Dropping the “Poly” Bomb

tumblr_lj121niivL1qg3jc3o1_500“When is the appropriate time to tell someone you’re poly?” Brad just asked me.

He’d seen the question posted on a polyamory Facebook forum earlier today. Dozens of people rushed to answer the questioner with advice like “immediately” or “before the first date” or “within the first conversation.” Some people said they have it highlighted right their online dating profiles that they are “poly” or “in an open relationship” or “non-monogamous,” so anyone who has a problem with it can be instantly filtered out of the potential dating pool.

This got us thinking – when is the appropriate time to tell someone you’re poly? The answer is not always that simple.

What if it’s someone you didn’t meet on an internet dating forum? What if you met them in real life – at work, out on the town, at a party or at a non-poly-related meetup? How soon should you bring it up? As soon as you realize you’re sexually or romantically attracted to the person? What if you’re attracted to them before you even speak? Should the first words out of your mouth be – “Hi, I’m John, I’m polyamorous. What’s your name?”

Obviously not. That would freak them out. If your opening line wouldn’t be “Hey, good to meet you. I’m monogamous, by the way,” it shouldn’t have to be poly people’s opening line either. Polyamory is not like a highly infectious disease we have to warn people about the moment we meet them, like – “oh, wait, before you shake my hand, I should tell you I’m polyamorous.”

Since finding women who are open to dating poly men seems to be so difficult, I’m almost tempted to tell Brad to ease women into the information slowly, rather than treat it like “breaking news.”

I mean, it’s not really fair that monogamous people don’t have to announce their relationship expectations the moment they meet someone. It’s not like some chick at a bar who’s hoping to meet her monogamous soul mate til-death-do-us-part is expected to tape a note explaining that on her forehead. It’s not like anyone thinks she should immediately warn a cute guy that she’s not interested in dating unless there’s a chance of them growing old together. So why the double standard?

To be fair though, monogamy is the default in our culture. Unless someone explicitly warns you otherwise, it’s safe to assume he or she has hopes of a potential monogamous future with you if they agree to a date. So any deviation from this norm requires us to plaster metaphoric warning signs all over our bodies – “CAUTION – I do not want to commit to having sex with you and only you for the rest of my life. If that’s a deal breaker for you, you should stop flirting with me now so as not to get your heart broken.”

It’s so lame.

It’s especially hard in mine and Brad’s case. If Brad were solo poly, he wouldn’t have so much to explain to women right off the bat – “yeah, so… I have this woman who’s practically my wife at home, and we have a daughter together, but it’s not a big deal… we hardly ever even have sex anymore. It’s just that we’re best friends, and I don’t hate her, so there’s no reason for us to split up. You’re cool with that right?” He’s tried time and again. It never goes over well.

Ugh. Oh well. I can’t wait til some day in the distant future when we don’t have to explain silly things like this to people upon our first meeting…. a day when we can just meet people, as individuals – not defined by our relationship “status” – talk to them naturally, get to know them and act on how we feel in the moment, with no explanations and no unspoken expectations.


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