Talking to Your SO About Polyamory
Let’s first cover how not to talk to your Significant Other (SO).
“Honey, I’m home! By the way, what do you think about opening our marriage?”
“I’ve decided that I want to fuck other people. Whaddya think?”
“I’m just not getting what I need from you, so I’m going to join a Swingers club.”
“Ever hear of Polyamory? It’s where I can have sex with other people. No, you can’t, just I can. Pass the potatoes please?”
Yesterday on Facebook an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years contacted me. It was really great to reconnect with him. Nice guy. Mid-twenties. Volunteering in Africa. I didn’t even bring up the subject of relationships, but I think it’s a rather lonely existence for him there. He went on to tell me how he watches relationships begin and end down there with the other volunteers, and they mostly end because of communication problems and fear. Then he said something very profound. Simple, but profound.
“If you can’t say ‘hey, let’s try this’ to your partner, who can you say it to?”
Your partner. Your husband or wife. Your SO. They are the closest person to you on this planet, or at least they should be. That’s the whole point.
Lover. Confidant. Best Friend. Your SO is your everything. Your SO is your world. They are with whom you share your joys and your sorrows, your hopes and your fears. They are the person you can trust most in this world.
That’s what make relationships work well. Closeness.
If you are so afraid of them leaving to even bring up a suggestion, then you truly need to take a long, hard look at your relationship. A suggestion, broached tenderly and lovingly, will not ever be the trigger for abandonment in an honest and trusting relationship. If you are in this place, where something cannot even be suggested without fear of abandonment and divorce, then other steps have to take place first. I will cover this in my next article “Healing Your Relationship.”
If you aren’t willing to do this, if you just say “cheating and lying is so much easier,” then you are headed down a path that will not only destroy your marriage, it will also destroy you, your spouse, your children, and any one with whom you get involved. It’s a world of pain that can be avoided with a little introspection and work, both of which will lead you to a more fulfilling and loving relationship with your spouse/SO and your family.
Please don’t be in denial about your needs. You increase the chances of destroying your marriage/relationship by living in denial and telling yourself “It can’t happen to me.”
It can happen to you.
Now, back to the subject at hand: talking to your SO about Polyamory.
This is not an easy subject to broach; however, if it is something you feel is for you, then it has to be discussed. If you find yourself cheating, wanting to cheat, trying to cheat, or just truly unfulfilled, then you owe it to yourself and your spouse to come clean and bridge the ever-widening gap that’s growing between you.
If approached lovingly and consciously, there is no reason why there should be tears or the rest, but expect them anyway. Expect the worst and be prepared to deal with it. It will likely bring up a lot of your SO’s own abandonment fears, and they are valid fears! It will likely bring up jealousy and possibly even rage. These, too, are valid emotions that are not to be dismissed. They must be worked through.
Do not get defensive.
Do not get angry.
Do not get accusatory.
Be calm. Be loving. Be reassuring. Be gentle.
Start by creating a space where you and your SO can talk without interruptions.
There are many ways to start. For example, if this is your or your spouses 2nd or 3rd marriage, and the previous ones ended because of infidelity, that is a perfect place to start: your fears of failing at marriage.
“I know things ended badly with <1st spouse’s name>, and I don’t want to see that happen to us. I love you more than anything, and I want to be closer to you. I want to be able to say anything to you without fear of judgment or abandonment, and I want you to be able to say anything to me. So many marriages end in divorce because of infidelity, and every time I hear another story, I hear things like ‘it just happened’ or ‘one day everything was fine, the next it wasn’t.’ I just want to be proactive about this, and instead of being in denial and saying that it can’t happen to us, I want to take steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen to us.”
If you know someone whose marriage has recently ended because of this, or you know someone having an affair, this is also a great way of starting that conversation.
If you have had a recent scare with illness or an accident in your family, either you, your SO, or one of your children, refer to that and express your fears about losing your family or doing something to screw things up. Emphasize that you need to be able to talk with your SO and be open so as things don’t fester inside.
“Lately I feel like we’ve been growing apart, and I don’t want that to happen. You mean everything to me, and I want us to be close again. I want you to tell me something very scary to you, and no matter what it is, I promise to listen without judgment. Because I’m committed to making this work between us, so you can tell me anything without fear. Then, I will tell you something, and I hope you will listen without judgment, too.”
If you mention the fact that you’ve been attracted to another, or if they do, then you take that in stride. If you feel angry or sad or hurt or scared, then say that instead of acting out.
Do not say: “How dare you! How can you do this to me?”
Say: “I feel hurt by what you just said, and I don’t really understand. Could you please explain it further?”
If they say to you: “How dare you! You want to fuck this other wo/man! After all I’ve done for you!”
Don’t react in anger back. Hold them, if they’ll let you, and reassure them that you are not leaving them. This doesn’t mean that you’re going to act on these thoughts, but you wanted to express them in order to diffuse them, in order to be open and honest because you respect them.
Say: “I hear that you are hurt, and it is very understandable as this must be shocking. Just know that I love you. You are my world. You are my wife/husband, and I would never cheat on you. But those feelings/urges (whatever) are there, and I want to be open with you about them.”
The goal here is to communicate fully. To know each other completely.
Stay away from accusatory language like “you did this,” and try to stick with lovingly expressing how you feel. Because you only know how you feel.
This will be the first of many, many, many conversations. This isn’t a one time thing. This is opening up a new world and a new level of intimacy for you and your SO. There will be a lot of talking. Learn to communicate with each other. If sharing your fears worked, then do that every week. Plan a time to sit together, even something romantic like a bubble bath surrounded by candles, and just talk about very scary, very deep things.
If you found the courage to bring up your attraction this time and your spouse took it in stride, then tell them *how much more you love them because they allowed you to be you without judgment.* As you get closer, you can take the suggestion to the next level, experimenting.
As you go down this path, there is only more love waiting for you.
I recently read a book titled: The Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson. In it, she claims that most people only use a fraction of their capacity to give and receive love, and I tend to agree.
I am an extremely emotionally intense person with a great capacity to give and receive love. I have such a capacity to love that I can fill my husband’s “love tank,”* then fill up an SO2’s “love tank,” and still have love left over for more. This is frightening to some people, but I have never understood being afraid of love. A dear friend recently gifted me a Star Sapphire Ring because of my special powers of love. 🙂 Thanks, Dr. Q!
Love breeds love. Desire breeds desire. <83
You have everything to gain if you can find the courage to take the next step.
*“Love Tank” is a term used in The 5 Languages of Love, highly recommended book to learn how to most effectively show love to your SO(s).
Read my first two articles on Polyamory: