My Husband Wants to Try Polyamory, and I’m Conflicted!

“Poly?” writes:

I am in my 40s and my husband “Bob” is in his 50s. We’ve been married 17 years and things are kind of blah in our marriage. We went to a marriage counselor and it didn’t seem to help much. We don’t seem to be connecting much and our sex life is pretty non-existent.

My husband’s friend, “Stu,” recently entered a polyamorous relationship. Right now Stu has a main female partner and is also dating her good friend. Stu told Bob it really spiced up his relationship and sex life. Bob asked me if this is something we should try.

I’m really confused by all of this. I don’t know if I’m ready to go down this path.  Part of me is curious, the other part says this is too kinky for my tastes.  Also, I think I’d be jealous to think of Bob sleeping with someone else. I don’t know what to make of this. I’m really conflicted.  Bob says he doesn’t want a divorce and neither do I. What are my options?

Dr. Chalmer answers:

Poly, since I don’t have any personal experience with polyamory—I’m a great fan of monogamy, though I realize it doesn’t work for everyone—my knowledge of polyamory comes from clients, colleagues, and reading. I’ve often commented that I don’t have a random sample of people in my office—no one has ever made an appointment with me just to tell me how well things are going. When I hear about polyamory from clients in my office, it’s because it turned into a disaster.

And I’ve heard about quite a variety of disasters. Often, it’s because one of the parties agreed to go along with polyamory because they feared that if they didn’t their partner would leave. Once their partner gets sexually involved with someone else, they discover they’re not so okay with it after all. Since you’re conflicted, that could be you.

You’ve also described a marriage that is starved for intimacy, and Bob’s proposing polyamory as a cure. If you’re not able to connect now, you’re not likely to be able to connect better when you introduce others into the picture.

So at the very least, I suggest you be cautious about this.

I do recognize that people do polyamory in a lot of different ways, and, as I said, people who are in polyamorous relationships that are working great don’t make appointments to see me. So, readers, please weigh in. What are your experiences?