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Advice – How do I tell someone that I am polyamorous?

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/u/lividchocoholic on /r/polyamory writes…

“Context: I’m a bisexual woman in my late 20s, married to a man and dating women separately from him. My crush is a gay woman in her 20s, and we met organically (ie. not on a dating site!).

The situation: so, I met this amazing woman about 6 months ago. We met through her work – I’m a client and she is an assistant at this place. I go to appointments twice a week, so I’ve seen her a lot in the last sixth months. When I would go in and we got to talking, we would always have great conversations. I would stay much longer than my appointment time because we would talk so much (on days when she wasn’t busy). Eventually I worked up the courage to ask if she wanted to hang out or if she even could per her work policy. She said it was fine (everyone is very relaxed there), she’d love to, and we exchanged numbers. We hung out that week – we went to a restaurant and talked for four hours. Since we exchanged numbers, we’ve texted a lot. At this point, probably since at least a month or so ago, we text everyday and it’s usually much more than small talk. She responds to my texts with as much if not more information as I do and she always has follow up questions for me or is interested in hearing how my day went (this has rarely happened to me with girls that I’ve liked). We eventually broke the subject of sexuality (I’d given her plenty of hints already) and we came out to each other. She told me she was single and was trying to date women but that she’s had a hard time trying to get started on online dating because it’s so weird (I agree – online dating sucks). This made me wonder if she had ever seen me on the dating apps that she’d tried. I didn’t bring it up because I didn’t feel like it was the right time, but I’ve always been curious about that. Anyways, we’ve only gotten to hang out outside of her work once since then, and we were supposed to recently, but family stuff in prep for Thanksgiving came up on her end. I have very strong feelings for her, and I do wonder how she feels about me. She knows I’m married, but since I haven’t yet told her that I’m poly, I wonder if she assumes I’m monogamous, and then even in the case that she does have feelings for me, she wouldn’t say anything to me because of that assumption. This is where I find organically meeting people to be really hard because you don’t go into any kind of relationship with them knowing you’re poly; you always eventually have to “come out” to them and gauge their reaction. Which leads me to my problem…

The problem: I really like her. I feel like she might like me as well. I do plan on somewhat naturally bringing up that I’m poly through stories about my life that just happen to include an ex-girlfriend when the conversation turns that way or allows me an in to bring it up naturally. I plan on gauging her reaction from that. But my real problem is – do I then go to the next layer and tell her how I feel about her once she knows I’m poly? I don’t want to do an info dump on her, and I don’t want to overwhelm her in any way. But I worry that if I like her and she likes me and I’m withholding this information, then we’re just wasting time when we could be together or at least start formally dating. Basically, there are multiple layers in my “coming out” to her as poly, and I’m unsure of how to go about telling her how I feel.”

Dear Livid Chocoholic,

What an interesting and curious connection that you have found here! I’m so happy to hear that you were able to connect so well with someone organically.

Someone I used to date once advised me on how to come out as polyamorous organically. It is a technique that I’ve used to some varying degrees of success, before I fully came out as polyamorous to everyone I knew.

First, I would casually bring up how common ethical/consensual non-monogamy is these days and gauge their reaction. The common stat I tend to rely on is the “one in five couples experiment with ethical non-monogamy at some point in their relationship.” Depending on how receptive they are to that discussion, I would add that I am in ethically non-monogamous with my partner. And subsequently reflect on my personal experience to contribute to the merits of polyamorous relationships. They usually ask a lot more about what my personal journey has been, especially if they are interested themselves. I would probably pitch this very column at this point as another venue they can check out to learn more about ethical non-monogamy.

I usually let this sit for a couple days, so that they can do their own research on ethical non-monogamy. And if they still maintain the same level of interest, I would open up to them a bit more about my current availability by reflecting on my recent dating experiences. At that point, it’s easy to segue into heavy and intentional flirting to gauge their respective interest level. If that too is received well, then I would directly communicate my interest to pursue them in more of a romantic scenario.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What I am trying to say is that you do not have to lay all of your cards out on the table all at once. Instead, you can also approach this step-by-step to see how comfortable you feel about taking that next step. You can first talk about ethical non-monogamy at large. Then talk about your own personal polyamory experience. Then talk about your availability, before you communicate your interest (directly or indirectly). You have a way to halt this discussion at each step of the way without risking too much. If they immediately nope out of the conversation after they discover your polyamorous relationship orientation, then you know there was never going to be a romantic connection.

If you already have a pretty good feeling that she likes you based on the conversations you’ve been having, in her body language, and in the subtle flirty ways, then you can feel much more secure in discussing ethical non-monogamy with her. She already knows you’re married. And she still likes you. So you already have a pretty good foundation to escalate some of that conversational chemistry to outright flirting.

I am so, so excited for you. Have a great time connecting with your crush over non-monogamy.

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at teatimetomato@gmail.com.

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