I want to sue my ex for breaking up our open relationship – what should I do?

Dear Newsweek, I dated an IT tech for about 10 months a few years ago and noticed a lot of red flags during that relationship. On our first date, I declined to continue because of his bizarre standards. For example, he wanted a prenuptial agreement and wanted me to give birth to his first child before we get married or move into our house.

About a month after we met, he asked for exclusivity, which I didn’t want because he didn’t meet all my needs. I finally agreed, but then two months later he asked for an open relationship and I didn’t want that with all my heart.

I then later agreed to open up the relationship because I had ignored so many guys who were “better” than him. However, he withdrew the open clause a few days after my first date with another man and seemed distraught that he wasn’t dating. So I ended the relationship again as he requested but a month later he suggested opening it up again and it went on like this twice more and I was just done.

Poly couple jealous man
Archive image of a woman with 2 men and an inset of a jealous man. This woman’s ex changed his mind about wanting an open relationship after seeing all the attention she gets.
Getty Images

One night I checked his phone and discovered he was seeing his old colleague. Reading her love notes made me nauseous, but I never told him what I read and what I found. I broke up with him in 2018 but was shocked because he went on for a full two weeks seeking my return. He went so far as to haunt me at my house, bringing gifts and begging me to come back.

I thought about it and gave him a clause obliging him to give me a diamond promise ring of fidelity and monogamy worth $10,000 or more, but I finally declined. He might have been more devastated by our breakup because he wanted to do it first, or upset because his colleague didn’t want him anymore, I don’t know.

I don’t think I’m healed from all the emotional turmoil. We built so much together, we had cryptocurrency, an online store and many future plans including notes on what our married life and children would be like. I need advice on how to sue him for ongoing loss and damage for all that I have lost financially, emotionally and socially.

Annett, New York City

news week“What should I do? offers readers expert advice. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know at life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on WSID at news week.

There is no legal obligation to be a good partner

dr Tracy A. Pearson is a legal, political and cultural analyst and strategist with a Juris Doctor degree in law.

Basically, claims from negligent mental distress (NIED) and intentional mental distress (IIED) are legally recognizable. To make a claim for NIED, you would first need to establish a legally recognized duty to conduct yourself within a standard of care.

Although each jurisdiction is different, there is generally no legal obligation to be a good friend. In addition, your behavior would also be checked. A court may find that you are at least partially at fault. It is possible that your claim would fail if you were more than 50 percent at fault.

To prevail under an IIED claim, you must demonstrate that the other person intentionally (willfully) attempted to inflict trauma or recklessly (acted anyway, knowing the risk) inflicted emotional trauma.

As with NIED, the harms would need to be supported by evidence, including expert testimony from medical/psychiatric providers. The evidence would have to show that the behavior was outrageous and that “without” the behavior the harm would not have occurred. If the victim consents to the behavior, as in an open relationship, the court will not find that it was rude and the lawsuit will fail.

A claim from a simple contract would affect the terms of the contract. But without the contract it is not possible to evaluate the feasibility.

There is talk of “stalking” but based on your email it doesn’t appear to be consistent with civil or criminal stalking which would be viable options and a way to seek redress and protection from an ongoing threat that is not to seems to exist.

Overall, it sounds like you saw signs that this person was a problem, you went ahead anyway and agreed to terms that facilitated the scam. The boyfriend cheated on you and wasn’t willing to end either relationship.

It is human nature that we can be hurt or betrayed. Based on what is disclosed in your email, it would be difficult for you to make any claims. Nobody forced you to be in this relationship. Make it a life lesson, seek support and move on in a healthy way.

Emotional distress lawsuits are unprofitable

Jeremy Babener is a tax attorney and founder of Structured Consulting. He has worked for the US Treasury Department and the US Department of Justice and is now a member of the Legal Committees of the Society of Settlement Planners (SSP), the American Association of Settlement Consultants (AASC) and the National Structured Settlements Trade Association (NSSTA).

There is an odd/unfair tax twist in the way profits from litigation in your history would be taxed.

Emotional distress lawsuits are particularly unprofitable because of unfair tax policies. You can settle for $1 million and keep less than $200,000. In a car accident, you’d be more likely to keep twice as much.

Unlike auto accident settlements, non-personal injury cases are almost always taxable. Worse still, you can’t deduct your legal fees.

So you end up paying tax on what you keep and what you pay to your solicitor (who is then taxed again at the same amount).

Open relationships require a lot of trust

Bill McKenna is author of The Only Lesson and founder of Cognomovement, a cognitive movement exercise system “designed for the rapid and powerful change of chronic problems and patterns.”

I’ve seen firsthand the unique challenges that can arise in open relationships. While these types of relationships can be fulfilling and rewarding for some, they can also be difficult to navigate and require a lot of communication and trust.

Overall, open relationships can be challenging, but with good communication, trust, and understanding, they can also be incredibly rewarding.

When considering an open relationship, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your partners about what you want and are comfortable with, and to be prepared for the unique difficulties that may arise.

Open Relationship Dating Problems: The 4 Main Challenges of an Open Relationship

Here are the four most common difficulties observed in open relationships, according to McKenna.

  • Jealousy: It’s natural to feel a flush of jealousy when your partner is dating someone else, even if you’ve agreed to an open relationship. However, jealousy can be particularly difficult to deal with in open relationships, as it’s not just about feeling left out or replaced, but also about the fear of losing your partner altogether.
  • Communication: Communication is especially important in open relationships that involve multiple partners. It’s important to be clear and open about your boundaries, expectations, and desires, and to have open and honest conversations about your relationship status with new partners.
  • Time Management: Managing your time and energy can be challenging in open relationships, especially if you have multiple partners. It’s important to make sure you have enough time and energy for each of your relationships, and to be honest with your partners about your boundaries.
  • Stigma: Open relationships are often stigmatized and misunderstood by society. This can make it difficult for people in open relationships to be open about their relationships and to find support and understanding from friends and family. It is important for partners in open relationships to have a strong support system and to be prepared for judgments and misunderstandings from others.

https://www.newsweek.com/wsid-open-relationship-sue-ex-emotional-distress-boyfriend-1771599 I want to sue my ex for breaking up our open relationship – what should I do?

Rick Schindler

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