Lovehacker: My Girlfriend Wants Us To Be Poly

Lovehacker: My Girlfriend Wants Us To Be Poly
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Dear Lovehacker, My girlfriend of five months has asked how I’d feel about our relationship opening up (i.e. — becoming polyamorous) though she hasn’t fully specified what that means for us yet. I don’t think I could really define myself this way, and I’m really not sure how this will affect our relationship moving forward. What should I be bracing myself for, best and worst case, and is it fair or selfish of me to consider this a dealbreaker? Thanks, r-matt

Dear r-matt,

You need to brace yourself for more conversations, particularly in regards to definitions. It’s important that you both clarify what your expectations are about becoming poly. The term tends to be thrown around a lot to describe a variety of relationship types.

Is it about sleeping with other people, casually dating or having committed relationships with others? If she does want to explore other relationships, that opens up a whole new series of questions and poly possibilities. Here are just a few:

  • Separate poly relationships: you aren’t involved in her other relationships and vice versa.
  • Hierarchical: despite other relationships there is still a primary partner who takes precedence over the others.
  • Poly triads or quads: you’re all involved romantically with each other.
  • Open poly relationship: where you can have lovers outside of the group.
  • Closed or monogamous: There are no sexual or romantic partners outside of the group.

These are simplistic, entry level definitions and don’t describe everyone’s experience with polyamory. Some people who identify as poly prefer fluidity over labels. In your case being as specific as possible will be beneficial, particularly if you’re considering it to be a deal breaker. Honest communication is imperative, you need to know what you both want and where you stand.

This will be just as beneficial for her as it is for you — particularly if this is her first time engaging with polyamory. She may be just as unsure as you.

You should also ask yourself where you saw the relationship going before she dropped the p-bomb. You mentioned that you were only five months deep, which is well within the honeymoon period. Were you already thinking long-term? Did you think she was The One or were you just casually cruising along?

Your answers to these questions may determine whether a poly relationship will be worth it for you.

Relationships require substantial maintenance, and that just increases when you start adding other people into the mix. The most obvious factor is jealousy — even people who are 100% on board with polyamory still experience this. Are you ready for that? How about balancing the emotional and physical needs of more than one person?

And let’s not forget logistics — one or both of your social calendars will fill up more, so you’ll need to work on time management and ensuring that your relationship is being nurtured.

You’re coming to an unavoidable crossroads in this relationship. The best case scenario is that you’ll both discover what you’re looking for — whether that’s commitment between two people or being open to other possibilities. The worst case scenario is ending up in a situation you hate because you didn’t value your feelings enough to speak up.

I can understand why you might consider traditional monogamy selfish, particularly when it isn’t what your girlfriend wants, but that isn’t the case. Failing to share your wants and needs, or just agreeing to hers, is a far more selfish act. Engaging in dishonesty just to keep her isn’t fair on either of you, and it won’t end well.

Lovehacker is a weekly relationship and sex column where our resident Agony Aunt answers your questions. Need help? Drop a comment below or email [email protected].


  • Step 1: COMMUNICATE.
    Step 2: COMMUNICATE.
    Step 3: COMMUNICATE.

    Also don’t feel pressured. If you’re not comfortable with something DON’T FORCE YOURSELF. You’ll only end up hurt in the long run.

  • think about motivation. differentiate between polyamory & polyfuckery. if your partner just wants an excuse to sleep around & thats not something you want, as much as it sucks, its time for you to go your separate ways.

  • If it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it.
    People who think you can choose what is and isn’t sexually attractive to you, are wrong.

  • I’m really not sure how this will affect our relationship moving forward

    It basically means that she’s not that into you, at least not on a committed level. I mean, you’ve been dating her for five months and she wants to have hot, steamy sex with at least one othe guy. So the question is, how do you feel about that truth?

  • maybe shes just not that into you.
    there is going to be a lot of assumptions from you and her in a polyamorous relationship.
    depends how you feel about your emotional and mental health. if you are all good with it and can deal with the fact that she might find someone she prefers over you, then there isnt really a point in an open relationship. it sounds like a cake and eating it too situation.

    but hey, whatever blows your hair back right? if its mainly one sided, maybe she wants a fuckbuddy but doesnt want to lose your friendship.

  • * She feels she trusts you enough to ask something really big and personal.
    * Holding her with a loose hand is better than cutting off her needs with a tight leash.
    * The ultimate trust in one’s partner is to do this and know they will come back to you.
    * Communicate. Communicate and Communicate.
    * Turn any jealousy into a sexual feeling, it can be pretty hot.

    28 years doing it with my partner and every day we are stronger together.

  • How confident are you? How’s your game? Poly women will receive attention easily no matter what. Poly men in a larger city? Sure. Smaller or a city with particular quirts? Going to be a lot harder.

    If it works, perfect. If she’s finding men easily however, you’re not meeting anyone it can be a lot less fun. Especially if she tries it, changes her mind, and you had no chance to try it in the meantime.

  • This is pathetic on the girlfriend’s part, and indicative of the degradation of people’s concepts of relationship as a whole. I say, friend, lose this girl. She’s not the one for you and you will detest her for it in the long run. Don’t listen to these self made quacks who tell you it’s fine. DO NOT DO IT. Have self integrity, it’s worth your weight in gold.

  • Sounds like you are soon to be out the door. Because she clearly has someone in mind, and it is not you.

    If you do actually go along with this, just 3 little words: Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

  • Sounds like she’s looking for away to end the relationship without having to face it head on.

    She’s met someone else she wants.

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