I've looked into polyamory, and I really don't think it's for me

i’ve been talking to a guy who is poly and it’s new to me i’ve done research about healthy poly relationships but i still feel like i would never be satisfied in that sort of arrangement. i know a lot of it stems from my own insecurities, jealousy, and traumas, but even past all of that i don’t think i could be happy knowing my partner has other relationships just as intimate as ours. i want to feel special to him like he’s special to me. am i ignorant for wanting to be monogamous?

Nope, you are not ignorant! If sounds like you've done your research and concluded that non-monogamy just would not be healthy for you. That's totally okay! It's important to know yourself, your needs, your limits, your boundaries, your desires - and then to act on that information! That’s actually the opposite of ignorance.

Not every relationship style suits every person. As long as you recognize that this is just how you are, and not how everyone is - that your perception of non-monogamy making things feel less "special" is just how you feel, and not a fact of the universe - you're fine. Don't let anyone make you feel pressured, ignorant, or less-than because of how you prefer to date.

Be honest with the guy you've been talking to, maybe take distance from that new friendship if you need to, and keep looking for someone who shares your monogamous preferences!

My husband insists on an open relationship. I don't want that.

My husband insists that we have to have an open/poly relationship even though it makes me miserable. He keeps saying that we can make it work that we just need the right compromise. But I don't even want that. I do love him, but neither of us are going to be able to be happy together long term. And he refuses to see divorce as an option. Some people just aren't polyamorous and I don't think that makes me wrong or inferior.

You are absolutely correct that not wanting a polyamorous relationship doesn't make you wrong or inferior. You seem pretty clear-eyed about the fact that this relationship does not have a future - you two have discovered things about yourselves that make it obvious that you're incompatible as spouses. 

You don't need your husband to agree to see divorce as an option - you can make that decision for yourself. If it's over in your eyes, it's over. Leave the relationship, hire a lawyer, see a therapist, and free yourself to move forward toward a monogamous relationship that meets all your needs. 

I’m married to a man and I have a long distance gf. She came to visit me for the first time and it was amazing. My mono husband got along great with her. We’ve talked about him possibly being with others since I’m ace. He insists he doesn’t want to do anything with anyone else. Yesterday while I’m showering he gets on top of her and bites her ear, neck, and thigh. My gf told me because she was happy about it, she started getting interested in him. I had a huge fight with my husband I felt betrayed and cheated on because he didn’t talk to me about it first before doing anything. I need communication. I felt cheated on. Hurt and angry. He said it just happened, that it’s a grey area. He said sorry and felt bad for hurting me. I just kept asking why, and he didn’t know. How do I gain back my trust in him? I wasn’t mad at her, just him. If he had talked to me about it first I would have been ok with it. He thought maybe I would find it hot but he wasn’t gonna tell me until after she left to go back home and that upset me too. He never cries but he cried when he talked because he would never outright hurt me and cheat on me. I feel a little better after talking to him but I’m still hurt. I don’t know how to get over that. I’m not mad at her because she has so much more freedom in her poly relationship than me so she’s used to doing stuff without really having to talk to partners about it. My husband and I agreed to talk to each other when something happens. He wants to know who and what we did. 

Situations like this can feel really complex, but I think this one breaks down pretty simply:

1.) You and your husband have an open relationship 

2.) You and your husband have a rule in your open relationship where you “agreed to talk to each other” about their other partners/dates

3.) Your husband did something with another person without checking in with you before or after

The core issue is that your husband violated a core agreement of your relationship. You feel betrayed by that.

The steps to resolving it are:

1.) Figure out whether you and your husband were on the same page about the agreement. Did he, in good faith, genuinely think he was staying within the terms of your arrangement? Did he think just planning to tell you afterwards, on his own timeline, was totally fine? If so, the issue here is confusion and miscommunication. He did something hurtful, but not intentionally - so while he doesn’t need to apologize or be punished for acting with malice, he should own the consequences of what he did. You two then need to figure out how to clear up misunderstandings about the terms of your relationship going forward.

2.) If it turns out that he did have a sense that he was doing something that would hurt you, you two need to figure out why he did it anyway. Did he think telling you would create an emotional situation he didn’t feel up to managing? What can you two do to create a safer strategy for openness and honesty? Did he just get caught up in the moment and do something impulsive that he now regrets? What can you two do to manage your relationship in a way that makes space for the dynamic weirdness of humans without setting someone up to get hurt?

3.) Figure out what you need to heal from this. He cannot go back in time and undo what he did. So you need to sit down with your emotions and have a chat with them about what you need, in a realistic framing. Do you need a sincere apology? Do you need some time and space? Do you need a specific commitment from him to adhere to a specific, newly-clarified agreement? Figure out what you need, and ask for it.

Are there resources for mono people dating poly people to talk to each other (specifically mono people who are happy in that situation)? I have tried to reach out a few times but only come across people who were v unhappy, which is not me!

I am not aware of any specific forums, chats, meetups, or other places designed for mono people with poly partners to find companionship, resources, etc. You could try the sites listed here under Forums & Communities - or you might have to make your own community! Start a tumblr blog, an open chat, a subreddit, etc. and promote it in tags and channels! If you do, let me know and I’ll promo it here for you to find other folks in your same situation.

A brief search led me to a few other resources:

This article’s comment section (the article itself is kind of meh)

A mono girl’s guide to dating poly people

This blog written by a mono person in a poly relationship

Another blog by a mono person in a mono/poly relationship

Someone I really like is polyamorous, but I’ve always been mono. They have multiple partners, and poly is really new to me; I’m learning a lot about it actually. What I’m wondering is…if I ask this person out, am I expected to date all of those other people too when I’m only interested in just them? And…I’m the kind of person who wants to maybe settle down with someone one day, am I just setting myself up for heartbreak?

No, polyamory doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be in a “closed” relationship with everyone involved. Some people have those as their terms, but many don’t. You’d need to talk to this individual person about whether they expect anyone they date to also date all of their partners. 

If you eventually want to end up with only one person, don’t date a poly person with the hope or expectation that they’ll “come around” and want to settle down with you. Never go into a relationship built on a foundation of denial or hoping that things will change in the future. If you’d be unhappy in a relationship with no long-term potential to become monogamous, this probably isn’t the best call for you.

But, if you aren’t looking for someone to settle down with just yet, if you’d be okay dating someone for fun, for a fling, to indulge a crush, to explore, if you don’t particularly mind that this relationship at this stage in your life won’t end in settling down monogamously, then you may not be setting yourself up for heartbreak. You would need to be clear with this person that you might end up leaving the relationship when you feel it’s time to start actively pursuing a long-term, “settled down” monogamous relationship. They might decide not to date you with those terms, and that’s their right.

FAQ: My partner wants to try polyamory, but I don't. What should I do?

I often get questions from people who are monogamous and trying to handle their partner being or coming out as polyamorous.

If you really don’t want this:

If you’re in a situation where you are swallowing feelings of abandonment, shame, jealousy, loneliness, anger, betrayal, or something else while your partner dates other people, consider leaving or changing the terms of the relationship. You do not have to be, and should not be, in a relationship that makes you feel unhappy. There is a time and a place to compromise or sacrifice for someone you love, but never compromise or sacrifice your own mental health. 

It is okay to tell your partner that you don’t want to be in a polyamorous relationship. If they are not willing to be in a monogamous relationship, then you two are at an impasse. It sucks, but relationships break up every day because partners realize that they are incompatible or simply want different things out of the relationship. That’s the point of dating - to learn what you want, what you don’t want, and how to find it!

If you’re unsure or uncomfortable, but willing to try it:

If you feel that you could be satisfied in a polyamorous relationship once a certain situation was resolved, or you are trying to work through a specific issue, concern, or fear that is holding you back from being happy, healthy, and fulfilled in a non-monogamous relationship, think about steps you can take to meet that need. That could be life coaching or therapy (individually or with your partner), taking concrete steps to get introduced to the poly world, setting a schedule of dates and check-ins with your partner, etc. Take the time to identify what you need to be okay with this change, then communicate that need to your partner.

If you feel ignored or pressured, or like your partner refuses to work with you after you identify your own needs, it may not be a healthy relationship to stay in. Remember that being poly is not an obligation you have to your partner. It is not a better way to be, or a more “enlightened” state you could definitely reach if you just listened to the right arguments and did enough self-work. It is okay to have a hard time, and it is okay to decide that polyamory isn’t right for you.

Previous questions on this topic:

Other resources:

FAQ: I want to try polyamory, but my partner doesn’t. What should I do?

II would say that the most common question I get on this blog, by far, is a variation of this: “I’ve been dating my partner monogamously for a while now. I care about them very much, but I’ve realized that I want to try out an open or polyamorous relationship. My partner does not want to. I don’t want to leave or hurt my partner, but I also don’t want to stay monogamous. What should I do?”

In some cases, the monogamous partner’s reluctance stems from a specific issue that can be addressed. In those cases, I try to give advice about how to address that specific issue with gentleness, honesty, and growth in mind.

In some cases, the person writing to me hasn’t ever broached the topic with their partner, but just assumes their partner wouldn’t be okay with it. In those cases, I advise them to communicate their desires and hopes with their partner, then take action based on the partner’s response rather than an assumption.

In some cases, it is the appearance of a new potential partner that has spurred someone’s interest in polyamory. My advice there is to be very careful about keeping desires separate: “I want to date this specific person” and “I want to have the opportunity to date polyamorously” are very different things. Conflating them and assuming that pursuing one goal means pursuing the other as well can cause serious conflict. Identify what your specific desire is, and work from there.

In all cases, it is an unfortunate fact that sometimes, relationships just don’t work out because you discover that you want different things. It is okay to leave a relationship to pursue something else. It is also okay to stay in a relationship that isn’t perfect - sacrifice and compromise are often required of us when we love someone. Whatever choice you make, it’s important to make it with clear eyes and a commitment to making it work. You can always change your mind, of course; but don’t live with one foot in and one foot out. Don’t lie to yourself and pretend your partner may “come around in time.” Whatever you’re doing at the time, do that with your whole self.

It is never okay to pressure or badger someone into doing something they don’t want to do. If your partner doesn’t want to try polyamory or an open relationship, they can say no. And no means no. It is not your fault for failing to explain it to them correctly; it is not a matter of finding the right argument to convince them. Looking for the secret magic trick to changing your partner’s mind is not the way to go about it. It is okay to ask them why they don’t want to try polyamory and to discuss together whether any of those reasons can be overcome, but that should be a mutual process, not you trying to push them into a place they don’t want to be.

Previous posts on this topic:

I’m with this guy who’s in an iffy marriage and he has a few other partners and he’s said once or twice he sometimes wishes things were different and that he’d wished he could be with just me (bcuz im mono and only want to be with him) and whenever he says that it makes me wonder why can’t he? I feel like a bad person for wondering that since he’s married and such and that’s selfish of me…but if that’s something he’s wanted then why not?

I really can’t tell you why this person might say he wants something, but not act on that desire. He may really want it, but feel trapped by other things in his life and unable to make it happen. He may want it when he’s with you, but have other conflicting desires that keep him from pursuing it fully. He may not really want it, and just be saying that to “keep you on the line,” so to speak.

The best way to find out is to ask him. Clear, honest, open communication is key. “You say that you wish you could just be with me - is that really true? If so, are there steps you plan to take to make that happen? Or is it just a fantasy you spin with me that you never hope or intend to act on?” Let him know that it bothers you when he makes statements that sound like promises if he never wants them to come true. He may not have meant them that way - but that’s how they feel to you, so you need to be clear about how they’re affecting you.

Ultimately, though, if you don’t want to be in a relationship where you’re teased with the hope of something you continue to not get, this may not be a healthy relationship for you to stay in. 

my bf is poly and i am not and he is in love with his best friend and he is deeply ashamed. it is destroying him mentally. what would you say is the best way to talk to him and tell him that i am not upset and that i want to help him be happy again? i know he doesn’t love me any less, i just don’t want to see him on the brink of self harm because he’s so ashamed of his feelings and who he is. i don’t know how to help.

If your boyfriend’s reaction to this is deep shame and self harm, he needs to see a mental health professional asap. That is not a normal or healthy response to feelings of guilt or frustration. I wrote about this in another post here.

It’s unclear from your message whether he’s pursuing this relationship or whether he’s staying monogamous for you. If he’s pursuing the relationship, and you’re okay with it, he needs to find a way to hear you and trust you and accept that this situation is okay. If he’s not pursuing it, he needs to let this go. Having feelings for someone else but not acting on them is a pretty common experience for people in monogamous relationships. He hasn’t done anything wrong by having these feelings. 

Let him know that you’re not upset, you know this doesn’t change the terms of your relationship, and that having feelings for other people while in a relationship is a normal thing. He hasn’t committed any cardinal sins of relationships or wronged you. If he can’t hear you when you say that, if he continues to be “mentally destroyed” and “on the brink of self harm,” he needs to see a mental health professional. You are not responsible for his feelings, and it sounds like there may be a bigger issue here that you can not and should not try to fix on your own.

I don’t know your boyfriend, or you, or anything besides what you sent me here, so I want to be cautious about accusing him of something I don’t have much evidence for, but I do want to say: threatening self harm and making a spectacle about guilt and shame like this can be a manipulation tactic. Saying “I have feelings for someone else AND I’M DESTROYED MENTALLY OVER IT” can be a way to make sure you don’t have any room or rights to get upset. If you two are committed to monogamy together, and he’s nursing a crush on someone else but making it your problem, that’s not okay. If this becomes something that drags you down or silences your own ability to ask him for things, think hard about whether this is a healthy relationship. 

I just started poly and I’m the mono side of the monopoly. It started when she started falling for an old love again online and I have never had anyone but her. Idk what to do to find someone too. No one but her has ever showed interest in me.

Dating is hard for everyone, trust me! But don’t get discouraged because it’s been hard in the past. If you want to find someone to date, the best thing to do is to be persistent but respectful, and put your best foot forward but be genuine too!

If you’re just trying to get into the dating scene, anywhere and anything works! I don’t know how you met your current partner, but consider continuing to do that! Get involved in a local scene - blues dancing, rock climbing, bird watching - where you can meet people. For the most part, dating for poly folk is pretty similar to dating for mono folk. Find people to meet, meet them, flirt, fail, flirt, flirt, fling, date, etc!

It can be extra hard to meet people who are going to be okay with the poly arrangement. I’d say that about 2/3 of the men I meet outside explicitly poly contexts back out when they find out I have other partners. If that’s your concern, fear not! Many poly folk have good luck with OKCupid accounts, because they let you be clear about your nonmonogamy and filter for other people with the same stated preferences. You can also go to polyamorous meetups in your area to meet other people who are already down with polyamory. 

But there is no rush. You don’t need to find someone else to date just because your partner is dating someone else. You don’t need to prove to yourself or anyone that someone else could be interested. If you’re happy with how things are, don’t let external pressures make you feel like you have to find a new partner. 

hi! im a monogamous person in a relationship with a poly person, & my partner is also dating someone else. my partner was already with this other person before we were together, & i am not and have never been comfortable being in a poly relationship. i have read various articles & watched videos & /tried/ to be okay with things, but nothing has worked & im on the brink of breaking up. i really like him & i want to make things work but i dont think im ever going to be happy like this. any advice?

There is no magical way to make this work. If you don’t think you’ll ever be happy in this relationship, you need to leave it. It sounds like you did everything you could to work on yourself so you could find a way to be happy and fulfilled in this relationship, and it didn’t work. That’s okay.

It’s okay to try things out and realize they aren’t for you. It’s good to be honest with yourself about what you need and what you can and can’t do. You may really like this person and enjoy most of your relationship with them, but there’s a fundamental issue that isn’t working for you. You have a right to find relationships that make you happy on every level.

Breakups suck, but part of the point of dating different people is learning what you like and what doesn’t work for you. You should be very proud of yourself for taking the leap and trying this out, for doing your best in good faith to make it work, and for having the honesty and self awareness to get out when you realized it wasn’t healthy for you. 

Soapbox: This is one of the reasons I think it’s perfectly okay to see polyamory/monogamy as orientations rather than chosen behavior choices. Some people just can’t think themselves into being someone who gets what they need from a polyamorous or monogamous relationship. Forcing the “it’s a choice open to anyone” narrative implies that people for whom monogamy or polyamory doesn’t work have somehow failed and just need to work harder on themselves. I think it’s crucial to empower people to say “this is who I am, and this is what I need.”