Being in a monogamous relationship is certainly not for everyone. Some people choose to never commit themselves to anyone, while others find themselves in relationships that are completely against their nature.

The alternatives to exclusivity are bountiful. Polyamory, for instance, is the practice of being in multiple loving relationships with multiple people. There are various ways in which people can be polyamorous, like having multiple sexual partners, same-sex partners or emotional relationships with other people. But polyamory adds an additional level of complexity to the already convoluted world of dating. That’s why it’s pertinent that you set some ground rules for yourself before diving in.

For starters, be brutally honest with yourself and others you are sharing this lifestyle with. For a lot of people, the issue with monogamy is feeling like you are trapped living a life that is not conducive to who you are, which can often lead to lying. If you want to be happy, and find people to be happy with, you have to let your guard down and just be real.

Don’t force anyone into a box, and don’t let anyone force you into one either. One of the biggest rules of polyamory is not to have so many rules. Starting things off by telling a partner they can only date you and one other person, for instance, and that they must treat you both the exact same way, doesn’t leave room for a whole lot of experimentation or growth. Rather than forcing polyamory, much like you may have forced monogamy, let the lifestyle come to you, and define it as it unravels.

With that said, you should know what you want to some extent. And, of course, what you don’t want. Try to answer what your preferred polyamorous relationship would look like, what you hope the lifestyle can add to your life, what challenges you may face and how willing you are to work through them, as well as how you will work through them.

And while it can be easy to do, don’t keep score. Calling someone out for sleeping with another person more times than with you, or going on more dates, is counterintuitive at best. Love, sex and emotional connections shouldn’t have to be measured by numbers. Sex 10 times a day may not even add up to one incredible, mind-blowing sexual act one day a week. Knowing your desires and boundaries is one thing, but making a game out of a very real thing is dangerous. Be mindful and respectful, always.

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