What do polyamorous people find attractive?

What do poly people find attractive? I ask because I regularly get asked out by people who tell me that they are polyamorous. I am curious why so many poly people approach me.

For the most part, polyam people find the same things attractive as mono people. We like people who are interesting, charming, and genuine - and it helps to be good looking. So, congrats on being generally attractive! In specific, polyam people are going to be more likely to be drawn to someone who is a clear communicator, demonstrates healthy self-knowledge, and is skilled at drawing appropriate boundaries.

It’s also much more likely for you to encounter polyam people who want to date you if you run in circles where a lot of us tend to hang out and seek new partners. Any other type of “alternative lifestyle,” from the Pagan/Wiccan community to the kink/BDSM crowd, is going to attract a larger than average slice of polyam folk. We’re also more out and open in big coastal cities or liberal arts colleges, so if you live in one of those, you’re more likely to be approached by polyamorous people.

Honestly, unless you’re accidentally wearing polyam pride colors/symbols, or wandering into polyam meetups, it’s probably just that you’re a generally attractive person who happens to regularly encounter polyam people! If this bothers you, you could try putting it out there in your extended social circles that you’re happily mono and don’t want to be approached for polyam dating, and keep some rehearsed lines in your back pocket: “Sorry, but I don’t date polyamorously - so it won’t work out.” “

I'm married and polyam, but everyone I try to date gets too "weirded out"

I’m poly and have been for the past 3 years. My husband and I got married before I knew that’s what I wanted but no matter what I do, people I date keep dumping me because they say they’re too weirded out by it and the fact that I’m married is too much. I know there’s nothing I can do to change anyone’s mindsets or views on monogamy/non monogamy but what can I do to protect myself from taking this all to heart? I’m tired of getting dumped and hearing “you’re amazing but this is too weird.”

My two pieces of advice for you are: One, think about whether there’s a way you’re acting or talking that is setting off alarm bells for other people. Do you prioritize your marriage over everything? Stick to rigid “ground rules” that limit how you can connect with other people? Talk about your husband constantly? You may be able to mitigate some of the feeling of “weirdness” by making some adjustments in those areas.

Two, start actively seeking out people who are polyamorous and already understand non monogamy. You’re going to run into a lot of confusion and stigma if you are trying to meet people in the majority-monogamous parts of the population. Check out online dating, local polyam meetups, and my FAQ page on finding polyamorous people to date.

I want to be in a polyamorous relationship

I’m jealous of a poly relationship. I wish I was a part of it.

I’m not 100% clear from your wording whether there’s a specific polyamorous relationship you want to be part of, or whether you just want to be in a polyamorous relationship.

If there are people in your life who you want to be in a relationship with, it’s okay to pursue that! Flirt with them, invite them out, identify what you have in common. Ask them out!

If they make (or have made) it clear that you’re not interested, it might be healthy for you to take some distance from a situation that makes you feel jealous or left out. Hang out with them less, find other friendships and hobbies to invest in, unfollow them on social media.

If you’re interested in dating polyamorously even if you don’t get to date specific people, check out my page on finding polyamorous people to date!


I'm trying to date, but I keep getting ghosted

I've been ghosted more than I've had dates this year, been stood up a lot too. I just joined the local polyamory community recently, though I've been polyamorous for 7 years, and some of those ghosters are in it too. I'm getting therapy to help with my anxiety, but my certainty of getting ghosted or stood up again prevents me from trying to connect to anyone. Do I even qualify as polyamorous if nobody wants to date me? Do you have any advice for my predicament?

First off, of course you are polyamorous even if you're not currently dating anyone polyamorously. Other people's feelings about you do not dictate your identity or your worth.

It's great that you've been getting therapy to help with your anxiety - keep doing that! Be open and honest with your therapist about the social and romantic aspects of your anxiety and how they're affecting your life. If this is impacting you significantly, it's okay to take a break from dating for a while, not because you're "giving up" or you don't think you're worth it, but because being ghosted is a real risk, and if it's not worth taking right now, don't do that to your mental health!

Remember that you are not psychic! People "ghost" for tons of reasons, and usually they have nothing to do with the other person. They get busy, they can't think of what to say, they get distracted, they think you're not interested. It rarely means that they don't like you!

Consider whether you're part of the pattern, too. It can be easy, and tempting, to go for a 'light touch' with these things and figure that "if they like me, they'll reach out" - but they might be thinking the same thing! Try being a bit more forward, invite them on a date earlier in the conversation, send that double text - don't make ghosting you the 'default.' 

Know that tons of people get ghosted all the time; it's just part of dating in 2018. It's awful and obnoxious, but you gotta be willing to get back on that horse. I'd say that when I start chatting with someone, 9 times out of 10, it 'fizzles out' or I get ghosted. I currently have 4 partners - so that means at minimum, I've been 'ghosted' or fizzled out on 36 times! But if I'd given up after the first handful, I wouldn't have the amazing partners I do now. Be patient, and try not to take it personally, though that's much easier said than done, I know!

My wife is trying to date, but people are inconsiderate about polyamory

My wife and I are poly, but it seems like the girls she meets just want to flirt with her because their partners aren't giving them enough attention. The minute she makes them feel sexy enough they drop her like yesterday's trash. I'm so angry for her because this is just crushing her self-esteem. I wish people didn't see poly as just flirty fun and ignore the real person with real feelings involved.

I'm so sorry that you and your wife are having this experience. It is true that people in the dating scene sometimes have misunderstandings of polyamory that lead to real hurt for people trying to date polyamorously.

It might be time for your wife to consider where, and how, she's meeting these women. If she keeps getting hurt, it's okay to withdraw, spend time with people who are healthy and safe for her, and take steps to protect herself from this ongoing pain.

She might have better luck with an online dating profile that is very explicit about her expectations and needs as a married polyamorous person, or checking out polyamorous meetups, websites, and other communities. If it's something she's interested in, the kink/bdsm scene tends to be very poly-adjacent as well. 

If I'm polyam, should I date someone who's mono?

hello! if i'm polyamorous, should i get into a relationship with someone who is monogamous?

I wouldn't advise it - read through the archives of my blog to see a lot of examples of this not working out. But then again, the only people who write in to an advice column are people who need help with something. There could be tons of people out there in perfectly happy mono/poly relationships.

It's okay for some things to be dealbreakers - what are yours? Think through what you're willing to give up for that relationship. Don't go in hoping that you can change their mind or work up to opening up the relationship. It's okay to decide that you want to try and make it work. It's okay to decide that it's just not meant to be. Ultimately, that's your call.

I want two girlfriends.

I am seeking 2 gf for a poly relationship. Where are good places to look for that. New obviously lol

First: my FAQ page about this. (Friends! Check the FAQ and use the blog's search function before writing me!) And I answered a very similar question here.

Second: to be fair, I only have two and a half sentences from you, but I'm pretty sure you're going about this the wrong way. It sounds like you want "a polyamorous arrangement with two women" - that the polyamorous nature of the relationship, and the fact that there are two girlfriends involved, is the object of your desire. That's not a relationship, it's a sexual fantasy. Which is fine to have, just don't mistake it for a relationship.

Polyamorous relationships involve real people. You don't go out looking for "a relationship." You go out looking for a person you want to be in a relationship with. You may identify as polyamorous, which means you're open to dating more than one person. But that's all there is to it - meeting people and dating them, not the idea of them, not what they represent, not the relationship as a fetishized entity unto itself.

How do I join the polyamorous community in my area?

I am attempting to join a couple in The Life or meet a woman in it so I can build with. How do I accomplish this in Indianapolis, In?

You can see my FAQ page on finding polyamorous people to date here.

But I'd caution you to re-examine your language and what it might indicate about your expectations. Polyamory isn't some porny sex cult that we initiate people into - it's just a way of having a relationship. If you have a fantasy about what polyamory would look like, or what type of polyamorous person you're looking for, consider doing some research that helps you think through how realistic that fantasy is.

Remember that all people are individuals, whole and dynamic, and no one exists to be your gatekeeper to polyamory. Go out there and be a human dating other humans; treating it like anything else will be an exercise in futility and risks ending up with you being frustrated and other people feeling misunderstood or objectified.  

How do I stay relaxed through the early stages of new polyamory?

Hi there! My partner and I are in our first truly poly relationships, but emphasis on "first". Firsts are scary. I know I want to do this, I'm just worried about jealousy feels. We have great communication and I feel good about things, I'm just new to this. What can I do to be more relaxed when I know my partner is hanging out with someone they're interested in?

One “thought exercise” I often recommend to people is to imagine yourself in your partner’s situation. You’re out on a date, with a new person. They’re cool and funny and cute! Are you thinking “boy howdy, this person is so great, it’s making me completely question my affection for my current partner! I’m totally dreading going home to this person I used to like but now, after this date, definitely don’t like anymore!”

Probably not. (And if you anticipate this thought pattern in your partner because you see it in yourself, consider that you may not be ready for healthy polyamory right now!) If you have the capacity to like and date other people without your desires for your current partner being threatened, it’s not a very big leap to assume that your partner can also do that!

Other things you can do to be more relaxed: find a distraction! Plan your own movie night with friends, or video-game marathon, or whatever else, when your partner is going out with people. Don’t be sitting at home letting your anxieties run wild about what they’re doing and feeling and thinking, out there, without you, and when are they coming home??? Do something fun and engaging that helps remind that little anxious part of your brain that you are a complete and independent person, capable of finding joy without your partner’s involvement.

One thing I don’t recommend is relying on rigid rules or structure to help yourself relax. If you say “I’ll feel secure if you text me every hour on the hour during your date AND you come home before midnight AND you never go past kissing on a first date,” then you’re setting yourself up to feel stressed out and agonizing over every hour-mark; and you will feel betrayed and unsafe if your partner misses a text or the date goes in a different direction than they expected. If you put out there for yourself that “if XYZ happens, I’ll be BETRAYED,” then you just established a condition under which you can feel let down and betrayed, and now it’s possible that it could happen, and it’ll be a huge mess. People don’t work well under conditions like that; nor do relationships. Don’t set that up for yourself.

I think my partner is polyamorous for the wrong reasons

I feel like my partner is only poly because he’s too addicted to sex and making bad choices to be monogamous. I don’t think it’s about feeling connections with multiple people. I think it’s strictly for the benefit of being able to have sex with whoever whenever. He keeps having sex with people he says he won’t and I just keep asking ‘for what?’ but there’s no real answer and I’m sick of it honestly. He won’t stop and he doesn’t care who he hurts.

If you are “sick of it,” and feel that your partner “doesn’t care” if he hurts you, leave the relationship. If you feel that he is not being honest with you or himself about why he is making certain choices; if you feel that he is being irresponsible; if his actions are causing you pain or frustration - leave the relationship. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re right about his inner thoughts or motives, what matters is that he’s behaving in a way that makes this relationship no longer happy or healthy for you.

(Things I feel obligated to say: you’re not psychic or able to say why exactly someone does something, and it’s rarely appropriate to question or invalidate someone’s stated identity, even if you think their motivations are suspect. Only professionals are qualified to diagnose your partner with an addiction. Also, it’s perfectly fine for someone to pursue non-monogamy so that they can have lots of sex; that is not an inherently bad reason to be polyamorous.)

Any advice for a married straight poly man new to non-monogamy my wife has no problems finding dates I on the other hand I can’t even get a conversation to last past the explanation of poly life. I try to get to the subject up front so there are no surprises and also I feel dishonest if I don’t right away. Am I rushing the subject or just not looking in the right direction?

If you take a random slice of the population in most places, the average woman is not going to be super excited about a guy who tries to pick her up by explaining that he’s already married. I haven’t been there to watch you try to find dates, but I’d guess it’s probably a combination of the two.

It’s a delicate balance to ‘come out’ as polyamorous to potential new partners, one you learn through trial-and-error, unfortunately. You gotta build enough chemistry to lay a foundation for that conversation, but you can’t wait too long, or it does feel dishonest. You also need to learn how to bring it up gently and casually, not like you’re unburdening a great secret or laying out all sorts of terms and arrangements right up front. 

And even if you explain polyamory at the exact right time in the best possible way, you’ll have way worse luck with women you meet at bars or coffee shops or whatever. Again, the average woman is not super into dating married men. Try dating avenues that let you select for, and be selected for, people who are already open to non-monogamy. I’ve found that online dating is best for this, as well as polyamorous meetups and real-life groups. Here’s my FAQ page about this.

Know also that it’s just harder for men to get dates with women than for women to get dates with men. It’s a sad reality of the dating economy that patriarchy has handed down to us. So try not to compare your dating successes with your wife. Don’t be in such a rush. Let go of a need for things to be ‘equal’ on this front. Invest in friendships or solo hobbies that mean you have something fun to do instead of dating. And just be patient!

Help! I’m about to give up. I have been going on dates with people who already have a ‘primary’ partner and I am single. I just had my fourth experience where I’ve been told I can no longer see them because of their partner. I’ve communicated I don’t want to be treated as less than, but this keeps happening. What should I be asking these people before getting further involved? They swear there is honest and open communication but it seems like there isn’t…

First off, just keep at it. Dating is full of disappointments. Strings of bad luck just happen when you’re dating, sometimes. I had a friend date three women in a row who all broke things off with him after realizing they were gay. It really didn’t have much to do with him, or anything he was doing wrong, it was just a bummer of a coincidence. If one of your mono friends ended up dating four people in a row who all end things because they “have to focus on their career right now,” what would you tell them?

Second, reconsider where you’re meeting all these people. If you’re meeting them all through a similar channel, maybe the poly scene in that social sphere is unhealthy. Since people learn the practices and expectations of relationships from the world around them, polyamorous scenes can definitely take on their own cultural flavor. If there’s just this assumption in the air that primary partners always have veto power, go find dates somewhere outside of that bubble. 

Third, it’s okay to be clear up-front about your polyamorous practice and philosophy. You can say things like “I don’t believe in hierarchical polyamory,” or “I’ve had bad experiences being abandoned for the sake of a ‘primary’ relationship” in an OKC profile or during an early conversation. It’s okay to ask early on what a person’s polyamorous philosophy is like. In fact, I frequently ask people how they interpret and define their polyamory, which polyamorous books or thinkers or blogs they read, etc. Some people recoil at what they see as ‘interview’ or ‘qualifying’ questions early on in dating, but that’s their problem - I need someone who is okay with openness and clarity of expectations on both sides. 

Of course, you could ask all the right questions, and someone could swear to you up, down, left, right, and inside out that they are totally down for non-hierarchical polyamory and will never abandon you to avoid having a hard conversation with another partner and don’t believe in veto powers, and they could still be lying to you, or they could be telling the truth at the time and then change their mind later. There’s no guaranteed way to protect yourself from disappointment in dating brought on by other people’s frustrating choices. Just be your best self and keep on keeping on!

i had my first experience in a triad, and i loved it. but things didnt work out. its been a while since its been over. I want to get back out there in the poly world but dont know how or where to look. the situation i was in before was with friends turned more. i need help

Here is my FAQ page about this

hi, i want to talk to you something about problems , can we chat via chat box? because i have long message to tell you :/ thanks!

Here is my FAQ page on that.

Help. I don’t know what to do. Im falling for my metamour and i don’t want to ruin our little polycule dynamic by bringing it up but it’s starting to hurt.

People change! People grow! People discover new feelings, learn new things, and make new choices. Most healthy relationship dynamics make at least some space for the people involved to be human.

Why do you think expressing your feelings would ruin your polycule’s dynamic? Is it because you don’t think they have feelings for you, and so things would become awkward if your feelings weren’t reciprocated? Is it because your polycule has a pretty well-defined network of relationships that you feel is integral to its functioning? Is it that if you two try dating and it doesn’t work out, everything else might fall apart? Figuring out what you’re afraid of, in as specific terms as possible, can really help you work through it.

In general, someone who’s safe and healthy as part of your polycule will be able to handle this in a generally safe way. Get them alone in a casual way - ask if they want to go for a walk, or whatever - and say “hey, now that we spend a lot of time together, and are connected pretty intimately since we’re both dating the same person/people, I’m realizing that I really like you.” If they say “thanks, but I’d prefer to just stay metamours,” then that won’t feel great, but you’ll have your answer and can start taking steps to move on. If they are interested, then you two can talk about how to move forward without threatening existing relationships.

For my part, I think it’s best to go directly to the person involved first, without a bunch of back-channeling that has the potential to turn into gossip which turns into drama. But you know your partner(s) and your polycule best - it might make sense to check in with your partner(s) and say “I’m developing feelings for Wandolene and really want to talk to them about it - do you have any thoughts or concerns about that?” In everything, be sensitive, honest, and flexible!

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. 

Hey! Simple question here. My boyfriend and I are both poly and bisexual. We have had conversations and came to the conclusion that we can only date other people of the same sex, and we cannot date our partner’s partner. Was wondering if there was a term for this, because I’m not sure (and also worried) about how to explain this to people… thanks for your time!

That is so specific that there is not currently a word for that arrangement, but if you come up with a good one, send it my way!

The part where you don’t date each other’s partners falls under V-shaped polyamory, and what you are trying not to form is a triad, so there are some terms you can use!

But the best thing you can do is just be clear and honest about your terms, boundaries, and what you’re looking for. “I am a polyamorous bisexual woman. I currently have a male partner and am only looking for female-identified partners.” and “I’m okay with my partners dating other people, except I am not comfortable with my partners dating my other partners.”

It’s not all that complicated or hard to explain! Some people will get it; others won’t. Some will be into it; others won’t. That’s just part of the package when it comes to dating! 

Hello! I just had a quick question. Are there any good dating sites/apps for poly people? My boyfriend and I are looking to become a poly relationship and we’re having trouble finding another partner.

I have an FAQ page on finding poly people to date here, and an FAQ page for couples looking to open their relationship here!

Hi! I’m pretty young, I’ve never been in a relationship before, and I think I’m probably poly. If I do get into a relationship, how would I ask if the other person is comfortable with that and, like, if they would be interested in forming a triad? Also, do you know of any places online to meet other poly people? And do you know of any books/TV shows/movies with a poly main character? Thanks!

How would you ask? By asking! There’s no special trick to that - you just gotta take a deep breath and make the words come out. “Hey, the way I prefer to be in relationships looks like XYZ - how do you feel about that?” Have that conversation early on, and be upbeat but honest about what you need. Make space for them to ask questions and share their thoughts.

I have a whole FAQ page about finding poly people to date! If you’re young enough that you’re looking into colleges, consider a more liberal college known for being LGBTQ+ friendly and not sexually conservative!

Unfortunately, I have had a hell of a time finding positive, accurate representations of polyamory in fiction. (I initially thought Parks and Rec was doing it with April and her boyfriends, but they whiffed on that one pretty hard.) Your best bet for finding media with poly characters is Poly In The Media, a really well curated blog. Here is a Goodreads list of books and an IMDB list of movies with poly relationships, but I can’t vouch for any of them in particular.

asking out of curiosity. how do you manage to maintain more than, say, three partners? like i can barely keep more than two close friends at the same time idk

Every poly person handles this differently! If you don’t want to have more than three partners, that’s totally fine - you don’t have to! Some people find that they’re happiest in a closed triad with two other people. Some people have a large network of partners and lovers and friends-with-benefits. It’s not a requirement that, if you’re poly, you must constantly be open to new partners and willing to juggle an unlimited amount of partners.

If the “you” in your question refers to me, specifically, I can answer that: I date people who fit into my lifestyle and who invite me into theirs. Right now, I have two serious partners. One lives with me, and the other lives ~10 minutes from me. Both of them are relative homebodies, and both of them get along, which means I get to see them a lot - we hang out at my house, watch TV, cook, play board games, etc. I can casually pop over to my partner’s house, he can casually pop over to mine. Because we have a lot of mutual friends, we get to spend time together as part of larger plans, like going to the movies or out to dinner. 

I also sometimes see other guys more casually, which means less time commitment and less expectation that they’ll fold into my friends and fold me in with theirs. Instead of just flopping around each other’s houses and living our lives in each other’s company, with those guys, we tend to Plan A Thing To Do (a date, sex, etc.), schedule a time, get together, Do The Thing, and then go on with the rest of our schedules. Most of the time, new partners start out in this ‘category’ and then fold into my life/fold me into theirs.

If someone takes too much time or energy to date - if they are flaky, live really far away, don’t get along with my friends - it doesn’t shift into “live life together” style partnership. And that’s okay with me! I am fine having a low-key, sex-and-date-when-scheduled type of partnership indefinitely and don’t hope or expect that they will all eventually become long-term, life-sharing partners. So that’s how I do it - I use casual dating as a way to screen for people who will be low-effort, high-reward. If I find someone who is high-effort, high-reward, then I put in that high effort less often, but am still willing to do it on a less committed basis.

But I am not everyone! All I can do is provide one example of how one poly person does it. If I wasn’t an introvert, didn’t live with a long-term partner, didn’t live in an area with such gnarly traffic, didn’t have a car, worked different hours, didn’t live in a big community house, etc. then I’m sure my process and partnerships would look a lot different. So don’t generalize from me!

i need triad date advice. What activities can my Ri and my fellow sub and i do together that will be fun with three people where no one will feel left out? Most date-type-activities tend to be oriented toward two people, instead of three. And we would like to do something other than just movie + dinner. Any thoughts?

I have no idea what “Ri” means in this context, and I tried Googling it - I hope it isn’t someone’s name! If you sent this message and need me to omit or clarify something, please shoot me a follow-up.

As to the actual question: there are lots of fun date activities that work for three people! Consider:

  • Hiking or visiting a beautiful natural spot near you
  • Visiting a craft show or farmer’s market
  • Seeing a museum together
  • Taking a class together - cooking, crafting, improv
  • Going to a spa or bath house (there is one near me that lets you rent private hot tub rooms by the hour)
  • Going to an amusement park near you
  • Checking out a local festival - there’s always something niche and interesting going on at some community center, like a Bonsai Tree Expo or a Garlic Festival
  • Volunteering together
  • Joining a local low-key sports league, like kickball or ultimate frisbee
  • Hosting a dinner party together
  • Camping
  • Going thrift shopping
  • Buying and refurbishing an old piece of furniture your way

Followers in triads, any other thoughts?