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Does feeling poly mean marriage has failed?

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My husband and I have been married for four years and we have two children younger than 2! Within the last year, we've begun exploring an open relationship. I am bi-sexual. Recently, I've found myself seriously falling for a woman I'm seeing. It has been a struggle to determine if A) My feelings are just part of the excitement, B) It is a symptom of something larger in my relationship with my husband, or C) Maybe I should just be single and give the marriage thing a rest. Thoughts? Suggestions? How many poly couples have you seen that survive in the long run? I guess I'm just questioning the nature of our choices and whether it is truly freedom or rather a patch for underlying issues. Or if I'm just overthinking it and should revel in the fact that I can have my cake and eat it, too.

— Bi-fuddled

Dear Bi-fuddled,

OK, a woman walks into Van Cleef & Arpels and falls in love with a diamond necklace. It's expensive: $400,000. She tells the jeweler, "I know how I can buy this at your full price, but I need you to play along. Tomorrow, I'm going to come in with my husband. I want you to tell him it's only $200,000."

So, she comes back with her husband and announces that she's looking for a diamond necklace. The jeweler brings out the one she'd picked. She pretends to fall in love with it for the first time and the husband hands over a check for $200,000. A few hours later she returns the necklace. She comes back the next day, this time with her lover.

Same routine: She oohs and aahs over the necklace and the jeweler sells it to her lover for $200,000.

Everybody wins.

My point, and I do have one, is that sometimes a wife needs a lover to get what she really wants. In your case, the "jewelry" is sexual and emotional fulfillment. And the only way you're going to get that is through your husband and your girlfriend.

If you're in a mutually agreed-upon open relationship, I'm not exactly sure why you're writing. Seems to me you're feeling a little guilty that you put the keys into that shiny new Vulva and drove it off the lot, leaving your husband wondering what the hell happened.

I think you have a bigger concern than deciding between your husband and your girlfriend: Your kids. Your guiding principle should be to maintain a stable home. It doesn't matter whether you do it in a hetero, homo or bi relationship — or whether you do it in a monogamous, nonmonogamous or poly setting. Your sexual and emotional fulfillment should not come at the cost of a stable home for the kids.

That said, my first question is whether everybody involved knows who's involved. It's worth remembering what "polyamorous" means: having more than one intimate relationship at the same time with the full knowledge and consent of all parties.

Can poly couples survive? Yes, if they adhere to the defining characteristics that mark long-term viability: ethics, honesty and transparency.

I have a feeling you've not been totally honest with either your husband or your girlfriend. You need to take each of them (separately!) to a sexy cool restaurant like Buckhead's Tantra and have a sensible convo to get the poly ball rolling.

Oh, and talk the sensitive issues over the lemon-scented Italian doughnuts.

Those things will get anybody to say "YES" to anything.

Got a burning or a why-is-it-burning question for the Sexorcist? Email him at sexorcist@creativeloafing.com. Mike Alvear is the author of a line of How To Meet Guys On Facebook and teaches monthly blogging workshops with Hollis Gillespie.

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