Freedom and commitment in Poly-fi relationships.
I used to enjoy a life where I had complete freedom to have many partners, now I have a committed Poly-fi relationship.
I was talking with my husband the other day about how at some point, hypothetically, I may find it a challenge to be committed to not having more men in my life. What do I do then?
He said that I can have it one way or another, and that Poly tends to be one way or the other....
Either I could have total freedom (experience anyone I want)
total commitment (with a select few in a family manner).
While I agree largely, I wonder if people can balance this? How can a balance be achieved under such circumstances? I just wonder if there is a possibility to continue to be comfortable with the freedom I have in my commitments for the long haul?
In all relationships, the people in the relationships have the right to set and modify their own boundaries. If a person says I am comfortable with you dividing your attention between me and n other people, but I could never be comfortable with you dividing your attention between me and n+1 other people, then you can respect that boundary, look for any room to negotiate around that boundary, or, if you have a boundary that is completely incompatible with there being any set number then you can dig in your heals and see whether or not the relationship in question survives n+1.
I guess I see freedom and commitment as something that can happily coexist. For me, commitment is not about how much time I spend with my partner, but about how much I devote to meeting my my partner's needs. I think that can happen while still being open to the possibility of new partners. Of course, the decisions I make about involving a new partner would be balanced against whether or not I can meet the commitments I've already made and the potential commitment I make to my prospective partner. But I believe that freedom is about being trusted to make those decisions for myself without having to set an outside limit.
I see commitment as so much more than just deciding to be exclusive. I know many partners that have those limits and yet the level of commitment they have to each other is arguably low. I would hope that when I commit to a partner, they would trust me enough to know that I can have that freedom to be open to possibilities yet will be able to make all those decisions based on honoring the commitments that I already have. If I feel poly-saturated- that any new relationship would mean having to devote less to my current relationships- then I would probably not want to include anyone new. But I also recognize that those things can change. My commitment is about my devotion to that relationship, not in about promising not to have more relationships.
Fortunately Redpepper and me got to spend much of the weekend together with her son. We had lots of talks as per normal and the topic of this thread came up. I thought it was an important point to put out there to our friends and the community.
I was approaching it not so much as how you (the person seeking freedom as we are using the term here) are able to commit to all these people, but what type of dedication/commitment do you expect to get in return from each person or certain ones.
Again it all seems to come down to what your goals are. Do you want multiple people to not only be romantically involved with but also to be an integrated part of your family, sharing chores, family functions, contributing to child care etc? Or do you simply want to have a very fluid, completely open relationship?
Having multiple free flowing and fluid relationships is very possible, as we have seen with people at our poly meetings. These people do not seem to not have committed people with which they are building homes, raising children, planning a future or sharing the mundane responsibilities of life with. They tend to be single, young, or newly divorced from traditional marriages.
Having committed family integrated relationships are also possible as we ourselves are experiencing.
Having total "freedom" (as defined earlier in this thread) and total "commitment" (as defined earlier in this post) is not something we have seen working in person however.
I myself, although completely devoted to Redpepper within our dynamic and boundaries, know that I would inevitably succumb to the stresses of a 100% free flowing relationship. I am blessed to, without effort, look at her and her husband as one entity and therefore can honestly say I have experienced a zero jealousy poly situation. I do however have my boundaries with the introduction of new men.
So in affect, she knows I am hers as an integrated, dedicated family member. We have pushed this belief to near the breaking point in coming out to her family. She also knows I ask for certain boundaries for me to be healthy.
I represent one end of the spectrum…total, lifelong, family integrated, goal and future orientated commitment in a poly dynamic with her husband, her tertiary and future women to love (not to share with me, I’m so not into two women LOL)
I could not co-exist with the other end of the spectrum…total freedom to explore any love interest that arises whether male or female. (The difference in why one is possible and the other not is another thread that I may someday tackle as it is very private to me and I have yet to be able to fully explain it to even Redpepper.)
Redpepper’s responsibility is in evaluating, and re-evaluating if the relationships she has and the contribution from each is worth the resultant “cost” of our boundaries.
I have to do this too. For me, although monogamous in nature, any “cost” I experience currently is outweighed by the “gifts” I receive which is sharing in her love and family.
While we spend a lot of time talking about mythical unicorns on here I sometimes feel that the idea of a utopian community of completely dedicated and completely free lovers is the true unicorn of poly. IMO getting everything is not a realistic or achievable goal in any area of life. I simply have to ask myself what I have right now, in this moment, as I am, to see the truth in that for me. That doesn’t make life any less amazing or rewarding.....for me it just makes it real.
Again, though…everything comes down to goals :)
Peace and Love
What a very interesting question RP. I'm not even sure that I know that there is an answer. Very thought provoking.
Obviously as you all know Maca and I are in the process of defining our poly-relationship having been in what should have been a mono relationship -but I f'd that up very well.
In defining that-we haven't really addressed the "terms" for the future as of yet-though I'm sure we both have thoughts in mind.
For me-I do not want another man in the picture-(thankfully neither of them are bi) and would be rather offended at the suggestion.
As for women-I reserve the thought that someday I may be interested in pursuing a woman again-but at this time in my life I am not even remotely interested in touching on that aspect of my nature. Too much baggage.
BUT I don't care if either of the guys has a girlfriend, even two.. I think that there is a significant limit to how well they can do their jobs in our family if they were to get into serious relationships with more then two women beyond me because time is already a strain with 3 kids left to raise. However-if they found a way to do it-whatever.
As for living in our home-I think I would have to set a limit on how many extra women were moving into our home as "partners" to our family for a variety of reasons some selfish-some not so much. Unselfishly-there is a space issue. But selfishly-all of the kids in our home are mine-and I flat refuse to defer to ANY other woman but my sister on raising them. I WILL be the final decision maker in regards to their well-being and that is not optional, so a woman moving in would need to be comfortable with that.... limitation on her role in our family...
I'm not interested in just having a flat open relationship. I don't feel I need it nor do I feel it would benefit me. I am not sure how I would feel if one of the guys wanted to be able to "partner hop" at will either... Honestly-I haven't much considered it beyond them having a girlfriend.....
Again-interesting topic RP!!!
There is freedom in commitment as Rarechild has mentioned in another thread untitled "ORE." I'm hoping she will write about that here :) *entice entice*
Well, RP, you sure do know the shortcut to my heart-ask my advice, or better yet, ask me to write about something I care about.
First I have a couple of ?'s about your OP-
2.Would you say that you current poly-fi relationship has been defined as it has (with the "-fi") absolutely mutually or largely according to the needs of your 4 men(or one of them)?
3.What made you start pondering on this?
4. What do you mean when you say "freedom in commitment"?
What I meant on the ORE thread was mainly about being trusted. I have never been trusted before, or never could be, anyway. I fought dirty on and off the playground by hiding my true motives and thoughts behind "independence" or "toughness" or even "strength".
I am a huge journal writer. I used it for a long time to collect all the things I nerve had the guts to say to anyone, least of all those closest to me. Despite this I am a pretty cool chick and do emote quite a bit so people have always felt they could trust me, but I have only just begun now to reciprocate and trust others.
This leaves me in a vulnerable place that I have always avoided because if you are depending on someone, and they are depending on you, it gives you the perfect opportunity to fuck it up and show your most personal weaknesses.
I admit I've gotten though the hardest times in my life repeating "I can survive anything" over and over in my head.
A long preamble to say- I am getting a taste of what 5 years of relentlessly probing (yes, probing!) another person can accomplish, and thankfully, instead of a divorce, for me, it's trust.
So, for me, my freedom is the understanding coming about between D and I that we trust each other so much that I haven't written anxiety-ridden, rage-filled, sexually frustrated journal entries about how I could never tell him A or B, or he'd do C-- in about 4 months. Not a long time, but it's been building and I love it. I trust that we will be loving when we speak our minds, and if we aren't or we don't we'll try again directly.
That frees me. I am above the suspicion that I always felt I've lived under,because I'm a woman, because I'm whatever, insert label here.
I have this one relationship that is in this place, and I want to have more.
From what you write, RP, it seems you have some good people on your side too, who will listen to you thoughts and feelings if a time came that the dynamic could shift. Being committed is being committed to someone's happiness, not to their self-sacrifice. That is one of the things that always tuned me off about The Marriage Concept - that things that could be labeled "self-sacrifice" were somehow an ideal, and you were supposed to laugh about it over drinks once a year. I digress. (it is 2 in the morning)
I must say you are voracious for life like I am and I'm interested to know your answers.
Must go to bed now. :)
I think it was good to go out into the world, but, believe it or not I am very sensitive and have a really hard time with being rejected or used (mother issues, surprise surprise!:o).... for example I friended someone on FB from here who dropped me as a friend and I still am hurt about it and think about it often...it was over two months ago. I knew her from only a few days worth of posts and a couple of emails and yet I am mortally wounded by this.
Needless to say I needed containing and when Mono asked for this boundary I was ready to give it. I dropped one of the men as he and my husband pointed out that he was damaging to me... one of those danger people that we all have. It turned out he was right and I am now deeply wounded by how that ended too. The three men I have in my life are committed to me for the long haul and very protective. I feel contained and loved.
My husband was glad I chose this path as he was exhausted trying to keep up with my activities and his emotions. I also think about my son in this and the stability of our family as a whole... my cruising days with men were over. So it all works for me.
What I originally wrote:
"I may find it a challenge to be committed to not having more men in my life. What do I do then?"
I think I will have avoided the real issues if I were to break this commitment. I really have a lot of work to do on myself still. I only just recently could be alone by myself thanks to Mono's help on my stuff... we really do support each other as I know I help him too. I am only just realizing that in being able to be alone I have opened a flood gate to other issues I have... ahhhhh!!! so much to do to get to a place of balance. I'm so fortunate to have such great supporters in that journey!
More of what I originally wrote:
"Either I could have total freedom (experience anyone I want) or total commitment (with a select few in a family manner). While I agree largely, I wonder if people can balance this? How can a balance be achieved under such circumstances? I just wonder if there is a possibility to continue to be comfortable with the freedom I have in my commitments for the long haul?"
I think there is not so much a balance but a continuum that one falls on... complete freedom on one side and total commitment monogamy style on the other. I fall somewhere in the middle to committed end of it and recently realized that if I were to add anyone else it would take away from the others... to me commitment is about spending time... so in fact I would be less committed to my men and my family. I think rather than adding more people I need to start thinking of adding MYSELF on that continuum... something I have not done in a long time! I need to seek a relationship with myself before even THINKING it's possible to add another love in my life! My job now is to not feel as if I am take away the time I spend with my loves because I am pursuing a deeper relationship with myself. If I figure that out that is where my freedom will lie I think...
Oh I hope I am making sense!!!:eek:
I know my reply is a bit of a tangent but I am sure all these questions will go through people's minds so why not tackle them.
One of the beauties of this forum is the honesty that people express themselves. Through this honesty others get to learn and without a doubt Redpepper and I are honest.
It doesn't take much to affect my energy, so we try to cover our bases in great detail like before we attended a BDSM event. There is also a good chance I will sit our next poly meeting out because the topic is an energy land mine for me - SEX! Through in depth talks about things we avoid inadvertently crossing lines that would be hard to come back from.
I fully expect people to question the resilience of our relationship after reading this thread. We do not live in a fairy tale world, we are very realistic. Just this weekend Redpepper and I had a serious and sad discussion about sustainability of our love as it is. I have my concerns about it; I am not so sure our different natures and social backgrounds/circles can come to terms in a long term healthy way in the "forever" sense. I do know we will be connected and always share love however. The key is that I am not letting doubts prevent me from moving forward towards a goal of family acceptance, family integration and a lifelong fulfilling commitment in which all of us are happy and healthy.
What more can any relationship hope for?
Peace and love
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