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I frequently get contacted by people who wonder whether they are polyamorous or not. They ask whether they could even give non-monogamy a shot. Unfortunately there is no real quiz you can take to find out if polyamory is right for you, however some of your current behaviors and beliefs can help you decide whether or not non-monogamy is worth exploring.
- Are you comfortable with the idea that there is no normal?
One of the coolest, and also hardest, parts of polyamory for me personally was the idea that there is no normal. There are so many different types of relationships structures, and so many different types of people in polyamory, that what works in one relationship may not work in another. Even the tips and suggestions in this post may only work for some people, some of the time. It’s important to know the basics of communication, but successful polyamorous relationships often are a success because they follow their own sets of personalized rules. It’s important to discuss the rules and boundaries with your partner(s), and is equally as important to note if you would prefer your rules and suggestions to be more fluid or more rigid.
- Are you good at, or do you enjoy, talking about your feelings in great detail?
One of the things that can be the most complicated for people who are new to polyamory is discussing their feelings at length with their partner or even partners. Much of the beauty of non-monogamy is being able to talk through the feelings (both positive and negative) that you are having with your partners. If you tend to prefer to keep your emotions inward, you may have a hard time being comfortable with the open conversational nature of many polyamorous relationships. If that’s the case, it’s important to clarify that point up front to inform your partner(s) of your individual communication style.
- Are you good at keeping yourself organized, especially in regards to time management and communication?
While this seems like it would be an ideal question to answer during a job interview, maintaining the schedules of multiple partners can be incredibly daunting. Sometimes scheduling date nights alone can be very tricky and being able to organize your schedule as well as communicate your schedule to your partner(s) and other people who need to know is a very important skill to have. This skill comes into play when you need to ensure that you are not overlapping time you’re spending with your partners by accident. Being able to keep yourself organized allows you to be a more reliable partner and can help bring the extra focus that can often be necessary when you have extra relationships.
- How good are you at self-care?
One of my favorite teachings in the poly community is the idea that love is infinite, but time and energy are not. Being able to recognize the actual amount of time you’re able to dedicate to your partners, while still having enough left to care for yourself, is an important skill that can easily get forgotten in the throes of a new relationship. Being able to know when you are unable to take on new partners, or when you need to say “no” to an outing with a current partner is a very important skill to have in poly relationships, or you may find that you are feeling so completely overwhelmed by your romantic relationships that you are unable to dedicate any time to developing friendships and hobbies. In addition, it is important to know your own personal boundaries and have the ability to express and advocate for them.
- If you tend to feel jealousy in relationships, do you find that you are able to identify why you are feeling a certain way?
Jealousy is something that is often talked about in the poly communities. There are those who say that it is completely detrimental to a relationship, and those who say that jealousy in small doses is healthy, provided it is easily identified and discussed. I tend to believe that jealousy is an indicator of an imbalance within a relationship, and that the jealous feelings should be resolved once the greater problem is unpacked and explored. Being able to identify why you are feeling a particular way is an important skill that should be cultivated, especially in polyamorous relationships. This is a skill that doesn’t just deal with jealousy, but rather can be applied in multiple areas from sadness to happiness to anger and any other emotion in between. That self-reflection and introspection is a wonderful communication tool that can be exercised in communication outside of polyamorous relationships too.
- Are you comfortable having in-depth conversations about all things sex?
I believe in risk awareness in relationships. I think risk awareness and assessment is a wonderful tool to use in many situations. Knowing what your risk is in a certain situation and being able to knowingly accept or decline that risk can keep you safe. In a polyamorous relationship, you may find that conversations about yours (or your partners) sexual preferences and history help you to assess your situation and learn what risks you are exposing yourself to. Knowing the current number of partners your partner has, when their last STI test was, and what sort of safer sex methods they are utilizing can give you a pretty heavy amount of information to sort through, but knowing where your comfort levels and safety levels lie is important. In addition, being able to have a solid plan in the event of an unexpected exposure is very important, both in keeping yourself healthy, and allowing your partners the same kind of mutual knowledge that allows them to assess their own risk.
- Do you trust your instincts?
In addition to being aware of your risks, and the behaviors you are exposing yourself to, it’s important to be able to trust yourself. Yes, accidents can and do happen. Yes, people make mistakes. Yes, you may find that someone you trusted and cared about was a poor choice. These are things that can and do happen in any type of relationship regardless of the level of openness. The important thing to note is that you can generally trust yourself to make good decisions in the partners you choose, and the decisions you make with those partners. Trust yourself that when something seems off, it probably is.
- Do you enjoy a sense of community?
Polyamorous communities, much like polyamorous relationships themselves, are very different depending on the community. They can be so small that you will always find someone who knows someone you know, or so expansive that you can go from pod to pod without ever overlapping groups. You are able to find the configuration that works best for you, but in general, a sense of community is often wanted in poly groups. It can be very hard living as polyamorous in a world that does not understand or accept your relationships, and being with others who can and do is an incredible resource to have. Even simply networking with other people who you can ask for advice and anecdotes from is incredibly valuable when you are first starting out.
One of the great things about polyamory is that you are able to mold and define your relationships into the ideal configuration for you and your partners. It can be very freeing to go without feeling as though you must submit to a set of rules that dictate how you ought to behave within your relationships. Polyamory allows for growth and change within relationships in a number of different ways. It is also important to note that if monogamy works better for you, that is okay! You can still take many of the teachings in regards to communication and apply them to monogamous relationships!
Until Next Time!
-The Frisky Fairy