Is a Polyamorous Relationship Right for You? 15 Do's, Don'ts and Things You Should Know
A polyamorous relationship is a romantic relationship that involves more than two people. Polyamourous relationships are different from monogamous relationships, where romantic partners are only involved in one romantic/sexual relationship at a time. There are different types of polyamourous relationships, sometimes couples ‘open’ their monogamous relationship up to other potential partners. Other times, relationships start out polyamorous and each partner has multiple partners. Other polyamourous relationships, like throuples (aka three person couples) involve three people in the relationship. Some polyamourous people have primary partners in addition to secondary, less serious partners, while others have multiple partners with the same degree of closeness. It’s important to note that polyamorous relationships require all partners to consent to the polyamory, which is notably different from cheating on a partner in a monogamous relationship and claiming polyamory.
Polyamorous relationships are gaining in popularity as people are becoming less and less enchanted by the idea of monogamy and as traditional marriage is becoming less popular. While there is still some stigma around polyamory, know that it is becoming more and more common, and it’s likely that someone in your circle has experience with polyamory! Polyamory is excellent for people that are attracted to multiple different sexual identities, it’s also great for people that do not feel fulfilled in monogamous relationships. While there are many benefits to polyamorous relationships, there are some complications too. Because there are more people involved, and because they are less openly discussed, polyamorous relationships can be trickier to navigate than monogamous relationships. Whether you are a single person considering polyamory, or in a couple where both partners are open to the idea of polyamory, there are some things that you should know before entering a relationship with more than one person:
1. Do research into polyamory
Polyamory comes in many different shapes. If you are considering polyamory, you should do research about distinct types of polyamory to learn more about the different relationship options and to see what type of polyamorous relationship is right for you. Understanding the difference between multi-partner relationships, hybrid relationships and swinging is important before entering into a polyamorous relationship. Research doesn’t need to be formal, there are plenty of forums online where people discuss their relationships openly.
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2. Do ask yourself if you can handle polyamory
Polyamory is not a good avenue for jealous people. Before you consider polyamory, look honestly at yourself and ask whether or not you could handle the idea of your partner with another person. Even if it isn’t about jealousy, a lot of people aren’t really down with the idea of having multiple partners. And that’s totally fine!
3. Do discuss polyamory with your partner (if you are in a relationship)
If you have come to the conclusion that you are interested in a polyamorous relationship while you’re in a relationship, it’s important to open a dialogue about this with your partner. They may or may not be open to the idea of polyamory, so opening up the discussion with them, and respecting their opinion and decision is a must! If you are not in a relationship, then you obviously don’t need to run things by your partner. But, as you enter into new relationships while you are in a polyamoruous relationship, it is always good to discuss your new relationships with your partners.
4. Do ask for what you need
Navigating polyamorous relationships can be tricky, especially if you are doing so for the first time. Whether you have a primary partner, or multiple partners, make sure that you are able to lean on your partners for emotional and intimate support. Successful polyamorous relationships require open communcation and honesty about your wants and needs. This includes listening to your partner’s wants and needs.
5. Do know your boundaries and limits
When in a polyamorous relationship, it’s important to understand your boundaries and limits in relation to your interactions and relationships with your partner’s partners. Some people are open to knowing about and even knowing personally who their partner’s other partners are. Other people prefer a don’t ask don’t tell policy, and would rather not know the other people in their partner’s life. Understanding your boundaries in this way is important before getting involved in a polyamorous relationship and as you navigate polyamory.
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6. Don’t consider polyamory for the wrong reasons
Like we said before, polyamory is not a way to avoid being faithful to a partner. Even in polyamorous relationships, you have to respect your partner and your relationship and stay faithful to your partners. If you are interested in polyamory, take some time to reflect on what aspects appeal to you, and evaluate if you are considering this for the right reasons.
7. Don’t assume that polyamory will fix existing problems in your relationship
Many people believe that introducing polyamory into a failing relationship will solve your relationship problems. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Introducing more people into the relationship will only exacerbate these problems. Like we said before, make sure that you are considering polyamory for the right reasons - fixing your relationship problems is NOT one of those reasons.
8. Don’t forget to check in with your partner(s)
Polyamory will often force people to reevaluate their concepts of relationships, intimacy and love, which can be a lot to deal with. It’s important to recognize that as you are dealing with these emotions, your partners are as well. Be sure to check in with your partners (especially emotionally intimate partners) to make sure that they are still excited by and invested in the relationship.
9. Don’t seek validation from your relationship
While there are a lot of differences between polyamorous relationships and monogamous relationships, it is important that you aren’t using your relationship as a source of validation, no matter what type of relationship you are in. Self esteem and self worth should originate from within, not from your relationship.
10. Don’t be afraid to change the terms of your relationship
Polyamorous relationships evolve and change over time just like monogamous relationships. When you are in polyamorous relationships, its important to check in with your partner to make sure that you are on the same page about how the relationship is going. And if things aren’t going well, or your needs have shifted, don’t be afraid to change the terms of your relationship as long as your partner consents to these changes as well.
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11. Know that you will need to establish ground rules for the relationship
Each polyamorous relationship is different, so its important to establish ground rules as you are starting a new relationship. And to make sure that these ground rules align with the rules you have established in other relationships. Ground rules can be related to types of partnerships, types of intimacy, boundaries, really anything that is important when establishing a new relationship.
12. Know that polyamorous relationships require a LOT of communication
While there are general patterns and parameters that polyamorous relationships fall into, it’s important that you establish good communication with your partners because there aren’t necessarily an agreed upon set of ground rules for polyamory like there are for monogamy. Navigating polyamorous relationships requires open communication so that you are on the same page as your partners about boundaries and expectations.
13. Know that not everyone is open to a polyamorous relationship
Polyamory is not really something that you should try to to convince your partner of, or wrap their head around. It either is for you or it isn’t. Some people are willing to try it out if they are unsure of their exact stance on it, but just know that you will never be able to make someone comfortable with polyamory if it isn’t their interest. Just like monogamy isn’t for some people, polyamory isn’t for others. It’s not about closed mindedness, or lack of experience, it’s just not everyone’s cup of tea. If your partner is not open to polyamory, do not force them into it. This is perhaps a sign that your relationship will not work in the long term if you are on different pages about monogamy and polyamory.
14. Know that polyamory is often oversexualized
While polyamory is becoming more mainstream, there is still a lack of general knowledge about what polyamory is, and this can lead people to believe stereotypes that often hypersexualize polyamorous people. While polyaomry is related to sex, it is also related to intimacy, sexual identity and sexual expression, which is often lost on people that do not know much about polyamory in general. If you are considering polyamory, prepare yourself to come across people that don’t fully understand polyamory and oversexualize it, and sometimes you.
15. Know that it’s okay to experiment with polyamory
As long as you are not fetishizing polyamory or polyamorous people, feel free to experiment to see if it is the right relationship style for you. There are ways to test out polyamory either as a single person or as a couple in respectful ways to understand if it is right for you. It can be really hard to know if you are cut out for these types of relationships if you have never experienced them before. Know that it is okay to experiment with polyamory and find out whether you love it or hate it.
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