Nurturing changes to Nature
Thereís some discussion about how much we can control ourselves...nature vs nurture. At what point are we programmed the way we are...how much control do we retain over our ability to change ourselves. Is being polyamorous or monogamous a choice? The debates on such things on this very forum have gotten quite heated at times. I donít know what the larger answer for the bell curve 80 percentile average person. But for me, I found I have a lot more control than I would have thought.
What was I? I was quite comfortable being monogamous. I knew the scripts, the rules, and was good at following them. No point in predicting a future that didnít happen...but we got through the first decade pretty damn good, and without incident. So I personally donít figure there was some imperative need that Ďhadí to be satisfied by opening our relationship. It was a conscious and deliberate decision to turn away from monogamy and follow a different path. Itís not like we were bored either...as much as we may have started unicorn hunting, it was never about anything so trivial as Ďadding spiceí...we could have done that by visiting B&B or the fresh fruit isle at a farmers market.
Anyways, I had to change the way I thought about things. About cheating, other partners, my wife, what should happen when we were together, and what could happen when we were apart. I had to let go of the old ways of thinking. Illusions of control, possessiveness, belonging...they needed to go, or be modified. The laundry list of things that had to change is probably far more extensive...maybe I should have made some notes.
Itís kind of funny looking at these words now, since I was never a particularly possessive or jealous person to begin with...and far from ever considering my wife to be chattel or anything so absurd. Yet Iím sure I was still capable of displaying the requisite behaviours if it had been called for, so I canít pretend like the feelings werenít there.
When it came to some of the issues surrounding poly, it required me to make some pretty radical changes to my mindset. Itís probably a good thing finding new partners was so problematic, since it gave me all the time I needed to sort those changes out without too much emotional distraction. My mind can be heavily compartmentalized, so I find reorganizing it is a fairly intellectual exercise...so long as I can make rational and deliberate decisions on what needs to change. Being in the throws of NRE, being emotionally compromised by crushes, or what have you, would have made things considerably more difficult since it becomes harder to discern if Iím making a decision because itís right...or just right now.
Donít get me wrong...decisions made from the heart may be very genuine and sincere...but they can also be really really dumb. One of the best bits of advice I see around here frequently is that if youíre going approach opening an existing relationship, best to do it when there isnít a prospective Ďotherí already waiting in the wings. And I think thatís in no small part because itís a lot easier to reprogram the heart and mind when the heart doesnít need to do a lot of thinking...since itís not very good at that part. And trying to change the way the heart feels when already in use?...Yeah, right...thereís epic poetry and ballads galore that speak to that futility.
For me, I come about changing through time, and introspection. This is probably why I drive my wife a little nuts, since it doesnít involve a lot of outward talking on my part. I will spend a great amount of time talking inwardly to myself. Fortunately thereís periods where I get a significant amount of time to do such things, away from TV, video games, loved ones, or any other fun distractions. I just always have to keep in mind that Iím not crazy if I argue with myself...only if I lose.
I do very much the same thing to myself as Iíll tend to here on the forums. Iíll try to ask the hard questions with no easy answers. Not to get the right answer, but to determine what the answer is first, and then Iíll worry about how to change it later. Changing stuff on the surface is just a band-aid, and will eventually fall off, so I try not to waste time and energy on the superficial when I can help it. I dig into the roots, the whyís, attempting to expose the core of the matter...and then figure out what if anything needs to be done about it.
Itís not always comfortable, especially when I occasionally unearth something Iím not particularly happy with. Iím not a perfect person, so confronting ugliness within is a little sobering and not so much fun...fortunately my parents did a pretty good job raising me, so I donít come across such things overly often. Sometimes all I need is to find the right question... which is probably why I sometimes seem to have more questions than answers. If I have the right question, the answer is so obvious as to make the question itself rhetorical.
There was two key things that I needed to reconcile with myself before Poly was a truly viable option for me. The concept of cheating, and the possibility of my wife being with other men.