Advice – I might be the type of person who’d cheat on their partners.

I want to preface this post by saying I have never cheated. I (M22) have a beautiful fiancée (F22) who I am head over heals for. We have been together four years and she is everything I need and want emotionally, physically and practically so that is not the reason I am feeling this way.

The last thing I would ever want to do is hurt her but I am starting to fear that I have the potential to cheat inside of me. There have been several occasions in class or at work where I started to feel an intense desire for one of my peers, either sexual or emotional. So far I have acknowledged these feelings and tried distancing myself whenever one of these situations comes up. It has worked so far, but I fear that is only because the opportunity for a sexual relationship hasn’t presented itself. If I was ever in situation where one of the people I was infatuated with began to push my relationship’s boundaries I’m not sure that in my current state of mind I would be able to resist. I know that in a lifetime of marriage, more than likely this will be the case at least once.

Frankly I hate this about myself and want to change it. I want to be the rock solid monogamous guy that she deserves. That is why I am coming to this subreddit. How can I train myself to handle these situations before I am in them? It’s not exactly something I can learn from experience. I DO NOT want to tell my fiancée about these feelings because I am afraid to hurt her. Any advice on how other people deal with these feelings would be greatly appreciated.

Anonymous, /r/relationship_advice.

Dear Anonymous,

Let’s first start by acknowledging that monogamy is an agreement, where sexual and romantic exclusivity is agreed upon by yourself as well as by your partner. Monogamy as a basic relationship structure provides fundamental stability, wide communal acknowledgement, and legal & societal support. Many people inherit monogamy as the default relationship orientation as well as assume monogamy as a core facet of their personal and relational identity. This can be true for some whose relationships can only function in a purely exclusive, monogamous context for various inter- or intrapersonal reasons.

For most, monogamy is an agreement that which we opt into. It is a commitment we make to ourselves for the sake of our relationship that we will forgo all other relationships to secure the exclusive relationship we have with our partner. Monogamy agreement acknowledges that there will inevitably be attractions to others, and that others might be attracted to you even though you have a monogamous agreement with your partner. And in the context of monogamy, we promise to ourselves and to our partners that we will establish appropriate relational and emotional boundaries to avoid exploring any other romantic, emotional, or sexual connections.

Adultery has existed since marriage was invented, and so, too, the taboo against it. In fact, infidelity has a tenacity that marriage can only envy, so much so, that this is the only commandment that is repeated twice in the Bible: once for doing it, and once just for thinking about it.

Esther Perel, “Rethinking Infidelity.” TED Talk. May 21, 2015.

Now that we have discussed monogamy as an agreement, our next step is to figure out how this specifically applies to your mindset.

It is really interesting to read how there seems to be a distinct lack of agency in the way you practice your monogamy agreement. You said you were able to acknowledge those feelings when they arised and distanced yourself from those feelings upon acknowlegement. That is exactly what you are supposed to do in these types of circumstances. While feelings desire to be acknowledged, not every feeling requires reaction or preemptive action. The agency behind those feelings lie squarely on your shoulders to determine what you want to do with those feelings. It’s not like once those feelings arise, you are suddently not able to do monogamy. Your ability to have successful monogamous relationships comes from your ability to step in between your feelings and implement proper and healthy boundaries to not indulge in or pursue those feelings.

Maybe it is time for you to reassess why these feelings make you feel bad, and why you perceive your ability to create distance from your crushes on people other than your partner as a form of resistance rather than a proactive guideline for the relationships you do want to form. It isn’t like the crushes that you have on other people are temptations that try to lure you away from your fiancee. Instead, imagine those feelings as natural reaction to the most basic instinct of our human development. And you don’t always have to do anything with those feelings beyond letting those feelings know that you have noticed their existence.

On a side note, I strongly urge you to take a look at that TED Talk about Esther Perel linked above. It is a great primer on why we heavily stigmatize infidelity, especially in the western culture.

Throughout the course of a relationship, 25% of all relationships experience infidelity to some extent. For as common as infidelity is, it is also looked upon as a grave indictment upon failure of a relationship. I urge you to question the why. Why is something so common considered such a dire betrayal of their partner to the n-th degree?

At the end of the post, you asked how you can train yourself to handle these situations. The best way is to proactively talk about and anticipate these situations before they arise. One of those ways is to talk about those feelings with your fiancee to help get a better grasp on why you are feeling a certain way, even if it makes you feel vulnerable to admit so. We can’t always have the most productive dialogue with ourselves just through our internal monologue. We humans are by default social creatures who use language to communicate. As such, communicating those words with your trusted connections – like your fiancee – can help with the acknowledgement phase of those feelings. In addition, talking it out loud with your fiancee could also help alleviate the sense of guilt you feel about developing feelings toward others. Remember. It is not the presence of those feelings that will hurt your fiancee. It’s the secrecy, guilt, and the personal insecurity that she could feel that makes these revelations sting.

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!

Advice – I suddenly feel so insecure about my RA metamour.

My (32F) and my husband (31M) have been married for 6 years, poly for 5. We didn’t purposefully pursue polyamory, but kind of fell into it. Like many, we have our ups and downs, but overall things are extremely good – our marriage and how polyamory sits with us.

Anyway, my husband has been seeing his girlfriend for quite a bit over about a year and a half. She is really nice and they suit each other well. My meta has been in the poly community for a decade, give or take, and considers herself to be a relationship anarchist. My husband and I have a hierarchical polyamorous relationship, for clarity. She and I have even spoken about this whole thing and she very much accepts and supports our hierarchical relationship. All in all, she’s an amazing meta.

I am a very logical person, always have been, and it’s also how I process difficult emotions. I don’t tend to “feel things out”, but think them out. I like having a logical purpose or being able to look into my emotions and figure out the “why” as best as possible to help me process things. As an aside.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I had near zero issues with polyamory over the years. Minimal jealousy, and when I did experience it, I was quick to analyze, communicate, and address it. However now I am feeling this overwhelming illogical sense of jealousy and insecurity in my marriage, for which I could use this community’s thoughts on to help me process through everything. Since I’ve been long winded already, I’ll try to make this more brief.

My meta is in the process of moving out of her nesting partner’s home and into her own place. I think I have identified this as my illogical turning point.

I feel extremely and illogically insecure/jealous of their relationship, and find myself wanting to do things very outside the norm to distance myself from my meta. For instance, I catch myself trying to keep my life and her life as separate as possible now, and her relationship with my husband separate from mine with hers in illogical ways. This is very new for me, and I’m really struggling to process this overwhelming wave of extremely unwanted and unfounded emotions.

Anonymous, /r/polyamory.
Photo by Taryn Elliott on

Dear Anonymous,

One of the most difficult aspects of developing polyamorous connections is that you are not only dating the person but also their circumstance. When your husband started dating your current metamour, she had to implicitly accept and embrace your role in her husband’s life as well as you hers. In the past year and a half, you’ve understood your metamour’s role as a devout relationship anarchist whose current living happenstance (with an existing nesting partner) put an artificial ceiling on the relationship that your husband could have with your metamour. It could be that that artificial ceiling helped you manage an underlying anxiety or insecurity that you always felt toward this particular partner. And now that your metamour is moving out on her own, you can read her new living happenstance as a particular absence that your husband can now fill, which is subsequently triggering that same underlying insecurity.

The way you can dissect and analyze tells me that you are generally committed to relying on logic to resolve issues. It has been such a reliable problem solving method for you, even when it came to addressing complex feelings like jealousy. But in the same way that aluminum baseball bats make terrible baby pacifiers, approaching a wholly emotionally driven problem with a purely logical perspective might be the wrong way to resolve the new feelings you are feeling now. The new feelings perhaps need a new approach.

Photo by Vincent M.A. Janssen on

Let’s entertain your logical thought process to develop a new resolution by explicitly mapping out your current emotional landscape.

I too am incredibly driven by reason. So I personally like to write my own feelings down in order to engage in a dialogue with my inner monologue, when I can’t just rely on my inner monologue to drive my feeling resolution process. Seeing my words out on page allows me to think my feelings out loud. You may already have your own process of engaging with your ego. Externally processing new information by thinking out loud with your partner or a therapist could be one valid way to converse with yourself. Another way could be to incorporate a meditation process for yourself. What’s more important is to draw the feelings out into the light, no matter how uncomfortable and amorphous they seem.

Once you have those feelings out in the open, it is important that you allow those feelings some room to breathe. Some of those feelings are going to be difficult to actualize and feel urgent. But you need to draw those feelings out so that you may dive deeper into the source of those feelings. Like learning any new skill, it is going to be very difficult to let those difficult feelings stand for an extended amount of time. But since you already have previously had success in acknowledging and managing jealousy, think of it as if you’re using some new pots and pans to cook your favorite dish. You just need some practice is all.

Remember that feelings by default are illogical. There need be no rhyme or reason to the feelings you feel. Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves can explain why we feel a certain way. However, most of the time, those narratives are just retroactive rationalizations on our part to explain why we feel and not at all reflective of the true cause of those feelings.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on

There are three more things to consider.

First is your own dating happenstance. You mentioned in the comments that you haven’t been able to forge any new connections in the past couple months. It could be that putting so much focus on developing and maintaining a kitchen table poly-type connection with your metamour has taken up a lot of your emotional capital without you even realizing so. And in spending so much emotional energy in connecting with your metamour, you’ve isolated yourself in your current polycule. That could be why you are gravitating toward a more compartmentalized, parallel approach to your metamourship.

Second is to consider that we are living through a pandemic where a lot of our emotional resources are used up in order to deal with the ongoing emotional trauma. Completing mundane and simple tasks are a lot harder to do when you have fewer tools to work with. So be kinder to yourself and only commit to the type of emotional labor that really feels rewarding and reciprocal for you.

Last thing for you to consider is that you did point out two very distinct polyamorous relationship types between what you and your husband practice and what your metamour practices. It could be that witnessing your metamour commit deeper into her relationship anarchy is unearthing some deep personal insecurities about this specific mismatch in style. Even if your metamour completely understands and accepts your hierarchical polyamorous relationship, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t open to change. And your mind could be tricking you to believe that this change in her living happenstance could lead to a change in your husband’s perspective about hierarchical polyamory, which is manifesting in the insecurity you feel toward your metamour as an agent of change.

It could be that you are just becoming more comfortable with more distance from your metamour. It could be temporary or it could be permanent. Both are reasonable and valid ways to do polyamory. What’s more important is to be grounded in your own reality by not just acknowledging but accepting your feelings at its face value.

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!

Advice – My partner wants me to be MORE jealous and possessive.

I [36M, bi] have been dating my partner [28F, straight] for 3 years. I have known that I’m non-monogamous since before we started dating. It has always been part of our relationship since the beginning, although she would probably prefer a more monogamish relationship. She comes from a pretty traditional background but has been generously open to the relationship style. I make use of my non-monogamous freedoms more than she does, although she does like to flirt a bit with some boys. I think that’s about the most honest summary I can give.

Oh, also, we are in a long distance relationship. I probably see her once a month for about a week at a time. When we are together, we are mono. When we are apart, we are non-mono.

We often have conversations about our needs and reactions to different things and experiences. She expressed something a few days ago that neither of us can quite figure out. She says that she likes that I’m not jealous or controlling but wishes I were a little more possessive of her. For example, I don’t feel defensive if an attractive man shows interest in her. I have a bit of a hot wife thing. I like it. (If the attention is inappropriate and unwelcome by her, then I do get confrontational.)

I had the thought that maybe there is another way I can meet whatever need she has through some other way. I asked her “What does that possessiveness mean to you? Like what does my being possessive of you communicate to you about my feelings?” She is usually very thoughtful and articulate, but couldn’t very well describe it. It’s an ongoing discussion. I would like to solicit other thoughts.

What could be an underlying need of wanting one’s partner to be more possessive?

Anonymous, /r/nonmonogamy
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on

Dear Anonymous,

On her TED Talk titled Rethinking Infidelity, Esther Perel noted that the act of infidelity as “universally forbidden, yet universally practiced.” The concept of infidelity has been pathologized and vilified to the point of senselessness, and yet we continue to devour popular media that depict this break in monogamous agreement as the ultimate act of betrayal. In a way to adapt and adjust to this immense expectation regarding monogamy, we came to understand possessiveness and jealousy as a positive quality that indicates security and safety in the social institution of monogamy instead of a reflection of relational and personal insecurity.

This is one of the reasons why jealousy and possessiveness is such a heavy topic of disdain in the non-mono space, as development of new and other connections contend with our monogamy conditioning to feel jealous when our partner is with another.

So let’s consider that as a backdrop to what your partner could stand to gain from her partner acting possessive. As you said, she comes from a more traditionally monogamous background. So it is possible that, through the filter of her social conditioning, she perceives her partner feeling jealous and possessive as a way for her partner to display how much they care about her and as a reflection of the security she should feel in her relationship. And when she doesn’t sense that same jealousy and possessiveness when she flirts and connects with other folks, she doesn’t have the same tools to verify the security in her relationship with you.

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on

This can also relate to your current long distance non-mono agreement.

Long distance relationships come with an added challenge of more infrequent connections. We all want to feel desired and sought after in our relationships. But the expression of that need is often delayed, poorly communicated, or misrepresented through distance. Because you two are in a long-distance, non-monogamous relationship, that same sense of security and safety that comes from sharing the same physical space day-to-day is not as present as it would be if you two were closer in proximity.

As such, expression of possessiveness and jealousy could be understood as another form of security and safety from her perspective as well.

It sounds like you two have already started the discussion on what this means for your relationship with each other. That is a great start. My guess is that her inability to link possessive behaviors to the security they appear to provide could stem from a sense of guilt as well. You have been so open-minded and accepting of her exploring and forging other connections, even if her freedom isn’t as frequently realized and practiced as yours. She has to contend with the societal expectations from the twenty five years of her life prior to meeting you that non-monogamy is wrong. That is an unprogramming she’ll have to take on for herself.

One thing for you to consider is that even if you’re not innately jealous or possessive, implementing a jealousy or possessiveness roleplay might not be a bad option for you two, even if she isn’t actively dating. Doing so might help her understand what feelings accumulate through her partner feeling jealous and possessive.

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!

Advice – My polyamorous wife is uncomfortable with me dating others.

We started opening our relationship in June as an “exploratory” thing we were doing. At that time it seemed like she was just “looking for fun” and she got to have her fun with a handful of people. I started to talk with a close friend and found out this friend is also polyamorous and wanted to explore with me.

My wife has been intensely jealous of this new development between me and my friend. She does not feel comfortable with it but also totes around “fair is fair. I’ve done way worse”. I hate to admit it and I never say it out loud but I feel like she is right in that sense. She has slept with 5 guys in the span of a month and then suddenly me having my first experience is too much for her. To give you some context, my wife has been my only sexual partner my whole life.

At this same time my wife started a friendship with my friend’s roommate. She came out to me a couple days ago that she is actually polyamorous and isn’t looking for casual flings, something I’ve been asking since the start. Basically telling me she has feelings for this roommate.

I’ve been feeling a lot worse knowing it’s not just a casual fling for her while she simultaneously does not want me to pursue anyone. It feels very hypocritical.

/u/ImOkButIsThatOk, /r/polyamory
Photo by Pixabay on

Dear I’m Okay But Is That Okay,

Let’s slow down.

This situation is deceptively complex. So let’s first start by discussing everything that happened with your wife since opening up in June.

In a very short amount of time, she has found five different casual connections. We often find change and progress through our intimate connections. Sometimes, the shortest flings often bring about the biggest changes in us. It could be possible that your wife has found significant growth and development over the past month that allowed her to better fully flesh out the type of relationships she wants to have. That means a personal growth for herself as well as a deviation from the original vision of non-monogamous arrangement with you.

The timing of her declaration appears coincidental and circumstantial. But let’s assume for a moment that her acknowledgement of her polyamorous identity comes completely independent from the recent developments in your own non-monogamous journey. If we give her the benefit of the doubt that her growth is the result of the past month’s experience, then there are some really big questions she needs to ask herself before she can actually claim the polyamorous identity.

  • What does it mean for her to be polyamorous?
  • Hierarchical vs non-hierarchical?
  • What type of interactions is she willing to facilitate between her multiple partners?
    • Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
    • Parallel Polyamory
    • Kitchen Table Polyamory
  • What does this mean for your rules and agreements from a month ago?
  • What does her ideal version of polyamorous arrangement look like?
  • What does this mean for our future?

I’ve written in the past about polyamory as an identity. And in that column from two weeks ago I wrote, “[P]olyamory as an identity is too often used as a blanket excuse for unethical and selfish relationship habits.” In short, it could be possible that your wife is utilizing her declaration of polyamorous identity as a way to neglect or disregard the emotional labor associated with polyamory. We’ll go into more detail what that means in the next section.

Photo by Scott Webb on

Now let’s talk about what is happening with you. Just like the discussion about your wife’s development, we’ll talk about your current predicament as completely independent from your wife.

It sounds like you found someone you connected with in your close friend. I’m not sure if your close friend has had much experience with non-monogamy prior to connecting with you, nor your friend’s current balance of relationships. But considering that your wife has been your only sexual partner, there is going to be a lot that you’ll need to unlearn, re-learn, and newly learn in regards to developing a romantic/sexual connection with your close friend.

Hear your friend when they say that they are polyamorous. If they have already had a lot of experience with non-monogamy/polyamory, then this is a great time for you to ask them what their experience has been like, what they expect from their relationships, and what preexisting agreements they have with their current partners. If they are coming into polyamory just as fresh as you and your wife are, then they too should be asking the same questions that your wife should be asking herself. I strongly urge you to take a look at the newbie tag on my column. This post in particular has a lot of resources that can benefit everyone.

In polyamory, you don’t just date your partner; you also date the situation. Your friend has to be introspective about the relationship situation their partner – you – are in, just like you have to be cognizant about their situation as well.

This is a good time for you to reassess what you personally expect from both your current and future relationships. One of the ways I have a dialogue with myself is by writing down my feelings in a journal. It helps me distance myself from my own perspective in order to have a dialogue with myself about myself. Another way is through therapy. Through our therapists, we can better hear and engage with our own voices in a more productive, clinical way.

Photo by Pixabay on

Now let’s bring everything together.

I am going to assume that your wife connected with the roommate of the same close friend that you are interested in pursuing a connection with. I’m not sure if her decision to connect with this particular individual was one of choice to limit COVID exposure, of sheer luck that she happened to connect well with your interest’s roommate, or perhaps something more questionable. Either way, intermixing their current living situation with your exploration with open relationship appears ripe for disaster, with almost no safety nets.

I have a feeling that her reticence and reservation regarding your decision to pursue others is heavily and deeply rooted in a sense of insecurity and jealousy, which is common for a lot of polyfolks. It is something that I – an experienced poly person – struggle with on occasion as well. It is also common for a lot of poly newbies that jealousy and insecurity often gets weaponized to influence their partners’ actions, which might be happening with your wife. It could be that in better circumstances that she has enough resources to manage her feelings of insecurity and jealousy. But because she’s trying to juggle her multiple connections, at the same time trying to figure out what polyamory means to her, her emotional capital is tapped out.

Similar could apply to you as well. You spent so much time accepting and being okay with your wife’s other connections over the past month that you are losing sight of the type of connections you want to make. And now that you found a potential connection through your close friend, your wife’s proclamation of poly identity is rocking the boat so heavily that you can’t tell what’s up from down.

In a way, it is like trying to tango on roller skates while the dance floor is also an escalator and also your eyebrows are on fire.

Photo by Burst on

You and your wife should seriously consider slowing things down and only adding one variable at a time. I understand that both you and your wife are tempted to match each other pace-for-pace, and I think this is a mistake. If your wife wants to explore polyamorous relationships instead of more ephemeral casual connections, then this is a great time for her to stop dating for a month and read/listen to materials for polyfolks. If she is really intent on and serious about pursuing a polyamorous connection with this specific individual, this person will still be there when your wife is actually ready to date polyamorously. And in this time, they too can take some time to think about the type of polyamory they want to be a part of. Reading and listening material should give your wife some good ideas on how to manage her insecurity and jealousy in a more productive and meaningful way.

While your wife and her potential connection is researching into polyamory, it is time for you to explore the type of connection you want to make by being in it. Like your wife has discovered, you’ll learn a lot when you start dating others. Only through experience, you’ll get a better idea of how you can connect with yourself, your wife, and others at a deeper level. It’ll also give you a different perspective on what you think that your wife gets out of non-monogamy as well. You might find that your preference could be very different from your wife. But you won’t really know until you’re out dating on your own. This is all going to fold into your wife’s research material as she’ll have real life examples to apply her learning to. And just like you’ll have to explore your own relationships in order for you to discover what you want, she’ll have to explore her own jealousy management skills in order for her to discover what works for her.

Photo by Pixabay on

Last thing I’ll comment on is in the necessity of consent regarding ethical non-monogamy.

You don’t need to make yourself vulnerable to degrees of emotional, relational, or sexual risk that you yourself don’t find acceptable through your partner. What I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to be okay with your wife’s behavior. She has been displaying some very selfish behaviors with reckless disregard for COVID happenstance, your relational landscape, or the type of connections she wants to pursue. And you don’t have to accept this type of behavior from your partner. If your personal boundary is such that you will not be in a romantic relationship with a person who seeks romantic relationships with others, that is a perfectly valid boundary for you to have and a perfectly valid boundary for your wife to adhere to for the sake of your marriage and your kids.

Dating you should be a privilege she gets to enjoy, not a guarantee she gets to settle on.

Jase from Multiamory once said dating multiple people doesn’t make you polyamorous. What makes you polyamorous is in learning to accept and celebrate your partners’ other relationships. The much more difficult part of polyamory is in committing to and doing the emotional labor that comes with jealousy and insecurity. I hate to act the part of a gatekeeper to polyamory. But if your wife cannot (or refuse to) mindfully manage her jealousy and insecurity that comes with polyamory, she does not get to claim to be polyamorous in the same way that enjoying cocktails doesn’t make that person a bartender.

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!

Advice – Is One Roof Policy considered ethical? [NSFW]

“My wife [26F] and I [27M] are in a semi-poly relationship. I have a girlfriend [23F]. My wife and I are into voyeurism. We don’t send pictures or other risky things but she enjoys wearing revealing dresses and we do visit a close topless beach a lot on summers. We also have threesomes with my girlfriend (mostly she prefers to watch though). We currently stay together which we all wanted but the official excuse we told ourselves was that our place was closer to her school.

I say semi-poly because my wife doesn’t have a guy she is as close with (sex is just sex to her) and I am not technically exclusive with my girlfriend. I wouldn’t be against it if my girlfriend wanted to go out with someone, she just doesn’t.

Yesterday we were discussing our sexual pasts. To be honest I didn’t know a lot about my wife’s “current” past with her partners either, just who they are (to be safe).

Anyway I don’t have a problem with her main partner, but with her other partner (early 20s male) he has a roommate (also male, probably early 20s) who would basically be around the house and they didn’t mind doing things while he’s around he’d usually make “funny comments” (her words). As far as I know nothing sexual happened with him and I trust my wife. I do know young guys though and considering the situation it wouldn’t surprise me if he was planning to make a move.

I don’t mind it too much, she can sleep with whoever she wants within reason. I have one major qualm, we don’t share our situation with anyone besides one mutual friend and our partners. Obviously there’s always some risk and that’s part of the attraction, but listening to her talk about them, I felt like they were the frat guy type.

This might be a bit paranoid, but I am worried about if he decides to take some pictures. Not saying they would, but girls just can’t see everything around them in some positions and my wife trusts them way more than I do.

I mentioned this to them as well but my wife thought I was being paranoid and my girlfriend mentioned she sent me pictures (implying I was being a hypocrite). I didn’t want to be a mood killer and dropped it, then we moved on.

When I was younger and immature, we had a “don’t bring partners home” rule. To be honest back then I probably wouldn’t respond well to another guy cuddling my at-the-time girlfriend in front of me. That was where we drew the line. I am less insecure with my kinks now and I think I am actually into a hotwife situation now.

Anyway I have been thinking about offering a one roof policy, at least from time to time. I’d like to know who she is seeing, make sure they aren’t jerks or untrustworthy guys. See what they are doing, see if she enjoys something I don’t do 😀 If it gets into my head, I have my girlfriend around anyway.

I think she would agree to it, we discussed something like this before but not in this context. I don’t know if her partners would, but she has no trouble finding partners and if I was still a younger guy I’d probably consider it my peak if I had sex with a FWB with her husband around. It’s a kink for me and I don’t get too jealous anymore so I wouldn’t care if they don’t care.”

Anonymous on /r/nonmonogamy.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on

Dear Anonymous,

Even before we get to the ethics of the One Roof Policy – to demand that your partners bring their other partners to sleep at your house – it is very interesting to read in what ways you visualize your girlfriend’s and your wife’s perspectives in their relationships throughout your post. Take a second to look back at your post. Keep count of the number of times you’ve interjected with their words or imbued your own interpretation of intent behind their words and actions.


I counted ten total instances in which you’ve inserted yourself into what your wife, your girlfriend, your wife’s main partner, or his roommate were doing, saying, or feeling.

  1. “…but she enjoys wearing revealing dresses…”
  2. “… (mostly she prefers to watch though).”
  3. “… but the official excuse we told ourselves was that our place was closer to her school.”
  4. “… (sex is just sex to her)…”
  5. ” …they didn’t mind doing things while he’s around he’d usually make “funny comments” (her words).”
  6. “I do know young guys though and considering the situation it wouldn’t surprise me if he was planning to make a move.”
  7. “… I am worried about if he decides to take some pictures.”
  8. “Not saying they would, but girls just can’t see everything around them in some positions and my wife trusts them way more than I do.”
  9. “I think she would agree to it…”
  10. “… if I was still a younger guy I’d probably consider it my peak if I had sex with a FWB with her husband around.”

And those were just your own words that you wrote down.

The self-projections themselves aren’t necessarily harmful. After all, you are trying your best to see things from their perspectives. But the way you project yourself into their own internal narratives is wrong and problematic. I’ll elaborate on why this is so wrong by talking about example six from above.

Photo by Adrianna Calvo on

There are two things going on here.

First is in your projection of how you were in your twenties onto someone else in his twenties. It is very important for you to understand that his perspective, his desires, and his wants & needs are all very different from what you have personally experienced. Just because you two happen to share the general age bracket and age in common does not mean that what you perceive to be his desires is based on his own personal experience; it is entirely based on your own experience. To project your past onto someone else’s current behavior is rude and condescending.

Second is the context in which that projection compounds onto other projections. In previous example #5, you say that the roommate doesn’t mind doing or commenting on things while your wife and her partner while (I presume) they have sex. How do you really know that? You probably heard about this through your wife, who probably heard about it through her partner, who talked about it with his roommate. That is under two unique levels of hearsay that got filtered through your wife’s partner, then subsequently through your wife, then onto you. So by the time you claim that you know what your wife’s partner’s roommate wants – to have sex with your wife – it is much more defined by your inner insecurity rather than something he actually wants for himself.

In example ten, you again claim that if you were a man in your twenties (which you are), you’d love to have sex with a married woman while her husband is still around. That is your own internal tape playing over what you think is reflected in their actual internal monologue. Not every twentysomething man is into non-monogamy. Not every twentysomething man is interested in sleeping with anything that moves. And not every twentysomething man is into fucking someone while their partner holds a cup against the wall in the neighboring room to listen in.

Let’s assume that your wife’s FWB’s roommate is actually interested in sleeping with your wife as you assumed so in example six.

Why is it not your wife’s decision to sleep with or not sleep with her FWB’s roommate? Do you not have any faith in her trust in self and her trust in FWB to make sure that she can manage her own relationships? Isn’t it her own judgment and decision to not pursue “jerks or untrustworthy guys”? What does that say about your projection of your girlfriend’s position of not dating anyone else?

Photo by Aleksey Kuprikov on

And let’s talk more about the voyeur/exhibitionist kink.

I am really happy to hear that you are growing into and accepting your kinks and sexuality at large more. A lot of cis men get caught up in stigmatizing their own sexuality into hypermasculinity. But I think you would agree that informed consent is essential to ethical non-monogamy, especially in the context of kink. And based on what you’ve outlined, you are already projecting how your negotiation is going to go with your wife (example 9) and how your wife’s partner is going to react to this new rule (example 10) without having had a single word exchanged yet. They haven’t had an opportunity to consent yet.

You say that you have had threesomes with your wife and girlfriend, and that your girlfriend prefers to watch while you have sex with your wife. I am really happy that you have that, but that is a level of trust that you’ve built and established with both your wife and your girlfriend that you have not established with your wife and her FWB. You have no idea what he is into sexually since you’ve never had a direct conversation with him.

You don’t get to blanket consent what your wife and her FWB does because that is not your relationship to control or manage.

Which is really strange because there is this recurring theme of deep insecurity that you display on both examples seven and eight even though his taking pictures should be right up your alley in terms of voyeuristic endeavors. That makes me think that your unchained insecurities (example seven) actually stomp all over your kinky desires to watch your partner (“I think I am actually into a hotwife situation now”).

Photo by Bob Ward on

This really isn’t about whether or not One Roof Policy is ethical. This is really more about whether or not you are being a good partner to your wife and your girlfriend.

In theory, one roof policy can come across as a more intense form of kitchen table poly. If you want to get to know your partner’s other partners, the absolute worst way to go about that is by setting false first impressions about what they’re like (“I felt like they were the frat guy type.”) before you actually meet them; because when they don’t meet the expectation that you’ve already set upon them (i.e. if they’re actually great, respectful dudes), you’re going to be upset by how he might be overreaching into your area of control.

And control is what it really boils down to. One Roof Policy in theory is not controlling. But the application is absolutely controlling and, in part, unethical. The backdrop in that rule is controlling in the very same way One Penis/Vagina Policies are controlling; you are dictating others’ relationships that which you are not directly a part of. Through One Roof Policy, you are requiring they blanket consent to you listening in (or self-participating) on their sexy endeavors.

And that is fine if everyone – your wife, her partner, your girlfriend – consents to it beforehand. But know that this rule comes from your sense of insecurity rather than your desire to participate.

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!

Advice – I feel so insecure about my new connection when he updates his Tinder profile.

“The backstory is that my wife has been transitioning MTF for a few years. And as she has gotten more comfortable in her body, it became apparent that ultimately we were both straight girls who enjoy dating men. So we decided to open up our marriage to the idea of separate “boyfriends” to fill that need while remaining partners and co-parents for life. I am genuinely happy for her when she spends time with someone else and she is very supportive of my dating as well.

I met a guy on Tinder that I clicked really really well with. He is ultimately looking for a serious partner but a friendly sexual relationship fits his current lifestyle best (very busy guy) and I have been very honest about my situation (very busy girl). Since meeting him I haven’t been particularly interested in other men and we see each other several times a week for sex and cuddling. We recently even discussed that we are not having sex with other people and can be a little more relaxed, etc.

So why am I so crushed when he updates his Tinder profile with pictures and things that are going on in his life right now? I am happily married for goodness sakes and expecting him to be fine with that (which he is). I actually froze my Tinder because I was enjoying my time with him and stopped dating because I enjoyed spending that extra time with him. He has made it clear that he is attracted to me and goes out of his way to be available to me when it’s possible. I feel like my feelings are definitely unreasonable. Is this just a huge crush? How do I chill out?”

Anonymous on /r/polyamory.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on

Dear Anonymous,

Start of any relationship is insecure. Some of that insecurity is simply masked by the surge of lust and energy that we call New Relationship Energy (NRE) in the polyamory world. What NRE doesn’t do is to provide an actual backdrop of support for a sense of safety and security in your relationships.

It could be very possible that when you see your connection update his Tinder profile that you are worried about eventually losing him to someone he can be more serious with because the implication in “ultimately looking for a serious partner” is that you are not the serious partner he is looking to settle down with. Even if that isn’t something you want with him, you can still feel some sense of rejection from having had that particular door closed on the breadth of his potential connection with you.

Another possibility is that because you froze your Tinder account so that you can focus on developing this specific connection, his continued engagement with Tinder might possibly threaten the amount of space that you are currently taking up in his life should he add another partner into the mix. And the possibility of not getting all your sexual needs met through this specific connection because he does not have enough energy or time to spare could also cause you some sense of insecurity as well.

So actually, your feelings are actually very reasonable.

They are rooted in the assessment of how much you are enjoying this connection now, as well as the uncertainty of the future for when he finds another, more serious connection he wants to pursue. And your feelings are valid.

Photo by Alex Azabache on

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo once reflected that we often confuse love with attachment. The Tibetan Buddhist nun further elaborated that we sometimes misunderstand the clinging and grasping as signs of love, when in reality it is better described as attachment. Instead of holding someone tight until your hands hurt, it is sometimes a much more ethical way to care by holding just strong enough to not let go.

In the same way, it might be a good idea to reflect on and iterate how much you mean to each other now without holding any expectations about your future together. Another really important perspective to consider is that because you have such a strong and fundamental connection with your wife and co-parent, it is easy to get caught in the trap of comparing how secure you feel with your wife going on dates to how insecure you feel with your new sexual partner also going on dates. That is not fair as they are two different people with two completely different backstories on how they became established in your life. It wouldn’t be fair to read the National Geographic magazine thinking it is going to have the same kind of literary depth as Don Quixote. Two completely different literary experiences. Two completely different relationships.

Wrestling with some level of insecurity will always be a theme in any kind of relationship – mono or non-mono; it just happens to come up more often in non-mono dating as we are constantly forging new connections while also sunsetting incompatible connections. It is much more important for you to develop tools that allow you to manage your insecurities in a more productive, healthy way. Your insecurity management toolbox might look completely different from mine, but I commit more to meditation, self-care, and quality time with my partners when I feel insecure about any of my partnerships. Sometimes, even when I know that I have a good handle on my insecurities, I let my partners know what I have been chewing on just so that they can appreciate and recognize the progress I made.

So keep trying things out. Your belief in yourself is just as valid as the insecure fears that you feel; you just happen to be much more resilient than those insecurities.

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!

Advice – Poly wife struggling with mono husband seeing others for the first time.

“I’ve [39F] been married to the most amazing man in the world [45M] for the past fifteen years. Four years into our marriage, I discovered that I am polyamorous and I asked him if I could start dating other men. Not only did he agree, he was so supportive. He helped me plan dates and talked about my poly-specific problems with me. He has befriended all of my current partners and is an integral part of my polycule. I love this man with all my heart and I cherish him every day.

Last night, he approached me about his recent desire to start dating other women. This instantly crushed me but I kept a straight face as I knew my only fair option was to agree. I asked if he thought he was polyamorous and he said no. He just thought it could be exciting and a new way to meet people. I told him of course and we sat down and discussed boundaries. We only have two which is our relationship comes first and to always use protection. I hate to admit it but I am feeling jealous, insecure, and guilty for feeling this way. Obviously he isn’t going to start dating right at this moment and that’s reassuring. But I am feeling a lot of insecurity about when he will start dating. I need a way to tackle my jealousy and insecurity so I don’t ruin ENM for him. It isn’t fair to him that I’m being a mopey sad sack about after he’s been so supportive of me and my lifestyle.”

Sad Green Monster on /r/polyamory.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Dear Sad Green Monster,

I am really sorry to hear that you are struggling with managing jealousy in regards to your husband’s new interest in dating others. You have acknowledged and identified a problem that you need help addressing.

First things first, I think it is important to acknowledge that there are two very different set of skills associated with dating polyamorously. The first is whether or not you can date multiple people ethically. This involves managing logistics & scheduling, upholding boundaries & agreements, and appropriately addressing the NRE you feel in your new relationships. The second is whether or not you are okay with your partner(s) dating multiple people. This involves properly developing metamour connections (if kitchen table poly), creating space for your partners’ other relationships to blossom, and addressing jealousy & insecurity in a productive way. Both of these set of skills are important to develop and maintain for any ethically polyamorous folks.

It sounds like in you’ve been able to really hone and fine-tune that first aspect of the polyamorous identity for you, but have not had much of an opportunity to develop the second set of skills – at least not in your relationship with your husband. And because you haven’t had an opportunity to pick this second set of skill, you are now in the middle of a crash course through your feelings, which feel almost unmanageable for you.

Photo by Scott Webb on

I also want to point out the slight difference between polyamory as a relationship orientation compared to polyamory as an identity.

There is a bit of debate on whether polyamory should be an identity or a relationship orientation. And I personally believe that polyamory can be one or both, depending on the relationship. In my honest opinion, identity is something very much set in stone, as in you cannot do without. And for me personally, I do not think that I can ever have a monogamous commitment in my partnerships. So I am decidedly polyamorous by identity.

Polyamory as a relationship orientation is a bit different. I also recognize that monogamy to polyamory is much more of a spectrum than a binary, much like the gender and sexual orientation spectrum. There are many who fully round up to one end of the spectrum (explicitly monogamous or explicitly polyamorous), but there are many more who sit in the middle between the two extreme ends. Those who can do either monogamy or polyamory are classified as ambiamorous. For ambiamorous folks, mono-poly spectrum is a relationship orientation; something that they may have mild or strong preferences for that might inform them of the kind of relationships they would like to have.

When you asked your husband if he was polyamorous, you were really asking to gauge how much emotional labor you should be committing to your marital connection so that you can maintain this identity of a polyamorous woman in your own head. A better question to be asking your husband (and retroactively, to yourself) is if he wants to date polyamorously or if he thought he could date polyamorously. Based on his answer, I get the sense that he doesn’t fully know whether or not he can date polyamorously. And that’s okay. He’ll have to figure that out on his own. He can theorize and predict the kind of relationships he would like to have. And I am confident that he got to know a lot about polyamory through experiencing relationships vicariously through his married partner. But his own personal preferences and style of non-monogamy could be very different from yours.

Photo by Anna Tukhfatullina Food Photographer/Stylist on

I’ve managed my own jealousy through mitigation action. A couple years ago when my nesting partner decided to meet and date on her own, I made a very concerted effort to connect with her partner / my metamour. When my partners were out on dates while I was alone at home, I took advantage of free time to treat myself, whether that is a self-care day out to a spa, a night-in to play computer games that my partners are not into, or finally catching up on my sleep debt by going to bed early. I would compartmentalize and filibuster my jealousy until I had the resources to analyze and process them either by myself or with the help of my therapist.

My girlfriend had a completely different spin on managing jealousy in her own personal way.

I can remember the exact conversation. We were on a date, earlier on in our relationship. We were both dressed up for after-dinner cocktails at a local upscale lounge. We had two great drinks before we started walking around the neighborhood. During the walk, she told me how she used to struggle with jealousy during one particular former relationship. She went on to tell me that she recognizes that she too is human who feels insecure at times. For her, labeling jealousy for what it was helped her process through jealousy because it helped her recognize that jealousy was also just a feeling. That jealousy as a feeling was often temporary. That if it wasn’t temporary, then there’ll be future opportunities in which to address it in a more meaningful and mindful way.

What I am trying to say is that your jealousy management strategy could look very different than mine or my girlfriend’s jealousy management strategies. But the first and most important step for you to recognize is that while jealousy is yours to own, you don’t always need to anything immediate about that jealousy. Sometimes, breathing through that jealousy and insecurity could provide a better perspective on why you feel that way. Long-term and consistent triggering of jealousy could indicate a potentially toxic situation where a partner is using your inherent jealousy to manipulate your behavior to feel more desired. But I don’t get that feeling with your husband, and I don’t think you do either.

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The guilt you feel comes from impatience. Because your husband was so accepting of your intention to start dating polyamorously at first, you are feeling inadequate in being just as accepting as your husband was. That is not fair to yourself. One. You are clearly open to your husband eventually dating others. Since you’ve already set your intention, you just need to set a goal, establish a step-by-step, and follow through. Two. You’ve accepted your husband to not be interested in dating anyone else for the past eleven years that you’ve been married. So in a way, this new revelation uproots the mental image you’ve had of him. But most importantly, you are a completely different human being than your husband. He was able to be so understanding with you at first because that is who he is. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be just as successful in accepting his non-monogamous orientation as he had been.

So give yourself some more time and a bit more patience to figure out your own jealousy management strategy. It could take some time and a couple erroneous trial attempts. But allow yourself to forgive the mistakes you will make.

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!

Advice – My anxiety seem to wholly disagree with my desire to pursue non-monogamy.

“I’ve always wanted to explore a non-monogamous lifestyle. I have a very high sex drive. And while I don’t think it’s reasonable for me to sexually commit to just one person forever, I do want a life partner. The opportunity to try it out kind of fell in my lap when I met my boyfriend whose desire to pursue a non-monogamous arrangement was non-negotiable from the start. For me, it was more something I wanted to explore but I wasn’t 100 percent sure it was right for me.

Anyway, he is the most wonderful human I’ve ever met. We are so in love and extremely compatible. It is by far the most loving, communicative, and healthy relationship I’ve been in. Over the last year, we’ve both had many, many outside FWBs and casual hook ups. Anytime there is something that makes me uncomfortable, we talk about it and he has always made compromises to make me feel secure. My comfort is his number one priority but like I said monogamy isn’t an option for him.

Here’s my issue though. No matter how much I enjoy my outside experiences and how much I tell myself everything is good and okay, I can’t help but feel almost physically sick whenever he sleeps with someone else. He is into it and turned on when I am with someone else whereas I just grin and bear it and anxiously wait for their date to be over. I’ve read so much, talked to my therapist regularly, listened to podcasts the whole deal and this icky and anxious feeling still hasn’t gone away. I’m disappointed in myself for not feeling secure in this yet. It definitely affects him but he’s been very patient with me as we continue to have discussions about it. It just comes really natural for him. He almost never feels off when I’ve been out with someone whereas I have consistently had a difficult time adjusting.

Is there anyone who has experienced these feelings and has it gone away or got easier over time? Sometimes I just want to give up and go separate ways but honestly I can’t imagine my life without him. Sometimes I believe our relationship is so amazing because we have this freedom and I also wouldn’t want to lose that. I just don’t know though. Any words of advice or shared experiences are greatly appreciated.”

Snacks 4 Days on /r/nonmonogamy.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on

Dear Snacks 4 Days,

I hear you. I personally believe that almost every human experiences jealousy and relationship anxiety to some extent – some more than others. But those who are committed to ethically pursuing non-monogamy do our best to develop healthy coping mechanism to deal with these bouts of insecurity. It is not an easy process to develop new coping mechanisms especially in headspaces that are clouded and informed by pain. But it sounds like you’ve been having some very productive dialogue through your therapist to establish some more effective tools to manage your pain.

I’ll tell you about my own anxiety and insecurities in poly context.

When my nesting partner and I started dating others, there were many moments in which I feel like I really struggle with managing my jealousy and insecurity – intense but brief moments that make me doubt whether or not polyamory was worth it. It was really ugly at first. There were a lot of tearful discussions and sensitive talks that felt like the next worst thing to happen to my relationship. I realized at some point I just didn’t have all the tools necessary to handle poly-related jealousy issues on my own, so I contacted a local poly-friendly therapist to develop some new tools to help manage my jealousy.

I dove deep into dissecting those feelings with my therapist.

She helped me understand what events were triggering those bouts of insecurity and jealousy, accept why they were feeling so bad, and develop a set of counterspells and contingency strategy for when I would next encounter those feelings.

I first started telling myself that jealousy is natural. And while I can acknowledge jealousy as a feeling, I don’t always need to do anything about this particular feeling. So I learned to endure through the worst of it. And when I opened my eyes, my partners were right there to validate my feelings, to acknowledge the difficulties in enduring difficult feelings, and to reassure me that my place in their life was secure and stable for all the right reasons. Eventually, I was able to develop a more fundamental level of trust with each of my partners through discussing my personal processing of jealousy. And because I became more secure with my partners, I had less bouts of jealousy.

Photo by Artem Saranin on

I know what worked for me personally. But each person’s development process in regards to managing insecurity and jealousy will look very different. It sounds like you recognize that ethical non-monogamy is something you really want to commit to in your life. And if it is really important for you, then you will need to learn how to better manage your emotional landscape so that the negative intrusive emotions like jealousy do not take root.

Like a broken pot will never hold water no matter how much you water it, deep personal insecurities will never hold his reassurances inside of you… unless you mend it.

I think the first place for you to start is to not use your boyfriend as a measure for how you should be handling your own issues with jealousy and insecurity. His personal coping mechanism (if he needs one at all) is very different from the one you’ll need for yourself. And for someone who doesn’t feel that same intensity of jealousy and insecurity, he might even feel partly responsible for what seems to be an unwarranted emotional distress on your part. I think you recognize that this is your own emotional labor to own, which is evidenced by all the efforts you’ve been putting into manage your jealousy and insecurity.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

You are honestly doing more than a lot of nonmono-minded newbies might even dare to attempt. Emotional labor is difficult to own and even more challenging to manage. But it is definitely doable. So keep trying new tactics. I’ve heard of others who jump into a very engaging activity to take their minds off when their partner goes on new dates or sleeps with new partners. I’ve also heard of others who turn completely inward and meditate/self-care through the anxiety. Many schedule dates on concurrent timeslots so that they aren’t just paralyzed about their insecurities. Whatever it is, keep trying new things and be patient. If one fails, try again. And if it fails again, try your next strategy.

This really is the price of admission to be ethically non-monogamous, if it really is that important for you. I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve been having such a difficult time with it, but I do believe that the relief is on the horizons.

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!

Advice – He says he would prefer a closed monogamous relationship with me.

“I could provide tons of background info, but I’ll do bare minimum: I (f) am hinge in a V with two partners (m), we are all in our mid 30s. One is a long-term, pretty stable relationship. The other is newer, we’ve been dating about a year and a half and have gotten more and more serious over time. It’s been great! We’re deeply in love and committed to being together long term.

However, as we’ve gotten deeper and deeper in the feelings, my partner is less and less into poly. He was no stranger to open relationships and poly, but this is the first time he’s in REALLY DEEP in terms of feelings/long term planning where there’s another serious partner in the mix. We’ve been talking about it the whole time and he definitely admits that at this point he’d prefer a closed, monogamous relationship with me. However, he also says that I’ve been 100% clear about what my situation is and what I can offer him this whole time, he doesn’t want to harm/break up my other relationship, he’s way happier overall with me this way than without me at all, and he thinks he’s good with what we have in a long-term way.

But! I can’t help but thinking–is this just toxic long-term? Would you ever end a relationship because you know it will never be that person’s ideal? So far I’ve been thinking that, you know, he’s an adult, he’s told me that the trade-off is worth it, so I believe him. But is that somehow selfish? What would you do?”

/u/poly_help_ in /r/polyamory.

Photo by Кристина Александрова on

Dear Poly Help,

A year and a half is a long time. I’d hesitate to call him new to polyamory if that is the kind of experience he has had with you so far. Based on what he has shared, it sounds like he is maturely handling his relationship with you and fully disclosing his concerns with you as a way to communicate with you.

You said that he is new to deep long term commitments in his polyamorous journey. And you’ve shared that this is the most serious polyamorous relationship you have been a part of in a followup exchange. I wonder how much of this anxiety-like feeling that you are experiencing is rooted in your past experiences, social conditioning around perfectionism, and long-term relationship anxiety.

I’ve long held a belief in my personal dating life and in this column that there are two very different aspects being polyamorous. First is whether or not you can date polyamorously. Can you manage the logistics of maintaining multiple relationships? Can you create and maintain space in your relationships for each of them to breathe in? How well can you compartmentalize and manage not just your own emotions but others in your polycule as well? How well does your personal and relational ethics hold in heated situations? These are all about whether or not you can see multiple people.

The second half of that polyamorous identity is whether or not you can accept that your partners can date others. How well can you manage envy and jealousy as your partners explore other romantic and sexual connections? What are some of your ethical and healthy coping mechanisms to deal with difficult emotions? Are you capable of allowing space in your partners’ lives to ensure they can also create and maintain space for their respective relationships?

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

I think you already recognized the advice you need to receive.

So far I’ve been thinking that, you know, he’s an adult, he’s told me that the trade-off is worth it, so I believe him.

And you are right. He is an adult. And he is making an informed decision by proactively consenting to his relationship with you being polyamorous. So actually listen to what he is saying instead of trying too hard to read between the lines. If you really trust him to be honest in his own words, reflecting on your thoughts might reveal that the fear you feel is not at all rooted in his behavior, but rather your own internal insecurity about your projection of his polyamorous identity. Even if he isn’t interested in dating any others, he is still polyamorous through his acceptance of his relationship with you. Polyamorous, but unavailable.

I also think that this is important to point out.

One of the ways polyamorous relationships are so beautiful is because at the immediate onset, we challenge our inherent relationship programming that our relationships have to be perfect. That we need not choose only one partner to satiate all of our needs. So ask yourself. Why do you feel that your boyfriend needs to have a perfect mindset with you even when he is clearly communicating that he is still choosing to be with you?

If he ever changes his mind about being in a polyamorous relationship with you, then he can make a decision for himself at that point that he cannot be in a polyamorous relationship with you. Until then, doubting his motives seem unfair to what he has communicated with you. Even if this relationship’s days are numbered, why not choose to appreciate it for what it is however long it lasts?

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!

Advice – I feel very special when my secondary dates others, but not when my primary dates others.

“I have been together with my primary partner for 6 years now. Our relationship is super solid and we are still very much in love. He is not poly per se, more ‘open’ and only in love with me. I do struggle with feeling less special when he dates others. I get insecure and anxious. Maybe I do feel special, but I also tend to be afraid that the other girl is cooler than I am. I recognize that she is just different and we have different qualities.

It is different with my secondary partner of 4 months. He is poly and currently in love with three partners and maybe dating five or six people in total. They are gorgeous. I don’t feel a speck of jealousy. I even feel very special because those girls are all super beautiful and have the ideal body according to him: petite and skinny. I am not petite and skinny at all. So it’s really cool that he likes me so much! He even fell in love with me and shows me a lot of love and affection. He explained me that we are all special in our own way. He didn’t have to explain this because I already knew.

I think this is pretty interesting. My anxiety pops up when my primary partner dates other girls, and especially when they have a more ‘ideal’ body than mine… and with my secondary partner I don’t feel this at all!

Did someone experience something like this? I would like to explore why this works this way psychologically. I think it’s because I would be devastated when I would “lose” my primary whereas I am just enjoying my secondary for as long as it will last.

If you ever struggled with feelings of being anxious or less worthy when your partner dates cool people, how did you handle this?”

/u/notsofearless, /r/polyamory.

Photo by Harry Cunningham on

Dear Not So Fearless,

I think you already touched on one possibility; that you could fear potentially losing the six year old relationship you have with your primary partner. But I also think that there are two other possibilities that could explain why you feel more special when your secondary partner dates others while you feel less special when your primary partner does so.

It could be that the difference in each of your partners’ relationship orientations make you feel more or less secure with each one. You mentioned that your primary partner is more open while your secondary partner is much more polyamorous. So you have already established an idea of the kind of partners they each seek out. And you could in turn fear that your primary partner could still potentially develop feelings toward their casual partners. You already know and have experienced that your secondary partner can maintain happy and healthy intimate relationships with many people. So you don’t feel as insecure about your secondary partner developing and sustaining emotional connections with others.

Image credit to Hunter Photography.

Another possibility is that you have different attachment styles with each of your partners. For those who don’t know, the four attachment styles (Secure, Anxious-Preoccupied, Dismissive-Avoidant, and Fearful-Avoidant) originate from the attachment theory. In short, it reasons that our early life interactions with our parents determine how we might be acclimated to develop a specific style of connection with our loved ones. Here is a very quick overview of how different attachment styles compare.

  • Secure: “I am contently attached to my partner(s). I am deeply engaged with my partner(s) and feel free to explore the breadth of human experience. I have a high value of myself and others, and love developing strong and intimate connection with many.”
  • Anxious-Preoccupied: “I seek high levels of intimacy from my partner(s). I feel anxious when my partner(s) are away from me. I want to get very close to the people I love. I have a very high value of others but a very low value of myself.”
  • Dismissive-Avoidant: “I seek high levels of independence away from my partner(s). I do not need anyone to be a high functioning individual. I sometimes struggle to develop and maintain close connections with people due to how I keep those connections at a distance. I have a very high value of self but a very low value of others.”
  • Fearful-Avoidant: “I want to but feel utterly unsure how to develop close connections with my partner(s). I feel very ambivalent about wanting to connect with people at a deep level, but not wanting to get too close to someone who could hurt me. I struggle to feel worthy in my relationships. I have a low value of myself and others.”

Most of us generally gravitate toward one attachment style over others, and your natural attachment style could change depending on the relationship, where you are at in life, and the kind of attachment style your partner(s) has.

So it could just be possible that you are securely attached to your secondary partner, while you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment with your primary partner.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

It might be a good time for you to sit down with your primary partner and establish a more secure attachment with each other by diving deep into what you feel the most insecure about. This will be a very difficult and complex discussion to have, as you’ll quickly discover that all of these body image issues are more internal rather than external. And there will only be so much your partners can do to address your self-image issues. We are so often told by our colleagues, TV ads, and fashion websites that beauty is absolute and the impossible beauty standards should be achievable.

But the truth is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And I don’t mean your partners when I say beholder; I mean you. Learn to recognize and appreciate the things you love about yourself by romancing yourself.

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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