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Sunday, September 12, 2010

What happened?

Every once in a while I am reminded that Polyamory is just as delicate a situation as Monogamy or any number of other relationship types.

A couple I have known for a while recently experienced a major shift in their Poly lifestyle. In the past we have talked extensively about Polyamory. They both seemed to have a good understanding of what they wanted and of the agreements in place in their relationship. I particularly enjoyed talking with this couple because our beliefs seemed to mesh very well. We all agreed new partners, though we all would want them incorporated in our poly families eventually, would need to spend time first becoming part of our families. We all agreed that preservation of any existing relationships were of a higher priority than new relationships. And we all avoid the use of terms like Primary and Secondary other than for ease of conversation. We all believed that safe sex extended beyond the use of condoms and barriers to behavior of new potential partners.

Where the rubber met the road was when the male half of the couple I mention found a new love. After searching for an extended period of time (years) he found someone with whom he clicked very well. Initially we were all very happy for him. Then the red flags started to appear. He was spending a disproportionate amount of time focused on his new partner rather than his wife. Time with his wife was often interrupted by calls and texts from his new partner. And the new partner seemed to be rushing to incorporation with their family by suggesting cohabitation soon, a disregard for the wife's personal space, and talks of fluid bonding. There were also other concerns such as this being her first poly relationship, her almost immediate professed love of the man, and promiscuity that challenged the rules of the husband and wife.

I know what you are thinking because the wife and I were thinking the same thing; NRE. And though NRE can be overlooked for a while there comes a point where things need to calm down a bit. Reaching that point the wife began to initiate conversations with the husband. That is also where things began to implode.

The husband felt that all the rules they had in place were based on theoretical situations and conversations and after entering an actual relationship he had found they just didn't apply anymore. To complicate matters he was now in NRE with the new partner and finding that he didn't enjoy spending time with his wife because she was unhappy with the situation.

As their conversations progressed they finally agreed to in effect end their current relationship and define a new relationship. As of the writing of this article the redefining of their relationship seems to be working. Both have a better understanding of what they each want out of polyamory, what their goals are as a couple, and how they will progress with new relationships. A byproduct is that they have recommitted to their relationship, something the wife needed quite badly.

It has not only been an honor to help them work through things, but has been a learning experience for me as well. I was reminded that we human beings are not static programming on a circuit board. We are dynamic and change our minds almost as often as the wind blows. We are constantly growing and maturing and as such our needs and desires change. Their ability to recognize each others needs as well as those of their relationship, and that they had changed and would require their relationship to change, impressed me greatly. I believe strongly in renegotiating relationships to ensure their survival but rarely see it put into practice. To often it is disguised as one partner surrendering to the other rather than true negotiation.

The couple still has a lot to work out and, with the husband still involved with the new relationship, there are probably still a lot of bumps. There are a lot of things I didn't even mention here since the detail would easily take many pages. Some of those things I will write about in future articles, some I won't since I have no desire to chronicle their relationship or make this blog all about them. What I will do though is remember that people change and so must their relationships. And that is something I will be happy to explore in my writings and with all of you, dear readers.

Today I will let you off the hook and not ask any questions. Instead I simply wish you success and happiness as you follow your poly heart. It is my sincerest hope that your road has very few bumps and those you do encounter are negotiated well.


  1. Out of curiosity: does the couple have children?

  2. Polly,

    Yep, the male has two preens from a previous marriage and enjoys shared custody.
    The couple also have a 1 yr old of their own.
    The new SO to the male doesn't have any children of which I'm aware.

    Things are remaining bumpy so far for them.