We all have rules…

What Rules Do You Have?

The other day, one of my metamours (partner of my partner) asked me in our group chat, “What rules do you have for yourself in this poly life?”

I really had to think about this, I couldn’t just pop out some quick answers. It is hard for me to think along the lines of “rules” and specific structures for how I should do things. (I hate the word, “Should!”) Or maybe I am just not one for rules at all. (My partner Stefan and I decided a long time ago, that we really only have one rule. “Don’t Die!”)

For real though, I am so new at this, the exploring that I am doing in conjunction with living this poly life, that my boundaries are pretty flexible right now. I also have a pretty high tolerance for bullshit, which both helps and hurts me. It can be way too easy for me to let some craziness slide, and that usually ends up coming back to bite me in the ass.

I have to say though, that knowing your boundaries, your hard limits, when you will say no and when you will say yes, is a really important thing to understand about yourself, (whether you’re poly/non-monogamous OR monogamous.) So, I gave her question some thought. I also thought, hmm why not share this with others. It might help them develop some “rules” for their own lives.

1. Always trust my red flags.

If I have a weird feeling about something, there is probably a good reason. I’ve always been quite intuitive and have learned to trust my gut. But I think almost everyone has an internal “spidey sense” that tells them if something is not quite right. I believe trusting that, and acting accordingly, is one of the most important rules I live by.

2. Don’t date someone who disrespects me.

Synonyms for disrespect include; scorn, contempt, disregard, and disdain. If someone is treating me in any of these ways; if someone treats my ideas, thoughts, opinions, time, or body in any of these ways, I will not stay in the relationship. Now, I have been known to be understanding of a cancelled date, or change in plans, but if it becomes a pattern? No. I also occasionally enjoy having different opinions from someone I date, but if they mock my opinions, or the opinions of others, that shows a distinct lack of respect that I can’t trust.

3. Always tell dates very early on about being Poly

All of my online dating profiles say that I am in poly relationships. So, that makes it pretty easy to get the news out there up front. But, let’s face it, sometimes my cleavage picture causes right swipes before they think to finish reading the bio. I generally just talk about my life and my partners very matter of factly, and the conversation comes around very organically. For example:

“My partner Aaron and I went to a cool bar last night. What did you do?”

“Uhm, Your partner? Do you have a boyfriend?”

“Yes, I have a few. I am polyamorous. Would you like to talk about that?”

4. Be open to possibilities

I swipe right on guys who look like they are a ton of fun, or whose profiles are especially interesting, not just the hot guys with ripped abs (though they are fun too!) I am also willing to let a relationship become what it “wants to be” not just what I originally expected from it.

I had a platonic romantic relationship once, it was very lovely. It started out like most dating relationships but evolved into something completely different. It took time and tears and a heck of a lot of communication for us to get there, but in the end, it was a very satisfying relationship. If I hadn’t been open to possibilities, it would have ended much sooner and we would have missed out on a beautiful experience.

5. Don’t do anything I don’t want to do

Yes, this really is a rule. I used to be a people pleaser. (Ok ok fine! You caught me, I still AM a people pleaser.) This is why I have to have a rule about this. It can be too easy to find myself in a position where I have compromised to the point of being unhappy, overburdened, or uncomfortable with something or someone. No more.

Also, another way I look at this rule, is that I am too old to do shit I don’t want to do! As my friend Morganna often says, “Ain’t nobody got time for all that!” If I don’t want to go out to a bar and meet a date at 10pm, I don’t. But, if I want to, heck I am out of here and in the street in a heartbeat!

This applies to both relationships and to sex. Matter of fact, it should really be number two, because I probably apply it more frequently than the others!

6. Always be open to meeting my metamours

My relationship, or lack thereof, with the partners of each of my partners is different. I’ve met Mia, the wife of Benjamin, and we have an ongoing group chat where all three of us text together, almost every day. But William’s other two committed relationships are with women I haven’t met, even though I have been dating him for four months. We have however exchanged a few messages back and forth through him. For now, that will do. When I offered to meet one of Stefan’s partners for coffee, he thought that would be too uncomfortable for everyone.

This is something, as I grow and experience this lifestyle, that is becoming increasingly more important to me.

7. If I am uncomfortable, I say so

This is one of the rules that has been actually very difficult to apply, (see people pleaser comment above…) but the times that I have followed through and spoken my mind, have turned into very rewarding conversations and experiences. Being up front, and vulnerable with where you are at with something, can really open doors and nurture a growing intimacy.

As I look at this list, I realize the majority of these thoughts are just smart rules for dating, or any kind of interpersonal relationship, whether you are poly/non-monogamous or monogamous, or whatever. Maybe when I try to write this article again after another year of my poly life, the list will change, but for now, this is what I have.

What about you? Do you have any rules for how you date? How you interact with people? Rules for your poly life? Tell us all in the comments!

World traveler, memoir writer, lover of all things relationship- especially non-traditional! www.elbyrnewriter.com Follow me on Twitter: @ELByrne1