“How can I change my partner’s mind about multipartner relationships?”

I think, roughly once a day, I see this question on a board or on a list or in a group somewhere.

In my experience, when a person is so inclined toward some form of relationship, they will almost immediately gravitate toward it as soon as they are introduced to the idea. They might have questions and concerns, but they want it.

I’ve heard people say out loud “You mean we can do that?! Awesome!” Like a fish to water. Those situations seem to have turned out well.

I’ve also heard people say “Oh, I could never do that!” (or even crazier stuff, like threatening a partner who would even mention it.). Those situations… did not turn out well.

In situations where there is a lot of reluctance, the typical result is a lot of heartbreak and resentment. Whether used fast or slow, a pry bar is still a pry bar. It’s still coercion. It’s still force (bonus homework: look up Pursuit Predation).

Sure, once in a while someone pipes up “But I gradually introduced my partner to the concept over a period of four years and eventually, it all worked out!”

The rare exceptions I’ve seen are like people who were hit by cars and suffered no injuries. Sure, it seems miraculous, but it also would be pretty irresponsible to then claim “being hit by cars is harmless.” It makes a lot more sense to say “Some people… they get very lucky.” (Then again, we buy Powerball tickets, so clearly we are incapable of properly assessing risks and odds.)

Here’s an example that is less trivial than you might think:

I have a partner who dives. Scuba dives. She’s been doing it for almost twenty years. She loves it. She’s ecstatic about it. She’s been all over the world, diving.

Me, I didn’t want to. No particular reason, just didn’t want to.

At no time did she ever try to push or coerce me into learning, but I always knew she would have loved me to want to join her.

Then, one day while she was planning a trip, I told her “I’d like to go. I’ll get certified. Is it okay having a newbie along?”

She threw her arms around me very happily.

It’s been a pretty good time since then, I must say.

But it’s important to note that if she had been pushing, prodding, suggesting, urging, or weaseling, I would have been very uninclined.

So how does that translate to relationships?

I think it’s safe to say that if you are aware of the voiced interests of your sexual partner(s), then they are aware of yours. No need to badger or remind them.*

If they aren’t responding, they’re probably thinking about it, and if they respond negatively, it’s probably safe to assume it’s not for lack of more information.

Naturally, one’s mileage may vary, but speaking of mileage, I will always remember the car analogy.


* And honestly, what’s the difference between badgering someone to have sex and badgering them into a relationship? I think if a person is going to make a philosophical stand against “How can I make my partner have sex with me,” then they gotta be philosophically against “How can I make my partner have a specific kind of relationship with me,” as well.