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-   -   Relationship structures, triads, unicorns and all that (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1024)

Ceoli 10-25-2009 04:45 AM

Relationship structures, triads, unicorns and all that
So on Violet's thread I started talking a bit about how I've seen many poly-fi triads break down. In my post I was talking about how many times, being attached to only ONE relationship formation can sometimes limit it's ability to succeed. I went on to talk about something I've often seen in poly-fi triads.

I'm going to quote what I said in that post:


(this next bit might come off as an indictment against all poly-fi triads or couples seeking poly-fi triads. As with most everything in life, I know that this does not apply to ALL couples or ALL triads. I acknowledge that poly-fi triads are something that can be successful and couples can bring in a third for lots of long term happiness. I'm sure there will be couples who read this who think "Oh, that's not how it is with US" Fair enough. It may not apply to you. But I'm also willing to be that there will be a fair number of couples who think it doesn't apply to them when it does)

Honestly, when I see a couple that's new to poly and seeking a third to "complete them" or to "be an equal partner" I see a couple that feels the need to control the other love that might enter into their partner's life. It's like they're saying, "Sure, my partner can fall in love with someone else, but ONLY if I am explicitly involved so that I may have control over my partner's love and so that love will always have something to do with me too, no matter what." Now, I know this isn't always true for every couple, but I do believe it to be true for many, if not most couples that are seeking this dynamic. One need only to see the vast number of unicorns who have been burned by such situations to have an inkling that perhaps this isn't the best way to go about things. We've all heard it before and every couple seems to say the same thing. "we want you to be an equal partner in our relationship", "we just have so much love to give, we have to share it with someone else". Etc, etc. Most of them end the same way- the unicorn is cast off with burn scars and everyone is off licking their wounds. And I've yet to meet a single poly bi female who's been through this (and I've personally known quite a few) who gets up after the experience and says "Wow, I want to try that again!". This is why unicorns are so rare.
Now, again, I want to stress that I don't believe that poly-fi triads are all doomed or that they can't be wonderful fulfilling relationships for everyone involved. I do know a couple of triads that are lovely and amazing in how they carry out their relationship. But I have to admit I do a tiny little facepalm to myself every time I hear about a couple that just decided to become poly and are now looking for that third to "complete them".

I think many times, people (mono, poly and everything in between) become very invested in specific relationship outcomes. I certainly know I've done this before. But the trouble is whenever we throw our energy into building a specific relationship structure, it puts undue pressure on the relationship. It constricts the natural ways a relationship may want to develop. This particularly happens with newly formed poly-fi triads. So much pressure gets put on the relationship to be this wonderful equal partnership of three people that when something indicates that maybe that's not right for everyone, it explodes into a mess of hurt feelings and loneliness. There are other ways for relationships to succeed. Maybe the closed triad should evolve into a V of some sort, or maybe the triad should remain a triad but opening up to each member having other partners, or maybe the third needs to let go of the pressure of being equal and relax into some kind of secondary relationship...who knows? There are all sorts of ways to approach things. But if it becomes an "all or nothing" scenario, it automatically dis-allows most other outcomes that may indeed be the solution, thus creating a much larger possibility of failure.

I also think there is another piece to this. As I mentioned in the other post, I've known quite a few couples who started off in their poly lives looking for the closed poly-fi triad. Of the couples that I know personally, they are all either monogamous or open and dating separately now. The only two stable triads I know were among people who had been poly for quite some time and were already openly dating others before deciding to close their triads and be fidelitous.

I think couples who are new to opening up their relationships see the closed triad as the most secure way to open up. It's a way people can hang onto their partners and still feel a certain amount of control over their partner's love for another person. Ironically, I think it can sometimes be the most insecure way to open up as it seems to be pre-assigning a structure designed to accommodate insecurity.

I generally feel that if people try to assuage their insecurity by assigning rules and structures around them, generally it does nothing to get rid of them, but rather enables them to remain. Or as Franklin of Xeromag fame will often say- if your relationship is healthy and good, you won't need all those rules and boundaries. If your relationship is not healthy and good, extra rules and boundaries won't save it. That's not to say that some rules aren't good. We all need them for certain things. But generally, I have to wonder when couples say they're new to poly and want a third, why do they want that particular thing? Is it because it genuinely feels like the right thing or is it a way to try to get around insecurity about opening up the relationship?

Again, I know that this doesn't apply to all couples who are seeking thirds but I have seen enough of a pattern to see that it probably applies to many, even if they think it doesn't apply to them. I don't think it's inherently wrong to seek or want a closed triad like that. I'm just wondering if all are going about it for healthy reasons.

(ducking for cover now!)

NightDragon 10-25-2009 05:49 AM

First let me say "Thank you"!!

Next I will say, our relationship is not even a triad relationship. It is a V and I feel that a lot of the aspects you're saying apply for us. Or more specificly me.

I am having a huge issue with Dragonfly falling "IN" love with DragonBorn in less then 2 months since the start of this relationship. There are several reasons for that which I'm not sure would be ok to share or even if I'm comfortable with sharing them yet to all. It has brought out trust issues that I'm having. Fear for loosing the woman I have come to love above all else. And more. Just a lot of negative feelings and emotions.

Thanks to several of you here that have said to not just myself but to a lot of others, that it is ok to feel and have these emotions. I have slowly started to accept that instead of beating the shit out of myself for having these feelings. Thinking I was wrong to feel this way.

Now the problem I am having is trying to find a way for this to work, that doesn't manipulate how they feel about each other. I will be honest, if I had a magic wand... I would not want DF to be "IN" love with DB. But I know that she does. So because she does I don't want to change that. Now also let me say that surprisingly, I don't have any issues with DB being "IN" love with DF. I am also having amazingly HUGE issues with their alone time. And OMG I thank them so much for understanding and saying that they are ok with only spending time together when it's all of us. I feel bad, because I know that they want their alone time just the two of them. But for right now, I am not handling well at all. I get to caught up in my head, wondering what they're doing, what's being said, etc... I'm get afraid wondering when I come home is all my stuff going to be outside with a note saying I'm not wanted anymore. Yeah, crazy I know. But from what I'm learning fear is rarely based off reality.

I just wanted to add this, and I'm sure I will add more later, but I'm kinda on a deadline, and have the "Dragon" family as we've been called are getting to meet HMA and Vi for a late dinner. Hopefully both families can become close and be there for each other with helping hands in times like these. :-)

aussielover 10-25-2009 06:01 AM

This thread wasn't quite what I was expecting, so not sure what to add here. Especially as our relationship does not fit into the catagory of the primaries 'opening their relationship' to find me.
At this point I really don't have much to add here, but possibly if things take a different turn I may.

Ceoli 10-25-2009 06:04 AM

AL, it sounds like you have some stuff to say anyway! Start a thread :)

aussielover 10-25-2009 06:08 AM

lol I'm not sure what to say. :p
I'm quite an introvert and usually don't speak up without being asked (downside, especially when in a poly relationship... I'm working on that) or in response to something else. I wouldn't know where to start.

HappiestManAlive 10-25-2009 10:13 AM

I think this is fantastic, and don't know why you would "duck for cover" Ceoli. Frankly, it's kind of what we've come to conclusion-wise after all the wiggling around, lol. When everyone worries about titles and labels and position, things are forced to happen or not happen other than how they might have on their own. Let the relationship define itself; deal with the issues as they arise, follow it down the rabbit hole. :)

Nice to meet you guys tonight ND! I hope we can do it again sometime! Anne gets back Monday, so either then (I seem to recall Mondays being good) or next weekend and we'll all be there. :)

ImaginaryIllusion 10-25-2009 02:34 PM


Originally Posted by Ceoli (Post 9849)
But the trouble is whenever we throw our energy into building a specific relationship structure, it puts undue pressure on the relationship. It constricts the natural ways a relationship may want to develop.
... if it becomes an "all or nothing" scenario, it automatically dis-allows most other outcomes that may indeed be the solution, thus creating a much larger possibility of failure.

This is awesome stuff Ceoli. I need to start saving nuggets like this for future reference...which gives me an idea....mwahahaa!:cool:


ladyjools 10-25-2009 02:59 PM

i have to totally agree with everything you are saying

i think its really difficult to find someone that both partners will fall in love with equally, every relationship is diffrent and unique and i think putting any structure on things will limit the natural progression,

we have never looked for a third,
but then we don't really have a lot of rules, rather than rules and structure we just keep talking and comunicating about the way things are devoping and see how we feel as the develop, this freedom means that we are spending less time stressing about things not fitting the way we might have expected and just letting it be
at the moment it developing into a V, between me and my 2 guys
but possibily a third guy and im not sure what that would be, a W lol?


ImaginaryIllusion 10-25-2009 03:06 PM


Originally Posted by ladyjools (Post 9870)
at the moment it developing into a V, between me and my 2 guys
but possibily a third guy and im not sure what that would be, a W lol?


Probably more like a Y with you in the nexus.

Not to worry, after 3-4 people are it's hard to visualize configurations in the abstract with letters or shapes and the cluster just becomes the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. ;)

ladyjools 10-25-2009 03:25 PM

i tried to draw a digarame to explain how things are to a friend
it just looked way to complicated, when you take into consideration C has a partner and me and her are also intamite
i dont' see it as complicated or messy in a bad way, i see it as having lots of people around me that love and care for each other, not all are intamite but thats ok,

i think i hate structure though
i like freedom to let things happen as the happen, it saves a lot of stress if we have no idea how things are going to turn out then we are not disapointed or stressed when they don't turn out how they expect, :) and i could never have imagined the way things are turning out now, there is no way i could ever have planned it this way and yet i am really glad that this is the way it is :)


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