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Old 12-06-2012, 02:36 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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Originally Posted by AggieSez View Post
This time I want to tackle the phenomenon of couple privilege -- what it is, how it affects the poly/open community, whether it's a problem, how people are dealing with it, and how we could deal with it.
Hmm, I think your premise is a bit flawed. What or which "poly community" is being affected by this concept of "couple privilege?" I mean, all people who are polyamorous aren't paying for membership in a worldwide club nor confronting the same issues everywhere. Poly is just a structure for managing relationships, not a galvanized movement or community. Sure, there are local groups all over the place, but they are made up of people who all do their own things - can a concept such as "couple privilege" actually influence a diverse bunch of people who make their own choices about their relationships?

Originally Posted by AggieSez View Post
. . . I laid out my thinking so far -- how I'm defining couple privilege, and some core issues and challenges it entails in poly/open relationships. I then raise several questions I'd like feedback on.
I practice solo polyamory, and although I won't answer all your questions, I will answer the questions I feel moved to or able to answer.

Originally Posted by AggieSez View Post
Do you believe couple privilege exists?
Nope. There is no polyamorous authority that grants privilege to any particular poly group from on high, so where would such a privilege come from? Certainly there is such an attitude that many couples do have, but... actual privilege? No. It is imaginary. If couples act in a way that indicates a they have a certain privilege over individuals, it is basically because they think that's what they should do, and for whatever reason, they feel it is necessary for their "survival" as a couple. Or it is based on a misguided arrogance which leads them to think that anyone else they get involved with is only there to supplant and enhance what they have, while the individuals' needs are far less important. But the carrying out of such a privilege only happens if the individuals they get involved with also go along with it.

I personally call this attitude "revering The Holy Dyad," and I do find it distasteful. I would not get involved with anyone who operates that way, as I do not recognize the idea that there is any sort of privilege a couple should have. I feel that if people in a couple want additional relationships, they just need to embrace and accept the idea that everything is going to change, and holding onto this kernel of having the couple at the center of their poly universe makes absolutely no sense. Even if you are raising children, I see no reason to keep them in the dark about special people in your lives -- and there are all sort of alternative ways to parent/co-parent. Of course, children must be protected and nurtured, but if you are having multiple relationships for the relating and not just the sex, then why not start thinking of parenting differently (communally) and having your partners be co-parents? Perhaps the notion that a couple in a poly configuration is of utmost importance and must be protected at all costs comes from the swinging community, or springs out of society's preference for the traditions of monogamy. But such privilege only exists if we pay credence to it. I don't, and won't, so I am unaffected by such nonsense.

Originally Posted by AggieSez View Post
How would you like to see couple privilege addressed in the poly/open community at large?
Again, I ask, what poly/open community???

Originally Posted by AggieSez View Post
If you eschew hierarchy and/or labels in your poly/open relationships, how do you “walk that talk” regarding couple privilege?

If you are a non-primary partner or solo poly/open person, how have you adapted to couple privilege in terms of how you handle relationships and what you’re willing to accommodate?
I can answer both these questions with the same response, because I am solo and do not engage in hierarchies myself. Basically, couple privilege, as I stated earlier, is a non-issue for me because I refuse to engage with anyone who believes in such poppycock. And so I don't feel the need to get defensive about my position, either. I have come across partnered poly guys who were interested in me and did have some sort of rules with their primary partner that seemed to invoke a privilege over individuals, but I walk away from that!

My approach to handling it is simple. I have established my own personal boundaries surrounding how I want to be treated in relationships. One of my boundaries is that no metamour will make rules for or dictate how I conduct my relationships. Another boundary I have is that I will not tolerate being treated with disrespect. Both of those boundaries of mine mean that, if I meet and am interested in getting involved with someone who is poly and partnered with someone they consider primary, I ask what rules they have that will affect me. If they tell me things that do not sit right with me and indicate that they see their primary relationship as The Holy Dyad -- such as, for example, their spouse has veto power -- I say, "Thanks but no thanks. Buh-bye!" No matter how attracted I may be to a guy, if a relationship isn't starting out on a level playing field, why would I even want to go there? To struggle for the equanimity that is my right in any relationship? It isn't worth it to me to try and change his views, or to put myself in a position like that hoping it will someday get better. Perhaps that is why I am very cautious about getting into something with someone who is already partnered.

I am not saying that I would not respect a lover's other relationships, nor that I would never accept certain limitations or be able to negotiate on some things, such as amount or frequency of time we can spend together or other such things that naturally make sense when someone is juggling multiple relationships. For example, I had no problem with not contacting with one lover of mine on Sundays because I knew that he and his wife had set aside that day as "their time" -- but he never forbade me from contacting him on Sundays, and sometimes initiated contact with me on those days. I would not contact him because I knew he needed that day to be with her. But if he had set down a decree that I am never allowed to contact him on Sundays, I would have thought, "What the hell? Who do you think you are?" So, because I felt respected and not talked down to, I respected him, and his other relationship, and willingly accommodated what he needed.

I think that, probably, the biggest mistake solo poly folks make is not to establish their own personal set of boundaries for any potential partners/lovers to abide by. It doesn't make sense that a couple's rules or boundaries are the only ones that matter. Whether a solo poly person is considering a romantic liaison with a couple or someone who is part of a couple, instead of thinking that the couple's rules or considerations should take precedence over the solo's, the solo needs to be clear about what they need to feel valued and important to someone, and they should make it plain and clear to the partnered potential(s) what their own boundaries are and that the couple's will not take precedence for them.
The world opens up... when you do.

"Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me." ~Bryan Ferry
"Love and the self are one . . ." ~Leo Buscaglia

Click here for a Solo Poly view on hierarchical relationships
Click here to find out why the Polyamorous Misanthrope is feeling disgusted.

Last edited by nycindie; 12-06-2012 at 02:55 PM.
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