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-   -   Confidentiality within poly relationships (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24264)

Devotpohats 05-28-2012 11:18 PM

Confidentiality within poly relationships
Hi guys. This is my first post here, and I'm very new to the poly community. Forums like yours have been hugely helpful for both myself and my partner, and I can't thank you all enough for that.

My fiance and I have been together for about three and a half years, and over that time I've gradually come to realize that I'm poly. We're still completely monogamous so far, but she's been hugely supportive, and is doing lots of reading and thinking herself on the subject. I'm not sure if she's poly herself, but even just being able to talk openly with her about my feeling has been fantastic, and not something I've ever been able to do in past relationships. I'm incredibly lucky to have her.

Gushing aside, there is one aspect of poly relationships (whether they be closed triads/quads or primary/secondary type relationships) that I haven't seen discussed anywhere. Specifically, the idea of confidentiality.

I've always tried to maintain a policy of complete honesty and openness in my relationships, and this is even more important now that my fiance and I are discussing polyamory. My friends and family all know to assume that telling me something is as good as telling my partner, as I'm uncomfortable keeping secrets from her, under any circumstances.

This policy is simple enough when you're mono. It seems like it would be relatively simple within a closed triad or quad (no secrets between any pair). But how does one deal with this when you have multiple, independent relationships?

If my secondary doesn't want my primary knowing something, is that unacceptable? It that type of requirement a poly "taboo"? What about the reverse? I feel like I'd end up with split loyalties, with a first duty to my fiance (my primary), but I'd still be uncomfortable being in any intimate relationship where secrets are kept.

I'd love to hear any thoughts or experiences with this type of situation.

BrigidsDaughter 05-29-2012 12:18 AM

To me each relationship is separate and should be treated as such. I strive to be as honest as possible with both of my partners, but if they were to tell me something in confidence, I would respect their privacy. Generally speaking, they've never asked me to keep something from the other, but we were all close friends before becoming more.

If sharing everything with your partner is important for you, than I'd suggest that you let any knew potential partners know this at the outset and let them decide if it is something they can live with. But I would not just assume that it is okay to tell another partner something my partner told me in confidence.

AnnabelMore 05-29-2012 01:07 AM

I tend to assume that my gf discusses some, maybe even most, of what happens within our relationship with her husband. After all, I discuss the relationship with my very close friends (I like to gush and/or ask for advice)! But if I do ever *ask* for privacy -- if I say something like "I'm really embarrassed about this desire, but..." or "I've never told anyone this, but..." -- it damn well better stay between the two of us!! I would expect that of any friend, and that extends to romantic partners.

What sorts of secrets are you envisioning there potentially being?

NovemberRain 05-29-2012 02:12 AM

It took a long time in my life to make the distinction between honesty and privacy. (long before poly came my way, I learned this)

My men were best friends before I knew CurrentBF very well. CurrentBF cannot be told anything that you don't want anyone else to know. anything. If you want a secret kept, FirstBF is an excellent choice, for one, because he'll forget, and for two, he doesn't talk to many folks.

Between them, it's been an interesting road for me to walk. CurrentBF doesn't really have a jealous bone in his body, though he has a few (very few) insecure sinews. :) He wouldn't mind anything I wanted to tell him. FirstBF, as mentioned, is extremely private, and I know he would be uncomfortable if I told CBF many details about us. I also know FBF doesn't especially want to hear about me and CBF.

So, while what I did in bed with FBF this weekend is not a secret, it is private and no one's business but mine and his.

I did wake up from dreaming that CBF had come to visit us in bed, and I was in the middle, and we just having the friendliest, social visit with each other (all naked). No one seemed to notice that we were all in bed together naked, we were so caught up in our chatting. I mentioned something about how I could die now because I was the happiest girl in the world. Then FBF got uncomfortable and CBF left, and FBF was miffed with me because CBF left. <- weirdest dream in a LONG time. But I was able to tell FBF the short version of it when I woke up; and I can hardly wait to share it with CBF.

I don't know if that's at all helpful, but some things I think about when I think about sharing intra-relationship stuff.

PinkDragon 05-29-2012 02:26 AM

Hey! Thanks for asking such an awesome question! I'm new to this whole poly thing and you have certainly given me food for thought.

redpepper 05-29-2012 06:27 AM

I tend to stick to the facts when it comes to sharing info. Details are not anyone else's business except me and my partners. I find it helpful to consider if I would be able to tell my partners what I am doing before I do it as a way to keep me honest. If I can't tell them where I have progressed to in my relationships then I should consider if I should progress there just yet. When it comes to sex its no ones business but mine and the partner, period. That's what's worked for me. Privacy and honesty are two different things, as Novemberain said.

Tonberry 05-29-2012 07:57 AM

I think there is a difference between telling the truth and sharing every detail.

Telling you "I had sex with that person" is telling the truth. Sharing how the other person liked it, what they look like naked or what they did exactly is sharing every detail.

Sharing every detail is fine if everyone is on board with it. If people aren't, though, it becomes their private life. And you have to take a long, deep look at the situation, and realise that it is none of your business. And every one of your partners needs to realise the same thing.

And so, when something isn't yours to share, keeping it quiet should not be a torture, because it was never yours to share anyways. It belongs to the other person, and you can't betray their trust.

I suggest you have a long talk with everyone involved to see together what is or isn't cool to share.

nycindie 05-29-2012 11:58 AM

It seems that, in general, most people respect that there should be some privacy between partners. However, the degree to which people feel comfortable about sharing various aspects of what goes on between them can differ from person to person. You could be involved with two people and one of them doesn't care what you share about them to your other partner and might even get a little thrill if you share stories about your sex life with that person, and even wants to know what you and your other partner are up to. And then the other person could be totally protective of any information you might share and would be totally offended if you did. So the key, as always, is to communicate and find out what people are comfortable with.

There have been other threads on this topic, which you may find relevant:

I posted a few links in our Golden Nuggets section on "Master Thread - links to other threads worth reading." Go here: http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showt...746#post137746

Devotpohats 05-29-2012 04:43 PM

Thanks guys. I think making that distinction between honesty and privacy is one that I was failing to observe. It seems that most of your answers are in the same vein.

In fairness, I had no pre-conceived notions about what might or might not have been considered a secret in any future relationships. It just struck me that this was a logistical question I had failed to address when trying to work out exactly how I would want a poly relationship to go.

In any case, this is still all hypothetical at the moment. We're still in the having-difficult-conversations stage of transitioning from mono to poly, but considering questions of this nature now will make those conversations that much easier later on.

Thanks again all!

PinkDragon 05-29-2012 05:14 PM

I find it interesting that a lot of the responses were about sex. When I read the original post I thought about other matters that come up within relationships that one might not want to have shared.

Medical problems, job issues, arguments with a friend, problems paying a bill, etc, etc. Just because my gf tells me about it doesn't mean that I need to run tell my husband. See what I mean? There is a huge host of situations and circumstances that arise in every day life that we share with our primary partners that we might not want their partners to know about and vice versa. In my humble opinion, the original question goes far beyond sex.

For the record, telling me something is pretty much the same as telling my husband. In the future, as I develop more poly relationships, I will be sure to ask my partners if it is acceptable that I tell him about serious issues.

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