Being in a poly relationship is more than just juggling a bunch of partners; it’s about being able to handle more than one emotional and physical relationship at the same time. Polyamory works differently for different people, so finding the right balance of boundaries and intimacy is essential. These ground rules will help you to manage these relationships and keep your life balanced. Just remember that not every rule works for every person, so be respectful enough to try and work within your partners’ parameters.
The Not-So-Common Relationship
Currently, around 21 percent of people are involved in a relationship where they allow their partner to have a romantic relationship with one or more other people. For some who have never done this before, it can be a big adjustment and can certainly take some getting used to. If you are open to the idea of a polyamorous relationship, the first thing you need to come to terms with is that it may be great for you but that, down the line, one or more of your partners may not be able to cope as easily. Letting go of those who can’t handle all the added emotional baggage is part of finding out how polyamory works best in your life. Experience has shown that as you get more and more clear with yourself and your partners about what does and doesn’t work for you, you’ll get closer to the types of relationships that will work well in the long term.
Open and Closed Relationships
There are two different ways to engage with your partners’ other arrangements. There are those who want to know everything about every partner involved, the closed relationship, and open relationships, where you may not know some of the partners that the person you are involved with is connected to. Both are fine, it just takes a clear understanding at the start to help develop trust and a shared container. When your partner understands you are interested in a closed relationship, they will open up about their other partners. With the open relationship, you have to be willing to trust your partner and their choices outside your relationship, which can take some getting used to.
Primary Versus Equal
To complicate matters even further, there can be a structure within a polyamorous relationship that people new to the lifestyle may not be aware of. Some want to have a primary partner, one they treat like a spouse, who they share a house with, pay bills with, and spend the majority of their time with. The relationships outside that main relationship are all secondary, but they are acknowledged and there are no secrets. For others, every relationship is considered equals, so no one partner is considered more important than any other. Polyamory is about open communication, love on terms that work for everyone involved, and most importantly respect. When a married couple has partners on the side, as long as everyone is aware of each other, things can move along peacefully and within certain boundaries.
One of the ways that people make these relationships work is by setting some very clear boundaries at the start. For example, a married couple might agree that each person can have a relationship outside the marriage but don’t want to see or hear about their spouse’s extra-marital relationship. This is a boundary. Some couples like to talk about the experiences they have with other people, while others accept what is going on but prefer not to know details. Find out what works for you so you can share this information and set boundaries to keep everyone happy.
When it comes to poly dating rules, boundaries go a long way. Don’t expect instant success; these relationships are unique and a little trial and error may be necessary. Everyone has different emotional needs and your needs might be in conflict with someone else’s. Being clear and direct with partners can help you create a perfect balance that works for everyone.