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-   -   Communication issues (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=35161)

belleamore 12-17-2012 01:17 PM

Communication issues
How do you try and get someone to be completely open about their desires, aside from just telling them "Tell me what you want!" and hoping they listen?

I'm having some serious communication issues with B, my husband. When I ask B a question, especially one about seeing my boyfriend, M, B will give me three different answers. For example - M and I were having some relationship difficulties (mostly freaking out about worries about B), but things were back on the right track and I'd made plans to at least have lunch with M and a friend of mine. We'd decided to also go back to M's place for a few hours so we could spend some time together, since it'd been three weeks since we'd last spent any amount of time together. (We used to spend the entire day together on Sundays, but since the relationship explosion, we've planned on dialing back.) I ask B if he's alright with this, and he tells me, in this order, "Sure, spend as much time up there as you want!", "No, I don't want you to go", and "The decision is up to you". I decided to go up there, since it'd been a while since I'd seen M. Maybe it was selfish, I don't know.

So I get home after a couple of hours with M, spend some time with B, and he asks "Did you two do it while you were up there?" And I looked at him, and told him yes, because we did, and he says he could smell it on me and storms off. Apparently "I don't want you to go" translates to "I don't want you having sex with M." If he'd explicitly said that, I would have listened to him! How on earth do I get him to actually tell me what he wants? Does anyone have any suggestions for encouraging communication?

GalaGirl 12-17-2012 03:07 PM

You could tell him you find his communication confusing with mixed messages when he states this to you in this order:
  • "Sure, spend as much time up there as you want!"
  • "No, I don't want you to go"
  • "The decision is up to you".

When you receive mixed messages, rather than forging ahead you could ask him for the bottom line Final Word in order to clarify.

You could tell him you expect him to be a person of his word and say what he means and then mean what he said.

You could tell him you are willing to give him extra time to process things if he needs time to digest and come to the Final Word.

You could tell him that in future you plan to ask him, "Ok, is this the Final Word then?" and you expect him to state "Yes. This is the Final Word on that." And you are going to BELIEVE his Final Word.

And if he chooses to tell you it is the Final Word, and it is ""The decision is up to you" -- then the decision is really up to you! You might decide to go ahead and he must be prepared for that.

He could not offer you "fake choices" like it is some sort of mind reader test if he doesn't actually mean that he is ok either way and for you to decide yourself. You are not a mind reader. He could just tell you direct what his preferences are in his Final Word so you take that information on board. Does he want his information taken on board or not?

If he gets upset later that his Final Word was actually not true -- he is NOT ok with it either way -- he can deal with it. Because he is in charge of himself and you expect him not to lie about where he's at inside.

You cannot control him or what comes out of his mouth. He does. You cannot magically know things without him telling you. So he has to tell you honestly where his temperature is at with things.

On the flip side -- exactly WHAT did you ask him?


"We'd decided to also go back to M's place for a few hours so we could spend some time together, since it'd been three weeks since we'd last spent any amount of time together. "
If that means sex, say so. For all I know you are "spending time together" playing Scrabble. You could state it more clearly with something like this:

"I plan to see M and Friend for lunch. Sex could be on the table if we go back to his place later even though we have not been seeing each other Sundays and we'd planned to dial it back. Are you ok with this possibility/pace? Do you need me to go slower or just not tell you when sex comes back on the table? I know you had to endure relationship explosion with me recently. I know what I do affects you. Give me feedback, please."

Can't ask for clearer communication from him when you don't offer same. Given that you had recent "relationship explosion" and were planning to dial it back -- depending on what you asked him -- he may have thought you were asking if he was ok with a lunch date and not been prepared for it to be sex too. So now he's mad.

Sort it out.


JaneQSmythe 12-18-2012 04:32 AM

It took MrS and I 3 years after we were married (7 years of being together) before we figured out how to actually say to each other what we mean (rather than expecting the other person to "mind-reader" us). (By the way this had nothing to do with poly.)

It actually takes practice.

Initially, we would act on what we thought the other person meant, then we would play the game..."you said 'x' I think you meant 'y' - did you mean 'x' or 'y'?" which morphed into "you said 'x', so I am going to act on 'x', even though I think you you meant 'y'." It's amazing, to me, how much actually acting on what people say causes them to consider their responses carefully.

Life was so much better as we learned to communicate effectively (again, nothing to do with poly). Why do we not learn these things sooner? Which is not to say that we never mess up. Sometimes people don't know how they feel... or they want to feel one way, when they actually feel another.

Life is a work in progress.


belleamore 12-19-2012 04:04 PM

Thank you, both of you, for the advice. :) I realize I need to communicate things more clearly myself - I hadn't exactly intended on having sex with M when I was up there, but it ended up happening anyway. I didn't think it would be such an issue, but then again, not thinking is what got me into this mess.

With M, he and I are putting our relationship "on hold", so to speak, until B and I sort out our communication issues. If I have to be more explicit with him, I'll do it, so he understands exactly what's going on - I know I don't want to lose either of them, as I love both B and M very, very much, so I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make things work on both ends of my little relationship V.

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