“I have been polyamorous for a while. I’m currently divorced, and dating a married poly man. His wife is amazing and wonderful. She’s been so gracious and kind. I’ve made every effort to make sure that she understands I respect her and that I want to be able to openly communicate with her. I really love him, and I love her, although in a platonic way. Which leads me to why I need advice:
He is amazing and we have talked about this being long term. I’m not interested in having more kids (I have 2 from my previous marriage) and I’m not interested in having another completely entwined life with another partner currently… He however IS interested in having an entwined life. I have never been the “solo poly” party, so I don’t really know how to navigate all of this.
To further explain my position: I was always coupled with my ex-husband, so I never sought out nor cultivated deep emotional relationships with partners even though that was a choice I could have made.
Because I want this to be long term, I’ve noticed a lot of negative thoughts towards his wife will pop up, shifting from envy to jealousy and back again. I have spoken to him about these feelings because I truly believe it helped lessen their intensity, but how do I approach it with his wife?? I DO NOT want her to come away from the conversation feeling insecure or anything of the sort. I want to approach this with delicacy and compassion for what she may or may not feel during the conversation. Is there a way to phrase to reduce any defensiveness?
I know that after I explain this I will have work to do with her because expressing these will probably hurt to hear. I’m very eager to do my part in making this work. Any and all advice welcome.”
I am so deeply impressed with your emotional intelligence to identify the difference between envy and jealousy, to sensibly approach your feelings with your poly partner, and to work together to resolve these feelings together. You did an incredible job already, and you deserve all the recognition. This is how you do emotional labor, people!
I do think that there is room for improvement here. Managing your connections with metamour becomes a necessary aspect of anyone’s polyamorous journey, especially as they develop and become more long term. You have to learn to figure out what kind of internal boundaries you need to establish to keep that connection healthy. In this regard, I do not believe that it is necessary to disclose your emotional journey about how you felt envy and jealousy toward her place in his life.
Here is why.
Communicating this with her might make her feel very self-conscious about her connection with you as her metamour. You’ve already done a really great job of letting her know that you respect her place in her life. You worked really hard to establish a healthy and open connection with her about the relationship each of you have with your shared partner. Communicating this aspect of your inner struggle is going to reveal something more vulnerable for you than she is probably ready to handle. She is going to come away feeling somewhat insecure no matter how you communicate this to her.
In addition, it isn’t really your responsibility to communicate this with her. It is actually your hinge partner’s responsibility should he decide that it is necessary. Your hinge partner should know his wife’s comfort level first and foremost. So if he determines that it is necessary to explain your emotional bandwidth to her, then he’ll do so himself. So allow him to continue to be the great hinge partner he has been for you and his wife so far.
Most importantly, even if you did communicate this with his wife perfectly, there isn’t anything she can accomplish to make this easier for you. This insecurity stems from you. It is your inner voice telling you you want to flesh out what this long-term relationship with this man would look like for you. Determining and fleshing out the type and depth of enmeshment you and your partner both want will alleviate a lot of this insecurity that you currently feel. You’ve already determined what works for you: talking about this with your partner. So continue to do so and be respectful to leave her out of unnecessary information. She has a right not to know some aspects of your relationship.
Like I said, keep doing you. You are doing an incredible job and you are approaching your emotional labor with the kind of insight and thoughtfulness majority of us would dream to accomplish one day. All you need are these words to remind yourself that sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do. It’ll turn out alright, I promise.
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 email@example.com.