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Man Wonders If He's Wrong For Choosing His Wife Over His Mistress, Even Though She's Fine With The Affair

Photo: AngelaHawkey | Canva 
Women fighting over mans love

As time moves on, many of us are becoming every more open-minded about the nature and boundaries of our romantic partnerships. But when does an open relationship start crossing a line?

That's the question the story of one man on Reddit has raised, and it's left quite a few people feeling like the only solution to his problem is divorce.

The man has been called 'cruel' for choosing his wife over his mistress in important life moments.

The man revealed his dilemma on a now-deleted Reddit post seeking advice on his once simple relationship arrangement that has recently become super complicated. He wrote that his 22-year-long marriage has become unhappy and loveless, and that he is "over" his wife. 

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Several "meaningless" affairs ensued, but in 2021, one of these affairs took a turn toward something serious, not to mention actual love. He believes he's finally, at the age of 50, found "the one" — especially after an attempt to reconcile with his wife left him feeling miserable and empty. 

So the solution here seems obvious, right? Come clean to his wife, file for divorce, and remake a new life with his mistress. But he says he is "afraid to move on," and what the three of them have composed instead has become far more complicated.

They've entered into something like an open relationship, but his mistress can't handle him still being connected to his wife.

The affair is no longer a secret — not only does the man's wife know about it, but so do the rest of the people in their life. "I told my wife I love this woman and... my wife says that she isn’t going to leave me," he writes. "My relationship with the woman I love is out in the open. Nothing is hidden. She even posts us on social media."

But while he and his wife are seemingly fine with this relationship, his mistress feels otherwise.

The trouble began when his mistress found out about his reconciliation attempt. "She was hurt, and felt betrayed. She is still hurt," he writes, adding that she can't even bear to see pictures of them together. A subsequent trip they took together to take their son to college made things even worse. 

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The final straw came when he allowed his wife to accompany him to a surgery, leading to accusations that he's choosing his wife over his mistress.

"A few weeks ago I had to have a surgical procedure," he writes. "My wife found out and demanded to go, and I told my wife [she] could just to keep the peace." The original plan, however, had been for his mistress to accompany him, and she was "beyond upset" about the change — and it's turned their "once perfect" relationship very "rocky."

"She says that I let her down, and that my actions told her that I want to be with my wife," he writes. "She says that my actions over the summer have hurt her so much she is done. She loves me, but she knows that her anger and resentment will continue to grow unless I finally leave my marriage."

If you've been feeling like this is a dilemma of his own making, well... you're not wrong, because when it comes to that whole leaving-his-marriage thing? "I told my wife I love this woman and that I will never leave her," he wrote in his post, "and my wife says that she isn’t going to leave me."

So... it's on him to file the divorce then, right? But he refuses to do so, and believes his mistress is overreacting. "I love her, and want to give her the world," he says. "I didn’t think that allowing my wife to attend the procedure would create such a rift."

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People feel like the man is 'spineless' and 'cruel', and is violating one of the core tenets of so-called 'ethical non-monogamy.'

As strictures have loosened and more fluid sexual identities like pansexuality and polyamory have become more well known, new ways of looking at marriage and monogamy have come to the fore.

Among these is "ethical non-monogamy," a sort of update to the idea of "open relationships" that emphasizes honesty, boundaries and especially consent of both partners; it's sometimes also known as "consensual non-monogamy," in fact.

But of course, the key to that whole thing is consent and honesty — and that's pretty much the opposite of what's going on here. Rather, this man's wife has either done him a favor by allowing his affair, or is retaliating for the betrayal by refusing to divorce him.

On top of that, the most obvious dynamic here is that he's stringing his mistress along — and it has not gone over well with people online at all.

A TikToker who posted the story renamed it to "AITA for being a spineless coward?" while a Redditor who reposted the story called it, "Jesus Christ just get a divorce already."

screenshot from tiktok of reddit story about man choosing his wife over his mistressPhoto: @bestofredditt / TikTok

Many commenters felt similarly. "Just get divorced. What the heck are you doing?" one asked. Another wondered, "What kind of delulu world are you living in?"

One person cut right to the heart of the matter, however, saying, "You’ve done things way out of order and it is your fault. You’ve hurt people, but you don’t seem to care about that."

Sometimes, you truly do have to follow your heart, and that often means ending one relationship for another. That's just human nature. But there are ways to do it respectfully, and to borrow the popular internet phrase, "this ain't it, chief."

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.