My partner and I spoke about opening up our marriage about 12 months ago. I discussed it with friends at length, even jokingly querying if one of my friends would be interested in my partner. Skip forward 8 months or so and my friend approached my partner and told them they'd like to get to know them better. My partner then 'asked' for my permission - I said yes both because I think they're good for each other but also because saying no at that point would have been very damaging to all three relationships. I am intellectually fully on board with the idea of them forming a close physical (and emotional) relationship but didn't realize the emotional toll of being cut out of the conversation. I feel like my friend should have checked with me if anything had changed in the intervening 8 months prior to approaching my partner. There have been other issues which have created mistrust and I'm sad at the effect this is having on both my friendship and my relationship. Can you please offer advice if possible to help me move past the trust issues and the hurt.
I really don’t want to make it sound like I’m saying that your feelings are bad or wrong - feelings are never bad or wrong, they just are. So keep in mind that I am not trying to scold or shame, just add perspective and help re-frame things. Your friend did everything right in this situation, in my opinion. I always advise people to go straight to the person they’re interested in first, and let them handle the conversation with their other partners. Asking for someone’s permission to date someone else can be objectifying and denies their agency, and it’s generally not a healthy setup for polyamory. Your friend went to your partner, and then your partner came to you to check in - everyone here did the right thing.
You had previously told your friend that the relationship was open, and even mentioned the possibility of your friend seeing your partner. So you weren’t “cut out” of the conversation - you were part of it, from the start. Your friend was acting on the most recent, accurate information that they had: that you two were open, and that you were okay with them dating your partner. 8 months feels like a long time in the context of personal relationships, and they could have done one last check-in with you, but it wasn’t necessarily ‘wrong’ of them to skip that. As far as they knew, that conversation had already happened, and they didn’t have any reason to believe that the landscape had changed since that conversation with you. Then, your partner came right to you to check in - so you were never really cut out of the conversation. I know it feels that way, but sometimes lining up feelings against reality can help put them in perspective.
So, try not to take this personally or feel that anyone here is trying to disrespect or push you out. It’s frustrating and disappointing that things didn’t go down in exactly the sequence and timeline that you’d prefer, but when other people are involved, we often have to be flexible around things like that. Think through what would have changed, practically, if your friend had come to you first - would you still have given your blessing? If so, it’s best to try and let this go. Let time be a balm, remind yourself that you weren’t actually hurt or wronged, and work to keep from ruminating or acting on these hurt feelings.
But if there’s more here - if things had changed in those 8 months, or you think there’s more going on than you’ve described here, it’s worth talking to your partner about what happened. Whatever issues are causing mistrust, it’s okay to bring them up and address them. Focus on what can be done to make things work better in the future, rather than litigating the past. What could your partner and friend/new metamour do to help you feel more “in the loop”? What needs to be healed or worked on to address these existing trust issues? What could you do to be clearer with them about your position? What do they need from you to make sure they have the space and agency to work on their new relationship?
Remember that in all relationships, there are times where people are going to feel uncomfortable or not get everything they want - and that’s different than being harmed. Figure out how to identify where there’s discomfort that needs to be accepted vs. where there are boundaries that need to be drawn for actual health and safety of the relationships and individuals involved.