Polyamory is becoming an ever more common relationship model for those under 30. So much so, that therapists and sociologists are beginning to study it to better be able to address the unique issues that arise from the dynamic. This means that those that are still dating are ever more likely to become interested in someone who is a part of a poly dynamic.
Courting someone who is polyamorous and has partners has marked differences from courting someone who is monogamous and single.
First things first, you need to find out what kind of dynamic the person you are interested in has with their other partner(s). Every poly group is unique due to the individuals that make it up. We are very tight knit and require that a new partner of one of us gets along well with the entire group. We also expect that all partners are friends. If an individual doesn’t fit with the established group then we cannot proceed. Some groups only want to meet a new partner when there is a deep emotional connection, and others don’t like to meet new partners at all. Our dynamic seeks strong emotional relationships that can possibly become life partnerships, but other dynamics look for a core relationship with lots of shorter, more casual relationships outside of it. Knowing what you are seeking is really important because you need to know if where you fit is going to work.
Additionally, just because someone is poly doesn’t mean that they will always be seeking another relationship. I was once messaged by a man on Fetlife, a kinky social networking site, that was in disbelief that even though I was listed as polyamorous I wasn’t seeking additional relationships. I prefer to really invest in stabilizing new relationships for a very long time before seeking additional relationships. Also, just because I don’t believe in a starvation economy when it comes to love, doesn’t mean that I actually have the physical time or energy to maintain an infinite amount of relationships. So, even if the person you want is poly, it doesn’t guarantee that they are actually in the market for another partner. Asking about it is the only way you are going to be able to find out.
The next thing that will guarantee failure is ignoring their partners. Seriously. My boyfriend GeekKink is a 6’4” punk that oozes sex appeal. Women respond to it in droves. First of all, none of them ask about our dynamic, and then they proceed to ignore myself and the other member of our group in social situations that we are all in. This is a sure fire way to make sure that your courtship is doomed to failure.
Most dynamics aren’t going to need the prospective new partner to be sexually interested in all members of the group, but a little common courtesy is going to go a long way for you. Ignoring the existence of your crushes other partners is rude. Engage them in conversation. Find out who they are. It’s important. You are going to need to be able to share the time and energy of your lover with these folks. You need to be able to get along.
Finally, you need to be able to communicate what you are looking for in a relationship. Not all poly groups are going to be able to provide what you need in a relationship. It might not even be the expected new person not getting the attention or depth of relationship that they want. All too often it can be the other way around. Our group doesn’t accept casual, purely sexual relationships at all. We prefer relationships that are at least long term. I know many people right now that aren’t seeking a relationship with that level of emotional depth.
All of these things show respect for yourself and the others you are involved in. It’s more complicated sure, but you may just end up with a whole bunch of friends in addition to a new partner!