[Guest Post] Am I Ready to Have Sex? Questions to Ask Yourself by Tina Evans

“Am I ready to have sex?” It’s a question many of us have probably asked ourselves at one time or another, whether we came to sexuality in our teens, 20s, 30s, or later in life. You might have also wondered if you’re ready to have sex in a particular way or with a particular person.

These are very personal questions, and no-one can answer them for you. We all know that virginity is a social construct, but having sex for the first time (or the 1000th!) can still be a big deal for many of us. I know it was for me! There are, though, questions you can ask yourself to help you figure out whether you’re ready or not. That’s what this guest post by Tina Evans is all about.

Tina offers tips for folks of any age, gender, or orientation who are considering having sex for the first time. I hope you find them useful!

Amy x

Am I Ready to Have Sex? Questions to Ask Yourself by Tina Evans

So you think you’re ready for sex?

It’s natural to feel a mix of excitement and nerves. Whether you’re 18, 35, 73 or any age in between, the basics of preparation for sex are pretty similar. It’s all about respect, understanding, and care for both you and your partner. What really matters is that you feel ready and confident in your decision, without any external pressure, and that everything is consensual and respectful.

Whether you decide to explore your sexuality early or wait until later, your choice is completely valid. It’s important to honor your feelings and move at your own pace. Embracing your own timeline can lead to more meaningful and fulfilling experiences that truly match your values and readiness.

In this post, we will consider some of the different aspects of readiness for sex and invite you to ask yourself some important questions.

Emotional Readiness

Understanding Your Motivations

Reflecting on your motivations is crucial. Are you seeking to express love, explore pleasure, or deepen a connection, or are you feeling pressured by peers, media, or your partner? It’s important to ensure that your desire for sex comes from a place of genuine interest and readiness rather than external influences.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I doing this because I genuinely want to?
  • Am I trying to meet someone else’s expectations?
  • Am I trying to fit in with friends or societal norms?

Comfort with Your Body

Being comfortable with your body means accepting and understanding your physical self. This includes being familiar with your own anatomy, knowing what feels good for you (which you can learn about through self-touch), and being able to communicate this to your partner. It’s also about body confidence—feeling good about how you look and embracing your body as it is.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I know what I like and dislike sexually?
  • Am I comfortable being naked in front of someone else?
  • Do I feel positive about my body and its sensations?

Emotional Stability

Sex can trigger a range of emotions, from joy and excitement to vulnerability and anxiety. It’s important to be in a stable emotional state where you can handle these emotions. Emotional stability also means being able to process and discuss any feelings that arise afterward, whether they are positive or negative.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I generally emotionally balanced and secure?
  • Can I handle potential emotional ups and downs?
  • Am I prepared to discuss my feelings openly with my partner?

Maturity to Handle Consequences

Sex has potential emotional, physical, and relational consequences. Being mature enough to understand and deal with these consequences is key to readiness. This includes being prepared for the responsibilities of contraception, the risk of STIs, and the emotional impact of sexual intimacy.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I understand the potential risks involved in sex?
  • Am I prepared to take responsibility for contraception and STI prevention?
  • Can I handle the possible emotional outcomes?

Communication and Consent

Open Communication

Being able to discuss your feelings, desires, and boundaries openly and honestly with your partner is essential. Honest communication ensures mutual understanding and respect, and it helps build a foundation of trust. This means having conversations about what you’re comfortable with, what you’re curious about, and what your boundaries are.

Ask yourself:

  • Can I talk openly with my partner about sex?
  • Do we have mutual respect and understanding?
  • Are we comfortable discussing our boundaries and desires?

Understanding and Giving Consent

Consent must be clear, informed, enthusiastic, and ongoing. Both you and your partner should freely agree to the sexual activity without any coercion or pressure. Consent is about mutual agreement and respect for each other’s boundaries and comfort levels.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I fully understand what consent means?
  • Am I able to give and receive enthusiastic consent?
  • Do I respect my partner’s right to withdraw consent at any time?

Physical Readiness

Safer Sex Practices

Understanding and practicing safer sex is essential to protect yourself and your partner from STIs and unintended pregnancies. This might involve using condoms, using other barriers such as dental dams and gloves, discussing contraception options, and getting tested for STIs. It’s important to have this knowledge and to be prepared to implement it.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I know how to safely use condoms and other forms of contraception?
  • Have I discussed STI testing with my partner?
  • Am I committed to practicing safer sex every time?

Comfort with the Setting

The environment where you have sex should feel safe and comfortable. This helps reduce anxiety and create a positive experience. It should be a private space where you feel secure and relaxed, free from interruptions and distractions.

Ask yourself:

  • Is the location private and comfortable?
  • Do I feel safe and relaxed in this setting?
  • Have I made sure there will be no interruptions?

Personal Considerations

No Pressure

Your decision to have sex should be entirely your own, without any external pressure from partners, friends, or societal expectations. It’s important to make this choice based on your own readiness and desire, not because you feel you should or need to.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I making this decision for myself?
  • Do I feel pressured by anyone to have sex?
  • Am I confident in my own desire to have sex?

Positive Feelings

You should feel positive and excited about the prospect of having sex, rather than anxious or uncertain. It’s normal to feel a bit nervous, but the overall feeling should be one of anticipation and readiness.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I more excited than nervous about having sex?
  • Do I have positive feelings about the potential experience?
  • Is my excitement outweighing any anxiety?

Support System

Having a support system of trusted friends, family, or mentors can provide valuable guidance and reassurance. They can offer a safe space to discuss your feelings and any questions you might have, and they can help you navigate this new experience with confidence.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I have people I can talk to about my feelings and questions?
  • Can I rely on my support system for guidance and reassurance?
  • Do I feel supported in my decisions?

Am I Ready to Have Sex? Further Self-Reflection Questions

Here are some expanded questions for self-reflection to help determine if you are ready:

Why do I want to have sex?

Ensure your motivations are based on your own desires and readiness, not external pressures.

Do I feel pressured in any way?

Reflect on whether you’re feeling any pressure from your partner, peers, or societal norms.

Do I feel emotionally ready and stable?

Assess your emotional state and readiness to manage the potential emotional impact of sex.

Am I comfortable discussing sex, desires, and boundaries with my partner?

Ensure you can have open, honest conversations about your boundaries, desires, and consent.

Do I understand the importance of consent and safer sex?

Make sure you have a clear understanding of consent and the practices of safe sex.

Am I prepared for the possible emotional and physical consequences of sex?

Be ready to handle the potential emotional and physical outcomes of sexual activity.

Ultimately, “am I ready to have sex?” is a question only you can answer. Deciding when you’re ready for your first sexual experience is a deeply personal choice that involves introspection and self-awareness. It’s essential to feel confident and secure in your decision, ensuring that it aligns with your genuine desires and readiness.

This journey is unique for everyone, and there’s no right or wrong timeline. Embrace your individuality, prioritise your comfort and well-being, and respect your own pace. When the time feels right for you, approach the experience with an open heart and mind, fostering a positive and meaningful connection with your partner.

The act of experiencing sex for the first time can be as big a deal as you want it to be. For me, it was something I chose to get over and done with. I didn’t think about if I was ready, I didn’t prepare myself. And while I wouldn’t go back and change any of my life experiences, I would have liked to be more prepared emotionally.

About Tina:

I’m a cynical yet hopelessly hopeful romantic. I fell in love with reading as a child who wrote poetry as an angst filled teenager. As an adult, I’ve immersed myself in all genres of romance fiction but I enjoy the occasional biography and psychological thriller too. I currently write contemporary romance with a feminist edge, featuring relatable characters and situations. When I’m not writing, I can be found spoiling my fur family, trying to bake the perfect loaf of bread, or ignoring all my adult problems by losing myself in a good book.

Nesting Relationship Agreement That Work: Six Questions to Ask Yourselves [Polyamory Conversation Cards #13]

Not everyone who is polyamorous wants a nesting relationship – one where you live together with your partner or partners. Some people prefer solo polyamory, or being their own primary partner. Others are highly introverted and prefer to live alone for this reason. Some live a nomadic lifestyle, travel a lot, or prefer to be able to change their living situation regularly.

For many of us, though, living with one or more partners is our current reality or a desired future state.

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:

“Is it important for you to share (or keep sharing) your home with one or multiple partners?”

So let’s talk about nesting relationships and the agreements that govern them. Here are six questions you and your partner(s) should be asking yourselves and each other, whether you’re thinking about moving in together, transitioning from monogamy to polyamory while in a nested relationship, or revising your agreements.

A quick reminder on terminology, as we are going to be talking about agreements, boundaries, and rules in this post.

Boundaries pertain to yourself and the things that belong to you, such as your body, mind, time, and possessions. An example of a boundary is “I will use barriers during sex to protect my sexual health.”

Agreements are made by, and followed by, both or all parties in a relationship, household, or other group. They should enhance the relationship, providing safety, stability or structure without being overly restrictive or onerous. One example is, “we will keep each other in the loop when we take on a new sexual or romantic partner.”

Rules are imposed on people from the outside and involve compelling or forbidding them to do certain things. Rules are generally seen as controlling and frowned upon by the polyamorous community. An example of a rule is “you’re not allowed to have sex without a condom with anyone but me.”

What are your individual and collective needs around shared vs. private space?

When I moved in with my nesting partner years ago, one of my requirements before agreeing to the move was that I would have my own office space. This was essential for me, but may not be for you. On the other hand, maybe you’d like your own bedroom? A shared living space where you can have your friends over for D&D night? A room where you can close the door and play video games in peace?

Negotiating your needs and wants around shared and private space is essential when you’re navigating nesting relationship agreements.

Under society’s monogamous paradigm, when a couple moves in together the assumption is usually that they will share a bedroom and bed. This works for many couples, but not others! I know many polyamorous couples or groups who live together in a setup where everyone has their own bedroom. They may bed-hop or stay over in each other’s rooms, occasionally or regularly, but everyone has a space that is ultimately their own.

If you prefer to sleep separately some or all of the time, or if you generally want to sleep together but also need your own room to retreat to, that’s something you will need to work out as you create your nesting agreements. (By the way: it’s also fine to have your own bedrooms if you’re monogamous!)

Will other partners be able to visit us at home, and under what circumstances?

Some people practice a strictly parallel form of polyamory in which metamours never meet or interact. This is a completely valid way to be polyamorous, but it can present challenges when one dyad is nesting together.

If you practice parallel polyam, one or both of you dislikes your metamour(s) for some reason, or you are just someone who dislikes hosting people in your space, this might mean that other partners cannot visit you at home.

In some circumstances, this will be totally navigable. Perhaps your non-nesting partners can host at their places. Maybe one of you travels a lot for work and the other can have their other sweeties over during those times. Perhaps you have the money to get a hotel room for regular date nights. Perhaps your other partners are long distance and you only see each other very occasionally. In other circumstances, though, it can present a major issue. These restrictions can even prevent non-nesting relationships from growing, developing, and thriving if they are not carefully managed. If this is your situation, employing creative solutions is called for.

You may decide that not being able to host other partners in a shared home is a dealbreaker for you. Conversely, you may decide that having your metamours in your living space is a dealbreaker. Both are valid choices but, if you and your nesting partner or potential nesting partner aren’t on the same page about this, it might be a sign that living together isn’t right for you.

If you do agree that it’s okay to host people at home, do you need any agreements around that? Are there any limitations, requests, or boundaries that will make it more comfortable for everyone involved? For example:

  • “Please give me a heads-up if your other partner is coming over so I’m not surprised by an unexpected guest”
  • “Please keep the noise down after 10pm as I have to get up early for work”
  • “We generally won’t have other people over on Thursdays as that’s our date night”
  • “Until our new partners have met our children, we’ll only invite them over after bedtime or when the kids are out”

Do we need any agreements or rules around use of beds, certain spaces, and so on?

I wrote about polyamory bed rules recently, and I touched on a common agreement that many nested polyamorous couples make: no other partners in our bed/bedroom. If you and your nesting partner have agreed that having other partners over at home is okay, then do you need to make any further agreements or provisions around use of beds or particular spaces? This will depend on a few factors, from emotional needs to the practicalities of available spaces.

I’ve seen all kinds of different variations on this theme – everything from “whoever has someone over gets the main bed, and the other nesting partner decamps to the guest room” to “other partners only in the guest room, never in our room.” If you each have your own rooms, this becomes somewhat simpler because each person can host in their own room and bed. If not, you will need to work out what feels most viable for everyone in your household as well as other partners.

Factors such as disability (does someone need close access to a bathroom? Can someone not manage stairs?) can also play a role in making these agreements, as can concerns relating to children, pets, sleep needs, work schedules, and so on.

Is there scope for other partners to live with us in the future? If so, under what circumstances?

This can be a difficult one, and people have strong feelings on both sides. Perhaps you feel as though all your relationships should have at least the potential for nesting down the line. On the other hand, perhaps you are perfectly happy to live with one person and never want to open up that possibility with any other partner.

Living preferences are deeply personal, so I won’t tell you that any one way is better than any other. What is important, though, is to ensure that you and your nesting partner are on a similar page. If one of you wants to keep nesting exclusive but the other wants the possibility of a big happy polyamorous family under one roof, this is a recipe for big problems down the line.

If living with other partners is potentially on the table, what circumstances would make that possible? Perhaps the relationship with the incoming partner would need to have been stable and healthy for several years. Perhaps this is only a possibility once your children have grown up and moved out. Presumably the metamours, as well as the partners, would need to have a strong and stable connection with one another.

Whatever you decide, it’s important to be honest with other partners. Don’t tell someone (or allow them to believe) that nesting is a possibility if it is not. Likewise, if you are looking for other potential future nesting partners, don’t downplay or obfuscate this desire to seem cool or “chill.” If you’re open to nesting after five years, don’t imply that it could happen in two.

It’s also important to remember that people’s wants, needs, and views can change. Perhaps you both genuinely feel that you never want to live with anyone else right now. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel the same way forever. You might, of course, but you also might not.

Talking about and accepting the possibility of changed minds – because relationships and connections can change us profoundly, and in ways we may not understand until we’re in them – can help to alleviate pain down the line. That’s not to say it will be easy if one of you changes your mind or wants to significantly overhaul your nesting agreements. But understanding that the possibility exists can reduce or eliminate a sense of betrayal if it does happen, opening up the door for more productive communication and problem solving.

What will happen to our relationship if one or both of us decides we no longer wish to be nesting partners?

Denesting means transitioning a nesting relationship to one where you don’t live together, but continuing the relationship in some form. Denesting is very rare in monogamy. It’s relatively uncommon in polyamory too, but I have seen it done and I have seen it work well. Polyamory makes it more possible, because continuing a romantic and/or relationship after denesting does not preclude the possibility of either or both of you finding other nesting partners down the road.

If you’re excited about moving in together, exploring polyamory, or making some other significant change to your nesting relationship, “what happens if it doesn’t work out?” is probably the last thing you want to think about. But it is really, really important to consider and to talk about.

Does your relationship have the potential to continue in a different format if you decide to denest? Does the reason behind the denesting matter? (For example, some people might feel that they could denest relatively happily if their partner received an amazing job opportunity in a different city, but not if their partner decided they’d prefer to nest with another lover instead.)

What discussions, agreements, and boundaries might be needed if you did choose to denest? How might your relationship look if nesting was no longer a part of it?

Of course, none of this is set in stone or constitutes a binding commitment. You might think you’ll feel one way, but feel completely differently – for better or worse – in reality. But having the conversations and imagining the possibilities can save you heartache and pain down the road.

How will we share finances, chores, and other responsibilities (e.g. childcare and pets?)

This isn’t really a polyamory question, of course, but it is a vital nesting relationship question. If you’re not on at least roughly the same page about these things, it’s a sign you are not ready to live together or not compatible as nesting partners.

How will finances work? (I wrote a long essay about polyamory and money recently.) Who will be responsible for which chores and tasks? How will care for children, pets, and other dependents work? How will you navigate it if one of you is much messier than the other?

It’s been said that the vast majority of domestic issues in relationships are actually roommate issues. I think there’s a lot of truth to this idea. Before you can work out how (or if) you can live together polyamorously, you need to work out how (or if) you can live together, period.

What agreements do you have in your nesting relationship? Any pearls of wisdom to share?

Everything The L Word: Generation Q Got Wrong About Polyamory

I just finished my rewatch of The L Word: Generation Q. This follow-up from the hit series from the early-mid 2000s catches up with fan faves Bette (Jennifer Beals), Alice (Leisha Hailey), and Shane (Katherine Moennig) 10 years later as well as bringing in a host of new gay, queer and trans characters.

From here on out there will be spoilers for all three seasons of the series, so stop reading now if you want to avoid those!

It’s safe to say that, in many ways, Generation Q tries to fix some of the things that The L Word got wrong. Notably, there is significantly improved representation of Alice’s bisexuality (and bisexuality in general), much better trans representation (Shane’s apology to Max for “the way we were back then” reads to me as an apology from the producers to the entire trans community), and the addition of non-binary characters as well as butch women characters.

One thing it still manages to get horrendously wrong, though, is its representation of consensual non-monogamy and polyamory. The most notable polyamory storyline features Alice, her girlfriend of two years Nat, and Nat’s ex-wife Gigi, but I also have things to say about Shane and non-monogamy.

Back in 2018, I wrote about all the things You Me Her got wrong about polyamory (spoiler: a lot.) Let’s give The L Word: Generation Q the same treatment, shall we?

Most polyamory isn’t triads…

This is the eternal problem of polyamory in fiction: most writers seem to think that the default configuration for polyamory is a triad (or, to use a cringeworthily terrible word I wish would die already, “throuple.”) That is, three people in a relationship all together. In the vast majority of cases, this is the only representation we get.

The reality is that triads are fairly rare. Stable, healthy, functional triads are even rarer. It’s a really difficult dynamic to both find and sustain, with a very high failure rate, and is just not representative of how most people do polyamory.

The only slight saving grace here is that it’s three women rather than the “one man, two women” configuration we usually see.

…and even when it is, they don’t typically start from drunk threesomes…

I wouldn’t have had a problem with the threesome story if it had been handled differently. The show could have done something interesting with Alice, Nat and Gigi having the threesome and then having to deal with the resulting awkwardness and emotional fallout. Things happen, particularly when unresolved feelings and a lot of tequila are involved. And frankly it’s a fucking hot scene.

But for an alcohol-fuelled spontaneous threesome to transition to a full-on triad in the space of, seemingly, about two days is flat-out ridiculous.

…and even when they do, they don’t typically involve two ex-wives

Look, I understand that the point of this storyline was to show that Nat and Gigi aren’t over each other and that Nat genuinely loves Alice while also genuinely loving Gigi. But the bungled triad storyline was the worst possible way to do it. Anyone with a modicum of polyamory experience would have been screaming watching this.

Poor Alice never stood a chance in this situation. Pro tip: if you’re going to try polyamory, a triad is hard mode. If you’re going to try a triad anyway, doing it with your (or your partner’s) ex is the worst possible way to go about it.

Why does Nat give Alice false hope with a promise of monogamy?

After the triad falls apart, Nat turns up at Alice’s show recording to win her back and promises that she wants to love and be with “just her.” But they’ve barely reconciled when she’s coming out as polyamorous, and has apparently been thinking she might be polyam for a long time.

So why, then, did she make a promise she knew she might not be able to keep? This just seems exceptionally and needlessly cruel to Alice.

Does Alice have to be so judgy?

Alice has been subjected to a fair amount of bigotry and prejudice on the show, not least a lot of biphobia (including from her friends.) She’s also a fan favourite, and perhaps the character I personally relate to the most. So it was really, really disappointing to see this exchange:

Nat: “Monogamy isn’t for everyone.”
Alice: “It’s for most people. Except the bad ones.”

I can accept that Alice can’t handle polyamory in her own relationship. That’s fair – like monogamy, it’s not for everyone. But it makes me really sad to see her being so harsh and judgemental about it. When Nat goes and cries in the bathroom after this exchange, my heart broke for her.

When did Nat and Alice discuss… literally anything?

In a pretty tender and emotional scene, Nat comes out as polyamorous to a horrified Alice. Next thing we know, she’s coming back from her first overnight sex date. I hate that the show totally skipped over everything that comes in between these two points – the hours of talking, negotiating, processing, discussing agreements and boundaries and more.

Obviously we couldn’t see all of this, because the show only has so much time. But one or two scenes is, surely, not too much to ask for. Instead, it gives the impression that the opening up journey is a quick hop, skip and jump from “I think I’m polyamorous” to “overnight dates.”

How the fuck has Shane never heard of ENM?

After Shane inevitably cheats on her girlfriend Tess (played by the gorgeous and fabulous Jamie Clayton of Sense8 fame) and they’re trying to work things out, Tess asks Shane if she wants to do ethical non-monogamy (ENM.) Shane, the player and womanizer extraordinaire who also lives in a huge liberal city and has been part of the LGBTQ community for decades, has apparently… never heard of this concept.

It’s even implied at one point that Shane and her ex-wife Quiara had some kind of non-monogamous relationship when Quiara says something like “you and I have never done things the conventional way.” Yet later on, Shane’s somehow never even considered this possibility. It makes absolutely no sense.

And one thing the show got right: the heartbreak of incompatibility

I hate how it got there, but I actually think having Alice and Nat break up over their incompatible views on monogamy was a good and powerful storyline. Because in those situations, where one of you wants monogamy and the other doesn’t, breaking up is often inevitable and usually the best choice (even though it utterly sucks.)

Credit where credit is due, this was a far better choice than either Alice reluctantly going along with polyamory or Nat reluctantly going along with monogamy.

But seriously, when are we going to get better polyamorous representation on TV? When are writers and producers going to start actually, you know, talking to polyamorous people?

Is there anything that The L Word: Generation Q got wrong about polyamory that I’ve missed? Anything you think it got right?

How to Respond When Your Partner Discloses Jealousy or Insecurity [Polyamory Conversation Cards #12]

There’s a vast amount of information out there about how to deal with your own jealousy or insecurity in a polyamorous relationship (I’ve even added to it myself!) What we see much less of, though, is information on how to handle it when a partner discloses feelings of jealousy, envy, insecurity, or other difficult emotions.

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:

“How would you like your partner(s) to respond when you’re voicing a fear, insecurity or concern?”

Everyone’s answer to this will be slightly different. As always, the best way to learn about how to support your partner(s) specifically is to ask them. With that said, I have identified some common themes that usually help when someone is feeling jealousy, insecurity, envy, or similar emotions.

Be Kind

If you take nothing else away from this piece, I hope you’ll remember this. It’s difficult to express vulnerable feelings such as jealousy or insecurity to a partner and, if you meet your partner’s vulnerability with hostility, impatience or derision, they will likely never open up to you in this way again.

Try to meet them with gentleness, compassion, and grace. How would you want someone to respond to you when you were at your most raw? Do that.

Validate Their Feelings and Resist the Temptation to Downplay Them

When a partner is feeling jealous, envious, or insecure, the first instinct for many people is to try to make that feeling go away as quickly as possible. This can often look like downplaying, invalidating, or rationalising away very real emotions. Despite good intentions, this can come across as dismissive and leave a person feeling unseen, unheard, and misunderstood.

Never tell a person they “shouldn’t” be feeling a particular way, and do not try to logic them out of their emotions. Feelings are not rational, and causing someone to feel bad or guilty for their emotional response is never productive. Resist the urge to jump into “fix it” mode, too. That’s often not what a person feeling jealousy or insecurity needs, at least not right away.

Instead, listen and validate. Paraphrase your partner’s words back to them: “what I’m hearing you say is that you’re feeling…[fill in the blank].” Tell them that you understand, that you’re listening, and that their feelings are real and matter to you.

Not sure how to respond? “I’m sorry you’re feeling that way. That sounds painful. I’m here for you” is rarely a bad place to start.

Offer Verbal Reassurance

Most of us want to hear that our partners love us, value us, find us desirable, and so on. Though the “love languages” system is deeply flawed, I’ve also found it a useful starting point in talking about how we give and receive love in relationships. I’m very much a words of affirmation person, for example, so verbal reassurance matters to me a lot when I’m feeling insecure.

It’s important to understand what your partner is feeling insecure about so that you can offer them appropriate reassurance accordingly. They might need to hear that you love them, that you still find them sexy, that you’re committed to your relationship and not going anywhere, or even that you’re not upset with them for some real or imagined infraction. (Things can get a bit meta at this stage. I often find I end up needing a second layer of reassurance: that my partner isn’t mad at me for feeling insecure or asking for reassurance in the first place!)

What’s even more important, though, is that your words of reassurance are backed up by actions. It’s no use saying all the right things if your actions say something else entirely. Never say things you don’t wholeheartedly mean, and never make promises you can’t or won’t keep.

Offer Touch and Comfort, If Possible

This may not be possible if you’re long distance or not physically together. But if possible, most people find a hug, a cuddle, or some other kind of physical contact from a partner to be comforting in times of emotional pain or distress.

This isn’t universal, of course. Some people don’t like being touched when they’re processing difficult feelings. Always ask your partner first and respect their answer. “Would you like a hug?” or “I’d like to hold your hand, would that be okay?” are useful phrases.

If they’re not up for being touched, other physically comforting or grounding things – getting under a blanket, holding and sipping a warm drink, stroking a pet, playing with a fidget toy – can be helpful for some people.

Process with Them… or Just Sit with the Feelings

Some people like to process their feelings of jealousy or insecurity out loud, talking through what they are thinking and feeling and why. For others, it’s more productive to simply sit in the uncomfortable feeling until it passes through and over them. Your partner will know best which is true for them. (And it might be a bit of both, or contextual depending on other factors.)

Either way, you can support them. If they need to process out loud, you can have a conversation or just listen to them talk. If they prefer to sit with the feelings instead, you can offer to be with them in that space or give them some alone time to work it through.

Change Your Behaviour if Appropriate

There will be many circumstances where you haven’t done anything wrong and your partner is simply having an emotional reaction to something that’s well within the parameters of your relationship. In these cases, comfort, support, and time to process may be all that’s needed.

In other circumstances, though, you may find it’s actually appropriate to change your behaviour in some way.

Huge, enormous, giant caveat here: changing your behaviour should not negatively impact a third party or another relationship. Cutting off, curtailing, restricting, or backburnering another relationship is deeply cruel to the other person/people involved and never a good response to jealousy or insecurity.

So what can changing your behaviour in response to jealousy or insecurity look like in a polyamorous dynamic? Here are a few examples:

  • Setting aside intentional, quality time to spend with a partner who is feeling neglected or sidelined
  • Agreeing to put your phone away so you’re not distracted when you are spending time with your partner
  • Offering more of something your partner feels is missing in your connection (physical touch, verbal expressions of love, sweet gestures, etc.)
  • Stepping up more with regard to shared responsibilities (children, housework, etc.)
  • Limiting the amount that you share/gush about your other sweetie(s) in the presence of a partner who is feeling insecure
  • Shifting to a more parallel style of polyamory, at least temporarily
  • Being more forthcoming in sharing important information with your partner
  • Taking more time to check in emotionally with your partner before or after potentially jealousy-inducing events (e.g. dates with new people)

Offer Only Things You Are Happy to Give

I have adopted this as a personal policy in relationships and it’s served me very well: I only make offers I’m wholeheartedly happy to carry out if the person takes me up on it. To offer things you don’t actually want to give is a trap and will only lead to hurt and resentment down the line. (Low-stakes but real example: If I offer you a ride home, I’m not going to feel annoyed about having to go half an hour out of my way if you accept. I only offered the ride because I was genuinely happy to give it.)

When we love someone and that person is feeling pain or distress, it is natural that we want to stop that pain. However, this can sometimes lead to making offers or promises that are not genuine. This might look like “I’ll cancel my date tomorrow night” or “I’ll always be home by 10pm so you don’t have to be alone at night.”

As I’ve mentioned above, curtailing other relationships is never a wise thing to offer or do in response to jealousy or insecurity in a polyamorous dynamic. Neither is heavily restricting your own freedom or other aspects of your life. However, it’s totally possible to make changes or implement strategies to help your partner feel better without doing these things. I outlined some options for this in the last section, but you should feel entirely free to get creative with it and strategise together. As with all things in relationships, it’s deeply personal.

Ask your partner what they would like from you, with the understanding that you’re not obligated to give it if you don’t feel able to do so with a full heart. Make offers and suggestions, too, but make sure they come from a genuine place.

Check Back In Later

When a partner has expressed difficult feelings, it’s a good idea to check back in later and see how they are doing. This might mean asking them how they’re feeling a few days after the initial conversation or reaction and asking if there is anything else they need from you.

It might also mean checking in the next time an event happens that’s similar to the one that triggered the jealousy or insecurity. For example, if your partner felt jealous when you went out on a date with a new person, you might do an emotional check-in or provide some additional reassurance before the next time you go on a first date. You might also plan a way to reconnect and decompress together after the date.

How do you like your partners to respond when you express feelings like jealousy or insecurity? Have you found any amazing strategies that help you to overcome or manage it together?

5 Things You Should Disclose Upfront in Polyamorous Dating [Polyamory Conversation Cards #11]

Dating is hard. Who amongst us hasn’t spent hours swiping and swiping on dating apps or felt like we’ve wasted evenings of our lives at speed dating parties full of people we have nothing in common with? Polyamorous dating is even harder. Polyamorous people have a small dating pool to begin with, and it becomes smaller still when you factor in all the various ways that even two (or more) polyam people can be incompatible.

When I’m trying to date, I prefer to filter out unsuitable matches quickly. After all, no matter how hot someone is, if we’re wildly incompatible there’s no point in trying to take things further. Part of this process is knowing what you need to disclose (and ask) early on in dating a new person.

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 do new partners need to know upfront about what’s (im)possible given your existing relationships?”

Here are five things I think you really need to disclose upfront in polyamorous dating.

1. That you’re polyamorous (and what relationships you’re currently in, if any)

No shit, right?

Well, a surprising number of polyamorous people seem to be completely cool with the idea of not disclosing that they’re polyamorous until they are one, three, or even more dates into a connection with a new person. This is absolutely, utterly, unequivocally not cool.

I believe that, as a general rule, polyamorous people should only date other polyamorous people. While there are occasional (very occasional) examples of mono/poly relationships that work, these are few and far between and most people who attempt this type of dynamic end up completely miserable. However, if you’re going to insist on trying to date monogamous people, at the very least you need to disclose your polyamorous status upfront. It’s not okay to bait-and-switch someone.

Put it in your dating profile. When you connect with someone, make sure they’ve actually read and understood that you’re polyamorous. And be ready to talk about what polyamory means to you, how you practice it, and any relationships you’re currently in

2. What style of polyamory you practice

People do polyamory in lots of different ways, and not all of them are compatible. If you practice relationship anarchy, hierarchical polyamorous people won’t be a good fit for you. If you’re in a closely knit kitchen table polycule and hate not being able to have all your partners in one room, someone who prefers a strictly parallel style is unlikely to be a good match.

There’s nuance here, of course, and you should be ready to talk with a potential match about the particulars of your situation. But you should at least have a one-line elevator speech that sums up your polyamorous style and philosophy.

For example, I might say “I have a nesting partner and practice non-hierarchical polyamory. I prefer kitchen-table or garden-party polyamory but I’m also open to parallel if that’s what people need.”

3. Any rules or restrictions that will apply to your relationship

I’ve written recently about why I don’t think restrictive rules are a good idea in polyamory. But lots of people still have them and, if this is you, you really need to disclose them as quickly as possible.

If your new partner won’t be allowed to (for example) engage in certain sex acts, express or receive expressions of love with you, spend the night with you, or ever spend holidays and special occasions with you, they deserve to know these things upfront.

Someone can’t meaningfully consent to a relationship if it comes with a host of limits and restrictions they weren’t aware of.

4. Veto arrangements (including screening, tacit, or indirect vetos)

A veto arrangement is where one partner – usually a spouse, nesting partner, or “primary” – has the power to unilaterally demand their partner end an outside relationship. I’ve written about the problems with veto multiple times and I now believe it is an inherently abusive thing. However, again, some couples still insist on it. If this is you, you must disclose it upfront to potential partners.

This includes other forms of veto power beyond the explicit, by the way.

Does your partner have a “screening veto” (i.e. can they veto a relationship when it’s in its fledgling stages but not once it’s established?) People you’re dating deserve to know that they have to pass an external party’s test before they can be in a relationship with you.

What would you do if a particular partner suddenly issued you with a “leave them or I’m leaving you” ultimatum? If the answer is anything other than “break up with the person who issued the ultimatum” then… that person has tacit veto power. Your other partners and potential partners should know this. They should know that, even if you don’t call it veto power, they are ultimately disposable in service of your relationship with someone else.

5. What type of relationship you’re looking for

Are you looking for a nesting partner? Someone to marry and/or have children with? A serious but non-nesting/non-escalator relationship? A one night stand, casual fuck-buddy, or friend with benefits?

One of the great things about polyamory is that we can feel out relationships as they evolve and allow them to be what they are. However, most of us also have at least some idea of what we’re looking for and what we’re absolutely not looking for.

Unfortunately, a lot of people lie about or obfuscate what they’re looking for on early dates. They pretend to be open to a serious relationship because they think it’ll make them look bad if they say they just want casual sex. Conversely, they might think it makes them look uncool and not “chill” to admit they want something serious, so they downplay it. This kind of thing just makes it harder to connect with people who want the same thing as you.

If you’re truly open to any kind of structure and just want to explore connections and see how things go? You can say that. But don’t say it if it’s not true. You’ll just waste your own time and theirs.

What do you always tell potential dates upfront in your polyamorous dating life? What do you wish dates would tell you?

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!

15 Things I’ve Learned in 15 Years of Polyamory

Today, 13 March 2024, marks my 15th anniversary of being polyamorous. Of course, knowing how to quantify such things or where to count from isn’t always easy. Personally, I count from the first day that I was in two romantic relationships at the same time (with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved, of course.) For me, this was the day I got together with my first girlfriend – the woman I call my firework – while still being with my then-fiancé.

I’ve changed a lot, many times over, in those intervening fifteen years. Unsurprisingly, neither of those relationships survived for the long-haul. I’ve also learned a few things, even if I still feel like I’m winging it half the time.

So just for fun, here are fifteen things I’ve learned about polyamory and non-monogamy to celebrate fifteen years in this world.

1. You’ll probably never stop feeling as though you’re making it all up as you go along

The nature of non-normative relationships is that there are few roadmaps. Sure, there are books like The Ethical Slut, Polysecure, Polywise and so on but, compared to an entire world of monogamy-centric conditioning and assumptions about how relationships work, a lot of this is relatively unchartered territory.

As you navigate a non-monogamous relationship structure, you’ll likely always feel to some extent like you’re making it up as you go. Embrace it. That journey is part of the fun.

2. Being too rigid about relationship structures is the enemy of happiness

A lot of people enter non-monogamy thinking they know exactly what they want out of their relationships. A closed triad, an open quad, one male and one female partner, a sprawling polycule made up exclusively of neurodivergent queers…

It’s fine to have an idea of what sort of thing might make you happy, but being too rigid about the relationship structures you’re seeking can prevent you from connecting with the actual humans in front of you. Instead, stay open to possibility and accept that it will probably never look exactly like the “ideal” vision you thought you had when you first decided to practice non-monogamy. You know what’s really cool though? It might end up even better.

3. More relationships means more joy, but also more heartbreak

Being polyamorous has brought me tremendous joy. It has also brought me some of the most devastating heartbreaks of my life, including one very recent one.

When you have more relationships, you can experience more of those glorious highs that being in love brings. The flip side of this is that you also have more potential for heartbreak. Unless you’re extraordinarily lucky, at some point some of your polyamorous relationships will end, and it will suck every bit as much as it does when a monogamous relationship ends.

4. You cannot open a relationship without changing it

I recently wrote an entire huge essay about this, so I won’t recap all those points again here. But many couples come to non-monogamy saying “we want to do this without it changing our relationship.” To which, in the kindest possible way, I say “good luck with that.”

To transition from monogamy to non-monogamy is to change the fundamental structure, foundation, and nature of a relationship. There is no way to make this transition and to keep your relationship the same as it was before. This isn’t something to be afraid of, though. Change can be good. Change can be beautiful.

5. You will likely always feel at least some jealousy at least occasionally

A common misconception from monogamous people is that polyamorous people don’t get jealous. A common misconception from newly polyamorous people is that at some point they will trancend jealousy and simply… never feel it again.

Hah. I wish.

Jealousy is a normal human emotion that we are all susceptible to from time to time. You’ll likely always struggle with it at least occasionally. Instead of fearing it or placing restrictions on your relationships in an attempt to avoid it, though, it’s time to get comfortable with it. Learn to sit with difficult feelings, learn to understand what they’re telling you, and learn to communicate your way through them with your partners.

6. Compersion is lovely but it’s not essential

Compersion – that feeling of warm, fuzzy joy you get when you see your partner happy with one of their other lovers – can be absolutely wonderful. It’s one of my favourite things about polyamory. What it is not, though, is essential. Some people will never feel compersion and can still be happily polyamorous. Many people feel it sometimes but not all the time, with all partners, or in all situations.

Either way is fine. Chasing compersion is likely to just make it even harder to attain, and beating yourself up for not feeling it will make it downright impossible to find.

7. Look for community before you look for partners

When people decide to practice non-monogamy, particularly if they are opening up from an existing couple, they’re likely to ask “where can I/we meet potential partners?” And it’s a fair question, but it’s also not the first one you should be asking.

Instead of looking for partners, look for community. Join groups and forums, go to meetups, attend polyamory events and classes and workshops, and get to know other people doing this thing we call consensual non-monogamy. Finding people to date will fall into place, but you need non-monogamous friends and safe community spaces first.

8. With rare and specific exceptions, mono/poly does not work

I’ve seen a lot of people attempt a mono/poly relationship, where one person wants a monogamous relationship and the other person wants a polyamorous one. If you find that you and a partner or prospective partner have this incompatibility, the best and kindest thing you can do in 95% of cases is break up amicably.

When people attempt to make a mono/poly relationship work, most of the time one or both parties is utterly fucking miserable. Sure, you might be the exception to the rule. But in most cases, the polyamorous person will feel trapped and restricted or the monogamous person will feel sad, jealous and resentful… often both.

9. Humans are extraordinarly bad at predicting how things will make us feel

“Experience shock” is a phenomenon wherein how we think we’ll feel about something in advance does not align with how we actually feel about the thing when it happens. It’s incredibly common and so, so normal. Most of us are really bad at predicting how we will feel about something ahead of time.

Make room for experience shock as you explore non-monogamy, both your own and your partners’. Learn to say “this feels different in practice to how I thought it would in theory.” Learn to talk through difficult feelings as they come up and give yourself and your partners permission to say “I don’t actually know how I will feel about this.”

Most importantly, never ever berate yourself or a partner for having experience shock.

10. Rules and restrictions are almost always a bad way to deal with difficulties

When there’s a challenge in your relationship – particularly a spousal or nesting relationship – or one of you is feeling something difficult, is your impulse to bring in rules and restrictions on outside relationships in an attempt to solve the problem or eliminate the feeling?

I understand the temptation, but this is almost always the wrong approach for several reasons. First, your or your partner’s outside relationships are just as important as the one between the two of you. Those other partners are people with feelings and should not be collateral damage in your relationship issues.

Secondly, if your partner doesn’t want to consider your needs and treat you well, the rules won’t actually compel them to (and if they do want to, the rules are unnecessary.)

Finally, restrictive rules do not build trust and security. If anything, they stifle its growth by strategising around problems instead of actually addressing them.

11. No matter how many partners you have, you will still feel lonely sometimes

Of all the things I’ve learned about polyamory, this one might be the hardest to swallow. Loneliness is a reality of life no matter what relationship structure you practice. Some people think they can avoid loneliness through non-monogamy. After all, if I have enough partners I never have to be alone… right?

Yeah, sorry, it doesn’t work like that. Even if you have ten partners, there will be days when they’re all busy or on other dates or working or sick or otherwise not available to you. And sometimes you’ll feel lonely even if you’re surrounded by people, because that’s just how humans work.

Learning to be comfortable in your own company is a vital skill not just for polyamory, but for relationships in general. Feeling okay alone allows you to approach relationships from a place of curiosity and possibility, not one of desperation, and helps to prevent you from staying too long in relationships that are not working for you.

12. You can probably handle one fewer partners than you think you can when you’re starting out

How many serious relationships do you think you can manage, nurture, and sustain at one time? If you’re new to polyamory or have not yet tested this theory, substract one from the number you just said. That’s more likely to be your actual number.

Polysaturation is real, and oversaturation can be tremendously damaging, both for the person experiencing it and for their partners. To avoid becoming oversaturated, start one relationship at a time and give that relationship plenty of time to grow, mature, and settle into the form it wants to take before you start any others.

I have met very few polyamorous people who can successfully handle more than three serious relationships. Those people exist, but they are the exception.

13. NRE is fun, but long-term love is where the really good stuff is

New relationship energy (NRE), also known as the honeymoon period, is that giddy love-drunk feeling at the start of a new relationship where you can’t get enough of the other person. Polyamory allows you to experience NRE multiple times throughout your life without needing to lose any existing relationships.

NRE is a lot of fun. It’s also finite, kinda exhausting after a while, and can cause its own problems. Long-term love, though? That’s where the real magic is for me. When you’ve overcome challenges, had each other’s backs, and seen each other at your worst and you’re still totally in love. For me, the security and comfort and safety that comes with this kind of love – and the ability to have that with multiple people – is one of the greatest joys of polyamory.

14. Most metamour problems are actually hinge problems

Not getting along with your metamour – your partner’s partner – is a real concern for many polyamorous people. However, I’ve realised over the years that most problems with metamours are actually problems with the hinge partner (that is, the person in the middle.)

If your metamour’s behaviour is damaging your relationship with your shared partner, they have a responsibility to manage the situation. They should be setting boundaries, advocating for their relationship with you, or keeping the relationships parallel. They should not be playing you and your metamour off against each other or sacrificing your relationship to placate another person.

If you think you have a metamour problem, you probably have a hinge problem. This isn’t universally true, of course, but it is true the vast majority of the time.

15. There are no experts

Whenever I’m writing, speaking, being quoted, or teaching a class about polyamory, I am always very firm that I am not under any circumstances to be referred to as a “polyamory expert.” This is because I don’t believe there are any experts. We’re all just imperfect humans working this thing out as we go along (see #1 on this list!) Some of us are sharing the wisdom we’ve gathered, but none of us actually have it entirely figured out.

Not to mention, in the last few years we’ve seen what happens when certain voices are elevated and exalted too much and for too long in this community.

So there you have it. Fifteen things I’ve learned from fifteen years in polyamory. Whether you’ve been doing this for five minutes or for so long it puts my mere decade and a half to shame, I’d love to know the most important lessons you’ve learned about non-monogamy on your journey!

Let’s Talk About Money and Polyamory [Polyamory Conversation Cards #7]

Ahh, money. Is any subject – apart from sometimes sex – harder for people to talk about with their partners? Though I couldn’t find any reliable statistics to back this up, some experts say that arguments about money are the number one source of conflict in intimate relationships.

I hate to talk about money. It still feels so taboo, even though I know it’s important. It makes me cringe. And in polyamorous relationships, I’ve found I end up having more of these conversations because, well, there are more relationships and therefore more people to talk about money, financial limitations, and other such difficult subjects with.

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 financial resources can you freely spend on your various relationships?”

So I thought it was time to do a deep dive into a relatively under-discussed reality of polyamorous living: the financial aspect. Let’s talk about money and polyamory.

“Monogamy? In This Economy!?”

This particular phrase has become something of a running joke and the subject of numerous memes within the polyamorous community. It’s obviously tongue-in-cheek but, like so many jokes, there’s also a grain of truth to it.

Now, I don’t know of anyone who has actually chosen to become polyamorous specifically to bring in a higher household income and offset the cost of living crisis. I have, however, seen more polyamorous networks and families choosing to live together, pool their resources, share expenses, or otherwise combine finances to make everyone’s money go further.

With the right people, this can be hugely beneficial. You can potentially get a bigger place to live. Economy of scale means that things like groceries will be cheaper when you’re shopping and cooking for more people. And, of course, more people means that the loss of one income – if there’s a sudden illness, accident, or redundancy, for example – is likely to be less disastrous.

There are also challenges alongside these benefits, of course. Sharing finances requires a tremendous level of trust. You may or may not have this trust with all your partners and metamours. You’ll need to talk about money and finances regularly not just with one person, but potentially with several. And if you move in together too early out of economic necessity, this can do more harm than good to relationships and your entire polycule.

How Do Polyamorous People, Networks and Families Handle Finances?

As with almost any question that begins “how do polyamorous people…?”, there is no single answer and virtually anyone you ask will tell you something slightly different. So let’s look at a few common ways that polyamorous networks and families handle their finances.

I can’t tell you which model is the best for you and your family or polycule. It’s a personal decision and will depend on an array of factors including your relationship structure, length of relationships, levels of trust and communication between metamours, geography, and more.

Totally Separate Finances

Even in some monogamous relationships, couples maintain totally separate finances. And in certain types of polyamory, this is a pretty common way to do things. In this setup, you do not blend finances with any of your partners. Your income, accounts, debts, and financial obligations are solely your own. You may or may not even talk about money and financial matters with your partners.

It’s not possible to completely separate your finances from a partner’s if you are legal spouses. It’s also difficult if you live together, since you may have a lease agreement or mortgage in both/all names (and if not, you have a massive power disparity in favour of the person whose name is on the lease or mortgage) as well as shared bills. But if you’re solo, unmarried or non-nesting, this is a popular choice as it allows you to maintain the most financial independence and autonomy.

Blended Finances with One Partner

This is what you’ll see most commonly for polyamorous people who are married or have a nesting partner. In these situations, one dyad blends their finances to whatever extent works for them. In other relationships outside of that dyad, finances are separate.

This can make sense in some circumstances. However, it can also create difficulties. If your finances are highly entangled with one partner, for example, how do you go about paying for dates with other partners? It’s navigable but it requires careful negotiation and clarity about agreements. You’ll need to learn to talk about money openly, non-judgementally, and non-emotionally with your partners to ensure that things feel fair and equitable for everyone.

Blended Finances as a Family or Polycule

In this setup, more than two people combine their finances. This might include things like living together, sharing bills and other expenses, buying property together, and having joint bank accounts.

It’s a common misconception that you can’t have more than two names on a bank account or mortgage. In many places – including the US and UK – at least some banks will allow more than two people to share an account. In the UK, some lenders will allow up to 4 people to be named on a mortgage. And in the US, there is no legal limit but most lenders won’t allow more than 4 or 5 people. So you will need to shop around but, depending on where you live, it may be possible to get a bank account and rent or buy a property with your polyamorous family.

Of course, this requires a lot of intimacy and trust with everyone who is included in the shared financial network. It’s not something I recommend entering into quickly or lightly. And, of course, you should seek professional advice to ensure everyone is properly protected if things go south or something unexpected happens.

Partially Blended, Partially Separate Finances

Anecdotally, this is the most common arrangement I’ve seen for polyamorous people who have at least one nesting partner. In this setup, some financial assets are shared and others are kept separate. One common way to do this is to have a joint account for bills and household expenses, and then separate accounts for disposable income or “fun” money.

You can also do this with more than one partner, by the way. Want to have a shared account with your nesting partner to save for redecorating the kitchen and another account with your long distance partner to save for a trip together? Have at it.

…And Other Arrangments?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about polyamorous people, it’s that we are a creative bunch. We can come up with nearly endless ways to structure, define, and personalise our relationships. So why not do the same with our financial arrangements? As long as everything is legal and fair, there are endless possibilities here.

Instead of doing what you think you’re “supposed” to do, ask yourself what actually works for you, your partners, and your metamours. Talk about money, talk about your wants and needs, and craft something accordingly that is entirely your own.

Let’s Talk About Money, Legal Marriage, and Polyamorous Finances

I am not any kind of expert and nothing I say in this section should be taken as legal or financial advice in any way whatsoever. You should consult a financial planner and a family lawyer in your area to advise you on how to manage your and your family’s finances.

With a few very limited exceptions, polygamy is illegal pretty much everywhere. In other words, if you want to get legally married, you can only marry one person.

There’s nothing to stop you having a committment ceremony, religiously or spiritually marrying without the legal piece, exchanging rings or other tokens of love, or calling each other husband/wife/spouse with as many partners as you want. But these things do not confer any of the legal or financial benefits of a marriage your government recognises.

The choice to marry can be a complicated one when you’re polyamorous. It can feel like you’re declaring one of your partners as “real” or “most important“. And even if you don’t see it that way… well, wider society (and the government) definitely will.

If you come into polyamory already legally married, a certain amount of unavoidable couple’s privilege is baked in. Open Relating defines couple’s privilege as: “the largely unchallenged mainstream acceptance of the inherent importance and supremacy of a dyad relationship (mostly exclusive and primarily between a woman and a man).”

I’ve known some couples take the extreme step of getting a divorce (while remaining in a romantic relationship) in order to eliminate this couple’s privilege. If you want to take this step, go in with your eyes open. By removing legal marriage, you potentially lose literally hundreds of legal and financial protections. Make sure you have an alternative plan and don’t do something this drastic as a symbolic gesture without thinking it through.

So What Else Can We Do?

Whether or not it makes sense for you to marry is a highly personal choice. If you live with and share finances with one partner, you might decide it’s the smart choice for the two of you. Conversely, you might decide you never want to marry – because you disagree with the institution, because of the hierarchy it can imply, or for another reason. If you’re solo polyamorous, a relationship anarchist, or otherwise prefer high levels of independence and autonomy, you might also make the personal decision that legally entangling your financial life with another person is off limits.

There are no right or wrong answers here. What matters is that you think it through and make fully informed choices that make sense for you and your loved ones.

In some cases, there are steps you can take to replace some of the benefits of legal marriage (or extend them to more than one partner.) Wills, life insurance policies, and medical power of attorney are just some of the options that may be available to you. Other benefits of legal marriage are, unfortunately, pretty much impossible to entirely replicate in any other way.

If you’re not married and don’t intend to be, consult a lawyer and financial planner to ensure that you, your partners, and any children or other dependents are protected in the event that something happens to one of you. If you are married or intending to marry one partner and you also want to share financial benefits and protections with another partner or partners… yeah, consult a lawyer and financial planner.

This stuff is complex. It’s also different in every country or state. I cannot stress this enough: get professional advice.

Rules and Agreements About Money in Polyamorous Relationships

If you’ve been reading my work on polyamory recently, you’ll know that I have come to dislike relationships with lots of rules. In general, I believe that adults shouldn’t be imposing rules and restrictions on one another and that all parties in a relationship should have an equal voice in the issues and agreements that impact them.

With that said, I see a lot of polyamorous people – particularly married, nested, or hierarchical “primary” couples – making strict rules around finances. This might include rules like limiting how much can be spent on other partners, setting a spending limit on dating, or requiring one partner to ask the other for permission before spending money on another relationship.

I understand the implse here. Financial struggles can be terrifying and you want to make sure the person you’ve entangled your finances with is going to meet their obligations. Here’s the thing, though: if they’re going to, you don’t need the rule. And if they’re not going to, the rule won’t protect you anyway.

My general take on this is that you should only entangle finances with someone you trust. If you need a rule to compel someone not to spend hundreds of dollars on a date when they can’t afford their portion of the mortgage, then you probably shouldn’t have a joint mortgage with that person.

So How Can I Protect Myself Financially in a Relationship?

This is not to say, of course, that I think polyamory should be an irresponsible financial free-for-all. Quite the opposite. When we enter into relationships with other humans, those relationships come with some obligations. In some circumstances, this can include an obligation to be responsible with money and meet shared expenses. I just don’t think that placing rules and restrictions on each other is the way to achieve this interdependence and mutual sense of responsibility.

What you can and should do, instead of trying to restrict your partner(s) or place strict rules on them about how they manage their money, is make agreements about shared money and set boundaries around your own money and relationship to financial matters.

Agreements about shared money can look like:

  • “We will each put $x into the joint account when we get paid each month. This money is for bills, groceries and household expenses but not for fun or discretionary spending.”
  • “We will each contribute $x to a shared savings account and this money is not to be touched unless we both agree to do so.”
  • “Money from our shared account is not to be used for dates, gifts, or activities with other partners.”
  • “Money from our shared account can be used for dates, gifts, or activities with other partners up to a limit of $x assuming other financial obligations are taken care of. Anything above that amount must be discussed in advance.”
  • “Our individual money is our own and, as long as we each meet our financial obligations to the household each month, we have no say over how the other chooses to spend their money.”
  • “Since one of us earns much more than the other, we will split shared expenses proportionally to our income unless otherwise agreed.”
  • “We will check in about our shared finances and re-evaluate our budget every six months or more often if a significant change occurs (such as a new job, job loss, or serious illness.)”

Personal financial boundaries can look like:

  • “I prefer to keep my finances totally separate so I don’t want to have joint accounts, share a mortgage, or get legally married.”
  • “I’ve committed to paying half the rent and I will honour that but I can’t cover your portion too.”
  • “I will not live with someone who doesn’t have similar financial values and goals to me.”
  • “I can’t afford to do that expensive activity right now so, unless you’re offering to pay for both of us, can we plan a cheaper date night?”
  • “It makes me uncomfortable when you spend a lot of money on me. Please don’t buy me expensive gifts without discussing it with me first.”
  • “I am not comfortable getting into debt so I will not take out a credit card, loan, or finance agreement.”
  • “No, I cannot loan you money.”

Other Rules and Agreements That Have a Financial Impact

Sometimes, rules in polyamory can have nothing to do with money on the surface… but still have a financial impact. For example, let’s say you have a nesting partner and you’ve made a rule that says they cannot bring their other partner back to your shared home. Unless your metamour can host every single time, this means they will be paying for restaurants, hotels, and so on every time they want to spend time together. This can get very expensive very quickly.

Another common example I see is when sex toys, BDSM gear, and other items are designated as being for one relationship only. And that’s completely fair – not everyone is as blasé as me about sharing these things. But if you want to use these types of things with multiple partners, the cost of buying several of them can add up fast.

When you discuss and negotiate your relationship agreements with your partner(s), it’s also important to talk about money and how those agreements might have a financial impact on one or both of you – even an unintended one.

The Person Who Has the Money Has the Power

Unfortunately, money is power in our current society. At a certain point, people who are wealthy enough can get away with pretty much anything they want. Now, it’s unlikely that you or any of your partners are billionaires or in the “untouchably wealthy” category, of course. However, financial disparities can still cause huge problems in relationships – both polyamorous and monogamous – and in some cases can become coercive or abusive.

Several times a week, I see people in polyamorous groups and forums asking a variation of this: “my spouse/partner is hugely controlling and imposes all these rules on me, but they’re also the breadwinner so I can’t leave.”

Of course, this isn’t a uniquely polyamorous problem. Financial abuse can and does occur all too frequently in monogamy, too. In fact, financial control and limiting a partner’s access to resources is on page one of the Abusers’ Playbook.

In polyamory, though, it does manifest in some unique and specific ways. Often, the person with the money (and therefore the power) will impose a double standard on their partner. For example, “I’m allowed to have sex with other people but you’re not” or “I’m allowed to bring partners home but you’re not because I pay for our housing.” It’s very, very hard – sometimes impossible – to stand up to someone and assert your autonomy when you rely on them for the roof over your head.

Explicit or covert vetoes and ultimatums are also massively complicated by financial disparities. If you live with one partner and are financially reliant on them, are you really going to say no if they put a “leave your other partner or I’m leaving you” choice on the table? Particularly if you don’t have an obvious backup plan, such as other partners, friends or family who are willing to support you financially? Exactly.

I don’t have any easy answers to this phenomenon, of course. Abusive and controlling people will likely always exist and, for as long as we live in a capitalist society, money will likely always be one of their first and most powerful weapons.

If you’re in a relationship with a person significantly less well-off than you, particularly if you’re married or live together, it is vital that you ensure they have access to money and resources without needing to ask you for them. You must also be incredibly careful not to impose unfair rules and double standards or to hold financial security over your partner’s head to make them do what you want. In other words, you need to make it possible for them to leave if they want to.

Because a person cannot meaningfully consent to a relationship if they can’t also reasonably and safely choose to leave it.

Honestly, this is why we need better social safety nets and community support. No-one should ever be forced to stay in a relationship that’s abusive, harmful, or just doesn’t make them happy because they don’t have access to the money they need to leave.

Jealousy, Insecurity, and Resentment When People Have Very Different Financial Circumstances

I’m far from wealthy but, prior to the cost of living crisis, I considered myself pretty financially comfortable. Now it’s more of a challenge as prices have skyrocketed and salaries have not kept up, but I’m still doing okay most of the time. Relative to many, I have a tonne of financial privilege and I try to pay this forward when I can.

I’ve been polyamorous for 15 years. In that time, I’ve dated people much richer than me and I’ve dated people much poorer than me. Both have come with their own challenges, but neither were insurmountable with good communication, empathy and honesty. I find that what matters far more than having a similar level of wealth is having similar values, goals, and the ability to talk about money in an open and supportive way.

Solutions to a wealth disparity in a relationship can include finding affordable date activities, splitting expenses in a way that is equitable according to our relative incomes rather than equal, and factoring in time, energy and skills as other forms of equally-valuable relationship currency (for example “you buy the ingredients and I’ll cook for us” or “I’ll pay for your ticket if you spend the time and energy travelling to me.”)

The most challenging aspect of a wealth disparity in relationships, in my experience, is not any of these practical matters. It’s the feelings that money issues can bring up. Here are a few of the most common I’ve encountered in my own relationships or witnessed in other relationships.

“My Partner Can Date More Often (or Go On More Expensive Dates) Because They Have More Disposable Income”

Imagine you and your partner are both trying to date outside your relationship. But they have vastly more money than you do, meaning that they can date more often and do more expensive activities with their other partner(s.) This can be tough to navigate and can bring up feelings of envy, jealousy, and resentment if you don’t navigate it carefully.

If you’re the person with significantly less money:

Is your partner willing to help you out financially so you can date more? Would you feel comfortable accepting that help? The answer to both these questions might be “no”, but it’s fair to ask.

If not, it’s time to get creative with your own dating life. You might not be able to afford expensive dates, but there are plenty of equally nnice and meaningful things you can do without spending a fortune. If you don’t have another regular partner or are actively dating new people, you might also need to be more choosy about which dates you go on. Screen more thoroughly to ensure you’re spending your limited resources on the most promising potential dates, and seek out people who place little value on material wealth.

Don’t forget to ask your partner for what you want, too. Are you feeling sidelined or neglected? Do you wish they’d take you on one of those fancy dates that they’re always going on with other people? Then tell them! And if you don’t want to hear so much about their activities with other people, you get to draw that boundary, too.

If you’re the person with significantly more money:

Consider whether you’d be comfortable financially supporting your partner’s dating activities outside your relationship. Perhaps you could have a shared “dating pot” that you contribute to proportionally and can draw on for external dates. This can allow things to feel more balanced without your partner having to feel like they’re asking you for money (which can have uncomfortable “parental” implications for many people.)

If you’re not willing to help, or they won’t accept your help, that’s fair. In that case, it might be wise not to share so much information with your less-wealthy partner about the pricey things you’re doing with other people. Don’t hide things from them, of course, but they probably don’t want to hear about your $500 restaurant bill if they’re struggling to find the money to meet a potential date for a coffee.

You can also help to mitigate this issue by making sure you’re not taking your existing partner for granted. It’s easy for resentment to set in if you’re taking new dates to expensive restaurants while all you do with your spouse is sit on the couch and watch reruns on Netflix. Make sure that you’re also taking them out on nice dates, setting aside money for experiences or trips together, and giving them nice gifts if they’re comfortable with receiving them.

“My Partner Wants to Do All These Expensive Activities But I Can’t Afford It!”

People who have plenty of money can be extraordinarily oblivious about the experiences of people who have less of it. This can lead to resentment as they suggest pricey date activities and the less well-off partner has to keep saying no. Or, worse, if the less-wealthy person stretches their finances in an effort to keep up.

This is a situation where honesty is critical. Practice saying “I can’t afford to do that” and remember that there is absolutely no shame in doing so. Someone who loves you will understand. A partner who pressures you to spend money you can’t afford, or judges you for not doing so, is a bad partner for you.

If your partner offers to cover the cost for both of you, it’s okay to accept this offer. It’s also okay to say no if this makes you uncomfortable and propose an alternative, cheaper activity.

If you’re the person with more money and your partner discloses that they can’t afford something, it’s important to be sympathetic and non-judgemental. Don’t say things like “but it’s only $50!”. That $50 might be pocket change to you but it might be a week’s worth of groceries to them. Don’t pressure them to stretch their finances more than they are comfortable, and never shame them for having less money than you do.

What you can do, if you sincerely want to, is offer to cover the cost for both of you. And if you want to invite a partner or date to an expensive activity, be upfront about whether you’ll be covering the cost or not. Simply saying “do you want to check out that new restaurant on Friday? My treat!” or “would you like to see this show with me? Tickets are $35 if so” takes away so much of the guesswork and anxiety.

“My Metamour is Richer Than Me and it Makes Me Insecure”

In researching this post, I remembered this classic Polyamory Weekly episode, “Help, I’m rich and I have a big penis!” In it, the caller is concerned he makes his metamours jealous and insecure because he has money to throw around and likes to spoil his partners. And, self-involved though this might seem, he’s probably got a fair point.

If your metamour is significantly wealthier than you, this might cause some understandable feelings of envy, jealousy, insecurity, or competitiveness to come up.

What’s most important here is to remember that your partner isn’t with you for your money or for the things you can provide. They’re with you because they love you! Ask your partner for reassurance and reminders of what they love about you if you need it.

It’s also important to remember they’re probably not with your metamour for their money, either! What else does your metamour bring to the table? They’re a human being with their own wonderful qualities and also their own quirks and flaws. Try to learn more about what your partner loves about them. Chances are it’s little or nothing to do with their wealth. This will help to humanise them and make them feel like less of a threat.

Get creative and find ways to connect with your partner and have meaningful experiences together without spending a lot of money. They might enjoy those fancy dates with your metamour, but I bet they’d enjoy a picnic in the park or a night of stargazing with you just as much.

The Bottom Line on Polyamory and Money: Get Educated and Get Prepared

Financial matters are complex. This is true even if you’re in a traditional, monogamous relationship, and this complexity can increase tenfold if you’re polyamorous.

The most important things you can do are educate yourself, plan, and prepare. This means taking the time to talk about money with all your partners. It means understanding what your options are, understanding the limitations you’re under due to our current couple-centric society and legal system, and understanding what you and your partners all want and need.

It also means educating yourself and getting appropriate advice. Things like Wills, estate planning, inheritance, and medical decisionmaking can be more complex when you have more partners. It’s vital to understand what the law says in your area, what you can and can’t do, and how you can protect yourselves. Communicate, share your wishes and fears, and make decisions together with your partners, polycule, or family.

The golden rule? Think about what would happen in the worst case scenario long before you’re ever actually in it. If you died tomorrow, would your partners and loved ones have the financial protection you’d want them to have? If not, it’s time to take steps to ensure they do.

How do finances work in your romantic network or polycule? How do you talk about money with your partners? Tell me about it in the comments!

How and When to Renegotiate Relationship Agreements in Polyamory [Polyamory Conversation Cards #6]

Few issues are as divisive in the polyamory community as the terms that govern our relationships. Whether we’re arguing about the difference between boundaries, rules and relationship agreements or debating the finer points of whether any specific rule/agreement is ethical, we’re nerdy about this shit.

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:

“How would you like to approach communication about any changes to existing agreements?”

Before we start, let’s get clear on what we mean by “relationship agreements” and how they differ from relationship rules and boundaries.

Boundaries are about yourself. They govern the things you own: your body, mind, emotions, time, space, physical possessions, and so on. They are statements of what you will and won’t allow and how you will protect yourself if they are breached. To give you an idea how this can look, two of my boundaries are “I will not remain in relationship with someone who lies to me” and “I never want to have children so I will take all reasonable steps to avoid pregnancy and I will have an abortion if I accidentally get pregnant.”

Rules are things that you impose on other people. They are generally frowned upon in adult relationships, and by the polyamorous community in particular. The implication is that the person or people bound by the rule would otherwise want to do the forbidden thing, or not do the thing that the rule compels them to do. Examples of rules might include “you must be home by 10pm every night” or “I forbid you to take your other partner to that restaurant I like.”

Agreements are made by, and followed by, both or all members of a relationship. They are usually designed to help maintain security, stability, structure, or the overall happiness and wellbeing of everyone involved. Examples of agreements might include “we won’t bring any new partners around our children until we’re reasonably sure the relationship is here to stay” or “we’ll notify each other promptly about any changes to our sexual health risk profile.”

It is agreements that we’re talking about today. Specifically, when you should renegotiate them and how to do so successfully.

Five Signs It’s Time to Renegotiate Relationship Agreements

First, let’s talk about renegotiating agreements in your relationship(s.) This isn’t something to be afraid of! It’s actually a really normal and healthy part of being in a long-term relationship. Because people and relationships aren’t fixed and static, it’s natural that you will need to renegotiate your agreements at various points during the lifespan of a relationship.

Here are five signs that indicate it’s time to come back to the table and renegotiate one (or more) of your relationship agreements.

You’re in Danger of Breaking An Agreement

It is always, always less destructive to attempt to renegotiate an agreement than to break one. A broken agreement can cause a massive breach of trust, which can take a long time to repair or – depending on its nature and severity – sometimes not be repairable at all.

I’m not (necessarily) talking about a fleeting thought here. But if you repeatedly find yourself butting up against an agreement and wanting to break it, then that agreement isn’t working for you any more. It’s time to come to the table and let your partner(s) know you need to renegotiate.

You’ve Realised An Agreement is a Rule in Disguise

By definition, an agreement must be agreed to by both or all of the people it impacts. If an agreement is benefiting only one or some parties, and others are going along with it grudgingly (to keep the peace, perhaps, or because they feel they have no choice) then there’s a high likelihood it’s actually a rule in disguise.

An agreement should not, generally, feel overly limiting or constrictive. It certainly should not seek to curtail relationships you’re not in, or to control the behaviour of people who had no hand in making it.

The Agreement is Harmful to You or Someone Else

Because people, relationships, and contexts can change, agreements that once worked well (or seemed to work well) for you might now be problematic or even harmful. Some are inherently harmful from the outset, though it may take you time to realise this. If an agreement you’ve made is harming you or someone else in some way, it’s time to renegotiate it. (The same is true, by the way, if there is clear and probable potential for harm even if it hasn’t actually happened yet.)

Here’s a common example: open phone policies. Perhaps you and your spouse or long-term partner agreed you could look through each other’s phones at any time. On the surface, this seems like a good way to build trust and security, particularly in a newly-open relationship. However, it actually feeds into a sense of mistrust in your relationship. It also violates the privacy and potentially even the consent of other partners and other people you’re communicating with.

You’re Feeling Resentful of Your Partner or The Agreement

When an agreement isn’t working for you any longer, but you haven’t raised the issue and renegotiated it, you might find yourself feeling resentment towards the agreement itself or towards the partner(s) you made it with.

Ideally, you’d renegotiate an agreement that is no longer working long before you reach the point where resentment sets in. However, if you’ve found yourself in this spot, it’s time to raise the issue and start the renegotiation process immediately. This can usually head off growing resentment and the more significant problems it causes in the long run.

The Agreement Served a Time-Limited Purpose and is No Longer Necessary

In general, I don’t think it’s a great idea to use restrictive agreements (or rules) as training wheels in a newly-open relationship. However, there are instances where certain agreements can serve a purpose for a limited amount of time but ultimately become unnecessary.

All agreements should serve a purpose. These purposes might include helping someone(s) feel secure and loved, ensuring that other responsibilities (such as household chores and childcare) are handled fairly, managing shared resources equitably, maintaining sexual health within your polycule… or something else entirely. If an agreement either no longer serves its intended purpose or that purpose becomes irrelevant for some other reason, it’s probably time to revisit the agreement and see if there’s any reason to keep it.

How to Renegotiate Polyamorous Relationship Agreements

So you’ve realised you need to renegotiate a relationship agreement. How can you actually do so effectively?

First, what not to do: don’t simply announce to your partner(s) that you will no longer be following the agreement in question. Please don’t do that! Got that? Okay, here’s what to do instead.

Raise It as Soon as It’s a Problem (But at an Appropriate Time)

You know what happens when you don’t address small problems or concerns? They turn into big problems. As soon as you start feeling that there’s a problem with one of your relationship agreements, address it ASAP.

Be mindful of the time and place for this conversation, though. Choose a moment when you’re both feeling calm and will have time to talk, free from distractions. If you do regular relationship check-ins, this is a great time to talk about your relationship agreements. If not, you can always give your partner a heads-up about the conversation you’d like to have and set aside some time for it (tell them what it’s about, both so they have time to gather their own thoughts on the subject and so that you’re not stressing them out with a contextless “we need to talk.”)

Make Sure That Everyone Impacted Gets a Voice

One of the most insidious problems that emerges when hierarchical polyamory and/or couples privilege are in play is that people end up being impacted by agreements that they had no hand in creating.

If you are considering making an agreement with one partner that may negatively impact another relationship, it’s hugely unfair to expect that other partner or metamour to just go along with it. Instead, speak to them and bring them into the negotiation process. They have a right not to have their relationship with you or your partner curtailed or harmed because of something that’s going on between the two of you.

Better yet, if this is possible and appropriate for you, sit down as a group or polycule and hash things out all together with equal weight given to everyone’s needs, feelings, and opinions.

Allow Plenty of Time for the Process

Sometimes, renegotiating agreements is incredibly simple. I’ve had agreement renegotiations that literally went “this agreement isn’t working for me”, “yeah me neither, shall we nix it?” “sure.” However, this is usually the exception rather than the rule. If you’re dealing with significant and emotive subjects, in particular, allow plenty of time for this renegotiation process.

Be ready to have a lengthy conversation, or even several. Be ready for everyone to need time to process, think things through, and come up with ideas for how to proceed. There’s a balance to be struck here, of course, and if you’ve been talking around the issue for six hours and got nowhere it might be time to park the subject and come back to it another day. But in general, do not expect major renegotiation of relationship agreements to take five minutes.

Keep It Simple

Relationship agreements should not resemble sprawling legal contracts full of clauses and exceptions, cross-referencing and footnotes. If you feel the need for this type of document in your relationship, something else might have gone wrong. Perhaps you’re dealing with unresolved trust issues, communication problems, or lingering mononormative beliefs.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t put your agreements in writing. You can, if you like! I’ve not felt the need to do this for a long time personally, but it has been helpful to me at other times in my life and I know plenty of people who find it useful.

Most agreements should be simple enough that you can distill them down to a sentence, or two at most (for example: “we’ll let each other know in advance about planned dates or hookups with new people” or “if I’m going to be out much later than originally planned, I’ll send you a text to let you know so you don’t worry.”)

Be Flexible, Creative, and Open to Input

As we’ve established, agreements should ultimately serve a purpose. So when you’re negotiating or renegotiating one, ask yourselves what purpose you want it to serve. Once you understand the underlying need or reason for an agreement, you can begin getting creative in how you craft it.

There are often more ways to achieve the same outcome than you might initially think. You might know exactly what you want your revamped agreement to say, but your partner or metamour might have an even better alternative idea you’ve never thought of.

Stay flexible, stay curious, and don’t forget that your ultimate goal is the health, happiness, and wellbeing of everyone in your relationship or network.

Have you successfully renegotiated your relationship agreements? Have any extra tips for us?

“Help, I Hate My Metamour!” When a Metamour Relationship Goes Wrong [Polyamory Conversation Cards #5]

“Help, I hate my metamour!” This subject crops up in the polyamory groups and forums I frequent multiple times a week, so I thought it was time I wrote about it.

Throughout the 15 years I’ve been polyamorous, I’ve had a mixed bag when it comes to metamours. In recent years, I’ve mostly been very lucky. My partners are smart and discerning humans with excellent taste and judgement, so the people they date tend to be pretty damn cool.

In the past, though, I’ve had metamour I disliked, metamours who disliked me, metamours who (accidentally or intentionally) triggered some of my deepest insecurities and traumas, and even a couple of abusive or excessively controlling metamours.

One of the hardest things for many people to come to terms with, when they start being polyamorous, is the fact that they cannot control who their partner chooses to date, have sex with, fall in love with, or invite into their inner circle.

In some cases, metamours click beautifully and end up becoming close friends (or, more rarely, becoming partners themselves.) It’s wonderful when this happens. Often, metamours will coexist happily and healthily without drama but not feel the need to spend a tonne of time together. This, too, can be great. But what if your partner chooses someone who isn’t at all the type of person you’d have wanted for them? What if they’re dating someone you simply cannot stand for some reason?

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:

“To what extent and in what way would you prefer to be involved with your metamours or others in your polycule?”

First, let’s get clear on our terminology. A metamour (sometimes shortened to “meta”) is the partner of your partner, with whom you do not have a romantic or sexual relationship [*]. So if I’m dating Alice and Alice is married to Bob, Bob is my metamour. If Cleo is dating both Dave and Emily, but their partners are not dating one another, then Dave and Emily are metamours. The mutual partner connecting two metamours is often referred to as a “hinge.”

[*] There are nuances and grey areas here, of course. Some people do have sex with their metamours regularly or occasionally. Me and my former meta used to do this but weren’t romantically involved, and we called ourselves “metamours with benefits.” You’ll settle on the language to describe your relationships that works best for you.

With that understood, let’s talk about hating your metamour.

Metamour Relationships Are Unique to Polyamory… Except They’re Not

People think of the metamour relationship as a unique facet of polyamory that doesn’t apply anywhere else. And this is sort of true, in that polyamory is the only context in which your romantic partner is likely to have other romantic partners that you’re aware of.

However, even in a monogamous context, your partner will have other significant relationships outside of you. Friends, family, coworkers, and so on. These relationships may include people you don’t particularly care for, or even people you really cannot abide. In this way, I think “I hate my metamour” is just a variation on “my mother-in-law is the worst” or “I can’t stand my partner’s best friend.”

The fact that your partner has a romantic and possibly sexual relationship with your metamour doesn’t actually change the fundamentals of this type of situation all that much. Remembering this may help you to realise that this situation is, in most circumstances, entirely navigable.

Why Do You Dislike Your Metamour? Getting Specific

When someone says “I hate my metamour,” the first thing I want to ask them is “why?” Because the answer to this question will inform the advice I give next. The reasoning can also be hugely telling in itself. The reason think you hate your metamour might not be the actual reason when you really dig into it. So, obviously, the first thing we’re going to do is… really dig into it.

You’ll need to be really honest with yourself here. Observe your feelings without judgement or reactivity, and see what comes up for you. What is it about your metamour that rubs you the wrong way? Where do you think those thoughts and feelings are coming from?

Sometimes, two people simply do not get along. Neither of them have done anything wrong, but they are too different and cannot find a way to gel. For all the often-true jokes about polyamorous people who date three different versions of the same person, it’s equally likely that your partners will be very different from one another… and that your metamours will be very different from you. This is really, really normal. Unfortunately, these situations can sometimes lead to personality clashes.

If you determine that the cause of your “ick, I hate my metamour” feelings are just a personality clash, that’s pretty easy to handle. In a nutshell: don’t hang out with them! We’ll talk more about how to achieve this in practice a bit later on.

In some cases, your metamour might remind you of someone else you don’t care for. Perhaps they look, sound, smell, or behave like somebody who hurt you or your partner at some point in your life? This might mean that you’re projecting past experiences onto them due to baggage or trauma. This is also surprisingly common, especially if your partner has a “type” and your new metamour reminds you of a previous, problematic meta.

Of course, it’s possible you dislike your metamour for a really valid reason. You might have seen serious red flags in their behaviour or heard damning things about them in the community. Perhaps you don’t like the way they treat your mutual partner (or their other partners, or someone else in their life.) This gets more tricky to navigate and we’ll get into it in more detail below.

It’s also possible that your issue with your metamour is actually about something that’s going on within you. This is what we’ll talk about in the next section.

Is It About Them, or About You?

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, metamours can inadvertently trigger insecurities, traumas, deep-seated fears, or other complicated and painful feelings. This is actually pretty normal and doesn’t necessarily mean anyone has done anything wrong. Realising that’s what is going on can even be pretty empowering. After all, if the issue is about your stuff, you have the power to work on and fix it.

Seeing your partner fall in love or lust or both with a new person can be challenging. This might be particularly true if you’re new to polyamory, if your relationship with your partner is having problems, or if you have particular traumas or insecurities that are getting triggered by the new relationship for some reason.

If you determine that your dislike of your metamour is more to do with your own stuff than with them, then you have several options. But before you do anything, take a breath. Don’t panic. You’re not broken or bad at polyamory or any of the things you’re probably telling yourself right now.

So what can you do next?

First, you can take a break from the metamour in question. We’re going to talk more about parallel polyamory a bit later on, but just know that it’s okay to minimise or pause social interactions with your metamour – even temporarily – if you need the space to get a handle on your difficult emotional response to them.

If you do this in a time-limited way with the intention of re-establishing contact and building some sort of positive relationship later, it can actually be hugely beneficial in the long run. There are also instances where staying parallel permanently (or at least indefinitely) is the right choice. You can decide what’s best for you with the help of your support network.

Alternatively, you can decide to consciously give your metamour a chance and try to build a positive relationship with them. We’ll look at how to do this more in the next section.

This is also the time to shore up your relationship with your mutual partner and ask for what you need. Do you need some reassurance, more quality time, a dedicated date night? You might have identified unhealthy patterns, unmet needs, or problematic behaviours from one or both of you that are being highlighted by the new relationship and need your partner to work on resolving these issues with you. Perhaps you just need them to hold space for you to talk through your feelings and difficulties in a non-judgemental, loving environment.

Finally, this is the time to work on yourself. Examine the things that the new relationship has triggered within you, and call upon your coping and healing strategies. If you’re not already, this is a great time to get yourself into therapy. Journal, find and consume relevant resources (Polysecure and Polywise, both by Jessica Fern, are two I highly recommend.) Reach out to your extended support network. Aim to build your self-esteem, confidence, and inner sense of security.

Can You Give Them a Chance?

The answer to this might be “no”, but I invite you to consider the possibility that you’re being overly harsh in your judgement of your metamour. Would you conceivably feel differently if you gave them a real chance? This is often a particularly beneficial option if you’ve determined that your issues with your metamour stem from your own trauma, baggage, or internal “stuff.”

Many people find that humanising their metamour by getting to know them is challenging initially but hugely beneficial in the long run. You’ll see that they’re neither a monster nor the embodiment of perfection. They’re just a person with their own quirks, flaws, wonderful qualities, and personality traits.

I’m going to write a whole piece on meeting your metamours successfully soon. In the meantime, though, here are some quick tips that might help you.

Timing is crucial here. I do not recommend meeting or instituting hangouts when you’re deep in the “I hate my metamour” rage-spiral. This will backfire spectacularly. Take the time to calm your nervous system, do some of your own internal work, and get to the place where you can genuinely meet them with an open mind and a generous spirit.

Whether you meet by yourselves or with your mutual partner is something you’ll have to negotiate. There are pros and cons to each approach. If your mutual partner will be in attendance, negotiate what levels of PDA you’re all comfortable with seeing and engaging in. Meet in a neutral space such as a bar, restaurant, or coffee shop rather than at someone’s house. It can also be helpful to bookend your time together with a built-in limit (e.g. “I’ve got two hours because I need to pick the kids up at 4.”)

Try to go in without too many expectations. The goal isn’t to become best friends. Remember that you’re just two humans who happen to love the same person. You’re both doing your best and, hopefully, want a good outcome for everyone involved. After that, just be yourself! Be polite and friendly, look for common ground, and treat them like you would any new person you’re trying to get to know.

This all assumes, of course, that your metamour is up for meeting you or hanging out. It’s never okay to force a meeting if one party really doesn’t want it or isn’t ready. But if things go well, you might very well find that this leap of faith does great things for your metamour relationship.

If they go badly, or if you really can’t bring yourself to give this metamour a chance? It’s time to consider going parallel.

Parallel Polyamory is Valid

Like many polyamorous people, I love kitchen table polyamory – the close, family-style structure where the various partners and metamours in a network are totally comfortable in each other’s presence and may even actively choose to hang out.

There are tonnes of potential benefits to kitchen table polyamory (KTP.) Your metamours can become dear friends and members of your chosen family. There’s more support for everyone when things are hard. There are more people to celebrate with when good things happen. If children are involved, there are more adults to love and care for those kids. There’s the potential for group outings, polycule trips and adventures, and even group sex if you’re all into that. However, practicing KTP is a personal preference and it won’t work for everyone.

Parallel polyamory is where you know about your metamours, but don’t spend time with them or have any involvement with them beyond essential information. Like parallel lines, the relationships do not meet or intersect. Despite having a bad reputation in some parts of the community, parallel polyamory is an equally valid choice. And in situations of dislike or animosity between metamours, it’s often the best one.

Some people even prefer parallel polyamory right from the beginning! It doesn’t have to come out of metamours disliking each other. Some just prefer to keep things very separate for all kinds of reasons.

Parallel polyamory can look a few different ways. The common thread, though, is that the metamours have little or no direct interaction. They may also prefer not to hear much or any information about the other person, or to have their own information shared. There’s also Garden Party Polyamory, a middle ground where metamours can be polite and friendly to one another in occasional social situations, but otherwise have little interaction and do not hang out independently of their mutual partner.

It’s possible to shift between structures over time as necessary or dictated by circumstances, too. You don’t have to pick one and stick to it forever! Like so many things in polyamory, it’s an ongoing journey and may require renegotiation over time.

Personally, as I’ve said, parallel polyamory isn’t my preference. But if there was ever a time when I had two partners who couldn’t get along with one another, or a metamour I really couldn’t stand (or vice versa,) I would accept it as the healthiest option for everyone in that situation. It’s not a lesser form of polyamory. It’s just different.

“I Hate My Metamour, But Our Partner Wants Us All to Live Together!”

I hear this (and its less extreme cousin, “I hate my metamour but my partner is desperate for us all to hang out”) so, so, so often.

It’s far too common for hinge partners to try to force closeness between metamours who don’t get along. This might look like trying to arrange group hangouts or social interactions despite the metamours’ wishes. At its most extreme, it can look like trying to force metamours to date (see: unicorn hunting), have sex, or live together.

If you’re one of the metamours in this situation: stand firm with your boundaries. You do not have to hang out with anyone you don’t want to hang out with. You certainly don’t have to date, have sex with, or live with anyone you don’t want to.

The fact that your partner wants it – even really, really wants it – is ultimately irrelevant here. You can hear and sympathise with their desires, of course. But you cannot and must not compromise your boundaries and needs for the sake of their desired structure. Doing so will just breed resentment and mistrust, ultimately destroying your relationships. At its most extreme, you may end up feeling coerced, violated, or abused.

If your partner continues to push for more of a relationship between you and your metamour than you want, and will not respect your boundaries when you state them clearly, then it might be time to consider leaving the relationship.

If you’re the hinge in this situation and trying to force a dynamic between your partners: stop it! I can’t overstate how damaging this is. Firstly, people tend to hate being coerced into things they don’t want. Secondly, let’s say they give in and do what you want. How do you think this is going to go? Does a social hangout with two people who don’t like each other sound fun to you? Does living with two people who don’t like each other sound fun!? Exactly.

I understand you have a dream for how you want your ideal polyamorous life to look. However, you’re dealing with actual people with actual personalities and feelings. When you try to force your partners to be friends, date, become lovers, or live together against their wills… chances are you’ll lose both or all of them.

If you want to be with these people, you’ll need to accept that (for now at least, possibly forever) they love you but care for each other much less. If anything other than kitchen table polyamory or nesting with all your partners is a dealbreaker for you, that might mean you need to end these relationships and find others that better meet your desires.

Friendship Isn’t Necessary, But Mutual Respect Probably Is

If you take nothing else away from this post, I hope you’ll take this: you don’t have to like your metamour! It’s perfectly fine to feel indifferent towards them. It’s also okay to actively dislike them, though I hope you’ll first follow the steps I’ve outlined to examine where that dislike is coming from and if it is truly warranted.

How you frame things, both in your mind and externally, really matters here. In the vast majority of circumstances, hanging on to intense dislike, disrespect, or contempt for another person isn’t going to do you or your relationships any good. Can you reframe “I hate my metamour” to “my metamour and I are very different people who don’t really get along, but our goal is to coexist peacefully because we both love our mutual partner”?

In the end, mutual respect for your metamour(s) – even if you are not friends or dislike one another – is both possible and desirable in most circumstances. Here’s what that can look like in practice:

  • Accepting and fully internalising that they have just as much right to their place in your mutual partner’s life as you do.
  • Giving your partner space to have their relationship with your metamour. For example, not trying to infringe on their dates or spoil their time together.
  • Articulating and maintaining clear personal boundaries around things that you control: your time, your space, your energy, and your possessions.
  • Hearing and respecting your metamour’s boundaries around the things that they control, even if those boundaries are different from your own.
  • Respecting your metamours’ privacy and consent. This includes things like not expecting intimate details about their activities with your hinge partner, unless they enthusiastically consent to such sharing. It also means not trying to find or use personal information about them that they may not wish you to have.
  • Ensuring that agreements you make with your hinge partner do not negatively impact your metamour or their relationship.
  • Retaining a reasonable level of flexibility around things like scheduling and the use of shared spaces.
  • Not trying to convince your partner to leave your metamour, change their relationship, or view them the way that you do.
  • Not badmouthing your metamour (either to your partner or to others.)
  • Resisting the temptation to compete or frame your metamour as an adversary.
  • Wherever you can, assuming good will. Your metamour probably isn’t trying to piss you off, trigger your insecurities, or replace you.

Sometimes Metamours Really Are Terrible

In the vast majority of circumstances, your metamour probably isn’t actually a bad person. They might be perfectly lovely but simply not one of your people. They might have their heart in the right place but still exhibit some behaviours that rub you the wrong way. In these situations, mutual respect, a little courtesy and goodwill, good communication from your mutual partner, and minimising unnecessary interactions will probably be all you need to keep things harmonious within your polycule.

But what if you’re right? What if your metamour actually is kind of terrible? Perhaps they hold horrible, oppressive views or regularly do unethical things. At the worst end of the spectrum, perhaps they’re abusing someone – your mutual partner, another partner or partners, or even a child.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: this situation fucking sucks. It’s also probably largely out of your control. You cannot force your partner to leave someone, even for their own good. There are times when going parallel will sufficiently mitigate the issue. There are also times when it won’t. Firm boundaries, strengthening your relationship with your mutual partner, and calling on the rest of your support network can all help, too. Sometimes, though, even all of this won’t be enough.

Sadly, problematic metamours can sometimes lead to the end of a relationship. I once ended a relationship because my metamour was so controlling – and my partner was so willing to capitulate to all their demands – that we couldn’t actually have a relationship. Leaving devastated me, but ultimately staying would have been worse.

What About Abuse?

This article is about what to do when you dislike your metamour. But what if you suspect (or know) that your metamour is abusing your mutual partner?

I’m going to write a whole article soon about handling abuse within your polycule. That subject deserves thousands of words of its own and there isn’t space to delve deeply into it here.

I just wanted to acknowledge that this can happen, and that it’s heartbreaking and painful on a whole other level when it does. The reason I’m not going into it in this piece is that I want to give it the attention and space it deserves, taking the time and doing the background research to make sure I get it right.

In the meantime, Eve Rickert has compiled this incredible list of resources on abuse in polyamorous relationships.

Do You Have a Metamour Relationship Problem, or Do You Have a Hinge Partner Problem?

In polyamorous spaces, you’ll often see people say things like “metamour problems are really partner problems.” This isn’t always true, but it’s often true.

Take, for example, the controlling metamour I mentioned above. Ultimately, the problem was that my partner chose to follow all the arbitrary rules and restrictions they laid down. My partner had a choice there, and they could have refused. They weren’t powerless. They could have advocated for me and for our relationship. The fact that they didn’t is actually what ended things between us.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to situations of abuse. In those situations, your partner may really be powerless in a very real way. But if your metamour is behaving unreasonably but not abusively, it is your partner’s job to manage the situation and ensure your metamour’s behaviour doesn’t spill over onto you and your relationship too much.

It’s almost impossible, in anything but the strictest form of parallel polyamory (and probably even then), to keep relationships from impacting each other entirely. After all, if I’ve had a fight with one of my partners and am then due to go on a date with another partner, that is likely to impact my mood and energy levels even if my partners have absolutely no interaction with one another.

The choices you make in one relationship can, and often do, affect your other relationships. This isn’t necessarily a bad or problematic thing in itself. It does, however, require intentionality and care to manage it well. That’s particularly true if the metamours do not get along.

In some cases, your partner’s choice of partners or behaviour in other relationships might directly impact how you view them. Let’s imagine, for a second, one of your partners knowingly brings home someone with extreme and violently right-wing politics. This problem isn’t going to be solved by going parallel. This problem is deeper, in that it says something pretty fundamental – and pretty damning – about your partner and their values.

One of the most important skills in polyamory is partner selection. This extends to being able to trust your partners’ judgement in their partner selection. Unfortunately, when “I hate my metamour” turns into “I hate that my partner chose this person and what that choice says about them”, there might be little you can do but leave the relationship.

Last Words

Wow, even for me this has turned into a mammoth essay! Like so many relationship-related subjects, it’s nuanced and highly contextual. To sum up, though, my 10 key points are as follows:

  • You do not have to be friends with your metamour, like them, or even ever meet them if you don’t want to.
  • If you’re deep in the “I hate my metamour” space, start by asking yourself why and really interrogating it.
  • Examine what your feelings about your metamour are telling you about what’s going on within you.
  • Give them a real and fair chance if you can.
  • It’s fine to be parallel polyamorous.
  • You never have to interact with your metamour in a way that violates your boundaries or consent, and your partner should never pressure you to.
  • Mutual respect, even in the face of indifference or dislike, will go a long way.
  • Metamour issues are often, but not always, really hinge partner issues. Hinge partners have a lot of responsibility here.
  • Relationships can and do impact one another, which is one of the reasons good partner selection is so vital.
  • It’s okay to end a relationship over unresolvable metamour issues, especially if your mutual partner isn’t respecting your boundaries or advocating for you appropriately.

Have you ever found yourself saying “I hate my metamour”? How did you handle it? Any horrors, cautionary tales, or success stories to share?