The Biggest Red Flags of Non-Monogamy

Over the past four years, Tess and I have dated individuals and couples from many different backgrounds and relationship types. Sometimes it's extremely similar to a traditionally monogamous relationship with extra people, and other times it's closer to swinging with other couples.

We’ve noticed some negative trends that seems to run true no matter what type of relationship you’re pursuing. We wanted to write down some of the biggest red-flags we’ve seen in potential partners so you can avoid some of the mistakes and heartbreak that we have.

When Dating Couples: One Half of a Couple is Not Interested in Non-Monogamy

One night Tess and I were meeting up with a couple we had met through online. We were all going to grab some dinner and see what kind of chemistry there was between the couples.

They were vegan, so we went out to a super-hip restaurant downtown and had some buffalo cauliflower, and some vegan cheese dish. I was impressed with how good everything tasted, though a little hungry even after the meal was safely polished from the plate.

Conversation was good, but not great. There was definitely a friendly chemistry between the group, though the sexual tension, at least from the female side, was non-existent. Tess and I didn’t think too much of it, after all, people express their sexuality in very different ways.

We all came back to our place and played a strip/drinking game to loosen everyone up. Three of us were loose, but the female half of our date seemed even more uncomfortable now that she was in her underwear.

We tried a little half-hearted playing that never really made it past kissing, and then we said our goodbyes for the night.

We stayed friends with the couple for several months, but the sexual tension never materialized. We were ok with this, and just assumed it was because we weren’t their type or something similar. Everyone has their own tastes.

About four months after that first date, the male half texts us that his wife has left him for another guy. Her reason was that she had never wanted non-monogamy and had felt forced into it. She had used their open relationship to foster a new one that better suited her needs.

So, the moral of the story here is that whenever you’re involved with another couple, make sure they’re on the same page. So often you will find couples, specifically newer ones, who just don’t have things figured out. That’s ok, but it makes things very difficult when they try and figure it out by pushing through boundaries.

A warning to you: if it seems like a couple is not communicating or aren’t both into the idea of non-monogamy, stay away. If you don’t, you could end up being collateral damage in a messy breakup.

“I don’t think that word means what you think it means”

As many have noted, including Shani Silver in her post on the non-monogamous dating scene cropping up in the monogamous world, there is a rash of false advertising in the dating world. Many individuals are using “non-monogamy” to cheat.

We’ve noticed that some less than savory individuals are labeling themselves as non-monogamous in hopes to allay any fears that their intentions are anything but ethical. The main issue here should be obvious: they are not being ethical with their current partner, so it’s likely that they won’t be ethical with you.

Spotting these profiles can be a bit difficult as they can fly under the radar and appear to be identical to their ethical counterparts. A great way to vet someone you’re unsure of is to ask about their current relationship, how they’ve structured it, and what their boundaries look like. Anyone truly polyamorous or non-monogamous usually loves to talk about these things, so it should become obvious whether you’re dealing with a legit profile or not.

Answers to watch out for:

“We haven’t really talked about it because my partner would rather not know”

“I’d rather not say, it’s my business”

Often, these types of people won’t care about your boundaries or even you as a person. In my experience, they’re on dating platforms for sex and sex alone. The most dangerous piece of the whole puzzle is that you could get involved in a messy breakup if said individual is found out by their significant other.

They Aren’t In Touch With Themselves

Non-monogamy takes a lot of communication between partners, and even more with yourself. If a person you’re talking to has a hard time relating what they’re looking for in a partner, it could be a red flag.

This one can be tricky. People who are new to polyamory and non-monogamy often don’t know exactly what they want. The space is filled with hundreds of different terms and relationship styles, so it can be hard to know exactly how everything works when you’re at the start of a non-monogamous journey.

Its fairly easy to tell the difference though. Honestly, a newbie will usually tell you up-front that they’re trying to figure things out.

There’s General Instability in Their Personal Life

I got this one from Andre Shakti over at iampoly (you should definitely check out her stuff if you’re looking for more info on everything from polyamory to kink).

A person’s personal and dating life are not separate entities and they bleed together, especially over time as your relationship progresses. If they have issues with reliability, keeping friendships, or something like addiction or debt issues, they will 100% affect your relationship.

There are two ethical ways to deal with a relationship with a relationship with an unstable person.

The first is to break things off. It's up to you whether you share your concerns or not, though they won’t be able to change without knowing what’s wrong. Remember that in the end it's their responsibility to change, so don’t feel obligated to say or do anything that could place you in the line of fire.

The other option is to share your concerns with them in the hopes that they will change. Again, it's not your responsibility to change someone. Conversely, if someone is willing to grow and is putting forth an effort to do so, then have you in their corner could be the catalyst they need to make that change.

Is That Everything?

This is absolutely not an exhaustive list. These are just a few of the things that I’ve personally encountered in my non-monogamous journey. My hope is that my experiences can spare you a bit of frustration and heartache.

It’s important to note that for non-monogamy to work you should approach it with optimism. By looking for red flags in every interaction, it may actually kill the connection. Be aware of the issues that could throw a wrench in your relationship, but remember to enjoy the journey.

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