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New Beginnings :
The Pros and Cons of Polyamory, open relationships, and non-exclusivity

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 Pyrael (original poster new member #80247) posted at 2:38 PM on Saturday, April 23rd, 2022

I'm new here, and have mostly been reading threads about the dreaded A. I decided to take some time and peruse the other sections to get my mind off of things (It worked!!). I'm not an 'expert' per-se, but I do have quite a bit of life experience with this topic.

About me:
I am a fully out-of-the-closet 2nd degree Wiccan Priest (That means I am perfectly imperfect laugh )
I have been married (hand-fasted) for 15 years to the greatest love of my life whom I have been with for 22 years total.
Before my bride, I was married twice before. Both were tragic, world-ending events - both cheated and the 2nd broke every rule we agreed upon. I also spent alot of time in open relationships, non-exclusive 'arrangements', and an open marriage.

First, I want to say - from experience - that if you are fresh out of a failed M, the thought of this lifestyle may seem like a good idea. I would caution against it. It's not for everyone. Being able to Love (in that way) more than one person at the same time, without guilt or secrets is not easy. You have to be just as open and honest with each of them, and most people seem to have a hard time with one (I learned that the hard way). It can be exceptionally rewarding, especially if you are like me and want emotional satisfaction all of the time, be it talk, sex, or whatever.

In my experience, to be successful in these relationships requires alot of maturity. You must be willing to treat each person as if they are the only one but also be honest about it with them and yourself that, in fact, they aren't and neither are you. That's not an easy task, and many of my past lovers walked away because they realized how hard it was. I like to call those people 'dabblers'. They think they want it, they agree to it, and then realize "wait, you do this with them too?". Yeah, it's like that... a lot!

Many people will say "I'm poly" and they really mean "I just want multiple partners without commitment". Being poly means commitments. You enter each relationship with the understanding that you are just as committed to one as you are to any others. It also means you are just as committed to the fruits of those relationships.

Poly's usually have a primary. This is the one that they have chosen mutually to be the bride/groom. They are the one that shares a home, makes babies, pays bills... etc. The rest are more like fiancees or steady dates. You love ALL of them, would do anything for them, and will be there 100% when you are there. So you have to ask yourself if you can really be "that guy/girl" for more than one person.

At the same time, you have to also remember the old adage: What's good for the goose is good for the gander. You have to fully understand that, even your primary, each of your lovers will have other lovers. Accepting that notion is not easy for most. You also have to realize that break-ups are just as hard for polys. You will have it happen, sometimes because the person didn't really want it or maybe tried it out and changed their mind. Perhaps they decided that they wanted to be YOUR primary and since you are 'taken' in that regard, decided it would be better to separate for both your sake. It's no different than monogamy in that regard, it just happens more frequently. You also need to realize that this can happen to each of your lovers. And you need to be there for them to console them honestly, just like anyone else you love.

You also have the added concern of protection. You MUST be fully willing to tell the absolute truth about your sex life with everyone you sleep with. Who are your regulars, who is your primary, have you took a 'shot in the dark'? You have to be willing to tell all and hear all.

That's not everything on being Poly. But it's a good start.

Now Open relationships, including OM, are different in some ways and sometimes develop into a Poly situation. You don't have a primary and secondaries in OR/OM technically. You have your main squeeze, and some friends with benefits or one-night-stands or both. Many who think they are Poly or want to be actually end up here. The boundaries are the same idea. The Main Squeeze is your anchor. They are the one you prefer usually and generally, when given a choice, will choose. You still treat the others well, but you aren't 'committed' to them like you would in the above. The problems faced are sometimes the same, but there are a few differences. FWBs are friends first and you need to treat them that way. That means if they are in similar circumstances as you, both of you need to be honest with not only each other, but with the other lovers. Jealousy is a mean bastard. The safe sex and protection rules always apply. Weather it's a relationship or M you don't necessarily want kids with a FWB!!

Non-Exclusivity is like OR/OM lite. You don't want to have sex with just them, but you aren't intending it either. It's like a get out of jail free clause. I personally think many BS and WS are thinking of this when they dabble with OR/OM and poly. Lets face it, your life has been turned upside down, you're hurting, maybe having self esteem issues, and certainly afraid to commit. But you still have needs and desires.

When my first marriage imploded, I was the BS. Maybe some day I will tell that story, but today is not that day. I met another woman pretty fast, and she was there for me through the divorce. We had never agreed on exclusivity or anything. We were just having a good time. After a while, we got serious. We decided to have an OR that morphed into an OM. We had a beautiful little girl and life was good. The thing was, she didn't actually want a real OM. She wanted to never be held accountable for what she did with who. She wanted FWB that happens to be married. I never hid who I was seeing and never took risks. There were boundaries about who we could and could not sleep with. She crossed every one including unprotected sex with ONS and the like. We didn't last long after that, and I still to this day consider her to be a cheater.

My Bride, who I met about a year after, wasn't interested in dating at all. She just wanted a good time, and that's what I gave her and didn't see her again until 6 months later when I asked her to be my girlfriend. I cheated on her. It led to me breaking it off. I spent months trying to move on from it and finally, even though I didn't have to - since we were no longer together, I went to her and confessed. I apologized profusely and begged her forgiveness. I didn't ask her back, I told her I never expected it. She wanted me back. It shocked me - alot.

We agreed that, for the time, we would have an OR. She only slept with one other man during that time. It was really that she wanted to see if I would run with it, and at first I did. But after 5 or 6 years, I found my self taking a knee and proposing to her. I told her she had 2 options: Be my primary, or be my only. She chose to be my only and I never looked back.

Now I'm telling you this story so you can see the Pros of poly/OM/NXR. If done right, it can be - and is - a wonderful and beautiful thing. The Cons are very hard pressing though and can lead to many hurt feelings. I said I had experience in poly, and I did. In between marriage #2 and this one, I was poly for a while. I had at one time 4 serious girlfriends, a primary, and even though I am not bisexual, a male companion that that I loved just as much as my ladies. I am no longer friends with the women. They unfortunately were not truly poly, but the man, yes. I have never been his lover, and never acted like his boyfriend, but we are very good friends because he is truly poly.

So how do you figure it all out?

Well, I'd suggest this. Get out some paper and a pen, make 3 columns and label them Want, Will, Wont.

In the Want column, put down things that you want. Do you want multiple sex partners? Do you want more than one serious partner? Do you need to love more than one person? Do you want a house? a better job? All of it. Then look at the will column. What are you willing to do? Sex positions/acts, have multiple partners, Multiple Lovers? A mortgage? Cosign on a non-spousal loan? All of that. Then the Wonts. What are you NOT (can change BTW) willing to do? and do the same. Sometimes it's easier to start with the wont list because we usually KNOW what we DON'T want, but seldom what we DO want. Once you have that list, you can start looking at your life and choose how you want to share it with others. Maybe you just want good friends and pure unadulterated non-attached sex. Maybe you're really a closet poly! You have to find out. And FYI, there's nothing wrong with dabbling. Just make sure that you use phrases with people like "so you know, I'm poly curious". That way there's no deceit, because honesty is the best policy.

Now I didn't learn about the want/will/wont list from her, I have understood the concept for a long time. But a really good place to learn alot about poly and other relationship styles is a youtube channel called sexplanations. She's a legit sex therapist and talks about these things alot. If you haven't seen her videos, got watch some. She's brilliant.

And of course, I expect others will have more insights into this topic. I just wanted to leave my $.02 on it. I look forward to reading your comments, discussions, and additions.

posts: 17   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2022
id 8731426
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Bigger ( Attaché #8354) posted at 5:17 PM on Saturday, April 23rd, 2022

To each his own. I have no issue with whatever form of relationship all participants are both in agreement with and complete understanding of and is within the law and accepted moral expectations.
I get it that the moral factor can vary between individuals, but – for example – I would have a hard time accepting a multi-partner relationship if the man was a cult-leader and his multiple 18-20 year old partners had been raised in that cult. Would be legal though…

I do want to point out one important factor:
Like it or not our society views marriage as an established form. It creates direct and implied joint responsibility and expectations that have legal value. This might not really affect us on a daily basis, but if you are living in a multi-partner relationship you need to have issues like property-ownership, financial accountability, medical coverage, inheritance and all that very clear. You do not want your Spouse Number Two to pass away in an accident and then have your never-met-before-and-unaccepting-of-the-lifestyle parents-in-law as owners of the house you live in and was in her name, or have them with the power-of-attorney to decide treatment of your loved one. Things that are clearer if there is a traditional marriage.

"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone." Epictetus

posts: 10620   ·   registered: Sep. 29th, 2005
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EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 5:32 PM on Saturday, April 23rd, 2022

Tbh the thing that stumps me about poly/open/non-exclusive is simply this. If one wants to date around, love around, not commit, etc etc etc.... that's totally fine so long as everyone is on board and you're honest and up front about it.

But if you wanna do all that, what exactly is the point in getting married? I just don't understand the thought of marriage without committing. Aside from the religious angle, marriage is a LEGALLY binding agreement so WHY do that with no interest in commitment??? Why put your finances, home, etc on the line without commitment?

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"The love that you lost isn't worth what it cost and in time you'll be glad that it's gone." – Linkin Park

posts: 3445   ·   registered: Nov. 22nd, 2018   ·   location: CO
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 Pyrael (original poster new member #80247) posted at 5:51 PM on Saturday, April 23rd, 2022

Most polys refrain from a traditional marriage as far as I understand it. It's more about the connections. Obviously I've never been in a marriage like that, so I can only state what I have understood from those I have spoken with. I personally agree that tangling those financials like that can be messy, however, I'm sure those concerned with those issues can easily make use of an attorney to sort out the details.


My intent wasn't to bring the subject as a way of advocating for it, I don't. But I do know many who live that lifestyle and are well adjusted and happy. Probably as many as I know who couldn't do it or would never do it. But I have read here, and on other forums, that people are considering it. I thought maybe some practical insight into what it's like and just how much more difficult it is might help some who are considering it. Some (myself included), when they are on d-day, find themselves considering it as an option to save the M.

posts: 17   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2022
id 8731460
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EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 6:48 PM on Saturday, April 23rd, 2022

Take my thoughts on this with a huge grain of salt; my xwh ended our marriage because 8 years in he arbitrarily decided he was "poly"... after "falling in love" with a fucked up 18 year old girl. See she was bi and told him he was poly, so he decided he was and then offered to allow her to date and fuck me too, then it would all be fine. Problem with that, 1. I'm not opposed to dating a woman, but I sure af am not interested in dating a fucked up kid half my age, 2. he and she decided on all that plan without talkin to me about it first, and 3. he never once mentioned being poly until dday, at which point of course our entire marriage 'had been hell' for him... funny how it didn't seem hellish before he wanted to bang a teenager!

Just my 0.02, but 'opening up the marriage' after a dday is a horrible idea. I considered it too, but I was traumatized and it took me time to find my bearings enough to tell him that an open marriage was an absolute non-starter for me. Open marriages and poly relationships as I understand them require radical honesty and firm boundaries and excellent communication, and imho a cheater has NONE of those qualities or they wouldn't be cheaters.

Eta: also just mho, but after infidelity, the M is dead so there's no 'saving' it, especially not by using other people as bandaids.

[This message edited by EllieKMAS at 6:50 PM, Saturday, April 23rd]

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"The love that you lost isn't worth what it cost and in time you'll be glad that it's gone." – Linkin Park

posts: 3445   ·   registered: Nov. 22nd, 2018   ·   location: CO
id 8731472
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 Pyrael (original poster new member #80247) posted at 1:55 PM on Sunday, April 24th, 2022

Ellie,

I completely agree with you as far as opening the marriage post dday. it's not healthy. I'm glad you said that. It DOES take alot to live that way, it's one of the reasons I don't. Sure, when I proposed I gave her the option, but that was because I wanted to let her have a say in it. I was actually glad she didn't take option 1.

However, I firmly believe that She and I can fix things, our situation differs though. We have a 15 year marriage that has weathered alot of bad shit from both of us. We are MH so we do know what the other side is like and how they feel to an extent. I still, even though she forgave me for my A (20+ years ago), apologize to her for it as well as the aftermath. She's started doing the same about her A. Yes, she's at the beginning and we have a long way to go. But I made the decision before she confessed (I suspected and feel I knew in august) that I would stay, and I would do everything I could to help fix things. Maybe that's because I recognized my anger issues, and I do not blame myself directly for her A, but I did contribute to the circumstances that led her to a place where A became an option.

She's genuinely remorseful and is trying her best (I see it even when she feels she is failing) to work together on these issues. Her biggest problem right now is fear. Not of me really, but of telling me more after saying "That's all there is". I get that, I would dread it too. Her actions aren't completely in-line with her words, but I have to remind myself that it's only been 5 weeks since d-week with only 4 since her full confession. I've seen alot of positive changes in her and I'm trying to stay optimistic that they are real - only time will tell right?

I guess my point is that sometimes the M can be saved and even revived from that death. I suppose that it really depends on the individual case. Some people never forgive, some only give one chance, some weren't fully committed in the first place. I'm sure there's lots more reasons why one would walk away or stay. Neither is a bad choice because every situation is different.

As far as your XWH goes, imo that's not poly, that's just a jerk move. So I hope others read your story and take it to heart. If you feel like you're poly, then be honest about it. Changing the rules won't solve the problem, it only condones the A.

For those looking at themselves and thinking about it in a NEW relationship, tread lightly. Do the work on yourself first and just be you.

posts: 17   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2022
id 8731600
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PSTI ( member #53103) posted at 2:10 AM on Monday, April 25th, 2022

Poly's usually have a primary. This is the one that they have chosen mutually to be the bride/groom. They are the one that shares a home, makes babies, pays bills... etc. The rest are more like fiancees or steady dates. You love ALL of them, would do anything for them, and will be there 100% when you are there. So you have to ask yourself if you can really be "that guy/girl" for more than one person.

This is definitely not true. This is just one person's perspective.

I feel like you are sharing your own thoughts but probably shouldn't speak for the (incredibly varied) community because you're definitely giving some poor quality info.

And personally, in my opinion? Opening up a relationship that has experienced infidelity is more than likely going to be a disaster unless the WS has put a lot of effort into IC to deal with their issues, as well as to assist the BS in their healing. Very few marriages even seem to manage to survive infidelity without lasting scars, and that's without adding the extra stress and effort of a consensual nonmonogamous relationship. Relationship broken; add more people is terrible advice.

[This message edited by PSTI at 8:13 PM, April 24th (Sunday)]

[This message edited by PSTI at 2:13 AM, Monday, April 25th]

Me: BW, my xH left me & DS after a 14 year marriage for the AP in 2014.

Happily remarried and in an open/polyamorous relationship. DH (married 4 years) & DBF (dating 3 years). Cohabitating happily all together!! <3

posts: 812   ·   registered: May. 6th, 2016
id 8731759
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 Pyrael (original poster new member #80247) posted at 1:12 PM on Monday, April 25th, 2022


PSTI

This is definitely not true. This is just one person's perspective.

Perhaps I did not make that clear, however, It is my perspective and comes from experience as well as from speaking with others in these exact arrangements.


PSTI

I feel like you are sharing your own thoughts but probably shouldn't speak for the (incredibly varied) community because you're definitely giving some poor quality info.

I am, and I believe you have read my thoughts the wrong way. Sorry you don't approve of my experiences.


PSTI

And personally, in my opinion? Opening up a relationship that has experienced infidelity is more than likely going to be a disaster unless the WS has put a lot of effort into IC to deal with their issues, as well as to assist the BS in their healing. Very few marriages even seem to manage to survive infidelity without lasting scars, and that's without adding the extra stress and effort of a consensual nonmonogamous relationship. Relationship broken; add more people is terrible advice.

Again, I think you have misread my post. I stated in my posts that I did not think it was a good idea for anyone in a "broken Marriage" to do this. Nor did I advocate for those newly out of one to consider this type of change in lifestyle. Quite the contrary, I stated that it IS exponentially more difficult.


Pyrael

First, I want to say - from experience - that if you are fresh out of a failed M, the thought of this lifestyle may seem like a good idea. I would caution against it. It's not for everyone.

And again in one of my replies:


Pyrael

My intent wasn't to bring the subject as a way of advocating for it, I don't. But I do know many who live that lifestyle and are well adjusted and happy. Probably as many as I know who couldn't do it or would never do it. But I have read here, and on other forums, that people are considering it. I thought maybe some practical insight into what it's like and just how much more difficult it is might help some who are considering it. Some (myself included), when they are on d-day, find themselves considering it as an option to save the M.

And another reply:

Pyrael

For those looking at themselves and thinking about it in a NEW relationship, tread lightly. Do the work on yourself first and just be you.

Perhaps there are people in this world that believe that everyone has a negative intent regardless of their words and deeds. I am not one of them. I happily admit I am not perfect, I believe perfect people are boring and fake. However, I wrote that post with honest good-will in mind. How others may perceive it I cannot control. But please, if you are one who takes what I said in a way I did not intend, I ask only that you reread and try to see the good will intended. I've been in all of those situations and know many who are happy in them still. As well as those who have tried and failed. I saw posts here, as well as other places on the web where people had been considering these possibilities. I only wanted to share what I know of it and hopefully deter people from what could be a very bad choice. That's also why I chose to post in "New Beginnings". I felt it was the only good choice for such a topic.

posts: 17   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2022
id 8731829
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PSTI ( member #53103) posted at 6:51 PM on Monday, April 25th, 2022

I think it's a huge disservice to the poly community to post that most people are in hierarchical relationships, and it gives a biased perspective on the idea of polyamory. That's one of the main issues I see with your post.

You have your own experiences and that's fine, but to come to a group of people who have little to no information about polyamory and then say, this is how it is when they likely don't have the experience to discern that you aren't giving the full picture? That's not cool, in my opinion, and it can actually cause harm.

If you were only posting about your own experiences, I wouldn't have replied. You're not. You're trying to make an informative post and you are literally attempting to define terms. As someone who is very experienced with consensual nonmonogamy, I feel that it's my obligation to point out that not only is some of the information way off base but it perpetuates harmful issues such as couples' privilege.

What I think is much more important to explain to people is the lack of universality in polyamory and consensual nonmonogamy. You can structure a relationship to suit the people involved and create all of your own agreements. As long as everyone involved (and that includes partners of partners) gives enthusiastic, informed consent- then it's awesome. There is no one correct way to do things, there's no way that things usually are. Hint: that's where "informed" comes in :P

If you tell people this is how things are, then they don't realize there are many other ways to have a healthy consensually non monogamous relationship.

To take the examples from your post- It definitely does not have to be a hierarchy. It doesn't have to be "what's good for the goose is good for the gander"- many people have mono/poly relationships. Some people do have kids with FWB and that's okay too. People can be solo poly and have no primary at all.

Bottom line: ENTHUSIASTIC (not coerced), INFORMED (aware of all their options and possibilities), CONSENT (joyous yes to the relationship agreements), and then you can build whatever relationship works for the individuals involved.

Me: BW, my xH left me & DS after a 14 year marriage for the AP in 2014.

Happily remarried and in an open/polyamorous relationship. DH (married 4 years) & DBF (dating 3 years). Cohabitating happily all together!! <3

posts: 812   ·   registered: May. 6th, 2016
id 8731899
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 8:17 PM on Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

Not poly but my IC is. I'm also not religious or spiritual in any way, so marriage is a personal experience and decision for me, not two become one in the eyes of God type of thing. The main lesson I learned was that open/poly relationships require clear boundaries, expectations, and radical honesty. These are often lacking in monogamous relationships that can benefit from the same ideas because of unexamined cultural expectations and assumptions.

I'm personally too possessive to consider an arrangement like this. It's good to know your own limits.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 1916   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8732124
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