Shit. I think I may be non-monogamous. Now what?

Guest post by Ihavenoideawhatimdoing
Skeleton key necklace by Etsy seller KimFong

The past five years I’ve been struggling with a monogamous lifestyle. I’ve been happily married for nine years, and I’ve never cheated — or even wanted to cheat — on my husband. We’re both straight and monogamous. No kids. And I love my marriage. LOVE it.

But I can’t deny it. I feel strong pulls to be emotionally, and perhaps down the road, physically involved with other men with whom I’ve developed emotional connections.

I recently told all of this to my husband. He met me with open arms and respects my feelings. I feel closer to my husband because I feel like we crossed over another level of intimacy.

But I don’t know how to sort through these feelings I’m having towards a new lifestyle…

A couple nights ago, my husband also expressed a desire to be non-monogamous as well. And I’m surprised that I’m hurt and confused. He thinks I’m being hypocritical, but I can’t find the words to explain myself to him.

I tried to tell him that just because I’VE been wondering if I fit into the poly-category doesn’t mean that HE gets to be poly by default. I feel like he’s using my recent “coming out” as his new found freedom to explore as well. And that’s not what I wanted this to be.

I’m sure some of you are probably thinking, “She’s just monogamous and struggles with extra-marital feelings sometimes. That’s normal for everyone.” And I would say you’re kind of right. But I feel like it’s more than that for me now. I feel like it definitely started out that way five or six years ago… but it’s something more than that these days.

I KNOW I’m going to get responses like, “If you get to have another partner, why shouldn’t HE get to have other partners/stop being jealous/etc.” And I’m even afraid I’ll get responses like, “Bitch, you’re an embarrassment to the poly-community. You just want an excuse or ‘label’ to cheat… you’re not poly!” And I’m aware of all of this. I really reallllllly am.

I know I’m probably a walking hypocrite and I KNOW that I can’t just go from happily monogamously married to poly-relationship over night and have rainbows and sunshine. But that’s why I need your help. So please, be gracious with your responses. Please don’t assume things of me, and ask me questions instead. I’m navigating through all of this and trying to sort things out in my head.

What are these feelings I’m having about opening up my marriage? How do I not become a hypocrite towards my husband?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Non-monogamous Homies, what advice do you have for someone just starting their journey?

Comments on Shit. I think I may be non-monogamous. Now what?

  1. As someone who was in a poly relationship for 5 years, I don’t think your poly feelings can be dismissed as “extra-marital urges”, “an excuse to cheat” or that you’re “an embarrassment to the poly community”. Not at all! Polyamory is so varied, what works for one person/couple/collective will be completely different to other arrangements. It’s all about what works for you and your loved ones.

    But in regards to your question, “I feel like my husband is using my new-found poly status as an opportunity to explore non-monogamy on his own, and I don’t feel right about that,” I don’t think your feelings are wrong (feeling jealousy and insecurity is completely normal, even in poly relationships), but I do think maybe your perspective is flawed.

    Now that you identify as poly, what does this mean for your marriage? What do you want it to mean for your marriage? Do you want to remain in a monogamous relationship as a person who identifies as a polyamorous, or do you actually want to be a practising poly person rather than a theoretical one? If you do want to practice polyamory, in that you want to go on dates with other people, develop emotional connections with other people, or even explore physical relations with other people, I think you should allow your husband to have the same opportunities.

    You could argue, “But I don’t think it’s right that he gets to be poly by default just because I am,” but by practising polyamory, you are inherently changing the terms of your marriage if your marriage was previously monogamous, and I think those terms should apply for both members of the marriage.

    Marriages, as far as I’m aware (I’m not married yet) have a focus on things that are shared. For example, a house. Let’s say one spouse earns twice as much as the other spouse, and contributed two-thirds of the money to purchase the house. Does that mean the house belongs more to them than it does their spouse? Do they own two-thirds of the space? No, the house is shared property and belongs to both spouses. I think opportunities should be the same. If you have the opportunity to seek personal connections outside your marriage, it’s not really fair to deny them to your partner.

    If you’re afraid of feeling jealous, if you’re afraid of how other people might impact your husband’s relationship with you, then don’t open up your marriage. Agree that you two will remain monogamous henceforth. But if you want to be a practising polyamorous person, then you need to accept the good AND the bad that comes with it. That means going out on dates with exciting new people, but also quiet nights at home when your husband is out on a date. That means getting that thrill when you get a text from a new lover, but also seeing your husband getting excited when his phone pings.

    The best way to manage jealousy, and to manage a non-conventional relationship over all, is LOTS of talking. Talking to your husband about insecurities, new ideas, new developments in your relationships, new boundaries. Constantly check in with your husband about where things are at. Also, I would suggest going slowly. As much as you might want to swan-dive into the exciting world of new and unconventional relationships, it’s good to tread slowly so you, your husband and your marriage have room to adjust to the changes. All those exciting people you want to meet and connect with will still be there. Do lots of research, ask lots of questions, do lots of soul searching. Look up ethical non-monogamy groups in your local community or nearest major city, and see if they do workshops or discussion groups. And really think about what kind of relationships you want, with your husband and with new potential Very Important People in your life/s.

    But even if you feel your husband isn’t inherently poly in the same way as how you identify, I don’t think it’s fair to restrict him from out-of-marriage connections if that’s what you want for yourself.

    • The house analogy – I took it a step further. I recently heard my husband say to someone, “…it’s not like I own my wife. I love her enough to let her do what she wants…” (there’s way more to that story than that little snippet) I don’t own him any more than he owns more of the house we live in just because his paycheck is larger at the moment. My feelings of jealousy have faded over the last 9 years because of the security we’ve set up in our marriage, so I hope to continue down that same path…and identifying if it’s really ME that’s jealous of him and his potential relationships, or if it’s because I’m, well, basically programmed by society and my childhood to be jealous if he has feelings towards others. I’m getting to the bottom of this thing one way or the other:) Thanks for your comment.

  2. Ok, I’ve got my work done early today so I’ve written an essay for you….. the short version, you are so not a bad person!

    I think the thing here is to try and get to a place where you and your husband can talk about the reactions you are each having with the understanding that those reactions are not the final word on the matter and just an initial reaction (and therefore frequently contradictory and not always totally reasonable). Ideally, both understanding this, you could agree to not judge the other one on these initial reactions but use them as flags for what you are going to need to work out going forward.

    Of course it’s a shock to hear your husband wants to explore polyamory too, not because polyamory should be considered shocking but simply because for whatever reasons, none of which you should be judged on, you weren’t expecting to hear it from him. It also brought up some unexpected feelings and I think it’s great that you were honest about those. I don’t think any of that makes you a hypocrite, I think the only thing that would make you a hypocrite would be to deny your husband the opportunity you want for yourself, and you’ve not said anywhere that’s what you plan to do. Having the feeling and acting on it are different things.

    It’s a shock to find out there are things you don’t know about a partner, even a long standing one and it can throw up all sorts of quite primal scared reactions. What’s confusing is that, certainly in my experience, reactions can be different and even directly conflict with to your actual core values and what you believe in. Spotting and naming the reactions gets you a bit of distance so you can look it and say “oof that was a doozy but on reflection I can see that’s not how I want to be and that that reaction is an old fear to do with something from the past and I’ll take note and watch for that coming up again”. Full disclosure, I struggle with this a lot but trying is winning here, it’s not about getting it right it’s about giving it a go. Some of this is solo work, some of this is partnership work (it’s golden if you can do it with a partner but it’s not easy) and so might be helpful to agree to consider yourselves in period of consultation with each other rather than trying to make decisions or take any actions yet.

    You asked for questions to have a think about and this was the one that occurred to me and I mean it totally non- judgmentally and I don’t expect you to answer it here: How do you demonstrate to a partner that your feelings about polyamory (or any proposed change to the current way your relationship works) are the same as what they have just expressed to you and that you are not copying them, what does it actually look like? What makes you feel you haven’t had this demonstration, is it something from him or (not judging) from you?

    • “I think the only thing that would make you a hypocrite would be to deny your husband the opportunity you want for yourself, and you’ve not said anywhere that’s what you plan to do. Having the feeling and acting on it are different things.”
      YES – thank you!! I feel like that’s what a lot of the people on the Facebook post are assuming of me (the OP). Just because I have these somewhat hypocritical feelings towards my husband doesn’t mean even EYE think they’re ok to act upon. Thank you for taking the time to share your insight and helping me navigate all of this.

  3. I think Natalie nailed a lot of the most important points very accurately, but I just wanted to second them from my own experience practicing poly in a marriage.

    It was tough when I had the conversation with my partner/husband about wanting to be poly, but it turned out he had also been thinking about wanting to explore it. In some ways it was a relief for us both, as we were too afraid to bring it up for fear of how it might be taken by the other, but also the beginning of a sometimes difficult but mostly joyous journey for us. It’s definitely not fair for you to be poly and him not to get to try. It’s normal your jealous, I sure had issues with that, but if you want to try it out it’s only fair he does. One or both of you could get into it and realize “hey this isn’t for me but I’m okay that it’s for them” or you could both hate it or both love it! We turned out to like it but are actually more the Polyfidelity types. What matters is that you both try it, both figure it out for yourselves, and for your partnership.

    TALK TALK TALK. Seriously. Just talk about everything, be brutally honest with each other about how you feel and check in often. That’s the biggest thing that’s definitely helped us tons. We meet monthly to formally and safely discuss how we’ve been doing as couple, how we’re feeling about certain things, where we succeeded or improved, and where we need to do some work. Obviously we do this between meetings too but we’ve found it helpful to have a space and time set aside to do this since life can get busy when you’re both career driven poly people haha

    Before you start dating, or he does, you should set some initial boundaries–initial being the key word here. I found that my boundaries changed over time as I got used to the idea of him dating other women. Him dating was hard for me, I worried a lot about losing him to someone more compatible. At first I didn’t want to know what they did on dates or how he was feeling about these women, it was too much for me. Now I find myself asking what he and his gf are going to do on their next date or did she ever buy that car? I still don’t want to hear about their sex life, I didn’t even really want to know that they were going to have one but he knew it was important to share and I’m glad he did. So, basically, there are many kinds of boundaries that you’ll want and need to set, and I think it’s good to understand that as you figure out what works for you, and your marriage, these can and may change, and that’s okay.

    A separate suggestion I would make is maybe find a friend you can talk to about this that isn’t your husband, and isn’t necessarily super close with your husband either. I found at the start that I was *SO* excited and in love with my other guy (I call him my companion) that I was gushing a lot over my partner. I quickly realized this probably made my partner feel like crap because it was a lot and where was my gushing for him, right? I cut back on my gushing and took to texting a friend or two who knew about my partner and I being poly. It was probably weird for them at first since they were college friends and had known my partner&I very well, but they were amazing– curious and eager to hear about me and my companion, and super supportive. I also tend to use twitter since neither my partner or companion use it so it’s a hidden space for me to go to and just emotional word vomit. Likewise, my partner made a close friend at work before we turned poly and now confides in her about his relationship with me and his girlfriend. Depending on your friends and your family, you may find you can’t, or don’t want, to tell every one about the new lifestyle you’re living (and enjoying!), but having a few close allies that aren’t your partner or companion can be useful at times. If you can find people in the poly community to connect with too, that’s also great! but I found it helpful to have someone who knew me well to also talk to.

  4. Your situation sounds almost exactly what we went through. My wife fell in love with her best friend (female) and they asked me and her husband if they could move forward with a more intimate relationship. This was new and very unexpected for us. Not a thing that had ever been brought up before in our marriage, not even in our vocabulary, though in retrospect, we may have been ripe for this. I had no issue and gave my blessings to them. Flash forward 6+ months and I start thinking about the same thing for myself. We encountered exactly the same thing as you did. My wife felt hypocritical for wanting to have her outside relationship and being jealous of the idea of my wanting the same. And part of her struggle was the idea that, yes, I viewed this in part as permission for me to explore outside of our marriage. We talked through this for a few months and she gave her consent for me to start looking around.

    One of the biggest issue we had to talk through was the motivation for exploring relationships outside of our marriage. Since she and her friend fell in love, that should be how it should be for me, right?
    The reality of our lives is that I did not have any female friends that I could conveniently fall in love with. And while I did want to have a loving relationship with another person, the prime motivation for exploring was the idea of being able to have sex with another person. *That* was the hardest thing for my wife to understand and accept. But when we talked about all my past relationships and why I started dating her, she saw that while it was uncomfortable for her, I was actually being consistent in how I got myself into loving relationships. (And BTW, we have been happily married for 12 years now).
    This is not to say that this has been a fun and carefree experience for us. We weathered a number of storms, jealousy, and anger. We never felt our marriage was in jeopardy, but it definitely got bumpy. We had a lot of talking, research, using of jealousy management tools, and more conversations. We still are having ongoing conversations and will continue to have a lot talks. But the outcome is that two and half years later, I’m dating a wonderful like minded married woman who is starting to be important part of my life without taking away any of the love I have for my wife. We have also been very intentional in that everyone involved has met and is on board.

    We have put in a lot of hard relationship work that has benefited us. We talk more about our relationship and marriage. We have discussed a lot of things that in hindsight we should have discussed years ago but didn’t. We feel more confident that we have a strong marriage and that there is enough love (although *time* is a resource that is limited 🙂 ) to go around. It’s been hard work and will continue to be hard work. We have made mistakes…OK…mostly me….on how we handle and manage this ongoing learning process. But we’re getting more comfortable and knowledgeable as we go through this.

    I don’t think that what you are feeling about opening your marriage is unusual. It goes against everything that our culture has instilled in us. IT’S THE WAY YOU ARE SUPPOSE TO BE!!! And yet, is that paradigm really true? So, I suppose the questions you should be asking yourself and talking through with your husband is what exactly are the emotions you are feeling and what are the sources / cause of those feelings. There will probably be a lot to unpack and examine, so it won’t be a quick and easy process.

    And don’t worry about what the “poly community” thinks. There is no one “Right Way” to do this in spite of what some folks think. Do what is right for you guys.

    I’d be happy to answer questions about we have gone through.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re right…everything about this lifestyle is grinding against what culture and childhood has instilled in me. This is foreign territory and I’m thankful for everyone’s gracious responses.

  5. I’m not poly, just FYI, and I do think it’s healthy to look at your reaction your husband wanting to be with someone else.

    I find it interesting that for you it’s bring poly but for him it’s “an excuse to explore outside the marriage” and “cheat”. Why is that? Why is your desire to essentially do the same thing (explore outside the marriage) ok, but his is not?

    I think until you can answer that for yourself and have a conversation with your husband you should think about not pursuing it — the way it’s currently presented through your post I think it has the potential to simply end in hurt feelings and a damaged, perhaps irreparably, marriage.

    • I don’t think the author ever said that her husband is using her ‘coming out’ as an excuse to cheat. She stated that she was a little blindsided that her husband had been having those feelings (evidently?) also, and only chose to express those feelings AFTER she ‘came out.’ I can imagine it was hard enough to come to the conclusion about herself, let alone hear her spouse say the same thing, when all along you thought he was mono. She clearly stated she wants help sorting through her emotions, which it seems like she’s never faced before. I’m gathering that she knows they’re messy, but she’s wanting to sort through it. She never said it’s flat out ‘not ok’ for him to participate. She’s just struggling with the thought that this may be their new dynamic in the marriage, and it’s all new. Of course she’s gonna have these crazy thoughts and emotions. I DO really feel they both need to be on the same terms and be ok with BOTH parties exploring poly before one makes the first move.

  6. I’d just like to point out how much more thought out and compassionate these responses are compared to the comments on the Facebook post. Goodness gracious. Thank you all for taking the time to be gracious and thoughtful with your responses on here.

  7. I’m curious – is it common to have one spouse that practices poly, and the other spouse practice mono? I’m not poly, but am curious about the lifestyle. Don’t think it’s for me, but it is a fascinating lifestyle to me. It seems like everyone is mostly stating that it’s either both parties are poly, or it won’t work. ??

    • When I was in that 5-year poly relationship, I was essentially mono for the first three years of it. My partner had another primary partner (who was long-distance at the time) and a handful of casual lovers, but I felt like one partner was enough for me. He encouraged me to seek other partners, but it was my choice not to.

      However, I entered that relationship knowing that he was practicing polyamory and had a primary partner already. Had it been a monogamous relationship first that he wanted to open up, or if he had discouraged me from living the same lifestyle as him, things would have been different.

    • Poly/mono relationships aren’t very common but.. I’m poly and my husband is mono. Everything is great with us and he’s completely satisfied not seeing anyone else. In the beginning I was really worried about him because in my previous relationships if I told them I was poly, at first they would be fine with it and then later on they would want me to only date them and not see anyone else. With my husband (my primary), I initially addressed concern about me being poly, and also asked if he would want to date outside our relationship but, he said he didn’t want to. We keep our conversations very open and honest. I address my concerns constantly, asking every so often if he is okay with certain situations. He has met all my other relationships I have dated and has been a very supportive husband/friend if there has been any breakups as well. I’m a very lucky person to have the husband I have.

  8. Non-monogamy, polyamory, open relationships.

    Would someone *please* link me to a proper defination of these terms! Even google came up with contradicting responses! (And yes, I know there are probably as many boxes as there are relationships and I despise labels on principle. However, I feel I don’t have the right vocabulary to explore my own feelings on this!)

    I do, however, have no issue on the notion of knowing you are something other than monogamous while remaining in practicing monogamy. Just like being in a monogamous relationship with one sex doesn’t make you less bi; because you don’t indulge doesn’t mean you aren’t attracted!

    We are monogamous. There was a lot of potential for more with one person a while back, but we needed a lot of time to work through issues like the OP says. And now that we have a clear idea of what we are ready to try, we don’t have the right person (s). But the potential is there, and a lot of discussions have been had. I feel something this defining is not something you rush into!

    • Add monogam-ish to your search. Dan Savage talks a lot about this (relationships that are primarily/mostly monogamous, but so have pre-approved periods of inviting others in and/or having permission to have sex acts with someone else).

      • Oh gosh! Thank you!

        A quick Google reveals that this is EXACTLY what I meant! I am humble enough to know that if we came up with something that felt right, there HAD to be others who found the same thing too. And I knew it was impossible that there wasn’t a name for it! Now I can properly research and see how others approached this and what worked for them.

  9. My husband and I have discussed poly. We’re in a community that has access to poly support groups etc. He has experience with poly relationships, I did not. I’ve had experience with betrayal in past relationships.

    It is 100% okay to have the emotions the OP does. We shouldn’t deny them. That said it’s vital to communicate and negotiate the actions on those feelings. Meaning if you feel like his desire to also engage in another relationship is causing you negative emotions or concerns, it needs to be talked about. It’s difficult but I’d advise pin pointing what exactly it is you’re feeling. Are you worried that you will be jealous? That’s normal. Even if you engage in poly, you are not immune to feeling jealousy. It’s not like that stops existing.

    So figure out what to do to resolve that. Is it hypocritical? Sure but humans are inherently hypocritical about a lot of things. Doesn’t change the reality of how you feel. That is where negotiating with your partner comes into play.

    I dated another woman. I am married. I had reservations about him having a relationship with someone else. It was fully discussed between us. I made a choice to venture forward to agree with his desire to meet someone new and develop a relationship. We consider ourselves ethically non-monogamous.

    Everything is out on the table. Have I felt jealousy? Yes! He’s texting and flirting with this woman and I felt jealous. I took responsibility for my feelings. And rather than say “stop you can’t” I focused on why I felt jealous. It was because I wanted attention from him that moment and felt sidelined. I instead asked him to have a distraction free night with him. My needs were met and I felt much better.

    Part of the poly experience is understanding that it’s not the other person making you jealous, it’s your desire for x. Whatever x is. When x is met, there is less reason to feel negatively.

    To me it’s no different than each if us having friendships that we don’t communally share. Or even if we do, recognizing that our friendship with someone isn’t dependent on our relationship to each other.

    We had a friend contacting him and in that moment I felt sad. I didn’t feel included. I wasn’t upset at him, I didn’t think he or she were intending to leave me out, but I went to my friend and expressed how I felt. That I would like to be included because I care about her. Easy fix. She includes me more and we share our own fun stuff. Needs met everyone happy.

    Betrayal from cheating comes from lying and being deceitful. That is hurtful. Maintaining healthy relationships and open communication where everyone’s needs can be met or negotiated on is good.

    My relationship with his current perspective partner is going to be different. I don’t have expectations of the same relationship. I hope we can be friends but that will be dependent on her and myself. If not, no big deal. As long as my needs are met, I’ll be satisfied.

    • “Part of the poly experience is understanding that it’s not the other person making you jealous, it’s your desire for x. Whatever x is. When x is met, there is less reason to feel negatively.

      To me it’s no different than each if us having friendships that we don’t communally share. Or even if we do, recognizing that our friendship with someone isn’t dependent on our relationship to each other.”

      Thank you. This makes a lot of sense to me. This has been said to me over and over again, but not exactly in this way. Thanks for being gracious with your comment. I appreciate it.

  10. I think it’s pretty normal and understandable to feel great about exploring sexual and romantically significant relationships outside your commitment and yet feel jealous and threatened when your partner wants to (or does) the same. I think it’s because we imagine that we’ll be able to love/have sex with our partner AND other people and it won’t change our feelings for our main squeeze in any way…but we imagine that it doesn’t work like that for our partner. We think they’re comparing this new person to us and thinking less of us and like, NOT WANTING US. But it’s so unlikely that would be the case.

    These feelings come up for me regularly although in tiny bursts, but I stop the potential jealousy/inferiority explosion in its tracks using logic: I focus on how I feel about *my* boyfriend when I have relationships with other men. When I find another man attractive, when I kiss another man, hold another man, connect deeply with another man, have mind-blowing sex with another man, laugh wildly with another man, go on a trip with another man, spend the entire weekend with another man, have an intellectual awakening or a once-in-a-lifetime experience or a potently powerful transformation with another man, does it change how I feel about my boyfriend or somehow disrespect or erase or *invalidate* everything I have with and appreciate about him? Not even for a second. He is still just as wonderful and hilarious and important and special and smart and sexy and soooo completely wanted by me. I’m fully present with whomever I’m with at the time, but my other partner is not forgotten or less loved. It’s like my relationships have no bearing on the other ones…just like with friends. So I just put those proverbial rainbow-colored glasses on my boyfriend and voila, weird feelings begone! (Often replaced with happiness, love, gratefulness.)

    Another fantasy I use is: if I had two children I would love them both; sometimes I’d have to give one a little more attention, but it wouldn’t mean I loved one more than the other. The GREATNESS of one would not diminish the greatness of the other. And I have a lot of close friends and less-close friends and none of them are competing in my heart (maybe in my calendar though!*) Same goes for romantic partners…we just have so much less practice taking care of two (or more) of these types of relationships (and hearts) at once.

    If you fall in love with another man, will it make you love your husband less? My bet is on NO. Same goes for him. Of course, this trick only works if you really can split your affections between multiple men (as opposed to laser-beaming them onto one). In this way, the more truly “poly” your love is, the easier it will be to bypass or at least turn down the flow on the jealousy faucet.

    I’m loving the other advice in these comments about communication. Own your feelings, be honest (you’re already doing it!), and try to be kind to yourself – you are probably going to wish you didn’t feel the way you did a lot of the time. I encourage you to let go of that. I’m working on it too…”I want to be ok with this, because it’s what cool poly people do.” The truth is, your partner really wants to know when you’re not ok with something. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to change their plans. They are autonomous…but now they have all the information with which to base their behavior on, and they can give you some extra lovin’ when you need reassurance. They love you. They care about your needs and wants. They’re important. Even if they feel “stupid” or “selfish” or “immature.” It’s ok to be vulnerable.

    Last thing I’ll say (I have a lot to say on this topic – recently was on the cover of the NY Times because of it, woot!!!) is that I think some of your feelings stem from the way women have been culturally conditioned to be very competitive with other women. Feeling threatened by other women and tearing each other down feels normal for us, whether or not we realize or want to admit it. Men have a little of that going on, but I don’t think it’s anywhere to the degree it is for women…there’s so much more “bro-ness” and camaraderie about their interactions.

    *Time management is a bit of a bitch. Love really is infinite but time is not. I think non-monogamy is very logistically challenging for people that want to spend every day with the same person…unless everyone lives together, and plenty do! But for people that are fine with some space in the relationship, who are good at communicating in absentia, and who are in love with multiple amazing people, it sort of feels like you hacked life 😀

    • Goodness. You’re speaking to my heart.
      You’re right. I was RAISED with my mother telling me that “girls are just jealous of you if they treat you unkindly,” and grew up seeing my two parents not even having FRIENDS of the opposite sex because they were so jealous of each other in their relationship. I don’t approve of their marriage model, but it IS hard to break away from seeing that as ‘normal.’ I LONG for women, myself included, to stop competing with each other.

      Society just teaches us to compare, period. Compare your job to that of someone else, compare your income, compare your cars, compare your spirituality, compare your vacations, compare your spouse, compare your bodies, blah blah. I don’t realize that I fall victim to it (and dish it out) more than I’d like to admit.

      And you’re right: When I think about men that I’ve developed feelings for, it absolutely has no baring on how I feel for my husband. Two separate entities completely. I’m falling in love with the fact that my heart is now EXPANDING and able to love more than one person at a time. It’s overwhelming and amazing. So yes – why would I not think my husband is capable of the same?

      THANK YOU for your comment.

      • The loving part is easy. The tougher part is time, resources, and conflict navigation. How will you feel if there is conflict between you and one of your husband’s partners, and he doesn’t take your side, because he loves both of you equally? What if you’re having an awful day, and all your partners have plans with their other partners and can’t come to hold your hand? If you’re offered a dream job in another state, but your husband doesn’t want to move because his partner lives where you are now, how will that affect you? If you’re trying to save up for a house and he’s still spending money on dates, will that bother you? When one of you goes through a period of time where you don’t have another partner and the other does, will you be okay with spending all those nights at home alone?

        I don’t mean to sound like I’m pooh-poohing polyamory- I think it does work well for a lot of people. But every person added to a situation multiplies the potential for difficulty exponentially, and I think sometimes people get caught up in the “More love, more sex, what’s not to like?” part without really considering how things will pan out when stuff gets hairy – and stuff always gets hairy, just like with monogamy (except, more people = more interpersonal dynamics with the potential for hairiness.) So when making that decision, keep the tougher parts in mind.

  11. Some thoughts I had after reading the other comments:
    Could these feelings be related to other patterns in your relationship that are being masked by the “bogeyman” of polyamory?
    Like, does your husband often glom on to your interests, making you feel like you don’t have enough space or freedom to just be with yourself and figure out who you are separately from his shared experiences? Does he often sit on issues for a long time waiting instead for you to take the leap and do the emotional labor of initiating an uncomfortable conversation?
    These are discussions that could be had without the weightiness of opening up your marriage attached. Sorting out other underlying issues or patterns of inequity apart from discussing your identity as poly or what that means for your marriage may also help both of you understand where you are coming from on this issue and reach a greater empathy as you navigate this new phase of your marriage.

  12. Thank you for posting this! I’ve never considered myself poly (was deeply betrayed in the one poly relationship I was in, and am currently engaged, in a monogamous relationship). But shortly before you posted this, I met an amazing man and started experiencing ‘crush-like’ feelings I haven’t felt for anyone in a long time (not even my husband-to-be, whom I love dearly). For a variety of reasons, I don’t feel free to act on these feelings, but I had that moment of “oh, shit- what if I’m *not* monogamous?!”. I felt shame, right off the bat, so getting to read your post and all of the supportive and wise comments on it has really helped me make peace with this new wrinkle in my heart. Your timing is perfect.

    • I think people fall into the trap of thinking that “monogamous” is a personality trait. Monogamy is a thing you DO. A thing you CHOOSE. Yes, it’s easier for some people than others. But I don’t think it’s truly easy for anyone. Everyone is attracted to other people and there are probably hundreds (or more) of folks out there who you could feel chemistry with, if you came into each other’s paths. The whole beauty of monogamy is saying to someone “I know there are other people I may want to be with and I’m consciously choosing to give that up in favor of devoting all my romantic energy to you and you alone.” I don’t think people do that, though – I think they just say “Hey you’re a person I love and I don’t see anyone else I want right now so I assume we can just carry on like this forever.”

      Both choices are hard, honestly. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that because one is hard, you’re necessarily “meant” to do the other – it’ll be hard too, it’s just a matter of what kind of “hard” you want to do <3

  13. I’ve been in your shoes.

    I’m now divorced.

    I felt like I wanted to explore my connections to other men, and I thought I could learn to be okay with my husband exploring as well, but I….wasn’t. I really wasn’t. I could handle the sex but not the emotional ties and split loyalties. Which is good to know about myself, because now I can consciously make the choice to give up the exploration I might enjoy in order to have a monogamous relationship with my current, or future partner. Or I could look for a relationship with someone who has a cuckholding fetish (where they enjoy their partner “stepping out” on them but don’t do the same) which I honestly think I’d be pretty into, haha. But I learned the hard way that I need to be an undisputed #1 in my partner’s heart and I’m not really willing to share that space.

  14. I have a feeling this may be a pretty old post, but this is the first place I’ve felt comfortable commenting and looking for help.

    I’ve felt polyamorous for about as long as I’ve been dating (wasn’t until recently I discovered there is actually a name for it) and it’s always made me feel like there was something wrong with me. I believe this is primarily due to societal upbringing and negative reactions from partners that didn’t understand my feelings.

    So I did what I feel most people do, shove those feelings and thoughts down and try to force yourself into society’s box. Well, I had one relationship (which I have 2 beautiful children from) that I felt comfortable and secure enough in to finally open up a little about myself and my feelings of unrestricted love (can’t really think of a better way to word that). Unfortunate to say that didn’t turn out to well and she became so controlling and berating that I had been beaten so far into depression that I was considering suicide.

    Fast forward a few months and me getting the courage together to call that relationship off and I fall for a friend of a friend. She had just gotten out of a rough relationship herself and we were more or less each others pillars of strength. Almost 6 years later (and married) and I’m thinking I’ve finally drown my polyamorous nature to a point that it won’t come up anymore and it has.

    I feel like I’m trying to outrun an avalanche of emotion and fear because the last thing I want is to fell like I did before.

    I briefly brought up my feelings and she didn’t freak out, she didn’t tell me I’m scum, or broken, or a freak. She said that’s it’s not something she is into and feels it’s wrong, and that I am enough for her, but she doesnt “own” me.

    I obviously want to talk more about this because I don’t want to go down the road I went before, and I love her more than words can explain, but I don’t know how to explain to her that my love for her wouldn’t change or diminish if there was another woman in my life and that I don’t think that it’s fair to expect one person to fulfill every possible need that another person has.

    I’m not sure if my wording has made any sense, and I know this is incredibly long. But I’m seeking help and felt I could get it here.

    • We all have it in us to love more than one person at a time, choosing monogamy doesn’t change that. There are several people we could fit with and are compatible with. When we choose monogamy, most of us expect an exclusive emotional and physical relationship with that person. How many lovers do you need before you feel your every need is being taken care of? Maybe you won’t know until you get there.
      Your wife may never be on board with this. If you find that you absolutely cannot be happy in an emotional/physical monogamous marriage, then separation may be the only answer.

      The issue I have with people who advocate polyamory is the idea that one person(from their perspective) can’t fulfill their every need. What needs are those and gosh think about all of the effort they go through just to find/have all the lovers necessary to fulfill those “needs”. No matter what kind of relationship format you choose, there must always be a baseline of happiness inside of you. A certain level of happiness must come from within. That way no one can take it away from you.

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