“I brought up the concept to my husband as I have always leaned toward polyamory but have not until recently known it was an actual thing. My husband and I have a stable relationship of over 3 years and a child together. I would like to know how you initiated bringing in new partners to your existing relationship without making your current partner feel like they’re on the back burner. My husband had described his concerns as losing me or our child in the long run. I feel these are valid concern because people do grow apart but I do not see that as relevant to us and I love my husband and our family dearly. To clarify my husband wouldn’t like to participate in polyamory for himself aside from maybe some hookups but I seek a total relationship. How does this work and succeed? Not sure where to begin or what boundaries to set to make everyone comfortable.”
Dear That Mom Chick,
It sounds like you’re much more polyamorous and your husband leans much more toward the open relationship style of non-monogamy. The difference in non-monogamy style isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What’s more important is that both of you are comfortable with each other’s versions of non-monogamy.
Think of it like… he likes cookie dough ice cream and you like lemon sorbet. They’re just different flavors of a very similar thing. You don’t need to like cookie dough to know that it’s a good flavor. And he doesn’t need to do polyamory to know what itch it scratches for you personally.
You and your husband can start by diving deeper into what that “losing me or our child” means to him. What does that look like to him? What is he looking for in terms of reassurances or re-commitments so that he knows you aren’t about to leave him and your child? What are you willing to do to make sure you stay connected with your husband and your child? In how many different ways are you willing to express and strengthen that connection? What do you need from your husband to feel like you remain connected with him? What is he willing to do to make sure that he stay connected with you and your child? In how many different ways is he willing to express and strengthen that connection?
I also want to touch on basic boundaries to establish.
A lot of couples make the mistake of establishing rules and agreements that are way too strict and expansive. These rules and agreements are often set to appease immediate insecurity, to avoid experiencing bad feelings, and to protect the existing relationship at all costs. A very common but flawed agreements a lot of non-monofolks start out with is “no sex in our house” rule. When you boil down to it, that rule is established to not feel insecurity or jealousy in their own place of residence. The most basic agreements in experienced poly arrangements work because there is a basic level of trust in that each other’s ability to explore their non-monogamous relationships in the most productive and ethical way. It isn’t that the rules forbid them to behave a certain way; it’s more that they are both mutually agreed upon for mutual best interests and self-enforceable. So sit and discuss not just what agreements you need to establish, but also talk about why they need to be established.
One of the hardest skills to master in your non-monogamous journey will be to comfortably sit in your discomfort. Some of the problems that you’ll face in your journey will not have immediate solutions, and instead will take more than a handful of data points and immediate reaction to resolve.
Others have already suggested this, but allowing your partner to go first would not be a bad option as well. A lot of men have problem meeting and forging new connections at first due to comparative lack of options and interests. Letting your partner form that first non-mono relationship will help a bit with that initial jealousy/insecurity that others have experienced in the past. It is in your mutual best interest to be compassionate with each other.
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. If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!