I love two women – how do I stop lying to them?


I hope you guys could give me some insight. I’ll try and make this as short and sweet as I can. Honestly, I am tired of talking about it and thinking about it.

Here is my story – I’m a 35-year-old straight male and have been single and dating for a couple of years. I met my current girlfriend two years ago; we dated for over a year and it took me that long for me to even admit I was her boyfriend. Some of the reasons were “Is she the one?” “Am I really that in love?” I just didn’t feel that “in love” head-over-heels feeling so I took things super-slow, always questioning. I love her, she’s amazing, I care so much about her and I can’t see myself not knowing her. We are super-connected, I know that.

A year ago I met another woman through a friend. Right away we hit it off as friends, but obviously it got deeper as the months went by, another special connection, until months later we slept together. I felt horrible, but I continued to see both, feeling it was wrong. I don’t want to be that guy, I try to be honest, I try not to hurt anyone but it seems I was hurting everyone, including myself. The lies, the deceit, all that was just killing me.

In December I told the first one I needed a break and it broke her heart and it broke mine. I wanted to say it for so long but I didn’t have to courage to do it. So for the last three months I continued to see the other but it didn’t feel right because it all felt like lies. I still had the first one on break, she was still on my mind, and I couldn’t be there fully with the second even though I wanted to. So obviously we would argue, I would tell her I can’t commit right now, and I just feel like I’m ruining two relationships, two amazing women that came into my life, all because I can’t decide.

I love both, I never even thought about polyamory until I read something about it this weekend, and it was the first thing that actually resonated with me. I’ve never gone to therapy, but some friends suggested I go, but it doesn’t work. I just love two people and don’t know what to do, so I’m reaching out and trying to get some feedback, a different feedback that I haven’t received yet.

Thank you so much!

Torn Between Two Women

Dear Torn,

Many years ago, an ex-lover nicknamed me “Poly Yoda” and I’m gonna use a Yoda-ism here – “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

You say you don’t want to be “that guy” who lies and cheats and deceives people. I’ve got bad news for you my friend – you are being THAT GUY. You are the most THAT GUY who has ever written into this blog. And the only reason I’m even bothering to give you advice is that you seem to be remorseful about it.

The feedback that you’ll get here that you might not get anywhere else is, maybe you don’t have to choose. Do you envision having both women in your life in an open and honest way? If you had been honest from the start, I would say it would have been a possibility. But since you’ve chosen to be dishonest with them for months, perhaps years now, it’s going to be a difficult proposition – made even more difficult since you indicate that at least one of your girlfriends is looking for a commitment that I assume to mean monogamy.

If you really want a long-term solution, you’re going to have to commit — to being honest. Brutally honest. Step one is you need to come clean with both women, tell each of them the whole story, and beg for forgiveness. I’m talking hands-and-knees, flowers, chocolates, etc. I’d fully expect one or both of them to never want to see you again because of the trust that you’ve violated. This is fair payment due for the hurt you’ve caused (and will continue to cause) to them.

If you get past step one, the next step would be to propose an open relationship that includes both of them. Ask each of them how they envision your presence in their lives making them happy. Think about how you will feel if one or both of them start dating other people. Make a commitment that both of them will get your attention the way they are used to having it, even when everyone knows there are other people in the mix. It will be a bumpy ride, but if you make it this far, I’d be encouraged that there’s some really deep love here.

Finally, don’t knock therapy until you’ve tried it. If you don’t want to do individual therapy, consider couples therapy or get out and join some poly groups and make some friends who can support you in real life. There are more and more people exploring poly and we can all learn from each others’ mistakes. 

Leon, what’s your advice?

Whoa, Nelly! That’s a whole lot of harsh for a guy who’s clearly looking for a happy ending for everyone, and since he’s coming over from vanilla world and he’s done what he thinks is “the right thing” (because this is inexplicably how they DO things over there), I’m willing to cut him some slack. 

I don’t think this is a bad situation at all; in fact I think this is a potentially great situation for everyone, because I personally believe in both happy endings and the healing power of love. And because I’m an irrepressible optimist, here’s my take: Yes, you screwed up by cheating. But life doesn’t come with a relationship manual, and you apparently did what you thought was right. And you’ve sort of accidentally wound up in a potentially great launching pad into growing open and honest polyamorous relationships with both your partners simultaneously. 

The catch is, to make this work they both need to be on the same page as you. The key for you would likely be how you approach each: build trust by being honest, share what you’ve learned, listen to their needs, then determine whether and how you can each get what you want (not just you!). 

If I were you, I’d express to each separately that you’ve done some soul searching, and you’ve realized a few truths about yourself. First, that you love them and want to grow a relationship with them. Second, that you’re also in love with another person (your ex- or the person you’ve been dating since you broke up) – and explain how confused it’s made you. (At this point, I don’t think it’s relevant to fess up over the cheating if it’s not already been discussed, since you’ve been openly dating the “other woman” since the breakup and that would open a whole new can of worms.) Third, you have been talking to people with more experience in this area, and you think you have a potential solution you’d like to discuss and have them consider. 

Invite them to watch the Polyamory TED Talk with you and explain that this polyamory thing makes a lot of sense to you. Ask under what circumstances they’d consider exploring this with you? What would they need in order to feel safe exploring together? Then do it again with the other. If you do this right, and if they care about you the way you care about them, there’s a very good chance you’ll have a very good chance. 

 There are a ton of differences between behavior, communication, and expectations in poly relationships compared to the way people relate in default world. This could be a great opportunity for all three of you to potentially find happiness – and at the very least, you’ll learn some very important lessons for your future relationships. Like another (albeit less green) wise man once said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

Kink beware

Lately I have noticed a very big influx of kink into the poly community. I’m not against kink, but I feel that people are who aren’t into kink might be turned off to becoming part of the poly community if that’s what’s presented. How does one keep it separate? What advice would you have for a vanilla person who thinks that poly people = kinky bdsm/swingers/chandelier hangers?

– Gotta Keep ’em Separated

Wow, chandelier hangers, huh? Does that mean they sparkle like the vampires in Twilight?
So here’s the thing about community – anytime you get a bunch of people together, you’re going to find that a lot of them are freaky in different ways. You could go to gathering of trial lawyers and find a fair number of kinksters. The difference is that in the poly and sex-positive communities, people feel more free to be open about their bedroom preferences, so kinky people are more visible. And, of course, kinky people have a natural affinity for poly since they might have fetishes that their primary partner isn’t into, leading them to seek out a play partner or other relationship.
My advice for vanillas who are curious about the poly scene but wary about kinky people is to do your homework about an event before you attend. Some events are billed as poly events, but they might actually be BDSM play parties or swinger events that are trying to cast a wide net by saying they are for poly people. All of Open Love NY’s events, for example, are non-play events, and we enforce a strict consent rule on touching, i.e. asking for hugs or anything more than a handshake (for the very reason to make it more comfortable for newbies).
Finally, any newbie who wants to become part of the poly community needs to have an open mind. There’s no requirement that you have to like or endorse everyone’s personal proclivities in the community, but you can hardly be judgmental about someone’s private bedroom behavior while at the same time advocating for open relationships. And frankly, once you get to know some people who turn out to be kinky, that might be an area you wind up exploring as well.
What do you think Leon?

Remember those Venn Diagrams of which I’m so fond? If you have a poly circle, a kink circle, a swing circle, and a few others, there’s a heck of a lot of overlap, ranging from people who are in all to those who are in only one. To me, the key to this question is the perception of people on the outside of all these circles, those who are “vanilla” or who simply haven’t had enough exposure to poly, kink, or any of the others to understand what the non-vanilla world entails, or to decide whether or not it’s something they’d like to explore.

I think the answer is education! Too many people don’t even KNOW there are workable alternatives to traditional monogamy, perhaps outside of the movies or third-hand gossip, and don’t know where they can learn more in a healthy way. To them, anything out of the ordinary respecting relationships or sex might trigger any of a host of feelings, both positive and negative – and it’s easy for someone who doesn’t understand the non-vanilla world to confuse poly with kink, or make assumptions that might be inaccurate. It’s therefore up to us, those within one or more of those circles, to help educate people on the outside in open and honest ways. This also applies to people who describe themselves as part of one of these communities, but don’t know that much about others, or have mis- or preconceptions.

Once everyone knows and understands what kink and poly (and any other non-vanilla lifestyle) are and aren’t, then we will have fewer misunderstandings – and we’ll likely have a lot more people who comfortably know how to include themselves in one or more of our circles. 🙂