Telling a Date You Are Polyamorous

One of the major hassles of being poly is finding other poly folk to date. Some of us only date through local poly groups or online, where we can be sure our date is poly friendly. Some of us can be more comfortable diving into the local dating pool. But when you are dating someone you don’t already know is poly, or poly friendly, sooner or later you’re telling a date you are polyamorous and seeing how they react.

Bringing It Up Immediately

Ideally, honesty and respect require telling a potential date immediately. If they ask you:

Them: Hey, would you like to go out for dinner tomorrow?
You: Sure, I’d love to go out with you. Um…I should let you know, I’m polyamorous, I don’t do exclusive relationships.

They’ll either be cool with that or not. I suggest always adding some explanation of what polyamorous means. At this point, you don’t want to get bogged down in long explanations.

  • I don’t do exclusive relationships.
  • I have an SO, and we have an open relationship.
  • I’m dating two other people.
  • etc.

What you don’t want is to have them asking “Polyamorous, what’s that?” You can explain the details over dinner.

If you ask them, same deal.

You: Hey, would you like to go out for dinner tomorrow?
Them: Sure I’d love to go out with you.
You: Great! I should let you know, I’m polyamorous, I don’t do exclusive relationships.

Bringing It Up on the Date

Sometimes, you don’t want to or can’t say something immediately. Maybe you are still in the closet and they asked you at a company party. Or somewhere else in public. In that case, bring it up on the first date.

You: While we’re getting to know each other, I should tell you that I’m polyamorous. I’m (currently in/currently not in) other relationships, but I believe in being able to have multiple relationships and won’t be exclusive.

Waiting Until You Feel Safe

Some people live in areas where just up and saying “I’m poly” is not a good idea. If this is you, wait until you feel safe saying something, but do make sure you aren’t starting the relationship with dishonesty.

You: So we’re clear, I’m not ready to have an exclusive relationship after one date.

You: I like you, and I’d like to see you again, but I’m not ready to be in a committed relationship right now. Are you cool with that?*

When you are ready to say something, start with what you said on the first day: You know how I said that I wasn’t ready to be exclusive? Well, I need to tell you that I actually don’t do exclusive relationships. I’m polyamorous.

*I know, I know. But to monogamous folks “commitment” means exclusivity. Sometimes you gotta speak the other person’s language.

This post is part of the Polyamory Etiquette blog series.

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4 responses to “Telling a Date You Are Polyamorous

  1. I think it’s a bit deceptive to say you’re not ready to have an exclusive relationship if you’re *never* planning to be ‘ready’.

    • It is deceptive, which is why I only recommend it in situations where people feel it is not safe for them to “out” themselves as polyamorous to a near or total stranger. This is not a hypothetical, by the way. I have spoken with poly folk who lived in places where because of the local culture and customs, they felt they could not safely tell someone they were poly until they had some idea of how that person would react to the idea of poly. They were looking for suggestions as to how they could subtly check to see if it was safe to tell a date about their relationship style.

      While honesty is a core value of polyamory, and thus a basis for poly etiquette, honesty is not and should not be required at the expense of personal safety. This is a judgement call for poly folk are in the closet and live in areas that are not safe for people who step out of the local society’s mould. Unless you are putting yourself at risk by outting yourself to someone you haven’t had a chance to get to know, you should be telling a date up front, or on the first date.

  2. This is excellent, no-nonsense advice.
    Thank you for this. ♥

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