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When Polyamory Goes Wrong - The Monogamous Intruder

Updated: Feb 25, 2022

Some people come to polyamory with a secret agenda

The story

Janet meets Keith at the party of some common friends. He’s handsome, witty, dresses well, and drives a Mercedes. A catch, she decides. She asks around to see if he is single, but nobody seems to be able to give her a clear answer. She flirts with him, anyway, and they hit it off. Keith finds Janet sexy and charming. He takes her home and, after some hot sex, he tells her that he’s polyamorous. She can date him, if she wants, as long as she accepts that he has two other girlfriends, Lena and Mary, that he will keep seeing.

Janet doesn’t like hearing that at all, but she’s falling for Keith, hard. She pretends not to be bothered by that revelation and agrees to be polyamorous with him.

Keith introduces Janet to Lena and Mary and their other boyfriends. She’s all smiles and charm. For a couple of months, everything seems to work fine. Keith and Janet are deeply in NRE (new relationship energy, also known as falling in love) and enjoying their time together. Which is never enough for Janet, since she has to split it with his two other lovers. Keith advises her to date other men, but she tells him that she’s so deeply in love with him that she couldn’t possibly like any other guy.

Then the drama starts. Every time that Keith wants to see Lena or Mary, there is some misunderstanding that leads to a fight. Janet starts speaking ill of his girlfriends. She has taken careful note their shortcomings and does not miss a chance to point them out to Keith.

Janet learns that Keith is not out as polyamorous at work. One day, she shows up at one of his work parties and introduces herself as his girlfriend. She kisses him in public. Of course, Keith is not stupid and sees what she’s trying to do. Now that she’s the “official girlfriend”, Keith would have to be careful not to be seen with his other lovers, because then people would think that he is a cheater and a womanizer. He calls Janet on that, they have a terrible fight, and they break up. Broken-hearted, Keith goes to see Lena and tells her what has happened. Lena is furious. She calls Mary and tells her.

The next day, Janet calls Keith to apologize. She could not sleep all night. She could not bear the thought of living without him. He agrees to meet with her, as friends, to talk things over. They end up having some rough sex - spanking and anal - as punishment for what Janet had done. But they are back together. Janet had gambled and won.

It gets even better. When Keith tells Lena and Mary that he’s back with Janet, they get outraged and break up with him. The whole polycule (polyamorous group formed by lovers and metamours) ostracizes him.

So now Janet has Keith to herself. She is careful to fill all of Keith’s time so he doesn’t have a chance to meet other women. Vacationing together, she proposes. He hesitates, but she puts the pressure on, alternating between fights and sweet making up. He agrees to marry her.

Soon after the wedding, Lena calls Keith and seduces him. It’s not hard. Keith is naturally non-monogamous and he’s getting bored with Janet. Lena wants revenge. She doesn’t stay with Keith, but the dam has been broken. Keith is now a cheater and starts seeing other women. Janet knows, but pretends she doesn’t. She gets pregnant to bind Keith more closely to her.

And they lived unhappily ever after.

Does this situation really happen?

The story is completely fictitious, of course, but I cobbled it together from some real-life situations that I have witnessed quite closely. The gender of the characters is irrelevant. The monogamous intruder could be male, or this could happen in same-sex relationship. I chose a female intruder because these days men are often portrayed as the ones that are controlling and possessive.

This is not the type of situation that people imagine when they talk about polyamory, but it may be quite common. I have heard the monogamous intruder being called a “cowboy” but, as I show here, it could be as easily a woman (cowgirl?). It reflects the tension between the monogamous and polyamorous mindsets. Normally, it’s monogamous people who fear that polyamorous people would induce their spouses to cheat, but exploitation and deception can work both ways.

What is unethical about Janet’s behavior?

Some monogamous people would defend Janet’s behavior with platitudes like “all is fair in love and war”, “it was time for Keith the stop fooling around and settle down”, “his other relationships were not serious”, or “she saved him from living in sin.”

However, if we agree that polyamorous relationships are as valid as monogamous, what Janet did is glaringly unethical.

  • She was not honest when she entered into a polyamorous relationship with Keith - she had a secret agenda.

  • She was in a disloyal competition with Lena and Mary, when they were not competing with her.

  • She purposely undermined the relationship of Keith with Lena and Mary by speaking ill of them.

  • She used the repression of monogamous culture against polyamory to her advantage, risking to out Keith at work and to slut-shame Lena and Mary for being polyamorous.

  • She hurts Lena and Mary by purposely destroying their relationships with Keith.

  • She was emotionally manipulative of Keith, using fights, sex and emotional blackmail to twist his will.

  • Even when things turned sour, she was unwilling to stop the train wreck that was her relationship with Keith. She even brings a child into a dysfunctional family, where he was likely to have a unhappy childhood.

Did Keith do anything wrong?

Of course, Keith is not totally blameless.

  • He’s a dupe. He sees that Janet is being manipulative and still stays with her.

  • He’s not fair to Lena and Mary. He made a commitment to them to abide by polyamorous rules. When he sees that Janet is not playing by these rules, he should have broken up with her.

  • He should never have allowed Janet to speak ill of Lena and Mary.

  • He should own the drama that Janet and he introduced into his polycule. The other boyfriends of Lena and Mary are also indirectly harmed and have a right to be pissed at him.

Sometimes polyamory is hard because of monogamy

We often hear these days that polyamory is hard, even impossible. But polyamory wouldn’t be this hard if it didn’t have to wage an unfair fight against a monogamous culture. This story is just another example of how the scales are unfairly weighed against non-monogamous people.

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