Originally Posted by AnnabelMore
Just a thought, it seems like boundaries are more common in primary relationships. Like, they might affect what happens in the secondary relationship(s), but their origin and purpose is usually to protect the primary relationship(s). Does that seem accurate?
Yeah, it often seems that way, which I think is a bit weird because it still holds up couplehood as preferred over multi-partnerhood. I say that because the primary relationship that is being protected is usually a couple. It seems to me that having boundaries that place the utmost importance on preserving the "sanctity" of a couple are basically preserving monogamy as superior over non-monogamy.
I also think many "solo poly" people make the mistake of not setting their own boundaries for poly relationships, and leave all that boundary- and decision-making to those who are in a primary relationship with each other, whether the solo is involved with one or both of the people in that primary relationship. There is an interesting discussion thread over at polymatchmaker about rules and boundaries for single poly's, and I started a thread about that here but didn't get much response (I think these forums must have more partnered people or couples that participate than over at PMM). I think it's important that solos not compromise on too many important points in their own set of boundaries just to be involved with a couple or someone who is in a primary relationship with someone else.
Recently, I had to tell a married poly guy who was messaging me on OKC and seemed very eager to start something that I didn't think it would work for us because I realized that the rules he has with his wife conflicted with mine. They have a DADT policy, and he even called it "condoned cheating." He did offer to get his wife in touch with me to confirm this (because I asked "how do I know you're not just cheating?") but then said that they also agreed to do "everything they can" to ensure they are each #1 in their lives, which includes cancelling dates with their OSOs if something comes up for them to spend time with each other. While I would understand if there's an emergency, I thought "so I'm supposed to accept whatever crumbs you throw my way?" I felt their rules conflicted greatly with two important rules of mine: that I feel respected and never treated like a whore. I just couldn't see myself feeling good about myself in that kind of situation. I would want to be able to contact a metamour if necessary, not hide out like I'm a dirty secret, and not be discarded in favor of time with his wife and just expected to move my schedule around for them.
The other rules I have about being involved with someone who has other relationships kind of hinge on how I approach being in relationship. Basically, I'm a solo person, which means I am independent, see all my romantic relationships as equally important, and do not use a "primary" and "secondary" hierarchy. I have no objection to someone I'm involved with seeing me as a "secondary," as long as I don't feel like I'm being treated like a secondary. I don't want to feel less important to him. I would consider my lovers co-primaries to me, so if I start to feel like my partner is not respecting the place I have in his life, that would be a sign of trouble, big trouble.
My biggest consideration or boundary is that the health and emotional evolution of my relationship will be solely determined by just me and and the person I'm in relationship with. In other words, though I would welcome a friendship with my partner's spouse or SO, and would honor reasonable
boundaries that pertain to managing the amount of time he can spend with me, when/how often we can text or call each other, or how public we can be (because these would affect them as much as me), my metamour(s) will not be setting rules about how I conduct myself in my private time with him (such as how emotionally involved I can be, nor what I can do sexually with him). My private time with him should not be inhibited by someone else's rules, other than safer sex boundaries, which of course I have as well.
When starting to see someone who is partnered, I ask if they have rules for each other that would affect me. If I can live with those, fine. But he and I alone set the rules and manage our own relationship. That is very important to me. Because of that, I will not get involved with anyone who gives his spouse or partner veto power.