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Can You Be Polyamorous AND Monogamous?

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Most people identify as either monogamous or polyamorous, but there can be overlaps that occur. Let’s see how this happened for one of our readers.

Dear Holly,

I lived my life as a monogamous married man for twenty years, and when my marriage fell apart, I said never again. I was done with that type of commitment. I’d had a few friends who identified as polyamorous and wanted to explore it too. With their help I signed up for a poly dating site and started dating. I’ve been with a woman for almost a year, and that relationship is wonderful.

Six months ago, I met a woman at the gym who suggested we go out for coffee. That has been growing, but she is not polyamorous. I was straight up with her from the beginning, and though she said poly wasn’t for her, she still wanted to date. But, now she is discontent about me having another girlfriend. She would rather it was just us. My “first girlfriend” doesn’t understand why I let it go on, as she predicted what’s happening. I have strong feelings for both, and don’t want to lose either. What can I do? Is there a solution? – Josh

Hi Josh.

You’re in a pickle that poly people sometimes find themselves in, especially if they are new to the lifestyle.

If a monogamous person is attracted to a poly person, they will often convince themselves that they can handle their new partner being with other people. Or they may subconsciously or secretly think that once they are with you, that you will leave your other partner(s). Not unlike the mistress who believes the married man will leave his wife, whether he promises to do so or not.

How to Manage a Poly Mono Relationship

Assess your Feelings

You don’t have to be polyamorous to know that it can be difficult to juggle multiple relationships, even when they are casual. With poly, it’s all out there and honesty is essential. But even if you are being open, things can happen, like in Josh’s situation—someone says they can share as a monogamous person, but it becomes clear that isn’t the case.

Go deep, and decide what or who you want. If poly is your true nature, then the monogamous person may have to leave the triad.

Read: 4 Benefits of the Polyamory Lifestyle

Tell Your Truth

Be open and frank about your truth. Explain that you’ve lived as a monogamous person at one time, but it’s not what you want any longer.

You can suggest having your two lovers/girlfriends meet. The poly one will likely be fine with that, but the monogamous woman may find that too uncomfortable, and therein lies the crux of the situation. She’s likely been okay, in part, due to the out-of-sight-out-of-mind reality of the arrangement.

Read: Is Polyamory Right for You?

Accept Fallout

Individuals need to be happy before making a relationship of two, or more, work. When you date against your core values that are either consistent with polyamorous practices or monogamy, it’s probably not going to work. But the heart wants what the heart wants, and we can fool ourselves into thinking otherwise.

Whatever happens, with the experiment of poly-mono relationships, one or more people are likely to get hurt. Offer support but disconnect if you truly know someone is not happy or has unrealistic expectations of the relationship’s current or projected status.

Read: Myths About Polyamory: 7 Misconceptions Busted

Learn from Your Experience

New relationship energy (NRE) is a polyamory term that is very real. Our reader may have felt it with his second girlfriend, and his first girlfriend was probably happy for him and had no issues with hearing about her.

But monogamous people don’t like to share—it’s painful and can cause a lot of distress beyond simple jealousy. Knowing this and that your new mono hookup can’t simply flip a switch and become poly should be enough to prevent you from repeating the mistake. Look for women who are poly through and through.

Read: Why Do People Choose Polyamory?

Have you been a part of a both polyamorous and monogamous relationship? Please share.

Hookup Help is a Q&A series. If you want advice or a woman’s perspective on hooking up, online dating, relationships, or sex, we want to hear from you. SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION, and who knows, you may appear in the next Hookup Land newsletter.

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