I'm not going to pass judgement on you as a person - that would not be fair to do. All we're seeing is a snippet of your actions, based on what you have said. I'm going to be honest - but I'm not going to attack you.
Sometimes people do selfish and morally wrong things. The first step is seeing that your behaviour is
obviously both very selfish and morally wrong... then deciding whether you can change it to a better form of behaviour.
I was selfish when I was about 16-18. I was involved with a married woman, who was my teacher, who also had a child. I would never do that to someone ever again. We can control our actions.
So, let's talk about some of your points in more detail.
Poly vs Cheating
Despite the fact that your actions are not that of a poly person, some of your ideals about love are obviously poly.
But 'being' poly isn't just about feeling like you can love openly. That's only one part of 'being' poly.
Here are my four core considerations when thinking of myself as poly:
- am I capable of being active with others, whilst still maintaining my love and interest for my primary?
- am I capable of nurturing her emotions whilst I am active?
- am I capable of dealing with my own insecurities whilst she is active?
- am I capable of balancing her emotions, my emotions and our relationship in a practical (time) and emotional (nurturing) way?
For me, if I'm only doing one of those things (i.e. still loving her whilst being with others)... but I scrimp on the other areas, like nurturing her, making time for everyone and hiding away from my own insecurities about her being active... I'm not being poly.
By keeping extra partners a secret, those conditions are never going to be met. You're not sparing your boyfriend's feelings by keeping it a secret - you're putting in place a situation that will be extremely harmful for him. It's not poly.
You're not alone
Though I entered that affair when I was 16, I've never actually cheated on any of my partners. But I had poly feelings towards the end of a 5 year relationship. We entered a mono(him)/poly(me) relationship that went wrong because I wasn't capable of balancing at the time.
I left him for the girl, thinking I had to just choose one person. Three years later, I still wanted to be poly. I couldn't go on with her monogamously. I told her this. She didn't want to be poly. So I broke up with her. It wouldn't have been fair to cheat on her. Everyone should have a choice - everyone should have consent.
I've also been cheated on, badly. So I can say, without wanting to attack you, that this isn't fair on your boyfriend. This is going to hurt him terribly. You have to give people a choice.
Let's talk about Stephen?
I get the impression from your post that you seem to think Stephen is good and pure and 'poly' because he's not bothered that you have a boyfriend? Perhaps he is. But truly 'poly' people tend to want to know that their partner's partner is fully aware and happy with everything. Often, poly partners meet poly partners. There's usually some interaction somewhere along the line so that everyone can be on the same page.
There's a big difference between someone who just doesn't care about your boyfriend and someone who happily accepts your boyfriend and wants to act in a way that suits everyone.
Chances are, Stephen's not actually poly - because all he's doing is ignoring the fact that you have a boyfriend. A poly dynamic would *include* and *appreciate* the fact that you have a boyfriend.
Or am I getting this wrong and Stephen doesn't even know you have any kind of boyfriend? Thinks you're totally single?
I'm afraid it's not as simple as hoping a mono relationship will open up.
Poly is not right for everyone. Poly is not the 'best way to live'. Poly is not some sort of magical, superior enlightened state of mind and all mono people are foolish idiots. Everyone has the right to live their life the way they want to, and in a way that makes them happy.
You have to give people a choice. It's not right to take their choice away from them to please yourself. In the long run, never mind boyfriend, in terms of purely yourself - you're not doing yourself any favours. You won't find what you need on this path.
You have a choice to make.
> You can keep cheating (what you are doing is cheating; not poly, I'm afraid). Obviously not a good idea.
> You can tell your boyfriend that you need a poly relationship and see if he's willing to open up with that.
> You can accept that your boyfriend doesn't want to and ultimately leave the relationship.
By freeing yourself up to become poly, you will be opening doors to learn a lot more about yourself, how to operate in a non-selfish way and how to find the kind of happiness that you want in your life.