Unexpected polyamory and what it taught me about myself

Guest post by Minerva Siegel
Polyamory illustrated card set by Etsy seller HildeAtalanta

Polyamory isn’t something that I thought I’d ever be interested in. I feel totally satisfied by our relationship in every way, so why would I ever want something different? I thought polyamory was totally fine for a lot of people — it just wasn’t for me.

My husband and I were together for three years before I met someone who changed that feeling. My lover and I started off as friends, but our feelings quickly and inescapably evolved into something more romantic. The chemistry between us is palpable — you can feel it in the air like some kind of electric current, or maybe magic. Some wild force — fate, destiny, luck — brought us together, and I was falling in love.

I struggled in the beginning with what to do. I couldn’t ignore my feelings for this new man, and cheating on my husband was out of the question. I knew I had to talk with my husband about these new feelings I was developing, so I could figure out what to do with them.

A thousand worries squiggled around uncomfortably in my mind for the next few days as I planned out just how to bring it all up.

What do I want out of this talk? Should I bring up polyamory? Will he be upset with me for even mentioning it? Will he be jealous? Will he feel inadequate? Unloved? Betrayed, even? Worrying about it was making me sick.

In the end, I decided being as straightforward and open as possible was the best route. After a dinner date one evening, I laid it all out: I met someone, we started as friends and our feelings evolved, I’m interested in exploring polyamory, I love you, I love you, I love you.

My little speech was full of reassurance and love. I told him I never want to leave him, and that this development didn’t in any way detract from the way I felt about him. He was a little taken aback at first, but he appreciated my honesty. He thought about it overnight and then, the next day, we came to a painstakingly detailed agreement after a careful and thoughtful conversation that ultimately allows me to explore a connection with this new person.

Before getting into a polyamorous relationship, I hadn’t realized that my love is infinite.

Having these two men (my husband/primary partner and my lover) in my life has been the most fulfilling experience I think I’ve ever had. They’re complete opposites and stimulate different parts of my mind and personality. I feel supported and adored by both of them, and I love them both separately and endlessly.

The fact that I can be in love with two men without one love diminishing the other is incredible to me. Before getting into a polyamorous relationship, I hadn’t realized that my love is infinite. I thought that my heart only held so much love, and that once I’d given it all out, that was that. It turns out that I’m capable of entertaining completely independent, fulfilling, romantic relationships with more than one person, and I think that’s kind of amazing. This isn’t any sort of commentary on monogamy, mind you — it can be entirely enriching and beautiful for many people.

Falling in love isn’t a choice you make; it’s a magical, uncontrollable phenomenon. I’m proud of myself for having the guts to talk to my husband about my feelings, and all of this has brought us even closer together. Knowing that I can be open and honest with him about anything is such a comforting feeling, and it’s strengthened our relationship. There’s work involved in all relationships, and I think polyamorous ones might require even more communication, thoughtfulness, and consideration than monogamous ones, but I’m so incandescently happy.

The moral of the story is this: follow your heart courageously. Be open and honest and bold in love. Sometimes, the most unexpected encounters can lead you down a beautiful new path that reveals a whole new magic in you.

Comments on Unexpected polyamory and what it taught me about myself

  1. Yay you! It was a hard decision to make, I know from personal experience.
    Not everyone will agree that you made the right or a good decision. The benefits you derive are immense. More love in your life. More communication and connection with the ones you love. Enriching your life with different perspectives. It’s not an easy path to walk. Juggling time, feelings, and needing to communicate honestly and openly with both your partners and them doing the same with you and their loved ones. It’s really hard work sometimes. But in the end, it’s worth knowing yourself better, developing better communication and relationship skills, and having more love in your life.

  2. Polyamory is such a personal thing, but you may be the first person I know who didn’t decide to be polyamorous before falling in love with a secondary. Good to know!

    I tried it, thinking about it as “open to possibility”, and it did not work out- had it happened to me like it happened to you, my experience would’ve been totally different.

    I do think my biggest struggle, though, would be the fact that I am constantly thinking in terms of future state. It would be a struggle for me to enjoy the now, and not get stressed out about the fact that this second relationship doesn’t have a socially normal progression (not that love isn’t normal, just that it wouldn’t go from dating to marriage, and I worry I’d feel like that meant the relationship stalled out).

    And major kudos to your husband for trying it, and accepting it! With what society teaches us about love and self-acceptance, the fact that he didn’t take that as an ego-blow and a rejection (despite your talk) is amazing. I hope the three of you have many more happy years to come!

    • Thank you! He’s a really secure person, and knew I was coming at this from a place of love. I’m sure he was a little blindsided by it at first, but he knows how much I love him, so it made everything easier.

  3. I intentionally became polyamorous, but my experiences up until falling in love with my current partner were friends-with-benefits levels. Experiencing a deep connection and seeing myself in a long term relationship with this partner was something completely new and required a lot of work on my husband’s and my part. It has been an incredible journey and I am closer to my husband than I have ever been.
    So many polyamorous stories show triads and I appreciate that you’re representing those of us who don’t follow that model in our relationships.
    I relate so much to your story. Thank you for sharing!!

  4. This! So much this! … I’m struggling really hard in my heart right now, because I have always felt as though Polyamory was the way for me. Well by “always” I mean I met a girl in college that had a girlfriend and a boyfriend, and I was blown away by it… while at the same time it felt completely right, and then I was awed by her ability to maintain two emotional / romantic / sexual relationships. Prior to that I didn’t even think it was possible… I thought there was just monogamy, or cheating… but knowing others were doing this, and that it wasn’t cheating, and OMG my heart sang.

    Then my hubby and I somewhat tried it… and by that I mean he misunderstood what it meant to me, started sexting with a random girl that we both knew, I saw the pics by accident as he left his FB chat open, and my heart broke into a million pieces that we’re still trying to piece back together.

    When I read stories like this, I still feel like it’s “right” for me, but I’m not sure how to go about being OK with the thought of him being with another woman. I think maybe if he’d talked to me first like you did with your hubby, things would be different.. but now all I feel is jealousy (something I’ve never had before) and mistrust. I love him dearly, but I have no idea how to get past this to a place where we could both explore.. and though he says he’s still fine with me trying…. I wouldn’t feel right if I’m putting restrictions on him. GAH.

    Anyway.. I just wanted to say Thank you for posting this prospective, I’m so happy for you and the loves you’ve found… Fingers toes and eyeballs crossed one day I can find my way back to that. <3

    • I hear you on the struggles with jealousy. My wife and I are going through this struggle now. We also fell into polyamory accidentally. She fell in love with her best female friend and when I was approached about it, I had no problems or issues about them being together and gave my blessing. Many months later I decided to choose this path also. As it turns out, my wife is struggling with that very issue of me being with another woman. She is fine with everything right until the sex is introduced into the picture, then it gets really hard for her. Lots and lots of talking about this. We know that our paths to poly are very different and what drives me is not what works for her. And just for the record, we’re not doing a triad. We each have someone we’re seeing. There’s lots of configurations that can happen…there’s no Right Way except be honest and open.

      So, to get past it is going to take a lot of talking with your husband.
      There are some tools and resources available online (Google the website MoreThanTwo for a tool for managing jealousy) that can help you figure out your root cause of jealousy. It won’t “fix” or solve the problem. But it will help you understand and manage your feelings.

    • He is not. He doesn’t feel the need to. If that ever changes, though, I’m totally open to conversation about it, and he knows that!

    • Those were many of my same thoughts too. Your story sounds amazing, from your perspective, and makes total sense, and I’m happy that situations like this can work out… my biggest concern would be my husband’s security if I did ever fall in love with someone else. How do you enter into another relationship and NOT have your primary partner feel rejected or jealous or insignificant in some way? I understand that the open talking about it and the reassurances are huge, I just don’t know how that would work if I put myself in his shoes. I’ve never been a jealous person by nature, and I trust my husband completely… but if he came to me and said he had fallen in love with another woman even though he still loved me… honestly, I’d be crushed. I really don’t know how I’d come to a place with being okay with it. In theory I’m okay with it–this story makes total sense & I think it’s great that that can work out…but in reality I don’t think I could do it if I was the one “left out” and my partner had someone else he was involved in. Does that make me selfish, or would that hypothetical situation make him selfish? I honestly don’t know.

  5. i always wonder about the arrangements. “the ethical slut” book said making good guidelines was a great step to getting things working. my boyfriend and i have discussed polyamory and i am just not there yet. i do want some guidelines and “rules” (bad word choice i know) to help make me feel more secure until we get into it more. my boyfriend feels that guidelines are wrong and i cannot put limits on his love but i want them at first because i’m not sure how i feel about any of it. truthfully i do not know if i’ll ever be on board but i’m so happy it has worked out for you!

    • Polyamory is tough and a *lot* of negotiating is normal. If your boyfriend is pushing at your boundaries and refusing limits on his love, and ignoring your discomfort, that’s not polyamory. He just want you to OK his cheating.

    • I consider my self poly by nature, but am currently in a (totally satisfied) monogamous relationships (per my partner’s wishes, and my lack of desire for a secondary right now). I have had a variety of previous poly experiences from committed seconds, to friends with benefits. Your boyfriend saying guidelines are wrong, and saying you can’t put limits on his love is a major red flag for me. You are asking for guidelines for your safety (emotional and physical), even the most open relationships have some guidelines (like do you share details or not, how much time is spent with other partners, what level of protection is used by which partners etc. ) it sounds really manipulative for him to guilt you by saying you can’t limit his love. Guidelines aren’t there to limit love, they’re there to create structure and safety for the people participating, and to preserve the primary relationship.

  6. In my experience, expanding your own love to more than one person is definitely the easier part. It gets tougher when you’ve got to share someone else’s love :-/ But godspeed to those who it works for!

    • Totally. But keep in mind that sometimes seeing your partner leads to the next step. You might not be into it at first, but this could be the turning point. 🙂

    • Thank you for a few words that opened up a whole new line of reflection for me!

      I have no problem anticipating sexual situations involving other lovers and/or me and/or husband. There’s been some light second-base stuff done before, with no jealousy or ill consequence (a decade ago, so I guarantee no long-term hidden impact!) It’s mostly a question of finding the right person(s) and if we don’t ever, that’s cool to. The possibility remains.

      And yet, this post bothered me and I couldn’t figure out why. I realized because of your comment that it’s the “loving” part that bugs me. Adding plus ones for sexy times is one thing. I’m not sure how I feel about him (or me) falling in love with someone else. Jealous and insecure, mostly.

      Huh. I ever even realized there was a difference! Well, something else to think about, I guess! Thanks!

    • You know, it’s funny because I’m one of the ends of the V, with my partner as the point, and…it’s never been an issue. Perhaps it’s because I was the “joining” partner–they were an established couple when she and I met. So my relationship has always featured sharing someone else’s love. She loves her boyfriend, and she loves me, and that’s how it’s been since the beginning. I like seeing her interacting with her boyfriend of 13 years because I see aspects of her that I don’t necessarily see the way she and I interact. He likes seeing her interacting with me as well. (The first time I came over, I was sitting in her lap while we looked at something online, he walked by, saw us, went “awwww” and then kept going on his way to the bathroom. This was almost five years ago. 🙂 )

      I’m sure it *can be* hard to know your partner wants someone else as well as you. But it doesn’t have to be. In my case, I have faith that she loves both of us, and the reason she will never “pick one” is because she does not love one more than the other. And the fact that she can love more than one person so wholeheartedly is, in turn, something I very much love and admire about her.

  7. Your courage always astounds me, Minerva.
    I have to confess when I think about polyamory my immediate thought is not “Oh what if I were to fall in love again?” but rather “Oh no, what if he falls in love again?!”. :/

  8. This author is truly lucky that her husband was on board. He could have felt betrayed and considered what she did as cheating. I don’t agree that you should always follow your heart or that falling in love is a magical thing. I think it’s either you choose one way of life (such as mono, open marriage, or polyandry) and make choices in supportive of it. While I think it’s normal to choose to be in an emotionally/physically monogamous relationship and still feel attractions to others, it’s what you choose to do with that attraction that is within your control. People don’t just fall in love, there are ways of behaving that promote it. My impression is that the LW was trying to minimize her initial betrayal and refuse accountability by saying that, “Falling in love isn’t a choice you make; it’s a magical, uncontrollable phenomenon.” Really? Anyway, she lucked out with her husband being on board.

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