Episode 123: Keeping Things Equal

How do you keep things equal between your partners especially when it comes to introducing them to family?

That’s what’s on this week’s episode of Non-Monogamy Help.

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Podcast transcript

For example you are on a first date with someone… how do you tell them you're [polyamorous]? And when? Do you just say it like when you say your sexuality or do you hold it until later on when you know each other properly? Even so there is a risk that they'd leave you, after you tell them. 

Then how would you introduce your family to your spouses or significant others? Do you go one by one or all together? What would you day is the best approach? 

Within [polyamory], how do help to make [an] equal relationship with all your significant others together? Do you make a time sheet or something? What would be your tips?


So firstly, you've kind of used in your questions, a lot of different words. You've used the word polyandry, polyandrous and then you've also— Yeah, you've used the word polyandrous. As far as I know— so there’s polygamy. There's polyandry.

And there's polyamory and you may not be an English as a first language speaker and that's totally fine. But there is actually slight differences between these words. I did actually—  I think it was in the most recent Q&A episode where I actually spoke about this. But the difference is that historically— just to give you a bit of background — historically, relationships between people marriages weren't based on love or companionship. 

I'm not saying no one ever got married because of love in the past, blah, blah. But romance and love were not really prioritised by many societies way back in the day. So a lot of marriages and relationships were really like, about like securing your future, familial bonds, power exchange, things like that. They didn't have the same kind of context.

So when you're talking about like polygamy, for example, in the Bible and other kinds of things, you're talking about a different type of social structure and a different social way of looking at relationships and marriage. Historically, marriage has been about like basically exchanging— one family selling off their daughter for money. Like that is kind of what it's been about. If you look at what a husband is— animal husbandry is a thing.

So you know, I'm not saying that marriage means that now. Obviously, it's different for people now, but if you're using words like polygamy, if I recall correctly, that specifically refers to a practice of a husband having multiple wives. And I would assume that polyandry is the same but with a wife having multiple husbands. So I don't know anything about polygamy or polyandry.

I don't really, socially know very much about plural marriage. I don’t— I've never researched it. I've never— so I can't really speak to that culturally and how it has happened in the past, or how it happens now. Polyamory is specifically about having multiple romantic relationships, and that not being restricted by gender and if I recall, correctly, like polygamy and polyandry, those could be like definitely everyone lives together, etc. I don't know. 

But I'm saying that polyamory is a lot more— It doesn't require any specific gender or anything like that. So that's the difference between those terms. So I'm not sure if you actually mean polyamory or why you're using the word polyandry. I can't really speak to what polyandry is/ I don't have anything to do with that. So that's the first thing. 

Second thing yeah, there is a risk someone will leave you if you tell them that you're polyamorous. There's also a risk someone will leave you if you tell them you don't want to have kids. There's also a risk that someone will leave you if you tell them that you have a history of mental illness. There's also a risk that some will leave you for any reason.

There's always a risk that someone's going to leave you. I think in the case of polyamory, because it's such a different lifestyle because it's the same like if you are a doctor or a lawyer or you have a really high or if you're in the military. Like I think that there’s— there are things that I put on my profile that indicate things, like you have— for reasons we have on dating sites, do you want to have kids or you don't want to have kids? 

It's not because there's any judgment either way about I mean, some people do judge but it's not because there's a one right way to do things. It's just that if you definitely want to have kids, that's a different lifestyle choice than someone who definitely doesn't. And equally if you want to be polyamorous if you want to have multiple romantic relationships, that is a different lifestyle choice than someone who does not. 

So it's about like, you know, ask yourself, do you really want to be in a situation where you're spending time with someone who definitely doesn't want to have the same type of life you do? Do you really want to be in a situation where you basically have someone who likes you so much that they're willing to try something that they kind of know that they don't really want, but they're just doing it because they don't want to have to deal with the sadness and pain of losing you? 

I would just put it on my profile. And I would just be super honest with people from the get go and maybe that will scare some people away but those people aren't meant for me. So I think that you should just be honest about what you want. If something that you want is so critical, then be honest about it from the get go.

Like don't, you know— I have a friend who is very child free. She does not— She not only doesn't want to have children, but she doesn't want to date anyone who has children and that's her prerogative, and she puts that on her dating profiles and is very, very clear. And she still gets dudes to swipe on her who have kids and she's like, “No”, and that's her prerogative, that's fine. And that's what she wants, but she's very clear about that. So I think just be clear about it so you don't waste your time and other people's time.

Second question you have here is — How would you introduce your family to your spouses or significant others? Do you go one by one or all together? What would you say is the best approach?

I think there is no best approach it really depends on your family, and your own personal feelings about it. Different people have different feelings about their family. I don't have any familial relations. Really. I don't speak to either of my parents. I don't have any— I have like— I talk to one cousin. That's pretty much it. I don't have any close family bonds. So none of this is super important to me.

And I would like to actually be with someone — I actually found this out not fairly recently, but like within my last relationship — I would like to meet my partner's family and I would like us to be able to get along and I would like to be able to fit into their family. And I think I could deal with a situation where I had a partner who was like me and didn't have any family. But I think that if I didn't fit in well with them for sorts of various types of reasons, that would be a problem for me.

For some people, they wouldn't care. So it really depends like— And are you the type of person where if you do tell your family that you're polyamorous will they disown you? Are you economically reliant on your family in any way or are you completely you know, you don't care if they disown you. Can you deal with them disowning you? 

So just it really depends, like that's such a wide question that is so dependent upon your own personal feelings. Like for a lot of people they could never ever live without their family accepting them. And they would never ever put their family in a situation where they would see all their partners because they know it wouldn't be accepted. 

And they know it would cause an issue and I don't think that that's a bad way to go about things. It just depends on what family is to you, what it means to you, and how your family is. So I don't think there is a best approach. It just comes down to your personal feelings about your own family, how you feel like what would be best for your partners or significant others.  You might have a significant other who doesn't want to meet your family who doesn't want to be involved and all that. 

It's super stressful. I mean, I do want to be involved in it. But when I have been involved in it, it has been really, really stressful and really difficult for me, especially when I wasn’t— I didn't feel like I was very accepted by the family and that that caused a whole lot of other problems. So you may have a partner doesn't want to meet your family. What will you do in that case? So there is no best approach. Really depends on the person.

And your last question is within polyamory you mean how do I make an equal relationship with all of your significant others together? Do you make a timesheet or something? What would be your tips? 

So I think that you need to think of this — that’s sort of like asking like if you have multiple kids, how do you make sure that you spend time with all of your kids and treat them all the same? And I think that the first thing is, and I'm not a parent, and I could be wrong about this, but from what information I've gathered and from what I've learned, I think the first thing is to have an understanding that different people are different.

Different people have different needs. Different people have different wants. Different people need different things from you. And so I think if you try to approach— it’s the same with friendships like how do you deal with having more than one friend in your life. Not everyone needs the same type of relationship with you and not every relationship is going to be equal in that sense. Not every relationship is going to be directly comparable, directly the same. 

And you don't always have to be like okay, I have five partners I need to spend — I have 24 hours in a day. I have this you know— I need to spend this amount of time and we— everything needs to be equal and I don't think that that's a realistic approach because not everyone needs everything to be exactly equal. Not everyone has the same needs.

Some people may need more of your time. If you have a partner that maybe suddenly like their parent dies, they may need more time from you then someone else who hasn't had that and things won’t stay the same all throughout your life. Not everyone it needs their partner in the same way or throughout their life. There may be a time when you need more help than the other person does.

So I don't think that there needs to be exact definite equal equality between every single relationship. I don't think that that's realistic and I don't think that that's what everyone needs. I think in terms of balancing your time. I think that I would ask people what they need. Ask people— come to a compromise because, again, you know, the level to which— that you're never going to reach— and this is what people mean.

People say one person can't fit all your needs. And I think that that's kind of like a misnomer or not an adequate way to say thing because there are people that have been monogamous and people been dating one person since high school their entire lives and have never divorced and never married anyone new. Like obviously that's not every single person but the idea that one person can't meet all your needs is kind of stupid in my opinion.

But I don't think that you should expect each other to be completely and utterly compatible. That is what I would say. Even in monogamy, I would not expect a relationship to be 100% you never have any issues. You never have any clashes. You never have any differences.

You have the— I mean maybe that can happen but it's very very rare. So not every single person you're— are you going to be directly and completely and wholly compatible with. It’s all about how you can meet each other's needs and relationships and compromise together and build something together and less about one person kind of like— you know you being like catching people like a Pokemon to meet all your needs. That's not what we're doing here.

So have a talk with the person. Think about what you need out of a relationship for it basically to survive. You may in this discussion, even if you're both polyamorous, you may figure out that you're not compatible because this one person has different needs and you can't meet those or you don't want to meet those or you have needs that they don't want or can't meet.

So you figure out what it is that you want out of a relationship. Figure out what it is that you need. And sometimes you'd have to figure that out through practice. Sometimes you don't have enough experience with yourself to know. But have discussions with one another about “okay, I'd like to spend this time”. And I think I always advise people even when they're monogamous and they live together.

I always advise people to have set time together to schedule set time together because I think there's something about scheduling and maybe I'm just like such a Virgo. But like, I think there's something about like setting time — intentional time — together. That is actually really important in all relationships, not just not just romantic relationships.

I have a set time like I have a friend where we have a set call. We don’t— we'd like to call each other every week. We don't always do that. We sometimes have to put it off but we have a set time. And I actually really like that. I actually feel like we don't necessarily chat to each other every day but we have a set time.

And I really like that because it makes me feel like we— our relationship is super— I don't feel like our relationship is one sided. I don't feel like I always have to start conversations we just have this set time and it's really brilliant. And I think that that is— I feel more connected with that friend than I do with other people because we have that. So I encourage that.

I think you should you know, there's a lot of jokes about Google Calendar being super popular in polyamory communities, and that's for a reason. Scheduling time together is a really a really good thing to do even if you're monogamous, I think because when you have that penciled out, I just think it has a lot more meaning.

So yeah, those were all of your questions. I'm not going to sum them up because I've just went through like three of them. But thank you for writing and I hope that helps and good luck.

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