Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Open relationship etiquette: If someone is in an open relationship, at what point are they obliged to explain this to others they are seeing?
I just found out that a guy I’d been seeing is in an open relationship with a long-term, serious girlfriend. I was angry that he had withheld this information. His response was, essentially, that he had been clear that he wasn’t looking for anything serious with me. It’s true, and I also wasn’t looking for a serious relationship. We’d been on the same page about that, but I feel deceived.
If it’s just a one-night thing, I can understand not explaining your entire relationship situation, but seeing someone regularly for three months, as we were, without telling them you’re in an open relationship feels like a lie by omission.
I guess my issue is he denied me the agency to make informed decisions about what I was comfortable with. I feel like he put me in a situation I didn’t consent to being in. Had he been honest from the start that he was in an open relationship, I still may have chosen to meet with him, but I would have set different boundaries. For example, we had sex in the home he shares with his girlfriend. Perhaps that doesn’t violate the boundaries he’s established with his girlfriend, but I’m not comfortable with it. I felt sick and furious after I found out.
To be clear, I don’t have a problem with open relationships, but this felt like a massive deception. Am I overreacting?
A: Absolutely not. In fact, you articulated your own discomfort and sense of violation beautifully. Moreover, it sounds like you found out he was in a relationship from someone else, rather than because he finally decided to be honest with you. His behavior was evasive and scummy, and you should absolutely update your opinion of him accordingly.
Q. I’m 20 and my mom is helicoptering: I just got home from college for summer break. My mom and I have never really gotten along; in fact, we got along best while I was gone.
Now that I’m home, my mom is treating me like a kid again. My mom lectures me on most aspects of my life, needs to know everything about everything in my life, threatens to take my car keys or ground me, and on Sundays I am to be in for the night by 5. I understand that she has missed me, and that it’s “her house, her rules,” but our already tense relationship is suffering and I am being monitored more than my 16-year-old sister.
I just want to be able to go out with friends. I am an adult with a job and a car. I pay my own bills. To my knowledge, I haven't done anything to make her distrust me. How can I try to get her to see things from my perspective?
A: I think a better option than trying to convince your mother to change your curfew is to find a place of your own. It sounds like you’re already reasonably financially independent; if it won’t break the bank for you to try to rent a room in your hometown for the rest of the summer, I think it would improve your relationship with your mother immensely.