Fair warning: this post is a bit of a rant. I know quite a few polyamorous people who actually know what they’re doing, but I also keep running into people who use the term polyamory to explain their decidedly non-poly actions. While it’s true that polyamory can take many forms and people in poly relationships make their own rules together, some poeople out there just don’t get it.
You might want to rethink calling yourself polyamorous if…
1. Not all of your partners are in the know.
If you have a primary partner who doesn’t know about your other dates or partners, and this non-disclosure isn’t part of a well-discussed arrangement, you’re probably not poly. Not all polyamorists have primary partners though, and the people that steam me the most are those who are simply non-committal and dating all over the place, not disclosing anything to anyone, and having a great non-monogamous time. Don’t tell me you’re polyamorous on your dating profile, just so that I’ll know in advance that you intend to date multiple people at once. Just tell me that you don’t want a relationship. Period.
3. You’re not interested in communication and compromise.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s a problem with casual dating or dating more than one person without a bigger plan. But if you want to consider yourself part of the polyamorous community then you need to start thinking beyond the scope of your own needs and desires. Polyamory isn’t a free pass to unlimited sex without consequences. It’s hard work actually! You need to be up for a LOT of communication with your partners about their needs as well as your own, and be prepared to disclose your actions and thoughts.
2. Your partners aren’t comfortable with or accepting of each other.
This is where there is a striking difference between polyamorous partners and those who are simply practicing non-monogamy. With polyamory it’s important to get feedback from your existing partner(s) when you start dating someone new, and not move at a pace that they’re uncomfortable with. This can translate to slowing things down considerably with someone new, or forgoing the new partner entirely. It’s not always a perfect fit, but polyamorists understand that it’s important for their partners to feel good with the arrangement and that they are being given their fair share of your time. Non-monogamists on the other hand don’t have the same responsibility and tend to date as they see fit. Again, no judgement… but also not poly.
4. You don’t think what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
That’s my awkward way of saying that you don’t want to play fair. Some people who enjoy dating and sleeping with multiple partners do not want their partners to have the same privileges. (For polyamorists this is often a non-issue, if the relationship is closed.) In polyamory we talk about compersion, which is about being happy for your partner’s happiness, even if it comes from someone else. Again, this is something that requires constant communication and checking-in. Then there’s the non-monogamous men and women who DO accept their partner’s non-monagamy, but only grudgingly. Hey, maybe you’re actually into polygamy and not polyamory!
Do you agree with this post? Do you have a story or other examples of “fake polyamory”? Let’s talk it out in the comments below!