I’m in a polyamorous relationship with three lovely people, two of whom are monogamous, and two of whom are long-distance relationships for me. My short-distance partner (who is monogamous) has said she is fine with my setup since the start, but I recently went to visit one of my long-distance partners (the polyamorous one) for a week, and honestly, it’s one of the best weeks I’ve had — we fit so well together, and everything was perfect. Now I’m back and my short-distance partner is having tantrums, breakdown after breakdown, and this partner is trying to get into a relationship with my polyamorous long-distance partner, and I am very uncomfortable with that, as I know she isn’t doing it out of love, but out of the fear she has of me doing things without her, and I am worried it will put a strain on the fantastic relationship my polyamorous long-distance partner and I have. I’ve tried talking to her about it, but it doesn’t seem to help, and usually just adds more stress on top of everything. I’m completely for them talking to each other, but the fact that she is going into this with the intention of getting into a relationship really puts me on edge. I’m completely at a loss for what to do. I’d love your input.
Received via Contact Form (name withheld)
Hey there! Thanks for writing in with your question. It can be extremely difficult to balance the needs and wants of more monogamy-oriented partners with those of more polyamory-oriented partners in a non-monogamous relationship, so I can certainly understand why you are struggling.
Unfortunately, it sounds like your local, monogamy-oriented mate isn’t as on board with your polyamorous relationship style as one might prefer. To me, it sounds like your local mate is merely allowing you to have other partners, rather than expressing enthusiasm about it. In other words, I am not sensing a lot of “buy in” from your local mate, and I think that is really the core issue at play here.
I am curious what it might take for your local mate to be more enthusiastic about your polyamorous relationships; to this end, perhaps you could ask your local mate an empowering question such as, “What is preventing you from giving your full, enthusiastic consent to this relationship, instead of being merely fine with it as you are now?”
Another good question to ask might be, “Envision yourself being fully enthusiastic and joyful about my relationships with other people. In this vision, what is different that allows you to feel enthusiastic about my other relationships?”
Asking questions such as these will enable you to get a better sense of your local mate’s emotional needs and wants in this situation, and you’ll have more information about your local mate’s core relationship values as well.
Now, you mention that your local mate is having lots of tantrums and breakdowns since you visited your long-distance partner, but you don’t provide a whole lot of detail on what these tantrums are about. That said, I think it is safe to assume they’re related to how your local mate is feeling about your long-distance relationship.
I am curious about how you respond when your mate is throwing these tantrums, though, which you don’t mention. Are you engaging your active listening skills and trying to hear the needs, wants, and values behind your mate’s angry words? If you aren’t, you might consider trying to do so, as it is usually the case that anger is in fact a strong want or need that has been tragically expressed.
No matter how you figure out what your local mate’s wants, needs, and values are in this situation, it is by addressing these wants and needs that you’ll potentially be able to restore a sense of security to your relationship with your local mate. Hopefully, if your local mate is feeling more secure, she won’t feel quite so compelled to be a part of your relationship with your long-distance partner, when that isn’t something she really even particularly seems to want.
You do mention having some discussions with your local mate, and you say that these conversations aren’t helping. I wonder though what conversations you have had with your long-distance partner about this situation; have you told your long-distance partner about your local mate’s insecurities and fear of missing out? Have you expressed your concern, or your desire that the two of them not enter into a relationship, presumably because it would be for the wrong reasons? If you haven’t had that conversation with your long-distance mate, it might be a good idea to do so. You might even consider making it a three-way conversation and including your local mate, so that everyone’s needs, wants, and values can be expressed and discussed.
One thing you do need to keep in mind is that polyamorous relationships with otherwise-monogamous people tend to be the toughest and least stable relationships, because your relationship structure isn’t meeting one of your monogamous mate’s core needs, namely the need for the safety and security that having only one mate provides. If you aren’t able to provide a sense of safety and security to your monogamous mate’s satisfaction, it might be that your relationship with the monogamous mate simply cannot meet everyone’s needs, and in that case, the relationship may need to end, or at least transition into something other than a romantic relationship (such as a friendship or a friends with benefits-type relationship).
I hope having some additional conversations with your mates improves your situation! If you have any follow up questions or comments, feel free to get in touch with us via the feedback form available on our contact page, at www.feralattraction.com/contact.
If you’d like to speak with Viro about your relationship issues or life goals more interactively, in a private one-on-one setting, you might be interested in Viro’s life and relationship coaching services. Details about Viro’s coaching services are available at www.feralattraction.com/coaching.