Open Marriage To Poly Problem

desertdude

New member
Hi Everyone,

I am in a 7 year relationship (married for the last 3), and last August we agreed to open up our relationship. I was hesitant as I am naturally a pretty risk adverse person and dont like new things. However, my wife said she had been looking into it for a while and wanted to try some new stuff. I agreed becuase in the past her trying new stuff had helped me expand my comfort zone and we agree that it could be temporary. We also agreed at the time to keep things sexual as a group. However, over time due to the difficulty of scheduling around our busy lives we started doing separate things. We specifically agreed that romantic love was off the table and that any relationships would have to end if they reached that point. This worked for the most part through last year, then the first two months of this year we were too busy to do anything. In the meantime, I realized that I am monogomous and wasnt really enjoying the separate dates with other people. My wife however was really liking them.

In February she started dating again and picked up more time at work. I started to struggle emotionally because I am used to spending a lot of time with her (honestly probably too much and its something that I am in the process of working on). That caused some tension between us but wasnt something that would ruin our relationship.

The issue is that lately she has been dating the same guy multiple times a week and she admitted that she wouldnt cut it off if she fell in love. She feels that she has the capability to love more than one person at a time and the fact that she may fall in love with him doesnt mean she wont love me. This is really messing me up. I am dealing with a lot of jealousy of the guy and also the fact that she wont cut it off and instead is digging in her heels. I feel bad and dont want to force her to stop or give an ultimatum about our marriage because I can see how happy it makes her going on these dates. She has said that Poly may not be a permantent thing for her but right now she wont consider going back to a monogamous relationship until I try to deal with my jealousy and see if I can come around to the idea of a poly/mono relationship. So that's what brought me here.

Do you all have any advice on how to handle this relationship and how I can try to work through the jealousy and pain I am feeling right now? I would like to stay married to her because other than this issue we align very well and have had a very happy 7 years up to this point.
 

Eponine

Member
The "sex only, no falling in love" arrangement often doesn't work, because sex and romantic love are so intertwined for a lot of people, and the development of feelings isn't within one's control. Since you guys are fairly new to non-monogamy and didn't seem to agree to poly before, I feel like she should take a step back and talk things out with you first. For example, what poly means for each of you, whether she wants hierarchical or non-hierarchical poly, what are the guidelines and boundaries, how to deal with your differences in relationship views. There are a lot of poly resources you can read together, such as More Than Two, which has a section for mono/poly relationships.

However, sometimes no matter how hard people try, they just can't switch from mono to poly or vice versa. Some people are hardwired to be one way or another, and for them it's something that can't be compromised on, just like you can't compromise on having kids or not. If that's the case for you guys, sadly you probably have to let it go, otherwise you'll be miserable and resent each other. Hope you two can work it out though!
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
I hope you feel better for airing out.

I mean this all kindly ok?

What preparation work did both of you do?

I agreed becuase in the past her trying new stuff had helped me expand my comfort zone and we agree that it could be temporary.

This doesn't sound like joyful consent to me. It sounds like you going along with whatever from wife from habit. Is that true?

This is not a realistic agreement either. While someone promised it could be temporary at the start? There's the risk of new discoveries being made. You might end up on opposite sides where one wants to stop now and the other wants to keep going. Then what?

Was that possibility ever addressed before going there? I am guessing no?

A more realistic approach would have been to address it, and have the emergency plan for how to part ways peacefully already in place.

Like... hope we don't need it, but if we do need it? The plan for how to part ways peacefully is there already.

Much like going boating with a life preserver. You don't WANT to fall out of the boat and risk drowning, but you bring/pack/wear the stuff in case.

We also agreed at the time to keep things sexual as a group.

Also not realistic agreement.

Some people are into group sex. And it pans out fine.

Others are not. It's not pleasant for someone to think "Great, to access being with X, I have to service Y" or be the recipient of such. Like... "I'm just a bump on a log here... They are just servicing me to gain access to partner and not actually into me."

Or they want group sex sometimes, and then also pairing off alone times as well.

We specifically agreed that romantic love was off the table and that any relationships would have to end if they reached that point.

Not a realistic agreement. Because sharing sex? Can lead to feelings growing. So this agreement asks what of the people? To ditch someone just because you started to care about them? This treats people kindly how?

It can lead to lying about true feelings because then you don't have to dump them. And it can erode trust between partners because now there's lies. When really? It could have been talked out ahead of time.

If two people, say Apple and Banana agree this is going to be an open marriage monoamorous and polysexual thing? Love is just shared between them. Casual sex can be shared between them or with others.

And then Banana falls in love with Chocolate? And Apple isn't into changing agreements? It might be on Apple and Banana to part ways. Because they want different models now. Old deal is over.

This worked for the most part through last year, then the first two months of this year we were too busy to do anything. In the meantime, I realized that I am monogomous and wasnt really enjoying the separate dates with other people. My wife however was really liking them.

Sounds like you tried it and ended up "Meh, open. Prefer monogamy."

She tried it and ended up "Meh, open. Prefer poly so I can share both sex and love with my partners."

So the "old deal" of "trying Open" is coming to a close.

Now you have to ask yourself -- "Can I be an end point in a poly V? Or do I just bow out now? Cuz now she wants to go to places I don't really want to go to."

Where do you land?
  1. Monoamorous + wants monogamy shaped relationships only
  2. Monoamorous + relationship shape flexible.
  3. Polyamorous + relationship shape flexible.
  4. Polyamorous + wants poly shaped relationships only
I think if people are in the same category or at least next to each other, it might work out. But if one person is a 1 and the other a 4? It's just too big a bridge to gap.

The issue is that lately she has been dating the same guy multiple times a week and she admitted that she wouldnt cut it off if she fell in love. She feels that she has the capability to love more than one person at a time and the fact that she may fall in love with him doesnt mean she wont love me.

You could thank her for being honest.

And that's fine for HER. But that wasn't the original deal you signed up for. To me it sounds like you signed up for "open relationship" -- casual sex with others on the side and that's it.

So if she's discovered things and figuring out he prefers a different deal and wants to change?

And YOU don't want to be a in relationship model like that? Your consent to participate in things or not belongs to YOU.

If you are uncertain, and need some time to reflect? I could be wrong in my impression, but to me it sounds like a temporary agreement might help.

Like "Ok, we are at a crossroads, we need to talk. Can we agree no NEW people? You see Dude who is already here, but no NEW people added into this mix? This is changing the original deal. I need some time to reflect. I need to figure out if I'm up for a new deal or not."

Then set up a couples counselor to help you talk things out.

You might consider. https://www.polyfriendly.org/ for counselors.

But if YOU ALREADY KNOW in your gut you want none of this?

You can say "Thank you for being honest. I'm not into that though. So... we need to talk about parting ways. Then I can be FREE FROM poly stuff I do not want. And you can be FREE TO pursue poly stuff you do want with people who do want that." and you could line up a couples counselor to help you part ways as peacefully as possible. Different counseling goal.

I imagine the feelings are going to be hard to feel, but there is really no point in banging head on walls or trying to square peg, round hole. :(

(cont)
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
I feel bad and dont want to force her to stop or give an ultimatum about our marriage because I can see how happy it makes her going on these dates.

Yeah, but you don't have to hang out in a poly thing if that does nothing for you. She can be happy poly dating without you.

There is a difference between you saying "Dump him or else!" like an ultimatum.

And you sating "I can't do this. I'm bowing out" because you have reached your personal limit for this.

I'm not trying to be mean, ok? I'm just saying... think about about your own health and well being. What do YOU want from life? Is this what you wanted to be doing?

She has said that Poly may not be a permantent thing for her

Ok. Neither here nor there at this point in time. That's stuff of future.

but right now she wont consider going back to a monogamous relationship until I try to deal with my jealousy and see if I can come around to the idea of a poly/mono relationship. So that's what brought me here.

But do you even want to? Or do you just want monogamy? Otherwise it's like going the long way around to arrive at... "Well, I just want monogamy."

If you need time to figure out if it is for you or not?
  • You have to assess if you willing to try it on a trial period. Or is your heart not even in this, so pointless to try?
    • If willing...You have to assess if you able to try a mono-poly V thing on a trial period -- or do you have to grow some skills?
      • How long a trial period?
        • You have to decide what happens at the end of the trial period if you discover "Nope. Still not for me."

Are there poly hell things going on?

There's several ways to work on jealousy.
  • You can try to work THROUGH it, and see if you can change core beliefs and share her time and attention with another partner.
  • You could REDUCE IT by avoiding situations that make it rise up. Like it's just going to be 1 serious BF, right? Not 3?
  • Or you could AVOID IT and stick to monogamy for you.
Maybe the jealousy workbook helps.

Do you all have any advice on how to handle this relationship and how I can try to work through the jealousy and pain I am feeling right now? \

One doesn't make major life decisions overnight. So don't RUSH it.

Do your soul searching and be SUPER HONEST with yourself. Because if it's going to be like you doing a lot more work to get less time/attention from spouse just to keep a mono/poly thing going when you know you don't even want to be doing mono/poly in the first place?

That would not be you taking good care of yourself. Why bang head on wall or bend into pretzels rather than being up front and honest about where you stand with spouse?

I give this to my kids. I hope you aren't at that place, but if you need a tool...


I would like to stay married to her because other than this issue we align very well and have had a very happy 7 years up to this point.

So... is this an issue you can get past or not? Do you actually want to practice polyamory or would you just be doing it to avoid a break up to keep hanging on to her?

If the marriage part doesn't work any more because you want different things? Could you let the marriage shape go and save the people? Would it be better to be exes and friends enjoying each other's company that way?

I can imagine this is super hard and there's a lot to think about as you do your soul searching. I encourage you to do it though.

Speak your truths to your wife. If even at a whisper.

Lean IN and have the conversations you need to be having. With a counselor's help if needed.

Galagirl
 

Marcus

Well-known member
The "sex only, no falling in love" arrangement often doesn't work, because sex and romantic love are so intertwined for a lot of people, and the development of feelings isn't within one's control

For sure. It's probably very comforting to hear "nah baby, I only love you", but it's not an actual promise most people can follow through on. Share some intimacy, a few laughs, and *poof*, we gots feelings.

I feel bad and dont want to force her to stop or give an ultimatum about our marriage because I can see how happy it makes her going on these dates.

I am glad that you are hesitant to try to lay down the law. It's a stance that will either end in her building some major league resentment because she complied to your ultimatum, or she'll call your bluff and refuse your ultimatum.

Neither of the outcomes are positive and I'd skip that whole step altogether.

Do you all have any advice on how to handle this relationship and how I can try to work through the jealousy and pain I am feeling right now?

Jealousy is powerful stuff and it comes from all kinds of emotional baggage and insecurity. For me, handling jealousy is a matter of changing how I'm framing it.

Learn to be grateful instead of jealous: When she goes out with someone you may feel left behind and insecure about your status with her. Instead try to be grateful for having the time alone to explore your hobbies, be grateful that she trusts you enough to be honest with you about what she actually wants, and be glad that someone you love is getting to explore a new and exciting relationship.

It's all about the framing.
 
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