Polyamory is a relationship style that involves having multiple romantic partners at one time with the consent and knowledge of everyone involved. If this sounds good to you, you might be wondering if polyamory is right for you.
The answer is: Maybe.
While polyamory has fortunately been gaining more visibility and acceptance in recent years, it’s not for everyone. Before deciding to explore polyamory, it’s important to ask yourself some questions to determine if it’s the right fit for you.
1. What are your motivations for exploring polyamory?
Before you start exploring polyamory, it’s important to understand why you’re interested in it. Are you looking to explore different types of relationships? Are you seeking more emotional or physical connection with others? Or are you primarily looking for a way to fulfill your sexual desires? Understanding your motivations can help you determine if polyamory aligns with your goals.
While many polyamorous people do pursue relationships that aren’t necessarily romantic, if you are opposed to forming multiple emotional connections of any kind, it might be a better fit for you to pursue other avenues.
2. How do you handle jealousy?
Jealousy is a natural emotion that can arise in any relationship, but it can be particularly challenging in polyamorous relationships where there are multiple partners involved. It’s important to be honest with yourself about how you handle jealousy and whether you’re willing to work on managing those feelings in a healthy way. It’s also important to communicate openly with your partners about your feelings and to be receptive to their needs and concerns.
You can still be polyamorous if you experience jealousy, but be aware that doing so takes a lot of emotional awareness and work. If you aren’t willing to do the work to handle your own jealousy — and help your partners deal with any jealousy you might cause — then polyamory might not be a great fit for you.
3. How do you communicate?
Communication is key in any relationship, but it’s especially important in polyamorous relationships where there are more people involved. It’s important to be able to communicate your needs and boundaries clearly, and to be receptive to your partners’ needs and boundaries as well.
If you struggle with communication, it may be helpful to work on those skills before exploring polyamory — and to understand that you will be working on them continually as you explore your first polyamorous relationships.
4. What are your expectations around time and energy?
Having multiple partners can require a significant amount of time and energy, and it’s important to be honest with yourself about whether you’re willing and able to make that commitment.
I find that people new to polyamory often greatly underestimate how much effort it will be, so it’s probably safest to take your estimates and multiply them by 3 or 4.
It’s also important to discuss expectations around time and energy with your partners to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met.
5. How do you navigate relationship hierarchy?
In polyamorous relationships, it’s common for people to have different levels of emotional and/or logistical entanglement in different partners. This can create a hierarchy of relationships, with some relationships or partners getting consistently prioritized over others, which can be challenging to navigate, to say the least.
It’s important to be honest with yourself and your partners about your expectations around relationship hierarchy, and to communicate openly about how you’re feeling.
A lot of polyamorous people strive to have no hierarchy in their relationships and to treat every relationship they have as equal. Others are okay with such differences provided that any priorities are communicated clearly and expectations are addressed upfront in an open and honest way.
If you’ve considered these questions and feel that polyamory aligns with your values and goals, it may be worth exploring further. Here are some tips for getting started:
1. Educate yourself.
Before diving into polyamory, it’s important to educate yourself about the various relationship styles and philosophies that fall under the polyamory umbrella. There are many resources available online, including books, podcasts, videos, and blogs (like this one), that can help you understand the basics of polyamory and how to navigate the challenges that come with it.
2. Start slow.
It can be tempting to dive headfirst into polyamory, but it’s important to take things slow and give yourself time to adjust. Consider starting with one new partner and gradually building from there, rather than trying to date multiple new people all at once while you’re building the skills involved in balancing multiple relationships.
You’ll have a long time to explore polyamory and the dating scene. No need to rush it. You want to get this right.
3. Communicate openly.
Communication is key in polyamorous relationships, so it’s important to be open and honest with your partners about your feelings and needs. Make sure to establish clear boundaries and expectations from the beginning, and check in regularly to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met.
In general, it’s better to overcommunicate and say more than you think you need to than it is to under communicate and risk not saying something important.
4. Be prepared for challenges.
Polyamory can be challenging, and it’s important to be prepared for the ups and downs that come with it.
Be prepared to work through jealousy, navigate relationship hierarchy, and communicate openly and honestly with your partners.
In the end, the decision to explore polyamory is a personal one that should be based on your own values and goals. No one can tell you whether it’s the right relationship structure for you. But if having multiple relationships at once seems appealing to you and you’re willing to be patient, honest, communicate frequently, and are open to challenging yourself and grow, you might find that polyamory is a good fit for you.