/u/d_arizona7 on /r/polyamory asks…
“I would really love to hear from as many of you as possible on this. I see a lot of “I refuse to date newbs.” So, in the sweetest way possible, please fill me in, why? Because newbs are inexperienced and likely to have a difficult time adjusting? It seems a lot like a person just starting out in the real world, trying to build a career… How are you supposed to get experience if experience is a requirement from the get go?”
Anyone who has applied to any new jobs in the past ten years can attest to how silly it is to see a job posting for an entry level position asking for years of industry experience. It has become a sort of a red herring and a catch-all for frustration – especially among my millennial peers – regarding the job application and interview process.
And the same level of frustration has extended to poly dating as well. I have encountered many experienced polyfolks in both my off- and online poly communities who have expressed their hesitance or even hard boundaries against dating poly newbies.
In this post, I will go into why some experienced polyfolks might be dissuaded from dating a newbie, discuss perks of dating inexperienced polyfolks, and outline what we as a community can do better to accept polyfolks at all levels of experience.
Difficulties in Dating Poly Newbies
One of the biggest challenges in dating people trying out polyamory for the first time is that the first steps of exploring polyamorous relationships are ripe with some intense and incredible growing pains. There are some unique challenges for both an existing dyad opening up for the first time and a single person exploring solo polyamory for the first time. And there are some overlaps between the two.
For a couple opening up for the first time, there are issues such as:
- Acknowledging and dissolving couple’s privilege.
- Identifying and managing each person’s own jealousy.
- Allowing and providing space for each partner to process their own jealousy.
- Accepting the inherent gender and orientation differences.
- Creating and maintaining new spaces for each new relationships to live and thrive in.
For a single person exploring solo polyamory for the first time, there are issues such as:
- Managing your increasingly complex schedule and dates.
- Properly communicating and disclosing non-monogamy status with every match.
- Developing fair boundaries & agreements with each connection.
- Applying proper filters to distinguish quality matches.
For both couples and single people, there are issues such as:
- Learning the specific language and terminologies associated with ethical non-monogamy.
- Managing new relationship energy.
- Learning to manage all different forms of inter- and intrapersonal insecurities.
- Shedding monogamous social conditioning and engineering.
- Determining long-term expectations away from the relationship escalator.
- Determining comfort level around and managing various metamour relationship styles (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Parallel, Kitchen Table).
That is a lot!
And as an experienced poly human who has dated some poly newbies in the past, I can personally attest to how difficult some of those initial growth stages are. Understandably, not a lot of experienced polyfolks have the emotional or romantic bandwidth to take on that “mentor” role, to walk poly newbies through those treacherous first steps of polyamory.
Perks in Dating Poly Newbies
And while there are some obvious challenges, there are some incredible rewards to dating poly newbies as well.
First is that newbies do not have the same kind of history and baggage other experienced polyfolks might have. Poly dating is often inundated with heartbreaks, unexpected vulnerabilities, and emotional baggage from previous relationships. And while there are some baggage in dating poly newbies as well, they are much more manageable and consistent. It can often feel refreshing to date someone who is completely new to the vast world of polyamory.
Another major bonus to dating poly newbies is in being able to play the coaching role. As outlined above, there are some major challenges to anyone trying out polyamory for the first time. Being able to help and guide people to experiencing great first experience with polyamory can feel incredibly rewarding. To know that you have had such a tremendous impact on someone else’s life can feel really good, even if the overall experience was negative.
The biggest benefit to dating poly newbies is in just the sheer availability of new newbies to date. Polyamory is an incredibly small subset of an already small subgroup of ethically non-monogamous. There might not always be a lot of people available to date at any given time, especially outside of more liberal metropolitan areas. To rule out a major subsection of an already small group is to hamstring your overall scope of people available to date. There will always be new people willing to explore ethical non-monogamy for the first time. And while not all of them will come fully formed and prepared, being more open to dating inexperienced polyfolks becomes almost necessary in some communities.
What can we all do better?
Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.Jake the Dog, “My Hero” S01E25, Adventure Time, Cartoon Network.
I just really love this quote. None of us arrived here fully formed with the perfect ideas of who we were prepared to be. And I think it is important to keep in mind that we all started out as newbies who probably sucked at doing relationships. And that everyone has to start from somewhere. I think we as a poly community can be much more open minded about welcoming people who practice radically different styles of non-monogamy. Whether they identify as swingers, strictly hierarchical polyamorous couples, respectful unicorn hunters, or a relationship guru with decades of poly experience under their belt, you never know when you’ll encounter that one person who will nullify all the previous experiences you might have had and make you start back from space zero. Sometimes, the Universe has an interesting way to shake things loose for all of us. And sometimes, the Universe sends us interesting newbies who uniquely challenge our experiences and ingrained perspective in wildly different ways.
So let’s all try to keep an open mind and be respectful of everyone regardless of their gender, orientation, or levels of experiences.