Within your polyamorous relationships, your nesting partners have different needs, desires, and expectations.
Maybe you practice hierarchical polyamory, and your nesting partner is your primary partner. Or maybe you have multiple nesting partners simultaneously.
No matter what, by giving consideration to what nesting means and what your nesting partners need you can increase communication and reduce conflict in your relationships or polycules.
What Is a Nesting Partner?
A nesting partner is a partner that you live with. Sharing space with a partner or living together is “nesting” or sharing a nest.
The living relationship with a nesting partner differs from couple to couple, from individual to polycule, and from relationship to relationship. You may have one nesting partner or numerous nesting partners living together in a home or in a communal situation.
Some nesting partners own property together or share finances. Some raise children together, some work together, and some share other relationships together. A nesting partner is often a primary partner but a nesting partner is not synonymous with that—they are not the same thing.
Nesting Partner vs Primary Partner
Nesting partner and primary partner are not the same thing.
Some polys claim that the term was coined to recognize sharing space within non-hierarchical relationships, and should not be used by people who have a primary partner. However, all kinds of poly people use “nesting partners” to refer to the partner or partners they live with.
The partner you live with may be a primary partner, and that would make the nesting partner and the primary partner the same partner in that particular relationship.
Many polyamorous relationships are non-hierarchical and do not have a primary partner, even if they have one or more nesting partners. Non-hierarchical polyamory does not recognize primary partnerships or certain partners being more important than others.
Hierarchical polyamory has different manifestations and practices as well. Someone may have several equal partners in a polycule and not date outside of that. All or some of those partners may be nesting partners.
Someone may live with several partners at once but none of those nesting partners are the primary partner. Or one of them is. A nesting couple may share space with another nesting couple, but do not have a primary partnership with the second couple.
Someone may nest with several partners, not just their primary partner. They may live in one space on weekends, or alternate residences weekly, or live in Hong Kong and Toronto with nesting partners in each location.
There are countless expressions of relationships in polyamory and different ways to nest.
6 Tips for Poly Nesting Partners
1. Make Time to Communicate Regularly
Living with someone has its rewards and its challenges, whether it is nesting partners, parents, roommates, or tenants.
Humans sharing space means meshing different needs and being in close proximity for people’s changing moods and frames of mind. Communication is the essential ingredient for healthy nesting partnerships.
It’s one thing to say “communication is important.” It’s another to actually communicate. Some personalities communicate better than others or find it easier to share or to complain than others.
There are different ways to communicate, from leaving Post-it notes on the fridge to text messaging to having shared dinner and wine conversations. Communication can be constructive, natural, business-like, passive aggressive, or abusive.
It’s important to find communication methods that work for all nesting partners comfortably, with adequate emotional regulation.
Yelling because your nesting partner has a habit you don’t like is not constructive, healthy communication. You want to make adequate time to go over household and relationship issues with your partner in a relaxed, supportive way.
2. Share Your Needs, Wants, and Expectations
Become confident and comfortable expressing your needs and desires to your nesting partners. It pays to recognize that someone else cannot read your mind, no matter how close you are, no matter how much you want them to read your mind because it may be easier if they could.
Some needs are easy to express, but it is the difficult ones that go unspoken and then begin to fester. Don’t foster resentment when things are undone. Learn to speak up and advocate for yourself.
3. Communication Is Mostly Listening
As difficult as it can be to address your needs and speak up, communication is not all about you talking. Sure, you need to express yourself, air your concerns, and bring up difficult issues so they can be resolved or attended to. But don’t forget the most important part of communication—listening.
Practice active listening with your nesting partners—where you train your mind to stop jumping in with your two cents and simply listen. Learn to ask pointed questions that draw more from your partner rather than giving your opinion, so you get a full picture of what your partner is trying to express and where they are coming from.
There will be lots of time to say what you have to say, but learn how to fully hear another person out before you make conclusions or rebuttals.
Often, there is no course of action at all to a situation or concerns. Listening in the first place is the whole point. In relationships, one of our deepest needs is simply to be seen and heard—to have someone listen.
4. Have Rules About Use of Your Shared Space
All households have rules, whether they are ground in stone or unwritten. Non-hierarchical polyamorous homes have rules too. All of civil society has rules, which are things we agree to consciously or unconsciously.
Communicating boundaries, necessities, and rules between nesting partners about their home is essential to happy living.
Rules and agreements can help delineate tasks and labor, control noise, respect schedules, maintain peace in the kitchen, keep in-laws or unruly children in check, protect shared time, and more. Having appropriate boundaries and tasks around food, chores, money and sex can help nesting partners run their nest smoothly.
5. Some Nesting Partners Want Separate Rooms
It’s not uncommon for nesting partners to need separate rooms. As individuals we may need a place of retreat, space for our own interests, space to be with other lovers, or any number of needs.
Understanding what shared space means and what space needs individual nesting partners have is important for a healthy living space relationship.
6. Stay on Top of Financial and Practical Issues
Financial issues between nesting partners are no less fraught with tension than they are between traditional monogamous married couples, or between business partners, or between parents and grown children.
Seek financial advice from polyamory friendly advisors for the unique needs of your households. Poly people have many arrangements to handle their finance, from total pooling of resources, to total individual independence and responsibility.
Learning to communicate about money is absolutely essential to a healthy nesting partnership.
Are you nesting with polyamorous partners? Share your experience.