Being a middleman

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I am a 32 yo female bisexual who has always leaned more toward women than men. However, I met the man who made me want to have a serious relationship (44 yo male) and grow old with. He also met another female (43 yo female) he was interested in. 

I am a free spirit and have always believed that we are capable of love with more than one person and we shouldn’t confine ourselves to “general societal standards” just to “fit it.” We’ve been involved with each other for quite some time now, basically around two years. At first, we weren’t all three romantically involved together (although her and I did communicate as friends and I did have compassion and love for her almost instantly), but our recently she verbalized that she wanted all three of us to be involved – that she had developed feelings for me as well. 

I had previously thought she was completely against the idea of women in her life, but she told me later that she felt the same as I did – she was always more attracted to women. He has always wanted another female involved with both of us in a kitchen table poly[am] setting and do did I, but I struggled to find a female who wanted that type of lifestyle in the rural areas we live in currently.

We all three sat down together and discussed what we all thought. We decided on a triad where we all had time with each other separately, all of us together and alone time as well. Lately, when he is with me she becomes almost erratic at times and continuously messages me at night saying how lonely she is and much she misses him. She then proceeds to say things like “he’s always leaving me” “he won’t come home to me” or “I’m going to bed all alone as always”. It has even gone as far as messages that said “I’ll go cry myself to sleep like always” and “enjoy our husband since I never get to.”

He works 12-15 hr shifts most days and our home is where he works. She lives around 1.5 hrs away. He spends most week days here since it’s less of a drive for a long day. This makes for little actual “us” time since he’s exhausted when he gets home and I don’t even get to make him supper most nights anymore. We usually spend Saturdays together and he’s with her the remainder of the weekend and any day he gets off before dark. She feels like it’s not fair and I feel like I’m missing out on good quality time with him, but want her to be satisfied because she struggles with independence and self confidence where I really don’t as much. I feel comfortable and secure doing this, but I do miss when just the two of us could spend time together on a weekend doing things we loved to do together and being intimate alone. 

When we’re all there together, it almost feels like she’s constantly guarded. Drinking is an issue we struggle with in her case sometimes – she can tend to go overboard and binge drink. Sober or drinking, she clings to me when we’re all together and is almost mean to him, especially sexually – sometimes literally telling him not to touch her after she has verbalized that she feels neglected by him during our sexual encounters with the three of us. 

I have been the middle man and talked her down several times when she becomes upset over things that the other two of us don’t see as upsetting. She is currently seeking help for her mental health (as we all are because I believe it’s important for everyone whether they think there’s an issue or not to at least have a therapist). I fear that these outbursts and constant reassurance to her is going to be the downfall of everything.

I don’t want to lose two people I love so incredibly much, but I’m not sure what else to do after having several open discussions with both of them alone and all together. I constantly feel like I’m the peacekeeper and middle man and don’t feel like my own personal, sexual and emotional needs are being met by my partners. I personally feel like I’m here sometimes just to be here relationship therapist and tool. Any advice? Critique? HELP? 

Are you actually interested in having a triad? Is that really working for you in this situation? It does kind of seem like, especially given your separate work/home situations, that you can’t actually function well as a triad, but instead as three adults who have parallel relationships with one another, which is fine. I also tend to feel that triads don’t function well if anyone within the triad tries to vent about a relationship within the triad to another member of the triad. It’s sort of the same if you have a group of three good friends and one of them decides to complain to you about the other. It’s awkward. It doesn’t work. I would pause the triad until you’re in a position where you can actually spend equal time with each other.

You can’t control whether or not she decides to seek the appropriate mental health help. You can’t control whether she gains control over her drinking. You can however put more boundaries down around the situation to make yourself happier. The first one that might help is that you no longer are available to listen to her complaints about your shared partner (which I would heavily advise even if you didn’t have a relationship with one another). You can start with a request for her to respect that and also have a boundary with yourself to not check your phone or disable notifications so you can take care of yourself.

Escalating those boundaries whenever they are crossed might be what you have to do if she is not willing to discuss her problems with your shared partner. If that means breaking up with her, you may have to do that. If that means blocking her messages, you may have to do that. If you are all together and you’re being made uncomfortable by her clinginess, ask her to give you space. If you’re uncomfortable with her behaviour, then say so out loud. You don’t actually have to be in the middle, talk her down, or become the referee of the relationship between her and your shared partner.

Understandably, you have a desire to try and make this work and so you’ve stepped into the role of referee, but you can also step out of it. You’re not going to be able to control everything around you and putting yourself in this role is making you miserable. So step out of it and then ask yourself if you want to continue dating each of them as individuals and then if you do, then ask them directly for what you need and if they have no interest in building a relationship with you that actually is fulfilling, you also have the ability to walk away. 

Overall, yes, there is a real problem with her behaviour and what seems like your shared partner’s lack of interest in solving what’s going on between him and your other partner (though maybe the man is just too exhausted from work and doesn’t actually have the time for two partners), but so much of this is out of your control and lot of your misery is caused by making it your problem to sort this out. Put some boundaries down and ask for what you need. That may not save your relationships, but it will get you to a position where you will likely be a lot happier in the long run.

I hope this helps and good luck!

Do you have a question?

If you have a non-monogamous relationships question to ask, please email it to nonmonogamyhelp@gmail.com or leave a voice message. Your question will be posted anonymously.

If you have a non-monogamous relationships question to ask, please email it to nonmonogamyhelp@gmail.com or leave a voice message. Your question will be posted anonymously.

Now published!

If you’re looking to start exploring polyamory or you’ve been non-monogamous for awhile and struggle with anxiety, The Anxious Person’s Guide to Non-Monogamy may be for you. Even if you aren’t exactly struggling with anxiety, it could be a great book for beginners.

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