Contemplating polyamory...please help!
Hey, everyone! I'm currently in kind of an awkward situation, and any help would be appreciated.
I've been in a relationship for the last two and a half years with my boyfriend who treats me so well. I love him and we're really loyal to each other. He's my best friend and my love, and it's really great. :) We've known each other for even longer than that, because we were good friends for a while first.
I know I've faced ageism before, and I'm somewhat worried about talking about my age because I don't know if any age is percieved 'too young' or inexperienced for polyamory, but I'm 18 years old and my boyfriend is soon to be 18.
Above all, we are determined to preserve our close-knit relationship, both as friends and romantically. But we've become more liberal over time. We've had some threesomes with friends and such, and that's been cool. No issues with that at all.
And since we're so young and we're each other's first relationship, I've been wondering about our lack of experience with the world. I believe it is possible to be in love with multiple at the same time and make it work. I think that our best bet is to date other people while still staying together, but I think it's going to be difficult to find dates while still in a relationship...it seems like a lot of people wouldn't go for that.
In any case, we determined that we were going to be in an open relationship. I have a good friend of mine that I have had a huge crush on for quite a while, and at the same time my boyfriend told me about a girl he was interested in. For a while, this was okay. We didn't really end up going on any dates, but the more that I thought about it, the more I worried about losing my boyfriend to someone else. I feel like I'll compare myself to anyone else he would be dating at the same time, and I already have done this with the girl he is interested in right now. I'm jealous, but I really don't want to be. I don't know what to do.
I know my own feelings for this other guy that I'm friends with are strong, and I'm fairly certain that he's interested in me, too. My feelings are certainly not as strong as my feelings for my boyfriend, but still. I think about how I feel when I'm with this other guy and I logically want my boyfriend to be able to have the same experience, if it makes him happy. It makes so much sense, logically. And yet, I feel so jealous when it comes down to specific girls and things like that. I hate it. I don't want to be unfair, but I don't know how to change my thinking. He reassures me that he loves me so much, and I know that he does.
Maybe I'm just scared that he'll find someone with whom he's more compatible and he won't be interested in me anymore. I feel like such a hypocrite.
I'm not sure what to do. He understands that I'm trying my best to not be jealous and says that if we want to wait to be in an open relationship or a polyamorous relationship until our own relationship is more stable (we're still living with our parents and such, unfortunately), he understands and we can be monogamous. He's being very supportive and flexible with me, and I appreciate it. I'm just not sure what to do.
Please help? It would be so much appreciated.
I am new to polyamory as well, however am a few years older than you and your boyfriend (26). I only recently figured out that I identify as poly, and it took meeting someone who is poly to put the name to the feelings and thoughts I've had since I was a teenager.
I dont have a lot of advice since I am still very new to this, but I have been doing a ton of reading and research on polyamory and one of the most common themes I've seen besides being open, honest and communicative, is that poly relationships work best when there is a sturdy/stable foundation.
I dont know if age has anything to do with it, except maybe that you haven't had enough time to be sure of yourself and of your relationship. And if you're anything like I was and like many teenage girls are, there are still so many doubts in your head and heart about yourself, your image, and who you are. These I feel could all lead to some of your feelings of jealousy and the jealousy that you're feeling.
I think that if you truly feel that you are poly, that you should work on yourself and your feelings first and working with your boyfriend to create and develop a strong stable relationship before attempting to bring in other loves.
Hope some of this helps or at least gives you some things to think about.
Thanks for the advice, Tora!
I don't know why I'm so worried, I mean, I haven't found myself EVER questioning whether or not I'd want to be with him. We don't have nasty fights or anything, and we have a lot of mutual love and respect. So that's a pretty good start, I think. :)
I don't think your question is anything to do with age really. A lot of people feel hypocritical about balance when they open long term marriages just as much as people starting their relationship life. What you are concerned about is very common.
At some point I would think its a matter of choice at your age/stage and then perhaps switching it up at some point. I think there is something to be said for monogamy and poly in terms of experience. Its really not so much about one or many loves its about how competent you are with communication, giving space, being independant rather than codependent, having common goals and values, that sort of things that make a great relationship(s).
So you could go either way I think, commit entirely to your boyfriend or agree to the possibility of being committed to many people. Both experiences are valid and worth experiencing, the point would be to chose one or the other and not have one doing one thing and another doing another.
I would suggest giving it more time. Time has a way of making these choices more clear. There will be lots of opportunities, I would think, to be with many people, as long as you keep your integrity, be honest, respectful, considerate and caring, really I think you have many chances at love, either monogamously or not.
Hullo and welcome!
Oftentimes, age really doesn't matter. No matter what you want to do that is a bit out of mainstream script-of-life, some people will say you are too young to know your own heart. You are off-age and there are no kids involved, so why not go for it? There might even be a slight advantage to being young and exploring polyamory, because 'playing the field' is viewed by many people as part of youth - things are a lot harder when you are thirty-something married with kids, in terms of what the society views as acceptable romantic behavior.
That being said, there is really no excuse for not self-educating at this point. There is a lot of advice available on jealousy and communication (tag searches on both will bring up a lot of useful threads). One of my absolute favorite quotes on the issue is by Mr. Franklin Veaux on his great, tongue-in-cheek 'How to make relationships suck?';
"One thing that can really help you with this is cultivating insecurity. If you are insecure, then it becomes much easier to distrust your partnerís motives, and the urge to control your partner will become much stronger.
Letís say that you secretly believe you are not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, or not sexy enough for your partner. You still have a problem; if youíre generally unlovable, why would your partner be with you? You can answer this conundrum by inventing a story: Your partner is with you because he or she doesnít know any better. However, if he or she meets someone prettier or smarter or sexier than you, of course he or she will wake up, see the error, and abandon you for that other person!"
And advice on how to use making comparisons to help you screw up a relationship;
"Of course, we all know that comparing yourself to other people is a great way to end in madness. You can say things like 'Iím not a skinny as her' or 'Iím not as wealthy as her' or 'Iím not as popular as him' and end up feeling bad about yourself in no time. And Iím not knocking that technique at
all; itís a great way to undermine your self-confidence and with it, your relationships.
But an advanced practitioner at the art of screwing things up knows that there are variations on this theme which are more subtle, but also more effective. One of these is particularly well-suited to polyamory, and that is to draw inferences about what your partner wants by looking at your partnerís
This is as simple as finding some point of difference between yourself and your partnerís other sweetie, or even between yourself and your partnerís exes, and telling yourself 'This is what my partner actually wants.'
Start simple. If you are short and your partnerís other sweetie is tall, just tell yourself 'My partner really prefers tall people.' Use your imagination; get creative. You can always find something about someone else thatís different from you! 'I am introverted; my partnerís other sweetie is an extrovert.
That means my partner really likes extroverts.' I donít know how to cook, and my partnerís ex-boyfriend was a master chef. My partner really wants to be with someone who can cook.Ē
Whatever it is, the trick is to find some point of difference, and then talk yourself into believing that your partner really wants whatever it is that makes you different, and use this as 'evidence' that your partner doesnít really want to be with you."
My husband and I have been together since I was 17. Back then the only example of polyamory that we saw was done excessively badly so we never would have applied that label to ourselves at the time. However we have always had our own agreements about what was "allowed" with others. It has changed and morphed over the years.
My advice to you would be to start out in a place that you are both comfortable. You don't need to have a full blown second relationship right off the bat. If for the time being what's comfortable is flirting and fantasizing about other relationships then do that. Keep talking about how you feel and talk about what step you can take next that you are comfortable with.
It takes some time to overcome how we are taught that we "should" feel in a relationship if our partner desires someone else. You say that you feel jealous but you don't want to. Chances are that a lot of that stems from being told, both overtly and covertly, over the years that you should be jealous.
There really isn't any rush. Enjoy the ride. Take things as they come and keep talking and being honest about how you feel.
I think we're just going to try to take it slow for now. That's really all we can do, I suppose. I think that just for now we'll be able to flirt openly with other people, and see how that goes. I really appreciate everyone's advice!
It’s a great thing that you and your boyfriend started as friends before committing to one another!
Don’t worry about your age. Age is something that shouldn’t be used as an excuse or judgment tool. We are all young at heart. What matters is how you see yourself. You’ve been in a committed relationship with someone that respects and cares for you. Some older people, my self included, have yet to experience that. So be proud.
Comparing your self to someone else is hurtful and not very useful. Don’t worry about how different or alike the other girl is to you. Think about it with an open heart. The great thing about poly-lifestyle is that you don’t have to be anyone you are not. If you are red and she is green then he gets a more colorful life. Same thing with the guy you are interested in. I am sure there are things that make each of them different and that makes them both fun.
Take it slow. You don’t have to jump, you can take small steps. If Poly is for you, you can try it another time when you feel more ready. Only you can know when is the right time to take your relationship to the next level. ;)
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