Establishing healthy polyamorous relationships doesn’t happen by chance. Managing a conventional romantic relationship can be challenging enough but the complexity of a polyamorous setup presents further problems requiring specific guidelines to navigate.
Therefore, on top of the life skills needed in any intimate interpersonal connection, a polyamorous relationship has its own do’s and don’ts.
Whether you’re in a long-term open relationship, or experimenting with poly dating with more than one person at the same time, here are some general protocols on what you should and shouldn’t do in a polyamorous relationship.
- 1 Do maintain your identity
- 2 Do be clear about your needs
- 3 Do be flexible
- 4 Do take responsibility for your actions
- 5 Don’t share too much information
- 6 Don’t make assumptions about your partner’s new relationships
- 7 Don’t criticize your partner’s partners
- 8 Don’t compromise your happiness
- 9 Don’t fear change
Do maintain your identity
Society often seems to define an individual’s worth by their relationship status. This can lead you into making the same mistake, especially in a polyamorous environment, where maintaining your identity is particularly important.
Looking to your relationships to tell you who you are weakens your sense of self. On the other hand, if your sense of value comes from within yourself, it frees you from over-reliance on the people around you.
Your identity exists independently of your relationships, which don’t determine your value. Understanding this will empower you to seek happiness on your own terms. It will also give you resilience to help you through difficult times that your relationships may face.
Giving yourself space to be alone is just as important as spending time with others in your poly relationship.
Do be clear about your needs
If you don’t ask for what you want in a poly relationship, you can’t expect to get it. First, though, you have to understand exactly what your needs are.
This means being honesty with yourself.
Do you secretly desire things you aren’t saying?
Are you unwittingly steering your relationship in a negative direction?
Are your expectations realistic?
Your needs are important and a part of who you are. While you can’t automatically assume all your expectations will be met at all times by everyone around you, being clear about your needs – with yourself and others – will go a long way towards fulfilment in a poly relationship.
Do be flexible
Poly relationships are more complex than monogamous relationships involving just two people. This calls for a certain degree of flexibility, particularly when it comes to solving problems.
Many issues in polyamorous relationships arise when those involved need to divide their attention between the others. Striking a balance in achieving this compromise is often vital to maintain a good poly relationship.
Do take responsibility for your actions
The way you behave in a poly relationship affects not only your partners but also the people with a connection to your partner.
Sometimes your actions and decisions may have consequences you didn’t intend or anticipate.
Taking responsibility for these consequences can be unpleasant. But doing so will help you shape your life in the way you want, while still taking into account the feelings of the people around you.
If you’re in a polyamorous relationship where you have one primary partner, be clear about the boundaries on how much detail you want to share with each other about other partners.
This will help to avoid unnecessary feelings of insecurity creeping into your main relationship.
Don’t make assumptions about your partner’s new relationships
If your partner becomes involved with someone new, you may assume the relationship will go in a certain direction.
However, this conjecture may be way off the mark and make you feel jealous for no good reason. Instead of making assumptions about your partner’s new relationship, bring any concerns you have about it out into the open before they become problematic.
Don’t criticize your partner’s partners
If you’re hostile towards your partner’s partners, you’ll soon be experiencing feelings of resentment and self-doubt.
Remember that we all have our own flaws and quirks, and everyone in a poly relationship deserves to be treated with respect. This way, everyone – including you – will be much happier.
Don’t compromise your happiness
A polyamorous relationship or poly dating – including throuple dating between three people – should serve the needs of all involved, including yourself. You can’t make another individual happy by making yourself miserable.
Don’t fear change
Poly relationships are dynamic and change over time. So you need to be willing to commit to the idea of changing in ways that include others in the relationship, and be ready to work with them as your life changes.