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Relationship Advice: Will He Leave His Open Relationship For Me?

Am I being absurd to think that it will ever happen?…
By Adam Segal
Dear Adam,
For the past two years I have been involved in a mostly sexual relationship with a man who is already in an open relationship with his primary partner. They’ve been together for about six years; he tells me that they are miserable and that he plans to eventually end their relationship and prioritize being with me. He’s been promising this for at least a year, but I don’t see him budging at all. I know it must be hard to end a long-term relationship, but I’m getting resentful for having to wait this long and wondering if I’m being absurd to think that it will ever happen. How do I know whether or not I should hold on to this? We have a great connection, the sex is incredible, and I haven’t met anyone that I feel this strongly about before. I’m scared to throw something away that I might never find again, but the whole thing leaves me feeling rejected. How do I make sure I’m not losing myself? —Philip
Dear Philip,
The concern here is that what you have with this guy exists in a sort of vacuum. I don’t doubt that you have an incredible time together and earth-shaking sex, but it’s really hard to know what a steady and committed relationship with him would be like even if he gave you both that chance. With your current arrangement, you exist in a fragmented aspect of his life. I’m sure he’s pumped to see you each time because you offer him a time-out – a chance to step away from his complex and stuck relationship into something fun and unfettered. It probably feels great to be the person he gleefully escapes with, but that isn’t what will sustain a relationship longer-term.
Your frustration stems from how you both experience this arrangement so differently – you’re left in a frustrated limbo, and he benefits from getting to maintain the status quo with his main squeeze while getting mini fantasy breaks with you. In short, you have more to lose and are probably more motivated to change the situation than he is. I believe that your feelings for him are deep, but your fear of missing your one shot at big love (and that belief is hurting you too) might be keeping you stuck in something unhealthy. It seems you’re approaching a crossroads: will you call it all off and leave yourself available for something more satisfying? Or will you get real with him, tell him what you need, and see if he actually takes action? Either way, you’ll feel more empowered than you do now.

ADAM SEGAL, writer and therapist, works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental-health questions at

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