“Honey, we need to talk. I think we should see other people…together.”
It’s not easy to have this conversation with your partner – the conversation about potentially opening your relationship up to new people, aka becoming polyamorous.
Maybe you and your partner have tossed the idea around a few times but you’ve never seriously discussed it. Or maybe you two aren’t completely sure what it entails, but you’d like to explore it together.
How do you know for sure if polyamory might be for you and your girlfriend? Every couple is different, so it depends. But ask yourself these questions.
Why are you interested in a polyamorous relationship?
Even if you choose not to pursue it, merely suggesting polyamory can change the dynamic of your relationship. So before you even mention the idea, seriously consider your own reasons for wanting it.
- You and your partner are in a strong relationship, and you think it could benefit from being open to more people.
- The idea of your partner being with someone else turns you on, and you’d like to find out why.
- You love your partner so much that you recognize a single person can’t meet all of her needs. A polyamorous relationship might make you both feel more fulfilled.
- You and your partner trust each other and want to have a little fun.
- You’re bored with your relationship. You hope that sleeping with other people will paradoxically make you want to stay.
- You want to break up with your partner but don’t want to be alone, so you want to use polyamory to bide your time until you find someone new.
- Your relationship is on the rocks, and you and your girlfriend keep fighting. You hope that involving another person will make things less complicated. (Actually, it will make things one hundred times more complicated.)
- You caught your partner cheating and hope that an open relationship will repair your broken trust.
What are you comfortable with?
In separate rooms, you and your partner should each make a list of what you’re comfortable with the other person doing. Make columns for “completely comfortable,” “mildly uncomfortable,” “completely uncomfortable,” and “not sure.”
Would you be comfortable with your girlfriend kissing another woman? A man? What about just cuddling? Sleeping over? Dates but no sex? Sex but no dates? Do you want to bring a third person into the relationship as an equal partner?
You don’t have to have all of the answers, and most of your answers will change as you and your partner explore. The important thing is that you think deeply about your comfort levels.
Afterward, you and your girlfriend should sit together to compare lists. Be honest and open about how you feel. If you’re comfortable with something but your girlfriend isn’t, don’t pressure her into changing her answer.
Together, talk about why you’re uncomfortable or comfortable with certain ideas. Maybe you’ve realized that you’re okay with your partner sleeping with other people, but you’re terrified that she’ll fall in love with someone else; therefore, you would prefer she never sleeps with the same person twice. Maybe your girlfriend is open to bringing a third person into the bedroom, but because physical intimacy is sacred to her, she only wants to sleep with someone else if you participate.
There are no wrong answers or wrong reasons. The important thing is that you listen to each other – and that no one feels pressured. If you realize that polyamory isn’t for you, or if your girlfriend is having second thoughts, then it’s okay to table this conversation.
What resources have you checked?
Polyamory can bring joy and adventure to your relationship. It can also bring confusion and pain. Instead of figuring it out in the dark, you and your partner should take advice from the experts who have already been there, done that and written about it.
Here are a few to get started:
The Ethical Slut – basically the polyamory bible.
More than Two – a practical guide to ethical polyamory.
Poly Weekly – a podcast about loving more than one person.
Love More – America’s first (and only) polyamory magazine.
Polyamory isn’t an excuse to sleep with more people, it’s a way to deepen your relationship. Whether you and your girlfriend decide to explore it, or whether you realize it’s not for you, the important thing is that you both feel comfortable.