I just realized it's been 7 years since I read that book. Haven't read that latest edition you're holding, but I remember the chapter "Embracing Conflict" (I think that's what it was called) being eye-opening to me.
If anyone out there is interested in ethical non-monogamy, or dope books about relationship skills generally, then read The Ethical Slut (and More Than Two by Rickert and Veaux, plus The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory by Winston)
Along with a lot of the responses here, making a major decision like this over an evening's conversation raises some concern for your and your wife's approach and the longevity of the relationship.
Non-monogamy has a lot of nuances, a lot will be discovered over several months of conversation and actively dating outside of this relationship, but few over one conversation.
I would suggest taking a step back and educating yourselves, together, to learn more about what it means for your future:
1: Read open relationship and poly books together. Here are a few I'd suggest:
- Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory
- Opening Up
- Polyamory in the 21st Century
2: Listen to the Multiamory Podcast on topics that you get stuck on or become aware of
3: It also seems like a lot of assumptions are being made without explicit discussions. A core tenent of non-monogamy is honest communication.
>I have no reason to believe...
- Have you explicitly asking, "Is there anyone you're actively interested in pursuing right now or someone that's pursuing you?
>she’s never really viewed sex as a “big deal”
- Then why open up the relationship? For sex? To capture a sense of who she used to be? Who did she used to be? These questions aren't meant to discount your wife's needs/desires/wants to open up, but getting to the core reason of opening up will make the purpose, form, and function of your and other relationships clear.
4: YOU don't have to practice non-monogamy just because your partner does. A lot of people will say a mono-poly relationship doesn't work. I don't subscribe to that belief. As long as the relationship is equal, it doesn't always means it's even - and that's your choice.
5: It doesn't matter how much you educate yourself, you'll make mistakes along the way. Have room for yourself and your partner/wife to make mistakes AND be willing to forgive for them as well as forgive yourself. It will require a level of serious honesty and willingness to be vulnerable and have courage.
A couple of things from my experience:
- I wouldn't necessarily say she's gone full poly. I would more categorize her reactions as NRE. And as such, if you look through that lense then her excitement and overwhelm for experiencing something new with someone else.
- Jealousy/envy/inadequacy is so is something we normally deal with in relationships in general. Often people new to open relationships will create a prescriptive hierarchical relationship structure to protect against that or to limit what their partners can and can't to do to ensure our positions of importance are maintained in the relationship.
- Mistakes will be made when opening up your relationship. That doesn't mean it's damaged or that it needs to be thrown out. But you also have to consider that new agreements are being created and a paradigm shift is being made. In that transition you and she (and other partners and metamours) will all make mistakes. Have room for these and keep an open channel of communication, compassion, and trust for the people you love and want in your life. Holding mistakes over people's heads will only further complicate the issue.
- Did she cheat on you? I would be hard pressed to see it that way, but I get where you're coming from. Again, I'd invite you to look at it a different way: You both established the ability for each other to explore sexually with others, but your perception of her current situation is that she's creating a poly relationship. I don't that she's doing that but rather, as mentioned above, is experiencing NRE and expressing it that way. For me, when I first started non-monogamy my experience when connecting with others was love... until I continued to distinguish for myself that this wasn't love but rather NRE.
- Some people experience being polyamorous, while others in the in relationship might not. My current nesting partner isn't polyamorous but IS non-monogamous. I'm polyamorous. So although the conversation for you both will evolve to developing long-term meaningful love emotions for others, that doesn't mean you're both REQUIRED to do that. Equal but not necessarily even.
I always recommend people new to non-monogamy read A Smart Girl's Guide as a way to help get a full picture on what you want from a non-mongamous relationship. I also recommend you and your partner read it together and work through the exercises.
I also recommend the following podcasts to listen to. Again, listening to them together or apart but then discussing together has always made a difference in the relationships I'm building with people.
- New Relationship Energy (NRE)
- Basics of Boundaries, Rules, Agreements, and Boundaries
- Relationship Hierarchy
- Relationship Anarchy 101, Relationship Anarchist Cookbook
Good luck and update us when you can.