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Sunday, March 28, 2010

I hate my SO's SO!!

Once upon a time I had a friend who was poly. Let's call her Ethel.
Ethel had a SO, let's call him Fred.
Fred had an OSO, lets call her Maggie.

Fred and Ethel had a poly relationship in that Ethel was also married to another man. Fred however hadn't had another SO (beside Ethel) for a couple of years so from his perspective his relationship with Ethel was essentially monogamous.
Then along comes Maggie. Fred and Maggie hooked up and started having what Fred believed was a casual relationship. Maggie however spoke to Ethel casually and indicated she was interested in being a part of their Big Poly Family. She wanted to establish a close friendship with Ethel. Ethel however didn't care much for Maggie from day one. They just didn't click well.

Now Fred made a few mistakes when he started dating Maggie. Some generalized rules he had about overnights and other things that he and Ethel had followed in their relationship went by the wayside with Maggie.

Understandably this would be a bit confusing and upsetting to Ethel. Why would Fred implement rules with her but not with Maggie? Rather than communication taking place so Ethel could understand what was happening she developed some resentment. Eventually she came to loathe Maggie, but for no definable reason. Maggie had never done anything to her directly to cause Ethel's hatred.

There are more than a few problems I see here:
-It doesn't sound like Fred had the prerequisite talks with Maggie and maybe they weren't on the same page about their relationship.
-Maggie got a bit overzealous and wanted to quickly insert herself into the Big Poly Family.
-Fred may not have done things properly when he started bending rules for Maggie. By properly, I mean he didn't explain to Ethel why he was bending his rules.
-Ethel overreacted and let her initial feelings of dislike grow and fester into absolute hatred for Maggie.
-And possibly the biggest problem, there was a serious lack of communication between all three of them.

But what I want to focus on here is Ethel's dislike for Maggie. In this situation Ethel ended up making some rules for herself about Maggie such as; Maggie isn't welcome in my house, Maggie can't call Fred when she and Fred are together, things like that. Basically a set of rules to keep Maggie at a distance so Ethel wouldn't have to interact with her. I think those rules are possibly unhealthy to a point and personally I don't think I could conceive them. My concept of Poly is much more family or group oriented so disallowing someone just isn't something I think I could do.

The question here is: What do you do when you dislike your SO’s SO? Stay away from them? How do you support your SO when you don’t like their SO? Can you still have compersion? Would you badmouth the person?

And maybe even more important, what do you expect from your SO in that situation? Do you expect them to quit seeing the person? Be okay with you hating them? What if your SO wants a poly family and your dislike prevents that possibility? Do you expect your SO to change what they want?

Personally I would probably make every effort to accept the person, biting my tongue and turning the other cheek as much as possible. I'm sure I would have some conversations with my SO, and maybe even the OSO to try and make things smoother.

So have you ever been in this situation? If so, what did you do? If not, what do you think you would do if you ended up in this situation?


  1. In January of 2009, my SO flew-in his OSO to stay with us for a month. She brought her breast-feeding two year old daughter. The OSO was from Canada and did not bring all of her personal necessities. My SO set down a law that I was to help the OSO feel comfortable and help her with the logistics of being in a U.S. city, and make certain the OSO was made to feel exceptionally welcomed, as my SO's happiness depended on the OSO sense of security at the house. I was also not to express feelings of jealousy while he spent money resources helping her to stockpile things she needed to be in our house.

    This was my third OSO during a seven month period. My previous experiences with others were always fulfilling. The past OSO's were considerate members of our little family, and were extremely appreciative and respectful to me. We got along, never arguing and often finding activities in which we participated together. We built trust and acceptance. With my partner's previous OSO's, I never felt that they were OSOs. We lived like SOs among a group of SOs. Each an equal; each a compliment of the other.

    So when my SO sternly gave me a word of warning that I was to make the Canadian OSO feel welcome, comfortable, and promise her a feeling of security & safety in our home, I felt unjustly accused of something that never happened.

    During the OSO's first week at our house, there were some incidents that felt passive aggressive to me. Since I make and serve all of the meals at the house, there is a certain expectation of protocol to eat when meals are served. She did not always want to abide with same-time meals together. That was fine, except that she would usually sit at my place at the table during the meals, but not eat what I had prepared. (I'm a professional chef, having worked as a private chef to wealthy clients in Palm Springs, CA).

    In an effort to involve her in the kitchen, I invited her to either help with meals or completely be in charge of one meal a day or every other day. Breakfast was usually bacon, fired at high heat and left in the pan for foraging. There was nothing else served. An evening meal was spaghetti made with a jar of sauce, broccoli, and toast. There were no place settings at the table. We had to go to the cupboard to get plates, serve ourselves at the stove, and then eat the meal someplace other than the table, since the table was cluttered from the previous eat-times by the OSO and her child. If I wanted a place at the dining table, I had to clear the clutter. Food that was left on the stove was never cleared at the end of the day. It was left there, as if some hungry person would want to get up during the night, and be ravenous for fermenting and crusty noodles in a pan.

    During day four of the OSO's visit, she and I were working together in the kitchen. (By then, I resolved myself to having a perpetually messy kitchen until her departure). My SO was at the office. I asked the OSO about her SO, who was in Canada. She said he was just a play partner and her Primary Partner was my Primary Partner, the man we share. I said that my SO told me that her PP was in Canada, and that is what I understood. She came up close to me, shoved me against the dishwasher and said my SO's name while poking a finger into my chest. With her face close to mine, and in a low, firm voice she said, "He is my primary partner and you better get used to it, because everything is changed now."

    I was confused. I knew my partner was happy with the Canadian. I projected that maybe he was in the process of renegotiating our combined relationships and organization of the household. I slept with my SO every night and wondered if that would be changed. I felt some hurt; but mostly confusion. I also realized that I did not like or trust the OSO because of her aggression. I was also questioning my SO's intention for this household.

    I knew I was in a situation where I did not like my SO's OSO.

  2. Kameshwari,
    That is an incredible story and a very interesting relationship you have.

    How was the situation resolved? Did you just bite your tongue and ride out the month?


  3. It looks like I did not answer the question in your blog.

    The answer is that after a week of the OSO's visit, I left for the remainder of the month. When she returned to Canada, I returned to our home.

    Two months later, she returned to the U.S. I made a strong request that she not come to our house because she was terribly disruptive on her previous visit. My SO took her to a romantic spa setting in Sedona. During that visit, she requested that he leave me.

    My SO was not prepared to leave me. She pressured him while in Sedona. On the last day of their romantic get-away, she gave him an ultimatum. He was not prepared to leave me and marry her, per her request. After he took her to the airport, their only contact was her acknowledging that she arrived in Canada, and that he never contact her again. She blocked him from on-line contact and changed her phone number.

    I am in a very interesting relationship. Fortunately I find much satisfaction with my SO. Otherwise, I would imagine that the only reason I stay is to see what is going to happen next.

  4. I took a trip for the remainder of the month.