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Advice – We have a “Threesome only” Rule.

“Hey everyone. My [f22] partner [m28] have been together in a monogamous relationship for 3 years. Everything between us is awesome and we love each other deeply. I am a very monogamous person by nature. I cant even think about another person when I am in love with my partner. He recently has opened up to me about how he is struggling with the monogamy in our relationship and would like to explore sexual relations with other women.

I was very hurt by this initially and we have done a lot of talking and crying and arguing at times the past couple months. We have come to the agreement to try threesomes together to see if that is a compromise that works for us.

I was sexually flexible/bi before I met my partner so I’m trying to re channel those feelings and be positive about this. The reason we chose this route is I am not able to handle an open arrangement and neither of us wants separate partners/relationships per se. My partner also struggles with being social and making friends and would like to have a larger mixed gender social group for us to interact with. Overall we feel this could be a way for us both to feel involved and explore a new sexual avenue together.

We have rules about how we are doing this. All communication done on a joint device while together. Keeping the interactions casual and not frequent. No emotional attachment strictly sex. Certain more intimate rules etc.

The problems and concerns I am having with this currently is:

-Initially he didn’t handle this well and said a lot of things that hurt me and made me feel bad such as “i feel like I’m married already and don’t want to be” “being in a relationship this long makes me feel trapped and controlled” etc..

-I struggle with this new change in my relationship and feel insecure in the relationship over this. I had dreams of marrying this person and now he desires more than just me

-I struggle with other women and have a history of people cheating or lying to me which has altered my view slightly negatively, including some issues with current partner

-my partner and I are scared to lose each other throughout this to another person

-I don’t want to be compared to any woman or be outdone in the bedroom per se

-I feel jealous when my partner finds someone else attractive

-I’m worried i will be upset after the threesome if he gives someone more attention than me

-we have argued a couple times about women we have found that want to meet us because he doesn’t like girls with even a little extra weight

-I feel anger towards him slightly over this whole situation and just wish I had my life with him prior to this back

-I feel sad because I want to validate and respect his feelings but also feel very opposite on some aspects

-I feel like my world and future has collapsed around me in a way and im desperate to make a change that will work

I am hoping for a positive outcome. I know threesomes can either benefit or destroy existing relationships. I’m hoping for the benefit.

Does anyone have any tips on some of the concerns I have mentioned or advice on regulating emotions? Also do you think this is a reasonable compromise for two people in love that want different things? Also threesome tips are greatly needed. Thank you guys in advance.”

Padge 19 on /r/polyadvice.

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Dear Padge,

It is admirable to hear to what extent you and your partner has made compromises for each other. That alone speaks a lot about the kind of strength you and your partner have nurtured together in the past three years together. You’ll find that in any mature or serious relationships, both you and your partner will have to make at least some compromises. Both communication and negotiation are core relational skills that you will continue to fine tune over time. And that will be true in this particular romantic relationship as well as any other relationships you’ll develop in the future.

Consider that both you and your partner each grew up in a very different background with different previous relationship histories. As such, you two were different individuals who formed this beautiful connection together. Communication is the complex lubricant that better aligns each of your wildly different personhoods. Negotiation is bearing the weight of another’s point of view, trusting that the other will also consider your point of view, and then successfully maneuvering to close that difference through communication.

Based on the three rules that you’ve outlined, it will be very challenging for your partner to develop any real connection that is both meaningful and ethical. And based on the problems and concerns that you have outlined, it will be very challenging for you to be able to manage your feelings in a productive way. Both of you face an incredible uphill battle just to get to the middle ground you can both settle for.

In this column, I’ll first lay out your emotional landscape regarding this compromise before we talk about what your partner has on his plate. Once we’ve covered both of your perspective, we will get to the tips and advice for this compromise to work.

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Let’s start with your current landscape.

You love your partner in a very different way that your partner loves you. It is not worse or better, just different. You were hardwired to be monogamous. As such, you might not choose to be in a non-monogamous arrangement in any other relationship. You have always wanted to have a romantically and sexually exclusive relationship with your partner. You’ve spent the past three years mentally establishing an expectation of your long-term monogamous future together. So when your partner approached you about the prospect of opening up your relationship a couple months ago, your world collapsed all around you. You might even see your partner as the catalyst for this monumental change that shook the very foundation of your relational landscape. Through difficult discussions that spanned months, you valued your relationship with him so greatly that you compromised with him even though the compromise was far from your own ideals.

You say that you feel insecure about the current state of your relationship and in the relative strength of the connection you feel with your partner. That makes a lot of sense. You had a very different idea of what your relationship was like just six months ago. It has all changed, and so has your trust in your partner – in so far that you even feel anger and resentment toward your partner over this change.

You’ve tried your best to communicate your perspective and negotiated down to establish some explicit and many more implicit rules of engagement that makes you feel more comfortable with non-monogamy. But through that negotiation process, both you and your partner accrued significant scars from wounds you’ve inflicted onto yourselves and onto each other. It is why you are holding negative feelings towards the words that you two exchanged at the beginning of the discussion process. That is emotional baggage that you and your partner will have to continue to carry forward.

In addition to the emotional baggage, these discussions laid bare some of your inner most, deepest insecurities. You already feel intensely jealous of your partner’s potential interests. And you’ve already sort of made up your mind on how to feel when certain events happen, almost as a way to preemptively commit to emotional labor. That you’ll be upset if your threesome partner is more attractive than you. That you’ll be upset if he ever pays more attention to the threesome partner than you.

It appears that the months of seismic shift beneath your feet created a massive mountain ahead of you: a mountain of emotional labor that you will have to work on.

Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

Now let’s talk about your partner’s emotional landscape.

Your partner loves you in a very different way than you love your partner. It is not worse or better, just different. Most folks don’t consciously choose monogamy thinking about ethical non-monogamy as an option. It just happens to be the relationship model in which we are all told is the only true model of success from a very impressionable age. It sounds like your partner recognized more than a couple months ago that sexual exclusivity was not something he wanted in his long-term relationship. When he approached you about the prospect of opening up your relationship a couple months ago, he quickly realized that the gap between what he wanted and what you wanted were so incredibly far apart. He valued his relationship with you so greatly that he compromised with you even though the compromise was far from his own ideals.

And in his compromise, he has settled for some extremely restrictive rules that will no doubt prohibit him from finding any meaningful connections. A very common complaint among non-mono-oriented cis men is that they have difficulty finding potential partners even with very few rules. There aren’t a whole lot of non-mono-oriented people in the dating pool. And more rules and restrictions there are, the fewer there’ll be who would fit the criteria.

Since you two are looking for threesome partners, it is a given that this threesome partner will have to be bisexual or at least bicurious. If all the interactions have to happen on a joint device while you two are together, that will severely limit your respective availability. The emotional and time-sensitive restrictions will mean that there will have to be an ongoing stream of threesome partners who want to work with these rules. All of these are massive, massive red flags for a lot of bi women. And based on your insecurities, it doesn’t really leave a lot of room for him to maneuver and connect with other women.

When your partner says that he feels like he is trapped and controlled, he is really saying that he is feeling the constraints of the rules that he has agreed to under duress, just like you feel like you are opening up under duress. It is his way of saying that he is compromising on his ideals to remain connected with you. He might not be saying so to hurt you or make you feel bad; it is just that the compromises are not always the most comfortable.

I gave some advice two days ago that might be applicable here.

Just because you two like the same genre of movies doesn’t mean that you will like the same exact movies as your partner. As such, just because you two like women doesn’t mean that you two will like the same woman.

In the same way, your attraction to women might be very different from his attraction to women. So recognize that there is a possibility that you might not be sexually attracted to the potential threesome partner that he is interested in. And that there is a possibility that he might not be sexually attracted to the potential threesome partner that you are interested in. This poses a unique challenge.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you and your partner are both insistent on pursuing a threesome together without changing your rules, then I have two pieces of advice for you and your partner.

First is to be patient. Opening up a relationship also brings with it a lot of personal and interpersonal growth. As you and your partner each grow and change through this process, you’ll each have to make more of a concerted effort to remain connected. And if you do experience any disconnects, stay positive and aim for a timely reconnect. Change is inevitable. So instead of fighting against the current, why not see how things go and determine why you feel the way you do, instead of erecting extensive rules that ward against hurt feelings?

My second piece of advice is to consider hiring a sex worker. You and your partner are not going to find a unicorn that fit all of these criteria and are also okay with following all of your rules. Any experienced polyfolks will run away when they see the joint phone rule. And any inexperienced threesome candidates will shy away when they see how many rules you two have. Hiring a sex worker bypasses both of those difficulties as well as it guarantees your emotional safety. And since there is no requirement to go on first or second dates before threesomes are initiated, it’ll be a good and safe way for you two to renegotiate as your boundaries change and feelings are realized.

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.

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