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Best Polyamorous Relationship Tips to Make It Work

Polyamorous relationship tips are hard to come by—here's advice for someone who's been in one.

By Ossiana TepfenhartPublished 5 years ago 8 min read

Polyamory is not easy. If you think having a single boyfriend or girlfriend is hard, imagine how difficult it is to juggle two at the same time. Speaking as someone who was in a polyamorous relationship with five different people, I'll be the first to say it's not for everyone.

In fact, if I was honest, I'd say most people do not fare well in poly relationships. However, if you're extremely emotionally intelligent and are able to control yourself, you can find a really unique and rewarding way to have an amazing family.

New to the poly scene? Here are my top polyamorous relationship tips for beginners and veterans alike.

Before you consider polyamory, you need to recognize what polyamory is.

A lot of articles about polyamorous relationship tips will tell you to balance time with your partners, but never really talk about the elephant in the room. So, I guess I will have to: you're not really poly if you're being cowed into it.

In my days, I've seen seriously fucked up people who hid under the guise of "poly" to emotionally manipulate, abuse, and neglect people who just wanted a relationship. This is not what a polyamorous relationship is about.

A polyamorous relationship that you basically had to be guilt-tripped, threatened, or coerced into is not consensual. What that is, is abuse. It's also emotional manipulation, and that's not love.

If your partner basically insinuates that he'll dump you if you don't allow him to be poly, you need to let him leave.

You do need guidelines, and you do need a safe word.

It's very possible to cheat in a polyamorous relationship—regardless of what mainstream media can say. In polyamory, cheating is defined as dishonesty or going to a new lover who one partner doesn't feel comfortable with.

Before you even consider going poly, you need to sit down with your primary partner and discuss things at length. What would you accept? What would make you furious?

Put these into guidelines, and stick to them. Some of the best polyamorous relationship tips that work well as guidelines include...

  • Meet your partner's other partners, and give them permission to be a partner. You want to get a good vibe from each of them, and you need to know that they aren't going to try to get your partner to be monogamous.
  • Use protection with all the other partners, talk sex health with each of them, and get tested regularly. No excuses. STD transmission is not a joke, and if you get HIV, it can end up killing everyone in your relationships.
  • As hard as it is, don't try to force your relationship to be some kind of way. You might have a different idea of what "poly" is than everyone else—and that's okay! What's not okay is trying to force a relationship to be something it's not.
  • You should have a safeword ready if a partner's crossing boundaries. And it should be addressed by everyone involved, if you notice this.
  • Negative feelings are normal, from time to time. It's normal to feel a pang of jealousy. What's not normal is letting it simmer until you snap.
  • Don't keep score, but do keep an eye on trends. If you notice yourself being squeezed out, speak up and say something. If you regularly see it happening, it may be time to break up.

A large part of polyamorous relationships is understanding the right mentality.

You can read all the polyamorous relationship tips in the world, but the truth is that they won't do jack for you if you don't have the right mentality. Here's what you need to understand about poly mindsets versus normal ones:

  • Your needs still matter, but they do not have anything to do with other partners. Your partner's other partners do not have anything to do with whether or not your needs are being met. If you can't see yourself being happy without being the primary or only partner, you just are not cut out for being poly. Similarly, if you feel squeezed out and your complaints are falling on deaf ears, it's on you to extricate yourself and find happiness on your own. If anything else, polyamory puts a huge amount of personal responsibility on you.
  • Insecurity will kill your relationship fast. A person who is insecure will flip out in a polyamorous relationship—even if they're the only person with another partner. Jealousy and insecurity causes abuse in traditional monogamous relationships, and truthfully, that gets magnified in polyamorous relationships.
  • Also, polyamory is not a cure for your insecurity with an opposite sex. I see a lot of people think that polyamory or having sex with anything that moves is a great way to overcome insecurity while dating. This will not do anything for you, except for make you want more, more, more. Do yourself a favor, and fix yourself before you even consider this kind of relationship.
  • It's not a competition, it's not a zero-sum game. Acting like you have to protect yourself from having your partner taken away is a good way to put other partners on the defensive and make your relationship hell. So, do not go into meeting their other partners with the idea that they are "out to steal your man."
  • Go in with the attitude of "tit for tat," and you'll do way better. At the end of the day, you all will need to work together to make sure everyone's needs are met.

Don't be afraid to ask others for advice when it comes to complex emotions.

Certain things will not go away in polyamorous relationships, especially when it comes to jealousy issues. It's okay to ask for help, and it's okay to admit that you legitimately need someone outside your relationship(s) to guide you.

Therapists can help, as can polyamorous communities. They offer plenty of polyamorous relationship tips and tricks that can help you cope with jealousy, recognize signs you feel insecure around your partner, and even learn how to communicate your needs.

Speaking of needs, you need to tell your partners what you need.

In a polyamorous relationship, letting problems sit and stew is a great way to destroy your life. It leads to resentment, blowouts, arguments, and worse. In a poly relationship, it's really easy to feel steamrolled.

Talk things out. Try to relate to your partner's partners. The more you discuss your needs, the less problems there will be.

Even when it's hard, try not to jump the gun when you're dealing with quarrels.

A lot of the polyamorous relationship tips you'll read deal with arguments. You need to learn how to argue without hurting others. To start, stay calm, bring facts, no name-calling, and don't do anything you would regret.

Just like you would in an office argument, don't take sides and don't make assumptions. If you get involved, stick to the facts and not just the feelings you may be experiencing.

Above all, do not be the person who everyone goes to in order to rant—only to have the beans spilled later on. That's the easiest way to make everyone in the relationship hate your guts, distrust you, or break up with you.

You don't need to tell everyone you're poly.

Here's one of the smartest polyamorous relationship tips you need to know: people will judge, and they will try to meddle when they find out you're poly. If the wrong people find out, it will be ugly.

Truth be told, outsider judgment makes many polyamorous relationships dissolve pretty terribly. You don't need other people to know you're poly, and if people do react badly, they don't need to hang out with you.

Frankly, if you're poly, you might be better off looking at friends who are more interested in making sure that the sex and relationships are healthy rather than traditional.

It's okay to judge your partners (or partner's partners) by the other relationships they hold—or have held.

You can learn a lot about a person from the company they keep, and the state of the relationships they're in. Do they constantly deflect their fault, and blame other partners when something bad happens? Does it seem like their partners are really not happy about the arrangement?

A large part of being successful in a polyamorous relationship is recognizing when a partner may have serious shortcomings that could end up causing a rift between you and the other partners. If you notice issues among other partners, warning others can help you avoid serious drama.

Really, though, the best of all my polyamory relationship tips dealing with partners is to choose your partners wisely.

Even in monogamous relationships, the wrong partner can ruin your life. Heck, they can even kill you. The same can be said in poly relationships, and with every other partner, there's an increased risk of a partner doing you wrong.

I honestly cannot emphasize partner screening enough, nor can I emphasize how crucial it is to pick a partner that's equally dedicated to finding good people. If you get bad vibes from someone, listen to your gut and bail.

Lastly, if you're going to be poly, save up money in an emergency fund.

Admittedly, I'm a fan of fuckoff funds—even in good relationship situations. That being said, poly people tend to benefit from them pretty heavily.

Poly relationships are less likely to involve financial abuse than monogamous relationships, at least, in my experience. The problem I've noticed with poly relationships is that they tend to burn out really quickly, and that can mess you up financially.

However, because poly relationships can get much more fluid and volatile at a faster pace, it's a good idea to have extra money set aside—just in case you need to move out.


About the Creator

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of New Jersey. This is her work account. She loves gifts and tips, so if you like something, tip her!

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