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-   -   Communication Advice (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4107)

fullofdumplins 11-01-2010 06:37 AM

Communication Advice
 
I must start off, first of all, that I'm not in a poly relationship but have been reading these poly forums for quite some time. I'm in an open relationship and have been reading these forums for advice and extra knowledge on how to better maintain an alternative relationship with my s/o regarding communication and jealousy issues. I'm pretty sure that I am poly but do not want to pursue it at this point in time.

One of the reasons is due to communication issues with my s/o; we have been dating for almost 7 years and started to seriously pursue an alternative relationship for the last 13 months. A problem that I've experienced is that my s/o cannot be completely honest with me and we're trying to find the source of the issue. Wondering if anyone else has had this happen to them?

For example; we decided to be quite open with our intentions and talk to each other about everything (from who we've talked to, what we talked about, who we've been with.. etc) but he hides the odd thing from me because he says that he fears repercussions, even though we have stated that as long as we follows our guidelines that we created and that we communicate there are no repercussions. The things that he doesn't communicate aren't big things but still little things that matter to me. I don't believe that his intentions are malicious.

A part of me thinks it's because he might have a guilt complex; even though he knows it's consented and the idea excites him, that he is worried that he may hurt me emotionally (this is a new relationship concept for the both of us but I have transitioned easier than he has). Another part of me feels that he might really enjoy the idea of keeping a secret, hence hiding smaller details. We've talked a lot about this issue and has talked to a few friends who have pursued a poly relationship for insight. One suggested that he write an action plan and write it on paper but he gets stumped as to the "why", therefore cannot find a resolution until he does.

Has this happened to yourself or to your s/o where there is an unexplained communication barrier? How have you resolved these issues and continued to ensure an open and guilt free communication? I realize that an open relationship and a poly relationship are fairly different with different ideals but I feel that poly couples have it right when it comes to communication (hence why I've been creeping these forums for the last year). As much as I would like to eventually pursue a poly relationship, I want to ensure that we are able to fully communicate openly prior to doing so.

Any thoughts and insight would be greatly appreciated!

<3

GroundedSpirit 11-01-2010 02:03 PM

Skill
 
Hey Dumpling,

Well............what you describe is pretty standard. It's a new skill we have to learn and takes some time. We learn from childhood that speaking openly and honestly often carries a penalty. We have to 'un-learn' that, and in order to 'un-learn' it, it has to be in an environment that can minimize any potential penalty. Otherwise our brain won't allow us to proceed.

But I think it's not even that simple............

There's personality involved. Or at least 2 of them :)

Some people by nature feel better living openly. It minimizes any hidden sense (potential) of guilt, uncertainty etc. If you lay it all out there and it gets 'approved', you feel validated, where otherwise you might feel unsure of your choices or feelings. Maybe some choose to call this a confidence thing ?

Some people have a need of more privacy just to feel they are owner/operators of their own life. Having a pressure to share too much feels like a control mechanism. For those type of people, openness pretty much has to come at what pace they are comfortable with. For those type people, it seems the best solution is for them to TRULY understand and embrace the importance of it. And I think you have to acknowledge that this is much more critical if choosing to live a poly lovestyle. There's more potential for complication, more people involved, and being left out of an important 'loop' can be fatal. Sometimes literally.

So have some good discussions about this. Discover each others 'styles' and commit to working on it as much as possible within the boundaries of your own personalities. Stretch a little at a time.

It's super important - and worth the effort. Once you get there it feels GREAT !

GS

RBMaelstrom 11-01-2010 02:55 PM

If I may offer a perspective from the other side of the gender coin:

He may have a guilt complex, or the answer could be simpler. There's something that he has niggling at the bottom of his proverbial chest and he doesn't feel like he can get it off. Maybe there's something happening in the relationship, be it physical or emotional and he fears that telling you will hurt you and/or the relationship deeply.

He may also be listening to that very common societal and male-imbued instinct that most women do not like to share, no matter how much they say that they do. I have been in and out of the poly lifestyle for a couple of years, and perhaps it's just my partners.. but despite being open, they all possess a certain level of jealousy. So too have I. It's human nature to be at least a little bit protective of what you see as 'yours'. Even if that person is with someone else, and you want them to be happy, it takes time to conquer that. Whether that's him, you, both, or neither, only you know.

Finally.. sometimes we simply know that something dangled in the face of our loved one only makes them angry, or brings about hurt feelings. In those instances, it can feel easier to just avoid mentioning them to keep the peace and spare those feelings. Right or wrong, that is what it is.

I wish you luck in figuring it out!

redpepper 11-02-2010 05:10 AM

I haven't read what the others have said, so excuse me if there is a repeat...

I tend to think that most people have been raised to have to lie and be secretive in order to get their needs met. From an early age we have parents that are flying by the seat of their pants with parenting and often miss what their child needs. What the root of their needs are. children tend to go underground in order to find what they need from others or by themselves. I certainly grew up this way. It wasn't safe for me to express myself in certain ways and I learned, as a defense mechanism, that I had to stay safe and find what I needed elsewhere.... in order to do so I lied and kept quiet.

What happens later in life for most, I believe, is that they have had trust broken and have had to get their own needs met often enough that when and if they find themselves in a relationship that requires them to be open and honest, they have to re-learn that way of being. That is what I have had to do anyways. I find that there are still things I don't talk to others about, but largely I am completely open, more than most as a result of pushing myself and others to talk and accept who I am.

Perhaps this is the reality for your SO. Maybe he has some re-learning to do. He might also just not be that in tune with what is going on for himself and has agreed to boundaries that don't work for him. perhaps he wants more privacy and covets the times when he is in his own head and enjoying remembering his own experiences. Nothing wrong with that, but you have to agree to less information.

Maybe it's time to look at that boundary again and see if it needs adjusting and what you will both say to each other to make sure there is comfort around the new arrangement. I find playing out a possible scenario works wonders to help get the words together in order to make sure they are fluid when the moment arises that they are needed.

Its hard to say what is going on without knowing a bit more about specifics, but I hope that helped.

SourGirl 11-02-2010 05:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit (Post 51015)
Hey Dumpling,

But I think it's not even that simple............

There's personality involved. Or at least 2 of them :)

Some people by nature feel better living openly. It minimizes any hidden sense (potential) of guilt, uncertainty etc. If you lay it all out there and it gets 'approved', you feel validated, where otherwise you might feel unsure of your choices or feelings. Maybe some choose to call this a confidence thing ?

Some people have a need of more privacy just to feel they are owner/operators of their own life. Having a pressure to share too much feels like a control mechanism. For those type of people, openness pretty much has to come at what pace they are comfortable with. For those type people, it seems the best solution is for them to TRULY understand and embrace the importance of it.

... ^^ This.

I am that 2nd type of person.

Having pressure to play 'sharsies' really does feel like a control mechanism, as GS said.

I don`t lie, and I don`t hide. Some things really just aren`t anyone`s business.

The difference between someone lying/hiding, and someone who just operates a different way, is in how they react to seeing their partner struggling with this.

I may not initially offer some info to my partners, as it didnt seem relevant. However, if they are struggling, and need to know something, I don`t mind telling them. Or in rare cases, explaining why it is private.

If I ever felt that was being manuipulated though, I`d get pretty crusty, pretty quick.

fullofdumplins 11-02-2010 06:51 AM

Thanks for your responses! I have shared some of them with my s/o earlier this evening and we briefly discussed it. He can agree to some of these responses and have been able to realize more about the "why". We plan to talk more this weekend (as he had to move out of town 10 months ago due to his job but is back every second weekend) but until then, it will give us some time to think things over.

The boundries that we've set for ourselves have been pretty rigid, but again, they were boundries that we both wanted and made at the *beginning* (to ensure being comfortable with this new relationship style, no hurt feelings and of course, safety). We've always discussed that they can be reviewed and changed later to better suit our situation. I guess we never really looked at going over these boundries again and letting them evolve like our relationship has.

Though, I must say at this point, I don't like the idea of omitting or lying about information. I guess another reason why our boundries have been so rigid at the beginning was not just for transition but because of the non-physical fidelity issues that he had in the past when we were a mono couple. Some of it was a "live and learn" situation for the both of us but the majority was because he did lie or hide things to get what he wanted. It didn't happen that frequently, but enough over a 6 year span that we could recognize that it was an issue. I'm very much about being very open, fair and balanced to make sure that we are both informed and so that there are no surprises. I realize that this has a huge back story behind it so if you want to know, just message me and I'll explain in further detail.. it doesn't seen like I'm doing it much justice trying to explain it and keeping it reader friendly.

I guess my question is now what information have you not supplied to your s/o and for what reason? By sharing what type of information makes you feel controlled or manipulated and why?

redpepper 11-02-2010 07:32 AM

Information I don't share... Well mostly private stuff about how we interact in private, how much we have sex and what we do, how bonding and connecting that is. Any details that my partner has asked me to keep private or I have understood to be private. That kind of thing.

All my relationships are love related though, so that might make a diffrence. I don't think I spared details when I have had relationships not based on love. Why bother hiding it I thought, it was meaningless in terms of depth and connection.
I am wondering if perhaps he fell in love, or maybe went out and did stuff that was kinkier than perhaps he thought you were willing to know about. Please do message if the details might help in this and are not for public consumption. I am willing to hear and see if it does change my perspective :).

fullofdumplins 11-03-2010 06:12 AM

Thanks!
 
I appreciate your help! I sent you a message (I'm hoping it went through as my internet has been pretty wonky for the last couple hours).

Thank you all again for your advice. I will post the end results :D


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