Advice – Mono/Poly Relationship

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Cherry Blossom via email asks…

“My husband and I have been together in a long distant relationship for ten years. We spend all weekends till Monday; all holidays and summers together. In two years he retires and the plan is to finally live under one roof. We have three kids and have invested well to insure we are able to live a comfortable life. 

We have been exploring poly for over a year. He’s always been open to anything and needs connections like I’ve never seen before. Him bringing it up didn’t surprise me. 

You said you have first hand experience with mono/poly working. How does it work for me who thinks happily ever after and wants to spend her life with one person in her bed, while surrounded by good friends and family. We are quite blessed to have this. Any advice for me? I love him and want our marriage to work. My boundary is that I can’t see working this hard all the time.

Thank you.”

Dear Cherry Blossom,

First of all. Thank you for reaching out to me. And thank you for reading my column. Feedback and questions like these make my column worth writing. So thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Ten years is an incredibly long time in any relationship. Add that you have been in mostly a long distance relationship where compartmentalizing and creating space for different relationships was straight forward for your husband. It sounds like you and your husband understand each other’s needs fair well, and celebrate the strength of your relationship together. But I can also see where your concerns about what it would be like when you close the distance after your husband retires in two years. 

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My personal experience with mono/poly relationship is both first- and second-hand. 

I suppose it is easier to talk about my second-hand experience with mono/poly. I once dated a married woman whose husband was not at all interested in seeking out other relationships aside from the one he maintained with his wife. He was incredibly secure, deeply understanding, and celebrated his wife’s other relationships to the point where even I was surprised how open and honest he was about everything. When it came to creating space for other relationships in the same house, he often utilized that newfound space and time to enjoy the immense amount of hobbies and keep in touch with his large group of on- and offline friends. He did not at all resent his wife or harbor any negative feelings about sharing his wife’s love with another person. And when his wife and I were having difficulties, he worked his hardest to support and ground our shared partner so that we can still be in this hinge relationship together. He loved and appreciated us as much as any other human could. And while that relationship ended up falling apart for its own separate reasons, I will always very fondly remember that metamour as the best metamour I have ever had. He was the most “polyamorous” monogamous person I have ever met. 

Photo by 邱 韬 on

Maybe you can re-frame your mind to not consider if mono/poly relationship is going to work for you, but if your relationship with your husband is going to work for you. One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in my own personal journey of polyamory is that you cannot pigeonhole people into preset roles even if the space happens to meet the level of commitment they’re willing to make. This is what I mean by that. Your current idea of the happily ever after with one partner by your side is an idea that you have in your head of your ideal relationship. It is something that is innately your own idea, overlaid with this distinct possible future with your husband. It does not mean that it will be a reality with your husband, just that it is something you want. And ask you to ask yourself if that really is fair to your husband or yourself to have such ideals placed upon your relationship. Your husband is your husband. You’ve established such a fundamental foundation with your husband over these ten years and built trust from ground up. Even if you and your husband decide to close the gap and live under the same roof, his polyamorous relationship philosophy might never change. So step away from the idea of whether or not mono/poly can work for you. Instead, consider whether or not this relationship with your husband works for you. One of the questions I often ask my monogamously minded friends in a long term relationship is that if you met your current partners tomorrow with no prior knowledge of this relationship, would you still choose to pursue a relationship with your partner? Ask yourself and your husband that question as well. It should give you a better idea of what your husband means to you without any of this mono/poly constraints aside. 

Lastly, I’ll add that polyamorous as an identity cuts in two different ways: whether or not you can have multiple relationships yourself, and whether or not you are okay with your partner having multiple relationships. I’d argue that being okay with your partner dating others makes you much more polyamorous than actually being in multiple relationships, simply due to the fact that it requires an immense amount of emotional labor to accept your partner’s non-monogamous orientation. You can also think of your own relationship philosophy in that way as well. Even if you yourself are not interested in establishing and building new relationships, how can you learn to become more okay and secure in your relationship with your husband to accept and celebrate his other relationships? The answer almost always turns inward into focusing more on yourself, or outward into focusing on building other rewarding friendships and kinships with your own human beings. 

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

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3 thoughts on “Advice – Mono/Poly Relationship

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