Learning, Mistakes, Consequences, Acceptance
There seems to be quite the conflict between those who feel that its unacceptable to be expected to work together with metamours when creating new relationships
those who feel that its absolutely necessary that new metamours work together with existing metamours when creating a new relationship.
I've noticed that there is a real strong emphasis on pointing out what poly is or is not in these... discussions. Usually to the detriment of the group wanting communication between metamours from the outset.
I've been on both sides of this coin personally.
But, there are things I think are being forgotten in the discussions.
I'm not putting these in any particular order, just how they popped in my head.
A) People don't always start out already talented in the required arts of an activity-polyamory included.
If I have natural talent at communication, honesty, self monitoring, etc; great. But, what if I realize this is the lifestyle I need, and I don't have those natural talents, but have to learn them? Or what if my long time partner, whom I love and choose to remain with, decides this is the lifestyle they want, but I don't even know HOW to learn these things?
What happens then?
What happens is people make mistakes, they fail to do full self-inventories (even if they thought they did), they fail to be fully honest (maybe even with themselves and unaware of it), they make mistakes and their lovers get hurt. Sometimes, SERIOUSLY hurt.
This creates consequences. Every action creates consequences, including positive consequences.
B) We don't all come from the same place to poly. Some of us are having to move towards poly from much further away. But, that doesn't mean we aren't on the right track and it doesn't mean we're wrong for the limits we have. My 5 year old uses training wheels on her bike. My 12 year old does not. Neither is WRONG. They're simply following the limitations necessary for their abilities.
C) We all have a right to set limits for ourselves and when we join up with another, we together have the right to set limits for our remaining together. Every person does this-even if its not done explicitly. We have limits that if another person crosses, we no longer choose to be a part of their lives. Again, this is OK.
D) If someone we're interested in says that they can't date us unless we do xyz (like meeting their other partners). They are not making an unreasonable demand upon us. They are stating their limitations and we are PERFECTLY FREE to tell them that we are no longer interested and move on.
Likewise if someone tells us that they will not meet our other partners, they are not making an unreasonable demand upon us. They are stating their limitations and we are perfectly free to tell them we are no longer interested and move on.
E) If someone tells us that we have to meet their other partners before we can date, it doesn't matter WHAT ELSE they have said-it is NOT THEIR PARTNER forcing this "rule" upon "us". There is no "us" in that sense. THIS PERSON THEMSELF is stating the limitation that THEY have for us to date them.
BECAUSE if they are bothering to state it, then they have at bare minimum implicitly agreed to this limitation in choosing whom they will date. Their other partner happening to agree with them is moot. If THEY didn't agree with it, they had the right to tell their other partner that they were no longer interested in being with them and moving on.
By NOT choosing to leave the other partner whom they have this agreement with, their actions have made a statement that they agree to these terms being the terms for their own life.
F) We can proclaim to the high heavens that we trust our new found love and therefore our or their other partners should trust us. But, every person whose ever been cheated on, at some point trusted their partner. People lie ALL OF THE TIME & often they lie VERY WELL. If we proclaim that poly is about being upfront and honest, with everyone aware.... we can't also hold strictly to not meeting (by some format or another) their other partners.
BECAUSE we can't KNOW that our partners ACTUALLY are being upfront and honest unless we verify.
I've met MANY people who THOUGHT they were legitmately dating someone in an open relationship, who in fact was dating a man or woman who was having a secret affair.
There is NO WAY to know for sure that they are not cheating-unless you verify with their other partner that everyone knows and is ok with it.
I WISH it were possible to say that every person was honest, but lets be real here people.
There are a large number of people who wander through our poly-groups becuase they think they can get an easy lay. When we allow ourselves to ASSUME that they are all honest and upfront-we take the power OUT OF OUR HANDS and HAND IT OVER TO THEM to make us a cheater.
If we want TRUE autonomy over our own lives-we MUST verify that the choices we make-like verifying our partners honesty-versus taking it at face value.
Assume= ass of u and me. That saying didn't get created for no reason.
It's because it happens so damn often.
True autonomy includes full responsibility for the consequences of our actions, or failure to act. That means that if we do end up hooking up with someone who was cheating-it's our own damn fault if we didn't take time to verify with their other partners. It means we are NOT autonomous-but we are dependent upon someone else's honesty to ensure we are holding to our principals.
Let me repeat
IT MEANS WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL OF WHETHER OR NOT WE LIVE BY OUR PRINCIPALS. WE'VE GIVEN THAT CHOICE OVER TO THE PERSON WHO MAY OR MAY NOT BE LYING THROUGH THEIR TEETH.
Even if they are great in bed.
There seems to be a lot of "if you are too insecure to have no rules then you aren't poly" attitudes.
Frankly I find it eye rolling.
WE ALL have rules in our lives that we choose to live by. Myriad rules. Some of us take rape VERY VERY seriously, other people do not. Some take spanking children VERY VERY seriously, others do not. Some people take following speed limits while driving VERY VERY seriously, others do not.
Likewise, some people have poly limits that they take very very seriously and some people do not.
It's not about "right" or "wrong" or being more or less poly. It's about being free to do what is right FOR OURSELVES and finding partners who have compatible (please don't read identical-that's not what I mean) limitations.
I have friends I consider VERY VERY meaningful close friends who practice poly VERY VERY VERY differently than I do and it's OK! We love each other anyway.
I have friends who practice relationships very very differently (like being mono) and guess what? It's ok because we love each other anyway.
I have a friend who wants to do roller derby (something I quite definitely DO NOT.
She's self-expressed, not great at it (yet). But, that doesn't stop her team from cheering her on and accepting her whole heartedly as a meaningful part of the team! That she can't yet do all of the roller derby activities with grace and aplomb doesn't change that she is TRYING and THAT makes her worthy of their love and respect regardless of how well she accomplishes or fails each task.
Many of us are struggling on here to create poly lives from situations that are less than stellar starting points. We have conflictive responsibilities that make the poly lifestyle more difficult and complicated.
Others seem to slide comfortably right in.
SOME OF US are both! Like me. Poly with my boyfriend was a quick, simply, easy and obvious fit.
But, with my husband it has been a horrible struggle with much lying (by omission) and disrespectful behavior.
EVEN the people who say that they would never tolerate having to meet me (as the wife) first-admit when they hear the whole story-that they would have wanted to know (as the potential girlfriend) what was going on.
BUT THEY WON'T KNOW THAT if they don't meet me.
A friend of mine is in the middle of this right now. Not because one partner was actively trying to cheat, but because there was massive miscommunication between the married couple. Now having been married for 20 years, I can honestly say my husband thinks he effectively communicates a great number of things to me:rolleyes:, when he doesn't even come close. Sometimes I get more information by overhearing phone conversations on said subject:eek:. Your definition of what's OK and the metamour's definition may not be anywhere near the same thing (does the game "telephone" mean anything). So, if you don't want to be accused of being a cheater, talk to all parties involved up front.
A family/household is like a team in sports.
It's one thing if you want to just throw a ball around at the playground with one of the members. But, if you want to be part of the team, you gotta know all the players well enough to work together with each of them, for the benefit of the team.
SOMETIMES that means NOT socializing with someone who chooses a lifestyle or promotes behaviors in you, that go against the best interests of the team.
Totally agree, LR. Thanks for posting this.
It (obviously) irks me no end when folks proclaim that someone who doesn't do poly in a way that they find right is being in some way abusive, or less evolved - we've seen these "One True Way"ers come and go and we're usually left with a core of folks that are just getting on with making poly work for them, in their own way, and everyone involved is quite happy and content.
I have many friends who do poly differently from me - and yet I still number them as my friends and can have a civilised conversation with them.
I am a firm believer in the Dependence/Co-dependence -> Independence -> Interdependence model that has been proposed by several experts in society - that the human is by nature a social animal and we work best together with others. Independence is far better than dependence (and certainly better than co-dependence) but after that there is an extra step that will drive things to even greater heights. But that is just the hatpeg where I have chosen to leave my cap.
Poly, by its definition, is about a style of interpersonal relationships, not about us each living in isolation. We're supposed to be loving and caring for those that we choose. To do this well, I believe that we need to be trying to think win-win (not how I can get more than another), seeking first to understand then to be understood, and then creative cooperation, which some call synergy. These terms may well be familiar to some, already. This is what I desire in my interpersonal relationships, and what I believe is quite possible with a group of mature thinking individuals. If someone isn't prepared to be a part of these sorts of things, then I will definitely choose not to have a relationship with them. Seeing the willingness to engage in what I consider these principles of good interpersonal relationships is going to greatly increase the possibility that we are going to have a good working happy relationship.
People who are out for themselves, or only concerned with themselves, are usually going to end up causing trouble - often because they don't care about the win-win - they just care about the win for themselves and don't care about the other person's result. If they're not going to expend the effort to try to understand the boundaries, issues and desires of the others then how can they ever work together to make sure that everyone is happy? If they aren't willing to put the energy into things to try to find the best possible solution, then we don't function as well as we could, and the general level of happiness is lower.
The old cliche of being a "team player", while hackneyed, most definitely applies when it comes to my style of poly.
Glad everyone took my thoughts well.
Well-all of you who cared to reply anyway. :p
If my lover tells me that his partner is on board, and I haven't checked with her, I can choose to trust him or I can check with her. When I check with her and she tells me that yes, she is on board and she's ok with it, I can breathe a sigh of relief.
But, of course, there is no way of knowing for sure that with this checking / verifying / meeting the metamour, nobody is lying.
My lover could be cheating on me and his wife with someone else.
My lovers wife could be cheating on my lover with someone else. If they are fluid bonded, and my lover and I are also fluid bonded (because I trust him and his partner to tell me the truth, right?) my health is at risk.
I'm just saying.. in all relationships there is a point where there really is no guarantee, no matter how much you check and verify. There is a point where you have to yield and know and accept that there are elements of risk and danger every single time you interact with someone, emotionally or physically.
So all you can do (IMO) is figure out for yourself what risks are acceptable, and how you can minimize the amount of risk that is not acceptable.
That's true Cleo-but if you ask and they lie-that's THEIR responsibility. If you don't ask-it's yours.
I didn't have anything useful to add so I didn't respond. But I've been reading and thinking. Don't take lack of response as lack of caring about your post.
Opal, no offence was taken or meant. I was being playful. I understand not having anything to add, I encounter that experience all of the time.
It just so happened that the responders also were on another thread disagreeing vehemently this week and I found it fun and enjoyable that they were agreeing here.
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