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Going from Cheating to Polyamory

Guest Columnist Ron Miller has been kind enough to explain why it is difficult to move from an affair to a true polyamorous relationship, and some strategies that might help.

OK, so you want to convert the affair you've been having into a long term, stable, multi-partner relationship including yourself, your wife, and your mistress, is that correct? Assuming so, here's my advice, worth every penny you paid for it.

Unfortunately, you're probably starting out from just about the worst position possible. Like monogamous pairings, multi-partner relationships are tricky for many folk to pull off. Loving someone is often wrought with the potential for insecurity and jealousy, and by having an affair you've created a situation where those feelings have even higher odds of appearing and creating negative effects. So, from now on, everything you do has to be geared around minimizing insecurity and maximizing trust.

Start with yourself. Figure out *exactly* what you want and why. Are you poly, meaning you won't be happy without living non-monogamously, or were you just having an affair that has developed into something with feeling? Moving forward, what kind of life do you want to lead? What would make you happy?

Verbalize to yourself why you love your wife and rediscover as many things about her that work for you as possible. And then share them with her. Constantly. Pay attention to her every hint and act on it. Do the things that she loved you for, and do new things she can love you for, because you're about to hit her with an awful bucket of emotionally cold water.

Tell her the truth about your affair. Do it honestly, directly, and without any defense of your actions. You did wrong, no two ways about it, and she needs to know you're aware of that. Tell her you love her, why, and how damn sorry you are. Tell her that whatever she wants to do at this point you'll support her to the best of your ability and *mean it*. If she wants to leave you your only long term viable option is to help her pack her bags while you tell her you love her and wish she'd want to stay but won't do a damn thing to try to make her stay. If she wants to stay and talk, then talk.

Tell her honestly what it is about you that you think makes you poly. Ask her how she might feel about it. Ask her what she might want in life. Listen to her answers and be prepared to make adjustments in your own life as well as asking her to make some in hers. Tell her you love her and you are sorry. If you're truly up for saving your marriage you'll probably have to end your affair. That's not to say that the three of you may not be able to strike up something in the future, but it would have to be from a place of recreated honesty and trust.

So, in short, you need to repair the damage in your relationships. Start with yourself, because living a lie always costs us something. Figure yourself out, understand why you want what you want, and try to establish what would make you happy. Then do the same with your wife, assuming you want to stay together, and stop lying to her. That may very well mean ending your affair, and if that's the case then doing so may be the only chance you have of getting the three of you together in the long term. Then do the same, asexually, with the woman you've been having this affair with. The two of you may have to be prepared to take a break from each other.

Allow your wife (and girlfriend) the time and space to go through the same processes themselves. If, at the end of the day, they decide they can trust you and want to explore poly, you're in luck. If they don't , then it's time for you to do a gut check and figure out what you need. But trying to get your wife do be anything that she isn't is a good way to piss you both right off.

© 2004 Ron Miller
Going from Cheating to Polyamory , Used by permission

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