How do I help my love interest talk to her wife about opening up? Should I offer to talk to her wife, to let her ask me questions and reassure her as needed? What role can I play in initiating and supporting them in this process? I don’t want to give her an ultimatum, but I want her to be open and honest with her wife. Right now, she’s not. So what boundaries should I set until she speaks up? Or, how do I dial back emotional involvement without it being an ultimatum?
In talking about “ultimatums” within the context of a romantic and sexual relationship, I often underline how unhealthy the practice of threatening your partner to conform to your needs - or get lost - can be, particularly if the ultimatum accompanies some new and unexpected information for one of the people involved. Within non-monogamy specifically, very rarely do both members of a monogamous relationship come to the idea of non-monogamy together. More often one partner admits to either a general curiosity about non-monogamy, or admits to harboring intimate feelings for another person outside of the monogamous commitment.
To be the initiator of such a dialogue, you must anticipate that your partner is, at the very least, going to take some time to “warm up” to this new information. That this new information may make them feel confused, insecure, vulnerable, angry, upset, sad, or defensive, and their feelings are just as valid as yours’. To then turn and tell them that they can either “get with the program or get out the door” is not only selfish and insensitive, but it communicates to your partner that they’re disposable. That what you share together is, and perhaps always has been, disposable.
In these situations, yes, I strongly advise against introducing an ultimatum. Because even if your partner AGREES to said ultimatum, they are not doing so consensually. They are doing so under duress, and at that point the ultimatum becomes synonymous with emotional abuse.
Example: If someone were to ask me if I could abandon a helpless puppy on the side of the road, I would say absolutely not. If that same person then told me that if I didn’t abandon that puppy, they would visit the home of my best friend and stab her, well, then, I would ask them where exactly they wanted the puppy dropped. Despite eventually submitting to the task, few would appraise the situation and determine I had done so of my own free will.
But here’s the thing, reader. While ultimatums can be disastrous for preexisting partnerships, what you presently have with this woman is not a partnership. It is, at this juncture, a flirtation, and her preexisting relationship with her wife takes precedence over said flirtation. You do not have the right to inject yourself into a preexisting relationship without - at the very least - an explicit invitation from one party and unambiguous consent from the other. From the sounds of it, the woman for whom you have feelings is not in a position to extend such an invitation at this time.
Imagine that the woman you’re emotionally entangled with was having a full-fledged affair with you, one that she kept strategically hidden from her wife. Over a period of many months, she routinely promised you that she was going to leave her wife for you. You gave her your good faith in the beginning, but as the affair deepened, so did your skepticism. Eventually you found yourself “pitching” her, throwing out idea after idea on how she could best broach this admittedly challenging topic with her wife. In doing so, you were demonstrating your willful ignorance in accepting WHY your girlfriend had not yet left her wife. By suggesting a variety of different tactics, you were actively implying that your girlfriend only lacked STRATEGY, as opposed to will. When human beings truly desire an outcome, they typically don’t let something like strategy prevent them from their goal; they find the motivation and do damage control (if necessary) after the fact.
This hypothetical situation doesn’t seem to be all that different from your own, despite your eventual goal of having an ethically transparent open relationship with the woman in question. For reasons I am not privy to, this woman is obviously not ready to broach the topic of non-monogamy with her wife. And THAT’S OKAY. Also, my best guess is that the more unyielding pressure your love interest feels from you, the more inclined she’s going to be to drop the whole thing altogether.
So. In this particular instance, if this is a situation that has been dragging on for a while and causing you great strife throughout, I give you permission to give this woman - who you are NOT in a relationship with - an ultimatum. Either she opens up an initial dialogue with her wife - WITHOUT your direct intervention, mind you - or you are going to begin focusing your attention and affections elsewhere.
Finally, reader, do yourself a favor and mentally prepare for her to tell you that she’s just not ready. Ready your best self care practices, and lean on your existing support networks. For the health of your future relationships, it may also be worth it to work on pursuing love interests who are both emotionally and logistically available for what you’re looking for. Best of luck to you!