Dating Someone New to Poly
A statement that comes up often in poly circles is, “I don’t date newbies.” Those words tend to generate two distinct responses. People either nod their heads in agreement and understanding or they bristle at the idea of excluding an entire group of folks simply due to their lack of experience.
Neither response is necessarily right or wrong. The decision of whether to attempt relationships with people who are new to polyamory is a personal one. Each individual will have their own preference based on their interests and experiences. If you’re unsure whether to pursue dating someone who has never been in a poly relationship before or who is merely poly curious, it might help you to consider the following questions in order to reach a decision you’re comfortable with.
What Are Their Expectations?
As most of us already know, communication is essential in any ethically non-monogamous relationship. There are a number of dynamics at play, and it’s crucial to have discussions to be sure everyone is on the same page. This can be especially important when dating poly newbies.
You’ll want to talk to your prospective date in order to determine what their expectations are when it comes to dating multiple people. Ask them what prompted this exploration or why they’re open to the idea. Pay attention for potential incompatibilities or red flags. People who are new may come in with different expectations than experienced polyamorists have. While that’s to be expected, it doesn’t mean that you are obligated to accommodate those differences.
What Is Their Current Relationship Status?
A potential partner’s current relationship status can make a difference in how they’re likely to relate to you. This can be quite significant with newbies who aren’t aware of the kinds of dynamics that are involved in maintaining multiple relationships. Those who are currently in established monogamous relationships that are newly opening up present a host of potential challenges for the people they date. There’s couple privilege, dealing with jealousy and insecurities in ways they’ve never before faced, deciding whether to come out to their circles and more.
When dating single or solo folks new to poly, there are also unique considerations at play. The idea of connecting with multiple partners is often exciting for these individuals. It can be tempting to get in over their heads. They might have difficulty managing their schedules and giving each relationship the attention and respect it deserves. Navigating boundaries and agreements with each connection can prove to be overwhelming as well.
Have They Done Any Research?
Both solo folks and those within established partnerships must learn a host of new terminology, expectations and dynamics. Overcoming societally ingrained conditioning surrounding monogamy norms and the relationship escalator is a challenge for most people. You’ll want to find out how much research your newbie crush has done regarding polyamory. This knowledge might affect your decision as to whether you want to pursue a relationship with a poly newbie.
When people are new to ethical non-monogamy, taking time to read books and articles about polyamory can be an encouraging sign. Joining poly groups and interacting with experienced folks is also quite useful. Being a potential partner’s teacher requires a lot of emotional labor. Not everyone is willing or able to take on that responsibility, and that’s okay.
Ultimately, the decision about dating someone who is new to poly is up to you. You’ll need to determine what amount of additional labor, risk and compromise is within your comfort zone. Once you’ve made that decision, it’s wise to keep your own guidelines and boundaries in mind each time you encounter potential new partners.