Polyamory is when people decide to have some kind of relationship and are open to the idea of it not being exclusive. The shape of these relationships is highly situational and personal.
There’s basically two ways polyamory goes down:
You learn a lot about yourself and unpack all the stuff you’ve buried over a lifetime, figure out what you want, and are forever changed for the better. Maybe this means you decide polyamory isn’t for you. This is how it went down for me.
You double down on all your insecurities, ruin everything, and blame polyamory for it. Most of the negative stories you hear come from this. All polyamory does is amplify what’s already there. It’s like getting superpowers. An ass with laser vision was already an ass without it.
Here’s a short list of tips:
Don’t go into it thinking it’ll solve your problems. A broken relationship will end up more broken if you try polyamory.
Have clear expectations. Someone will get hurt by whatever you think is implicitly understood.
Don’t mislead partners about possibilities, even by omission. If you’re adamant about giving your existing partner(s) veto power, make this clear up front with new partners.
If you aren’t well-off, it’s probably not going to work. I learned this the hard way. I believe he wanted to make it work, but between a job, family, student loans, and previously undiscovered insecurities (for all involved), it was never going to work.
When it doesn’t work, don’t be strung along. You probably won’t be friends after. It multiplies the trouble that comes with trying to be friends with someone you broke up with when it’s just the two of you. They’re going to want to talk about all the great experiences they’re having that you don’t get to be part of. And they’re going to feel bad or resentful when you finally set a boundary and say no, I don’t want to hear about it.
When it doesn’t work, don’t string them along.
Too many people in the polyamory community like to talk trash about people who don’t want to be friends with someone after a breakup. Accept no shame for your boundaries. Accept no shame for taking care of yourself.
Accept no proxies. If a metamour (partner’s partner) has a problem with you, they need to speak directly to you. Or, at minimum, establish some boundaries on how you can lean on the person in the middle. They can act as a mediator; they do know both sides best, after all.
Speaking from experience, the last one paired with veto power is a relationship killer. I felt like an accessory to someone else’s relationship. It seemed like there was some new edict coming by way of the person I was trying to date every week from someone I’d exchanged maybe five awkward, anxious, uneasy words with. Someone who always acted hostile toward me.
Oh! That brings in a good final bulletpoint.
Don’t ignore the red flags. She looks you dead in the eye while smooching the person you’re both dating the first time you meet? Probably not going to work out.
Polyamory is an amplifying force. It takes anything that’s marginal and dials it up to 11, good and bad. But mostly the bad. All your insecurities. All your bad habits. Any mental health issues. All your money troubles. Everything you hoped wouldn’t come up again.
Anything you haven’t worked past will come up. Some stuff you thought you worked past will resurface. How you handle this will determine your experience with polyamory.