before* dating as a couple in polyamory
When dating as a couple, the goal is to be on the same page, moving at the same pace for a shared goal.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Deciding to date as a couple to create a new relationship, whether a triad, quad or more, is a significant feat. One big issue couples run into is pacing. Suppose they are moving at different speeds toward the same goal. In that case, it can lead to someone feeling like they are being left behind, another feeling that someone isn't trying hard enough, arguments, missed connections and rushed relationships. Some couples find out while dating that they have entirely different dating styles, and dating together is distinctly different from dating each other.
Get to Know Your Partner
No one knows everything about their partner, even if they have been together for a long time. Before diving into polyamorous dating as a couple, get to know your partner. Your journey into polyamorous dating should include finding out how you both like to date. The way your partner dated, you may not be how they date other people - and that's okay. But it has to be discussed, or it could build resentment and jealousy. Also, your partner may date people differently based upon that person's gender or their relationship status. Getting to know your partner is more profound than what/who attracts them (while also important), but what is non-negotiable for them. What are things they don't mind about a person? You may find out your partner has a lower tolerance for something you could care less about. Asking questions about this isn't just to be aware of, but to delve into why they feel that way. It can help develop personal boundaries and express unspoken expectations by creating a new relationship that was not discussed before. You must both feel comfortable sharing these finer details beyond your fantasies of the perfect group dynamic. This means a simple question could turn into a long conversation.
Set the Boundaries
Set boundaries that are dating as a couple specific. To be clear, these boundaries should not be vetoes or a couple's privileges. One way to prevent this is to make sure you aren't making goals and plans for how the relationship operates without the consent of the person you end up dating. You can't bake a cake without all of the ingredients, right? Keep the boundaries focused on how you pace your dating versus the person you date.
"We won't invite anyone to our home until we both have expressed comfort with having a guest over."
"If one of us wants to continue making a connection with someone and the other doesn't, that's okay."
"My comfort is my priority; if I am uncomfortable, I reserve the right to step back without consequence from you."
Boundaries will vary per the couple's needs - however, be careful having reactionary boundaries. This is a slippery slope into couple's privilege and how people who date couples are often vetoed or disposed of because one partner didn't feel the connection. If dating as a couple IS the requirement, and there is no other option - a boundary will be expressing that upfront to all potential partners and ensuring both of you are aware of what that entails. A boundary to support this that doesn't turn into a veto is "we will date/court someone and not seek a serious relationship with this person until we BOTH are on the same page for attraction and interest." Follow-through of this boundary may look like limiting certain activities, resources, and emotional investment (while also being transparent to the potential partner) until everyone is comfortable (including the potential partner). This limitation may have to be placed if dating separately isn't an option to be considerate of other people and each other.
Know Your Shortcomings
Some traits are already known in your relationship. One of you may tend to keep feelings to yourself until everything boils over, and one may tend to do things that need both of your inputs alone. If you already know these things - start working on remedies for them BEFORE you start dating. Whether it be a set of coping mechanisms or hiring a relationship counselor - start working on it. Often these shortcomings will fester and erupt into severe issues that will affect pacing while actively dating. If someone isn't sharing how they feel or if someone is constantly blowing up - it will ruin the current relationship before a new one even starts.