On basic polyamory

Dear Coquette,

I’m a bisexual woman in a stable, long-term relationship with a man. He is very understanding and supportive of my sexuality, so much so that I’m free to be with women in whatever capacity I need. My problem is the guilt that comes with this freedom, and the worry that one day he will change his mind and that eating the proverbial cake will become the death of my relationship.

It would be different if my trysts with women were varied and unimportant, but they aren’t. There’s just one woman, and she’s been around longer than he has. She is, essentially, the Fermina Daza to my Florentino Ariza. I always have and always will pine for her, and if my man were to split, I would pursue her. I have been with other women, before and after starting my relationship with my boyfriend, but it always comes back to her. This doesn’t take away from what I have with him in the least, which makes choosing one over the other inconceivable.

She has been with only me and one other woman, and has come to the conclusion that I am the exception to her otherwise heterosexual preference. So my question is, do I keep satisfying my need for women with someone who is otherwise satisfied by men, and risk exhausting my boyfriend’s mellow attitude about the whole thing? Or am I being sexually selfish and have the responsibility to choose one gender over the other?

I don’t want to complicate the lives of two absolutely gorgeous and wonderful people just because they happen to be okay with the arrangement right now. But then again, perhaps my possibly unnecessary guilt is making me read too deeply into the situation and I should just calm down and accept them both. I’m lost in this.

You have embraced your bisexuality, and that’s great, but this isn’t about sex. You’re lost in this because it’s about intimacy and love, and you’re not quite comfortable with polyamory.

You feel guilty because an internal set of values is in conflict with an external set of circumstances. Specifically, you’re in an intimate relationship of romantic love with both a man and a woman at the same time, and on some fundamental level, your value system is telling you that such a thing is wrong.

It’s not wrong, though. You’re being open and honest with both of them, and your guilt seems to be arising from the nontraditional nature of the relationships rather than from any lack of integrity on your part. That’s a good thing, and that’s why a situation like this can work if you continue being open and honest not only with them, but also with yourself.

You see, this isn’t about choosing one gender over the other, and this doesn’t have to be about choosing one person over the other. This is merely about choosing a nontraditional set of values over traditional ones. Are you and your romantic partners all cool with that?

It sounds like your boyfriend and girlfriend are willing to share you with each other physically, but are they willing to share you emotionally? I bet they are, and if so, you should definitely calm down and accept them both. You’re already in a nontraditional arrangement as it is, so relax and enjoy it. After all, complex relationships are not the same thing as complicated ones.


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