I recently found out my girlfriend was once into the idea of open marriage. I’m not – where do we go from here?

 I’ve been seeing my girlfriend (29) for over a year. I met her family this past holiday and we all got along well. Her family even invited me to spend time with them after the holidays. I was having a conversation with my girlfriend’s sister and cousin. The topic led to the ending of her engagement with her ex-fiancé. I already knew about the bad breakup, but I didn’t know the details as to why. According to their accounts, months before the wedding, my girlfriend suggested the possibility of an open marriage after they got married. The ex-fiancé immediately ended the engagement over the suggestion. I kept my reaction hidden and moved on to something else. I haven’t confronted my girlfriend with this information and am still trying to process the whole thing. First, I feel I have no grounds to judge my girlfriend for her past relationships or the choices she made before meeting me. I also don’t have any issue with the idea of an open marriage or what others want to do in their private lives. But if the question had been posed to me, especially by someone I’m currently building a committed relationship with, I probably would have the same reaction as the ex-fiancé. This leads me to wonder if my girlfriend still has such desires. There are still lots of details I’m not clear on. I don’t know if this was a suggestion to someday try in the future or just a fun conversation starter that went sideways. Granted, we’ve only been together for a year but she has never expressed or shown indication of such desire.

Well, that’s more information than you were expecting to uncover when you met her family! I can only imagine how you felt and how tough it’s been to keep this to yourself without discussing it with your girlfriend. 

But let’s be clear, there’s no way around this issue without having an honest conversation. 

While your girlfriend may have changed her mind since her previous relationship, it’s never a good idea to assume. You’re only a year into the relationship now, but if one day you wanted to get married, you’d need to be on the same page about monogamy. 

It’s commendable that you’re already approaching this subject with an open mind and not judging your girlfriend on her past preferences – take this same energy into the discussion and create a safe space where you can both speak clearly and honestly with one another. Let her know that this isn’t just about her past; it’s about your future together. 

I know these types of conversations aren’t easy, so here are a few things that might help:

  • Pick a good time (ideally not when she’s just got in through the front door or you’ve just had a big fight).
  • Explain clearly how you came to know this information and the reason why you didn’t broach it straight away. 
  • Make it clear that you don’t have an issue with her past preferences but rather you wanted to find out whether she still feels that way and how that could affect your relationship together. 
  • Keep things respectful and calm. There’s no right or wrong here, just a difference in preferences so it’s important to avoid accusatory language that could make her defensive. 

A word of warning – don’t avoid expressing your true feelings just because you don’t want to rock the boat. If, for example, she’s still interested in the idea of an open marriage, and you’re firmly not, it’s incredibly important to make that clear. From there, you can work together to find a solution.

And if not, if you’re both set in your views for the future, it’s far better to find that out now than later once you’ve invested even more time and emotion into this relationship. 

Wishing you luck!

Evie 

Do you have a question for Evie? If you would like advice from Evie, fill out the form here or send your problem to askevie@ideapod.com.

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Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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