Resources for Polyamory

Nonmonogamy is culturally invisible. This makes it easy to fall into traps of thinking about what could be a good relationship in dysfunctional ways. It’s normal–often automatic–to feel rejected when a partner would rather spend any given night with someone else. After all, when this happens in the movies it means the relationship is broken, right? Not having publicly visible role models to draw from means that we’re at risk of being drawn into the paradigms we reject by choosing polyamory just by existing in a culture that makes monogamy the only norm. It makes it harder to have healthy nonmonogamous relationships. Not impossible, but hard. There is no way to reach a maintenance phase, if you will; a point at which behaviors that support one’s polyamory become automatic. There is a benefit to this: more conscious thought about decisions and behaviors in relationships prevents taking them for granted, encourages communication and evaluation. But it can also mean a huge pouring in of negative thoughts, of panic and paranoia, of desperately looking for the philosophy you know your paradigm is based on while every message around you insists that it isn’t true, can’t work. It’s enough to make most anyone feel a little crazy, at least on a bad day.

I’m not qualified to write a poly how-to. Seriously, I crit fail at basic social interaction on a regular basis. But since a number of people for some reason think I have my shit together enough to ask me about it, I’m compiling a few resources that are helpful in framing discussions and formulating thoughts here.

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Links! Click, minions, click!

  • If you’re a couple thinking about exploring polyamory, for the love of all that is good read Polyamorous Misanthrope’s Don’t Treat People as Things first. Really. And then don’t treat people as things. 
  • If you’re a couple opening up a relationship, or a poly person in a non-primary relationship with one or both members of a couple, read Non-Primary Partners: How to Treat us Well on SoloPoly.
  • Polyamorous Misanthrope’s The Polyamorous Misanthrope 2012 Top Ten. All of them. Topics include what to do when your partner hopes you’ll get over the poly phase, a (very important!) reminder that polyamory isn’t for everyone, overcoming insecurities, reasonable and unreasonable concessions, jealousy,ethical treatment of secondary partners, and more.
  • Franklin Veaux’s How to Become a Secure Person talks about insecurity with a detailed example of healthy processing of feelings. Note that I say example: there is by no means only one way to process, but this is a damn good one.

Absolutely have to have a brief how-to without clicking links?


  • You are responsible for your actions. Your partners are responsible for their actions. Own your shit. Don’t let anyone make you accountable for theirs.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Communicate. Disclose things relevant to your partners’ ability to give informed consent. No secret partners, etc.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Relationships you aren’t in are not about you. Relationships you are in are about you. Behave accordingly.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Don’t say “it’s fine” when you mean “intellectually I think it should be fine but I am so not fine”
  • Don’t lie.
  • Did you lie? ‘Fess up. Apologize. Don’t do it again.
  • Don’t lie.

You’re gonna screw up. Your partners are gonna screw up. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.*

*Optional rule: quote Beckett whenever possible.

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