Why is the onus on the polyamorous person?
It’s not quite fair. In an ideal world, two people would tell each other whether they were poly, monogamous, flexible, or anywhere in between. In this world, there’s often a default assumption of monogamy.
In some Bay Area subcultures, there’s no assumption that everyone is monogamous. The assumption in these communities is that you need to have a conversation about your preferences.
Let’s get back to your current situation. Let’s say that you really like this person. You didn’t meet them through anyone in your poly community. Perhaps you met at work, school, or at the cafe down the street from your apartment. You’re a bit nervous about your date. Along with trying to decide what to wear, you’re also trying to decide exactly how to have a conversation about polyamory.
Here are some guidelines to help you get started with that conversation.
- Bring it up early in the relationship, before you form a strong bond, so your date has time to consider how they feel about being with a poly person. Consider telling them either on your first date or before you get sexual together.
- Test the waters if you need to. If you feel you’re putting your safety or job at risk, gauge your date’s openness before you disclose. Start by talking about polyamory or open relationships more generally and see how they respond.
- Bring it up as good news. If you’re right for each other, this news will be a bonus. Set a positive tone for the conversation. Smile and make eye contact. The more calm and happy you seem about being poly, the more your date will want to relax and absorb the information.
- Be open to answering questions. If this person is new to polyamory, you’ll probably need answer some poly 101 questions. Be kind, patient and non-defensive as they struggle through the concepts.
- Bring it up early in the evening. You want time work through the conversation. If you wait until it’s time to say goodbye, your date is left with google or their roommates to make sense of your news.
- Don’t act superior or smug. Don’t imply that polyamory is superior to all other forms of relationships. Share why being poly is right for you, and don’t put down monogamy. That’s likely to put your date on the defensive. Monogamous folks have been claiming superiority for a long time, and it’s not attractive on either side. For example, rather than saying “I don’t believe in exclusive relationships”, say “exclusive relationships aren’t right for me.”
- Honor your other relationships. If you’re currently in any relationships, tell your date about them.
- Take care of yourself. You’re striving to be open and non-defensive, but you’ve also got to pay attention to your body’s signals. If you begin to feel disrespected, end the conversation and call it a night. You can always choose to re-open the conversation another time.
- Feel proud of yourself. By having the conversation, you’ve chosen the more courageous path of honesty and authenticity rather than the easy path of staying quiet. Follow that path and you’ll find the right partners, no matter what happens with this particular date.
Looking for a therapist? We’re committed to providing skilled and compassionate therapy to people in all kinds of relationships, including polyamorous, monogamish and monogamous ones. Call us at (415) 534-4051 or schedule a free consultation with one of us now.