This is my top ten things you can do for great multiple relationships.
1. Don’t try to be a “good” poly person.
If you’ve been reading online material a lot, you may have developed an idea of what a good polyamorous person should be doing, and you may be trying to tie yourself into knots trying to do that.
Stoppit. You’re allowed to work out between yourself and your loves what you all want your unique relationships to look like. They don’t even have to be Polyamorous Misanthrope Approved1 as long as all of you are happy in it.
2. Get over yourself.
Sure you want the world to be about you. It ain’t. Being ego-centric is a lousy way to have good relationships. A little humility goes a long way.
3. Believe your partners.
One of the biggest relationship monkey wrenches I ever encounter is the terrible habit of trying to interpret what a partner is thinking instead of paying attention to the actual words used. If you act on what your partner actually says, you’re doing two things. You’re not trying to mind-read (always a bad move, because you can get it badly wrong), and you’re training your partner to speak up and say what they genuinely mean.
4. Say what you mean as best you can.
Of course the flip side to #3 is that you need to say what you mean, too. Yes, that means sometimes you’ll have to think before you speak and act.
5. Have fun.
Many people have this idea that relationships are deadly serious. They’re not. Important? Sure. But enjoy your partners. Laugh. Play. Be silly.
6. Be willing to be vulnerable.
This can be really hard, ‘specially if you’ve been hurt a lot. Just be careful not to use that vulnerability as a club to beat someone with. That’s not being genuinely vulnerable, anyway. There’s another name for it and it’s Not Nice.
7. Be willing to be flexible.
Sure, there are some rigid dealbreakers in anyone’s life. If you have more than three or four, I invite you to examine the joys of serendipity. Relationships grow, change and evolve all the time — even monogamous ones. Don’t be too tied into the One Right Way to Be in Love.
8. Roll with it, baby.
There are times when emotions or events can blindside you. It happens and that’s okay. Accepting that you will get zinged by things sometimes is a good way to be prepared not to react in an unloving way when you are. If something smacks you in the expectation, getting indignant isn’t as helpful as calming down and thinking.
9. Remember your loves are separate from you.
Your loves are separate people with different thoughts, feelings and expectations than you have. Get to know them. Get to understand them down into their bones.
10. Is it about love?
It’s a good idea to ask yourself from time to time, “Am I behaving in a loving manner?” Love’s important. I know I’m a cranky old bat and all, but when you get down to it, love is probably the most important force in the world. Love your partners, for pity’s sake. It’s what makes the whole thing worthwhile.
1 And stop pretending to have a heart attack. That joke’s ancient.