Five Polyamorous Dating Tips

December 8, 2014 at 7:42 am  •  Posted in General, In The Flesh, Polyamory by  •  2 Comments

One of the delights of being polyamorous is being able to continue the dating game even after you have found someone amazing. There is something very invigorating about the energy that comes with flirting and developing new relationships.

During the time I have spent swimming in the poly dating pool, I have noticed that certain approaches work better than others. As such, I’m presenting five things to keep in mind as you are dating in the poly world (and hey, these can be applicable to a point for other non-monogamous relationships and monogamous as well!). I cannot say these points are applicable to all polyamorous folks, but I suspect more than a few are.

1. Interested in someone already in a couple? Acknowledge the other partner exists.

When you are dating someone who is already attached to someone else, it can feel awkward. The idea of meeting your metamour (“metamour” being the partner of the person you are dating) can be intimidating. This is especially true if you are new to non-monogamy.

The truth is that all poly couples have different expectations about how much their partners know or need to know about each other’s dating. However, generally they keep each other in the loop about dating and prospective partners. When people seem to go out of their way to ignore your significant other, it is not an encouraging sign. Examples of this can range from never asking about that person in conversation, or failing to acknowledge or begrudgingly acknowledging that person when they run into each other in real life.

If you are interested in someone but you can only approach that person when his or her significant other steps away, you may be facing challenges. The poly community is small in Vancouver, and many of us go to the same events. You will cross paths with your met amours, so do yourself a favour to get comfortable with that idea.

2. Dating someone? Make your own partner aware that person exists.

Just like you should acknowledge the existence of your metamour, you should also make your partner know about anyone you are dating. Why? It’s a simple way to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Timing, of course, is the thing. Some people introduce all involved when things are getting physical, others do so when things are getting emotionally intimate. Communicate with all involved to determine what these timelines should look like.  There’s no exact science, sadly. Sometimes I’ve introduced people too soon, sometimes too late, but throughout each time tried to learn and adjust to what works.

As for how to introduce all involved, this too will vary. Given the scene in Vancouver, you may already know each other. If not, you could start by sending an email to check for comfort levels, or plan for everyone to meet up for a coffee or during an event.

Just make everyone involved knows what is happening and don’t think it is a date or one-on-one activity!

3. Don’t bait and switch on a couple date.

Depending on your needs and wants as well as the parameters of your relationship, you might want to meet couples to date or play with. Beware this scenario:

You and your partner meet another couple in real life or online. You start chatting as a group and seeing if there is chemistry, and decide to all meet. And soon into the meeting, interest switches from both members of the couple to just one person. Out comes the question:

“Could we just play with (insert solo partner here)?”

Now, this may be a genuine case of someone realizing partly through the date that they are only interested in one part of the couple. It happens. But just as in a “regular” date, you should still be polite and respectful to both people you are on this date with. Zeroing in on one right now and ignoring the other person is just bad manners.

But baiting and switching goes beyond bad manners. This is when you knew in advance that only one person interests you and yet you still go out with both. Perhaps you knew from looking at the pictures they shared, or you only really clicked with one of them in pre-meeting communications and that is one you would like to meet. The right thing to do is say that in advance rather than having both think they are still part of a date.

Odds are that if the couple was looking for solo dating opportunities, they would have said so upfront. Or, they might be open to that if you are upfront and honest. But the bait and switch just leaves a bad taste in many people’s mouths.

4. Be honest with yourself about your expectations so they don’t change midway.

Being upfront about what you are seeking and what you can provide is the best approach for any sort of dating. This honesty will serve you well you as you enter into new relationships. If you are dating someone for a few weeks and suddenly they feel they want something different, then at least you are all in a place of knowing you have different needs – and that you have both been honest about them.

For example, if you say you only have the ability to go on 1 date every week, then whoever you are dating knows that is all you can offer. If the person you are dating wants to get to know you a bit before playing, then you know you will have to get to know that person more if you want to play. While you may hope that what others can offer may change, it may not be realistic. In the spirit of communication you should let the person know if your needs are not being met – but if this is because what you wanted shifted since you started to date each other, it may mean you are not able to fulfill each others needs any longer.

Of course, not matching or meeting someone’s needs is not a failure. Be fair to yourself by acknowledging your own needs and not forcing yourself into someone else’s ideal.

5. It may work out. It may not. Be respectful either way.

Just like in monogamy, relationships may work out or they may not. If things work out and we keep dating, awesome! If things don’t work out, that’s a shame but at least we gave it a try.

Generally, people try to be courteous through all stages of dating: ideally, grace and courtesy should be present if a relationship is ending as well.

If you don’t want to continue dating, then say so. Don’t let someone find out that they are no longer seeing you by vanishing from their lives or simply not communicating. Unless someone is giving you a reason to sever all ties – poor communication, abusive behaviour or some terrible and unnerving activity – then respecting that person and letting them know you no longer want to pursue the relationship is the right thing to do. Odds are your paths will cross again in the community, so the ability to get along will serve you well.

Besides, as I mention before, it is a small community. If you aren’t on board to help things end fairly smoothly, others will probably see how you approach relationship and decide accordingly if you are someone he or she would want to date.

Any poly dating tips you’d care to share?


  1. Matthew / December 11, 2014 at 2:26 am / Reply

    Excellent article!

  2. Matthew / December 11, 2014 at 2:40 am / Reply

    Well written and I could not agree more. Thank you so much for taking the time to share Dave!

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