5 Things you Didn’t know About Polyamorous Relationships

I didn’t set out to be Polyamorous (poly). It just…sort of happened.

For the first 5 years of our marriage we were a pretty typical monogamous couple. One day, everything changed.

My husband told me he was attracted to a mutual friend of ours and she felt the same way. That was 5 years ago (and a few new lovers) ago.

Since then I’ve become a bit of an ambassador for this relationship style because it’s made me and my marriage better. So, here are some things you might not know about what it’s like to be in multiple loving relationships at the same time.

1. Polyamory is becoming more mainstream.

When CNN’s homepage features an article called Polyamory: When three isn’t a crowd and Business Insider features an article on how to make a polyamorous relationships work, you get the feeling this oddball thing might be going mainstream. The feeling was confirmed in a more scientific way when Google revealed that two of the top relationship searches of 2017 were about polyamory and open relationships.  

Stories of couples who looked the other way while their spouse slept with someone else are as old as the institution of marriage. And while the idea of openly dating and loving multiple people may be just as old, it’s only beginning to find acceptance in American culture today.

2. Poly relationships are different for everyone.

When my husband and I started down this path, one of the more difficult things was that we had no model for this kind of relationship. It wasn’t until then that I realized how much we learned about dating from “Saved by the Bell” and Seventeen magazine. We had others to tell us what we should and shouldn’t do. But with poly, we were pretty much on our own.

Sure, there’s Opening Up and The Ethical Slut. Even after reading that and more, it still felt like the blind leading the blind. As those books will tell you, there is no one right way to go about this.

Some couples never spend the night with their Other Significant Other (OSO), some couples have rules that they got to meet the OSO, other couples never want to meet or hear about the OSO. How were we supposed to know which rules were right for us?

There’s no easy answer. You just go with what feels right and occasionally make mistakes and learn from them that what you thought was acceptable doesn’t work after all.

3. Jealousy can be a challenge … sometimes.

Some poly people have a tough time with jealousy, others almost never experience it. I had a really tough time with jealousy in the beginning. But as I saw that my husband did come back to me, that our life wasn’t destroyed by his having a date with another woman, I began to trust him. And perhaps more importantly, I began to trust this new type of relationship.

Then I found someone. I truly felt comfortable having experienced, for myself, that I could date (and maybe even fall in love with), someone new who doesn’t  take anything away from my marriage.

These days, I don’t feel any more jealousy over my husband having a date than some other social obligation. I’m happy that he’s happy — really!

young couple in swimwear

4. Just like regular dating, it’s both fun and heartbreaking

When I started dating my OSO, I had been married for 6 years and had been with my now husband for 10. Falling in love with someone new was a seriously glorious experience. I never thought I would get the opportunity to feel the thrill of being asked by someone I liked on a date. “This is actually going to happen!”

Getting to know someone on that level was enlightening in so many ways. Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself and became more confident. My confidence grew not because I was dating but because there was something I wanted and I was courageous about going after it.

Of course, when that relationship ended I was heartbroken. And it’s been challenging to watch my husband be hurt. But we’ve grown closer and kinder to one another as we’ve supported each other through breakups. This benefit is one of the best things about polyamory; when you break up with someone, you aren’t alone!

5. It can be just as mundane as monogamy sometimes

Anyone practicing polyamory these days will tell you that scheduling can be the single most annoying part of the lifestyle. However, scheduling and time management is something we all navigate, poly or not.

Being stretched too thin and having too much to do is one of the less fantastic attributes of polyamory. But you probably already know what that’s like! Whether you’re spread too thin because of your kid’s ballet lessons or because you want time to spend with your OSO (or both), it’s a drag.

But you have the consolation of knowing that the reason (one of them at least) you’re so busy is because you’re doing something fun, enriching, and outside the bounds of what’s “normal.” “I don’t have as much time as I wish I did to have fabulous sex with my husband and my boyfriend” is a fun “problem” to have.

Exploring Your own Relationship Style

Whether you’re poly, thinking about being poly, or totally happy with monogamy, the good news is the world is becoming a more accepting place. Any relationship style is going to take some work and balance on your part but it’s always worth it in the end. Making connections with other wonderful people (however you go about it)  is what life is all about!

If you want to read more about polyamory check out Monogamy = Monotony?—Why Couples Go RogueMillions Trying Open Marriage, or How an Open Relationship Can Possibly Work.

Becoming Sex Positive: The Tentative Journey of a ‘Good Girl’

Turns out the world (and sex) is less scary and more fun than I was told.

My husband and I have known each other for about 15 years and are polyamorous. But we didn’t start out that way. We opened our marriage up about 5 years ago and it has been a journey of self-discovery for both of us.

It’s also been a journey into a more sex positive philosophy for me. Sex-positivity is a philosophy of human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as healthy and pleasurable, encouraging sexual pleasure and experimentation rather than shaming it.

Growing up as a so-called good southern girl

I grew up in a small town in a conservative state. I also grew up watching “The Princess Bride” and “The Little Mermaid” so my ideas of love and romance (and sex when I grew older) were rooted in tradition. When I got married at 25 I was proud of the fact that I had only slept with two guys. It pains me to write this now but I thought that made me better than women who had “slept around.”

I look back on that and realize how archaic that is. I can also trace that attitude to what I now consider to misogynistic ideas of females and even rape culture. “Good girls don’t show a lot of skin” and “good girls don’t sleep with lots of guys.” Who is deciding what number constitutes “lots” anyway?

As I approached 30, I began reading some pretty salacious books thanks to ereaders and the proliferation of erotic romance. Without fully acknowledging it, I started to wonder if I had missed out on something having dated so little.

I truly was happy with my marriage or didn’t wish I’d ended up somewhere different. But I did start to wish I’d had more varied experiences along the way to my happy marriage. This is one of the reasons poly was a good fit for my husband and me.

Good southern girl

Also, check out LOVE TV’s A Beginner’s Guide To Ethical Non Monogamous Relationships. 

The good southern girl starts to explore

My first dating experience as a married woman was with a friend. It took me six months to admit to myself that I felt something for him and another 3 months to really do anything about it. But once I realized that the feeling wasn’t one-sided, the flood gates opened.

I threw myself into that relationship with abandon, knowing that it would end someday and that ending might be difficult. But I didn’t care. I’d spent so much time second guessing myself that it felt amazing to let go.

Once I got married I never thought I’d have sex with another man. I never thought to grow close with another man. I never thought I’d make French toast naked in someone else’s kitchen after a leisurely morning of sex. That relationship did end but I am grateful for all i learned from it.

All of this was a whole new world for me. For someone who never broke the rules, I was breaking lots of them and having crazy (for me) amounts of fun.

The good southern girl discovers the enrichment of new experiences

If this was so much fun, what other amazing experiences had I missed out on? Everyone else complained about dating. Even knowing that, I wanted to know what that experience was like. I wanted firsthand experience with the highs and lows of dating.

They say variety is the spice of life and I am only beginning to experience that variety. What else can I experience that will help me learn about the world? What can relationships with others help me learn? And what I can learn about myself in the process? I am excited about the possibilities.

Is this what they meant by “The world is your oyster?”

Life begins outside your comfort zone

I didn’t set out to find a casual sex partner but that’s what I did. Through online dating I met a man who was fun, smart, and pushed me into new experiences just enough. And although I wasn’t ready to open up with all my desires, he taught me new things and new a surprising amount about my body considering how long we hadn’t known each other. Casual sex? Check.

I vacationed in Europe one summer, most of it with my husband. I did however have a few nights on my own. I set a goal for myself to have a one night stand. It would be fun to sleep with a sexy European.

Thanks to the wonders of Tinder, I achieved my goal. After talking to a man for a few hours, I agreed to meet him. We went to a bar not far away and after a few drinks, I asked him if he wanted to come back to my room. I hope we didn’t bother the neighbors too much! It was fun and exactly what I wanted, only better. One night stand? Check. Affair (albeit short) with a sexy Italian guy? Check.

good southern girl makes out with cowboy

Lessons of your youth should die a slow death

I still have moments where I judge myself for my wants and desires. And I fear the judgement of others. But I know that’s the “Good Girl” talking and I have learned a lot about the world that she was never taught.

Being sex positive isn’t always easy for me. But I have close friends I can confide in and it helps to hear that they too have similar feelings and work to overcome them.

Missed opportunities turned into fully appreciated opportunities

I have moments when I regret that my world didn’t get bigger until my 30s. I said as much to one of my lovers. He told me he thought of it as “waiting until we could fully appreciate and learn from new experiences, and be mature enough have those experiences safely.”

That statement has really stuck with me. Would I have appreciated all the world has to offer in my 20’s? Would I have been responsible with these new experiences? It’s easy to regret not finding all this out when I was younger but regret is a waste of time. And I am all about maximizing my time and sucking the marrow out of life.


If you’re thinking about opening up your marriage or exploring new adventures in your marriage, become a full member of LOVE TV and talk with love gurus and relationship experts about your love and your life. 

Things Millenials Must Consider Before Marriage (Past Generations Didn’t Have to Deal With)

Times have changed, but so has the new millennial marriage.

I’m planning a wedding, and boy, is it tough. I’ve been asking my mom and other relatives for advice on wedding planning, but I’ve found that weddings from my parents’ generation (and my grandparents’ generation) are so different from modern weddings. It’s difficult to even compare them.

When my parents got married they didn’t have a videographer or even a photographer, which would be almost unheard of now. When my grandparents got married, they didn’t even have a reception.

But it makes sense that weddings were different back then because marriage has changed a lot too. There are so many things that have evolved over the years to make modern millennial marriage what it is, but this often means new adjustments in relationships.

My fiancé  and I have to think about things that past generations didn’t have to worry about, but we also have the benefit of options that our parents and grandparents didn’t have.

Here are the top five things that millenials have to consider before getting married that past generations didn’t think about.

1. Marriage, money, and how they relate.

millennial working too hard

Money is a big deal for a lot of people. As a couple, you might fight about spending too much or earning too little. Put simply: money habits can cause trouble in a relationship.

To add to the stress, money in marriage has gotten a little more complex in the last generation. While married couples were once expected to combine bank accounts and share everything, that’s not the norm anymore.

More and more couples have made the choice to keep their finances separate, or to at least keep a percentage of their income in a private account. There are many reasons to do this.

Some couples are afraid that being able to see every credit card transaction on each others’ accounts could cause arguments. (Maybe he doesn’t need to know exactly how much you spent at happy hour last week and perhaps you don’t have to see how much he spends on those fancy shirts.)

Some couples want to set money boundaries because they’ve experienced relationship troubles in the past, or have seen friends go through nasty divorces, and want a sense of security in case the millennial marriage has trouble down the road. And of course, many people just want their financial independence.

Whatever the reason, you and your partner might decide that the traditional money management just isn’t for you. And while it’s great to have the options, ironing out the details can get tricky.

Before you think about getting married, talk about your finances and figure out what makes sence. Make sure you’re on the same page because you don’t want any surprises when it comes to money.

2. Having kids

terrified of having kids

It used to be that pretty much everyone had kids. Couples needed children to work on the farm or in the family business, and before birth control, pregnancy was pretty inevitable anyway.

But times are changing.

One huge difference in child rearing from past generations is that kids have gotten more expensive. Families in the past had kids so that they could support themselves, but now, having children is a major financial blow.

Back in the day, people dressed their babies in homemade clothes and hoped that they lived long enough to work. Today, we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on diapers, doctor’s visits, cute outfits, toys, and, of course, college.

But besides the cost, some millennials may decide to not have kids because, well, they simply don’t want children. Couples don’t need to reproduce to have a fulfilling millennial marriage and living without kids has gotten to be a more and more popular lifestyle. Many couples choose to focus on their careers (and each other) rather than have children.

So, don’t listen to that old “sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g” nursery rhyme: getting married does not mean a baby will follow soon after. Decide on what you want your family to look like and find a partner who has similar goals.

3. Priorities and partners’ roles

hidden figures math genius Katherine G Johnson

When it comes to women’s roles in the home and at work, priorities have changed a lot since our grandparents’ times, thank goodness for that! With it, the way millennials have relationships has also changed.

Back in the day, both of my grandmothers had jobs and even went to school beyond high school, but that wasn’t necessarily the norm. Most women were expected to stay home and take care of the house (and the kids). Even women who were educated and had careers (like both of my grannys) quit working when their kids were young so they could take care of the house.

Now, we thankfully don’t live in a world that (for the most part) dictates what we’ll do by our gender. Men and women can be anything they want, which is why couples need to make sure that their priorities are compatible.

Before you commit to each other forever, talk about your long term goals and what your priorities are going to be down the road. Don’t expect that your partner is going to quit their job, or drop out of school, or move across the country because you want them to. Your partner might have other plans.

4. Sex and living together

millennial couple moving in together

Around the middle of the 20th century, there was a big shift in having sex and living together before millennial marriage. In fact, Census Data from 2012 showed that two thirds of couples in 2012 lived together for at least two years before getting married.

What used to be scandalous is now totally expected.

While it’s great that people now have more socially acceptable options, this might be something you’ll have to figure out together as a couple. Do you have a problem with living together before a millennial marriage? Some people do. Maybe it’s religious reasons or maybe you want to be financially committed before you start paying for a place together.

Then again, getting to live together without the pressure of getting married right away could benefit your relationship in the long run. Every couple is different and it’s important to find the arrangement that works best for you.

5. Open and plural millennial marriages

millennials in open marriage

Maybe the recent popularity of shows like Sisters Wives, Seeking Sister Wife, or Three Wives One Husband will make plural marriages seem a little trendy. But the truth is that many people enjoy a plural or open marriage, and find that a non-traditional marriage works best for them.

Also, check out LOVE TV’s A Beginner’s Guide To Ethical Non Monogamous Relationships. 

Maybe this sounds really exciting, or maybe you’re sure that this isn’t the right lifestyle for you. Either way, make sure that you and your partner are on the same page. While older generations might be shocked at the idea of a relationship beyond two people, remember that same-sex or interracial marriages were once shocking to some people too. Keep an open mind and talk about what your needs are. Talk about how you see the future of your relationship and your family.

Just because your parents and grandparents did marriage one way doesn’t mean you have to follow in their footsteps. As times change, relationships evolve, and knowing which points to talk about can help your marriage last for many years to come.

If you’re interested in ways that millennials are changing what so-called “grown-up relationships” look like. You can also check out these 10 ways millennials do relationship but don’t date.

5 Essential Rules to Make Polyamory and Open Relationships Work

Some rules were made to be broken. Others weren’t.

There is no one right way to practice polyamory (poly) or open relationships. Part of the charm of this relationship style is that when the rules don’t work for you, you create your own or in some case throw them out altogether.

But there are a few underlying principles and best practices to increase your chances of success with an open relationship of any kind.

Also, check out LOVE TV’s A Beginner’s Guide To Ethical Non Monogamous Relationships. 

1. Everyone must be comfortable with what you are doing

I dated a guy who was poly for 2 years. He never stopped referring to what we were doing as cheating. Despite the fact that his wife was happy with the situation and was one of my closest friends, he was in some ways still uncomfortable with the situation. And that put a strain on our relationship.

Just like in regular dating, you’ll meet people who challenge your assumptions about yourself and help you grow.

I met a guy who was into sensual Japanese rope tying and surprised myself (but only little) by being into it. I had to work through some awkward feelings about what I wanted to do with certain people. There were things I wanted from the guy I was dating that I didn’t want from my husband.

Feeling guilty and confused, I talked to my husband. I had never stopped to consider that he had felt the same things and that the bedroom activities with his other partner were different from what he and I did. Feeling less guilty, I dived into the other relationship. And had a blast.

Sometimes you may be unsure about something or someone new. The key is to get to the root of why you’re uncomfortable and get past it.

2. Never, ever lie

never lie in poly relationships

This is the one universal rule of poly. Every couple (or thruple, etc) makes their own rules according to what works for them. But this is the one constant.

It’s been interesting to step back and examine the occasions when I have been tempted to lie. In my case, it usually revolves around fear of being judged. On one occasion, I was on a second date with a guy and stayed out longer than I intended.

Not wanting my husband to think I was some sort of hussy, I was tempted to tell him I was already home rather than just then leaving my date (he was away from home but I always text to let him know I’m safe).

To be clear, my husband would have been fine with a long date or even if I had gone home with the other guy. The judgement was all mine. The temptation I felt was a sign that I had some work to do with being comfortable with myself and my decisions.

3. Planning is your friend (and your partner’s)

Many of us are operating at about 110% capacity most days. Knowing when your partner is going to be home for cooking duties or snuggles (or both) helps everyone’s keep life balanced. Dating can complicate things.

One of the most complex things about dating someone who is married or in another relationship is that if the date goes well you can’t necessarily go back to their place without some planning ahead.

It’s not uncommon to see those in the poly community praise the usefulness of Google Calendar. Shared calendars let everyone know that responsibilities are taken care of while giving each other some space to spend time with whoever they are seeing on that particular evening.

Make plans and communicate them clearly.

4. Find out what your partner (all of them) is comfortable with

poly couple talking

One important rule in Poly is that the group moves at the pace of the least comfortable person. If you or someone in your dating circle is new to poly, recovering from a bad relationship, or just plain unsure about the situation, everyone needs to work within that person’s comfort zone.

When we first opened our marriage I was scared. So we took baby steps. As I saw that our marriage wouldn’t crumble, I relaxed many of the rules I had initially needed.

One example was letting them go on a long weekend trip. That was a big step. Big enough that we went back to our marriage counselor, something we hadn’t done in a couple of months.

When she asked us the reason for the visit I told her “He might go on a short trip with his girlfriend and I think I’m OK with it. But this is a big deal and I want to be sure we don’t f*ck this up.”

We spent the hour talking through fears, expectations, and exploring questions. I made fun plans for myself to ward off jealousy or resentment, they went on the trip, and everyone was fine. That was the first of several trips with Other Significant Others over the last few years.

5. Set specific expectations

plural relationship open relationship poly

One of the best ways to avoid disagreements and misunderstandings is to communicate expectations. Especially for those starting out with poly, specifics are really important.

When my husband first started dating, we would agree that he would be home around 10. I meant be home by 10, he heard that he should head home close to 10. So when he came home at 10:10 or 10:15 I had had 10 or 15 minutes to overthink everything.

I did not want to be that rigid and I tried to be OK with the differences in understanding. But by the third date I had to accept my own limitation and communicate that to my husband. Once I did so, he understood the importance of being home by 10.

These days things are much more loosy-goosy. But the importance of specific expectations and mutual understanding of those expectations can not be overstated.

Successful relationships in every style

All of these rules exist in healthy monogamous relationships too. Being poly simply means you need to apply the rules a little differently and consider more people’s needs when doing so. And if you make a mistake, fess up, have a productive conversation about why the mistake was made, and determine ways to prevent a recurrence.

If you’re thinking about opening up your marriage or exploring new adventures in your marriage, become a full member of LOVE TV and talk with love gurus and relationship experts about your love and your life. 

Should Polyamorous Couples Be Welcome During Pride Month?

Big strides have been made in acceptance of alternative relationship styles but there’s still work to be done.

There’s an old joke in which someone (usually a child) says the alphabet and leaves out the letter P, prompting someone else to ask “Where’s the P?” This of course gives the child a reason to declare “running down my leg” in a fit of giggles.

But during this wonderful month of LGBTQ Pride, I too am wondering “Where’s the P?” Where are the polyamorous in all this celebration of love in all its varieties?

And don’t forget, if you’re struggling with relationship challenges or working on finding the right person, we’re here to help. Join LOVE TV today!

Progress Made

Many (though certainly not all) of those who fall outside the traditional, heteronormative spectrum have found acceptance. The amount of progress made on this front in the last 15 years is staggering (though this is not meant to ignore the places where there is still work to be done).. But those of us who are polyamorous still do not have even this level of acceptance.

Should polyamorous relationships be welcome at LGBT pride

How Did I Get Here?

I remarked the other day that I find it interesting that of my high school besties, all of whom happen to be either gay or bi, now have lifestyles that are more accepted than mine. The four of us had wonderful adventures after school and during the summer. Now it’s mumble mumble (don’t make me add it up) years later and we all lead different, happy lives. One is a lesbian couple, married with a beautiful child, another is a fun-loving gay man who wouldn’t be caught dead at a Mardi Gras party without a costume, and the third has been dating both men and women for years.

None of us would have predicted that I would be the one hiding my romantic proclivities. A few close friends know my husband and I are polyamorous but we are selective in who we tell. Even some friends who do know would be made uncomfortable if we talked openly of our Other Significant Others.

From the outside, my marriage looks like everyone else’s. We get up, go to work, and commute home like most people in their 30’s. Except that my day might end with my staying the night with a great guy who isn’t my husband. My husband knows where I am and every one is quite happy with the situation.

Sure there are stories of this “thruple” or that “thruple” but these are still viewed as oddities and in most cases are not legally binding marriages. I know it’s inevitable that I’ll run into a coworker or family friend while out on a date someday. They will likely assume I am cheating on my husband as anything else is actually unthinkable. Happily if they happen to be judgy they aren’t the kind of person whose opinion I would value anyway.
Let’s Celebrate

Should polyamorous relationships be welcome at LGBT pride

If “Love is love” (and indeed it is), why is it so different if it’s more than two?

As we saw very clearly demonstrated with gay and lesbian acceptance, once people realize a friend or family member is part is this “other” group it becomes harder to hate that group and easier to have a productive conversation about our differences and commonalities.

As Poly individuals “come out” we’ll begin to see more acceptance and understanding. I would love it if my friends knew that my guy friend and drinking buddy is actually my boyfriend and I love him dearly.

Read more in our A Beginner’s Guide To Ethical Non Monogamous Relationships.