Coming Clean: Transitioning From Cheating to a Polyamorous Relationship

Note 1: I use male pro­nouns in the fol­low­ing arti­cle for the sake of sim­plic­i­ty, but I’ve encoun­tered both men and women in this sit­u­a­tion. My advice is the same to both.

Note 2: This arti­cle can be use­ful for those who are the vic­tims of infi­deli­ty, but I wrote anoth­er arti­cle par­tic­u­lar­ly for them as well.

Fre­quent­ly, new­com­ers to var­i­ous poly groups intro­duce them­selves with a tale of woe. Alas, after enter­ing into a com­mit­ted monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship (usu­al­ly a mar­riage), the poor man has just dis­cov­ered that he is, in fact, polyamorous. In most cas­es, the new­com­er has already strayed into infi­deli­ty, and wish­es to have his cake and eat it too now. He asks for advice regard­ing how he can con­vince his wife to accept the rela­tion­ship with the new lover so that they can all live hap­pi­ly ever after.

The new­com­er, who I’ll call Phil, is usu­al­ly sur­prised to find that he is not, in fact, wel­comed with open arms. Most of us are very hos­tile to peo­ple who cheat on their part­ners and call it polyamory, because that has absolute­ly noth­ing to do with how we are liv­ing our lives.

Phil is fre­quent­ly seek­ing advice on how to intro­duce the top­ic of polyamory to his spouse. I fig­ure it’s bet­ter to be hon­est at some point instead of nev­er doing so, so here is my advice to Phil.

My Experience

I feel a need to be utter­ly hon­est about sev­er­al things right up front: in over 30 years of being polyamorous and know­ing oth­er poly peo­ple, I have nev­er, not even once, per­son­al­ly known any­one who has been able to move from an affair in a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship to a healthy polyamorous rela­tion­ship involv­ing the same peo­ple. I’ve known of peo­ple who did cheat on their part­ners in monog­a­mous rela­tion­ships who lat­er moved on to be polyamorous, but they did not sal­vage the orig­i­nal monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship.

I’ve known peo­ple whose spous­es cheat­ed on them in monog­a­mous rela­tion­ships who end­ed the monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship, then went on to explore polyamory very hap­pi­ly them­selves. (That fact sur­pris­es a fair num­ber of those seek­ing help in this sit­u­a­tion.) What you have to real­ize is that the real issue between you and your spouse right now is not polyamory or sex. It is your betray­al of the agree­ments between the two of you. It is about your dis­hon­esty and dis­hon­or­able behav­ior. You have bro­ken her trust.

What to Do Now

Now that you’re com­ing clean, you’d bet­ter do so com­plete­ly. I mean 100% truth, absolute­ly, no holds barred, no lit­tle omis­sions or “spin­ning” any­thing. Tell the raw truth about who, where, when, what hap­pened, how long, etc. Don’t even think about leav­ing out past indis­cre­tions. Don’t fool your­self that she doesn’t need to know all of that or that you’re “pro­tect­ing her.” We’re talk­ing about rad­i­cal hon­esty in its truest sense. If you haven’t yet read Brad Blanton’s book on the sub­ject you should do so imme­di­ate­ly. Take it to heart. Do the exer­cis­es. Devour it, digest it, and make it a part of you.

Sec­ond, accept full cul­pa­bil­i­ty. Do not even allow your­self to maybe think just a lit­tle bit of this is anyone’s fault but your own. You are an adult. No mat­ter what your emo­tions are, you are in con­trol of your actions. No mat­ter what the rela­tion­ship with your wife was like, whether she “just (didn’t) under­stand (you),” you aren’t get­ting as much sex as you’d like, you just aren’t so attract­ed to her any more, or you want to explore things that don’t inter­est her, the trans­gres­sion is com­plete­ly your fault. It doesn’t mat­ter how much effort your sweet­ie put into seduc­ing or attract­ing you. Unless you were actu­al­ly raped, you chose to cheat. It’s All Your Fault. Accept it, know it, pro­claim it.

Your next step is to decide what you tru­ly want. Do you want to be with your wife? Do you want to be with your wife only if she agrees to you remain­ing with your sweet­ie? Be sure to think about all the ram­i­fi­ca­tions this is going to have. What effects will a divorce, open­ing your mar­riage to polyamorous rela­tion­ships, or you break­ing up with your sweet­ie and remain­ing in a monog­a­mous mar­riage (tru­ly, with­out stray­ing again) have on your chil­dren, your extend­ed fam­i­ly, your friends, your career, your­self? Are you hon­est­ly will­ing to do the very hard work over an extend­ed peri­od of time that it’ll take to just have a good mar­riage, let alone to have healthy polyamorous rela­tion­ships?


If you’ve decid­ed that you tru­ly want to stay with your wife and have your sweet­ie too, and you’re will­ing to do the work, it’s time to talk to your wife.

Note: DO NOT con­fide in any­one oth­er than a pro­fes­sion­al ther­a­pist until after you have come clean to your part­ner. No mat­ter how tempt­ing it is and how much you want some­one else’s advice, hav­ing anoth­er friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber know about your infi­deli­ties before she does will be anoth­er kind of betray­al. If she hears so much as a whis­per about your affairs from any­body but you, she will be humil­i­at­ed and you will be in even deep­er trou­ble. No, you don’t owe any oth­er lovers a warn­ing that you are com­ing clean to your pri­ma­ry part­ner.

Admit all that cul­pa­bil­i­ty. Engage in full dis­clo­sure, rad­i­cal hon­esty-style. You might, in fact, want to con­sid­er doing this with a very good mar­riage coun­selor present. I strong­ly advise it. Ask your wife to let you talk until you’re fin­ish, and tell her every­thing. When you’re done talk­ing, it’s her turn to talk until she’s fin­ished. Let her say any­thing she wants to say, ask ques­tions, etc. Answer any ques­tions she has ful­ly and hon­est­ly. I’d sug­gest hav­ing some kind of print­ed mate­ri­als on hand about polyamory. Ask that she read them and con­sid­er the idea. You most cer­tain­ly can­not present your­self as any kind of author­i­ty or as an unbi­ased source, now can you? You may need to con­fess in one ses­sion, and then talk about polyamory in anoth­er.

Be Prepared

She may want some space at this point, because she’ll need pro­cess­ing time. That’s nor­mal. In fact, she may not want you in the home you share togeth­er. Be ready to stay else­where if she doesn’t want you any­where near her. If you arrived in one vehi­cle for a coun­sel­ing ses­sion, con­sid­er ahead of time how you will get home or to your alter­nate des­ti­na­tion. If you can have an overnight bag ready with­out alarm­ing her, do that.

Pre­pare your­self to accept her anger and resent­ment, to acknowl­edge her right to those feel­ings, and to sup­port her in express­ing them in a healthy way. Don’t assume that she’ll for­give you, or that she’ll be will­ing to do any­thing to work on sal­vaging your rela­tion­ship. She might, in fact, walk out to call a divorce lawyer. She’s cer­tain­ly with­in her rights to do so.

The Wife’s Reaction

Your wife has sev­er­al deci­sions to make now. The first is to deter­mine whether or not she can trust you at all now. Is she able to for­give the harm you’ve done, and is your mar­riage even worth the work it’s going to take to sal­vage it? If she con­fides in them, it is high­ly like­ly that her friends and fam­i­ly will be telling her to dump you, or at the very least to not even con­sid­er open­ing your rela­tion­ship in any way. Expect a lot of neg­a­tiv­i­ty from them towards you, and accept that you deserve it.

One cau­tion: many peo­ple, when faced with the knowl­edge that their spouse has been unfaith­ful, will have a “revenge affair” of their own. It’s nev­er healthy, but it is com­mon.

Next, if she has decid­ed that she can trust you or that the trust between you can rebuilt, what does she think of polyamory? She’s like­ly to have a pret­ty neg­a­tive view of it if her first intro­duc­tion to it is from a phi­lan­der­er. Many peo­ple assume that polyamory is just a way of pret­ti­fy­ing swing­ing or infi­deli­ty any­way, which is one rea­son those of us who are polyamorous are so offend­ed by cheaters who want to claim that they’re real­ly polyamorous.

If your wife decides to for­give you, there’s some­thing you need to keep in mind: “for­give­ness” does not mean, “I’m for­get­ting what hap­pened and every­thing is like it used to be.” Expect peri­od­ic recur­rences of any ini­tial explo­sions of anger, shame, grief, and pain.

Is Polyamory Is Possible?

If she’s will­ing to try polyamory (or a mono-poly rela­tion­ship), is she will­ing to try it with you? Polyamorous rela­tion­ships require even more trust, respect, work and healthy com­mu­ni­ca­tion from those involved in them than monog­a­mous rela­tion­ships do. Part of that is because they are not our cul­tur­al norm, and part of it is because every per­son added to a rela­tion­ship or net­work of rela­tion­ships increas­es its com­plex­i­ty and poten­tial for prob­lems. You have already demon­strat­ed a great lack of respect for her, your com­mit­ments, and your­self. You have bro­ken the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion between you. You are not look­ing like a great can­di­date for healthy polyamory right now.

If you get past those hur­dles you have anoth­er big one. If she’s will­ing to try polyamory with you, is she will­ing to agree to your involve­ment with your sweet­ie, who has already shown a total dis­re­gard for her rela­tion­ship with you? Remem­ber, she prob­a­bly has no pri­or his­to­ry or love for your sweet­ie, so there’s absolute­ly noth­ing to ame­lio­rate the stark betray­al she has expe­ri­enced at the hands of your lover. Yes, your lover has betrayed her if she had any idea that you were in a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship. Your lover has proven her­self to be a dis­hon­or­able per­son every bit as much as you have.

Return to Monogamy?

You don’t get to uni­lat­er­al­ly change the rules of your rela­tion­ship with your wife. If you decide that you must remain involved with your oth­er lover, and your wife wants a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship, then you’re look­ing at a sit­u­a­tion that does not con­tain any pos­si­bil­i­ty for com­pro­mise.

If your wife says that she is will­ing to stay with you in a monog­a­mous mar­riage and you’re will­ing to do that, that’s her choice. It is her right to make that choice with­out being bad­gered by you. If you agree to it, do not do so with any kind of ulte­ri­or motive or long-term agen­da of chang­ing her mind. Break things off with your lover for­ev­er. It is safest to avoid any con­tact with the lover at all.

If you can’t agree to the monog­a­mous mar­riage your wife wants, the mar­riage is over. You should both pro­ceed to work­ing out the most ami­ca­ble and least dam­ag­ing way to move for­ward.

Giving Polyamory a Chance

If both of you decide that you want to be togeth­er and are will­ing to try polyamory, then both of you real­ly need to prac­tice rad­i­cal hon­esty as you pro­ceed. Inves­ti­gate the dif­fer­ent ways that oth­er peo­ple live polyamory. Meet polyamorous peo­ple and get to know them. Don’t even con­sid­er look­ing for more lovers right now. Talk to peo­ple who are will­ing to open up and tell you about how they work out issues like jeal­ousy, resources, child care, safer sex, etc. Meet peo­ple face to face, not just online. A thor­ough search should find a polyamorous net­work­ing or sup­port group in your area, or at least in the near­est major met­ro­pol­i­tan area. You want to get to know peo­ple well enough to tru­ly see how they live, not just the faces they choose to present online. Be hon­est with them about your sit­u­a­tion.

Be extreme­ly hon­est with each oth­er about what you do and do not like, and what you want to try. If some­thing doesn’t work for both of you, be will­ing to give it up and move on to some­thing else. There’s no One True Way to live polyamory oth­er than being hon­est, open and lov­ing with all the peo­ple with whom you are involved.

Keep try­ing. Remem­ber that this is a com­plete­ly new rela­tion­ship par­a­digm for both of you, and that you prob­a­bly haven’t grown up with any role mod­els for it. That’s actu­al­ly good, but it can cause you to feel lost in the woods.

Real­ize that while you are look­ing at what you want and don’t want in your rela­tion­ships, you’re like­ly to find your­self ques­tion­ing a lot of things you may have tak­en for grant­ed in your life. Every­thing from how you will live to just what sex means to you and to what con­sti­tutes a rela­tion­ship is up for rede­f­i­n­i­tion now. Some peo­ple find that their reli­gious beliefs are not sup­port­ive of polyamory, and end up seek­ing a new spir­i­tu­al path.

Go very, very slow­ly. Do not rush. Your rela­tion­ship is worth the invest­ment of time, care and ener­gy it will take to heal your rela­tion­ship with your spouse and explore new options. Be patient with your­self, your partner(s), and your rela­tion­ships. Go as slow as is com­fort­able for the most con­ser­v­a­tive, slow­est per­son involved.

Get Help!

Again, a good mar­riage coun­selor can be a god­send in this process. Some­one who is accept­ing and sup­port­ive of both polyamory and monogamy is best. It isn’t always easy to find poly-friend­ly coun­selors, but I have found that good ther­a­pists are often more open to con­sid­er­ing polyamory as a work­able rela­tion­ship mod­el than you may think. The Open List is a good place to start look­ing.

If you’re intro­duc­ing the idea of polyamory to a coun­selor with whom you already have an estab­lished rela­tion­ship, print out copies of What Psy­chol­o­gy Pro­fes­sion­als Should Know About Polyamory and Work­ing With Polyamorous Clients in the Clin­i­cal Set­ting to give to the ther­a­pist. If you’re seek­ing a new ther­a­pist, ask her on the phone about her past expe­ri­ences, if any, with polyamory. Ask that she read those arti­cles before your first appoint­ment if she is will­ing to work with a polyamorous per­son or cou­ple in a sup­port­ive way. If so, drop off, mail, or fax the arti­cles imme­di­ate­ly to give her time to read them.

Good luck!

40 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Emanuele
    Jul 07, 2014 @ 10:29:30

    This moral­ism with­out any sense of pity for human weak­ness­es breaks my heart in two, real­ly. It seems like the agree­ment (in this case fideli­ty) is more impor­tant than the per­son. Yes, some feel­ings were hurt. But if there is love, if the cheater still loves the cheat­ed and at the same time loves his or her lover why in the world there must such a vio­lent atti­tude towards him or her? Is polyamory love with­out lim­its or not? You dare to call a con­fused and scared per­son (the cheater) “dishon­or­able”. Why make this a ques­tion of hon­or? Why con­demn peo­ple for the sake of an abstract con­cept? I feel the protes­tant, vio­lent white amer­i­can atti­tude here, but per­haps I’m wrong, and I just came from a stu­pid Mediter­ranean cul­ture and don’t under­stand this


    • Hank
      Jul 10, 2014 @ 14:39:20

      Fideli­ty as a con­cept is not more impor­tant than peo­ple, but when two peo­ple agree to a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship, fideli­ty is one of the most impor­tant ele­ments of that agree­ment. Poly love by its nature and def­i­n­i­tion IS rel­a­tive­ly lim­it­less, I think, but when one half of a monog­a­mous cou­ple uni­lat­er­al­ly changes the rules of their agree­ment (par­tic­u­lar­ly with­out telling the oth­er one involved) it is a vio­la­tion of a basic tenet of poly life–honesty for ALL con­cerned. You men­tion the cheater still lov­ing the cheated–consider instead the cheated’s place in the sit­u­a­tion and you may under­stand the idea of dis­hon­or a lit­tle bet­ter. It is a vio­la­tion of an inti­mate trust that may nev­er be reclaimed.


    • Al
      Jun 19, 2016 @ 06:43:59

      I agree with your com­ments, Emanuele. Yes, those of us who cheat­ed did break a trust. But we broke in a sim­i­lar way that gay peo­ple used to mar­ry and have chil­dren in order to try to deny they were gay. We did what we thought soci­ety thought we should do and many of us resist­ed the urge to ‘cheat’ and didn’t under­stand what we real­ly are. Some­times find­ing out who you are involves hurt­ing oth­ers but not on pur­pose. The fact is that lovers have no right to expect any­thing of us oth­er than our love, respect, hon­esty. Okay, so we broke the hon­esty part. But, it’s not like we didn’t think we could live as they expect­ed us to live when we made our promis­es. At times, dur­ing our jour­ney, many of us also thought we could stop, that being poly is just a mat­ter of sup­press­ing one’s will-pow­er or not. It doesn’t work that way and it would be nice if the arti­cle were a lit­tle more for­giv­ing towards peo­ple search­ing to fig­ure out their lives rather than just throw­ing fuel on the fire of mis­ery.


      • Cyn
        Jun 19, 2016 @ 12:19:50

        Yes, lovers have a right to expect hon­esty, love, and respect. You act in an unlov­ing, dis­re­spect­ful, and dis­hon­est man­ner when you cheat. When you can­not keep your com­mit­ments, it is up to you to say that, before you break them — you rene­go­ti­ate.

        This arti­cle is specif­i­cal­ly about tran­si­tion­ing a par­tic­u­lar rela­tion­ship from cheat­ing to polyamory, and not intend­ed as any­thing else.


        • Al
          Jun 20, 2016 @ 12:15:07

          Cyn, I don’t dis­agree with you. But, peo­ple who come to your site who have found them­selves cheat­ing may have gone through all sorts of intro­spec­tion before they got here. Many of us didn’t know what we are. Many of us thought we could stop, we were not hurt­ing any­one, we jus­ti­fied and we avoid­ed deal­ing with our­selves. So, yes, I agree that cheat­ing is bad and your part­ner has every right to know what you are and what you plan to do in the rela­tion­ship. But, it’s also a lot more than you make it out to be and many cheaters are suf­fer­ing even as they are inflict­ing their harm on oth­ers. I don’t dis­agree with what you say. I do, how­ev­er, think what you’re say­ing is unnec­es­sary and many cheaters have already gone through fac­ing them­selves.

          Per­haps your arti­cle could be a lit­tle more for­giv­ing, or at least under­stand­ing, though. It seems to me ade­quate to say, ‘We don’t con­done cheat­ing and cheat­ing is not a polyamory choice. If you’re a cheater and have fig­ured out that you are poly, then great. Don’t cheat any­more. Also don’t expect to be for­giv­en for your cheat­ing, but I wish you luck in that regard and am sor­ry you felt you had to turn to cheat­ing in order to gain your own per­son­al ful­fill­ment. So long as you’re adamant that you will not cheat any longer, then fol­low these steps to (try) to explain to your sig­nif­i­cant oth­er what poly is, what it entails and what s/he should think about in con­sid­er­ing your innate sex­u­al being if you real­ly are poly. But keep in mind that if you’re secret­ly just want­i­ng to cheat and jus­ti­fy it, none of this will work and you’ll just hurt more peo­ple. So think through what you real­ly are before you go talk­ing and don’t cheat ever again.’

          It seems, instead, that the tone in your arti­cle is one of con­dem­na­tion of peo­ple who are very like­ly strug­gling. Peo­ple do all sorts of things for all sorts of rea­sons and bash­ing them here is not going to help them or their part­ners who are suf­fer­ing at their hands.


  2. Emanuele
    Jul 07, 2014 @ 10:32:15

    hope you will jus­ti­fy some­how this post, real­ly. I just need to under­stand, and sor­ry for the per­haps too pas­sion­ate com­ment, it is not meant to be offen­sive


  3. Cyn
    Jul 12, 2014 @ 17:09:21

    I don’t know how you get vio­lence from hon­esty, Emanuele. The fact is that the cheater chose to act in an unlov­ing man­ner by break­ing the trust in his rela­tion­ship with his monog­a­mous part­ner. Acts have con­se­quences, and unlov­ing acts fre­quent­ly have unlove­ly con­se­quences. Had he cho­sen to act WITH love and com­port him­self hon­est­ly and hon­or­ably, much hurt could have been avoid­ed. There would still be no guar­an­tees, but with­out bro­ken trust, it would at least be more like­ly that his monog­a­mous part­ner would be will­ing to go for­ward and try polyamory with him.


  4. FMF
    Feb 13, 2016 @ 02:15:49

    After read­ing more than half of this I’m kind of won­der­ing why a good book on poly ref­ered me here. This is just intend­ed to Piss all over peo­ple that had rea­son to cheat. To make sure no one thinks they are like them. Yet they are no more qual­i­fied to say why the per­son cheat­ed then the per­son them­selves. Talk about a use­less read,I’m sure cheaters have no prob­lem find­ing peo­ple to Piss all over them. This is far from help­ful. Poly comes in so many shapes and sizes yet there is peo­ple want­i­ng to kick peo­ple out of their lit­tle club where they have noth­ing to turn to but be called dis­hon­ored noth­ing and don’t exist so thus just a freak. When you have poly as MFM,MTM fmf mff mmmf ffm fffff. Seri­ous­ly the list goes on and on. Now you have the cheater and his tran­si­tion is not even a qual­i­fi­er, gosh. This read is para­noid and self right­eous by those not qual­i­fied to say any­thing except to Pis­son some­thing they know noth­ing about. Real­ly advise like “come clean and let the chips fall, your a cheater and deserve to be pissed on so accept what you are,go out and crush your part­ners hearts because you are a pig any­way” obvi­ous­ly not a quote but a loose trans­la­tion. That is the cheap­est advice and worth less then you paid for it right here


    • Cyn
      Mar 06, 2016 @ 14:21:58

      FMF, there is no rea­son to cheat. Full stop. If you think you’ve found one, go ahead and share it — but I’m rea­son­ably cer­tain that it’s going to be some­thing that I and most oth­ers have heard before. If you can­not abide by the com­mit­ments you’ve made, the only hon­or­able thing to do is to end your rela­tion­ship. One per­son can­not declare a tran­si­tion to a polyamorous rela­tion­ship. That’s a uni­lat­er­al deci­sion, and it takes at least two peo­ple to be in rela­tion­ship.

      My inten­tion in writ­ing this arti­cle was not to “piss all over” any­one, but if you feel pissed on, I’m not going to inval­i­date your feel­ings.


      • Al
        Sep 22, 2016 @ 20:42:51

        Cyn, I don’t think any­one can dis­agree with you regard­ing rea­sons to cheat (well, I’m sure a few can, but I don’t). It’s not okay to cheat and cheat­ing is sim­ply anoth­er word for lying. You shouldn’t lie. That said, peo­ple do for all sorts of rea­sons and while your arti­cle may be defen­si­ble, it’s too harsh and crit­i­cal and fails to recall that peo­ple are peo­ple. We all fail. Fail­ure should not mean the end of life. In a per­fect world, every­one would open up and say what they want and need and there’d be no such thing as cheat­ing. That said, many peo­ple find it impos­si­ble to broach this sub­ject for a myr­i­ad of rea­sons and wind up cheat­ing. It’s a shame that they do (I did once too but won’t ever again). How­ev­er, cheaters deserve help as well as the cheat­ed deserve it and your arti­cle (IMO) is far from help­ful.


  5. Emanuele
    Mar 07, 2016 @ 12:10:42

    I’m not going to inval­i­date your feel­ings.” How in the world is ever pos­si­ble to “inval­i­date” someone’s feel­ings?
    By the way, I parsed the post and com­ments, also mine, and I real­ly have the feel­ing that I end­ed up in some sort of sci­en­tol­ogy peo­ple. Hank that goes on say­ing that “when two peo­ple agree to a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship, fideli­ty is one of the most impor­tant ele­ments of that agree­ment”, which begs the ques­tion, as well as Cyn, insist­ing smart­ly that ” there is no rea­son to cheat”.
    I was ask­ing to give us, please, rea­sons, some­thing like argu­ments, but it seems that just love can be with­out lim­its, minds, oh my, they seem sur­round­ed by Don­ald Trump’s Mex­i­can Wall


  6. keith
    Mar 15, 2016 @ 15:46:27

    As help­ful as this arti­cle was, any­one know where to find cop­ing info for a mono-man who was cheat­ed on by his poly part­ner?


    • Cyn
      Mar 15, 2016 @ 16:49:00

      Hi there Kei­th. I don’t imme­di­ate­ly know of such an arti­cle, but would be hap­py to answer any ques­tions you might have. I’ve been cheat­ed on in a poly rela­tion­ship before, and hon­est­ly, I think the cop­ing info is going to be the same for any­one deal­ing with a partner’s infi­deli­ty. I’ve got an arti­cle in mind, now that I think about it. Give me a day or so, okay? But go ahead and ask any ques­tions you have, please. Feel free to use the Con­tact form to send them pri­vate­ly if that’s prefer­able.


    • Cyn
      Apr 12, 2016 @ 19:30:10

      Hi Kei­th. I wrote that arti­cle. It’s at .


  7. Al
    Jun 19, 2016 @ 06:56:03

    Cyn is wrong in many ways. If you real­ly did cheat because you’re poly (and I think for me the dis­tinc­tion came clear when I found that I didn’t just cheat and there­fore have some sort of addic­tion but was also find­ing myself falling for my lover(s)), you can apol­o­gize for not know­ing who you were, for not being able to meet the com­mit­ments that your part­ner thought you had with them, for lying and being dis­hon­est. But you have no rea­son to apol­o­gize for being poly and you should be allowed into the club like any oth­er per­son who final­ly fig­ures out their sex­u­al­i­ty. Cyn, the author, does not hold the keys to the club and the judg­men­tal atti­tude Cyn dis­plays is anath­e­ma to progress at any lev­el. Cyn should re-think this arti­cle. Cyn is not judge, jury nor exe­cu­tion­er and you should feel free to dis­miss the advice of any­one who is so preachy that they think can pos­si­bly under­stand the plight of every­one who is not them­selves.


    • Cyn
      Jun 19, 2016 @ 11:50:10

      If you dis­cov­er that you’re poly when you’re in a monog­a­mous rela­tion, the eth­i­cal, hon­or­able thing to do is to let your part­ner know about this change. THEN you pro­ceed to nego­ti­ate any changes in your agree­ments — you don’t go out screw­ing around. Don’t try to make excus­es about “the com­mit­ments that your part­ner thought you had with them” — if you were in a monog­a­mous rela­tion­ship, you had a com­mit­ment to be exclu­sive to each oth­er. Decid­ing that you are poly doesn’t excuse cheat­ing, lying, or dis­hon­esty. One doesn’t sim­ply fall into these things — you make a con­scious deci­sion to com­mit those acts.


      • Al
        Jun 19, 2016 @ 12:05:58

        Yes. It’s great to live in your per­fect world where gay peo­ple don’t mar­ry to cov­er over their homo­sex­u­al­i­ty and poly peo­ple don’t mar­ry and try to over­come what is nat­ur­al to them by try­ing to com­ply with soci­ety. It’s great the world you live in where every­one is pure and inno­cent and nev­er does any­thing wrong and if they do, they should there­fore for­ev­er wear the badge of dirt­bag. No one said that “cheat­ing” excus­es any behav­ior. What I said is that you’re way too judg­men­tal and you should get off your high-horse. Peo­ple are peo­ple and they get to where they get all sorts of ways. For a per­son who has a lib­er­al mind­set, you sure don’t have a very for­giv­ing one. Give peo­ple a break. Every­one can’t be so awe­some and pris­tine as you.


        • Cyn
          Jun 19, 2016 @ 13:03:06

          Nobody said you had to do that — I said that you have to come clean, expect con­se­quences, and deal with them. Don’t blame your part­ner for being angry and feel­ing betrayed. If you val­ue your rela­tion­ship, that’s what you’ll do.

          Obvi­ous­ly, my world is NOT one where every­one is “pure and inno­cent and nev­er does any­thing wrong” or there wouldn’t be a need for this arti­cle at all.


  8. Emanuele
    Jun 20, 2016 @ 05:32:18

    There is anoth­er point. I do think that being polyamorous means believ­ing that sex­u­al and love-relat­ed fideli­ty are a sort of a mirage. Many argu­ments giv­en by polyamor­ists start with sta­tis­tics: it very very dif­fi­cult not to end up with some cheat­ing. This means that the promise of being faith­ful is unre­al­is­tic. Is real­ly cheat­ing break­ing a promise that almost nobody can hold? Is cheat­ing if I a promise my friend that I will win next pres­i­den­tial elec­tions?


    • Cyn
      Jun 20, 2016 @ 11:04:38

      What? No, polyamory is ” the prac­tice of, or desire for, inti­mate rela­tion­ships involv­ing more than two peo­ple, with the knowl­edge and con­sent of every­one involved” — that has noth­ing to do with believ­ing that sex­u­al and love-relat­ed fideli­ty are “sort of a mirage.” That kind of belief just sets you up for uneth­i­cal behav­ior.


  9. frank
    Jun 25, 2016 @ 15:57:38

    I am 40 and wife is 30. How­ev­er she has fall­en in love with a 20 you old who she also clicked with while home vis­it­ing her fam­i­ly who says he is also in love with her . We are in process of nego­ti­a­tions as I am more aware of the idea of poly rela­tion­ship. She is in process of full dis­clo­sure.
    As a lot peo­ple stat­ed bro­ken trust hurts just as much as phys­i­cal pain


    • Cyn
      Jun 29, 2016 @ 11:43:55

      Hel­lo Frank. I’m so sor­ry to hear of the pain you’re going through. I wish you well in the process.


      • Frank
        Jul 03, 2016 @ 04:11:29

        How soon after ini­tial con­cep­tion did women start get­ting morn­ing sick­ness. The tim­ing is cor­rect for her to have got­ten preg­nant with his child. Even though she was try­ing to tran­si­tion to a poly rela­tion­ship I think that might turn out to be the deal break­er. As it is her fam­i­ly con­sid­er me a son which in their tra­di­tion is very sig­nif­i­cant as most mar­ry into the fam­i­ly but they don’t get let into any fam­i­ly dis­cus­sions and what­not


        • Cyn
          Jul 03, 2016 @ 10:48:08

          That depends on the woman — I’m real­ly sen­si­tive to hor­mones, so I start­ed get­ting sick with­in a week, which is why I went to the doc­tor and found out that I was preg­nant. That’s pret­ty unusu­al, though (sur­prised my doc­tor, too).

          If you sus­pect a preg­nan­cy, ask her if she had unpro­tect­ed sex with him — that would open up oth­er con­cerns, as well. If you’ve had sex with her since, you would need to get test­ed right away for STDs and again in 6 months or so.


  10. xzimppledink
    Jun 27, 2016 @ 21:27:45

    My menage broke up after just one year but it was real. It has been forty years but not a day goes by that I do not think of the lady that left. Still with wife of 64 years and still love her dear­ly.


    • Cyn
      Jun 29, 2016 @ 11:44:42

      Hi there. I don’t real­ly under­stand how your sto­ry is rel­e­vant, unless your tri­ad devel­oped after ini­tial cheat­ing?


  11. Jessica
    Sep 21, 2016 @ 02:54:01

    After years of deal­ing with oth­er women inter­fer­ing in my mar­riage, I found my hus­band cheat­ing on me with a girl who claims to be a polyamorous pan­sex­u­al. Fights were had. Things were bro­ken. This girl played the vic­tim even though she knew the truth. Her friends start­ed attack­ing me online. There were even threats against me. He has embar­rassed me to the point of iso­la­tion. I don’t go out any­more. Peo­ple get con­fused when they see me with him. We recent­ly came to the con­clu­sion that he might be polyamorous. We’re liv­ing apart now. He blames every­thing on me. I want to try to sal­vage my mar­riage some­how, but I think it just may be over. His manip­u­la­tive home­wreck­ing whore was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It may nev­er walk again, and just might be put out of its mis­ery. And it absolute­ly kills me. I am men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly dis­abled. He was some­body I could depend on for help. But he’s pushed me away, and devot­ed him­self to oth­er peo­ple. And he keeps flip flop­ping on whether we have a future or not. He knows I have trou­ble con­trol­ling my emo­tions and reac­tions, yet he keeps play­ing these games with me. I just don’t know what to do any­more. He might be poly, he might be a bas­tard, or he just might be both. If I could work more than five hours a week, I’d already be fill­ing out the divorce papers. I don’t care about the poly part; it’s the lies and games that have me cry­ing myself to sleep in my old bed­room at my par­ents’ house.

    Sor­ry about the dron­ing on. This just seemed like a good place, with peo­ple who have been through what I’m going through right now.


    • Cyn
      Sep 21, 2016 @ 03:15:55

      Jes­si­ca, I’m so sor­ry that you’ve had such a ter­ri­ble expe­ri­ence. What­ev­er your hus­band and this woman had (have?) going on, it isn’t polyamory, which is eth­i­cal non-monogamy. Polyamory requires the informed con­sent of all involved par­ties.

      I would urge you to remem­ber that no “home­wreck­ing whore” can do a thing with­out the active par­tic­i­pa­tion of a man who is eager to stray. Don’t let your hus­band get away with blam­ing his girl­friend for what­ev­er has hap­pened. He’s an adult. He made com­mit­ments to you, she did not — and he is respon­si­ble for uphold­ing those com­mit­ments or being hon­est about end­ing the mar­riage.

      I wish you all the best.


  12. Monica
    May 16, 2017 @ 22:01:33

    So i am on the oth­er side of this…im the wife who’s been cheat­ed on, weve dis­cussed poly rela­tion­ships but had­nt ven­tured into actu­al­ly doing it…i as the wife, how the hell do i fig­ure out all these emotions…how do i get over the bro­ken trust…


    • Cyn
      May 17, 2017 @ 13:21:05

      Hel­lo, Mon­i­ca. I’ll be hon­est — you might not be able to “get over” the bro­ken trust with this part­ner. It might be bro­ken irrepara­bly. Your part­ner has been an irre­spon­si­ble ass, and it’s under­stand­able that you have a lot of dif­fi­cult emo­tions.

      I would strong­ly advise that you do every­thing in the world to take care of you right now — seek out a great ther­a­pist just for you, lean heav­i­ly on your friends and fam­i­ly as a sup­port sys­tem, and demand time from him for your heal­ing.

      You don’t have the right to tell your part­ner they can­not see some­one else, but you do have the right to tell they can’t do that and be with you. So you have to decide, now, if what you have with them is worth stay­ing with some­one who broke your trust.

      If you do decide to explore polyamory, you should know that it requires trust and open com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Cheat­ing is absolute­ly the oppo­site of that. As some­one who is will­ing to engage in cheat­ing, your cur­rent part­ner is not a good can­di­date for polyamory.

      I wish you the best of luck in your heal­ing jour­ney.


  13. rich
    Jul 19, 2017 @ 14:42:14

    so can one objec­tive­ly define cheat­ing for me?


    • Cyn
      Jul 19, 2017 @ 15:47:36

      I could, but the authors of More Than Two already did, so why rein­vent the wheel? From their glos­sary:
      CHEATING: In a rela­tion­ship, any activ­i­ty that vio­lates the rules or agree­ments of that rela­tion­ship, whether tac­it or explic­it.”


  14. rich
    Jul 19, 2017 @ 16:05:32

    so based on the above infor­ma­tion, if you have cheat­ed then it is high­ly unlike­ly to become polyamorous while keep­ing the exist­ing rela­tion­ship intact… so why would one try to con­vert at all then? you do what you do until caught, go through con­se­quences, build next rela­tion­ships using these “rules”…

    remem­ber there is anoth­er per­son in this and you cer­tain­ly not tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion any betray­als from that side as well…

    guy and girl fall in lust, girl inten­tion­al­ly gets preg­nant, guy mar­ries to be father and finds out lat­er it was planned… would that be an exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stance?

    also assum­ing one used an escort for just the phys­i­cal act… and did so for the rea­son of not want­i­ng a “rela­tion­ship” out­side of the mar­riage is that con­sid­ered as bad?

    what about sex­less mar­riages? how is that fac­tored into a con­ver­sion?


    • Cyn
      Jul 19, 2017 @ 18:21:58

      I don’t know why peo­ple try to con­vert monog­a­mous rela­tion­ships to poly ones, Rich. It sel­dom works. But I’m not the one try­ing it.

      I don’t care how many exam­ples you give of what­ev­er has gone wrong — two wrongs don’t make a right.

      If your spouse deceived you in some way or you don’t find the rela­tion­ship ten­able, leave. Don’t cheat.


  15. rich
    Jul 19, 2017 @ 16:22:28

    just to expound on the sex­less mar­riage exam­ple
    — guy / girl get mar­ried…
    — girl deter­mines that she doesn’t want anoth­er kid and even though she is bap­tist fig­ures that sex is only for chil­dren… of course, she said noth­ing before mar­riage (which actu­al­ly is a grounds for divorce in itself)
    — guy / girl have fight and where he states that at some point he will find a venue..
    — guy / girl get along well oth­er­wise and they have a son togeth­er due to pre­mar­i­tal rela­tions…

    if guy goes to excort, is he cheat­ing? (He did tell her that it was only a mat­ter of time…)


  16. rich
    Jul 20, 2017 @ 11:01:06

    of course you don’t, because of your nar­row tun­nelvi­sion with “all the answers” please… its a bunch of hype and hooey… and your response is, of course, sim­plis­tic…


  17. Rick
    Jul 21, 2017 @ 15:42:23

    rich exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances don’t fit into ANY sci­en­tif­ic, reli­gious, social exam­ples. There can always be BS thrown into any exam­ple. Reli­gions state we should love one anoth­er and forgive…BUT let’s say that a man kills your entire fam­i­ly and you for­give him but in the act of meet­ing and for­giv­ing him you drop a let­ter on the ground that has your return address on it. The mur­der­er takes the address and gives it to many evil peo­ple and these peo­ple kill your rel­a­tives, friends and neigh­bors. Since this reli­gion says to for­give does it count if this per­son has a lot of bad peo­ple try­ing to exter­mi­nate your rel­a­tives? Should we for­give Hitler? Well since these aren’t fam­i­ly mem­bers then we should for­give Hitler! Giv­ing exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances is mere­ly trolling for the sake of trolling. In giv­ing out med­ica­tions the dos­es are dif­fer­ent for every­one because of dif­fer­ences in humans. some­times it’s phys­i­cal dif­fer­ences oth­er times it’s a mix­ture of things. Not all issues can be boiled down into one four word sen­tence. Com­mon sense and log­ic HAVE to be includ­ed when try­ing to debate. Come back to me when you decide to bring up valid points.


  18. Cyn
    Jul 21, 2017 @ 16:11:06

    Your “exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances” are excus­es. Com­mon sense and log­ic HAVE to be includ­ed when try­ing to debate. Come back to me when you decide to bring up valid points instead of trolling.


  19. KJ
    Dec 04, 2018 @ 17:16:19

    I’m a monog­a­mous­ly-inclined per­son who con­sid­ered, dur­ing the trau­mat­ic haze of post-infi­deli­ty-dis­cov­ery, accept­ing a polyamorous rela­tion­ship with some­one who had been liv­ing a dou­ble life for years. I stum­bled upon this post dur­ing one of my sleep­less nights a few years ago and it helped me sort through my thoughts and feel­ings. That my partner’s infi­deli­ty entailed an abject lack of respect for me was rein­forced when they harassed me for months after I end­ed the rela­tion­ship. I have a lot of respect for peo­ple who eth­i­cal­ly prac­tice non-monogamy. Thank you for this brave and thought­ful post.


  20. cyn
    Dec 04, 2018 @ 17:25:42

    Hi KJ. Thanks for let­ting me know it was use­ful!


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