How Can I Ever Come To Understand Polyamory?

Thu, 10/20/2011 - 08:49
Submitted by Betty Dodson

Dear Dr. Betty,

I've sent you a question before, regarding my sexual frustrations during sex, thanks to my physical handicap. I have a new problem, unfortunately. It has nothing to do with my sex life, but it does have to do with the emergence of polyamory in our popular culture.

More and more, I hear about and I meet people practicing or interested in polyamory. A good friend, a man who's been like my brother for the past 6 years, has begun polyamory with his recently-wed first wife. When they dated, they slept around a lot. He told me about both of them admitting multiple times that they had cheated. I always felt like he proposed to her in order to save a sinking relationship. I worried for this marriage, even though I never had the heart to tell him. But my discontent grew, and I knew I'd have to say something, some day.

It had gotten better for me when I met a girl. She is beautiful and fragile, and the coolest hippie girl. I fell in love, and a year into that friendship, I told her I loved her. She let me down easy, but strangely enough we actually got closer. I began to think of her as my sister. She and I had the best times hanging out, exploring different methods of pagan spirituality, and learning about the ins and outs of pre-Christian cultures.

I lost my friendship with my "bro", when he began polyamory, with his wife's agreement. The person he chose to join he and his wife in their marital bed, was my hippie sister, whom I once desired but always will love. I was incredulous. And after awhile, very pissed off.

There are definite flaws in my buddy's personality. I once hung out in my dorm room with him, a gay friend, and another female friend, who was a virgin at the time. He was very drunk, we all were, and he admitted that he'd be willing to, right there, have sex with him, her, and even me if he was still horny enough. Didn't happen, but I was definitely taken aback. Add that to his and his wife's cheating pasts, and now their polyamory, I'm sure you can understand that I began to realize that my bro was an incredibly sexually greedy man.

That's exactly how I felt when he told me he wanted her. I asked him to choose someone else. He was pretty pissed. Saying that I only wanted her because he does, I'm jealous that I can't have her, etc. I told him it wasn't about that. That he wouldn't take care of her, that he couldn't love her and his wife. His response was, "fuck you, you don't understand poly, it's designed for more than two people to be happy..." etc. So after failing to be diplomatic, I went another way.

I tried to warn her. I was terrified for her, I begged her not to do it, because I was convinced that she'd not be cared for, emotionally or otherwise. She told me, much to my dismay, that she'd already tried it, and that I was right, that it isn't for her.

I felt even more pissed off. Knowing the law like I do, I was careful to never insult my bro or his wife, but I called him back and I told him exactly what I thought of polyamory. I think it's stupid, greedy, prone to jealousy among the people involved, and I don't see how more than two people can be in love, real romantic love.

He told me off pretty hard in response, and he hasn't spoken to me in at least the last six months. I presume they have a new girl that they added to their bed. I still hate just about everything that happened in this falling out. I still think he's a sexually greedy, egotistical narcissist. And I know that I'm an over-thinking, prideful, moral busybody who needs to get off my high horse. I'll be the first to admit all of that. It had nothing to do with me, and in retrospect, if I left it alone, she probably would've still come to the conclusion that poly wasn't for her. Possibly.

I want my friend back, but even after I apologized to him and his wife about it, the last thing he said to me was that I got what I wanted, that my hippie sister wasn't in his bed anymore. I never wanted to lose him as a friend. But I've always disliked his never-ending libido. His having sex with our friends, while I was still a lonely and frustrated virgin. Nobody ever thought that maybe I'd like to experience sex, to know what intimacy was about. And she makes the third of our mutual female friends that he's screwed, that I know of. I am a little jealous of his good looks, and that it took me until I was 21 to sleep with a girl whom I cared about, but it turned out that she was using me to get back at her cheating boyfriend.

I don't think I can accept polyamory as a lifestyle. I keep trying to invent hypotheticals that would make polyamory into a legitimate thing in my head. I think it ought to be possible for polyamory to work. But I don't think this was a situation where it did. I miss my friend, but I think that in the end, he cared more about my acceptance of his kinky lifestyle. I have issues with him, and while I miss his friendship, part of me can't stand him.

I'm sorry for this being so long. My point is, half of me wants your help in accepting him enough to be his friend again. The other half wants your help in understanding polyamory, since that would pretty much need to be solved first, before I can be his friend again. But then I think, is it worth it?

Hi J,

Yes I remember your nic. Your request is impossible for me to fulfill. However, the old saw, "live and let live" is a good one to remember when dealing with friends and friendships both new and old.

Your long email was beneficial for you in that you got to think it through by writing it all down. While you are upset with poly lifestyles, I have trouble accepting monogamous marriage, but they are both facts of life. The thing that I admire about poly is the honesty of admitting most people want more than one significant lover in a lifetime. So following the tradition of monogamous marriages, it usually means the husband will cheat at some point, she finds out, they get divorced and society is left with serial monogamy. Many people find that acceptable even though we know that divorce is often devastating to both the couple and their kids. However, commercial society loves multiple marriages as it means couples start another family which requires buying everything new again.

Time is a great healer. I would hope that you can rekindle the friendship you lost by being set in your ways. Romantic Love has a very short shelf life and yet we all adore it, wars are fought over it and friendships lost because of it. In these later years of my life, I
see it as a delightful curse on humankind. I would hope that I never have to go thru it again, but I can't be sure. It is one of the heaviest and most addictive drugs known to humankind. One day at a time, I have managed to avoid it since my last fall from grace into a marvelous sex life that ended several years ago. Ah the pain of breaking up that's so hard to do. Like I said, time is a great healer.

Dr. Betty

Liberating women one orgasm at a time

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It sounds like your bro and

Thu, 10/20/2011 - 10:41
October (not verified)

It sounds like your bro and his wife are having long-term threesomes... NOT polyamory. He's giving poly a bad name and using it as an excuse to get what he wants. It's no wonder that your having a hard time accepting it, he's skewing it all out of proportion. Having an occasional threesome and calling it poly is like having a 1 night stand and claiming you've been together forever.

While I agree with Dr Betty on "Live and Let Live", I don't agree that the issue stems from you. At this point, there is nothing but time that will make your bro come around. When he comes around, if ever, it sounds like you need to keep your bro and everyone else in completely different social circles. Just remove yourself from anything to do with his sexuality, and go your own way. If we all thought about how much more sex other people were getting, we'd all be pretty frustrated. ;)

Good Luck.


Fri, 10/21/2011 - 01:39

how about this scenario....
you live your life accepting others as they are and hopefully they will live theirs accepting you. Poly, open, blah blah... people are people, be in control of yourself and your feelings and emotions. that is all. Of course this seems like it would be a one way street... but if all people agree on this then we can abolish this jealous nonsense once and for all....

Since I'm monogamous, I can accept polyamory

Fri, 10/21/2011 - 22:30

Sound weird? Hubby and I made a choice to be monogamous with each other therefore why would it matter to me what my neighbor or friend is doing as long as all participants are willing adults who don't keep me awake at night?
It sounds like your problem is this friend of yours keeps "stealing" women that you are interested in. You write that you think of this girl as a sister yet you are clearly jealous when this man expresses an interest in her. Would you be upset if someone else started a relationship with her? What if she entered a monogamous relationship and decided that things were too muddy with you and stopped communicating with you? I can't tell you if losing this friendship (with the man-sorry the word "bro" makes me want to puke) is such a bad thing or not. Maybe you can concentrate on making new friends. I would also suggest that you make friends with yourself.  I did not see you write about one redeeming quality about yourself. You made sure to list enough negative qualities though. Here are some good things about you that I gathered from reading and re-reading your post. You are articulate. You obviously care very much for this hippie girl and didn't want to see her get hurt. You can see both sides of an argument. But if you are looking for a sexual relationship and Hippie girl doesn't want to get involved with you, why not ask her if she has a friend who might be interested in dating you?
From reading the posts from polyamorous people on this site like Liandra and Eric, it seems like a lot of honesty and communication is necessary. Frankly to be an ethical polyamorist sounds like too much work for me personally and monogamy is easier.
I hope that you meet someone nice and maybe without having to worry about another man "stealing" the girl you're interested in, you can relax and make a connection. Good luck.

Til Death Do Us Part?

Wed, 10/26/2011 - 17:07

A friend and I was discussing monogamy and the "til death do us part" part of the marriage vows that so many of us say. We both came to the conclusion this idea was thought of when the average lifespan was like, 30 yrs old. (whenever that was!!) Anyway, after being married and remaining monogamous for 10 yrs I took it upon myself to have an affair. I wish that I felt secure enough in my realtionship with my husband to tell him about it and seriously discuss polymory as a possibility in our marriage. He is very traditional and conservative and I don't see that being an option for him. However, I can tell he is not happy in our realtionship and haved eased into the idea by telling him I think it's unrealistic and unfair to place the expectation of meeting someone else's physical and emotional needs and one other person "til death do them part". Shoot! It's nothing to live to 100 these days!!! I could use some advice on introducing this lifestyle to my husband in a non-threatening, loving way.


Wed, 10/26/2011 - 18:18

You can try to discuss it with him but be prepared that he might not be enthusiastic about polyamory. My husband's the same way, he is very conservative and is not into polyamory. Frankly, I'm not really interested in developing another romantic relationship, my plate is kinda full as is and casual sex was never that wonderful for me. How has your husband reacted to the idea of what you've brought up so far? Would you be happy just having affairs without him knowing?

"But I've always disliked his

Tue, 11/01/2011 - 09:51
damidwif (not verified)

"But I've always disliked his never-ending libido. His having sex with
our friends, while I was still a lonely and frustrated virgin."
Girl, you sound like a straight up hater.
You have two choices: to not be a friend because you don' t like his sexual "kinkiness," or to be his friend because you are his friend and you value the friendship. You don't need to understand polyamory anymore than you need a medical or psych diagnosis for why his libido is high. If you want to understand poly, then read up on it. There are plenty of good websites.