Relationship rules are a must for any situation, and even more so when it comes to polyamory. A polyamorous relationship can be a great option, but it also requires some rules and guidelines, as well as a wide-open line of communication, to be effective. We prefer to call them “guidelines” because rules sound a bit too formal. No one wants to have a regimented poly dating experience, after all.
And yet, you still want to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that people agree on the terms of the relationship. The more people that get involved, the bigger the chance for miscommunication or another issue. Of course, before you even dive in, you’ll want to consider what a polyamorous relationship means to you. That’s probably our first and best piece of advice, as a matter of fact.
Rule #1: Decide what “polyamorous” means to you.
You can’t enter into one of these relationships until you define what it actually means to you. Are you just looking to add a third person to your existing relationship? Perhaps you want to be able to meet and date different people than your partner. Regardless, make sure that you discuss what you have in mind and how it’s going to apply to your current relationship. If you’re single, this is a discussion that you’ll need to have with yourself before you dive in so that you know what to expect.
Rule #2: Make time for separate couples and individuals.
You’re going to have more than one person dividing your time now—that’s why it’s even more important for you to make time for your partners. Give yourself the chance to make a schedule, or at least discuss how much time each partner should get so that you can all be on the same page. If everyone doesn’t get equal time, jealousy and other emotions can flare and lead to all kinds of issues.
Rule #3: Be honest at all times.
Sometimes, it’s hard to be honest when it could hurt someone’s feelings. However, it’s far better to tell them now than try and appease them, dragging it out longer than necessary. There’s no reason not to be completely honest here. People will lose trust if you are lying and in polyamory, there’s no room for lies and dishonesty anyway. It’s an unhealthy sign and if people try it, you should remove them from your life.
Rule #4: Communication is everything.
Going right along with the honesty discussion, the fact is that polyamory only works when there are solid, open lines of communication through which people can discuss their wants, needs, and other concerns about the relationship(s) that are ongoing. A throuple relationship or any other polyamorous dating means that more people are involved, which increases the likelihood of communication issues. If you make sure that you have open lines of communication, you’ll have fewer issues and much happier relationships all around. [Read: How to Have an Open Marriage]
Rule #5: Set boundaries.
Boundaries are the foundation of any healthy relationship. Everyone needs to agree on what is permitted, what isn’t, and how the relationship is going to function. For example, if you and your primary partner want to bring in a third, you might decide that they’re not allowed in your shared bed because that’s your special space for the two of you. Perhaps you’ll enter polyamory only on the terms that all partners are equal—think about what you want and make sure that you don’t settle.
Rule #6: Respect everyone.
Even if you’re in the type of polyamorous relationship where you and your partner have separate partners, you still need to respect those people. They’re an important part of your partner’s life and you’d want them to respect anyone that you’re dating. Poly relationships can be really rewarding and healthy when they’re done properly. It starts with respect.
Rule #7: No means no.
This kind of goes along with setting boundaries, but it’s important to hold your ground. Sometimes, couples will try to garner a certain position or push a relationship further than they’re supposed to over time, hoping that the slow progression will be complacently accepted by the other person. If you’ve set out rules ahead of time and agreed upon the terms of your polyamory, you need to adhere to those and honor the wishes of your partner. [Read: 12 Signs Things are Turning Serious]
Rule #8: Be realistic.
Being in a polyamorous relationship, or even being a polyamorous person, is a lot of pressure because you have more than one person vying for your attention. Sure, it can be exciting and fun, but it’s also work. Make sure that you’re not setting yourself up for disappointment. You might find some keepers, or you might just have some good dates and move on. It’s a different experience for everyone so don’t expect too much.
Rule #9: Make time for you.
Just like with any relationship, a polyamorous relationship demands a lot of your time and emotional space. That’s why you have to make sure that you have “me time” where you can unwind, be completely alone, and still feel fulfilled. It’s great to have lovers, but it’s even better to love yourself so much that alone time is a treat. [Read: Signs Your Wife is Cheating You]
Rule #10: Consider why you’re considering a polyamorous relationship
Here’s an important one that a lot of people overlook. You have to think about your motivations and why you are doing this. Are you getting into it for the right reasons? Or are you perhaps considering going poly or opening your marriage simply because you’re not happy with your current partner and lifestyle? If you’re trying to solve a current relationship problem, this isn’t the way.
Polyamory can be a great way to share relationships and bring more love into the world. However, like any relationship, it requires some planning and discussion to ensure that everyone involved is on the same page. That way, you can make the most of your open relationships, no matter how many partners you decide to have.