How and when to discuss polyamory with potential partners

Katbearfoot

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I’ve always been polyamorous, but have only recently accepted/ realized my ‘true nature’. I’ve had a bit of trouble with my last three partners (but they probably just weren’t right for me).. ended up just being one night stands, which wasn’t what I was looking for.. it was frustrating for me, I wanted someone to fuck on a regular basis, but three dudes in a row just ended up teasing me. They were all friends (not super close ones, but people that I already knew and liked).. It was a learning experience and I think next time I will be better at communicating what I really want/ choosing a partner that is really into me, not just for one night.. And I think it will help that I plan to exist in more alternative lifestyle settings, where my polyamorous nature will be better understood..
I know everything will work out fine for me, and I’ll figure out my own path.. So, I don’t really have a “problem”.. I’m just wondering about how others handle the particulars of polyamory. What do you call your partners? I have one boyfriend, but I struggle with calling him that because the concept of “boyfriend” caused me mental confusion in the past and referring to him as such tends to make me seem unavailable (don’t talk to her, she’s got a boyfriend). ‘Main squeeze’ is about the best term I can think of, but half the time I just call him my friend. Our relationship is more meaningful than ‘fuck buddy’, but the term ‘lover’ grosses me out for some reason. So, I end up getting annoyed with semantics. I guess everyone is my friend, just some are more intimate than others..
I think in the future I will just follow my intuition as to when and how to talk to a partner about being polyamorous, but I’m curious how other more experienced people do it. I guess it’s not super important until the other person starts talking about exclusivity, but I also like to be upfront, open and honest. (I think being open and honest communicators is a polyamorous trait, or at least should be..)
 

Dameon

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I'd say that's one of those things like wanting kids or marriage that should be one of the first things you talk about when you're starting to get physically/romantically entangled. It's a pretty basic thing that makes a huge difference about whether you have a future together. I'm not poly, and there's a certain point in a relationship beyond which I'd like to know that somebody is going to want to keep fucking other people. Preferably somewhere between "starting to get feelings" and "official mates". If you're going to pursue a relationship with somebody, there's no point in holding back information that is crucial to determining how far that relationship can go. Plus, the more time you give the other person to adjust to it, the better the chance they might give the polyamory thing a try.
 
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Katbearfoot

Katbearfoot

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I'd say that's one of those things like wanting kids or marriage that should be one of the first things you talk about when you're starting to get physically/romantically entangled. It's a pretty basic thing that makes a huge difference about whether you have a future together. I'm not poly, and there's a certain point in a relationship beyond which I'd like to know that somebody is going to want to keep fucking other people. Preferably somewhere between "starting to get feelings" and "official mates". If you're going to pursue a relationship with somebody, there's no point in holding back information that is crucial to determining how far that relationship can go. Plus, the more time you give the other person to adjust to it, the better the chance they might give the polyamory thing a try.
I agree, but I also tend to move kinda fast physically. Maybe I’ll try slowing it down a bit.. haha, I’m just imagining that first night when you’re about to bang someone, saying “hold on a minute, how do you feel about kids and marriage?” Awkward.. But who knows, they might be cool about it and you have a nice discussion.
Maybe I could say something like, “I’m polyamorous, but I’m looking for a consistent fuck buddy, not just a one night stand.”
I dunno, I guess it’s tricky because I tend to sleep with people before that “starting to get feelings” stage, at least before the deep deep feelings stage.. Of course I love and respect them on some level before sleeping with them, but my attitude is more open and fun than the average female (I’m more like a gay dude). It’s just easy to misunderstand me, I think. I’m open to just having fun (but preferably not in a ‘hit it and quit it’ type of way) but I’m also open to deeper more meaningful connections. But all my connections are meaningful to me, I’m not trying to just have sex with some random person.. I have to be attracted to their personality too. ‘NaaI’m sayin’?

I think in the future I’ll make sure the person is a good choice for me, and probably have a polyamory talk before we get physical.. I think I rushed into things with my last few partners because I was feeling sexually frustrated, and I didn’t explain what I wanted very clearly..
 

oak moth

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i think if you're in an ongoing physical relationship of some kind, anyone else you get with really ought to know that first. even if not, i think it's still 'best practices' to let the person know, even subtly, that you're like that if it looks like something is developing - consider it as an issue of consent and what you might like to know about first if you were on the other side of it and not poly. otherwise it's part of that 'what are we?' talk that all new couples have
 
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Katbearfoot

Katbearfoot

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More info: I’m specifically interested in tips from other poly people on how and when they discuss their “free love” nature with their partners/ potential partners.

Context: I have a boyfriend, Ollie, and we have a wonderful free-spirited relationship. We can be completely open and honest with each other and we always support each other. Ollie and I are not often together these days. I will be seeing him soon for the first time in 7 months (we’ve been in different countries). We will always be a part of each other’s lives, but we do not force our paths together. Right now, we are happy doing our own things. We will spend some time together in Portugal, then probably go on separate adventures for a while. I want to meet some adventurous traveler buddies and someone that I can have a sexy connection with. Ollie just figured out that he’s bi, and wants to explore that further (good for him!).. I was really into one of my friends, but he did not feel the same way.. I feel like there is another special someone out there for me, and am looking forward to meeting him (he is probably a him) ♥

Who knows, maybe Ollie will find a special someone who can also be my special someone.. We shall see!
 

Matt Derrick

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when it comes to terminology i think the term 'partner' (i.e. "this is my partner") works well enough since it's non gender specific. i also feel like that word doesn't have the same monogamous connotations the boyfriend/girlfriend terminology has, but that might just be me.

in my last relationship, i brought it up pretty early that i was polyamourous but made it a point to also note that I was looking for a 'primary', basically someone i wanted to be with all the time but with the option of going outside that relationship as well. i was made it a point to let them know that i meant polyamory in the true sense, not pseudo-poly like 'you can only hook up with girls' etc. I'm a firm believer that being poly is a two-way street for both partners, and there really shouldn't be any constrictions like that. fortunately they felt the same way, so that worked out really well and we were together about a year before finally moving on.

that said, we were really communicative about our feelings for other people and ran everything by each other before flying off to other encounters, so we had very little trouble in the poly department which was really wonderful. probably one of my best poly relationships.

anyways, its a subject that i feel is pretty important and worth discussing so im happy to do so in detail if you want.
 
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Katbearfoot

Katbearfoot

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when it comes to terminology i think the term 'partner' (i.e. "this is my partner") works well enough since it's non gender specific. i also feel like that word doesn't have the same monogamous connotations the boyfriend/girlfriend terminology has, but that might just be me.

in my last relationship, i brought it up pretty early that i was polyamourous but made it a point to also note that I was looking for a 'primary', basically someone i wanted to be with all the time but with the option of going outside that relationship as well. i was made it a point to let them know that i meant polyamory in the true sense, not pseudo-poly like 'you can only hook up with girls' etc. I'm a firm believer that being poly is a two-way street for both partners, and there really shouldn't be any constrictions like that. fortunately they felt the same way, so that worked out really well and we were together about a year before finally moving on.

that said, we were really communicative about our feelings for other people and ran everything by each other before flying off to other encounters, so we had very little trouble in the poly department which was really wonderful. probably one of my best poly relationships.

anyways, its a subject that i feel is pretty important and worth discussing so im happy to do so in detail if you want.
Cool! Yeah, I believe in the whole ‘no restrictions’ thing too. I want my loved ones to do whatever it is that makes them truly happy, no matter what. And the same goes for myself.
And love has no bounds!
I’m pretty sure I will know when to bring up the poly thing with my next love interest, and it will probably be pretty early on.. but I’m just curious, did you/ do you bring it up before getting physical?
I’m definitely at least going to communicate what I want out of a physical relationship before I bang anyone else, so maybe covering the emotional aspect is a good idea too. I am not really interested in any more one night stands, that shit was just frustrating (I’m rarely satisfied after one night, there needs to be some follow through, especially if there is no one else to follow through).. So, I’m looking for a consistent fuck buddy, who could potentially become a boyfriend. I have one boyfriend, but would like two. I’m always open to more connections, but right now I just feel like there is another true love out there for me, in addition to my true love Ollie. I will probably concentrate on one at a time, unless we decide to all join up together (which could be cool, especially if the new boyfriend is bi), but I don’t want to think of anyone being ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ or ‘third place’ or ‘runner up’.. haha. Or maybe I want two primaries? With option to expand?
Anyway, thanks for your response and writing this out has helped me put what I want into words. Ollie and I have been officially poly for a while now, but neither one of us has made any significant connections.. haha, poly Ollie. I’m just thinking about it because I think that new connection might happen for me soon, since I’m going to start living in alternative community type settings. Yaya!
Thanks again, and sending you much mojo for your own magical connections ✨
 

Beegod Santana

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I've never cared for the poly label, but if I'm being honest that's probably what I am. Basically, you gotta get that out in the open quick least you just come off as wanting to have your cake and eat it too. I also tend to rush into things (kinda the nature of my lifestyle) but sometime soon after the initial connection it's very important to see where you both stand. Doesn't have to be the first night (who wants to talk about complicated shit when you're ripping each other's clothes off?) But by the twilight of the next morning you should at least mention it. I spent my late teens and all of my twenties working outdoor events and traveling and half the time it worked great. I had multiple partners all over the county who all knew about each other and it never blew up in my face. Other times I was really lonely, because even in that circuit all I seemed to meet where women that wanted babies and a husband and as a result we never got passed that first night.
 

oak moth

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well, i used to be poly...now i'm old and boring. but i've been on a lot of sides of a lot of situations & im a little troubled that no one else seems to see this as a consent issue. even if it's not a physical health risk factor, it's an emotional health risk factor. the last time someone fucked me and then only later told me they were already seeing someone, it was really hurtful and made me feel a bit used. in part because i had no idea and wasn't looking for that sort of thing, and because i think they didn't tell me bc they knew i wouldn't have been into it if i'd known beforehand. not cool...
 
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I've been successfully poly most of my life. I've had muilitiple partners for years. I dont always see them as I travel a bit, but when I do its great. I initiate all relationships I am in as "i am not only going to be with you. If you arent cool with that, we are better suited as a non sexual platonic relationship."

And that works for me. Describe to everyone you are with what kind of relationship you want and take nothing less than absolutely what you want and if they don't get it, you arent wastin no time
 
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Katbearfoot

Katbearfoot

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Thanks guys, you’ve definitely given me some food for thought. I will keep it all in mind.
I think it’s important what oak moth said about consent.. I’ve been pretty open with everyone, so far. I haven’t hurt anyone except myself because I didn’t clearly communicate what I wanted out of a physical relationship. Man, communication is so important. Even if someone doesn’t know exactly what they want or how they feel, it’s important to communicate that too. I’ve just met up with Ollie and I still love him and think he’s cute, but my overall feeling right now is friendship, not sexual attraction. That really confused and upset me, especially because he was craving some physical contact.. but I just talked to him about my feelings (even though I don’t understand them) and he is so fucking cool and reminded me that we’re friends first and foremost, and if I just feel like interacting as friends, then that’s ok too. So, now I don’t feel under any pressure to have sex. I will if I feel like it, but if I don’t that’s ok too. Hooray!
 
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Katbearfoot

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well, i used to be poly...now i'm old and boring. but i've been on a lot of sides of a lot of situations & im a little troubled that no one else seems to see this as a consent issue. even if it's not a physical health risk factor, it's an emotional health risk factor. the last time someone fucked me and then only later told me they were already seeing someone, it was really hurtful and made me feel a bit used. in part because i had no idea and wasn't looking for that sort of thing, and because i think they didn't tell me bc they knew i wouldn't have been into it if i'd known beforehand. not cool...
What if I am not actively sexual with anyone else, but reserve the right to be? Is that an issue of consent that should that be discussed before getting physical? I know it’s best to communicate as much as possible before getting busy, but in certain situations it’s like what Beegod Santana said, “Who wants to talk about complicated shit when you’re ripping each other’s clothes off?”. It’s just confusing, because even in monogamous relationships ‘exclusivity’ is not something that is typically discussed right away, right? Or maybe they’re supposed to talk about it before they bang? I don’t really know how normal people do it.. I guess they go out to lots of fancy dinners before they bang.. that’s about all I know. Haha..
 
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Katbearfoot

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I've never cared for the poly label, but if I'm being honest that's probably what I am. Basically, you gotta get that out in the open quick least you just come off as wanting to have your cake and eat it too. I also tend to rush into things (kinda the nature of my lifestyle) but sometime soon after the initial connection it's very important to see where you both stand. Doesn't have to be the first night (who wants to talk about complicated shit when you're ripping each other's clothes off?) But by the twilight of the next morning you should at least mention it. I spent my late teens and all of my twenties working outdoor events and traveling and half the time it worked great. I had multiple partners all over the county who all knew about each other and it never blew up in my face. Other times I was really lonely, because even in that circuit all I seemed to meet where women that wanted babies and a husband and as a result we never got passed that first night.
I feel the same way, don’t really care for the polyamorous label, but I probably am. I think it more accurately describes people who have multiple on-going relationships that happen simultaneously. So far, that is not my experience. But I’m definitely not a strictly monogamous person, so I guess I’m poly. Ugg, labels. It’s like, I don’t identify as being a hippie either, but I probably am one? We’re all just unique individuals. We are who we are. It gets real sticky when we try and explain who we are in words. That’s what is giving me the most difficulty.. how to discuss my sexuality and emotions with others.. it’s such a complicated and flexible thing.. Can’t we just rip each other’s clothes off??

Haha, so rant aside, how did you discuss your “polyamorous” nature without using that term? I kind of like the term ‘free-love’, but that tends to come off as super promiscuous, which is not really how I roll..
 

oak moth

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What if I am not actively sexual with anyone else, but reserve the right to be? Is that an issue of consent that should that be discussed before getting physical? I know it’s best to communicate as much as possible before getting busy, but in certain situations it’s like what Beegod Santana said, “Who wants to talk about complicated shit when you’re ripping each other’s clothes off?”. It’s just confusing, because even in monogamous relationships ‘exclusivity’ is not something that is typically discussed right away, right? Or maybe they’re supposed to talk about it before they bang? I don’t really know how normal people do it.. I guess they go out to lots of fancy dinners before they bang.. that’s about all I know. Haha..

i don't really know or care what "normal" people do either. i care about trying to do what seems right.. i do know what you mean that sometimes things just kick off and it's like ok obviously no one is taking this super seriously right now. but sometimes it's really not clear like in the example i gave, it didn't feel clear to me. the whole "Who wants to talk about complicated shit when you’re ripping each other’s clothes off?" doesn't really fly when we talk about other kinds of consent issues; i'm just arguing for including this in that range of considerations bc any kind of knowledge that you have that the other person doesn't is a potential power imbalance, whether it's STI status or relationship status, and if you're withholding it based on how they might take it i think that says a lot right there.

if that sounds hard i mean..yeah! it can be! it can be awkward. it can lead to sometimes not getting to have sex with someone that you thought you were about to. whoever thought sex was just supposed to be easy and careless and free probably was living in the literal garden of eden...i think sometimes that's how people think about polyamory, like oh we're going to ditch all our hangups and it's just going to be great! sorry no...people are still tough, sex is still complicated. ok i am done with my old fogey 2 cents
 

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I’ve always been polyamorous, but have only recently accepted/ realized my ‘true nature’. I’ve had a bit of trouble with my last three partners (but they probably just weren’t right for me).. ended up just being one night stands, which wasn’t what I was looking for.. it was frustrating for me, I wanted someone to fuck on a regular basis, but three dudes in a row just ended up teasing me. They were all friends (not super close ones, but people that I already knew and liked).. It was a learning experience and I think next time I will be better at communicating what I really want/ choosing a partner that is really into me, not just for one night.. And I think it will help that I plan to exist in more alternative lifestyle settings, where my polyamorous nature will be better understood..
I know everything will work out fine for me, and I’ll figure out my own path.. So, I don’t really have a “problem”.. I’m just wondering about how others handle the particulars of polyamory. What do you call your partners? I have one boyfriend, but I struggle with calling him that because the concept of “boyfriend” caused me mental confusion in the past and referring to him as such tends to make me seem unavailable (don’t talk to her, she’s got a boyfriend). ‘Main squeeze’ is about the best term I can think of, but half the time I just call him my friend. Our relationship is more meaningful than ‘fuck buddy’, but the term ‘lover’ grosses me out for some reason. So, I end up getting annoyed with semantics. I guess everyone is my friend, just some are more intimate than others..
I think in the future I will just follow my intuition as to when and how to talk to a partner about being polyamorous, but I’m curious how other more experienced people do it. I guess it’s not super important until the other person starts talking about exclusivity, but I also like to be upfront, open and honest. (I think being open and honest communicators is a polyamorous trait, or at least should be..)
I vote that you be upfront about your polyamory. Do not let people define you because they do upon first meeting mostly through their subconscious.

Polyamorous humans have it pretty tough trying to connect and fulfill their needs.

Don't settle.
 
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Katbearfoot

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i don't really know or care what "normal" people do either. i care about trying to do what seems right.. i do know what you mean that sometimes things just kick off and it's like ok obviously no one is taking this super seriously right now. but sometimes it's really not clear like in the example i gave, it didn't feel clear to me. the whole "Who wants to talk about complicated shit when you’re ripping each other’s clothes off?" doesn't really fly when we talk about other kinds of consent issues; i'm just arguing for including this in that range of considerations bc any kind of knowledge that you have that the other person doesn't is a potential power imbalance, whether it's STI status or relationship status, and if you're withholding it based on how they might take it i think that says a lot right there.

if that sounds hard i mean..yeah! it can be! it can be awkward. it can lead to sometimes not getting to have sex with someone that you thought you were about to. whoever thought sex was just supposed to be easy and careless and free probably was living in the literal garden of eden...i think sometimes that's how people think about polyamory, like oh we're going to ditch all our hangups and it's just going to be great! sorry no...people are still tough, sex is still complicated. ok i am done with my old fogey 2 cents
Cool, thanks. That helps. I definitely wouldn’t withhold information just to get in someone’s pants. That is super uncool and I’m sorry someone did that to you. I tend to communicate very openly, so that’s good. Thanks again for your input, old fogey advice is usually the best (since it’s based on experience) ♥
 
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AlfaKitty

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More info: I’m specifically interested in tips from other poly people on how and when they discuss their “free love” nature with their partners/ potential partners.

Context: I have a boyfriend, Ollie, and we have a wonderful free-spirited relationship. We can be completely open and honest with each other and we always support each other. Ollie and I are not often together these days. I will be seeing him soon for the first time in 7 months (we’ve been in different countries). We will always be a part of each other’s lives, but we do not force our paths together. Right now, we are happy doing our own things. We will spend some time together in Portugal, then probably go on separate adventures for a while. I want to meet some adventurous traveler buddies and someone that I can have a sexy connection with. Ollie just figured out that he’s bi, and wants to explore that further (good for him!).. I was really into one of my friends, but he did not feel the same way.. I feel like there is another special someone out there for me, and am looking forward to meeting him (he is probably a him) ♥

Who knows, maybe Ollie will find a special someone who can also be my special someone.. We shall see!
Ok here is a tip for the guys, if you are polyamorous let all your girlfriends know because it is not right to lead a woman into thinking she is your exclusive bottom bitch while maintaining friends with benefits with other women.
 

VeganJoe

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I like to talk about my poly partners as my loves; I'll introduce one of them as "one of my loves", which opens the door to more conversations about poly with non-poly people... I also don't like labels, and before I started using this term, I always said "partner", but people assume that you mean a non-hetero partner when you say "partner", so that just muddies the waters... I'm non-hierarchical with my poly, so "main squeeze" or other terms like "primary" don't fly with me. Good on you for wanting clearer communication in your life and relationships! It'll result in you getting what you want more of the time! ;)

-j
 

OBIWAN616

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well it is simple, just say you have multiple lovers, like I believe some people have more then one soulmate in life, and they come in and out of our lives, I had a partner that didn't understand polygamy and wanted me all to herself and got jealous over my other lovers, it is harder in the sense of that, partners get jealous of other partners, but I guess they don't truly love you if they do, because if you love a person truly you love to see them happy regardless.
 

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