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-   -   Poly Lessons We've Learned (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2858)

redpepper 05-27-2010 06:46 AM

Poly Lessons We've Learned
I have had reason lately to think about what I have learned about poly in the course of over a year writing on here, 12 years of living poly (mildly at some points) and what I have learned from my own constellation and community. I would like to again say what I have learned....

There are several things that I have tried and have had success with and some that I haven't. I am not usually one for formulas so a lot of what we have tried has been modified and made our own... which brings me to the first lesson learned.

1. my poly is different than others and that makes it right for me, but not necessarily for others. I can describe my poly life to others, but should not prescribe the same thing onto their lives as they are different in how they describe themselves.

This has proven to be difficult many times for me as I find that people don't necessarily want to talk about their poly lives to me in person and I am left frustrated and have ended up prescribing anyway, just to feel more comfortable.

which leaves leads me to number

2. communicate at all costs and as soon as possible. No stone should be unturned. Everything should be out in the open when it is discovered to be an issue, a possible problem that I am working on trying to figure out the details for and stuff that rocks my world. The latter to the one who is involved mostly as it sometimes hurts a partner to be told that someone else rocks your world ;)

3. "go at the pace of the one who is struggling the most" I think I coined that one. :o make sure there is movement forward to something that works for all, but make sure no one gets left being dragged behind the boat.

4. mono's are sometimes REALLY mono! :p:cool: and there is a world of difference that is worth discovering.... Mono and poly are simply different cultures.

5. jealousy is often a sign of an unmet needs and fears or threats. Take it apart, discover its layers and walk through each piece of it.

6. all expectations and assumptions should be out on the table. No mind reading and no guessing.

7. go slowly, take time, be patient. Things are usually awesome at the beginning when foundations are being built. Unfortunately that foundation becomes very rocky when it's built on NRE. Hurt happens when a proper foundation has been rushed because NRE creates that rushed feeling.

It's like deciding it would be a great idea to walk 20 kms to get a donut from the all night donut shop when you are drunk. The walk there is great and fun at the beginning, but gets long and arduous as you sober up... Sometimes it's more worth it to turn around and walk back. Chances are it will be a long trek of unhappiness where as if you just hung out and waited until you were sober you could of taken the car.

Rushing also grasps on to other unsuspecting by standers that are not so keen to be dragged along and wonder what the hell the fuss is about. Like a cat being taken from it's cozy chair... grrrrr, meow!

8. There is a big difference between poly lifestyle and poly identity. Poly lifestyle is a choice to live and date honestly and with integrity; poly identity is what one is born with. A person who identifies as poly is unable to be comfortable with monogamy because it is not their nature.

I could go on and will, but that is a good start.

anyone want to add on some good ol' poly lessons learned from their own experience?
in addition, anyone find that one lesson in particular was more helpful than another?

MonoVCPHG 05-27-2010 07:42 AM

Not specifically related to Poly but an observation that applies to any dynamic;

NRE can be invigorating and exciting.

NRE can be a major distraction that makes people forget the day to day stuff such as work, friendships and cleaning our own house LOL!

NRE that involves multiple partners can be a flat out train wreck of steam rolling pace and subconscious disregard for reality when it comes to considering the emotions of others.

Experiencing NRE in the moment is easy and not where the work usually resides.

Reality and logic often crash against NRE like an unwelcome tsunami.

redpepper 05-27-2010 02:30 PM


Originally Posted by MonoVCPHG (Post 30920)
Not specifically related to Poly but an observation that applies to any dynamic;

NRE can be invigorating and exciting.

NRE can be a major distraction that makes people forget the day to day stuff such as work, friendships and cleaning our own house LOL!

NRE that involves multiple partners can be a flat out train wreck of steam rolling pace and subconscious disregard for reality when it comes to considering the emotions of others.

Experiencing NRE in the moment is easy and not where the work usually resides.

Reality and logic often crash against NRE like an unwelcome tsunami.

Sure it is. NRE is huge in a poly relationship because of the ripple effect it has. When anyone else is added to a relationship there is a ripple, but that is bigger when there is un-managed NRE involved. The key, in my experience is to tame it and make that ripple as small as possible and respect that the wake it has is bigger than we realize.

In Monogamy, when someone is single that wake is minimal, so there is allowances for us to be complete gleeful idiots in NRE. It's part of our culture through history that when we are young and courting to act on NRE. That first loving feeling is well established over years to be the one that leads us to marriage, babies, shared households... etc. NRE in poly is different.

In poly, at least in my experience, in a family poly environment.... and I would love to hear about any other setting... the first thing that went was my relationship to my son. Or at least the potential for that. I sucked it up pretty quick when I realized the values I have about raising kids were being jeopardized.... he was being affected more than anyone when I met Mono because the time we spent doing mummy/boy stuff was cut drastically...

I was neglecting to create the proper balance that gently encouraged him to become involved in the arrangement. Over time he gradually got used to the idea of Mono on our lives and now calls him his family. In fact this morning he was telling us about an event at school and he wanted to invite Mono to it. Just Mono. But that is a year and a half later and after some intense work and time management.

Now I struggle adding another partner and am taking it very slowly. Especially as she has a family and is establishing her own version of a poly family. There is no time for NRE in all of that except when we are alone together and in brief moments. My biggest struggle is making sure that I spend quality time with my child... because that ripple is a big wave when it gets to him.

redpepper 05-27-2010 02:59 PM

9. Moving a lover in before they get to know our other lovers and children is just plain a bad idea.... how many times have I seen on here and in my poly life in general, people that have moved their lovers into a situation and it explode in their face.... everyone gets hurt and no one wins. Especially kids... who essentially get ignored in the process and then their parents wonder why they are whiny, misbehave and clingy.... well I can tell you from experience that it's because they want to spend time with you and you are ignoring their given right to bond with you.

It seems it works much better to move someone in after they have become an established person in the community complete with job, friends, life..... and when they are completely settled as a viable member in the constellation.

Again though, this is a skewed point as not all poly relationships include kids, marriages, live in partners etc... I would love to hear other experiences. I can only talk about my own and in no way mean it to be anything other than that.

10. Get to know your metamours. I have noticed that this seems to work out best for the harmony of everyone involved. You don't have to love your metamours or want to spend time with them, but knowing them and their version of poly, has been essential for me to develop deep meaningful relationships with my lovers and my husband. Compersion bursts forth when I know my husbands lovers and appreciate their worth in his life... as it does when metamours know metamours and I allow the space for everyone to get to know each other. I really could have it no other way any more personally.

11. hmmm.... no time for 11. off to work for now.

GroundedSpirit 05-27-2010 03:37 PM


Nice post and nice to have a short list of lessons kind of in one place. :)
I think a lot of people could benefit from more like this.

Even recently I've been thinking a lot about how it seems this is all FAR more complex than it really is. More drama than necessary. More heartache and pain for some.

Being/living poly (and this is something we've said many times in various ways) really is just a certain amount of good common sense about how you would want to live in a loving way in a loving world. Kindness. Consideration. Communication. Education. Not necessarily all in any particular order.

I suspect as we look at your list - or any other entries that follow - we'll discover that they all come down to such a short list of common elements. Learning to understand ourselves as well as others with an eye towards compassion and a common benefit.

Not really as difficult as it might seem from the outside once you reduce it to some fundamentals that aren't such a bad prescription for everyone (minus any labels). Maybe when you approach things from a perspective of "what's the best we can build that will benefit everyone" what seems complex gets considerably simpler ?

Good job :)


Derbylicious 05-27-2010 05:09 PM

So what have I learned?

1. Sometimes it's very difficult to pinpoint exactly what the issue is in any given situation. It's easy to know that something feels "wrong" for you but can be much more difficult to articulate why.

2. Change doesn't have to be bad. Mostly changes lead to growth and experiences that you wouldn't have had otherwise.

3. Support systems are important. The more people you have around you who understand who you are and how you live the easier it will be to find an ear or a shoulder when you need one. It's also nice to have people around to share your happy with.

4. Ultimately you are responsible for your own happiness. Snapping yourself out of a bad mood isn't the easiest thing to do but things run much more smoothly for everyone if you can be happy. It's a self fulfilling prophecy that if you're not happy because no one wants to spend time with you or talk to you then they won't want to spend time with you or talk to you because you're not much fun when you aren't happy.

5. Don't do anything that you're not completely sure you want to do even if someone else would like you to. As much as you're responsible for your own happiness you are also responsible to respect yourself and your own boundaries.

6. Everything needs to be talked about. Nothing can be assumed. What is obvious to one may be a complete mystery to others.

This is all I can think of for now (but then again I don't have 12 years of experience to draw on ;):D)


redpepper 05-27-2010 11:01 PM

Wow, good on you Derby! All good points! thanks for adding...

Yes I agree GS, most of this can be boiled down to what you are saying. I guess I was hoping for a list of in depth impressions of what "good common sense about how you would want to live in a loving way in a loving world. Kindness. Consideration. Communication. Education." can be broken down and broadened.

So often the same questions are asked in a search for some kind of deep meaning of poly. some kind of formula to start with and expand on... make ones own and add to. I know I would of found a list like this one hopes to be, very enlightening and promising. It's my intent to bring that to others now so that they might also have hope and find security in the fact that stuff has been done before.

MonoVCPHG 05-27-2010 11:38 PM

Coming out lessons learned
When talking to people who do not know about polyamory, focus on the things you like about how you live and not the things you don't like about how they live.

Do not try to justify your ideals by challenging the ideals of others. If that is your only means of substantiating why you believe in something then your viewpoint will come across as negative and confrontational.

Focus on educating, not converting.

Speak in their language; understanding first, vocabulary second :)

GroundedSpirit 05-28-2010 01:01 PM


Maybe we should add.........

"Remember that people as a rule resist change. ANY change !
Therefore, we have to be mindful of this trait, acknowledge it, and be patient all the while holding up a flag of accountability for progress toward a stated desire to embrace certain changes"

redpepper 05-28-2010 06:00 PM

11. perhaps there are several types of poly but the two that stand out the most are:

the single minded, if not single in relationship status people that are able to incorporate several people into their lives casually as far as time goes, but not necessarily in depth. I find it hard to believe that for the long term depth in relationship can be maintained in this kind of relationship, but apparently long term is not always the objective. "Depth" is in the eye of the ones in the relationship. It's not for me to determine, as I am not in it. So therefore I can have an opinion, but it is mute. :rolleyes:

Sometimes the thrill of NRE is the objective in this type of relationship or an arrangement of "self" centered comfort .... These folks tend to not have kids or marriages, at least if they do they seem to find themselves in trouble as this kind of mindset is "self" centered... not in the negative sense, but in terms of lifestyle. No kids, no marriage=freedom to come and go as one pleases so to speak.

The second large group of poly people seems to be those that are married/committed/common law etc.. or involved with married people (or the like) who have a responsibility to the sanction of family in a more traditional sense. These people tend to have a primary partner as they have kids to think about and larger responsibilities than themselves. Other partners are incorporated slowly and the family unit incorporated into the other partners life also... or, not at all and the relationship is more of a open marriage concept or don't ask don't tell concept.

There is no right or wrong way of doing things in terms of poly relationship style, but it seems ultra important to know what someones style is and communicate how to merge the two... otherwise assumptions and expectations arise and people get hurt needlessly...

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