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.


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

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

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


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.


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.


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.

Isn’t monogamous heterosexuality favored by evolution?

No. There are many forms of family other than "monogamous heterosexual
dyad." You cannot deduce the entire history of the human race by examining
late 20th century Western culture.

In all cultures, people have sex for all sorts of reasons, in all sorts of
arrangements, clandestine and open. No particular form can be enshrined as
the primary evolutionarily sound one. You have to look at the whole, at
what *is*, not just at what's promoted in various cultures as "the way it
should be."

Isn’t monogamous heterosexuality the only truly mature relationship?

I think if you really could look at the eons during which human beings have been in existence, you would find that the vast majority of human beings did not live in lifelong heterosexual monogamous dyads. I’d say that the majority ended up in heterosexual dyads for some portion of their lives, but I doubt that most of those dyads were lifelong or monogamous through their whole existence.

Most people have romantic relationships with people other than their primary partners — either before the partnership came to be, or during, or after. The only difference between the way most Westerners live and the people who call themselves polyamorous is that the poly folks usually have multiple relationships with the knowledge of all the people involved, rather than secretly.

I’ve been happy in monogamous relationships. But my partner and I feel that
polyamory adds to our lives.

People in poly relationships are not all that different from people in
monogamous relationships: in a lot of cases, the only difference is that
there are multiple romantic/sexual relationships, and they are conducted with
the knowledge of those involved. Since there is not such a big difference
between mono and poly, therefore, an argument based on “poly is
evolutionarily unsound; only mono works” is, to use your word, spurious.

Is it harder to maintain a polyamorous relationship than a monogamous relationship?

The answers to those questions depend on the people involved. My take on
it is that some aspects are harder, some are easier; and some people find
the rewards worth it; others don’t.


You’re talking about a specific form of poly — a triad. I can’t address how
to get along within a triad because I don’t live in a triad — I have one
primary relationship and several secondary relationships (which are similar
to close friendships but include more physical contact than most
friendships). But I think that much of what I do in a primary/secondary poly
situation applies also to a triad.

My primary partner and I got polyamory to work through trial and error,
much much much discussion, some fighting, cussed stubbornness, strong
belief in our relationship, and dedication to making poly work for us.

Basically it all boils down to communication, respect, and honesty.
Communicate what you want, listen carefully to what your partners want,
respect and trust your partners, be worthy of respect and trust yourself,
make room for feelings (yours and others), and be honest. If you can do
all those things, then you can determine whether there are overlaps
between what you want and what your partners want, and you can develop a
lifestyle within those overlaps.

Jealousy takes some special care. The key to dealing with jealousy is to
learn to respect and make room for feelings in your relationship — even
unpleasant feelings. That doesn’t mean to do whatever the jealous person
wants all the time. It does mean to respect what the person wants, even if
they want it because of jealousy.

Infidelity is deliberately breaking a promise you agreed to keep.
If you agreed not to have sex with people outside the relationship and then
you did, it would be infidelity. If you agreed not to spend the household
money on certain things, and then you did, it would be infidelity of
another sort.

To get over the rough spots, deliberately try to remember the good times and
talk about them. Deliberately put the fights aside as much as possible in
order to have good times too. Commit to working out problems to the best of
your ability, including seeing a relationship counselor if necessary. (Yes,
there are poly friendly relationship counselors.)

Is jealousy produced by fear of loss?

In some cases. In other cases I think it is a product of something’s
actually going wrong, right now, in a relationship:

“You are ignoring me in favor of that other person; you have changed your behavior  toward me while expecting me to behave the same way toward you, and I don’t like it.” In other words, sometimes it’s a response to “insecurity”; sometimes it’s a response to “accurate perception.” Sometimes it’s a combination.