I Didn’t Want Monogamy

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My ex and I were together for nearly two years. He was my first relationship and first sexual encounter. He is over a decade older, and we met when I was 18. I didn’t know about his actual age, or the fact he had a girlfriend on the other side of the country (we were both new to the area at the time) until a few months into dating each other. I was vocal about wanting a non-monogamous relationship from the beginning, and continued to be until the end. However, he wanted more.

When a dirty message (albeit unprovoked) came up on my phone several months after we met, he angrily told me that he didn’t want to be with me if I wouldn’t be exclusive. I was scared of losing him, and know that he knew he was pressuring me into commitment. I defended my sleeping with other men on two separate occasions, as well as sending explicit photos to others because I gave him a multitude of chances to see things my way (or to leave, which he ultimately did and should have a long time ago, as much as I hate to admit it), and I never enthusiastically consented to monogamy. I knew he wouldn’t be OK with what I was doing, but at the time, I thought I was justified in my actions.

I realize now that I in no way was, and seriously betrayed him, even though I was never caught. I think it might be for the better for both of us now that it is over, although that is no excuse for what I did. I am seeing a therapist now to work through both the end of the relationship and how I contributed to the unhealthy environment. I still love and care about him so much. He was my best friend. All of this information makes everything even worse because I wonder how I could have done that to someone who means so much to me. Do you have any advice for me on how to work on forgiving myself and move forward?

– Guilty


It sounds like you made it very clear that you were not ready for – or interested in – a monogamous commitment. He could have left then, and that’s on him. You also could have broken up with him so many times – especially when you found yourself communicating with others – and that’s on you.

Instead, you both kept the relationship going, only to disappoint each other over and over again. The lesson here is that if you’re not on the same page with someone about exclusivity over time (you don’t have to know what you want in the very beginning), you should walk away, even if it feels like a big loss. You didn’t want to let go because you cared for this man and he was a good friend, but that was also the problem. The respect and friendship wasn’t there when it was most important.

Forgive yourself for hurting him. You’ve learned so much about boundaries and communication, and you’ll take that with you to the next relationship. Lean on platonic friends so that letting go, when necessary, is a little easier. Maybe look for some people to date (when it’s safe) who are open to … being open.

– Meredith

Readers? Anything to feel guilty about here or is it just about two people who never quite accepted the other’s boundaries?

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