Communication can be tricky when people are new to polyamorous relationships. In a previous article we talked about signs that you should see a therapist in order to get a better understanding of the ins and outs of polyamorous relationship before you try one. These are tips to help you through some of the early pitfalls in communication when changing the dynamic of your relationship. If you’re not in a polyamorous relationship, don’t worry. These tips are helpful for you, too.
Communicate More Than You Think You Need To
In my experience working with poly dynamics, expectations and assumptions can be a real relationship killer. Assumptions lead to expectations not being met, which leads to people being hurt. Communicating more than you feel you need to is never a bad idea. Especially if you and your partner’s relationship dynamic has recently changed. Truly polyamorous relationships require consent from the partners entering into this dynamic. You have to speak openly and honestly in order for everyone involved to be able to give their consent.
Be communicative about what being poly means for your relationship dynamic. Does this mean that you will be dating other people with the potential of emotional intimacy? Or are the other partners that you seek out strictly sexual relationships. Always communicate clearly about what this dynamic specifically means to you.
Also, you will need to communicate around issues relating to sexual health and wellness. Talk about when condoms will be used. Talk about whether you partner’s other partners are using contraceptives. If you attempt to talk about everything that you can think of, you will be less likely to accidentally hurt your partner with something that went unaddressed.
Pay Attention to Potential Partner’s Other Relationships
Just like in any relationship dynamic, you learn a lot about someone from hearing about their relationship history. It is a good sign when you hear someone talk about their other relationships in positive terms. If someone is overly negative when they talk about their other relationships, then you can probably expect to be roped into some level of unhappiness if you pursue a relationship with them. The patterns that we as people know hold true. You can expect dramatic people to bring relationship drama into your life if you let them.
Have a Plan for Jealousy
Jealousy seems to be a bit of a buzzword in the polyamourous/nonmonogomous community. You do not need to fear jealousy, but you do need to listen to it. It is like a screeching noise that your car might make. You should probably check under the hood to see what is making that noise. It is not the end of the world, but you should still figure out what is going on and maybe tighten up a belt. And if you do not have the tools to handle the situation, there is no shame in taking it to a mechanic (I.e. going to therapy).
Often times, the jealous partner is blamed in these instance. Really, jealousy is just an indicator that something in the relationship dynamic is not going smoothly. Instead of blaming one partner for not sticking to the deal, look for ways to build security in your relationship together. Here is a particularly helpful article about jealousy.
If you are looking for help in navigating your relationship dynamics or just want to build a more secure relationship give us a call at The Marriage & Family Clinic.
About the Author
Ryan Hicks is a licensed therapist and marriage counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in working with couples in high conflict and working with couples in the LGBTQ community. When he’s not working with couples, you’ll find him rock climbing or taking in the great outdoors of Colorado.