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-   -   Polyamory and Honesty Issues (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3755)

monaural 09-20-2010 07:14 PM

Polyamory and Honesty Issues
I've been involved in my first poly relationship for a few months now, and while things have been mostly sweetness and light, there are some troubling wrinkles appearing.

When my girlfriend and I started seeing each other, she was in a lull/readjustment/possible breakup period with her poly boyfriend. They decided to give it another try a few weeks later, and my GF informed me of the situation, saying she still wanted to continue to build things with me.

This was my first intersection with poly love and I was taken aback, but went through a miraculous transition through a lot of soul-searching. I vowed not to get too attached, in case my mononess crept in. She and I grew fonder and fonder of one another anyhow. We love the heck out of each other now, and I think it's starting to worry her other boyfriend.

He contacted me recently, seeming to want to offer me advice and/or solace in case her poly split was causing me pain, as it apparently had him when he fell in love with her years ago.

He went on to explain that "poly is her thing" and that he only tolerates it because he loves her so much and that's just how she is. This painted him as almost in the same position as me- a mono guy learning to deal with loving a poly girl. This didn't ring true to me, because I've known him to be poly/swing-y since time immemorial.

Now, a neutral third party has informed me that she knows at least two folks this guy has slept with/cultivated casual relationships with in the past year, so I have to assume that he's skewing the facts to try to make a bid for sympathy, and perhaps detachment, from me.

I don't feel at liberty to bring up his behavior with my girlfriend- it just feels like "tattling", to me. "Look what your boy is trying to pull on me!" But still, I came into this relationship under the auspices of not wanting to unsettle their "healthy poly relationship", and now things seem very complex.

How can I get to the root of what's REALLY going on (and my future, or lack thereof, in it) without alerting my GF to the (possibly) apocryphal stuff her other boy is feeding me? The issue is compounded by him being a friend of mine, so it's not only her love I stand to lose, but his friendship.

Jeez, I don't know how you polyfolks keep these things so straight and simple :)

Confused 09-20-2010 07:22 PM

I would be honest with her. I don't believe in keeping secrets, but just make sure you stick to the facts and your own feelings and don't try to interpret others meaning or feelings iyswim. Keeping something secret from your partner even if intentions are honourable creates distance and that makes things both harder and more complicated than they need to be.

redpepper 09-20-2010 07:29 PM

I talk about everything. So for me it would mean being honest and open about all that is going on... including how it makes me feel and what I would like to see happen.

When I have done this in the past I have found that the emotions die down quickly, no new ones arise and things are dealt with quickly. It's game playing to hang around waiting for it all to sort itself out. I don't like playing games. I like to call a spade a spade and have it out.

Sure, I'm not always right and I have my own shit to deal with in the situation also, but I know that when I open my mouth and it keeps me authentic. I like to think anyone that challenges me gets the real me and anyone I challenge in return knows that is what I expect back.

This is the only part of poly that I think needs to be dealt with right away... poly should be taken slowly all but the communication, that should be in the moment and dealt with quickly and well. At least that is what I have found works best.

monaural 09-20-2010 07:35 PM

The only strategy I've been able to come up with that doesn't involve directly mentioning his behavior was thus: Asking her, "What is the nature of your relationship with your boyfriend? Are either of you more committed to polyamory/openness, or is it fairly equal? Does he express any pain or discomfort about sharing you with me or anyone else?"

At least then I'd confirm where she perceives things to be, and have some insight into whether he is fudging the truth, or perhaps that the two of them have not properly communicated the status of their bond lately.

I see your point, Confused. This is already making me unhappy, and it would not be healthy for this uncertainty to continue. And Redpepper, your advice seems sound, as well. Even if he truly is trying to play to my sensitivity to get rid of me, he's not committing treason, and my discussing his behavior with the girl probably doesn't constitute some big breach of privacy on my part.

redpepper 09-20-2010 07:48 PM


Originally Posted by monaural (Post 45013)
"What is the nature of your relationship with your boyfriend? Are either of you more committed to polyamory/openness, or is it fairly equal? Does he express any pain or discomfort about sharing you with me or anyone else?"

How about, "His actions make me uncomfortable." "I think that he is trying to play to my sensitivity and it makes me nervous" "I feel like I am out of the loop as to where you are at with him and it makes me feel uncomfortable and un-trusting of what the two of you mean to each other" "what do you know about all this?" "where are you at with him" ...

These questions tell how you feel and that you don't know what is going on. Your questions ask her to explain but you are saying them to see if you can guess what she means... why. Why not ask her right out after you tell her how this all makes you feel. That way there is no guessing, no assumptions and no expectations. It won't set her up, because you have told her what is going on for you and respected that she knows what is going on for her and have given her the opportunity to make you feel better....

I underlined the above because I really have tried and found that in relationships with those we love there should be none of what I underlined. It just doesn't work as far as I have seen and experienced. This is someone you love and believe loves you. Why not trust that and them and be real as best as you can about what is going on for you.

monaural 09-20-2010 08:11 PM

@ Redpepper - Thanks for this reminder. I think in my current (slightly wounded, somewhat at-sea) state, that sort of clarity and forthcomingness doesn't come naturally to me. I'll just be real and solution-oriented with her.

I still wonder, sometimes, if this kind of political/interpersonal wackiness doesn't make dating a poly person a little too chaotic for people like myself who have little interest in multiple partners. But then, mono relationships seldom sail smoothly all the time, either. I guess that's life. ;)

redpepper 09-20-2010 08:37 PM

Yes its true. Smooth sailing is just not how it goes. Good luck! :)

Tonberry 09-21-2010 01:12 AM

It could also be that he's telling the truth, in that he does have a hard time with her being poly... even though he is as well (or is he a swinger?). It happens, too. Maybe you could try and clarify it with him?
I think honesty is pretty important, but I'd always ask the person concerned first, as otherwise it's more like talking behind each other's back.
At any rate, I wouldn't be confortable hiding my feelings, so you should definitely talk about it with either of the two of them, or even both.

Quath 09-21-2010 01:37 PM

I tend to give peeople the benefit of the doubt. For example, he may be uncomfortable with poly, but he is giving it a shot. Or maybe he is more comfortable with swinging than with poly.

I tend to just ask a person straight out if I see something weird about their story. As long as you ask in a non-confrontational, I find that most people are honest. I also find people are not always self-consistent.

SNeacail 09-21-2010 04:36 PM


Originally Posted by redpepper (Post 45025)
Smooth sailing is just not how it goes.

Even when you're actually sailing:D. Truth is, sailing is probably a really good analogy for relationships. The guy at the helm is constantly fighting the current and the wind, having to make adjustments. When the guy at the helm makes adjustments the guys on the sails need to match them. If it doesn't happen just right, every thing goes to sh*~ really fast. If the team can't communicate to get the problem fixed, things go from bad to worse. Smooth sailing last just about long enough to get something to eat and go to the bathroom. Occationally you loose all wind and go absolutely nowhere.

If you ever want an adrenaline rush, find the local yacht club and hitch a ride on a race boat (usually Sat morning). The whole thing is a lesson in controlled chaos, disaster recovery and chicken.

I agree with RP, ask straight out. Assumptions are a killer.

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