My partner and I are happily married, and have been doing some relationship introspection. Have you ever come across or heard about a successful married relationship where one partner is polyamorous while the other is on the Ace spectrum?
A few quick clarifications for readers who might want/need them before I answer today’s question:
Ace/ace = shorthand for asexual
allosexual = not on the asexual spectrum and/or not asexual
Personal disclosure: I am allosexual, previously hypersexual. I am not asexual myself, although I know many people who are.
Yes, I have! I have personally and professionally known long-term mono/poly partnerships where one person was asexual and not seeing anyone else and their partner was polyamorous and allosexual with other partners. As I mention in my introduction to mono/poly relationships, one scenario I see frequently is an asexual partner who encourages their allosexual (i.e., not asexual) partner to have other partners.
This is frankly a pretty common situation, believe it or not. And in the realm of mono/poly relationships, it seems to be one where everyone involved generally does really well. This is especially true in circumstances where additional relationships can help free the ace person of the burden of feeling like they need to meet all of their partner’s needs and the disappointment that comes from feeling like they aren’t doing so.
I Should Be Clear, However, That There Are Asexual Polyamorous People
I do want to make sure I bring something else up, however. If you have a polyamorous relationship with a partner who is asexual, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be monogamous. This of course depends on the individual. Some people — whether they’re asexual, allosexual, or what have you — want to be monogamous (and this is perfectly fine).
But it’s worth mentioning that I have also known of successful polyamorous relationships where both partners are polyamorous and one of them is also on the asexual spectrum. Because that’s the something not a lot of people realize: There are asexual polyamorous people. In that article, I go into greater detail about what that can look like, even including a conversation I had with an asexual polyamorous friend of mine.
In any event, your particular situation is much more common than you probably realize. There are always challenges when you redefine the terms and/or structure of an existing relationship (whether that’s opening one up that’s closed or closing one down that’s open), but the fact that your relationship is ace-discordant (i.e., one partner is on the ace spectrum and the other isn’t) normally wouldn’t be as meaningful of a variable as, say, how well you both cope with jealousy and insecurity or how much of your individual self-esteem/identity is tied up in your existing relationship.
Readers: If you have any advice or insights you’d like to share about polyamory in ace-discordant relationship systems, I’m all ears. Feel free to comment here, on social media, or send it via PMs. As always, if I get enough good advice from you all, I’ll write a followup article on the topic.
Have a question about a post? Maybe need some advice about a relationship or situation? Write me. I love getting messages from you.
Your letter and my answer might be featured in Advice Friend. I regularly change identifying details and/or completely rewrite letters to preserve anonymity.