Dear Christine, Confused in Canton

  • Posted on January 28, 2018 at 11:46 am

Dear Christine,

My wife and I entered into a 3 way relationship with a lesbian questioning woman about a year ago. To be clear, it’s never all 3 of us at once. We pair off based on a mutual schedule we agreed upon. I had reservations about it, fearing it might threaten the most important relationship to me, that of myself and my wife. Being the carefree and sexually open person that I am though, I agreed.

Much to my surprise, I have fallen totally in love with our 3rd and no longer have feelings for my wife. I don’t know what to do. Part of me wants to confess my feelings to our 3rd and see if she feels the same, in which case I would like it to be just us. The other side of me is telling me to end this 3 way relationship and try and save my marriage. My wife is someone who I know loves me, and this new person could be a risky move if I decide to pursue her. I know I can’t continue this way for much longer. What advice can you offer to this very confused person?

Signed, Confused in Canton

Dear Confused,

Three ways all together or in various pairings are exciting and fun. They definitely spice up bedroom romance, but they are also risky. You and your wife and this 3rd woman opened up Pandora’s Box. I am sure that there are threesomes that function fine without one pair falling in love, emotionally and/or sexually, but those people don’t come into therapy. Your story, for a lesbian couple, a gay couple or a straight couple, often falls apart because one feels neglected, or another has fallen in love with the 3rd person. In a straight couple, the man may feel “inadequate” because his wife gets emotional depth from the other woman that he “can’t compete with.” Even polyamory groupings often cause jealousy and anger. One couple I knew only had a different third person every time, so they deliberately kept the interactions as sex and the emotional relationships were less likely to develop. I once knew a polygamous couple, where one partner was not sexually attracted to the other, but she became very jealous of her partner spending free time going on dates with the third woman. Relationships are very complicated and take work and lots of communication. Boundaries can and will be explored, but require a great deal of honesty to continue to be pushed. Personally, I don’t have the energy to put into a 3rd marriage partner, as having a wife takes most of what I have to give. I have watched many couples break up over having a three way sexual relationship, and I’ve seen some make it work. It has worked where no one is jealous and everyone is honest about what is going on. For example, I can think of a gay couple and a lesbian couple, both of which stopped having sex because one in the pair couldn’t do it. Both couples negotiated that the one who needed sex more or was still able to perform, had the right to meet up with someone outside their marriage for sex. It was understood that the marriage was meant to last, and despite differing sexual needs and abilities, those needs were allowed to be met elsewhere. Sometimes this still causes problems because sex is powerful emotionally and orgasms release oxytocin, a hormone which facilitates bonding. So, any sexual relationship is dangerous, as you might end up mismatched sexually, emotionally and personality–wise. Adding another factor in can add stress to the mismatch: a threesome, having a baby, moving to a new state. You have to search yourself and decide what matters most to you. Then you need to communicate that to each party, sharing whatever parts are needed to be clear. There are plenty of couples whose marriage survived one falling in love with someone outside, and there are plenty more that break. Try some writing (not on FB or a blog, PLEASE!) where you can sort your needs and priorities out and figure out what your next step will be. Therapy might also be helpful, particularly if you like to talk to figure things out. Also, consider couples therapy, maybe down the road. I have been asked to negotiate a 3 way relationship in therapy, but decided not to take the group on, as that gets very, very complicated quickly, and there never seems to be enough time in an hour for a couple to say all they need to say to each other, much less 3. Still, another therapist might be helpful for all three of you together. You have just learned a great deal about yourself that you didn’t know before. This knowledge is very valuable and essential as you move on in your life, whatever you decide. Good luck to you, and keep in touch. Christine Cantrell, PhD

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

Click here to email Christine.

Comments are closed.