From monogamy to polyamory………… a checklist (of sorts)

Do you have what it takes?

You have been thinking about becoming polyamorous. You find that the lifestyle resonates deeply with you emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. But are you truly prepared to unwind years of monogamy? Years of social conditioning and systematic reinforcement that you only need one person, a soul mate, a ’till death do us part’ relationship with only one human being?

Do you feel like something is missing from your life and from your self?

I want to challenge you to step back and take a look at yourself and your relationship; BEFORE you take that leap toward polyamory. The work it takes to sustain a relationship and a family is exponential. Add to that more relationships, more people, more time, and it can feel like your entire existence has been consumed by polyamory. Trying to figure out how to balance it all can be exhausting.

1. How are you with you? Are you able to meet most of your needs on your own? Are you okay with who you are? Are you prepared to face off with your deepest insecurities? To embrace that hard truth that you cannot possibly meet all of your partner’s needs? You need to be ready to stare into the mirror of self-doubt, of emotional and physical insecurity. And not only do you need to be okay with what you see, but you must own it and work through it. Do you know who you are separate from your spouse, separate from your relationship with your significant other or your kids? Codependency is a real issue that many couples who have been together for years face. How do you untangle that and decide if you can stand on your own two feet? When your partner walks out the door to go on a date and you are left home alone with your emotions, your unsettled feelings, you must be okay with feeling them and then talking about them with your partner. Having the time and the energy to process through big and sometimes uncomfortable feelings is absolutely vital.

2. What is the status of your relationship? Are you prepared to admit that your relationship might need work? To admit that you and your partner might need therapy? Have you been putting counseling off? Not enough time to make that appointment? Are you bored, restless, or unsatisfied; living life from one stagnant moment to the next? Are you connected in many different ways? Emotionally, physically, sexually? Do you take the time to reconnect by going out on dates? One thing that can be particularly tricky in marriages or relationships that have children can be finding the time to get out of the house and have adventures as a couple. Do you carve out the time to date each other; to see your partner in their true light, separate from their role as a parent? Or are you going through the motions in your relationship and putting one foot in front of the other? Trudging through life, because it’s what you’re used to; what you are supposed to do. If there doesn’t seem to be any spark there, do not seek to put a polyamorous band-aid over your realtionship. It will not work.

3. Hows the sex? Are you regularly intimate with your partner? Are you bored in the bedroom and does sex feel like a chore? Have you come to terms with your own sexuality and your own jealously and insecurity around sex within your relationship? Are you prepared to let go of control and fear and resentment when it comes to knowing that your spouse, your love, has sex with other people? Have you established clear boundaries around what this looks like? Will you use protection? Will you tread slowly or go all in? Safe, consensual sex is paramount within polyamorous relationships.

4. Timing is everything. What are the limits on how often you will date? What nights during the week will you go out, will your spouse go out, and what time will you have left over for your children and your family? Your friends? Polymarory takes a lot of juggling of time and priorities. This was a huge trigger for me. It takes massive amounts of time and communication. Communication and constant processing with your spouse and with your partners and sometimes with your partner’s partners. The amount of phone time can affect the quality of the time you spend with your family and your children. Do you have limits on how much time you spend on the phone? Is there a limit around phone use in front of the kids? We tried time and again to limit the phone use – in the bedroom before bed, while the kids were around. It was something we constantly struggled with and I had tremendous guilt around it and still do.

Do your research. Read as many books as you can get your hands on. More Than Two, Sex at Dawn, Opening, Non-Violent Communication – these are all very good resources. Have your support system in place as soon as possible. The poly community can be an incredible source of support for anyone embarking on this journey. You will need people outside of your relationship to rely on for processing and working through difficult situations. Discuss everything – the books can help with this. Do you believe in hierarchical relationships? Fluid bonding outside of your marriage? Limits around time and phone use?

If I can instill anything in my readers exploring polyamory – it would be these four things:



  1. This is a great entry Amy. I am currently reading Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin and Stan said, ‘that there’s nothing more challenging on this planet than another person.’
    People are difficult, we are difficult. We almost always bring unresolved issues and past trauma and a witches brew of personality, familial history, neurotic distortions and opinions, expectations and preconceptions to the relationship table and as they are gradually uncovered we might deal with them or might not. If we don’t, the relationship deals with them. We might have support or we might not. This is a lot to manage for two people, a couple, not to mention when a third or fourth person is introduced to the mix? For me, an intimate relationship with one person is plenty, enough. I can’t imagine being so advanced in my capacity to cultivate open intimacy, honesty and integrity that I could engage in a poly relationship that would be as nourishing for all members as a healthy two-person relationship. It doesn’t seem possible.
    I would enjoy reading a follow-up post on the four qualities you mentioned at the end of the this post:

    Thank you again for your honesty, integrity and the rawness of your experience.


  2. Amy, I’ve been reading and watching your recovery, and you are getting better, but I think you may have started off on the wrong path, and thus are making your own recovery more difficult. A Poly “family” is just that, all members are involved with each other (no, not always/only sexually). Your descriptions imply that what really transpired is that your husband, under the guise of Poly, really asked you for an Open Relationship. This is almost always lopsided, where one partner or both, are dating other people but the intent is not to integrate into a Poly family. This is rarely a sharing and requires tremendous strength on the individuals parts. You were very dependent on your husband for emotional strength and when he transferred that to his new partner, you were left “short a leg.” So, while your recovery is admirable and your mental health is improving, I suggest that now you need to look back BEFORE your marriage, and find where you misplaced your footing. Was the marriage and husband a replacement for something that was missing from earlier in your life? Did you accept/desire that your husband/marriage relieve you of the strain of carrying your own emotional state alone? Or was is a slow dissolving into a single unit, which many monogamous relationships become, that was then split suddenly? That last interpretation is what you are using now as your definition. But is it the correct one? Exploring those other interpretations may help you speed up your recovery. May your path continue to improve.


    • That is a very thorough analysis. Thank you. I have severe childhood trauma – my dad dropped dead in front of me when I was 9. I depended on my husband to help me not only regulate my emotions, but to keep that trauma at bay by being there for me always – thus combatting my terrors around abandonment.


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