When do you know you are ready to pursue poly?
The last six months have led to some pretty radical changes in my life that have led me to a point where I am seriously considering pursuing a poly lifestyle, but I also have a lot of hesitation/insecurities etc about this and would really love some words of wisdom here.
Some background about me:
- I recently reconnected with who I consider to be my soulmate of soulmates after years apart. We are together now and he allows me to be exactly who I am... which is an amazingly free feeling and is why I have even felt able to acknowledge that I may be poly at heart.
- I moved down to Georgia to be with my partner and to my great surprise I met a woman there with whom I share an instant deep bond with, as well as mutual sexual attraction. Other than my current partner, she is one of maybe 3 or 4 people that I have felt this way about in my lifetime.
- My partner knows how I feel about this woman, and has encouraged me that "when I am ready" that he supports me pursuing this.
The question is, how do I know I am ready? I want to express myself fully with this woman but when I think about it for too lengthy of a time it causes me a great deal of distress about the potential of negatively impacting what I consider to be the greatest gift in my life (my current partner), and I also don't know how to approach her even if I was ready. She and I both know that there is something between us, but out of respect for each other we have never pursued it further than friendship.
I sometimes feel like even though this is what I WANT - I am far from being ready to really engage in this on an emotional health level at this point.
Thanks for your thoughts in advance.
If you don't feel ready emotionally, don't do it.
That, it seems to me, is a very basic guideline to follow when considering entering any serious relationship. If you're not emotionally ready for the dance of relationship and all that can happen, then stay away. One can be uncertain as to how well it work out and how long it might last. I don't think one can be uncertain as to whether one is ready or not and still ethically get involved.
I think being ready is a completely subjective thing, there is no list of signs that mean you're ready.
The most basic way to know if you're ready is if you feel that you are.
This reminds me of that question many young girls ask themselves, how do I know when I'm ready to lose my virginity? Well, you just know... if you have to ask, then you aren't.
Keep building up the friendship. Even go so far as to tell her you have feelings and you think she does too, but you're not sure that you're ready to pursue it. Once it's out in the open, things may begin to develop naturally.
I try to live my life by the motto "go with the flow." Sometimes I forget and get caught up in trying to control things that can't be controlled, but I always feel much happier and at peace when I just let life happen.
From my short experience (I've been in a poly relationship for almost six months) the skills I've needed in my emotional toolbox so far include:
- Ability to ask for what you want and need from your partners, hear what they want and need, and then negotiate. You can't unilaterally demand what you want, nor can you just yield more than you're really okay with in order to avoid conflict. It's got to be a very open give-and-take.
- Ability to acknowledge negative feelings (like jealousy, insecurity, resentment) and work through them. Everybody experiences them; if you (like me) are the kind of person who naturally stuffs them down and pretends they're not there, the stresses of a poly relationship are pretty much guaranteed to trigger an explosion sooner or later.
- Security in your current relationship. You have to trust that your bond is strong enough to weather some tough times. If you're not there yet, work on the relationship between the two of you before bringing someone else in.
- Good boundaries. Ability to distinguish between "my problem," "your problem," and "our problem." Ability to enjoy and invest in activities that don't involve your partner, for your partner to do the same, and for you both to recognize that that's healthy and not a threat to your relationship.
- Trust that your partners also have the above skills.
Communication, honesty, and self-awareness are the cornerstone virtues of polyamory. You don't have to be perfect in these areas (who is?) but if you've got a major weak spot in any of them, you probably want to work on it before you try being actively polyamorous.
It's probably also a good idea to take lots of time to explore the territory before you begin another relationship. Read, discuss, talk with your partner about ideas and expectations, what model of polyamory you think each of you would be most comfortable with, and all that stuff.
The fact that your partner allows you to be exactly who you are, and is supportive of your exploring this, is a really good sign. Be patient with yourself and with each other, expect some ups and downs, and try to enjoy the ride. Best of luck to you!
Thank you everyone for your thoughts so far. It is so wonderful to find this forum!!!
Irena, I will most definitely be using your list as a sort of guide for me to work through things.
What stuck out for me was your commentary on emotional security. This is an area that I know I need to work through more with my current partner. He is absolutely wonderful, but given that I had a long term relationship that was abusive in many ways it will take time for me to really trust anyone fully. This is one reason why I am hesitant to bring someone in (in the sexual realm, the reality is that emotionally I already love this girl very deeply) as I know that I have enough baggage I have to work through before I open myself up further.
It is difficult though, because my desire to express myself with this woman verbally and physically is very strong, and I feel conflicted about suppressing it until I have everything else in order.
Thank you for your positive encouragement. I am very lucky to finally be in a place where I feel safe enough to even explore this possibility.
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