2022 is the year of exploration.
According to Crysten from OkCupid, OkCupid is seeing the non-monogamy trend take shape everywhere, from the bedroom to relationship types. While monogamy is around for the long haul, non-monogamy is on the rise. In fact, last year, users seeking non-monogamous relationships increased by 7%, and mentions of “non-monogamy” and “throuple” in user profiles have gone up by 21%.
So, if you're thinking of trying polyamorous dating, then you need to know some of the polyamorous relationship rules because polygamy can be a bit of a minefield.
To succeed in a polyamorous relationship means to ensure that you’re happy and that everyone else involved is happy. Respect is mutual, boundaries are agreed on, and rules are followed. In this scenario, polyamorous relationships can be the most natural, awesome thing.
In this article, I’m going to share the important polyamorous relationship rules for anyone looking to get involved in an open relationship needs to follow.
By the end of the article, you’ll know whether a poly relationship is for you or not, and you’ll know exactly what you need to do to make your relationship successful and happy.
12 Polyamorous Relationship Rules
1. Who’s Who?
Before seeking other sexual partners you and your spouse may want to have a conversation about who you sleep with outside of the relationship.
How do you feel about each other sleeping with people in your friend group? What about coworkers or exes?
While you cannot control who your partner sleeps with, you can share your feelings about these potential partners and set boundaries when needed.
This is the soundest advice from Ashley Barad, LMSW, a queer-identified psychotherapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. Being in a poly relationship doesn't mean you have the ticket to sleep with anyone you desire without your partner's consent.
2. Don’t Cheat
It might sound strange to tell someone who’s in an open relationship with multiple partners not to cheat, but – wait, what is cheating in a poly relationship anyway?
It’s really important that you and your partner(s) define what cheating is before you get together.
Generally, cheating in a polyamorous relationship is any romantic, emotional, or sexual involvement with someone your partner hasn’t approved. In this situation, you’d be doing the dirty behind their back, and that’s never okay.
Another form of cheating might be having sex with someone else without protection. If you and your partner have already agreed that you should always have protected sex, sex without protection isn’t cool – and is a form of cheating.
3. Communicate Openly
Let’s say you meet someone new. They’re really amazing, and you like them a lot.
Even though you’re in an open relationship, for some reason, you’re a little hesitant to tell your partner about this new person.
Maybe you like them a little too much. Maybe you’re worried your partner might get upset, even though you’d already agreed that you can both have sex with other people.
It’s actually understandable for anyone in a poly relationship to get a bit nervous whenever they meet someone new. Despite being in an open relationship, it’s never easy to tell our partner when we’ve met someone great.
However, communication is the foundation for all successful relationships – poly or otherwise.
Therefore, whenever you meet someone new, tell your partner about them. Let them know your intentions – do you want to f3ck this person, or is there more to it?
4. Talk about Sexual health
It is important for you and your spouse to be on the same page about safe sex in your own relationship and with other sexual partners added Ashley Barad. Ashley advised discussing the following points so that there is no misunderstanding in the future.
- Will you use protection with others?
- Will you use protection with each other?
- How often will you both get tested for STIs?
- Are you comfortable with your spouse sleeping with someone who has not been recently tested?
- Are you comfortable with your spouse sharing your STI status with their other sexual partners?
All of these are valid questions and concerns that need to be immediately discussed.
5. Decide How Much You’re Going To Tell Each Other
Would it hurt you if your partner told you they had great sex with their lover?
Would it hurt you if they told you they had a really romantic evening with someone else?
How about if they shared intimate details, such as whether or not their lover has a piercing in a certain place or if they tried a different sex position?
These are the things you need to think about before committing to a polyamorous relationship. If you – or your partner-can’t handle such conversations, it’s better to take them off the table straight away.
Understand what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not comfortable with. Are there things that would make you jealous and scupper the entire arrangement?
6. Don’t Put Pressure On Someone
Imagine being in a monogamous relationship with your partner for a while. They’ve never shown any inclination towards being poly, and neither have you.
One day, you decide to try an open relationship – but you want your partner by your side. You want to try a polyamorous relationship with them.
However, they don’t like the idea.
In fact, they flat-out reject it. They want you and you only.
You persist with the line that you’re polyamorous. This is who you are. You need to feel an emotional and sexual, and spiritual connection with other people.
So you put pressure on your partner to commit to a poly relationship with you. And if they don’t agree, you’ll be deeply unhappy.
This scenario was never, is never, and will never be okay.
In fact, putting pressure on someone to be polyamorous is tantamount to emotional abuse. If your partner doesn’t want to be in an open relationship, you must either give up the idea yourself or break it off with them.
7. Have Date Nights With Your Partner
A polyamorous relationship is all about embracing different people and doing unique things with others.
But it’s always important to remember that your partner is still your number one. As such, you need to set time aside for just the two of you as often as you can.
Plan date nights when it really is just the two of you and when all conversations about the other people in your relationship are off-limits. Enjoy each other, spend time together, and be intimate. Go to places, do things just like you would in an ordinary relationship.
If you don’t make an effort with your partner, a polyamorous relationship simply will not work.
8. A Poly Relationship Isn’t Just About You
One of the best things about a monogamous relationship is that it’s just you and your partner.
This means that the relationship is pretty much all about you (okay, it isn’t, but you know what I mean).
Things are split 50:50. You’re either giving love or receiving it, but you’re involved at all times. You sleep with the same partner night after night; their kisses, texts, and love are all for you.
A polyamorous relationship is very different. One moment you might be at the center of attention, but the next, you’re not.
And while arguments in a monogamous relationship always involve you, this isn’t the case with a polyamorous relationship. Your partner might be pissed off because of something someone else did. As such, this argument has nothing to do with you.
Not everyone can get on board with the fact that a polyamorous relationship means they won’t always be involved 100%. They won’t always feel the love, they won’t always be having sex, and there’ll be times when maybe they’ll feel a bit frozen out.
But that’s okay; this is just one of the rules of being poly. You have to accept it isn’t always about you.
9. Respect Everyone Involved
Imagine if your partner started to have sex with someone you didn’t like.
Hey, it happens. Our partner meets someone they really like, introduces them to us – and we find them totally disagreeable.
“What on earth do they see in them?”
However, an open relationship calls for respect for all involved. If your partner decides to see someone you don’t like, it’s not really your business. You can dislike them all you want, but you mustn’t confront them about it or make attempts to control who they can see and who they can’t see.
The whole point of a polyamorous relationship is that both partners have the freedom to explore themselves sexually and even spiritually with other people. If you start determining their ideal partner for them, the very essence of such a relationship crumbles.
10. Be Prepared To Accept Your Mistakes
In a monogamous relationship, you’ll make mistakes. You’ll hurt your partner, and they’ll hurt you.
Mistakes happen, and it’s vitally important that you take accountability for your mistakes, accept that you were at fault, and work hard to ensure they don’t happen again.
If you don’t, things can turn toxic over time, and the relationship will die.
Mistakes will also happen in a polyamorous relationship, especially if you’re new to this relationship dynamic. But because there are more people involved, any mistakes you make and don’t own up to will hurt more people. This can create a dreadful, super toxic scenario that can leave multiple emotional scars.
It’s so important that you always recognize your mistakes and own up to them. Take responsibility, learn from your errors, and work harder not to make the same mistakes again.
Only if you do this can you have a satisfying, long-lasting open relationship.
11. Be Realistic About What The Future
It’s easy to imagine that a poly relationship is a perfect arrangement.
In fact, some people get into open relationships in the first place because they don’t feel comfortable in a monogamous relationship and believe that welcoming more people into the fold will allow them to express themselves more, thus making their lives happier.
Of course, this can totally happen. You may be very happy in your polyamorous relationship. But it doesn’t mean that you will always be happy or that this arrangement will last forever.
A key rule of polyamorous relationships is to stay grounded with your expectations. Don’t mistakenly believe that this could be paradise on earth for the rest of your life and that you and your partner will never break up.
There’s nothing to despair about here. Breakups happen. Monogamous couples aren’t immune to breaking up, and neither are poly couples.
12. Don’t Forget To Make Time For Yourself
The final and tenth rule of polyamorous relationships is to remember to make time for yourself.
This is something that’s all too easily forgotten when we’re seeing our partner and multiple other partners. All of a sudden, we have no me-time!
But me-time is essential if this is to work. You’re not the sum of all the different parts of your relationship – you are yourself.
Set sometime aside each week to indulge in your hobbies and passions independently of your partner and lovers. Otherwise, you risk losing your identity.
Not just that, but you also need to see your friends and family. Don’t sacrifice the things that matter to you for the sake of an open relationship. Many people in polyamorous relationships manage to balance their relationship with everything else that’s going on in their lives, and this is something you need to do as well.
It’s important to have some polyamorous relationship rules if you want to enjoy a poly relationship with your partner and other men and women. And just because rules exist, it doesn’t mean a relationship has to be restrictive. In fact, by following these rules, you’ll be able to have happier relationships that are built on communication, trust, and happiness.