Tips & Advice

Drawbacks of the Polyamory Lifestyle

Sad Woman Lying in Bed

Freedom, fun, beautiful open-minded women, group sex—there are countless reasons why polyamory is the natural choice in relationship models for many of us.

It can be so amazing up here on cloud nine that we forget the challenges until we’re blindsided by something.

Here are some common complications that can rear their ugly head in polyamory, and how to deal.

Polyamory still means people, only more of them.

Want zero complications in dating? Don’t date at all.

Polyamory can relieve some of dating’s major stressors like being forced to choose between two lovers or having to forego a romp with an old flame who’s in town, but it can bring on more trouble because there are more people to juggle.

There are no magic words to ease this rude awakening. If you are polyamorous because you’re hoping to avoid people and relationships, you might want to rethink that strategy.

You must be vigilant about safe sex.

A surprising number of folks are a little nonchalant about STIs.

Believe it or not, a recent date of mine went south when I asked for a condom. “Rubbers? That’s so 90s,” he said. I could have gotten up to get the condoms in my purse, but his attitude meant he wasn’t worth the sex.

Polyamory is supposed to be synonymous with “ethical” not just “many partners.” Protect yourself and your partners.

Jealousy is still ugly.

Don’t be surprised when jealousy comes up—in a partner or in yourself.

Poly people are trying to move beyond ownership and jealousy models, but we are still human.

The great time crunch.

A monogamous girlfriend recently lamented that she and her husband of ten years have hardly any time for each other in their busy work lives.

Time is in short supply for everyone, and it’s much more difficult to juggle many relationships than it is one.

Public perception can hurt you or your families.

Despite chirpy polyamory write-ups in everything from Cosmopolitan to Psychology Today, you and your lovers and children may be the target of discrimination or criticism from people who don’t agree with your lifestyle.

Deciding who to be out to or how discreet to be are great strategies, but when you’re poly, you have to rely on other people to keep their mouths shut. You have to be vigilant in defending your choices and partners, and it can be exhausting.

Poly infighting—it’s a thing.

The holier than thou bickering of today’s world can sometimes be found in even the most open-minded, loving communities.

One thing I keep hearing about now is how poly people with primary relationships are perpetuating patriarchy. Egalitarian polyamory rejects the model of a couple prioritizing each other over extracurricular romps, or any kind of hierarchy.

I think people fall in love or get along better with some people over others, and I think hierarchies can on occasion serve us and our needs. I leave it up to each of us to decide what’s best for us.

Other infighting relates to language and terminology, whether we should be discreet or out and proud, and every imaginable variation.

Don’t get sucked into it. Stand your ground, gently but firmly. Don’t argue. Accept other people’s views, and maintain your right to your own.

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