When your partner wants non-monogamy and you don’t
In my practice as a relationship consultant and polyamory expert, I regularly meet people who love each other very much and who have radically different relationship needs. Most often it is a man who wants to have a polyamorous relationship and a woman who wishes to remain monogamous, but sometimes it’s the woman who wants to be poly and the man who is devoutly monogamous. Either way, it can be extremely painful for both people. There are a few things to consider if you find yourself in this position.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Excuse you for leaving?
For some people, trying to open a relationship is the last attempt to save them from breaking up. A few people in my 15 year study on polyamorous families explained how becoming polyamorous saved their marriage from divorced, although they are in the minority. Unfortunately, becoming poly to avoid divorce works very rarely, and much more often the relationship self-destructs more dramatically than it would otherwise. Because polyamory is so emotionally intense and requires such focused and compassionate communication, it can be difficult even for people in stable relationships who aren’t experiencing significant conflict. For those in high-conflict relationships, becoming polyamorous to save a relationship works just as well as having a baby to save a marriage, abominably.
If you are unhappy in your relationship and see polyamory as a “one foot out” strategy, please reconsider your decision. Not only is your original relationship unlikely to survive the rigors of honest communication and complex feelings, you will most likely hurt other people you date in your polyamorous experimentation. If you know that things are truly over, then break away from your old relationship completely and take a moment to catch your breath before you dive into a poly relationship. This will save everyone involved from excruciating pain.
Communicate first, no cheating
Because polyamory is built on a foundation of mutual trust, respect, honesty, and communication, it is important to implement these relationship strategies immediately. Hearing “Honey, I’ve started seeing someone else and I want to open up our relationship” can upset even the most self-confident person. The transition to an open relationship from a monogamous relationship is tricky at best, and trying to cheat first makes it even more difficult. Communication first, then sex.
Meet the needs of the existing partner
If someone feels like they haven’t had enough Warning, sex, love or care of their partner, the idea of sharing this already insufficient supply will not mix. In order to make polyamory more palatable to your reluctant partner, be sure to not only meet their needs now, but also reassure them that their needs will continue to be met in the future.
Part of meeting your partner’s needs is refraining from shaming, bullying, or harass. The monogamous person should avoid shaming the poly-hunched person for being unhappy with monogamy– it may not even be a choice for them. If the poly person is poly by sexual orientation, it is no more realistic to expect them to be thrilled with monogamy than to expect a lesbian to be thrilled to be married to a man. Conversely, monogamy can also be a sexual orientation, and mono-leaning people should not be humiliated or harassed in polyamory against their will. Harassment leads to false consent and, very soon after, relationship breakdown.
If a partner just wants a little openness and can be satisfied with something less threatening than falling for someone else, consider starting small. Swinging can provide the person who wants consensual non-monogamy with access to sexual variety while keeping the couple at the center of their concerns in order to help the lean person feel safe with small steps. Attending a swing club for a night out can help couples communicate their feelings and desires without making anyone else think it will be an ongoing relationship. People can set their own limits in swing clubs: it’s OK to just go and watch, or flirt with others and not have sex with them.
Alternatively, if even considering sex with strangers is too much, try a social event dressed as a snack or chat with people in a polyamorous To meet group. People mingle fully dressed at Poly Meetups that are often held in restaurants or other public places. Sometimes people are there to meet potential dates, sometimes just to chat and share tips or experiences. Again, it’s okay to set your own limits, so just going to a Meetup doesn’t mean you’ve signed up to be polyamorous.
Dealing with emotional pain
While sometimes this isn’t a problem for people, at other times the desire to establish an open relationship or the transition from monogamy to polyamory can lead to pain and discomfort for everyone involved. . Those seeking consensual non-monogamy may feel shame, guilt, and self-doubt when faced with a loved one who suffers from his desire for romantic or sexual openness. The monogamous partner may feel inadequate, unloved, or angry that their loved one wants to change the rules of the relationship halfway. No matter what position people hold, there are many opportunities to experience emotional pain. Develop strategies for coping with and treating pain, as well as seeking emotional support and managing anxiety, are life skills that everyone can benefit from.
Invest in yourself
If you are the partner who wants to be monogamous and you feel upset about your partner’s desire to investigate other relationships, it can be very difficult to relax and let go emotionally. If this partner is your only emotional support, strongly consider branching out to expand your social circle. This does not necessarily mean establishing romantic relationship. In reality, friendship maybe just what you need. Feeling like your world revolves around someone who wants to spend time with other partners is often terrifying and can rob you of connections. In order to ground yourself more firmly in your own experience, remember what makes you feel good: practice hobbies, learn something new, reinvigorate old friendships, and build new relationships.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Be prepared to try hard
Polyamory can be difficult even when everyone involved is excited to be in a non-monogamous consensual relationship. For those who are not so sure it is for them, it can be even more difficult. However, it may be worth trying really hard to save a romantic relationship. If you really love each other and believe that you each have each other’s best interests at heart, then give all you have to trying to make the relationship work. Be flexible, try new things, and tolerate discomfort to overcome the obstacle in a new and more fulfilling relationship setup. Don’t fall for it!
Be prepared to admit when it doesn’t work
If you’ve really done your best and it becomes clear that the relationship isn’t going to work out, then admit it to yourself sooner rather than later. Dragging it out will only make matters worse, creating an environment that can cause incredible pain and emotional damage. Rather than chaining up an old partner until you’ve found a new partner, break up first so you don’t create more wrecks than necessary. Far better to face the potential to fear to be alone than to inflict misery on existing and new partners.
Sometimes a monogamous and polyamorous just can’t find a romantic or sexual relationship style that works for them both, and in these cases, it’s much better to communicate with honesty and compassion as they reconfigure themselves into a relationship. another form of relationship, probably platonic. When these people continue to love each other and stay together socially but not lovingly, they have created what I call a polyaffective relationship. that way, they can maintain family relationships while pursuing different romantic paths. The important thing for a pleasant polyaffective relationship is to treat yourself well during and after the breakup – no layer, cheating or being wrong.