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Advice – How can I verify my open status while I am on dates?

I have a question about navigating dating in a newly opened marriage. When I reveal to a date that I’m married but honestly “open”, is the woman I’m with just supposed to trust me? Apparently, some guys lie about this kind of thing.

This happened to me today and I had no good answer for my lovely friend to back up what I was telling her. Fortunately in this case, I have a long platonic relationship with her and she knows me well enough to know I wouldn’t deceive her. But I’m wondering about a prospective date who would want to verify that I’m not lying to her.

My wife and I talked about it. She joked about writing me a hall pass. Seems kinda ridiculous. And why would a date believe a piece of paper I produced if they’re not believing me? Maybe get it notarized haha. My wife is not keen on the idea of being contacted directly by my dates, she’s pretty clear about that. One of the ground rules is that I date women who do not know her, and she doesn’t want to hear about it. Any ideas?

Waterloo SD, Reddit.

Dear Waterloo,

Based on what you have shared, I gather that you have what is traditionally known as a Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell open relationship – or DADT for short. And in every DADT arrangement, you need to figure out a creative but meaningful ways to verify that things are above board without the in-person verification from the spouse. But maybe flashing your gold-embossed, notarized print of your wife’s consent to non-monogamy isn’t the best idea for a first date.

Dating is in part a practice in mindful suspension of underlying fears. For the women you date, they might fear that they might unknowingly engage in an unethical relationship with a partnered person. For you, that fear manifests in the form of rejection from the women who cannot reasonably suspend that fear. Each sides of that fear are valid. And without proper verification, it can be difficult to establish a basic level of trust to help dispel that fear.

And that type of initial trust can be difficult to establish because, as you noted, there are unethical people who misuse or lie about their non-mono status. One particular former metamour of mine never discloses that he is solo poly until after they’ve already established an emotional connection. But the existence of these unethical non-monogamy does not mean that there can’t be a way for your dates to confirm and verify that you are indeed in an ethical non-monogamous relationship with your spouse.

At its core, verification process emphasizes that everything is “above board”.

So if a written permission slip is out of the question, perhaps your wife can record a short pre-recorded video of herself outlining that she is totally into the idea of non-monogamy. The video specifically accomplishes two different goals that a “hall pass” could not.

First is that the video verifies that your wife is a real person with real feelings. As a potential interest, it can be very difficult to estimate the context of your other relationships from a distance. But with this video, there would be a face to a name. Since it isn’t like the DADT goes both ways, you don’t have to be secretive about your relationship with your wife to your potential interests. And since the words are in wife’s own words, your dates can confirm that the consent wasn’t forged.

Second is that it provides immediacy. There is no real way to verify when a hall pass is written. But time-stamping on videos can be provided as a receipt to give your prospective dates an idea of when the permission was last refreshed.

For your wife, it is going to feel a little awkward having to record a video for your prospective matches. But this will only have to be done once. You didn’t specify if your wife is also dating others. So this might be something that you can record for her as well.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Even if you have a written hall pass or a pre-recorded video, the goal isn’t to show them on a first date unprompted.

Your goal on first date should be to establish basic emotional chemistry. Multiamory recorded a great podcast episode on the initial six topics to talk about on a first date, abbreviated as MOVIES. And MOVIES stands for:

  • Metamours – What should you expect from your metamours? In general, what is your current poly circumstance?
  • Openness – How open are you about your non-monogamy?
  • Vetoes – Do you have vetoes in your relationship with other partners?
  • Intimacy/Intercourse – What does your idea of intimacy entail? If it is sexual intimacy, what does that look like?
  • Events – Are family/friends events off the table? Can you travel with your non-primary partners?
  • Scheduling/Sleepovers – What type of advance notice do you need to schedule time? Can you do sleepovers with your non-primary partners?

Hopefully, they already know that you have a primary partner before the first date. So you can probably talk about the general idea of your DADT arrangement here, and mention that you have verification from your wife available if they need it. It might be more fitting to send them a link on later dates or if they specifically request for it after a date.

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.

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2 replies

  1. A former metamour didn’t disclose that he was poly until AFTER an emotional connection is established?!
    That’s so messed up. For those of us who are monogamous, we don’t want to spend time forming an emotional connection with someone who doesn’t want monogamy. Like yes, at the beginning of a relationship, it’s assumed both parties are seeing other people, but the expectation is that both are working towards monogamy-testing the waters to see if monogamy is possible. I’d be so angry about wasted time and emotions if someone intentionally withheld that they are poly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree and empathize with your frustration. I feel like that is the type of information you absolutely need to disclose up front. He rationalized that it isn’t necessary to disclose all the potential dealbreakers, and part of dating is to figure out what those dealbreakers are. But I kept tripping on how unethical, misleading, and manipulative his decision to withhold pertinent information.

      Like

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