Advice – Our full-swap went wrong [NSFW].

The night was perfect. The other couple was great.

I couldn’t rise to the occasion at all and now I’m awake the next day and I’m just bitter at myself.

This is not how I was planning for my morning to be. We were meant to be excited together. Instead I feel like I’ve just dampened the whole mood because I am so angry with myself.

What am I supposed to do? What was I meant to do? Just considering organizing another night makes me cringe to my core.

Jeremy, Reddit.

Dear Jeremy,

I hear your anger, frustration, and disappointment. Your disappointment lives in the gap between anticipation and reality.

It could be possible that you indeed had a very specific idea of how that swinging experience was going to go. Whether it was from a previous successful experience or it was a proactive planning on this one, it is clear that your feelings of disappointment and frustration overwhelmed you.

There could be a couple different contributing factors here. So we’ll take some time to elaborate on them, talk a little about where they might come from, and then find a way to manage those feelings in a productive & healthy way.

I also think we need to talk about sexual performance.

A lot of guys are too stubbornly wound up in their own internalized ideas about masculinity. In specific, a lot of guys attribute their sexuality entire to the hardness of their penis. This is problematic for three different reasons.

Let’s first talk about the misconception around arousal non-concordance. Arousal non-concordance is a fancy way to say your erotic headspace is aroused, but it isn’t reflected in physical arousal. This phenomenon is much more common among women than men. According to this 2010 study, around 74% of women and only 34% of men had experienced similar arousal non-concordance. That means that roughly a third of the male population that have experienced arousal non-concordance according to this research. So it is that even though you were aroused mentally, it just wasn’t being reflected physically.

Another important aspect for you to consider is that your sexuality is more than just your penis. Your perineum (area between your scrotum and anus), prostate (the gland that produces your seminal fluid), and sacrum (the small of your back) are all erogenous zones that can be incredibly sexual and sensitive. So even if your arousal does not manifest in a diamond hard penis, there are ways for you to be intimate with your partners that doesn’t involve your penis at all that is more centered around sexual pleasure rather than anyone’s orgasmic release.

More importantly, your partner’s erogenous zones extend beyond their genitals too. It might be worthwhile to expand upon your sexual repertoire beyond just penetrative intercourse. If you do want to have a penetrative intercourse but cannot maintain an erection, you might want to consider using your fingers, your tongue, or even a strap-on to simulate PIV intercourse. Do your part to close the orgasm gap.

Now let’s talk about what it might look like to successfully manage those feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.

According to this study, Chadwick et al (2017) theorize that “men felt more masculine and reported higher sexual esteem when they imagined that a woman orgasmed during sexual encounters with them.” So it is possible that you might consider reframing or broadening your idea of “rising to the occasion.” For some partners, that image of you rising to the occasion can look like a masterful wielding of a diamond-hard cock. But for others, rising to the occasion can look like a sensitive wielding of a delicate tongue. I just think it’ll continue to be problematic for you to use your genital response as the only measure for your sexuality; you are far more than just your penis.

Another aspect to consider is to communicate this insecurity with your partner and engage in a more thoughtful & proactive dialogue about your vulnerabilities. In this, you don’t need to do anything or make any immediate changes to your swinging experience. Instead, you can use this experience to relate to your partner about being more mindful in your next full swap attempts.

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 girlfriend’s best friend wants to watch us have sex [NSFW].

My girlfriend (“Izzy”) and her best friend (“Mel”) are obviously very close. They talk pretty much about everything. I’m pretty sure she has told her a lot about our sex life. Sometimes, we even talk about it occasionally when the three of us are together. I’d say we are all about the same sexually, in terms of our openness to trying new things and our kinkiness. Well, the other day, her friend mentioned something that turned her on that she hasn’t ever done before. She admitted to my girlfriend that she really wants to watch another couple have sex. They spoke more about it and went into the details of it.

My girlfriend asked her if she thought the idea of watching us have sex would turn her on. She agreed and said that’d be even better since she knows both of us. The friend clarified that she doesn’t want to join, but may would want to touch herself if we were okay with it. My girlfriend pretty much agreed on the spot to it all. Later, my girlfriend brought it up to me all excited. It sounded like she had already made up her mind for both of us. She was telling me when we were going to do this and how great it’d be. I had to stop her to tell her that I never agreed to it. She said “yeah but I knew you would.” She is honestly probably not wrong about that, but it still hasn’t given me much time to think about the logistics of it.

The plan was for it to happen this coming weekend. I wanted to see if anyone had any advice on this. I honestly think it could be hot. I just want to make sure there isn’t anything that I’m not understanding or thinking through about it. Because honestly it’s mostly my other head that’s doing the thinking right now lol. Has anyone else ever done this? How does it work? Is it enjoyable? What should I do?

Michael, Reddit.

Dear Michael,

What you are describing here is a bread-and-butter voyeur/exhibitionist kink scene. But even before we get to what it might actually look like or what you can do to make this an enjoyable experience, we need to talk about how this was all initiated.

Let’s first talk about your ambivalence. It is one thing to have open and frank conversations about sex and sexuality, but another to become part of it. I get the feeling that the conversations about sex and sexuality that you’ve had with Izzy and Mel are deeper and more practical than it appears on surface, especially so if you can gauge each other’s kinkiness through conversations. But like you, I don’t really get the sense that this is much about what you or Mel wants to do, but rather what Izzy wants you two to do.

Here is a good example of why this feels so icky. When you initially pushed back and said you never consented to this, her response was that she knew you would say “yes.” So in that one set of exchange, she not only disregarded your “not yet” but also inserted intent behind her presumed “yes.” Like you said, she had already made up her mind, with very little regard for your actual consent. Based on how Izzy has steamrolled your consent, consider that it is also very possible that Izzy could have steamrolled Mel’s consent here as well.

Remember, a lot of what happened beyond what you saw or heard and are only framed in Izzy’s recollection and retelling of her conversation with Mel. And because much of what we have here are she-said-she-said, it is also unclear if Mel actually initiated this conversation about watching you two have sex or if Izzy did.

Let’s now operate under the presumption that everything was on the up-and-up.

Preparation is absolutely important because there are two connections at risk from this going wrong: Izzy’s romantic relationship with you and Izzy’s best friendship with Mel. There is a lot at risk and committing to this weekend is far too early!

It might be beneficial for you to confirm with Mel on your own that this conversation happened as Izzy claims it did. This accomplishes two specific goals.

First goal is that it clarifies the questionable consent. Hearing it directly and clearly from the third party of interest is one of the reasons why Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policies in non-monogamous relationships are such a bad sign. This also allows you and Mel to develop your own connection. Voyeurism and exhibitionism operate under the assumption of safety and security above all. And it sounds like most of your conversations about sex with Mel has been attended to by Izzy as well. Even if the quick touch-base with Mel doesn’t immediately spark a sexual connection, allowing for a space for her to feel safe with you will also help her (and you) feel safe when she watches you and Izzy have sex.

Remember, proactive consent is sexy.

If you have confirmed that Mel is as into this as Izzy said she would be, great! Now is a great time for you three to get together and each weigh in on how you each think this is going to go. Even if it is a dry mechanic-oriented conversation (“We are going to take clothes off. Then you sit down in the chair some distance away where you can masturbate while watching us.”), this conversation can be used to elevate the sexual tension. This also has the added benefit of no unexpected Big surprises on the next evening that Mel comes over, since ya’ll would have already talked it out.

Another important conversation you three need to have is a safe word. Since Mel won’t be physically engaging in this kink scene with you, determining and agreeing to a safe word will allow anyone to halt the scene if necessary.

Another aspect of this to consider is that there is going to be a lot of new elements for you as well. You aren’t just having sex. You will be having sex in front of someone new, which is already complicated enough without having to consider that that same person will also be masturbating to you. You might get in your own head about whether or not you are hard enough to be able to perform for two people. So figuring out how you can manage performance anxiety ahead of time is a good idea.

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 – It started as a hotwifing dynamic. But I’m having a hard time with my husband dating.

My husband and I have been together as a couple for about twelve years and open for two of those years. in the last two years, I have been with two other men solo and ongoing (about once per month), and we’ve played with couples together.

It first started strictly as a hotwife dynamic, that quickly turned into more of a polyamory/FWB dynamic. Admittedly, in the beginning I was open to the hotwife idea for him. But when things happened in reality I realized I actually do like connecting with people on a more friendship/personal level. In the beginning, it was all about me, him seeing me in my element, him seeing me as an individual, him seeing me feeling so alive and excited. When we discussed his desire to sleep with other women solo, he insisted that wasn’t the priority; that wasn’t where the “hot” factor came in. So while a part of me feels a little misled now that he wants to also have solo experiences, I do understand that things change and it’s ok to want something new that you didn’t want before (or, didn’t want enough to go seek it).

At this point, I have a FWB, we continue to play with other couples when we want to, and he has been on two solo dates. During the two solo dates, I basically died inside. Sex didn’t happen on those dates, and yet the difficult feelings still shook me. I am trying very hard to sit with my feelings and think rationally before I react. I know that he has also dealt with some sadness/jealousy on some of my early solo dates, but there is a sexual turn on for him even if he isn’t participating. Whereas, there is no sexual turn on element for me when I picture him being sexual on his own with another woman. So his feelings are more like, a mixture of jealously and turn on, while mine are only jealousy and sadness.

He has made clear that if the icky feelings are too much to handle, then he doesn’t need to continue the solo stuff (and in turn, I would also need to stop my solo stuff). He hates seeing me hurt, he truly does. I am pushing myself HARD to become okay with this but I don’t feel okay yet. I don’t know if my solo stuff is worth having to deal with the sadness I feel when he does solo stuff. I don’t even know if I have a question, but I think I’m just looking for advice or experience that someone else has had and can relate. I do understand how hypocritical this sounds. Should I suck it up and deal with the jealousy when he goes on dates because I get to have solo experiences? Or is it understandable that I am way more uncomfortable with him doing solo stuff since there isn’t a sexual turn on element in it for me?

Hotwifing For Fun, Reddit.
Photo by Nada Gamal on Unsplash

Dear Hotwifing For Fun,

Because rapid personal growth and emotional development is very common (especially in the early stages of non-monogamous exploration), two major parts of that growth and development are in staying connected with your partner through those changes and extending empathy & compassion whenever they have a difficult time with emotional management. And the thing is, your exploration with non-monogamy brought a separate set of challenges than the one your husband’s exploration did. This is a very, very important distinction to make.

So let us separate the your motivations behind non-monogamy from the his motivations behind non-monogamy. Each of you, while compatible, are two very different people. In the same way that two jigsaw puzzle pieces fit well together, it might be more productive to see each of your relationship styles as separate and distinct from each other. While the ideal is to be fair and equitable in our relationships, approaching our relationships as if everything should be equal is often an incorrect way to approach fairness and equitability.

You say that your non-monogamous journey initiated around the desire to explore and expand on his hotwife fetish. It is unclear who initiated the conversation to open up. But I don’t get the sense that the initial conversations were met with significant resistance, even as the initial casual hotwifing over time became a more polyamorous arrangement.

For you, exploring and connecting with others represented a self-empowerment and self-validating exercise. It is true that were aspects of his enjoyment in your erotic awakening that reverberated back into you in the form of self-assurance. But based on your subsequent push for the hotwife dynamic to evolve into a more polyamorous dynamic tells me that you were adequately content with your growth and desire superseding his. Which is a bit puzzling considering how discontent you are with his growth and desire to also date others on his own.

For your husband, it sounds like your husband might have worked through the initial phase of jealousy and subsequent changes to the relationship agreement by productively channeling them through a hotwifing sexual outlet with you. The truth is that this is not the case for most non-monogamous people who are not explicitly sexually attracted to the idea of our partners sleeping with others. Most non-mono folks I know just learn to manage our emotional labor because the overall joy of being with our partners greatly outweighs the negatives of being without them.

Since your husband made it clear that solo play agreement needs to be reciprocal, you have three main options in front of you.

First option is to concede that emotional management is not a worthwhile price of admission to keep engaging in solo play without your partner. It is a testament to the strength of any relationship to survive changes and endure challenges. And if you deem that committing to growing and changing to meet the needs of a polyamorous relationship is not something you can handle at this moment, it is ethically imperative for you to let your partner know as such. This will mean that you and your husband will have to scale down on your existing connections and renegotiate on your now-outdated relationship agreements. Swinging together only might be the next best option for your relationship. That way, you don’t get any of those intense negative feelings of him on solo dates while still exploring the type of non-monogamy that appeals to you both. Downside of this option is that it does restrict the amount of available matches since the scope is only for swingers who want to play with a couple as a package deal.

The second option is to accept the emotional labor associated with solo play and strive to improve your emotional hygiene. This option opens both and each of you up to the widest range of connections possible. The overlaps between swinging and polyamory as well as the overlap between solo play and couple play allows each of you to be able to flexibly form the type of connections each of you are comfortable with. The obvious downside is that this requires some labor of love from your part. Much like your husband, you will also have to put some effort into managing the intense feelings of jealousy and sadness. Whether that is through channeling your negative feelings through a creative medium, processing those feelings with your husband or close friends, or distracting yourself through other partners, you will need to complete the stress cycle of the negative feedback loop.

The last option is to acknowledge that each of you have different but compatible styles of non-monogamy. The goal here isn’t to commit to casual swinging or to full-blown polyamory as a pair; rather, it is to compromise that even if you two don’t share the same exact non-mono motivations. It is very possible that your husband’s desire to maintain reciprocity in your non-monogamous arrangement is because that self-channel to hotwife fetish isn’t as clean as it appears; he could still feel jealous and sad in emotional context even if he is erotically charged in sexual context with you. And the reciprocity suggestion could then come from anticipation of retribution from you (because he too sees the hypocrisy of it all). In reality, your side of the non-monogamy isn’t “broken”. What’s broken is just your method for emotional hygiene. This last option obviously comes with an immense cost: imbalance. But life has a strange way of evening itself out, and the balance will always come due. You just need to find a fair balance that isn’t equal but equitable.

I also want to touch on the difference between your internalized perception of your husband’s sexuality and the way he experiences his own sexuality.

We are not our partners. While we should aim to holistically understand our partners’ sexualities and sexual expression, our perceptions are limited by the filters of our own personal views. It might be true that for your husband, there was indeed jealousy and turn on when he saw you go on your solo dates. But we don’t truly know what that balance looked like or if there were any other complex feelings present that he did not want to share with you.

We also don’t know that what his exact thought process was when he “insisted” that it wasn’t a priority for him to go on solo dates with other women. Depending on the context, he could have said those under pressure from you to provide a definitive answer. Or it could also be a reflection of the internalized self-guilt about ethical sluttery. It is evident in his appeal to step back if you also step back on solo dating. So while your feelings of deception are valid, you have to try your best to extend your compassion and understanding for the partner who has been there for you from not just the two years of your open marriage experience, but for the twelve years you’ve been together.

In short, yes. Your feelings are valid. But your feelings are not facts. You might not have the tools to deal with the bad feelings that come up today. But you might tomorrow.

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 accept the swinging lifestyle?

“My husband want to swing together. He was in the lifestyle before we met and I always knew about it. So I promised him to try it. However, I’m having a really difficult time seeing him have sex with other girl. I am so jealous. And I don’t want to be. I know he loves me, and I love him more than anything. I want to make him happy and find a way to get through this.

I believe the problem is on me, I should be more confident. But I am afraid of him potentially finding someone with whom he has a deeper sexual chemistry with then subsequently fall out of love with me. He promised that it will never happen since we have a beautiful relationship. But I keep feeling that there are limitations on what he can promise since he can’t control how he feels. It feels very risky and exposing for our relationship. I tried getting drunk to avoid overthinking. It was almost okay but it was still so painful to see him with the other girl. I feel my heart burning and automatically start to feel like he likes to have sex with her more than with me. I never enjoy the sex with the other guys. And really wish my love would be enough for my hubby to feel happy and completely satisfied.

Where or how could I find any help to accept this lifestyle without hurting this much?”

– Condy Curious Lady, /r/swingers.

Dear Condy Curious Lady,

We ask so much from love.

In this column today, you will not receive advice about how to accept swinging as a lifestyle choice. You will also not be advised to end your marriage with your husband. Instead, I’ll talk about what this all means to you so that you can make a more informed decision yourself, whether that is to embrace swinging with your husband or to stop swinging altogether.

First. I am really sorry to hear that you’ve been having such a difficult time swinging with your husband. It sounds like you are experiencing a lot of envy and jealousy in regards to his style of non-monogamy, and struggling to manage all of your negative feelings. You shouldn’t continue to do that which inflicts you significant and ongoing emotional pain. I hold to the idea that there are some necessary growing pains when it comes to any new transition. But you do not have to subject yourself to that which could traumatize you over and over again.

You did not say in your post how long you’ve tried swinging with your husband. And while you did say that your husband has always been involved in swinging, you did not say in what kind of aftercare he has engaged with you after these swaps. I am assuming based on what you’ve shared that you and your husband mostly engage in hard swaps in the same room – which means that you and your husband swap partners with another couple in the same room and subsequently engage in intercourse in front of each other.

Photo by George Sistonen on

Today, we ask so much from love.

We demand from our partners an undying, unwavering adulation and trust. We celebrate unconditional, self-sacrificing affection and appreciation. We cherish mindless, codependent habits and behaviors because we are so deeply convinced that those behaviors reflect the true healthy relationship mindset.

I sense a pretty common but dangerous anxiety around being replaced. The words you used – “I wish my love was enough for my hubby to feel completely satisfied” – is something I’ve heard echoed around a lot of monogamous-minded friends and partners practicing non-monogamy for the first time. I ask you to reframe your mind out of necessity. Complete satisfaction in any one relationship is a major, major ask. To ask someone to be their everything, to ask them to be your everything are two massive questions to ask of anyone. Who told you that you needed to be someone else’s everything and that that same someone else had to be your everything?

All this being said, swinging – or non-monogamy in general – is not always going to work for you. Not everyone who claims to engage in ethical non-monogamy actually engage in love ethically. Different people love differently. And your husband might just love too differently from you to accept each other in whole and exclusivity. Only you have the answers to the questions you ask. It just happens to be coded in your emotional landscape and only you can get the keys to cipher your own internal language.

Photo by Vladislav Vasnetsov on

And you ask so much from yourself.

Instead of asking “how can I accept swinging on behalf of my husband?”, the better question to be asking yourself is “do I want to swing? If so, do I want to swing with my husband?” I know it’s hard to re-imagine approaching non-monogamy on a blank piece of paper, since your husband is the channel through which you’ve encountered non-monogamy. But would you have ever considered non-monogamy yourself if you had never met your husband?

If you decide you want to work on your jealousy independent of your marriage with your husband, then there are a couple ways you can go about doing that. I am really curious what kind of work you’ve already been doing to deconstruct and compartmentalize your issues with jealousy. If you haven’t been seeing a therapist for yourself or a couple’s counselor with your husband, now might be a pretty good time to approach a professional’s direction on unpacking and managing jealousy. If you want more immediate input, I wrote a couple previous columns about jealousy that might benefit you. I haven’t read it myself, but I’ve heard a lot of great feedback about the Jealousy Workbook.

In specific regarding the swinging lifestyle, you don’t necessarily have to participate in the lifestyle yourself to accept that in your husband as a price of admission to be with your husband. If you don’t feel comfortable watching him have sex with other women, don’t. If you don’t feel comfortable having sex with other men, don’t. You don’t have to do anything that which feels inherently wrong for you in your body. You don’t have to swing with him for him to be a swinger.

But you also do not have to accept swinging as a price of admission to be with your husband. It is not at all a big ask for your partner to not have other sexual/romantic partners, especially if it is wholly incompatible with your life after you’ve done your due diligence. And you’ve been doing your due diligence already.

Photo by Retha Ferguson on

I really like writing. My nesting partner has no penchant for writing and doesn’t particularly enjoy reading what I write. And I am very engaged in writing when I write. But she enjoys that I can enjoy my own hobbies and lifestyle that takes up a bulk of my free time.

In the same way, you don’t have to enjoy swinging yourself for you to accept that your husband enjoys swinging. Instead of overwriting his reassurances with your inner anxiety about how he might replace you with someone “better”, why not choose to take a leap of faith and actually believe him when he promises you that he wants to stay in your beautiful relationship together? Isn’t it wild to think about? To wholly give someone else your entire heart and hope that they treat it with kindness and respect? How dare we expect so much from one person?

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 – Swap went south.

Photo by Lina Kivaka on

/u/eldobhato_profil writes on /r/nonmonogamy…

“My [29F] husband [28M] and I swapped with a couple [28F] [34M] last Saturday. Things went quite well initially, until we got down in the bedroom and my husband came a little earlier than he expected to. No worries, it happens, we thought. I checked in with him, and asked him if he was okay, if he wants me to play with him until he can get it up again, or if he wants to tap out altogether. He told me that he’s fine, he just needs some time to recuperate, and that I should enjoy myself until he joins back in. I asked him if he was sure, and he said yes.

He went upstairs. After about 15 minutes, I excused myself and checked on him because he wasn’t back yet and I was starting to worry about him. He was sitting on a chair on our balcony, smoking a cigarette and typing away on his phone, clearly upset. I asked him if he was okay, and he told me that yes, everything’s okay, when that was clearly not the case.

He refused to give me a straight answer when I asked him what did I do wrong. I went downstairs and told the couple that they should feel free to finish up without us because a couple things came up. They took a shower afterwards and we saw them off.

Later that night I tried to initiate sex with my husband but he didn’t want any of it. Ever since then we only had sex once on Monday night and it felt very impersonal and cold.

I’m not sure where I went wrong. Should I have not let him go upstairs by himself? Should I have checked in with him sooner? What can I do now to remedy the situation?

I’m sorry for all these questions but I just feel lost and stressed out by all this.”

TL;DR – Husband finished early and went upstairs. Things are weird now. What did I do wrong?

Photo by Vojtech Okenka on

Dear Eldobhato Profil,

I don’t think you did anything wrong here.

You did an incredible job recognizing and preemptively noticing when something was amiss. You went upstairs to check in on your husband while he was processing what happened. And promptly ended the night when you recognized that something felt off. You did your best to read and act on a difficult situation.

A lot of guys have a lot of hangups about ejaculation. So much of our male sexuality is wrapped around our manhood and its performance. Society tells us we have to be rock hard for sex, that we can’t cum too early or last too long, that we have to be ready to go without any foreplay, that our penis is the only symbol of our masculine sexuality, that ejaculation automatically means the end of our intimate rendezvous. All of these ideas are incredibly toxic ideas embedded into many men’s upbringing that shape and define our sexuality. Have you ever thought about how the words “premature ejaculation” and “impotence” only apply to men with such viciously negative connotations? And instead of proper tools to deal with these negative perceptions about premature ejaculations and impotence, we are instead shown male enhancement and virility ads in Golfers Digest.

It sounds like your husband is struggling with at least some aspect of what I’ve outlined above. What stands out more to me is the communication breakdown. I’m not sure how your husband generally prefers to process new information. If he likes to chew on his thoughts before coming to you with his realizations, it might be beneficial to give him space to work through this on his own instead of constantly checking in with him about what is wrong. Both of you know that something is wrong. But nothing will get accomplished until he has first done his share of emotional labor.

Your husband just needs some time to process what happened on his own. So give him time and space to work it out while reminding him you’re still here and ready to talk whenever he is.

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 – Scared to try out polyamory…

/u/mourningblue on /r/polyamory writes…

“My husband and I both are very intrigued by the idea of polyamory. We both believe love is exponential and we have amazing communication. The problem is I’m far more sexual than him and I think it would be impossible for us to do this with equality. I could much more easily find a partner and I don’t want him to feel left out, especially because he’s more go with the flow- and could honestly be content with monogamy. I would love to see him date someone first because I had the idea and I don’t want to be hypocritical, but I don’t want to be too forward about finding women for him (he’s very shy and work focused). Maybe it wouldn’t work for us, but we both express a desire to try it. We both acknowledge that jealousy might flare up, but more than this we fear bitterness. If it didn’t work, would it be possible to go back and reset? What’s the best way to test the water? I only fear to lose my partner on this journey, who I love and respect more than anything.”

Photo by Hasan Albari on

Dear mourningblue,

It sounds like you have an incredibly strong foundation to work with here. In particular, the perspective you have here to let your husband go first since it’d be easier for you to find a partner is so admirable. I am really happy for you.

In my own personal polyamorous journey, I have met some amazing people who have opened up in all variety of ways. Some started dating together and decided polyamorously dating as individuals made more sense for them. Some just jumped in without any reservations. Some carefully dipped their toes into casual dating first before gradually opening themselves up to more emotional and intimate connections. And in my experience, there are just no one true correct way to open up.

Like any new interest, first steps are going to feel very difficult. You didn’t mention how long you’ve been with your husband, but there will be a lot of “unlearning” both you and your husband will have to undertake, especially regarding sexual exclusivity, social conditioning around monogamy, and learning to manage your own emotions. So take things slowly and communicate every step of the way. Doing regular check-ins with your partner every week or month is highly recommended.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on

For many, polyamory is not always the right fit for them. Some work better in a more monogamish setting while others thrive in full-fledged relationship anarchy. I talked a bit about different styles of ethical non-monogamy in a previous column if you’d like to take a look. So keep your options open.

Lastly, I have heard of one couple who was able to successfully close a relationship back up after a bad experience. They had a very strict hierarchical approach to their relationship that allowed them to rollback almost all of the changes in fear of losing each other. But opening up will change both of you. It’ll become a more conscious effort to keep pace with each other’s growth and to actively date each other. If things really don’t work out, there is nothing wrong with going back to monogamy. But please understand that change is inevitable and going back might not always be an option.

Most importantly, have fun! Dates are supposed to be fun. Sex is supposed to be fun. It is invigorating and life-affirming and sometimes depressing.

Good luck!

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

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Advice – Swinging to Poly?

/u/ThrewItOnTheGround09 on /r/polyamory writes…

“My husband – we’ll call him B (33M) and I (32F) have been together for 13 years, and non monogamous for 5.

We publicly presented as mono, but would meet couples for sex. I was permitted to have ongoing relationships with women, but not with men. B has a total free pass to do whatever he wants, as jealousy is simply not something I experience very much. B doesn’t like the label poly, and prefers to call us ‘swingers’.

… We began a sexual friendship with another married couple. It was clear from the start that the other guy – let’s call him J – and I shared a very deep connection. The other wife freaked out and put the brakes on after 2 sexual encounters (all 4 people were present). She was upset because we cuddled after sex, and he kissed me on the forehead. According to her this was evidence of affection, not sex, which she was not ok with. To me and B this was normal behaviour, as we are very comfortable with sharing affection with others.

We all continued to see each other socially, and the other wife said she just needed some time to become comfortable again with sexual activity. J kept pushing the issue, telling her he wanted to have sex with me and also be friends. She freaked out more, and things between them exploded into fights and talks of divorce after a drunken night out, leaked messages, and drama upon drama.

… Well, J and I fell in love. It hit me like a thunderbolt. Complete infatuation I had never before experienced. As far as B knows, J and I are friends and hang out regularly. When we were on MDMA, we told B we love each other, but he seemed to dismiss it as drug talk.

I asked B if we can have a completely open relationship, and he refused, saying he’d rather break up. He said ‘you can go have a free-for-all if you want, but I’d be very hurt you would choose that over me’. I told him it’s not about sex, it’s about love. My heart is open, and I can’t close it again. I’m just not sure monogamy is for me, given how this year has gone. I told him it’s not about choosing anything over him, it’s about recognising we want different things, recognising red flags, and not wanting to waste his time. He said ‘just make up your mind by the time I finish uni, before our lives get more complicated’.

So now I feel so confused. Should I just wait for this infatuation to fade? J doesn’t seem like he’s going to leave his marriage anytime soon. Obviously I have the capacity to love other people – will this just happen again with someone else? I feel like my heart is breaking all the time. Things between me and B are fine. It just feels suffocatingly … boring. Am I fucked up for considering ending my marriage over this?

At the same time, I’ve been dreaming about what it might be like to be single. I haven’t been on my own for my whole adult life. I’m craving independence and autonomy. For example, B gets annoyed if I visit my best friend and stay until midnight, or go out drinking without him (although he never wants to come). We’ve struggled to live together for our whole relationship. I don’t feel I can talk to family or friends about this, married women aren’t supposed to fall in love.”

Photo by Leah Kelley on

Dear ThrewItOnTheGround09,

There is a lot to unpack here. So let’s quickly recap, point-by-point.

You and your husband B started out as swingers who only play together. You and your husband had a one penis policy that forbade you from forming your own relationships. You kissed a friend at a festival. Your husband subsequently freaked out. Then decided to actively look for swinging partners. You and your husband started swinging with a couple (J and his wife). You eventually developed feelings for and fell in love with J. Both you and J started having more fights in your respective marriages. When you expressed your feelings towards exploring different styles of non-monogamy, your husband read it as an ultimatum and left the onus of decision up to you: non-monogamy by yourself or a monogamous marriage with your husband.

I do not think you should end things with your husband just because he disapproves of non-monogamy.

I do think that you should at least separate from your husband to claim and lead a more autonomous life of your own, to explore different styles of non-monogamy on your own, to distance yourself from your husband who has been quite incompatible with your style of love for some time now.

Photo by on

Let’s talk about swinging for a bit here.

Recognizing infatuation/crush for what it is and establishing firm boundaries to keep those feelings in check is a major sign of success for healthy swinging lifestyle. Some swingers do recognize that innocent crushes on your swinging partners are natural. What’s more important is to identify those feelings as fleeting and to distance yourself so that you don’t fall in love with your swinging partner(s).

I think it will be very easy to blame your husband for his crippling insecurity regarding male-bodied partners & emotional connections, or his inability to keep pace with how your ability to love might be changing over time, or even his perspective on what his marriage to you is worth. Your husband struggles with intense jealousy and control issues even when you are out with your friend past midnight. Those are all bad signs. But I also think that you too can take this experience to revisit how you approach different relationships as well.

Married people develop feelings for other people all the time. Monogamy isn’t about absence of those feelings. The agreement in a traditional monogamous marriage is that you will refuse to indulge yourself in those feelings and set better personal boundaries to not explore other romantic relationships. The implicit agreement is much more of the same in swinging with the added caveat that casual sexual encounters are okay to explore. The challenge is in ethically pursuing your relationships in a way that is compassionate and respectful for each of your relationships. So please consider those points when you next explore non-monogamy, either by yourself or with any of your current/future partner(s).

I want to leave off with a note here that you are probably right. You and your husband want and expect different things. In thirteen years of your lives together, you’ve both become different people. Maybe it’s time to recognize those differences and see if your husband wants to come along for the ride that is your life.

Good luck!

Variations of Ethical Non-Monogamy

Hi! Welcome to my new advice column/blog Tea Time with Tomato. I am Tomato and this will be my first entry where I hope to set some groundwork for discussing non-monogamy at large. In this post, I will define what each of the larger classifications of non-monogamy and what distinguishes each subgroups from another. So grab yourself some tea and let’s talk about non-monogamy.

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According to this study from 2016, at least one in five individuals have engaged in consensual non-monogamy at some point in there lives. Also four to five percent are currently in consensual non-monogamous relationships according to another study from 2018. With so many people practicing non-monogamy, there are also wildly different forms and options of non-monogamy available.

There are three major subgroups that fall under the larger ethical non-monogamy umbrella.

  • Swinging
  • Open Relationships
  • Polyamory

I’ll start by talking about swinging.


“Not that kind of swing…”
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Swinging is largely defined as partnered or non-partnered casual sex encounters. It is often referred to in the context of partner swapping as well as non-partnered folks joining a pre-established couple in a more casual scenario. Swinging can also be defined by low emotional entanglement among its participants. Main assumption in swinging is that it is a purely sexual engagement. Swinging as a culture and lifestyle originated in WWII according to Terry Gould in his book A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers. But the culture didn’t really gain much traction until the 1970s. Movies like Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) paved the way for this casual style of non-monogamy to thrive.

Swinging in specific varies between hard & soft swap. Soft swap would encompass making out, mutual masturbation, and sometimes oral sex. Hard swap would include all above in addition to intercourse.

Swinging mostly happens in swing clubs (such as Le Boudoir in London or the Lux in Chicago) where there is a dungeon master who keeps the place under wraps and organized. Most swingers clubs (like some kink clubs) have separate rooms where participants can leave the curtains open for others to watch. In most swinger’s clubs, only single ladies and couples are approved for membership.

One of the major drawbacks to swinging is in that it mostly implies partner swapping. It is also often plagued with heteronormativity and contentious gender dynamics.

Open Relationships

Open relationships are a more generalized version of swinging. They are often accompanied by a strong presence of a long-term committed primary relationship. Similar to swinging, open relationships often have an implicit understanding that the sexual component will be the focus.

One major difference between open relationships and swinging is that while swinging happens in specific environments (i.e. clubs) with the couples specifically seeking to swap partners together, folks in open relationships tend to be more open to meeting others outside of those specific exchange as individual people.

One popular iteration of open relationship structures is monogamish. A term coined by a popular advice columnist Dan Savage, monogamish is loosely described as a committed but sexually nonexclusive long-term relationship. In essence, it is a mostly monogamous relationship with couple exceptions to the rule.


“This is my boyfriend, Derek. And this is Derek’s boyfriend, Ben.” – April Ludgate, Parks & Recreation S02E01, NBC.

Polyamory is defined as a practice of seeking ethical and consensual committed relationship with more than one partner. Polyamory can both be a preferred relationship structure (i.e. I prefer to do polyamorous relationships) and an identity (i.e. I am polyamorous). In a future post, we will do a deep dive into all the wildly different variations of polyamorous relationships and the current trends in modern dating.

Polyamory is different from open relationships and swinging in that the focus of polyamorous relationships is in developing emotional connection rather than a sexual one. For example, I have encountered many lovely asexual folks who all had incredible practices of their own polyamorous relationships that did not include sex in their own relationships.

Polyamory is also different from swinging and open relationship in that participants don’t necessarily have to be partnered. Single folks on their own polyamorous journey would be classified solo poly. In the above captioned image, we get to see a traditional V hinge polyamorous relationship where Derek is the hinge partner between April and Ben, where April and Ben are not romantically involved.

Exclusive? Inclusive.

One of the most fascinating learnings I have personally experienced in my own journey through polyamory is that so many different people love in different ways. Swinging is just as valid as open relationships. Different variations of polyamory are all just as valid as another. In addition, you can absolutely have an open relationship-like approach while being more polyamorous. And you can absolutely attend swingers clubs to swing while you are in a traditional open relationship.

The one certain thing about life is that life is always changing. And relationship structures and preferences can change overnight. Some swingers often have to establish firm boundaries regarding emotional attachment. Some monofolks often discover that they are open to exploring polyamorous relationships after an infidelitous experience. And a lot of folks roll back to exclusive relationships or take pauses after particularly bad swinging or open experiences.