Dear Team Awkward,
I guess I could start by saying I (a queer poly submissive) am in a non-monogamous couple…but the problem is I sure as hell don’t feel like it right now. My het male partner/Dom basically wants us to be defacto monogamous unless we find a female partner who likes us both (I am mainly attracted to women, and butch ones. They are not his type, so this is tricky).
Part of the problem is that my partner is really insecure and has a hard time seeing me even flirt with other women (well, butches. Femmes are ok as long as they flirt with him too). He keeps saying that we can really give this non-monogamy a go after this thing happens or after he works out his issue with x. I am feeling really stir crazy at this circling the non-monogamous airport. I know that sometimes I tend to want everything yesterday, so I don’t want to rush into this, but we have been together almost three years now. How long is it until we get to the “right time”? Will we ever get there? I feel really conflicted right now.
I do have to add that part of my problem is that I am not sure if I want to be with a man at all. I really love this man, he makes me laugh and cares for me in so many ways. But part of me is not sure a man is right for me. So you have that layer of complication.
Anyway, do y’all have any advice for someone whose non-monogamy really isn’t that right now?
Let me fully admit that my own Adventures in Open-er Relationships have been shitty, half-baked compromises where I tried to reconcile how I “should feel, in theory, because I am not a jealous person/spend a lot of time wishing I were French/look how cool and Not Jealous I am!/am really afraid of losing you” with my actual feelings and needs. My verdict on them for myself after trying out several permutations including “1 year, two boyfriends” is that even when there is love, the best intentions, and definite bright spots – I’m from Ensign Perception’s planet.
And let me also fully admit that I have a shitte tonne of letters piling up from poly people, or theoretically poly people, or formerly poly people, or not-poly people who met someone who is GREAT except he also has another girlfriend and wants to make a triad work and should I try that out even though it fills me with dread and trepidation? that make me want to make the following blanket statement:
This particular situation sounds like it is not working for you at all. Strongly consider breaking up with everyone and starting from scratch.
Because…you beautiful poly people, I totally love your fierce loyalty and utopian desire to see the good in everyone and make things work and communicate and set boundaries and find ways to joyfully connect in an imperfect mixed-up world….but those of you in my small, self-selecting sample of poly Letter Writers* are TERRIBLE at breaking up with people when it’s not working because even more than most you need to find some logical, watertight reason. Otherwise, it’s “But he’s really a lovely person who means well, surely we can make this work out at some level, and I can get x and y needs met by somebody else if I need to. Hey, what are you bringing to the potluck on Saturday?”
Hard relationship truths for which there is no good answer:
- You can have really good sex with people who are not good partners for you.
- You can find people who are really great partners for you in every way…except the sex doesn’t work and you will forever be unsatisfied.
- You can really adore someone but be unable to create a happy life together.
- Things don’t have to get “objectively bad” for you to break up. “I could be happier” is a perfectly fine reason.
- Only you can decide what you need and what you want to do about it.
- If you decide to end a relationship (or one gets ended for you), it will suck for a while, but time will mend you eventually. Yes, even you.
So, I made everyone this really awkward and terrible flowchart:
Letter Writer, if you’re still reading, I’m sorry I used you as an example for a bit there. Let’s talk about your specific deal.
It sounds like your partner is not really into this whole nonmonogamy thing. He wants you and your full attention, and while he will halfheartedly endorse your attempts to find that theoretical partner who is equally into both of you, he’s not seriously looking for or wanting that to happen. If things stayed exactly like this forever, and you and this guy continued to be a monogamous couple who would theoretically play with just the right third person if she came along at exactly the right time and everyone is in exactly the right mood (which has never once happened in three years), would you be happy? Can you wholeheartedly sign up for the possibility that you’ll never again be with a woman?
*AND people in long-distance relationships, you optimistic sweethearts. LISTEN: ONE OF YOU MAYBE HAS TO MOVE, EVENTUALLY. If you don’t want to move and the other person doesn’t want to move and you can’t find anywhere to move together and you have no deadline or concrete plans to move and every time one of you brings up maybe moving you end up changing the subject or postponing the decision but you are unhappy living apart and feel like the relationship is stuck, what miracle is it that you think is going to happen to resolve this situation? Your options are:
- Enjoy this cool pen pal you have!
- Break up and find someone who lives closer.
- STOP ASKING ME I DON’T KNOW.