Polyamorous vs Ethical Slut

SchrodingersCat

Active member
Something about which I'd be curious to hear what others think...

People often come in here with problems related to a partner wanting to have sex with other people. In some cases this leads to romantic feelings, in others it does not.

Now, in my marriage, I'm polyamorous and my husband is an ethical slut. I describe him as "barely monoamorous." Before me, he had never had a relationship that lasted longer than 6 months because he always bailed as soon as it started to get too emotional. So because I know his history and emotional capacity, I expect him not to form loving, romantic relationships with other people.

Now, some people might see that as a double standard since I'm not playing "what's good for the goose is good for the gander." But in this case, it's actually the opposite. He makes no secret about how challenging it is for him to deal with my emotions. We've explicitly talked about this, and he completely agrees: he has zero desire to be emotionally involved with anyone else. So in that context, I can't imagine how he could form another romantic relationship and still have any energy left for me.

When we met, I proudly declared myself polyamorous and asserted that if we were going to be together, we must both be free to have romantic relationships with other people. What took me time to get my head around was being comfortable with him having sexual but non-romantic relationships with other people.

At first I used the simple excuse of safety: if you haven't formed an emotional bond, then you can't trust what they say about their sexual history. But the truth is that I just felt icky thinking about him banging strangers. Not to say there isn't a valid safety concern, but I knew deep down that wasn't my real motivation. I know how careful he is with safe sex practices, he's even taught courses on the subject.

What really took me time to realize was this: Fairness is not about both partners having the same set of freedoms and boundaries. Fairness is each partner having access to the kinds of activities he or she is interested in, and respect of the other's personal boundaries.

By saying "it's ok for you to have other romantic relationships" I really wasn't granting him anything, since he had no desire for that. But when I finally came around and said "it's ok for you to have meaningless sex with other women" that's when I was really supporting something he actually wanted to do.
 
Last edited:

rory

New member
Great post!

What really took me time to realize was this: Fairness is not about both partners having the same set of freedoms and boundaries. Fairness is each partner having access to the kinds of activities he or she is interested in, and respect of the other's personal boundaries.
I totally agree with this, it hits the nail on the head.

By saying "it's ok for you to have other romantic relationships" I really wasn't granting him anything, since he had no desire for that. But when I finally came around and said "it's ok for you to have meaningless sex with other women" that's when I was really supporting something he actually wanted to do.
And this is well put, too! My husband and I begun opening up almost four years ago, first sexually and recently emotionally. From the start, it's been the case that, theoretically, he has more "freedoms" than I do: I am comfortable with anything he does (as long as I know he respects and loves me), but there are some things he's not comfortable with so I have some "limits" that he doesn't have. Now, if I talk about this with somebody, and I present our agreements as they are in theory, they'll think "how unfair to her".

HOWEVER. In the four years during which he's had pretty much complete freedom, what has he done? He has exchanged one kiss with one woman. In the same time I've had partial freedom, and I've taken advantage of it to have some sexual action, and I now have a girlfriend. Now, how is this unfair to me? Tecnically, I've granted him more freedoms than he's given me, but practically, I've granted him nothing since he has very little if any desire to do the things he's "allowed to".
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
I wonder what the limits are he imposed on you? OPP?
 

hyperskeptic

New member
Fairness is not about both partners having the same set of freedoms and boundaries. Fairness is each partner having access to the kinds of activities he or she is interested in, and respect of the other's personal boundaries.

This is just about right, though I would put it in terms of each respecting the autonomy of the other, the ability and prerogative of the other to make decisions for him or herself. It's basic reciprocity.

It's very cool.
 

AnnabelMore

New member
Interestingly, Eric is exactly the same way as your husband. Gia doesn't so
much forbid him to do anything or see anyone, she just keeps her more emotionally-attuned eye out for when he's about to get himself into trouble (i.e., this person is a bucket of drama, this person clearly wants a type of relationship you can't give, etc.) and strongly suggests that he make the smart decision since it's likely to affect them both.

If he some day suddenly had a change of heart and actually *wanted* to be emotionally entangled with someone else I think she would do her best to ascertain whether it was genuine or whether he was confused, then ask him to go slow if it was real. But it would be a big adjustment and possibly a bit of a shock to her system, since he's been so momoamorous for so long, and I do think she would fear that he would not, in fact, have "infinite love" to share since he's never shown any signs of being polyamorous before, and that he might pull away from her.

It would be a scary time and I think she would let him go for it, on the chance that his ability to love really had expanded, but would keep a very close watch on things and have a long, hard talk with him if it did seem like he was pulling away from her emotionally. I hate to think that she would throw a veto, but it might well come down to that -- they have their kid to consider.
 

MichelleZed

New member
I have this with my husband! We opened things up but sort of reacted to it differently.

I got involved with a co-worker and was unable to make it a one-time or casual thing, and so we've maintained things for about a year now. I sort of think of those two men as "my" people and have no real interest in having casual sex with others.

My husband, however, just has the occasional, rare, one-night stand.

Anyway, people do things their own way and how my husband does this doesn't bother me.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
HOWEVER. In the four years during which he's had pretty much complete freedom, what has he done? He has exchanged one kiss with one woman.

This also reminds me of my husband. He says that for him, it's not so much that he wants to do things with other people, it's that he wants to be allowed to do things with other people. But when push comes to shove, he's usually too tired or unmotivated to actually go to the bath house on co-ed night. But if I were to say "You're not allowed to play with other girls" then he would rear up like a mad stallion.

Does "OPP" mean other people's problems? Or was it a typo for Original Poster with an extra P? :)
 

rory

New member
I wonder what the limits are he imposed on you? OPP?
Was this question addressed to me? Yes, you could say our agreement comes close to OPP, though I do not think using derogatory terminology to describe my partner's feelings facilitates understanding and good communication. (If interested in continuing conversation, please do so here.)
 

Mya

Member
What really took me time to realize was this: Fairness is not about both partners having the same set of freedoms and boundaries. Fairness is each partner having access to the kinds of activities he or she is interested in, and respect of the other's personal boundaries.

I think this is very well put! :)

I have suggested a boundary in my relationship with my husband. I feel uncomfortable with the idea of him sleeping with or having a relationship with any of my closest friends. So I've asked him not to do that. This doesn't apply the other way around because he has a different approach to his friends and he wouldn't feel bad if I did something with them. However, everything's negotiable. If one day he came to me and said he has fallen in love with my best friend or that he has a very strong desire/attraction to her and asked if I could change my mind about the boundary, I probably would. For now it just means that I'd prefer if he didn't and if he could focus his attention to someone else, I would be pleased.

We also have some other boundaries, mostly related to safe sex practices. But if the new person was just tested (and could prove it) and someone you could trust (i.e. have known for a while already), then maybe some of the boundaries could be renegotiated.

I think that if I was "forbidden" to do something I wouldn't do anyway, I wouldn't even consider that much of a boundary for myself. For example if my husband said I couldn't eat meat from now on, I might be upset thinking that he thinks he can control me - but in the end it wouldn't change anything since I'm already a vegetarian and wouldn't eat meat anyway.
 

MonoVCPHG

New member
Fairness is not about both partners having the same set of freedoms and boundaries. Fairness is each partner having access to the kinds of activities he or she is interested in, and respect of the other's personal boundaries.

.

Thank you for putting this so clearly! Not that I want other partners, but I have tried to imagine what that would likely look like for me if I wanted to explore more openness in my relationship as a way to give RP more freedom. Your situation is more closely to what I think that would look like.

Nice post:)
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Was this question addressed to me? Yes, you could say our agreement comes close to OPP, though I do not think using derogatory terminology to describe my partner's feelings facilitates understanding and good communication. (If interested in continuing conversation, please do so here.)

OK, I retract using the words "imposed on you," and apologize.
 

nycindie

Active member
I have tried to imagine what that would likely look like for me if I wanted to explore more openness in my relationship as a way to give RP more freedom.

That says a lot, doesn't it, Mono? I don't think you would have tried to imagine that a year ago. I think you must be less afraid, and more comfortable and trusting now, to even let yourself imagine it.
 

MonoVCPHG

New member
That says a lot, doesn't it, Mono? I don't think you would have tried to imagine that a year ago. I think you must be less afraid, and more comfortable and trusting now, to even let yourself imagine it.

Although fear is not a word I normally associate with in matters of the heart, you are right that even looking at this scenario is a long way from last year.
Redpepper and I have discussed some things related to increased freedom for her and the only fear I have is my own motivations. Am I genuinely ok with it or am I less invested in the relationship and therefore don't value her sexuality/intimacy as much? There is a problem there because if I am less invested then that means my connection is weakening. That in turn leaves the window open to new connections to form. I'm mono...my heart focusses on one person at a time....that's bad when you have a poly girlfriend.

All this being said, I think I might be ready to test that with her and Leo. Things will change somewhat but that is inevitable. There is always cause and effect...the wrong thing to do is assume that those effects will be negative! Maybe they will be good in the long run for both of us :)

We'll see.....the adventure continues!
 

nycindie

Active member
Hi, I knew when I posted that you would react in some way to my choice of the word "afraid." But when I wrote that, I was thinking that you did have a fear of losing your connection. Anyway, I think that Redpepper has shown you how her love for you is unwavering, and your trust levels have risen. As far as your motivation in reconsidering boundaries, I don't think there has to be anything negative about it. You wonder if your connection to her could weaken, but has it? You may be worrying for no reason. I think your considering changes can be a sign of strengthening your connection. It could be that you are just more comfortable with... everything, and happy, that you don't need to hold on so tightly anymore.

Yes, it is an adventure!
 
Last edited:

MonoVCPHG

New member
Hi, I knew when I posted that you would react in some way to my choice of the word "afraid." But when I wrote that, I was thinking that you did have a fear of losing your connection. Anyway, I think that Redpepper has shown you how her love for you is unwavering, and your trust levels have risen. As far as your motivation in reconsidering boundaries, I don't think there has to be anything negative about it. You wonder if your connection to her could weaken, but has it? You may be worrying for no reason. I think your considering changes can be a sign of strengthening your connection. It could be that you are just more comfortable with... everything, and happy, that you don't need to hold on so tightly anymore.

Yes, it is an adventure!

You could be right :)....more self analysis coming up. I'd say we are stronger..or at least better defined in what we can give each other. All good I think :)
 

Claud26

New member
my husband is an ethical slut. I describe him as "barely monoamorous." Before me, he had never had a relationship that lasted longer than 6 months because he always bailed as soon as it started to get too emotional.

this is my first time commenting or posting anything in this forum.
I've been lurking here all week.
I just stumbled upon Poly by accident really.

your post really made me certain that this is the next step in my relationship with my 'boyfriend'
we have been good friends for Many many many years. in all the years i have known him he has never been able to form long lasting relationships.
he is very emotionally challenged as i like to call it and a commitment phoebe.
we started a sexual relationship about a month after i ended my 13year marriage (which had been over for 5years, it just took me that long to walk away from 20years of my life)

The past 9 months have been wonderful.
Knowing how he is, i keep things very emotion free and i give him all the room in the world... but i came to realize that i love him, that he is truly the best thing that has ever happened to me. i want him in my life.
He has always been upfront about NOT wanting to date, and NOT wanting a Girlfriend. Although most of our friends assume we are dating that i am his girlfriend.
He as always said that i'm a great girl and didn't want to hold me back from finding someone wonderful who could give me all the things i deserved.
SO 2 weeks ago i told him that i needed more from him, that i wanted him to be my boyfriend, not in the traditional sense, but i needed to know that he felt that way too. He said he felt like I needed something more stable and he didn't want to hurt me and he cared for me deeply.
he doesn't want to let me go.
he wants to continue seeing me. he says he cant imagine not having me in his life and I know he is really struggling with being in a committed relationship.

i think opening up the relationship to poly will make a big difference and is probably exactly what has been missing in his life.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
your post really made me certain that this is the next step in my relationship with my 'boyfriend'
he is very emotionally challenged as i like to call it and a commitment phoebe.
He as always said that i'm a great girl and didn't want to hold me back from finding someone wonderful who could give me all the things i deserved.

SO 2 weeks ago i told him that i needed more from him, that i wanted him to be my boyfriend, not in the traditional sense, but i needed to know that he felt that way too. He said he felt like I needed something more stable and he didn't want to hurt me and he cared for me deeply.
he doesn't want to let me go.
he wants to continue seeing me. he says he cant imagine not having me in his life and I know he is really struggling with being in a committed relationship.

I think it would be useful for the two of you to talk about what you each mean by "commitment."

It's worth finding out if his fear is that you will chain him up and tell him he can't look at other women, that's very different from a fear that you will make demands on his time and energy and emotions and that he won't be able to live up to your expectations.

If his fear is that you will make demands of him that he does not feel capable of providing, then polyamory will not resolve those fears.

If he is emotionally challenged, then a fear of failing you is very realistic. Honestly, some people just can't handle emotional relationships. If that is how he feels, then saying you need more from him basically proves what he already fears: he's not even in a relationship with you, and he's already a disappointment and not living up to your expectations...

At which point, you need to look inside and re-evaluate your expectations and needs. Do you need "him" to be more to you, or is it a human need for a close, intimate relationship with another person? Is it possible that pursuing polyamory would allow you to keep this relationship with him in whatever capacity he's emotionally able to maintain, while also seeking out this "something more" that you feel a need for?
 
Top