The Irish Times’ Agony Column, Open Relationships, and a general feeling of nausea

The Irish Times’ agony aunt column, which recently advised a wife and mother of two young children to pursue life as a gay man (no you’re not hallucinating that actually happened, and I wrote about it), is back with advice-giving a vengeance. 

This time the topic is open relationships, not just any old open relationships, but ones that involve children and the probable eventual abandonment of said children. 

The question came from a woman who feels her partner may leave her for a new flame (that he met at the gym). So far you might say the poor woman must be beside herself.

If your partner is going to run off on you, you want the new woman to at least be less attractive than you, not some gym bunny pumped up on wheatgrass shots and protein balls. 

However, the circumstances surrounding how the writer met her partner in the first instance are pretty grim in fairness. 

It all started as an office romance among thirty somethings – only this man already had two children and was in a “long term relationship”- with his wife. 

I think it’s necessary to pause here for a moment. The woman says she suffers from low self esteem and was delighted that this “beautiful man” even wanted to be with her, and that this had led her to ‘compromise’. 

I am a firm believer that a woman should see herself as a prize and conduct herself in a way that garners the respect and admiration of men – if she’s interested in dating at least. After all psychology dictates that people want what or who is seen as desirable. For a woman to feel lucky that a man wants her as a side piece is very sad.

However, as part of the human condition it is – unfortunately-  possible for socially unacceptable or unrealistic attractions to occur. I myself am currently coming to terms with the stark (pun intended) likelihood that my deeply held affections for Ser Criston Cole are unlikely to bear fruit for reasons not limited to the probability that actor Fabien Frankl isn’t aware of my existence. 

The story gets worse – the man was in an ‘open marriage’. 

Now hold on a darn minute….. isn’t ‘open marriage’ an oxymoron? That aside the man, a right chancer if you ask me, eventually left his wife and kids and moved in with the writer. 

‘Over the next six months his relationship with his wife (who also apparently had a lover) deteriorated and he ended up moving in with me’, she says. 

I recently saw a meme that said, ‘Nobody falls in love faster than a guy who needs somewhere to stay’. 

Whether that is applicable to this particular situation can’t be proven here, but the pair continued on in their ‘unconventional’ union for five years with the woman claiming her partner was monogamous. 

They eventually had a child. 

Enter the gym bunny. The woman goes on to say ‘himself’ came home one day and, – in the spirit of being morally a toerag – told her he fancied someone at the gym, that he was dating this woman, and that he hadn’t told her about the woman he was living with, ie the mother of his child (I also presume he left out the little detail of his wife and two other wee bairns) because his new flame was “conservative”, by which I assume he means she has morals. 

Hold the phone…. It’s one thing to behave in this way towards women who say they consent to it but to pull the wool over a new woman’s eyes in this manner, concealing from her your wife and two kids, and your other woman and child is simply disgusting. 

This man seems to have little or no respect for any of the women in his life – at least the 3 we know about. 

The Irish Times agony aunt doesn’t rain down fire and brimstone, in fact I detected no shockwaves on any moral compass. Instead the reply says that the man “has been very honest about his expectations” – and I suppose he has, but I doubt any of the ‘adults’ involved in this situation care what the poor children would think, were they old enough to understand. 

The woman is advised to speak up and ask the man what the likelihood of their relationship ending is separation is. In fairness to the agony aunt she does say that the woman’s self described low self esteem is “not a good place from which to make a difficult life choice”. 

This particular situation is complex in so far as it involves innocent children. The adults involved are, in my opinion, seriously lacking in self respect and appreciation of their own dignity and the dignity of others.

The agony aunt suggests the man might, “put up an argument with his idea of how your family might work”, but to my mind continuing with an arrangement which is so completely based on self gratification, and at odds with human dignity is pointless and cruel. 

 Many of us have struggled with issues relating to self esteem, but the pursuit of gratification through the attention or transient affection of others is ultimately nothing more than putting water into a bucket with holes at the bottom. 



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