I am new to polyamory. I am an ethically non-monogamous hetero woman in her 50s and recently re-entered into my first secondary sexual relationship with a married friend whom I’ve known all my life. We lost touch after college, but he reconnected and restarted it.

Is it normal to want to know if he has other partners? Is it OK to ask him? How do I ask him?

He has asked me directly and I told him I don’t have other partners. But he is very opaque when I try to talk to him about himself. He prefers to keep chats and calls superficial and this has been a source of angst for me since I do like a creative conversation, and I have seen him have it with others, so his reluctance to engage with me is confusing. I am open in sharing my relationship status when he asks me directly. But I am unable to open such a topic with him.

I brought up what feels like an unequal power dynamic, and he agrees this dynamic exists but that’s just how it is. We hardly meet even once a year since we live on different continents. (I do the traveling because I have flexibility, and yes, there’s a dynamic here, too, which I’m willing to let go of.) Those few hours are like life-fuel. We share an incredible chemistry that would be a shame to throw away, so I would like to do all I can to build something with him.

Can you please help me with any pointers to navigate this?

Now Seeking Answers

What you want (something deep and meaningful) is imperiling what you’ve got (something casual and annual).

Zooming out for a second: You wanna go deeper with this man but he, for reasons he refuses to share, isn’t interested in going deeper with you. I can make informed guesses about what his reasons might be — the agreement he has with his wife allows for sex with others but not romance/intimacy; you only see each other once a year and he doesn’t see the point of forging a more meaningful emotional connection under these circumstances; he’s into you physically but otherwise doesn’t vibe with you (as the kids say) — but since I can’t subpoena and depose him, NSA, and he’s not telling you, we’re never going to know for sure what he’s thinking.

But I can answer your three questions for me: Yes, it’s normal to want to know if he has other partners (in addition to his wife); Yes, it’s okay to ask him if he has other partners (absent an answer, you should assume he does); Ask him directly, NSA, but you shouldn’t ask him incessantly… unless you’re willing to risk him throwing it/you away.

Basically, NSA, I think you might have the wrong end of the stick here. You’re convinced that deepening your relationship is the best way to sustain this connection — a connection you value because the physical chemistry is off the charts — but pushing him to go deep when he’s not interested going deeper than his dick can get him could prompt him to end things.

If you can’t enjoy the chemistry, the sex, and the “same time next year” excitement of this connection — if that’s not enough — you should throw this/him away yourself. If you’re not willing to settle for what he’s willing to offer, you shouldn’t waste one more international flight on him. But since I can’t imagine he’s asked you to be monogamous to him, NSA, you should have more than enough bandwidth — emotional bandwidth, sexual bandwidth, social bandwidth — to enjoy what you’ve got with him while pursuing men closer to home who want a deeper connection.

P.S. I wouldn’t call this polyamory. Given the facts in evidence, NSA, it sounds like this man is in an open marriage but that he isn’t seeking — or isn’t allowed to seek — loving and committed relationships with other women. Non-monogamous ≠ polyamorous.