I’ve been with my boyfriend for many years now and I finally came out to him as poly. He told me it was okay to kiss other guys but nothing more sexual and that I could date girls. The problem is, I also just met this guy who I have really great chemistry with. I don’t necessarily want to date him (at least not yet) but I’m feeling really limited because it feels like I’m not even allowed to have feelings for him. I want to respect my boyfriends boundaries but I also want to explore polyamory fully.

First, talk to your boyfriend about where these boundaries come from and see if they can be addressed in more abstract ways rather than explicit rules about what you can and can’t do with your other partners. Many times, these kind of rules dissolve when partners realize that they are trying to protect themselves against a certain feeling, and that can often be addressed with different kind of requests, like setting aside a date night for the two of you every week, committing to regular check-ins, etc.

If he insists on holding to these boundaries, that’s his right. You then have to decide whether you want to stay with this boyfriend under these terms, or leave to explore polyamory on freer terms. Both choices require a pretty big sacrifice, but you’ll need to figure out which is the one most worth making.