I recently started to date a couple. I made it clear I wasn’t going to be a sex toy. I have fun with them. They want a relationship with me. I only talk to them in group texts or see them together. Is this sustainable long term? When do I ask them if this is what they want the situation to always be? Can they know after four dates? Also I am not dating anyone else. But if I can’t have separate relationships with them I think I need to still date others. How do I tell them this? (New to poly)
You tell them this by telling them this! Give them a chance to clear this up and set expectations going forward. Only honest, open communication can resolve issues like this, which come from assumptions and ambiguity.
Next time you’re together, in a calm way, say something like “Hey, Bob and Linda, I realize that the dating pattern we’ve fallen into looks like me dating you two as a “unit,” and I only ever interact with you as a couple. Is that a purposeful choice?” Find out whether they’re interested in developing one-on-one relationships with you, either romantically or just as friends. If they are open to that, talk about next steps.
If they are not open to that, talk with them about your needs and expectations going forward. “I just want to make sure that you two are aware that I consider myself in an open relationship as well, and will be pursuing other dating relationships.” If they’re not okay with that - if they want you to date them as a couple, but exclusively, then your needs are incompatible. That’s okay! The point of dating is to figure out what you want and who can provide that for you.