Should we tell our friends about our polygamous relationship?

Ask a mental health professional the difficult questions

Dear Dr. Darcy:

I’ve been with my partner for almost a year and our relationship is growing nicely. We recently began discussing opening our relationship up to a third person. My partner has some concerns about where to draw boundaries, but I’m inclined to determine them as we go. Neither of us feels comfortable telling friends about this because the few we have told reacted so negatively. Is having a polyamorous relationship a recipe for disaster?

I don’t think polyamory is a recipe for disaster, but I do think your plan to figure it out as you go along is beyond naïve–and likely the recipe for a train wreck.

There’s no such thing as overly discussing the parameters of what your poly relationship will look like. Contemplate the pros and potential cons of this type of relationship: What do you hope to experience? How will a third woman enhance your current relationship? And don’t avoid the tough questions: Ponder the potential triggers of discomfort or jealousy, and the necessary boundaries for keeping your primary relationship safe and intact.

Polyamory, like any type of relationship, is complicated and made more so because it hasn’t been as widely studied as monogamy. There isn’t a pre-defined roadmap–which can be freeing, but it can also lead couples to feel isolated in their quest to define what their lives will look like. Connect yourself with other like-minded people so you can find the support that the “monos” in your life aren’t able to give you. A good resource might be, a polyamorous organization for members of the LGBT community.

The bottom line: We live in a society where the relationship model is monogamy and the divorce rate hovers just above 50%, so it makes sense to me that people would try alternative relationship modes. As long as no one gets hurt and you’re happy, it works for me. But go through the process, no matter how difficult, of working through her boundaries and your own, so that your relationship doesn’t turn into polyagony.

Dr. Darcy

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