Polyamorous Relationship Coach (Poly-Coach) Tips: Do Poly/Mono and Mono/Poly Relationships Work?

Laurie Ellington, Poly-Coach, Offers Coaching Tips for Open Relationships, Polyamorous Relationships, Poly Dating, and Non-Monogamy.


Recently someone asked me the following:  “Do Monogamous/Polyamorous Relationships (Mono/Poly) and Polyamorous/Monogamous Relationships (Poly/Mono) work?”

My response:  “They can.”

In polyamorous relationships where one person considers themselves monogamous, and the other person considers themselves polyamorous (mono/poly or poly/mono), things can get complicated fast.  Here are a few things to consider…

All parties need to be on board:  In order for any kind of relationship to work, all parties need to be in agreement of what kind of relationship they are co-creating and they need to share, or at least understand, each other’s definitions of relationships, especially polyamorous or open relationships.  This is different from “my way or the highway” or “I’m not okay with this so you need to stop.”  A monogamous/polyamorous relationship, like any other relationship, is about actively choosing what we want and creating the kind of relationship that works for everyone involved.  I like to see it as a process unfolding.  We have to be willing to be a part of the process in order to see the ultimate product.   We need to stay process oriented, rather than outcome oriented.  Staying in the process of things, keeps things more present, more alive.  Looking at monogamous/polyamorous relationships in this way, offers people more space to experience, explore and discover the relationship as it unfolds.

Show up and Speak up:  Communication is essential for the health of any kind of relationship.  When considering a monogamous/polyamorous relationship, there’s a lot to talk about.  This is good.  It’s important for both parties to ask questions, address concerns, share intentions, express feelings and communicate desires.  Creating and holding  space for each other to be seen and heard clears a path for mutual understanding.  The open and polyamorous relationship lifestyle is ripe with intricacies, potential challenges and growth.  I cannot stress how important it is to actively engage in every aspect of the process.

Commitment to finding a mutual understanding, even when it seems impossible:  I want to be clear here that mutual understanding may not mean agreement. We are not aiming to create polyamory rules, but keeping ourselves open to understanding the other person’s perspective. It’s very possible that both parties will not be in 100% agreement with each other.  A monogamous person may struggle with accepting polyamory for themselves.  They may be okay with it in theory; however it might not work for them in practice.  On the other hand, polyamorous person may feel challenged by the feelings their monogamous partner experiences.  It may be hard for them to sit with the feelings because they may feel responsible for creating these feelings.  What’s important here is to understand that feelings are a natural part of being human.  Feelings are an indicator of underlying needs. When the underlying need is addressed, then both parties have more of a sense of what can be done to get that need met.  Remember, we are always at choice.  We need to be willing to see the other person’s point of view, without changing who they are.  If this is not possible for those who choice polyamorous relationships, then it may be best to move on.

Openness to trying new things:  This is what I call exploring the edges of our comfort zone. This is where I encourage my polyamorous relationship coaching clients to take things slow, to stay in connection with each other, without losing touch with their desire to do different things.  When we open ourselves to trying new things, we see how something threatening can be liberating.  Something once thought as a barrier to intimacy, can become an opening to deep connection and understanding.  Polyamory is an invitation to open and be open.  Polyamorous relationships can be challenging.  This comes with the territory.  Some like it, and some don’t.  Either way, it’s okay.

Clear understanding around boundaries and agreements:  This is where we ask ourselves and each other the following:

  • “What’s okay?”
  • “What’s not okay?”
  • “How can we best support our individual needs and desires and stay in connection?”

This is where I encourage my polyamorous relationship clients to brainstorm, to write lists, to get things out of their head and on paper.  Clearing your head keeps stories at bay.  From a clear head space we are more able to speak from the heart and make choices that serve our highest intentions.

Go a little deeper:  Whenever conflict occurs, whenever we are faced with a challenging situation, I encourage my Poly-Coach clients to pause, and go a little deeper.  When we pause and take moment to check in with our experience, we allow ourselves to shift from reactive mode to responsive mode.  When we are in responsive mode, we are able to ask questions like:

  • “Where am I?”
  • “What’s happening?”  
  • “Why do I feel so triggered?”  
  • “What do I need right now?’’
  • “What (mature, adult) action can I take to get that need met?”

Pausing to go a little deeper, is the best way to create a new experience in any kind of relationship, especially in a relationship that is as unique as a monogamous/polyamorous one.

Be resourceful:  Remember, we who are venturing in the world of polyamorous relationships and mono/poly relationships are not alone.  There is always support available.  When considering something new, there will be challenges.  There will be fears to face.  This is normal.  We are always at choice.  We need to remember to ask ourselves the following questions:

  • “What are the challenging patterns?”
  • “How can I set myself up for success to move through challenging times?”
  • “What specific activities can I do to engage my body and let go of the fear based stories my mind wants to create?”
  • “Who can I reach out to when my partner is not available?”

Making a list of available resources to help us, though challenging times, is incredibly helpful.  

Listen to you heart, not your head:  Remember, you are always at choice.  Trust yourself.

Know your limits:  It’s okay to say no.

What about your experience?  Where are you on your path?  Are you curious about open relationships, polyamory and non-monogamy?   Are you actively involved in open relationships and looking for support from an experienced poly coach?  Would you like to learn more about it would be like for us to work together?

For more information about open relationship coaching and polyamory coaching services, and to schedule a Free Exploratory Poly-Coach Session, contact Laurie Ellington, Poly-Coach, today.


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Laurie Ellington

Polyamorous Coach at Poly-Coach
I teach people how to break through false beliefs and negative behavior patterns. I offer my clients tools that empower their life and their relationships.
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