We Tried Polyamory To Save Our Marriage. It Did The Opposite.

I thought opening our marriage would save it. I was wrong.

My Husband And I Tried Polyamory, And I Left Him For Someone Else swissmediavision | Canva

I’ve always been in love with love. For me, giving love and being loved has always felt like a fundamental part of the human experience. After my first marriage ended with me running from an abusive husband who didn’t want to let me go, you’d think my outlook on love would have taken a hit. But I only became more determined. I wanted to find something more meaningful.

But about a decade into my next long-term relationship, things with my boyfriend became a struggle. The man I loved the second time around wasn’t mean or abusive and though we got along well enough, our incompatibilities were starting to take a toll on both of us. 


We liked different things in the bedroom, and our relationship had become nearly sexless. Domestically, we had different styles — which is a nice way of saying a lot of the chores and mental load of managing a home and family fell on me. Our communication styles clashed too. I preferred talking and working through our issues while he seemed to prefer stewing quietly. I wasn’t feeling heard, and writing became a much-needed outlet. I began publishing essays about relationships, sex, and my desires.

My passion for writing led me to ethical non-monogamy (ENM) — a relationship structure where all involved parties consent to multiple romantic or sexual partners. Unlike cheating, everything is conducted with honesty, open communication, and respect for everyone’s boundaries.

@nicole_thesexprofessor I would love to hear the ideas all of you have on this topic! What do you think? Are we meant to be monogamous? What implications does the answer to this have on our relationships? #Sexuality #EmbraceSexuality #NonMonogamy #NonMonogamous ♬ original sound - Dr. Nicole K. McNichols

I was particularly drawn to polyamory, a form of ENM that’s more about long-term relationships and emotional intimacy. In other words, I wanted to date, connect with, and explore sex (and more) with multiple people. At that point, I was in my early thirties, scouring articles and devouring interview-style podcasts where guests shared their lived experiences. (Normalizing Non-Monogamy became a fast favorite of mine.)

After years of sexual shame that I’d picked up from religion and society, I realized I wanted to explore love and sex to the fullest. I wanted to stay with the man I loved, but I wanted more. Just because he didn’t fulfill all my needs didn’t mean our relationship had to die. How can one person be expected to meet all of their partner’s needs, anyway? It was a liberating epiphany. This is me evolving, I thought. Monogamy isn’t who I am.

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First, couples therapy

About 1 in 9 people have been involved in a polyamorous relationship In the United States, according to the Kinsey Institute. And nearly 17% of Americans are interested in becoming involved, but they haven’t yet leaped.

The thing about me: When I want to make a change, I do a ton of research and have a tenacious follow-through. After learning about the risks, dangers, and benefits of polyamory, I was ready to jump from desiring it to living it. But would my long-term partner be on board?

We discussed my deep interest in polyamory for two years before we ever opened our relationship. He was hesitant, which was understandable. I was asking him to shift the entire dynamic of our relationship, and the last thing I wanted to do was pressure him or give him an ultimatum. But it was clear that something had to change if we were going to work. 

Then Covid hit.


The world was in chaos, and so we decided to get married. We were still having serious relationship issues, and it may not have been the best move in hindsight. Either way, my boyfriend became my husband, and I made sure to leave anything to do with monogamy out of our vows. By the time the pandemic started to calm, things had become so problematic between us that we were talking about divorce. He, like me, thought that polyamory could be our saving grace. 

Before we dove in, we had several therapy sessions together, which were key in our preparation. Communication, honesty, and trust are vital in any relationship. Then one day, he downloaded Tinder and started swiping without telling me. I saw him playing on his phone one day, he told me what he was doing, and that was the go-ahead I needed.

@sexclarified Starting your polyamorous journey may seem daunting - but I got you! 🎊 Here are some of my fave resources.Check out these creators:@polyamfam @Leanne Yau | Polyamory ❤️♾️ @Sam’s Sharpener ASMR@multiamory podcast#datingadvice #polyamory #openingup #polysecure #nonmonogamy #nonmonogamous #nonmonog #therapytiktok ♬ original sound - Claire Perelman

RELATED: The Weird Reason Why Women Initiate Open Marriages Way More Than Men


Adventures in polyamory

I took to Facebook and joined a local polyamory group. Soon I was spending time with people in my community who were all involved in ENM in one way or another. I had some amazing experiences when I started dating, including a new and exciting friends-with-benefits relationship. There were a few not-so-great times too, like the guy who lectured me on the harms of feminism as he drove me home.

Good or bad, I had entered a world full of hope and adventure. My husband and I could potentially enjoy threesomes and group intimacy. I could find someone as into kink as I was. And I could experience more emotional outlets, too. I could fall in love again. I could find a boyfriend (or girlfriend). And I could still have a loving relationship with my husband.

I was in emotional ecstasy. The world was our very sexy oyster. I became happier than I’d ever been, and my husband commented on how polyamory was going to save our relationship.

Opening up shines a spotlight on your marriage

The thing is, using polyamory to patch up your marriage only works for so long. When things aren’t structurally sound to begin with, new relationships can sometimes show you, very clearly, what isn’t working.


Months later, when I met someone online and clicked with him in a big way, my husband and I were continuing on our downward spiral. The novelty of polyamory was no longer distracting us, and it became apparent that our sexless relationship was a big problem.

Just before we opened our marriage, he’d had an emotional affair with a woman he’d been friends with for years. He said some very hurtful things to her about me, including “I married the wrong person. I should have picked you.” It’s something we tried to work through in therapy, but it kept cropping up. I was damaged by his words and no longer felt safe being intimate with him. Plus, all our incompatibilities and unmet needs had been weighing on me for so long that being sexual with him no longer felt like an option.

As my new polyamorous relationship developed and I fell deeply in love, I saw what it was like to be with someone honest, trustworthy, and communicative. I loved feeling safe, intimate, and compatible. I saw what it was like to truly connect with someone who didn’t hurt me, and I was ready to pursue this new romantic relationship without being married to my husband.

A few months later, my husband confronted me about our lack of sex. We had a final conversation about divorce and ending our marriage, and he moved out that night. You could say I left him for someone else. But honestly, whether someone else was in the picture or not, I knew our marriage was an unhealthy situation for us both. Polyamory just gave me the push I needed to end it.

@_elisa.janelle Polyamory disnt fix our relationship. Honesty and communication did! You have to build a strong foundation before adding more complication. #polyamory #polyamorousrelationship #polyamorouscouple #seekingbrotherhusband #ethicalnonmonagomy #openrelationships #polyamorycouples ♬ original sound - Elisa Janelle

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My marriage didn't fail

I’m adamant about this point: My marriage didn’t fail, and our foray into polyamory didn’t destroy it. We were seeking something to resurrect us. We were trying to heal wounds with a solution that isn’t meant to heal wounds.

My ex-husband and I had some great years together. We shared our lives for over a decade, and our time together shaped us into who we are today. Just because we’ve both moved on to the next chapter of our life as friends and not spouses doesn’t mean it’s a “fail.”


When we tried polyamory, we learned about ourselves, met some wonderful people in the lifestyle, and discovered that our romantic partnership was no longer working for us. We tried to use polyamory as a bandaid. And though I still believe in its fundamentals and recognize why it works well for some, I've learned that it’s not a magic fix for a troubled marriage.

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Holly Paige is an adventurous ournalist and podcaster who loves to write about relationships, feminism, culture, and mental health. Her work is published on Medium and Substack.