What’s happening: society is catching up to the fact that monogamy, for some people, is simply not a vibe. What does that mean? The wonderful world of ethical non-monogamy is becoming more mainstream. Couples are opening up about the joys of ~opening up~ and polyamory is being seen as a valid identity rather than some outlandish hipster trend.
That said, there’s still a lot of work to be done, a lot of progress to be made, and a lot of awkward navigation for those who get into polyamorous dating without a rulebook. With how much monogamy (not to mention *ahem* slut shaming) has been embedded in western culture, poly life can feel like something entirely new. The truth is, people are just learning to feel comfortable talking about it.
Though things are certainly changing for the better, there are still plenty of challenges for those who take on poly relationships and dating. The good news: there’s an abundance of resources out there for people who are thinking about poly life, and it’s a pool of information that’s only getting bigger.
We’re here to help you get started.
Polyamorous Dating 101
Monogamy can feel limiting for any number of reasons. Maybe you’re a person who really values your independence and would feel suffocated by just one relationship. Maybe you just fall in love with people often. Or maybe it’s simply a preference. Whatever the reason, you don’t ever have to explain yourself for being poly, just like no one is expected to explain themselves for being monogamous. It’s your business. The important thing is that you distinguish polyamory from unethical non-monogamy, a.k.a cheating.
Basically, polyamory “works” when couples (and throuples… etc…) establish shared boundaries, agreements, and—this is a big one—consent.
Ethical non-monogamy is no place for things like lying or toxic jealousy. You need to know how to communicate and do it often or someone will wind up getting hurt. That means being honest about what you want and walking away when you can’t find mutual ground (ouch, we know—no one said it was easy)!
Of course, you don’t have to be perfect at relationships to successfully ~do~ polyamory. You can struggle with jealousy, communication, etc. and still come out happy on the other end. It’s all about putting in the work and owning up to your mistakes.
Once you understand these basic principles about ethical non-monogamy, and you feel like you’re ready to explore what’s out there, you can sign up for an alternative dating site like SwingTowns to find dates and join local poly groups. Putting yourself out there can teach you a lot, and lead to some wonderful friendships and support. It’s never too early to start!
Challenges That Polyamorous Couples Face
Before diving into polyamory, it’s important to understand some of the challenges that come with this lifestyle so you can prepare for them.
Polyamory sometimes has negative connotations spun from ignorance that can be intimidating. For example, slut-shaming culture tries to make it all about sex, like it’s a dirty or immoral thing to partake in. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having lots of sex with lots of different people (provided you practice safety and consent). But it’s also inaccurate to label polyamory this way. Most people who identify as polyamorous emphasize the emotional aspect of it. The word “polyamory” comes from two Latin and Greek words which, together, literally translate as many love. Someone who was more concerned with the sex aspect would be more likely to identify as a swinger.
This is just one of a few judgements poly people face, especially when being open about their relationships. They may be told that non-monogamy is unnatural (false), unrealistic (nope), or something to be ashamed of (absolutely not). Unfortunately, discrimination and alienation are two things you should consider as possibilities when being openly poly, as those in the poly community do deal with them from time to time—especially when a poly relationship is queer. It is a sad reality that, although things are getting better all the time, the western world is not quite ready to embrace alternative love. You should keep your safety in mind when divulging this information about yourself and make sure that you and your partners are all on the same page.
Polyamorous Dating and How to Get Started
The polyamorous lifestyle is very rewarding for those who are serious about it and can make it work. If you’re determined to try polyamorous dating, you should:
- Be honest about what you want
- Avoid jealousy
- Set firm boundaries
- Get the awareness and consent of your partners (always!)
- Know that polyamory is not a “fix” for a broken relationship
- Try to be flexible
- Take responsibility for all of your actions
It won’t necessarily be easy to switch from a monogamous lifestyle to a polyamorous one, but it can be done and it can bring you a great satisfaction provided you take things slowly and prepare for the challenges you may face. To learn more, read some of our other poly resources or connect with a poly community for FREE near you!
Photo credit: iakovenko, 123rf.com