Polyamory and the New Old Girlfriend

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Hey Wendy,

My boyfriend identifies as polyam and has felt this way all his adult life.

I never thought I could be happy in a polyamorous relationship because I get too triggered. Then, I accidentally fell in love with another guy (too) and now I feel like I can love more than one partner. I started seeing all the possibilities; the freedom, less pressure because I don’t have to be his everything, extra emotional support, open communication, etc.

I told him we should go for it, so he got back in touch with an ex-girlfriend, who had her doubts about polyam, but wanted to try again. They’ve been seeing each other once a week and my feelings of jealousy and possessiveness get stronger every time I see their love for each other grow.

He reassures me every day, and a little more on days he’s with her. However, the idea of him having sex with another woman makes me sad and possessive. I want to be the only one to have sex with him.

I’m now wondering if I can even do this. Wendy, I’m writing you looking for assurance that this will get better. Will it get better?

Veronica T.

____

Hey Veronica,

I’m sorry you’re struggling; this sounds really hard. An ex-girlfriend in the mix can be extra triggering as it’s a pre-established intimacy, and as you mentioned, there’s the wanting to “try again” factor. So, I feel you.

If you’re a regular reader, you’re already prepared to hear me say, “Will it get better? That depends on you.” So, let’s get into the details of what that means for you, Veronica.

There is so much to love about polyamory: The freedom and autonomy, less pressure to be everything all the time, sharing the load of the labor of love and emotional support, open communication, and everything you mentioned plus a whole lot more. However, many are called to polyamory, but only a few can serve.

A SHIFT OF PERSPECTIVE

Can you shift your thinking from “I want him all to myself—he’s mine!” to “He’s a free human living in the world who can do things he wants to when he’s out of my presence.”

Can you first confirm, and then decide to accept, that he loves you, means well, and strives to give you everything you need from him? That he’s faithful yet also not sexually exclusive?

Next, understand that if you get what you need from this free human, then when he’s not with you, it’s not your business what he’s doing.

For many people, that’s just way too much to handle. And when it comes to polyamory, this is the route I’m recommending.

THE ONE, TRUE, RIGHT WAY TO BE POLYAMOROUS

There are those who think they have the only “right” way of doing polyamory, but there’s a million ways to create the structures for successful partnerships. Some folx like a lot of rules and boundaries. Others like—or require—hierarchy. A common practice is checking in while out on the town, asking permission every step of the way, using a permission-phone-tree system, etc.

Regardless of what everyone else does, though, you’re gonna have to find your way.

My personal favorite way is the “We’re free humans who give each other what we need” model described above when I asked you to try shifting your perspective.

When you treat each other like free humans who are free to do what they want when they want (as long as you’re all looking out for each other’s best interests and generally not being dicks about it) instead of establishing a more complex relationship matrix, you could potentially end up with a lot less drama—maybe none, actually. (We have zero drama in our polycule, but we’re all super-spectacular humans, so there’s that.) So, if you can jump on this model successfully, then yes, it gets better.

THE NEW OLD GIRLFRIEND

Managing your feelings around an ex-girlfriend becoming a girlfriend again is advanced work. Seriously big props to you. Instead of wondering what they’re doing over there or (worse) watching their budding relationship, stay in your lane with blinders on. Pay attention to what you need, want, and desire from him, and focus on getting that. In your shoes, I wouldn’t be around that much in the beginning so they can have the time they need without triggering you. When he has a date with her, make a date for yourself, even if that date is going out to the movies with a girlfriend or hitting the local foot reflexology bar on your own. In other words, take care of you and have some delicious “me time” when they’re out. Or wait a minute, didn’t you mention a second guy? Another “me time” option, methinks!

If you’d like my help with setting up an easy-breezy relationship and building those strong foundations from the ground up, get my DIY Relationship Workshop, Happy in Love. It’s a fluffy title for a substantive and meaty workshop that’s right up your alley.

I SEE A RED FLAG

I need to point out that it’s troubling to me that you believe you need the constant reassurance (and/or that he does). This is no good in the long run. It’s not sustainable, and it’s damaging to your relationship. Occasionally? Fine. Asking for it every now and again under specific circumstances? Cool. It’s okay to ask for what you need, but daily feels needy to me. And when I say “needy,” what I’m talking about is the dark pit of insatiable insecurity that can open up in any of us when we don’t check the impulse to possess.

ALL RELATIONSHIPS END

Hot tip reminder for all readers, monogamous or polyamorous: There’s 100% guarantee that all relationships will not last. They will end, because spoiler alert: we all die. I know that sounds morbid, but not only is it the truth, it’s also a great reminder to stop telling the “forever” fairytale and appreciate the life you have and live like it’ll be your last—because it will be.

SO, WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO?

Pick the best person for you who…

  • Loves you
  • Means well
  • Has high integrity
  • Is willing to talk things through as life changes

Because the other thing I know to be true is when it comes to life, things change. Some for the good, some for the not-so-good, and some surprisingly wonderful.

When we come together as high-integrity people who love each other and mean well, everything can be worked out (one way or another) regardless of the details.

Good luck and reach out to me for some one-on-one if you need to go deeper. I’m here for you!