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My partner has sex with other people, which I find exciting but also difficult

I am a 36-year-old man and have been in a very good relationship for three years. My partner has gradually become more interested in polyamory, and I find that exciting. When she has had sex with someone else, it often feels very special and affectionate when we are together again – and sometimes very arousing – but it can be difficult to have penetrative sex. I don’t want to take the easy way out and try to renegotiate monogamy. What is the way forward?

I doubt that “renegotiating monogamy” would be the “easy way out”. But you are allowed to change your mind, and if polyamory is not for you, it is important to say so and be clear about what you can and cannot handle. You are at a stage of exploration, and our society is focused on monogamy, so stepping outside those values can seem frightening. What will anchor you both is having a strong core relationship with a great deal of discussion, sharing your feelings and asking for what you truly need.

It would be perfectly reasonable to express your current misgivings now, saying: “I am still excited and intrigued by the idea, but I’m really not ready to commit to it. While I’m willing to continue exploring, I may eventually need to return to something simpler, maybe more exclusive. Can you please try to understand that?” I would also try to better understand her desire for polyamory, and exactly what it means to her. Would halting this current course be a deal-breaker for her? If so, you would have the option to walk away. “Different” sexual lifestyles are not for everyone.


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