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.

Expect suspicion.
Expect fear.
Expect tears.

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.

Another possibility:
“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:

Polyamory as an Alternative to Infedelity
Dispelling 5 Myths About Polyamory

~ by omgrey on January 12, 2011.

24 Responses to “Talking to Your SO About Polyamory”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by christinerose and others. christinerose said: RT @omgrey: now blogging: Talking to Your SO About Polyamory: Let’s first cover how not to talk to your Si… #roma … […]

  2. Your welcome. An excellent addition to your article series. Kudos.

  3. […] As I mentioned in a previous post, you can use your fears to get closer to your SO. Everyone has fears, and the most basic fear for anyone in a loving relationship, whether that is a marriage or just a special friend with whom you feel that indescribable connection, is abandonment. We are all afraid of being left, the horrible feeling of being tossed to the side as if one never mattered. This is the fear that must be quelled again and again. In a broken relationship, the smallest thing can feel like an abandonment, like silence for a few days or not returning phone calls or texts or just living around each other instead of really talking. When I’m feeling particularly vulnerable and hormonal, something as silly as my husband falling asleep while we’re watching a movie can stir up fears of abandonment, and this is after 12 years. Now I am quite confident my husband would not truly abandon me, as we are quite close; but fears are not rational. They are very irrational, but they are also very real to the person that has them. […]

  4. […] as an Alternative to Infedelity Dispelling 5 Myths About Polyamory Talking to Your SO About Polyamory Healing Your […]

  5. […] as an Alternative to Infidelity Dispelling 5 Myths of Polyamory Talking to Your SO About Polyamory Healing Your Relationship Healing […]

  6. […] as an Alternative to Infidelity Dispelling 5 Myths of Polyamory Talking to Your SO About Polyamory Healing Your Relationship Healing Yourself Writing for Survival Suicidal Tendencies The Morality of […]

  7. […] Original blog post here. […]

  8. If you are the person both doing the approaching AND the one who is afraid, how do you handle THAT? I know what needs to be done to help my marriage but I am angry. I am angry that I am so broken I can’t do this. I can handle the “idea” of a poly marriage, but actual execution…I know what will happen. I will become angry, and jealous. I don’t trust other people – my last marriage ended because my then-husband decided he loved our girlfriend more than he did me – and I will NOT sacrifice my current husband like that. But…if I don’t do something…at some point, this marriage will fail. Help?

    • I’m so sorry. That is horrible, an it doesn’t sound like your ex-husband had a lot of integrity. It’s not about loving one more than the other. It’s about loving all in their unique ways and committing and investing in each relationship.

      Have you talked with your husband about polyamory and your fears? About what happened in your last marriage? Jealousy doesn’t magically disappear because someone is “poly.” If you’re insecure and afraid of losing your husband in the same way, then tell him that. Give him a chance to reassure you.

      You may feel broken, but you’re not. With love and effort, you and your husband together can heal those wounds. But you have to talk to him.

      Make that your first step. Talk. Share fears. Deepen intimacy, especially non-sexual intimacy.

      If you decide to open up to others, have very specific rules in place that both satisfy both your needs and placate both your insecurities.

      One thing to always remember, any new relationship will be under the effects of NRE (New Relationship Energy), and it cannot be fairly compared to an established, solidified relationship.

      Although it’s a rant, read my post called Poly vs. Amory. It’s about solidifying a relationship before opening up to another, along with some warnings about sexual predators hiding behind “polyamory.”

      • We have talked, at length. He understands, he reassures me…and I’m fine, logically speaking. I logically know he loves me with all his heart, that he won’t leave me and our son. But all the old insecurities creep in. And the thought of him having sex with another just KILLS me inside.

        Rules. I learned about rules the first time. I learned what happens when someone releases you from the rules…and they think they are likewise released, even if they aren’t. I have so many rules that opening up a relationship almost isn’t even worth it. Relaxing about it doesn’t work.

        I shall go read the rant. 🙂 Thank you.

      • That’s wonderful!!! So beautiful that you have that kind of connection and validation.

        Do you want to open up? It sounds like you really don’t. Or, perhaps you feel it’s who you are but the betrayal by your ex is keeping you from being that woman again?

        You can open up slowly. Baby steps. No sex. You can just start with flirting, for example. Or perhaps bringing someone in with you both. Or perhaps you have the need for another lover and he doesn’t.

        And, yes, you’re right, different people have different needs. It’s not uncommon for a couple to have different rules to deal with their own insecurities/needs. There are many mono/poly relationships in which one person has another relationship and the other doesn’t. Purposely.

        I knew a poly couple back in TX that could date but couldn’t have sex for at least a month. You can even make that 3 months.

        You and your husband can make any rules you like that work for you as a couple.

        As for your fear about him having sex with another, find the root of that fear, then take baby steps toward eradicating the fear.

  9. If you truly love someone, why do you need anyone else? Some people are not meant for polyamory as they are jealous and insecure. Pushing this on them can be cruel and inconsiderate. Sure, the person has the right to say something to you, but you don’t have to agree to it to be a good person. Polyamorous relationships are not better than monogamous relationships. They create constant fighting, jealousy, are bogged down in rules, and so on. Between work and everything else, it is hard enough to find the time for one partner. Why complicate things by stringing along other people and calling them “secondaries.” I personally think the entire movement of polyamory is foolish, and is an ideal that very few can actually achieve. Just saying

    • I agree with a lot of your statements if you don’t make them absolutes.

      Poly relationships *can* cause constant fighting, etc. So can mono relationships.

      No, poly is not better. Never said it was. It’s infinitely more complicated and needs more work, investment, honesty, and integrity…things I’ve learned the grand majority of people aren’t willing to do and/or don’t possess.

      Some people aren’t meant for poly, true. I never said anything about forcing it on someone. Never!! Always consensual, respectful interactions. Honesty & Integrity.

      Polyamory is an orientation, I believe. Some are, some aren’t.
      Most, I’ve found, hide behind the term to justify unethical behavior, claiming it as poly.

      Read some of my later posts on the subject and you’ll see. Like “Successful Polyamory, or Poly vs. Amory” and “People Who Hide Behind Poly,” among many others.

      Still. Your comment came across as quite aggressive. There are successfully poly relationships, but they are few and far between, just like successful mono relationships. You know, the 15% that don’t include deception and infidelity.

      You’re making a lot of assumptions here and putting words into my mouth. I don’t appreciate it.

  10. I apologize for the assumptions. I have recently had a negative experience with discussing this issue with my partner, and I am personally against it-personally. I have poly friends and I don’t care what they do, as long as it works for them. I have been with my partner for four years, and recently she dropped this bomb on me as I was trying to complete a huge paper for graduate school. I am extremely stressed and busy, but she won’t let the subject of polyamory slip very far away. It seems like something that “must” happen for her to stay with me. I cannot accept her being with other men, it makes me feel sick. For people who can stand the fact that their partner loves other people than you, and sleeps with other people- props, seriously. How can I let my partner know that I cannot accept polyamory without destroying our relationship? I told her I don’t mind if she explores her desires for women, but I do have a big problem with her seeing other men.

    • Thank you so much for that confession. I had a horrible poly experience, too. One that ended in rape by my “secondary.”

      I just typed out an long reply on my iPhone, hit the wrong button, and lost it all! :-/

      This is excellent, Scott! Truly. It doesn’t feel like it now, but you have an amazing opportunity for personal and relationship growth here.

      The very first thing to do is ask her lovingly to table this discussion until after your paper is done. Tell her you love her and that you want to give this your full attention and energy. That this is a turning point in your relationship, and it’s an exciting but terrifying time.

      The next thing to accept is that your jealousy and insecurities are your responsibility, not hers. Those things don’t magically disappear in a polyamorous relationship. It’s something that must be examined and discussed and managed DAILY. Seriously.

      She’s not responsible FOR them, but she is responsible TO them. She’s responsible TO the relationship and protecting your heart, and vice versa.

      The next thing to do is examine, individually and together, what it is you’re so afraid of. Are you afraid you’ll lose her? Another guy will be better in bed or have a bigger cock? She’ll like him more? This is time for deep introspection into yourself and your relationship. It’s a good thing! It builds intimacy. Explore what she’s missing. What she’s not getting in this relationship. What you’re not getting. What needs aren’t being met.

      It will take A LOT of courage and honesty to explore and discuss these things.

      If she’s unwilling to talk about these things or shames you for wanting to, she’s not ready for polyamory or any committed relationship. She might be using it as a way out of this relationship. She may be using it to justify infidelity. All this must be uncovered.

      If she doesn’t want to put the work in here, and she just wants to get laid, then she’s behaving without integrity. She’s not being honest with you and maybe no ever herself. Polyamory is a huge trend right now, and a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon thinking SEX SEX SEX SEX…and that’s not what it’s about.

      You might lose her if you don’t go for it. You might lose her if you do go for it. You might lose her, period. That’s why the foundation of your relationship must be unshakable before you open up.

      Read “Lucky, Lucky Poly People” and my many other posts on just how FUCKING DIFFICULT polyamory is when you do it successfully.

      After you explore each of your insecurities and needs, then you take it slow. Reassure each other as you go. If you open up, it’s not QUICK PRESTO LET’S FUCK OTHER PEOPLE…no. It’s let’s go out and flirt with others, then check in with each other to see how we feel. It’s step by baby step.

      I’d take a full year to move from this discussion until either of you ever fucks someone else.

      I’m right here if you need to talk.

  11. And again, I’m sorry for straw manning you before and making assumptions. It is a sore subject as of late for the callous way my partner approached the subject. I shouldn’t take that out on others, but I’m at my wits end and trying to save my relationship. I’ve known my partner since the sixth grade and she is my life. Now I feel like I can’t make her happy any more. It is upsetting.

    • Apology fully accepted. You’re in a very stressful and difficult place.

      You’re terrified, and it’s perfectly understandable. The callous way she approached it worries me, but maybe she’s scared, too. Maybe she loves you and doesn’t want to lose you, but she needs just a little something more. Maybe she feels unseen because you’re so busy. Maybe she needs some variety. Maybe she needs to feel desired by others.

      Or maybe she’s looking for a way out. Maybe she’s jumping on a pretty bandwagon without realizing the difficulties and pain therein.

      She could realize, like I did, that there are so many fucking predators out there, she’s beyond lucky to have found a good man. They are few and far between.

      I’m still polyamorous at heart. I still think love breeds more love, desire, more desire, but after the betrayals and trauma I’ve suffered over the last year, I’m not opening my heart or my legs to anyone for quite some time. I hope she doesn’t have to endure what I have to realize what she has.

      Still, if you allow this to play out and approach it by getting closer first, which is essential for this to work, you may find that you deepen your love and your intimacy. Once you’re fully secure in your relationship, you won’t care if she fucks or even loves another man, because you will KNOW you always come first and you will never lose her.

      I’m a triple Scorpio. They don’t come more jealous and insecure as I was, and still am in a new relationship, but after 14 years with my husband, I KNOW with my entire being that he can have sex with someone else, and it only serves to deepen our love and intimacy. The same when it’s the other way around. We opened up 6 years into our relationship. Before that, I never couldn’t imagined him with another woman or me being with another man. Unheard of. Made me sick, yes.

      Now, we are so much a part of each other, there’s no shaking us. That’s where you must get with your girl BEFORE you open up, then take it slowly and talk a lot.

      Have her read my posts on Polyamory, the good and the bad experiences. Just how much effort and investment it takes.

      It’s a lot of work. It takes more honesty and integrity than most people have.

  12. Thank you for your help and support. I am sorry to hear about what happened to you with your secondary. I hope you are ok now and have found some peace and healing. My partner is also a rape survivor and I have helped her work through much of the pain and difficulty it caused her. I have been extremely good to her throughout our relationship. The fact that she was raped and abused by men is part of the reason I associate her being with other men as a violation and therefore disgusting. It took me a while to overcome my anger and hatred towards these men and I see many men as being predatory and generally assholes.

    To explain the callousness of her request. She basically asked if she could go and fuck some guy that she has a thing for on the week that my thesis paper is due. We have been monogamous for four years (2.5 were long distance) and she knows that I am not cool with that at all. This has caused me to dread and hate the very idea of polyamory, where I may have been more open minded.

    I am insecure in some ways, although I think I am generally good in bed and attractive etc… I suffer from OCD and anxiety disorders and these things make me feel vulnerable as a person. I have never hurt a person in my life, but I feel almost violent at the thought of her with other men. I will do my best to give her all of my free time, and I am open to her exploring her desires for women. I obviously cannot satisfy that need and therefore I am not inadequate as a man. Being “the man” is important to me. I’m a bit alpha I guess in some ways. I also feel that other men dont deserve her in that way. They didn’t hold her and listen to her, and spend thousands of dollars on her, drive her to meetings and interviews, cook her dinners, etc… And now they get to have sex with her. That doesn’t seem right, and what would make our sex more special? These are my qualms with her request. iI know that I am equating kindness and love with sex, but to me that isn’t a problem. That is the equation.

    You seem like an awesome person, and you are very knowledgable on this topic. I will read up on your other articles and ask my girlfriend to do the same. Thanks for your help, and I totally agree on waiting a year for any drastic changes. Although if she wanted to do a threesome with a girl sooner, I would be totally ok with it.

    • This concerns me:

      “Being “the man” is important to me. I’m a bit alpha I guess in some ways. I also feel that other men dont deserve her in that way. They didn’t hold her and listen to her, and spend thousands of dollars on her, drive her to meetings and interviews, cook her dinners, etc… And now they get to have sex with her. That doesn’t seem right, and what would make our sex more special? ”

      First, you don’t own her because you spent money and time. Agreed, other men haven’t put in the investment in the relationship, but sex is not a reward. It’s not a payment that she owes you or any man.

      Sometimes sex is just sex.

      What would make your sex more special than some guy she just goes and fucks? Where do I begin? The four years you’ve invested in each other? The intimacy between you two? They way you know every crevice of each other’s body?

      Fucking this other guy would just be raw passion, not love. Not intimacy. It would be sweat and orgasms. She could come back to you fulfilled with fresh desire and gratitude for you. She could

      You are right, though. Most men are predators. Certainly most I’ve come into contact with, but you’re displaying some misogynistic ideals here. Examine that. Where do those come from?

      You do now own her. You do not deserve her sexuality as payment.

      Check that immediately.

      This also concerns me:
      “Although if she wanted to do a threesome with a girl sooner, I would be totally ok with it.”

      Double standard. Stereotypically misogynistic, too. You’re putting your needs and desires above hers when it comes to polyamory. A lot of talking and self-exploration needs to happen on both parts before either moves forward.

      You have issue with OCD and anxiety. Me, too. Again, not her responsibility to manage those. It’s yours. Hopefully she is there to support you and reassure you, being responsible to your relationship and to your heart.

      I’m so sorry to hear your girl is a survivor. I wish I could say I was surprised. Nearly every single woman I’ve met has been.

      Email me anytime.

  13. I plan on having this talk with my husband tomorrow night, and this has really helped, thank you.

  14. This is really helpful. Thank you xxx

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