Thursday, November 14, 2013

Love Triangle with a Lukewarm Twist

Dear Viny,

I'm developing feelings for a guy (let's call him "Evan") who says he's into both myself and my partner. My partner seems more ambivalent about Evan, which is frustrating me. My partner and I have been doing "V" relationships in a couple of different directions for a while now and I'd really like to try a triad for once. Evan is super-cute, really into both of us, and a great kisser. While my partner hasn't rejected him outright, he pushed for a 3-way with a new guy over a date with Evan last weekend. Even if my partner continues to be ambivalent, I still plan to see Evan and see where it leads. I know that if my partner and Evan are going to make a connection it's got to happen organically, but do you have any suggestions to (a) help them connect and/or (b) help make sure Evan doesn't get hurt by my partner not returning his feelings?

--Angling for a Triad


Dear Angling,

Have you asked your partner why he feels ambivalent about Evan? It could be that your partner simply doesn't feel an attraction to the guy; or the issue could be more complicated than that. How does your partner feel about triads? Does he share your desire to share a lover, or would he prefer to keep your threesomes casual? If your partner's ambivalence stems from underlying feelings of jealousy, he's going to have a tough time feeling enthusiastic about any guy you're really into.

Don't proceed on assumptions. Give your partner the chance to express himself directly, and reassure him that you will do your best to listen with an open mind. Once you are reasonably sure you understand where your partner is coming from, you will have a better idea of what, if anything, you can do to facilitate a connection between him and Evan.

If your partner is attracted to Evan, but doesn't want to have to watch you getting all lovey-dovey with him, then you might consider encouraging your partner and Evan to go out without you a few times. Meanwhile, you and your partner can talk more about what it would mean to expand your dyad into a triad. If it turns out that he just isn't ready to take that step, you will need to accept how he feels and stop trying for triangles.

However, if the real problem is that Evan leaves your partner limp, you definitely shouldn't push for a sexual connection between the two of them. You think Evan is super-cute, but the smile that sends you into the stratosphere might remind your partner of some douchebag in his freshman gym class. Romantic chemistry is often a mystery. Assuming your partner finds Evan basically likeable, you could arrange for the three of you to spend time together at venues where there's very little opportunity for a hook-up. (This is the best way to spare Evan's feelings, by the way: avoiding situations in which your partner feels pressured to reciprocate.) It's possible that, over time, your partner may warm up to Evan, but he's probably never going to get hot for him.

Triads are tough to get just right. What are the chances you and your partner are going to find the same person equally appealing? I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but your partner may be actually unlikely to like the guys you pick, and you might not be any more likely to like guys he picks. The two of you share a lot in common – and that's precisely why you are both going to be drawn to people who have something different to offer, something the two of you aren't already getting from each other. Let's say you and your partner bonded over a mutual love of anime and ice-skating. Enter Evan, whom you like because he's into, say, astronomy and home d├ęcor – but your partner is bored to tears by conversations about whether or not you should order those “Moons of Saturn” throw pillows. If your partner had his 'druthers, he would prefer to date someone who's all about health food – but, unfortunately, the mere mention of a chia-flaxseed-spinach-spirulina shake makes you ill.

I'm not saying triads are impossible, mind you. I know one MF couple that became a MFF triad after the woman fell in love with one of her female friends. It took a little while for the man to bond with his partner's new lover, but he did end up developing feelings for her, and the three of them have been living together happily for several years now.

I understand your desire to close that “V.” For me, one of the deepest delights of being in open relationships is being able to share someone I love with someone else I love. Even when jealousy comes up – and, if there's sexual chemistry involved, it always does – it doesn't stand a chance against the “all's right with the world!” euphoria I get when everyone is getting along. There's a flip side to that coin, though. I tend to feel disappointed when two people I love fail to make any sort of friendly connection – or, even worse, actually disapprove of each other. In these cases, I sometimes have to remind myself that their lack of enthusiasm is not some kind of personal affront to me.

You're wise to realize that a connection between your partner and Evan will have to develop organically, if it's going to develop at all. It's one thing to foster friendships between other people by creating opportunities for them to interact; it's another thing entirely to insist that their feelings follow your agenda.

Bangles and spangles,

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