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House of (hopefully not) Jealous Lovers
August 21, 2009 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Polyamory: What now?

I am currently in a long term relationship with someone who I love very much. We have been together for 4 years and I guess that polyamory is always something that my partner has wanted to explore but has been comfortable not pursuing actively until now. While I can find no rational reason to be against the practice (in fact I can only see upsides) I am feeling a bit bewildered and lost. There are few tiers of questions that rise out of this.
What I need to know are the logistics of moving from a monogamous to polyamorous relationship. How do I go about finding like-minded people? How do I broach the topic of whatever I have with a new person either being secondary or a part of my primary relationship? How do I adjust my primary relationship to accommodate whatever might come up for either of us? We have already discussed ground rules re: communication, our apartment, what is off-limits, practicing safe sex and so on.
The next tier of questions has to do with emotional coping. To be honest I am feeling a little blindsided by this sudden shift in the dynamics of our partnership. I don't want to be a jealous partner and I want for my other half to explore without feeling like I am losing some part of what we have now. I feel like these are murky, treacherous waters and any advice on how to make it out for the better would be appreciated.
The last tier I guess is communication. How do you share this with friends/family? Do you share it?

Right now all of this is very seat of the pants and I am having trouble shifting gears. I am all for this experiment because no matter what our configuration the relationship will last or it won't. If it's something my partner needs to feel like a whole, honest person then I would be out of line to ask them not to walk this road. I guess I could just use a primer.

Follow-up questions can go to thewhatinthewho@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Ethical Slut has been recommended here many times, and deals with many of these issues.
posted by wyzewoman at 8:12 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


You didn't say whether you feel this is something you really want to do...
posted by bunny hugger at 8:23 AM on August 21, 2009


Not hating on polyamory, but if this is the kind of thing you are trying to rationally self-justify, then clearly your heart isn't in it. Let me crib the emotional parts of your question out from the rational parts:
You feel bewildered and lost.
You feel blindsided.
You don't want to be the jealous partner (implies that you already see yourself in this role, or falling into this role).
You don't want to feel like you're losing part of what you have now.
You feel this is a "murky and treacherous" situation (I get the metaphorical use of treacherous, don't worry).

But then you say you're "all for this experiment". Clearly you are having at least SOME problems with it, and the sooner you admit this to yourself and your partner the easier it will be to work out some solution. Your partner may need this to be whole, but don't submerge your own needs just to maintain the relationship--I've seen people do this in poly- and mono- relationships, and it never ends up happily for the person making all the sacrifices. It may end up being something that works for you, but you need to have the emotional stuff flat out dealt with beforehand--jealousy grows only more bitter with time.

Your head may be in it, but a relationship includes irrational and rational moments alike.

Hope this reply doesn't come off as harsh or judgmental--I don't mean it to, really.
posted by Benjy at 8:24 AM on August 21, 2009 [13 favorites]


I've heard Opening Up recommended several times in addition to The Ethical Slut.
posted by muddgirl at 8:26 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The part I don't understand is why it would be "out of line" for you to want something pretty basic to a lot of people, which is not wanting your boyfriend or girlfriend to be fucking somebody else?

It's different if this is something you're into...
posted by Kirklander at 8:27 AM on August 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


You don't have to tell everybody, or anybody, until you're ready. Or even if you're ready, you still don't have to. If, however, either of you starts seeing someone in your social circle (if this is allowed under the rules you've set), you both need to be on the same page about what you're going to tell the other folks in your circle.

Be prepared to talk with your partner, a lot. While any good relationship gets and stays a good relationship through communication, in an open or poly relationship it's really critical that you talk to each other, and even more important that you hear each other.

Any rules you set now (or any time) are not written in stone. You will both change how you feel about things as you progress in this.

On preview: Feeling doubtful/scared/nervous/uncertain doesn't necessarily mean "I don't want to do this and I'm only going along to make my partner happy." Change is scary - if one of you got a great job offer in another country, the other would likely feel doubtful/nervous/scared/uncertain. This doesn't mean "No," and it doesn't mean "Not open to thinking about it." It might, of course, but just being scared in a new situation doesn't mean that the new situation is bad or that you won't end up liking it.

But do take it slowly at first. Talk a lot. Try to be honest with your partner as well as with yourself. Own your feelings and actions.
posted by rtha at 8:34 AM on August 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Steve Pavlina is a popular blogger who has openly documented his recent experiences with polyamory. There is a lot of info on his site so you may have to poke around a bit.

I am recommending this guy for the second time in 2 days here, which is pure coincidence. I am not a mega-fan of Steve Pavlina's. But he's got some good stuff to offer.
posted by yawper at 8:34 AM on August 21, 2009


The poly- part is hard enough without lots of communication and the power for either person to say, "We're not doing this anymore."

The -amory part, though... Love shouldn't make you feel bewildered and lost.

If what you need to be a happy, whole, honest person is to not do this, there's nothing wrong with that and there's nothing wrong with telling your partner that.
posted by Houstonian at 8:47 AM on August 21, 2009


Opening Up is really the best resource out there. Run, do not walk to a bookstore and get Opening Up.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:50 AM on August 21, 2009


A relationship between two people is one relationship. A relationship between 3 people is 3 relationships. It will get very very complex. It's not twice as hard, it's much, much harder.

A:B

vs.

A:B
B:C
C:A
posted by blue_beetle at 8:51 AM on August 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


If it's something my partner needs to feel like a whole, honest person then I would be out of line to ask them not to walk this road.

I don't think you'd be out of line at all to say, no, this is not what I signed on for. While in reality marriage = whatever works for the people in the marriage, many (most?) people believe that marriage = monogamy.

If monogamy works for you and you aren't interested in polyamory of your own accord, then I think that trying to be something you're not for the sake of your partner is a road to insanity.

FWIW, if mr. crankylex came home and decided that he needed to bring other people into our relationship, we would no longer be in a relationship.
posted by crankylex at 8:53 AM on August 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is a list of stuff I've done. I'm not saying you should necessarily do all of them (except #2 - that is a must) but they're options:

1) Join the poly/mono yahoo group for lots of people struggling with the fact that their partner has decided (usually more deceitfully than yours) with the fact that they are poly.

2) Be super honest with your partner. If something feels bad or wrong, say it.

3) Get a therapist who is comfortable dealing with poly issues

4) Write about what you want. If you don't know what you want from this relationship, it's a good chance you'll end up feeling resentful, used and taken advantage of.

5) Get veto power if you decide to go through with it.

6) If he does decide to go meet up with another partner, find something fun to do - preferably with a friend. If you're home alone when he's with someone else, there is the high likelihood that you'll spend the entire time thinking about what they're doing. DON'T DO THAT! Go out. Catch a movie. Do a spa day with a friend. Go for a very long bike ride.

Good luck.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:58 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Crankylex has a point, but it sounds like you're willing to try it and recognize that if you don't like it, you'll end the relationship if he won't compromise. Good for you.

But yeah, recognize that you'll now be a relationship where he'll come every night and say "ok, today I want/need/prefer this person tonight", à la "Raise the Red Lantern". Kinda makes you a bit powerless in the relationship, no? Unless you have your own separate relationships (which it sounds like you don't want to do), can you deal with being in such an unfair situation?
posted by Melismata at 9:02 AM on August 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


While I can find no rational reason to be against the practice (in fact I can only see upsides) I am feeling a bit bewildered and lost.

Well, I think you are being very open-minded for someone who is feeling blind-sided by this. It's clear you want to accept every part of your partner.

It's also clear from your question that you feel that logically this is something you should embrace, but emotionally you are having a hard time, and you feel that you are lacking in some way because of all this.

But really, there is no *should* in all this. Just because polyamory works for some people doesn't mean that rationally it is the best solution for everyone. And just because you are feeling emotionally hurt doesn't mean you are not a rational person.

What I see as the problem here is that you have been in a monogamous relationship with your partner for 4 years. Although, as you say yourself, you "guess" that polyamory is something your partner has always been interested in, it is only now coming up. No wonder you feel blind-sided! Sounds like this was never clear to you before.

I recommend talking with your partner, a LOT, not just about the boundaries and guidelines (good for you, btw, for going over those issues), but why this is coming up now. Has there been a change in your living situation, one of you changed jobs, etc., that has led to your partner re-examining his life? I worry that you feel that you are somehow lacking or that he is not satisfied with you, and so your heart is not in the right place just yet to accept this.

So let him tell you, more than once if that's what you need to feel more comfortable with all this, just why he now wants to branch out.

And you know, it could be nothing more than that he feels more comfortable, and accepted, with you than he has with any other partner, which would be a *good* thing, and help you to feel more secure about moving forward.
posted by misha at 9:14 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ahhh. You ask so many good questions!

A little while back, I became good friends with this couple (triple??) who were polyamorous. For some of the reasons you touch upon in your ask (and some professional reasons, too) these folks were not "out" to everyone in their lives. They kept a lot of secrets. (He's her roommate. No - her boyfriend! Uh, they're engaged and X is the business partner. Wait! Who's on second??) It made being their friend very fucking difficult, especially because I don't like lying.

Here is what I learned about polyamory from that experience: When you participate in that lifestyle you are involving everyone who knows you - family, casual neighbors, friends, colleagues. Either you keep that shit strictly strictly private OR you live the lifestyle unabashedly. That half in/half out crap puts ridiculous amounts of pressure on you and everyone around you. Also, secrets suck.

FWIW, as someone who watched the dynamics from the outside for a couple of years, I think it is kinda a selfish relationship style, overall. Sure I'm glad I was around for the show, but it wasn't anything I felt was a good idea long-term. There always seems to be one emotionally selfish person in the center driving the "primary" relationship, and then hapless participants orbiting the primary who bend themselves to fit whatever rules the "leader" defines, and everyone except this leader ends up unsatisfied in the end.

(All that above, and YES! I never heard so much talk about communication, and everyone's needs being met, etc. etc. There were books, and theory, "family" pow wows.... and hurt feelings more often than not. Humans, we can be messy;)

My two cents. YMMV
posted by jbenben at 9:22 AM on August 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm in a poly relationship right now, but I'm on the other end of things - the newest person to become involved. I've been lucky enough to be able to see a wonderfully functional poly family up close.

This is what I take away from it:

Communication. Communication. PLEASE don't belittle your own feelings as "out of line" or "not what your partner deserves". It is great that you're so committed to helping him be happy, and that you're open-minded enough to be considering this, but it is absolutely okay if you decide you don't want to be poly, or if you do, but there are some bumps along the road. I mean, there WILL be bumps in the road. The key is to deal with each issue one at a time and see whether it's a deal breaker for you, or whether it's something you can get over. And part of "dealing" with each issue is letting your partner know that you're struggling with something so he can support you. So let your partner know if you need to go more slowly, or if there are specific issues that are bothering you.

How do I go about finding like-minded people?

Depends on where you live. Major cities usually have some sort of poly group where you can go to meet people. I would try posting in the polyamory livejournal community to see what's in your area. I've also noticed that people who are more alternative tend to be more open to poly. Of all the poly people I know, a good half are anarchist, vegan, genderqueer, or all three. But that's just a bit of a generalization I've picked up. My point is that if you're into any of those things, you could try to meet people that way. Finally, don't assume that because someone doesn't outwardly identify as poly, there's no chance with them. Both myself and my partner's partner's partner (gotta love poly) would have identified as mono before we entered our current relationships.

How do I broach the topic of whatever I have with a new person either being secondary or a part of my primary relationship?

Not quite sure what this question is asking. Are you asking how you decide if a new person is going to be secondary or primary? That's something you'll need to figure out with each particular person. Do you care for them enough that you'd want them to be a primary? Do you have room/time/energy in your life for a primary? Do they? It's my understanding that trying to fit a person into a box ahead of time -- "Okay, we can date, but I only have room in my life for a secondary" - doesn't really work. You have to wait and see how the relationship develops.

How do I adjust my primary relationship to accommodate whatever might come up for either of us?

Again, not sure exactly what this question means. If you can email Jessamyn or someone to clarify some of these questions, I'd be happy to try and answer.

How do you share this with friends/family? Do you share it?

I shared with my friends and family pretty early on, but then they're all hippies at heart. I know that I wouldn't want someone in my life that would be close-minded about this, so it was a no-brainer for me -- but it might not be for you.

*

Finally - you may realize that you are not meant for polyamory. Your partner may decide that he is. If that's the case, that will be a painful situation - but it will be made 10x worse if either of you try to pretend, for the sake of the other person, that you're something you're not.
posted by shaun uh at 9:25 AM on August 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


This stuff tends not to work out long term, particularly if one of the participants is being coerced into it. It's just too much complexity, too much rope. The choice is whether you break up now or later.
posted by w0mbat at 9:25 AM on August 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


But yeah, recognize that you'll now be a relationship where he'll come every night and say "ok, today I want/need/prefer this person tonight", à la "Raise the Red Lantern". Kinda makes you a bit powerless in the relationship, no?

That's not actually how it has to work, OP, just in case you're wondering. Saying "Yes" to the overarching idea of opening up the relationship doesn't mean that "Yes" must be the answer to every question, possibility, or option that presents itself. Every relationship - poly, monogamous, etc. - has ground rules, and you can set them and then re-set them as necessary or desired.
posted by rtha at 9:29 AM on August 21, 2009


I don't want to be a jealous partner and I want for my other half to explore without feeling like I am losing some part of what we have now. I feel like these are murky, treacherous waters and any advice on how to make it out for the better would be appreciated.

Basically, the human animal (that's all we really are) is set up to seek maximum sexual opportunity for ourselves and to limit the opportunity of our partners. An agreement regarding monogamy is one way to deal with this, and the other way is an agreement for polyamory. A third is cheating.

Accepting that these are the feelings you will have and accepting those feelings when they do come up without acting on them will be the best thing you can do to find a way to make this work.

As for losing some part of what you have now, of course you will--you will lose the benefits of exclusivity, but gain some other benefits in the exhange if it is working right. Just as monogamy doesn't work well for some people, polyamory doesn't work well for others.

You will have to experiment to see what works for you.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:32 AM on August 21, 2009


Ask him to give you some time to process. Take a deep breath and take some time to connect as a couple. Maybe take a weekend away. Have some time where you don't talk about it unless you want to talk about it. Maybe even a month. Ask him to do little things that make you feel secure and nurtured, and do the same for him. Security is not about other people, it's about what you have together. Let him show you that you are in his heart for good.

All the book suggestions here are useful.

Self-linking (sort of) my post about polyamory. There are people commenting in that post who talk about their experiences, maybe you can contact them.

Logistically, well, don't overestimate your or his chances of finding other people to date.

If he's not organized about planning his time, he probably should get organized before he tries to date. Little things like being late for an evening together or forgetting about the brunch you planned with friends can cause a lot of friction.

You don't need to tell anyone you don't want to tell. If it feels right, go ahead, but you two will "pass" as a monogamous couple for now. It seems to me that the greatest issue you will have when you tell people is that they will think your partner is abusing you (see: this thread).
posted by kathrineg at 11:16 AM on August 21, 2009


But yeah, recognize that you'll now be a relationship where he'll come every night and say "ok, today I want/need/prefer this person tonight", à la "Raise the Red Lantern".

I vehemently disagree with this statement. Your relationship will be what you make of it.

Good movie, though.
posted by kathrineg at 11:17 AM on August 21, 2009


kathrineg: It seems to me that the greatest issue you will have when you tell people is that they will think your partner is abusing you (see: this thread).

Where in this thread did anyone accuse him of that? Just because comments weren't GO TEAM POLYAMORY when the OP is clearly overwhelmed and conflicted at a sudden and obviously new development in his/her relationship? Did I miss comments that were deleted?
posted by crankylex at 11:43 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate to quote other people because then those people feel the need to get defensive and respond. However, people have called the situation unfair, stated that one dominant person always gets their needs met at the expense of others, and said that the OP is being coerced.
posted by kathrineg at 11:55 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, it may not be coercive, but I think OP has to ask, "what's in it for me?" I think the reason the post comes across as sad to people is that it doesn't sound, from the limited description, as if she* is convinced this is a winning scenario or sunny future.

It sounds as if OP's adventurous partner has unilaterally asked for a Constitutional Convention to change the relationship contract. There's nothing wrong with this, but like with any contract, you have to look at the benefits involved to see if it's a bad deal.

He doesn't seem to be offering her any tangible benefit, except of course for the fuzzy suggestion that she will now be dating person who is "more whole." Meanwhile, as he is granting to himself the additional benefit of fucking other people, he is withdrawing the "it's just you and me" proviso that is traditionally considered (especially among many women) a relationship perk.

So it comes across as trying to cope with a relationship whose terms are becoming less, not more rewarding.


*Gender and heterosexuality assumed for ease of writing
posted by Kirklander at 12:32 PM on August 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


I think OP has to ask, "what's in it for me?"

Repeated for emphasis.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:43 PM on August 21, 2009


(On the other hand if OP will enjoy just as much of a benefit from dating other people, then there'd indeed be "upsides.")
posted by Kirklander at 1:12 PM on August 21, 2009


well, presumably in the short term "what's in it for me" is at least that the partner this person is in love with doesn't leave. Whether that's a good benefit to change the rules of a relationship is certainly an open question, but if the partner is offering this, the OP doesn't see it as a bad thing theoretically, and it allows for the relationship to continue, they may be going into it for that.

Which I don't think is a good idea. IMO, for polyamory to work, all partners have to truly be invested in it as a philosophy. Even then it can be more complicated than expected and involves quite a bit of work - lots of talking and feeling things out that would be sort of taken for granted or glossed over in an ordinary relationship. But for people who are into polyamory, that's almost a benefit. It's for people who want relationships to be their hobby, for people who want getting to know people and relating to people to be a fundamental part of their free time - not just having a beer with buddies, but exploring complex emotions and figuring out how to resolve conflicts and unwelcome feelings.

When people just want to have sex with multiple people or not quite break up with someone they're not totally into anymore, or something like that, they won't put the necessary commitment into it, and things will . Like friends with benefits, it's a completely workable relationship strategy if everyone involved is really going into it with their eyes open and for the right reasons.
posted by mdn at 2:10 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna second what Benjy said.

I'm all about polyamory, but its just important to remember it works only for some people. And in my experience, its usually the sort of people who just know that its what they want and are already comfortable with it, not the sort of people who have to become comfortable with it, if that makes any sense. And from your question, you sound a bit more like the latter.

That said, just don't be pressured or rushed into it. There are lots of factors. Read up on it, talk to your partner about it, etc. And remember that polyamory is not swinging or threesomes or just sex. It's about a whole relationship - and I think some people confuse the two, confusing wanting to explore their urges to have sex with others with wanting to be in a group relationship.

And of course, meeting that third person may be the make-it-or-break-it moment. If you both find someone you can perhaps be in a mutually loving relationship with, then rock on. But I'd start as being just open to the idea, not actively pursuing it, and seeing what happens.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:13 PM on August 21, 2009


Some people are made happy when their partner (or other loved one) is happy. Maybe that's what's "in it" for him.

Anyway, I trust the OP to know and follow his own mind and heart.
posted by kathrineg at 4:37 PM on August 21, 2009


You can be different levels of "out" to different people without making everyone memorize complicated lies. After all, different people in your life know more or less about your close friends, the details of your sex life, etc. If and when secondary relationships work out to the extent that they're a steady thing, it may be then more desirable for you two to come out to more friends and family. And yeah, you may as well get used to "the talk," because you're going to be doing Poly101 a lot.

There's a lot of confusion between poly and swinging too, especially since practitioners don't necessarily use the terms in a consistent way, either. It's possibly even harder to explain that you and our partner are seeking other emotional relationships that it would be to explain that you're just allowed to have sex with other people.

The Ethical Slut is a good first step for a primer, as is Opening Up. I have friends who really like Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless & Hopeful, too, though I haven't read it.

People project their own discomfort with how they would feel personally if asked to consider polyamory. You'll note that there's a lot of concern over your fears about making a big change in your relationship, but not much focus on the part where you said that you "can only see upsides" to it in theory. You'll get a lot of that, too. It can be really helpful to diffuse with "hey, s'okay, it's not for everyone, and yeah, it's kinda complicated." (If the big relationship-changing decision that had you a little bewildered was deciding to have a child, I don't think you'd get so much red flag stuff, amirite?)

rtha gives a lot of really good advice, especially on how much talking is required. Whoo, it's like being in therapy all the time. Lots of checking in for emotional okay-ness. The emotional coping is more important than the ground rules in most ways. You HAVE to get over any squick factor in discussing them, and you need some clear signals for "need to talk now."

Lastly, I will note that there is an unfortunate phenomenon that causes those least likely to have healthy poly relationships to insist upon trying it. Badly. This is true in all things, of course, but when you go looking closely at folks within a small subset of alternative relationships, it can really magnify the poor examples.
posted by desuetude at 4:46 PM on August 21, 2009


And then there are the Elizabeth Edwardses of the world who aren't that psyched about it.

Cheating is not polyamory, and polyamory isn't cheating.

John and Elizabeth Edwards had an agreement that they would be monogamous, and he broke that agreement. People also cheat in polyamorous relationships when they break the relationships' specific agreements.

Polyamory is not just non-monogamy; it's responsible, respectful non-monogamy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:16 PM on August 21, 2009


(If the big relationship-changing decision that had you a little bewildered was deciding to have a child, I don't think you'd get so much red flag stuff, amirite?)

If the OP is in a heterosexual relationship and both partners are potentially fertile, the decision to have a child (or not) would be something that he or she probably expected to encounter.

The decision to open his or her relationship may not have been.
posted by crankylex at 8:21 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


A few specific resources.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:44 PM on August 21, 2009


OP, is this a case of "hey, OP, I've always been into consensual non-monogamy" on your partner's part, or a case of "hey, OP, Pat at work is pretty hot and I just want you to know that I think we should be poly?"

The first one can be negotiated. The second one isn't really about polyamory at all, it's about reserving the next relationship before the first one's dead.

(Full disclosure: Mr. F and I were quite crap at poly in prior relationships, and thus don't have other partners. However, four of my good friends just welcomed their first kid to the family, and seem to be having a much better new-parent experience with two extra people to spread out the work. Your experience, good or bad, will likely fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:54 PM on August 21, 2009


Assuming you're a woman, you need to have a discussion about what happens if you decide to take advantage of your mutual ability to take other partners and get pregnant to someone other than your boyfriend.

As well as being an important practical question, it could prove quite illuminating as to how your boyfriend sees this working in practise and how well he's thought it through.

While I can find no rational reason to be against the practice (in fact I can only see upsides) I am feeling a bit bewildered and lost.

There are no rational reasons not to be bisexual, and only upsides, it could be argued - but plenty of people still don't. Emotional/gut/intuitive/call them what you will reactions are often not amenable to reason. Thinking about this is good, but we don't have to try overriding them.
posted by rodgerd at 12:39 PM on August 22, 2009


Assuming you're a woman, you need to have a discussion about what happens if you decide to take advantage of your mutual ability to take other partners and get pregnant to someone other than your boyfriend.

As well as being an important practical question, it could prove quite illuminating as to how your boyfriend sees this working in practice and how well he's thought it through.


This is really, really important. And again, one of those things about which you two can NOT be squeamish. "We will always use multiple forms of birth control so this will never happen" is not good enough. Other varieties of "this is moot" aren't good enough either. Likewise, you'll need to discuss what happens if he should impregnate a secondary partner.
posted by desuetude at 2:45 PM on August 22, 2009



if you're female in a hetero relationship where it's already understood that you will not be having children, i feel like it goes to reason that he could assume that with other male partners you would not have children. which isn't to say that it isn't good to discuss it.

anyway, i've had multiple open relationships and am in one right now. i'm far from an expert despite being a practitioner. i just started doing it without knowing any specifically likeminded people. but since then i've come to know quite a few. you don't mention your city but if you reply back with it, i suspect you'd get more useful tips.

how we approach it is to have specific days that we always hang out/sleep together and specific days that we don't hang out/sleep together. we do this regardless of whether we aren't sleeping together because someone else is in the bed vs. we just aren't sleeping together. in our case, we always spend 3 weekdays together and every other weekend.

this has advantages that go beyond dating other people. even in the most compatible relationship, there's activities that your partner enjoys that you do not and vice versa. so it gives a schedule by which you can make plans with friends/other people and know that it'll never conflict. you never have to ask in advance if it's okay or constantly negotiate. and if there's nothing social that you feel like doing, you know that you always have a scheduled time where you can finish that book that you're reading or work on a project.

i share with friends but not family. my family is very conservative. however, if it gets to the point where i feel like i have a life partner or more than one life partners i'll definitely share that with them. i'm not interested in having anyone i love be in the closet.
posted by groovinkim at 1:05 AM on August 23, 2009


Wow - so many responses so quickly. Although not in a poly relationship (and with no intention of being in one), I would seriously question the timing. What's really going on? Being in a poly relationship - ideally, at least - means everyone is into everyone else equally. If your poly relationship to another couple and another person of your gender, you're not just in a relationship with the person(s) you're attracted to - you're in a relationship with them all. It can be very confusing since there's so many different dynamics to consider - one previous poster has already mentioned the A-B vs. the two additional relationships created with just one other person.

Sharing information: ask yourself why, or what it would do. In most cases, I'd bet family either wouldn't understand (mine wouldn't) or would be suspicious of your partner, especially if they didn't like them to begin with.

I like groovinkim's approach - certain days are OUR time, certain days are OTHERS time, so as to preserve the poly part of the relationship. You may not be comfortable with the other member(s) of your polyamory, but give them a chance. In the off chance that your cultural / religious perspective somehow think it to be wrong, try to approach the possibility with an open mind. There's always the possibility of bringing someone you like into the relationship as well.
posted by chrisinseoul at 7:21 AM on August 23, 2009


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