked the rest of us out, we mostly thought “to each their own” and it didn’t really impact us.

This couple has now decided to bring their “secondary others” to all of our social functions. They are openly affectionate with their respective boyfriend/girlfriend, and it makes several of us really uncomfortable.

This is kind of wigging me out, because I’ve always thought of myself as an open-minded and liberal person. My daughter came out gay this year. Fine. A friend in our group had a sex-change operation. OK. But it turns out I do have a line, and making out with someone else in front of your spouse seems to be it.

I don’t know what to do. I love these friends. My kids love them. They love us. But I feel wildly uncomfortable being asked to socialize with their new “second mates”. I feel like it’s a huge imposition on our circle to ask this of us. And I feel like a shit for feeling this way. :frowning:

Not sure what kind of advice I’m looking for here. Go easy on me. I’m just trying to process this new reality.

I’m still thinking about my response, but I have two questions:

–Does the fact that they’re “openly affectionate” factor into your discomfort? Would it be easier to deal with if they weren’t?

–Have they had any kind of committment ceremonies with their other other?

(One angle I’m considering is how this fits in with standard rules of etiquette regarding whether spouses are automatically included in invitations.)
Oh, and please don’t feel like a shit for feeling weird about this situation. The fact that you started this thread at all shows that you’re not a shit, but instead a caring friend who has been thrust into a very odd situation.

Thank you for your compassionate response, Green Bean. To answer your questions in order:

  1. Yeah, I think it would be easier if they weren’t. Though perhaps that’s because it would just allow me to keep my head in the sand.


  1. Not that I know of.

My advice: don’t feel like a shit. They’re the ones who are flouting society’s conventions, not you. They are the ones who have decided to make a mockery of marriage vows. They chose to behave in a way that is different and frankly unacceptable to a great many people. You are under no obligation to humor these public dalliances. I would make it clear “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” are unwelcome. It would be extremely disingenuous of them to question your reasons.

Of course, you are free to continue your “live and let live” policy if they decide to keep their playmates private. But for me, such a thing would be a deal-breaker and I would not elect to keep them as my friends.

YMMV, of course. My two cents.

it is your social event [you make the invites to the function, be it at your house or an outside event that you are organizing] you have the right to specify the invitees. if they call and ask to invite the alternates, simply tell them no. They can either leave the alternate at home or decline the invitation. I would personally tell them [as I have with people occasionally] that you do not like socializing with the alternates and would prefer to only socialize with your friends.

Heck, I have friends who have expressed to me that they do not wish to include certain of my freinds in a group event of a different subset of my friends, for various reasons. As long as they are polite about it, I have no problem not bringing a friend as I understand the venn diagram theory of friend circles =)

Thank you, Ellen Cherry, for your response. Here’s the thing: I definitely wouldn’t welcome the “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” to my own home. But these parties are being hosted by mutual friends in their own homes. I really want to go to the parties. The New Year’s Eve one is a tradition for our group. But I really don’t want to hang out with their “playmates”. So, am I supposed to now not go to any of these parties because they’ll be there? I don’t want to slap my other friends for C&W’s “transgressions”.

Sim-post, aruvqan. See above.

Your personal feelings are perfectly valid, and you shouldnt feel guilty for having them.

I would go to the groups mutual get-togethers, and socialize with whomever you feel like spending time with there.

I am as open as about anyone you are likely to meet, but I would feel a bit put out about having this situation thrust in my face (as it were) as well…

Good luck

I think it’s reasonable for their acquaintances to expect an “orientation period” to their new status and I’m sure if you get to know the third and they turn out to be a nice, regular, everyday person (apart from the polyamory), you’ll get used to.

I’d try to distinguish if it’s the alternate lifestyle or public display of affection that’s wigging you out.

Point of order: You don’t know what their marriage vows were. It’s not in your purview to dictate what their marriage looks like.

I was at their wedding. Their marriage vows were in Aramaic. I didn’t understand a word! :smiley:

It sounds to me like your friends are getting off on doing this stuff in front of their old friends. I bet they’re turned on by acting in what they know will be considered a transgressive fashion by their peer group. This is why what they’re doing is so offensive, IMHO–they’ve basically turned your social functions into an extension of their sex life.

I don’t know about you guys, but my best and oldest friends keep their sex lives discreetly private, unless there is a reason to share (like they need advice). They definitely don’t make out at our social functions, whether they be married, engaged, or newly hooked up. That’s just good manners.

I think your “friends” need to be hit over the head with a copy of Emily Post.

Q.N. Jones, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Our group definitely feels like they’re being steamrolled by all of this. And they have given hints in other settings that they really want to be asked about it. It’s really creepy.

Okay, hold up…

Can Girl Next Door please define “openly affectionate?” Are we talking holding hands or holding nether regions?

Holding hands. Perhaps light cuddling. Nothing more.

Also, FWIW, this has become a part of their complete lifestyle. These people sleep over at their house and the parents “cuddle” with their playmates in front of their small children.

How would you feel of a straight couple “cuddled” at a function? What if you just met one of them?What if you’ve known them for several months?

I’m going to answer your question honestly, B. Serum: I would generally feel ok with it. I’m creeped out by what my friends are doing. I don’t understand their relationship decision and I find it really hard to accept. It crosses a moral boundary for me that I didn’t know I had. I am not proud of how I feel. I’m surprised by it. But there it is.

Also, have you asked if the third us just their flavor of the month or someone they want to make a lasting relationship with?

My husband is going to lunch with C tomorrow to ask him for the straight dope, as it were. We’ve only been getting this info second-hand, but since C has started bringing his girlfriend to social functions my husband feels like it’s time to have a talk and try to understand.