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?

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!

Polysaturation: How Do You Know When You’re Polysaturated? [Polyamory Conversation Cards #4]

It’s safe to say that the polyamory community likes its cute wordplay. We’ve got “metamour,” from meta (beyond or after) + amor (love), to mean your partner’s partner. We’ve got “polycule”, from poly + molecule, to mean an interconnected network of relationships (because when we draw out our romantic networks they can kinda resemble scientific models of chemical molecules.) Then there’s the subject of today’s post: polysaturation, or “the state in which a polyamorous person has as many significant relationships as they can handle at a given time” (definition courtesy of Multiamory.)

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 much time, energy, and other resources do you have left for potential new attachments?”

My personal answer to this is “very little,” but that doesn’t make a very exciting post, does it? So let’s delve into the topic of polysaturation, how to know when you’re at your relationship limit, and what do to about it.

What is Polysaturation?

Polysaturation is the point at which a polyamorous person has the maximum number of relationships that they can handle. Typically, when people are polysaturated, they stop actively looking for new relationships and may become entirely closed to the possibility of new relationships until or unless their circumstances change.

Polyamorous people feel differently about polysaturation. Personally, I kind of love the feeling of polysaturation. I find “dating” and actively trying to make romantic connections difficult and demoralising, so being at the point where I am comfortable and satisfied in my romantic life is wonderful. Others dislike it because they feel it limits their options for making connections if they happen to meet someone incredible but don’t have time to pursue a relationship with them.

What is an Average Polysaturation Number?

There’s no one right answer to this, because it depends on so many factors. Physical and mental health, work, child rearing and other caring responsibilities, life stage, geography, finances, and the status of existing relationships are just some of the factors that can play a role in determining someone’s polysaturation point.

I will say, though, that I have been polyamorous for 15 years and I’ve encountered very few people who can manage more than three serious relationships well. Overall, two and three are by far the most common polysaturation numbers.

My own polysaturation point, in case you’re wondering, is currently two serious relationships. I can enjoy situationships, friends-with-benefits, and casual encounters (such as occasional sex parties or swinging) alongside those relationships, because these casual dynamics demand very little in terms of ongoing time commitments or emotional investments. But actual, Capital-R Romantic Relationships with people I’m in love with? Right now it’s two, and I am struggling to imagine that number ever being higher than three.

More Partners =/= Doing Polyamory Better

I know or have known of people with five, seven, ten romantic partners. On the surface, it might look like these people are absolutely killing it in the realm of polyamory. In reality, though? When you look closer at this type of situation, you’ll often see an exhausted, burned-out person who’s massively overcommitted themself and a lot of neglected, pissed off, unsatisfied partners.

Are there exceptions? Sure. But not many.

What you need to let go of here is the idea that having more partners means you’re doing polyamory better. The goal of polyamory isn’t to constantly add new people, to “collect them all” à la Pokémon, or to compete to have more partners than anyone else. The most experienced and successful polyamorous people I know tend to be in anything from one to three committed romantic relationships at a time.

By the way: it’s totally possible to identify as polyamorous but go through a period where your polysaturation point is one partner, or even zero partners. Polyamory is an identity defined by the desire and ability to love and be in relationship with more than one person at a time. It doesn’t mean you always have to be actively doing so. There’s no “poly card” that someone will revoke if you don’t have two or more partners at all times!

How Do I Know If I’m Polysaturated?

When you first started exploring polyamory, you might have had some idea in your head about how many relationships you thought you’d be able to handle. If you’ve been practicing for some time, you might have found that that number is lower in reality than it was in theory. If so, that’s super normal. Many of us underestimate how much time and energy relationships take up, especially with the added complexities inherent in polyamory.

One of the keys to happiness in polyamory, I’ve found, is learning to identify when you’re polysaturated before you accidentally become polyoversaturated. That is, in more relationships than you can actually manage.

Polysaturation feels slightly different for everyone. I experience it as a lack of something, primarily. Specifically, a lack of any desire or inclination to add new romantic partners to my life. It also feels like a sort of “enoughness”, like my needs are being met and I’m satisfied. Kinda like the relationship equivalent of being comfortably full after a great meal, but not overly stuffed!

But in short, you’ll know you are polysaturated when you know – emotionally, intellectually, or both – that you are in a space where you cannot reasonably add any new partners to your life.

What If I’m Polysaturated But Meet Someone So Amazing I Simply Have to Pursue It?

This is a difficult one and I can’t give you a simple answer.

One of the realities of living a successful and happy polyamorous life is accepting that there are simply too many shiny people in the world to ever be able to build relationships with all of them. Sometimes, you have to let a potential interest go because you just do not have enough time in the day and it wouldn’t be fair to yourself, your existing partners, the new person, or others who also rely on you (such as your children or other dependents) to pursue something.

So your first option is simply “decide you don’t have the bandwidth, and leave it alone.”

It’s possible that this new relationship will be a low-time-and-energy-investment one, in which case you might be able to shift things around to accommodate it with relatively little pain and stress. But if it’s a relationship requiring a higher level of investment, particularly in the new relationship energy (NRE) phase, you might have some difficult decisions to make.

What you shouldn’t do, in almost any circumstances, is dump or demote an existing partner to make room for the new one. This is a profoundly shitty thing to do to someone you claim to love. Of course, if one of your relationships isn’t working or isn’t making you happy, you have the right to end it. But you should really be doing that at the point that it’s making you unhappy and isn’t fixable (or worth the energy to fix), not at the point that there’s a New Shiny to step in and fill the gap.

So if this new relationship seems too good to pass up, what can you do?

Be Honest with Yourself and Your Partners

What can you actually offer this new person in terms of time, energy, and current or future commitment? How will those choices impact you and your existing partner(s)?

Be unfailingly honest with everyone, yourself first of all. Don’t convince yourself you have energy or hours in the day that you simply don’t have. Don’t overcommit yourself to the new person just to let them down later. And don’t lie to or mislead your existing partners to get their buy-in if they are understandably reticent about you adding someone knew when you’re already at your polysaturation point.

Look at What Else You Can Move Around

If you decide you do want to pursue the new connection, something else in your life will likely have to give.

You might be able to shift some things around in your life to accommodate the new relationship with minimal disruption to your existing relationships, if you get creative. Is there a hobby or activity you’re willing to let slide (or dedicate a little less time to?) Will the grandparents take your kids for a few hours after school one evening a week to allow you to visit your new sweetie? Do you have the means and flexibility to take one fewer shifts at work or to move your working pattern around a bit?

The answer to all of these things might be no. But if nothing can realistically change and you don’t have the time or energy, then I’m back to my original advice: don’t pursue this new relationship.

Negotiate a Casual Relationship

When you meet someone new and make a connection, you don’t initially know what shape that connection might naturally take. So consider whether you and your new interest would be happy with an occasional, casual, friends-with-benefits or comet-style relationship.

Some relationships cannot be casual. Forcing a relationship that wants to be serious and committed into a casual box will hurt everyone involved and probably blow up in your face. But if circumstances allow and your needs and desires align, negotiating a low-key casual style relationship can be a great way to navigate this situation.

Avoiding Polyoversaturation Before It Happens

“Kid in a candy store syndrome” is a slightly snarky name for the phenomenon of newcomers who discover polyamory and immediately leap into DATING ALL OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME. They’re overwhelmed by possibility and the next thing you know, they’ve got twelve partners and their Google Calendar is packed until August… of next year.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation then… I’m sorry. It’s an easy mistake to make and a hard situation to be in. I can’t tell you what to do about it, because it’s obviously not as easy as “just break up with six to eight of those partners to bring your polycule down to manageable numbers.” I will say that a lot of people make this mistake in the early days and things usually even out over time. Still, you might be in for a bumpy ride in the short term.

Experienced polyamorists, by the way, typically won’t date people who do this. We’ve seen it all before and we know the pain, neglect, and frustration it causes.

Fortunately, if you’ve not yet made this mistake, it’s fairly easy to avoid. Instead of seeing polyamory as a smorgasbord where you can indulge yourself without limits, approach dating and relationships with intention. Where possible, build new relationships one at a time (two will be doable for some people, but not for everyone. You know yourself and your capabilities best.) And before you get involved with a new person, take a clear-eyed and critical look at your current situation. Do you actually have the time, energy, and bandwidth?

Remember, to go back to that food analogy: the goal is “pleasantly full,” not “uncomfortably stuffed.” With time and self-awareness, you’ll get to know what that feels like for you.

So You Want to Find a Unicorn?

Spend ten seconds on any polyamory forum or Facebook group, and this question will come up. “We’ve decided to be polyamorous! He’s straight and I’m bi. How can we find a unicorn to join our relationship?” (The hapless couple might also refer to the unicorn as “a third” or, even worse, “a female.”)

The community, particularly people who have been doing this for a long time, have little patience for this phenomenon. Commenters may be fairly harsh towards the couple in question. And I get it! I too roll my eyes every time I see yet another iteration of this.

However, yelling at and berating people doesn’t help to educate them. It just turns them off and pushes them away. And it’s not as though any of us learned how to have healthy polyamorous relationships during sex ed. (Hell, most of us didn’t even learn anything useful about how to have healthy monogamous relationships!)

So I thought I’d address this issue in depth here. What is this “unicorn hunting” thing all about, why is it problematic, and what options do you have instead?

What is Unicorn Hunting, Anyway?

A “unicorn”, in polyamory[1], is a woman[2] who is willing to join a pre-existing couple to form a triad[1] relationship. It is usually understood that the relationship will be closed (i.e. no additional partners outside the triad) and that the unicorn will be expected to conform to an array of rules that the couple determined ahead of time with no input from her.

The reason this phenomenon is called “unicorn hunting” is that it’s typically so hard to find this person that she might as well be a mythological creature.

___

[1] In swinging, the term is sometimes used more broadly to refer to single women who are willing to play sexually with couples. That’s not what we’re talking about here.

[2] There is some debate in the community over whether there is any such thing as a male unicorn. Some believe there is, others believe that unicorn hunting is a strictly gendered phenomenon. I have seen a male unicorn be referred to as a “Pegasus” or a “Dragon”, but these terms don’t seem to have caught on very widely. In this post, I will sometimes use “she/her” pronouns to refer to unicorns as that is by far the most common iteration of this trope. However, the advice here applies no matter the genders of the couple or the incoming partner.

[3] Three-person romantic relationship, also sometimes called a “throuple.”

Who Am I Talking To Here?

First, let’s establish who I am not talking to in this post.

Did you have two partners, who then met and also happened to fall for each other? Or maybe you were one of two partners to a hinge person, then you also fell for your metamour. Perhaps you and your partner made a friend or started a casual sexual relationship with a lovely someone, and romantic feelings developed between all three of you. Or possibly you’re currently partnered and just open to the idea of a triad or another group relationship, if the right person comes along.

If any of these situations, or something like them, match yours then I am not talking to you. Your situation (or hypothetical situation) is what I’d call an organically formed triad. There’s nothing whatsoever wrong with those!

If, however, you’re a couple who has recently (or not so recently) opened up your relationship and decided that what you really want is to find a unicorn – a bisexual woman to form a closed triad with you both, I’m talking to you. I’m going to be as kind as I can, but I’m also going to say some things you might not want to hear. I gently challenge you to make it to the end of the post with an open mind and consider whether you think I make any good points.

The purpose of this post is to educate and encourage you to think more critically about this dynamic. It is not to berate you, scold you, or push you away from the polyamorous community.

Why Do You Want This Specific Dynamic?

I have often asked couples trying to find a unicorn why they are looking for this set-up in particular. I have rarely received satisfactory answers. So before you go any further, if you’re trying to find a unicorn, please ask yourselves this question and really interrogate it. Why can’t you date separately, if polyamory is what you want? Why don’t you try swinging instead if casual sexual experiences together are your priority? What is it specifically about a closed, three-way relationship with a bisexual woman that appeals to you so much?

“It’s just what we want!” isn’t an answer, by the way.

Let’s address some of the common answers I see to this question, and my responses to them.

  • “My wife is bisexual and wants to try being with a woman.” Okay, this desire can be addressed either by swinging/casual sex or by her dating women separately.
  • “My husband says other women only, no men.” This is called a One Penis Policy (OPP) and has so many issues that I’m going to write another entire post about it. In the meantime, read this.
  • “If my partner is dating someone else separately, what am I getting out of it!?” I mean… seeing your partner happy? Supporting their joy, pleasure, and exploration? The opportunity to also date people separately yourself? Viewing non-monogamy simply through the lens of “what’s in it for me?” is unlikely to lead to happiness and can lead to seeing your partner’s other relationships as comodities for your consumption.
  • “I’d be too jealous if my partner were dating someone separately/my partner would be too jealous if I dated separately.” Oh my sweet summer child. Virtually every polyamory newbie ever has made this mistake, including me back in the day! Dating together is not a cure for jealousy, which can (and likely will) absolutely crop up in a triad or other group relationship. Also, jealousy is a normal human emotion to be felt, processed, communicated about, dealt with, or just sat with until it passes. It’s not the enemy.
  • “I don’t feel safe dating without my partner/my partner doesn’t feel safe dating without me.” You may need to do some work on regaining independence, which is absolutely possible from within a relationship. It is healthy to be able to do some things separately! There are also healthy ways to keep yourself physically, emotionally, and sexually safe while dating, but doing everything together at all times isn’t one of them.

Whatever your reasons for unicorn hunting, you are likely to find that there are better and healthier ways of addressing those needs and desires.

So What’s the Big Problem with Unicorn Hunting Anyway?

“That’s all well and good, Amy,” you might be saying, “but we’re determined to find a unicorn and we’re willing to wait if necessary! What’s wrong with what we want? Isn’t this community supposed to be open minded!?”

I hear you. It’s not nice to be told that what you’re looking for is a problem. However, the reason experienced polyamorous people are wary of unicorn hunting is that we’re all too aware of all the ways it can go wrong. Many of us have learned from very bitter personal experience, on one side or the other of this equation.

So let’s look at a few specific things that are problematic about unicorn hunting.

Unicorn Hunting Dehumanises Bi Women

Bisexual women are already aggressively and often non-consensually sexualised by society. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve mentioned being bi and someone has either said “that’s hot!” or asked if I’ll have a threesome with them and their partner.

Unicorn hunting reduces bi women to a highly sexualised monolith. The reality is that we fall all over the sexuality spectrum. Some of us are very sexual, some of us are demisexual, some of us are asexual. Some of us are into threesomes, group sex, and group dating, while others are not. And yes, plenty of us are actually monogamous!

What bisexual women are not, though, is sex toys designed to spice up the bedrooms of bored couples. The idealisation of the MFF closed triad directly stems from the male gaze, the hyper-sexualisation of bi women, and the trope that sapphic love and sex exists for male consumption.

I’m a highly sexual person. I love sex, and I love folks of multiple genders. I also love group sex, threesomes, moresomes, and all that goodness when they’re in the context of a trusted dynamic with people I like. What I DON’T love is the assumption that I am available to couples in general, or the feeling that my being bisexual and having a vagina are the only reasons someone is approaching me. I’m a person, not your “two hot bi babes” fantasy.

A Person Cannot “Join” an Existing Relationship

A triad isn’t a single relationship. A triad is actually four relationships: three dyads (A+B, A+C, B+C) and the relationship between all three people. Seven relationships, if you count the relationship each person has with themself. (Which you probably should, because self-care and a stable relationship with yourself are even more important in non-monogamy.)

So an additional person cannot meaningfully “join” an existing relationship. If you’re in a relationship or married, you and your partner/spouse have a dyadic relationship that you’ve been building for however many years. That relationship will continue, though it will undoubtedly be changed, when you date other people either together or separately.

In the context of a triad, you will each be creating a new dyadic relationship with your new partner. You’ll also be contending with shifts and changes in your dyadic relationship with one another. And, of course, you’ll be creating a brand new relationship between all three of you. See how that’s much harder than just fitting someone into a vaguely person-shaped box labelled “insert bi gal here”?

Viewing the incoming partner as an “addition” to your relationship will not lead anywhere good for any of you. Treating them as an add-on can leave incoming partners feeling like little more than accessories or human sex toys. Which leads me on to…

You Can’t Expect Someone to Feel Exactly the Same Way About Two People

All the successful triad relationships I know have a few things in common, and this is one of them: they allowed, and continue to allow, the individual relationships within the triad to develop, fluctuate, change, and grow at their own natural pace. People don’t fall in love with two people at the same rate, in the same way, at the same time. Human emotions simply don’t work like that. To be in a triad, you have to be comfortable with the fact that each dyadic relationship within it will look different.

Another question I see a lot in polyamorous forums is a variation of this: “Help! We formed a triad but now it seems like our girlfriend is connecting with my wife more than me!”

In an ethical, organically formed triad, this difference in connection needs to be okay. You might have challenging feelings about it, of course. That’s normal. You may need to seek reassurance and extra affection from one or both of your partners. You may even need to renegotiate some aspects of your relationship. In a unicorn situation, this disparity in levels of connection – which is incredibly normal – can be enough to get the newer partner ejected from the relationship.

In addition, an ethical triad allows for the possibility that one (or more) of the dyadic relationships may have conflict, deescalate, or even end… without any expectations that other dyadic connections need to end as a result. If you have a rule that says your partner must date you in order to date your spouse, this leaves them a spectacularly shitty choice if they just don’t feel that way about you or if your relationship is no longer working: fake a connection to you that they do not feel, or lose their relationship with your spouse, i.e. someone they love.

Do you see how unfair that is? Do you also see how it lays the groundwork for coercion, abuse, or even sexual violence? I don’t know about you, but I would be horrified if I realised someone was having sex with me that they didn’t want, just because they thought it was the price of admission to get access to my partner.

Unicorn Hunting Centres the Couple

Unicorn hunting typically centres the original couple, even without intending to, by putting their desires and needs front and centre. Often, they’ve made the rules before a third party has even entered the picture, giving her no say in their creation. This means that the unicorn is seen as an add-on to the couple’s relationship, rather than an equal partner.

The couple often expect – even tacitly – the new partner to prioritise their needs and wants above her own. They also tend to expect that, in the event of conflict, their relationship will be the one prioritised. This is often the case even when the couple pays lip service to their new partner being “totally equal.”

The result? Once again, the newer partner ends up feeling like an accessory rather than a human being.

Think about some of the ways you’d like your relationship to look if you did successfully find a unicorn, or the rules you’d want her to follow. Will you permit her to have dates, sex, and so on with one of you without the other present? If not, will you also be refraining from any one-to-one intimacy with each other? (The answer to this is often “no” and “no”. That is, by definition, not an equal set-up.) If things go swimmingly, will you want your unicorn to move into your home? Would you ever consider moving into hers, or buying a new place all together? Will you introduce her to your family and friends, bring her home for the holidays, or tell your work colleagues about her?

When you start checking your assumptions about how your dream triad relationship will go, you might find that there’s a lot of inequality baked in. That’s because unicorn hunting is almost always couple-centric. Relationships that spring from unicorn hunting involve three people, but tend to only benefit two of them.

Most Polyamorous People Don’t Want Closed Relationships

There are exceptions, of course. Polyfidelity is a thing and can be valid! But the vast majority of polyamorous people are polyamorous, at least in part, because it enables them to be open to new connections of all kinds that may come into their lives.

If you’re seeking a closed relationship with your hypothetical unicorn, I invite you to consider why that is. Most answers will fall into one of two categories.

“I/we would be too jealous if our girlfriend was with anyone else.” Again, jealousy is a real feeling and it can be overwhelming. However, if you want to be non-monogamous, you can’t simply avoid it by setting up rules and restrictions for your partners. At least not if you want happy and healthy relationships.

If you’re not ready to confront and handle jealousy when it arises, you’re not ready to be non-monogamous. It won’t always be easy. Sometimes it’ll utterly suck. But it is necessary if you want to live this life. It is spectacularly unfair to ask a polyamorous person to cut off their chances to enjoy other connections just because you are trying to avoid a difficult feeling.

“I am/we are worried about STIs.” I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t worry about sexual health. If you’re non-monogamous, it’s absolutely something with which you need to concern yourself. However, having a closed relationship is not the only way to protect your sexual health. Everyone in your polycule and wider sexual/romantic network should be getting regular STI tests, communicating openly about their barrier usage or lack thereof so that you can all make informed choices, and incorporating risk-aware practices.

Often, when I hear “we want a closed relationship because we don’t want STIs”, what’s at the root of it is actually just good old-fashioned slut-shaming. Did you know that consensually non-monogamous people actually have lower STI rates than supposedly-monogamous people who cheat (which is a huge percentage)? They are also more likely to use barriers and to practice regular testing. (Source: Dr Justin Lehmiller in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.)

Ultimately, you have to be okay with some risk of contracting an STI if you are going to be non-monogamous… or if you’re going to have sex at all. No prevention mechanism is bombproof. People lie, people cheat, and people make mistakes in the heat of the moment. You can mitigate the risk but you cannot entirely eliminate it.

If you want a closed relationship, stay monogamous or date other people for whom polyfidelity is their ideal choice. Don’t try to push people who would prefer an open dynamic into a closed one. Polyamory isn’t just monogamy with an additional person.

It’s Just Statistically Unlikely

Back in the days of Livejournal, Emanix wrote this article outlining some of the numbers involved in unicorn hunting. Not being a numbers person, I have no idea how mathematically sound this is, but the message is clear. Unicorn hunting is damn hard, with seeking couples outnumbering interested bi women by 100 to 1[4]. There’s a reason couples sometimes pop up complaining that they’ve been looking for a year, five years, ten years, and still haven’t found their “one.”

Remember: we call these people unicorns because it is so hard to find one that they might as well not exist!

[4] I pulled this number out of the air. I have no idea what the actual figures are but suffice to say that if you’re a couple trying to find a unicorn, the odds are hugely stacked against you from the beginning.

You’re Probably Not the Exception

“We’re not like that!” you might be saying. “We’ll be different! We’ll treat our unicorn like a queen!”

I hate to break it to you, but you’re probably not the exception. This is because the inequalities, objectification, and mistreatment that make unicorn hunting so problematic are baked into the very structure.

The assumptions, beliefs, and practices that underpin trying to find a unicorn come from a place that causes harm. The only way to unicorn hunt ethically is not to do it.

So What Can You Do Instead?

If you’ve got this far and you’re still with me, great! So you want to be non-monogamous and you want to be ethical about it. Amazing! So what now?

Luckily, there are loads of ways you can enjoy consensual non-monogamy without unicorn hunting. Here are just a few for you to consider.

If your priority is enjoying sexual variety and you want to do this together, try swinging. This enables you to enjoy different bodies, different kinks, and fun experiences together with other people who want the same. Many swingers do form friendships with their playmates, and sometimes these connections can turn romantic. Be clear about what you want and can offer upfront, look for others whose desires match, and you’ll minimise the chances of hurting someone.

If you want to build more romantic connections with other people, try dating separately. It might be more emotionally challenging, but it’s also tremendously rewarding. You’ll have far more luck finding dates, particularly with experienced and skilled polyamorous people. When you free yourselves and your prospective partners from restrictive expectations, you’ll allow things to flourish naturally. You’ll also most likely treat other people, each other, and yourselves better.

It’s also important to make sure you’re not using “dating separately” as a way to find a unicorn without seeming to be looking for one. Presenting yourself as available for solo dating, only to spring your partner on your unsuspecting date with a view to getting them together too, is not ethical.

Like the idea of both these relationship styles? Yes, you can be both polyamorous and a swinger! Plenty of people do both, or a mix of the two. There’s not even always a strict delineation. Polyam people can have casual sex, and swingers can have deep and romantic attachments. Non-monogamy is a spectrum and a world of options to choose from, not a set of rigid boxes into which you have to cram yourselves.

There’s even the possibility that you can have a triad relationship without falling prey to these pitfalls and hurting someone in the process. Plenty of people do. “No unicorn hunting” isn’t the same thing as “no triads.” But it won’t happen for you by going out with a laundry list of criteria and looking for a bi woman together. If it happens, it’ll happen organically while you are out there doing your non-monogamous thing.

And if it doesn’t happen? There are numerous other wonderful, fulfilling, and healthy ways to enjoy this thing we call non-monogamy.

Affiliate links appear within this post.

How to Vet a Dom Before You Play

I meet a lot of new and curious submissives through this blog and events in my local kink community. The questions they ask me most often tend to centre around how to find a Dom. But finding someone is just the first step. It’s also essential to vet a Dom before you play with them. Vetting helps to ensure the person is who they say they are, and that they’re a safe person for you to play with, date, or give your submission to.

Here are five strategies you can use to help you vet a Dom before you get too invested in them.

Meet in a public place first

If you’re meeting someone in person for the first time (say, if you’ve met them online) then always have your first meeting in a public place like a bar, restaurant, or coffee shop. Even if you’ve met at an event such as a munch or rope workshop, having a date in a public place the first time you meet one-to-one is a good idea. This lets you get to know them as a person in a safe and low-pressure environment. It also ensures you can leave relatively easily if things go sideways.

If a prospective Dom balks at meeting in public, that’s a glaring red flag. At best, it might suggest they’re cheating on a spouse or otherwise not being upfront about themselves and their situation. At worst, it can indicate seriously bad intentions.

Ask around

If your prospective Dominant has been in the community for a while, others will know them and have an opinion on them. Try asking around some regulars in your local scene to see what they can tell you about this person. If in doubt, the organiser of a munch they attend regularly is a good place to start.

When vetting, it’s best to get a range of opinions if you can. One person’s view can be clouded either positively or negatively, but patterns of data are far more useful. Of course, if you hear anything really damning (such as that the person has a history of behaving abusively), pay very close attention to that.

Kinksters are used to people vetting each other and generally support it. Your local community leaders shouldn’t think it’s weird if you say “hey, I’m thinking of playing with X and I wondered if you have any insight on what they’re like as a person?”

Pay attention to small things

If you look closely, you can learn a lot about a person from the way they interact with you, others, and the world around them. Remember that a BDSM relationship is still a relationship first and foremost.

For example, do they generally speak to others with respect and courtesy? Or do they immediately assume they can be disrespectful to anyone who identifies as a submissive? If you go out for coffee or a meal, how do they treat the waitstaff? Do they have hobbies, interests, and friends that they can talk about? Do they ask for consent as a matter of course (for example, before touching or hugging you for the first time)?

Here’s a trick a friend taught me: set a small boundary early on. Do they respect and honour it? How a Dom responds to a clearly stated boundary tells you an enormous amount about them and how they’ll treat you if you continue in a relationship.

Introduce them to your friends

Friends can sometimes spot things that we can’t when we have a crush on someone (or are deep in sub frenzy). Introducing your potential Dom to some of your trusted friends early on can give you a new perspective on them. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for their honest opinions and be prepared to listen to them!

I’ve had friends introduce me to their new partner or prospective partner and immediately felt like “eurgh, there’s something off about this guy”, even if I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what (I call this Getting The Vibes). Sometimes it’s more obvious, such as if the person insults or demeans my friend in front of me. Other times in this situation, I’ve thought “my friend seems so happy and relaxed around this person”.

Play at an event first

Not everyone likes kinky events or play parties, or has access to them due to finances or geography. But if this is an option for you, it can be a safer way to play with a new Dom for the first time. Reputable kinky play events usually have staff, such as organisers and Dungeon Monitors (DMs), who will keep an eye on what’s happening and step in if necessary. For example, many events have “house safewords” but in practice a DM will pay attention to anything that sounds like a withdrawal of consent. This means that, even if you’re in a vulnerable position such as being restrained, you’ll have someone looking out for you.

People can still fool you

Unfortunately, some people are good at seeming fine while hiding nefarious intentions. You might do everything you can to vet a Dom, and still end up getting hurt. If you do, I really don’t want you to feel as though any of this is your fault or you didn’t do enough. If a person chooses to harm you, the fault is always and exclusively theirs.

Vetting is a tool that helps to keep us safe. It’s far from perfect, but it’s still worth doing.

Do you have any ways you vet a Dom (or sub) that I haven’t discussed? Drop them in the comments if so!

5 Sexy New Year’s Resolutions I’m Making

Belated happy 2022, folks! I completely failed to mark the occasion, but 31 December 2021 was the fifth anniversary of Coffee & Kink. What started out as a little passion project ended up completely changing my life. So whether you’ve been here since the beginning or you’re just joining me now, thank you so much for reading.

With the beginning of the year comes new challenges, new adventures, and – yes – new year’s resolutions. I don’t really believe in the “typical” resolutions, because I think they’re mostly built on false premises and values I don’t subscribe to. 

What I do believe in, though, is taking any opportunity to focus on and improve our sex lives! Whether you’re planning to buy a vibrator for the first time, switch to eco-friendly sex toys (more on why this is one of mine in a minute!), or talk to your partner about trying BDSM, I hope you’ll take time for yourself and your pleasure this year. 

To that end, here are five sexy new year’s resolutions I’m making in 2022.

Become a More Conscious Consumer

Love Not War Koi eco friendly vibrator

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my impact on the planet. I stopped eating meat several years ago, but I’ve started incorporating more vegan foods into my diet, buying locally where possible, and generally trying to approach food in a more sustainable way. I don’t have periods at the moment (praise Mirena!) but, if I start having them again, I’ve promised myself that I’ll try reuseable menstrual cups instead of pads or tampons. Of course, no-one is perfect and it’s impossible to completely mitigate one’s environmental footprint, but if we all make small steps they really can make a big difference.

One way to become a more conscious consumer, and one that is often forgotten, is in the realm of sexuality. And one of the most fun ways to do that? Buy eco-friendly sex toys!

I recently tried the Koi vibrator from Love Not War. Love Not War vibrators are made using as few materials as possible, and are constructed from silicone and recycled aluminium. There is no single-use plastic and the small amount of plastic that is necessary is recycled within the factory. It arrives in eco-friendly, brown cardboard packaging, and even the little storage pouch for your toy is made from environmentally friendly bamboo fabric. Best of all? The electronics unit works with all the interchangeable heads, which you can buy separately. So you can try lots of different sensations without needing to buy a new battery unit for each one.

Love Not War Koi sustainable vibrator

Oh, and it’s a damn good vibrator, too. The Love Not War Koi is powerful, rumbly, and has a fabulous wide head for all-over vulva stimulation.

Other ways to make your sex life more environmentally friendly include switching to ethically-made lubricants with organic ingredients, buying lingerie made from sustainable and recycled fabrics, and avoiding products with tonnes of single-use plastic packaging. Buying glass, silicone, or stainless steel toys instead of hard plastic is another great option, as is choosing rechargeable toys rather than those powered by disposable batteries. Some manufacturers, such as Lovehoney, will also recycle old sex toys so they don’t end up in landfill.

Remember to Masturbate for Fun!

“So, what, you get paid to masturbate?” people say when I tell them I test and review sex toys for a living. And… yes, kind of, but not really. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I’m incredibly lucky that I get paid to try out some awesome and innovative sex toys. But it’s far more than just “being paid to masturbate”.

For every toy review that appears on this site, there are hours of testing, taking notes, and sometimes discussing the product with my partner. Then there’s writing it up, proofreading and editing, taking and editing photos, creating a header image, adding tags and categories, and then promoting the post on social media once it’s live.

I love my job, but it’s still my job. This year, I want to remember that self-pleasure is supposed to be about, well, pleasure. This means taking the time to masturbate just for fun, with the toys (or lack thereof) that I feel like using, without the pressure to write about it afterwards. 

Start Dating Again

This one might be a little trickier, what with that ongoing pandemic thing, but I’m an optimist and I’m going to do my best!

Many of you may remember that I went through a truly terrible break-up in late 2021. As a result, I decided to take a long break from dating anyone except my nesting partner. This was unquestionably the right decision, as I needed time to process and heal from what happened. But I’m starting to feel like dating again might be a good thing for me.

I’m trying to keep my resolutions for 2022 squarely in the realm of “things I can actually control”. So I’m not going to promise to go on 15 dates this year, or have a girlfriend by December (if only…). But I am going to get myself back on some dating apps, flirt with some pretty humans, and maybe ask someone out if they seem like a good fit.

Take More Sexy Selfies

My body image has been a little all over the place recently. Perhaps unsurprising in these ongoing Covid times. As a result, I haven’t been taking many sexy pics recently except when I need them for lingerie reviews. I always get a good reaction when I do take them and send them to a lover, play partner, or long distance crush… and honestly, even if I don’t send them to anyone, taking them and looking at them makes me feel hot and desirable.

2022 shall be the year of the nude selfie!

Try a New Kink

What will that new kink be? I don’t know yet! But I recently read Kate Sloan’s fabulous book, 101 Kinky Things Even You Can Do, and it’s given me more than a few ideas.

One of the things I love the most about sexuality is its infinite variety. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, I come across a new kink or fetish I’ve never even heard of. So maybe this year I’ll try something that’s been on my bucket list for years, or maybe I’ll end up trying a kink I don’t even know exists yet. The point is less about the specific act itself, and more about committing to a state of ongoing openness, curiosity, and adventure.

What’s on your 2022 sexy resolutions list, lovelies?

This post was sponsored by the good folks at Love Not War, an eco-conscious and sustainable toy company that also happens to make gorgeous, powerful vibrators in a range of interesting shapes and styles. All opinions are, as always, completely my own. Images are by Love Not War and used with permission.

How to Find a Dom or Sub: Five Places to Meet People

Spend five minutes on Fetlife or r/BDSM or any other online kink space, and this question will inevitably crop up. “How do I find a Dom?” “How do I find a sub?” “Where do kinky people meet each other, anyway!?” So I thought it was past time for me to share a few ideas on how to find a Dom or sub to share kinky adventures with.

Looking for your kinky soulmate or just someone to have some fun times with? Perhaps you’ve tried all those “FIND KINKY GIRLS TONIGHT!” sites advertised at the top of Google and had no luck. Fortunately, we’re long past the days of posting a coded ad in the back of a newspaper.

Wherever you are on your journey, here are five great ways to meet kinky people that you may not have thought of.

How to Find a Dom or Sub: Five Places to Meet People

1. Fetlife

Fetlife, known affectionately as the Facebook of kink, is not exclusively a dating site. It’s a social networking site for kinky people. But I know many people who have met partners on there, and it is a fantastic hub of online kinky socialising.

Don’t just spam your personal ad or start cold messaging people, though. Take the time to create an engaging profile, participate in some group discussions, and contribute constructively to the platform.

Before you message someone, read their profile carefully. Do they clearly state they’re not looking? Move on. Remember that kinky people are people first, so approach them respectfully. Do not assume a dynamic where none exists, and do not get sexually explicit until consent has been established. Mentioning a shared interest is good. Immediately asking someone to spank you or be your Mistress is… not.

2. Munches

A munch is a social event for kinky people, usually held in a vanilla location such as a bar, pub, restaurant, coffee shop, or park. There are munches in most major cities and many smaller towns, too.

In the Covid times, many munch organisers took their events online, and some online munches are still running. These can be great if you live in a rural area or don’t have access to transport. But I really recommend getting out there in the real world if you can.

Don’t go to a munch with the intention of picking someone up on your first visit. Instead, chat to everyone and aim to make friends. If you hit it off with someone you fancy, great! If not, you’ll have started developing a network of kinky contacts and getting your face known in the community. You never know who could introduce you to the Dominant or submissive of your dreams (or at least the next person you’ll have fun tying up).

3. Mainstream dating sites

Yes, kinky people use Tinder and OKCupid, too!

If you’re using regular dating sites, consider putting something about your kink proclivities in your profile. (But don’t be gross about it. Even something as simple as “Dominant looking to connect with subs or switches” or “I’m looking for the D to my s” is good!)

Again, always read someone’s profile in full before messaging, and always be polite and respectful. As you browse, you might be surprised how many kinksters are on these sites for precisely the same reasons you are.

4. r/BDSMpersonals

Reddit can be so many things – a cesspit or an absolute goldmine of useful information and interesting people. I’ve heard mixed things about the r/BDSMpersonals subreddit, but people do claim to have met both short-term and long-term partners on there.

You can create a post sharing your location, gender, age, kink role, and a bit about what you’re looking for. A recent glance indicates that posts by women tend to get far more engagement than posts by men, but it’s worth a shot whatever your gender.

Remember that, as with any online meeting, be cautious and exercise good judgement. Never give out personally identifiable information until you’ve met in person and got to know each other, and always meet in a well-lit public place at least the first couple of times.

5. Hobbies or subcultures that are popular with kinksters

You know those stereotypes about kinksters and geeks, or kinksters and LARPers, or kinksters and Renaissance Faire enthusiasts? They’re all kinda true. (See also goths, polyam folks, and so on). Obviously not everyone you meet in these spaces will be kinky, and you should never assume. But the crossover is large.

While I do not advocate for getting into a hobby or subculture just to meet a potential partner, if any of them appeal to you for their own sake, they might have the pleasant side-effect of allowing you to meet fellow kinky people in a vanilla or vanilla-ish space.

A disclaimer and word of caution

Naturally, these are only suggestions and I can’t guarantee any of them will work for you. Sometimes, meeting people can be a strange mix of circumstances and right place/right time happenstance, so keep your eyes open and treat everyone you meet in the community as a potential friend.

Finally, please be aware of the dreaded frenzy. If you’re starting to feel like you just need to play with someone – anyone – then you might be in sub-frenzy or Dom-frenzy. If so, then this is a good time to pause and reevaluate before diving into anything.

Happy kinky dating!

This post uses affiliate links.

I’m Hotter in My 30s (or: Why I’m So Over Men who Fetishise Youth)

When I was much younger, I used to often feel that my youth was the most important and appealing thing I could bring to a relationship. That’s because the men I dated largely treated me as if it was. At 19, I started sleeping with older men – much older. Even today, I tend to date older men pretty often.

But something in my approach has changed dramatically over the last decade plus. And now I’m in my 30s, I’m so, so done with men (it’s always been men in my experience) who fetishise youth. Men whose dream women is 18 or 19, maybe very early 20s. When I think back to the way some of my past older partners reacted to my age, the way they’d treat me like meat or potential bragging rights when I walked into a sex positive space, it makes my skin crawl.

But what’s wrong with dating younger?

Nothing, inherently, assuming all parties involved are consenting adults. But your motivation and way of thinking about your (actual or hypothetical) much younger partner really matters.

It’s one thing to fall in love with someone much younger than you, if you genuinely connect and have things in common. It’s another entirely to consider age itself to be a selling point. At this point in my life, if I see a man exclusively chasing very young women, I consider that a serious red flag. What is it about women his own age that he can’t handle?

We live in a youth-obsessed world

In a world where a 37 year old female actor is considered “too old” for a romantic role, in a world where women are encouraged to use anti-aging products in our fucking twenties, in a world where a man in his 30s on a dating site will tell a women of 26 that she’s too old for him, we cannot deny that we live in a youth-obsessed world.

There’s an immense power to saying “fuck it” to this. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I certainly haven’t got it completely down, and I definitely Had Some Feelings when I turned 30.

But I’ve also realised that I’m way hotter, more desirable, and more of a catch as a partner in my 30s than I ever was in my teens and early 20s. And I fully expect the same to be true into my 40s and beyond. Here’s why.

I know who I am now

I know exactly why a certain type of older man likes very young women. It’s because they feel that they can mold those women, shape them into their idea of feminine perfection. And when I was that naive teenager and 20-something, I let men (one in particular, but not just him) do that to me.

But you know what’s awesome? Someone who knows who they are. There’s a tremendous confidence in being able to say “this is me, take it or leave it”, and knowing that if they choose the latter, they’re the one missing out.

This extends to knowing my body, too. Men like some of my exes, men who want women as close to virgins (a social construct, by the way) as possible, are missing out. The purity-obsessives I’ve slept with wanted to bring all the ideas, call all the shots, introduce me to all the things I’d never done before. They never considered how awesome it might be to have sex with someone who could bring her own ideas, introduce them to some things too, or tell them exactly how to get her off.

I can say no now

I was never very good at saying no in my younger years. Whether it was going along with sex I didn’t want, smiling and swallowing my disappointment when a guy let me down again, or wearing shoes I couldn’t walk in just because he thought they were sexy.

But when you don’t feel like you can say no, your yes is meaningless. The older I get, the more I embrace the power of “no”. And to paraphrase something one of my partners said recently, if they can trust me to say no when I mean no, they know that my yes is genuine and heartfelt.

And enthusiastic, wholehearted consent is sexy to any right thinking person.

I’m no longer relying on something fleeting

Here’s the biggest headfuck about dating a man who fetishised my youth: I knew that I was worth less and less to him with every passing year. None of us can get younger. None of us can magically become nineteen again.

But now I’m in my 30s, I feel as though I’m relying on other things to attract and keep partners and lovers. Personality, intelligence, kindness and compassion. (I would say wit, but I’m not funny – I know my limitations!)

And those things don’t fade with each year that passes. Focusing on things I can cultivate, rather than something that will disappear no matter how hard I try to hang onto it, has been profoundly freeing.

I expect more now

Self-esteem and valuing of yourself is extremely sexy. (And if you think it’s not and prefer partners with low self-esteem, well, that sounds like a significant You Problem). I’m less easily impressed and hold my relationships to a much higher standard.

As I explained it to my metamour recently, there was a time that I was always the youngest and maddest of any polycule I was a part of. This meant I inevitably got cast in the role of the flit-in, flit-out Manic Pixie who would let the older men I dated vicariously re-experience their own youth.

But I’m saner and tireder and I expect more from relationships now. I’m done being some dude’s midlife crisis. I’d rather be his equal, whether we have an age-gap or not.

A note to younger women

None of this is intended in any way to disparage young women in their late teens and early 20s. I am not, as someone rather charmingly put it on Fetlife recently, simply jealous because my “older pussy” is less desirable to men.

If anything, what I want younger women to take from this is a message of hope and empowerment. I have all the love for you, because I was you a few short years ago. And I don’t want you to give these years of your life to an older dude whose main reason for being with you is your age, not because you’re amazing (even though you are).

If you take nothing else from this post, take this: men who fetishise you for your youth are deeply creepy and should be avoided. You deserve someone who knows you get more and more awesome with every passing year.

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[Guest Post] Happy Never After by Velvet Divine

Velvet Divine (fae/faer) is becoming something of a C&K regular at this point! I’m delighted to welcome faer back again with this wonderful person piece about being on the aromantic spectrum. Don’t forget to follow Velvet on Twitter!

Happy Never After by Velvet Divine

It’s fitting that I compose this piece as Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week comes to a close.

Let’s start from the top – my name is Velvet Alicia Lilith-Victoria Azshara Divine. I am trans-femme, non-binary, Sapphic, and – most recently discovered – aroflux.

Aroflux falls under the aromantic spectrum and is described as fluctuating between points of aromanticism (not experiencing romantic attraction) and alloromanticism (experiencing romantic attraction.)

I describe my particular experience as an inability to distinguish between romantic and strong platonic affection. I love my partners in the same manner that I do my closest friends, the only real difference comes in the manner that those affections are expressed and reciprocated.

This can also make something as simple as a crush or casual interest wildly frustrating as I’m never sure if I want to friend-up or bone-down, much less where the other party stands! Furthermore, it’s quite a hurdle to forming any semblance of a relationship or consistent companionship, at least on any level north of the platonic.

Alloromantic folks are (understandably) reticent about getting involved with someone on the aro spectrum and for those that I have been involved with, it was always understood to be an ephemeral arrangement, lasting just until the fire faded or they found an alloromantic partner.

I wish I could tell you that I’ve embraced being aroflux as easily and even enthusiastically as I have being non-binary, but that would be a fib of the highest order.

Most days I resent the realization.

As someone who has a voracious craving for physical intimacy and relies on sexual intimacy to find validation despite vicious gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia, it’s a cruel joke to only find those things in incredibly niche circumstances.

In no way do I want to imply that physical or sexual intimacy is necessary for a whole and fulfilling life or relationship, but these are aspects of intimacy that are important to me. Moreover, by niche circumstances, I refer to the already small dating pool as a trans femme Sapphic being further shrunken by those willing to engage in the necessary level of communication and understanding to navigate the caveats of my being aroflux.

Ironically enough, I’ve been essentially navigating the hookup and casual sex scenes as an aroflux person, just without the label. My various trysts and liaisons were short-term or consented to end at a set point – whether I felt I had too much going on to try to establish a relationship or the other party found a partner more suitable. At points, I even thought it was simply a matter of working through my baggage and trauma before I would be able to connect with someone on that level.

As my therapy progressed and under the copious amount of self-reflection required to cope with the current pandemic, I had the opportunity to do a lot of self-reflection and evaluation of what it is that I truly want out of an interpersonal relationship. This is when I began to realize just how little difference there was in my interactions and expressions of affection between my intimate partners and my close platonic friends. Often, the difference was only a matter of physical or sexual intimacy.

There’s an incredible beauty to the way I approach relationships and I’m endlessly bemused by the fae-like, casual contracts I have with certain connections regarding the comfortable ways we can exchange affection and the term limits that dictate until when that mode of affection may continue. But now and then I feel almost cheated.

I have a lot of trauma surrounding attachment and abandonment, to the point that I will frequently check in with people I’m close to just to ensure that my company is still desired in some capacity. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve expressed some version of the sentiment, “I don’t care in what capacity, I just want to be a part of your journey”. Up until recently, I had always held out hope for that fairytale type romance, whether that came in the form of one partner or many – the type of love my mother has told me my entire life does not exist and that society all too often tries to tell me that I’m not worthy of.

Now, by some caprice of fate, the door to a classic happily-ever-after is closed to me. 

I know that romantic love is far from the end-all-be-all, and maybe my current frustrations stem from a place of internalized arophobia and conditioned amatonormativity, but I find that I no longer have any clear picture or idea of what a possible physically intimate relationship would look like for me. A dear friend of mine recently asked me what the ideal scenario would look like for me and I said that the most plausible scenarios would be some kind of non-monogamous situation or some kind of queerplatonic arrangement with another allosexual aromantic person in a similar position. 

I could carry on as I have and see for how long this revolving door method is sustainable, but I’m tired of having to get close to people who will not be staying or being a placeholder until a better alternative appears. I could come to terms with the fact that what I want is unattainable and that it’d be better in the long run for me to get used to filling those needs with toys or vicariously through ethical and worker-owned media, but I can’t imagine either filling the gnawing void. Maybe nothing ever will. Which would track for me.

None of this to say that I don’t receive an overwhelming amount of love and support from my friends, I do, and I’m beyond grateful for it. However, there are things that my platonic friends cannot do for me, one of them being to commiserate with me on this topic. As far as I know, none of my friends are aro, and the few aros that I have met are aro-ace. So while there’s plenty of solidarity and support to be had around being aspec in an allo world, I don’t have anyone to relate to my specific situation.

I’m allowing myself the time and space to mourn the model and vision I had for myself as far as relationships go, even deleting my dating apps and taking myself off the proverbial goblin market while I work through some issues that continue to impact my interpersonal relations.

I hope that with time, I’ll learn to like and appreciate being aroflux for what it is. But until then I’m choosing to give myself grace for once and let the process play out.

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Things That Matter More to Me Than Looks

I won’t pretend that looks are completely unimportant to me in a relationship. There does need to be a level of physical attraction – I need to be physically into my partners and have them be physically into me. But looks only get you so far and they’re so much less important than a great many other things.

I have met people I was physically attracted to, only to have that attraction greatly diminish or completely switch off due to some other trait in the person. At least a couple of crushes have been snuffed out when the hot person turned out to be an asshole.

So here are a few things that are ultimately way more important than looks.

Kindness

When it comes to dating someone or having them as a close person in my life, this is probably the single most important attribute they can possess. If someone isn’t kind, I’m unlikely to want to get close to them.

Even if I’m not immediately physically attracted to someone, kindness is one of the most reliable indicators that attraction could grow.

Things in Common

Obviously, no two people have everything in common. And separate interests and activities can be healthy in a relationship. But if we don’t have enough in common that we can share at least some hobbies and enjoy doing some things together, that’s unlikely to be a good fit for anything more than a very casual fling.

Matching Goals for the Relationship

I’ve been in relationships before where we wanted wildly different things out of it, and this is its own special kind of hell. While some things are open for negotiation, our core hopes and goals for the relationship should match. If one person wants a very serious, entangled relationship and the other wants friendship with casual sex, that’s likely to lead to resentment and frustration on both sides.

Compatible Kinks

Sex is important! If I’m going to have a romantic relationship with someone, chances are that sex and kink are going to be a part of it. That means that compatible kinks matter.

Again, no two people will have 100% crossover. Kinks and preferences are far too unique and nuanced for that. But there needs to be a pretty significant overlap for things to work.

I’m primarily a submissive, so while I enjoy dating switches, dating someone who wanted to bottom a lot of the time wouldn’t work for me. Likewise, dating someone whose main kink is my hard limit is unlikely to end well for either of us.

Similar Politics

Some people believe you can have very different or even opposite politics and still have a relationship. I do not believe that. I need someone whose politics are broadly aligned with mine if we’re going to be partners, lovers, or even close friends.

We don’t need to agree on everything. I think nuanced discussion and learning things from each other can be a wonderful part of a trusting relationship. But realistically, no-one who is right of centre is ever going to be a good match for me. We need to be on the same page about the important stuff.

What matters more to you than looks? Let me know in the comments.

Quote Quest post about things that matter more than looks

I wrote this piece as part of Quote Quest, a weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!