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Advice

My boyfriend cheated on me, then said he wanted us to be polyamorous. Bad idea, right?

  • Author: Wayne and Wanda
  • Updated: September 23
  • Published September 23

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I read "Wayne and Wanda: My boyfriend wants to be polyamorous" and I have similar situation but slightly deeper. I've been with my boyfriend for two years and been best friends with him for over 10 years. We have so much love for each other. Recently, I found out that he was texting a co-worker. She told me that they have kissed and spoken about a future. Previously I found out that he basically had a three-month relationship behind my back, and still I gave him another chance.

I didn't understand how he could cheat. We're together most of the time and we've had a very open relationship where I invite other females in the bedroom. We were happy, great sex life, he treated me amazingly, and now this?! I broke up with him; there was no reason with how open and honest I am with him that he should ever feel he cannot talk to me about anything.

He was devastated. He constantly apologized and said he's in love with me and cannot see his life without me. After giving me some asked-for space, he confessed that he felt his infidelities were because he felt he might be polyamorous and wanted two girlfriends with me, and it's a feeling he's always had but never understood. I didn't know what to think and had so many questions. Why wouldn't he talk to me about it instead of cheating? Did I bring this in my relationship by wanting to explore my sexuality with the man I love? That didn't mean I wanted to share my love and future with other partners. He said it's not about sex but it was more about loving another female and having her joining our family. That hurt me even more because I instantly felt like I wasn't enough for him.

In the attempt to think rationally and be open-minded, I started to do my research and read up more on the subject of being in a poly relationship. I just can't imagine sharing his love. We have something special and I'm very selfish with it. Sharing his penis doesn't bother me at all oddly, so what's so different? He completely started off wrong by cheating on me. Now I cannot trust him. I still want to explore sexually but now I no longer feel comfortable, afraid he's attempting to spark a poly relationship.

I still love him and feel like my other half is missing without him in my life but am completely OK with having to move on to avoid getting hurt again. Please help, what should I do?

Wanda says:

While the spectrum of monogamish relationships is broad, generally speaking, there are open relationships, and then there are polyamorous relationships. Open relationships mean, simply, a couple is sexually open to experiment with other partners, typically within rules they've agreed upon. Polyamorous has deeper connotations; it entails establishing and nurturing not just sexual but also emotional connections with other partners.

While all this may seem unconventional and even insane to the straight-and-narrow traditionalists, to many, including you, a relationship is a safe place to explore sexually, often with a partner you trust and love.

There are a couple problems you're now dealing with. By pursuing emotional relationships beyond yours, your partner has tarnished that trust. Secondly, he's admitted he is interested in plural relationships that aren't just physical, but emotional.

You said it yourself: You can handle sharing him intimately, but the idea of another girlfriend joining the mix is bizarre for you, uncomfortable and unsettling, even hurtful. And, girl, that's OK. Most women go postal when they so much as catch their dude checking out another woman. Gold stars to you for being confident enough to enjoy some bedroom exploration, but double gold stars for recognizing your limitations.

Just because you're OK with one thing doesn't mean you're OK with another, nor should you feel pressured to be so. Sharing a physical experience that skates the emotional surface is way different than saying a third party is going to be a part of your day-to-day relationship.

You are clearly a woman who knows herself, so trust your instincts here. You know what makes you happy and you know the sound of an alarm bell when you hear it. If your BFF and partner needs to have more than one woman in his life, maybe you should cut him free so he can start pursuing that. It may hurt now, but in the end, we all deserve the space to find what we want, and that holds true for the both of you.

Wayne says:

Wow — I'm impressed, guys! Not necessarily with having multiple sexual and emotional partners, but with how you have the time, energy and memory to make it work. Seriously — how do your guy and you, to some extent, manage to keep track of everyone's turn-ons, turn-offs, needs, wants, cravings, annoyances and safe words? How do you even remember all their names and birthdays, or favorite ice cream flavors and movies? Oh, I bet you guys just skip the "Netflix" in Netflix and chill? Sounds exhausting.

You might be a lady in the streets and a freak in the bed, but that doesn't mean you don't have feelings! And if those feelings are telling you that there's only so much of your man that you're willing to share with other women, then that is the way it is. Period.

He's already cheated on you. He also told you that he isn't a one-woman man, in bed or in general. So, as lame as this sounds, it's time for you to start moving on, or at least preparing to do so. You aren't going to change your emotional makeup and you can't expect that someone as adamant as him is going to change his.

But let's just say you continue to let this play out. You're always going to feel a little wounded and betrayed, right? Which means you'll also always be worried or wondering. Will you ever be able to truly trust him again? Doubtful. Because you know what he's already done and what he wants to do.

So as painful and confusing and dreary and empty as it is to break up with someone you truly love, sometimes it's the best move. Staying in this relationship is only going to continue making your life a struggle. You know what you want for yourself and expect from your partner. Don't compromise on that. Move on. Good luck.

Want to respond to a recent column, point out a dating trend, or ask Wanda and Wayne for wisdom regarding your love life? Give them a shout at wanda@alaskadispatch.com.

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