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I read that the key to an open relationship is for both partners to agree on the rules of the game. So, I made a list of what my partner and I want out of polyamory and shared it with him:

His list

  1. No sex with Master Ted (this is a shame, because Ted is a great guy who has given me some of the best scenes of my life)
  2. No sleepovers (one of my wishes lately is to have a late Sunday morning sleep-in with annoyinghandle and a copy of the New York Times)
  3. Only meet guys at our house, preferably when my partner was home
  4. Only safe sex (I agree with this one, if it allows some slightly unsafe edgeplay)
  5. I should be home whenever my partner is home… no late nights away
  6. Limit computer use (stop surfing and chatting so much)
  7. Don’t cum when I am with other guys… save it for my partner later
  8. Try to only play together in threesomes
  9. My partner wants to meet any tricks beforehand, and reserve veto power if he doesn’t like them
  10. More hot sex with me (we haven’t really done anything together in a few years)
  11. I have to give all my cum to my partner
  12. Do more things together as a couple
  13. Show more love to each other

My list

  1. Complete sexual freedom – I get to decide who I have sex with, and when
  2. However, this is tempered with respect and love. For example, on a Friday night, I’d rather be with my partner than at the baths
  3. I would be able to tell my partner everything about all the hot encounters and scenes I had
  4. Sleepovers (but will try to limit to no more than twice a month)
  5. Travel occasionally to see the Master I met last month to serve Him for a weekend
  6. Attend leather conferences alone (but try to limit to no more than one weekend every other month)

As you can see, our lists diverge wildly. It seems my partner and I can love each other and stay together forever, but only if either 1) I stop having sex with other people and suck it up, or 2) my partner learns not to mind when I run around fucking other people and not him. I don’t see a compromise between those two positions. My partner notes that if he gives me one weekend a month, I will want two, and then three…

We talked about the above lists last night (before watching “Valley of the Dolls”). There was no crying, there was no argument. This is the first time we have both had the sad realization that our paths are not parallel, and that trying to remain together might be causing a hell of a lot more pain than a separation. I think this is the beginning of the end.

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As you said a couple of days ago, most long relationships wind up with versions of "stuff" needing re-thinking and compromise. Yours just happen to be about sex/love/companionship, which are particularly tough because they're such core issues in relationships anyway.

It's trite and obvious in the abstract, sometimes VERY tough in the actual details, but: look for ways where you can BOTH get some of your needs better met. Find out what these needs ARE in the first place. Why does he need certain things that look like control? Why do you need these freedoms? Are there creative solutions that feel like "win" to both of you?

I've been in a poly family for 11 years now. I can highly recommend "family" counselling. You will probably have to train your therapist about why polyamory isn't *automatically* a sign that you're really hoping to break up .... but all poly people get to wrangle with that one, so at least you're not alone. Truth be told: my own family is in *serious* need of getting back into some counselling, over tough times with compromise and such, and we're working on that. It's money and time with us, not sex, but it's still rough. Just as it is for monogamous folks. Hugs.

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