Poly Partners: To Share, or Not to Share

The freedom to choose multiple partners or to keep an open door when it comes to sex gives a certain simplicity to life—you don’t have to make the same gut wrenching choices between two people you love, or lose a committed partner because of a dalliance based on natural sexual attraction.

Navigating polyamorous relationships can still be complicated, and one issue that surfaces frequently for poly people is the question of shared lovers.

If you find yourself attracted to one of your partners’ partners, is it kosher to engage with them in sex too? Would you feel betrayed or hurt if you found out one of your partners is sleeping with your new woman? Or would you feel turned on? Do men and women have different experiences and desires in answer to this question?

In setting the boundaries with your poly partners, it’s important to discuss this one before it comes up in advance. Are a partner’s partners off limits? What about past partners? Is it different if the person was a sex-only fling or a one-night casual encounter, versus a long-term intimate partner?

Poly folks have different styles of dating and sex, and deal with this question differently in different relationships. But some common solutions to this conundrum include the following.

Finders Keepers

Proponents of this model say that it’s natural to be attracted to new acquaintances, but if that person happens to be your wife’s new hookup, it’s greedy to impose your own desires on her and you should let them enjoy whatever their relationship brings.

This can avoid the jealous gluttony that haunts some poly relationships—if someone else has some, you want some. Partners can date anyone in the whole world, so the fact that you want what someone else has shows something unpleasant about you.

All in the Family

Some polyamorous folks have a no-holds-barred, no boundaries rule, for total freedom. Since there is no traditional competition or possession, there shouldn’t be any restrictions. There is no such thing as doing something behind someone’s back, because anything that you feel can be freely pursued.

Those who have no rules or regulations censoring attraction or sexual activity say their journey is about coming to terms with pure freedom, and learning to navigate the unwanted emotions or jealousy or possessiveness or needing to be the center of attention. Free love is free love, and if you find a girlfriend’s new girlfriend hot, why shouldn’t you go out with her?

Three’s Company

If you find yourself attracted to a girlfriend’s girlfriend (or boyfriend), or vice versa, and that person is attracted in return, the solution to the puzzle could be to enjoy group encounters. That way you’re really sharing, instead of trying to take something away from each other, even if it is unconscious.

Proponents of this model find the solution perfect because they see polyamory as being more open by nature, and for them the goal is to get ever closer to their partners and forge deeper bonds. Experiencing sexual attraction is natural, but going off on private sexual encounters with someone your partner found would be about taking something away from them rather than being part of it with them.

How do you solve this particular question in your polyamorous relationships? Let us know what works for you!

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