I’ve heard so many stories of people embarking on their poly journey, only to turn right back around the moment that things don’t go their way.
I think that’s because we’ve been so conditioned by monogamous culture into believing that love means never having to stand up for what we need. It comes down to the assumption that if your partner is really in tune with you and focused only on your happiness, they will always know just how much attention, or sex, or space you require—no questions asked. That’s a load of crap.
In all relationships, but especially those with more than one partner, it’s up to the individual to ensure they get what they need. Here are five things you can do to protect your happiness.
It’s so obvious, and yet it’s something that many of us are hesitant to do. Asking for what you need can feel risky—especially if your request is for something emotional—but how can you expect to have your needs met if you don’t open up about them?
Poly check-ins are a good time to make your requests known. It’s a time when everyone is listening, and everyone has a chance to express their needs as well. If check-ins seem too intimidating, or you don’t have a kitchen-table dynamic, schedule a time to sit down with each of your partners individually.
Don’t wait until you’re miserable and full of resentment, talk to your partners as soon as possible. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize what you need. You might feel a general sense of discontentment or anger, but not know why.
Try asking yourself the same questions you would ask a friend who seems upset. Ask what’s wrong and what you can do to help. It might feel silly at first, but it really helps! Once you get used to checking in with yourself, it becomes a much easier and more natural process.
Defend Your Needs
Sometimes you have to state your needs more than once. It’s not uncommon in poly relationships for things to get busy, and other partners to take a little too much of the focus. This is when speaking up is important.
Choose your timing and your battles, but don’t be afraid to assert yourself when needed. Use “I feel” statements instead of casting blame, and be consistent. Everyone will take you more seriously if you stick to your guns and refuse to put yourself last.
Be Open to Other Partners’ Needs
That said, you don’t want to be so focused on yourself that you refuse to acknowledge other people’s needs. It’s about compromise, something that’s crucial to all relationships but even more so in the polyverse.
If you’re willing to accommodate others when you can, they’ll be more open to accommodating you. It’s not only a means to an end, but a way to keep things running smoothly in your relationships. It’s always detrimental to the whole when one person in the polycule refuses to give and take.
Don’t Create Unnecessary Drama
Failing to recognize your needs can sometimes lead to extreme behaviors, like picking fights, or sabotaging a partner’s date by crashing it, or sending angry passive-aggressive texts in an attempt to shift the focus your way.
While this might work in the short term, it will most likely backfire by creating feelings of animosity and frustration among other members of your polycule. You’ll end up being resented and maybe even ignored, depending on the frequency of your outbursts. It’s always better to approach things calmly and respectfully.