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Old 04-20-2012, 05:24 AM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Yelm, Washington
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Hello Amanda,
Welcome to our forum.

"I guess my overall question is this: What is it that a person can get from multiple partners that is worth the overall difficulty and drama that you can't from a single partner?"
Variety, I suppose. That, and a wider base of support (from more than one person). An expanded sense of intimacy and belonging, if that makes any sense. And, you can get better at practicing polyamory over time, so that the drama becomes a thing of the past, and the complexity becomes comfortably manageable.

That's not to say polyamory is right for you, and maybe it's not right for your partner, either, if he has other issues he's not dealing with. Sometimes polyamory is used as an excuse for cheating ... and it's cheating if one's partner (e.g. you) isn't okay with the arrangement.

Your partner probably shouldn't have told you he could/would give up being poly to start a relationship with you. I'm sure at the time he was sincere in thinking he'd be okay with it, but he just didn't think it through very well.

"I wish there were a magic spell to invoke that would immediately make me okay with all this without feeling like I'm compromising myself and what I want."
Wouldn't it be nice. Unfortunately, you may have to confront the reality that you and your partner might not be compatible (due to the clash of monogamous/polyamorous ideals). Mono-poly couplings do sometimes work, but it's not easy.

If you're indeed compromising yourself and what you want, then that's a bad situation. You have to think in your mind if this polyamory business is really something you can accept, because if it's not, then you may be setting yourself up for a lifetime of resentment or disappointment.

"What I want is this: a happy satisfied and healthy partner who is stimulated by and engaged in their life with me, who is my partner in crime. I want to be their go-to girl -- the one they call when something good or bad happens -- their emergency contact -- the one they want to go on vacation with -- etc. -- and not have to wonder what I mean to my partner.
Is this possible? If so -- how?"
It sounds like you might be leaning toward a primary/secondary relationship model ... that is, one where, if your parter does have any other partners, those partners are all secondary in importance next to his relationship with you. In other words, you are his "primary partner;" all the others are secondaries. Some poly relationships are like that, and they can work ... but you have to make sure that's something he can live with too.

"And finally -- one more question -- isn't this just a way to avoid commitment? And I don't mean this to be judgemental -- I'm really just trying to understand."
Well your basic commitment is that you're going to stay with the other person, and work out the difficulties, whatever they may be. There may or may not be a commitment about fidelity -- that depends on the individual relationship, although safe sex commitments are a given. Other than that, it's not necessarily about avoiding commitment; it's about people deciding what rules are right for them (and sticking to those rules). If it *is* about avoiding commitment, then it's not a healthy relationship style (regardless of whether it's "polyamorous").

"What is the difference between being poly and just dating whomever you feel like whenever you feel like it? I realize there are supposed 'negotiated boundaries' but what *are* those boundaries and how do you ensure they aren't being crossed? Why is it different than just serious (not casual) dating?"
That's all 99% dependent on the individual relationship. Some people have what's called a "polyfidelitous" relationship: that is, sex is only supposed to happen within a very limited circle of (often just three, maybe four) very closely bonded/committed individuals. Sometimes more people can become "new members of the circle," but only after a considerable time for everyone to get to know the new person, and only if everyone is 100% comfortable with the addition. Then, there are some polyfidelitous situations where no new people are added at all, ever.

On the other end of the spectrum is a situation where everyone belongs to quite a populous and complex "intimate network" ... or even a core group or couple branching out in a dating situation that resembles swinging. There's all kinds of possible arrangements between the extremes, and all different levels of how "open" or "closed" the arrangement is, how much everyone talks to each other about the details of their various dates or relationships, etc.

I'm from a three-person unit (an MFM V, to get technical) that doesn't date outside our three-person circle. We're polyfidelitous. If any of us did date outside the circle, it would be after all three of us had met the new person and gotten comfortable with them. But we only represent one kind of the many, many kinds of polyamory that can be practiced.

As for how you ensure the boundaries aren't being crossed, that's a matter of trust, honesty, and yes, commitment. Everyone has to be very committed to honoring whatever agreements are in place. Sometimes agreements can be re-negotiated, but unless/until that re-negotiation happens, the agreements are to be honored as-is. Otherwise, if someone breaks an agreement (or crosses a boundary), then that's "their bad," just as if they had broken the rules in a standard monogamous relationship. And the principle is true for both monogamy and polyamory: You can't *make* anyone keep the rules ... You have to be able to trust them to keep the rules, and they have to be committed to keeping the rules.

Different poly families = different levels of commitment. Some are committed to stay with each other for life; others, just for as long as love and compatibility last, and honesty and openness is the only rule. But you have to decide what level of rules and commitments is right for you.

"If we've committed to each other -- what does that mean if people are invited in and out of the relationship on a whim?"
That shouldn't be happening, if you're not comfortable with it. You and your partner need to sit down and figure out what rules you both can live with ... and if there's not a set of rules you can both with, then you may have to consider letting your partner go. Hopefully it doesn't come to that, but ... just sayin'. You commit to the rules that the two of you can agree upon, and you stick to those rules (both of you).

"How can you even begin to compete with someone:
  1. Who doesn't live with you and doesn't have to deal with him never cleaning the bathroom and therefore doesn't seem like a disappointed nag ... and
  2. Ends up looking really fun because the time they would spend together would be time specifically carved out for meaningful interaction whether it be deep or just fun -- not cleaning the cat litter box, food shopping or negotiating 'boundaries' for the relationship."
Perhaps the thing you have to do here is ask yourself if you can trust your partner not to play that comparison game. Sure NRE (New Relationship Energy) is a fun/exciting thing that comes out of new relationships. But "old relationships" have their unique qualities as well, such as the safety, comfort, and security that comes from knowing it's someone who's stuck with you through thick and thin (and through all the bathroom-cleanings, etc.). New relationships aren't necessarily better; they're just different. And "old relationships" should still have their "special date nights," etc.; even if it's "not the same" as dating a new person, it's still important.

But like I said, not all poly relationships have that "dating new people all the time" type of thing going. For some poly relationships, it's "seldom dating anyone new" ... or even, "never dating anyone new." Some poly relationships look almost exactly like a traditional monogamous marriage -- the only exception being that there's three (instead of two) people committed exclusively to each other for life.

You and your partner should have a long sit-down with each other to find out if there's any middle ground, in the midst of all this "poly territory," that both of you can live with.

Hope this helps somewhat.
Kevin T.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"
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