How do I begin? I feel like I’ve always been poly, but I don’t know how to approach the topic with people I flirt with. Is it something I drop at the beginning to get something going, or something I bring up after the goings gotten started? I’m in a difficult situation trying to begin polyamory as a single cisgendered male. Or am I? Any advice I can glean to get the ball rolling? I read the ethical slut, great book, btw. Thanks for being you! And all the work you do!
First, thank you for your lovely compliments, and kudos for doing your homework and stepping into this journey informed! You are right that cis men trying to date multiple people may be up against some mistrust or skepticism - not your fault, but your reputation has been marred by a bunch of other skeezy cis men out there peeing in the dating pool.
The best bet is to have polyamory on the table from the start - that’s one reason I like online dating, because I can filter for people who are also listed as non-monogamous and I can bring it up and check-in about it before putting in the effort of going on a date. But if you’re flirting with someone in person, it’s harder. My personal rule is to bring it up on the first or second date and always before sex happens. Some people will back out on you! That’s okay. Learn to be gracious and honest.
Also, be smart about how you communicate the fact that this will be your first polyamorous relationship, or that you’re new to practicing polyamory. I, and many other polyamorous people, are very weary of acting as “training wheels” for people exploring polyamory. There is a lot of emotional labor that goes into walking someone through their first ride on the roller coaster of polyamorous feels, so be conscious of that. Don’t lie about being more experienced than you are; but don’t treat anyone like they’re obligated to be your polyamorous mentor. Ask for help when you need it, be honest and open, but don’t depend on anyone else to help you process or learn.