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-   -   Theoretical vs reality (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1964)

GroundedSpirit 01-13-2010 04:07 PM

Theoretical vs reality
 
I (we) are wondering how various people - primary pairs (or more) feel about including others in their lives when that other person has their own primary relationship in which they don't/can't share that fact.
In general this is considered "cheating" - the "dirty little secret" people often refer to etc.
In theory we'd consider this bad behavior but we don't live in a theoretical world. In reality things are seldom so cut & dry.
By example, over the years we have had several long term relationships with others (M or F) in which their SO had no knowledge of us. It was a warm, loving & genuine relationship and we all benefited from it, as it supplied things that were desirable to all of us that weren't available otherwise. Although sex played some role in this, it was really as much about shared interests & passions about the world around us that was a big part of the bond.
We've always struggled with this from an ethical perspective but yet there's pieces of all of us that acknowledge that these connections were real and important and that in reality (as long as it stayed under the radar) it was highly beneficial to everyone. The 3rd party was happier & more fulfilled and therefore their home life was actually better that it was prior, when there was stress from lack of fulfillment etc.
So it's a bit of a conundrum.
We acknowledge the risk and dig pretty deep first to learn the reality of the other person's situation, but in the end we fall back to the belief that all people (individuals) should have freedom in how they live their lives and where they source their happiness and fulfillment from.
Have others here experienced such relationships and how does it sit with you ?

GS

rolypoly 01-13-2010 05:42 PM

I posted in the personal blog section a while ago that I was struggling with this dilemma. The guy I'm dating has also been seeing a guy long distance for the past year or so. When he and I hooked up, he didn't tell his guy about me.

I've never cheated on anyone, never lied about my activities outside a relationship, so it's hard for me to wrap my mind around dishonesty. But, as you say:

Quote:

In reality things are seldom so cut & dry.
No kidding.

So, I'm stretching myself to consider all the variables. I don't think they had an exclusivity agreement with each other. This might sound silly, but my date's facebook status was "single". So, it's sort of out of the realm of outright "cheating" and in the grey area of deception, not telling the whole truth.

He's lived as a gay man for 20 years and I can just imagine him telling a monogamous gay man that he's been sleeping with for a year, "By the way, I met a woman that I like and we kissed". Especially when his ex, who he was poly with, freaked out when he liked a woman.

So, it really depends, I guess. He explained how he was trying to be compassionate and I understand how he sees it this way.

Years ago, I met a guy at a bar and we hooked up. After we'd made out, I looked and saw a picture of a woman. I said something about his sister and he confirmed that the woman in the picture was his girlfriend.

I panicked and then hummed and hawed for a couple hours before choosing to fool around with him. We never had sex. His "cheatin' heart" drew the line at sex.

The next morning, she phoned and phoned and phoned about every 5 minutes. Now, I'm not that naive and I realize that there's a huge possibility that he'd cheated on her before and possibly regularly. But, the way he expressed it, she was clingy and he couldn't handle it. He'd tried to break up with her, etc, etc.

I learned something from that experience. If someone's cheating, there's something wrong. Whether it's because they're poly at heart and don't have the language for it, whether it's because they feel stuck in an unhappy relationship... whatever.

If you are the cheatee, I don't believe that you are the cause, but a symptom of a problem that has nothing to do with you.


Another thing I'm wrapping my mind around. We all have different needs. Some people really would rather not know the truth. As long as in their world, the sun shines, their partner comes home at night and they eat dinner, then all is well. Why scratch deeper?

Personally, I'm not like that. I like to peer in dark corners and honesty is very important to me. So, I request honesty from those close to me and I'm honest in return.

Because this is my need does not make it everyone else's.

Quote:

all people (individuals) should have freedom in how they live their lives and where they source their happiness and fulfillment from
I really like this. You are giving the power to others to choose for themselves. You are not withholding your affections based on a moralistic judgment. You are loving them, even though they're lying.

Phew, I have so much to learn.

MonoVCPHG 01-13-2010 05:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit (Post 19798)
I (we) are wondering how various people - primary pairs (or more) feel about including others in their lives when that other person has their own primary relationship in which they don't/can't share that fact.

GS

Affairs are affairs. I would find it very difficult for those who have participated in them (such as myself) and those that have been hurt by them (such as my ex wife) to think anyone could be be happy or healthy in this. No matter how trapped a person feels in a relationship there is always an option. If someone did engage a partner under these conditions I fail to see it being sustainable or rewarding. Affairs scar everyone in my opinion.

CielDuMatin 01-13-2010 06:07 PM

For me, I insist on talking to the other person's partner before I will invest any time into the relationship. For me it's about openness and honesty and I expect that of any person I am with.

I haven't been like that in the past, have been willing to "bend" on this type of issue and it has pretty universally ended in grief of some sort. I don't have time for that in my life.

Part of what I need in my relationships is trust. If they can't be completely honest with their partner, someone that they supposedly have a committed relationship with, then how can I expect them to be honest with me about issues vital to me like sexual history/STD testing and the like?

It may work well for others, I know, but I can't, or am not willing to do it.

Fidelia 01-13-2010 09:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit (Post 19798)

I (we) are wondering how various people - primary pairs (or more) feel about including others in their lives when that other person has their own primary relationship in which they don't/can't share that fact.

I respectfully submit that this thread doesn't belong on this website, as it does not relate to polyamory. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand polyamory to be loving relationships between multiple partners, based on open communication and love, concern and respect for all the people involved. At the bare mimimum I hope polyamory can be defined as multiple loving relationships between consenting adults. The arrangement described is not polyamorous, as it places such diminished value on open communication shows disrepect and lack of concern for the "other" person's primary. Applying even the minimum standard, this arrangement falls short, in that one of the adults concerned has no opportunity to consent or decline. IMO this type of arrangement direspects and degrades everyone it touches, but at least the cheaters are making informed choices. The other's primary is being treated like a mushroom, which is to say, s/he is kept in the dark and fed a load of shit.

I hope that one of our esteemed moderators will consider this point and remove this thread.

Until that time, let's go on:

Quote:

Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit (Post 19798)
In general this is considered "cheating" - the "dirty little secret" people often refer to etc.

Establishing agreements around which relationships grow, and then violating those agreements IS cheating, and cheating is wrong. Why? Because it's dishonest and unfair.

Quote:

Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit (Post 19798)
In theory we'd consider this bad behavior but we don't live in a theoretical world. In reality things are seldom so cut & dry.

I am so enormously, unimaginably, unutterably thankful that I do not live in your reality. Yes, there are many gray areas in life, but this is not one of them. I have chosen to make my "yes" yes and my "no" no. If I say I'll do a thing, I'll do it to the best of my ability. (Hey, that reminds me of something I need to finish . . .) My word really is my bond. Not that I'm infallible and never screw up, but I do my level best. I place high value on my personal integrity, and I require the same level of integrity from my chosen family. If my situation changes and I cannot do what I've agreed to, or am no longer willing to, it's time to revisit the agreement in question, to renegotiate or dissolve it. Not ignore it, or obfuscate it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit (Post 19798)
. . . but in the end we fall back to the belief that all people (individuals) should have freedom in how they live their lives and where they source their happiness and fulfillment from.

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. With all due respect, I don't think YOU do, because there is a contradiction between what you say and what you've done. You say all people should have freedom, but your past actions indicate that you think it's okay for some people to be treated like mushrooms.

Quote:

Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit (Post 19798)
Have others here experienced such relationships and how does it sit with you ?

I have experienced such relationships, in the role of the mushroom partner. Guess how much I liked the experience? :mad:

But I can honestly say it was a valuable experience for me, because it motivated me to seriously consider my own bottom-line values and resolve to never allow myself to be disrespected in that way again. And in the end I believe my shit-shovelling ex gained some valuable wisdom too. At the very least, he knows now why he ought not to have done that, certainly not to me.

River 01-13-2010 10:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fidelia (Post 19822)
I hope that one of our esteemed moderators will consider this point and remove this thread.

While you and I are in basic agreement, Fidelia, on the content of the thread, I don't think we should remove this thread at this time. I see a silver lining in letting this be discussed openly and respectfully. I hope my fellow moderators will agree. But I'm willing to reconsider this decision, as well -- and to discuss it.

River 01-13-2010 10:24 PM

Continued ...

On Censorship:

Censorship is sometimes warranted -- under specific conditions involving clear guildlines
-- within the pages of this website. I think more harm than good would come of censoring this thread, because it is perfectly possible to say all that has been said (and more) in defense of the values and traditions of polyamory under discussion here.

I'd appreciate hearing what other moderators think about my view.

MonoVCPHG 01-13-2010 10:27 PM

I think this is a valid discussion because it is a situation that does come up on here and in reality. Historical threads on here discuss this very dynamic.
I personnaly do not see this type of situation as "poly" but, ironically, I have very lofty and idealistic views of what it should be even though I frundamentaly struggle with the concept on a continual basis.

I hope others weigh in on this .

Peace and Love

River 01-13-2010 10:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rolypoly (Post 19802)
He's lived as a gay man for 20 years and I can just imagine him telling a monogamous gay man that he's been sleeping with for a year, "By the way, I met a woman that I like and we kissed". Especially when his ex, who he was poly with, freaked out when he liked a woman.

As a means of opening the topic, I recently asked my boyfriend / lifetime committed partner (we're both male), "Would you really freak out if I was dating a woman?".

Kevin & I already had established a polyamory agreement (we're both poly) years before, and Kevin knew I'm also attracted to women, but that was all rather "theoretical" up to the moment that I actually had a sort of date with a woman.

I mention this because it was frankly a little uncomfortable to be telling my bf I have a date with a woman! (This was the day before our lunch date. And I've had very damn few dates with guys during our 14 yrs, as well.)

This stuff is tricky! A man may unwarrantedly worry that, because he hasn't got a certain kind of "plumbing," he may not be "enough" for his male lover. A woman could worry in the same way. It's all the typical hetero- poly stuff layered with a lot of "stuff" about gender/sex! Not easy.

But honesty is honesty is honesty -- and polyamory is all about honesty.

And my man loves me. A lot. And I love him.

And I'm probably going to have date # 2 with this gal "J", tomorrow!

rolypoly 01-13-2010 11:41 PM

*sigh* This is so hard.

Thanks for your perspective River.


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