I have no idea about any of this at all. recently (within the last two months) my boyfriend (of about 3 years) and I ended up in a threesome, with one of his female friends. And since then it has become more of a relationship than anything close to a one-time thing. We all care about each other to varying degrees, but there seems to quite a few issues between all this, and none of us seem to know how to go about it. A lot of it seems to have to do with the fact that none of us know what we’re doing, and as far as I know we’ve all only been in monogamous relationships. (as far as I’m concerned, I don’t even know half of what the words (ex: the whole primary, etc ) mean when I’m reading them.
It makes sense that you feel confused. You’re young, you’re trying non-monogamy for the first time, it’s a big change for your relationship with your boyfriend, and it wasn’t a change you were expecting. It’s okay to feel confused sometimes. And it’s okay if you keep feeling confused for a while, or always feel a little confused, or feel confused again. But I also have a few ideas for how you might sort through some of this stuff and deal with some of the general issues you’re facing. (If you’re dealing with something more particular, though, feel free to write again. Now or whenever.)
Some people are only happy in nonmonogamous relationships. Some people are only happy in monogamous relationship. And some people can be happy in either. You three might fit this last category. Just because it takes some time to adjust to a different way of doing relationships doesn’t mean you can’t do it. And it doesn’t make you any less nonmonogamous now that you’ve been happily monogamous before. But if any of you eventually realize you do want monogamy, that’s okay too.
Talk to your partners. Talk about how you feel about each other and your relationships and what you want and whether you’re getting it. Is anyone feeling a lot of resentment or jealousy? Are you on the same page about any rules or expectations? Do you have similar ideas about what this relationship could look like down the line? When talking about how you feel, remember that honesty is good, but it’s not a good excuse for being tactless. You’ll also have to do some self-examination around your feelings and what you want out of your relationships. To find something that works for all of you, you may have to do some compromising.
Read up on nonmonogamy. I like the book Opening Up. Other people swear by The Ethical Slut. The website MoreThanTwo.com is pretty good too. You don’t have to read everything, just pick something. Whatever you read though, you and both of your partners should read some of the same stuff. Or watch some videos about non-monogamy together. Having some shared material to references and reflect on, even if you don’t agree with all of it, makes a really good framework for sorting through your own relationships. It will bring up stuff that hadn’t occurred to you and give you an opportunity to talk about it. It’s a conversation starter.
You might also look around a bit to see if there’s a poly group in your area. Try Meetup.com. You might not click with the crowd there anyway, but it could be worth a shot. It can be reassuring to see people in person who have relationships similar to yours, even when you’re not specifically talking to them about relationships.
There are a couple common issues that come up with this dynamic, when an established couple gets involved with a third person. One or both of the people in the couple sometimes feel like their relationship and stability are threatened, while the new partner sometimes feels excluded, left out, or less important. Some people work to make all three partners feel equal in the relationship, while other people intentionally prioritize the established relationship. There’s a lot of different ways you can structure things and make them work. And there’s a lot of tips out there that get a little deeper into the nitty-gritty of dealing with the emotions that come up here.
One thing that I think rarely works is asking someone to take a secondary role in a relationship while expecting them not to date other people. Like, if you and your boyfriend wanted this third person to date you, and not date anyone else, and also be content with you and your boyfriend’s relationship taking priority. This might work for certain people in certain circumstances, but I think it’s more likely to just make someone feel like a side character in their own life, used and taken advantage of.
There are glossaries out there if you’re stuck on the vocabulary, but that’s really not the most important stuff.