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Advice: How to come out as polyamorous

Anna Pulley, @annapulley

RedEye's sex columnist

10:33 AM CDT, May 15, 2013

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I'm wondering when is the best time, and how, to tell a prospective dating person that you are in a polyamorous relationship. Obviously before any physicality, but in a more granular sense, when? Call, text, first date?--Poly Wanna Answer

When it comes to potentially delicate subject matters, I’ve found it’s really best to say it with a cake. Or, if cake’s not their thing, then a really large cookie, the kind that come in those delightful mall boutiques next to Orange Julius. Nothing says romance like “My penis likes you, just not exclusively!” in sugary blue piping.

There’s a delicate balance when you’re first dating someone of what to disclose and what not to. You want to be honest and upfront, but you also want to respect the “getting to know you” process, which can be upset by Big Conversations too early. There’s no need to get confessional right out the gate. “Hi, I’m Bob. I have two kids, three speeding tickets, and I’ve had this weird mole on my back since the late ’80s.”

I’m a big fan of letting squishy topics come up organically, which they inevitably do when there’s a budding mutual attraction. Dropping a bomb on someone out of context tends to come off like a guilty confession, or something you’re ashamed of. If you’re talking about what school you went to and your date blurts out, “I collect miniature ceramic replicas of Corgis!” That probably won’t be received as well as if it came up naturally.

“So, are you dating anyone?” is a common question, and a perfect opportunity to let your prospective date know that you are dating other people, and not monogamously. If they want to know more, or have specific questions about it, then tell them. Don’t lie or evade the question if it comes up, since that will only serve to bite you in the ass later (and not in the way you are hoping).

I don’t think you’re obligated to come out as poly before anything physical happens, unless there’s been some kind of relationship talk, or if the person is under the assumption that you only have thighs for her. If the date in question seems more conservative or traditional, I’d disclose your poly status sooner than later. But if it’s more of a casual encounter, there’s no need to bog down your date with a treatise on the hierarchy of your relationship structure and long-term compatibility.

Enjoy the flirtation and the learning process. You’re a person after all, with varied interests and desires. Being poly is just one part of you, and it doesn’t have to be the No. 1 Most Important Part Ever. Trust your judgment and you’ll be golden, as golden as the meticulously sculpted fur in my ceramic Corgi collection. Woof.

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