Originally Posted by Athena
Let's say though that you are interested in dating a member of a previously only mono couple that have not even yet had a poly discussion between them. Given the stigma many members of mono-minded couples feel about asking a partner permission to enter a poly situation, wouldn't you be worried that you may be initiating a relationship based on sneaking around the other mono partner?
Interesting question. I've never been in this situation, so I'm left to guess what I might do. I'm going to ignore the "not even yet had a poly discussion" part, 'cause if I knew that I would already know that I wasn't going to date that person.
I'd be pretty leery of being a previously closed couple's first experience of polyamory, but not for the reason you give. I have a hard time imagining the person that I both wanted to date and believed had the capacity to be dishonest with their partner. I mean, I'm totally open to the idea that I could be confused about whether or not they had that capacity; my judgement of people isn't infallible. But if I thought that they had that capacity, it would make them a terrible choice of person to be in a romantic relationship with, right?
I'm generalising, but it seems to me that a lot of previously closed couples don't do polyamory particularly well, and/or have a lot of rules that would make me avoid getting involved. I might get involved with someone (against my better judgement) whose partner has a veto, or "always comes first". I might get involved with someone (against my better judgement) whose partner isn't enthusiastic about being poly-. I might get involved with someone (against my better judgement) with someone who is defensive about the fact that they're asking their partner to open the relationship. But all of those things at once? It's hard for me to imagine. Still, this doesn't really answer your question, and might not apply to any given situation.
I think the dealbreaker would be that I'd be totally weirded out by trying to date someone and never interacting with their other partners. I expect to be involved in the life of anyone I date, even if the relationship is relatively casual. I think that expectation makes me more or less immune from the danger of winding up with someone who is cheating, without needing to ask for permission from anyone other than the person I actually want to date.
It's possible that at some point I could get burned by this by having something happen with someone whose relationship rules forbid that thing ("No eating ice cream with anyone else on the third Friday of months the names of which begin with vowels"), because I don't expect sign-offs but rather expect normal, friendly interactions. But I think that there might be a correlation between taking sanity and honesty for granted and winding up in sane, honest relationships.
P.S. Upon re-reading this, I realised there's some chance that someone might think that I think that "having rules that mean Jkelly is less likely to date you" and "doing polyamory badly" are related. That's not the case! I am totally confident that there are people out there doing polyamory well and have rules that mean I wouldn't want to be involved, or even that they are doing it well because
they have rules that mean that.