“Poly” as lip service?

“Poly” as lip service?

A pair of open lips with a speech bubble, "Poly Lip Service."

With It’s Not Cheating coming up this weekend, and over 1,000 RSVPs for this event, I’m pretty much steeped in nonmonogamy discussion, talks, thinking, writing, producing, promoting…well, lots of it.

And over the years, this topic keeps coming up…

People ask me all the time, “How do you spot people who use the idea of polyamory to exploit others/get laid?”

I answer, “You get lucky.”


Or, you get experience. 

And you usually get experience by being unlucky. 

That said, there are two camps in this:

  1. As long as everyone is an adult, all’s fair in love and war, because adults get to choose what they are willing to put up with and suffer for. 
  2. There are bad people and there are vulnerable people, and manipulation and lying is awful, and some people are just more susceptible and need to be protected. 

I agree with both sides. 

I believe that as an adult, I am responsible for the relationships I participate in, and for what I choose to allow in my life—including shitty behavior. 

I also believe that there are people who have less experience, more naiveté, and different personalities that are more likely to be taken in by smooth talking and put up with being treated poorly. 

And rarely do we actually know where exactly we are on this continuum, until we’ve been taken advantage of.

So, what can we do? 

Two steps I recommend to all: 

Set and maintain good personal boundaries. 

Know what you are willing to accept from others, and know what you are not. Set your intentions ahead of time, and stick with them, no matter how smokin’ the chemistry is between you. 

Make friends you can trust to give you an opinion. 

Make friends with others in the nonmonogamy communities. 

Yes, I mean friends you don’t necessarily want to fuck. 

People you can talk with, ask opinions of, and learn from. Mentors are great. But even without a mentor, a good friend with some experiences of their own is invaluable. Three or five are even better, because they will all have different experiences they can share. 

And then, talk over your concerns, bring up iffy behavior, and give them a chance to share their thoughts with you. 

Because yes:

  • There are some people who claim ethical nonmonogamy when they are cheating. 
  • There are people who claim to be polyamorous when they really just want to get laid as much as possible. 
  • There are people who claim to be casual lovers, but really want to snare themselves a relationship (even if that relationship is already claimed). 
  • There are people who offer to “guide” new people, and take advantage of them emotionally and sexually until they are tired of them. 
  • There are people who really just want as many partners as possible, to increase their perceived status. 

And more. 

An excerpt from It’s Not Cheating! It’s Ethical Non-Monogamy. A feel good guide to dating, mating and relating in multiples, available on Saturday, June 13 (at the It’s Not Cheating event!).

NOTE: I’m not slut shaming. At all. I’m not that type.

I’m a HUGE fan of polyfuckery, as it’s sometimes called.

You want sex for the sake of sex? Go for it!

However, I’m NOT a fan of trying to sell someone that you’re on the market for a relationship, or love match, when all you want is a little horizontal bop.

Which is why I think that answering questions like this is important.

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