Many couples that are involved in polyamory nowadays don’t start with the idea that they will ever be anything other than a couple. They decide to pursue polyamory after some time – we know friends who were monogamous for months, others for decades. The ‘why’ varies and often starts with a different path (such as us with swinging and kink).
The first step is to (if you can and match up in such a way that it works) have sex. Yes, seriously. And then get a good night’s rest. Then the next morning have a nice breakfast, grab some paper and pencils, and start noodling some stuff down. Why sex first? Because we want to avoid speaking from a place of lust. Now, lust might be part of why you are exploring polyamory, the desire for more and different sex, and that is a great reason. Polyamory isn’t all about sex – that is swinging – but it is, for many people, a fun part of it. But you want to have a clear and balanced head and heart going into this conversation, and sex is both a great way to connect to someone as well as…well, clear the pipes.
So we are sitting down and ready to start. Dedicate a few hours to this conversation. The paper and pens are to jot down thoughts and ideas – you are not writing rules or agreements, just ideas or things you might want to talk about later. And now, just talk. Be open and see if you can let things flow. This might be a fun adventure for some; for others, this is a scary and almost heartbreaking moment of vulnerability. Normally, moving into polyamory as a couple isn’t about a lack of love, but if you are worried it might be, ask. Do you still love me? Do you want me? These questions, if they are hiding in your head somewhere, need to be brought to the table. Give them a voice. Don’t make accusations, but just request for information. And if the answer is “I don’t know” then that is ok too. Let each other talk. Use your paper to make notes of things to come back to later; but let each other finish each sentence before you throw out a “but but but”.
If things get emotionally charged – and they probably will, one way or another – that is ok. Be ok with taking breaks – either of you should be able to say “let’s take 5” and go for a walk around. Breathe and come back to the table and remember you are a team, working on something together.
Here are some specifics you might want to discuss. And at this point, you might decide to record them in some way. I am a fan personally of having written agreements as it helps to really lock in what you expect from each other. Assumptions and surprises make things harder to navigate; writing things down can help. But with this caveat – what you write down today might not be how things are tomorrow. Think of it as a starting point.
- Will you date as a couple or as individuals? Dating as a couple has its own set of challenges – other spots in this book you’ll see references to both unicorn hunting and co-amory.
- Are there physical locations you don’t want to share? Meaning, are there places that are off limits of bringing a partner too? The bed at home, or the house in general, or the restaurant where she proposed to you, or work or church? There are lots of reasons to want to avoid having new people at – if you are not out at work and you take multiple partners to the company Christmas party, it might cause a stir. Be careful you don’t get too restrictive though – when we had a ‘no dates at the house’ agreement, we didn’t think about how much in hotel rooms we would have to pay for!
- Courtesy request. Here is where we list items that are simple ‘makes my life easier’ preferences. Now, we are not saying avoid all things uncomfortable, nor are we saying that just because it is uncomfortable it is wrong (see section on uncomfortable vs wrong). But for us, we have some small things we listed here that we view as simply a nice to have (or not have) as part of this. Ours include ‘take a shower before you come home from a date’, ‘change your shirt if your partner wears heavy cologne/perfume’, ‘let me know before you get home if you have new hickies’. These are not rules, they are simply treating each other with a small kindness.
- Safer sex. This one should be written down in detail. I don’t want to tell you the number of times we have heard people share they said one thing but heard something else (‘when she said always wear condoms, I didn’t realize it meant oral as well).
- Communication plan. Can I text you while you are on a date? Can I expect an immediate reply? Do you care if I call if I can’t find the can opener? Or do these feel like you are intruding on my partner time?
- Communication plan part 2. Are the questions ‘when do you leave, get home, and where are you going?’ too restrictive? Do they feel controlling? Or do they just feel like common communication because someone has to be home to let the dog out.
And here is your start. The rest of the book is full of tools and ideas and even some ‘don’t do what we did’ examples. But take a moment to smile at each other and let the adventure begin.
The Polyamory Toolkit
A book that focuses on specific tools people can use to address the common issues and deeper aspects of a polyamorous relationship. This work includes topics such as: Jealousy, Compersion – finding joy in your partners’ joy, Communication, Mitigating Triggers, Creating a Solid Foundation, and so much more.