By Thomas Whitfield
Polyamory is a relationship orientation where people in intimate relationships have additional intimate relationships with other individuals. Although it may fall under the umbrella of an “open relationship,” polyamory involves deep emotions and intimacy with others that goes beyond simply having sex. Like most other relationships, those who identify as polyamorous embrace love, intimacy, honesty, equality, communication and, yes, commitment. Being in a committed relationship doesn’t mean it has to be monogamous. All of this sounds great, but is it for everyone?
I started hooking up with this guy, and from the beginning he told me he’s in an open relationship. We continued to hook up, and then things started to get more intense: staying overnight, little gifts, etc. I told him I have feelings for him, and to my surprise, he told me he does for me too. He then told me he and his boyfriend are actually poly. He wants me to be his “secondary partner.” I’ve never even considered something like this, and my friends told me I’d be crazy. But I really like him, and we definitely have a connection. Is that enough? – Male, Gay, 24
For some, it would be enough, and for others it wouldn’t. I think you have to honestly ask yourself if you’re in the same mental place where you can enjoy what you have with him and not get jealous knowing he has it with others too. Not getting jealous is a huge part of polyamory, and probably one of the main reasons it’s not for everyone. Have you discussed what it means for you to be a “secondary” in their relationship? And, ultimately, if you’re thinking long-term, will that take you where you want to be?
When I started dating my boyfriend, he told me he had previously been in polyamorous relationships. Having no experience with this, I just thought, OK, cool, whatever, and I guess my assumption was that he just wanted to date more people but would eventually settle down with just me if we continued to date. That was six months ago. I told him I want us to be monogamous, and he said no, that I knew from the beginning he was poly. How can I get him to want to be with just me, or satisfy him so he doesn’t want others? – Male, Gay, 21
I don’t think you can make anyone want to be with just you; it’s their choice. And if you try to force someone to have something they don’t want, it’s going to blow up in your face. That goes both ways. You can’t force yourself to want to be poly either. It seems like you might be getting frustrated and realizing that although you like this guy, you may just not have all the same wants for the future. How do you imagine you’ll feel in six more months if things are exactly the same? Also, he did tell you this in the beginning—why did you choose to ignore it?