It looks like there are literally two camps in polyamory around this topic. The one that will NEVER date a monogamous partner and the one that doesn’t care. Personally I came from the first camp and ended up dating a monogamous partner.
Now as you can imagine it’s doesn’t come easy.
First of all, you may think why a monogamous person will ever want to date a non monogamous person, right? If you believe that love is a finite thing between two lovers why would you date someone who thinks the very opposite?
So I would say this, you don’t date a poly or a monogamous, you date a person for whom you have an attraction, a chemistry, and this person is a unique being that cannot be described by a label, and also can make different choices.
What it means is that in a relationship there is no right or wrong on how to love someone. There are only the things you agree on as partner.
Yana and I, for example: when we first meet, we spent endless time talking, and talking, and talking. Hours over wine and food.
I was attracted to her, but I was also considering the fact that she was monogamous and from Ukraine (I precise this only because Ukraine is still a strong patriarchal society, much more than in EU).
Plus I was just getting out of another long term relationship and was reluctant to invest too fast in something new. But well, the laws of attraction are what they are.
So we talked a lot and she was curious about my lifestyle and being poly, so I explained it to her. I even gave her books, the classic, Ethical Slut and Open Up which she read pretty fast actually, and all together it started to change her point of view on things, from “no way” to acceptance and understanding.
At that time we were both in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for a month more before leaving. Her to Bali, then Ukraine, and me to the south, so at that point I proposed her to date for a month and see what would happen. Which she accepted.
And now 3 years later here we are, still together.
I didn’t compromise my lifestyle because she had accepted it since day one, and she is now more “monogamish” than monogamous and completely open to eventually deal with another boyfriend.
So what’s the secret sauce for dating a monogamous partner?
Be straight forward
The first ingredient is to be straightforward and explain your practice of polyamory. See, this word comes with a lot of fantasy from TV, Internet etc… and your future partner is likely to have a particular idea of it which probably does not reflect yours.
Imagine your partner’s only contact with poly was trough a hierarchical couple with couple privileges or with a relationship anarchy type couple? These are two very different takes on practicing consensual non-monogamy.
So, take the time to explain Your practice so your partner can understand you better, and make a decision based on knowledge not fantasy.
This one works for any type of relationship. The number one source of problems in a relationship comes from a lack of communication. If something bothers you, regardless of what it is, your partner should feel free to talk about it and figure things out together.
Another all-use recommendation here. Now this one has a little trick to it which I discovered few years ago. See, everybody gives and receives love in different ways which can lead to troubles, especially in a non-monogamous relationship where we’re dealing with several partners’ feelings.
This is one of the common ways for a mono partner to feel unsafe with a poly partner, and you need to acknowledge that and be forward.
A really good resource to help you with this is a great book by Dr Gary Chapman, The five love languages. On his website you can even take a short test that will let you know how you give love and how you receive it, and it’s a life changer in a relationship communication.
Here are the five in question:
- Acts of Service
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
- Words of Affirmation
- Receiving Gifts
As you can see if your way to show love to your partner is “acts of service” and the way your partner wants to receive love is “words of affirmation”, well it’s not gonna work. You would think that because you fix a car or make the dishes you show love when your partner expects you to tell her or him how big you love her/him, that he/she is awesome etc…
My advice, take the test, read the book, you’ll thanks me later!
Agree on rules
It’s very important to discuss basic rules especially dating a mono partner. What would seem normal for you can be completely different for your partner.
Again from the experience common problems come with dating other partners and how the whole thing works. You should explain your partner they way you proceed then see if it’s ok or not.
For example how do you meet new partners? Do you use an app, do you go out? If you go out how that works, can you bring a new partner home, can you go with a new partner to her/his home? Should you call first, can you have sex on a first night, kiss etc…
All this should be discussed so you don’t hurt your partner’s feelings. You can decide that before going on a first date you will let your partner know about it. Or that if you gonna stay overnight at another partner’s place, you will let your partner know etc..
The more you discuss the subject the more fluid the situation will become.
Yes you read that right! Cheating is cheating. In a non-monogamous relationship or in a monogamous relationship it’s the same thing, you agreed on rules, mostly implicit for monogamy and discussed for non monogamy, and you broke them. That, my friend, is cheating and you should deal with the consequences.
Conclusion on dating a monogamous partner
Dating a monogamous partner is challenging, sure, but what relationship is not? It may sound cheesy, but if you love each other and all the other partners then everything is possible! If you refuse to get out of your comfort zone, your community, your ideas, you may miss an awesome opportunity so be bold!