What's the difference between being in a polyamorous relationship and just being a guy who is messing around with two different women?
I’ll be perfectly honest with you - I’m currently in Portland, OR, recovering from a delicious hangover after an evening of debauchery at Devil’s Point “rock ‘n roll strip club”, and I chose your question specifically because it required the least complicated answer of those in my inbox! So thanks for the brain break, fine sir.
One of the reasons that non-monogamy gets a bad rap is because there are lots of folks out there claiming the identity and the culture while failing to exercise the most basic of its principles: Honesty. Transparency, communication, and an ethical “do-no-harm” mindset are integral to practicing polyamory. Otherwise, what you’re doing isn’t non-monogamy; it’s being single, being slutty, “playing the field”, and/or just plain cheating.
In your particular circumstance, the answer is simple: Do the two women in question know about one another? If so, did they “find out” because you diligently approached each woman to negotiate the situation ahead of time (as opposed to the women reading your texts or emails, or hearing about the other relationship from a third party)? Were you intentional and forthcoming in the disclosing of your desire to be non-monogamous? Did you genuinely take both partners’ individual wants, needs, concerns, and boundaries into account and honor them? Are you constantly “taking the temperature” of the state of your relationships by regularly checking in with both women to see how things are working out?
If you answered “no” to any of those questions - particularly the first one! - then you can’t claim the label of “non-monogamous” or “polyamorous”. But there’s good news: You can start your journey of ethical sluttery any time you want! And there’s no time like the present.