5 Ways To Tell If A Man Is Truly Polyamorous (Or Just An Unfaithful Loser)

Because it's not always easy to know for sure.

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For years, I kept a list in my head of the kind of people I would never date under any circumstances whatsoever, including atheists, dads, and people who identify as polyamorous.

So, of course, here I am today in the happiest relationship of my life, with a boyfriend who cheerfully fits every single one of those three descriptors I previously considered to be red flags of doom for a relationship.

In particular, I used to hold deeply unflattering ideas about polyamorous men.


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When I conjured one with my mind's eye, I pictured a man in a fedora with a goatee who spends his days explaining to unsuspecting women that they just have "so much love to give" that they cannot possibly limit themselves by committing to one woman.


Or I thought of Hugh Hefner squiring his army of blonde girlfriends around town. Or I pictured those men who are always the first to chime in with, "Well, actually..." the second any woman on the Internet writes anything about, you know, uh, anything.

To me, polyamory seemed like a scheme.

It seemed like a way for shifty, unfaithful guys to rationalize their behavior. Put a label on it and suddenly it's socially acceptable to collect women the way I collected pogs in middle school. I thought it was a dishonest thing that dishonest men do in order to feel supercilious and smug.

I've come to realize, however, that the reason felt that way was that I was confusing truly polyamorous men with full-on f***boys.


Believe it or not, good men who happen to be polyamorous do exist.

They are rare, but they are real, and when they talk about love being infinite, it isn't just so they can have sex with a stranger in the bathroom of a convenience store without having to explain their behavior to their wife.

There are really a few ways in which polyamorous men are different from your average jerk, and I've compiled them here. Hopefully, reading them will make it a little bit easier for you to separate the wheat from the chaff and give the next real poly guy who comes into your life the chances he deserves — and that you deserve, for Pete's sake!

Here are 5 ways to tell if man is truly polyamorous and doesn't just want to cheat.

1. He's happy to talk about polyamory as opposed to being "all talk."

A poly guy is happy to talk about polyamory. He's happy to talk about what it means to him, how he came by it, his own struggles with it, his own successes and failures with it, how society views people in alternative relationships... Heck, he could go on and on and on.


Frankly, the list of the things that a real poly man is not excited and ready to talk about with you is probably far shorter, and he probably has some wiggle room related to those as well.

If you want a polyamorous relationship to work, you have to be prepared to talk to your partner about everything. Not just the lovey-dovey sexy stuff, but the messy stuff too.

If you're dating a man who wants an open relationship but refuses to talk with you about how you're feeling at any point in time in order to navigate together through the at-times murky waters of dating and loving more than one person, he's not really polyamorous. He just wants to have his cake and eat it too.

2. He doesn't make you go it alone.

Most poly people are extroverts who delight in being around others. Being around people seems to energize them, stimulate them, and nourish them on some spiritual level that I, as an introvert, may never understand.


People who identify as poly often do so because the idea of a big, loving social network of people to help you through the daily rigors of life is as romantic to them as Cinderella's story is for most young girls.

If you're dating a guy who says he's polyamorous, but you spend most of the week on your sofa waiting for him to grace you with his presence whenever he feels like it, you aren't one member of a larger unit, you're a side chick.

A good poly guy tries to emphasize integration when it comes to his partners. He isn't about dividing and conquering. He doesn't want a series of monogamous relationships happening all at once under the header of polyamory in order to make it seem more acceptable. He wants the special kind of love that multiplies for all involved.

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3. His reasons aren't all about sex.

If a guy tells you that he's polyamorous because he doesn't believe one woman could ever satisfy him sexually, please do not allow this to make you think all polyamorous guys are jerks. That guy who can't keep his stuff in his pants is absolutely a jerk, but he doesn't speak for guys who are poly.

While having multiple sexual partners is absolutely a part of what it means to be polyamorous, it's not the be all and end all of the reasons people choose that lifestyle.

If you're monogamous and you're engaged to marry someone and people ask why you're getting married, you probably don't answer with "I really, really, really like having sex him/her and never want to have sex with anyone else ever."

For one, if you did, the person you are set to marry would probably deck you, and for two, relationships involve a heck of a lot more than sex.


If a man talks about being poly only in terms of how freeing it is for him sexually, it could be a solid heads-up that he just doesn't want to be held accountable for his actions.

4. He doesn't constantly reek of hypocrisy.

The thing I like the most about being in a relationship with a polyamorous man is that there is absolutely no space for hypocrisy when it comes to gender roles and sexuality. My boyfriend and I are both people with very high sex drives. We also both enjoy having sex with women.

The women I have sex with have nothing to do with what turns my boyfriend on or not. We have had threesomes in the past, but when I date a woman, I am dating a woman for me, and me alone.

If you're talking to a guy who makes polyamory sound like his one-way ticket to threesome-city, he's at the very least bad at polyamory.


You don't treat the people in your relationship as sex slaves. If he gets to have sex with whoever he wants, you do too, and that's something the two of you have to talk about. That's how it works.

If he makes you feel like a member of his harem who is forced to be monogamous while he gets his swerve on all over the place, he's not a good polyamorist, he's a selfish jerk.

5. He doesn't use his poly identity as an excuse for bad behavior.

Broken people are just as entitled to try and find happiness (romantic and otherwise) as the next person. However, I resent it when broken men or women use polyamory as an excuse for their bad behavior.


If you can't open your heart to even one person, let alone to multiple people, you aren't a polyamorist, you have issues allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

And if intimacy scares you, adding more and more partners to the equation isn't going to improve anything. It's going to create drama and unhappiness all around.

Like happy monogamous relationships, happy polyamorous relationships take a lot of work and rely on honesty and solid communication. So if you're dating a man who says, "My heart just doesn't work that way," what he's actually telling you is, "My heart isn't working."

Polyamorous men can love, and they love loudly, strongly, and passionately. For a true poly man, polyamory is a happy thing, not a handicap they adopted because they couldn't figure out how to do better.


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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a freelance writer and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, and true crime.