Thanks for all of the input on this, folks.
I've done some considerable thinking about it, reviewed what people have written here a few times and tried to figure out more about how I feel about it and whether I'm able to be flexible on it at the current time (meaning right now, at this stage of our poly journey). With the help of yourselves, I think I've managed to changed my position on it slightly, but it's still a big deal for me.
Within my own thoughts it's a phenomenally complex issue, mainly because Q and D have past history. However, regardless of that I'm 99.9% certain that the only way I'd personally feel comfortable engaging in poly relationships is knowing that there absolutely is informed consent from all the participants
. The questions that seems to pose are:
- 1) How do you ensure there's informed consent?
- 2) Who are the participants?
To my mind, the easiest way of attaining 1) is by simply making contact with whoever the participants may be.
Originally Posted by GalaGirl
The "Hi, I am Jane Doe. I've recently started dating D. Just wanted to let you know I exist and give you my info in case you have any concerns about health or things being on the level. My husband is John Doe and he is full informed. We wanted you to be too. Thanks!
phone, email, cel whatever."
In the instances of non-primary partners, that pretty much nails it. Thanks, GG! I think I'd prefer to see a "Would be great to meet for coffee and cake if you're up for that."
statement added, too.
There's no pre-requisite here for friendships to develop or for big powwows or such like, but anything along those lines would certainly be welcome, too!
For primary partners, we already have a clear agreement that we meet at an early stage, vis-à-vis, again with no pre-requisites that there's friendship, although it's obvious that it would be generally beneficial if everyone got on well with each other.
Question 2) is much more tricky, though. At what point does a loose acquaintance, one-night-stand, infrequent casual sex friend etc. become something more significant? It's certainly a big grey area! In the specific instance of D, I can say with certainty that (as of two years ago) he had a 24/7 partner and at least 2 or 3 women that he used to frequent; by "frequent" I mean visit every week or every other week, usually spending at least the evening, sometimes the night, sometimes having sex, sometimes just chatting and hanging out. For me, I cannot really see any way that such relationships could be considered merely casual, although they're clearly not 24/7 primary-style relationships, either. Secondaries seems about right. Sorry to those that don't like such labels!
What relationship dynamics D is involved with right now
is something I currently don't know, other than he's no longer with his 24/7 partner.
But this question isn't specifically about D, which is why I'm reluctant to bring other factors regarding the history between him and Q into this discussion. D (and Q's statement that she wants to have a new relationship with him) just happens to be the issue that's brought this to light.
Originally Posted by dingedheart
What about "giving a shit " from a pure health point of view?
What about the old saying you can learn a lot about somebody by the people they choose to associate with. And such a stark refusal makes one think cover up ...or why the wall .....whats being hidden. The opposite of the open transparent communication generally required for this type of relationship dynamic.
Originally Posted by Anneintherain
I've had some hard lines in poly that changed once the shoe was on the other foot, so to speak, most of them due to fear in those early poly days. Then there are some things I held my guns to, like dating people who actively swing with strangers, where my husband and I have different views on that, safer sex is a hard line still for me.
I'm not saying that your views are wrong, but if someday you don't insist on meeting/talking to every single person somebody you want to date is involved with/is going to get involved in, it will looks pretty hypocritical.
A really good point. I've tried to mentally project myself into a situation where the shoe is on the other foot, as it's likely to happen at some point. I don't believe anything I'm asking for would make me feel uncomfortable or unhappy if it was me that was having to enact it. Actually, checking out the others would actually make me feel safer and happier, which is a great pay-off for the small amount of hassle it would be.
Originally Posted by sparklepop
1. We're in judgmental mode, because we're not on the fun end of that delicious thing called temptation. And being able to give into it. "I want, I want, I want... oh? I can have? Gimme!!" When you're there, rushing with hormones, you're willing to overlook certain things.
Is this not the point in time when agreements and our (primary) partners can help to give us a reality/sanity check? It's a very fair comment, though -- Q gets NRE really badly and she admits it, too. For me, I've never experienced full-blown NRE whilst already in another relationship, so I'm not yet totally sure how I'm actually going to behave.
Originally Posted by sparklepop
I won't date anyone who's married, when their spouse doesn't know what's going on. My girlfriend will.
That would absolutely be a deal-breaker for me. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not passing judgement on yourself or your wife, but I do know that this situation would be totally not OK for me. Clearly, I'd never agree to it in the first place.
Originally Posted by sparklepop
What can you do?
- expect the first 6 months to be a period of mistakes and learning
- expect to make some silly decisions, because you're both likely to act like hormone crazed teenagers
- be kind to each other and keep communicating
Might print that out and stick it on the bathroom mirror
Originally Posted by Narayume
... it is not unusual that every partner has their own rules and requirements and all of them have to be met (or compromises) before things can go forward in my mind.
I think it's only fair to state where some of this is coming from, for me. As any of you could easily determine by looking at previous posts of mine, there have been serious trust breaches between myself and Q in the past. Specifically, Q had affairs over an extended period of time. Whilst the trust feels pretty much sorted out (after much hard work), it's left me hyper-sensitive to situations where it feels like there's any kind of deceit going on, or if anyone is not being given the opportunity to have a choice or a voice. I realise that this is my
shit, but nevertheless it's shit that I carry at the current time (and may do so for some time to come).
When I first started reading about poly, the very concept of everyone being informed, everyone communicating with each other (or, at least, having the opportunity to do so if they so choose), no-one being kept at arm's length, openness -- all of this really sang to me
, allowed me to realise that there is a way to have an open relationship where the emotional and physical risks are mitigated to levels that feel OK and that my triggers about Q's past affairs are significantly less likely to be fired. Frankly, it feels right!
I'm quite prepared to accept that my viewpoint on all of this may change as time progresses and as I/we become more poly-experienced.
Once again, thanks for everyone's input into this so far -- it's much appreciated!