Dear Amy: I have an open relationship with “Brett,” my partner of many years.
I allow Brett to have sex with other women as long as I am comfortable with the woman and know all the communication between them. Only sex is allowed, without dating or relationships.
Brett recently saw a single woman, “Charlotte” (with my approval).
When he started seeing Charlotte very frequently and without including me in communication, I expressed my concern and asked him to stop communicating with her.
Brett told me it wasn’t a concern and that he would continue seeing Charlotte, even though I disapproved.
He says I’m crazy because I’m sad and anxious.
I’m not sure where to go from here.
– Frustrated Partner
Dear Peeved: You believe you have a binding agreement with your partner. I believe this is a contract that is likely to be violated because you have put yourself in the position of controlling a type of human behavior that is quite difficult to control, in part because it involves two people (“Brett” and “Charlotte”).
My point is, even though Brett has agreed to this “sex only” contract, he has no incentive to comply if Charlotte wants to be with him longer.
And now, like the plot of a low-rent Jane Austen novel, these two appear to have developed a real relationship.
Despite the unconventional nature of your contract, all the people involved behave in conventional ways: You are jealous and suspicious; It responds by giving you gas.
Welcome to normal life, where people wander, others are jealous, and agreements are frequently broken.
Brett’s most unconscionable act is to hand his choice back to you in a particularly cruel way by denying that he has violated that contract and then calling you “crazy” for objecting.
Since your partner has proven that you can’t really control him, your own options now are to give up and redesign your agreement as “Sex-plus” or consider leaving the relationship.
Dear Amy: I have been friends with “Wendy” for decades.
She and her husband were largely there for me after my husband’s sudden death three years ago. I could not have gotten through this terrible time without their love, emotional and practical support.
I recently heard a rumor that Wendy was caught shoplifting at a local store. This didn’t really seem possible, but my understanding is that he was not charged because he returned the items and this was his first offense.
Last week I went to a local brewpub with Wendy and her husband. While there, I ordered appetizers for the group, which were delivered on a large, decorative plate. After a while, I asked permission and went to the toilet.
As I made my way back to the table, I witnessed Wendy place the (empty) ceramic plate into her husband’s large bag, which he held open for her.
I was stunned but didn’t say anything. I thanked them for letting me out and I haven’t spoken to them since.
We had some contact on Facebook but he blocked me yesterday (probably because I dodged a few phone calls?).
I’m so sorry now. I wish I had said something when I witnessed them stealing, but I’m afraid our friendship ended very badly. But I really can’t be friends with a thief.
Where do you think I should go from here?
Dear Sad: You can assume that “Wendy” was blocked because she knew he saw her lifting the bar plate.
You can narrow the circle here if you contact “Wendy” to acknowledge her importance in your life during a time when you are at your worst. “If you’re struggling with something right now, I want to be there for you.”
If he answers honestly, you can try taking small steps.
Dear Amy: The question in “In a Bad Place” could have been written by me. It was all too familiar: the silences, walking on eggshells, and my husband not apologizing for anything.
But after 30 years of living this way, I was finally fed up.
However, after we broke up, others came forward to tell me about their bad experiences with him. The hardest part was the first step in ending it. I’m much happier now.
– be there
Dear Been There: I hope “In a Bad Place” can make a solid and safe choice.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or write to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or on Facebook.)