Polyamory Etiquette 101: How To Ethically See Multiple People At Once
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? One thing we love about modern life is that we have the freedom to live and love however we want, which is why we’re seeing more and more womxn become curious about polyamory.
If you’re poly-curious, you’re sure to have a million questions. How does this all work? Is it okay to see multiple people at once? How do I talk to my partner about becoming poly? We know there’s plenty to think about, so we’ve put together a guide to polyamory for beginners as some food for thought. Let’s dive in!
What is polyamory, exactly?
What is it called when you date more than one person at a time? That, my friend, is what polyamory is. The word itself comes from poly, the Greek word for many, and amor, the Latin root word for love. Simply, polyamory is when you’re seeing multiple people at the same time, of any gender identity.
But here’s the kicker: polyamory means that all parties involved have given informed consent to the relationship. Being poly absolutely isn’t about cheating or going behind someone’s back. Instead, it’s all about ethical, honest, and genuine relationships, based on the belief that you don’t need to limit your love to only one person in life.
Polyamory can be expressed in all sorts of ways, such as by forming a triad, which is when three people come together to form a relationship. Sometimes, poly people are in a vee relationship, which means one person is dating two people, but those two people aren’t romantically involved with one another.
Image by Cottonbro on Pexels: With honest and open conversation, three will never be a crowd.
How do I talk to my partner about becoming poly?
Okay, I’m really keen to try it out, but how on earth do I bring up the subject with my partner? We know this can be challenging, so it helps to test the waters by broaching the topic of polyamory as a general concept, rather than jumping out and saying you want to date multiple people.
In the conversation, ask them what they think of polyamory with exploratory questions, getting more info on their feelings and opinions. Be sure to let them know you love and value them more than anything, but you’re curious to discuss how this might work. You never know – maybe they’ve also been wanting to try a poly lifestyle too, but were nervous to bring it up.
However, polyamory etiquette makes it clear that if your partner is not at all interested, you need to respect that if you want to continue dating them. It’s not fair to ask your partner to agree to something they’re not comfortable with.
Set clear boundaries
If your partner is interested in a poly relationship, that’s awesome! There are lots of ways to make it work, but many couples find it helpful to set clear boundaries for themselves.
You can do this by creating a polyamorous relationship agreement, which is an agreement of what you both feel comfortable with. For example, if you’re all about open communication, you might make an agreement that you tell each other each time you go on a date with a new person. Or, to protect the sanctity of your relationship, you might both agree not to bring your other partners to your home.
There’s no right or wrong way to approach this, as it all comes down to what works best for your relationship. Boundaries are key, because they provide support to explore polyamory in a way that respects each person’s feelings and needs. They also protect you from hurting any of your partners. Respecting everyone’s feelings and limits should always be priority number one.
Image by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash: Polyamory etiquette states that you should treat all of your partners with respect and honesty.
Another super important way to practice polyamory is by being safe in the bedroom. Using protection is necessary, not only to prevent unwanted pregnancies but also to prevent STIs.
Contraception in polyamory keeps everyone involved safe and greatly reduces your risk of transmitting disease from one person to the other. There are plenty of effective contraception methods out there, so it all comes down to personal choice.
It’s also helpful to get tested on the regular too, making sure you and your partners are free to play safely.
The green-eyed monster
We can’t talk about polyamory without raising the elephant in the room: jealousy. Yes, even if you’re totally on board with being poly and you support your partner fully, it’s completely normal to feel jealous sometimes when thinking about them being with someone else.
So how do you deal with this? We know it can be tricky, so it helps to talk to your partner openly about your feelings. Try not to get angry or upset, but just acknowledge your feelings and talk about them honestly. Feeling insecure, doubting yourself, or being upset at your partner for spending time with someone else are all common emotions, so communicating honestly will help you deal with these.
Often, reassuring one another how you feel can help calm jealous thoughts and make you feel more comfortable with everything.
Be honest with your partners – and with yourself
A successful poly relationship all comes down to open and honest communication, so every so often, check in with one another. Find out how your partner is feeling, what’s working for them, what’s not working, and any concerns they might have. Or, if you find a poly relationship just isn’t working out for you, it’s totally okay to call it and decide it just isn’t right for your lifestyle.
There you have it: the RBL guide to polyamory etiquette. We hope it helps you find the confidence to live life to the fullest and change the way you think about relationships!