Inclusion in poly
Elsewhere, in another group, a woman said the following as a result of her observations about people and their opinions on triads being about letting them come about as they will rather than "bringing someone in":
I thought the concept of "inclusion" to be an interesting way of looking at triads and in poly dynamics in general. What would be your description of "inclusion?" Thoughts?
I'm only very new to this poly thing, and I am in an emotional triad, functional vee. I LOVE your description of 'invitation.' Invitation has been a huge thing for me in my life, as I seem to be surrounded by people (family and friends) who feel that invitation is assumed. Whereas I do not assume that I've been invited unless I've actually been invited.
My triad took 8 years to happen, and it's not what any of us were actively seeking. I chose people who resolutely, stubbornly, maddeningly, with steadfast love, refuse to submit to my agendas. :D I actually think Current bf is more inclusionary than even I, and definitely more than First bf. He talks to anyone and everyone, he invites everyone to anything. I've always credited him for allowing the three of us to rebuild our friendship after I broke up with First bf.
I believe (now looking in retrospect), that my behaviour with First bf has constantly been of invitation. And loving. Just 'i love you, as a friend, no demands' and including him in our lives in such ways as were possible for all of us. And that consistent response is what led us here.
I've been uncomfortable seeing folks use the term 'bringing someone in.' When I was young (a hot bi babe), a couple hit on me as people were filing out of the (gay) bar one night. It was incredibly creepy, and the feeling lingers, as much as the fantasy appeals.
Our inclusion/formation of a MFM triad was heavily negotiated. Even now, the way I think about it differs a lot from the way my partners think of it.
Some facts - the day before anything started, here was the status quo:
F. Me - solo
M. T - solo-ish, in a roommates-with-benefits with E, but not entirely his preference, gender-wise
M. E - solo-ish, in a roommates-with-benefits with T and identifying as bi.
The day after:
Me with T
T not with E
E not with T
Me with T
Me with E
E with T
(There was probably an easier "letter description" of all that, but I don't understand all those just yet.)
How we got from after to now was through two months of turmoil, hurt and E dragging us toward the end of the world. As redpepper mentioned the theory of invitation not demand, those two months revolved solely on E's all or nothing demands and refusal to negotiate in good faith. Once we got him to sit down, put his ideas into words that T and I could read and dissect, we were off and running.
Ultimately after a LOT of talking, T and I decided that rather than lose our best friend and all of the adventures we were planning together for our lives, the three of us sat and talked through our ideas, expectations and desires. For T and I, our rationale was, if we don't invite E in and at least try, we'll never know if this was the solution we needed to the problem of how to go forward together.
And, crazy enough? It's worked so far. We've had bumps in the road, both emotional and practical, but we're trying to talk and work through things rather than allow feelings to get bottled up and ferment.
Of course, relationships grow and evolve and I can already see something on the horizon where it will be another issue of invitation into a different level of intimacy. We'll probably just have to have a sit down talk about it again and go from there.
But, yes, presumptions/demands are bad. Discussions/invitations are good.
My first thought is that allowing relationships to develop naturally and slowly is different from "false constructs of separateness".
There have been tons of conversations around here about the pitfalls of looking specifically for a triad: dealing with the differences in relationships between the participants (assuming you are even able to find 3 people who are all interested in being together in a triad), rushing into co-habitation, and having not only the three relationships (each pair) to navigate but also the overall relationship of the three.
With so much more complexity, it makes sense to me to have a certain level of "separateness" as the relationships are first developing. Rather like training wheels on a bike. It's only meant to be used for a little while as people learn about each other and themselves in this relationship configuration, and then the training wheels are taken off. It's when the relationship does not grow past the need for training wheels and in fact becomes dependent on them that it becomes problematic.
I also think inclusion can be forced just as much as separateness. That's when it comes across more like a demand as opposed to redpepper's invitation. "Bringing someone in" implies an expectation, which puts even more pressure on an already complicated situation.
It seems to me like she's assuming that the opposite of "inclusion" is "exclusion", but though that's how the English language works that's not an accurate description of how relationships work. There's a LOT of gray area in between "everyone all together" and "everyone must stay separate" that she's either unaware of or choosing to ignore. Like I'm choosing to ignore her "we are already connected energetically as souls". Just because I'm connected to someone as a fellow human being, it doesn't automatically follow that I want to spend time with them!
Ours developed fairly naturally over the course of about three and a half years.
Friendship, several vacations together and joint home ownership all came before anything romantic. That's not to say there were feelings and desires - babeland.com made a lot of money off of me in 2010 as I fended off "screwing anything up."
All that said - after the third time we hung out as friends, three and a half years before ANYTHING happened, I asked my poly friend out to breakfast to ask how his life worked. Back then, it was just a daydream that I never imagined would come anywhere near reality.
In our day-to-day stuff, we just assume inclusion unless someone specifically asks for their space.
There are so many things I see wrong with her statement.
A minority endorses inclusion? She must be using an odd definition of inclusion, for anybody who has embraced the notion of entertaining the addition of another relationship at all is being inclusive. Inclusion is not limited to one specific method of involving a new person.
False constructs of separateness? Excuse me? What sort of nonsense is that? Aside from the New Age slant of that, there are no false constructs of any sort when a relationship is forming--the relationship is constructing itself via interactions of the participants. Sheesh!
Same goes for "energetically connected as souls." Skipping the New Age beliefs contained in that (which are certainly not shared by everybody), the notion that everybody shares the same connection with everybody else flies in the face of actuality.
Ascribing negative characteristics to something she doesn't understand is also not useful in serious discussions. Relationships unfolding as a dance of mutuality is somehow due to jealousy? Um...WTF?
You know what I prefer/endorse? What works. And assuming from the outset that a triad is the best course for poly relations Does. Not. Work. I have *only* seen stories that end in sadness when people set out thinking everyone needs to be a big, happy, all-sharing ball of interconnectedness and non-separation right from the start. Whereas I've seen happy triad stories (relatively few, but still) in the "wow, this just happened, we weren't looking for it or angling for it but in time we grew together, and we'll stay in this shape for as long as it makes sense" mold.
I mean, am I missing all the tales of successful prescriptive (i.e. planned or even enforced by various rules) triads? I'd be happy to be corrected on this point.
Results > Rhetoric. You can talk all you want about how people are afraid of jealousy or complication, but I think those aren't the reasons experienced polyfolk tend to be opposed to "We should be a triad because, like, that's the way it should be, everyone all together, it just makes sense" situations. They're against it because a "separation of affairs", at least to SOME degree, seems to *work* much more often. Maybe it's human nature, maybe we tend to need some one-on-one time and space with people to grow with them in healthy ways. Maybe deeper relationships tend to develop better one at a time than they do in a clump of interwoven all-inclusionary connections.
This topic kind of makes me angry, and kind of makes me sad because I'm just so sick of hearing sad stories that start out the same way.
Every time I stumble over some topic dealing with 'inclusion' I get reminded of one of my basic educational science seminars on migration. I think some of its contents could be applied to the issue at hand as well.
We were told that one of the basic faults one could make is confuse integration with inclusion. Especially in Germany there are many projects that have labelled themselves as 'integrative'. But that's the unhealthy way of doing it. You try to 'shape' the new element in the equation just like all the others are. If the core group consists of triangles, and a square wants to join them, it has to become a triangle for this system to work. Quite different from inclusion. If you want to include someone, you just let the square be a square and both sides have to adjust to the new situation.
Most of the people seeking a triad do just this. Especially if they are an established couple. They want the new person to fit both their tastes, want them to be this or that way and end up integrating someone into their two person circle. The original shape of the person gets lost.
Doing inclusion correctly means not forgetting about all the different aspects that are there in each person that has to be considered. It means that each piece of the equation has to remember that there are others as well.
The pitfall of wanting this or that relationship style/structure is having an already established blueprint in mind, how this should work out, how things should be from the own perspective without thinking about how the others contributing to the relationship(s) would picture that. That's an integrative behaviour, while an inclusive one would be a more relaxed approach considering the individuality of each person.
Even though we all have ideals or wish lists about what we want in life, how can we not make room for the unexpected?
I really am always flummoxed by the fact that so many people just cannot see how they are shooting themselves in the foot and destined for drama and/or something unworkable when they start off with an idea of a specific configuration and then look for people to fit into it ("We only want a poly-fi triad and are seeking a bi woman to join us") -- Phy's explanation of integration -- instead of meeting people, allowing attractions to develop into relationships and getting to know someone, and letting the dynamic of the relationship determine how and in what configuration they all fit with anyone else who may be in relationship with them ("We met him/her and hit it off. Over time we became closer and fell in love, and eventually he/she became part of our family/network/household/etc.") -- genuine inclusion.
I find it interesting that people chose the path of attempting to control situations by attempting to "bring in" partners and by choosing to even think about "inclusion" or "separation." Why not just let it go and see where everyone fits. To me neither "inclusion" or "separation" is where my mind goes when I start a relationship. One is stiffing to me (like being co-dependent would be) and the other too distant and uninvolved. I just wouldn't feel comfortable with either. At the very least I would want to know what each term meant to the people involved. If they were to use such phrases as, "you are "invited" to be as involved with us as seems healthy for you. We would like you to be as included as much as you want or as separate as much as you want" then I might be able to breath. I would also offer similar phrases to them in return.
She was making a statement about how we are all connected so isn't "bringing in" a valid term that fits? Others seemed to think that all of this is semantics. "Invitation" is the same as "bringing in." I disagree. One makes me feel as if I have a choice and I am welcome to choose for what is going to work and be healthy for me, the other makes me feel as if I have been chosen and I will be folded into whatever is expected of me regardless of who I am and whether or not I am a good fit.
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