Advice – Words for a poly newbie.

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/u/TheAudity writes on /r/polyamory…

“Hello everyone! I guess I should start by talking about my situation: I [26F] recently married an incredible person [26M] (we’ve been married for about a month now), and am lucky enough to have an incredible husband who is very open and actually like, talks about feelings and shit. Anyways, we’ve struggled with sexual incompatibility for the better part of a year (differences in libido, emotional hangups, one partner having strong kink desires while the other has none, etc). None of these have been dealbreakers for us, as sex is the least important part of our relationship, and has no impact in how much we love each other, but there’s no denying that it’s been rough on both of us (moreso for him).

So, that leads to where we are now. The other night, we were at an amazing New year’s Eve party, surrounded by love and friends, and my husband reconnected with an old friend of his from college! And oh my God she’s just the sweetest person, and we know she’s poly, and we both got the impression that she’s like, really into him. We started talking about it the next day (yesterday, actually) and it started with us just joking about, but we came to the conclusion that I actually wouldn’t mind at all if he wanted to pursue intimacy with other people, and he let me know that he really wouldn’t mind if I wanted to find a Dom. Our only hard rule is that we would want to know each other’s partners, and keep communication open and make sure everyone is genuinely comfortable with our arrangements.

So, that’s where we are now. It’s still just the two of us, but we have laid a foundation for being comfortable with polyamory. This is where all of you incredible people come in. We’ve only just started this conversation, and I’m sure there are a million complications and questions that we haven’t thought of yet. So, what questions would you recommend a previously monogamous couple ask one another to make sure they’re on the same page, and can actually make a polyamory work?

Thank you, and I look forward to learning more!”

Dear the Audity,

You and your husband are both so sweet. I love the deep well of affection you have for your husband and the intentional perspective you’ve both set about this new transition in your respective lives.

Reading your post originally made me think about what I would have liked to have known when I first started my journey into polyamory more than three years ago. The first is that I would not be able to recognize the person I am today if the three years ago me encountered the me today. Some of the changes was expected; the freedom to love others provided many a venues for me to continue to improve on myself and become a stronger person. Some of the changes were not at all anticipated; polyamory can be really difficult even with the people who are on-paper perfect matches. There are so many questions to ask each other when you two are first starting out.

First and the most obvious is “What do you expect this phase of our relationship to look like six months from now?” And do not accept the answer “I don’t know.” Best part of life is in setting expectations and intentions about the overall direction even if the full picture is unclear. Keeping pace with all the growing pains and ongoing changes will make your first steps of opening up the smoothest. Talk about what those first couple months are going to look like for you. And talk about any anticipated changes as you are each experiencing them.

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And let’s talk about that word: change. In my own personal experience and in others’ relational experiences, the only constant in these relationships is change. The common advice among people opening up for the first time is to communicate, communicate, communicate. And that is because there are intense growing pains and unanticipated changes associated with exploring and growing through other relationships. In face of those changes, all we can do is to prepare for, to engage with, and to reconnect when changes force all of us to grow and adapt. Talk to each other about how you’ll stay connected with each other in face of these expected and unexpected changes. How will you stay in touch? What kind of reconnects will both of you two require? How will you two continue to place importance in your marriage while he explores his connection with his newfound poly connection and you explore your kink space with a Dom?

A 2015 study about gender and power in poly relationships has found that managing jealousy was integral to the polyamorous skillset. Most people experience jealousy due to socialization of our mono-normative society, basic innate human insecurities, and baggages from previous relationships. Talking about and making plans to deal with jealousy from not just your perspective but also from your husband’s perspective will be necessary. In my column, you’ll also find many advice posts linking to and discussing the topic of jealousy in great detail. You should also take a look at those as well.

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Most of what I learned about polyamory came from personal experience. Heartbreaks, NRE, falling in love, and all different shades of human experiences in between. Along the way, I found a couple resources I’ve enjoyed myself, as well as many others who have journeyed prior to and alongside me.

My first foray into non-mongamy started through the Ethical Slut. It provides a great overview of broader non-monogamous relationship styles and orientations. I’ve personally found it to be a phenomenal primer for what to expect through polyamory before my journey had even begun. Some critics might say that the Ethical Slut feels outdated. To them, I would say it is necessary to learn about our origins and history, as the Ethical Slut has been the most basic poly scripture available for the longest time.

Since you are kink-minded, you will also benefit from reading the New Bottoming Book, written by the very same Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton who wrote the Ethical Slut. I’ve also read the Dom version of this book – The New Topping Book. I can vouch for all three of these books personally, as literature I’ve personally read and recommended to many others to read.

Columns like mine are good places to read more about polyamory. I also really like Poly Land, and they do a daily publication of poly-related content.

If you are more interested in audio variety, Multiamory is as good as it gets in terms of a polyamory-related podcast. They discuss so many different aspects of polyamory and talk a lot about some of the personal challenges they’ve had to overcome in their own respective journeys. I’ve listened to most of their episodes, but I often find myself re-listening to and recommending to others some of my favorite episodes (Pursuit & Withdrawal, Basics of Boundaries, and RADAR). If you like Multiamory, one of the hosts – Dedeker Winston – also authored a book as well.

Lastly, find your own community. Online is a great place to start, but I have personally found that developing your own personal poly connections in the meatspace was the most valuable resource of all. It is lonely to be poly sometimes, as non-monogamy at large is long ways away from becoming fully accepted. Finding a poly-friendly therapist to talk through poly-related struggles was key for me and many others in forging the necessary tools to survive polyamory-related troubles. If you live near a big city, regularly attending meetups will help you get more engaged with your local poly scene as well.

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This is a great time for you to explore polyamory.

Non-monogamy is gaining social traction and wider recognition. More and more people are trying out different types of ethical non-monogamy as fewer and fewer people are by default settling into monogamous agreements. Some of polyamory is paved with coarse pebbles that hurt to walk on them. But the journey itself is entertaining, sexy, and life-affirming.

Feel free to drop by six months from now to let us all know how your experience is going.

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.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

2 thoughts on “Advice – Words for a poly newbie.

  1. Pingback: Advice – My wife is bisexual. – Tea Time with Tomato

  2. Pingback: Advice – My polyamorous wife is uncomfortable with me dating others. – Tea Time with Tomato

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