When people find out that I’m a polyamorous woman (capable of having more than one intimate relationship) and married to an alpha-male, they tend to gravitate towards the same questions:
“I think I’m polyamorous too! How did you convince your husband to consider opening your marriage? How do I convince my partner to become polyamorous with me?”
After some long consideration, I decided to write a post about this topic because so many people think I’m capable of guiding the way. So here is my foolproof plan for convincing your spouse to join you down a polyamorous path:
Step 1: Don’t.
That’s it. That’s my plan.
Look, hearing these kind of questions makes me internally cringe so hard because I DON’T have a good answer and people aren’t going to like that I think polyamory isn’t for them. It is not because I believe I am emotionally or morally superior to a monogamous person, at all. It is because we live in a monogamous society, folks, and the level of crap that I get about being polyamorous is beyond what I discuss on this blog. How can I give someone the steps to opening their marriage only to have their entire life implode?
I’ve had tons of conversations with people in monogamous relationships who wish to be poly. The number one thing I attempt to discern is WHY they wish to go down this path. Here are some of their (paraphrased) responses:
“He’s never around.”
“I’m unhappy and think that another partner would help.”
“She refuses to do certain things in the bedroom now that we are married. And I NEED certain things.”
“I met someone I think I want to be with.”
Now let’s take a look at those responses. On a personal note, I probably fell between “he’s never around” and “I met someone I think I want to be with.” Loneliness and attraction to another can quite obviously lead someone into thinking about possibilities of another life and another way. But if you have in your mind any one of those reasons and attempt to approach your partner with the idea of opening the relationship, what do you see happening? They will probably want to know why you don’t think they are enough for you, right? And do you know what ANY of those reasons will make your partner feel like?
That they aren’t enough. That they are failing.
I’ve been on the receiving end of a similar conversation before with my ex-husband. I was crushed that I wasn’t sexually enough for him and he wanted to swing. My response of being confused and crushed will be a similar response to you going to your partner with ideas of polyamory. Why? Because most people don’t understand that the desire to love multiple people doesn’t (or shouldn’t) stem from a lack of love for their current partner.
If you are unhappy with your partner or yourself and think that you need another person to add to that sad mix, please don’t kid yourself and ruin multiple lives. If you think you and your partner are capable of long, arduous, revealing, soul-searching, empathetic, respectful conversations, and you wish to approach them about the idea of having an open relationship, here is my advice:
1. Make sure that you aren’t doing this to “solve” any problems already within your relationship. Asking a third to join your jacked up relationship is cruel for everyone.
2. Read some Heinlein to get a feel for how a polyamorous relationship should be (respectful, full of communication, and lots of love. I suggest Time Enough for Love (beware, some pretty odd themes pop up, so ignore those) and Stranger in a Strange Land).
3. Make sure you are having this conversation with your partner BEFORE starting a relationship with someone else. Because the intent to eventually discuss your desire for polyamory with your partner does not make you any less of a cheater.
4. When you finally decide to have the first of many conversations, be respectful of your spouse’s mindset before you shake up their world. Are they stressed about work or the kids? Don’t be selfish and bring it up then. Wait for a good time when it is just the two of you and you have lots of time and space to jump into this discussion.
5. When you lay out your WELL-THOUGHT OUT argument for why you want this lifestyle, read the room to see how they are reacting. If they are throwing things at you, perhaps it’s time to lay off the heavy stuff until they calm down.
6. Make sure they understand that you don’t love or want them any less. Make sure that you emphasize that they are not lacking in anything (hmmm, this makes me want to write a post about how others’ flaws or lacks of certain interests don’t need to be addressed by their monogamous partner because holy shit, that’s a lot of pressure for one person). Make sure they understand that it isn’t them, it really is you and your desire to fill the world with more love.
7. Get ready for anger and tears and threats and suspicions. I was lucky enough to have a very observant husband who did not react in any of those fashions but other people who have had these discussions have not been so lucky. If you have been respectful of them in your relationship, then this step might be a little easier. If you have already started a relationship with someone else, this discussion is going to end in pain.
8. Don’t lie or become defensive to your actions or desires. Understand that your partner will be questioning a lot of things about themselves and your relationship with them. Ride the wave of emotions and let them figure it out with your help (if they want it). Realize that while you were sitting there thinking about the kind of life you want, they were living in the life that you promised them. That’s a lot for a person to watch crumble to dust at the sound of your honest desires.
9. Realize and discuss with your partner that there are many flavors and levels to a polyamorous lifestyle. Nothing is a set path so go down the one that can make both of you happy. Maybe your spouse doesn’t want to know anything about who you’re dating. Or maybe they are fine with getting a huge house and raising everyone’s kids!
10. Don’t be surprised if they walk away from the relationship. Polyamory isn’t for everyone, and it’s hard for a monogamous person to remain with a polyamorous person.
As long as you are honest and respectful and constantly communicating, maybe it’s possible for a monogamous couple to transition into a polyamorous relationship. Understand that there will be highs and lows to the process. However, remaining honest with yourself and your partner about what you both want is the best thing you can do for any relationship.
Let me know if you have any questions or if you need help finding a divorce lawyer.