How to Make a Mono-Poly Relationship Work

It’s not every day you meet a couple where one partner is mono and the other is poly. Even if these words describe their nature or their preference, committed partners will usually decide to be open or exclusive.

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For some couples, though, the solution is not my way or the highway, but embracing their differences.

Diana and Dallas both love long-distance bike riding, camping, and local history museums. And disco! They met professionally at a biotech conference in New York. Their chemistry was obvious across the boardroom table before they even spoke to each other. Diana says they fell head over heels while he fiddled with the Powerpoint.

Dallas was just getting back to the dating scene a couple years after tragically losing his wife in a car crash. Diana had so many lovers she couldn’t count. She didn’t even know how to answer his innocent question at the refreshment table: “Are you seeing anybody?”

This situation is tricky, and mixed marriages of poly and mono don’t always work. But sometimes love does conquer all.

“I had two choices facing me that day,” Dallas says. “Pursue the woman of my dreams, just how she is, or let her go. I knew right away the answer wasn’t hoping SHE would change. I had to change. I saw a choice—I didn’t have to become poly. I could still be me, if I just let her be her.”

Tips for Mono-Poly Couples

Honesty is the best policy.

Always. Diana wasn’t going to lead him on and let him think he could be the only one. Not for one minute. And Dallas wasn’t to pretend he wasn’t a one-woman man. Honesty from the get-go gave them a strong foundation.

Communication is key.

When a serious relationship is on the table, really talk to each other. Some couples find a compromise—she’ll only date other women, for example, not men. Others come to a don’t-ask–don’t-tell, open-door policy. There are many possibilities, if only you talk about them.

Keep an open mind.

When trying to resolve the monogamy-polyamory discrepancy, if this is a person you love, they deserve your open mind.

Keeping an open mind about your partner’s reasons, ways, needs, motivations and desires, you can better consider all the options on the table. Like my friends from Texas, you may arrive at an unexpected solution.

Live with your decision.

I asked Dallas if he ever gets upset thinking about his wife in bed with another man, or if he feels like he’s not enough for her.

“You bet,” he says. “But the difference is, I know the answer for sure. All men have this exact concern. Thinking their wife is in bed with some other man, even when she’s not. The lucky difference for me is my anxieties are assured because she always comes home to me.”

Whatever you decide as a couple for how to manage a mono-poly relationship, accept it and work from that platform. Honor what  you decided to accept.

When Diana and Dallas got married, part of their private vows in a letter to one another was to never fight over this issue and never try to change the other. They didn’t want to leave a window open for animosity later and “fixing” something that wasn’t broken. The commitment was to each other, as is.

Refuse to engage in fighting or anxiety over the issue. Live with your decision. It can take some time for our emotions to get used to something new. Give yourselves that chance by taking time to adapt.

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