Search This Blog

Sunday, July 9, 2017

What restrictions are reasonable and when?

Hello,

Growing up I wanted monogamy because anything else was "not real love". I didn't want anything that wasn't authentic. As a high school girl I started discovering my sexuality, my body, and what turned me on. I started watching porn and was surprisingly turned on by girl-on-girl scenes.

My senior year I met my current partner (a man). However, we started with problems because he couldn't really commit to me. I wanted monogamy. As time progressed we grew, explored new ideas, and shared them together. By our second year I wasn't jealous anymore. I figured, if I'm turned on by girls, why can't he be? I started separating sex and love and was even turned on by him being with other girls.

Fast forward to the present. We have been together four years+. I do not want/get turned on by other men. I only want him (not because I'm trying to be monogamous, I simply just really only want him) However, I do enjoy the company of other women, sexually and what not. So on my end, I'm exclusive to him emotionally but do enjoy other women sexually (thus far haven't "Loved" any) so I call myself hetereoflexible. On his end, he is emotionally exclusive to me but does hook up occasionally with other women (he is fully straight).

Now, the issue at hand: I love him, we want to get married and have kids, but I can't see how we can work out long term and have a family and accomplish our goals if we are in an open relationship, if that's what this is even called. Recently we argued because he went on an overseas business trip and I asked him not to hook up with other women during the trip. I feel that if it's just sexual then he should stop when I tell him to. It's no big deal to him, so he agreed.

So can we be in a committed relationship, get married, have kids, and be open sexually to other people? I'm asking not because I'm jealous but because I'm scared. I'm scared that it won't work out. I'm scared of STIs. Of someone falling for him and causing problems with me. I'm scared of him getting another girl pregnant. I'm scared of the consequences of him hooking up with others. I'm not scared about him being in love with other people, we are emotionally exclusive on both ends not just mine. We are not polyamorous. We love each other but separate love and sex.

I know I cannot ask him to not hook up with other people. Even if he says it's no big deal, I know I am suppressing his nature. He told me if I wanted him to be monogamous he would try it because he is not going to trade a future with me for multiple sexual encounters. But it's more than that. I know he won't be fully happy because he gets turned on by other girls - as do I. He would be suppressing his sexual nature for me and that's not okay. As for me, being with other girls occasionally is no big deal. I could do without, naturally.

What's your advice?

Anonymous

Thanks for taking time out from international hacktivism to write us, Anonymous. Hope we can give you some helpful insight.


The first things I noticed were all the good things you have. You're happy with your long-term partner with whom you've developed a history of love, mutual exploration, and trust. You recognize what you are, and what you're not (kudos on understanding the difference between polyamory and other forms of ethical nonmonogamy!). You're also asking very reasonable, normal questions regarding your relationship fears, which is a great sign you'll be able to communicate and resolve those fears in a healthy way. You're in much better shape than most people who write us!


I think your problems mostly stem from inexperience, which luckily is very treatable :) I do wish people like yourself had more sex-positive role models and resources available. You shouldn't have to write in to an advice column to learn there are thousands of people in successful committed lifelong ethically open relationships, many with children and grandchildren. You can have a family and reach your goals, no matter what your relationship looks like.


My bigger area of concern is your assumption that your partner would welcome your telling him to stop having sex with someone - or not start - because it's "just sex." But the concept of "just sex" - 
which you seem to suggest is no more meaningful than masturbation with another person's body - is a myth. The process of getting to know someone intimately enough to get them to sleep with you outside of a sex party or truly anonymous rendezvous involves SOME degree of emotional investment by your partner, both in the resources expended in the hookup process and the actual connection being developed with the new partner. It would be inhuman of him not to have some emotional connection with the third party; would you want your partner to be seen as a cruel, heartless person who only wants to get laid and doesn't care about the other person at all? Since I'm pretty sure your answer is "no", your agreement to be emotionally monogamous REALLY means that he can explore new connections but it is up to him to restrict his emotional exposure beyond a certain point. Where that point lies, brings us to your core question: How much is it "okay" to restrict our partners?


You say it's not ok for you to ask him not to hook up with other people or repress his sexual nature, yet it's exactly what you've done. He clearly values your relationship over others he may have, even to the extent of offering to sacrifice his own needs and desires in order to make you feel special. But rather than both of you sacrificing yourselves for the other like Gift of the Magi (each giving up something special to benefit the thing your partner holds special), you should focus instead on finding ways to give each of you as much of what you want as possible! You don't really want him to not be with others sexually, you just have reasonable fears about what that might lead to. So instead of telling him what he can't do, discuss your concerns and see if the two of you can reach agreements and plan shared experiences which take those into consideration while letting him feel unrestricted in important ways. For example, a basic agreement might be "no hooking up while we're apart," but if you're really only worried about issues like safe sex and people coming between you, a better agreement which respects his agency might be "safe sex for all encounters and third parties must acknowledge our relationship's primacy," then make sure you define "safe sex" and what an acknowledgement looks like.  


Once you and he are on the same page re: each other's needs and fears, you'll realize you were letting your fears get in the way of the amazing happiness that comes with mutual freedom and true authenticity. Mischa, what's your take? 



Hi Anonymous! Leon definitely hits all the technical points that pertain to your situation and I agree with everything he's saying. But if it's TLDR for you, my two cents worth of free advice is this:

As Leon points out, most of your fears stem from the fact that you personally haven't seen many long-term, ethically non-monogamous relationships flourish. Joining a local community of like-minded people may help to change that - there are new ones popping up all the time. On the other hand, you've probably seen plenty of monogamous relationships succeed - and fail. Kudos to you for trying a different path than forcing monogamy when it doesn't fit your vision of lasting happiness.


Talk to your partner about your fears. You may find he has some of the same fears you do, and sharing them openly will make them easier to face. Don't shy away from talking about the things you don't think will happen - what if he does fall in love with someone else, but still loves you? Is that a deal breaker for you, even if you have children at some point in the future? What if you're the one who falls in love? Life can sometimes take unexpected turns and to paraphrase Louis Pasteur, fortune favors the prepared relationship.


The only other thing I'd add is that if you come up with relationship agreements, acknowledge that your relationship will change over time and build in a schedule to revisit them periodically. Maybe quarterly or bi-annually for the first year or two, then annually after that. Make it part of your relationship anniversary, as a celebration of the unique and enduring love that the two of you are creating together.


Good Luck!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Reader 'alarmed' by partners sharing emails

Hi,

I am extremely new to the poly scene and am still learning community 'norms.'  In relation to that, I recently read the post on this blog from October 6, 2013 entitled, "Should I let my partner read my emails?"

It was alarming.

If a partner of mine asked to be allowed to read my emails (or whatever communications) and I said "yes," I would be guilty of betraying the confidences of everyone who ever had sent and everyone who ever does send me email (or whatever communications).

My family sends me deeply personal messages. Friends send me deeply personal messages. It is *MY* responsibility to protect those confidences. They send those messages to ME, not to me-and-whatever-suspicious-partners-I-might-ever-have.

I know there is no "general policy," but is this something of a community norm? To be expected to demonstrate trustworthiness by fundamentally betraying the communications of everyone I've ever known?

Is the notion that one should "always act as if everyone you'd ever met and cared about was watching" interpreted to mean that I should actually ENABLE everyone to watch? Should I put a video camera in my bedroom and distribute the live feed and recordings to anyone I care about - present or future - who wants it?

I feel like that would be betrayal on a grand scale. Furthermore, if I have a friend who behaves that way, I would certainly want to be made aware in advance that anything I send that friend might also be seen by any of his/her partners.

Please help me understand how poly people deal with this in real life. Do people actually give their partners this kind of access? If they do, do they make any effort to inform everyone else they communicate with that their communications are NOT private? How do people handle 'crazy ex' issues with this?

Thank you,
Loyal For Real

Dear L4R:

Since I practice open email communication with my partner, and wrote much of what likely surprised you about that post, I'll explain my personal perspective.


First off, there is no workable universal policy for openness within a relationship, whether poly, traditional, or otherwise.  The best policy is the one you and your partner/s decide works best for you, and that may change from time to time. What I recommend is the optimal scenario from my perspective: open and honest communication to an extreme, the logical conclusion to the underpinning of ethical nonmonogamy.

Put into practice, however, total transparency isn't realistic in all situations.  
I see a difference between SECRETS with which you've been entrusted, and COMMUNICATIONS.  

Let me pose it this way: if you received a message involving an interesting/problematic/curious/emotionally charged topic, would you feel comfortable discussing that topic with your best friend?  I don't see any real difference between discussing the contents of a conversation with my partner, and actually sharing that conversation with my partner. If there's an expectation of secrecy within a specific message or conversation (whether implicit or explicit), then I would tell my partner there was something personal or private that wouldn't be appropriate to share, explain why, and ask that partner to avoid that particular area; perhaps I'd even delete it after reading, with my partner's knowledge I was doing so and why.  But barring extenuating circumstances, I think it reasonable to expect that anything you tell, write, or message another person these days is likely to be shared, especially to a significant other if they have one.  The only question is where any of us draw the line between what we consider private, and what we consider fair game for sharing.


While I understand my position might not meet your particular needs or beliefs, I explained why I do it that way and why I consider it ideal, even if untenable for some. So is this a betrayal at all, let alone one of epic proportions?  I don't think so at all, although your mileage may (and likely does) vary.


Dear Loyal,

As Leon pointed out, if the topic of the message is so secretive that you can't talk about it with your partner, then you probably can't have the kind of open relationships that Leon and I do - and that's totally okay! FBI, CIA and NSA people can be poly too, as long as they are up-front about their reasons, lol


Personally, my partners have access to my calendar from theirs, and my messages (their fingerprints unlock my phone) and I have the same access. Do we pick up each other's phones and scroll through texts and emails? Absolutely not, because we respect each other's privacy. Giving each other access is one way we show that we have nothing to hide from each other.


For example, to think about it another way: If people expect me to hide something from my partners, I feel that's a big "ask" and it's incumbent upon them to tell me that expectation so I can arrange a phone call or a meeting, or tell them I'm not comfortable with keeping something from the people closest to me. 


That's a 180-degree flip from your belief that people expect you to keep all their communications confidential. But the problem with that assumption is that you won't know for sure what you can share with your partner(s) and what you can't because EVERYTHING is assumed to be confidential. If your relationships never intersect then I guess you're fine, but what happens if your partners and friends meet? How will you know what you can share so they don't remain strangers?


Basically, it comes down to consent. Your worldview is that nothing can be shared without consent, but I'm guessing that people end up sharing some of it anyway and violating that non-consent. Our worldview is that everything is shared unless WE consent to keep it secret from our partners. This ensures that whatever needs to be kept private is handled appropriately and leaves us free to share everything else without violating anyone's privacy 
expectations.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cheating wife wants more from marriage

Hello there,

In the last three months, I've been cheating on my husband (more consistently) with an old flame from over a decade ago. The old flame is in an open marriage and so it was always safe for me because there were no expectations and I didn't have to commit. The problem is NOW I want to commit to the old flame and my current husband. I can love both (a once proclaimed serial monogamous person) -- and I think I am coming out. By the way, sadly I have never been monogamous in a relationship. I am for a while but then I get out because I need something more or else. I love to flirt and I love sex.

Here's the issue -- my husband is NOT interested in open anything and he wouldn't even want to meet an old boyfriend as a "friend." So that's that. Then my married old flame loves me (he really does) but is very conflicted (because he thinks it's amoral to love two people at the same time) -- even though we are extremely close in every way. He revealed that he doesn't love his wife anymore but staying out of loyalty (she doesn't work) and for his kid. He has been retreating and advancing for years but came on really strong this time -- so much that I have opened up completely. Now as I am expanding my heart and mind, he's in conflict and turning me off with his lack of communication (and uncharacteristically giving me as little as possible). In my mind, I'm like Jesus Christ, gimme a break! I don't know what to do...I've got two relationships where I'm not fulfilled. In the perfect world, I want them both.

So first question -- How do I tell my husband that I need more without having him divorce me? (I have a small child.) Are there resources for tools? He's a beautiful soul, great friend and father! I couldn't ask for a better partner.

Second -- How do I tell my old flame that he needs to love me for real or else I am not hanging around? I love him a lot but I'm not a doormat. I've loved him from the first time I met him over a decade ago. (He was married then and I was his first open partner.) I really hate to end things with either because I can think of this arrangement only now with them. Only my old flame could get me to open up from my monogamous marriage (as far as I know).

Third -- am I crazy ? Meaning...am I asking too much from these folks, the universe? I love the companionship and friendship of one but I crave the sensuality and powerfulness of the other.

Sincerely,
Crazy in Love

Dear Crazy in Love,

You certainly have gotten yourself in a pickle, relationship-wise. I'm guessing that the main reason you got married is that, like many people, you didn't think polyamory was a legitimate choice, even though it seems you know that lifelong monogamy isn't for you. What I can tell you is that polyamory can work, but it's hard when you've made choices that entrench you in a monogamous situation. So let's take this one step at a time. 

First, you can start by explaining to your husband that, for whatever reason, you weren't completely honest with him when you married him because you knew even then that lifelong monogamy wasn't for you. But perhaps you loved him enough to think that you could change for him and you now realize that you can't change who you are. But instead of a divorce, you want to work through this together, and he should listen to you at least for the sake of your child.

Ideal marriages are those where both parties can continue to grow, rather than holding each other back. Explain that this is the kind of marriage that you want. There are several books on polyamory, but I personally think it's best to talk with other people in similar situations, so find a poly group near you to get support for yourself and your husband. You might also seek out a poly-friendly therapist for couples counseling.

Second, tell your old flame that there's nothing amoral about loving two or more people, just like you can love both a mother and a father, or any number of siblings. Love is love, period. But even so, he says he doesn't love his wife anymore, so what's his problem with loving you now?

What IS immoral (in my opinion) is the act of lying to the people you claim to love. That takes away their ability to consent to a relationship by failing to disclose pertinent facts about said relationship. When a relationship is non-consensual, it cannot be moral.

Polyamory is often described as ethical non-monogamy, emphasis on ethical. So you're not "crazy" for wanting more love in your life but sneaking around and deceiving the people you love isn't the answer. You have the right to live without someone else controlling you, but you also have responsibilities to your husband and to your child, based on the promises you've made to them. Finding that balance between your freedom to love and your responsibilities to others is what relationshipping is all about. It's hard work, but there's nothing more rewarding when you can get it right.

Leon, over to you!

Dear C-Lo:

Congratulations on identifying your needs, and finding people to meet them! Those are two very important keys to healthy relationship building. Unfortunately, the next prerequisite is going to prove to be more challenging: making sure that your partners' needs are being met as well.  

You're not asking too much of the universe to get your needs met, but you might be asking too much of your current partners. Statements like "loving two people at once is amoral" and "won't consider an open relationship" sound like pretty clear conflicts to your ideal. You'll have to change their understandings and convictions somehow, or you won't get your happy ending. 

It's quite likely these people are too ingrained in their lives and roles to be able - or want - to change to fit your ideal. Besides, you've been cheating on one for years and aren't on the same page with the other (btw, now that you're emotionally available he's backing off? Sounds like there are more issues there than you know or admit) - you'll need to do some behavior management on yourself, before you can realistically expect any from anyone else.

You're probably going to have to do some game theory analysis. How much of your current jerry-rigged situation are you willing to risk in order to get all your needs met? Honesty is the best policy and likely the only way to potentially get everyone on the same page - Mischa outlines some excellent suggestions - but either situation could blow up in your face and leave you with less than you have now. 

In a likely worst-case scenario, I imagine you'd probably be able to start honest relationships with new partners as a divorcee with an ex-husband with whom you share custody and who loves and cares for your child. You certainly wouldn't be the first to realize that divorce might actually be a desirable option, rather than the last resort for pariahs and "failures".

By the way, do you find it ironic that you are looking at your old flame's staying with his wife out of loyalty and family responsibilities despite them not being compatible, in much the same way that he is probably looking at you? 

Friday, March 3, 2017

How do I convince my girlfriend to be polyamorous?

Hi Mischa and Leon, 

I’m just looking for a bit of advice. Basically I’ve been with this girl for over a year now and I’m polyamorous. I haven’t made it apparent to anyone before because my past relationships weren’t exclusive so there was never a problem.

I’ve tried to tell her that I want an open relationship but she gets seriously upset when I bring it up so nothing comes of it. I love her and don’t want to lose such a great friend but I haven’t told her I’m polyamorous and I feel like I’m really sacrificing a lot of my needs. I just feel a bit restricted just now as she thinks I just want to sleep around with other girls when it’s more than that. 

How should I go about this? Specifically, how can I show or communicate to my monogamous lover why it isn’t a bad thing? I know she feels like she’s not special or that I’m dissatisfied with her when I bring it up but I need to make sure she knows that it’s not the case at all.

Thanks,
Stuck in the Closet

Dear R. Kelly:

People and relationships evolve over time - that's natural.  People grow apart, too - also part of life. 

But you've known all along you were polyamorous but never told her - that's a pretty big mark against you in my book. After all, if you knew you were never going to be monogamous with her (regardless of whether it would be from either staying casual forever, or being polyamorous), don't you think that's something she would want to know?  You've been hiding it for as long as you could, and you've been doing her a real disservice.  She may love you, but that's based on over a year of her assumption that you'll eventually climb the relationship ladder together.

It's very likely, based on her reactions, that she will never be OK with you in an open relationship.  Your only chance MIGHT be to sit down with her and address some of her misconceptions about polyamory via a book, a TED Talk, or some mentor-like scenario which can break down poly into bite-size pieces whereby she might see polyamory from your perspective, including the specialness of a primary and your underlying bond, while reducing the impact of her entire life living in a society which rejects anything other than traditional monogamy.

But even if she says she's willing to try, it will almost certainly be because she doesn't want to lose you and is willing to compromise her true beliefs in order to make the relationship work, rather than that she's "seen the light" as a true poly adherent.  My bet is you're ultimately setting yourself up for bilateral frustration and disappointment if you try to push further with this partner.  But you brought it on yourself.

Mischa?

I don't have much to add to Leon's take on your situation, only just to say that I hope this experience has convinced you that dating in the closet works about as well for poly people as it does for gay people. 

I don't understand when you say you've tried to tell her that you want an open relationship but you haven't told her you're polyamorous. Those two things are pretty much one and the same, so it sounds like you didn't get to explain what ethical non-monogamy means. I'd encourage you to give her books, or take her to poly events and meetings so she can see that this is a workable, ethical and joyful alternative to a monogamous lifestyle.

If it turns out that she's not into that lifestyle, then you have to let her find the relationship that she wants for herself and try to remain friends (if that's what you both want). And the next time you meet someone, you'll know that it's best to be up-front about the kind of relationship you want before getting involved to the point where someone could get hurt.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Newbie drowning in “Hunger Games” dating pool

Dear Mischa and Leon,

OK, so - help. I'll spare you the intricate details, at least for the moment, and do my best to sum up my dilemma.
  • We've been together for 20 years.
  • We were each other's first at 18 and have been each other's only for all this time; vanilla.
  • Solid, faithful, best friends
  • We are living in separate apartments and will be still together, coparenting, and attending as many Open Love NY events as we can, but also are very ok at the moment with the other dating other people on their own.
For me - I'm on OKCupid and I feel like I keep walking into the wrong classroom every time I message someone... or that I'm jumping into the dating game armed only with shit I've seen on TV shows and in movies while in real life it's more like The Hunger Games. At least 75% of the 75% and above matches (even more so >90%) are very attractive bisexual 27-year-olds. Now, lol, as exciting as swimming in that dating pool sounds, and despite the fact that I don't get nervous or embarrassed and can literally talk to anyone, I can't help but feel some kind of hybrid of inadequate/incompatible/intimidated.
I don't want to get chewed up and spat out, or simply not get any responses at all because I'm ringing all the wrong bells. What's up with them visiting my profile, then liking me, and then ignoring totally reasonable, brief, and genuine messages? I'm like. . . but... mutual..?? Ok, digressing... back on track:
  • I want to see other women who are open to the poly lifestyle.
  • I'm 38, never been on a date, and don't know how to proceed.
  • Sex with another woman has been in my imagination for 20 years and boy it sounds fucking awesome, but what the shit... who is going to be #2?!  You know? Like, while I would love to have experiences with many more women in my life, I'm clearly not promiscuous. Are there support groups for this!? lol
  • And holy shit... someone told me that "do you want to come up for a drink?" is not even a thing! How the hell do you even ... I'm clueless. lolol
Ok. That's it. Thanks in advance for any advice you can share and thanks for just... existing and having this site!

Volunteer Tribute


Hello Tribute!
May the odds be ever in your favor! But while my knowledge of young adult fiction and movies may be extensive, my expertise in online dating is not so I'm going to ask my good friend Chrissy (and current Open Love NY president) for advice before Leon chimes in. Chrissy?

First and foremost, cliché as it may be, find ways to relax! Let go of everything you’ve been told about dating and start over. Dating online means you can actively pre-screen for common interests and values. Create an inventory of keywords that have meaning to you and a list of non-negotiable deal breakers and use them in your profile. There’s a browser extension called OkCupid (for the Non-Mainstream User) that’s useful for filtering non-monogamous people. If you’re only getting matched with 27-year-old bisexual women, you can use the plugin to filter your age range accordingly and note what you’re looking for.

Your messages should be short, show proof that you read their profile and only used to establish first contact. Geek out over something you both like in a few sentences. Once you’ve exchanged a few messages, propose a drink, dinner or coffee. I find that the more thought and creativity you put into a suggestion, the more likely the person is to take interest and actually show up. Offer a suggestion that would excite you and leave it open enough for them to counter with a suggestion of their own. Don’t worry about the sex for now. Everyone’s body is different and it’s always a learning experience. We always start over with each new partner.

With your current partner, learn together but independently and share the info as you go. Enjoy community building together at in-person events (like Open Love NY events!) As you begin to navigate the community, you’ll likely be more comfortable navigating dates and talking about yourself and what you need. Welcome again to the dating world, and I hope to see you at future events!

Leon, what do you think? 


Welcome back to the dating pool!  Sounds like you're afraid of drowning without your safety buddy, but like most things, it gets better - and more fun - with practice! 

Instead of writing a traditional online dating profile, why not post a version of what you've asked here?  Something that boils down to: "My partner and I have just opened up our relationship and I'm completely clueless as to what happens next!  Anyone want to hold my hand and explore with me?" might actually get exactly what you're looking for.  Don't try to play by default rules if you're not familiar with them.  Write your own!
Have a friend (or better yet, your partner) recommend some good photos and help you tailor your profile to find the most compatible matches, not the highest number of people.

And for what it's worth, online dating has SO many people on it these days, you're bound to find what you're looking for, as long as you're asking for it in the right way. Hell, my mom goes on more online dates than I do, and she's in her 70s.  Worry less and get excited more!


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Can this relationship be saved?

Dear Leon and Mischa,

So here's the situation - me and the man I love have been at each other's throats for weeks now; he's poly and I have been monogamous to him. For the last month or so he's been taking his ex on trips, leaving me home, telling me to basically eff off, but still wants me around (I think?). He hasn't given me any closeness or sex or anything lately so I decided to take someone up on an offer while he was away with that ex. It wasn't full on sex just some foreplay and getting a man's attention for 4 hours.

Now the poly man I love who throws his poly-ness in my face is hating on me because I sought what I needed. Some more details: he's full-on poly and I was monogamous until the other day when I went outside everything I believe to get a little comfort. He straight out told me he doesn't need or want my permission to do anything and will not be asking for it. I didn't agree to be anything with him; he took me for granted big-time and because he decided to be amazing to me for almost 2 years and I came to expect that.

Out of the blue he shames me, tells me he's going back to full-on poly but he still loves me but don't ask or tell him anything, because it's none of my business. I am not perfect, I have an explosive short fuse, but only because he pushed me to there. It's because he decided to start leaving me home, no sex, no love, and taking his ex out, whom he says he can't stand or live with for more than a week at a time. Like now, he ran away from home yesterday because of our fight and where did he go? To the ex's house. And he hasn't come home yet, he's a man-child. He said I restrict his movement, which is ridiculous, I couldn't tell him what to do if I had super powers. I was so happy to be with just him, but when you start arguing all the time and then he uses it against you, tells you he doesn't take you anywhere because your teeth need to be fixed, you ask to be held and he tells you to hold yourself!!!! WTF!!!

Signed,
Loving Woman Who Thought She Was Good Enough

Dear Loving Woman:

You're in the all-too-common "mutually frustrating relationship death spiral." You're pissing each other off, each trying to make your partner miserable since you're hurting but can't seem to communicate in any other way than leveraging years of acquired knowledge into the most hurtful ways possible. (Your teeth?  Really?)

So... explain to me exactly why you want to save this relationship? This guy sounds incredibly immature, using his version of polyamory as an excuse to be a selfish dick. (Pro tip: polyamory and "none of your business" don't belong in the same sentence.) That's not polyamory, other than he's apparently telling you where he's going and what he's doing. There's that whole thing about AGREEMENTS and BEING ON THE SAME PAGE that he's apparently forgotten. Plus throwing your playdate in your face
- especially after he encouraged you to do it - is an uber-dick move.

Just because you love someone is not a good enough reason to stay in a relationship that isn't giving you what you need - let alone is mentally abusive. You're entitled to pursue what you want out of life, and if you want a connection with someone who is emotionally comforting, supportive, sexually satisfying, communicative, and most of all doesn't act like this guy, go out and find one (or more than one!). Sounds like the totality of NOT being with this guy is way better than all his good parts combined. Jump back into the dating pool and consider the last two years the source of some very valuable life lessons.


Mischa?


I have to agree with Leon that it seems your relationship is in a lot of deep water. Based on recent letters to this column, it seems to me that quite a few people (mostly men, I have to say) define "poly" as a license to "love'em and leave'em." Being poly does not give him the right to ignore and insult you, and you have the right to call him out for using poly as an excuse for his hypocrisy of applying different relationship rules for you than he does for himself.

One of the key tenets of polyamory is consent. People who enter into relationships with other people deserve to know what kind of relationship they are agreeing to, which is why honest and open communication is so vital. He sounds like he wants a relationship with you where he is free to come and go as he pleases, but when you try to do the same he objects. Do you consent to these unequal terms because he identifies as poly and you self-identify as monogamous? What if you were to identify as poly? Would that change the way he views your relationship?

Whatever the answer, you have to make clear what you are willing to agree to in order to remain in a relationship with him. But before you do that, I think you two have to address the current lack of genuine affection and physical intimacy that you're describing. And frankly, the anger and emotional abuse you describe is atypical for a poly/mono relationship. I would suggest that you examine your relationship through the lens of a book such as Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (a current Amazon bestseller) because the early warning signs of abuse are all going off with the behavior you're describing.

Good luck and be safe!



Monday, September 26, 2016

I hate my married partner's new girlfriend!

Hi,
I've been in a relationship for 10 years with a married woman. I am surprisingly comfortable being in this relationship considering her wife does not know. The married woman and I have been doing this without any idea of polyamory anything. This is Issue 1 and that last sentence will make more sense in a second.

My 10-year partner has recently fallen in love with another woman (Issue 2). I found out because I saw all the signs and asked. It was at this point that my partner told me that she loves us all and that even after I said I wouldn't stand in the way.

The new woman and my partner have been together now for two years. The new girl knows about me and the wife. She has expressed to my partner that she is most jealous of me and says things like "I can work with the wife, not [me]." She started making demands and requests that my partner (sadly) has accommodated, thinking it would make this woman happy and feel secure. Requests such as I stop picking up my partner from work, that I not send flowers, that I not call her when they are together - all of which has created two years of arguing hurt and resentment (Issue 3).

Now I want to make something clear: when my partner told me she loved this new girl and I offered to leave, I was devastated. I thought it was over. When she told me that she wanted me to stay  because she was still in love me, and loved us all, I thought OK, I could probably do this because I am pretty much doing it already. I was open to everything. I even extended an olive branch and us three did a lunch (which backfired).

Now things are bad with me and the new girl. She has placed crazy boundaries that limit my interactions with my partner, and my partner accommodates all of them. I don't understand this. When they fight, the new girl tells my partner she is monogamous and that she can't split her time with my partner three ways, that she doesn't want to share. Right now I have one set night a week for a date; they work together so they have 60-70 hours a week. they are intimate every day/night and when they go out, my partner makes arrangements to be out late. This does not happen with me. We get home early because she  has to get home.

The worst thing that happened this week was Monday and Tuesday I made plans to meet my partner on train platforms to travel to our neighborhood together - not on their date night. She can't tell this new woman because she flips out - cries, screams, tells my partner she can't stand that she is with her all day and then ends the night with me. Mind you, I am only traveling home - not on a date! So what my partner does is she leaves me waiting on the Union Square train platform. She can't text me because the woman would flip out. On Tuesday she told me to meet her at 42nd Street and that she was only going to walk with the woman to Brooklyn Bridge and take the train to meet me. Well, the other woman decided to travel with her to 125th. My partner said nothing about me waiting for her or us having plans to meet. She literally leaves me there at 42nd Street and she passes by. Calls me when she gets to 125th, where I guess the woman parted ways with her, and tells me where to meet her. I felt and feel destroyed. Disrespected.

Am I wrong? This is all a slow death of my relationship and this is my partner's way of breaking up with me. Right? Because at this point, my hatred for this new woman is off the charts. I want her gone.  

Signed,
Lady Kept Waiting


Dear Kept Lady,

Usually when poly people (or those acting poly) are having problems, it can be traced back to a communication problem. In your case, it's not so much a problem with communication as a lack of basic human respect on the part of your married partner.

No matter how much it aggravates her new girlfriend, to leave you stranded waiting for her due to changed plans is inexcusable. Where are her manners? This is beyond the bounds of common decency. I wouldn't do that to someone I'd just met, let alone someone I've been with for 10 FREAKIN' YEARS! I'm sorry, but there is no justification for anyone to be controlled to the extent that they cannot tell someone they are running late or have to reschedule - especially in New York!

If your partner says she wants you to stay, then you should ask her to show you the basic courtesy and respect that you deserve. While you generally don't get to dictate how she handles her relationships with other people, you can and should demand that she treat you the way you want to be treated. If the new girlfriend can't handle her treating you like a human being, that is for your partner to work out with her. But no one deserves to be treated that way by someone who claims to love them.

Leon, over to you!


She's not trying to break up with you. She's trying to accommodate the wishes of someone else she loves - that squeaky wheel is taking up a TON of oil here. This monogamous woman doesn't care about anyone other than your mutual partner and herself, and she makes no bones about it. Your partner is bending over backwards to accommodate more and more of this woman's demands because she's trying to "hold it all together" - but it's obviously taken its toll on the rest of the people in this scenario.  

You can't have any sort of healthy relationship with this needy monogamous woman involved to such an extent that it's pushing you out, and I'm betting you're much more passive than aggressive. You're going to have to start asserting your needs with your partner and make clear what you want and expect out of your relationship - including picking her up at work, spending time together, telling the monogamous woman off to her face, whatever you feel you need to get back on track again - or ending the relationship to save your sanity.

Out of morbid curiosity, how can the wife not know there's something going on? I wonder whether she does and is ignoring it all, or whether she herself has a lover or two? I'd love to pick her brain.