As we venture into the world of polyamory and polyamorous relationships, we will come across many terms. Two very common and important terms are rules and agreements. Rules and agreements help us create a container in which we can move freely. Having a container allows us to feel safe and connected to our values and to relationships. This is incredibly important when building any kind of relationship; and sadly, this is often overlooked in poly relationships.
Use the following to help you and your partners create a container that works best for you.
Get clear on which term you will use
I’m a firm believer that words carry energy and words create impact. To illustrate this point, consider how you feel when you read the following sentences:
- “My partner and I have a rule that we won’t sleep with someone on the first date.”
- “My partner and I have an agreement that we won’t sleep with someone on the first date.”
Which one feels better to you? Personally, when I hear the word “rule,” something in my body cringes. I’m aware of a part of me that wants to break the rule. I’m not saying I would do it, I’m just saying that the use of the word “rule” triggers a rebellious part of me. On the other hand, when I hear the word “agreement,” my body feels expansive. I have a sense of openness and inclusion. Whichever word you choose to use (or maybe you’ll come up with another that works for you), be sure it’s in alignment with your values and your behavior.
Make a “Yes” list and a “No” list
Take some time to come up with a list of things that will and will not work for you, both individually and for your relationship. Consider different scenarios. Ask yourselves what might feel good and what you know won’t feel good. Trust your body on this. Your body will tell you what is a yes and what is a no. Anything that is not a full body yes is a no. Consider any gray areas as an agreement “in process” or a temporary no. Temporary nos are just that – temporary. They can be revisited over time.
Here are a few examples of things to consider:
- How do we handle dating other people?
- How much information do we agree to share with each other and how do we share?
- What are the parameters around having sex with others?
- At what point do we discuss STI’s with others?
- How do we want to practice safe sex? Do we agree to use condoms with others?
- In the event there is a red flag about anything, what is the best way to share this info?
- Can we have sex with another in our home and in our bed?
- How can we best own and share our feelings without taking away our freedom?
Addressing what works and what doesn’t work before an idea goes “live” will prove to be invaluable to you, your partner and your relationship.
Be sure get clear on what you want and don’t want. When in doubt, ask a question. This is where you check in and check in again on what’s okay and what’s not okay. Keep in mind this may change from situation to situation. The idea is to have something in place that gives everyone the freedom to follow their desires in a way that supports the relationship they are in.