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Old 04-23-2013, 11:13 AM
hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 451

Originally Posted by BoringGuy View Post
I just think that if you have to go to all this trouble to teach someone basic manners and decency, maybe you're better off being just friends or better off without them altogether. My best relationships (two of which i am in right now) have always been ones where we hardly ever discuss the relationship because we're having a good time HAVING them.
I'm inclined to agree that this "charter" or "code" or whatever need not be a sign-on-the-dotted-line sort of contract, spelled out in detail with each potential partner.

But I would like to make one point about manners and decency. When I teach ethics, I'm assuming my students are already decent human beings, or interested in becoming decent human beings, in some general sense.

The difficulty is that it isn't always so easy to see, in particular contexts, what decency requires, and it isn't always so easy to actually do what ought to be done. That may take some training and some practice; a little bit of ethical theory (not too much!) can help, too, at least in organizing and connecting various values and expectations.

Doctors in training need to think ahead to moments in which they may be torn between two different obligations, and they'd better have their heads straight about the values and reasonable expectations involved, and have developed some basic skills for sorting them out.

I think much the same applies to poly relationships. Because what we're doing is unconventional, there are no conventions (get it?) as to how to behave in certain circumstances. We have to learn to think, clearly and in some detail, about what decency requires in really novel circumstances.

I'm interested in this charter or code or whatever mostly for informing my own awareness and judgment, so I can be more clear-eyed and clear-headed in my various relationships, and more likely to be successful in behaving like the decent human being I aspire to be.

If I do that work up front, it then becomes much easier to navigate relationships - and enjoy them, and celebrate them - because I don't have to spend a lot of time thinking about or agonizing over basic ethical ideas, unless some new kind of problem comes along . . . but, then, it's also easier to work through new problems pretty quickly. In other words, if I do the work up front, I don't have to spend a lot of time in my relationships fussing over what decency requires; I can just be a decent guy.

I could introduce an analogy to music here - practicing arpeggios so I can improvise freely when playing music with others, for example - but that would belabor the point . . . even further.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 04-23-2013 at 11:44 AM.
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