How to Start Conversations in Non-Monogamy
Some people are natural extroverts, and can walk into a room of strangers with ease; full of charm, charisma, and wow you as they confidently approach anyone that they desire. They seem emboldened by the gift of gab, no matter what medium of communication they are faced with. Let me be brutally honest in saying, I am not one of these natural extroverts. It took a lot of trial and error, and a few great mentors for me to overcome this hurdle into non-monogamy. It’s all well and good to figure out where the non-monogamous people are hiding, but if you don’t know how to open up a conversation, well, let’s just say, your going to be missing out on a lot of sexy adventures. Building up the confidence to start a conversation with strangers has strengthened every aspect of my life, both personally and professionally. And if you are really ready for a challenge, try to open a conversation with a stranger wearing barely anything. Trust me when I say that every introduction I have made since then seems like a cakewalk. But that’s a story for another time, let’s get down to the subject at hand, opening a conversation with other non-monogamous people.
But before we can address how to begin a conversation, we have to first ask ourselves why opening a conversation with a stranger is so tough. A few key things I hear from the clients I coach, is that they would be more confident approaching if they knew what the other person wanted, or if they knew that the other person was already interested. For me, knowing from the get go we are all here for the same reason or already have something in common makes conversation starters far less daunting. We all seem to be held back by a fear of rejection or the unknown. Uncertainty makes us nervous. So, with that in mind this article will focus on providing real methods and techniques to start a conversation with other non-monogamous people both in person and online, starting with some general guidelines no matter how you are meeting.
Know your intentions
Going into a situation blind, is not something most of us look forward to. Imagine walking into a lifestyle club for the first time, or setting up an online profile with your partner, knowing absolutely nothing about the people you were about to interact with. Being nervous and fearful of the unknown is natural. And while overcoming this initial sensation is difficult, you can take the guess work out of one aspect, and that is you. If nothing else, you can go into a situation having a clear vision for what your intentions are, and that is half the battle. For example, if you are creating your first online dating profile, mentioning that you are seeking another couple with your partner is the key need to know information. Going into your personal situation with a clear purpose, will help eliminate some of the guesswork. That is not to say you will always achieve what you want, but if you know, for example, that BDSM is not something you have any interest in, choosing a dungeon as your first foray into non-monogamy will leave everyone a bit confused as to your purpose.
In short, knowing your intentions will help focus you, and make it easier to clarify for others.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Now that you have figured out what you want, and picked a way to make it happen it is easy to fall into the trap that everyone you meet must want the exact same thing. I mean, you are attending a swingers club, so it stands to reason that every person there will be happy with full swap right away. Well, the non-monogamous spectrum is vast, full of diversity, and personal preferences and as you will find the desires are equally far reaching. So, to go into new situations just assuming everyone is on the same page will undoubtedly lead to an uncomfortable situation at best. There is no one size fits all relationship, and people use a multitude of non-monogamous resources to find new people. We don’t have the luxury of a perfect fit, so we just do our best with what we have.
For that reason, it is never wise to make a snap judgement about the other person’s intentions. Let’s say you are diligent in outlining every single like and dislike on your online dating profile (which I do not recommend doing), and low and behold the first person who said hi did so based on nothing but your picture. If you continue the conversation under the assumption that your profile was read in full, you will be in for a major shock when you have your first meeting. It’s a good thing you know you intentions and can clearly discuss them right?
In person, or online, rejecting someone is a negative emotion that people will always try to avoid. And you are in luck because I have a simple trick for dealing with rejection, do not avoid it, instead, embrace it as part of your life. A simple no thanks is often the best way to part ways. Or, I don’t think we are compatible, but best of luck. Find something in your own voice, and practice it. Never be cruel, make excuses, or rationalize when someone is not a fit. Instead be direct, and kind. Do not leave someone hanging. And do not leave the door open for the sake of being nice, because all you are doing is delaying the inevitable.
On the flip side, if you are rejected, even in what can feel like a brutal way, be gracious, and thank them for their honesty. If you want to be really classy, go a step further and wish them well. It is as simple as that. Rejection happens to everyone. And if you think that asking the other person why, would give you some solace or closure, please stop right there. Non-monogamy is a complex situation at the best of times, with all sorts of moving parts. Sometimes it is not even you they are saying no to. It can be non-monogamy in general, or the situation, or they just need more time (the list can go on and on). Whatever the reason, knowing that when you open a conversation you may face rejection is something to just accept.
In summary don’t dwell on having to reject someone, or be rejected. Just accept it as one of the many new skills you have under your belt.
We are all humans. And if we sung that well known Aretha Franklin song to ourselves before interacting with new people, the world would be a better place, in my humble opinion. More to the point of this post, you are going to learn just how small this community is once you start meeting new people. 6 degrees of separation in the real world feels more like 1 or 2 when you start exploring your specific interests and relationship desires on the non-monogamous spectrum. So, a simple rule is to treat strangers with the same respect as you would want them to do for you. No, not everyone will be everyone’s type, or even get along for that matter. But that does not mean you should treat anyone poorly. Put your judgements on the back burner when meeting new people. Allow yourself to be open to things, situations, and people. You have the right to say no or put the brakes on at any time. But if you are critical or bring your outside negativity into this world, you are setting yourself up for failure.
And with that, let’s chat about how to open a conversation online!
Online Dating and Other Social Media Profiles
The first universal online dating rule I have is that you need to be in a good dating state of mind. You are about to interact with strangers on the internet and the person on the other end does not know you, cannot see your body language, and has to guess at the tone of your messages. With all of this working against you, do not add fuel to the fire by being in a bad mood, or oozing desperation. Do not fill your profile with negatives, red flags, or deal breakers, and ensure that your messages are not full of the same. And remember, sarcasm does not translate well over text, just in case you have not already learned that the hard way.
Setting Up a Profile
Your first impression will always be your photo. Whether you decide to use your most recent one, to keep it private, or go with a blank image, your initial image will say a lot about who you are, and what you are looking for. You can have the most amazing opener ever, but if you don’t make the best visual first impression, you are already dead in the water. How many profiles are you going to click on that have no photo, versus ones that do have images? I understand that in non-monogamy privacy is one of the biggest concerns, which is why most sites allow for private images. You should only do what you are comfortable with, and on that note, please remember that consent extends to photos as well. Showing nothing but your bits and pieces is not the best tactic. Many I have talked to in non-monogamy are so tired of seeing genitalia that they will move past your profile on principle alone, even those looking primarily for hookups. So choose your photos wisely, and where you make them visible.
Writing A Profile
While you should not assume that someone read your profile before the initial interaction, chances are, if a person is interested in meeting you (see below), they will read this section in detail. If you are in a relationship, I would highly recommend getting your partner to write your profile, and vice versa. If you are single, read your profile out loud after you finish writing it, to ensure it makes sense.
Here are a few suggestions depending on your non-monogamous preferences to get you pointed in the right direction when drafting it the first time.
If you are looking to swing/hookups, include things like height, weight, your location, and a few of your preferences (non-smoker, no kids, etc).
If you are looking to date/relationships write in full sentences some details about yourself, and what your ideal situation looks like. For example: a triad, a polyamorous relationship, or just something ongoing when you are in town. Keep it simple, upbeat, and the most important thing, be truthful, but don’t overshare, save something for when you meet!
The First Message
Knowing your intent makes all great conversation possible. Opening a message with a hi, hey, or hello with zero follow up will lead to a small talk spiral of doom. Avoid this at all costs. Open with a fun fact about you, something you enjoy doing, or better yet, tell the person why you are messaging them and what caught your eye. The beauty of opening a conversation online is that you have the gift of time. So, use spell check, make complete sentences, and show that person on the other end that you are worthwhile meeting in person.
Having a Conversation
The best conversations I have online are by the sending or receiving of 2 or 3 interesting sentences, followed by an open-ended question. Bounce the conversation back and forth a couple of times and then ask if they want to meet. Here’s the trick, you have to actually follow through and arrange it. It is just that simple. Do not over complicate conversations online. Online dating is a tool to facilitate a face to face meeting. This is not the place to share every kink you have, instead put that in your profile if it is a must have or even a nice to have. Your purpose with online forums is to see if you have a spark, and if so, meet in person. And if not, thank them, and move on.
Now, let’s move onto the tough part, opening a conversation with strangers in person.
Whether you are meeting on a first date, or in a group of people, using simple ice breakers to make introductions is the simplest method to use. There is a reason lifestyle clubs say dress to impress, or have theme nights, it just naturally leads to easy conversation, and therefor faster connections. So take part in the theme, or wear something note worthy (sexy high heels, a candy bracelet, the list is endless for you to add one thing to stand out with), and always remember to shower, and be well groomed. If you put purpose into how you present yourself, you will make it easier for someone else to comment on it. In the same line of thinking, paying a person a compliment, or remarking on their scarf, tie, or piece of jewelry goes a lot further than asking about that crazy weather we are having. A key note here is if you are a couple, you both need to engage in this. It is not up to just one person to carry the team. Using a simple ice breaker and making a memorable first impression is far better than just walking up to a stranger and saying hi.
If you’re at a party, club, bar etc. set yourself a goal, at the beginning of the night to walk up to three strangers and strike up a conversation. Do not worry about what they look like, who they are, or if you have any interest in doing anything beyond talking. Reach out to shake their hand, introduce yourself, and pay them a compliment or comment on something that is current in that room. When you chat to a stranger, especially one that you may not be interested in, you will discover something amazing, that people are just people. The first time I did this, I was terrified. But by the third, I was wishing I could spend the rest of the evening just chatting with new, interesting people. In the regular world, it’s easy to forget how much we filter and judge people. But when you are in a venue filled with other non-monogamous people, well, it’s pretty much the best-case scenario! Learning to introduce yourself in the form of a game or challenge gives you a purpose to focus on, and can take the edge off of the intimidation of walking up to a stranger. And ultimately, this lifestyle is all about networking. You never know where an innocent introduction will take you!
Remember to smile when you approach, and feel free to set a time limit of a few minutes per person if that helps you from becoming overwhelmed. Practicing the art of politely excusing yourself will come in handy as well.
Any pick up artist, or dating guru will highlight the importance of physical touch. It is memorable, forges a connection, and the reality is a touch from someone new can feel incredible. However, we are living in a new age, where you cannot just walk up to someone, chat briefly, and then reach out to touch them, without first hearing that magic word, yes. While this may sound like a harmless action, be it a slight touch on the arm, or a little pressure on their thigh, times are changing. It is far better to ask if that person is interested in being touched than having that door slammed in your face and to never see them again. And yes, this is the cold, hard truth of the world we are living in. And I want each and everyone of you to be prepared for this.
Don’t make a huge issue out of asking for that first touch. Simply ask if they are OK if you touch their arm, give them a hug, or whatever the level of your intimacy level is at. For example, I was at a party talking to a couple who incidentally were completely naked, and my partner asked if he could touch her breast as it looked amazing. She enthusiastically said yes, and all four of us were able to enjoy the next few moments without any trace of uncertainty. It was amazing! Keep it simple and pressure free. This goes for all genders by the way. For example, if a woman were to ask in a breathy voice to touch a man, there is a high probability that you will, perhaps literally blow his socks off, and vice versa. It establishes trust, respect, and is incredibly hot! So, a hell yes to physical contact with new people, after you get their OK.
The thing about non-monogamy is that you are not out there looking for that one human to check off every single one of your boxes. The second I figured that out, the pressure to meet new people melted away, because I was no longer worried about perfection. So allow the surprises to happen. Relax when you make eye contact with someone across the room, and enjoy the random connections without that stress of needing a happily every after. And if all else fails and none of these techniques work for you, try walking around with an upside-down pineapple in your shopping cart and see who wants to chat with you!
Do you have any conversation starters or tips that I have missed? Feel free to comment below!