Having a polyamorous relationship with a monogamous partner
What your monogamous partner wants you to know
NOTES FOR POLYAMOROUS PEOPLE:
THINGS YOUR MONOGAMOUS PARTNER WANTS YOU TO KNOW
(With grateful acknowledgement to the people who have tried to help me understand the mindset of people who identify as monogamous by nature)
- Please reassure me and make me feel heard; do not belittle my feelings. Do not tell me that my feelings are “wrong” or “have no basis in logic.”
- Please be willing to negotiate boundaries that help me feel safe and that are within what you can put up with.
- While it is my choice to stay with you, and thus I bear some responsibility for my own happiness, keep in mind that if you are doing something that hurts me, I’m going to get frustrated once in a while. So, while I work on being less hurt by your behavior, please have lots of patience, and consider slowing down.
- Understand that I’m doing this primarily because I love you. Don’t argue that I should agree to a polyamorous relationship because *I* can then go and have relationships with others. It’s not something that I need or want. Please show your appreciation—taking a polyamorous relationship WITH ME as your right will only cause me to resent you.
- Introduce me to your other lovers! If you don’t, I am liable to imagine that they must be god(dess)like and that I don’t hold a candle. It’s also important to me that I know that they aren’t trying to take you away from me.
- Be aware that if we act monogamously for a long period of time, I may start to assume that that is the way it will remain. This is not your fault, but be aware that it happens, and the way to prevent it is to gently remind me that you are poly, even when you aren’t acting that way.
- (For partners opening a previously mono relationship) Move slowly. This is very difficult to get used to, and while you may want to find three lovers right away, especially if you’ve felt repressed for a while, baby steps will help me get used to an open relationship more easily.
- I’m not crying/angry/upset about this on purpose! Whether it’s social conditioning or deeper than that, I am not trying to make your life miserable by needing comfort.
NOTES FOR MONOGAMOUS PEOPLE:
THINGS YOUR POLYAMOROUS PARTNER WANTS YOU TO KNOW
- I love you for who you are, not for what you do. If someone else I’m dating goes to the same restaurant that you and I have gone to, or has the same hobby, or likes the same television show, it doesn’t mean I’m replacing you. People are not interchangeable. You are not being superceded.
- However, if there is something you consider special, some thing we do or some place we go that you consider sacred, please, let me know. Tell me about it. Don’t expect that I will always feel the same way you do about everything we’ve done together; I may not know which of these things are so important to you that you can’t bear to share them. It’s not unreasonable to want to hold something aside as a symbol of your uniqueness, but you have to tell me what it is.
- Your feelings are important. Don’t keep quiet just because you want me to be happy. If something is bothering you, please let me know.
- I’m not doing this to hurt you. I’m not doing this because you aren’t enough for me, because you aren’t adequate, or because I’m not happy with you. I’m doing this because I want to share my life and my love with other people.
- I’m not off having wild orgies while you sit at home. The reality of what my other partner and I are doing is not anywhere near as bad as your imagination makes it out to be. Don’t be afraid to ask me about what my partner and I are doing. Knowledge can drive away fear; if you and I never discuss these things, your imagination can create a fearsome illusion that knowledge can dispel.
- The other people involved are human beings, not demons or monsters. You have the right to expect to be treated with courtesy and respect by them; please try to treat them with courtesy and respect.
- I’m not perfect. If I say or do something that upsets you, please let me know. Please try to address small problems before they become big problems.
Last updated: June 18, 2011