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What are red and green flags in polyamory?

Oct 25, 2023

What red flags should I look out for when dating as a poly person?

So I think that I have a couple of answers here.

For the most part, I don’t think that the red flag like the general red flags are super different in a poly person than in a monogamous person.

Is this a person who listens to you?

Is this a person who respects your boundaries?

Is this a person who cares about what makes you happy and without sacrificing beyond their own boundaries does those things?

Is this a person who respects your no?

One of the things I tend to do early in dating is say no to something.

That’s a genuine no for me.

But to see how they take my no, to see how they roll with that, are they someone who can take my no gracefully or do they throw a huge fit about it or try to like get me over that no?

Is this someone who shares important values with me?

I’m a trans queer person and I live in the south and if you are someone who is okay with voting for people who want me to not exist, we can’t date.

You just – that just doesn’t work that way.

You can’t say that you want to be with me and vote for people who want me to not exist.

That doesn’t work for me.


Is this someone who has the life things that you need a person to have in order for a relationship to work well?

I think the poly-specific ones would be, is this a person who has experience with polyamory and how do you feel about being with people who don’t have experience?

For me, I don’t tend to get into significant relationships with people who don’t have a lot of polyamory experience because I have pretty high expectations of the people who date me.

And I have found that if someone is newer to polyamory, the likelihood that they will be able to meet those expectations is lower because a lot of my expectations have to do with having unpacked a lot of those monogamy mindset things, having explored what it is to have a relationship that is not based on a relationship escalator model, that is not bound by the stories and the scripts that we get from monogamy.

And so if someone is newer to polyamory, it’s less likely that they’ve done their internal work of unpacking those things.

And so, it tends to be harder for me to have a successful relationship with someone who is newer to nonmonogamy not because I can’t communicate with them or can’t make it work, but because my job is teaching people how to do those things and it can start to feel like work when I’m in a relationship with someone who is newer.

Some people have red flags about how someone is doing in terms of their finances, how someone is doing in terms of their employment.

There are a lot of red flags that are person-specific.

I think a big red flag that I notice in nonmonogamy land is like is this is someone who doesn’t – like isn’t close with any of their exes?

Is every ex of theirs someone who is a terrible, horrible person?

Is every ex of theirs someone who they refuse to ever speak with again?

The reason for me that this is a red flag is that if every single ex someone has is a terrible, horrible person who is awful at things, that’s what you are going to be in the future.

It’s okay for people to have a variety of exes.

I have a variety of exes.

I have some exes I still chat with all the time.

I have some exes who I’m close friends with.

I have some exes who I never want to speak to again.

But I think it’s less about like do you have any exes who you never want to speak to again and more about is it all of them?

Because the likelihood that every single person you’ve ever dated was a terrible person is pretty low.

And if it is true that they were all terrible people, that for me brings up questions about partner selection as well.

Are you someone who seeks out people who are going to like hit some buttons that you have or like that are helping you re-experience some trauma that you have from your past?

I think other poly-specific red flags would be like how – what kind of polyamory do they do and is that in alignment with you?

I don’t have relationships with people who are in closed situations because I don’t want to be a part of a closed situation ever.

I don’t tend to get into relationships with people who do hierarchy because I am not in the hierarchy.

That just does not work for me.

I don’t tend to get into relationships with people who do a very mandated kitchen table version of polyamory where like if you happen to not want to be closed to a metamour, that’s going to be a problem.

I tend to prefer people who are like okay with whatever kind of happens with their metas, okay with what happens with other things.

Another red flag, are they someone who develops relationships with their metamours or do they not do that at all and what does that mean for you?

For me, I prefer people who have at least some interest in trying to get to know or develop a connection with their metamours.

But again, that’s a very person by person thing.

And I think again, like most of the red flags for relationships are the same no matter what.

I think we are all going to have like our own personal red flags and then we are also going to have those more general ones of like, is this someone who can’t respect a no?

Is this someone who tries to push you past your boundaries?

Is this someone who doesn’t listen to what you want or try to talk you out of what you want?

Is this someone who handles conflict in a way that is aggressive and harmful rather than kind and caring or at least aims for kind and caring?


None of us are going to be perfect.

Is this someone who can’t admit their faults?

Is this someone who is always the helpless victim in a situation?

Is this someone who avoids a ton of conflict?

There is just a lot of things that are very person by person.

And so, I think it is – I think like look for those general red flags and also, sit down with yourself and figure out for you what are your specific red flags?

What are your specific green flags?

I think a lot of us want to focus on red flags because we are like, “What are the things I will not tolerate?” And that’s good.

It’s fine.

But I think it’s actually more important to look at what we do want in people.

How do you want someone to handle conflict?

How do you want someone to show that they are listening to what you say?

How do you want someone to show that they respect you?

What are the ways that someone can actually behave in a positive manner?

So, things that they actually do do rather than things they don’t do that show you that they are a good match for you, because someone who doesn’t yell at you is a whole lot of other ways that they could be doing things that don’t fit for you.

So I think it’s important to also kind of look at it from the opposite direction of not just what are our red flags but what are our greed flags?

What do you want?

What do you actually want to move towards?

Knowing what you don’t want is important and it’s helpful but it’s not the whole picture.

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