My boyfriend is interested in a friend of his, and wants to try polyamory, but to me it all seems like cheating

My bf and one of his close friends have developed feels for each other. The friend is poly and knows that my bf and I identify as mono but flirted with him anyway. One night while they hung out and drank, they had a close call where they almost kissed. They now both realize that a sexual connection/tension has developed between them. My bf recently brought up trying poly, but I can't help but feel like he's using it as a fail safe and to not be accountable for cheating if it happens. Any advice?

The thing about polyamory is that it is not a “fail safe to not be accountable for cheating” - it’s a different way to think about relationships, feelings, and sex. If you two were polyamorous, and he kissed or had sex with this friend, it would not be cheating. He would still be accountable for his choices and their consequences, but “cheating” would not be the issue. Yes, it sounds like his newfound interest in polyamory is a desire to be with this other person without losing you - but you get to decide whether you are okay with that. Your boyfriend is essentially trying to keep things above board - letting you know that he wants to pursue a relationship with this person, but that he wants to do it with your knowledge and consent.

It sounds like you consider yourself monogamous and are not interested in dating someone who is romantically or sexually involved with someone else, and that you would consider it cheating regardless. In that case, you should not be polyamorous with this person (or anyone else). He can ask, and you can say no. He can then respond to that with his own choices. Polyamory is not a secret loophole where he can trick you into being okay with cheating; it’s a relationship framework that you can choose not to be part of.

If it’s important to your boyfriend to try polyamory, or to try a relationship with this person, he may choose to leave the relationship. You’ll give him information - that you only want a monogamous relationship - and he’ll have to act on that information. And he’ll give you information - that he wants to be in a relationship that allows him to be with other people - and you’ll have to act on that information.

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!

I want a polyamorous arrangement, but my girlfriend does not.

I have always known that I'm polyamorous, and I want to try an arrangement with my girlfriend but she cant stand the thought of me being with other people, sexually or emotionally. I've tried to explain my intentions, and that me seeing others will never lead me to not loving her, but she refuses to give it a go. We've been at a loss for quite some time now. Any thoughts?

My thoughts are that you are, as you put it, "at a loss." She "can't stand the thought" of it and "refuses to give it a go." There are no magic words you can say to change her mind about that. For some people, polyamory is just not a healthy and fulfilling choice.

If a polyamorous arrangement is critical for you, then this relationship won't work out. Couples run into 'dealbreakers' all the time - one wants kids, the other doesn't; one wants to move to Iceland and become a goat farmer, the other doesn't. 

 

I’ve been in a triad for about 8 months, and I’m having issues with it lately. I know this is the only way I can be with him, but it’s been tearing me apart. I wish I could be introduced as his girlfriend. And I want to be his only girlfriend. What do I do? I don’t want to lose him.

This is one of those tough situations where it’s not possible to get everything you want. Sometimes relationships just don’t work because of things like this - it’s a frustrating reality of life. If the only way to be with this guy is to be in a triad, and you don’t want to be in a triad, then you may not be able to be with him.

If you met someone you liked and then 8 months in, they told you they were moving to a remote, freezing village above the Arctic Circle, and the only way to be with them was to live there, it would be totally reasonable for you to say I do really like you, but I just can’t be with you on these terms. Or if someone you liked only dates people who are vegan, and you can’t or don’t want to make such drastic changes to your diet. Or if he only gets off by having sex in a day-glo yellow full body latex suit, and that’s just not your thing.

Not wanting to lose someone doesn’t mean you’re obligated to put up with something that’s not making you happy. Think about it the other way: if being monogamous was, for him, the only way he can be with you, would he do it? You don’t have to accept someone else’s terms just because they won’t budge. If an unstoppable mono meets an immovable poly, neither is obligated to compromise - it just may not work out. 

If a relationship is tearing you apart and not giving you what you want, it’s probably not the right relationship for you. There are plenty of monogamous people in the world who will treat you as their one and only girlfriend, and it sounds like you deserve to be in that kind of arrangement. 

Hi, do you have any advice on how to make this crushing guilt go away? I have feelings for someone in a monogamous relationship, and I am also in a monogamous relationship. I know I can’t help my feelings, but the guilt and shame are eating me alive…

Oh, friend. I feel for you. It is completely normal to be in a happily monogamous relationship and get little crushes on other people. This cultural notion we have that truly loving someone means “only having eyes for them” is garbage. That may be some people’s experience, but it’s not the only way to be.

If you’re not acting on this feeling, you have nothing to feel guilty about. Relationships take work, effort, sacrifice, commitment - sometimes, for monogamous people, part of that work means staying faithful despite temptations. That is an honorable and challenging thing to do. Be proud of the commitment and responsibility you’re demonstrating.

It is, however, not normal to feel this much guilt and shame over your feelings. I can’t speculate about where this is coming from without knowing you more - for some people, this traces back to a strict upbringing; for others, maybe a possessive or abusive partner in their past made them feel guilty and ashamed of their feelings. The best way to sort through this is with a trained professional. Please talk to a therapist about this - you don’t deserve to feel this terrible over normal feelings that you can’t help.

I am a 21 year old Nonbinary person living in the poly friendly city of Seattle. I have been a practicing poly for a little over 2 years now, but have decided to get involved with a monogamous woman. Recently we where discussing jealousy. She is a VERY jealous person (upset I text Ex’s that I’m still friends with), and it bothers her that I’m not jealous of really anything. Sometimes I fake it just to make her happy. I’m curious if this is because of my personality or because of my polyamory?

First, stop faking your own feelings to make someone happy. That only ends poorly.

Second, it’s really sad that our culture has decided that jealousy is somehow a positive signal in a relationship. We see that narrative everywhere - this notion that if someone really cares about you, they’ll be possessive, they’ll care about who you talk to and hang out with, they’ll display jealousy somehow. This is, in my opinion, a very toxic image of relationships, but it’s one your partner holds. And I’m not sure if it’s possible to convince her otherwise - your job isn’t to adjust her perspective to what you think is healthier.

Your actual question is whether your lack of jealousy is part of your personality or your polyamory, which is something I absolutely cannot answer. You could be making a false dichotomy - if your polyamory is part of who you are, then it informs your personality, and your personality informs your polyamory. It’s just the way you are! And if you ask me, it’s a pretty alright way to be. Only you can decide whether being with this very jealous, monogamous woman is going to work for your non-jealous self in the long term.

If I’m ace and sex repulsed and would never have sex with my romantic partner, am I obligated to let them date and/or sleep with other people?

You’re never obligated to do anything for a partner…but then, no one is obligated to do anything for you.

If your terms are “dating me means being monogamous, which also means no sex ever,” there are lots of people who would not be okay with those terms. So don’t date those people!

If anyone makes you feel obligated to do something in a relationship that you’re not comfortable with, that’s not a healthy relationship. But the flip side is true too: if you feel that your partner is obligated to forgo sex entirely to date you, and your partner is not comfortable with that, it’s not going to work out.

It seems your best bet is to find another person who is OK with a monogamous romantic relationship that doesn’t involve sex. Or, you could try doing the self-work necessary to “let” your partner see other people without it feeling like an “obligation,” but again, doing that self-work isn’t an obligation either. 

I’m afraid I like the idea of poly-relationships but can’t feel comfortable in one. I never identified with monogamy, I find it toxic, specially bc of the lack of communication, but now, being in a monogamous, loving relationship, with a patient and caring partner, I’m having trouble with dealing with my own insecurities and jealousy - we’ve been together for several months. (She’s the only one who has other partners, I don’t actually get interested in other people).

There’s a lot here to unpack. You say you can’t feel comfortable in a polyamorous relationship, but you’re also unhappy being monogamous. It sounds like the issue is deeper than relationship style, and has more to do with the insecurities and jealousy you know you have. 

Without knowing more about the situation, my best advice would be to see a poly-friendly therapist (you can find a list of them here) to work on those issues of insecurity that are keeping you from a happy, healthy relationship. If you can’t afford a therapist, you can try some DIY therapy with mindfulness practice and self-help books and online programs that fit your needs. For me, reading Daring Greatly was really helpful and healing - find what works for you.

And, as always, communication is so important. Part of communication is about speaking into the situation - talk things out honestly with your partner. And the other part is listening - doing your best to hear and trust her when she says that she does care about you.

Finally, I can’t let this go without making one crucial clarification. Monogamy is not inherently toxic, nor does it necessarily come with a lack of communication. It can seem like people practicing polyamory talk more about communication and work more explicitly on healthy communication practices, but there’s nothing preventing monogamous folks from doing the same, and all the things that poly people do to make their relationships work can be done in monogamous relationships. True, monogamy doesn’t work for everyone - but that doesn’t mean it’s not a totally valid, fulfilling, healthy way to live.