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I needed a reality check, even if I did not want it. Thanks. You have probably prevented months of grief in my marriage.
If you want non-monogamy with monogamy first, as described in this column, you probably want to be a swinger (your relationship comes first, together you play with others) instead of polyamorous.
On the other hand, setting a time limit such as three to six months for the relationship to get well established, is probably a good idea,and I would not agree to limit new people without a specific time limit.
I suspect that the big cause of relationship failure is not the agreement to open the relationship up someday, but the fact that one of the people making the agreement didn't ever really want to be poly in the first place. Dating people who don't really want to be poly _is_ a great way to screw up a poly relationship.
cons: those you mention, plus the possibility that one partner is _never_ ready to open things.
pros: it really does lead to a stronger "primary" bond, if that is what you are looking for.
Is it possible to screw up a relationship in the way you note above? Of course! But we've all seen a fair number of poly-from-the-start strategies fail utterly too.
I think you go to far in characterizing this approach as doomed to failure.
The example given was Revolution NOT evolution. Evolution takes millions of years. There is nothing slow about Pats "dog in heat" request.
Taking baby steps is absolutely the best strategy for having an open relationship with a lover.
I also expect that an "evolution" from monogamy to polyamory would also be a painful process, likely one that involves the death of ill-suited relationships. But then, every relationship fails. Until one succeeds.
If someone isn't already poly, the transition will be painful, whenever they decide to do it. Only do monogamy with a monogamous person if you're cool with the very real possibility you'll always be mono.
Man, that was a long sentence. Sorry.
Anyway, point being, it's an annoying situation to find yourself in, especially if you only realize it once you're past the point where you can do anything about it without resorting to doing what Matisse describes and potentially breaking up your relationship.
All I can be sure about is that my Partner is my Best Friend. I want my friends to be happy. If getting laid now and then by someone else will make him happy, then I'm all for it.
When my boyfriend and I first got together, I wanted to try being poly (he was fine with it; he'd never been in an open relationship before, but was and is an unjealous type), but I quickly realized that I didn't feel secure enough in our relationship to be "open" yet. Like...I was so afraid of losing him to someone else that I couldn't orgasm with him anymore (this happens to me when I don't feel emotionally "safe" with someone). So we agreed that we'd be monogamous until further notice.
In the meantime, we discussed EVERY damn aspect of how we'd conduct our theoretical open relationship. We hashed out our feelings and insecurities and came up with a set of rules to guide us and make us both feel more comfortable (we have to get each other's permission before pursuing someone, we limit "outside" encounters to casual making out at first so we can acclimatize a little bit at a time, etc.).
We've been together for a year and a half now and we're as in love as we were in the beginning...but now we have a HISTORY. We know each other to be reliable and trustworthy because we've had over a year to demonstrate these traits. It's obvious that this is a RELATIONSHIP and not a shallow fling to be abandoned when the next shiny new thing comes along because, well, we've been together a while and weathered some storms. We feel strong and connected enough that one of us lusting after someone else is just not that scary anymore.
...And a month or so ago, I made out with someone else for the first time. It was fun, my makeout partner fully understood the situation and was good with it, and when I got home my boyfriend was ABSOLUTELY FINE.
Time passes, and Pat feels attracted to other people. However, because of the agreement, Pat doesn't act on the feelings or tell Chris about them."
So we have a cautionary tale a relationship in which at least one person is hiding relevant information from the other, and we're blaming the breakup on the RELATIONSHIP STYLE and not the dishonesty?
The problem is not that this couple approached polyamory via the wrong route; it's that they lack the honesty and communication skills to be poly in the first place! OR monogamous, for that matter - concealing information that directly affects your relationship is all-around stupid and a great way to have everything blow up in your face later.
As someone who's gone through that heart-wrenching emotional processing of opening up a relationship further (and almost losing my wife over it), I know what a stupid, stupid plan that is. And we were already sexually open! We just opened up a bit more emotionally and even THAT was excruciatingly painful! But I have no idea what to tell these friends of mine without sounding preachy, so I just kind of rib them about it sometimes... but I'm seriously worried!
(Although my friends really should know better because I told them so!) ;)
I think the situation perversecowgirl described can work just fine, but most people who follow this model are not openly discussing the fact that they'll open it up eventually and talking about what that will mean. They're "worrying about it later," which is just a recipe for disaster, or at best some serious emotional pain.