At a recent poly meeting the topic of trust within relationships was brought forth. This was not specific to poly or monogamous relationships but any in general. When trying to explain why someone’s partner would be “untrusting” in certain situations I brought forth a specific example based on discussions with my traditionally monogamous friends. For simplicity in exploring my own ideas I responded in the manner I would regarding my ex wife of 16 years.
I put this question forth: Would you be comfortable with your wife watching a movie alone with another guy at his house. The answer was “no
”. His wife had the same response if the situation was reversed. This was not an issue with trusting his wife or visa versa, it was an issue of trusting the other person’s intentions
. In short “I trust you, but
I don’t trust the person you are with.” It is very hard to express the validity of this idea to many people as I found they consistently resorted to “you don’t trust you partner”.
This ultimately is not a matter of trust. It is a matter of control
. When I talked to my friend about why we would not be comfortable with something as innocent as a movie, it came down to accepting that neither one of us were confident in our partners ability to have control in the situation because they were with a man…a man who in our minds is looking for a way to manipulate the situation and get into our partners pants.
Obviously the idea that our partners would not have control is largely due to social conditioning and the environment we both grew up in. The important part is not
why we have this idea, but that I was able to identify it, realize it was invalid
and therefore overcome it!!
Now I have a new tool in my poly relationship that is extremely important. Why? In monogamous relationships the rules are simple…nothing leads to sexual intimacy with any one besides your partner. That is the big, established rule. It works for many and has certain benefits in that it is a line drawn that is not to be pushed, challenged or crossed. Flirt all you want, make playful comments, anything is safe because the rules say nothing is going to happen. In a lot of cases this works...in a lot it does not.
As a monogamous person in a polyamorous environment such as group meetings I am distinctly aware that there are much different rules whether we choose to recognize it or not. Sexual freedom is expected by many and in essence everyone is a possibility to at least explore friendship and possibly a lot more. Evertime a coffee date or any other innocent meeting is arranged there is an ambiguity for me as to the intention and nature of the meeting not from my partners perspective but in the intentions of the other person. Although polyamory is all about communication there is a distinct lack of clarity I see in this area LOL!! I almost wish there were signs carried: "Just looking for friendship"..."Like to fuck you"..."Primary wanted". I know - where is the fun in that right
This was at first extremely nerve wracking for me (and still is to a lesser degree), because I could not use the tools to fend off guys eyeing my partner like I could in my monogamous marriage. That is because this is a much different relationship dynamic with vastly different levels of acceptable freedoms in routine communication (another entirely different thread could be devoted to how one reacts to situations when you are not the “primary” partner in a “V”.)You can’t tell someone to back off the way I am used to if you do not like their approach to someone you care about. Instead you need to have complete faith
that your partner has control and that they will do what is healthy for them and their relationships because they value each one.
This is a very different concept but one that I am comfortable with because my partner has made me feel secure and I know she loves what we have. This reinforces the idea that poly environments are not a free for all
...if they were; I would not even consider this as a sustainable love style for me LOL!!
This awareness also gives me the security to enjoy my partner’s friendships with other men in a much healthier and secure way (when I say friendships I mean platonic LOL...intimate relations are a different thread!). It is very freeing and for me a huge break through!! If the people I knew in traditional monogamous relationships could see this, they might open themselves up to many more connections without fear.
This is not something I just realized. It is just that I finally have had time to collect my thoughts before sharing. I hope this made some sense.
Take care everyone..hope you enjoy lots of love and communication