What's the best way to meet poly people these days?
February 17, 2018 12:14 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend told me recently she wants to open up our relationship. I'm new to this, so I've been going through a lot of grief and excitement and general stress about it. We're five years in, and I love her and trust her completely, and I'm mostly into it, so far, but I'm worried about one practical consideration: How does one meet a new person these days, for either casual fun times or a real romantic relationship, when the situation is poly? What about meeting a couple? Does Craigslist still work, or is it a wasteland? Are there better options? Are there ways to navigate this on mainstream dating services like Tinder or OKCupid?

One wrinkle: She wants to keep this thing relatively private. "Nobody needs to know," she said about our local social circle. It makes things harder, logistically, but I understand it.

I'm new to this. I wanna learn more, because I love her. You can email to openthingok@gmail.com.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's hard to be poly if you're unwilling to let partners actually be part of your life. People are unlikely to want to be your dirty little secret.

I'm not saying what your girlfriend wants (a relationship that is discreetly monogamish, sounds like) is unethical, but I am saying that if you describe it as poly you're going to wind up with misunderstandings and hurt feelings. I'd suggest y'all do your outside play outside your city, and be sure to be up front about your expectations. Make Tinder dates a few towns over, go to a swinger club, whatever, but be very up front about the circumstances. There will be a lot of rejection, but you will find people who are down (she more easily than you, sorry to say).

And don't be surprised if one of you catches feelings and you find yourself drawn toward something less casual. It's hard to avoid, and it's not a bad thing. It's just that it can be very disruptive if you're not prepared. Also beware of rules; they seem like they'll protect you, but they can't. Even though I wanted to take a step back from describing this as poly, I think y'all could learn a lot from More Than Two.

Memail me if you like.
posted by hollyholly at 1:39 AM on February 17, 2018 [8 favorites]

Maybe there is a Poly Cocktails meetup near you?
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 3:56 AM on February 17, 2018

If you want anything besides the most casual of sex, the "no one needs to know" rule is crappy and will turn people off, and is not what poly means. It is profoundly shitty to expect to have a romantic relationship that you insist on keeping secret - you're essentially asking someone to behave like an affair partner.

This article may not seem directly relevant as it is about "unicorn hunters," but it does a good job of describing the problematic power dynamics that can come into play when a couple opens up and also tries to protect their relationship above others.
posted by jeoc at 5:07 AM on February 17, 2018 [17 favorites]

To answer your actual question, you can find poly people in the usual online dating places, or look for poly meetups in your area. But before you do that, I think you and your girlfriend need to have more discussion about what you want to get out of this, and do some reading to educate yourselves about polyamory.
posted by jeoc at 5:13 AM on February 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

There are a lot of terms for an open relationship that are not polyamory. Poly has pretty specific connotations and if y'all are using the phrase poly, most people will expect you are looking for a relationship more sturdy and long term than cadual flings.

Any kind of relationship between consenting, informed adults is ok, but it is not clear from your post exactly what you are looking for.

Also, opening a relationship will NOT fix any problems in your current relationship. It will exacerbate and enlarge them. You have to be really sure you want and can live with the reality of your girlfriend fucking, dating, and generally enjoying men andor women who are not you.

And yeah, she is very likely to be more popular than you. Supply and demand and unicorns and all.

You are allowed to say no to this. You are allowed to say "we need to wait and talk more". You are allowed to open your relationship as much or as little as you are ready for.

Okcupid, kink groups, poly specific groups, craigslist *is* a mad_maxian botopia, but there are a few humans there. Expect 500-10,000 spams per valid email though.
posted by Jacen at 5:49 AM on February 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

I am monogamous and have not had any trouble meeting poly people on Tinder and OkCupid. Seems like it's actually harder to find monogamous people these days, as polyamory is becoming so popular! I've had to stop seeing 2 great people for this reason. That being said, it is probably easier to find poly guys than poly girls. I agree with those above that say that this is only gonna work if it's something you actually want and not just something you are accommodating for your girlfriend's sake. It's great that you're taking her 'needs' seriously, but you have to think of yourself too. This can't work if it's only her that wants it. So ask yourself if you actually want it, or are just trying to be OK with it for her sake. And then tell her how you feel. Cause thats not something that anyone should feel they have to sacrifice.
posted by winterportage at 6:14 AM on February 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

My poly friends have had some luck with poly speed dating (in Boston, but other cities have it). It's not particularly private, of course.
posted by serathen at 6:35 AM on February 17, 2018

If you just want hookups/partner swaps, Fetlife has worked well for Mr. Freedom and I.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:49 AM on February 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

There are poly/nonmonogamous folks of all stripes on OKcupid, in my experience.
posted by Grandysaur at 7:57 AM on February 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Another report from OK Cupid being an easy place to find poly or poly-friendly-casual-hookup-interested people. When I was on OK Cupid, it wasn't what I was looking for, but it was a whole lot of the people I found.

It makes sense if you think about it -- whatever your style of dating, the more partners it involves, the more time you're going to spend on dating apps. Someone looking for a monogamous LTR stays on a dating app until they find someone and then disappears for months or years at a time. Someone looking for non-monogamous dates could be on the same app continuously forever.
posted by LizardBreath at 8:23 AM on February 17, 2018

OKC is where my husband and I went when we opened our relationship eight years ago. As an ethical consideration, we were both super explicit in our profiles about our situation and what we were looking for so that there were no surprises. Neither of us had any trouble meeting and going on dates with like-minded folks. In fact, my boyfriend and I met on OKC and just celebrated our six year dating anniversary.

Nth-ing that you should be thoughtful about what terms you use to describe your situation. It sounds like "non-monogamous" or "open" are probably a better fit for you than "poly" at the moment.

Good luck! The first couple of years after we opened our relationship were both really exciting and unbelievably challenging. But for us, it was absolutely the most life-enhancing decision we could have made. Just be super flexible about goals and rules, expect for feelings to be hurt on the regular at first, and be prepared to talk to each other about allllll of it.
posted by merriment at 10:08 AM on February 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

Meetup.com tends to have regular poly meetups in most major cities, often centered around social activities such as movies or board games.

Nthing the 'discuss your terms and expectations and possibly use a different word' advice.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 2:04 PM on February 17, 2018

You should def listen to the Savage Lovecast. If they’re keyword searchable, all the better. Good luck!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 6:16 AM on February 18, 2018

You might want to check out adultfriendfinder.com.
posted by raider at 8:50 AM on February 19, 2018

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