My girlfriend have been together for a little over five years. We are very happy together, the sex is great, and we own a home together. For the past year we've also been practicing an open relationship. Overall it's been good for our us, both individually and as a couple. Sure, a few moments of jealousy and plenty of long talks, but in the end it has brought us closer together in a lot of ways we never imagined previously. But on the last couple of months my girlfriend has shown some pretty poor judgement with other partners that most importantly could put her in physical danger and less importantly creates a lot of tension for us.
For example: She recently went on a Tinder date with a guy who had nothing but pictures on his profile of himself holding other people's babies. Seriously, three pictures, all with different babies. He claimed none were his but he just liked babies. Putting the creepy factor aside of featuring other people's kids on your Tinder profile she went on the date to a restaurant and he immediately insisted that he feed her and she not pick up any utensils during the entire dinner. After she was fed dinner he insisted they go to his place for a drink, which was conveniently only three doors down from the cafe. She agreed but told him no sex under any circumstances. When they got there he asked for sex again and again and again and got a no each time. She finally agreed to let him masturbate in front of her. I learned of all of these details a few days after the date during general conversation and my girlfriend framed it like the guy was just kind of quirky.
Another example: She recently met up with a guy on Tinder in his late twenties who had never had a relationship before—monogamous or non-monogamous. After their first date, which they only lightly kissed, he started sending her flowers both to our home and to her work. The guy clearly and obviously had no boundaries and was falling for her fast and hard and all the signs were there from a million miles away this would end badly. She continued to date him anyway and not surprisingly the whole thing ended as you would expect with him incredibly hurt, calling at all hours, and some behavior about an inch away from stalking.
I've tried talking to her about this several times and I constantly get shut down like I'm being too dramatic. I don't believe I am. I really like being in an open relationship and I don't believe its jealousy that is motivating my misgivings. What is giving me pause and a ton of anxiety is sitting at home in fear of the people she is dating. Is she unknowingly in a bad situation? Is she dismissing red flags like she has now done twice in a row now? I don't want to grill her about the people she chooses to go on dates with but my worries aren't going away either.
Seriously Concerned Boyfriend
Good judgment—it's an under-discussed, under-the-radar virtue. But I wouldn't describe it as undervalued. Indeed, it's something we look for in prospective partners. (Or will look for if, you know, we have good judgment ourselves.) Does this person I'm considering signing a lease with and mingling finances with and maybe even scrambling my DNA together with demonstrate good judgment? Someone who proves themselves to be thoughtless, reckless, or witless—someone who displays terrible judgment—usually doesn't make it past the casual dating stage. Because if you can't trust someone to make good calls about the small things early on, well, you won't wanna trust them with your credit rating or your genetic material.
Seeing as your girlfriend has been your girlfriend for five years, SCB, she presumably demonstrated good enough judgment early on in the relationship. But lately... well, let's take a look at the two examples you cite.
Example #1: I'm not convinced this one proves your case.
Yes, the dude was creepy and that freaky fucking shit he pulled in the restaurant—insisting on feeding your girlfriend like she was one of the infants (!) on his Tinder profile—would've been a one-bite-into-the-apps dealbreaker for most people. But most people weren't on that date. Your girlfriend was, SCB, and she didn't find the feeding thing disqualifying. She found it "quirky." And while that and everything else you describe sounds unnerving in the extreme to me, you, and everyone else who wasn't on that date, I would wanna hear more from your girlfriend before having her declared legally incompetent.
Yes, it's annoying when someone asks for sex again and again after you've told them no—and women on the receiving end of that from strange men (and that man was very strange) often feel threatened (and that's not an irrational fear) and will sometimes "consent" to sex because they fear violence if they say no. (And that kind of "consent" isn't meaningful, of course, which is why I put that "consent" in quotes.) But did your girlfriend find this guy threatening? Or did she find him amusing or pathetic? Did she agree to let him masturbate in front of her because she thought it was the only way to get out of his apartment safely? Or did she kindasortawanna see this weirdo jack off for her?
While you see this date as bullet dodged, SCB, your girlfriend seems to see it as quirky/kinky lark with a freaky/kinky stranger. While it's perfectly understandable that you would see a threat to your girlfriend's safety in that encounter, it's possible she didn't feel unsafe and wasn't unsafe. It's also possible she's downplaying the threat she may have felt so as not to upset you or give you ammo in this dispute. But if she's generally demonstrated good judgment in the past and doesn't seem to be upset about this encounter, you may have to give her the benefit of the (totally legitimate!) doubt on this one.
Example #2: You're absolutely right about this one. As soon as those flowers arrived at your home, SCB, your girlfriend should've informed this guy that he stepped over a line, asked him not to contact her again, and blocked him. Because he wasn't just demonstrating terrible judgment very early on—anyone who wasn't an idiot would've known that display was likely to have the opposite of its intended effect—but showing disrespect for your girlfriend's primary relationship. Disrespect, in other words, for you. Because when you're dating someone in an established open relationship who has a longterm partner—and one date ≠ dating—you don't make grand romantic gestures without first making sure they're allowed. Sending those flowers to the home she shared with her partner was an act of aggression masquerading as a romantic act.
So, yeah, you're right: those were red flags—sending flowers to her workplace and the home she shares with her boyfriend—and your girlfriend demonstrated poor judgment when she didn't immediately cut this guy off. And since his inch-away-from-stalking behavior didn't just make you worry for girlfriend's safety but your own as well, you have an absolute right to press her on the personal safety issue: hers and yours.
But try to keep it in perspective: you've been open for a year now, it sounds like you guys have dated a lot of people, and your girlfriend has had one dodgy encounter and one deeply squicky one in all that time. Raise your concerns, offer feedback and support, urge her to consider her own safety and yours, and then—if she generally demonstrates good judgment from here on out—try to let this go.