How to Tell Someone You Have an Open Relationship

Open relationships, ethical non-monogamy, polyamory, monogamy: there are so many words to say to someone that when it comes down to it, you are dating someone else. Here’s how to do it with respect for their time and energy.

There are many practical guidelines for building relationships. Managing jealousy, setting boundaries, handling your feelings. The polyamorous community is pretty good at sharing information and supporting one another, even coming up with its own words for things like non-hierarchical relationships and that opposite feeling of jealousy (this is called compassion).

Well, they’re good. What you don’t hear much about is what it’s like to be a single person who logs on to Tinder, matches up with someone cute, sees in their bio that they are cool, too, and then reads down below, “Ethically non-monogamous.” … Sorry, but there aren’t enough truly ethical people in the world to account for the number of people claiming to be ethical non-monogamy in dating apps, guys.

As a woman who has dated someone in an open relationship on numerous occasions, I have some thoughts on how you communicate your relationship status to the new date with respect for their experience. They are people too. Handle it.

Put it in your bio

It’s fun to dunk on ethically Horny, but it’s best when someone says bluntly what they’ve already done to someone. In a bio, you may not (or want to) tell much about your situation, but some clues are preferable. Then I, a lonely person, can decide whether I want to deal with it or not.

Just last night during our date, a man revealed to me that he was in an open relationship. He said that he usually tells people before meeting them, but often they turn him off after he mentions it. I asked why he didn’t put it in his bio, and he said that when he did it, he didn’t have any matches at all. Boo-oo-oo. In any case, the result is the same, but if you wait, you potentially lose not only yours, but also someone’s time. There are people who like it. Let them choose you with open eyes.

If you are dating someone in real life and start flirting, just remember to tell them before meeting you on a formal date or kissing if things go fast. It’s just polite.

Don’t pull the bait and switch

I date men, women and non-binary people. This makes me, in emoji terms, a unicorn. Many couples are looking for thirds in apps. Again, this is fine. If I’m interested, I’m interested. But on several occasions, I have been matched with a supposedly single person and received messages about joining the troika. Most often it is a woman, but I got to the point where I found a place and time to meet a man before he said, “My girlfriend can’t wait to meet you!”

Not only is this deceiving, but it also diminishes your chances. No one catches this unicorn with a lasso of lies.

Let’s talk about something else

Maybe you’ve just started down this path of non-monogamy and want everyone to read your copy of Discovery immediately. It’s nice to start a new adventure, especially if things are out of date or you suddenly have a lot of pleasure in sex. Just remember that your out-of-relationship dating doesn’t necessarily do it. If someone agrees to go on a date with you and all you do is talk out loud about polyamory using their special open language, they will not feel empathy. They will be bored.

I personally prefer it when someone sets out their situation and then lets me ask questions that I need answers to. These questions are different for everyone. Then treat it like a regular date, not as a defense of your thesis that “people are not programmed to be monogamous.”

Be clear within your limits

In the normal stages of early dating, you get a feel for how things are going to go. This can lead to something more committed, supportive, and lasting. Who knows? There is a possibility.

When you’re dating someone who is in an open relationship, your expectations are slightly different. There are people who have relationships that are different from their main ones, who are given equal attention and care; but more often people may just have sex or enjoy casual dating. However, we are human, and romantic feelings can develop outside the rules. If that’s not an option in your arrangement, don’t indulge in a hilarious new romance playing with those boundaries and then jump when your affair demands a little more.

You have obligations to your partner, but that doesn’t mean you have less obligation to be honest and clear with everyone you meet. Say, “You knew I was in a relationship!” it is not a magic panacea that excuses all shitty behavior. No commitment equals compassion or respect.

Dan Savage came up with the concept of the camping rule to apply to relationships with an age gap: an older person should leave a younger person in “better shape than they found him.” This should also apply to people you meet outside of your relationship. After all, at the end of the night you go home.

Eme Lyutkin is a freelance writer who blogs a lot about dating . She currently travels the country and is going on a date in every city she visits.


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