Tips & Advice

New Poly Partners: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Two Women Arguing

Ever wonder if everyone else is a smooth operator who confidently navigates the bedroom and the boardroom with equal aplomb? Do you sometimes feel the headaches might be more than you bargained for?

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Take a deep breath and remember that juggling life, love and sex are always complicated. You’re not alone with your worries—whatever they are, most polyamorous people probably share them, or have their own. And the most common one is probably this:

“Our lovers might not get along.”

So far so good… and then, bam. Guys don’t ever like being in the middle of women’s disagreements, whether it’s a mother and sister, or wife and girlfriend.

“I want my partners to get along, so that I don’t have to undergo any stress when we all get together,” my friend Greg confided. “I get so worried about this that I’ve actually stopped dating a woman because one of my partners didn’t like her at all. I just didn’t want the discomfort of them not clicking, even though I could have really cared for her.”

Most men don’t want to do damage control, or they don’t want to apologize for one partner if another woman doesn’t like her. This definitely is one way that poly life can be more complicated. Unattached people or guys into serial monogamy don’t need to play peacemaker when their wives have an argument independent of them.

Patrick, 33, says, “There are so many ways this particular possibility can play out. We can find ourselves in the middle of subtle, or not so subtle, mind games. It might mean two of our partners won’t ever want to engage in a threesome or group scene. There might be friction in the kitchen!”

The best way to deal with this fear?

Try not to engage with the trepidation unless it’s a reality. Sure, every time we date someone new there can be a big what if about how our other partners will accept them, but usually things work themselves out, whether through group intimacy or peacemaking civility.

When it comes true, try to remember that no one is right and wrong—we don’t like everyone, you don’t like everyone—and set the standard for acting calmly and respectfully. For example, don’t needle your wife to sleep with a woman she dislikes, and don’t expect a girlfriend to join every dinner when she feels uncomfortable.

Keep the lines of communication open all around and don’t play favorites. Ask everyone involved including those not getting along what they feel the best way to proceed is and what they want ideally.

Remember, people don’t always like each other and some have their own issues that have little to do with you, and it’s only natural that that might play itself out in poly relationships. After all, it happens with co-workers, fellow students, team members, and families. It’s part of life, so it’s part of poly life too.

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