So me and my wife have been together for twelve years and have two kids and about two years ago we invited my friend of about nineteen years into our relationship. At first is was all about the sexual aspect and nothing more. Then over time my wife developed emotional intimacy with him and at first it didn’t bother me but recently I am feeling jealousy and inadequate and it’s causing problems. I don’t want to lose my family but she says she wants both of us and needs both of us. Is this normal?

Lots of people write to me asking whether feelings or situations or choices are normal. I want someone to make me a staff that says ARBITER OF NORMALNESS. But seriously - humans are weird and messy and silly and frustrating and fascinating. I am metaphorically burning my hypothetical staff.

Sure it’s normal. Plenty of people have feelings of emotional intimacy for more than one person. You love, want, and need both of your kids, right? If your wife wants and needs you both, then you’re not in danger of losing your family - he isn’t a threat to you, just like neither of your kids are a threat to the other when it comes to your love.

My advice to you is, figure out where these feelings of jealousy and inadequacy are coming from. Are they coming from specific things she’s doing or saying lately? Know that there is a thing called “new relationship energy” in polyamory where shiny exciting new partners might get more attention, making more established partners feel left out. Talk to your wife about these feelings - spending more time with him, sharing experiences with him and not you, etc. - and be open about how you’re feeling and how the two of you can work them out together. 

They may also be coming from your ingrained ideas about relationships and masculinity. Ask yourself whether it might be time to let go of some of those ideas. You have a wife of over a decade and a trusted friend of almost two, and it sounds like there’s a lot of love to go around, if you allow it. Check out some books on polyamory - The Ethical Slut and More than Two are my favorites - and give yourself some time and space to enter this new reality.