My boyfriend and I decided to try out sex outside our relationship. We both decided to get one partner outside of the relationship, and we both have found someone with whom we enjoy regular sex. But I still can’t shake the idea that he’s going to leave me for his other partner, despite the fact that he says he is still very much in love with me. Does this mean I’m not cut out for the poly thing? I like sex with my partner, but the relationship lines are very clear. I don’t know what to do at this point.
Sarah: This is a tough one to bat, friendo. However, my advice for you would be the same as it would for any couple: ultimately, all we can do is trust that our partners will keep their promises and hold up their end of the bargain. Have you guys had an honest conversation about all avenues and possibilities with these relationships? In new relationship territory, I think the best thing to do is come up with some goals you can agree on (like always being honest and always putting your relationship first), and then focusing on your own enjoyment of both of your partners. This kind of sticky wicket is dependent on everyone in your sex life understanding their boundaries and yours, and the trick to making sure your relationship comes out stronger is to always make it you and your boyfriend’s number one priority. I think if you redirect your anxiety toward building a more concrete idea of what you want these relationships to look like, you’ll feel a lot more secure in both.
Debby: Oh man, I’m so sorry. Monogamy is hard and so is polyamory because humans are complex, emotional, passionate, curious, and - yes - jealous beings. The most important thing is that you share your feelings with your boyfriend. Let him know you’re feeling jealous. Ask him to support you by talking through your feelings together. Did you establish rules ahead of time that include something along the lines of, if one of you needs to hit “pause” on the openness, that you do so? If not, this might be a good time to ask if you feel like you need a break. You might also review your overall “rules” and boundaries to see which ones are working for you and which may need a little tweaking. As you may know, some people are cool with their partners having sex with others but they place limits on how often each person sees the outside partner or how often they talk or on spending the night. Check out “More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory” if you’d like to explore some perspectives and talk a bit about it with your boyfriend and/or outside partner(s). It may help you decide whether you’re cut out for it or not and there is no shame in whatever you decide. Some people aren’t cut out for monogamy and others aren’t cut out for polyamory. And then there are those who are cut out for polyamory with certain people but who insist on monogamy with others. Like I said, humans are complex, emotional, passionate, curious, and jealous. But we’re also pretty lovely to one another most of the time, so open up the conversation and see how it goes.