Living with unexpected polyamory- help?


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I want to discuss our situation with people who might understand what I'm going through, and have some words of comfort, advice, or wisdom- so here goes.

Names, while not important, will keep the players sorted out. So, I'm Karen, he's Matt, she's Sara. Close enough to our real names to not get confusing for me in typing it anyway.

Matt & I have been together for 15 years and married for 12. We have 2 kids who are adults & moved out and one at home who's 12 and pretty independent and busy with his own stuff, but still a kid in some ways, if you understand. This hasn't really affected him in any way, other than having another adult around to do stuff with.

He and I are both in our late 30's. Sara is 26. She, and her family, have been friends of our family for about 18 years; I know her mom & stepdad, though they're quite a bit older than Matt & I- we used to attend some of the same social functions in our hometown. She (Sara) moved back to our town after a few years away, stayed w/her mom, fought w/her mom, & had to move out "for a while". She ended up staying with us.

Prior to that, however, Matt & I had spent time with Sara and her boyfriend-at-the-time Caleb when she & he first got back to town, and all 4 of us clicked very nicely on a physical level and decided to do some screwing around, swapping partners, whatever. That's something Matt & I have been okay with for a long time, but we always said that we were 'emotionally monogamous'.

I really don't care about him sharing physically with another person, I care about, and am bothered by, him sharing emotionally, romantic "relationship" love with another person. Call it jealousy, whatever, I don't know- I don't like it. He & I have something really special together, and I always thought that was just for us.

Well- things progressed, Matt & Sara have actually a lot in common, and he started to really have feelings for her and she for him. Now, Caleb is out of the picture as he had to leave town for work anyway, so all of a sudden (even without anyone else having feelings for each other) things aren't as 'balanced' as they were before- now it's a triangle where before it was a square with each opposing person being very interested in the other.

Caleb and I connected intensely on an intellectual level; he's an inventor and lab rat, studies physics, we discuss mathematics and string theory which Matt told me he actually had found a bit threatening himself, that i connect both mentally & physically with someone like that, as Matt is absolutely not interested in physics, mathematics, etc which are my passions.

It doesn't really matter, as Caleb can't be with us anymore now anyway. In any event, while I connected with him, I did not feel any 'emotional connection' with him like love or anything, as I'm absolutely emotionally monogamous, and i know that about myself.

Moving to now, Sara is staying with us, she and Matt are getting attached to each other, and I hate it. I don't care about the sex, when it's not "i love you" sex...all three of us have had really hot times together and I love that. What I can't handle now are these things:

1) this is moving way too fast for me.

2) he says "i didn't plan for this to happen, to feel like this about her" . So of course my mind goes to okay, what is going to happen NEXT that you didn't plan for? I do not like change like this in the "core" of my life, especially change that I did not agree to, did not want, and that comes at me out of the blue.

3) Seeing him look at her the way he looks at me. it's like a *&%*(ing knife in my heart.

he tells me over and over that his love for me is no less, he loves me as much as he always has, he doesn't want to hurt me, to reassure me that I'm the most important to him (and he's told her this as well, that I'm his wife and will always come first with him), that he's still very attracted to me and nothing's I just being jealous? I don't know, I don't think I've ever known what jealousy feels like, as I'm not generally like this- but I do know that it actually physically hurts. (excuse the run-on sentences- I'm drinking.)

Maybe if I'd had time to get used to the idea- I don't know. she's staying with us through the 18th (three more days).

He has promised me that none of this means anything will change for he & I. Has said that he will not leave me, will not love me any less, will not suddenly start to prefer her over me. How do I know that? I guess I have to trust him; 15 years of him being trustworthy does count for an awful lot.

However, I'm still having a really *&^%ing hard time with this. And I'm probably drinking too much. I have other issues that are my own; I feel 'less than' just next to her, but I know that's mostly my stuff, as I'm not a bad-looking woman at all & Matt & I have great physical rapport ourselves. But hell, she's 26 and really hot. And I know their sex is great too.

So- why, now that I know they have feelings for each other, do I so intensely hate it when he goes to have sex with just her (rather than the three of us together) or even when he wants to just go for a walk in the park with her while they're out running an errand? It didn't bother me when it was "just sex"...but it bothers me a lot now.

there you go, forum. This is real-life, intense stuff for me, and I'm putting it out there hoping someone will have some words of wisdom. And if not, thanks for listening, anyway.


New member
dVdT...I think you and my wife should talk.....she's going thru many of the same emotions as you are, atleast that's what it sounds like. We are in a tough place right now, married 27 years but only recently poly with her best friend of 20+ years wo is recently divorced and now lives with us. They are not together, it is a "V" relationship for both of them with me.

We are 3 very good friends. I can't tell if it's the sex or the love, that tears her apart. We've tried talking a lot but nothing ever seems to get resolved. It's very frustrating. I have reassured her in many conversations that I still love her and would never leave her. We didn't make it 27 years by accident. It's just that I think I've finally acknowledged my poly roots and don't know if I can put that Jeannie back in the bottle.

She has recently joined this forum but not posted anyting yet. I will try to direct her this way. Sorry I don't have any solid answers for you, but I'm sure others here will have some ideas. Just wanted to let you know that you're not the only one going thru these emotions.


New member
I have seen two main types of jealousy in relationships. One is envy where you want what your partner has. The other is insecurity, where you fear the loss of something like security or that special feeling he has for you. It sounds like you are feeling the latter.

It is ok to feel jealous. But the best use for jealousy is to help you understand yourself and what you are feeling. It sounds like you need more reassurances from Matt that he still loves you in that way you want to be loved.

One thing you are also dealing with is Matt's new relationship enegery (NRE) for Sara. That is newness of a relationship that makes you feel extra good and want to talk about the other person to everyone. It tends to fade after 6 months to 2 years.

One of the concepts that I had to take to heart to really understand polyamory is the concept of compersion or frubble. It is that nonsexual joy you feel for your partner's happiness.

I would bet that he does feel just as strongly for you now as he did before. For me, it amplified the feelings I felt for my girlfriend when we had another woman join us. I think I stayed up on a love "high" that transfered from one partner to another. Each one made me appreciate the other one even more.

I would also suggest the standard communication advise. Talk about what you feel to both of them.


New member
All I know right now is that he doesn't want to hurt me (or he doesn't want me to feel hurt? those are, or can be, two different things). I am afraid that if I tell him how much this does cause me pain, he will feel resentment towards me for stopping him or wanting him to stop something that makes him happy. I just want things to work out okay; I love him more than I have words to say, but it's hard to deal with this. I do feel like I'm having 'unreasonable' feelings, as he HAS told me many times that his feelings for her don't take away from how he feels about me. I don't know if that's even the point, but this has moved too fast for me and I can't help how I feel any more than he can help how he feels. I don't know what to do.


New member
talk! to him, to her if your comfortable with that, all three of you even, talk and talk some more

feelings arent meant to be rational, but it seems a bad decision to me to infer how he may or not feel without giving him a chance to respond to what your feeling, he may suirprise you, you wont know unless you try

talk to him, give him a chance to help make you feel better


New member
I agree with vampiresscammy. Try to talk to both of them. The solution will probably not be to end their relationship, but it may lead towards having your feelings dealt with better.

Even though he has told you that he still feels the same way, you still question it. I find that to be very natural. Let both of them know this is how you are feeling. The discussion does not need to focus on the logic of the situation (like on how 'unreasonable' the feeling is) but on addressing your feelings. That was a tough one for me to learn. Maybe the resolution is spendind more quality time with him? Or maybe more shared dates? Or maybe just sharing your feelings will help?


Active member

One of the concepts that I had to take to heart to really understand polyamory is the concept of compersion or frubble. It is that nonsexual joy you feel for your partner's happiness.

Hmm. Never heard it called "frubble". Heh.

Anyway, YES!, that's very real stuff, and can, I think, help Karen deal with her situation--if she can get to compersion from where she's at at the moment.

Karen, It looks to me that you and Matt have a very solid relationship and that there's a lot of good love there as well as good communication on both sides. So, basically, you're just hitting a major and unexpected bump in the road.

It perhaps should not have come as a huge shock to you that your husband would or could fall in love with a woman with whom he's been having a hot sexual relationship. Sex is inherently and intrinsically a bonding excercise, especially when repeated--and anyone who thinks that good sex doesn't always involve the whole person, including and especially their emotions, needs to take three steps back and look again. What is more, you should thank your lucky stars that this is so about sex, because it is due to this fact about sex that you can feel so deliciously close with -- even "melt" or merge -- with, one you love in this very special way.

The fact that your relationship was already sexually open while not being emotionally open (in terms of numbers of partners allowed to emotionally merge) makes this a very interesting case--and spiritual/psychological challenge. If I were you -- and clearly I am not! -- I would thank the Mystery for handing me this painful growth opportunity. That's right, I'd recogize that the situation feels like lemons and my job now is to make some lemonaide. (The term "Mystery" isn't meant here as a stand-in for "God", but that's another story. Just know that I imagine no sky-Dude in a white beard.)

In my 12 year poly relationship with my partner, Kevin, we've only been fine-tuning our already polyamorous approach to things. Because neither of us has yet had a lasting other partner, though we've both had others for a bit, we've only really flirted with polyamory a few times--other than to live and to be basically open to it and to subscribe to that approach to relationship. I can tell you this: Whenever he or I have been involved with another it has always had the net effect of improving our love and our relationship with one another. Part of this is because being challenged to look closely at what has traditionally been called "the soul" (our 'souls') has always been nourishing of that 'soul'. The 'soul' wants attention--needs it to grow and express itself. The result is an ever more soulful life.

When we run a marathon and win, or come in second..., we can feel proud of ourself, or when we climb a mountain, etc.... We discover our strength by testing it. We grow our spirtual muscles by using them. These lemons are such an opportunity for you. You have a soul mountain to climb. Whether at the other end of your journey you come to saying a heartfelt "yes!" to your husband's desire to have this other person as a true love also, or not, is not what is ultimately at stake in your climbing of your soul mountain. This other relationship isn't at the heart of your climb, rather what is at the heart of your climb is -- as it always is for all of us -- your relationship with yourself. Not your husband. That is, your (and anyone's) primary relationship, which is the basis and the heart of how it is all handled from your end, is the relationship you have with yourself. What this crate of lemons is doing in your kitchen is saying "Hey! Here's an opportunity to look deeper at your soul than you've done in a long time, if ever." There's no possible evasive action, really. That's why the pain is so powerful. It is demanding! It's saying, what? why?! who? when? where?! The pain is a question and you are the answer. That is, only you will know how to dance this dance, one moment and day at a time. But the key is to turn toward and into the pain. Stare it in the face with as much courage as you can bring; never turn away from it! Go right into it with courage and strength -- and I promise you that you will be astounded by your own courage and strength and love. What is more, there is -- I am certain -- great joy to come, however things go "out there" in the pattern of relations. The real core of the matter for you is your own heart/soul.
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I just signed up here and your feelings sound exactly what I am feeling. i am so new to polyamory and joined here so that maybe others who know more about this could help. Your story is not like mine, only the feelings. I appreciate all of the answers you have recieved, they are helpful to me as well. Thank you all and I hope that we can both learn to live in our relationships and be happy.
One of the hardest things to wrap your head around is the idea that it is OK to romantically love two people simultaneously, and I can see how a mono partner would have the greatest trouble with this. I know it is a major issue for my wife at the moment as well.

I struggled with this while harmlessly flirting and not really looking for anything but NSA fun. But then you find someone who you really click with, and before you know it you are falling head over heels for them and acting like a 16-year old kid. I began to question my own sanity and wonder WTF was going on in my head. Was I falling out of love with my wife? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the emotions were calmer there, but I still felt a deep love for her. AND the new girlfriend. I love them both.... and that's OK. Society and a culture built upon the false foundation of "monogamy is the only way" pounds into us that this is not possible; which is why a society that frowns upon poly has no problem with serial monogamy (many of whom probably would have been much happier poly)...


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Thank you so much for sharing this for me. My guy is so wonderful about reassuring me that he loves me even more than the "others" but sometimes I still feel "less than". Guess it's a girl thing! I appreciate it so much. I find the difficulty for me is the lack of accessibility. I need him sometimes and get very frustrated when he is not available. I wish I knew how to cope with that. Still learning......
Thank you so much for sharing this for me. My guy is so wonderful about reassuring me that he loves me even more than the "others" but sometimes I still feel "less than". Guess it's a girl thing! I appreciate it so much. I find the difficulty for me is the lack of accessibility. I need him sometimes and get very frustrated when he is not available. I wish I knew how to cope with that. Still learning......

Honey, it's not just a girl thing, it's a HUMAN thing! :)

It is natural to feel those pangs when someone you love is with someone else, but you have to choose to respond to those feelings positively. And as the mono half of a couple, as someone who doesn't experience the "double love" phenomenon, it IS harder to deal with.

But it seems like you have a great attitude: just keep on it!


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One of the hardest things to wrap your head around is the idea that it is OK to romantically love two people simultaneously, and I can see how a mono partner would have the greatest trouble with this.

It is. My relationship with my boyfriend started as FWB only and over maybe half a year, feelings crept in until a point, early last year, when we realized we were falling in love. It's been roughly 10-11 months since the L word was spoken and we admitted feeling to each other and to our mates.

Hubby and I were mono prior to this relationship. And although it's near going on a year, my husband still needs me to reassure him from time to time...though not as much as in the beginning. He gets insecure sometimes, wondering if I love him less, other times I might be insensitive and say or do something to hurt his feelings. Maybe make plans with my b/f and forget to check with hubby first, making him feel taken for granted. It's definitely a work in progress, but things are steadily improving...Guess we're lucky :)