I’m in a partnership with my nonbinary trans partner for over a year almost two. They have been stating from the beginning that they would want to be in a open relationship but we never discussed anything further.
Recently it’s been pressed and they want to start ironing out the next steps…
I understand everything logically (opening our relationship)from them stating how no one is enough for anyone and cant fulfill every need… I feel like then what’s the point in any relationship then.. What makes me so special to be the primary if they can get their needs met by anyone and everyone else. How do I figure what I need to feel validated from them?
I also feel I could be in an open relationship, I like other people…I know time is short and all of this is small in the worlds problems.. but I guess I feel like I just don’t matter, if I left we’d both be fine and that makes me feel so empty.
Am I doing this relationship injustice for questioning how much love I should give to partner now. I feel the need to protect myself which in turn makes me want to do less loving things to them because well they could find someone else and I like any human want to protect myself.
I look for your response, thank you for reading..
This is a philosophy I see going around in polyamory circles a lot and I’ve written about it before, the idea that one person can’t possibly fulfil every person’s need. And I honestly and truly feel it’s 100% bullshit when applied to every single human being.
It’s sort of like people who say monogamy doesn’t work because there is cheating and dishonesty in the world. I don’t think one relationship style or way of living works for everyone because people are individuals and everybody is different. Different people have different needs. And different people have different reasons for choosing non-monogamy.
I, personally, am not a person who chose non-monogamy because I have a burning need to be with multiple partners. I could be monogamous (provided that monogamy didn’t include some of the more negative and unhealthy attitudes that usually accompany monogamy), but I just don’t want to be. And I don’t have to *need* to do something for it to be a reasonable and valid choice in my life.
But I know many people who physically feel they cannot be monogamous because fundamentally it isn’t how they operate. And that’s also valid. My great grandmother was ‘successful’ at monogamy: she was with my great grandfather until in died in the 60s and then spent the rest of her life alone until she died in the way many people think you ought to. If you’d have asked her if she was going to find someone new to marry after her husband died, she would have said she was already married. To her, his death didn’t matter so she held true to that.
The idea behind this philosophy is that all relationships require some form of compromise because it’s very, very rare that two people — in *any* kind of relationship — are completely and totally compatible or have a relationship that doesn’t have any kind of arguments, disagreements or ‘rifts’. And that’s pretty true. Most people will not get along all of the time, whether they are friends, friends with benefits, dating, etc. And I think it’s very healthy to have as many relationships as is reasonable for one person to sustain because the more people you know and talk to, the more perspectives you’ll have in life and the wiser you’ll be.
But whether or not you get along all the time with someone is not the same as whether or not you have a deeper need or desire for different types of romantic partnerships or sexual encounters. That’s a separate thing. While I understand where people are going with the idea that no one person can fill one person’s needs completely, because that’s also a lot of pressure to put on one person’s shoulders… it also assumes everyone has the same needs and they just don’t.
It may be for your partner that one romantic relationship just isn’t what they either need or want in their life — and that’s valid. It may not have to do with you being ‘enough’. People who want more than one child don’t want another child because one is not ‘enough’ for them. People who want more than one friendship don’t want that because one best friend isn’t ‘enough’ for them. There isn’t a scarcity here that applies. And I don’t want more romantic relationships because one is not ‘enough’ for me. Nor do my partners want other partners because I’m not ‘enough’.
For me, I also want my romantic relationships to have significance in my life and meaning. I don’t really want to be interchangeable to someone. I want my presence to matter. And many people feel that way. And how they feel as though they matter to someone is through exclusivity. Other people like myself who are non-monogamous use other ways to gain this meaning. Usually, for me, it’s about time and emotional effort put into me. Someone can make me feel important without only dating to me by spending time talking to me, engaging with my life, and showing up when I need them. That to me is more important than exclusivity.
For you, exclusivity might be important — and that is just as valid as your partner’s want for multiple romantic relationships. Both of your ways of thinking and rationales and feelings are valid. You just have a basic inherent incompatibility, unfortunately.
Given you’ve only spent almost two years in this relationship and it doesn’t sound like either of you have necessarily begun any nesting or permanent bonding type of activities (buying a house together, starting a family) I think it might be worth seeing this as an incompatibility and, as tough as it might be, parting ways. If there was more in what you wrote that indicated that you either could get something personally out of polyamory or that you didn’t have a problem with your partner being not exclusive, I would encourage you to try it at first.
But your letter really sounds to me like you need and want someone to be exclusive with you and that has a lot of significance to you in terms of how you feel about your relationships — and that’s totally fine. Maybe for you, one person *can* meet your needs because part of your needs are exclusivity. That’s legitimate and totally okay. And if that’s definitely the case, trying this, in the end, will only result in more hurt feelings and confusion than it’s worth. It’s better to end a relationship on a simple incompatibility than it is to end it among pain and difficulty.
I hope this helps and good luck!
Do you have a question?
If you have a non-monogamous relationships question to ask, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your question will be posted anonymously.