Monogamous and Polyamorous People in Relationship

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 major 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 is able to ful­ly accept the fact 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 very hon­est about it). I chose to stop dat­ing oth­er people—he 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, what you want, and what you 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 Replies to “Monogamous and Polyamorous People in Relationship”

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

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