Relationships are no cakewalk. Often, they get difficult and messy because there is no manual set in stone that tells you what to do and what not to do. And things get equally messy when a polyamorous relationship comes into the picture.
Polyamorous relationships are often trickier to navigate than monogamous relationships, simply because there are multiple people. If you are a single person just reading up on polyamory, or someone who is exploring polyamory, here are 10 things you should know that will help you navigate through polyamorous relationships.
1. Know if you are ready for a polyamorous relationship.
Don’t jump into a polyamorous relationship because you are seeing a rise in polyamorous couples around you. Polyamory is a choice and that in no way means that a monogamous relationship is wrong or vice versa. Understand that in a polyamorous setting, you are free to go out on dates with multiple people and so is your partner(s). You are free to establish emotional and physical intimacy with other people and so is your partner(s). There is no space for judgement in a polyamorous relationship.
2. Consent is sexy.
Before any know-it-all person decides to yell that polyamory equates to cheating and/or sleeping around, let us clear that air. Polyamory is a kind of open/non-monogamous romantic relationship with more than one partner at the same time, with the INFORMED CONSENT of all the partners involved. If a partner is not comfortable with polyamory, it should not be shoved down their throats.
3. Establishing clear boundaries.
A polyamorous relationship has certain guidelines set in place by the partners so that everyone’s boundary and personal space is respected. Some people might want to know and meet their partner’s partners. Some might not even care. Or some might not even be comfortable discussing the intimacy a partner shares with their other partners. Also, don’t forget to respect their boundaries either.
4. A polyamorous relationship requires A LOT of communication.
As uncomfortable as it might get, have conversations with all your partners discussing the limits and the boundaries of the relationship. This goes for all kinds of relationships, never rely on implied statements. Jealousy is a completely human emotion. You need to have regular and open communication with all your partners to make sure they feel comfortable and safe. If you want to end one relationship, communicate with them first.
5. You need to give equal time to all your partners in a polyamorous relationship.
The equation you share with one partner might be completely different from the equation you share with the other partners. In order to nourish all your connections, you need to give all of them an equal priority and not treat any like an option.
6. Respect your partner’s partner.
It’s completely normal if you don’t get along with your partner’s partner. However, what’s human is that you respect their choice. Don’t shove the negativity on people’s faces. They love both of you so don’t ask them to choose between the two – it would be like comparing apples and oranges for them. Just be cordial and treat the situation like an adult.
7. Know that it is perfectly okay to change some boundaries in a polyamorous relationship.
As time passes, it is completely human to notice a change in what you want in a relationship and what you can provide. Have an open conversation with your partners to change how you would like your emotional needs to be met. Don’t be afraid to change limits, as long as your partner consents to the same.
8. Safe Sex.
Don’t forget to get yourself tested for STIs routinely. Be open about your sexual health with your partners and make sure all your partners engage in consensual and safe sex.
9. Have realistic expectations.
One of the most interesting facets of a polyamorous relationship is that partners establish their needs and wants in the relationship explicitly. Don’t expect your partner to give most of their time to you. They have other partners and their life doesn’t revolve around you. Keep your expectations realistic to avoid a self-inflicted heartbreak.
10. Don’t put yourself on the back burner.
While you’re navigating your needs and the needs of your partners, don’t forget to get in touch with yourself. Keep some time where you just unwind and indulge in some self-care. Use that time to focus on some hobby and not use your relationship as your only identity.
At the end of the day, consent, respect, and communication form the pillars of any relationship.