If you’ve been on the poly scene for any amount of time, you’ve likely come across other poly people who interpret the lifestyle a little differently than you do. I’ve written before about various types of poly dynamics and how there’s quite a range of options, from polyfidelity to sexual free-for-alls.
Of all the things one should discuss before choosing a partner, preferred poly lifestyle is near the top. But like a lot of shoulds, it’s often overlooked, especially where sexual attraction is concerned. Here are some signs that on a basic level, you and your partner want different things.
4 Signs Your Poly Lifestyle Don’t Match Well
1. One of You Has to Be “Reined In”
Do you find yourself wanting more sexual freedom than your partner allows? Do you feel that you’re constantly being admonished for pushing the boundaries, and wonder what happened to your dreams of poly bliss? Perhaps you’re on the other side of the divide, feeling routinely hurt by a partner’s indiscretions.
You know they try hard to toe the line, but that it’s a challenge. You spend more time than you’d like embroiled in emotional and conflict-ridden discussions about rules and respect. You both identify as poly, but that’s where the similarities end.
2. You Have Different Definitions of Transparency
Perhaps no one feels sexually restricted, but the struggle is with issues of transparency and privacy. One of you thinks that less is more: “I really don’t want to hear about your butt-plug adventures, dear!” while the other feels that not sharing every little thing is tantamount to cheating.
You’re constantly making each other squirm, either from the weight of too much information, or from feelings of jealousy and mistrust. You try to find an appropriate middle-ground, but the peace never lasts long before one of you reverts back to your old ways.
3. Someone Feels Chronically Neglected
Maybe everything is working as it should on paper, but one of you feels consistently dissatisfied. You both have secure enough attachment styles—that’s not the issue. It’s just that the neglected-feeling party thought being in a poly relationship would feel more fulfilling and less lonely than it does.
If they’re a secondary partner in a hierarchical relationship, it’s possible they would find greater joy in an egalitarian arrangement. If only one of you is happy despite the two of you being very much in love, your preferred poly lifestyles could be to blame.
4. Expectations Keep Leading to Conflict
No matter how many times you resolve to do better, conflicts arise. It’s like you’re speaking two different languages: one built on freedom and unbridled sexual pleasure, the other on accountability and commitment. It should be clear by now that there are many ways to enjoy being polyamorous.
When meeting new partners, it’s important to talk about needs and expectations. Don’t assume that, just because you both identify as poly and your chemistry is off the charts, you’ll be suited to a relationship. Take time to really figure out where you fall on the poly-lifestyle spectrum before jumping into the dating pool.
Do you have a story of mismatched poly lifestyles? Please share in the comments!