I started writing a blog about open relationship boundaries and recommended rules for polyamory for newly open relationships and got so into it I wrote a book. I’m going to break is down into a series so you can more easily dip in and out as you need.
There are many kinds of agreements couples sort out to make consensual non-monogamy work for them. Because they are often one of the first things new clients ask about I wanted to outline the main ones here to help all of you wondering the same things.
POLYAMORY RULES & NON-MONOGAMY AGREEMENTS: THE BOTTOM LINE
Often when I work with folks new to non-monogamy they are looking for a clear-cut set of immutable rules they can hold tight to. Unfortunately, that philosophy comes from the world of default monogamy, and human relationships are far too complex for one simple set of rules to apply for all- or for a lifetime.
That said, there are often a small number (3-5) of agreements that are foundational sort-of guiding principles or clear triggers a couple will agree to avoid- and these may not change at all (or they may not for many years).
HARD NOS & ABSOLUTE YESS
One way to think about bottom line agreements is to come up with your individual hard nos and absolute yess. These are things you know you don't accept or seek in relationships in general. Most of us have a few of these that guide our romantic and sexual interactions.
The other end of the boundary spectrum is to think about what you're inviting or requesting. Many people come to non-monogamy seeking something specific. The more you can be upfront about what you're looking for, the more you can connect with partner's who share interests, and the clearer you can be with any original partners who want clarity about your process.
The clearer you are about these individually, the clearer you can be with your partners about what you already know you're interested in.
Here are a few examples of these hard nos:
"I don't date liars."
"I don't tell anyone my last name until we've met twice."
"I'm only available after 7:00 PM on Weeknights."
"I don't want to sleep next to anyone else."
"I only want to play, not have sex."
- "I'm not interested in relationship maintenance or emotional labor."
Here are a few examples of absolute yess"
"I'm looking for funny, smart people to build a social network. I might be open to more sexual or romantic connection after we've met a few times."
"I'm really just looking to flirt, share pics, and message online."
"I'm interested exploring in rope bondage and suspension play."
"I've always wanted to have a threesome."
"I'd like to find some hot who'll be okay with me watching them fuck you."
- "I want to find a friend I can fuck casually."
Every couple has a different set of these, but some of the most common ones I hear (again, not shared by every couple) are:
"We'll always be honest with each other."
"We don't share bodily fluids (other than saliva) with other people."
"We get STI tested quarterly."
"We don't give out our home address."
"We'll never to go (favorite restaurant) with a date."
"We only see other people when traveling."
"We started Prep."
"We only do (specific sex act) with each other."
"We won't use the word "love" with other people."
"We don't plan to share finances, children, or a home with another lover."
- "We only sleep with other partners together."
Wanna talk about healthy boundaries or opening your relationship? Give me a call.
Hi! I'm glad you're reading. Let me know if I can help you:
- open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity
- move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity
- manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
- rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
- shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns
I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online and in Portland, Oregon.
Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.
Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.