When starting a relationship, any relationship, you want to start with having rules, or better yet, boundaries. These are things that need to be in place before even signing that relationship dotted line so that everyone knows where they stand.
The importance of rules and boundaries is paramount, especially when it comes to polyamorous relationships. Multiple people are involved, and thus various personalities, needs, wants, desires, etc. There needs to be, and if anything else, boundaries set so that everyone involved knows where everyone else stands, what’s acceptable and what’s not.
Things That Should Be Thought About
Certain rules and boundaries are just a given for these types of relationships, as they benefit everyone in both the short and long term, even when the relationship changes over time. Just be aware that when that relationship changes, those boundaries might need to be re-evaluated.
How Much Do You Want to Share?
This is an important thing to think about, as this can have jealousy rearing its head if you’re not careful and don’t discuss what is acceptable to be shared and what’s not. Don’t sit with your feelings if you feel jealous about something. Ensure that you clarify how you feel, talk to your partner(s), and be heard. Knowing what triggers you to feel jealous, or finding that you just don’t like it when your partner(s) discuss certain moments with you between themselves, talk about this. Don’t keep it buttoned up.
Don’t Neglect Your Primary Partner
This goes both ways for yourself and those partners within the relationship with you. Don’t neglect the partner that you went into the relationship with. This will cause issues, jealousy, feelings of inadequacy, and a host of other problems that will only cause heartache in the long run. If you’re the primary partner and feel neglected, make sure that you talk about this with your partner and let them know so that you can re-evaluate just what your needs are in that regard.
Be Present For Everyone Involved
Be present. That’s a saying that every therapist uses, or any guru, yoga teacher, or anyone else that’s into telling you that you need to be in every moment. This stands to be true with relationships most of all. If you’re not present with your partners, you’re not giving them your full attention and respect their time and energy that they’re putting into the relationship.
Own Up to Your Mistakes
This is just true of life in general but especially true of relationships. If you make a mistake, own up to it and make sure that you keep yourself accountable. This will not only ensure that your partner(s) can rely on you to be there for them but that they can trust you as well.
These are especially important when talking about rules. These are probably more important than rules themselves. Boundaries are lines that you draw for your partners on what’s acceptable and not acceptable in a relationship and how far you’re willing to let them go with certain things. If those lines are crossed, talks need to be had, lines might need to be redrawn, or you might need to reach a mutual agreement on another boundary that makes more sense for everyone involved.
Always respect those within your relationship and not just your primary partner. Ensuring that you respect everyone will make sure that not only do things go smoothly, but that everyone involved is happier and trusts each other more, but also finds that they’re more willing to adapt and change with time to people’s needs.
Communication is vital in making sure that everyone is happy. This should be #1 on the list of things to think about when talking about rules. If you don’t have a good communication flow between all partners, there’s going to be something that gets lost in translation. Making sure that you’re talking about all things, and anything that comes up as an issue, or even to speak daily and having open communication to know how everyone is doing, is essential to a happier relationship.
Keep Expectations Realistic
Ensure that you keep your expectation realistic. This doesn’t mean that you can predict everything with some crystal ball and have the expectation that you’ll be together forever or that in a year, you’ll break up. Your best bet is to take it day to day and realize that people change over time, which means that relationships change over time. Being open-minded and knowing this will keep you happier and less stressed about the ‘what ifs’ of your relationship and more present in the now.
Quality Time vs. Quantity Time
Quality vs. Quantity is essential to distinguish. Some partners might be OK with just two days a week in getting a date with you; others might need more time. Equal doesn’t always mean that things are fair, and being equal doesn’t always make everyone happy. Quality time means being present in the moment with who you are in that moment rather than spending a quantity of time with them that isn’t meaningful.
Many rules focus on what you should do for other people and not so much yourself. To be happy, you’ll need to learn to love yourself more as you’ll be alone with yourself when your primary partner isn’t around. You’ll need to understand that sometimes these rules don’t benefit you but benefit the greater good instead, and need to be OK with that.
In the long run, being good to yourself, expecting that change will come with time, and things will need to be rethought, changed, and talked about, will help you be happier, more content, and more likely to be in that relationship long term.