Is Long-Term Poly Possible?

I have already written some articles on on polyamory. Still, I get quizzed on poly triads more than on any other BDSM topic. Perhaps it is the fantasy. The Dom/me having two slaves to serve him/her is ultra hot. But I am talking about more than just a casual threesome which happens as much in the vanilla world as around here. I am examining long-term poly relationships and the big question, “Is long-term poly really possible?”

In my opinion, in the short term, the answer is definitely yes. The excitement of a new poly relationship is much like the “honeymoon” period of any liaison. And it works for a while. As to long-term polyamory, that is a bit more problematical. BDSM relationships between two people are notoriously short-lived. When you add a third human being into the D/s mix, you are just complexifying (my word!) an already hard-to-maintain relationship. I am living testament to this sad truth; I personally have gone oh-for-two in long-term triads. (Of course there are many long-lived, wonderful poly relationships. But these are the exceptions, not the rule.)

So why is polyamory so difficult? In the typical poly relationship with an alpha and a beta slave, someone is voluntarily accepting being lower on the totem pole. The concept of “I live for my Master/Mistress and will serve him/her as the “beta slave” works fine in theory – or online! But this is a hard mental space to maintain in real time. Most people, in any type of relationship from fetish to vanilla, like to be ‘numero uno’ with respect to their significant other. And the alpha, although first in the pecking order, still must learn to share the Master/Mistress. For both submissives, this is easier said than done.

Unlearning ego, jealousy and possessiveness, which both the beta and the alpha slave must do, is extremely difficult. But although it is difficult, it is not impossible. In order to override these natural needs, both slaves must ultimately embrace — whether through training or other means — their respective statuses.

I might add that in the poly world the most popular arrangement seems to be an alpha-beta hierarchy for the submissives. But there are other polyamory systems. The alpha-alpha structure of two equal slaves is another way of setting up poly. As I had stated in a previous article, I believe that an “alpha-alpha” system might be easier to maintain for the Dominant. If the Dom/me can divide his/her attentions somewhat evenly, resentment can be eliminated as a divisive issue. After all, there is no “beta slave” who, by definition, gets less attention. I think this is less adversarial to human nature than alpha-beta and likely easier to maintain in the long run. But this is just a guess. We are dealing with human relationships here, not science. And many other systems keep popping up as people experiment in ways to make poly work.

As much as I love poly, I truly believe it is antithetical to basic human nature. It requires work to overcome this hurdle. A lot of work. If a Master/Mistress has accomplished the formidable task of finding/training two slaves who are totally happy serving, I believe it is less about the system/hierarchy than about the basic compatibility of the three people. I think this is the key. You can talk about alpha/beta or an alpha/alpha type arrangements until you are blue in the face. Ultimately, my two failed attempts at long-term poly were unsuccessful because the people involved weren’t comfortable with each other over time. And that is the key.

Getting two people to be intimate over a long period is tough enough. (Just look at the divorce rates.) So imagine the odds of three people getting on in a demanding D/s arrangement. “Is long-term poly possible?” The answer is “yes,” – but it might take a while before three ultra-compatible lifestylers are found.

By BaadMaster
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.


  1. lana dobbs says:

    poly is so hard. no matter how u try it is just as much work as a 2 person relationship. its important to rememebr that btu it can be more fun!

  2. My husband and I have a very diffierent set up, it seems. We are poly, but we are not a triad. We each have our own secondary relationship. Or more, if we wanted to.
    I’m going on 3 or 4 years (my memory is so bad that i honestly can’t even remember what the first few sentences i wrote were). So any way, my “secondary ” anx I have been in a v ery serious, intimate relationship and he actually has anther relationship. I think she’s sweet. However, this 2nd isn’t going to be long term bc he is moving out of state, likely this year. He has made it very clear that he isn’t going to maintain long-distance relationship. It sucks, but that’s what it is.

    Now, my husband has a secondary as well. However, as far as i know, theu are very casual. She actually lives with her boyfriend.

    So, all of that to say this; I do firmly believe that long term poly relationships can definitely happen. It just takes a bit more effort. Also, there are many ways to be/have poly. Not just a triad or the v ersion I mentioned.
    Good luck!

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