Tips & Advice

How to Put Your Needs First in Your Polycule

Couple in Intimate Embrace

We’ve all been there, struck down by something in our lives that makes it impossible to continue on as before.

Sometimes the blow is so big that we’re out for the count, while other times it’s just a tap that makes us stumble and reassess. If that’s not tough enough, the ripple effects of these difficult times spread far and wide, affecting everyone who loves you. Here’s how to deal when personal troubles prompt you to put your needs first in poly life.

When Your Needs Take Precedence…

Be Clear and Honest about What You Need

When something bad happens, do you long to be left alone to process your emotions in peace, or would you rather be surrounded by the people you love? Do you crave to return to life as normal, or do you require time out, free of schedules and other obligations?

Everybody handles stress differently. Figure out what you need, then think of how you can communicate this to your polycule in a clear and honest way. Don’t expect anyone to just magically know.

Don’t Feel Bad about It

At times it may seem that poly life is all about sacrifice and considering others, but it’s also about being authentic and advocating for yourself. If you’re a chronic people pleaser, try to think of it like this: letting your needs take precedence is an act of self-love, and loving yourself will eventually lead to happier and healthier relationships with others.

There will be times when someone else’s needs take center stage, and those times will be easier to handle if you know that you deserve the same kind of loving attention.

Be Patient

If you assert your needs and things don’t shift instantly, or they shift then drift back to the status quo, gently assert yourself again. Give everyone the chance to adjust and to really understand what’s expected.

Getting full-force angry every time someone forgets that you just don’t have it in you right now to attend your group’s weekly poly potluck, for example, will only create tension and (eventually) foster an unwillingness to sympathize with you. Try not to take things out on your polycule.

Be Prepared that You Might Hear the Word No

Depending on what you ask for, you might get some resistance from people whose needs conflict with yours. It’s not fun and it’s not ideal, but it’s part of the complex dance that is poly life.

Here’s an example from my own personal experience: When things got locked down from Covid in March, I asked my partner and metamour if I could move in with them. My metamour’s initial response was no, and it hurt. It took a few more conversations to work out what the issues were and to find a solution that suited us all.

Do you have an example of when your needs took precedence in your poly life? How did it go? Share your story in a comment!

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