Whenever “polyamory” becomes a topic of conversation there’s a lot of questioning about what type of person could actually be comfortable and fulfilled in such a relationship. All relationships are naturally complex but adding more partners and more love into the mix means you need some basic personal skills to succeed.
In an effort to dispel any premature leaps into relationship styles that may not suit, I’ve broken down four key skills you need to make a polyamorous relationship work:
1. Be able to communicate even when it’s uncomfortable.
Open communication is essential in all relationships but particularly when considering opening up relationships or trying something new. Finding a safe way to communicate your interests to your partner/s is key to progression. Communicating openly means sharing, being willing to receive and not creating boundaries out of fear, insecurity or rigidity. You will need to be able to take into account your partner/s feelings in every scenario even when they don’t match yours.
When developing a polyamorous relationship you’ll need to be able to talk with partner/s without inferring they are lacking, are to blame in any way or are a bad partner for not knowing your desires automatically.
Addressing any negative feelings openly is also a difficult but necessary part of being in a polyamorous relationship. Unresolved hostility, fear and shame can unravel even the most loving of partnerships- transparency is required at every stage.
2. Be an advocate without competing.
To be fulfilled in a polyamorous relationship you have to be able to speak up about what you want and need. Pausing once in awhile and asking yourself what you require to be happy and healthy is good practice.
However, you must remember as much as you have expectations for yourself, you shouldn’t be concerned with your partner’s partner/s. Advocating for your own needs doesn’t mean competing with other partners or keeping score in regards to affection/ time/ effort received. Every partner will have different needs that will ultimately be met in different ways and at various times.
Being able to prioritize and advocate for your needs without trying to challenge anyone else’s takes skill.
3. Be honest and realistic with yourself.
There are many reasons for this, not least because when going into a polyamorous relationship you need to know your boundaries and limits. You need to know yourself.
You will need to be self-aware enough to accept when partnerships are changing and where you fit into that- if you fit in. Often when building relationships we get caught up in the excitement and focus on the end product; we forget that we’re real people with real emotions in the midst of it.
You’ll need to be able to take yourself out of the situation, the fun and the love and actually assess whether what you’re aiming for is right for all parties involved. This can take brutal honesty and a lot of reflection.
You will need to be honest with yourself at every step of the way and make sure you’re making the right decisions for you and not just to appease partner/s. Equally, make sure you’re respecting your partner/s by not pushing them into situations/ relationships that don’t serve them.
4. Be assertive about self-care.
More people can easily translate into “less me time.” But if you give all your time, efforts and love away then you’ll soon feel depleted. There’s a lot of love in polyamorous relationships but you need to make sure there’s some left for yourself; that you’re nurturing your relationship with you not just with your partner/s. Regularly take time alone, assess how you are and how the relationship/s are progressing for you.
You’ll need to be self-aware and assertive particularly when your partner/s are busy. You’ll need to know how to make yourself feel good in these moments because even the most fulfilled polyamorous person can feel isolated- you’re only human after all.
Also, if you’re thinking about joining an established partnership remember to think about your needs; assess the strength of the relationship and what that means for you before jumping in. Remembering yourself in all of this is key.
Want to learn more? Read Polyamory Definitions: Learn What These Poly Terms Mean
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