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Old 04-24-2012, 08:48 AM
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rory rory is offline
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There is a way of thought which can be seen in many people who write about poly. It has to do with "working on one's own shit" or "growing as a person"; it often comes up with regards to jealousy. Partly, it resonates with me strongly, but I do take issue with the extent to which it is sometimes taken to.

I have a strong personal commitment to growing as a person. I rarely think of it in those terms, though. Sometimes it comes from willingness, and sometimes it can border on obsession, but I do analyse stuff (no kidding? - analysing the analysing). We all gather a unique set of baggage in life. I find mine easier to deal with by analysing it, finding causes for my emotional responses and reactions to emotions. For me it is quite often (though not always) the case if I find causes for my (negative) emotions that are in conflict with my core values/reasoning, the emotions become irrelevant and soon disappear altogether. For example, I've felt jealousy before, but once I thought about it and came to the conclusion that even if the person finds somebody they like as much or even more than me, it doesn't in any way devalue what we have together. After that jealous feelings have been irrelevant to me, and they have also been rare and mild. This is not, I have found, how it works for everybody. For me, the processing produces an instant reward, so no wonder I do it constantly.

My life becomes easier with processing, but some people may well feel differently about it. Tiresome, useless, endless, frustrating. I completely accept that. Now, if a person has baggage that causes them to act in very hurtful ways, that is something they have a responsibility to not inflict upon others; i.e. work through it or not be in relationships. But baggage isn't always that extreme. Sometimes it's just little quirks, tiny things that are easy for partners to accommodate, if they wish to do so (they may not and that is a valid choice as it is not their responsibility - if they don't then both have choices to make).

I try to word what I'm getting at, but as simple as I feel it to be, it seems complex when I try to explain it. It is about boundaries though.

As much I believe in everybody being responsibile for their own shit, I also believe in accepting the person you love as they are. That means with the baggage. This is not the same as putting up with crap, oh no! If the behaviour is something you can't live with it is your responsibility to decide that and not be in that relationship. If it is something you can live with, then live with it without the expectation for the person to change. If they do decide, some day, to work on that shit that is their decision which can be supported.

There are number of valid choices. There is "I am committed to growing as a person, and working through my baggage. I will only be in a relationship with people who have a similar attitude". There is "I am committed to growing as a person, and working through my baggage. I am fine being in a relationship with a person who doesn't share that aim, as long as they don't ask me to accommodate unreasonable things". There is "I just want to live my life and not use my time to endlessly think about why I'm feeling what I feel and doing what I do; I know there may be some things that are messed up but since I am not harming other people with them then I am fine with that".

It is not fine to say "since I process my shit you have to, too"; it is fine to say "I process my shit, and I won't be in a relationship with somebody who doesn't do that".

I feel that sometimes a person with the first attitude projects that onto other people as well (in the form of implicit thought if you don't do this you are lesser poly). I.e. "To be poly you have to be up for endless analysing/processing, and you have to require the same from your partners". I think that if personal growth is your kink, poly is an excellent way to facilitate that. But I don't think you have to have that preference to be poly.

Obviously, no matter what relationship configuration, it is not okay to harm others with own shit (though we are human and it will sometimes happen, but the ethical thing is to take responsibility and work on not doing it again when it does). Being reluctant to process does not mean a free pass on whatever crap you wish to pull. But it is also not a requirement to strive to become the perfect you. It is just fine being happy as you are and finding partners who are compatible.

This is why I cringe at the extreme condemnations of jealousy. It is definitely not okay to act on jealousy in ways that are hurtful to others. But it is okay to, say, want monogamy. It is okay to want polyfidelity. It is okay to be poly and still have some agreements/rules (not ones that are harmful to others, though). Jealousy may sometimes be a sign of insecurity, but not all insecurity needs to be gotten rid of. You may want to work to get rid of it, but if you don't, that is fine a valid choice (as long as, again, it is not harmful to others).

On a more personal note, my partners are different in the way they approach the whole processing thing. Mya is like me in this respect, the both of us enjoy good analysing session like nothing else. Alec is more to the "just living life" side of things. And poly has still worked just fine for us. It is my choice to accept him as he is, with baggage and all. I do resent the implication that I am doing poly wrong () by accommodating some insecurities he has. Just because it is somebody's choice to only be in relationships with people who work to get rid of all their insecurities, it is no less valid to choose otherwise. I do not feel limited or restricted, this is what I want. If I did not want it I would not be with him. If he expected me to accommodate his insecurities, yet were not willing to accommodate mine, I would be out the door so fast. But just because I feel my life to be easier with processing, and thus don't happen to ask him to accommodate my insecurities, does not mean that he has to do things the same way, or that I'm in some way taken advantage of. Just like even if I want another partner and he doesn't, he is not taken advantage of. It's just differences.

Last edited by rory; 04-24-2012 at 09:02 AM.
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