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-   -   Privacy & Disclosure Boundaries? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=49179)

katja24 06-26-2013 12:07 AM

Privacy & Disclosure Boundaries?
 
I have some questions regarding privacy and disclosure.

I made the mistake of disclosing a specific piece of information/specific experience that my primary male partner (J) and I had last summer (which was in itself a boundary-breaking experience) to my female secondary partner (M) (she and I have been together 3 months). Last summer, I agreed to that I wouldn't disclose this experience to any of our mutual friends. In retrospect I should not have agreed to this because I also kept myself from processing the experience in other ways that would have allowed me to resolve the experience; keeping the agreement felt stifling. I had kept this agreement for almost a year, until I told M a few days ago because the experience came up in our conversations.

Right afterwards, I had a good feeling J would not be happy I told M. I told J when I got home that night what I told her, and he was (understandably) very upset that I didn't keep this agreement and likened my actions to cheating.

Up to this point J and M have been very friendly with each other, and while the three of us have been sexual together, their relationship is otherwise pretty platonic, although friendly and flirty. Now, J says if M knows sensitive information about our relationship (including any details about the conflicts that he and I have) he wants to distance himself from M. He does not want to feel judged by someone that he does not trust or know on the same level that I do.

I can definitely relate to his feelings around this, as I have myself felt uncomfortable when he talked to other dating partners of his about the conflicts he and I had during those times. So I understand his need for some kind of privacy.

At the same time, M is feeling upset about the idea that I won't be talking to her about everything that I want to- including the details of the conflicts that J and I go through. Ideally, I would want M to be just like another very, very close friend that I can confide to about anything and everything. But I also want J and M to continue being as friendly as they were before, and it doesn't sound like this is possible for J.

I have apologized profusely to J for my mistake and he knows I am sorry.

(To add to the stress of the situation, J is incredibly busy right now with school and has barely any energy left over to devote to negotiating and resolving this. So I feel stuck and primarily responsible in finding a solution that feels comfortable for us)

How have other people dealt with negotiating privacy and disclosure boundaries with multiple partners?

LovingRadiance 06-26-2013 12:19 AM

My "rule of thumb" (not related to poly) is that I limit discussion of romantic conflicts-to people who have already proven to be loyal to US and not JUST ME.

I don't discuss conflicts in my relationship with "friends" or family who are going to then judge my partner harshly.

In my poly dynamic-I talk freely with both guys about conflicts that arise because quite honestly-they tend to have good suggestions for me on how to deal with each other-even though they wouldn't identify themselves as "friends". Furthermore-neither is interested (NOW) in trying to replace or remove the other from our dynamic.
However-in the first few years, Maca DID want GG out of hte picture-so I did NOT share conflict info because it would have been giving him "ammo" so to speak.

Likewise-I don't discuss issues with my dad, he is a jerk about it. On the other hand, Maca's dad always has REALLY good advice. He adores all of us, wants to see ALL of us happy, safe, secure. So I know his suggestions are intended for the best interests of our FAMILY-not just me or Maca or whatever.

I wouldn't agree to a "no discussion" rule regarding our conflicts. Because honestly, I often need an outside perspective in order to figure out how to resolve things with myself-much less with my partners.
But, I would expect that I won't discuss conflicts with new partners-and my partners wouldn't either-until such time as the new partner has proven that they are fully capable of supporting US and not just "taking sides" with their lover.

Maca experienced the bad side of that-he vented and opened up about issues we were having to a new potential lover. Within a week or so she had "figured out" all of our problems (incorrectly) and decided I was bad for him and we needed to split. She spent a year trying to convince him to leave me (not for her-she had decided she wasn't interested in dating him). All based upon her perception of what he SAID while he was angry and hurt. To say it blew up terribly-would be putting it mildly.
The pain and suffering all of the way around was enough to convince him he doesn't want to even consider dating anyone else. It was hell.

So my advice to you is to try to find a middle ground. It's important to be able to talk, but things like that need to be privileges earned. With your girlfriend-maybe she could go to him herself and let him know that whatever you share regarding he and you isn't creating in her a desire to see him as "bad" or "wrong" or whatever. That she supports both of you in your relationship and ask how she can help him feel safer about you talking with her.
Sometimes, hearing those things FROM the person we fear to be judging us helps...

katja24 06-26-2013 12:44 AM

Yes, in fact M has repeatedly told me that while she is "on my side" she does not all see J in a bad light and doesn't judge him or our conflicts. She is highly respectful of the relationship I have with J and has been very sensitive in both her words and actions in giving J and I the space we need to work our conflicts out. And, I think what she means by being "on my side" is an indication of her empathy to the conflicts J and I go through. (Although I could ask for clarification). She has never said anything derogatory about J or attempted to put a wedge between him and I. She has actually offered advice, feedback, and solutions and has acted more like an sounding board. I have not been concerned about any ulterior motives that she might have.

I agree that it may be beneficial for M and J to talk directly. I think it could be helpful for J to explain why the privacy violation hurt him, and for M to explain how she doesn't judge him in any way and for the two of them to reiterate their respect and like for one another.

Marcus 06-26-2013 12:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by katja24 (Post 211860)
So I feel stuck and primarily responsible in finding a solution that feels comfortable for us...How have other people dealt with negotiating privacy and disclosure boundaries with multiple partners?

Do you get the impression that you know your partners? Do you understand what types of information they want to keep "private" and why? Are you willing to abide by their request for privacy?

If you answered "yes" to all of these then I don't see what the problem is. If you get what they want and you take no issue with it then you should follow through on what you know to be the agreement (even if implicit).

If you answered "no" to any of these then you have something to work out. It seems to me that you have answered "well, I guess, but not really" to the last of these questions. That is, you get what J wants you to keep private but you think that request sucks and don't care to (and haven't) respect.

If you don't want to keep information secret... one of your partners DOES want to keep information secret... that means you have a serious fundamental difference in relating. This is not a small matter; this is a major difference in the philosophy of how humans relate constructively. Your partner will likely need to stop sharing anything with you that they do not want shared with other people or you will need to curb how you relate to your other partners and sabotage your own intimacy with them.

katja24 06-26-2013 01:17 AM

I just learned that J feels uncomfortable with the idea of M knowing about the details of the conflicts he and I go through. He has not asked me, however, to keep these details private. He has offered instead to have his dynamic with M change so that their relationship becomes even more superficial. That sounds kind of crummy to me but it seems to be where we may be at right now.

Marcus 06-26-2013 01:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by katja24 (Post 211876)
I just learned that J feels uncomfortable with the idea of M knowing about the details of the conflicts he and I go through. He has not asked me, however, to keep these details private. He has offered instead to have his dynamic with M change so that their relationship becomes even more superficial. That sounds kind of crummy to me but it seems to be where we may be at right now.

That's an odd solution to the problem. However, sounds like that's what J wants so I guess that's what J will get... doesn't change your dynamic I suppose.

YouAreHere 06-26-2013 01:38 AM

My two cents... which won't get you anything...

Maybe a direct talk between M and J will help. If it's fear of rejection and judgment from M that's bothering J, and causing him to wall himself off in return, then maybe the sooner they can talk, and M can reassure him (if that's her intent), the better.

As for sharing in general, it really boils down to understanding what each person is comfortable (and UNcomfortable with), and working with that (or pushing back if you feel it's too restrictive). I know it's not a nice cut-and-dry answer, but it's all I got.

Well, that and those two cents.

Malfunktions 06-26-2013 01:46 AM

Youarehere had excellent two cents. In for a penny in for a pound my gran always said.
If you in a relationship then trusting the participants with information you must get of your chest is certainly the pound part of it.

I think YAH he's a great idea to get them together and discuss this.

london 06-26-2013 04:34 AM

If you have an argument with your partner, that's your business and it's fine for you to share your business with anyone you want. I think rules like these ones are usually designed to keep a degree of separation between one's partner and their metamour.

katja24 06-26-2013 05:22 AM

I agree that it could be very beneficial for M and J to talk directly, just as YouAreHere suggested. Hopefully that will happen (I have suggested it to J, and both M and J had proposed the idea separately to me a couple days ago; hopefully it will happen sooner than later)
london- I agree, to a point. I think it's along the lines of what LovingRadiance had to say- that as long as another partner doesn't have intentions of trying to drive a wedge between the two in conflict, that sharing details to get support is probably okay. But again, as Marcus noted, I think it could result in a choice between maintaining the level of deep intimacy I have with J, cultivating intimacy with M, or settling for a more distant V in which J and M don't interact as much as they have up to this point.
I'm sure it'll all shake out fine, but it has been pretty confusing for me to figure out how to move forward. I think at this point having J and M talk directly to each other feels like a good step.


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