Boundaries & Relationships: Global Philosphies or Case-by-Case Basis?
I would love to hear everyone's opinions, ideas, and experiences about the following:
Do you have global philosophies in your relationships, or do things happen on a case-by-case basis, or both? For example, do you agree to boundaries that pretty much allow anything or do you agree to boundaries depending on specific situations, contexts, or people? Or do both things happen for you in your relationships?
My partner feels like he needs a more global direction for our relationship, while I feel more comfortable getting used to new people and relationships on a case by case basis. I think I do have some global feelings: for instance, I am comfortable with any of his partners, as long as I trust them and I am able to meet them a couple times to get to know them a bit myself.
I would just appreciate hearing ideas and feedback about these ideas from anyone who cares to share :) I hope this isn't too confusing!
I have a few very strict boundaries that I have with everyone, regardless of the relationship type. For others, I tend to discuss what their boundaries are, and see if we have an amicable area. If not, we try to find a mutually agreeable area that we both feel our needs, wants, boundaries, etc being met. If there is no reaching an agreement, then I pull away. If my strict rules are broken, you're out on your ear.
The basics for being in right relationship with me? It's here.
We are closed, but discussing. We have to see where it leads. We know it's not going to be open any time soon.
There's some other things we're mapping out right now because it's a different playing field when you open up an existing marriage (to us anyway) than the last "V" when we were 3 singles without kids or heavy burdens (ex: careers, houses, combined finances, aging parents, etc). It's not exactly a level playing field like before.
It's not like we can predict every little thing that might happen. Nobody can. But getting some global basics sketched in and agreements for how to resolve conflicts when (not IF!) they arise? That's where I like it.
I want to trust my partner to play well. He ought to make the calls in his relationships -- both with me and whoever else it may be. BUT -- since there's overlapping people? Let's get some "play fair" things in place. I'm enjoying the conversations with him -- he's got hot ethics. They turn me on. :D
I don't need to micromanage him or be micromanaged. But I need to be able to feel I'm in safe hands in all my buckets -- mental health, emotional health, physical health, spiritual health. I want to know where he's at so I can carry HIS buckets with minimal slosh too. It's that whole "You are responsible for your own and your partner's buckets" thing.
When you are IN a relationship, you can't act like you are a footloose single. Even in open relationships -- there's ethics. It's not just the obvious "STD/pregnancy no riding bareback" thing.
Other issues in other buckets to have to treat with respect.
I'm just not interested in drama.
If the poly life is teaching me one thing (and its teaching me lots of things) it is that my preconceived notions of what is right and wrong, my ideas about black and white moral issues, about hard and soft boundaries, are all in constant flux.
When we started out I would say things like "Oh no I would and could never ever be ok with that." Turns out, 3 years later, I've done and experienced most of these things and have learned so much about myself in the process.
I suppose the only real rule and boundary that I have is that I want my partners to be honest to themselves and to me, and vice versa. But even that isn't something that is always completely and 100 % doable.
So I guess my global rules are: lets all try open communication as much as possible, lets all try to stick to the things we agreed on as much as is possible.
But, we'll take into account that we are all human and that mistakes will be made. Forgiveness is a very powerful thing.
Then, on a case by case basis, be brutally honest to yourself about what you are feeling, what is good and healthy.
I recently experienced something that made me realize that some of my hard boundaries are really just safety nets that prevent me from really looking at my fears. Dealing with things on a case by case basis is definitely more work that having strict rules and boundaries (at least that what this feels like for me, now).
For me, each person involved has their own boundaries, and have every right to them. When any combination get together and try to have a relationship, it's important that each of those boundaries be explored, and a decision made as to whether there are any conflicts and whether these boundaries can be respected by all involved.
I have some "bottom lines" that for me are non-negotiable. Each person that I have met have had the same. Also, boundaries can change as the level of trust between those involved increases or decreases. Therefore they need to be reviewed from time to time.
Seamus and I know each other's boundaries, and the basic concept of how to act if we meet someone. But then if we do, we talk about it and decide what works for that specific case. I guess our global rules, apart from the safe sex ones, are mostly "let's talk about it so we can decide the case by case stuff".
Hell, even for safe sex, if the new parter has been single for a while and has their test results, for instance, we might decide that protection doesn't need to be used.
As of now -
Global boundaries: condoms if not within the 3 of us, keep the members of the Vee in the loop if relationships/sexual intimacy with others is evolving, other partners can dictate the boundaries of their relationships but not mine/ours.
Case-by-Case: these are things that depend on my relationship with my potential metamour - can they come to my house? can they have sex in my bed? can they meet my family? That depends...on how much I trust them to be careful with the heart(s) of my love(s) and whether they care about ME or are just in it for themselves (this is mostly theoretical - there was one test case that forced me to realize that I did, in fact, have boundaries in this regard).
Privacy, I think, is also on a case-by-case basis - both of the boys feel that anything they share with me, conversations, sexual details, etc. are not privileged amongst the 3 of us. I'm ok with them sharing “me stuff” between the two of them but uncomfortable with me sharing “them stuff” with the other (unless I feel it is vital to the health of the whole dynamic) even though they have both said it was ok.
Each of them also gives me the option of sharing or not when asking me a question - for instance, MrS knew that Dude and I had a disagreement/argument about sex the other week...a few days later Dude and I had a deep conversation addressing it - which was partially satisfactory. MrS (who is absolutely awesome about supporting me - his wife, and Dude - his best friend in getting through our shit without taking sides – Dude and I have no idea how he does it so skillfully without prior experience) asked if I could share the gist of the problem with him so we could have a more detailed conversation about it. NOT demanding. I already have Dude's permission to share anything I need to with MrS - so I was able to give him a synopsis withOUT feeling like I had violated anyone's privacy.
(Having said all of this – MrS still has a “knight-in-shining-armour” response if he hears something that tweaks his “ save-the-damsel-in-distress” button – apparently I have a tone to my voice that says “I mean it” - and if he hears this, no matter how innocent the context – he is there with swords metaphorically drawn ready to “save” me – I have to admit that I appreciate this, and that I, now, purposefully regulate the tone of my voice so as to NOT trigger this response unnecessarily.)
Thanks for writing it that way, Jane.
I have come to realize some of that stuff I put in the "housekeeping" bucket of my mind.
It's not in the "how to be in right relationship to me" bucket which are more global principles. That the WHAT. Those other bits end up being some of the HOW.
So I guess we're all going to have some kind of mix of global/case-by-case spectrum thing no matter what bucket names we call it all by.
Interesting food for thought for me. Thanks again!
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