It’s always said that the most important part of a polyamorous relationship is communication. I believe that’s true in any relationship, whether its polyamorous or monogamous. If you can’t communicate you’re going to end up getting hurt or hurting your partner(s). One of the things that should be communicated right away is your boundaries and theirs. If poly is new to you/ your partner, boundaries will be unknown. If you have had poly experiences you may know what some of your boundaries are already.
New to Polyamory
When starting out on this journey it is important to make sure this is something you’re doing for yourself and not just for your partner. Is this going to make you happy? It’s not all fun and games, this can be a very stressful journey, especially in the beginning. Learning how to navigate more than one relationship, how to split your time and what your style of poly is, can be a very overwhelming experience. Even just figuring out what you want from this is hard. Are you into polyfidelity, where everyone is equal and you only date your established polycule. Or are you more interested in solo polyamoury, where you have no nesting partners but openly date whom you please?
Whatever the case may be, you have to understand that maybe your partner doesn’t feel the same way. Maybe they have different boundaries, again this is where communication becomes so important. If you are already in an established relationship and decide poly is what you want then you have to make sure your partner is on board. You need to figure out what they need out of the relationship as well. Some relationships do well poly/mono, but a lot struggle. As long as you can openly communicate what you want and need, and remember to listen to what they also want and need, there is no reason to end a relationship because one person identifies as poly and the other does not. This will just take a lot of work to make work comfortably. As with any relationship, you need to be willing to put in the effort to sustain the relationship.
So you already know this is the life you want. Now you’re entering a new relationship and boundaries haven’t been established yet because you’re still in the new relationship energy “NRE” phase. If you already have a partner this can be accidentally pushed aside, or worse assumed that the boundaries are the same for both people. Sometimes this can be true and boundaries can be the same for both of your partners, most of the time that’s not the case though.
If you already have an established couple and you are a hinge or part of a triad, quad, etc. and you start dating someone else, together or separately, it’s important that the new person is told of your current boundaries. Ask them what they would like to set for boundaries outside of that or if they are content with your current boundaries as they are. Maybe they prefer “don’t ask, don’t tell” poly style, while you are used to the “kitchen table” poly style. These things all need to be discussed to figure out how everyone will fit together, or even if they will at all.
Never One Size Fits All
No relationship is one size fits all. Sometimes people don’t mesh well as Meta’s, so boundaries need to be set around that relationship as well. Maybe the only boundaries you set are for health reasons (ex. protection must be used with new or any other partners). You could also be setting boundaries about when you talk about introducing another person or dating another person on your own. Whatever the case may be as long as it’s all talked out, feelings should be intact in the end. Never agree to a dynamic that you aren’t comfortable with. If you can’t tell your partner you don’t want or want something to happen, then maybe waiting to open up your relationship to others is a good idea. You have to make sure that you are happy, communicating and comfortable or neither you or your partners will be happy.