As many of my readers know I am involved in a polyamorous relationship. There’s me in the eye of the storm, my vanilla boyfriend, Locs, my bf turned kinky play partner, and now the newest addition of my beautiful puppy. It’s a lot to handle at times…sometimes too much to handle.
When puppy came to visit from overseas I spoke with everyone individually to ensure that everyone was okay. I spent time and effort prepping everyone for what it I thought it might be like with another person and was more than open to suggestions, questions, concerns or just sharing reassuring hugs.
What transpired while he visited was nothing short of a shit show including first class tears, hurt feelings, insecurities rearing their ugly heads, mean words, and a small but scary mental breakdown. This was highly unexpected but I dealt with everything the best I could. However, when push came to poly shove what was left was a broken relationship between Locs and myself. Our communication had broken down, he had some things he was unsure about and to be honest the kinky play between us had been growing smaller and smaller (the reason I went searching in the first place and found puppy) and we decided to take a break.
Fast forward to my continued presence in his country—after a 10 day trip turned into months and when we looked back in retrospect we agreed that perhaps poly wasn’t for him. Even though I was (and still am) deeply hurt to be losing someone I have called a best friend for the last three years, I’m a little relieved he finally got the message. I care about him very much but I have said since the beginning that maybe he wasn’t built for poly, sadly that has proven to be true.
To be fair in my 10 years of poly-dating I’ve learned a few things that I thought I’d share for those thinking about, beginning, in the middle of, or even ending a poly relationship that I’ve found to be helpful.
- Poly is not for the faint of heart.
- If you have a lot of anxiety, insecurities, doubts, and other introspective thoughts that plague you often they will be magnified in a poly setup. Be sure to take care of yourself personally first and foremost.
- Don’t make your feelings everyone’s responsibility.
- Seriously, don’t. It’s very selfish. That’s not to say your partner(s) can’t make you happy or sad or be there for you but don’t let them be the sole source of your emotions. You have to find ways to ground yourself and also be your own support system when necessary.
- Communication is key.
- Talk to your partner(s) to let them know what you’re feeling. Even if you think you know how they’ll respond, they aren’t mind readers, they may not know you’re feeling the way that you are unless you speak up. This goes double for if you’re feeling your needs are not being met and you’re not able to figure it out on your own.
- Honesty is always always, always, always the best policy.
- I’m not explaining this. If you can’t be honest with someone, you don’t deserve them, poly or otherwise.
- Establish rules or boundaries.
- I know some poly relationships don’t like a bunch of rules and guidelines but I really think it helps to establish boundaries. Sometimes what someone considers flirting someone else will consider just talking. Making out with someone you met at a club might be okay for you but your partner(s) might feel you need to discuss it beforehand. You won’t know until you ask. Save yourself some headaches.
- Long distance sucks.
- Long distance relationships usually suck in general. Now take that and add a person you know your partner(s) is spending quality time with. Double that sucky feeling. See first button for more details.
- Be safe.
- This sounds easy. You have your partner(s) and you are safe with them and hope they are safe with anyone else. I’ve found that it’s easy to forget that I have multiple partners when I share food or drink with friends, forgetting that I will be interacting with more than one person. I don’t want to put others at risk for germs or illnesses (sorry I gave you strep throat!) so I forgo sharing things and having unprotected sex with new partners for a pre-determined amount of time.
- There is no “perfect” poly
- Everyone does poly a little differently. I have some friends who have poly partners in other countries, some who only date virtually, and some who all live together. Everyone defines it differently. Don’t try to model your poly after anyone else’s, just do what works for you.
- NRE (New Relationship Energy) is real.
- And it’s very easy to get swept up in. Remember the feeling you get when you first meet someone and you just want to spend every day with them? You love their face, their voice, you’re glowing whenever you think of them. This happens in most new relationships, however in poly relationships it can be an odd situation to watch someone you care about go on and on about much they like/love this new person. Try to keep a grip on how NRE affects you and your partner(s) so you don’t potentially hurt anyone’s feelings. Also curb any partner comparison during this period.
- Be flexible.
- You are sharing your time, money, effort, and perhaps space with more than one person. It’s easy to think that things must always be done a certain way but being inflexible to your partner(s) needs is one of the quickest way to damage a poly relationship. Don’t be scared to make compromises or try something a different way if it’ll make you or your partner(s) happy. A little effort goes a long way sometimes.
- Know thyself.
- Only you know truly know what’s in your heart of hearts. The polyamorous lifestyle is not for everyone, and I don’t recommend it for everyone. Look within yourself if you feel unhappy, find out if it’s the right dynamic for you. If it’s not, if you’re unable to do poly in a comfortable way for you internally, then don’t delay in sharing this with your partner(s). You both will be happiest when you’re being honest with one another.
I’m sure there are tons more I could say about poly relationships but these seem to be the same issues that crop up time and time again. Some, or none, of these might help you so use them as you wish. And for anyone else going through a breakup, time is a good healer of most wounds…