In January I found out that my husband had an affair with a woman in a poly relationship. Her husband had no problems with her being in a relationship with my husband because they were friends. When the poly OW told my husband she was interested in a relationship with him he initially refused and said “no. he was married”. She pushed and eventually he gave in. They ended the affair after a year when she didn’t like the affair aspect. How would a poly couple do this to another person?

That’s awful, and I’m really sorry that happened to you. I generally try not to tell other people whether their identity is valid, but there are some exceptions, and we’ve found one. That woman isn’t poly. Cheating is not polyamory.┬áSimply calling behavior polyamory doesn’t absolve a person of all responsibility. If you act like an asshole but stick a fancy word on it, that just makes you an asshole with a big vocabulary.

Polyamory values consent. That woman did not practice good consent when she pressured your husband even after he was clear about his lack of interest. Polyamory also values open communication. By allowing it to stay secret, she violated that value on a fundamental level. Polyamory also values healthy practices and taking responsibility. Everyone in a network takes on the responsibility of keeping everyone else in the network healthy, and a poly person must be intentional in their practices to keep others from getting hurt. This person knowingly made choices with their relationships that she knew would hurt other people. That’s not being poly. That’s being an asshole.

Unfortunately, there are assholes in every scene. There are self-proclaimed “nerds” who act rude, sexist, or racist under the banner of their “nerdiness.” There are “kinksters” who try to get away with abuse and manipulation by calling it “kink.” And, as polyamory becomes more well known, people are increasingly using it as a fancy-sounding way to excuse cheating and other asshole behavior. I’m sorry that you were hurt by these people, and I’m embarrassed that they’re telling people they’re poly.