No matter your romantic style, picking partners is hard. Everyone wants to find people who they relate to, they are attracted to and they get along with. When you are polyamorous, a little more complexity comes in to the equation. Within poly theory and literature, there are a lot of different opinions on how you should pick your partners. A lot of argument goes back and forth between those who of poly as more of a free for all or explore every opportunity sort of model, to those who say that just because you can doesn’t mean you always should.
Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should
I use this phrase constantly, and I would say it is kind of my personal motto. Just because there is mutual attraction, doesn’t mean you should dive in to a relationship with someone. I had a hard time coming to terms with this, and felt very sad the first few times I turned away someone I felt a connection with because they wouldn’t be a good fit in my life. I believe this sadness comes from being raised in a starvation economy of love. We are taught that if you don’t take it, someone else will. That love is a limited resource, and if we don’t gobble every piece up we will lose it. The whole basis of polyamory is that love grows the more there is. I’m not going to love my second partner less, just like a mother doesn’t love her second child less.
I have made some major poly dating mistakes. I have entered a more committed relationship with someone just because they are poly as well, and we had some hobbies in common. I didn’t step back and take a hard look at our compatibility, or how they would mesh with my other partners, my life goals, and my goals for other relationships. I entered a relationship with them because I felt like I had a lot less to lose, because I had another solid relationship already and I’m poly after all, so all my eggs aren’t in one basket. This thought process edges on the Don’t Treat People as Things rule of More Than Two.
Happy Metamours Makes a Huge Deal
The opinions of my metamours mean a lot to me. I want their judgement to be clear and not clouded with fears and insecurities of course, and I also want them to feel like I spend time with people they also enjoy and respect. Not everyone will always get along, and sometimes you get stuck in the hard place of having two partners who absolutely don’t get along. An incredibly hard position to be in, and I know from experience. What do you do from there? When you are already involved with both people the equation is a lot messier. If you are considering taking on another partner and you absolutely know that the new partner and a current partner will have huge issues with each other, it is something to keep in mind. Your choice of partners does affect your current relationships, there are no sterile environments in poly.
Look for Connections
As appealing as it is to try to find one partner of every flavor your enjoy, the ‘gotta catch ’em all’ mentality doesn’t work quite as well for people. Part of having multiple partners is the opportunity to have unique needs get met, that one person couldn’t possibly meet all of. With that said, I try to look for people I have a connection with instead of people who might have qualities that would meet my needs.
This is how as a queer woman with a strong preference for other women, I ended up with two boyfriends. I was looking for people who I connected with. I just happened to find two men who I had a powerful connection with, and I might have missed that if I was focused on gender instead of people. This might sound incredibly controversial to some who are about to get all fussy about sexual preference. I’m sexually fluid, so this example fits for me (and I will prove with some interesting research in a future post about how it applies to more people than you would think).
Be Thoughtful, Be Kind
The bottom line is to be open to connections, and also be thoughtful about how a connection will fit in to your life. Just because you connect with someone doesn’t mean they will be a positive influence in your life, or you will be a positive influence in theirs.