b. “Why do you have more than one friend?”
This one didn’t resonate as well with me, but it still worked better than the initial child analogy. It seemed to work well for others. Same deal. You acquire friends, not based on any lack of what your current friendships offer, but because you find something in this new person that you like and want to see more of.
This may not resonate all that well, period, because even though people have multiple friends, many people still have one “best friend” - one person they confide in, etc. But it’s worth a shot.
This does NOT equal the statement, “No one person is enough to meet anyone’s needs. You have more than one friend, right?” Be prepared for the rejoinder, “Well, I don’t need to have sex with my friends!” if you use that one.
3. “But love is not a zero-sum game... I have plenty of love for everyone. Love for person <x> doesn’t mean less for person <y>”
Okay, but there are other pieces of a relationship that are zero-sum, time and money being two HUGE ones.
As a Poly partner, as you add relationships, you may find yourself coming up against your saturation point (you’re polysaturated... har har har) - how much is too much before you just can’t manage it anymore?
Your Mono partner may have the opposite: a Mono-Dilution point, if you will. How little time is too little? As a relationship grows into something a Mono person sees as a lifetime relationship, the traditional model is to spend *more* time together. Limits on this may limit “how far” your partner may see this relationship going.
Your Mono partner (especially if you’re opening up a marriage, where you share resources) may resent money from your joint account going to fund date nights and gifts for your other partner(s). Don’t assume that mi dinero es su dinero
. Nobody likes talking money, but in any relationship, it can be a major cause of discord. Talk about it.
Conversely, if you are “getting more serious” with a Mono partner, there may be different financial questions that need to be asked. If sharing a household, how much contribution should be expected? Who pays the bills if the poly partner is going back and forth between homes? Groceries? How do you split up chores (more of a different topic, but you get the point)?
Talk about it. Don’t assume that just because your love is infinite, other resources are as well.
Okay, Mono partners, stop nodding your heads and pumping your fists. It’s your turn.
Section 2: Potential Pitfalls for Mono Partners
1. “But he/she has <x>! I want <x> too!”
Really? Or are you just bristling against something you see as “unfair?”
Do you REALLY want to go see that band, or is it a style of music you really don’t like?
Do you REALLY want to hang out with that friend you really can’t stand just because they did?
Take a step back and think about what YOU want and need out of your relationship with your partner, aside from any other person in this relationship. What do YOU want?
More time with your partner? Ask for it.
To try that new Italian place? Make a date.
To go see a concert? Find something you both like and go.
Figure out what it is that you’re missing in YOUR relationship. Talk about it. Figure out how to get it, or compromise in a way that works for YOU. Renegotiate as needed. No, it’s not always that easy; life tends to get in the way. Money and time (see a pattern here?) can dictate how often a couple goes out or what they do, and you may need to compromise on the things you’d like to do. This happens in any relationship, though - you can’t always go the places you want for vacation, and you probably can’t go out every night. A Poly relationship can bring out this difference when the other partner CAN, but it isn’t the cause of your inability to do so. Don’t shoot the messenger, and don’t hold your partner back just because you can’t do something. Therein lies resentment.
If you REALLY can’t stomach seeing that they’re going out and doing <x> when you can’t, then talk about it. Are they posting pictures or statuses on Facebook about every single event? Figure out why you’re upset and talk about it. Does it feel like they’re rubbing it in your face (“Nyaah nyaah, I can go out and you can’t!”)? Does it feel like “everybody will see THEM together and not US”? Understanding the reason behind why you’re upset goes a long way toward solving it.
2. Poly means ‘casual’
“How can we build a future together when you won’t commit only to me?”
“Why does she want to move in with him? She’s Poly!”
This one took me a while to grasp.
Poly means “multiple”. It doesn’t mean they don’t want the same things out of their relationship that you do. It means they want to be open to more relationships if they come up, with everything that goes with them.
You want to build a lifetime with your partner. He wants to build a lifetime with his partners.
A Poly relationship CAN be a casual one, but it doesn’t have to be. A commitment to one does not negate a commitment to another, although it may make logistics more difficult.
If your partner’s OSO is Poly, don’t assume that it’s casual or playtime. Don’t get caught off-guard and get pissed off when they start wanting to move forward in their relationship. Be prepared for their relationship to be every bit as close and important as yours is. If you need some level of hierarchy, communicate that NOW to your partner. Unless you’re opening up a marriage (where shared history and assets may dictate a hierarchy), don’t be surprised if you meet resistance.
In other words, your “couple” relationship with your partner is not more “real” because you are monogamous.
3. “You’re going to see that she’s <better / sexier / nicer / more awesome> than me and leave me!”
If he were monogamous and fell in love with someone else, you’d be right.
But he’s not. Being Poly means he can love her without falling out of love with you. You CAN have a relationship with him while he’s in a relationship with her and you WON’T lose him.
Things will change - you’ll have less time and attention than you may have in a monogamous relationship, but if that’s not a deal-breaker for you, then you still have him. The choice is left up to you as to whether or not “less him” is better than “no him.” Answering “no, it’s not” is a perfectly acceptable answer, by the way. If you can’t handle sharing your partner, don’t try to settle for something less than what you need, but this will be YOUR decision. Not his.
Some of the advice you see floating around about Mono/Poly relationships equates to “Oh God - good luck with THAT!” It’s discouraging. And the emotions that can accompany the changes involved in adapting to such a relationship can certainly feel insurmountable some days.
The most important lesson? Time and experience.
It’s cliche, but it’s true. Having gone through our issues, working through them in non-productive ways until we beat our heads into various walls and find something that works - going through that process has shown me that we WILL work at this. That we’re not just going to give up when emotions get squirrely or things get hard. We know what works for us (talk ‘til ya puke!) and what doesn’t. And we know that even if we get it wrong, we will still be accommodating and work toward getting it a little more right next time. Finding one thing that works for one issue doesn’t mean there won’t be more, but you’ll be more confident in your ability to handle them as they come up.
If you’re here looking for advice? Best of luck - if you want to do this, you can, regardless of what anyone else says. Looking for resources and reading, reading, reading? You’re already trying, and that’s a damn good start. Hang in there.