Finding serious partners without monogamy
August 2, 2017 2:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a serious relationship but I don't do monogamy. I live in an area without a lot of polyamorous folks, and 95% of those I know of (through my personal life and through poly groups) are married and seeking secondary partners, which is not my thing. Any suggestions for finding new serious partners?

I tried enjoying being single for a while without success, and have been attempting to date without much luck. I'm upfront about not being monogamous which scares some people off from the start; of those I meet and like, we usually have about three dates before they drop me either because they want monogamy (or at least, that's what they tell me) or they've met someone else.

Two of my previous serious partners had been monogamous before meeting me; two had been in open relationships before.

Other info:

*I am a 42-year-old woman, which from what I can tell is not an easy demographic to date in even without special factors.
*I like men and women.
*When I am in a serious relationship, I only occasionally seek out additional partners. Often I'm functionally monogamous but it is very important to me philosophically to have autonomy over my mind and body, which I don't feel I have if entering new relationships or having sex requires someone else's permission.
*I am however deeply loyal to my partners and enjoy having close interdependent relationships. I have no trouble with commitment.
*I currently have a regular casual sex partner.
*My best bet may be to look to Boston and NYC, but I have serious motion sickness that makes travel quite unpleasant and I can't do it regularly.
*I have two teenagers and thus won't be moving anytime soon.
*I have been divorced four years after a 19-year marriage.
*I am on OkCupid and Tinder.
*I am not into kink.
*I have hearing loss that is not an issue in most circumstances but makes crowded bars/ parties difficult.
*My social network is no help.
posted by metasarah to Human Relations (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure date 3 is the best time to bring up long-term relationship goals. That feels like something to address later down the road, when you have The Talk. IME exclusivity is not assumed until you both establish your desire to take things to the next level. Have you considered letting the relationship evolve a bit more before you get into that? You may be surprised at what people will say if you've proven to each other that you like being together. As you said, two of your previous partners were monogamous before you. Did you approach them the same way?
posted by ananci at 3:12 PM on August 2, 2017

I'm upfront about it in my online profiles to avoid wasting anyone's time, but am open to other suggestions. On those rare occasions when I've met people via other methods and it hasn't come up early on, they've been pissed off when it does.

If y'all think this could be a good approach, I'd be interested in hearing advice about whether I should avoid mentioning it when dates ask, "What are you looking for," which often happens on the very first date or even earlier online, and whether I should be evasive if they ask about my relationship history or about, say, my plans for the weekend if they involve seeing my casual partner. My natural tendency is to be perhaps over thoroughly honest.
posted by metasarah at 3:42 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

(My past partners all knew in advance.)
posted by metasarah at 3:43 PM on August 2, 2017

I vehemently disagree with ananci regarding when to disclose. I think you are doing the right thing in being upfront about your requirement for non-monagamy. Since it's a non-negotiable for you, rather than thinking of it as "scaring people off" think of it as weeding out people who are not right for you. It sounds like some people are still giving you a chance and keeping an open mind about the situation if you're going on three dates and then they tell you they want monogamy.

I would feel deceived and angry if someone waited until "The Talk" to tell me they would only consider a non-monogamous relationship. What a waste of everyone's time. For some people, monogamy is just as non-negotiable as non-monogamy is for you, and no amount of liking someone will change that. Would you wait until The Talk to disclose that you have children? It's just as large of a lifestyle factor. And like it or not, many people assume that the end goal for a relationship is a monogamous one, because that's the predominant model in our society.

There are lots of poly folks on OKC in NYC. I'm not sure how far you are, but I would give the Boston/NYC thing a shot. I hate to say it like this, but having kids is a "strike" against you too on OKC, which tends to skew younger - you just have a smaller pool to work with (people who are okay with non-monogamy and kids) so I think you have to accept that your dates will be somewhat few and far between and you should cast your net wide. Have you tried other dating sites, like Match? I've heard that's geared toward people who want a serious relationship. Surely some of them may be into non-monogamy.
posted by unannihilated at 3:47 PM on August 2, 2017 [27 favorites]

Also just chiming in to say that I strongly disagree with ananci -- date three is not too early, and I'd be pretty upset if I got serious with someone and they waited only until that point to tell me they are not interested in monogamy. I am interested in monogamy and most people are, so OP is doing the right thing by not wasting her time or the other person's by being up front about what she is looking for. I don't have any advice on poly dating, however, sorry.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:54 PM on August 2, 2017 [11 favorites]

Also here to very strongly disagree with ananci. I'm completely monogamous in relationships and it has never been a struggle for me, I'm not interested in a poly lifestyle. Tricking me into becoming attached to you so you might have more clout in trying to change my mind is not a solution to this problem. None of my friends who are poly have deceived their partners to get them to date them. It's given me the impression that those in successful poly relationships must be more honest and have stronger communication skills then the usual crowd, so I'm a bit taken aback it's being suggested to you to do otherwise.
posted by Dynex at 3:55 PM on August 2, 2017 [11 favorites]

Dramamine? Big cities do tend to have more options for non-mainstream lifestyles.

Move offline more.. Find poly and LGBT groups, events, and meetings you can attend. You counter your limited dating pool by expanding your friends and acquaintance circle. Hopefully you find someone compatible, or somebody who knows someone
posted by Jacen at 4:50 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Wow, disclosure is not small potatoes and can have nasty consequences in some circles... so though sooner is better than later, you don't owe anyone a list of bullet points in the first five minutes! If by "tricking" you mean "overcoming the steep disadvantage of your built-in prejudice," sure.

FWIW I know a few happy poly-mono couples. Discordance can work. If you're both up for the challenge.

Echoing "expand the pool."
posted by fritillary at 6:04 PM on August 2, 2017

Another complete agreement with your existing practice of being upfront from the start.

Assume your travel sickness is serious enough you can't use typical remedies, you're limited to your local area and, given that, you're mostly needing to find people online.

Since OKCupid is so much better than Tinder for connecting deeply / long term, have you made your profile and matching potential as good as they can be? Fully filled out your profile, posted good pics, and answered at least all the poly questions (ideally lots of questions)? Also, have you searched through all your local matches with the monogamy option turned to non-monogamy?

I think another great place for this question would be the discussion forums (where you can be effectively anonymous if you like) and the Facebook group Polyamory Discussion (if you can be more out).
posted by kalapierson at 8:09 PM on August 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

(I'll note I've never, sadly, known a truly/sustainably happy poly-mono couple [in my 20+ years of being very happily poly myself and interacting with a wide range of others, including many who were trying to sustain poly-mono in good faith and with massive emotional effort]. They exist, but I'd say they're vanishingly rare – so my strong advice would be to start out from the beginning without that mismatch.)
posted by kalapierson at 8:14 PM on August 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm in a poly-mono marriage of 23 yrs but it leans towards the mono, not the poly. Being able to express my poly side regardless of whether clothes stay on or not, however, is non-negotiable so I'm pro disclosure.

For dating it is a pretty lousy cliche but I would look for chances to do activities that are stereotypically poly-friendly. Cons, lgbtq-friendly events/readings/art shows, psychic fairs (ok ok but actually I made a poly friend at one), etc. Not just as a dating pool but as a matchmaking pool...poly ppl tend to know others.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:50 PM on August 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

With regards to disclosure, I think earlier is better, particularly if your version of "open" is one in which you have to be able to sleep with other people without your partner's input. If you wouldn't be willing to settle for a monogamous relationship after three dates with "the one", you shouldn't expect a partner to settle for non-monogamy under the same circumstances.

On preview, you already have a casual partner. Disclosure soon is better than later.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:37 AM on August 3, 2017

If you are up front in your profile about being poly, you will have the advantage of finding potential partners who are like-minded. And they are out there!
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 9:25 AM on August 3, 2017

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