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He wants to try polyamory. What do I do now? 5 Questions to ask yourself before proceeding

 

iStock-859766444 copy.jpgThe 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:

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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?

 

  1. 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?

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

How to Date with Asperger’s…

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Dating is challenging for everyone, but for those with Asperger’s, the dating dance seems more like a series of spastic, rhythm-less movements. Matthew Rozsa, a successful journalist with Asperger’s described his personal experience eloquently: “If life in a society is a game (and make no mistake about it, it is), having Asperger’s forces you to play while learning two-thirds of the rules as you go along, even as everyone else knows them instinctively … and assumes you do too.”

Unlike their neurotypical (NT) counterparts, people with Asperger’s struggle to understand nuance or things that aren’t to be taken literally. Dating, especially, with all the flirting and mixed messages makes courtship exceptionally difficult. Though intensive, personalized coaching is the best way to improve dating success. Until you are ready to take that step, try these five dating tips for better dating experiences.

  1. Focus on the Signals

The best way to determine if someone is interested is to watch for signals. Before speaking, most people communicate through body language. Proximity, hand gestures, and eye contact are all ways of communicating without saying a word. Not all signals carry the same strength, so it’s crucial to differentiate weak signals, which could indicate friendship, from strong signals, which could indicate romantic interest.

Weak signals include: saying hello, making infrequent eye contact

Strong signals: touching, asking for your phone number, getting very close, asking you many personal questions

Think of weak signals as springboards for you to mine for more information. For example, if you notice a woman across the room, but she decides to order a cocktail next to you, she is offering a weak, yet positive signal. If you initiate conversation with this woman and notice that she is asking questions about you, the signal is getting stronger.

  1. Keep the First Date Shorter

To de-pressurize the first date, try selecting a single event or activity as the date. With a time limit on social interaction, you can relax and focus on learning about your date. As you’ll be maintaining constant one-on-one contact in a public place, you run the risk of sensory overload. This level of distraction can take you out of a comfortable mind frame and spoil budding romantic feelings. A time limit on the first few dates will help guide you through the more uncertain parts of the dating process. As your relationship grows, you’ll be better equipped to negotiate how much time to spend with each other.

  1. Consider Being Open About Your Condition

A lot of people wonder if they should be open about their autism when they are first dating someone. According to sexologist Amy Marsh, an authentic, straightforward approach is best. “The best thing a former partner said to me was, ‘I have a limited capacity for emotional engagement.’” If you feel that your partner is giving you strong signals—and you feel similarly—opening up about your condition might not only help her know what to expect, but also prevent her from taking some of the emotional challenges personally.

  1. Listen More than You Speak

If you have a tendency to talk a lot, you need to remember the purpose of the date: You are trying to learn about a new person. If you find yourself talking incessantly on one subject for a prolonged period of time, you aren’t creating an opportunity to learn about your date. Prepare a few questions that cannot be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and try your best to listen twice as much as you talk.

  1. Follow Up

If you aren’t sure about the signals you received during the date, and you’re interested in seeing your date again, you should certainly ask. If your date is unresponsive, she is probably not interested in seeing you again romantically. However; you can use this opportunity to learn more about her dating experience to improve. The best way to get answers is to create a safe space for her to be honest with you. You can leave her a voicemail or text and politely ask for feedback. After you make the request, you should not continue to contact her or ask her out on more dates.

Example: “Hi. I’m really happy you took the time to go out with me last week. I understand we might not be matched for dating, but I would really appreciate your feedback so I can improve. I think it’s really hard to read emotional cues and communicate about my feelings and any help you could give me would be immensely appreciated. Absolutely up to you and no pressure.”