Things to consider before trying Polyamory
People...I’m a fan of self-discovery. I think that some of the best moments in our lives happen when we’re pushing outside our comfort zone to explore new horizons. However, I also respect that some people know where their lines are. Which is why whenever I explain my relationship to other people and they respond with “Oh, I could never do that” I usually reply with “Good. Don’t.”
Okay, maybe I frame it a little softer than that. But essentially, when someone’s instinctual response to ethical non-monogamy is “I could never!” I think that’s a pretty good indication that they’re not in the mental space where they should be trying it. That’s not to say they will never try it. We change over time and grow as we’re exposed to new ideas and concepts. I swore I’d never try reading when I was three years old, but when I turned thirty I figured I’d give it a whirl.
So when someone starts asking if polyamory, or an open relationship, or any variation of ethical non-monogamy is for them, that’s an important first step. Because the most important question to ask yourself when considering a non-traditional relationship style is “Are you hoping it WILL be for you?” Is it something you’re interested in trying? Are you enthusiastic or curious about what it might look like for you?
If you’re in a headspace of “I could never do that” then, no, you probably shouldn’t. But if you’re asking whether it could work for your unique set of circumstances, that’s great!
So, you’ve established that you’re curious about it. Great first step. What else do we need to consider?
Is polyamory specifically right for me?
Polyamory is a very specific relationship style and can feel like you’re playing ‘relationships’ on the hardest difficulty setting. This is because polyamory involves both physical and emotional connection with other people. If you’re new to the idea of ethical non-monogamy, imagining your partner falling in love and having wild crazy sex with a new person can be butt-clenchingly terrifying (but if it’s not, and it just makes you horny and happy, that’s fucking awesome).
Polyamory involves a lot of different terminology and philosophy. People who practice polyamory tend to get really nerdy about it, which means they talk about it and write about it a lot and share their experiences with others. Over time that has helped polyamory develop a culture of its own, complete with different relationship models and structures, theories on communication and attachment styles, and a huge number of opinions on the different ethics involved. This is awesome if you’re into that kind of stuff, because it means there are nearly limitless resources that you can go and pursue to learn about other people’s experiences. But it can also be a bit intimidating if you’ve only just stumbled into the concept recently and now you’re trying to figure out ‘solo’ versus ‘hierarchical’ structures and what the hell is the difference between ‘kitchen table’ and ‘parallel’ polyamory?
I’m not trying to put you off, or tell you that polyamory isn’t for you. Far from it! What I want you to understand is that if you’re only just dipping your toe in the water right now, it’s totally understandable to feel really overwhelmed. There’s a lot to process. Both in terms of information and learning, but also all of your own emotions that will come up as you start to consider different things. If you’re feeling a bit freaked out, that’s okay and it doesn’t mean this isn’t for you.
Polyamory will magnify existing issues in an established relationship
If you’re in an established relationship and you’re thinking about opening up and trying polyamory, you’re both going to need exceptional communication skills. Navigating a relationship with just two people can be difficult, there are so many moments where miscommunication can lead to genuine hurt feelings. We say one thing, but it’s interpreted a different way, or we forget to talk about something, or we get caught up in our own feelings about a situation and forget how our behaviour affects our partner. Anyone who has been in a relationship knows what it’s like - even with the best of intentions, it’s easy to say or do something that ends up hurting the person we care about.
When you start adding other people to this combo, it means not only are you increasing the amount of communicating that needs to be done in order to keep everyone informed, but in a lot of circumstances you’re raising the emotional stakes as well.
If your partner forgets to tell you that they committed both of you to having dinner with their parents next friday, it can be an inconvenience or even anxiety triggering, but it’s a frustration that’s usually quickly explained and resolved. However, if you’re just opening up and your partner forgets to tell you about their dinner reservation with a new date next Friday, that can emotionally affect you a lot more, depending on how vulnerable you are. If you haven’t found someone to date yet, or you had been thinking about making plans with your partner for that night, or if you’re just feeling a bit low, it’s easy to take something that was a simple miscommunication and feel deeply hurt or resentful about it.
These moments are the points where most people struggle with polyamory. Not because someone forgot to mention a dinner date, but because it can unearth our underlying vulnerabilities. The ensuing argument won’t be about how forgetful they are, it could end up being about how you don’t feel like they prioritise you, or how they were trying to ‘hide’ their upcoming date, or any number of things that you might be feeling insecure about.
This is why it’s so important, before considering polyamory, to ensure you have open lines of communication with your partner. Talk about your vulnerabilities, talk about ways you can both help each other feel safe and secure. And mostly, be aware of what issues might come up so that they don’t come as a surprise when you’re feeling at your most vulnerable.
Keep in mind though, this means polyamory can genuinely help to strengthen your relationship. While it might highlight the problem areas you didn’t know you had, it’s up to you and your partner how you decide to respond to those. Many people find that polyamory makes them better partners, because it teaches them the importance of communication, of empathising with their partner more, and makes them manage their time in more considerate ways.
Is ethical non-monogamy for me?
As you may have realised, polyamory isn’t the only horse in this race. There are a lot of relationship styles that come under the ‘ethical non-monogamy’ umbrella. Polyamory is having its moment in the spotlight, so a lot of people are familiar with the term. But just because you might not be familiar with ‘relationship anarchy’ or ‘monogamish’ doesn’t mean they might not be closer to what you’re after.
Polyamory is an advanced form of ethical non-monogamy. It takes a lot of interpersonal, communication and time management skills to make it work well. Other forms of ethical non-monogamy can be a great way to dip your toe in and test your emotional waters. Try having a threesome or going to a swingers night and see how you emotionally respond to your partner getting physical with another person.
If you’re interested in solo polyamory, you might also find that relationship anarchy really works for you.
Ultimately, no one else can tell you whether polyamory, or any form of ethical non-monogamy is right for you. Only you can answer that question. And whatever you decide, that’s totally fine. Whether you realise you’re a lifelong subscriber to monogamy, or you’re after an open relationship, or you’re interested in polyamory but just not yet - no one else gets to judge you for your choices.
That is all. You may go now.
triXXXi66More than a month ago
It sure does take a hell of a lot of good communication to make it work… like any good relationship tho! And respect and understanding and selflessness.Reply
IfuwannadomeMore than a month ago
god who needs multiple....when u got a guy that can take you to hell then heaven.....I pass......heels give extra height for confined spaces.Reply
GlamnicMore than a month ago
Excellent information thank you!
Hopefully guys will read this and realise its not about multiple sexpartners.
Account ClosedMore than a month ago
Your comment is throwing a blanket over all blokes
Account ClosedMore than a month ago
It is sorry. Lets say 95 % of guys then