::: This is a relationship advice column whose question came from a real person who I know in real life. They asked me this question in a genuine way, and I answer their question as honestly as I could without knowing anything more about the situation other than the text you see below. :::
I've met someone I really like. It's very new and I'm trying to figure out if I should pursue it or not. She and I have many things in common and really enjoy each other. BUT she's poly(amorous) and I'm struggling with my own biases and preconceptions. I've never seen what I would consider to be a healthy poly relationship and I'm trying to talk to people who might be able to give me some guidance. Is that you?
Puzzled & Pondering
That could be me, yes. But what I think you're really asking is for me to tell you that all will be well and good because poly people are conscious communicators and there's never any heartbreak or pain and your biases will magically disappear when this lady shows you otherwise! Firstly, none of those things is generally true for poly people. It all depends on the person, and the dynamic you share with that person in the relationship, and your own self-awareness about needs, wants, communication skills, etc. So I'm going to turn this back around and ask:
Are YOU poly?
Or do you WANT to be poly?
It is imperative that you figure this out.
If the answer is a sure and clear YES, then heck yeah, go for it! Rock on with your new sweetie (and their new and less-than-new sweeties)!
If the answer is "No; maybe" or "Maybe; maybe" or "no, but...; no but..." Then I suggest you ask yourself why you would consider investing more time and energy on someone romantically when their partnership ideals are not in alignment with yours.
It's so easy to get pulled off of your center by someone new with whom you feel connected who is cute/fun/attractive/yay!... and to do something you know mightn't be the most nourishing choice for your heart.
It happens to the best of us.
We say "Yes-ish!" to things we wouldn't usually say yes to, because we like someone a lot and are worried they will go away if we are honest and say "No, that doesn't work for me." And all the feelings of like and being liked will go away with them forever. And we bend and contort ourselves to fit (what we think is) someone else's mould to make sure they will still like us and want to be with us. But, dear Puzzled, that kind of self-manipulation is dishonoring of your heart's truest needs and desires.. and of your realest, most authentic Self. That kind of self-manipulation creates a false resemblance of a version of you that you could come to no longer recognize. And let me tell you... that shit is painful. And this is important because don't be with someone who is only into this manufactured version of You! The other option is that you try out the poly business with them and all of your relationship dreams get realized and you discover another version of yourself that you're stoked about, and you couldn't be happier! Then, YAY! This new poly person helped you shed your old skin of monogamy and the non-monogamous skin fits GREAT!
You mentioned biases and preconceptions about other poly relationships you've witnessed. I say TRUST YOUR BIAS. Please don't try to explain it away with "cultural conditioning that you want to be different because I'm flawed and need to work on myself and this one thing along with all the other conditioned things are bad and need to change." You've gotta meet yourself where you are, my friend. Cultural bias doesn't change overnight... and probably won't with one (struggle-bus) relationship with a cool & sexy poly person, either.
There is no black and white. Only grey. And rainbows and sparkles.
BUT, I think if you're asking the question, that is already kind of a red flag. UNLESS you're genuinely interested in pursuing non-monogamy. Just... please, try to get clear about whether that curiosity is coming from YOU, or from the ideas you have about maybe being with this person, or from THEM.
First and foremost: know thyself, trust thyself.
Goddess speed, Puzzled & Pondering.