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Old 10-06-2012, 05:02 PM
InquiringOne InquiringOne is offline
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Default Challenge to all poly thinkers

Hi Everyone,

When I say challenge I donít mean that I want to ďbring all you heathens downĒ haha or anything like that, just a friendly, intellectual challenge.

So, first off, Iíve been very impressed overall with the postings and the depth with which people deal with their own issues as well as their relationship issues, and the relationships of others. Every group has its bad apples, but no more here than in any others that Iíve seen. GalaGirl in particular Iím very impressed with. She has a knack for combining the difficult to navigate worlds of love and logic, and balances an honest, blunt assessment of someoneís situation, with an obvious care for their well-being.

What I want to challenge (partially) is the core value of openness and honesty. I wish I remembered the exact tagline someone had because it strikes to the heart of the matter. It was something like, ďif youíre not honest, itís not poly; youíre just fucking around.Ē Like any bumper sticker Iím sure it has a good deal of truth to it, but imho itís probably overly-simplistic. Maybe this has been discussed in threads before and someone could point me to that. But this idea seems to alienate a large number of people who could enrich the poly world.

Now, I readily concede that openness and honesty are the ideals that everyone should be working toward with regard to all of their relationships. But monogamous marriage is structured such that it rarely happens that way. Possibly 90% of people are in the realm of monogamous marriage (and many homosexuals would like to be), even if they get divorced, remarry, etc. Yet that is only one of the multitudes of various possibilities for structuring a long-term relationship. And the remaining minority of people are left to experiment with those multitudes. Monogamous marriage and the ideal of romantic love, however, are the dominant structures. They are reinforced by churches, by Hollywood, by infinite love songs, and then by peer pressure, family pressure and so on. So unless someone has been lucky enough to be influenced by the minute number of people that have the radically different poly mindset, they if for no other reason, fall into monogamy by default.

Once the marriage bond takes place (still speaking from within the monogamous realm here) it is supposed to be irrevocably permanent, upon pain of hellfire, according to some. But even before the contract/ceremony occurs, a couple on their way toward marriage is enmeshing themselves in a web of bonds that everyone else expects to be permanent too. They get to know their future in-laws, their future spouse meets their own family, and their friends begin to interconnect.

Now what happens when someone who by default gets married between 18 and 30 even, wakes up later on in life and finally realizes who they are, who they want to be, what they need, and they realize it doesnít have anything or little to do with monogamy? Even if you love the person you are with tremendously and want to be open and honest, the web that one is enmeshed in, does not easily allow for a person to be so. They would be disrupting an entire chain of being and interconnectedness that gets even more complicated once children are added to the picture. So a person may feel that they are forced to choose between A) being open and honest, but possibly destroying all of these layers of relationships that have developed for years or decades, and B) having secret relationships whether sexual, romantic, or both (with the hidden potential to destroy those same long-developed webs).

I am not saying that choice B is right or moral. What Iím saying is that given the large number of adulterous monogamous people, a large percentage of them are choosing B over A, but would like to get to A, they just donít know how. They are also likely more afraid of the consequences of being truthful than of the consequences of getting caught, because the truth guarantees some consequence, but hiding their relationship may prove never to have a consequence at all and thatís what they are gambling on.

I know that, especially with men (we can be lower than slugs), this is not the only reason for having affairs and hiding relationships, but I have to think a large number of people choose that path.

So, poly people, what do you say, both about their logic, and to give them practical advice on how to do so, to move this group from choice B to choice A?

Thanks much.
InquiringOne
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:16 PM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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People come to poly via various routes - cheating, swinging, idealism. I don't have any particular advice for someone who has "bought into" the monogamous "ideal" and later discovered that it was not for them. My own marriage, now 16 years strong, was NOT based on monogamy but on the idea that we had the intention of spending the rest of our lives pursuing a satisfying life together and pursuing our mutual goals - that being said, I have no idea why most people get married (I would not want to be a member of most marriages that see). (More details in my "Journey" blog as to how we happened to get married).

From my standpoint, a marriage where two (or more) people cannot be honest with each other about their needs/wants/desires/goals/thoughts/feelings etc. and receive validation is not a satisfactory situation and should be addressed. Having children together is certainly a complicating factor (a factor that I would have liked to incorporate but, unfortunately, was not in the cards) - but not insurmountable. It is possible to be awesome co-parents WITHOUT being life-partners (I have seen this happen).

If you take the "hellfire" out of it (something that I can't speak to - I'm agnostic)...WHAT IF this is the only chance you get?, WHAT IF the span of your life on this earth is the sum total of your existence?, Is THIS how you wanted to have spent your only chance? I am not saying ("God forbid") to ignore your responsibilities or to break your promises - but would you rather be honest or spend your "one chance" living a lie...for years, and years, and years? I'd pick an honest separation/break-up over lies and deceit any day of the year....

Yes, "society"/the world at large has certain expectations - do these over-ride the needs of the individuals involved? My answer is no...but YMMV.


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Last edited by JaneQSmythe; 10-06-2012 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:20 PM
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Hey there, welcome.

I will answer this question from an extremely subjective point of view; mine

I obviously (my own story may shed some light on the direction I am coming from), would always say that poly relationships are about and live through love, openness, honesty and respect. Have been in a monogamous marriage, have been really afraid of telling my partner or confronting my family /our surrounding and still decided that this was the only path to take. It went more or less great, we achieved a stable place and I believe that this is due to the way we/I choose to get there.

Just because you are afraid and just because there is an easier way out (btw I don't think that it is easier to lie to your spouse or family about who you are and what you do) doesn't mean that this is any justification to go down such a path. Again solely my point of view but I always question someones motives and feelings when he/she is able to cheat on a partner, break the partner's trust and still claims to be so in love with him/her. I miss love and respect in every situation where cheating is involved.

This may sound simple, but I am the person I am. If I decide to hide who I am and feel more comfortable that way, fine. If I decide that I will live up to my standards and my true feelings and desires, fine as well. I would have felt like cheating my partner just by pretending to be someone I am de facto not. Therefore I couldn't live with your B option at all. There are people out there who can. I won't judge them as far as they aren't involved with me and don't ask for my opinion. If that choice is valid for them, fine again. But I personally would never accept such behaviour in my direct surrounding when I am involved.

Without those core values (as you said in the beginning) poly isn't poly in my book.
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:00 PM
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I'll challenge you right back in the same spirit. You suggest that we might be alienating people who could enrich the world of poly by excluding cheaters (cheating meaning breaking the rules, whatever ones you and yor partner or partners set for yourselves, whether examined or by default). But what value or enrichment could people who are lying bring to the community?

They can't help us figure out how to have respectful relationships with your metamours, because the metamours don't know about each other. They can't enter the conversation about how people deal with jealousy because they're attempting to skirt the issue of jealousy entirely. They can't speak to the process of coming out, or co-habiting with multiple partners, or when to introduce a new partner to the kids, or rules negotiations with your partners.

I would say that cheaters don't have a valuable role in the poly community because, aside from loving more than one person, which we already know how to do, they don't deal with any of the same issues, questions, or practicalities.
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:35 PM
SkylerSquirrel SkylerSquirrel is offline
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Perhaps cheaters don't have anything of value to contribute to the poly community, but the poly community may have plenty of value to contribute to their lives. Especially, as InquiringOne described, those who would like to move from deceptive-cheater status to open-and-honest-poly status, but they are not sure how. If anyone has the resources to help them, we do.

In my opinion, if you don't feel emotionally safe bringing up poly in the context of your marriage, then your marriage has a problem. You are not free to be unconditionally who you are around your spouse. That is not real love. Even if you never bring up poly and never cheat, this lack of unconditional love will show itself sooner or later and cause problems in your marriage. I myself had it easy, because I was already going through a divorce when I realized I was poly.

I think the real question is: Can we help cheaters become non-cheaters, and if so, how?
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Old 10-06-2012, 11:09 PM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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"Perhaps cheaters don't have anything of value to contribute to the poly community, but the poly community may have plenty of value to contribute to their lives. Especially, as InquiringOne described, those who would like to move from deceptive-cheater statusto open-and-honest-poly status, but they are not sure how. If anyone has the resources to help them, we do."

I agree completely.

"I think the real question is: Can we help cheaters become non-cheaters, and if so, how?"

Yes, I've seen it happen here on the board! How? Not, I would say, by de-emphasizing the central importance of honesty, or by letting cheaters rationalize their behavior as a form of poly. Rather, by holding to our principles, kindly but firmly explaining why their actions are problematic, and showing by example that it's not just possible but preferable to live a life based on truth, even if it's hard.
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Old 10-07-2012, 02:19 AM
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I think the most important point to consider is that there comes a point in life where an individual and/or couple should begin to create their own reality- independent of culture and society. An objective view of the "reality" of monogamy easily shows that it it is simply not that successful. The Fairy tales, love songs and idealistic ideas of long term monogamy are just stories and lies for the most part. That can be difficult to admit at first, but once an individual or couple admits it and goes through the grief that comes with letting go of a dream or an ideal- there is a freedom and with that freedom comes the opportunity to make personal decisions which are no longer based on the fantasies of society and culture.
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Old 10-07-2012, 07:46 AM
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Fucking around is fucking around. It doesn't matter if everyone is doing it, it's still fucking around. There's a lot of stupid shit that everyone's doing, like getting up to their eyeballs in debt, helicopter parenting their children, driving SUVs that never leave paved roads... Convention doesn't justify anything.

Marriage today is sorta fucked-up compared to way-back-when. It used to be a necessary business contract. Women lacked the means to support themselves and their children. In return, men were guaranteed paternity of the children they were raising. People didn't used to expect happiness out of their marriages, because that wasn't the point. You did your duty, and maybe you grew to love your spouse. Rare and blessed were they who married the one they already loved.

In the 1960s, the whole point of marriage was turned on its head. The motivation gradually became more about love and support than making and raising babies.

Nowadays, it's easier to get a divorce than a driver's license. Many people expect perfection, and they walk away if they don't get it. Or they play along, going through the motions without really being present. But one thing most people don't do is the really hard work required to make relationships work. That really hard work includes learning to communicate honestly with your spouse. The fact that so many people chicken out doesn't let everyone else off the hook, they'll just go find someone else to fuck it up with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by InquiringOne View Post
So unless someone has been lucky enough to be influenced by the minute number of people that have the radically different poly mindset, they if for no other reason, fall into monogamy by default.
Not true. I "invented" polyamory when I was 10. Only later did I learn that I was not the first inventor of polyamory. But I was never at risk of falling into monogamous marriage by default... I was just at risk of never getting married because I knew monogamy could never work for me.

I also "invented" the idea that people see colours differently, i.e. my blue could be your red. Turns out someone beat me to that, also. My girlfriend's daughter "invented" "brain in a vat" (aka The Matrix) when she was all of 6.
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Old 10-08-2012, 01:55 PM
InquiringOne InquiringOne is offline
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Hi,

First of all, thanks for all of the replies. I appreciate all of your thoughts, stories, and ideas.

One clarification on my part, and then I will respond to some of the individual points brought up. I did not mean to argue that poly people should just accept cheaters as friends or members of the forum without question or that they should accept cheating just because a lot of people do it. What I meant was that, every one has moral failings. Someone who cheats may be completely upstanding in every other relationship or way, and someone who is poly may be honest and respectful in love but a complete bastard in business, e.g. (I do think this is less likely though). Both of those people may have a lot to share and that can be learned from, except in the area of their moral failing, and even then they are examples of what not to do, right?

And I was trying to emphasize that the large number of cheaters shows that this is a very difficult path to take (choice A in my first post). I neglected a choice C which is to not cheat, and remain emotionally/sexually and otherwise unfulfilled. Many more people probably stick with this path for the same cultural reasons and pressures I mentioned about not taking path A. It is in ways dishonest to oneself instead of to others. That emphasizes even more how difficult it is for people to make the transition to choice A.

I'm sure the poly community is especially individualist, even within the Western world which is very individualist compared to other cultures. I tend to come at things from a structuralist perspective where yes individuals do make their own choices and of course are responsible for their actions, but larger things like culture, institutions, governmental policies, religious beliefs also tend to sway those decisions toward particular areas. Most of you have probably worked through much of that stuff on your own, I'm sure. Just giving you more of an idea where I was coming from.

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Originally Posted by JaneQSmythe View Post

If you take the "hellfire" out of it (something that I can't speak to - I'm agnostic)...WHAT IF this is the only chance you get?, WHAT IF the span of your life on this earth is the sum total of your existence?, Is THIS how you wanted to have spent your only chance? I am not saying ("God forbid") to ignore your responsibilities or to break your promises - but would you rather be honest or spend your "one chance" living a lie...for years, and years, and years? I'd pick an honest separation/break-up over lies and deceit any day of the year....

JaneQ
I am an atheist myself so hellfire plays no role for me either, but it is the extreme example of a societal pressure to keep people in line on a particular behavior.

I also believe there is only one chance, and I tend to agree with the way you approach that JaneQ, which seems the healthiest way, but I don't think that's the way the majority of people do. In Thoreau's words, they often "lead lives of quiet desperation" unfortunately.

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Originally Posted by Phy View Post
Hey there, welcome.

I always question someones motives and feelings when he/she is able to cheat on a partner, break the partner's trust and still claims to be so in love with him/her.
I won't judge them as far as they aren't involved with me and don't ask for my opinion. If that choice is valid for them, fine again. But I personally would never accept such behavior in my direct surrounding when I am involved.
Totally agree their motives, etc. should be questioned, and their behavior most likely discouraged, but I do think that these things are extremely complex and should be taken on a case-by-case basis, which is why I would also not judge them if I was not directly involved unless it's obvious that they are reckless with others' lives.

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Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
But what value or enrichment could people who are lying bring to the community?

They can't help us figure out how to have respectful relationships with your metamours, because the metamours don't know about each other. They can't enter the conversation about how people deal with jealousy because they're attempting to skirt the issue of jealousy entirely. They can't speak to the process of coming out, or co-habiting with multiple partners, or when to introduce a new partner to the kids, or rules negotiations with your partners.

I would say that cheaters don't have a valuable role in the poly community because, aside from loving more than one person, which we already know how to do, they don't deal with any of the same issues, questions, or practicalities.
They are certainly not bringing value "as" cheaters. But that is only a piece of their identity and they may have other value to share. And I wouldn't really expect them to be accepted in unless they were transitioning to honesty and openness from cheating which maybe everyone already does and I'm just not aware of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkylerSquirrel View Post
Perhaps cheaters don't have anything of value to contribute to the poly community, but the poly community may have plenty of value to contribute to their lives. Especially, as InquiringOne described, those who would like to move from deceptive-cheater status to open-and-honest-poly status, but they are not sure how. If anyone has the resources to help them, we do.

I think the real question is: Can we help cheaters become non-cheaters, and if so, how?
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post

Yes, I've seen it happen here on the board! How? Not, I would say, by de-emphasizing the central importance of honesty, or by letting cheaters rationalize their behavior as a form of poly. Rather, by holding to our principles, kindly but firmly explaining why their actions are problematic, and showing by example that it's not just possible but preferable to live a life based on truth, even if it's hard.
In combination these two responses are very helpful. Thank you Skyler for re-framing the question in a way which got to the heart of something I couldn't express, and to Annabel for a concise answer about how to address it. I think what you describe is entirely fair. I guess in a way I just wanted to hear that the community does work in that capacity and is not dismissive of people as long as they are amenable to changing their problematic behaviors, because I haven't been here long enough to see it in action.

I will respond to the rest of the comments later. Thanks again.
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Old 10-08-2012, 03:07 PM
InquiringOne InquiringOne is offline
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Hi,

Thanks again to everyone for commenting

Quote:
Originally Posted by idealist View Post
The Fairy tales, love songs and idealistic ideas of long term monogamy are just stories and lies for the most part. That can be difficult to admit at first,
Objectively, I think you are entirely correct, I just think it is far easier said than done for most people. do you have any concrete ways to help get them past those things? or what happens when one partner has let go of those fantasies but the other still has them. What advice do you give then?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LovingRadiance View Post

Become authentic by being deeply open and honest. First with yourself, then with your nearest and dearest and finally with the world. There's always room for self-improvement.

But, those of us who have been there, done that and now found our way out-know that the consequences of living a lie are incalcuable.
As simple as it is, I like how you laid out the step-by-step approach:first you, then the significant other, then other people. And if you are not improving, you are stagnant. I agree.

I will definitely check out your blog for your story. Thanks for letting me know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveBomb View Post
I'll chime in on this one.

Knowing how affairs and lies and poor communication have negatively affected other members of my family, I wasn't going to have any of that.

So one night, a few weeks ago, my wife and I had a conversation about "Love" and what that word means to each of us. My definition of love hinges on "trust" and "freedom". To me, real love cannot exist without trust, and trust requires honesty, openness, and good communication.

I said more, but ultimately I laid it out rationally and logically and my wife agreed with everything I've said. It also helps that she's not hung up on sex like a lot of people are in society, so she's much more open to the idea of polyamory and open relationships.
I really appreciate the honest story, especially since it so recently happened and good luck with working it out, though it seems like you have already started out in a very good way.

I do think having had that previous bad experience with divorces/lying helped you and LR make the jump more easily because you could appreciate how bad it actually is. That probably cannot be emphasized enough, but it's probably also difficult for people who are cheating and don't have that experience to internalize. They know it would be bad, but they probably don't realize just how bad.

I especially appreciate the list of everything you tried to emphasize. Very practical and helpful. I will probably message you with some more specific questions if that's ok.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat View Post
Fucking around is fucking around. It doesn't matter if everyone is doing it, it's still fucking around.... Convention doesn't justify anything.

But one thing most people don't do is the really hard work required to make relationships work. That really hard work includes learning to communicate honestly with your spouse. The fact that so many people chicken out doesn't let everyone else off the hook, they'll just go find someone else to fuck it up with.

Not true. I "invented" polyamory when I was 10. Only later did I learn that I was not the first inventor of polyamory. But I was never at risk of falling into monogamous marriage by default... I was just at risk of never getting married because I knew monogamy could never work for me.
6.
I wasn't trying to say that convention justified it, I was trying to show how other conventions play a role in propagating the bad decisions, because the "rational" choice has been made to seem non-viable by them. Congratulations to you for having the gift/ability to invent it on your own. You deserve a lot of credit, but most people are not capable of that at such a young age, so i think there is some responsibility on the part of those who know the bigger, better truth to help them work toward it if possible.

I do agree as well that relationships are hard work and that cheating, especially for most men as I can't speak as much to why women do it, is probably a result of their unwillingness to put in such work. When a cheater leaves for the person they are cheating with, they are most likely falling for a delusion that the grass is greener on the other side. They just don't realize that the reason the affair works so well is that that hard work wasn't really required for the most part. And when they now have to put it in again, they are just as likely to fail as they did the first time around. So I agree with you there too.

I certainly don't want to put words in LR's mouth, but it's possible that in some cases the affair brings about realizations that act as a "bridge" from one side to the other: from having a bad or not completely honest relationship to either moving on or changing the current relationship so that people end up better off, as paradoxical as that may sound. I agree that the end does not necessarily justify the means, and I'm not saying that makes the affair "right." I don't really think that is possible. But I do think that maybe not all cheaters are equal in what they learn from the situation and how they apply that knowledge moving forward. So the crux of my initial question remains what do you say to them to help them in making that step?
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