Bringing a new partner into an existing polycule is exciting! New relationship energy (NRE) abounds, and if you’re lucky friendships grow, as everyone settles into a new routine. If you’re heading in this direction, you might wonder what boundaries need to be discussed ahead of time. (As we all know, boundaries are extremely important in poly relationships!)
Here are some suggestions based on issues that have arisen in my own poly life. I recommend that you discuss these things early on, and revisit them as needed, as poly life is ever evolving.
4 Boundaries to Discuss with New Partners
1. Date Nights
Talk about scheduling and expectations. If your partner is new to polyamory, they might struggle with the fact that you’re not available 24/7. Fill them in on your polycule’s existing policy around cell phone use on dates and how you strive to respect one another’s relationships.
Be prepared for a few slip ups, especially in the beginning. New relationship energy—or insecurities—can make it hard for new partners to offer up the space that poly relationships demand. Be patient and consistent.
Transparency can be tricky to navigate, especially if you have lots of partners, each with varying comfort levels when it comes to hearing about—and sharing—private details. Start by asking your new partner where they fall on the transparency spectrum. Are they comfortable putting it all out there? Or do they want their life with you to remain private? How do they feel about you sharing details of your other relationships with them?
This conversation is best had in a group, where everyone can weigh in and agreements can be reached. If you don’t know how sharing something might impact others, air on the side of discretion.
3. Public Displays of Affection
While hashing out your transparency agreements, take a moment to cover public displays of affection (PDAs). It may be that you and the rest of your polycule are perfectly cool with them, and that’s great, but your new partner might feel differently.
It’s not unusual for a poly newbie to feel shy or uncomfortable about acting on, or witnessing a PDA. This might change as time goes on, and they begin to feel more secure in their poly life, but until that day, be respectful of their needs and keep the PDAs to a minimum.
4. Coming Out as Poly
If your new partner is feeling excited about their entry into the polyverse, they might wish to out themselves in some sort of grand, far-reaching declaration. I would suggest that they first check in with other members of your polycule, just in case anyone has concerns about shared connections and confidentiality. It sucks that we live in a world that can punish us for loving who we love, but we do.
A professor in my city had to fight for their job last year, after having opened up about their poly lifestyle, so don’t forget that shit can get real very quickly.
What boundaries do you discuss with new poly partners? Share your thoughts in a comment!