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AdviceHey, Bonita!

Doing the Math in a Love Triangle

Bonita, 

I’m stuck in a cliché rom-com “in love with two people” situation, except there’s nothing funny here. I thought I was too old for this to happen, and I’ve thought about every option and all my feelings a thousand times until my head is spinning. The problem is each person makes me feel something entirely different. I don’t know what the right choice is, but I know I have to choose. 

Person A feels like home in a comforting way, and they’re my best friend. Communication is on point; being around them is effortless. Person B feels like magic, and we’re also really in tune with each other. The chemistry is out of this world, being around them makes everything else disappear. Together, I couldn’t possibly ask for more, but that’s not how this works. Whatever the decision is, I’m planning on a long-term commitment with them. How do you choose between comfort and passion? 

Stuck in the Middle

Hey there Stuck,

Let me share my layman’s understanding of ethical non-monogamy: The most common form of this relationship model that we’re all familiar with is polyamory, but essentially, it’s the concept of being respectful and responsible to more than one intimate partner, and respecting those same partners’ rights to have other lovers as well. 

We’re all very acquainted with monogamy, so much so that I don’t feel the need to describe it further than just being committed to a single intimate partner. It’s what most of us were raised to strive towards, and it’s certainly what has been modeled for us all through the media and social norms. You may fully believe in the value and power of monogamy, or maybe you feel the need to choose because that’s what society tells you that you must do. 

We’re all told that it’s trashy, slutty and/or selfish to have more than one love in your life, but non-monogamists tend to believe that feeling ownership over another person’s body or time is the actual selfish move here. We are all responsible for our own happiness and feelings of worth, and putting all of that onto a singular person is not fair to them or to yourself. I know plenty of people here in Athens who practice ethical non-monogamy, and they are some of the most liberated and self-actualizing people I know. 

Open communication is key in non-monogamy, and these folks will tell you what’s up. Their faith lies in themselves, and they put real intention towards having the most fulfilling relationships they can with the people to whom they feel drawn. I wanted to put this concept in your brain in case you hadn’t thought about it yet.

The key part of ethical non-monogamy is that word ethical, and that means being honest with your partners about your non-monogamous relationship style. Polyamory is not a synonym for cheating in any way, shape or form. So, if these two dreamboats are monogamous people, it would not be ethical to mislead them so that you can date them both. That’s not polyamory.  Your statement “that’s not how this works” tells me that you are probably a monogamous person right now, and that means you’re just going to have to make a tough decision. Are you already casually dating them both, commitment-free, or are these crushes that you are having a tough time choosing between? 

If it’s the latter, then you’re in a good spot—just take a few deep breaths and be honest with yourself, then make your decision and go shoot your shot. And actually, I’d recommend the same for the former, too. Personally, I tend toward being monogamous, and that turmoil of choosing between excellent people before cuffing season is not fun. But it’s your life, and it’s up to you, and only you are able to make the best choices for yourself. But maybe also go pick up Opening Up by Tristan Taormino or The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy.  

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