For the past few years I’ve been saying that I don’t want to be in relationships, but I keep ending up in them anyway. I told my current primary boyfriend that in order to date me he would have to be okay with not being my one and only, and he seemed to agree at the time, but over time he seemed to forget that agreement. Now I’ve begun a relationship with a secondary partner, but I haven’t told him yet and am not quite sure when and how to go about this. What would you say?
This is a problem. Starting a relationship with a “secondary partner” without telling your primary is not polyamory. It is cheating. Even if he agreed to this arrangement in the beginning, you need to do more to help ease him into this new situation.
Imagine if you and I started hanging out a lot, and I asked, “would you like to go to Iceland with me someday? I can really only be friends who want to go on trips with me,” and you said “yeah, sure!”
Then, a few years later, you woke up to find yourself on a plane to Iceland. I bought you a ticket and dragged you on the plane, and now you’re headed for a vacation that you are not prepared for. You haven’t been saving up, you didn’t take time off work, you didn’t even pack!
You have every right to be angry with me, even though technically you did agree to go on a trip to Iceland with me. Because you still deserve time to discuss with me what you’d like to see, how long you want to go for, what you should pack, whether you still even want to go, etc.
You need to back away from this new partner and re-open conversations with your boyfriend about whether he’s okay actively practicing polyamory (not theoretically agreeing to it), and what he needs to feel OK as you two move forward into this. You need to be open, and patient, and take on the responsibility of holding a lot of fear and jealousy that might come up for him, and helping him work through it. You can’t just throw someone on a plane to Iceland. You need to look through the tour guides together first.