Coming Clean: Transitioning From Cheating to a Polyamorous Relationship

Note: This arti­cle can be use­ful for those who are the vic­tims of infi­deli­ty, but I wrote anoth­er arti­cle par­tic­u­lar­ly for them as well.

Fre­quent­ly, new­com­ers to var­i­ous poly groups intro­duce them­selves with a tale of woe. Alas, after enter­ing into a com­mit­ted monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship (usu­al­ly a mar­riage), the poor per­son has just dis­cov­ered that they are, in fact, polyamorous. In most cas­es, the new­com­er has already strayed into infi­deli­ty and wish­es to have their cake and eat it too now. They ask for advice regard­ing how they can con­vince their spouse to accept the rela­tion­ship with the new lover so that they can all live hap­pi­ly ever after.

The new­com­er, who I’ll call Chris, is usu­al­ly sur­prised to find that they are not, in fact, wel­comed with open arms. Most of us are very hos­tile to peo­ple who cheat on their part­ners and call it polyamory because that has absolute­ly noth­ing to do with actu­al polyamory.

Chris is fre­quent­ly seek­ing advice on how to intro­duce the top­ic of polyamory to their spouse. I fig­ure it’s bet­ter to be hon­est at some point instead of nev­er doing so, so here is my advice to Chris.

My Experience

I feel a need to be utter­ly hon­est about sev­er­al things right up front: in over 30 years of being polyamorous and know­ing oth­er poly peo­ple, I have nev­er, not even once, per­son­al­ly known any­one who has been able to move from an affair in a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship to a healthy polyamorous rela­tion­ship involv­ing the same peo­ple. I’ve known of peo­ple who cheat­ed on their part­ners in monog­a­mous rela­tion­ships who lat­er moved on to be polyamorous, but they did not sal­vage the orig­i­nal monog­a­mous relationship.

I’ve known peo­ple whose spous­es cheat­ed on them in monog­a­mous rela­tion­ships who end­ed the monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship, then went on to explore polyamory very hap­pi­ly them­selves. (That fact sur­pris­es a fair num­ber of those seek­ing help in this sit­u­a­tion.) What you have to real­ize is that the real issue between you and your spouse right now is not polyamory or sex. It is your betray­al of the agree­ments between the two of you. It is about your dis­hon­esty and dis­hon­or­able behav­ior. You have bro­ken your spouse’s trust.

What to Do Now

Now that you’re com­ing clean, you’d bet­ter do so com­plete­ly. I mean 100% truth, absolute­ly, no holds barred, no lit­tle omis­sions, no “spin­ning” any­thing. Tell the raw truth about who, where, when, what hap­pened, how long, etc. Don’t even think about leav­ing out past indis­cre­tions. Don’t fool your­self that they don’t need to know all of that or that you’re “pro­tect­ing them.” We’re talk­ing about rad­i­cal hon­esty in its truest sense. If you haven’t yet read Brad Blan­ton’s book on the sub­ject you should do so imme­di­ate­ly. Take it to heart. Do the exer­cis­es. Devour it, digest it, and make it a part of you.

Sec­ond, accept full cul­pa­bil­i­ty. Do not even allow your­self to maybe think just a lit­tle bit of this is any­one’s fault but your own. You are an adult. No mat­ter what your emo­tions are, you are in con­trol of your actions. No mat­ter what the rela­tion­ship with your spouse was like, whether they “just (did­n’t) under­stand (you),” you aren’t get­ting as much sex as you’d like, you just aren’t so attract­ed to them any­more, or you want to explore things that don’t inter­est them, the trans­gres­sion is com­plete­ly your fault. It does­n’t mat­ter how much effort your sweet­ie put into seduc­ing or attract­ing you. You chose to cheat. It’s All Your Fault. Accept it, know it, pro­claim it.

Your next step is to decide what you tru­ly want. Do you want to be with your spouse? Do you want to be with your spouse only if they agree to you remain­ing with your sweet­ie? Be sure to think about all the ram­i­fi­ca­tions this is going to have. What effects will a divorce, open­ing your mar­riage to polyamorous rela­tion­ships, or you break­ing up with your sweet­ie and remain­ing in a monog­a­mous mar­riage (tru­ly, with­out stray­ing again) have on your chil­dren, your extend­ed fam­i­ly, your friends, your career, your­self? Are you hon­est­ly will­ing to do the very hard work over an extend­ed peri­od of time that it’ll take to just have a good mar­riage, let alone to have healthy polyamorous relationships?


If you’ve decid­ed that you tru­ly want to stay with your spouse and have your sweet­ie too, and you’re will­ing to do the work, it’s time to talk to your spouse.

Note: DO NOT con­fide in any­one oth­er than a pro­fes­sion­al ther­a­pist until after you have come clean to your part­ner. No mat­ter how tempt­ing it is and how much you want some­one else’s advice, hav­ing anoth­er friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber know about your infi­deli­ties before they do will be anoth­er kind of betray­al. If they hear so much as a whis­per about your affairs from any­body but you, they will be humil­i­at­ed and you will be in even deep­er trou­ble. No, you don’t owe any oth­er lovers a warn­ing that you are com­ing clean to your spouse.

Admit all that cul­pa­bil­i­ty. Engage in full dis­clo­sure, rad­i­cal hon­esty-style. You might, in fact, want to con­sid­er doing this with a very good mar­riage coun­selor present. I strong­ly advise it. Ask your spouse to let you talk until you’re fin­ished and tell them every­thing. When you’re done talk­ing, it’s their turn to talk until they’re fin­ished. Let them say any­thing they want to say, ask ques­tions, etc. Answer any ques­tions they have ful­ly and hon­est­ly. I’d sug­gest hav­ing some kind of print­ed mate­ri­als on hand about polyamory. Ask that they read the mate­r­i­al and con­sid­er the idea. You most cer­tain­ly can­not present your­self as any kind of author­i­ty or as an unbi­ased source, now can you? You may need to con­fess in one ses­sion, and then talk about polyamory in another.

Be Prepared

They may want some space at this point because they’ll need pro­cess­ing time. That’s nor­mal. In fact, they may not want you in the home you share togeth­er. Be ready to stay else­where if they don’t want you any­where near them. If you arrived in one vehi­cle for a coun­sel­ing ses­sion, con­sid­er ahead of time how you will get home or to your alter­nate des­ti­na­tion. If you can have an overnight bag ready with­out alarm­ing them, do that.

Pre­pare your­self to accept their anger and resent­ment, to acknowl­edge their right to those feel­ings, and to sup­port them in express­ing the feel­ings in a healthy way. Don’t assume that they’ll for­give you, or that they’ll be will­ing to do any­thing to work on sal­vaging your rela­tion­ship. They might, in fact, walk out to call a divorce lawyer. They are cer­tain­ly with­in their rights to do so.

The Spouse’s Reaction

Your spouse has sev­er­al deci­sions to make now. The first is to deter­mine whether or not they can trust you at all now. Are they able to for­give the harm you’ve done, and is your mar­riage even worth the work it’s going to take to sal­vage it? If they con­fide in their friends and fam­i­ly, it is high­ly like­ly that those peo­ple will be telling your part­ner to dump you, or at the very least to not even con­sid­er open­ing your rela­tion­ship in any way. Expect a lot of neg­a­tiv­i­ty from them towards you, and accept that you deserve it.

One cau­tion: many peo­ple, when faced with the knowl­edge that their spouse has been unfaith­ful, will have a “revenge affair” of their own. It’s nev­er healthy, but it is common.

Next, if they have decid­ed that they can trust you or that the trust between you can be rebuilt, what do they think of polyamory? They’re like­ly to have a pret­ty neg­a­tive view of it if their first intro­duc­tion to it is from a phi­lan­der­er. Many peo­ple assume that polyamory is just a way of pret­ti­fy­ing swing­ing or infi­deli­ty any­way, which is one rea­son those of us who are polyamorous are so offend­ed by cheaters who want to claim that they’re real­ly polyamorous.

If your spouse decides to for­give you, there’s some­thing you need to keep in mind: “for­give­ness” does not mean, “I’m for­get­ting what hap­pened and every­thing is like it used to be.” Expect peri­od­ic recur­rences of any ini­tial explo­sions of anger, shame, grief, and pain.

Is Polyamory Possible?

If they’re will­ing to try polyamory (or a mono-poly rela­tion­ship), are they will­ing to try it with you? Polyamorous rela­tion­ships require even more trust, respect, work, and healthy com­mu­ni­ca­tion from those involved in them than monog­a­mous rela­tion­ships do. Part of that is because they are not our cul­tur­al norm, and part of it is because every per­son added to a rela­tion­ship or net­work of rela­tion­ships increas­es its com­plex­i­ty and poten­tial for prob­lems. You have already demon­strat­ed a great lack of respect for them, your com­mit­ments, and your­self. You have bro­ken the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion between you. You are not look­ing like a great can­di­date for healthy polyamory right now.

If you get past those hur­dles you have anoth­er big one. If they’re will­ing to try polyamory with you, are they will­ing to agree to your involve­ment with your sweet­ie, who has already shown a total dis­re­gard for the spouse’s rela­tion­ship with you? Remem­ber, your spouse prob­a­bly has no pri­or his­to­ry or love for your sweet­ie, so there’s absolute­ly noth­ing to ame­lio­rate the stark betray­al they have expe­ri­enced at the hands of your lover. Yes, your lover has betrayed your spouse if they had any idea that you were in a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship. Your lover has proven them­selves to be a dis­hon­or­able per­son every bit as much as you have.

Return to Monogamy?

You don’t get to uni­lat­er­al­ly change the rules of your rela­tion­ship with your spouse. If you decide that you must remain involved with your oth­er lover, and your spouse wants a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship, then you’re look­ing at a sit­u­a­tion that does not con­tain any pos­si­bil­i­ty for compromise.

If your spouse says that they are will­ing to stay with you in a monog­a­mous mar­riage if you’re will­ing to do that, that’s their choice. It is their right to make that choice with­out being bad­gered by you. If you agree to it, do not do so with any kind of ulte­ri­or motive or long-term agen­da of chang­ing their mind. Break things off with your lover for­ev­er. It is safest to avoid any con­tact with the lover at all.

If you can’t agree to the monog­a­mous mar­riage your part­ner wants, the mar­riage is over. You should both pro­ceed to work out the most ami­ca­ble and least dam­ag­ing way to move forward.

Giving Polyamory a Chance

If both of you decide that you want to be togeth­er and are will­ing to try polyamory, then both of you real­ly need to prac­tice rad­i­cal hon­esty as you pro­ceed. Inves­ti­gate the dif­fer­ent ways that oth­er peo­ple live polyamory. Meet polyamorous peo­ple and get to know them. Don’t even con­sid­er look­ing for more lovers right now. (Polyamorous peo­ple have a deri­sive say­ing for that, “Rela­tion­ship bro­ken, add more peo­ple.”) Talk to peo­ple who are will­ing to open up and tell you about how they work out issues like jeal­ousy, resources, child care, safer sex, etc. Meet peo­ple face to face, not just online. A thor­ough search should find a polyamorous net­work­ing or sup­port group in your area, or at least in the near­est major met­ro­pol­i­tan area. You want to get to know peo­ple well enough to tru­ly see how they live, not just the faces they choose to present online. Be hon­est with them about your situation.

Be extreme­ly hon­est with each oth­er about what you do and do not like, and what you want to try. If some­thing does­n’t work for both of you, be will­ing to give it up and move on to some­thing else. There’s no One True Way to live polyamory oth­er than being hon­est, open, and lov­ing with all the peo­ple with whom you are involved.

Keep try­ing. Remem­ber that this is a com­plete­ly new rela­tion­ship par­a­digm for both of you and that you prob­a­bly haven’t grown up with any role mod­els for it. That’s actu­al­ly good in some ways, but it can cause you to feel lost in the woods.

Real­ize that while you are look­ing at what you want and don’t want in your rela­tion­ships, you’re like­ly to find your­self ques­tion­ing a lot of things you may have tak­en for grant­ed in your life. Every­thing from how you will live to just what sex means to you and to what con­sti­tutes a rela­tion­ship is up for rede­f­i­n­i­tion now. Some peo­ple find that their reli­gious beliefs are not sup­port­ive of polyamory and end up seek­ing a new spir­i­tu­al path.

Go very, very slow­ly. Do not rush. Your rela­tion­ship is worth the invest­ment of time, care, and ener­gy it will take to heal your rela­tion­ship with your spouse and explore new options. Be patient with your­self, your partner(s), and your rela­tion­ships. Go as slow as is com­fort­able for the most con­ser­v­a­tive, pos­si­bly-reluc­tant per­son involved.

Get Help!

Again, a good mar­riage coun­selor can be a god­send in this process. Some­one who is accept­ing and sup­port­ive of both polyamory and monogamy is best. It isn’t always easy to find poly-friend­ly coun­selors, but I have found that good ther­a­pists are often more open to con­sid­er­ing polyamory as a work­able rela­tion­ship mod­el than you may think. The Open List is a good place to start looking.

If you’re intro­duc­ing the idea of polyamory to a coun­selor with whom you already have an estab­lished rela­tion­ship, point them to What Psy­chol­o­gy Pro­fes­sion­als Should Know About Polyamory (PDF) and Work­ing With Polyamorous Clients in the Clin­i­cal Set­ting. Dr. Elis­a­beth Sheff has also writ­ten a good arti­cle, Where Ther­a­pists and Coun­selors Can Learn About Polyamory. If you’re seek­ing a new ther­a­pist, ask them on the phone about their past expe­ri­ences, if any, with polyamory or eth­i­cal non-monogamy. Ask that they read those arti­cles before your first appoint­ment if they are will­ing to work with a polyamorous per­son or cou­ple in a sup­port­ive way. If so, imme­di­ate­ly drop off or email the arti­cles to give them time to read and con­sid­er the material.

Good luck!

58 thoughts on “Coming Clean: Transitioning From Cheating to a Polyamorous Relationship

  1. This moral­ism with­out any sense of pity for human weak­ness­es breaks my heart in two, real­ly. It seems like the agree­ment (in this case fideli­ty) is more impor­tant than the per­son. Yes, some feel­ings were hurt. But if there is love, if the cheater still loves the cheat­ed and at the same time loves his or her lover why in the world there must such a vio­lent atti­tude towards him or her? Is polyamory love with­out lim­its or not? You dare to call a con­fused and scared per­son (the cheater) “dishon­or­able”. Why make this a ques­tion of hon­or? Why con­demn peo­ple for the sake of an abstract con­cept? I feel the protes­tant, vio­lent white amer­i­can atti­tude here, but per­haps I’m wrong, and I just came from a stu­pid Mediter­ranean cul­ture and don’t under­stand this

    1. Fideli­ty as a con­cept is not more impor­tant than peo­ple, but when two peo­ple agree to a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship, fideli­ty is one of the most impor­tant ele­ments of that agree­ment. Poly love by its nature and def­i­n­i­tion IS rel­a­tive­ly lim­it­less, I think, but when one half of a monog­a­mous cou­ple uni­lat­er­al­ly changes the rules of their agree­ment (par­tic­u­lar­ly with­out telling the oth­er one involved) it is a vio­la­tion of a basic tenet of poly life–honesty for ALL con­cerned. You men­tion the cheater still lov­ing the cheated–consider instead the cheat­ed’s place in the sit­u­a­tion and you may under­stand the idea of dis­hon­or a lit­tle bet­ter. It is a vio­la­tion of an inti­mate trust that may nev­er be reclaimed.

    2. I agree with your com­ments, Emanuele. Yes, those of us who cheat­ed did break a trust. But we broke in a sim­i­lar way that gay peo­ple used to mar­ry and have chil­dren in order to try to deny they were gay. We did what we thought soci­ety thought we should do and many of us resist­ed the urge to ‘cheat’ and did­n’t under­stand what we real­ly are. Some­times find­ing out who you are involves hurt­ing oth­ers but not on pur­pose. The fact is that lovers have no right to expect any­thing of us oth­er than our love, respect, hon­esty. Okay, so we broke the hon­esty part. But, it’s not like we did­n’t think we could live as they expect­ed us to live when we made our promis­es. At times, dur­ing our jour­ney, many of us also thought we could stop, that being poly is just a mat­ter of sup­press­ing one’s will-pow­er or not. It does­n’t work that way and it would be nice if the arti­cle were a lit­tle more for­giv­ing towards peo­ple search­ing to fig­ure out their lives rather than just throw­ing fuel on the fire of misery.

      1. Yes, lovers have a right to expect hon­esty, love, and respect. You act in an unlov­ing, dis­re­spect­ful, and dis­hon­est man­ner when you cheat. When you can­not keep your com­mit­ments, it is up to you to say that, before you break them — you renegotiate.

        This arti­cle is specif­i­cal­ly about tran­si­tion­ing a par­tic­u­lar rela­tion­ship from cheat­ing to polyamory, and not intend­ed as any­thing else.

        1. Cyn, I don’t dis­agree with you. But, peo­ple who come to your site who have found them­selves cheat­ing may have gone through all sorts of intro­spec­tion before they got here. Many of us did­n’t know what we are. Many of us thought we could stop, we were not hurt­ing any­one, we jus­ti­fied and we avoid­ed deal­ing with our­selves. So, yes, I agree that cheat­ing is bad and your part­ner has every right to know what you are and what you plan to do in the rela­tion­ship. But, it’s also a lot more than you make it out to be and many cheaters are suf­fer­ing even as they are inflict­ing their harm on oth­ers. I don’t dis­agree with what you say. I do, how­ev­er, think what you’re say­ing is unnec­es­sary and many cheaters have already gone through fac­ing themselves. 

          Per­haps your arti­cle could be a lit­tle more for­giv­ing, or at least under­stand­ing, though. It seems to me ade­quate to say, ‘We don’t con­done cheat­ing and cheat­ing is not a polyamory choice. If you’re a cheater and have fig­ured out that you are poly, then great. Don’t cheat any­more. Also don’t expect to be for­giv­en for your cheat­ing, but I wish you luck in that regard and am sor­ry you felt you had to turn to cheat­ing in order to gain your own per­son­al ful­fill­ment. So long as you’re adamant that you will not cheat any longer, then fol­low these steps to (try) to explain to your sig­nif­i­cant oth­er what poly is, what it entails and what s/he should think about in con­sid­er­ing your innate sex­u­al being if you real­ly are poly. But keep in mind that if you’re secret­ly just want­i­ng to cheat and jus­ti­fy it, none of this will work and you’ll just hurt more peo­ple. So think through what you real­ly are before you go talk­ing and don’t cheat ever again.’

          It seems, instead, that the tone in your arti­cle is one of con­dem­na­tion of peo­ple who are very like­ly strug­gling. Peo­ple do all sorts of things for all sorts of rea­sons and bash­ing them here is not going to help them or their part­ners who are suf­fer­ing at their hands.

  2. hope you will jus­ti­fy some­how this post, real­ly. I just need to under­stand, and sor­ry for the per­haps too pas­sion­ate com­ment, it is not meant to be offensive

  3. I don’t know how you get vio­lence from hon­esty, Emanuele. The fact is that the cheater chose to act in an unlov­ing man­ner by break­ing the trust in his rela­tion­ship with his monog­a­mous part­ner. Acts have con­se­quences, and unlov­ing acts fre­quent­ly have unlove­ly con­se­quences. Had he cho­sen to act WITH love and com­port him­self hon­est­ly and hon­or­ably, much hurt could have been avoid­ed. There would still be no guar­an­tees, but with­out bro­ken trust, it would at least be more like­ly that his monog­a­mous part­ner would be will­ing to go for­ward and try polyamory with him.

  4. After read­ing more than half of this I’m kind of won­der­ing why a good book on poly ref­ered me here. This is just intend­ed to Piss all over peo­ple that had rea­son to cheat. To make sure no one thinks they are like them. Yet they are no more qual­i­fied to say why the per­son cheat­ed then the per­son them­selves. Talk about a use­less read,I’m sure cheaters have no prob­lem find­ing peo­ple to Piss all over them. This is far from help­ful. Poly comes in so many shapes and sizes yet there is peo­ple want­i­ng to kick peo­ple out of their lit­tle club where they have noth­ing to turn to but be called dis­hon­ored noth­ing and don’t exist so thus just a freak. When you have poly as MFM,MTM fmf mff mmmf ffm fffff. Seri­ous­ly the list goes on and on. Now you have the cheater and his tran­si­tion is not even a qual­i­fi­er, gosh. This read is para­noid and self right­eous by those not qual­i­fied to say any­thing except to Pis­son some­thing they know noth­ing about. Real­ly advise like “come clean and let the chips fall, your a cheater and deserve to be pissed on so accept what you are,go out and crush your part­ners hearts because you are a pig any­way” obvi­ous­ly not a quote but a loose trans­la­tion. That is the cheap­est advice and worth less then you paid for it right here

    1. FMF, there is no rea­son to cheat. Full stop. If you think you’ve found one, go ahead and share it — but I’m rea­son­ably cer­tain that it’s going to be some­thing that I and most oth­ers have heard before. If you can­not abide by the com­mit­ments you’ve made, the only hon­or­able thing to do is to end your rela­tion­ship. One per­son can­not declare a tran­si­tion to a polyamorous rela­tion­ship. That’s a uni­lat­er­al deci­sion, and it takes at least two peo­ple to be in relationship.

      My inten­tion in writ­ing this arti­cle was not to “piss all over” any­one, but if you feel pissed on, I’m not going to inval­i­date your feelings.

      1. Cyn, I don’t think any­one can dis­agree with you regard­ing rea­sons to cheat (well, I’m sure a few can, but I don’t). It’s not okay to cheat and cheat­ing is sim­ply anoth­er word for lying. You should­n’t lie. That said, peo­ple do for all sorts of rea­sons and while your arti­cle may be defen­si­ble, it’s too harsh and crit­i­cal and fails to recall that peo­ple are peo­ple. We all fail. Fail­ure should not mean the end of life. In a per­fect world, every­one would open up and say what they want and need and there’d be no such thing as cheat­ing. That said, many peo­ple find it impos­si­ble to broach this sub­ject for a myr­i­ad of rea­sons and wind up cheat­ing. It’s a shame that they do (I did once too but won’t ever again). How­ev­er, cheaters deserve help as well as the cheat­ed deserve it and your arti­cle (IMO) is far from helpful.

        1. I think if one views this arti­cle as a way to get back into the “good graces” of the one they cheat­ed on , it is PERFECT! There real­ly is no com­fort pill for try­ing to make ANY rela­tion­ship work after cheat­ing if the “cheater” can’t do what is nec­es­sary to SAVE THE RELATIONSHIP! I think that’s what this is most­ly about! Giv­ing a per­son who has cheat­ed steps on how to make a rela­tion­ship work after hav­ing cheat­ed, while also intro­duc­ing polyamory to their spouse. I mean, think about it. Does the rea­son a per­son cheats real­ly mat­ter to the per­son who has been cheat­ed on at the end of the day?! I high­ly doubt it. There unfor­tu­nate­ly is no com­fort in any steps required to sal­vage a rela­tion­ship with a per­son you cheat on, because YOU are the offend­er and if you want it to work with the one you’ve cheat­ed on, you have to get beyond, “the rea­son why you cheat­ed,” even if the rea­son is that you were still “fig­ur­ing out who you are.” Why? Because if you have the where­with­al to think in terms of why you cheat­ed, then you have the where­with­al for a lit­tle hon­esty with the per­son before decid­ing to cheat. So, yeah…if you real­ly want the per­son you’ve cheat­ed on back, AND want them to embrace polyamory, then you got­tw do the work regard­less of the dif­fi­cul­ty, and the mean glares and snarky remarks of others.

  5. “I’m not going to inval­i­date your feel­ings.” How in the world is ever pos­si­ble to “inval­i­date” some­one’s feelings?
    By the way, I parsed the post and com­ments, also mine, and I real­ly have the feel­ing that I end­ed up in some sort of sci­en­tol­ogy peo­ple. Hank that goes on say­ing that “when two peo­ple agree to a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship, fideli­ty is one of the most impor­tant ele­ments of that agree­ment”, which begs the ques­tion, as well as Cyn, insist­ing smart­ly that ” there is no rea­son to cheat”.
    I was ask­ing to give us, please, rea­sons, some­thing like argu­ments, but it seems that just love can be with­out lim­its, minds, oh my, they seem sur­round­ed by Don­ald Trump’s Mex­i­can Wall

  6. As help­ful as this arti­cle was, any­one know where to find cop­ing info for a mono-man who was cheat­ed on by his poly partner?

    1. Hi there Kei­th. I don’t imme­di­ate­ly know of such an arti­cle, but would be hap­py to answer any ques­tions you might have. I’ve been cheat­ed on in a poly rela­tion­ship before, and hon­est­ly, I think the cop­ing info is going to be the same for any­one deal­ing with a part­ner’s infi­deli­ty. I’ve got an arti­cle in mind, now that I think about it. Give me a day or so, okay? But go ahead and ask any ques­tions you have, please. Feel free to use the Con­tact form to send them pri­vate­ly if that’s preferable.

  7. Cyn is wrong in many ways. If you real­ly did cheat because you’re poly (and I think for me the dis­tinc­tion came clear when I found that I did­n’t just cheat and there­fore have some sort of addic­tion but was also find­ing myself falling for my lover(s)), you can apol­o­gize for not know­ing who you were, for not being able to meet the com­mit­ments that your part­ner thought you had with them, for lying and being dis­hon­est. But you have no rea­son to apol­o­gize for being poly and you should be allowed into the club like any oth­er per­son who final­ly fig­ures out their sex­u­al­i­ty. Cyn, the author, does not hold the keys to the club and the judg­men­tal atti­tude Cyn dis­plays is anath­e­ma to progress at any lev­el. Cyn should re-think this arti­cle. Cyn is not judge, jury nor exe­cu­tion­er and you should feel free to dis­miss the advice of any­one who is so preachy that they think can pos­si­bly under­stand the plight of every­one who is not themselves.

    1. If you dis­cov­er that you’re poly when you’re in a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship, the eth­i­cal, hon­or­able thing to do is to let your part­ner know about this change. THEN you pro­ceed to nego­ti­ate any changes in your agree­ments — you don’t go out screw­ing around. Don’t try to make excus­es about “the com­mit­ments that your part­ner thought you had with them” — if you were in a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship, you had a com­mit­ment to be exclu­sive to each oth­er. Decid­ing that you are poly does­n’t excuse cheat­ing, lying, or dis­hon­esty. One does­n’t sim­ply fall into these things — you make a con­scious deci­sion to com­mit those acts.

      1. Yes. It’s great to live in your per­fect world where gay peo­ple don’t mar­ry to cov­er over their homo­sex­u­al­i­ty and poly peo­ple don’t mar­ry and try to over­come what is nat­ur­al to them by try­ing to com­ply with soci­ety. It’s great the world you live in where every­one is pure and inno­cent and nev­er does any­thing wrong and if they do, they should there­fore for­ev­er wear the badge of dirt­bag. No one said that “cheat­ing” excus­es any behav­ior. What I said is that you’re way too judg­men­tal and you should get off your high-horse. Peo­ple are peo­ple and they get to where they get all sorts of ways. For a per­son who has a lib­er­al mind­set, you sure don’t have a very for­giv­ing one. Give peo­ple a break. Every­one can’t be so awe­some and pris­tine as you.

        1. Nobody said you had to do that — I said that you have to come clean, expect con­se­quences, and deal with them. Don’t blame your part­ner for being angry and feel­ing betrayed. If you val­ue your rela­tion­ship, that’s what you’ll do.

          Obvi­ous­ly, my world is NOT one where every­one is “pure and inno­cent and nev­er does any­thing wrong” or there would­n’t be a need for this arti­cle at all.

  8. There is anoth­er point. I do think that being polyamorous means believ­ing that sex­u­al and love-relat­ed fideli­ty are a sort of a mirage. Many argu­ments giv­en by polyamor­ists start with sta­tis­tics: it very very dif­fi­cult not to end up with some cheat­ing. This means that the promise of being faith­ful is unre­al­is­tic. Is real­ly cheat­ing break­ing a promise that almost nobody can hold? Is cheat­ing if I a promise my friend that I will win next pres­i­den­tial elections?

    1. What? No, polyamory is “the prac­tice of, or desire for, inti­mate rela­tion­ships involv­ing more than two peo­ple, with the knowl­edge and con­sent of every­one involved” — that has noth­ing to do with believ­ing that sex­u­al and love-relat­ed fideli­ty are “sort of a mirage.” That kind of belief just sets you up for uneth­i­cal behavior.

  9. I am 40 and wife is 30. How­ev­er she has fall­en in love with a 20 you old who she also clicked with while home vis­it­ing her fam­i­ly who says he is also in love with her . We are in process of nego­ti­a­tions as I am more aware of the idea of poly rela­tion­ship. She is in process of full disclosure.
    As a lot peo­ple stat­ed bro­ken trust hurts just as much as phys­i­cal pain

      1. How soon after ini­tial con­cep­tion did women start get­ting morn­ing sick­ness. The tim­ing is cor­rect for her to have got­ten preg­nant with his child. Even though she was try­ing to tran­si­tion to a poly rela­tion­ship I think that might turn out to be the deal break­er. As it is her fam­i­ly con­sid­er me a son which in their tra­di­tion is very sig­nif­i­cant as most mar­ry into the fam­i­ly but they don’t get let into any fam­i­ly dis­cus­sions and whatnot

        1. That depends on the woman — I’m real­ly sen­si­tive to hor­mones, so I start­ed get­ting sick with­in a week, which is why I went to the doc­tor and found out that I was preg­nant. That’s pret­ty unusu­al, though (sur­prised my doc­tor, too). 

          If you sus­pect a preg­nan­cy, ask her if she had unpro­tect­ed sex with him — that would open up oth­er con­cerns, as well. If you’ve had sex with her since, you would need to get test­ed right away for STDs and again in 6 months or so.

  10. My menage broke up after just one year but it was real. It has been forty years but not a day goes by that I do not think of the lady that left. Still with wife of 64 years and still love her dearly.

    1. Hi there. I don’t real­ly under­stand how your sto­ry is rel­e­vant, unless your tri­ad devel­oped after ini­tial cheating?

  11. After years of deal­ing with oth­er women inter­fer­ing in my mar­riage, I found my hus­band cheat­ing on me with a girl who claims to be a polyamorous pan­sex­u­al. Fights were had. Things were bro­ken. This girl played the vic­tim even though she knew the truth. Her friends start­ed attack­ing me online. There were even threats against me. He has embar­rassed me to the point of iso­la­tion. I don’t go out any­more. Peo­ple get con­fused when they see me with him. We recent­ly came to the con­clu­sion that he might be polyamorous. We’re liv­ing apart now. He blames every­thing on me. I want to try to sal­vage my mar­riage some­how, but I think it just may be over. His manip­u­la­tive home­wreck­ing whore was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It may nev­er walk again, and just might be put out of its mis­ery. And it absolute­ly kills me. I am men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly dis­abled. He was some­body I could depend on for help. But he’s pushed me away, and devot­ed him­self to oth­er peo­ple. And he keeps flip flop­ping on whether we have a future or not. He knows I have trou­ble con­trol­ling my emo­tions and reac­tions, yet he keeps play­ing these games with me. I just don’t know what to do any­more. He might be poly, he might be a bas­tard, or he just might be both. If I could work more than five hours a week, I’d already be fill­ing out the divorce papers. I don’t care about the poly part; it’s the lies and games that have me cry­ing myself to sleep in my old bed­room at my par­ents’ house.

    Sor­ry about the dron­ing on. This just seemed like a good place, with peo­ple who have been through what I’m going through right now.

    1. Jes­si­ca, I’m so sor­ry that you’ve had such a ter­ri­ble expe­ri­ence. What­ev­er your hus­band and this woman had (have?) going on, it isn’t polyamory, which is eth­i­cal non-monogamy. Polyamory requires the informed con­sent of all involved parties. 

      I would urge you to remem­ber that no “home­wreck­ing whore” can do a thing with­out the active par­tic­i­pa­tion of a man who is eager to stray. Don’t let your hus­band get away with blam­ing his girl­friend for what­ev­er has hap­pened. He’s an adult. He made com­mit­ments to you, she did not — and he is respon­si­ble for uphold­ing those com­mit­ments or being hon­est about end­ing the marriage.

      I wish you all the best.

  12. So i am on the oth­er side of this…im the wife who’s been cheat­ed on, weve dis­cussed poly rela­tion­ships but had­nt ven­tured into actu­al­ly doing it…i as the wife, how the hell do i fig­ure out all these emotions…how do i get over the bro­ken trust…

    1. Hel­lo, Mon­i­ca. I’ll be hon­est — you might not be able to “get over” the bro­ken trust with this part­ner. It might be bro­ken irrepara­bly. Your part­ner has been an irre­spon­si­ble ass, and it’s under­stand­able that you have a lot of dif­fi­cult emotions. 

      I would strong­ly advise that you do every­thing in the world to take care of you right now — seek out a great ther­a­pist just for you, lean heav­i­ly on your friends and fam­i­ly as a sup­port sys­tem, and demand time from him for your healing.

      You don’t have the right to tell your part­ner they can­not see some­one else, but you do have the right to tell they can’t do that and be with you. So you have to decide, now, if what you have with them is worth stay­ing with some­one who broke your trust.

      If you do decide to explore polyamory, you should know that it requires trust and open com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Cheat­ing is absolute­ly the oppo­site of that. As some­one who is will­ing to engage in cheat­ing, your cur­rent part­ner is not a good can­di­date for polyamory. 

      I wish you the best of luck in your heal­ing journey.

    1. I could, but the authors of More Than Two already did, so why rein­vent the wheel? From their glos­sary:
      “CHEATING: In a rela­tion­ship, any activ­i­ty that vio­lates the rules or agree­ments of that rela­tion­ship, whether tac­it or explicit.”

  13. so based on the above infor­ma­tion, if you have cheat­ed then it is high­ly unlike­ly to become polyamorous while keep­ing the exist­ing rela­tion­ship intact… so why would one try to con­vert at all then? you do what you do until caught, go through con­se­quences, build next rela­tion­ships using these “rules”…

    remem­ber there is anoth­er per­son in this and you cer­tain­ly not tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion any betray­als from that side as well… 

    guy and girl fall in lust, girl inten­tion­al­ly gets preg­nant, guy mar­ries to be father and finds out lat­er it was planned… would that be an exten­u­at­ing circumstance? 

    also assum­ing one used an escort for just the phys­i­cal act… and did so for the rea­son of not want­i­ng a “rela­tion­ship” out­side of the mar­riage is that con­sid­ered as bad? 

    what about sex­less mar­riages? how is that fac­tored into a conversion?

    1. I don’t know why peo­ple try to con­vert monog­a­mous rela­tion­ships to poly ones, Rich. It sel­dom works. But I’m not the one try­ing it.

      I don’t care how many exam­ples you give of what­ev­er has gone wrong — two wrongs don’t make a right. 

      If your spouse deceived you in some way or you don’t find the rela­tion­ship ten­able, leave. Don’t cheat.

  14. just to expound on the sex­less mar­riage example
    — guy / girl get married…
    — girl deter­mines that she does­n’t want anoth­er kid and even though she is bap­tist fig­ures that sex is only for chil­dren… of course, she said noth­ing before mar­riage (which actu­al­ly is a grounds for divorce in itself)
    — guy / girl have fight and where he states that at some point he will find a venue..
    — guy / girl get along well oth­er­wise and they have a son togeth­er due to pre­mar­i­tal relations… 

    if guy goes to excort, is he cheat­ing? (He did tell her that it was only a mat­ter of time…)

  15. of course you don’t, because of your nar­row tun­nelvi­sion with “all the answers” please… its a bunch of hype and hooey… and your response is, of course, simplistic…

  16. rich exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances don’t fit into ANY sci­en­tif­ic, reli­gious, social exam­ples. There can always be BS thrown into any exam­ple. Reli­gions state we should love one anoth­er and forgive…BUT let’s say that a man kills your entire fam­i­ly and you for­give him but in the act of meet­ing and for­giv­ing him you drop a let­ter on the ground that has your return address on it. The mur­der­er takes the address and gives it to many evil peo­ple and these peo­ple kill your rel­a­tives, friends and neigh­bors. Since this reli­gion says to for­give does it count if this per­son has a lot of bad peo­ple try­ing to exter­mi­nate your rel­a­tives? Should we for­give Hitler? Well since these aren’t fam­i­ly mem­bers then we should for­give Hitler! Giv­ing exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances is mere­ly trolling for the sake of trolling. In giv­ing out med­ica­tions the dos­es are dif­fer­ent for every­one because of dif­fer­ences in humans. some­times it’s phys­i­cal dif­fer­ences oth­er times it’s a mix­ture of things. Not all issues can be boiled down into one four word sen­tence. Com­mon sense and log­ic HAVE to be includ­ed when try­ing to debate. Come back to me when you decide to bring up valid points.

  17. Your “exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances” are excus­es. Com­mon sense and log­ic HAVE to be includ­ed when try­ing to debate. Come back to me when you decide to bring up valid points instead of trolling.

  18. I have now felt like I’ve tried the expe­ri­ence enough, yet am unsure how to move any fur­ther. I was in a mono rela­tion­ship when I was cheat­ed on by my part­ner, who has fall­en for the per­son he cheat­ed with. I don’t believe he knows or thinks he’s poly, but I don’t think he would have loved her and slept with her while I am preg­nant with his child if he was­n’t. He wants to keep her and me, which in my des­per­a­tion of los­ing the father of my child, I agreed to. I know I messed up at that point by agree­ing for the wrong rea­sons, yet it is how this has panned out. I have giv­en it over a month of him keep­ing her and dat­ing her, yet I can­not move past the fact that I am uncom­fort­able and unhap­py. Maybe if he would let me meet her or some­thing I would­n’t feel so neg­a­tive against them, yet he will not let us meet. I asked for us to go to coun­sel­ing so I can try more open­ly and have us talk through/resolve issues, yet that was shot down as well. I’m at a loss of where to go from here; due to the fact that although I love him and feel he’s my best friend, I feel that all I am to him is a friend now unless she stops giv­ing him the atten­tion he craves. Then I become his num­ber one while I’m with­in eye­sight. I feel like I will be made the bad per­son for not want­i­ng to be apart of this any­more when I said I would try, but I can no longer stom­ach this and just want to leave him so he can be with her like he wants. He says he does­n’t see a future with­out me (espe­cial­ly now that we’ve been togeth­er for 4 years and I’m preg­nant) but I don’t see a life with some­one who lied to me and then expects me to just go with it now that I’ve been try­ing. Is there any advice you may have?

  19. I’m a monog­a­mous­ly-inclined per­son who con­sid­ered, dur­ing the trau­mat­ic haze of post-infi­deli­ty-dis­cov­ery, accept­ing a polyamorous rela­tion­ship with some­one who had been liv­ing a dou­ble life for years. I stum­bled upon this post dur­ing one of my sleep­less nights a few years ago and it helped me sort through my thoughts and feel­ings. That my part­ner’s infi­deli­ty entailed an abject lack of respect for me was rein­forced when they harassed me for months after I end­ed the rela­tion­ship. I have a lot of respect for peo­ple who eth­i­cal­ly prac­tice non-monogamy. Thank you for this brave and thought­ful post.

  20. I too am a mono­go­mosly inclined per­son who is con­sid­er­ing a polyamorous rela­tion­ship with some­one I love that leads a secret life. I am at a loss as to how to broach the sub­ject of polyamorous rela­tion­ships as a more hon­est approach to what is going on. I don’t think he ever con­sid­ered it as an option in a rela­tion­ship as nei­ther did I until I stum­bled across your blog. All we have to go on in life are the ways we are pro­grammed as chil­dren by our par­ents and soci­ety. If we could reach a lev­el of hon­esty with me, he could be relieved of the bur­den of his guilt and lies and be free to enjoy who he is and what he wants out of life. This per­son enrich­es my life in many ways, and I would hate to lose that. I would also like to be free of the pre­tense and decep­tion. How do I approach this in con­ver­sa­tion with him with­out put him on the defen­sive, as my cur­rent role is to believe I am the only one etc etc.

  21. Not all polyamorous are cheaters and it is not always about sex, when I first met the man who is now my third hus­band, i will still mar­ried to the sec­ond, we were just friends at this point but I could feel my feel­ings get­ting stronger, so I explained that I was poly, and he accept­ed it, we even spoke about hav­ing an open rela­tion­ship after we got into a rela­tion­ship, and he agreed, but now many years lat­er he has back tracked, stat­ing that he did­n’t think I was like “that” any­more, like it’s some­thing that can be just switched off like a switch, the fact is that I nev­er hid any­thing about myself, and lat­er on it want accept­ed when I found myself lov­ing two men, this sub­ject is not black and white as many think, it is much pro­found and deep­er, than the casu­al fling, there are expec­ta­tions, there is just a deep Love, unfor­tu­nate­ly we still live in a soci­ety where this is not accept­ed, any­one who dares to think of feel dif­fer­ent­ly is an out­cast, is wrong, is seen as a sin­ner, no won­der peo­ple repress them­selves and try to live a nor­mal life and end up pleas­ing oth­ers, with the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice of their soul, yes indeed, this is a total­ly grey area, where many do not want to even approach.

    1. Hel­lo, Joo. I’m not sure where you got an idea that I think all polyamorous peo­ple are cheaters. I’m poly, and I’ve nev­er cheat­ed in my life. Nor do I say any­where that polyamory is always about sex.

      When you find that your feel­ings are incom­pat­i­ble with the agree­ments you have in your relationship(s), it’s time to rene­go­ti­ate those agree­ments — not break them. That’s black and white, not grey.

  22. My part­ner of many years cheat­ed on me for months behind my back. He came clean that they had been hav­ing an affair when I con­front­ed Him and then he con­fessed that he thought that he might be poly. Its not that he is poly that breaks me… its that for all that time he was lying to me every day. I feel so hurt and betrayed. He is still in con­tact with the oth­er woman ( who is poly and knew that their rela­tion­ship was hap­pen­ing behind my back with­out me know­ing), and would like to be able to keep us both. I have said I would try, because I love my part­ner so much and don’t want to part from him. But I don’t think our rela­tion­ship will actu­al­ly heal while they are still see­ing this oth­er woman… I can’t tell him who to date.… but unfor­tu­nate­ly their rela­tion­ship will always be an open wound for me.

    I know he was scared I’d leave if he told me that he was hav­ing an affair and was poly. But he took it so far. He is try­ing real­ly hard to try and fix this, but I’m scared we can’t be fixed, and that I wont be able to move on if he insists on hold­ing onto his rela­tion­ship with her. I dont’ feel like I can veto their rela­tion­ship because it would destroy our… and I don’t want to force him to chose… only he can make those choic­es, and when he does I will need to make my own.

    1. Hel­lo Del,

      I’m so sor­ry that you’re hav­ing to deal with this!

      Might I sug­gest that you ask him to read this arti­cle? Also, this arti­cle might be a lit­tle more applic­a­ble to your situation.

      Take care of yourself!

      1. Thank you Cyn.
        My part­ner has admit­ted to being in love with this oth­er woman and feels that no mat­ter what they do they will have regrets. I have said well its too late for that we already have regrets don’t we.
        He is going to see this oth­er woman on Wednes­day this week to talk things through with them. I have made it clear as far as I believe that I am not com­fort­able with him con­tin­u­ing a rela­tion­ship with this woman and that her being in the pic­ture will only throw wood on the fire of an already tox­ic sit­u­a­tion We have organ­ised t see a poly friend­ly ther­a­pist this week, although after he has seen this oth­er woman. I hope that they can help.
        Yes I have been read­ing though your arti­cles. At first I had been try­ing to force myself to be OK with him being with both of us, but now I am real­ly start­ing to want to put my foot down on this spe­cif­ic relationship.

        1. Good for you on putting your foot down! I hope you have a good sup­port net­work to take care of you in this stress­ful time.

  23. Hi. I know this arti­cle is quite a few years old but I’m look­ing for advice. 

    I cheat­ed twice in my rela­tion­ship with my part­ner of 4 years. How­ev­er, they were not affairs but ‘drunk­en’ one night stands. Both times I called my part­ner the day of, or next morn­ing and let him know what hap­pened (to the best of my abil­i­ty but nev­er with too many details par­tial­ly because I nev­er remem­bered every detail but also because he nev­er asked and I think it hurt enough to know I had been inti­mate with some­one else). I’ve expe­ri­enced a lot guilt and shame for these actions and we have done the best we can to move for­ward (we have nev­er done ther­a­py but we try and talk about things very open­ly). Our sit­u­a­tion is still cheat­ing obvi­ous­ly but it still feels dif­fer­ent because there has nev­er real­ly been any lying involved. And both of those hook ups were not with the same per­son. I wish I could get into both sit­u­a­tions and explain it all but it’s long and they’re not my proud­est moments (I fell into deep depres­sion after both). I have men­tal health issues so I’ve been doing my own indi­vid­ual ther­a­py and have real­ly been try­ing to work on mov­ing for­ward from these two inci­dents. My part­ner has for­giv­en me and nev­er throws it in my face. I’ve ques­tioned whether I’m polyamorous though and we have dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­i­ty of being open but he is very unsure (for good rea­son) and I told him I’d nev­er force him if he doesn’t want to be but the con­ver­sa­tion has occurred more often than not in recent months as I’ve been feel­ing less con­nect­ed and more of a need to con­nect with oth­ers (more specif­i­cal­ly in friend­ships BUT giv­en the fact that I’ve been attract­ed to friends before and I have cheat­ed through these two one night stands I gen­uine­ly think maybe I am polyamorous but I don’t want to lie to my part­ner so like I said we often talk these things out and I often let him know when I have “lit­tle crushes”) 

    Any­ways this is kind of a long tan­gent. He seems to be open a bit to some extent of try­ing it out but read­ing a lot about it and find­ing infor­ma­tion about whether it can work after cheat­ing is stress­ing me out. I have been chat­ting with peo­ple through online plat­forms (again my part­ner knows) and although it’s been very friend­ly and just gen­uine­ly good con­ver­sa­tion the thought of what if I do end up lik­ing this per­son comes up in my head a lot. My part­ner and I have dis­cussed this but he just said he doesn’t ful­ly under­stand so I don’t push him on the man­ner. I guess my ques­tion is that, 

    Can polyamorous work in this type of sit­u­a­tion? Or am I fool­ing myself think­ing that it could even though there was no ‘long term affair’? 

    Idk. I have so many thoughts about it and I’m sure my part­ner does too. I just want gen­uine advice with­out the judge­ment of my pre­vi­ous acts (because I am gen­uine­ly not proud of them and wish I could take them back) but at the same time after some­thing like this hap­pens so unex­pect­ed­ly, not planned it caus­es me to ques­tion not only my loy­al­ty but also, whether I am polyamorous. I also want to say I take full respon­si­bil­i­ty for my actions and have nev­er tried to blame my part­ner. I think a large part of it does have to do with self sab­o­tage and such (on my end). I know they were mis­takes but I haven’t ful­ly for­giv­en myself but I also feel like I crave con­nec­tions with oth­ers while still lov­ing and ful­ly want­i­ng to sup­port my part­ner. I don’t know. This is all very confusing.

  24. Look­ing for advice from the per­spec­tive of already iden­ti­fied as poly per­son — strug­gled in a mono/poly dynam­ic for years — mono per­son began to be more open to accept­ing poly per­son­’s need for oth­er inti­mate part­ners — com­mu­ni­ca­tion had already degrad­ed through years of poly per­son feel­ing reject­ed and shut­ting down — poly per­son did­n’t trust mono per­son was tru­ly accept­ing and able — poly per­son walked on eggshells too scared to actu­al­ly per­sue oth­er rela­tion­ships in a healthy way — poly per­son found them­selves in an intense chem­istry sit­u­a­tion they’d nev­er been in and broke one of the only agree­ments (com­mu­ni­cat­ing before get­ting inti­mate) — com­mu­ni­cat­ed imme­di­ate­ly after the fact — was treat­ed like shit for it endur­ing emo­tion­al­ly abu­sive reac­tions for days/weeks/months mixed with peri­ods of emo­tion­al­ly sup­port­ive apolo­getic behav­iour — was told hav­ing a rela­tion­ship with sweet­ie is unac­cept­able — has feel­ings for sweet­ie and resis­tant to let­ting go of the rela­tion­ship — wants to repair rela­tion­ship with part­ner but feel­ing hurt and scared after emo­tion­al reac­tions and ter­ri­ble things that were said — wants a rela­tion­ship with sweet­ie to be pos­si­ble — mono/poly have both been in ther­a­py with poly pos­i­tive coun­sel­lor for months but dynam­ic is still volatile and both are con­fused about how to move forward

  25. First of all, thank you for writ­ing this arti­cle. I found it to be very helpful.

    My sit­u­a­tion is a bit dif­fer­ent, and want­ed to see if you had any advice.

    I have been with my boyfriend for a cou­ple months, and before we got into a rela­tion­ship he was very aware that we would be in some type of polyamorous rela­tion­ship. We were wait­ing for him to be more com­fort­able with the idea (he said he was will­ing to try it out for him­self, not just for me). I was always the one bring­ing it up, ask­ing about it, etc. 

    About a month or so ago, I found out that my ex/child’s father was hav­ing a baby with one my friends from high school. She and I stop talk­ing after I grad­u­at­ed high school, but I still con­sid­ered her a good friend because of how close we were in school. Any­ways, find­ing this out hurt a lot. I think if it was some ran­dom girl, I would­n’t feel as hurt. This sit­u­a­tion also made me real­ize that the feel­ings I thought I had got­ten over were still there. It also made me pon­der on the fact that he was­n’t real­ly there for me when I was preg­nant like he is for her (I am glad he is doing it right this time, but it still hurts). I always wish things had turned out dif­fer­ent­ly between us and we could be a hap­py family. 

    I bring this sit­u­a­tion up because it lead me to cheat­ing on my boyfriend with my ex. It was 100% my fault, of course, and I act­ed based on feel­ings and heart­break. Like you said, there is no rea­son to cheat, but it hap­pened and it does­n’t just go away. I did tell my bf two weeks lat­er and he still wants to work things out with me. He also knows that the polyamorous rela­tion­ship sit­u­a­tion isn’t just going to go away because we both want to try it (I know I want to try it more because he has expressed that if he could just be with only me, he would be, but he knows that’s not what I want). 

    Do you have any advice on how to go about the polyamorous rela­tion­ship lifestyle after this sit­u­a­tion? Is it still the same advice as stat­ed above? 

    Thanks again for tak­ing your time to write this article.

    1. Hi Nicole,

      I can under­stand griev­ing for what might have been, and we’re often vul­ner­a­ble while we’re griev­ing. I hope you’ve giv­en your­self time to feel that grief ful­ly now.

      My advice is the same as above. You and your part­ner have got­ten past the dis­clo­sure stage with­out break­ing up, which is great. If pos­si­ble, I would add that you should try ther­a­py (if it’s acces­si­ble to you) to explore the feel­ings that led you to cheat and how that might be avoid­ed in the future. We all have vul­ner­a­ble times through­out our lives, and a ther­a­pist might be able to help you build bet­ter cop­ing skills.

      Best of luck to you and your partner!

  26. This arti­cle is very ‘Amer­i­can’. Which is one of the most reli­gious coun­tries in the world…Now the author may not be reli­gious at all, but it has all the over­tones of their extreme­ly reli­gious culture..

    I get the impres­sion that the author thinks cheat­ing is the great­est sin in the world.. It ain’t, not even to the offend­ed part­ner unless they’ve been totaly brain­washed by this brand of morality.
    It reminds me of those women who dis­cov­ered their hus­bands watched pornog­ra­phy and by their response, you’d think they caught their hus­bands bla­tant­ly hav­ing sex with a stranger in front of them…And all the advice from the forum is, ‘He’s a cheater! Divorce him!’. 

    If a per­son has a high sex­u­al dri­ve but a dead bed­room and every effort was made to improve it but no luck, so they found a spot of pas­sion else­where, this author would send them to hell for their unfor­giv­able sin.
    Sex and pas­sion for some, is only mar­gin­al­ly less impor­tant then food..
    Would the author con­demn a lit­er­al­ly starv­ing per­son for steal­ing food?

    1. I’m an athe­ist. No, I don’t think “cheat­ing is the great­est sin in the world,” as I don’t even believe in sin. Cheat­ing is, how­ev­er, a seri­ous offense. It dam­ages the trust between part­ners, and if you can’t trust your part­ner you can’t be inti­mate in the fullest sense of the word.

      It does­n’t mat­ter how high your sex dri­ve is. If you’re an eth­i­cal per­son, you’ll rene­go­ti­ate the terms of your rela­tion­ship or end the rela­tion­ship. If you can’t don’t live up to the agree­ments you have with your part­ner, you aren’t ethical.

      Liken­ing sex to food is a false equiv­a­len­cy. You will not die for lack of sex.

  27. Thank you for this arti­cle. It brings clar­i­ty to an emo­tion­al­ly charged sit­u­a­tion. And thank you for set­ting bound­aries and hold­ing them. We need more peo­ple who will stand by what they say.

  28. Hi, 10 months ago I met this guy with two kids and a girl­friend of 6 years ( mono). He came on very strong and fell hard for me. I was inter­est­ed in poly, but had nev­er expe­ri­enced it. He was also inter­est­ed in poly, but nev­er expe­ri­enced it. He told me that him and his girl­friend had talked about it briefly a year before we met, but noth­ing was set and stone…fast for­ward after a month in, we end­ed up being phys­i­cal and was head over hills for each oth­er (I am that oth­er woman). I was under the impres­sion his gf knew we were dat­ing because he talked to me on video chat all the time in front of her.. so one day they went out of town and she called him out while we were chat­ting video, said he nev­er told her for sure any­thing about me and he betrayed her, and basi­cal­ly… he cheat­ed. A week lat­er I end­ed up meet­ing her, I talked with her and she stat­ed she didn’t know what was going on, they dis­cussed poly a year pri­or but nev­er set any­thing in motion or agreed to any­thing. She said she want­ed no parts in any of us, but she gave her con­sent for us to date. She men­tioned how would I feel if her and him got a girl to live with them to be in a rela­tion­ship with, I told her I wouldn’t want that. After this con­vo, she went through some depres­sion, I tried to break things off with him because I felt bad for her, but he kept reas­sur­ing me she was ok, I asked her again was she ok , she said she nev­er want­ed this, but she’s ok with it. Need­less to say, it’s been 10 months… things are great with him and I, but their rela­tion­ship is very rocky. I agree with every­thing you said in this arti­cle because I’m expe­ri­enc­ing it… I notice her want­i­ng more time to her­self more so than want­i­ng to spend with him… he is para­noid when she goes places and such with­out out him because he’s think­ing she’s going to leave him. When him and I broke up two months ago briefly, because I want­ed him to find a rela­tion­ship with some­one else they both liked, she saw him emo­tion­al­ly detached and a wreck for a week because we weren’t talking….we end­ed up get­ting back together…i believe he’s dam­ag­ing his present rela­tion­ship, but he insists he doesn’t want to let me go. with­in our relationship…we’re head over hills for eachother.. soul mates. It’s hard for me to enjoy the expe­ri­ence know­ing she is feel­ing some type of way.  I don’t know where this is going… but I found it best to not talk to her as much in order for me and his rela­tion­ship to flour­ish bet­ter. With me talk­ing to her/hanging out, him and I start­ed hav­ing prob­lems.  I decid­ed to stay out of their rela­tion­ship entire­ly and focus on ours. As far as her, I told her she shouldn’t agree to any­thing she does not want to do sev­er­al times in the past, But she insist when we talked that she was ok🤷🏽‍♀️.

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