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Old 07-30-2011, 10:14 PM
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Default Prepping for poly - how?

In another thread, I wrote:
"I gotta wonder why people sign up for polyamory when they cannot handle their partners having feelings for others."

Perhaps my remark was a bit callous -- but maybe not. I know that oftentimes we can't really know the emotional impact of our decisions in advance, and I'm a solo person pursuing poly on my own, so maybe I just cannot relate to the idea of opening up a marriage or relationship, which seems to be the prevailing situation of most posters who come here torn up over consequences from choosing to live polyamorously.

However, since I posted that comment, it got me thinking about how one can prepare to immerse themselves in a practice and relationship structure that goes against the grain of how we've been taught in society to live. How can we prepare ourselves to be loving and happy when the ones we love also love others? Is it even possible to prepare for it? Or is it something we just have to keep working toward? Will we eventually reach a state where we become unruffled by it and are totally compersive? I know it does come easily for many poly peeps, but again, I wonder why so many people agree to poly when they really don't want to see their partner in love with someone else.

Sadly, I'm sure that many poly situations that had much potential for happiness and success end because the parties couldn't handle their emotional reactions to multi-partner loving. So, I hope this makes sense as an inquiry, but I'm wondering...

How many of the most successful poly tangles have become that way from a foundation of reading, discussing, extensive soul-searching, and a dedication to self-knowledge beforehand, and how many of them had to overcome devastation and save themselves from drowning because they jumped into the deep end of the pool without much forethought or preparation beforehand?
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Last edited by nycindie; 07-30-2011 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:09 PM
AutumnalTone AutumnalTone is offline
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I'd say some imaginative rehearsing would go a long way to figuring out how things would feel. Spend time imagining what would happen and see how that feels.

Using me as a reference point, as a hetero male, I would have to imagine the ladies with whom I am and/or want to be involved interacting with another male SO. Picture them greeting each other with hugs and smooches, showing affection as they sit and talk. Perhaps even imagine the ladies getting nekkid and flashing "fuck me" eyes at other men. The ladies going to parties or dinner or movies or plays or whatever *without me* and *with somebody else*.

Then sort through all of the feelings those imaginings generate. Figure out what bothers me and why.

Of course, to continue it, then I could imagine her when she then spends time with me feeling so much more fulfilled by having other loves. How her expanding joy will make things so much better when I'm with her. And then how much better I'll feel not having to try to fulfill all of her relationship needs. Stuff like that.

There's much to recommend that sort of mental rehearsal as a form of preparation.
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by AutumnalTone View Post
There's much to recommend that sort of mental rehearsal as a form of preparation.
Yes! Many times, I've given myself the exercise of imagining myself five years from now and looking back on a situation which currently has me upset or confused. In five years, how would I describe the outcome to someone? I imagine the conversation and even talk out loud. This helps me see things more clearly. One could imagine themselves telling a friend about their poly relationship five years from now. I think these kinds of imaginative exercises can get us in touch with our gut feelings, and what we really want in our heart of hearts, without being hampered by rationalizing or our intellectual thought processes.

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Then sort through all of the feelings those imaginings generate. Figure out what bothers me and why.
^^ This is surely the most important part. If one can't resolve certain issues, it's probably best to hold off on jumping into poly then.
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Last edited by nycindie; 07-30-2011 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 08-01-2011, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by AutumnalTone View Post
I'd say some imaginative rehearsing would go a long way to figuring out how things would feel. Spend time imagining what would happen and see how that feels.
When I dig at the bottom of all the feelings of insecurity and a priori jealousy these mental rehearsals create, I always find the same underlying fear; I fear that someone I love might not hold me in as high regard and may not respond to my feelings with equal intensity.

So deep down, I'm just selfish. I see love relationships as investments and wonder whether I am getting my due returns. Instead of this selfish and calculating attitude, I try to cultivate the sincere wish for all beings to achieve the fullness of joy, and a commitment to help them achieve that in which ever way I can. I try to drill it into my thick skull that truly loving someone means you seek their happiness before your own.

Imagining the worst case scenario and then taking it apart and looking at what is really so terrifying about it, what am I really so afraid of, is how I prep for my relationships.
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Old 08-01-2011, 03:24 PM
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We came into poly as a result of an affair. I was already in love with another man, yet still in love with my husband and we did NOT want a divorce.

But NOW.... my husband has just begun a relationship with someone, and even though we have talked about it and I myself have been sleeping with another man for the past 10 months... it was surprisingly difficult for me!!! ("Paybacks are a bitch???") -- Although my husband didn't do this as a "payback," of course. I encouraged him to pursue this woman. I wanted him to be happy, I wanted him to feel more love, I wanted him to heal from some of the ego-crushing he has dealt with over my polyamory... Then when he actually had a date with her Friday night, I went into a bit of a swirl. I panicked, that I jeopardized our marriage, that I forced him into something he really doesn't want, and yes, a little fear that he will like her more, leave me for her...

I'm doing better now. Friday night was extreme, though. Sundance says the fear comes in waves -- you learn to ride them out.

I have to remind myself that I have been programmed by society to fear my husband's capacity to love. Also, at this point he is not feeling "love" -- he calls it a fling. I feel silly that I reacted as I did -- I believe in polyamory, I do! And it is working out wonderfully for ME; it's being on the other side that is a new challenge! "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." -- It's all good.
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Old 08-01-2011, 04:05 PM
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I think preparing for poly is kind of like preparing for pregnancy, birth and a new baby. You can read books and websites, talk to lots of new parents, take childbirth and breastfeeding classes, but you can't know the joys and challenges of getting pregnant (esp if there are fertility issues), being pregnant, changes in one's body image, nausea, extreme fatigue, choosing a dr or midwife, birthing, breastfeeding, pediatrician visits, lack of sleep, til you're really doing it. Not to mention the stress it puts on the partners' relationship, because you now have so little time to talk, date, have sex, connect, be spontaneous.

That was my experience when my ex and I opened our marriage. I'd read the Ethical Slut, my ex and I seemed to be in a good strong place in our marriage, I am bi, he is straight, we found a nice woman... but I had no idea what NRE would do to him, and us. I didn't know how I'd feel about their romantic dates, how I'd feel about the time he'd be taken away from our kids, hadn't thought about how I'd feel about him spending OUR money on taking her out and buying her gifts, the constant passionate emails, how she and I would manage trying to become friendly metamours (since I'd imagined she'd be my lover too). I'd imagined feeling jealous of her, but hadn't thought about her jealousy of me, etc etc.

So, please don't judge us so harshly, Cindie.
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Old 08-01-2011, 05:46 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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Originally Posted by Magdlyn View Post
I think preparing for poly is kind of like preparing for pregnancy, birth and a new baby. You can read books and websites, talk to lots of new parents, take childbirth and breastfeeding classes, but you can't know the joys and challenges of getting pregnant (esp if there are fertility issues), being pregnant, changes in one's body image, nausea, extreme fatigue, choosing a dr or midwife, birthing, breastfeeding, pediatrician visits, lack of sleep, til you're really doing it.
This is So true Mags but consider the alternative.
The advance education and planning does take SOME of the edge off and minimize a lot of the early mistakes. It gives you a point of reference to cling to when you think you are drowning. It's a "wait a minute - I've read/heard of this and ways it can be managed" thing.

That's a lot different than "OMG - the world is coming to an end - what do I do !"



GS
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:08 PM
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I simply cannot imagine attempting to practice polyamory in this culture at this time without the contextualization of a conducive spiritual outlook and practice. For me, relationships are as central to my spiritual (mostly buddhist) practice as sitting meditation, mindfulness and metta (lovingkindness) practices. How can people find resliliency and freedom and joy in life without these practices and their supportive discourses? I have no idea.

I've found that love and joy, which are manifestations of freedom and love-of-truth,
emerge in the atmosphere of non-clinging appreciation. If one wishes to have love and joy, one must let go of all that obstructs it. Jealousy is little more than fearful clinging and grasping. It isn't appreciation and love. So it has to be transcended (trance ended?).

If my long time partner, or any other partner, were to love someone else and that loving itself caused me suffering, I'd know that I've lost my way and I was temporarily caught in some illusion or another. Typically, the illusion that causes such suffering is the illusion that one is worth less / worthless. One feels abandoned or the fear of abandonment when one feels worth less. But such a feeling-thought is always an illusion. Every human being has infinite value, is infinite value. All else is illusion.

Self-esteem is crucial to all relationships, whether mono or poly or whatever. It's crucial
to any well-being in life, even for single and solo people. Almost all relationship troubles
seem to me to have a failing of self-esteem as the principal cause. If I had poor self-esteem, and Kevin (or 'M') were to fall in love with someone else, I'd probably worry that he'd (she'd) leave me, that I was not as good as this other person, and so on. But because I now do have good--healthy--self-esteem, I'd celebrate with him his ( & her) newfound love. I don't depend on another person to reflect my value/love in order that I may experience my value/love, though I do intensely appreciate these reflections. And I even need them. But I don't need them in a basic lack way, as I once did. My cup runneth over, if you will. I've come home to myself. And that's what we need in order to have healthy loving relationships with others -- whether mono or poly. But especially in poly, because poly is a daring experiment in our cultural setting. It could be the cultural norm, as monogamy now is, and monogamy would then be a daring experiment, and a deep challenge due to lack of cultural / social supportiveness, understanding....

But how is self esteem advanced? Ironically, perhaps, I think it is most swiftly advanced by letting go of one's self -- which is what one does in meditation and mindfulness and metta (loving-kindness) practices. And it is what one does when one seeks to transform the lead of jealousy into the gold of compersion. Self is not supposed to obsessively focus on self; this makes a self sick! A self which surrenders, which is generous and compassionate and kind, this is a whole self, a becoming whole self, a healing self. When the self realizes its wholeness it comes home to life, to itself. In letting itself go the self wakes up. In waking up it sees its own infinite beauty, goodness, loveliness.... Self-esteem emerges in letting self go.

We can make a regular practice of letting ourselves go, and thereby opening ourselves up and waking ourselves up. Buddhist sitting meditation does this for me better than anything, better than skydiving or bungee jumping, better even than
sex or double fudge chocolate ice cream. Sitting still and comfortable on a cushion is both the hardest and the easiest thing I know how to do, and by far and away the most daring. It takes great courage and fortitude. It is a huge risk -- everything is risked! (I've fallen suddenly into empty black space doing it!) I think it was the sitting that finally opened up enough space for my heart to finally begin to awaken to itself, and allow me to enter much further into the mysteries of human loving.

I dare you! Better..., dare yourself.
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Old 08-07-2011, 08:24 PM
KGodc KGodc is offline
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I think your advice here is very helpful. I wonder, do you have any deeper advice for exploring the parts that are uncomfortable.

Its hard to imagine my husband with another woman because I don't trust most women to be kind and loving....he has been hurt before, and I don't want that for him or us. I have a very fluid sexuality and am open about what I want, but some women just want to play games, which is what I fear. How can I know that the women my husband might meet are (bite my tongue) "safe"? Pain and loss happen in any relationships, but poly isn't for everyone which complicates things even more.

My guess is that ground rules and pacing a relationship would be a great way to overcome the fear of an insane bitch (can I say that here?) playing games. What do you think?...any other good ideas?
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Old 08-08-2011, 01:19 AM
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Its hard to imagine my husband with another woman because I don't trust most women to be kind and loving....he has been hurt before, and I don't want that for him or us. [....] How can I know that the women my husband might meet are (bite my tongue) "safe"? Pain and loss happen in any relationships, but poly isn't for everyone which complicates things even more.
I must say it is a delight to read about your open, loving care for your husband, his well-being. I'll say this: if you keep the channels of communication open between you two, and trust him, for the most part (by far) to make his own choices, things should probably go splendidly. The fact that you are looking after his well-being and happiness, even if he were to love another, speaks volumes. You're going to be okay. But keep speaking your heart. Things should be very good.
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