Easing him in

I used to be a juggalo.

There.  I said it.

It’s easy to understand how I transitioned out of that lifestyle…

I also used to be a diehard monogamist.  This was a little more precarious of a lifestyle to vacate.  Thankfully, I had a partner who held my hand step-by-baby-step unto the exotic lands of nonmonogamy.  Seven years later, now we giggle about the way we used to be.

Polyamory was her idea.  It’s a common misconception that all polyamorous couples are the result of a man who can’t commit to monogamy and an ineffectual woman not holding him to ‘real’ relationship standards.  In my experience, there are just as many women looking to steer their relationship to a non-exclusive path as there are men.  While the lady may be ready to embrace this progressive, new-age relationship style that she’s read all about at Jezebel, her guy might be unexposed and hesitant to dive right in.

Polyamory can be like playing Skyrim.  If someone has never played an Elder Scrolls game, it can be confusing and intimidating; full of strange rules and vocabulary.  The learning curve is so steep, that some guys just go back to playing Candy Crush before they learn their first Dragonshout.

I would have snapped right back to Candy Crush monogamy if my lady didn’t offer me a few hands to ease me into the ethical slut I am today.

So if you are a lady looking to pop your guy’s poly cherry, here are a few things you can do to break him in smoothly:

Baby Steps

When you’re approaching a dramatically different kind of relationship, it’s hard to go too slow.  It’s real easy to go too fast, though.  If polyamory is more your idea than his, you may need to move more his pace than your own.  You may even need to employ some Poly Training Wheels until your guy can pedal on his own.

Poly Training Wheels are addendums to your relationship that make the steps into conventional polyamory that much easier.  While they are certainly useful in acclimating neophytes to polyamory, these are not long term practices.  If these addendums are seen in a relationship that’s been poly for more than a year or so, many seasoned polyamorists will scoff like they just saw a grown-ass man riding a bike with training wheels or eating a hot dog with ketchup.  Poly Training Wheels include the like of:

  1. The One Penis Policy
    Also known as The Highlander Penis.  This is where the guy is allowed to have heterosexual relations outside his lady, but the gal is only allowed to date other girls.  Overlooking the glaring homophobia and misogyny that’s spilling out of this policy, it’s not without its use.  First time polyamorists often fall prey to the question “What does my metamour have that I don’t?” and all of the insecurities that are tied to it.  When the differences between a man and his partner’s partner are made out of chromosomes, it’s easy to stem those insecurities.  When I was just starting, we never had an official One Penis Policy.  But my partner was bisexual and was only finding women who she was interested in.  Later on, when she started seeing more men, my reactions were tempered by my previous experience of seeing her with women.
  2. Package Deal
    This is where couples see someone new, just not separately.  While there is the much hated stereotype of the Unicorn Hunting couple, as a temporary arrangement to get a guy used to the idea of his partner with other people; it could be beneficial for both partners to be present for any new romance.  It might even be a good chance for the guy to explore some of his non-heterosexual tendencies in a safe space!
  3. Do What You Know
    Some polyamorists have a rule to not get involved with their partner’s friends.  For many beginners, though, it helps to have a rule that you only date each others’ friends.  Even though you risk compromising your social circles to do it, it can be helpful for a guy to know that his lady is just out with Kyle, his drummer from the band.  Insecurities can run rampant when a poly newbie thinks about his partner out with a strange man of mysterious intentions.  This all ties into the old adage about the evil you know.
    While this kind of familiarity can certainly be comfortable for dating, it can be tremendously uncomfortable and awkward for breaking up.  Given the turnover rate on your average relationships, consider the possibility post breakup fallout in your social circle.  You may even want to consider getting involved with one of your partner’s acquaintances instead of friends…
  4. Veto Powers
    This is where any outside relationships are conditional upon mutual approval.  If there comes a time when either of you disapproves of an extraneous relationship, the relationship may be vetoed and the rejection must be accepted.  I put “Veto Powers” as a Training Wheel, but I feel like plenty of veteran poly couples practice de-facto veto powers.  My partners and I don’t have veto powers because I know that if they don’t like any new dates I have, I quickly lose interest.  And vise-versa with their partners.
  5. The Panic Button
    When I first got started in polyamory, I hit a few snags.  Whenever I would talk to my lady about it, she would lay monogamy back on the table for me.  Just the act of her saying that put me so much at ease!  If monogamy is still an option for the two of you, it can be very gratifying to hear that option confirmed.  The option is malleable too.  If things are getting tough, you could have some temporary exclusivity, or put them on an indefinite hiatus until the two of you are in a good place again.

Building Blocks

As things progress, you’ll hopefully outgrow training wheels as you grow into a really developed polyamorous couple.  But not all fundamentals are ablative.  Some useful building blocks will help your guy adjust from the start until the two of you are hosting key parties at the retirement home.  Useful building blocks include:

  1. Check Ups
    This is a valuable skill for monogamous and polyamorous couples, but it’s got special weight for a guy shifting away from monogamy.  Obviously, it can be unsettling to be hitting your guy up every day to assess his levels of satisfaction concerning your intimated fraternization.  But it can be beneficial for both of you to chat about how you feel about the relationship over dinner or drinks once a week or so.  Maybe you can even convince him to start writing a blog about polyamory and name it after his favorite kind of pen…
  2. Body Rights
    These take all forms:  No anal sex outside of him.  No cowgirl riding on anyone else.  No twerking if he’s not on the dance floor.  While these are heavily employed in the kink community, lighter versions of them can make any relationship more intimate.  Just because polyamorists deny overarching exclusion, doesn’t mean we’ve boycotted all kinds of exclusion.  The most common form of body rights I see extended is the practice of fluid bonding, which is having exclusive unprotected sex with a chosen partner.
  3. Relationship Hierarchy
    Plenty of poly couples use terms like “primary” and “secondary” to explain the levels of commitment they have to the various partners in their life.  While stratifying the people in your heart can certainly be problematic, it can also diffuse many problems.  Not all polyamorists use these terms, but most usually end up giving a special preference to a single partner who takes no title.  The title of “primary” is an honorific with terms that you can leave undefined if you really want.  Calling somebody your “primary” carries a level of security in the stratification.
  4. Schedule Rights
    I can’t imagine a world of functioning polyamorists without Google Calendar.  If you are ready to take your relationship to that level, sharing your calendar with someone else is a good way to keep them abreast of your life outside of them.  If you want to step up the commitment, have one night every week that is dedicated to being spent together.  Every Wednesday is dedicated to one of my partners in my G-Calendar as “Hump Day“.  If you’re just getting started, it can be helpful to set defined limits on the amount of time you dedicate to other partners.  You could talk about something like limiting the number of outside dates you both have to 2 per week.

This is just what worked for me.  If you’ve had success with any other methods, please post them in the comments!

Most people’s first experience with polyamory will usually determine whether they retreat forever back to monogamy or if they want to make nonmonogamy a part of their lives for good.  When I was being brought into the poly-fold, I was brought in just right.  Horrific as it may sound, I’d probably go back to being a juggalo before I tried monogamy again.

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