I’m willing to bet that most of you entered into your poly relationships with preconceived notions of what transparency means. If you’re anything like me, however, you soon discovered that—much like our individual definitions of love—what constitutes open and honest behavior can differ widely between partners, and what’s “too much information” for one, might very well be considered secretive to another.
Here are some rules to help you navigate the complex land of poly transparency.
4 Rules for Transparency in Poly Relationships
1. There’s No One Size Fits All
Every poly relationship is different. Some adopt the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, while others are all about sharing: “Did you try pegging with him like you had hoped?” What’s crucial is that all parties involved agree to the rules and that they achieve their purpose of allowing everyone’s relationships to grow from a place of trust.
Talk to each of your partners about what transparency means to the two of you. It might mean something different in each of your relationships! It can become a complex dance, keeping everyone’s transparency needs satisfied.
2. Privacy Is Important
Be mindful of the fact that some of your partners won’t be comfortable with the idea of you sharing details of their sex life with other partners. This is where things can get complicated. Before you and your partners take on additional lovers, be sure to disclose to them what your preferred transparency level is. If they are uncomfortable with it, talk about how you can resolve that as a group, or accept the fact that they might not be the right fit for you.
It’s so important to respect everyone’s boundaries and to keep the trust alive.
3. Consistency Is Key
The best way to earn trust through transparency is to be consistent with it. Regard the rules you have established with as much seriousness as monogamous couples do with fidelity. They are the foundations of your poly relationships. When transparency is handled in an inconsistent way, people get hurt. How can anyone feel safe and at ease in a relationship that is sometimes open and honest, sometimes not?
It takes time to establish solid levels of trust in poly relationships. That’s partly due to the importance of a long-term “clean record” when it comes to everyone behaving well.
4. Revise the Rules as Needed
Even though consistency is so important, the rules of transparency are not something you can just set and forget. While this may seem contradictory, it’s really just another example of how poly relationships are complex and require lots of in-depth conversations. Feelings can change over time, and what once felt like an appropriate amount of sharing can feel like too much or too little. If you’re feeling ill at ease with the current rules, speak up!
If everyone agrees to voice their concerns as they arise, you can relax more knowing that it’s working as it should. Some polycules opt for regular check-ins. This is not a bad idea, especially if you’re just starting out together, or you’ve added new partners to the mix.
How do you nurture transparency in your poly relationships? Leave us a comment!