Episode 126: Living With Partners

Living with people is already hard but living with a new partner and a metamour you don’t have a connection with can add to the challenge.

That’s what’s on this week’s episode of Non-Monogamy Help.

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Thank you to Chris Albery-Jones at albery-jones.com for the theme music and a big thanks for the podcast art to Dom Duong at domduong.com.

Podcast transcript

How do I communicate and stop my negative emotions towards this new situation where I am living with a couple that are newly non-monogamous — and one of them I don't find attractive and the other one, we have feelings for each other. And I'm getting a lot of jealousy and now I live with them.

And I don't know how to navigate living with them when I can't afford to leave, but also having jealousy when they spend more time with each other than one of them spends with me. Things are showing up for me that I've never had before because it's the first time I've done non-monogamy. I always thought I was monogamous and I have to try and find an anchor but I'm really lost. Hope you can help.


There are a couple of things here that I'm wondering. First is – have they actually addressed the power imbalance? Because I tend to find that when you're in a situation where – even if you did actually have feelings for the metamour that you're living with, when there isn't actually somebody like addressing this issue that like, “Yes, I've been with this one person for a very long time” – and you don't really say in your question how long they've been together, but they've been together presumably longer than you have been with the person that you're attracted to. So that is a power imbalance. That's an inherent power imbalance.

They live together which – of course now you do live with them. But still, they have lived together for a long time or for a longer time than you've lived with the person that you're interested in. And I just think sometimes people… what they do is kind of – especially if they claim not to be hierarchical in their approach, they kind of just gloss over these power imbalances or never really address them.

And I think that that leads to a lot more anxiety. It's kind of like an elephant in the room type of situation where there's definitely a power imbalance. There's definitely a fear – an understandable fear that you have that there's already this established relationship and there's no – nobody's really addressing it so it almost kind of makes you not want to address it because you don't want to rock the boat and that just creates more problems.

So I think – have they actually addressed this power balance? And has your partner– I mean not “they”, because you have a relationship with the person that you have a relationship with. You don't really need to have a huge bonding friendship or whatever with the metamour that you're with. You can just treat them as a roommate, but I think having this addressed is really, really important. And so they really need to make sure that they're addressing this power imbalance. 

I think secondly is – do you have your own individual space? Because I hear you in terms of like, you can't afford to move out. Many, many people cannot afford to live on their own. I am very privileged in that regard. And I couldn't live on my own for very long when I lived in London. Well, I couldn't ever live alone when I lived in London because I couldn't afford it. So that is a difficult thing. And I totally understand that. But do you have your own individual space? Do you have your own room? 

Does everyone have their own individual spaces or do they share an individual space together or share– I guess it wouldn’t be an individual space…, you know what I'm saying? Like, if they have a shared bedroom and you're kind of like the third wheel then that also adds to the like power imbalance of the situation and understandably, again, not everyone can afford to live in a place where everyone has their own individual bedrooms. But it is something that will add to the feeling of a power imbalance. And even if they're not like– even if they're sleeping in the same bed and spending every night together sleeping in the same bed, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're spending time together. 

And that's also really important to point out because you have talked about time. But I do think it's really important to remember that – and maybe this is something that you have experienced when you've lived with people or something you will experience is that I think people often think that when you live together, because you're around each other all the time, that you're actually spending time with one another. And that's not necessarily been my experience. It's very easy to gloss over that time that you're in the same space as time spent with one another. 

When, unless it's intentional, it's not actually time spent with one another. But if they sleep in the same room then that's obviously like a power imbalance. It's going to affect you and needs to be addressed and talked about. It doesn't mean they necessarily have to change it. But that has to be part of the thing of like, “Okay, yeah, obviously we live and have lived as a ‘couple’ and that hasn't changed even with you moving in. And so we need to address that and just be honest about it.” 

Because I think you know– whether that means like… I don't expect them to straight up say like, “We're definitely going to prioritize each other over you” or anything like that. But I just think it's like, to just say it out loud is sometimes really important. Like even if your partner was just like, “Hey, I understand that, like I've been with, you know, (we'll say, Marjorie). I've been with Marjorie for a long time. We've been together, you know, for this amount of time. We've lived together. We share the same room and I just want you to know that like I'm very aware of how you know our relationship is still new. It's still building so there's probably going to be a lot of feelings about this. And I just want to be aware of that”. Like, I'm not expecting everything to be like equals pequals completely shared out because sometimes it's not like that. 

If you got sick and all of a sudden needed a lot of help – let's say you broke your leg or something even – not even getting sick. If you broke your leg and needed someone to take you to the hospital and your partner took you to the hospital and like tried to help you through all the rehabilitation stuff. Stuff like that happens. Relationships aren't always completely equal even within monogamy in terms of effort spent, but I do think that that is an important aspect of the situation in terms of individual space. 

Another question that I have is – have you actually discussed how time is spent with one another? Or how your partner, you know – what is your partner's version of polyamory? Because you can all be polyamorous and still not be compatible. Like what is their ideal version of polyamory? What is – Is living together like something that they envisioned or was that sudden or like, what – are they gonna move in another partner? Like, you know, like, there's lots of different questions. So is your partner now poly saturated with two partners that are living with them or are they going to date other people?

I think discussing how time is spent is a really, really important thing, because it also encourages people who live together to really think about intentional time spent together which sometimes they really don't. And you've said like, you already feel like that and you have a bit of jealousy when they spend more time with each other than the person that you're with spends – and that may just not be intentional, but may be out of habit. Maybe they've lived together for quite a long time and they're just now getting used to another person but that needs to be addressed.

And that needs to be a situation where they have actually thought about the fact that they are going to be spending less time with each other and the more partners that someone gets, the less time with each other. And what I find that a lot of people do when they start off in non-monogamy and they're in a like couples situation. I do think that like they often don't think about the time and then they kind of continue acting as if they're still monogamous until someone else gets a partner and then they have to spend time apart and that becomes tricky and difficult.

So they may not be or haven't been behaving as though they are actually in a polyamorous relationship, so they haven't really thought of it. But if you actually point out and be like, “Look, we need to schedule time”. You need to have date nights, you need to have specific time set aside and there needs to be some type of conscious decision about time spent. Because if there's not then it's – I don't even think it's necessarily intentional. I think people just fall into old habits. So that is something that you need to bring up and talk about. 

The other thing that I'm kind of concerned about, which is like – just because you've not done non-monogamy before doesn't necessarily mean that it's not for you. But if this is the first time that you're doing non-monogamy I do wonder especially in a situation where you're like moving in with someone and you like one person but you aren't interested in the other person. I do worry a little bit about the situation in terms of like, like did you enter the situation because of a housing need? 

Did you enter into this situation because you really just like this person and it wasn't necessarily that you were interested in non-monogamy it was just that you wanted to keep this person in your life? Because one of the things that I kind of advise for people is to not necessarily – to find a personal reason why non-monogamy is something that they're interested in. Actually the very first thing that I advise people is ask yourself, could you be in a monogamous relationship with someone who say has a time intensive career who does not spend all of their time with you? 

Who spends a long time you know, away from you for whatever reason? And I tend to find that if the answer is no then people who don't even want a monogamous relationship where their partner doesn't spend as much time as is typically expected, may really struggle with non-monogamy. Because at the basic level, regardless of what kind of non monogamy you choose, at the end of the day, your partner won't be spending as much time with you as potentially they would if you were in a monogamous situation and you kind of have to be okay with that, or at the very least, that can't be a deal breaker for you. 

So that's the first question and then the other one in terms of finding your anchor is like, is there some aspect of non monogamy that appeals to you? Other than keeping this relationship? Is there some aspect of you know dating other people that you're interested in? Or do you maybe you're kind of an independent person and you like doing your own thing and so you don't mind having a lot of alone time. So there has to be some type of personal aspect of non monogamy that appeals to you because I do genuinely feel I mean, every – like there's billions of people on the planet.

Maybe there's one person who can do non-monogamy for the sake of keeping one relationship and be fine with that. But I generally and genuinely feel that if you don't have any personal reason and your goal is to keep a relationship in your life. Firstly, that tends to be a monogamous relationship that turns polyamorous and that doesn't tend to work out because they want to keep – it's kind of like keeping a long distance relationship so that you can keep an in person relationship going and that can work for some people, but if you're expecting for the relationship to stay exactly as it is when you're in person, and then going to long distance that doesn't really work.

So the foundation of the relationship that you have had this whole time changes. When it comes to this it seems like you started non-monogamous from what I gather. So it's not necessarily that the foundations are changing, but are you the type of person that is afraid of like– that will agree to situations that don't serve you. Either because you're afraid of loss, or because you're afraid that you won't be able to find something better for yourself or any kind of reason like that. 

So I want you to, you know – it's not that if you had an anchor you would feel no jealousy. That's not the situation, especially if there's a power imbalance that hasn't been addressed, especially if the division of time hasn't been addressed or agreed upon or is not an intentional thing and then therefore becomes unintentionally imbalanced. However, I do think that in general, you need to think about like, okay, personally, what is your ideal polyamorous situation? Like would you want another partner to live with you? How many other partners would you want?

How would you want to physically divide your time? Sometimes thinking about those types of things can lead into understanding yourself a little bit better and understanding if it's really for you, because if the only thing you can picture is just saving this relationship, then that kind of tends to be a little bit of a signal that maybe you're not that interested in non-monogamy and are more interested in saving this relationship. And in that case, that might be difficult to do. 

It just depends on your personal wants and needs because there are people who are monogamous to polyamorous people, and that is something that totally can be fine for lots of people. But it just depends and I think you have to be really intentional and really honest about it instead of like, you know, elephant in the room type of situation. 

And then last but not least, I do think that having a therapist – if it's something that you can do, which maybe it's not possible at the moment, but if you can pull together costs and think about having a therapist for your– both of you as a couple, then I think that might be helpful to talk through some things but I do think that if you can address like the power imbalance– if that can be really just honestly addressed – and again, it's not about them, you know, trying to – it's not about your partner trying to pick in between you. 

It's not about your partner trying to say bluntly that “Hey, I'm going to prioritize this other relationship with Marjorie that I have over you”. It's not about that, but it's like, it needs to be obvious that “Okay, I totally understand how you might feel threatened because we've had this relationship for longer and we've been living together.” And then if you can also like, make sure that you have your own individual space as much as that is possible and if they have their own individual spaces. 

I mean, if that's not possible, then at least like address how, if they do share a bedroom, that does impact the power imbalance between the situations, and then discuss how time is spent with one another because again, I don't know as that this isn't necessarily intentional. I do think people just slip into old habits. So I think that if you just– if it's addressed and you can actually schedule intentional time with one another, and, your shared partner can actually make active, informed and obvious decisions about how they want to spend time, then that will actually be a lot better for both relationships, probably and especially living together. 

You know, it's going to feel sometimes, like you may think that you're actually spending time together but you're just really physically in the same place. So yeah, I hope that helps and good luck.

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