Is there a term for the specific type of relationship we're looking for?

My partner and I have been together 17 years and we are wanting to bring another male in to our relationship (MMF). What would the correct name be for this relationship? Both males are straight.

Well, for one, I can't quite parse exactly what kind of 'relationship' you're trying to name. If both males are straight, then they probably won't want to be in a sexual or romantic relationship with each other, so the new person probably won't be "brought into" your existing relationship - they'd primarily be with the female partner, right? Dating one person in a relationship is different than "joining" or "being brought into" a two-person relationship. You'd be well served to think a bit more about the specific dynamic you're hoping for, so you can better explain it to yourselves and future partners.

Are you planning for this to be primarily sexual, like someone to have threesomes with? The word for that is really just "threesome" - or "group sex," "multiple partners," that sort of thing. There are specific sexual concepts common in MMF sexuality, like "cuckolding." Are you looking for someone for the female partner to date? That is just called "polyamory," "V-shaped polyamory," or an "open relationship." One person sought after by an existing couple to date that couple as a unit is called a "unicorn." 

There are not, to my knowledge, specific terms for relationship configurations based on the specific number and genders of people involved. I'm not sure we need those, frankly. If you are looking for linguistic validation that what you want is "a real thing," that also doesn't exist, and you don't need it. If you are looking for a very particular term that you think will perfectly describe what you want so that you don't have to do other work of explaining, defining, and communicating, that doesn't exist. You need to continue to do the work of identifying and defining your needs and boundaries.

asking out of curiosity. how do you manage to maintain more than, say, three partners? like i can barely keep more than two close friends at the same time idk

Every poly person handles this differently! If you don’t want to have more than three partners, that’s totally fine - you don’t have to! Some people find that they’re happiest in a closed triad with two other people. Some people have a large network of partners and lovers and friends-with-benefits. It’s not a requirement that, if you’re poly, you must constantly be open to new partners and willing to juggle an unlimited amount of partners.

If the “you” in your question refers to me, specifically, I can answer that: I date people who fit into my lifestyle and who invite me into theirs. Right now, I have two serious partners. One lives with me, and the other lives ~10 minutes from me. Both of them are relative homebodies, and both of them get along, which means I get to see them a lot - we hang out at my house, watch TV, cook, play board games, etc. I can casually pop over to my partner’s house, he can casually pop over to mine. Because we have a lot of mutual friends, we get to spend time together as part of larger plans, like going to the movies or out to dinner. 

I also sometimes see other guys more casually, which means less time commitment and less expectation that they’ll fold into my friends and fold me in with theirs. Instead of just flopping around each other’s houses and living our lives in each other’s company, with those guys, we tend to Plan A Thing To Do (a date, sex, etc.), schedule a time, get together, Do The Thing, and then go on with the rest of our schedules. Most of the time, new partners start out in this ‘category’ and then fold into my life/fold me into theirs.

If someone takes too much time or energy to date - if they are flaky, live really far away, don’t get along with my friends - it doesn’t shift into “live life together” style partnership. And that’s okay with me! I am fine having a low-key, sex-and-date-when-scheduled type of partnership indefinitely and don’t hope or expect that they will all eventually become long-term, life-sharing partners. So that’s how I do it - I use casual dating as a way to screen for people who will be low-effort, high-reward. If I find someone who is high-effort, high-reward, then I put in that high effort less often, but am still willing to do it on a less committed basis.

But I am not everyone! All I can do is provide one example of how one poly person does it. If I wasn’t an introvert, didn’t live with a long-term partner, didn’t live in an area with such gnarly traffic, didn’t have a car, worked different hours, didn’t live in a big community house, etc. then I’m sure my process and partnerships would look a lot different. So don’t generalize from me!

Im alright with my partner having other romantic relationships, but I’m not fond of the idea of him having sex with other people. Is that wrong? I’m worried I’m being manipulative.. but he seems ok with it.

If he says he’s okay with it and you don’t believe him, dig into why. Is it because he has a habit of saying he’s okay with things, but really not being okay with them, which can lead to passive-aggression and resentment? If so, you need to talk this out with him and try to find a safe way for him to be open and honest with you, or reconsider whether you can be poly with someone who doesn’t tell you the truth about how he feels.

Or is it because you are having a hard time believing him despite no evidence that he’s not actually okay with it? If so, you need to do some introspection and figure out why you don’t trust him when he says he’s okay with it. Did you have a previous partner who wasn’t honest about their feelings? Are you projecting your own discomfort and assuming he shares it? 

Or, if your goal is to get past this and be okay with him having sex with other people, that will take some self-work as well. Why are you not comfortable with it? What is your worst-case scenario? Best case scenario? What are your fears and concerns? What can he do to help alleviate those? 

But ultimately, if both of you are okay with a situation, and you’re both being honest with yourselves and each other, it’s not wrong or manipulative. Don’t feel like you need to change something about your relationship if it’s working for all parties involved.

Dated 3 years. Opened things up a month ago. He was Poly before me so I expected it. He was seeing two other people, but the second I met someone I was interested in we fought a lot. We broke up. That’s just simply a bad case right?

Yes, this is simply a bad case, not a general trajectory of how “opening up’ a relationship always goes.

One seriously frustrating thing about being part of any minority group is that you’re seen as representative of the entire group. This XKCD comic sums it up pretty nicely.

I often hear people tell me “polyamory is toxic, it never works” and then relate one bad experience someone they know had…but you never hear “monogamy is toxic, it never works” even though we all know someone who was cheated on, or ended up in a too-possessive or even abusive relationship, etc.

It’s okay if this experience made you decide that polyamory isn’t for you, or if you need to take time to heal and process! But please don’t think that this is how all polyamorous relationships go, and if you do want to try a polyamorous relationship again, don’t assume that they’re all fated to go this way!

I’m poly and me and a friend really want to date but they don’t want to have a sister wife feeling and, really, I don’t want to either? What should we do?

In this situation, it sounds like clarity is key. You two need to define for yourselves and for each other what you mean by a “sister wife feeling,” and what about that you don’t want. Is it that you worry about creating a life that’s too insular? Are you concerned about codependence, or the challenge of finding friends and partners outside each other? Are you worried about how others see you? What, specifically, is this “sister wife feeling” that you don’t want to have?

Identify what your “worst case scenario” is, beyond a quick phrase, then come up with a plan to avoid it. Maybe there are non-dating friendships you two want to make sure you continue to cultivate, and you’ll make a concerted effort to keep those people in your lives and not be too much in your friend-partner bubble when you’re around them. Maybe there are aspects of your friendship you two don’t want to bring into a dating relationship, and you need to talk about that and re-draw your boundaries accordingly. 

In all honesty, a concern about poly partners being too close, or too “sisterly,” is perhaps one of the better problems to have. Be grateful for the opportunity to explore a new avenue of your relationship, stay self-aware and honest with each other, and enjoy!

My partner and I are poly, and lately I feel as if he hasn’t been giving me the attention I need. I don’t want to add any more partners at this time because I’d feel as if I’m using them to fill a gap and that’s not fair on anyone. What should I do?

First off, kudos for recognizing that other people aren’t need-meeting, gap-filling objects to be used to fix existing problems in relationships. To answer your question: talk to him! Bring this up openly and honestly. Focus on your own feelings without accusing him of anything.

Say that you would like to have more of his attention, and make some concrete suggestions for how things can change - maybe you two can plan a date night once a week, maybe he can agree to put his phone away when you two are hanging out - whatever works for you.

And talk to him about what’s going on with him to create this dynamic. Maybe he’s overwhelmed at work and needs you to hang on until a big project finishes. Maybe he’s worried about pestering you. Maybe he just had no idea you were feeling this way. 

Friends and romantic partners, poly and mono, go through this occasionally. It’s rare to find that two people are always perfectly matched in terms of their social energy and capacity for attention giving. But if both of you can openly communicate your needs and take steps to getting them met, this is a very solvable problem.