The popularity of non-monogamy—the practice of engaging in many intimate relationships—is on the rise, but is it the right path for your relationship? If you’ve found yourself in this situation, the most important piece of the puzzle is getting clear about what you want.
It’s important to understand what a polyamorous relationship entails. Firstly, it is a relationship built on consent. So, if you or your partner engages in another relationship without the consent of the primary partner, that’s not polyamory, that’s cheating. Also, polyamory is not exclusively about having multiple partners – if that were the case, you’d be describing an open relationship.
Sound a little complicated? Well, I’d agree with you. I’ve seen the invitation for multiple partners complicate functional relationships for years. To be fair, the relationships were on shaky ground before the discussion of additional partners was on the table, but each time the conversation about additional partners came up, someone was left feeling disappointed.
I believe the best decisions come from a place of honesty. Before you decide if polyamory is for you, consider the following:
- What led you to this decision?
If your partner surprised you with the proposition, it’s already looking like an unnatural evolution of your relationship. However, if you did some deep soul searching and believe that multiple partners will help you become the best version of yourself, I think you should listen to that voice.
- Are you doing this to please someone?
Compromising your picture of the relationship to paint someone else’s will only backfire. Instead of ensuring closeness, you’re building a strong case for resentment and contempt. In addition, it is common for jealously to flood the brain.
Ask yourself: Will my partner’s feelings towards me change based on my response?
- Are you doing this to fix something “broken”?
Compromising your needs in an attempt to “get the relationship back on track” or “try a new experience together” are just falsehoods to help us cope with the knowledge that the relationship is flawed on a fundamental level.
Ask yourself: How, specifically, will my partner’s new relationship with someone else strengthen our relationship?
- Are you able to speak openly about jealousy, sexual health, and feeling insecure?
Are your lines of communication open enough to discuss some of the harsher realities of polyamory? Some common drawbacks include feeling jealous, insecure, and secondary. Will you be able to talk about the physical implications of more than one sexual partner? Are you able to talk about feelings of insecurity at the risk of sounding needy? If any of this gives you pause, consider how much stress the polyamorous relationship could put on the level of communication with your partner.
- Are you able to set boundaries? Are you prepared to leave if they are crossed?
This point echoes the sentiment above; are you able to communicate openly about your needs in the relationship? If you are entertaining a polyamorous relationship, are there certain people off limits to your partner? If you are not able to voice these concerns for fear of upsetting your partner, you will sabotage your emotional well being.