Is it really hard to go from monogamous to polyamorous?

M may have been having some feelings that zie felt uncomfortable describing
to you until they became overwhelming, or that zie felt you didn’t want to
hear. Zie should have talked about the feelings, you should have encouraged
zir to talk, zie should have checked in, you should have checked in, you both
should have discussed the ways in which polyamory was turning out to be
different from what you expected. But it’s hard to know those things at the
beginning, until stuff gets f*ked up.

Even if you work out an agreement, feelings often come up that you didn’t
expect, and expectations can surface that you didn’t realize you had, or
didn’t realize that your partner didn’t share.

If you want to try to work things out with M and stay in a relationship
with zir, I think that you should talk to zir now, even if you feel
uncomfortable. You both feel uncomfortable, and if you’re going to try to
stay together, you have to be able to talk about your discomfort to each
other, IMO.


Is it swinging or polyamory if you’re looking for friendly sex but want to remain emotionally monogamous?

I could describe my relationship this way — I have a primary
partner and some friends with whom I have sex — but I don’t consider
myself “emotionally monogamous.” I care a lot about my friends/lovers, but
I have a different kind of relationship with them than I have with my
partner. I call this “primary/secondary polyamory.”


Once one of us has established an outside relationship, the other partner
cannot end it — zie can ask for restrictions on what is *done* (i.e., no
sex), but cannot ask that communication be cut off.

I think that it is pretty likely that *some* emotional involvement will
occur if you’re having sex with your friends. If you don’t want the emotional
involvement to become greater than that with your partner, you might say that
you wouldn’t want a person to become emotionally involved *to the point of
wanting monogamy or a primary relationship*. Emotional involvement doesn’t
*have* to mean that the person wants to break up your relationship.

What do you do if you don’t get along with your partner’s other partner?

Without much information, it sounds as if part of the problem is that
your partner is trying to mediate between you. I can understand why — the
urge is very strong to try to fix things when your lovers are not getting
along. I’ve fallen prey to it myself. But it’s often the wrong thing to
do. An uninvolved relationship counselor can sometimes do it, but a member
of the family is sometimes too biased, or is perceived as having agendas.

I think you and she might do better to try to work out your differences
together, without him around.

What do you do if your partner doesn’t want to know about your poly inclinations?

I can understand A’s *feeling* — she’s essentially saying she wishes this
part of you (the part that falls in love with others) didn’t exist. But
this part of you does exist, and therefore I think it’s important to talk
about it, even if she doesn’t like it.

However, there are good and bad ways of talking about it. Good ways involve
exploration and revelation but don’t involve pressure for something to be
*done right now.* Bad ways involve pressure and judgement.

I recommend GETTING THE LOVE YOU WANT by Harville Hendrix. Not poly
oriented, but good on the issue of getting couples un-polarized.

You cannot stop your feelings. They exist. You love M.

However, you *can* control your actions. You do not have to cheat on A.
Even in ways you consider little, like “kissing and panting.”

If you want A eventually to accept polyamory (no guarantees), then I think
cheating on A, even in little ways, is a bad idea. I’ve seen over and over
again that an effective way to move toward polyamory in a relationship is
to show your partner that you can control your actions — to be honorable
— to give zir some control over this part of your relationship (because
polyamory *does* change your relationship with zir).

At the same time, without pressuring for a solution, continue to let zir
know how you feel. Don’t let zir sweep it entirely under the rug for a
long time.

The other aspect is that you need to know how *zie* feels. You need to
hear — *really hear* — zir beliefs and thoughts and feelings and fears.
Not just let zir talk, but really hear and try with all your heart to

This can take many months. It’s not a quick fix that will let you fuck your
new sweetie next week. But it might open up your relationship to new
possibilities down the road. It can bring you a lot closer together. Good

Hasn’t poly already been tried in the past and found to fail?

Human emotions such as jealousy eat at the fringes of every relationship.
So does the human dislike of feeling limited. There is no kind of
relationship that feels one hundred percent comfortable.


Despite your assertion that something in particular is “required by the
human psyche” — as if there is only one large human psyche out there
controlling all of us — there is no single kind of relationship that
works for everybody.

People therefore create different kinds of relationship, with different
areas of security, different rules and guidelines, and different areas of

Some people create relationships in which loving multiple people
romantically/sexually is allowed — because they strongly want that
freedom; it’s more important to them than avoiding jealousy; and/or they
get more out of it than they put in, in terms of the effort of setting up
a relationship style that’s outside the meanstream.

There are many ways of going about this kind of relationship. Some are
more restrictive and some are less restrictive, depending on the
preferences of the people involved.

Some people don’t want such relationships and prefer monogamy. Or no
romantic relationships at all.

As to the difference between polyamory and open marriage, swinging, and
group marriage: All of these mean very different things to the people who
practice them. But I would say that polyamory encompasses the others to a
degree. Polyamory is simply “openly having multiple sexual and/or romantic
relationships.” That includes open marriages where primary partners have
relationships outside the marriage. It can include swinging, where primary
partners meet others mostly for the purpose of friendly sex. It includes
group marriage, where several people decide to create a life together.

You say those things are “tired relics” and didn’t work. Not so — I know
many people who live all of those lifestyles and are quite happy with them.
I am one of those people. So is my primary partner. Some of us have
maintained long term relationships within those lifestyles.

What *doesn’t* work is when people try to proselytize polyamory, or any of
its subtypes, or any other particular form of relationship, as the One
True Way for people to do relationships. There is no One True Way. That
also means there are fewer Truly Wrong Ways than you might think.

Is anyone secondary by choice? Isn’t secondary only if you can’t find someone to be primary with?

There are a lot of reasons to have a secondary relationship. Perhaps you are too busy to have something other than a secondary relationship. Perhaps you care for this person, but the two of you would never get along in the context of a primary relationship.


Perhaps you prefer secondary relationships because they are less emotionally taxing. Secondary relationships are not “second-best” relationships. “Secondary” refers to the amount of time/energy/commitment (some combination thereof) one puts into the relationship, not to its value.

How do you meet other poly people?

If you have any religious or spiritual inclinations or enjoy ritual there
may be a religious group that works for you. A lot of people wind up with
the Unitarians, for example.

What do you do with your time when you’re not working? If you want
to meet people, and you tend to get to know people slowly, then it takes
an investment of time. If you want to meet people, the best way to spend
your time is to choose an activity that you find enjoyable or worthwhile
that involves being with other people in a way that is conducive to
getting to know them. Examples: volunteer work, political groups, interest
groups, and to a lesser degree (because they end), classes.

If you have knowledge that other people could use, you could also start
your own group or class.