How can I tell women that I’m married, but polyamorous?
I’m Zachary Zane, a sex writer and ethical man (a fancy way of saying I sleep with a lot of people, and I’m very, very open about it). Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of sexual experiences, dating and sleeping with hundreds of people of all genders and orientations. In doing so, I learned a thing or two about navigation issues in the bedroom (and a bunch of other places, TBH). I’m here to answer your most pressing sexual questions with in-depth, practical advice that goes beyond just “communicating with your partner” because you already know that. Ask me anything – literally, anything – and I’ll gladly do it.
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Dear Sexplain It,
When I go to a party or other event where I could potentially meet a new partner (not a sex party, but say, a friend’s house party or a night out at a local bar), I always want to signal that I’m open new relationships even though I’m also married. But when you meet someone for the first time and introduce yourself, it’s weird to say, “Yeah, she’s my wife, but I also date other people and sleep with them.” But I feel like I have to say something. Otherwise, I am immediately considered monogamous and “out of market”. So, what more could I say?
– On the market
Expensive in the market,
There are a few reasons why most non-monogamous people tend to befriend other non-monogamous people and build large polyamorous communities, and a big one is how awkward and unlikely it is to meeting like-minded people in predominantly monogamous spaces – that is, most of society. Remember that most people chilling in your average bar aren’t polyamorous, let alone having a drink with someone who has a wife.
If you go out and tell people you’re poly right off the bat, there’s not only a good chance the other person won’t be interested; you also run the very real risk of being ridiculed or harassed. And even if they’re not jerks, they can ask a million invasive questions about non-monogamy that you haven’t come to the bar to answer.
So my first piece of advice for you is to view these casual events as opportunities to meet new friends, as opposed to new partners. You’ll be much more likely to find people dating a married man on non-monogamous apps like Feeld, at sex parties, or on polyamorous dating.
That said, you had a specific question about how you should convey your relationship style when meeting people in the predominantly monogamous world. To answer your question, I don’t think you should mention it out of hand – the same way I would never suggest a single monogamous person walk up to attractive strangers and say, “Hi! Just so that you know, I’m single right now and open to dating!” Whatever your ideal relationship style, your best bet when it comes to building new relationships is to send subtle signals, read the room, and feel your way.
I asked the polyamorous educator Leanne Yau (aka Poly Philia) for tips on how to incorporate your polyamory into regular conversation. “It doesn’t have to be a big announcement or an admission,” she said. “It could be something as simple as mentioning that your wife was on a date the other night or referring to multiple partners if you have any.”
Chances are they’ll respond with Something which indicates whether they are open to non-monogamy or not. When I insinuate in conversation that I’m polyamorous, people often respond with, “I don’t think I could ever do that. I’d be too jealous.” Or, they launch into a long anti-polyamory tirade. When it does, I have a clear answer: Nope. On the other hand, I’ve had intrigued people who said they’ve always been curious about polyamory. They then ask a few questions which I do my best to answer. These people, I can decide to ask them. Sometimes they say yes, and sometimes they refuse.
I realize that everything would be easier if you could just to know right off the bat if they’re open to dating a married guy, but incompatibility is always a risk when two strangers start talking — and it can happen for a million reasons. Sometimes you flirt with someone all night, only to find out they’re monogamous and in a relationship. Or you think you’re hooking up with someone, only to find they have terrible political views that don’t align with your values! That’s exactly what it’s like to meet and date new people. It’s a game of trial and error whether you’re poly or not.
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