FAQ: How to introduce new partners
My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and poly for one. We’re talking about marriage and kids and are deeply invested in our relationship. My boyfriend has asked for a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy where guys are concerned (but not for the women I date).
Recently, I have started dating a really awesome couple. The three of us hang out about once per week, and I’ve been guiding them surely but slowly through their first threesome experiences. Lately, my boyfriend has been getting more and more curious about them.
In a few weeks, everyone will be at my house for dinner and drinks. My question is, do you have any tips for what to do or not do when having your partners meet each other? I’ve always had multiple groups of friends who rarely cross paths, so this is fairly new territory for me.
Double L Double D
Hello Double L Double D,
Thanks for the letter, and I hope things are continuing in the positive and fun way they have started out! Good for you for allowing for your boyfriend’s comfort level and desired behavior to change over time. We all have to leave room for growth and change, or experience shock, and it sounds like you are doing just that.
Mirror the attitude you want to see
In terms of maximizing the odds of everyone having a good time and positive first introduction, I’d suggest you start by mirroring the attitude you hope everyone will have. Be the positive, happy, excited, open, honest, friendly and communicative person you hope everyone else will also be. Don’t walk into the first dinner expecting any awkwardness, as that expectation will often create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Discuss the awkward bits before hand
Do talk with everyone about your and their expectations for the evening and bring up the topics that might make anyone feel uncomfortable. For example, I like to talk to my lovers about PDA (public displays of affection) before introducing them to new lovers. I can feel guilty or stressed about being equal with my displays of affection when I have multiple lovers in the same room, and when they are just being introduced, that becomes magnified. So I like to reduce the power of those feelings by admitting them to my lovers before hand and making sure we are all on the same page. If the plan is for it to be a simple meet and greet and someone else is thinking it might be a play party, it’s best to know that in advance. Even who will sit by whom can be a source of anxiety to some, so take the time before the event with all the partners to discuss whatever fears, insecurities, hopes and desires everyone has for the night.
Make contingency plans
Just like any other social dinner, you’ll want to put some planning into the evening. Make sure that the food and drink works for everyone, and put some time and effort into making the space relaxing and comforting. Have some backup conversation starters or activities in mind, should the need come up. If you are a group of gamers, a board game can be a wonderful social activity that lets you all spend time interacting together without the burden of doing deep talks or such. If everyone enjoys watching TV, a Netflix series binge gives you short bits of things to watch with natural conversational breaks between the episodes. A group walk through the neighborhood or drive around town might be the perfect after dinner activity for a different group of people. Maybe you all would enjoy cooking together. Whatever your tribe’s flavor is, have some ideas for fun stuff to do that matches it prior to the event.
Keep it relatively sober
I’d also advise being moderate with the alcoholic beverages or mind-altering substances. I’m far from a teetotaler, but I’ve also seen stress lead to over-drinking in these first meetings. And being drunk is a great way to let the relationship run aground on sharp rocks quickly! Know your limits and stick to them. There will be plenty of time to get bombed together later, when you all know each other better and will find it endearing rather than bothersome.
Relax, forgive and enjoy
And finally, bring a bucket of goodwill to the party. Everyone is likely to be feeling a combination of excitement, hope, fear, anxiety and who knows what else! Anyone can make a little mistake, say the wrong thing, grope the wrong ass (I’ve done that!) or otherwise screw up. Be ready to laugh it off and forgive, if at all possible, while asking everyone else to do the same. Remember that in the larger scale, this is only one night and it too will fade into the rear view mirror with time. Relax, be your best self, have fun and continue enjoying the ride.