“Dating is the worst,” she says.
“Tell me about it.”
“I’m just tired of explaining myself,” she says. “Over and over again.”
“Oh? The poly stuff?” I ask, thinking of this meme.
“Well, sure,” she says. “That doesn’t help. Doing a polyamory 101 orientation every time I turn around.”
“And if you look at page 8 of your guide…”
“Exactly. But I wish it were just that.”
“Oh?” I say.
“I sometimes wish there were one standard one way to be non-monogamous. There are so many ways to be poly. To do things.”
“Oh sure. But why’s that a bad thing?”
“I’m just tired of saying the same things over and over. No, I don’t date couples. And yes, I’m pansexual and poly. And I’m looking. But that doesn’t mean I’m looking for you.”
“I get sick of saying no. Sometimes I almost wish I was still doing monogamy,” she says. “Back then, I could fall back on the old ‘but I already HAVE a boyfriend’ line.”
Make Peace with Saying and Hearing No
Practicing polyamory means that you’re dealing with “more” a lot. Some of this is intentional. What we sign up for. After all, a lot of us get into non-monogamy into the first place because we’re seeking more partners, more connection, more variety, more love.
But I’ve found that when you sign up for “more,” you get more of everything. And it’s not always the fun stuff.
Polyamory can mean more first dates. More breakups.
And yeah, it can mean saying “no” a lot more.
When you spend more time dating, you’re on the market longer. And like the old saying goes re: online dating, “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”
The nets you cast drag up all sorts of different things.
You’ll encounter plenty in your dating travels that just isn’t for you. For whatever reason.
So you better make peace with saying no. And hearing it. Because you’re not everyone’s cup of tea either. After all, some people like coffee.
Taking a Break Can Help
I’ve found this reality of being polyamorous can lead to great practice, both in rejecting people gracefully and in dealing with rejection. As one would imagine, the benefits aren’t just limited to romantic relationships but can help in other interpersonal areas. I’ve found it especially helpful when it comes to professional settings.
But is it fun? No, not really. Saying no can be especially difficult for recovering people pleasers (guilty). Even though I’ve grown more comfortable with it and I’ve never regretted setting boundaries with people, I can get overwhelmed and find it draining.
This is one of the reasons that I tend to be a very passive dater. While I have had periods where I actively seek out partners (by going to events, searching on OkCupid, etc), a lot of times I take a break from all that. And I just meet the occasional person naturally. Through making friends. Socializing. And living my life. But staying open to the possibilities.
And even some of the most active daters I know run into periods where they get burnt out and need to take a break.
The way I figure it: It’s a marathon. No need to run it at a sprinter’s pace.