8 Polyamory Time Management Tips Beyond Google Calendar [Polyamory Conversation Cards #10]

Love is infinite, so the cliché goes. Love is infinite but time and energy are not, so the polyamorous version of the cliché goes. In polyamory, time management and scheduling are amongst the biggest sources of conflict that can damage relationships and polycules.

In case you missed it, this post is part of a series inspired by Odder Being’s Polyamory Conversation Cards. Once a week or as often as I can, I’ll pull a card at random and write a piece of content based on it. There will likely be some essays, advice pieces, personal experiences, rants, and more! You can read the whole series at the dedicated tag. And if you want to support my work and get occasional bonus content, head on over to my Patreon.

This week’s card asks:

“What is your preferred way of scheduling dates/tine with your partner(s)?”

Luckily, scheduling and polyamory time management challenges are much easier to mitigate and overcome than (for example) jealousy, metamours who don’t get along, or major disagreements about money. With some forward planning and some simple strategies, you can limit scheduling conflicts and make your time management relatively painless.

Here are eight of my tips for how to do it.

Get a Shareable Calendar

Okay, I know I said “beyond Google Calendar”, but we really do need to start with this. Polyamorous people and Google Calendar is one of those things that’s a stereotype because it’s sort of true. Most of us have busy lives, and more romantic relationships means more people’s needs and schedules to juggle. It can get overwhelming fast.

You absolutely need some sort of calendar that you can share with the relevant people (which probably includes your partners but may also include your metamours, children, other family members, close friends, or work colleagues, depending on your circumstances.)

If you and your partners all live together and are the old-fashioned sorts, this could be a literal physical calendar or a whiteboard on the fridge. Most of us, though, will need a digital solution. Google Calendar is probably still the most popular, but there are dozens if not hundreds of calendar-sharing and family scheduling apps. Try some out and find which ones work for you and your polycule.

You don’t need to share your calendar with everyone in your polycule unless you want to, but many polyamorous people find it useful to do so. At the very least, having your calendar on an app on your phone means you can pull it out and see your schedule at a glance whenever you’re trying to make plans with one of your sweeties.

If you and any of your partners have shared responsibilities such as caring for children, pets, and other dependants, you might want to consider a separate calendar just to coordinate how those responsibilities will be managed and divided up.

Aim for Equity, Not Equality

Equality is giving everyone the same things. Equity is ensuring everyone has what they need to thrive, which will be different for everyone. Keep this difference in mind when you’re scheduling time with your partners. Not every partner will want the same amount of time with you, and not every relationship will need the same amount of time to thrive.

A casual or primarily sexual comet relationship, for example, may operate best with one date night every few months when you happen to be in the same place. A committed and intense romantic relationship, on the other hand, may need much more time together in order to remain happy and healthy.

Talk to your partners about their time wants and needs in your relationship, and share your own. Be honest about what you want and what you can offer. And remember that each relationship will look different, and this is fine and normal.

If you and a partner are in wildly different places (they want to see you once a month but you want to sleep over three times a week, for example,) you may find that you’re not compatible as partners or need to renegotiate some aspects of your relationship. This isn’t a failure. It’s important information that can help you to communicate more honestly and build healthier, happier relationships.

Balance Routine with Space for Spontaneity

I remember once hearing a polyamorous person joke that the maximum number of partners any one individual should have is 27 (“because even in the shortest month of the year, you’ve still got one day to yourself!”)

This was obviously said for comic effect, but I think it speaks to a very real tendency some polyamorous people have: we overcommit to plans, overschedule ourselves, and end up with a diary that’s so packed there is no space for self-care, rest, or spontaneity.

For some polyamorous people, having an established routine with their partner(s) is one of the ways they feel loved and secure. For example, maybe every Thursday night is your standing date night. This doesn’t work for everyone (it doesn’t work for me – my schedule is too inherently unpredictable and changeable due to several factors) but it works beautifully for others. You might find it works well in one of your relationships and not in another, and that’s fine.

Whether you like to have standing dates or not, you likely have at least some routines you stick to. Work, childcare, and hobbies are just some things that can dictate people’s schedules. Make sure that you don’t schedule your time so tightly that you’re left with no downtime, though. It’s important to have time to yourself, time to do nothing in particular, and the opportunity to make or say “yes” to spontaneous plans if you want to.

Make Scheduling Chats a Part of Your Relationship

When I was with one of my exes, we’d have a 10-15 minute “scheduling chat” every so often (in practice, it tended to be every 3-4 weeks) where we’d look ahead a few weeks and put time in the diary to see each other and generally talk about what plans we had coming up. This worked well and I recommend it.

Scheduling doesn’t need to be onerous, stressful, or tremendously time-consuming. Just make a habit of sitting down with your calendars and mapping out your plans every so often. This might be as often as every week in the case of some nesting couples – particularly if you have children – or as infrequently as every few months if you’re comet or long-distance partners. If you have a very intertwined polycule or polyamorous family, you might want to do this all together.

Do Things All Together If You Can (But Don’t Mistake Group Time for Date Time)

If you practice kitchen table polyamory or another structure where metamours get along and enjoy spending time together, then doing things all together (or in smaller breakout groups from the entire polycule) can not only be fun, but allow everyone to get more time overall with their partners.

However, do not make the classic newbie polyamory time management error of turning every date into a group hang. Relationships all require one-on-one time to thrive. If you keep inviting all your partners over at the same time, you might be surprised to hear them all saying “when do I get to spend quality time with you?” after a while.

Group time and date time can both be valuable, but they are not the same thing and they are not interchangeable. And by the way, this applies even if you’re in a group romantic relationship such as a triad or quad.

Don’t Mistake Incidental Time for Quality Time

Ironically, many polyamory time management conflicts arise not in long-distance or comet relationships but in marriages and nesting partnerships. If you live with your partner, chances are you spend a lot of incidental time together – passing in the kitchen when you go to make a cup of coffee, doing household chores together, or sitting in the living room together in the evening while you both scroll on your phones or read your books.

None of this is the same as quality time. Mistaking it as such can easily lead to your nesting partner feeling ignored, abandoned, and resentful – especially if you are spending all sorts of quality date time with your other partners.

This incidental time can be great for a relationship. However, it’s important to build in quality time, too. Don’t forget to make date nights with your nesting partner or spouse and to set aside time to focus exclusively on being with each other and enjoying one another’s company.

Get Comfortable with the Fact That There Will Be Conflicts

Even in the monogamous world, there are going to be scheduling conflicts sometimes. For example, what happens when your partner has an important work event and wants you to be their +1 on the same night as your sister is having her birthday party? Scheduling conflicts are a fact of life and polyamory is no different.

Don’t make it a goal to avoid all scheduling conflicts. This is probably impossible. Instead, do what you can to minimise them (see the preceding tips!) and be prepared to roll with them when they do arise. Assuming good faith, giving each other grace when scheduling mistakes happen, and being prepared to get creative with solutions will all help you to navigate scheduling conflicts with minimal stress, pain, and drama.

Which brings me to the final tip…

Be Flexible

Flexibility is perhaps one of the most important and most underrated attributes that successful polyamorous people display. When there are multiple people in your romantic network, things are sometimes going to change. There are going to be emergencies, crises, and unforeseen circumstances popping up at least occasionally.

Flexibility allows you to roll with these changes and still feel safe, secure, and happy in your relationships. This includes flexibility in the way you deal with scheduling and time management.

Flexibility is not the same thing as being a doormat or always putting others first, by the way. You should be able to safely assume that when people make plans with you, they will keep them absent an emergency. When you give flexibility, you should expect to receive it in return, too. So if you’re happy to move your regular date night so your partner can attend your metamour’s birthday celebration, you should be able to expect that the same courtesy would be given to you if a similar conflict arose.

What are your favourite polyamory time-management hacks? Share them in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.