Ask Page: It’s Dangerous to Go Alone

screenshot from Legend of Zelda, which reads "It's Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This."

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Hi Page,

I wanted to let you know I appreciate your articles and your writing style, most specifically in the sense that you’re giving suggestions and advice, primarily to poly folk, however, even looking at a mono relationship as I am, I easily see where things cross over. The biggest thing for me is that you don’t put down *any* relationship structure. I don’t feel like an idiot because I was practicing poly and now I’m happily considering mono. I still can relate to most of the stories shared, because most of the relationship feels can be felt regardless of structure. 

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Awww, thanks for the kind words. You made my day! I’m so happy you’re enjoying the site.  I’m also super glad to hear that it’s helpful advice for monogamous relationships as well. I personally consider myself some weird hybrid of poly and mono as a person, and I can be either or both depending on what’s going on in my life. I really think all the relationship skills transfer, regardless of how many people that you’re seeing. Both mono and poly relationship styles definitely have their challenges.

Since there’s no road map for polyamory, it forces poly folks to really be mindful about how we’re structuring and conducting relationships. And while there are more cultural expectations of what should or shouldn’t happen in monogamous relationships, I would argue that the expectations and generalities don’t actually apply well to most mono relationships either. To me, this means that most mono people should be viewing their own relationships as custom jobs and acting accordingly.

I figure it’s best to follow the Boy Scouts motto: Be prepared!

It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.

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Hi Page,

I need some advice.

When my boyfriend and I started dating I made it very clear that I am polyamorous, and I could never be monogamous. He said he understood, and as our relationship progressed I continued to bring it up occasionally, you know, because I wanted to make sure that he knew that this wasn’t going to change.

Because he has never dated anybody like me (pansexual kinkster), I agreed that we should build our relationship before dating, or sleeping with others, or bringing in a third for anything else. We’ve been dating for over a year, and in the past couple months I’ve become increasingly frustrated. Feeling frustrated that out of deference to him, and his experience level, I’ve not been able to pursue other relationships.

Recently, we had a kind of breakthrough moment where he was completely honest with me regarding the fact that I am poly and that isn’t going to change. He said that he loved me, and that if I needed, or wanted to date somebody else that he was open to that. He also said that he very much wants to include a third that we both date, together, but is very nervous about it. Mainly because he’s dated a lot of guys who used him and isn’t used to somebody who legitimately cares, is a caring and supportive partner, etc.

So my question is… how do I best proceed? There are a couple people with whom I’d like to develop a closer relationship, and I feel like I was completely open and honest about the kind of relationship I wanted. At the same time, I don’t want to cause him any stress, or have him think that I would leave him or something. The truth is, I’ve never been so in love in my life, and I don’t take such things lightly. So honestly, I’m 99% sure I want to spend the rest of my life with him.

I’m scared and worried that the fact that I can’t have monogamous relationships will destroy what we are building. It wouldn’t be the first time.

I dunno… do you have any thoughts on the subject? From reading things you’ve written, I just felt like you might be able to help. My apologies if it’s a lot, or I’m oversharing or whatever. I just need some guidance.

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I’m glad you two are talking about it honestly – that’s the best start.

The biggest thing is to keep talking – and if you want to explore things with others, start really slowly and talk to him before proceeding. Do little check-ins, especially when things are new.

It doesn’t even have to be a permission sort of check-in as much as a basic comfort check-in, although couples opening up from closed have had success with both. A permission check-in would be phrased like “Can I pursue this?” and a basic comfort check-in would be phrased more like “So I was thinking about maybe exploring things with X, what would you think about that?”

I personally like basic comfort check-ins over permission because it takes a lot of the parental dynamic out of the ask (“Can I sleep over at their house? I did my Algebra homework already!”), and it’s still very considerate of feelings. It really does feel worlds better to be consulted before large changes, you know, not taking a hard line like “I’M GONNA DO WHAT I WANT AND SCREW YOU. YOU KNEW I WAS POLY WHEN WE MET!” Not that you’d do that, but it’s not an unprecedented occurrence in Poly.Land.

Your experience as a kinkster should come in handy as you two continue to talk about this. It’s a bit like negotiating a scene. Setting limits, soft and hard, and making sure you have informed engaged consent (and no one is coercing anyone else into agreeing to it) is really helpful when you’re opening up something that’s been closed in practice.

And after a time, you can move back those limits as you both get comfortable.

Including him in the process, especially as you’re both growing comfortable, helps guard against damaging things.

Good luck to you both! It can be super hard to open up something that’s been closed though and totally scary, in a variety of ways.

But I believe it’s absolutely worth it. Trusting each other to pursue additional relationships, when done compassionately and mindfully, can strengthen an existing dynamic like nothing else.  That was the case for me. The level of mutual trust and acceptance I have with Skyspook is positively sublime. The sex is mind-blowing. And the wide poly social network can’t be beat.

Oh! If you can spare the cash, pick up a copy of Crucial Conversations. Seriously, it is an AWESOME book. I use the techniques in it all the time — they’re perfect for any sort of difficult relationship talk, whether it’s opening up, working through conflicts, etc.  It comes in handy at work, too (I found it helpful when I wanted to negotiate a raise with my boss). It gives you a good system for making sure you go into difficult but important conversations with the right mindset and get your point across without steamrolling the other person. It’s seriously an incredible, life-changing kind of framework.

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Have a question about a post? Maybe need some advice about a relationship or situation? Write me. I love getting messages from you.

 

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