When Ethical Non-Monogamy Becomes An Affair…Who is the Cheater?

Sway Montgomery
5 min readOct 15, 2023

I’m not starving. I have a husband who adores me, a life I love living. I travel, I write. I don’t rely on an awful job I hate…I have it good. I do, and I know it.

So why do I feel like I’m starving?

If you’ve followed along at all, you know I found myself in an Ethical Non-Monogamous relationship this summer, a relationship that transformed into polyamory. I’m still not sure I qualify myself as polyamorous…I feel more monogamous but with two monogamous partners: my husband, and my boyfriend.

I know that sounds ridiculous. I do.

But, I keep those two lives separated, despite them knowing one another. When I’m with one, THAT is who I am with. I am in love with the man in front of me. I know who I am in both relationships, and honestly, that is two different women.

Both are me.

Since the end of August, when my boyfriend tried to break things off due to his wife’s aversion to their swinger lifestyle, I’ve been like a boat with a hole, riding the waves at sea. Some days, the boat is sinking and being pulled under by the crests, some days, the sea is glass and I’ve managed to keep the water from capsizing my vessel. The waves are him, and his mixed emotions and actions…I simply cannot keep up…and now? I don’t really try to. It has made me less crazy feeling, less emotional, and in order to survive it and tend to my marriage, it’s better if I just float along.

About 3 weeks ago, we cheated. He cheated? Did I cheat? Can I be the one cheating on his wife? We met at our hotel, the one we’ve always called ours. It wasn’t the same atmosphere that day, but we were together. I could tell he had reservations about being there without permission, he KNEW he was cheating and he knew she wouldn’t understand. But some part of him wanted me, or needed me, enough to test his ability to stay true. Did he just need the sex? Or is it the attention? Am I giving him the love and attention that he’s not getting at home? Should I feel guilty that I do? Or should he just learn to talk to his wife about what he’s missing in order to not seek it elsewhere?

I honestly don’t know.

I’ve not been the other woman before. I’ve been the one cheated on. Do I know how his wife feels? I don’t. Not really. Maybe. I know that when I was the one being cheated on, I wasn’t the woman my husband married. I was cold. Obtuse. I…

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Sway Montgomery

I was a baker, a cookbook author, a follower of the rules. Now I am following my passion for sharing and exploring all the rules I should have been breaking.