Polygamy – Advice Needed Q&A

TritvamI wanted to ask some advice, as an outsider of all things polygamy.
I know someone in a polyandry relationship, with my housemate. It’s all very confusing and long but I’ll try to break it down and explain what I see (do make yourself a cup of tea before you settle down, it could be a long one).

Myself and my boyfriend (we are completely monogamous) have recently moved in with a friend, who we shall refer to as J.
J is in an open relationship with his friend, L.
L is the girlfriend to another man, P. P is aware of the sharing of his girlfriend but doesn’t like to talk about it, which I would have personally taken as an early sign of uncomfort at the situation, however L is P’s first love (he was 23 when he lost his virginity to her, ’nuff said), and L seems to be very dominating in situations. She likes to talk for everybody, talk over everybody, and literally says because she has autism she can read peoples emotions better than they can themselves, a comment that I found very distasteful and just seemed to be a blow your own trumpet kind of comment. So I think P will never say how he truly feels about the situation, probably because L has convinced him that he feels ok about it, and she’s convinced he’s ok with it because she happily put words in his mouth that suited her, all the while P has to stick it up and shut up. He obviously doesn’t want to lose her and I feel she uses this to her advantage as she knows she can get away with a polyandry relationship when it hurts her partner, but I feel like she hasn’t thought about just how much this could be damaging to him, I feel she’s only selfishly looking out for her own needs. Your blog has definitely made me understand polygamy more, even that there are some benefits to it I suppose, but I feel L is doing it to satisfy her emotional neediness and sexual greediness more than anything else, with a total disregard to anyone else. L is around J’s every other day, and literally gives him no space when she’s not, he’ll be on the phone to her for absolutely hours as soon as he gets in from work, even on his break at work he’ll spend the duration of it on the phone to her. When she can’t get through to him she messages me, the bloody housemate, to go and wake him up because she cant get through to him and he has a doctors appt, etc! The neediness is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and yet she speaks with such confidence driven know-it-all-ism about things she knows nothing about its enough to want to smack your head against the wall (she confidently stated the other day that it was impossible for baked beans to go off, I mean really?!) I suppose it all boils down to insecurity within herself.
L maintains that J and P are the best of friends, but after living here for 6 months, although they get on very well (forced acceptance in my eyes, again, like it or lump it) the visits used to be all of them together, now it is very much P just coming over to pick up L after a few days away.
J recently struck up a relationship with a girl from work, M. He didn’t tell her about L, not at first, he got intimate with M for a few weeks and then decided to tell her. Now, normally from any outside situation looking in anyone would blame J for stringing M along without telling her straight away, but I actually feel like he didn’t do this maliciously, he’s young and confused, and what male can’t resist 2 women falling at his feet? That sounds really messed up, but if you knew J personally, you’d realise he’s just caught up in it all, he’s emotionally invested himself in 2 people because 2 people like him, without thinking of the bigger picture, I really don’t think he realises how much hurt there is to be had in a relationship like this.
As the love triangle (or square as there are so many now?) continues M and L spent time with J around the house together, and underlying problems became apparent. L feels jealous when J is cuddling up to M, and vice versa, this annoys me in itself as surely L must have a tiny bit of understanding as to how P feels about sharing her. They all agreed to come over to J’s to talk through the problems (L and P live with L’s parents, so they had to do it over ours which meant myself and my boyfriend were banished from downstairs for the night while they talked over their self made emotional black holes), which didn’t actually happen by the way, they all chickened out of talking about how they all really feel and just swept in under the rug so it can continue (imo) and ordered pizza instead. Didn’t bother telling us so we stayed in our room all night.
Last week P proposed to L, they are fiancees, and a little part of me cant help but think he’s done this out of defense, “don’t forget she’s mine” kind of thing, and maybe he feels like it’ll stop when they’re married. I wish I could talk to him about it, but we’ve only had small talk acquaintance style, and if he doesn’t like talking about it to the people who are involved he certainly won’t speak to a stranger.
A part of me wants to send him a coarse horrid message to snap him out of being submissive to such emotional drainage, “Doesn’t it bother you that your wife is fucking another man?!!”, but alas I won’t. That is definitely not my place, no matter how much I can’t understand it. I just don’t get how people cause such underlying pain (looking into partners eyes during lovemaking and imagining them being intimate with someone else) for the sake of a ‘more interesting life’. It just seems so wrong to cause burdens on emotions like that. I can see the appeal, one of my earliest fantasies was to be in a wonderfully sexual polygamous relationship with two men before I even knew what the term for it was. However, emotionally analysing it it’s just messed up.
I see L and M in competition with each other but passively which is very strange to observe, I think I’d rather have 2 people just fight it out in front of me, L is constantly cleaning the house, and will actively point out everything she’s done to J for approval, almost like a “look how better I am than M”.
I suppose I’m also a little angry at J for continuing it, as much as I can see the appeal of two women at once, L is going to get married so there is no real progression there for a meaningful relationship, and M’s a really lovely girl that shouldn’t have been dragged through this mess. Still blaming L for this though, she is definitely the dominant one in every aspect and knows what she is doing. I see J losing his patience with all sides, although I have little sympathy.

Thoughts please?
Also, thank you Fiona, this blog is amazing, I read through nearly every article. And please excuse me for saying so, but reading through your own posts just made me realise how emotionally submissive to this you were, like you had to cope, deal and accept it as being normal when there’s so much pain and awkwardness there really. But that is only my opinion, and has probably been jaded by the situation I am watching on a daily basis, I would never have found your blog if not for it so I suppose it has brought one good thing. I wish I could make L read all the posts on here!
You’re a wonder woman Fiona, even to the people who don’t understand 🙂

13 thoughts on “Polygamy – Advice Needed Q&A

  1. Wow, what a story. And to be in your shoes, watching this whole tragedy unfold in front of you, must be surreal. You can’t help but get roped into at least some of the drama.

    I got no advice, because the advice I give comes from experience and I’ve NEVER gone through anything like that. I will say though that you’re likely right, all the getting along you’re seeing is forced. Been there, done that bit at least. It made me even more of a wreck than I already was.

    Polyamory is what it is, and I do know a few folks in very successful triad ( and more) relationships of this nature. Being a pagan, it’s fairly commonplace to some degree though “committed” polyamory isn’t. Basically open relationships that barely pass the test as far as I’m concerned for qualifying as relationships, because they’re doing a series of others, who are essentially friends w/ benefits with the core couple. If that’s their thing, cool. It’s not for me. Traditional monogamous relationships are difficult enough as it is without adding multiple other partners into the mix on a part-time basis. That’s my feeling. I sense a lot of hurt ahead in this complex situation, OP. All you can do then is be a supportive friend.

  2. Reminds me when i use to hang out in Berkley ……free love anything goes relationships non violence & share your partner life style. This is the late 60’s & i was young & made friends with the street musicians who lived a “hippy” lifestyle. There was a lot of people doing a triangle relationship lifestyle plus some did orgies. I was invited to orgies but declined the offer……i could never understand how they could call this “love” when actually it was lust. You could see them line up at the Berkley Free Clinic (to get there VD shot)…….Maybe some triangle relationships work but please tell me if you know of any that have lasted a lifetime without any of the people involved ever leaving each other or ever bringing others into the relationship. And i am talking about a free will commitment not a brainwashed dogma brought on by Mormonism or Islam.

  3. Hey OP, thanks for the warning In advance ; just finished my cup of tea.. Lol!

    Well dear I honestly believe in seeking views from two kinds of people: the ones who have experienced a great deal regarding the matter themselves so can speak from experience and understanding and the others who have no experience at all so they think from a neutral viewpoint, take the situation practically for what it is as they have nothing to compare with and nothing for or against anyone, put whatever they have got to imagine, analyse and understand the situation if not for nothing else then to learn something new. Well I certainly belong to the second category so…..

    The most effective thing to do would be to send P to a spell caster, L to a psychiatrist, J on a vacation alone, M on a holiday with family and real friends, allowing you and your boyfriend a little time to breath peacefully.

    But seeing it for real I feel sometimes when we become involved in a situation where we don’t know which way to go, where’s the exit and are not even certain is it the exit that we really want? We find ourselves accepting whatever is told to us, we do what we are suppose to do just so we can survive continuing the path from where we see the small ray of hope which is in accordance with our feelings and wishes but unless we remove ourselves or maintain a certain distance from a situation this toxic we can’t actually see things for what they are, think rationally because that ray of hope serves as drug and all we want is our fix. That is actually what’s happening with P and M here, L and J have become their drug and as soon as they find themselves in unbearable pain or near logic, words or actions from L and J time to time fix that. Certainly instead of swimming against the current they have opted for drowning and losing themselves, an easier option at the moment or so it seems.

    Unless firstly they even temporarily maintain a certain distance and think it out no one can help them even they themselves. They should distance themselves and specify a time period to think about it, even then if they want to be with these people, they should come up with certain rules on how things will work, their rights so that they atleast have an idea regarding what to expect and their future and definite boundaries that are meant to be respected and not pushed or bend. Also in a relationship everyones happiness and freedom matters so if their being happy involves themselves in other relationships too then so be it.

    Also P should firstly understand what Love is and afterwards worry about first or second love. There’s a difference between Love and drug just like losing virginity is different from losing yourself. Similarly M should understand commitment and relationship from her point of view, her definition of these words and if it matches even half way to J’s then she should deal with it as per her needs and desires or else remove herself completely, it’ll only get worse.

    I’ll like to stick with L’s visits to psychiatrist because this much insecurity and selfishness is not normal and complete denial about it really calls professional help, she needs to be saved from herself.

    About J, well if it was L who introduced him to open relationships and not the other way round, I don’t see why he should not give a chance to a relationship with M. There are people who are happily married and had many long term relationships in the past in which they invested a great deal be it emotionally or financially, not all investments are meant to be held forever; few just serve a purpose, come and go as a phase of life. He should try to control the situation before it starts controlling him and then he either loses M for nothing or everything including himself.

    But if it was him who always wanted this lifestyle or have grown to love it, he should make his intentions clear beforehand, be true to them about what to expect from him and deal with it fairly with proper rules, rights, duties, boundaries which work for all not just him instead of dragging, lying, telling half truth, using and hurting others and then trying to justify it all with his emotional investments or his own hurt.

    Everyone has his own definition of love, life, commitment, relationship, freedom and happiness and hence should be given an equal opportunity to choose, explore and convert it into real life experiences. We are no one to judge and make choices for others but then certainly there should be no one making choices for ourselves but us. It’s not a relationship if your freedom equals your partner’s abuse, and no you can never justify that no matter what.

    Oh dear! I am sorry for not warning you to make another cup of tea before reading my comment.. :-SS

  4. Hello everybody! OP here, thank you all so much for your wonderful replies! It’s so insightful, and really helping me get to grips with it.
    Dale, unless you’ve lived with close friends in such a detrimental situation you can’t imagine how troubling and just how much the problem becomes business of your own.
    Big update, I actually had a talk with M about it last night. It was just her and me in the house and she came and offered me a cup of tea, which I almost refused but I’d been thinking about this all day, and this bloomin’ blog lit a fire under my arse lol, so I took it up and our conversation eventually draws round to L and the situation, something we’ve obviously never talked about, my god we chatted for hours, I think it was a major release for both of us.
    I didn’t realise but they’ve actually got scheduled days with J, and I’m so glad I read this blog before because I’m not sure I could’ve wrapped my head around the idea of having to schedule specific days to share someone, you guys helped me..I want to say normalise, but desensitise maybe is a better word, so I wasn’t completely taken aback (but there still was the little voice in my head going wtf).
    The user ‘successful’ rightly said L needs to get some good old fashioned head help, and after what I heard and then observed tonight I really agree. I learned that L is taking polygamy so seriously she’s said to J and M when they’re older she’s getting a house near there’s so her and P’s babies can play with M and J’s babies who can play with J and L’s babies. That is when I realised as happy, airy and over exuberant as she is, she is actually mentally ill.
    I asked M if she knew what situation she was coming into would she have done? She answered No, but it’s too late because she’s fallen so in love with J.
    That broke my heart a bit.
    We both agreed that L was dominant in situations, we just agreed on everything I said in the original post actually, she was so relieved bless her, she said she thought she was going crazy and she was the only one to have noticed how manipulative L is (L has also said myself and her are the best of friends, something I venomously deny).
    Anyway, so it’s M’s scheduled day with J, and surprise surprise J comes home after 3 hours up the hospital, on the phone to L sounding a bit aggravated. Now I kind of understand why she’s on the phone to him so much. M told me she calls for stupid emergency reasons on their days together so she can dominate their time together. Supposedly if J is on the phone to M around L, L will stare at him until he finishes the phone call. When J is on the phone to L he normally shuts himself in the office away from M, and this’ll be for hours, like last night. but totally meaningless conversation like she just holds him on the phone for no reason. He came into me and my bf’s room asking for a rollup, he sat and had a full conversation with us whilst having the phone to his ear the whole time with L patiently waiting for him to return to the call.
    After about 2 hours of M making a few faces at J to show her disapproval of having their time taken away J tried to end the phone call. At which point J passed the phone to M and said L wants to plan your birthday party with you. Now that’s malicious right there, and if it’s not she is just that crazy. Understandably after our conversation earlier she didn’t want to talk to L, least of all about letting her go and ahead and plan her bday for her, laughable, so they went upstairs and had a massive argument on the phone for like an hour, I can’t help but feel a little responsible for that after riling her up. But at the same time she did admit she was sticking it out to see if L would eventually piss off and they could finally be together properly, and I think the ball got properly moving last night, J and M shut themselves away and had a big talk into the early hours.. I’m waiting for them to wake up so I can analyse the situation. I’m so tired of walking on egg shells around the house with everyone being moody.. Hopefully have a happy household soon.
    Gosh I can’t thank you guys enough for reading through all my crap, it’s nice to vent and actually get some really intelligent replies, you guys are helping me so much, thank you!

  5. Lucy, I am going to be straightforward.

    I see two main justifications for you to get involved by taking impact on these people’s intimate relationships:
    1. someone asked you for help since they felt they were being exploited and could not get out of it themselves (has not happened, reading your story, and then you would be morally committed to staying within the boundaries the one asking you for help would set),
    2. someone vulnerable – exploited or prone to exploitation – were to be mistreated in a way you would consider it a moral obligation to intervene, lest harm could be done to that person’s psychological well-being.

    The way I see it is there are adults organizing their private lives; no one is in an oppressive social situation. With this, I mean none of the partners is subjugatedly primed to a certain social role, as women are in faiths and traditions that require obedience to the husband and acceptance of polygamy as “God pleasing” or cheating as “man’s (but not woman’s) nature”; none of the partners the way you tell the story is in a situation of economic or otherwise vulnerable position, like a person from a non-European country being dependent on their partner for reasons of residence; none of the partners appears to be mentally vulnerable due to disease or psychological condition; none of the partners clings to the other by emotional conditioning over decades, which might come close to a situation of dependency. The only (slight!) hint you give is P – in your view – is psychologically weak/prone to exploitation by his partner.

    This last slight hint to me is very little reason to intervene in other people’s intimate decisions.

    It is only a slight step between “helping” and patronizing. P and M do not appear incapacitated to make their own decisions to me. I see no reason to believe they were not able to decide for themselves whether they want to be with a (potentially psychologically abusive or exploitative) partner or not. Why make accusations and stir issues where no one asked you for help?
    Could it be the reason you are mingling is because you are uncomfortable with how these people organize their intimate relations? (You mention “how could a man be comfortable with another man being intimate with his wife”.)

    To me, it comes across more as you being judgmental toward consensual decisions of non-oppressed adults.

    Now if these people made your life as your roommate miserable (and “locked you out” of the appartment for their little stunts), then there’s your right to set boundaries and rules. If their bad mood affects you, likewise. And there is of course always the option of asking them to move out or you moving out.

  6. I think many of us have missionary zeal when it comes to the “right” way of living. We have to keep in mind that – even if it pains us – we have to accept intimate decisions even of people very close to us. Some of the pains are more illegitimate in my view than others – like dismissing a partner because of their origin, class, maybe open promiscuity (where the partner is rather upfront about their lifestyle, just like L seems to be) – some are more legitimate – like a lying cheating, hurtful partner. Ultimately, even if someone is psychologically or even physically abused, no one can make the decision of breaking up for them. The more serious the harm that might be effected, the more of a moral obligation to (cautiously) speak up and offer advice.

    But patronization regarding intimate decisions that are ultimately to be taken by that person alone is quite similar a wrong compared with (potential) oppression by that partner.

  7. Also, the only one who actually did harm to another person in your story is J (towards M) by lie and deception (and actually cheating). Yet he is the one you give an intense amount of benefit of the doubt (without rational justification in my view) by saying his intent was “not malicious”, and “who could blame a man”.

  8. Lucy, I have already read the whole story and commented, though I agree we are no one to judge others and you do realise that L cannot hold J on the phone unless he allows, it’s not he’s fooling everyone around but only making a fool of himself.

    First of all J’s relationship with L should be about them but his relationship with M should be about J and M too and shouldn’t revolve around L, there should be no double standards…. He cannot be a lover to L on her day but a handy man to L on M’s day, No it doesn’t work like that and it shouldn’t. He is leading two relationships with two woman and not one relationship with L on her day and one relationship away from L on M’s day.

    There should be a definite time devoted to the partner whose day it is and certain and specific time regarding talking to phone with the other to make the situation free of abuse and stress for all. There cannot be so many emergencies and even if they are then L is the one who wants polygamy in first place not M, so she can atmost expect J to fulfil her needs and desires on her day not on M’s, J should realise, implement and stick to it and explain the same to L as well. Also when she is such a great friend to M, in case of emergency she can call her as well, after the day whose it is starts phone should be at a specific place and if there’s really an emergency which P and L cannot solve then M and J can go together and solve, talking in phone doesn’t solves emergencies. His relationship with M cannot revolve around L, about what she wants and at her mercy specially when she is dominating and interferencing upto this extent. If M and J want to live near her and play with their children then so be it, if they don’t then it means No and she can only tell what she wants in her relationship but not what she wants them to do on their relationship. If M wants her to plan a party for her then it’s ok but if she doesn’t then it’s about M not what L wants, and M and J don’t owe an explanation to her just because she wants to plan a party to make sure M doesn’t celebrates her birthday with J alone and have a good time without her interference. If she is such a good friend to them then she should respect their privacy, their relationship and just because she is pretending to be M’s friend she shouldn’t be forced to pretend as well. How can M enjoy her birthday when all she can feel is negativity and Jealousy?

    Also M should honestly ask herself can she picture herself happy with J with or without L? J should also be clear about his future whether he wants a long term relationship with M or would be happy serving L part time and enjoying flings at L’s mercy as long as they tolerate L?

  9. Lucy,
    OK, so I tried to read your story, since contributors that I respect have responded and given you their time, and I still gave up half way through.

    I have a friend who sees metaphorical lessons in every single thing I ever tell her. After all these years, I’m beginning to think she is right. My own instinct is limited to “get a life.” Under her influence, I would tell you rather that the reason this situation has been brought (by your own decisions) into your living quarters is to provide a lab in which you can learn how to make forward choices, how to exclude options, how to say “yes” and how to say “no.”

  10. That is an interesting thought Dale! What Kind of metaphorical Interpretation of Daily situations does your friend normally offer?

  11. An interesting article about balancing time in polyamory. I don’t have time to read it right now (packing to go see my daughter, grandbabies, and my guy for the weekend, I do believe this one might be a keeper!!! ❤ ) but leaving it here for y'all to read and for me to go back to when I get a chance. because even though I'm not interested in plural marriage or relationships for myself, especially after living polygyny, the lifestyle and how it all works is fascinating.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2016/01/08/how_do_polyamorous_people_create_fairness_and_balance_for_each_partner.html?wpsrc=kwfacebookdt&kwp_0=90336&kwp_4=461763&kwp_1=258528

  12. Hi Chris,
    In thinking about Renee, and the impact she has had on me, 3 situations came to mind.

    I lived with her family for 2 summers while doing an internship in Washington DC. One day, a bus driver decided not to tell me where my stop was, though I had asked, leaving me stranded, and was rude and belittling to me. When I got back to Renee’s house, I was telling her the story, and was ranting and raving about it, until she, her daughter and I were all laughing. After a pause, Renee said to me “If you can get beyond the attitude, there is something in his words that is of value.” My mind went totally still, and I saw a different horizon.

    When I got back to my hometown, I found that the power structure at work had changed, and I was worried, and couldn’t get along with 2 new colleagues. I called her and was telling her what they had done and was crying. So she listened to me fully and completely, and then after a pause she said with great compassion ” So honey, what are you going to do about it?” Everything in my mind stopped, I just hadn’t realized that talking about it was one thing, but doing something about it was my job and my portal.

    There was at that time a man in my life who I felt did not respect me or need me as much as I needed and respected him, and I talked to her about it regularly. Then one day she said simply, “he came into your life to teach you the following….” I suddenly realized that the drama was not the one I was talking about, it was the one I was neglecting while focusing on the chimera.

    These words may not have the same effect on someone else, but they pulled me up, and helped me to look forward.

    I hope you will share with me, and with other readers, the words that have been helpful to you in times of need.
    D

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