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An Open Relationship Expert Reveals What It's REALLY Like To Be Polyamorous

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Polyamory: What If You Keep Falling In Love?
Love, Sex

It's complicated.

A writer from AOL interviewed me and it was posted on their health page for a week or two. Then when a piece on polyamory came out on Newsweek.com, AOL moved my interview to their homepage.

Within a matter of minutes, my inbox was bursting with comments and questions; the interview itself had more than 1,500 comments posted on it. I would love to be able to email every single person individually, but since that would be humanly impossible, YourTango has been gracious enough to let me answer questions and reply to comments here.

Here's one of the questions I received about polyamory and the problems that can happen in open relationships.

"Hi Jenny,

I haven't read your book yet. I actually stumbled on the article on AOL about it and got involved in your interview Q&A's. Until I can get your book, one question did come to mind after reading your interview.

I get and understand what you are all doing and think if it works, awesome. However, I wonder what will happen if your husband happens to also fall in love with another, outside of you and your mutual girlfriend. Have you all thought about that? Or for that matter, what if your girlfriend or you all fall in love with another? Will your family just continue to grow? Have you all discussed this possibility, which is real, on one or all of your parts?

I'm just curious. I get you're all kinda wingin' this relationship as you go, but it's really the first question that popped into my head and I'm just curious."

This is an excellent question and it is certainly something we have all considered a lot. Just to be clear, although they are very good friends, my husband and my girlfriend are not in love or involved with one another. And my girlfriend and I are very much in love. The thing is, we don't think of love as a limited commodity. So, falling in love with someone else is not so much of an issue. 

If one of us did fall in love with someone else, we would figure out how that person now fits into all of our lives or whether we all want that person to fit into our lives. If my husband hated my girlfriend or vice versa, it simply wouldn't work. It does take a special combination of people. But more than anything it takes a great deal of understanding and love.

Now, should one of us decide we want to build a life with someone else separate from the rest, that would be a whole other ball of wax. We have definitely accepted that that could happen, although we certainly don't want it to. If it did, I think we would all be devastated, just as a couple in a traditional marriage would be if they decided to separate.

That's the thing — that could happen to anyone whether they are married or dating or living together or whatever. It has nothing to do with being open and everything to do with being human.

There are no guarantees in life. You could lock your partner up, I suppose. (But I can't imagine that you'd endear yourself to them that way.) You could follow them or have them followed. You could make them swear on their lives. But the truth is people change, and relationships change, and wants and needs change.

That's not to say that some people can't stay together forever just as happy as can be with no outside needs or desires. But not everyone operates that way.

Some argue that polyamory makes it more likely that one of us will want to be with someone else exclusively. But I think that quite the opposite is true.

Since there is no sense of being trapped in my household, there's no temptation of the forbidden. And since we are honest with one another there is no need to cheat or lie or sneak around.

We live with the reality that people are attracted to people other than their spouses or partners. But accepting that as a part of life doesn't mean we're more likely to leave each other.

We may be more likely to follow our desires where they lead, but we're also more likely to see those desires clearly, and more likely to talk about them with each other, which allows us to understand them and make the best decisions for all of us.

Love is a risk. For me, it's a risk worth taking openly, honestly, and consciously. Open marriage is the level of risk that suits me and my partners. I think it's up to everyone to determine for themselves where their comfort level lies; only then can everyone flourish and grow and live out their own happily ever after.

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