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
understand.

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
luck.

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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.

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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
freedom.

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.

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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.
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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.

What do you do when your Significant Other becomes poly and then begins to drift away from you?

Note: this does not seem like polyamory to me. Polyamory is about loving several people at once. Not switching the lion’s share of your romantic/sexual love feelings from one person to another, without bothering to break up properly with the first person….that’s called “overlapping serial monogamy.”

I know that it really hurts to think about leaving her, but you must include this in your list of options. You are an adult human being and you are ultimately responsible for taking care of yourself. Part of taking care of yourself means being willing to identify and get out of situations that are damaging to you.

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It is possible to love someone and still admit that the kind of relationship you want with zir is not possible.

I know how it feels to think that you could never find anyone else and never get over it. But that is very unlikely. If you use the appropriate resources, you will be able to get over breaking up with her.

I’m not telling you to break up with her. I’m telling you to believe, at least in some tiny portion of your mind, that you can, and that you will be OK if that happens. Because without that, you have no negotiating position for improving the relationship.

A veto doesn’t dictate feelings. It dictates actions. And you can
veto actions without vetoing the whole relationship. If you said “hold,”
it could mean “Please don’t carry on this romantic relationship right now.
Please don’t do certain things with this person, please avoid seeing him
so often, at least until our relationship is back on track.”

I understand how hard it is to ask for something in a relationship, especially something your partner would be reluctant to give. But in a relationship, you *do* have an ethical right to ask for what you want and need. Otherwise, it’s not a relationship, it’s slavery.

To me, breaking up with someone because they used a veto that you gave
them is not ethical. One doesn’t *have* to give one’s partner a veto. But
if one does, then one should honor the veto if it is used for a good
reason. (And the destruction of your relationship sounds like a good
reason.)

It’s worthwhile to develop a friendship with your partner’s other partner.
One thing I like about poly is when I know my partner’s partners and believe
that I could appeal to them if I had a problem with how the poly stuff was
going.

Another option is to ask strongly that your SO go to relationship
counseling with you, with a poly-friendly counselor. It seems that there
are problems that would be difficult to solve within the relationship,
because they involve communication and relationship dynamics. A neutral
third party can help.

If she is committed to this as a *poly* relationship, not just overlapping
serial monogamy, then I think she would be willing to work on the
relationship with you and not just let it fade away. If she’s not committed
to it, then as much as it hurts, you are better off in the long run without
her.

How do you find a poly-friendly counselor for relationship counseling?

We called a counselor and told him that we were considering an open relationship and we had some issues to work out around that. We asked whether he was willing to work with us on that.

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He said that he helped couples make their own agreements and didn’t impose his ideas on them.

We knew he was good when, after the first session, I said to my partner:
“Well, *I* like him, but I think he sided with me more than with you.” And
my partner said, “I thought he sided more with me.”

He has been a great help to us in working out our poly issues and other
issues — not so much because he addressed poly issues directly, because
he didn’t, but because he taught us how to really listen to each other,
how to respect each other even when we disagreed about something, how to
make room for each other’s feelings, and how to make agreements about
actions and not feelings.

What are the differences between monogamy and polyamory?

When I have felt jealousy, it has had nothing to do with “keeping my partner at all costs.” On the contrary, when I feel it, I want to run away.

In my experience, it’s not only monogamous couples that can be confused about Fidelity and Faith, Infidelity and Betrayal.

Poly relationships can also get caught up in these things. Furthermore, it is not only the person who is left behind for another who confuses those things; it can also be the person who is falling in love with someone new.

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As for the equation “the more you love, the more you can love,” it is largely meaningless because it leaves out the question of how one *communicates* love. Love doesn’t do much for a person unless they feel it is there. That requires action, and action requires time. So if one collects too many loves to spend adequate time communicating one’s love to each one, then Love + Love = Less Love (communicated).

*Some* people are unhappy at feeling the need to maintain fidelity. But in every relationship there are things which are less than ideal. Someone can still be happy even if they don’t get absolutely everything they want.