What a Good Poly Relationship Looks Like

I’m Alexander Cheves, a writer, author, and sex educator. My nickname is Beastly. I give adult advice on this blog — no question is off-limits. To ask me something, email AskBeastly@gmail.com or send a message via the Ask Beastly contact form.

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Let me recap my situation. I am a mid 50s man who for most of my early life have felt that I was sexually oriented to bisexual. I got married in my 20s and had several kids. I never acted on my gay desires, but always felt the need to.

In my 40s, the desire to have sex with women disappeared and my desire for sex with men increased. Then a casual encounter with a high school friend changed my life. Both of us were good friends in high school but had lost touch. We started hanging out together (along with my wife) and before you know it, we were inseparable. 

After about 6 months one evening at a local restaurant, he mentioned to me that he is gay. I had suspected this and he told me that he suspected I was gay also (which I confirmed to him). He has since moved in with me (and yes with the wife also). By the way, she is ok with us being sexual. So here is the question…… How do I describe my relationship to the world? It is not anything standard (if there is such a thing).

Good sir,

Your relationships sound great. It’s nice to be reminded that relationships like yours exist. No, your relationship isn’t standard, but who cares? What you have sounds real and exciting, and you’re lucky to have a wife who loves and understands you — and who you also seem to love and understand — and that you two are able to go on this journey together with this new gentleman in your life.

There is no need to explain your relationships to anyone — they are really no one else’s business — but I understand that some people might ask. Describe it to others if doing so feels necessary, but remember that your relationship doesn’t exist for anyone else. You never have to give it a label or put it in a box for other people to understand.

In terms of succinct descriptors, your best option is to simply explain it as you did to me. You have a wife and a lover (or a boyfriend, or whatever you decide to call him), and you all live together. That’s it. That’s simple enough.

That’s how I would explain it to the kids. That’s how I would explain it to your best friends. You don’t have to come up with anything elaborate.

You mentioned that your desire to have sex with women disappeared some time ago, so I must ask: Where is your wife getting her sexual needs met? Is she equally free to seek sex with other men? As long as she feels happy and fulfilled, I’d say your relationship seems healthy. If you’re looking for a technical label, I would call your relationship polyamorous. “Polyamory” means exactly what it sounds like: “poly,” meaning “many” (English), and the Latin “amor” or “love”. Many loves. Polyamory is the practice of having more than one romantic relationship at a time and is not to be confused with polygamy or with cheating. Polyamorous relationships are ones in which all partners know about each other (and may in fact be in relationships with each other as well). The polyamorous (“poly” for short) community is steadily growing and has become increasingly visible in recent years.

Some hard sticklers for micro-details might argue that you could also be in a non-monogamous marriage, but terms like “monogamy” and “non-monogamy” only really define sexual boundaries — they do not define romantic attachments. The words “monogamy” and “non-monogamy” are built on the basic concept of a single, primary relationship. So if your wife is your “primary” relationship and this guy is just sex, a side piece — if he’s a rare sexual exception to an otherwise monogamous primary union — then some might say your relationship is more accurately described as “non-monogamous.” But that’s not what it sounds like to me: it sounds like you have a romantic attachment to him beyond the strictly physical — it sounds like he is a relationship in your life.

Since it sounds to me like you have two separate and distinct relationships with both of these people — your wife and your lover — then you are “polyamorous.” But we’re splitting hairs here, and the minutia between these terms really does not matter. You have a wife and a guy you have sex with. Don’t get hung up on what to call it, and just enjoy it.

Relationships that are hard to define require strong communication skills and a deep understanding of each other. You’ve hit the jackpot.

I’m glad he’s returned to your life in this way, and I’m glad you are starting this journey together with no secrets or lies. Keep everything on the table, with open communication between everyone, and see where it goes.

Love, Beastly

1 Comment

  1. If it helps, you can have a primary and still be polyamorous — the difference is more about do you have a romantic connection to your secondary or only a sexual one.

    Like

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