Don't Even Consider Polyamory Until You've Honestly Answered These 5 Questions

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Man in a polyamorous relationship

I have never felt completely comfortable in monogamous relationships. Yet, I wonder about the differences between monogamy vs. polyamory and open relationships, whether or not I could actually have relationships with more than one person, and if what I really want is to be polyamorous.

After reading about it online, I have to say, that uncommitted love seems pretty darn appealing.

And why not? We already know monogamy can really be viewed as falling on a spectrum, and not everyone falls easily into the “strictly” monogamous area.

Polyamory, like monogamy, is a choice.



An important part of deciding your happiness with a future partner — or partners — lies in determining if you want to be in a committed relationship with one person, or if you would like something a bit less committed and more open.

For some people, polyamory is an obvious choice, even if it’s a bit unusual to get used to at first.

Whether you’ve flirted with the idea of a polyamorous relationship for several years or you just recently started to feel like it might be right for you, there are things that you need to figure out beforehand so that you can make the most of your poly relationship and give yourself a real chance to figure out if having relationships with more than one partner is a path you’d like to go down.

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But where to begin? And is polyamory right for you?

Distinguishing between monogamy vs. open relationships vs. polyamory can seem like a big, difficult leap for people who are typically used to the standards of a monogamous relationship, so it’s often best to turn to the experts for their opinion.

I spoke to marriage and family therapy counselor Moushumi Ghose as well as Olivia Senecal, my dear friend who has been in a committed polyamorous relationship for the last five years.

The two helped me come up with five questions anyone should ask themselves to determine whether or not they should try polyamory.

Are you ready for a polyamorous relationship? Here are 5 questions you must ask yourself before beginning one:

1. "What do you want your polyamorous relationship to look like?"

Ghose says that "there are all kinds and combinations of polyamorous relationships" and "many labels for such things," so she herself prefers "to not use the labels, as sexuality and relationships are best when seen as fluid, and ever-changing."

This is one of the appealing things about polyamorous relationships for many people (including myself): they're less rigid in guidelines and expectations than monogamous ones often are.

Senecal says that it’s incredibly important to figure out, beforehand, what your ideal relationship would look like.

"How will casual dating be managed? Sexual safety? What happens when you fall in love and want to have more than one committed partner?" she asks

These details may change and evolve as time goes on, but it's necessary to have at least some specifications and ideas on what you want.

2. "What is your motivation for wanting this?"

If you are searching for a lifestyle that works for you, and your ideal happens to involve more than one partner in a relationship, then that's great.

However, simply trying to seek out a bandage for a couple of issues (or wanting an excuse to see other people) isn't likely the right reason for going into a polyamorous lifestyle.

"If you're trying to fix a 'broken' relationship by adding more people," says Senecal, "that's probably not a good reason — and from my experience, often doesn't end well." According to Ghose, people who have "struggled in traditional monogamous relationships might be more apt to find polyamory appealing."

If it's more of a personal preference, rather than simply you and/or your partner trying to improve things via a new person, then it's more likely you'll actually enjoy polyamory rather than just feeling obligated to adapt to it.

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3. Do you get jealous?

Look, jealousy is normal. When you have feelings for somebody, it's difficult not to get a little stressed out when he or she is flirting with another person. However, if you can't look past jealousy and be comfortable with it, then polyamory probably isn't for you.

This isn't to say that polyamorous people are somehow immune to jealousy,

"But when jealously does occur, it's discussed," says Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College. "The person feeling jealous is encouraged to examine their own psyche to find out what's bothering them and which of their needs aren't being met. Then the pair (or triad, or quad) can negotiate boundaries."

4. Are you possessive?

Being possessive is never really a positive thing — unless both parties are consensual about it, such as in certain types of BDSM relationships. But in a polyamorous relationship, it's especially stressful.

If you've caught yourself getting more than jealous (like downright angry) when your significant other flirts with someone else, then polyamory isn't the best fit.

5. Are you willing to engage in complete honesty?

In healthy relationships between monogamous people, there is (ideally) nothing to lie about because (again, ideally) each partner behaves in a way that they feel respects the other partner's wishes, often including not kissing or having sexual relationships with other people.

In polyamorous relationships, introducing another person can be a bit rocky at first, and it must involve total honesty and communication between all parties involved.

If you feel you can’t be 100 percent truthful with all your partners — or that you might feel guilty or uncomfortable sharing everything with them about another love interest — then that's a warning sign.

If, however, you feel you're genuinely, personally interested in a polyamorous lifestyle and believe you can abide by the rules of honesty, communication, and respect, then it may be a great choice for you and your love life.

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Samantha Escobar is the Deputy Editor at Allure Magazine.