Be Brutally Polyamorous.

“I’m polyamorous, but my partner’s new to this. They say they’re okay with what I’ve told them about poly, but… I can tell they’re nervous. So I’m going to damp it down for a while just to be kind to them – I’ll go easy on the side-dating.”

Don’t do that.

Your kindness will rip ’em to shreds.

Because if you give someone an artificial trial period, one where you give them the faux-monogamous experience to make them comfortable, then all you’re doing is lulling them into a sense of “Oh, this is what it’s like.”

And when you start up the dating after a while, they’re going to be *even more* panicky. Because *not only* will they have the usual assortment of jealousies and insecurities that come when you transition into a multi-partner relationship, but also they’ll be thinking, “But… you didn’t date anyone for a year! Now you’re looking for someone else!

What did I do wrong?”

And here’s one of the central truths about relationships: What usually scares people the most is deviations from the established norm. For example, I have a sweetie who’s a swinger: she goes to clubs and gets her itches scratched by all sorts of guys. She tells me about her scheduling problems organizing gangbangs. I think it’s adorable.

But that’s because I met her as a swinger. That’s who she was, and who she continues to be.

If my wife, who’s fairly conservative in who she hooks up with, suddenly started hitting the clubs every night, I would fucking panic.

I’d panic because my wife’s behavior would have changed, and I’d feel like maybe I didn’t know her as well as I’d thought I did, and wonder what I was doing wrong that she suddenly was into freaky anonymous sex. And whereas I know my sweetie loves me thoroughly because “gangbangs” were just part of our background noise when w met, my wife attending ’em regularly would be different.

Not saying I couldn’t get used to it. I could adjust.

But that switch in behavior is what scares people.

Giving them a “trial period” and then dropping the big change of “Oh yeah, I date other people now” is going to hurt someone unfamiliar to polyamory more. Often, a lot more. You are doing them zero kindnesses.

Because what’ll happen by then is that you’ll be so much more attached by the time you find out the other person said they’d be okay with poly, but really, turns out they can’t handle it. It’s not like this happened in the first weeks of dating, when you were soppy with NRE but also shallowly attached – no, it’s been months, you’re both emotionally entangled. To discover after a year that whoops, this whole poly thing is actually a dealbreaker for your other partner hurts way more.

If you’re going to be poly, own it.

Mind you, I’m not saying to go out and date someone you hate to rip off the band-aid! If they’re the currently only person in your life, cool, drift with that. But for God’s sake, if you were dating other people before, keep dating. Don’t give your trying-to-adjust partner the illusion that this is trial period is what they’re signing up for.

They deserve to know what sort of effects dating other people will have on them. Some of them will be every bit as cool with it as they promised. Others will need some adjustment, and hopefully you can fine-tune your caring to give them what they need without selling out your satisfaction. And still others will freak out so much that really, your choices boil down to “be monogamous with them” or “break up.”

All of these things are better to know early on.

So yeah. It seems selfish, but… be brutal. Show them what they’re in for. Polyamory’s not for everyone, and going out of your way to give people the impression that “polyamory” means “occasionally you flirt but really, nothing happens” can demolish ’em once the first dating happens. And if you drop that hammer after they’ve come to rely on your love and support, you’ll be one of those poly folks going, “How could they not know I was poly? I told them! Why are they shocked now?”

They’re shocked because you told them that what you were doing was what they could expect, and it wasn’t.

So keep dating. Give them as much love as you can. Hug them and let them know that your love for them is a unique thing that’s not touched by other people.

But keep dating.

10 Comments

  1. Missfired
    Mar 8, 2016

    This seems awfully black and white, to me. There’s a lot of room for individual variation, and backing off something some does not necessarily equate entirely stopping it. Some people (like me) do a lot better easing into things, with lots of open communication along the way. Without going into a lot of personal history, I can say I am pretty sure I would not be in one of the very most important relationships of my life if I hadn’t gotten to know my lover while he wasn’t as active, but all the while hearing about how he was before, and having time to build trust while things were slower (but not non-existent). If he were to go back to the way he was, in every way, I would have moments of panic, because that’s how I roll, but I’m pretty certain we would work it out, and he’d get to be who he is, and I’d get to be who I am.

    Nuance, baby. Never forget it. 😉

    • Missfired
      Mar 8, 2016

      Also, excuse any typos. Bathtub voice record typing…

  2. william l johnson
    Mar 9, 2016

    i dating a poly girl once, as i am a very open minded person and am open to new things. at the time she was only dating me, i do not know whether or not it is for the same reason you state here or if she just didn’t ever find a guy that she liked at the time. yet i would have been ok with it as i am one that is without jealousy to the point of making my partner feel as though i don’t care, even though it is not the case. we were together for 6 monthes and i met that other girl that we just hit it off with, i was very direct in telling her that i was currently in a poly relationship and that honesty is very important in the poly lifestyle, her interest was piqued. my poly partner had said once that if i had met someone i wished to date she just wanted to know about it before anything serious happened, being previously in relationships with really jealous types i felt it important to follow through with my poly gf’s wishes, and had told her about it and she wanted to meet this other girl. she acted cool about it yet seemed to distance herself from me from that moment on. 2 weeks later she broke up with me giving me a laundry list of the most petty excuses i had ever heard in my life. a few months later and my poly ex was dating two guys, both whom were only ever seeing her. i had told her that i was glad that she broke up with me because if she wanted a relationship where she can date whomever and her companions can’t than that isn’t polyamorous, and that she should be ashamed to use it as a guise to snow over people when really she was just selfishly being about herself. so i guess my point is, be brutally polyamorous, but only if you can handle it both ways, because otherwise your relationship is built on a lie.

    • Karina
      Apr 12, 2016

      So in other words if you opened her up to that world and she did not realize that it intrigued her after that then are you saying she had to stick with what she knew for you?
      What kind of shit is that. I change my mind probably 100 times a day and age can not do that after she left the relationship? What kind of guy are you?

  3. danyelle
    Mar 10, 2016

    The thing about this is relationships of any kind are never easy. I think in a perfect world I would like to find the perfect one person who doesn’t take me for granted. But then when you think you have found that, you fall in love and then they break your heart, it just sucks. I have fell in to those traps on a few occasions and yes I would hear about other women. other relationships I would get triggered by things. Which is probably why I don’t consider myself poly and I am ok with that. I’ve dated enough poly type of men to know that it just hasn’t worked but I remain open still. In any case I agree with you in the sense that you need to just be who you are so there are no surprises.

  4. Jo
    Mar 10, 2016

    I totally agree; it’s good to know who you are and what you want and be honest about it from the get go. Part of polyamory is about making authentic connections with people, and authenticity involves honesty. I’ve been (and I think a lot of us have been) deeply hurt in the long run because someone was afraid to hurt me a little bit initially.

  5. Clyde
    Mar 10, 2016

    My personal views on this subject never fit in anywhere, I want there to be more polyamourouse people out who write about loving relationships and maintaining intamancy and trust. This is a good start I guess- being clear from the beginning.

  6. Nikki
    Mar 15, 2016

    Hi, I just wanted to respond to this as someone who’s recently put her (for some useless background I’m Trans) feet into the Poly-waters of relationships. I’ve previously been in monogamous relationships and they just always fell apart on the other person’s volition and have recently been offered a chance at trying something new. On a dating site I had a cute/sweet Trans girl check out my profile, I approached her with neutral conversation and approach and things seem to hit it off well and she had on her profile that she’s Poly and in a open relationship with her boyfriend. So for a few good weeks I talked to both of them online, both together and separate and have now visited them a few times.

    I’ve gotten to be really close to them and we so far seem to have a great compatibility amongst them both for different reasons. One I’m infatuated with, the other I’m really into for deeper talks. As it is, I find myself quickly comfortable with them and like the dynamic we have so far. This article is def attributed to someone like me, I’m new to this and I have a LOT of emotions. I recently expressed how I don’t know how I feel about having a fourth or other person involved with us, I don’t know 100% what the future holds for us but I have developed strong feelings for them both.

    They haven’t really kept anything from me, but I guess I have that unknown fear of having someone else get into the mix and I’m unsure what either of them want when it comes to their love/relationship ventures. Right now things are going well despite some unrelated stress going on in our lives, but the future can be scary.

  7. JaydeRaven
    Jun 10, 2016

    I’ve long had this outlook, but it is very good to see it so well verbalized. When people post that they are easing a new partner into the poly world or that a new partner has asked them not to date others for the first year of their relationship, to me, that is a huge red flag and a sign that the relationship is headed for troubled waters because if the partner can’t handle their partner being actively poly from the start, how are they going to handle it suddenly after a year of being settled into pretending to be monogamous? After a year of NOT having to deal with their insecurities or jealousy?

    In a word, well said, Ferrett, well said.

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