Advice – Introducing metamours.

“I [24F] am the hinge of a V and have been dating my nesting partner [23M] for a year and a half, and my boyfriend [29M] for about 3 months. Both of my partners are relatively new to poly, and I’m really their first genuine exposure to the practice. My NP has gone on dates/slept with other people while we have been together, but has never gotten serious with anyone else besides me. My boyfriend and I have currently agreed on polyfidelity with each other as our relationship is still growing and developing. I feel really blessed to have open and honest communication with both of them.

My boyfriend was interested in meeting my NP from the onset of our relationship, and knows that my ideal arrangement is kitchen table poly (maybe even with some group cuddling further down the line). My NP was very hesitant to meet him in the first few months, but recognizes that the boyfriend is here to stay and that it’s very important to me that they meet. He says he doesn’t feel like his arm is being twisted, but he is definitely quite anxious about meeting. In general, he has some issues with insecurity, particularly now that I’m seeing someone 6 years older “with his life together”.

I talk about both partners to one other regularly (and consensually) and both have expressed admiration of each others’ lovely qualities, and empathy for each others’ occasional struggles. They’re both really happy that I’m so happy! They also have tons of shared interests, and I genuinely think they would like each other a lot!

I’m wondering how to best get everyone prepared for this meeting. Where should it be? I was thinking maybe our place for boardgames? But then the boyfriend has to go home at the end of the night while NP and I stay together. Should I invite other friends as social lubricant, or should it just be the three of us? What kinds of conversations should take place before and after?”

– /u/ubloomymind on /r/polyamory.

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Dear U Bloo My Mind,

Welcome to polyamory! Unicorn sugar cookies are over there at the kitchen table and cuddle puddle is happening in the living room. I hope you remembered to bring your most comfy onesie!

Introducing your partners to each other can be a very challenging and daunting task. Doubly so if this is their first time ever meeting their partner’s other partners. There really isn’t a pre-determined social script that tells you how you should behave around your partner’s other partners. So that might explain why your nesting partner is feeling anxious, and why you’re feeling so nervous.

Kitchen table is my personal preference for metamour engagements, so I’ve had a lot of experience introducing my partners to each other. So let me share with you what I’ve learned so far.

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The first advice I have for you is to meet at a neutral, public location. I know it will be tempting to meet at a place that you personally feel the most comfortable in. But that kind of first engagement usually puts one or multiple people in competing positions of authority and differing levels of discomfort. I personally treat the metamour meet & greet similarly to how I treat first dates: a quick get-together for an introduction. So that means grabbing drinks at a cafe or a bar nearby. In some of my past meet & greets, we all drove separate cars. In others I drove with one partner to meet the other at a predetermined location. But I have never had the first meeting happen inside a car. So figure out your own logistics accordingly.

These meetings don’t have to have a second location. In my previous experiences, the metamour meet & greets can take thirty minutes to a couple of hours. After they’ve had a good first impression, it is the best to leave things on a high note rather than to drag it out beyond each of their respective comfort level. Especially since they’ve JUST met for the first time.

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The second piece of advice I have for you is to recognize that everyone’s experience and expectations are going to be different going in and coming out. This is their first time meeting each other. Not a lot of people just click that easily. And while your NP and your boyfriend have heard a lot about each other through you, all of it was hearsay through you. So while you’ve done your best to talk about each other, they’ll have to do their best to carve out what their connection feels like on their own. And depending on how it goes, your boyfriend is going to have one impression of your NP. Your NP might have another impression of your boyfriend. You might see completely different versions of your boyfriend and your NP come out. And your boyfriend and NP might each see a different version of you come out.

This might mean that you might have to take on different roles depending on the social circumstance. So for example, I usually approach my meet & greets with enthusiastic curiosity and presence. But in one of my previous metamour meet & greets where I introduced my two partners to each other, I could sense that both were very hesitant to talk about themselves. So I tried my best to facilitate the conversation and guide it to the shared interests I know they were both very much into. You mentioned board games, so steering the conversations around to talking about things they’re both passionate about is a win-win-win.

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The last piece of advice I have for you is to R-E-L-A-X.

Your anxious energy will be very noticeable if you let it dominate your frame of mind since you are their shared partner. Just breathe and continue to be you. They are with you because they both care about you, and it is in their mutual best interests to make sure that this meet & greet goes well for everyone involved.

It might also be important for you to recognize that this is only their first meeting. And there might be some awkwardness especially in the beginning, and some things might not go perfectly. Like I said, it isn’t like there is a script they can follow here. So recognize that there is only so much you can do in preparation of this experience and go with the flow when it feels right.

If things all go well, then I like to debrief with my partner(s) after the experience to gather impressions and recommit to my desire to maintain a kitchen table poly style even if things were a little awkward at first.

I hope you have a lovely metamour meet & greet and please let me know how it all went after it happens!

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 – Words for a poly newbie.

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/u/TheAudity writes on /r/polyamory…

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

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

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

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

Dear the Audity,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This is a great time for you to explore polyamory.

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

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

Good luck!

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

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

Advice – His wife is struggling with jealousy.

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/u/TheFlowerFarmer writes on /r/polyamory…

“I’ve been seeing a guy on and off since summer. He and his wife started out as swingers and then started dating on their own. She quickly found a partner, he struggled.

Our first date was amazing. We went out to a late dinner and didn’t want things to end. So we went to a lake and ended up talking til 6 in the morning because we couldn’t get enough of each other. I felt instantly at ease with him.

A few weeks later we got a hotel room for an overnight and things went really well. However in the coming weeks he became distant. I wasn’t getting many responses from him and getting him to talk was like pulling teeth. I chalked it up to him losing interest, and sadly broke things off and tried to move on. I was hurt though.

We chatted every now and then and he admitted that he pulled back because his wife experienced jealousy due to our connection. I understood this but wished that he had been more honest.

We stayed on a friendly basis. Last weekend I text him and asked him if he wanted to come over and have casual sex with me. Which he did. He ended up spending the night and we talked a lot about his relationship. Apparently his wife has been pulling away from him, and she has been spending more time with her boyfriend. He stated their sex life is suffering.

He’s been texting me really sweet things, and saying he wants to take me on a date next weekend but I’m hesitant. While I really do like him and feel a strong connection, I’m not sure of getting involved on a more committed level is a good idea when his marriage appears to be on shakey footing.

Does anyone have any thoughts or guidance?

Edited to add- I think I’m most worried about being used as an emotional crutch. I’m not sure what the signs for that would be. I’m hesitant because of him pulling back last time.”

Dear the Flower Farmer,

His relationship with his wife is not your responsibility to manage, just like it isn’t his wife’s responsibility to manage his relationship with you. It falls on the hinge partner to facilitate and organize the emotional labor associated with each of his respective connections. And it is the hinge partner’s responsibility to manage all the work associated with what goes where.

And I know it can be very challenging for hinge partners to contain and compartmentalize relationship issues internally, especially if the consequences of those issues bleed externally. On one hand, he does want you to know more so that you can figure out why he has to pull back. However, in doing so he is also committing to best filtering out the knitty gritty details of his marriage while making sure you aren’t doing any more emotional labor on his behalf than you are comfortable with. It is an incredibly delicate balance between what is too much sharing and what is not enough sharing.

I do find that this specific aspect tends to be the most challenging new skill to develop for poly newbies. A lot of experienced polyfolks struggle with this as well. Many set boundaries and agreements around protecting the relationship drama internally. Some have poly processing partner to vent and redirect that frustration and steam. Others approach poly-friendly therapists to help organize and process their emotional labor in a productive and meaningful way.

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You say that you are afraid of being used as an emotional crutch and I think that is a very valid concern to have in this circumstance. So it might be a time for you to first assess the amount of emotional labor you are willing to commit in order to maintain this connection. Is your hinge partner able to create and maintain this space for a possible relationship with you to exist while he manages his marriage with his wife? What even does that space look like for you? What does it mean for you and him to be involved with each other? How much energy are you willing to expend on their behalf if he continues to struggle to consolidate his marital problems?

After you decide how much space you personally want to allot to your connection with him, then it is time for you to develop and devise a strategy to make sure you stay in that level of commitment. Regardless of how romantically involved you would like to be (either as a partner or as a more casual sex friend), it might be beneficial for you to set some firm personal boundaries about the emotional topics he shares with you. Doing so will help you balance and match the level of emotional commitment to the bandwidth you are allocating to this connection. This means mindfully approaching your respective amount of communication (i.e. texting once or twice a day) and depth of those engagements (i.e. limiting topics to small talk).

If you do decide that you want to continue pursuing a more involved romantic connection with him, set some fundamental expectations with him up front, that it is not your responsibility to be the vent channel for his marital frustrations; that should be reserved for his wife, with their marital counselor, or his personal therapist.

At the end of the day, it is important to look at what you have with your connection as it stands today. Are you happy about meeting this person where they stand today? How would you like to realize what kind of relationship you can have with this person while staying as true to yourself as possible?

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 am in love with two people.

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Anonymous writes…

“I’m a 25F who is in an 8yr relationship with a 28M (J). We live 3 hours away from each other and are happy with making the distance work, I love him and happily see a future with him. He’s amazing and I can’t imagine my life without him. He’s my first and only relationship since I was 17.

However, for the last 4 years, I’ve been in contact with someone that I met through Xbox (B) and although we haven’t met and he’s older, I’ve always felt drawn to him. Over the years, we bonded closely and call each other family. We tell each other so much personal stuff about our selves and we’ve always promised to be there for each other. J knows about him and the closeness.

Recently, he opened up to me that he felt more about me, that he loved me as more than a friend but he’s hid it for years and tried to bury his feelings. I realized that I felt the same, that I was doing the same in burying my feelings by telling myself that I was in a relationship and that B was just a friend. So basically, him being honest made me stop denying the truth of my feelings to myself.

He told me that he wanted more but only if it was what I wanted as well. I thought about it and I realized my predicament. My heart longs for both of them. I don’t just want sex (although that is part of it), I want to be there for both of them and be the person that fulfills them. I think about both of them throughout the day and when something is wrong, they’re both who I want to turn to for comfort. They make me happy and they’re the two most important people to me. The biggest problem for me is that I don’t want to hurt or lose either of them. That kills me to think about. I told B this and he said he appreciates my honesty and doesn’t want to lose me either.

I also live a few hours away from B, we’ve always said that we’d happily meet one day and I trust him with my safety. I’ve always felt like I would be safe with him, he’s caring and protective over me. Except I feel like I wouldn’t be able to meet him without something happening and I couldn’t do that to J, plus that’s not the kind of person I want to be.

After much agonizing and being scared of hurting my relationship with J, I told him the truth of my feelings for B. I told him through tears that I love him and I don’t want to lose him or what we have, but I also love B and felt that if it wasn’t for my feelings for J, I’d want to be with him. I was so scared of hurting him and having him hate me, but he calmly told me that I didn’t need to worry, that my feelings were natural, especially with how close I was to B, he also reassured me that feeling this way didn’t make me a cheat and he wasn’t hurt because I did the right thing in telling him and not going behind his back. He also told me that he doesn’t want me to lose B because he’s always known that he meant a lot to me, even if he didn’t know the full extent and he’s seen how upset I’ve been during times of misunderstandings with B, when I was scared I’d lose him.

There’s a weight that was lifted in being honest with both men. But at the same time, I’m still longing for both of them. Every time something is wrong with either of them, I want to get on the first train and rush to their side, I want to make both of them happy in a relationship way and be there for them with my whole heart during hardships.

I honestly don’t know what to do. I feel like I took a step in the right direction in being honest with both and I’ve told them both to be honest with me about how they feel, even if it’s painful and to ask me any questions. But it hurts so much. I don’t feel like my feelings for B takes anything away from how I feel about J either. It’s ‘as well as’ rather than ‘instead of’, if that makes sense. But it hurts so much being torn between them.

Please, if anyone has any advice or suggestions, I’d be deeply grateful. Just please no judgement, all I want is to find a way to make both J and B happy and not hurt them. Thank you in advance.”

Dear Anonymous,

It seems very apparent from your post (“I want to make both of them happy in a relationship way”) that you want to pursue romantic relationships with both B and J. It is very clear that B too wants a relationship with you (“He told me that he wanted more but only if that was what I wanted as well”). It sounds like J already recognizes B’s importance in your life as well (“He also told me he doesn’t want me to lose B because he’s always know that [B] meant a lot to me…”).

So let’s roll this back and figure out what our intentions and goals are here.

J’s intention and feelings are the easiest to read. J recognizes the importance of B’s connection with you. Based on how he has communicated with you, it sounds like J possesses a pretty high emotional intelligence to empathize with your confusion and pain. He validates your feelings and mindfully occupies the space you’ve created for him in your eight year relationship. I can see why you are so deeply in love with this man.

B’s intention and feelings are also fairly straight forward as well. He clearly has some really intense feelings for you that he’s been trying to do his best to set boundaries around. He is assessing possibility of developing a relationship with you as a result of those requited feelings albeit carefully since he doesn’t know what that configuration looks like quite yet.

Your intention and feelings are a bit more intertwined. I can see that you care deeply about both of these people. As someone who is polyamorous, I can tell you I personally identify very closely with what you say about each love being additive (“as well as”) rather than subtractive (“instead of”). Each of my partners adds to the whole picture of love instead of detracting from the other. The intensity of your feelings are really interesting, but not quite as surprising as your pain. You say that you’re torn between the two of them. My question to you is, why do you feel like you have to be torn in two? Why not cherish the love you feel and set proper boundaries to reflect the changing nature of your relationships?

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I think the direction of my advice depends heavily on what you want to do with these feelings. Do you want to stick to your existing monogamous agreement with J while maintaining your connection with B in a more platonic manner? Or do you want to explore a romantic connection with B while you also maintain a relationship with J?

If it is the former, you are going to have to have some really difficult discussions with yourself and with B about what kind of boundaries you’ll need to set so that these feelings can be compartmentalized and set aside for the sake of your monogamous relationship with J. I disagree with the others that this constitutes an infidelitous behavior because you’ve been very upfront with everyone about your feelings. You haven’t hid any details and instead courageously faced them head on without any reservations. Those boundaries could look like these:

  • Not playing games together one-on-one.
  • Refraining from discussing emotionally sensitive topics.
  • Creating some distance from each other while you and B can dissipate your respective feelings for each other.
  • Carefully approaching each of your engagements.

You should remember that your friendship got you here, and romantic feelings were just natural happenstance. You don’t always have to do something about your feelings. They’re just feelings. They are pretty good indicators of your emotional state, but not always the most accurate. So openly discuss those boundaries with B and establish those boundaries for the sake of your friendship with each other & the sake of your monogamous relationship with J.

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On the other hand, if you decide that you want to pursue relationships with both B and J, then there are different discussions and questions to be had.

First is to sit down with J and determine what kind of adjustments you and J will need to make to your previously monogamous commitments to make space for your possible relationship with B. What do those commitments mean to you? What kind of mutual agreements will you and J need to set for this non-monogamous relationship to work? How will J manage his jealousy and insecurity as you explore a sexual/emotional connection with B? Would you be okay if J too decides he wants to pursue a relationship with someone else as well? How emotional do you think you’ll be attached to B once you start exploring that connection?

If both you and J are on the same page about non-monogamy, then it is time to sit with B and discuss what kind of adjustments you and B will need to make to your previously platonic connection to create space for your possible relationship with B to thrive. What kind of agreements will you need to establish to make sure that your relationship with B is safe for everyone? How will B manage his jealous and insecurity as you continue to build your life with J? Would you be okay if B decides to date others who are more local to his location as well? How emotional does B think he’ll be attached to you once you and B start exploring that connection?

These will lead to some really incredibly vulnerable topics and discussions. I’m afraid that is par for the course when it comes to opening up for the first time. You’re just realizing that the world isn’t as black and white as you once thought it was, but that there are a lot of grey area in between that you now need new words to describe.

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Some of the pain you are experiencing right now will probably arrive in the form of guilt (“I can’t believe I am allowing myself to feel feelings for more than one person.”), confusion (“What does these feelings all mean? Does this mean I am polyamorous?”, and self-doubt (“I feel like I am hurting myself and J and B.”). Recognize that some of those pains come from perpetuated ideas about monogamy that we’ve been taught since early age. It isn’t unnatural or unethical to have feelings for others. It’s not like committing to a monogamous relationship immediately changes your brain chemistry to not feel feelings. Monogamous agreements just make us better at setting boundaries to make sure the feelings don’t develop. But consider that almost a quarter of all relationships experience varying degrees of infidelity, often times for no reason at all other than empowerment.

I’m excited for your next steps. You’ve been doing some incredible work to analyze and be true to your own feelings. And I know you’ll handle your next steps with the same level of honesty and respect no matter what you decide.

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 – Primary & secondary partnerships.

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/u/BloodRedKite writes on /r/polyamory…

“Hi there!

My boyfriend mentioned to me that he believes he is poly and wants to try the lifestyle. However, after meeting someone he doesn’t want to label either relationships as primary or secondary due to making it seem, in his mind, that one relationship is more important than the other. How can I, who is very my monogamous but trying to learn and adapt this new lifestyle, explain to him properly that being his primary doesn’t mean he loves the other person any less, but helps me with that sense of security as someone extremely new to this lifestyle?”

Dear Blood Red Kite,

Let’s first set aside the difference between monogamy and polyamory; I promise that we’ll come back to it. I think the more important question here is to consider what hierarchical polyamorous relationship mean to each of you.

What do the words “primary” and “secondary” mean to you specifically? You mentioned that the “primary partner” designation helps with your sense of security. I am curious to hear more about why that is so. What is it about being designated as your partner’s primary partner that makes you feel more secure?

Often times, when people use the words primary or secondary, there are distinct privileges and hierarchies that affect each relationships. That hierarchy is represented in specific personal boundaries (i.e. self-limiting the number of days spent with one partner), outwardly-facing agreements (i.e. bidirectional veto rights), and/or existing couple’s privileges (i.e. financial enmeshment with only primary partner). Do/are any of those boundaries, agreements, or privileges in play with your partner? Or is the primary partner designation in name only?

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Then I think it is important for your partner to sit down and determine what the words “primary” and “secondary” mean to him specifically. I do agree with you that the primary or secondary designation on partners do not mean that you care about one any less than the other. However, it does often place a glass ceiling due to enforced or acknowledged hierarchies. Even if his version of primary does not exactly the same, I think it is important to realize that primary partner designation do not have to be mutual. You can continue to consider him a primary partner (especially since you’re monogamous and aren’t dating anyone else) while he approaches his relationship from a more non-hierarchical perspective.

What is more important is that you two are on the similar page about your own relationship even if that label is not the same.

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 – Polyamory under duress.

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/u/Expensive-Macaroon writes on /r/polyamory…

“I (early 30s, F – if that matters) can’t cope with my feelings at the moment and need some outside perspective. I’ll try to retell what’s going on first, then go into why my emotional life feels like a weirdly conceptualized rollercoaster right now. Thank you in advance for reading, it means a lot.

So, been with my partner for a few years, we’ve been living together for a while. When I entered the relationship, I came from a more flexible perspective when it comes to relationship models (due to being involved in the kink scene) but was head over heels in love with him and he was offering monogamy … so I gladly took monogamy.

Fast-forward to half a year ago and he sprung on me that he feels limited in his ability to love. There were long and many discussions but what it basically boiled down to was that in order for us to still work, he wanted full-freedom polyamory. (Even though he doesn’t like calling it that.) He had been emotionally involved with other women already which had caused some jealousy issues before. It was actually a good growth opportunity for myself at the time, examining why I wouldn’t want him emotionally close with another woman and I felt I had emerged out of it a better partner (this was before polyamory even came up).

He slept with one of them for the first time recently, and their relationship has reached a status where I would describe it as casual dating. I am very torn between my optimistic self that wants to see this as a great opportunity to explore this new, alternative relationship model world and a deep feeling of pain.

What is right now bothering me the most is that I feel I was in a “his way or the highway situation”. When opening up or going poly, shouldn’t it be a shared process? In retrospect, I feel somewhat robbed of my agency. I can’t help but feel like this would’ve been different if we would’ve slowly moved into poly land instead of him pushing me into it. I feel resentful.

Maybe I’m overreacting. Stuff is hard. Does anybody have advice? Maybe somebody who has been “poly in distress” and emerged from it happily?

Edit 1: Another thing that bothers me is that my partner said that the reason he slept with the other woman is that he felt an emotional attraction to her that he doesn’t currently feel with me. The reason he is not feeling it with me is because of my emotional insecurity. Very much feeding into my not-enoughness because I can’t help but hear an undertone of: “This wouldn’t have happened if you could offer me that thing.” (Instead of: I went there for this thing that you can’t offer me and that’s okay and doesn’t invalidate you in any way.)”

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Dear Expensive Macaroon,

It sounds like you are harboring a lot of pain and a bit of resentment towards your partner for what appears to be a unilateral decision to open up. That pain and resentment is true and fair. It really does sound like you were placed at a very difficult place of prematurely accepting that which you feel that you needed more time to accept. You also recognize that some of the changes and growth that came out of your experience with polyamory are in a very positive direction. It is really interesting to see you balance that stark dichotomy between embracing this experience to continue your self-development and veering away from the pain & insecurity that sometimes come with polyamory.

It is very easy to get trapped in that idealistic mentality of retro-writing our history into perfection. And it is a very dangerous mindset to be in because it forces us to face the worse versions of our past and approach with the burden of our current knowledge. In similar situations, I tell myself that it is the journey that got me here. That we are here today because all those previous points of decision existed. So instead of course correcting your past and imagining how else you could have done things differently, it might be more beneficial to focus on your position today and consider if you’d accept the things as they are today.

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One of the common questions I frequently ask myself in regards to my partners is this.

Would I still date this partner if we started from scratch and met each other for the first time again tomorrow?

This question forces us to assess today’s circumstances and consider if this relationship is working today instead of relying too much on our history to accept what isn’t actually working. Sometimes, my answer to that question is a no, at which point I ask myself follow up questions such as “How far do I have to go back to accept this partnership?” and “How can I feel more connected and aligned with this partner?”

It might be beneficial for you too to ask that question about your current partnership. Is this relationship still working for you? Are you happy? If not, what do you think you need to see in order for you to be happier in this relationship?

I’ll say that the one thing that helped me feel more secure in my relationship was by recognizing an emotional or sexual disconnect when they happen, committing to closing that disconnect together with my partner, and celebrating that success when you do reconnect with your partner. It absolutely is a group effort to identify, commit to, and work on problems in relationship. Mindfully addressing your sense of resentment might be a good start to bridging that gap you feel.

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 metamour feels insecure.

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/u/thorulfheonar writes on /r/polyamory…

“Ok so my wife and I have been poly for like 7-8 months. About a month ago I met this woman. She is incredible. Her and her husband are also poly. He has a girlfriend. My wife goes on dates with guys and girls all the time. I’ve got [no] issue with that. Everything has been great so far until tonight.

So here’s the rub. Her husband has been feeling more and more insecure about his wife’s relationship with me. I should note that we have seen each other once and it was in public. We aren’t physical at all yet nor are we falling or doing anything sexual. Moving on. So he has been feeling really insecure. Apparently this all came to a head a few hours ago. Throughout this whole thing, I’ve done my best to be open, clear, flexible, and respectful towards him and their marriage. I love that they are married and happy together. Now, he seems to have a problem with the relationship. He hasn’t really cared up until now. This past weekend he had her move our planned date to this coming weekend. That date is now also canceled, as far as I know. I have strong feelings for this woman. She is amazing.

She is saying that this is all her fault because she has been giving me too much of her time and emotional investment, and neglecting him.

I don’t want to lose her. I don’t want them to have marriage problems. I don’t think that I’ve done anything wrong. However, I feel like I have contributed to this man’s pain. He is a good man. He loves his wife and is incredibly caring and nurturing and supportive.

As it stands, she is saying that she no longer wants to text or call me at all when he and her are home together. She also feels like she should back off talking to me even when they are not together so that she still has emotional investment to give to him. I have no issues with this honestly.

Can I get some advice or other possible solutions? Should I try and reach out directly to him. Should I ask her if she even wants me to? My heart is aching over here that this good man is feeling hurt and neglected. I have to try and help fix this. Or is it even my place to fix it?”

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Dear Thorulfheonar,

This situation is worse than you give credit for. There is a lot of warning signs in your post. Let’s walk through them, one by one.

First thing that stuck out to me was how much you appeared to know about your metamour. I think a lot of polyfolks get caught up on the idea that the fully open communication with everyone is the best. I disagree with that idea and here is why. Not everyone needs to know the full details of the ongoings behind the curtains. You deserve to know what you’ve honestly earned through mindful practice of trust building. You’ve only gone on one real date with this woman, and you already know way too much about how much he is in pain and what kind of marital problems your new interest and her husband are having. That is way too much, way too fast.

This is bad for two possible reasons. It could be that your hinge partner is sharing too much information, or it could be that you are reading too much into your hinge partner’s marriage. I have long since established that it is a hinge partner’s responsibility to do the emotional labor to consolidate and filter out to only the necessary information. By communicating her husband’s insecurities directly onto you, she is passively asking you to do accept her husband’s insecurities and make concessions on your own budding connection with her. If you’re reading too much into their relationship, then it might be a time to take some step back and recognize why you are approaching their relationship with such a harsh microscope. I can see that you feel a lot of responsibility for some of their relationship struggle. But is that really your responsibility to handle? Don’t you deserve better than to be the face to which they pit their marital problems against?

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The second thing I noticed is in the boundaries your new interest is establishing. From your post, you said you’ve had to push back and reschedule your second date, which has unceremoniously been cancelled. Your new interest then went on to establish firm boundaries around when she can text or call you, with possibility of scaling that boundary up even tighter depending on how much more emotional investment her husband needs. So instead of establishing and reinforcing the proper boundaries after she had to reschedule and cancel on her dates with you, your new interest decided to appease her husband and establish and reinforce her husband’s boundaries with you.

This is bad because it sets a tone for how this relationship might develop in the future. It is apparent from her inability to establish healthier boundaries with her husband to not directly interfere in her own relationships that they might be codependent. Her “self-sacrifice” to cancel on this second date with you and to establish when she can text or call is satisfying the enabler (her husband in this scenario) no matter what the expense is to herself and her connection with you. That seems grossly disrespectful not just from her husband but also from her as well. She is implicitly communicating that she will continue to set boundaries to appease her husband instead of looking out for herself or her connection with you. What is going to happen should you continue to develop this relationship and her husband is suddenly deeply uncomfortable with her being sexually intimate with you? What happens if he decides to issue an ultimatum to choose between him or you?

I’ll add here that it is really difficult to establish and enforce proper boundaries with the people you care the most about. It’s not easy feeling responsible for someone else’s pain, as you have recognized. But boundaries are necessary for healthy relationships. It is imperative that she understands and accepts that as well.

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The third thing I noticed is the overall polycule structure. You mentioned that he has a girlfriend of his own, but is struggling with his wife’s new interest. The easiest part of polyamory is in loving multiple people. It requires almost no emotional labor to have multiple relationships yourself. What makes polyamory so difficult is in that you have to accept that your partners are going to have multiple relationships as well. That aspect of polyamory forces you to face your innermost insecurities and develop the necessary tools by yourself (or with the help of a poly friendly therapist) to address those issues.

This is bad because it does not sound like her husband has done the necessary emotional labor to accept that his wife too can develop fulfilling relationships of her own. You did not disclose if they have had many poly experiences or if he has struggled with these insecurity/jealousy issues in the past. But I am assuming based on her lack of proper boundaries, his inability to recognize emotional load imbalance, and their mutual lack of respect & understanding for people outside of their marriage that they are not very experienced. Your new interest’s husband need to recognize that his insecurity is hurting his wife and her connection with you, and take it upon himself to work on those issues by himself (or with a help of a poly friendly therapist).

I will add that this is a very common problem among a lot of polyfolks. Some polyfolks struggle with this early on in their poly journey. Some struggle with it decades in. But it is definitely a resolvable problem – just not an easy or a straightforward one. And certainly not one you can resolve for your metamour on his behalf. That is not your labor to do.

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At the end of your post, you asked what should you do for your new interest and your metamour to help them. And my sincere and honest advice is, “Don’t.”

Give them space to work through this, but you have not been treated with respect or kindness by your new interest or your metamour. Neither of them have earned your compassion or trust yet. Don’t talk to him to make him feel better. It is not going to make him feel better. Instead, it’ll prematurely force him to face his insecurity, which will exacerbate this situation. Their marital problems is for them to fix. So let them work this out on their own, and have her reach out to you when this has all been settled. There is nothing more you can do here. You’ve done the best you can.

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 – New to polyamory.


/u/thatmomchick writes on /r/nonmonogamy…

“I brought up the concept to my husband as I have always leaned toward polyamory but have not until recently known it was an actual thing. My husband and I have a stable relationship of over 3 years and a child together. I would like to know how you initiated bringing in new partners to your existing relationship without making your current partner feel like they’re on the back burner. My husband had described his concerns as losing me or our child in the long run. I feel these are valid concern because people do grow apart but I do not see that as relevant to us and I love my husband and our family dearly. To clarify my husband wouldn’t like to participate in polyamory for himself aside from maybe some hookups but I seek a total relationship. How does this work and succeed? Not sure where to begin or what boundaries to set to make everyone comfortable.”

Dear That Mom Chick,

It sounds like you’re much more polyamorous and your husband leans much more toward the open relationship style of non-monogamy. The difference in non-monogamy style isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What’s more important is that both of you are comfortable with each other’s versions of non-monogamy.

Think of it like… he likes cookie dough ice cream and you like lemon sorbet. They’re just different flavors of a very similar thing. You don’t need to like cookie dough to know that it’s a good flavor. And he doesn’t need to do polyamory to know what itch it scratches for you personally.

You and your husband can start by diving deeper into what that “losing me or our child” means to him. What does that look like to him? What is he looking for in terms of reassurances or re-commitments so that he knows you aren’t about to leave him and your child? What are you willing to do to make sure you stay connected with your husband and your child? In how many different ways are you willing to express and strengthen that connection? What do you need from your husband to feel like you remain connected with him? What is he willing to do to make sure that he stay connected with you and your child? In how many different ways is he willing to express and strengthen that connection?

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I also want to touch on basic boundaries to establish.

A lot of couples make the mistake of establishing rules and agreements that are way too strict and expansive. These rules and agreements are often set to appease immediate insecurity, to avoid experiencing bad feelings, and to protect the existing relationship at all costs. A very common but flawed agreements a lot of non-monofolks start out with is “no sex in our house” rule. When you boil down to it, that rule is established to not feel insecurity or jealousy in their own place of residence. The most basic agreements in experienced poly arrangements work because there is a basic level of trust in that each other’s ability to explore their non-monogamous relationships in the most productive and ethical way. It isn’t that the rules forbid them to behave a certain way; it’s more that they are both mutually agreed upon for mutual best interests and self-enforceable. So sit and discuss not just what agreements you need to establish, but also talk about why they need to be established.

One of the hardest skills to master in your non-monogamous journey will be to comfortably sit in your discomfort. Some of the problems that you’ll face in your journey will not have immediate solutions, and instead will take more than a handful of data points and immediate reaction to resolve.

Others have already suggested this, but allowing your partner to go first would not be a bad option as well. A lot of men have problem meeting and forging new connections at first due to comparative lack of options and interests. Letting your partner form that first non-mono relationship will help a bit with that initial jealousy/insecurity that others have experienced in the past. It is in your mutual best interest to be compassionate with each other.

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 – How can I conquer my ego?

“New tea ceremony” by Typical Organization is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 

/u/There1Go_12 writes on /r/polyamory and /r/nonmonogamy…

“…I am 20, male, bisexual and I have been in open/poly relationships in the past with very serious girlfriends. My currently girlfriend and I were poly the first time we dated but when we got back together decided to be monogamous.

Recently, prompted largely by her interest in woman, we have decided to try opening up, testing the waters. We got on tinder and she went on a date with a girl but before things got heated I got overwhelmed at home and asked her not to go further with anything sexual.

I want to let her explore women, she’s amazing and deserves the world. I know a big part of me wants to explore other people as well. But I just freaked out thinking about someone else getting to hold her and kiss her and touch her. I can acknowledge this as irrational in my head based on my feelings but I just can’t seem to get comfortable with the idea now.

I guess I’m just looking for advice as to how to let go and stop worrying. I suffer from intense anxiety and self confidence issues, but I think the healthy thing is to let go of my ego and explore this with her.

Thank you for reading and for any advice you may have.”

Dear There One Go 12,

You are approaching this with a lot of emotional maturity and intention that I don’t personally see very often in even most experienced polyfolks. So great job so far!

You have already completed the first, most important step: acknowledgement. You are absolutely right. This appears to be an issue that is much more internally and irrationally driven for yourself. There isn’t really all that much your partner can do here except to assure your place in their lives and continue to establish and reinforce that fundamental level of trust with you. Majority of this labor ahead of you is your own responsibility.

It wasn’t easy when I first started dating. I did not have the kind of confidence now. I knew how to talk to people, but I tensed up when I knew it was a date. I couldn’t get out of my head. And at the time, seduction techniques and various pick-up artists were starting to take advantage of the mass appeal online approach to teach other insecure men to at least get their foot in the door. Most of the advice was – and still is – garbage. One book that I read in particular dedicated a whole chapter to the difference between “Hi” and “Hey” as an opener. But there was something very important I took away from my deep dive into modern world of dating.

“Fake it ’til you make it.”

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And I ran with it.

I continued to run with that same ideology when I first faced jealousy and insecurity in non-monogamous relationships. I repeatedly told myself and eventually convinced myself that I was attractive on my own accord, and my partners’ desire to explore and develop intimate relationships with others did not take away from what we had. Instead, it enhanced what my partners had with me to see what others didn’t bring into their respective relationships. If you decide to fake it until you make it like how I did, grit your teeth and try your best to get more comfortable (even if it feels like temporarily lying to yourself).

So conquering your ego might be the ultimate goal. But perhaps reconsider that approach to embrace your ego. Your ego deserves better than to be conquered. It deserves nurture and love, like any other parts of your self and identity. So embrace it and learn to love every aspect – flaws too – of 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.

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 – Mono/Poly Relationship

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Cherry Blossom via email asks…

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

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

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

Thank you.”

Dear Cherry Blossom,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck!

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

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!