I’ve been practicing ethical non-monogamy for several years and am in committed, loving relationships with three partners. Recently, two of my partners have approached me – independent of one another – to express feeling neglected. They have concerns about how I manage my time and told me that their time with me often feels either rushed or obligatory, which certainly isn’t my intention. They also want me to work on how and when I communicate my availability to them. How can I successfully delegate time to all of my partners in a way that makes them feel special, without losing my sense of self?
Lucky for you, you’re talking to a polyamorous Type A personality! Time management is one of my strong suits. Here are some of my best suggestions:
First, don’t neglect the power of “me” time.
Take time for yourself. Non-monogamy is wonderful, but you only have so many hours in the day. If you’re not taking care of yourself before anyone else, you’ll lose the ability to be a good partner, no matter how many partners you have! I prioritize scheduling time for myself or I get burned out on partners and have less energy for all of them. If your partners can’t understand and respect that, then they may not be the partners for you
Acknowledge that your capabilities – as well as your partners’ – will fluctuate.
I used to pride myself on being reliable, but I defined “reliable” as being able to show up for scheduled commitments “no matter what”. This often meant that I wasn’t very good company when I DID show up. Maybe I’d gotten in a fight with a coworker that morning, or had been getting over a nasty cold that week. Whatever the reason, there’s no shame in having to adjust your availability because life got in the way. Be realistic, not optimistic, when you make plans with partners, and be compassionate when they have to edit pre-existing plans with you.
Develop a routine.
Regularly scheduled things help with stability and predictability. Getting you and your partners set up on mutually shared Google Calendars can really help with this!
No matter how prolific you get at scheduling, don’t allow spontaneity to die.
Spontaneity is also nice too, we’ve found. Sometimes the Google calendar ends up ruling everything. So it’s nice to be able to check in with a partner and be like, “Hey, what are you doing right now?”, “Do you have time for lunch today?”, or “Would you like to have a movie night tonight?”
Quality, not quantity.
Try to maximize your time with each partner according to what they like to do with you. For example, daytime dates with your bowling boo, Sunday brunches with your breakfast fanatic, and late night nookie fests with your freaky night owl!
It’s really important in my relationships that my quality time with my partners be maximized to the fullest, so sometimes we implement a block of time – or the majority of time – as device-free time. This is especially important for some of my relationships as we have many people in common, so we’re frequently in group chats together and our phones will be dinging constantly. We’ll actually announce to group threads that we’re “going dark until further notice”.
Try balancing – and distinguishing between – “date time” and “life entwinement time”.
With my local partner, we do a lot of life maintenance things together, like grocery shopping and cooking together and coworking, vs. my long-distance loves who mostly get only specific date time. Each of those things are intimate in their own way, and making sure each relationship gets the balance that fits it best is really important to me. I’ve been the less-life-entwined partner longing for more day-do-day intimacy, and I’ve been the day-to-day partner longing for more intentional time.
Hold scheduling “conferences” within your circle.
Make sure you’re having regular check-ins with everyone in your relationship universe – either independently or all together – to discuss upcoming schedules & needs, as well as predictable emotional hiccups such as scheduled family interactions, new dates, anniversaries, hormonal cycles, etc.
- Andre Shakti is a queer journalist, educator, performer, activist, and professional slut living in the DMV. She is devoted to normalizing alternative desires, de-stigmatizing sex workers and their clients, andnot taking herself too seriously. Andre wrestles mediocre white men into submission and writes about the resistance for Rewire, Thrillist, MEL, Vice, Cosmopolitan, Autostraddle, and more. She frequently lectures,coaches and advises on the intersecting issues of sexual health, politics and pleasure, race, trauma, gender diversity, sex worker rights, non-monogamy, and queerness. When not working, Andre can typically be found marathoning "Law & Order: SVU" under a chaotic pile of partners and pitbulls, and yes, she knows how problematic that show is. In addition to her work with Baltimore OUTloud, Andre is the reigning polyamory pundit at her biweekly non-monogamy advice column "I Am Poly(amorous) & So Can You!", which you can visit - and submit questions to! - via IAmPoly.net. She encourages you to connect with her on Facebook via "Andre Shakti" and follow her NSFW exploits on Twitter via @andreshakti!