It is possible for monogamous and polyamorous people to have successful long-term relationships. It takes major work on both sides. If a couple in a committed relationship cannot come to a true consensus about their agreements, there are significant problems. Consensus decision-making takes more time, more energy, and better communication than compromises, but it is well worth the effort.
One thing that’s common in the situation, but that I personally think cannot have any place in any healthy relationship is a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) agreement. That’s just a way of enabling denial on the part of the monogamous partner.
Sometimes there is no real way to reconcile two people’s conflicting needs. If Frankie needs a monogamous commitment from their spouse but Morgan is not willing or able to be monogamous, they need to end their marriage as amicably as possible. If Frankie can fully accept that Morgan is actively polyamorous, they will also be able to accept hearing about Morgan’s OSOs from time to time. In fact, some people find it natural that they would want to not only hear about those OSOs but to meet them because they are important to Morgan.
I’m a polyamorous woman in a relationship with a monogamous man. We are currently monogamous. If at any time I do not feel that I can continue to be monogamous, I will renegotiate things with him honestly, in a spirit of love. He knows that and trusts me to do so. I have been in monogamous and polyamorous relationships in the past and was actively polyamorous when we met (and totally honest about it). I chose to stop dating other people because I no longer had the time or energy to devote to those relationships. My partner didn’t demand anything. (If he had made such a demand, I would probably have reacted badly to it.)
If your relationship is important to you, take your time, and create sustainable agreements with your partner. Both of you must identify what you need, want, and can truly accept. There is no reason that you cannot both have your needs met, but you may need to be creative in finding ways to meet those needs.
4 thoughts on “Monogamous and Polyamorous People in Relationship”
I would still be married to my husband if he and his girlfriends had been able to respect my desire to not know them and what they do together. You stated, “That’s just a way of enabling denial on the part of the monogamous partner.” I respectfully disagree. It’s not about denial. I was fully aware there were others, and that they were more than likely having sex. I just didn’t want it flaunted in front of me or have my nose rubbed in it. Part of Franklin Veaux’s Relationship Bill of Rights covers a person’s right to decide what level of involvement they are comfortable with, physically, mentally and emotionally. I chose no to limited involvement, my husband and his girlfriends couldn’t respect my choice. Apparently, only poly people have rights in poly relationships; if the monogamous person asserts rights that aren’t acceptable to the poly people, they can just trample them. I never put limits on who my husband saw or what they did together, never asked for veto. All I asked was for a little respect and compassion, neither of which were afforded to me.
Apparently you and your husband couldn’t come to consensus regarding boundaries and relationship agreements. That’s unfortunate. I’ve never said that was a good thing, but that consensus is vital.
I am trying to understand polyamory. My husband told me last month that he is poly — we married four years ago as monogamous. We are both in our 60’s. There has been cheating on his part (Internet) that I discovered shortly before our first anniversary so we have huge trust issues that we haven’t dealt with in healthy ways. What does it mean when you say within your current relationship that there are times that you feel that you cannot be monogamous? Does this mean that a current friendship is going deeper or does this mean that you feel the need to find a deeper friendship/relationship with someone? I am not judging — just trying to understand.
Hi Deb. Thank you for reaching out. I’m sure this is a difficult time.
I’m curious — did your husband just “discover” that he’s polyamorous, or did he know before and not tell you?
Might I recommend that you read a friend’s article on rebuilding trust?
The only person who can truly answer your questions is your husband, because what he means by that statement and what I would mean might be wholly different. However, if I were to say that there were times when I felt that I couldn’t be monogamous, it would mean that I was feeling a need to renegotiate the relationship agreements. It wouldn’t be about a specific friendship, but about a desire to explore other relationships in general.
I need to update this article, as there are some excellent new resources for mono-poly relationships. I’m going to link to some of them here. I would strongly suggest two books, though — Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino and More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert. Both of them have great information about polyamory, and I would actually recommend More Than Two for anyone interested in healthy relationships in general.
I hope something here is useful to you. If not, let me know and I’ll try again 🙂