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Advice – How do I bring up polyamory?

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/u/Adsihmlaiieo on /r/polyamory writes…

“Hi, all! I’m going to try and keep this short. I’m [27F] interested in introducing polyamory to my husband [28M]. We have been married for 2.5 years and currently have a ‘nothing is cheating’ rule, typically characterized as an ‘open’ marriage. The only rule so far was that it couldn’t be a romantic relationship; strictly physical. However, that wasn’t really my rule. I don’t really believe in monogamy as a practice, and I sort of want to bring this up to my husband to see if he’d be interested in a romantic relationship with someone else, and if he’d be okay with me doing the same. I’m just not sure how to broach the subject. How do I ask him that without sounding like I no longer love him? I don’t want him to feel some sort of way. I still want to stay married to him. I just also want to date, and I don’t mind at all if he dates as well.

Has anyone else started out monogamous and made the switch?”

Dear Adsihmlaiieo,

Hmm. The way you’ve phrased how you and your husband arrived to your current open marriage is very interesting. It is apparent that the “strictly physical” rule/boundary was developed and established by your husband. And because you so closely identify with non-monogamy, you agreed to it to appease your husband.

Rolling this conversation out depends wholly on how you’ve come to this realization. If it was due to you finding an emotional connection with a previously physical connection with whom you now want to explore a new emotional connection with, it probably isn’t going to go very well. However, if it is just a general perspective you have about relationships at large, I think that warrants a different type of conversation. Based on your tone, I am going to assume that it is the latter, that there is no urgency in exploring emotional connections right at this moment.

If that is the case, then the best way to approach this discussion is an open-ended conversation and dialogue about this specific boundary. You can start off by asking, “Hey. Remember that discussion we had early on in our relationship when we first opened up? Can we talk about how we arrived to the agreement for strictly physical relationships only?” Segueing that conversation into how you’ve realized you can and desire developing emotional connections with others can help you anticipate what his response would be like. If that revisit to your old agreement goes well, then you can talk about renovating that agreement to better suit your and your husband’s developing relationship philosophies.

Explaining what about emotional connections specifically appeal to you beyond just physical connections would also be a necessary conversation topic to have. You might have to do some digging around to see what it is about emotional connection you like, and think about how you can better communicate that to your husband that doesn’t come across as threatening.

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Please do understand that there is also a very high likelihood that he would be completely happy with the old agreement of only physical relationships, and refuse to adjust your existing agreements. There isn’t really much you can do to logically explain how you feel because he didn’t logically determine his feelings about your agreement himself. So allow him to work on his own emotional state on his own.

I am also really interested in your anticipation of his insecurity. That kind of insight is really valuable. While you can do your best to appease and reassure your husband that you are not going to leave him for another partner, please do remember that your husband will also have to do his own emotional labor to work on his own insecurities and jealousy should you decide to pursue polyamorous relationships on our own.

Last thing I will add is that different people love differently. It is wholly possible for your husband to not want to pursue any emotional connections while you are free to do so. I’ve seen firsthand how mono-poly relationships can work well. And while this isn’t quite mono-poly, I can also see this working out for you and your husband especially if you can have productive and healing conversations regarding development of emotional connections in non-monogamous context.

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at teatimetomato@gmail.com. If you liked my advice for this post, please subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

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