Most of us enter into our poly relationships with the best of intentions. We envision a perfect world in which we’ll always have enough time to give our partners the attention they need; that no matter what’s happening in our lives, things will find a way to work out. All we need is love, right? Wrong. The truth is that while love is important, having adequate time to nurture its growth is too.
Before you go leaping headlong into the world of polyamory, ask yourself the following questions.
What Kind of Relationship do You Want?
Hierarchical or egalitarian? The upside of choosing a hierarchical dynamic is that you can potentially be more sparing with your time, as expectations might not be as high. Of course, there’s always a greater chance of jealousy and discontent if some of your partners feel less valued than others, which is why some polyamorous people prefer to have egalitarian relationships.
The important thing is to think it over carefully so that you can come to a realistic conclusion about the degree of new relationship complexity you are able to take on and to find people who are looking for what you have to offer.
How Much Free Time do You Actually Have?
Did you think long and hard about your desires only to find that what you really want is an additional relationship that is just as rich and equal in commitment to your current relationship? If so, be prepared to spend lots of time on it. Don’t think of your new love as a simple extension of the love you’ve already built with someone else. It might feel that way to you and your pre-existing partner(s), but chances are, the new person you bring into the mix is going to expect more.
If you’ve been in a primary or monogamous relationship for many years, you might be accustomed to a certain casual flexibility that comes from having known each other forever and feeling solid in your commitment, but a new love will take lots of dedicated consistency, at least during the first few months. Think back to all the time it took to build your existing relationship. That’s the level of time and commitment you’re in for with someone new, if you choose to go the egalitarian route.
Do you really have enough free time to keep each of your egalitarian partners emotionally satisfied? Wanting the love and even having it to give is something totally separate from having the lifestyle that will support it.
How Willing are You to Make Sacrifices or to Compromise?
If your answer to that question is anything other than “very,” you’re setting yourself up for poly relationship disaster. At some point, something will have to give in your busy life if you’re determined to make things work. It’s important to show your partners that you value your connections with them and that you’re sensitive to their individual needs.
Of course, you shouldn’t be the only one making compromises. Everyone in your polycule should understand that the success of your dynamic relies heavily on the efforts of everyone involved. Also keep in mind that every polycule is as unique as the lovers who comprise it and that everyone’s idea of adequate time spent together is a little different. The best thing you can do is try to find lovers whose needs and availability are compatible with your own and go from there.