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Old 09-24-2011, 02:34 PM
cuddlecakes cuddlecakes is offline
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Default Alternatives to making "rules"

I have been interested in poly for a decade or so, but only in an officially poly relationship for the last year. We've made 4 official rules, but then dozens of other "potential rules" or "guidelines" or something. She has broken these lesser rules a few times and it resulted in fights.

What are the consequences of breaking rules?

I feel like if you're not going to break up over rule-breaking (and I probably wouldn't unless it was really egregious), then what's the point in having them? They aren't binding, they have no teeth. It's more an expression of what you want than something that must be done.

I feel like maybe there's a different way to make an agreement rather than "rules". Or we can state principles or something. Like agree on a rationale for some action that makes us unhappy, and why.

Like some people have this anti-authority bent that causes them to want to break the law just to get back at The Man, and it's better if the law were stated in a different way. Instead of "Buckle up, it's the law" they should say "Buckle up or your head will go through the windshield". I want to write down the "Why" behind the rules somehow
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Old 09-24-2011, 03:34 PM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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Interesting question. It might be helpful to have examples of what things are official rules and what are the guidelines that keep getting broken.

Ideally, I think there shouldn't need to be any rules. You should just be able to talk things out to such a degree and know each other well enough and respect each other enough that you avoid actions that would hurt each other or check in if there's a question. Like, if my lover is an avid gardener I know not to trample through her garden... we don't need a rule about it.

Another reason that it's ideal not to have a lot, or any, rules in poly is that usually those rules govern what each person can do with their other partners, and that's a highly difficult situation for everyone involved. I mean, imagine if you and your rule-breaker lover were having a romantic evening and you knew you could kiss but not french kiss, lie on the couch but not on the bed, say "I like you a lot" but not "I love you", touch here but not there, even though both of you wanted to... I mean it'd be intensely frustrating yet in a weird way the sense of the forbidden would make everything hotter, which would make it more frustrating, etcetcetc.

And I know not all rules are about sex, but similar principles can certainly apply in other contexts. Love-relationships really need to develop at their own pace and constrictions in are likely to feel very alien and wrong.

I know an absence of rules isn't practical for many people though, especially not early on. So, I'd keep the things you need to be rules as rules and do more deep talking to try to get to the point where she really understands why these things matter to you. And consider loosening up if you can, and only asking for the things you really need.

If she continues to ignore your needs, whether they're phrased as rules or requests, then it's the lack of respect that needs to be addressed. And how to do that? Well... all I can say is that if a partner continually disrespected me and wouldn't change, I'd consider some time apart.
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Old 09-24-2011, 03:37 PM
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I don't mess around with rules much. I figure that if the parties involved love and respect one another and communicate well, rules aren't really necessary. The communication is key to this. My sweeties can only respond to a need or desire of mine if I let them know I have this need or desire. They are free to respond as they will to any request or expression of need/desire. They are not rule bound. If I'm unhappy with their response, it's up to me to say so. But I/we don't feel the need to formulate an official list of rules. Instead, we try our best to care for and look out for one another.

I did recently ask if Faraway Sweetie would not begin any other loverly relationships for a while (undetermined, long enough for she and I to settle into whatever pattern will emerge between us). She understood my desire and need and agreed to it. But I don't feel we have a "rule". She's completely free to do as she will. I was surprised I even asked for what I did. Still, if she chose to go ahead and begin another loverly relationship while we're in the early stages of romantic exploration between us, I'd not feel that she was cheating or breaking a rule. I think I just needed to feel that she understands that I have a little "insecurity" around her possible loverly involvement with new* others while we're so new together. And she does understand, and agreed. And now my need has changed because of her understanding and willingness. (I'm pretty flexible on the matter.) I just needed her to know that I'd be more comfortable about her exploring other loverly relationships when she and I are more "established," after we have a "foundation" (her word choice).

Of course, nothing is certain about how things will unfold between us. I'm not going there to see her as a loverly partner but as a loving and intimate friend with "romantic" feelings in the blend. All of these feelings are known to be mutual.




*This is not a double standard. I've been with Kevin for fifteen years. He's anything but new. And I'm choosing not to start any new loverly relationships while she and I are new together. Too many new explorations at once does not seem an ideal atmosphere for those who are new to one another. (At least not for us.)
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Last edited by River; 09-24-2011 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 09-24-2011, 04:11 PM
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SourGirl SourGirl is offline
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One thing I have learned, is that boundaries and guidelines are needed. I formerly was of the opinion that we didn`t need them.
I was walked on, because of it. People said one thing, and did another, changed their mind like their underwear, and flip-flopped like beached fish.
Not because they were evil, but because we all make mistakes as we deal with the learning curve.
We all have this idea it would be great if they (boundaries) didn`t exsist. The truth is, it would be great if we didn`t have a NEED for them to exsist.

..but,...we do.

The truth of learning new behaviours, ways of living, and of thinking, is that we need training wheels as we go. We DO need our protective gear. As we learn more and more, the training wheels can come off.
Where things can go wrong, is when we start calling them 'rules' or 'laws' or any type of thinking, that makes things seem eternally forbidden. If you put people in a position where crossing a line EVER equals 'failure', you will create the very failures you are scared of.
The outlook going into any boundaries should have the parties involved asking themselves these questions :

- What is our reason for needing this boundary ?

- Who isn`t comfortable with this boundary ? With that noted, what type of changes would that person like to see as time goes on ?

- How often will we re-evaulate our need for this boundary ?

Not having boundaries does not make you some God or Goddess Of Acceptance, anymore then Learning to swim by tying rocks to yourself, makes you a hero.
So the 'alternative' as I see it, is the state of mind the boundaries are made in. Plenty of people sit down and make a list of 'rules' yet each of them have different expectations of what those rules mean.

Changing your phrasing can help more parties be on board.
To many people :

'Breaking rules' results in punishment.

'Crossing boundaries' results in consequences.

In one instance people will complain of being treated like children, or prisoners, ( and may act accordingly) in the other instance people may accept responsibility.
The outcome of any situation, usually comes from the initial design.


Good Luck.
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Old 09-24-2011, 06:06 PM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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I love the distinction between punishments and consequences, SG!
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The major players. Me, 30ish bi female. Gia, girlfriend of 4+ years. Clay, boyfriend/dom. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eddie, roommate & fwb.
The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy and Nikki, Clay's partners. Liam, Eddie's husband.
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Old 09-24-2011, 06:28 PM
cuddlecakes cuddlecakes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
Interesting question. It might be helpful to have examples of what things are official rules and what are the guidelines that keep getting broken.
An example of a rule is "no sex with a new partner until we've discussed it", which she's followed well so far.

An example of a potential rule is "We should know as much as possible about a potential date beforehand", or "No dating monogamous people". I guess her behavior could be interpreted as a violation of this, or not, depending.

Quote:
I mean it'd be intensely frustrating yet in a weird way the sense of the forbidden would make everything hotter
I don't think that's universal. Probably depends on personality.

Quote:
So, I'd keep the things you need to be rules as rules and do more deep talking to try to get to the point where she really understands why these things matter to you. And consider loosening up if you can, and only asking for the things you really need.

If she continues to ignore your needs, whether they're phrased as rules or requests, then it's the lack of respect that needs to be addressed. And how to do that? Well... all I can say is that if a partner continually disrespected me and wouldn't change, I'd consider some time apart.
That's very good advice, thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SourGirl View Post
'Breaking rules' results in punishment.

'Crossing boundaries' results in consequences.

In one instance people will complain of being treated like children, or prisoners, ( and may act accordingly) in the other instance people may accept responsibility.
The outcome of any situation, usually comes from the initial design.
Yes! That's the sort of thing I'm looking for.

Last edited by cuddlecakes; 09-24-2011 at 07:04 PM.
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Old 09-25-2011, 01:40 PM
MichelleZed MichelleZed is offline
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When you discuss boundaries with your partner, there's some give and take. A "rule" that keeps getting broken can be looked at two ways. From one perspective, it was inconsiderate of your partner to break the rule you agreed on. From another perspective, if the rule is so impossible to follow, maybe it was a stupid/unfair/unrealistic rule.

A rule like "no dating monogamous people" is an example of a rule that can be difficult to follow. First of all, depending on where you live, there might not be a whole selection of out poly people to choose from. We become interested in people because of their unique qualities and shared interests, not necessarily because they are the right sex and are poly and happen to be around. You know?

Also, "non-monogamous" is an action, not a species of human. Non-monogamous people don't have tags on their ears. You can switch back and forth from being monogamous to being non-monogamous. You say you've been interested in poly for 10 years, but officially in a poly relationship for 1 year. So there must have been times in your life when you were monogamous, right? And now you're not.

So if your partner likes someone and they get along, but this someone has only had monogamous partnerships before, there's probably nothing wrong with her talking to them anyway, explaining the situation (that she's in another relationship, and if they got involved it wouldn't be exclusive). Then the other person could decide whether the arrangement could work for them or not.

"We should know as much as possible about a potential date beforehand" sounds vague. Beforehand to what? The first date? The first time you have sex? And how much is *possible* to find out about someone before you've dated them? Dating is usually the process of getting to know someone. You don't want to give your date a questionnaire where they fill in their allergies, shoe size, etc. But at the same time I agree that getting into bed with a stranger is probably a bad idea. So there's definitely some wiggle room in this "rule". Perhaps you and your partner weren't clear on what this "rule" meant.

I'll have to say that me and my husband only have one rule: that we use protection with outside partners. Other than that, we don't have rules, but we do try to be considerate of the other's feelings. That means checking in a lot and being reasonable.
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Old 09-25-2011, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleZed View Post
Non-monogamous people don't have tags on their ears.
No, they don't. But wouldn't it be nice if they did?!
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Old 09-25-2011, 09:47 PM
cuddlecakes cuddlecakes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleZed View Post
A rule like "no dating monogamous people" is an example of a rule that can be difficult to follow.
Oh, it should be phrased: "No dating people in monogamous relationships" (= the other person is cheating)

But yeah, there is also something like "People you date have to respect our relationship and at least be open to non-monogamy", which should not be hard to follow either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleZed View Post
"We should know as much as possible about a potential date beforehand" sounds vague. Beforehand to what?
Meaning that before she goes on a first date with someone, I should know about it, and know what she knows about him so far. I should know whether they've been talking on the phone every day and flirting heavily, or that they've only written back and forth a few times and their messages are purely formal. It's not about what I know about my dates. It's knowing about the other person's dates.

Quote:
Perhaps you and your partner weren't clear on what this "rule" meant.
Agreed.

Quote:
I'll have to say that me and my husband only have one rule: that we use protection with outside partners.
Yeah, that's the first one.

And yes, it would be nice if non-monogamous people wore a ring on a certain finger or something.

Last edited by cuddlecakes; 09-25-2011 at 09:57 PM.
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Old 09-25-2011, 09:58 PM
MichelleZed MichelleZed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuddlecakes View Post
Oh, it should be phrased: "No dating people in monogamous relationships" (= the other person is cheating)
Oh. Well, that is quite a different matter. Are you saying that your partner is seeing someone who's in a mono relationship?
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