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garhdo 10-01-2012 01:58 AM

my poly puzzle
Hey everyone. Im posting this description of my poly relationship as I am still very new to this whole thing and struggling with certain aspects of it. Ill try to be as detailed as I can and I welcome any comments or advice offered.

I have been with my Mrs for ten years come November. We got together in high school, moved in together a few years after that and started our family with our first child of three being born just under five years ago. Over the course of our relationship we have often discussed ideas such as swinging and polyamoury, mainly through the influence of television documentaries. Eventually after the birth of our third son last year we decided that instead of merely talking about things we should explore it if it both interested us. As a result we set up a profile on a swinging website and soon began talking to people.

The first couple we messaged we realised that we knew. B had been at university with me and he had met his girlfriend J not long after I had dropped out to start my family. We arranged to meet them as our first swing, but we both became drawn to them in more ways, me I think more than Mrs. We were also their first swing and I later learned that J thought of us as potentially something more not long after that.

We all continued to see each other on a semi regular basis, sometimes meeting as a foursome, sometimes a threesome or a swap. Our meets would not always be sexual, but between me and J they often were: we found we had a lot of passion together, perhaps because of NRE I don't know. B had a much lower sex drive than the rest of us and would not play as much. My meets with him tended not to be sexual - mainly due to my nervousness with bi play due to a prior bad experience. I even stayed with B and J one night where after the sexual play ended me and J spent a lot longer talking and flirting. We later learned B had been awake but don't know if he had overheard. The next morning me and J did something stupid by having intercourse without a condom. I have performance issues with condoms which is a reason why it happened, but she is not on any other contraception. As a result she needed to take the morning after pill, arousing B's suspicions when her period came early. Mrs found out but B still doesn't know (we think, he watched us finish but I don't think he noticed, and he has never commented)

Needless to say Mrs was not happy but some months passed and we still continued as we had. We were for all intents and purposes exclusive for most of this time apart from one man that Mrs was also seeing, until another couple entered the scene. We all chatted to them and some meets were arranged but that all fell apart for all of us bar B, who still is in contact with them.

The next major development came when an overnight swap was arranged. I had already told J that she meant a lot to me, and she had responded in kind. She said me and Mrs reminded her of a couple she had engaged in a poly relationship with while studying abroad in the USA. That relationship had come to a close as she had left the country but she talks of the whole experience fondly and both Mrs and I had discussed it with her before. The night of the swap I told J that I thought I loved her, and she said it back before we made love. It was a good night but, unsure how to tell Mrs (who I was sure would not react well) I hid this fact for a week, instead encouraging her developing feelings for B and J. However Mrs can read me like a book at all times and Im ashamed to say that I lied to her (in vain) about what had been said. She found out and it caused a huge rift in the burgeoning quad. Me and J had to work to earn back her trust but we all three agreed on our feelings for each other in the end.

B decided instead that he doesn't think of us in the same way. He took a step back from the relationship, deciding he wanted nothing at first, then a FWB style set up. He has admitted that he cares about us but me and Mrs both are aware that certain things make him uncomfortable, such as me and J having sex. I thought things were on the mend when we had another foursome, but again that led to complications. B started focusing a lot more on swinging, arranging meets with new people and couples. In this time Mrs found A, who was recommended in our direction by B but who J made B swear off on once she realised Mrs was developing feelings for him. B and J also met S, who is married but swinging discreetly, and who J has also developed feelings for. S seems to think a lot of them both as well. It felt to me and Mrs during this time that B was trying to faze us out, as well as trying to prevent our relationship with J.

This led to Mrs and A getting very close. I have been uncomfortable watching her with other men in the past and so was absent for most of their meets. I soon learned that they were having intercourse without condoms, something against our rules since my indiscretion with J. We argued about it greatly and I almost prevented her from seeing A in anger, but we worked through it. I know she liked the closeness that the fluid-bonding with A gave her and wants to do it again, but the idea irks me, maybe due to the way she did it behind my back at first or maybe due to the fact I cannot do it with J. We are also still swinging, having met another couple (P+O) at a party we were invited to and meeting them again before they also met B and J. Not sure where that will go, or whether we will continue to attend these parties (B drove us to the two we did attend, despite him only being invited to one.)

B and J recently had some difficulties which have caused them both to completely reassess their thinking on the whole thing. They have taken their profile down form the swinging site. J has said she is done with swinging, but wants to continue to see the people she has feelings for, namely me, Mrs and S. B however still wants to continue swinging but despite knowing that he cares about us me and Mrs are unsure where we stand with him and so do not know if we want to see him alone as we used to. We recently met with J, but did nothing sexual, and spent the whole evening talking about our relationship, something we would be unable to do with B present. Mrs also wants to still see A, and we arranged a meet with another couple (L+M) recently but did not play. Yet we do know that we want to see L+M and P+O again in the future, and that our relationships with both will be mainly sexual.

J also recently told us that she is planning to have sex with one of her coworkers (G) before he leaves, as she has always been attracted to him. Im not comfortable with that for many reasons, but feel that its not my place to say anything about that. One concern is that J is very flirty with many of her coworkers, even openly flirting with another who was married. Im worried that this would merely be the first of many such times this could happen.

So that's me and my huge puzzle arranged out for you all.

winterking3 10-01-2012 02:19 AM

Feeling for you, I was in a somewhat similar situation, me and my wife both fell in love with her best friend, jealously wound up coming into the picture with my wife and she sought another male relationship... i could not have anything to do with that as I am straight and jealous of other men. When she had her dealing with the other man I was no where to be found, but I also found it just made my feelings for her best friend intensify. Made me question my marriage and wonder if I had married the right woman. I never remember being loved the way her best friend loved me, may have been the mixture of NRE and finding security after being wounded...

Sorry this post was just more of a relation rather than any advice as I have been struggling with finding my truth for the last six years. Good luck my friend.

garhdo 10-01-2012 02:30 AM

Thats okay my friend I understand. I hope u find your peace with it. With me I am bi so I would like to join in on Mrs meets with other men, I even wanted to join with her and A before what happened as he is curious. But I will admit there is a jealousy thing there. I know B feels it as well and I think he may be worried that J will leave him for me, Mrs or S, despite that not really being an option due to our families.

GalaGirl 10-02-2012 05:10 AM

It reads like Muppet Show Chaos to me -- people going in not all clear, all sorts of shenanigans, and in the end people are still not clear and there's flying feathers and kerfuffle all over. Who is navigating? Who is steering? Where are we going? What do we want? Nobody knows. :(

It does not read like Star Wars Jedi Players. All agreed to the mission they signed up for, go in all on board the polyship knowing their duties and expectations, all wants, needs, and limits known and honored. Crew of this polyship executes the mission well so the polyship can fly straight. :(

So at this juncture:
  • Who is broken? And needs apologies made and trust repairs?
  • Who is on board the polyship? Is it closed or open? Are there more than one polyships flying? Are people clear of their roles in each?
  • Who is NOT on board the polyship, but a Metamour? Are they Closed or Open?
  • Who is on the swingset? And is it Closed or Open? Like with steady swing partners or casual recreational sex with whoever profile looks appealing for a hook up?
  • Once all people are ID'd as the things they are, how do we agree to be together so that all people's wants, needs, and limits are being respected here?Is there a framework for you you agree to be together in relationship and an agreed way to resolve conflicts that pop up?

Are people not to be trusted with barrier sex?

Then best YOU put on your own condom at all times or risk getting cootified by somebody.

You are engaging in risky sex activities with the group going all over the map right now.

I can't even keep up with who is shagging who here in the mere reading of it, and if you have broken trust places not mended? Who knows if there's extra partners hidden somewhere who are not clean people sex health wise.

YOU make sure you have barrier sex at all times. Or only sex with toys. Or no sex at all with these people. Put your own oxygen mask on first.

Muppets are fun to watch on TV. Not so much fun to be living in Muppet Show chaos.

Hang in there. Do sort yourselves out.

You CAN do swinging and polyamory at the same time in ethical fashion. But only if you talk out your agreements and actually stick to your agreements.


garhdo 10-02-2012 06:29 AM

Right I'll try to answer this but I'm still learning all the terms so bear with me!

Apologies have all been made for things in the past. B and me seem to be the ones with trust issues - me over Mrs and A, and B over me spending time with J. B is very emotionally closed and reluctant to talk so its hard to tell what he wants. As for me I am managing. A and Mrs have gotten very close recently and I am happy for them, despite how I sounded before.

By polyship I assume you mean the seperate relationships correct? Me and Mrs are both seeing J as a secondary. B and J are together as primaries. We would like to see B but are unsure where he stands. Mrs is also seeing A and J is also seeing S but those relationships are separate to the main foursome. Me, Mrs and J all know where we stand with each other in terms of primary and secondary. A, S and anyone else are all tertiary or sexual partners.

Is a metamour someone who only sees the one partner? In that case S is J's metamour, and A is Mrs's. J's relationships are closed - she only wants to see the people she is. B is swinging, while me and Mrs count our relationship as open.

By swingset I assume you mean who are our swinging partners? P+O have been seen by both me+Mrs and B+J, and they also play with others. L+M are being seen by me+Mrs, but are presumably looking to see others as well. G is just seeing J, but they have yet to have sex and are not seeing anyone else apart from J's other relationships. Condoms are used with all partners by me, Mrs, J and B.

As I said this situation has all sort of evolved since last November, and I agree it is a bit of a tangled mess! Hence why I'm after any advice.

Hope I've clarified it a bit!

GalaGirl 10-02-2012 01:44 PM

By "polyship," I mean polyamorous relationship. You sound like you guys go with a primary-secondary type of open relationship model. The romances.

If B does not communicate his wants, needs, and limits, the rest cannot be expected to be mind readers. You can ask him how to support him in working out his baggage for himself. But you cannot do the work for him. He sounds like he only wants swinging, and he's not keen on polyamory for himself. However he has to deal with the fact that J does want polyamory.

Online poly resources?


I do not swing, I cannot give you pointers to those. Perhaps another reader will have that. Yes, by "on the swingset" I mean who is practicing the open relationship model of swinging. B seems to want this model, but feel threatened because J is actually on a different model. They have to sort themselves out in their marriage first. Because B is in conflict with J and by extension -- the rest of you who are wanting polyships. MORE than just casual sex.

Your "metamour" is your lover's lover. In you situation, some of your metamours are ALSO your lover. So you polymath in this polyship configuration doubles up on some tiers.

The mini relationships inside the larger polyship need TLC too. Otherwise unhappy in one tier will be felt throughout the rest of the tiers. It's like someone flinging themselves on the waterbed all crazy and all the rest are sent bobbling around. It will be felt. And then overall harmony is the greater polyship is disturbed.

Be nice if you guys SLOWED DOWN and tended to what you already have before adding more people to the mix either as swing playmates or romances. Broken trust places will only magnify when you add more people.

It it NOT additive to add more people. It is geometric. Let me use a smaller configuration. A 4 person quad only -- not what you have. You have a quad plus some extra spice lovers on the side for some of you.

There is SINGLE TIERS (4 tiers)

  • A to A (a's relationship to a as part of a quad. Which is different than A as a footloose single answering to nobody.)
  • B to B
  • C to C
  • D to D

DOUBLES (12 tiers)
  • A --> B (Does A go to B with info clearly? Does A relate to B well in that direction flow?)
  • A to C
  • A to D
  • B to A (Does B go to A with info clearly?)
  • B to C
  • B to D
  • C to A
  • C to B
  • C to D
  • D to A
  • D to B
  • D to C

TRIPLES (24 tiers)
  • A <--> (B + C) (To save space I make the info flow arrow go both ways. Each thing means 2 direction flows so 12 x 2. The parenthesis people maybe married, lovers, swingers, or friends only)
  • A <--> (B + D)
  • A <--> (C + D)
  • B <--> (A + C)
  • B <--> (A + D)
  • B <--> (C+ D)
  • C <--> (A + B)
  • C <--> (A + D)
  • C <--> (B + D)
  • D <--> (C + B)
  • D <--> (C + A)
  • D <--> (A + B)

The QUADS (4 tiers)
  • (A + B) to (C + D) (all these marrieds)
  • (A + C) to (B + D)
  • (A + D) to (B + C)
  • (A + B + C + D) (All working as a team)

GHOST LAYER (however many it is)

How we want to be when this break up. (Not IF, when. All relationships come to an end. Even til death do us part is an ending.)

Back to original

(A+B) - (C + D) marriages?

All singles?
A - B - C - D ?

Something else? Plan for how to break up so you get the break up you want -- a peaceful one where all can be good exes. We teach others how we want to be treated.

Inside a 4 person quad that is CLOSED to just those 4 people you have

4 + 12 + 24 + 4 + ghost layers = 44 mini relationships to tend + however many on the ghost layer. I am too tired to write THAT all out. It's basically a break up on each tier -- plus two extra if the break up is NOT into the original married couples but further on down to EVERYONE single.

That's a lot of relationship management to cover in a closed quad. But you do not have this. You have extra people. It's not just adding 1 more mini relationship. It will be felt because now one person have a new lover, but 3 other people have a new metamour perhaps.

The lover of my lover.

And they have to deal with that new person. Instant more tiers of relationship. And it isn't just ONE other lover, but 4.

P and O and L and M.

The formula? Serolynne uses 2^n - n - 1 but it does not figure in ghost layers of breaking-up-ness. It also does not account for info flow direction. I find these important. The serolynne formula assumes info flows well both directions and doesn't bring on the break up convo.

But as a tool it is helpful to see what you have.

In a CLOSED 4 person quad?
  • 2^4 - 4- 1 = 11 relationships + ghost layers.

    In an OPEN
  • 2^8 - 8 - 1 = 247 mini relationships + ghost layers + other sex partners in swing

Are you expecting all these people to get along in a significant way (ex: regular play partners? Romances?) Or just for calendar schedule needs? Are some people just for casual sex and others for sex and serious romancing?

This type of configurations would be scary chaos to me. :eek: I would not know what is expected of me where and how. I cannot function without clarity -- else I will struggle. I would not feel physically safe, emotionally safe, mentally safe, or spiritually safe in conditions like these. Not enough is well defined and understood -- so how can anyone play ethically like Honorable Jedi even if they wanted to? Be an ethical swinger? Be an ethical polyship-er?

I am not you. You are you. But perhaps my perspective could give you some insight on WHY you feel as though you struggle. You simply have A LOT going on there with that many mini rships and not enough definitions of boundaries. Have you taught these people how YOU want to be treated?

In the physical bucket at least you stick to wearing condoms or seem to try to. (Get better at this quick!)

In the emotional health, mental health, and spiritual health -- what protection do you need to feel safe in those areas? Because polyamorous relationship is more than feeling safe enough in the physical health bucket so you can sex people up. What do you need to feel "safe enough" in your other health buckets?

I'm not sure how the others feel but if you are posting that you struggle -- you seem to want something more here than Muppet Show messes. What DO you want then? Articulated and well written out? And how will you talk to your polyship people about it?


garhdo 10-03-2012 01:53 AM

I really appreciate the advice but there is a lot of it and I have a very busy working week but here is a quick reply.

You've basically described B's viewpoint as I see it. It is very hard to get him to talk or open up in any way really. Even J has trouble with that and she is marrying him lol! Its frustrating but since their recent break from things things have been better so we shall see how that goes. It is obviously that he cares a great deal for me and Mrs even if he doesn't feel quite the same way for us as J does. And yes we have a primary-secondary model as that's how it sort of fell into place - as I said before this evolved from regular swinging meets with another couple when me and Mrs fell for B and J, and they for us.

I will definitely look at all these sources when I have more time! It sounds like just the sort of advice I was looking for, and more importantly, things I can show the others so that we can all work out what we want!

As for the swinging itself we have that sorted and safe sex is practised by all of us in the polyship, even with each other. Again you seem to have interpreted B exactly as I see it, however me and Mrs also want to continue in that in some regard but also keep our little polyship with J and B. Other partners such as L+M I doubt will enter that polyship but a separate ship did take flight between Mrs and A, who is my metamour (as is S through his relationship with J), so it COULD happen again.

from my perspective (source of metamour in parenthesis):
Mrs - lover
J - lover, metamour (Mrs)
B - lover(?), metamour (J, maybe Mrs) - not sure exactly where we stand with him on that.
A - metamour (Mrs)
S - metamour (J)

not counting swinging only partners L+M and P+O in that. Also not sure yet what is happening with G.

I see what you mean about the mini relationships and I see that that has been neglected somewhat in the past. Between our main quad I think that needs to be discussed as that is also possibly where the unresolved trust issues have arisen. There does need to be some serious discussion before anyone else gets added I agree - another reason why I sought this forum out.

I may need to run that model by you via PM to make sure I understand it right to find how it relates to my situation. It looks a bit confusing atm but I have just got in from work. I don't think it is all expected to get along. Some are just swinging partners and so shouldn't rock the ship but some, such as P+O, S and A, have become either close friends or potential romances and such do need to be factored in to the overall relationship. Ill do the math and get back to you to make sure I have it right.

It is chaotic I grant you, maybe as it wasn't planned and evolved from something casual, but now things are getting serious I want to ground the polyship before the casual stuff outside damages it, if you get my meaning. I know I have spoken with J privately about my views, and with Mrs, but things have not been addressed in full by us all for several weeks. I understand that polyamoury is more than swinging and I want to get it right as I think that it will be one of the most challenging but also among the most rewarding things I have ever entered into.

I'm going to read over all this and think about it all. Ill keep you posted.


GalaGirl 10-03-2012 07:30 AM


I really appreciate the advice but there is a lot of it and I have a very busy working week but here is a quick reply.

I will definitely look at all these sources when I have more time! It sounds like just the sort of advice I was looking for, and more importantly, things I can show the others so that we can all work out what we want!
Glad to be of some use then. I don't offer it actually expecting you to reply to me in great detail. Your biz is your biz! It's just ideas for YOU in case they are useful since you asked for other people to comment. I commented. YMMV. ;)


I may need to run that model by you via PM to make sure I understand it right to find how it relates to my situation.
Alright. If you mean you just want to draft your tiers in YOUR polymath config with actual names and have me read it to see if it makes sense or tiers are missing?

I can read and would be willing to do just that. I know it is hard to write it out with "A, B, C" type anonymous name tags.

(If there's something I am not willing to do I will tell you straight up I'm not willing to do that. Everyone has limits. ;) )

Thanks for letting me know the feedback was useful. Hope things work out in your talk with your peeps!

GG :)

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