Your best friend’s monogamous and your relationship is close — should you ruin it to try polyamory with them? Especially if you’re used to solo polyamory? That’s what’s on this week’s episode of Non-Monogamy Help.
I've been non-monogamous as long as I've been dating at all (about 4 years). This has included a lot of ups and downs - good relationships and bad. I identify somewhere between relationship anarchist and solo-poly[am] at the moment - basically my primary relationship is with myself but I put just as much effort into my relationships with close friends and partners and the line between friendship and dating or between platonic and romantic feelings for me is a very squiggly one. A lot of my friendships are very intimate and I have one friend in particular who I've grown closer and closer to over the 7 or 8 years that she's been in my life.
She lives in a different city but I visit often and I'm moving there in a few months. We text or call nearly daily about our lives, about my relationship problems and her mental health and everything that brings us joy or pain - I feel completely comfortable around her in a way that I've never felt with anyone before. I realized a few months ago that my feelings are more romantic than platonic and admitted to myself that I'm in love with her and have been for years. On NYE she texted me that she wished she was there to kiss me and has said similar things before but I assume she means them in a platonic way?
She recently had me read her favorite book - The 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. It has a line in it that says “When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘You’re safe with me’ - that’s intimacy.” The line is in reference to the main character realizing she loved her friend - the whole novel is about forbidden lesbian romance and how love is the truest part of ourselves. My friend and I talked about it for hours and decided to write and mail each other love letters like the main characters did in the books.
There are a few things I'm wrestling with about this situation:
- She's an inherently monogamous person and I've never been monogamous - I think I could be for her if she felt the same way about me.
- I’m not her type - she has a very specific type of woman that she's attracted to and I'm not it.
- I don't think she feels the same way - I know that she loves me but aside from mentioning wanting to give me a NYE kiss and this being a very intimate friendship, I doubt her feelings are the same as mine.
So the questions I'm left with are: should I tell her about my feelings? I've been working on the love letter but have been leaving it vague enough for plausible deniability. I don't want to change our friendship in a way that makes us less close. Is it worth it? And do you think that people can successfully go from 4+ years of non-monogamy to monogamy? Do you think it's reasonable to want to do that for a specific person? How do I deal with this overwhelming uncertainty?
There are lot of things going on here. I think the biggest kind of question for you right now is can you handle just being friends? I kind of have told people before in episodes of the podcast that just because you have romantic feelings for someone doesn’t mean you have to act on them. And sometimes flirting and that kind of intimacy that you have can be enjoyable on its own and it doesn't have to actually come to a fruition, if you will, in order to be a good thing in your life.
So that's kinda like the first question. Can you go on being friends? Is this kind of a difficult or an impossible situation for you? Do you feel pressure? Do you feel like it's untenable? Are you ok with this going on in perpetuity potentially, I guess maybe until she finds another partner that she wants to settle down with and maybe she sees having other in friendships that intimately as not being a thing she can do? Or, you know, can you handle that? Just being friends in this in very intimate way for the rest of your life? And are you willing to risk this intimacy, to potentially end it to kind of pursue her in a kind of more obvious way?
I mean to be perfectly honest with you, it's hard for me to say what’s going on inside of her head but it feels kinda like… I'm having a hard time wondering why you think she isn't into you because I mean… I'm not the one to ask about this cause I really don't have intimate friendships of this level. Like I don't do that. Like the line for me between friend and romantic partner or romantic interest is very, very clear for me. I know very clearly when I'm into somebody and when I'm not. There are some times when it's a bit fuzzier but I know when I'm into someone and I generally don't like… wish to kiss people not into. And I wouldn't like… pretend to write romantic love letters with someone that I’m not interested in too so it really feels like for me she is into you. But you know I don't want to say that and I can't say that. Because it might be that she, you know, all the caveats you said about… she’s monogamous and so she feels like… well there's no point in actually pursuing a romantic relationship with you because she can't do polyamory or non-monogamy and she assumes you can’t either.
So she’s just kind of enjoying this bit of really close friendship you have that’s kind of not accurately or outwardly spelled out. And I don't know I mean… you say that she has a typed and you're not her type but like… I have a really hard time… I mean maybe people do. It's hard for me to say. I'm not that kind of person. I would never be this intimate and romantic with someone that I wasn't in some way interested in. So I have a hard time thinking that she’s… I have a hard time believing she's not at all interested in you. She might be interested in you but sees that there isn't much of a future with you because of the non-monogamy thing, if she knows you're not monogamous. She might be like, “What's the point? I’m not going to be non-monogamous” But maybe she still enjoys his flirting aspect.
So I have a hard time believing she's not at all interested in you. But it is something to think about. Are you willing to risk… cause you know if you do say, “Actually I would like to have a romantic relationship with you”. It might be that it kind of ruins the intimacy because maybe part of what makes her feel safe about this is that it's not defined. So the second you start to define it, it might make that stuff go away. I mean you say that you have intimate friendships with other people so I kind of feel like you know… you can have other intimate friendships. You will have other intimate friendships in your life. So why not pursue something if you think that there's a chance that it might work out? I kind of wonder if you know…. there's a discussion to be had if she is interested in you of whether it's she who tries non-monogamy or you that tries monogamy.
And I do think you need to really ask yourself… cause you say that, “Oh I could totally be monogamous for her.” Is that kind of a new relationship energy talking? Can you really give that up? Because you know… I do think people can and I personally…I feel like non-monogamy for me isn't an orientation. It's a choice. I could be monogamous if I wanted to. I just don't want to. But the thing is… I don't think I could go back to a relationship where I was forced to be monogamous. I just don't think… even though I am quite, you know… I'm not non-monogamous because I *must* you know… I feel so strongly for so many people. It’s a kind of the opposite actually. I'm non-monogamous… mostly it's my choice because I’m so very rarely attracted to people that I want the chance to pursue when in 18 years precisely when the planets align ever so nicely as I commonly say as a joke. I’d like the chance to actually pursue it. That's my choice and my reasoning for it.
But are you that kind of a person? And what does monogamy look like for her? Is it that you can't have intimate friendships with other people? You say that the line is fuzzy and that might very well work when you're kind of not defining what you have with her but once it is defined if you're willing to go to monogamy, I think you need to… especially because you consider yourself a relationship anarchist, you're going to have to really think about what that means for you and not just for your romantic relationships, but for your friendships as well. Does that mean that you can’t have those intimate friendships anymore? Are you really willing to get rid of all that now just for the sake of having a relationship with this one person? So I think that's worth you thinking about like really thinking about. Because I think you’re kind of a little bit clouded by the romance going on here.
Because it is romance. You write love letters as characters in a book. I think that's romantic me. Far be it from me to tell you what you're doing and whether or not you should class it as romantic but it would be very romantic for me. So you know it’s… it's one thing for you to think about. You won't be able… You might not be able to… It depends on how she does monogamy. It might be that in her version of monogamy she kind of isn't as strict as some of the other people who practice monogamy maybe. Maybe you can have these close, intimate friendships. It’s really worth thinking about. Because that's a big… I don’t even necessarily think it's about like… you know, it changes the way you do relationships fundamentally, and the way you do friendships as well. Because that line is so wobbly for you. So it's really worth thinking about.
I think once you think about this stuff like… can you handle just been friends for the rest of your life? However long this friendship lasts, can you handle just this being this way until presumably she finds someone else and maybe she can't have this kind of relationship? Maybe she can. Could you do this for the rest of your life and be happy? That’s a question you going to have to answer for yourself. Is it worth risking this? Can you have this with some other person? You have intimate friendships and I kind of feel like you know… It's worth the risk. If you feel… If this was like the only person you knew and you were living in a country where you didn't speak the language and you know… and if this was like, the only real close friendship and you weren't in a position to make new friends and I would probably be a little bit more hesitant. But you’re in an ok position. You can make new friends. You can have new friendships and you will have new friendships and connections so I think it’s… you know, why not give it a try?
But that's ultimately up to you to decide. Would you risk this if it meant ending what you have now? If I meant that the you know all this intimate stuff with stop the second you pursue… assume it will. Not saying it won't cause sometimes maybe you ask and she says “Nah” and then you can carry on. You'll never know but assume for a second that it would end. Are you ok with that? Can you be ok with that? Can you really go back to a monogamy that would redefine how you do your friendships and your romantic relationships? Can you really do that? Is that something you want to do really?
And then yeah… I think once you kind of answer some of the questions and you think, “Yeah, maybe we can talk about the non-monogamy thing?”. Because she could try non-monogamy and maybe she's more open to it than you know. I think that’s worth thinking about it. And if you feel like, “I can't really handle this pressure” or either way you kind of want to go for it because you know… life is short. Go for it. I just think you could start by asking her overtly what she thinks about non-monogamy. You got this book that you've read and it doesn’t… you said it's about falling in love with your best friend but like… there’s like seven husbands in it. Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I don't know if that means that she has seven husbands or she's gone through kind of serial monogamy seven different men and figured out that that doesn't work for her but just ask her overtly what she thinks of of non-monogamy or polyamory.
Say you know, “I’ve talk to you about my relationships. What do you think of non-monogamy? Of polyamory?”. I think that's a good starting point cause if she goes, “I could never ever do it. I could never ever ever do it.” You know, you could start to talk to her about relationship anarchy and say, “What do you think about… say you have a partner. Would you be… would we be as close friends if you had a partner? Would that…” Because those questions can lead you to… I don’t think you have to overly put it on the table. I think you can ask some of these questions to decide if you want to take that leap. And if she goes, “You know, if I had a partner I definitely… you know we definitely couldn’t be doing this.” Or whatever then you know… you know your answer as far as what you can expect if you went into a monogamous relationship with her.
So I think you start with those things. And if… you know it's up to you in the end to decide if it's worth it for you. If it's worth potentially losing this to say, “hey” and put your cards on the table and let her know how you feel. I think you are… Overall I think you should because I just think if… you only live once. I know I just said YOLO but honestly like why not? Why not give it a shot? It sounds really bad. I wanna be like “You can make new friends”. It sounds really terrible but it is the way it is and if you think you can have a really good relationship then why not give a shot?
But I just think the only big caveat here that… the biggest caveat I think that I'm worried about here is not necessarily that you're gonna ruin your friendship. You know if you ruin your friendship, you ruin your friendship. Something else could happen that ruined your friendship. So many other things can ruin friendships. I don't think that like… being honest about how you feel and putting that on the line is like worth, “Oh I don’t wanna ruin a friendship”. You can make new friends.
I think the biggest risk for you is falling into this new relationship energy type of thing and going, “Yeah I can totally do monogamy! I think it's something I want to do!” And it really depends on why you've chosen to do non-monogamy. And I kinda really do feel like if you… not just because you’ve chosen non-monogamy but like but you've chosen a form of non-monogamy that is really not conducive to monogamy at all. Like you’ve chosen a form of non-monogamy where the line between friend and lover is very blurred for you. You’ve chosen a form of non-monogamy where you are solo polyam, which means that you focus on you and you don't like… I mean I was assuming. If I'm wrong, I apologise. You know, I'm assuming you don't have primary partners. You don't do that. You do a form of non-monogamy that's least like monogamy and… I don't know if you're going to be happy changing completely how you do your friendships and your romantic relationships.
That's a big ask. It's not just about you only dating one person at a time. Cause I think if you could date one person at a time but still be solo polyam in that you can… you know still have your primary relationship with yourself, you might be able to do that. But that's not really… That might not be what she wants in monogamy. Like when people want a monogamous relationship, generally speaking, they don't tend to want something that looks like solo polyam so I think that's that's really the biggest caveat that I see here.
Have those considerations. Have a talk with her about non-monogamy. See what she thinks about it and see what she thinks about relationship anarchy and solo polyamory. Ask her about these specific things and see you know. I think that once you have a good feel for how she thinks about that and if she goes “No way. No way,” then you can decide if you if you want to risk it. But if she kind of seems open to it than you know you can’t… you can never know until you know. You know what I mean. Sometimes you just have to give it a try and see what happens but yeah. I hope that helps and good luck!