By Briana Bliss
The beginning of every new relationship is exciting. There are the first date jitters, the first kiss. Everything is fabulous and the New Relationship Energy (NRE) is flowing freely. How do you slowly add this beautiful bundle of bliss to your already existing life? How do you keep communication flowing freely during your partnerships that are forged? Let’s explore some ideas about communication and perhaps we can learn a little polyamory “lingo” along the way.
When I decided that I was ready to re-enter back into the dating arena a year ago after a dating hiatus, people always ask the common question “what are you looking for in a relationship?” Every single time that I was asked this question, I honestly didn’t have an answer. I became conscious of the fact that it really was time for me to start figuring out the answer to that very important question. What I have realized, after a year of self-discovery, is I still can’t pinpoint it but there won’t ever be that one thing that I am looking for. That is one reason that I am poly!! I don’t have any specifics per se. I just have a list of qualities and traits that I look for. I do know what type of poly that I practice (kitchen table poly where my partners and my metamours can all hang out and be friendly with each other or at least cordial) and what kind of time that I have, so that is helpful. But what “type” of relationship? What expectations do I have?
A friend of mine was talking about her new online dating profile. She said that with her string of failed relationships over the past few months that she was going to try something new. She was going to communicate what her expectations were, what she was looking for in a relationship status, what kind of poly she practices and what kind of time she has to offer a new partner. These thoughts have been rolling around in my grey matter ever since this conversation occurred.
One main difficulty that I have observed, and experienced, is that these sorts of topics are not discussed often in enough detail and early on in the relationship and for me that would be a first or second date type of topic. Neither are the discussions of how do you best communicate? How do you communicate under times of stress? How would you like to communicate / interact with metamours (your partner’s partner)? How much time do you have to dedicate to this relationship? How will scheduling occur? Do you have “veto” power (your partner can end your relationship that you have with one of your other partners based on certain criteria) with your partners or do they have “veto” rights over your relationships? These are all very important questions. These can be, and sometimes are, make it or break it types of questions. The question now becomes, how do you bring up these topics when you are just starting to get to know each other? I have a few ideas.
If you are making a dating profile, make it a little easier on your potential suitors and be up front and honest about what you are looking for. If you don’t know, figure it out! It really can be a trial and error sort of deal. It’s tough and can be a long process, but in the end, I am sure that it will be worth it. You can compose an introduction that includes things like: I have a primary partner (someone that you may or may not co-habitat with), a secondary partner (someone that you have a romantic connection with but is not a primary), a LDR (long distance relationship) and a comet (someone who seldomly passes into your life but that you keep in contact with in between visits). Be aware not everyone practices these types of polyamory nor do they have these types of partnerships. These are just examples.
When you are talking with someone on a first date, it is always helpful to discuss availability and scheduling. How much time do you have available for a new partner? Do you have kids? Do you have a job that keeps you away for extended periods of time? Are you polysaturated (have already reached your emotional and time capacity to take on new partners at this time)? Hopefully if you are polysaturated you aren’t on a first date, but you never know! When this talk happens, you need to think about if things go well, down the line will you be able to devote more time if you want to? Will you be able to cope with only a date every other week because this potential new partner can only accommodate that time with you and any other time is an added bonus?
I feel that this one seems simple, yet often I find that it is overlooked. Talk. Yes, I know it appears to be really straightforward, yet how many times have you been asked out to the movies for a first date? Or a bar, or dancing, or… or… or…? It makes it awfully difficult to hold a decent conversation in places where you either can’t talk, can’t hear, can’t concentrate or a place that just isn’t conducive to an active listening environment. Pick a time that you are alert and a place that will work for you.
Calendaring is very important. Are you someone that forgets to write things down? Leave a partner hanging once or twice and I guarantee that you will be stuck in a very sticky situation, especially if you are with another partner while the other is sitting somewhere waiting on a date that you forget about. This is when the green-eyed jealousy monster can rear its ugly head. By all means, buy a calendar or a personal planner. Use the calendar on your cell phone. Better yet use Google calendar and share it amongst your partners so that everyone can have access making it much easier to make plans. I have found in my many years’ experience living the polyamory lifestyle that nothing gives someone more of a sense of security than having the next date on the calendar before the end of the current date. Knowing when the next time you are going to see someone really does provide a certain sense of comfort. Fear of the unknown allows the “what ifs” to come and mess everything up and can shake up everyone’s sense of confidence in a relationship if you let it.
The key to all interpersonal relationships is effective communication. Unfortunately, many of us go through times in our lives where things fall apart, we stop communicating, we push people away because of our own emotional unavailability. I am sure that we have all had circumstances come up where we pull back, tight lipped, and relationships suffer. I have been on both the giving and the receiving end of these tragedies and it does not feel good on either side. The grass isn’t always greener. Keep talking, keep loving, keep communicating people… that is where the magic happens.