My girlfriend (let's call her Claire) shares a flat with a couple (let's call them Bob and Alice). Bob is a close friend of mine, and I get along pretty well with Alice. The three of them used to sleep all together, in an open relationship, and things were fine (that was before the bonds between Alice and Bob tightened and Claire and I started our relationship).

What happened

Bob was away for the weekend, and one night, Claire, Alice and I went to have some drinks. Things were going smoothly up until the moment Alice told us that it would be cool if the three of us could sleep together that night, and that she sent a text to her boyfriend to ask if he was cool with that. The answer was no.

The problem

Even if my girlfriend was cool with that, I wasn't, because Alice is the girlfriend of a close friend, and I have the feeling that it isn't the right thing to do regarding Bob. I couldn't reveal my point of view at that moment because the text had already been sent. I now fear that Bob could hold some grudge, or that those events could alter the relationship Bob and I have.

The question

How can I approach Bob to clarify things, and explain to him I wasn't cool with all that was said and that I didn't play any role in all of this?

  • 4
    How did Claire react to Alice's suggestion? Is your current relationship with Claire strictly monogamous? Having Bob understand what your relationship with Claire is like (where the boundaries are) might help if you need to discuss this.
    – user8671
    Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 11:25
  • Claire was ok with Alice's suggestion. Claire and I are actually in an open relationship (which means that she and I could sleep with whomever we want as long as some rules are followed). Bob is aware of the nature of my relationship with Claire.
    – faflo10
    Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 12:17
  • 2
    You seem pretty chill about the fact that the three of them were a threesome up until recently, and you say above that you and Claire are in an open relationship. So are you feeling awkward about the order in which things went about, or the presumption that you okayed something you didn't okay? Because if you're this close to polyamory, I'm sure you know that communication is likely the most important thing.
    – Carduus
    Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 20:22
  • 2
    I presume the main reason you were not okay with it is because Bob was not okay with it (or, prior to that, Bob had not yet weighed in)? If Bob had said yes, would your reason for not being okay with it go away? If, so it seems like proper procedure was followed: Alice asked Bob, Bob said no, Bob's request was granted, zero people are at fault and nothing needs to be clarified. Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 22:40
  • 2
    "The answer was no" - whose answer? Yours or Bob's?
    – Jasper
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 16:42

4 Answers 4


even if my girlfriend was cool with that, I wasn't, because Alice is the girlfriend of a close friend, and I have the feeling that it isn't a right thing to do regarding Bob.

I believe that here lies the problem, as you're putting your conception of what a "right thing" is in the equation, rather than let Alice and Bob discuss it between themselves.

Would you change your mind if the both of them were cool with that?

Of course, if you are uncomfortable with having sex with anyone, whatever the reason, don't do it.

As for your question, it may not be necessary to over-stress it. Since your relation with Bob visibly permits it, just casually say something along the lines of:

Hey Bob, just so you know, Alice asked you first about she, Claire and me sleeping together. I did not even get to say something.

If appropriate, you may follow with a joke about submissiveness. :-)

This way, you'll highlight two things :

  • You did not initiate the idea.
  • Alice thought of Bob first. That may help keep their relationship healthy by showing/reassuring where their priorities are.
  • 6
    "rather than let Alice and Bob discuss it between themselves." Bob and Alice already did discuss it. There's nothing wrong with OP expressing his own notions of what he felt was (to him) right and wrong about the situation, and about making sure Bob understands what the actual sequence of events was.
    – Beanluc
    Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 19:42
  • I can recognize myself with the over-stress part. I thought that not explaining my non-involvment to my friend could alter in a bad way our friendship, but it's probably what my self-made moral makes me believe. I'll let them discuss it themselves, and just notify (if it seems necessary) to my friend that I haven't had a chance to express myself.
    – faflo10
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 6:34
  • @Beanluc : as Carduu commented in the opening question, communication is key, and it's not because Alice and Bob already discussed the issue (in the past) that they cannot rediscuss at any time. In my opinion, it's a "valid until further renegociation" thing. They may feel otherwise and have other rules, though.
    – breversa
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 7:12

You will most likely find that Bob is much more relaxed about this than you are. From his perspective this is what went down:

  • he was out of town
  • his girlfriend asked his permission for a threesome
  • he refused
  • nothing happened

From the perspective of a person comfortable with open relationships, the second point is no reason for concern or worry and certainly not to hold a grudge. If she had gone forward with it despite the negative answer, that would be a different matter. But in open relationships, asking your SO when you are thinking about having sex with a third (or third and fourth) person is completely normal.

How to approach Bob

Since you are worried about the episode, you need to get it out of your system. Mention it in a humorous way during your next natural conversation with Bob. The tone should be light, but you can admit that the idea had you worried and surprised. You can lead with the fact that it was her idea and she didn't even ask if you are interested before she texted him.

Be ready for Bob giving you an answer you don't expect. He may well be perfectly fine with you sleeping with both girls, just on that day not. Or he would prefer to be there as well and have a foursome. They may even have discussed this exact scenario beforehand and the reason she texted him was that his position was "maybe, depends on how I feel that day. Ask me when it happens, ok?"

It could also be the other way and they have sinced closed their relationship and she was testing how serious he is about it.

Or it could be that he likes you as a friend, but not as a lover of his GF.

Going forward

You should also use the opportunity to find out where your GF stands on this whole issue - on open relationships in general and the one she used to have (still has?) with the other couple.

And maybe you should firstly understand where you stand on this question.


If they were in an open relationship for an extended period of time, then the rules of an such a relationship are well-understood by Bob. I doubt he would be upset, especially given that he was asked for permission and his wishes were respected.

If you really want to indicate to Bob that you did not request anything, I recommend mentioning the event casually and describing Alice making the request. An accurate description is probably ideal here, because as written in the OP Alice did in fact make the request on her own. If you don't think that you can discuss that night casually then you can explicitly say that you want to make sure things are clear between yourself and Bob, just to make sure there isn't any unpleasantness down the line.

Bob may or may not accept that-- two couples, each in open relationships, with prior ties between some of those relationship participants, while he was out of town... well, if he were suspicious and possessive then the open relationship would probably not have worked for him in the first place. But honestly this sounds like a not-very-big deal given the situations you all are in, and is probably not going to be a problem unless it comes up again in the future (which would really be a different problem anyhow).


This is all on Alice. If she was going to send a text to Bob she should wait for a response before presenting this to you and Claire. Or ask you and Claire first and only send a text if she get a positive response from both of you.

Your concern is that you did not get a chance to express your choice. You want to express your independent choice to Bob. You want Bob to know that text was sent before she talked about it to you and Claire.

I think you should be up front. I am assuming Alice got the response from Bob before talking to you and Claire about it.

I would just go about it straight up. Have a direct conversation with Bob.

I would just like you to know the sequence of events the other day. She texted you before talking to us. My feelings on this was no based on both my relationship with Claire and you. Even if my answer was yes I would have declined if I knew you said no (if that is true).

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