Poly Boundary “Cake”

You Can Have Your Cake & Eat It Too!

Rules and boundaries, two words that as humans when we hear them, we just cringe! Instinctively, we are meant to live with open expression and freedom. Our default nature is to love freely and openly but then why do we live in a community and society that restricts us to such extreme limitation?

Make sure you read my previous article on poly love here as you will find that we are about to segue into another realm of navigating the wonderful world of many loves.

As you may have read in One Love… Two love…Three love…Poly Love! the who’s, what’s, and when’s are important facets of being able to maintain a healthy poly relationship. We’ve barely scratched the surface with those but don’t worry, there is plenty more where that came from as no chill pill works for this mind of mine. Think of the negotiation process like baking a cake, you need all of the ingredients to get this perfectly delicious and moist (pun intended) cake. Okay, negotiating a relationship really doesn’t have any relevancy to baking but somehow it just seemed applicable at the moment, so it’s going to have to work. Let’s make negotiating these boundaries a “piece of cake” – pun intended…. again.

The Recipe

The poly negotiation activity that you can also find here is a great and very necessary start… so start there.

So, how do we negotiate boundaries in a poly relationship? Patiently, that’s it. The end.

Just kidding! Patience is certainly the number one most important ingredient of any type of “cake” negotiation but for a poly dynamic, it isn’t the only one. So before we dive in, it’s important to encourage that most poly negotiation agreements and relationship discussions with this level of importance should really be held like meetings. All the loves should have a sit down, be comfortable, and participate in proactive discussions. These discussions should also happen throughout your relationships, not just at the beginning.

It is important to schedule and plan them while finding ways to make them meaningful, comfortable, safe, and enjoyable. It should never be a “dreaded” event, in fact it should be held in a way where everyone looks forward to it. It is important that these discussions remain somewhat structured, similar to a “business” meeting to make sure it’s timely and everyone’s topics get touched on. However, it also needs to be laid back so that there is space for everyone to feel safe enough to open up. Perhaps some good food, comfortable seating, and jazz music!

If all of your loves don’t share each other as loves and might not want to attend any group discussions, then it would be just fine to have more than one! Because remember, in poly world, the more the merrier!


As we know, patience is one of the ingredients to this poly negotiation cake. But, like we discussed, you can be patient and still get very little accomplished. You can patiently sit there while one of your loves is actively negotiating and just nod. However, very little will get accomplished therefore, you need another ingredient; communication. Yes, you have to actually talk back with viable and productive contribution.

Great! So we have patience and communication, is the cake baked? Nope, you can communicate and words can leave your mouth, but are those words a genuine reflection of your lifestyle goals, what you want out of a relationship, what you need, your deal breakers, or dealmakers? They have to be, or else what could you possibly be saying to ensure your one love, two love, three love, etc. knows exactly what will make you happy. In order for that part of active communication to work effectively, you need to know yourself.

Without knowing yourself, you won’t get too far in any aspect of any relationship. If you have found yourself repeating the same relationship mistakes while watching the same relationship patterns run through your romantic life over and over, it’s because it’s highly likely you don’t know what you want entirely. If you don’t know what you want thoroughly or clearly, how can you possibly ever expect anyone else to figure it out or even get it right for that matter?

From there, you will also need a cup or two of humility and then about triple that in vulnerability. You can’t be afraid of opening up and vocalizing exactly what you want and need with as much certainty as you can. With knowing what you want comes confidence and self-assurance, an energy which is attractive, sexy and most importantly, respectable. However, humility and vulnerability is beautiful and when you combine all of those adjectives you have an amazing “beautisexattrespect cake”, okay that didn’t work, but the point is made.

Then add a dash of respect and passion. No, actually add a million dashes of respect and passion. Respect for yourself in that you won’t tolerate anything remotely close to control, negative coercion, manipulation obligation, or force during your negotiation discussions. Respect for the loves in that you will maintain reasonable control over the manner in which you communicate. If you are communicating with respect, you will elicit patience, vulnerability, and humility naturally.

Now, for our final and most delicious ingredient…passionate love. It’s tough to imagine getting a bunch of open minded in love people in a room to discuss their loves without any passionate love! That’s passionate love energy… duh! Passionate love energy is the feeling you give off when you are having this type of discussion. The feeling of genuine interest, care, love, and passion for not only them, but yourself and the process. Passion for your and their aptitude to be able to overcome stigmas and prejudices in order to even stand there and have that discussion. Passion for the fact that all of you love one or all of you so much that you are able and willing to try to overcome any obstacle you face because there is no world without them! That is the passionate energy that sweetens that cake to perfection. Then all you need is that cherry on top – *wink *wink.

Stick around for the “cherry on top” article because knowing how to navigate through the physical intimacies of poly needs just as much attention as poly boundary “cake” negotiations and poly “frosting” lifestyle arrangements. To be clear, that is a non-vanilla frosting, more like Neapolitan frosting.

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Dr. Yvonka De Ridder
Dr. Yvonka De Ridder is a board-certified clinical sexologist, marriage and family therapist, and founder of Loving Life Therapy. She believes that everyone can and should take the reins of their happiness, sexuality, and relationships into their own hands and lives to write or talk about it. She is dedicated to enriching the lives of those around her while spreading the word about healthy open sexuality with oneself and others. Visit her website at www.dryvonka.com.