Ethical Nonmonogamy | Polyamory, Love & Relationships

Texting while Polyamoring

If I hadn’t purged most of the photos of him, I’d have a folder full of photos of one of my ex-partners sitting across a table in a restaurant looking at his phone. I’d call it a passive-aggressive way of calling him out on how often he’d use his time with me to connect and communicate with his other partner, but to be honest, I only started doing that when he stopped listening to me actively pointing it out every single time he did it.

There was that one time when he had me tied up and was in the middle of sexytimes with me when she called…

and he took the call.

He then proceeded to chat with her for a few minutes while I lay there in that state, growing more and more livid by the second. That particular time, her “emergency” had something to do with being upset about intentionally seeing an ex that she’d sworn she’d never see again, and playing with him, and being hurt in the process. Other times her emergencies varied from “I need help with an assignment” to “I feel lonely” to “I’m afraid that you love phi more than you love me.”

At the time, I kept blaming her. She was the “Demon Metamour from Hell™” and she was intentionally trying to interrupt my time with him to drive a wedge and eventually break us up. (She eventually succeeded).

If she had any sense of fairness, she wouldn’t call or text him when she knew he and I had special plans, or were on a date, or …you know, were in the middle of sexytimes. After all, when he was with her I would attempt to hold off on texting too much not matter how much it hurt me because that was the right thing to do, right?


The first time my current partner came over to my house was a really big deal to me. We were in the very early stages of our relationship, before we’d had The Talk about whether or not it was a relationship. By this point we’d done some rope, some cuddling, and some kissing and groping, but we hadn’t gone beyond that. I was still in my “I will never be in a polyamorous relationship again!” phase of my recovery from the previous 3 attempts, but I was comfortable with having a polyamorous play partner.

While we were cuddling, I could feel the phone in his pocket vibrating and I looked up at him and asked, “Do you need to check that?”

He smiled, shook his head and said “No, I dont.”

Mind. Blown.

A few things happened all at once:

  • It dawned on me that this was what it must be like to date a responsible adult who knew when it was appropriate to look at his phone and when it wasn’t
  • It dawned on me that I too could learn how to better manage my instinct to look at my phone every time it made a sound or vibrated
  • I felt prioritized in that moment by a polyamorous person who already had (at the time) two other partners (something I thought would be impossible)
  • I let go of the need to receive immediate responses to my texts, because I understood that he would extend that same courtesy to every partner, and that made him someone I could trust and relax with

These were all huge revelations for me. I could text him whenever I want knowing that he would not allow it to ruin his time with someone else. It was not my responsibility to make sure that I was only texting him at the “right time.” There was no “wrong time” for me. I can text him a picture of my vagina while he’s knuckle deep in someone else’s and I won’t be ruining a damned thing.

Do you know what a relief it was to realize that I didn’t have to keep track of where this guy was at all times to ensure that I was not inadvertently ruining someone else’s date?

Fast forward a few months later. My partner and I were now officially in a Relationship™ with sex and sleepovers and everything. Late one night, as we were dozing off his phone buzzed on the nightstand. He, once again, chose not to check it since he’d already sent out all his goodnight texts to his other people. Then a few minutes later, it buzzed again.

And then again.

I realized he’d fallen asleep, so I poked him and said “I think someone is trying to call you, and it might be an emergency.”

He sleepily reached for his phone to check, and a few moments later, he shot up out of bed and got on a call.

My metamour had been in a car accident on eir way home from work (back when ey worked the very, very late shift).

THIS was appropriate, and the type of situation where you DO get on the phone. This is the type of situation where plans change with your full support. If it had been me calling, I’d have wanted him to come over and console me – so I went downstairs to make him a pot of coffee while he took a shower so he could head over.

That was a game changing moment in my philosophy on communicating with a polyamorous partner. I need to trust that my partner can be responsible for his phone habits. My metamours can text him WHENEVER THEY WANT, and they do – and it’s fine, because I know that he won’t sit there having a ten minute conversation while we’re eating dinner or canoodling or whatever. I know that they will keep calling if it’s an emergency.

I also know that they know that “I’m lonely” is not an emergency…so there’s that.

Cross-posted to

15 thoughts on “Texting while Polyamoring”

  1. i think wordpress ate my comment. Arg! Just wanted to say this it’s wonderful you’ve found someone who sets boundaries and have learned yourself. Although this takes on a specific shape when it comes to poly relationships, a lack of phone usage boundaries can impact ANY relationship, unfortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Follow-up: I had discussed this issue with my therapist months ago. She asked about it just the other day. I was happy to tell her that my partner has resolved this issue, though not in the ways that he’d hoped. I think we both hoped that my metamour would respect our time and not create emergencies and demand his immediate attention. I think we both accepted everyone where they are and refocused on what we could change about our own behavior. I had communicated to him what I expected and did not dictate the solution. He has instituted routines and boundaries that allow us to maximize our time together. I’m grateful for the ways he has created space for us that make me feel valued.

      And I post this comment because I ended up forwarding him this blog post today with notes of appreciation and he may end up reading the comments. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Congratulations on finding a good solution that honors all of your needs! That’s great to read! Also, hi Elle’s partner!


  2. Sadly, the whole first part of this story reminds me of my experiences in the LA poly community, including witnessing lots of public personality type “poly experts” who have a *cough* really well-known podcast being shitty to their primaries in favor of texting/messaging/whatever with others… and this is part of why I was like “No thanks, LA Poly Community at Large! I’m gonna go do my own ethical non-monogamy faaaaaaar far away from y’all.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you. My first three attempts at dating polyfolk in this community were pretty bad. I went so far as to declare I’d never do it again! Then I met James.

      Now I’m hoping to grow a more purposefully mature community in the area that prioritizes respect and responsibility towards one another.

      First event is in March. IM SO EXCITED!


      1. Oh, these weren’t people I dated… this is shitty behavior perpetuated by some people who are HUGE in the LA poly (vanilla) community. I wasn’t kidding that they have a podcast that’s super well-known, either. I’m 100% sure you know who they are. My experiences with poly folks in the kink scene has been MUCH better than vanilla poly folks.

        Saw the munch/event/social on Fet 🙂 hope the aforementioned podcasters aren’t there. Wish they walked the talk they peddle on their podcast.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure that’s a good thing. I’ve just really started questioning what makes someone or something a good source. I don’t want to start shit, but it was frustrating to listen to their podcast and then go to a party that weekend and see them act in ways that were NOT ethical and NOT what they preached on the podcast. Eye opening. In short, I don’t trust a lot of “experts” in the poly or kink scenes for this reason: people don’t act in accordance with the ethics they preach online, in a podcast, at a class they’re teaching, whatever. It’s maddening.


      2. In short, just because someone wrote a book or made a video or podcast (or even a bunch of videos and many podcast episodes) doesn’t mean someone is an “expert.” That said, lots of people with blogs, podcasts, and videos ARE legit. It’s just a confusing thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Honestly, if you want to know more, you can email me. But yeah, their podcast made me question what it means to be an “expert” in areas where most people aren’t actually experts and are essentially learning through trial by fire.


  3. Did your dates with this person last a whole day or do they last a finite number of hours? I am having trouble with this because I do not want to ignore my phone or only respond while using the restroom if I am spending an entire day with a partner.


    1. This would happen during specified “date” activities, like sharing a meal at a restaurant, performing sexual activities, and during intense conversations.


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