Advice – I want my husband to break up with his girlfriend.

Hi. Two year ago I (F38) finally convinced my husband (M41) to try opening up our marriage. He was very much against it when I first told him but I finally convinced him.

I really wanted to have one of my coworkers and we immediately started dating after I got my husband to agree. It was hard for him to hear about us but he never complained. We’re both working partners and he would often stay home taking care of the kids while I was out with my boyfriend. I was and I am very grateful for all his support.

A year ago my husband found himself a girl and they also started dating. Now I’m gonna be honest here. SHE IS SEXY!!! and I’m actually very jealous of her. She’s also 10 years younger than me and apparently great in bed. They spend a lot of time together and two months ago he even introduced her to our sons (as his friend) which is fair enough because I’ve told them about “mommy’s friend” too. They even went out together with the kids.

Anyway. Last month my boyfriend and I broke up and I’m not really into the open marriage idea anymore. Most of all I don’t want my husband to date his girlfriend. I wanna wait for them to break up but it seems like it never going to happen.

On the other hand I feel like a jerk to tell him to not do the thing that I tried really hard to convince him to do. Plus I don’t think it would be right to tell him to end a relationship that he has invested so much time and effort into just like that.

What do you think I should do?

REAJX, Reddit.
Photo by Jia Ye on Unsplash


Two of the most common misconceptions among previously monogamous couples who open their relationship up is that a direct request to close the relationship will always be honored and that if they do return to exclusivity that things will return back to what it was like prior to opening up. Each of those misconceptions are dangerous because they each operate under the assumption that it is of utmost importance to maintain the existing relationship, no matter the cost. But as with any other absolutes, such a perspective disregards any established or expected personal and relational boundaries.

Based on what you have shared, I gather that the discussion around opening up was not framed as a negotiation but rather as an ultimatum. As common with other “take it or leave it” approaches, there is often very little room for proactive discussions around expectations, mutual agreements, or planning. They are the foundational cornerstones which are built upon trust and communication, both of which are clearly absent in your personal connection with your husband.

Your husband is clearly poly under duress. When you initially requested to open up your marriage, that request was pitted against the life he already had: a husband of ten years and a father of two. You were not successful in “convincing” your husband. Opening up was a mere mate retention and abandonment prevention strategy he had to make in order to maintain his self-image as a husband and father. This is further elaborated in not only the coworker you selected to pursue but the household and parenting responsibilities your husband had to pick up on.

Coercion is not consent.

Photo by Matcha & CO on Unsplash

We also need to consider your respective relational landscapes.

I gather that a part of your motivation to open up originated around the specific person you wanted to be with. Polyamory is a subset of ethical non-monogamy, and your approach to not only open up with someone specific in mind, but have that person also be your coworker tells me that there is a fundamental lack of respect for essential boundaries. Enmeshing your erotic life with your career is challenging enough without having to consider that your relationship orientation is not a protected status in all states. There is always an inherent risk of relationships going sideways. And just because your relationship with your boyfriend happened to end without any lasting negative impact around your workplace, that doesn’t mean that your decision to pursue your coworker was not a risky one.

In the same way, just because your husband didn’t decide to leave you when you started seeing your coworker doesn’t mean that your decision was not a risky one. Everyone has a risk threshold, a level that each person deems is too risky before they opt out. And in your case, the opt out has such severe consequences – the same consequences you appear to threaten your husband with in this very comment.

This is all compounded by the intense jealousy you appear to harbor for your husband’s new partner. While jealousy can be a very intense feeling, there are ways to manage the bad with the good. Perhaps your jealousy is a manifestation of the homework you did not do with your husband when you opened up. It could also be possible that you need to establish better boundaries around your metamour. What is clear is that the pain from the end of your relationship with your boyfriend/coworker is manifesting in intense jealousy for your metamour.

You must own the emotional labor associated with non-monogamy.

Just like your husband learned to manage his own jealousy regarding your new sexual adventures, it is time for you to figure out how you can manage your own jealousy regarding his new sexual adventures. Emotional labor, as the name implies, is work. Figuring out mitigation strategy for jealousy can feel really hot and intense. But it is absolutely a worthwhile labor.

What might help is to acknowledge that each of you are responsible for each of your relationships.

In the same way that your husband did not or was not able to dictate the type of relationships you were a part in, you cannot step in and veto his partner – or “convince” him otherwise. They have been dating for over a year. And, as you pointed it out, their relationship required a lot of work. As such, it is ultimately and wholly within your husband’s agency to decide who he is in a relationship with. You are welcome to express your own feelings about how difficult it has been to manage your jealousy. But you’ve also had two years to develop those skills on your own.

No matter what you decide to do, you will have to reflect on the state of your marriage as it applies into the future. You absolutely do not have to stay in a marriage that does not feel rewarding to you.

At least then you will finally be doing your husband a favor by removing one manipulative partner from his life.

Merry Christmas and 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 to spend the holidays with her other partner.

My partner [29F] and I [28M] been together for a few years and non-monogamous from the start. We live together and consider each other our primary partners. We’ve had a few dates and flings here and there. But for the first time this year, she has a stable secondary partner of two months during the cuffing season which coincidentally includes her birthday. It came up recently that we seem to have different ideas about what the holidays mean and how we navigate them with other partners.

She doesn’t see any issue in just divvying up the day and celebrating partly with me and partly with her partner, and I guess I have a more traditionalist view and want the holidays to be special moments for just our relationship. Am I being too selfish and caught up in the romance of it all? Holidays were really important for my family, maybe I just need to tone all that down given that they don’t seem to be as “sacred” for my partner?

Anonymous, Reddit.
Photo by David Mao on Unsplash

Dear Anonymous,

I understand where your retro-perspective on your own feelings regarding who your partner spends their holidays can appear as selfishness. After all, much of non-monogamy mindset revolves around finding joy and celebrate in the act of sharing. And in a way, your current discomfort around parsing your partner’s holiday schedules for the first time in your relationship experience with this particular partner can drum up some previously unnoticed relationship insecurities.

It sounds like some of that relationship insecurity arises from the perceived conflict between what you and your partner each envision for the upcoming holidays. You believe that due to your more traditional background that you should spend your holidays with your partner, in exclusion from all others. On the other hand, you perceive that your partner has a more liberal approach to holiday scheduling where she spends her holidays with her multiple partners. And your perceptions of your holiday vision directly conflicts with your perception of hers, which in turn is manifesting in the form of self-shaming (“Am I being too selfish…?”).

It might be a good time to reassess and redefine what that primary partnership actually means for each of you individually and for both of you collectively.

You say that you each consider each other to be primary partners. But it is unclear based on what you have shared that her desire to spend holidays with her other partners constitutes a violation of an explicit personal boundary that you have or a mutual agreement you two made together. Better fleshing out what it really means to be primary partners will help keep the two of you connected and aligned.

Another possibility is that when your partner communicates her desire to spend a part of her holidays with her other partner, you hear something different.

It is possible that, for you, spending holidays with your one partner is of such importance that trumps the current non-monogamous aspect of your relationship. Especially in a year filled with such uncertainty and confusion, your desire to celebrate important events such as Christmas and birthdays with your close, loved ones is valid and fair. And it sounds like you have done your best to express that desire to your partner. But just like your desire to turn inwards and celebrate with your partner is valid, so is your partner’s desire to turn outwards and celebrate with others.

Because the holidays are so important for you, your partner’s desires to spend a part of her holidays elsewhere is instead translated to a more extreme interpretation of “I don’t want to spend the holidays with you” in your head. This mental mistranslation can stem from various sources. It could be an unforeseen jealousy as you realize you will be alone for a part of the holidays. It could be an emotional pushback to a deeper insecurity you might have about this specific relationship. Or it could even be anchored in a desire to harken back to what feels familiar in an otherwise turbulent time.

The truth is that both your and your partner’s perspectives are as valid as each other. And she clearly does want to spend a part of the holidays with you, just not in its entirety. Her desire to spend a part of the holidays with her other partner does not at all invalidate her desire to spend a part of the holidays with you, in the same way that her desire to sexually connect with others does not invalidate her desire to sexually connect with you.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

There is a more important discussion to be had than what is to be done about this specific holiday season.

Winter holidays are once a year, but there are many more other holidays to a year. And while you don’t have a stable partner through this particular holiday season, you might for next year’s holiday season.

This is a great time and an opportunity to have an explicit dialogue about what each of your expectations are before finding a compromise that works for both of you. Expecting the two of you to share the exact same vision for everything in life is an extreme relationship goal. A more reasonable perspective to have is to be close enough together that you two can safely arrive to a compromise through negotiation and conversation.

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 – 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.

Photo by crisdip on

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 – Forbidding sleepovers.

Photo by Kwasi Kyei Mensah Jnr on

Anonymous writes…

“I have a situation that I’m unsure how to feel about and that makes it difficult to decide my actions.

I’ve been married for ten years, we’ve been poly for not quite two years. During the first 1.5 years they dated and I did not, they never got to the point of a sexual relationship with anyone they talked to until very recently (November) and the relationship ended on bad terms. I have started dating and I am ready to have a sexual relationship including sleepovers.

My partner has recently come out as a trans woman. This is obviously big news and has changed some things at home. I’m still adjusting to the idea and being as supportive as possible. I’ve known less than two weeks. I don’t know if this is relevant.

My partner has stated that my new boyfriend (3 month relationship) is not allowed to come to our house and if I were to sleep at boyfriend’s house then partner would have to decide if they wanted to continue in our marriage. Partner does not like boyfriend and experiences jealousy in ways that I never have. I feel the reasons are unsubstantiated and based on miscommunication on partner’s side of the conversation. Partner has stated that the idea of boyfriend and I having a sexual relationship “bothers” them but I am free to make that choice despite their discomfort. To be clear: boyfriend and I have not been forbidden to have sex, we have only been asked to not have sleepovers (at the risk of divorce). Boyfriend is not allowed to come to our house per partner’s boundary.

I’m doing my best to be understanding and supportive. It seems like this new boundary is unfair to me and I’m having trouble accepting it.

Could I get some outside perspective please? I don’t know how to even approach a conversation about any of this anymore.

Please feel free to ask for any more details that I might have forgotten about. Thank you for reading and for any potential insight!”

Dear Anonymous,

Let’s first talk about the differences between boundaries and rules. Boundaries are internally driven, mutually communicated, and externally exercised guidelines. Rules are externally driven, mutually communicated, and externally exercised restrictions. Boundaries sound like, “I will not be in a relationship with someone who will have overnights in our shared house with other partners.” Rules sound like, “You cannot have overnights with your partners in our shared house.” The ultimate result might be the same – end of a relationship – but the phrasing makes the difference. In a boundary, the boundary communicator owns the communication, assessment, and enforcement in its entirety. Whereas in a rule, the rule is meant to be acknowledged, assessed, and enforced by everyone involved.

So to get the verbiage correct, your partner communicated a rule, not boundary. And it is also conditioned with a threat of a divorce. You also mentioned that this is one-directional, as in he is allowed to have sleepovers but you’re not.

I have long held a very personal belief that polyamorous identity is not only hinged on whether or not you can have multiple satisfying relationships, but also dependent on whether or not you are okay with your partners also having multiple relationships. It is easy to sleep with and date multiple people. It takes a significantly more emotional labor to manage jealousy and insecurity in order to accept that their partners will love others as well.

I honestly do not believe that your partner is compassionately practicing polyamory. They are taking advantage of your flexibility. They are asserting control over relationships that which they’re not a direct part of. They are weaponizing their unmanaged jealousy in their interactions with you. They are withholding consent and permission over your head in ways that rob you of your own sense of autonomy in your other relationships. None of these reflect healthy behaviors.

While I don’t claim that every relationship needs to be fair and equitable, I do think that the intention of evening things out need to be there. Compassion is a necessary practice in love and relationships, of which there seems to be a sore lack of in your partner’s half. Their behavior isn’t ethically or morally wrong, per se. But it does feel harmful and dispassionate.

Photo by Samuel Silitonga on

Let’s step away from the unfairness of this one-directional rule and the unfairness.

Depending on your living circumstances, it might be beneficial to design out what is their space, what is your space, and what is shared space. It can be a fair request to permanently disallow others from entering their personal space, and to temporarily disallow from shared space. But the way this rule and ultimatum has been communicated has not reflected their ability to work on their own sense of jealousy. But this is your house too. And you have a right to claim your own space in your own living arrangement. And just like you have a right to claim your own space, you have a right to claim your own relational autonomy to intentionally state what you want and expect from your respective partners.

Their new trans woman identity could be relevant to the discussion. It could be that this new transition is clearly taking up a major part of their emotional bandwidth to process new information. Even though their trans woman identity has only been communicated with you in the last two weeks, it is very likely that they were processing and chewing on what this transition could mean for them for months or even years prior. With that said, I don’t think that is an acceptable reason to reject your space for other relationships. I sincerely hope that they’re receiving their individual therapy to help develop tools and process the ongoing developments in their personal and relational lives. December’s fallout in their other relationship is still really fresh and that wound could also be affecting their judgment as well.

At the end of the day, relationships are all about creating and maintaining space. Is there a sizable space in your life – emotional, physical, and financial – for a meaningful relationship with your boyfriend to exist? If so, how can you make sure that you can keep and maintain that space? If not, how can you get there with the resources you currently have? Can you get there in a month? In three months? In a year? If this continues, will your boyfriend have enough patience to accept your partner’s rejection of your autonomy and to continue hosting your relationship in his space that he created for you?

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 don’t feel free.

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on

Anonymous writes…

“My boyfriend [30M] and I [25F] have been together for 6 years. The corner stones of our relationship, from the start, were communication and freedom (to do and feel anything, as long as we talked about it). I consider us in an open relationship. In 6 years, we have never been confronted to a poly situation. It’s always been the two of us, and we were happy this way. We still told each other regularly that we were free, though.

Recently, I fell in love with a mutual friend (let’s call him A). I immediately talked to my boyfriend about it.

Turns out he feels hella insecure, wants to know everything that’s going on at every minute. He doesn’t want me to see A without him being here and/or me telling him everything that’s going on. He even wants to be with us for our first time having sex (I know, right??). His fear of being left out is almost scary to me. I feel smothered. I don’t feel free.

I don’t want to sacrifice my freedom or my right to some privacy. But I also don’t want to do anything to hurt my boyfriend. My friend A is very patient in these trying times, but I know it’s uncomfortable for him too.

I don’t know how much of my boyfriend’s fears I should take into account. I’m lost. It’s all very new to me. I’m angry that all these years, he told me how free I was, but the minute I actually enjoy this freedom, he’s a control freak. It’s not like him. I don’t know what’s true anymore.

Dear Anonymous,

I agree with you that this feels smothering and really controlling. You’ve gotten to know him pretty well in the past six years. So I’ll take your word for it when you say that this is very unlike how he is normally. And I’ll respond with the assumption that this is a unique trigger scenario. I am also going to assume based on what you shared that this might be your first poly scenario, but that you’ve both had many other non-monogamous interactions in the past.

First things first. His insecurity appears to be in total overdrive, and completely overwriting his sense of self. That underlying deep sense of insecurity might have always been there, but it might have gotten missed in your six years together. Sometimes, that kind of underlying insecurity doesn’t get triggered until years or even decades into your relationship. But wherever the source is, it is very important for you to recognize that it is not your responsibility to manage his insecurity; that is his own responsibility. You can establish some personal boundaries in a compassionate way to protect him. But that needs to come from a place of respect and trust that he is not going to disrespect your sense of autonomy.

If you feel safe to do so (either by yourself or in the confines of a couple’s counselor’s office), it might be beneficial for both you and your boyfriend to unpack WHY he feels that insecurity… especially since it hasn’t been a problem in your six year history together. But that is the extent of your responsibility in supporting his recovery. The hard work to reframe his mind around his controlling behavior and weaponizing of insecurity is only something he can work on.

Photo by Ivandrei Pretorius on

Another thing that comes to mind is to think about what the word freedom specifically means to you. Does that mean that you want to have a complete sense of autonomy in the people you choose to see? Or does that freedom come with a 15-page Terms & Conditions that you need to first sign off on? Dig deep and come up with why the concept of freedom in the context of relationships is important for you, and write that shit down. That’s going to be your mantra going forward, the very protection spell you are going to cast on yourself to maintain sanity for the work and journey up ahead.

Once you have an idea of what kind of relationships you want to have, your next step is to recognize his patterns and establish some non-negotiable and fluid boundaries that enables you to love the way you want to. They might look really tough and difficult for enforce and dispassionate in relation to your relationship. But some of the behaviors you’ve outlined are really dangerous and incredibly restricting. So boundary setting seems like the only viable option here.

One such boundary you can establish henceforth is “I will not be in a relationship with a person who will not or cannot accept my autonomous sexual and romantic freedom to explore other sexual and/or romantic connections.” You’ll notice that this is a non-negotiable boundary, and not one predicated on the success of your relationship with your mutual friend A. This specific boundary also addresses his request to watch you and A have sex together for the first time (YIKES!). Also notice that this boundary is specific to yourself. It is completely internally-driven, as in the onus of action falls entirely on you even if the data points lie outward.

If you want to take a look at a previous column I wrote regarding setting and establishing boundaries for a similar situation, read this one. I promise that it’ll be worth your time.

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on

Once you have established your own boundaries, it is time for you and your boyfriend to define and revisit agreements that you have established in regards to non-monogamous encounters. It is a bit time-lorn and overdue. But today is as good as any day to sit down and discuss what some of those basic boundaries should be.

Please keep in mind that you are not doing this specifically for your relationship with A, but for all of your relationships to come in the future. Even if it isn’t specifically for laying down the foundations with your boyfriend, it’ll be good practice for you to have this “agreements & boundaries” discussion for your future relationships as well.

Talk about sexual safety. Talk about managing expectations. Talk about your respective commitments you’ve already made to each other. Really flesh out how he is going to provide space for you to explore your relationship, both physically and emotionally. Lay out what kind of progress and improvements you’ll need to see, and discuss what kind of timeline are we looking at to make sure all our ducks are in a row.

Fire is going to be very hot with this much lighter fluid nearby. So place some contingency fire extinguishers nearby in case there are a lot of really emotionally intense moments and sharp words thrown about without care or compassion. In times of turbulence, remember to breathe deep and be the eye of the storm. Feel free to step away if he is not able to have a calm and collected discussion with you. (As an exercise, you can even establish a boundary such that you will not have a discussion unless each of you can have a civil and collected conversation without namecalling or raised voices.)

Remember. You aren’t having this discussion for him. This discussion might not even be to save your relationship with your boyfriend. It could be for you, and it is definitely for any of the relationships you want to have in the future.

Photo by Marlon Martinez on

Whenever I knock an arrow on my arrowrest, I remind myself that I am following a specific process – a process that I’ve gotten very well-acquainted with in the two years I’ve been shooting my arrows. I felt so incredibly nervous about the first arrow I ever shot after purchasing my takedown recurve bow because I was afraid of hurting myself, hurting others, and damaging my bow. But over the past two years, I’ve knocked, drawn, and set loose many an arrows to better finetune my overall process in archery.

In the same way, imagine yourself surrendering to a process, this process of remaining connected with your partner even when your anxiety voice tells you otherwise. You might’ve had this specific bow for six years, and it gathered a lot of dust over the ages. But now is better than any to finally put your back into pulling that string and stay true to your form after release so that the string’s reverberation does not slap your forearm. Even if it does, it is just a bruise. It’ll heal with time.

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 – Half in, half out of poly closet.

Photo by Chevanon Photography on

/u/sadiemess writes on /r/polyamory…

“My husband [39M] and I [36F] had our 7 year wedding anniversary on Sunday and my gf [31F] of two years is upset about a post my mother-in-law tagged us in (with a pic from our wedding). It’s brought up feelings for her about being closeted, and our relationship not feeling as legitimate… and while I understand where she is coming from, I can’t control what other people post, and the fact of the matter is, I do have a husband. Fundamentally, I think that that fact is her real issue with things. She’s monogamous and we have had many ups and downs with her feelings over not being able to have what she ultimately wants (to marry and live with me full time). We are out to my family, and they have totally accepted her (we literally have family game nights once a week and I think they bought her as many Christmas presents as they did me). However, we’re not totally out at work (we all work together) even though it’s sort of like an open secret, and we are not out to my husband’s parents (they are very religious and we know it’s not going to go over well), or to her family (they know we are together and that she is gay/bi, but not that I am also married). Personally, I wouldn’t mind being out completely about everything, but I can’t force my husband to come out to his parents, and not being out makes social media stuff (among other things) tricky. She and I went away together for our anniversary a few months ago, but I didn’t post about it. And I didn’t post anything about mine and his anniversary either, to be fair. I’ve shared a lot less on social media since all of this started because I don’t want to out anybody who doesn’t want to be out, and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m trying to encourage my husband to come out, so we can control the narrative. We are both openly affectionate with our other partners in public (and we have a chatty six year old that we are open and honest around) and I feel like it’s only a matter of time before something gets back to them. Blerg. Not really sure what I am looking for here, but thought I’d post it anyway. Thanks for listening!”

Dear Sadie Mess,

I agree with you that it is not up to you to dictate what your mother-in-law posts about you and your husband’s relationship. I also agree with your girlfriend’s perspective about this descriptive hierarchy in your marriage and her relationship with you not as widely acknowledged. She is obviously feeling a lot of jealousy about the social media space and the marital privileges you and your husband get to enjoy that your girlfriend will be explicitly excluded from. Both you and your girlfriend have valid points to make in this discussion about how “out” everyone is.

I think it is important to first establish where her headspace is. We need to unpack and understand her source of insecurity. It appears that the scale is heavily unfavored for your girlfriend of two years in the level of enmeshment and “outness” she would like to have in her own life, especially since she is coming into dating you – a person who is legally married to another. She could definitely feel slighted in not being able to use that social media aspect to have her relationship with you be openly celebrated in front of everyone, especially following the anniversary trip you two took few months ago. So there’s a lot of emotional labor on her balance to process here.

It sounds like based on the circumstances you’ve outlined, you’ve honestly done your best to be as out as you can be without facing any legal or professional recourse. But one thing you can utilize is in a more strict privacy setting in social media so that you can continue to acknowledge and celebrate your relationship with your girlfriend in public space. There isn’t a functionality like this on Instagram, but on Facebook, you can selectively filter who can and can’t see your posts. So next time you go on a vacation, maybe you can exclude the people you aren’t out to (your coworkers, your husband’s side of family) and celebrate your relationship with your girlfriend in the company of people who do accept your relationship with your girlfriend.

Photo by Pixabay on

I do think the bigger issue is the underlying set of hierarchies that she has not fully realized. You mentioned in follow up comments about how you stay three to four nights at her place, the specifics of commitment ceremonies, and selective determination on why she’s not out to her own family. I am really curious to dig deeper on her perspective and rationale on why she isn’t fully out to her family and communicates discomfort at how her metamour isn’t fully out to his family. Her perspective on the living situation – and your ideal living situation with everyone together – appear to be a bit contradictory as well.

It might be really beneficial to sit down and have a deep discussion on what kind of enmeshment she is exactly looking to have with you. Does she want to be fully acknowledged as your partner all across the entire polycule? Is she willing to come out to her family so that at least you’ll have your and her family to be open about in regards to your polyamorous arrangement? How does she plan to respect the already-enmeshed life you live with your husband of seven years and your six year old child while carving out a space of her own? What is she willing to do on her own to make sure this jealousy that she feels about social media space isn’t directed to hurt you?

More and more I think about what is going on between you and your girlfriend, more and more I am realizing that a lot of this is on your girlfriend to resolve. It is her own insecurity about social media (since you don’t post about your husband much either). It is her own insecurity about outness (since you’re already out to your family while she is not). It is her own headspace about descriptive hierarchies (since she’s wishy-washy about having a commitment ceremony with you). I really hope she can see that you’ve been trying your best, doing your best, to make sure that you are creating and maintaining space for her to occupy in your life.

It might be a good start to recognize some of these things and set an actionable plan to close the gap between the relationship you two currently have and the relationship you two want to have in the future.

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!