Hello there, I self- identify and am identified by Undermind as his primary partner. Thank you for all your responses to Undermind's thread on this issue. I'd like to say a few words to clarify my position on this matter and will attempt to do so in a non-confrontational and forthright manner. I'm not looking for a win or for others to justify my point of view bur rather for a way we can move forward and achieve our mutual goals.
I'm not going to go through and address everything that's been said by others nor am I going to summarise Undermind's position. You guys can read the thread for yourself. I think there are really two main issues here:
1.Captured by Cleo when they asked “does your wife really have to play by the same rules you do?”
2.What are the rights of someone I want to have a relationship with?
Although I hear, understand and respect Undermind's feelings on this issue and and impetuses driving his preferences around poly relationships involving openness and choice and do indeed want to be involved in relationships where there is ideally no cheating or betrayal, I do not believe it is necessary that I go about this in the same manner as Undermind.
Undermind and I believe that we should meet one another's partners as well as those they identify as their primary(ies) and have an agreement as such, I don't feel the same about our secondaries' secondaries, casuals, fuckbuddies, etc. and we do not have any written agreement about them (I have checked our notes).
I don't really not “give a shit” about my partners' secondaries -- GalaGirl was correct in that I was emotionally flooded and frustrated – but neither do I have the desire to stipulate to my partners that I must meet or contact all their partners directly or that this is necessary for ethical non-monogamny, compersion, choice, openness, etc. Nor do I agree with those who argue that this should be done because it's just so easy and only takes a minute, especially if done by email. No it isn't easy – not if you don't agree with it and feel that it could possibly even undermine a perspective relationship and trample on others' rights.
As a compromise, I have agreed that I would happily tell any of my secondaries (of whatever form) to feel free to pass on my details to their other partners and invite them to contact me if they so desire. When I decide to get involved with someone (and I'm not someone who has one night stands or relationships that are mainly about sex), this inherently means that I trust and respect them enough share part of my life with them and believe that they will conduct themselves as a responsible and mindful adult. I am satisfied if they assure me that they practice safe sex, get regular check ups, and all their other partners are informed that they are non-monogamous and have multiple partners. As the relationship grows, there will be signs that this is indeed the case or not. If I'm ever in doubt, then yes, I'll check it out with them directly and yes, this may involve talking with one of their other partners with the consent of all involved. For me, I currently don't have any compulsion to become particularly involved with or even know about all of my partner's secondaries. If it turns out that my partner thinks I might get on with one of them, introduces us and we start hanging out, great.
Regarding 2) I have yet to spend much time as someone's secondary, OSO, fuck buddy, etc. in an ethical manner; however, I am aware of the issues around respecting the rights and needs of secondaries and am very conscientious about them. I'm thankful to nycindie for their perspectives on this issue as a solo poly, as I feel they expressed some of my arguments – and that of a potential partner - quite succinctly. They are especially relevant as I do tend to get involved, as least thus far, with people who have several casual relationships.
From my perspective, I believe that insisting on the contact details of all partners:
1. Communicates to that partner and those I contact that I don't trust that they are conducting themselves in an ethical fashion and therefore I need to circumvent them, with their permission or not, and contact others directly. I feel that this is micromanaging my relationships to the nth degree and taking on responsibility that isn't mine. It is the responsibility of my partners to ensure that they are conducting themselves in an ethical manner in all of their other relationships. Frankly, I don't want to be emotionally exhausted and stretched for time taking on responsibility for all of my partner's relationships, regularly checking in that everyone is ok. I expect them to do that and to inform me of any issues that might impact on my relationship with them.
2. Is possibly disrespectful and invasive of others' privacy boundaries. For instance, I just started seeing someone who is involved in several casual relationships. When discussing contacting secondaries, there was a mix of responses based on the wishes of his partners. For instance, one would be happy to meet, but she's in Greece at the moment. Another, who is perfectly fine with him being non-monogamous, has no interest in communicating with his other partners. Another is someone he meets once a year and might have sex with, so she doesn't really warrant contact from his perspective. Another hasn't come out as poly due to her job and so wouldn't be ok with her contact details being forwarded.
So, am I supposed to insist on getting their details anyway, disrespecting their choices and wish for privacy(not to mention mine) and contact them anyway?
In response to this, Undermind states: “I suggested that it would seem entirely reasonable to ask her prospect to ask his others if they would be OK with being contacted; that way they can state at the start whether they would be OK or not.”
But if I can't contact them, how can I ascertain if they are ok with being in a poly relationship with X? If they are experiencing compersion? If they really don't want to talk to X's other partners? How can I guarantee that the contact details aren't bogus? What happens if I don't get a response – does that mean they aren't ok with the situation?
3. There is an issue around the criteria for who should and should not be contacted. Who will set the taxonomy for this? So, I'm supposed to say that well, according to my spreadsheet of the relationship characteristics you share with this person, I think she is a secondary and not a FWB; therefore, you must hand over her details. Asserting my labels on my partner's relationships is frankly disrespectful and I have no right to do so.
I could go on here, but the above are my main points. It feels to me that a 'no' response to contact is instantly being translated into 'they are lying/hiding something' without any consideration of other reasons for their choice. In some ways it robs them of choice, as it feels like I'm saying look, either you do this or I'm going to label you as a liar.
So, back to 1). What is the issue with us (Undermind and myself) taking different tacts based around our personal moral boundaries and comfort zones – him proactively contacting all of his partners' partners and me inviting contact from my partners' partners? As I see it, we are both conducting ourselves ethically and should trust and respect one another's judgement regarding our partners.
I can't ignore the fact that I have been unfaithful in my relationship with Undermind in the past during a 14 year relationship in which I was trying, stupidly, to suppress both my bisexual and polyamorous needs and adhere to social norms. However, as he states in the post commencing this thread, we have both worked very hard to rebuild our relationship and ready ourselves for becoming poly. I don't agree that due to this, Undermind's “comfort level [i]s more important due to the surrounding circumstances” which seems to suggest that I should have to suck it and agree to running our current relationship according to Undermind's rules or align my belief and moral systems with his. I don't believe this is the case; however, I do believe that due to our situation, he needs to be reassured that his feelings will be considered and that I will be willing to negotiate on some points in order to increase his comfort levels, which I feel I am doing to the best of my ability.
From my point of view, I feel that Undermind is attempting to ensure that our relationships are completely devoid of deceit and betrayal and that no one gets hurt. This just can't be guaranteed by control mechanisms such as insisting that I speak to all of my partners' partners or other rules that make it difficult for me to breathe, make my partners feel that they are being dictated to, and quite frankly suck all the joy out of my relationships with others. We need to trust one another and our partners, respect one another and our partners as adults and individuals and be willing to let one another make mistakes.
Last edited by 3quarks; 07-15-2012 at 05:19 PM.