A friend and I both crushed on the same mutual friend. We explicitly negotiated that we were down for a cute little throuple, but then I learned that the two friends had a sexual/romantic history, and that our mutual friend didn’t actually feel comfortable with this throuple idea, but was kinda going along because of me!
Now me and the mutual friend are casually dating, and our other friend is completely ignoring us. I feel hurt, because I feel like I got the OK when it was the three of us, but now that it’s not, I’m not sure if I’m being a bad friend by going on dates! I guess I want to know if I should stop seeing this person, even though I’m happy and having fun? Am I being a bad friend by seeing them? Or is something the two of them need to work out? I just feel like I’m losing a friend bc I’m engaging in consensual fun, and it sucks! I want to fix everything!!!
In my opinion, you haven’t done anything wrong here — I want to say that plainly. You talked about it in advance, and got the go-ahead, only to find out later that your friend wasn’t actually into it. The fact that you only learned that your friends had a dating history after the fact seems to indicate that they weren’t being completely upfront with you. But I think until you talk to your friend about this, we can’t say they’re totally in the wrong either — sometimes we don’t know how we’re going to feel about things until they happen. They might have thought at the time that being a cute throuple was exactly what they wanted, until it started happening and then a bunch of feelings came through that they didn’t expect.
You and your friends are now dealing with the fallout associated with them not making their needs and boundaries clear, either because they misrepresented their feelings or just didn’t know what was going to upset them. But you do have a choice now about how and whether you want to hold your friend’s feelings.
Talk to your friend. Let them know you’ve noticed that y’all haven’t communicated in a while and you want to know if they’re OK. Ask them if it bothers them that you’re dating someone with whom they have a history. This is going to be a difficult conversation, because it seems like they’re the kind of person who might lie to try and keep things smooth between y’all, and who might believe their feelings are an unnecessary burden on you and your consensual fun. It can also be that they feel like it’s not “queer” or “radical” to have feelings of jealousy, or that they’re doing polyamory wrong. They also might feel guilty for putting you in this position. Whatever they’re dealing with, y’all need to make things more explicit; you need to figure out how to get them to tell you how they actually feel. Your next move has to be based on their response — and on how good of friends y’all are and how much you want to keep them around.
If they tell you they aren’t bothered by it and give some other reason for why they’ve been MIA, then that’s their truth and you should proceed based on what they’ve told you. If you do your best to let them know that their feelings are valid and you’re their friend and want to know the truth, whether it’s unfair or not, and they maintain that they’re not bothered, there’s not much else you can do.
If they tell you that they are bothered by it, then you get to decide how to respond. Their feelings about it are real whether you or anyone else agree with them or not, regardless of the fact that they should have told you about them in advance to prevent this whole thing from happening. If you dating this person makes it impossible for your friend to stay close to you, that’s a reality you’ll have to navigate now. What’s more important to you – casually dating your new boo, or keeping your relationship with your friend? If this is how your friend feels, they’re forcing you to choose between being their friend and doing something fun that makes you happy. It’s not fair for them to do this, but that would be the reality. Ideally, they would just get over it. You can ask them to get over it, but I don’t foresee that going well, to be honest.
If y’all are close friends, you might want to make this sacrifice/compromise to preserve the friendship. Generally speaking, friends are more important than lovers, depending on how close of a friend they are. I also think it’s important that this is a new, casual lover, not someone you’re marrying or even dating seriously.
If they tell you they’re bothered by it and you do it anyway, you’d probably be a “bad friend” from their perspective. You wouldn’t be doing anything wrong, but sometimes we can hurt people close to us through no fault of our own. You’d need to decide how much it bothers you to be a “bad friend” to this person. Do they put you in difficult situations like this a lot? Or are they generally really on top of their stuff and this is out of the blue? Are y’all close or is this more of an acquaintance? Just HOW cute is this new boo (sort of kidding)?
You’ll have to decide if you’re going to hold your friend’s somewhat irresponsible communication and hurt feelings, or hold your new casual lover. They’re asking you to compromise and sacrifice something for their benefit, and, well, that’s something that friends sometimes ask each other to do, even though it’s unfair sometimes. That’s kind of what friendship is based on. It would have been much better if they asked you not to date this person from the jump, but they didn’t, and now here y’all are.
There unfortunately isn’t an easy “fix” here. Either your friend is hurt — and being hurt sucks, and you’re unintentionally hurting them, which also sucks, but it’s basically their fault and maybe they’ll get over it, and hopefully they can figure out how to work through their feelings with the other person, and you have to decide if you want to break up with your new lover for their — or they aren’t hurt, and it’s all good (or they lie and tell you they aren’t, and it’s not all good but there’s not much you can do). Good luck!