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Old 03-30-2012, 02:31 PM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
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Default Who is so super enlightened now?

Poly seems to be in the news a lot now. Or maybe I just never noticed how often it gets talked about till my partner and I began exploring an open relationship model Ė who knows? But itís been two years since we took the plunge. Weíve experienced an unplanned triad attempt that went south quickly, two periods of time where we were both seeing someone separately, and weíve both experienced now, situations where one of us was seeing someone while the other was not. All the way, Iíve poured through poly friendly sites to gain insight and wisdom from others whoíve experienced more. Iíve noticed a few of commonalities that rub me the wrong way.

There is currently a thread up asking how rare it is for a long term open relationship to be successful and lists many of the assumptions people make about why someone might even attempt it. I chalk this up to people giving a pass to monogamous relationship drama and lows as being ďnormalĒ and there for all acceptable situations that one should expect and be willing to go through. The alternative of poly, is seen as not normal, making the drama and lows unacceptable indications of dysfunction within the relationship. Basically what is normal is all relative to what youíre use to and anything else is odd or wrong if youíve never experienced it. ďYou donít know because you donít knowĒ becomes this bubble wrap shield against these assumptions and questions posed by the monogamous world. But I think interpersonal relationships all have their ugly side that gets cultivated in the name of what is normal to us. When dealing with more than just yourself there is going to be a struggle now and then no matter the style.

(A, B, and C are universal people in following scenario)
Like example one I have noticed. Say partner A is a cycling enthusiast and wishes their primary B had more interest in joining them on a ride. Theyíve gone more than a few times and B just doesnít enjoy it much for a myriad of reasons. Really it doesnít matter what the past time is, the situation gets peppered with a common solution from the poly community: find someone new to enjoy these things with instead. I remember when we called these kind of associations friendships. A starts going riding with C instead. B is no longer pressured or guilt tripped over not participating. All should be cool if itís just about finding someone to go cycling with right? So why do A and C also need to have a sexual association just because A wants someone along when bike riding? B was happy to not get pestered onto a bike anymore. Is B still happy when not getting on the bike means A is fucking someone else too? I also notice that people who get used to fill the spot for A, even in a poly relationship, often find little vacancy elsewhere in Aís life. A only needed someone to join them in this particular past time and perhaps some other sweaty activity in the shower afterwards. But sometimes it can get problematic to branch out of cycling and showering in a more encompassing fashion without causing more instances to find others to fill spots the situation creates. The alternative is A and C invest more intimately in each other so C isnít being ďusedĒ or ďmarginalizedĒ.
Now B has a vacancy not just while A is out on a bike ride but before and after and oh I donít knowÖÖevery Saturday night too because A and C couldnít just enjoy cycling together even with the shower show tacked on. Awww B donít pout! You can find your own C to fill this new space with! Go nuts!

I get that no one person can meet every ďneedĒ (more on this later) for another. I get that we build many connections around our different interests. But when itís posed as needing someone else for some specific reason it seems often to be a cover for a lot more than one unmet need for company during a specific instance. And just when does it go from being one or a couple of unmet needs to a whole menu of them that, in a monogamous relationship, would indicate a large lack of compatibility? Isnít that something that should be worked on rather than using someone else as a repair patch? Will it ever get worked on if the vacancy is filled and an intimate relationship with someone new is currency in trade? The flip side I see often as well is that monogamy creates opportunity for betrayal. So B should accept an open relationship before A and C resort to sneaking. Really? Where is the choice in that? Say yes to poly or face the consequences?

Which brings me to another commonality Iíve noticed; the huge tendency to inflate wants to the point of calling them needs. This is a manipulation tactic. I see it shared so often in posts on poly forums. First off, no one NEEDS to have sex. There are people all over the world who, for whatever reason, canít or just donít have interest in attracting people for intimacy. They keep on breathing day after day. Some people are asexual from what I hear. I donít get it but they exist. So clearly sex isnít a need. But with this, we are talking about people who do have someone they can share intimacy with already; arguing about whether it is a necessity or not is a point not worth arguing because they already have it. This is why in the relationships between poly and mono people, I always cringe a little when I hear about some mono person struggling with finding peace over their partnerís ďneedĒ for being intimate with others. Its why we get posts like A ďneedingĒ to have an intimate relationship with C so that A has someone to go cycling with while B meditates and medicates their feelings all the while reminding themselves how lucky they are for not having to get on a cycle anymore.

Lastly, I also notice this really awful way some of the C people sooth themselves when experiencing envy or jealousy that makes them no longer really qualified to be what I call a friend to their Aís relationship with B. Lots of noble talk about rising above negative thinking and enjoying the relationship they have for what it is and that is very nice and all. But rarely will the thread plod on without C eventually commenting on how A and Bís relationship is really all screwed up or empty like it makes their role in Aís life more important. Isnít this finding comfort in the dysfunction of others? This tells me they really want to be the bigger better shinier person in Aís life. They need to believe they are this to feel better about being in the relationship and really would rather B fade out of the picture or at least acknowledge and validate that indeed C is more important to A than B now. I almost understand when A or B might feel that way if the relationship began monogamous. Itís how they thought of themselves when the bond and commitment was created and moving away from that can feel like stepping down. But C didnít have to begin marching to a different beat mid relationship. If they canít dance to it, they donít have to stick around for the encore set. They could just realize they might not be this super poly individual they are trying to be. Truly metamours donít have to be friends. But while Iím not friends with the person who lives across the hall from me, neither am I consumed with an inner dialog about how much better suited I am to their primary and how crappy their relationship must be in comparison to whatever relationship I would be having with them. The reason for this is I am not posturing myself in direct opposition to whatever relationship my neighbor across the hall is having.
I guess in the end Iím saying the more I learn about it, the shine of poly wears away and itís all starting to look like how I see political parties - republicrat/democran circus show. Pick your favorite flavor of dysfunction and hope like hell itís more enjoyable than not until someone ďneedsĒ more and cultivates an association built on believing my partner and I have a dead relationship.
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Old 03-30-2012, 03:58 PM
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Phy Phy is offline
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I was thinking about replying and decided that there was one aspect I can disagree with, at least in the way you portrayed it. I have a similar way of looking at most of the things you mentioned and don't understand the 'completing the picture by adding people who satisfy this or that need/want of mine' concept that well myself, as it doesn't apply to me, but I think that there is one point I can relate to which is definitely different for me.

Yes, I think that you are right, no one will die because he/she doesn't get sex with other people. No one will die because he/she isn't able to express their feelings for others (yes, I know this is a different level we are talking about now). And now comes the but: It's damn unhealthy. As far as my personal preferences go, no, I would never have gambled my marriage because I wanted sex with Lin. Never. But I was unable to disregard my NEED to express my feelings. It made me sick. It turned me into someone new, someone I wasn't able to cope well with. And I believe, that in those cases where it's about polyamory, forming relationships, expressing love for different people, it is a need, not a want, to be true to those feelings. Because just like not eating and not drinking it lowered the quality of my life to refrain from being true to myself; of course, I would not have died, but it would have greatly affected my life, my marriage/the persons closely involved with me and myself. And I think it is reasonable to regard this level of possible change and effect as more important than the craving for some fleeting moments of lust.

You are right, poly should never be a means to any end, but there is a strong core in poly that isn't self-serving in and off itself like there is a core in mono that is absolutely pure without anything negative: Expressing the love you feel. That's all. As long as people do that and whatever relationship they end in with this or that approach, it is possible to need or want more with time, because as long as you love your spouse or partner you will look out not only for your personal needs and wants, but for his/hers as well. At least that is what I believe in and what we live right now. And there is not one 'dead element' I can think of in our life because of the relationship structure we choose or found ourself in, in the end.

Everything can be handled inappropriately. I don't think you should judge the way you see some people practising poly as the way poly always is. Because that can't work, as there are so many forms out there and many are not as dysfunctional as the examples you mentioned here. (I am sorry if I missread something or interpreted anything the wrong way, that were my initial thoughts on the matter.)
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  #3  
Old 03-30-2012, 04:30 PM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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Phy,

I thought your becoming poly was more situational.... falling in love with Lin....not actually a poly core.

So if sward went off found himself a new love interest and decided he preferred the one on one with this new women instead of the sharing he's forced to do now .....you would start posting profiles on dating sites to replace him? ...or fill the vacant time slot. Is that what you mean be core?
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Old 03-30-2012, 04:34 PM
AutumnalTone AutumnalTone is offline
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I don't have time to respond to the whole post point-by-point, so I'll pull a representative observation and respond to that. I believe the basic thrust of my response can be extended to the rest of the post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinccenzo View Post
Which brings me to another commonality Iíve noticed; the huge tendency to inflate wants to the point of calling them needs. This is a manipulation tactic. I see it shared so often in posts on poly forums. First off, no one NEEDS to have sex.
I think your analysis is far too shallow to be useful. It appears you're positing that nothing other than what is required for mere physical existence qualifies as a need. That can be seen as so much hokum. Take a man and provide him with food and water and confine him to a shelter so that he can survive and nothing beyond that. No company, no wandering around, nothing except the merest existence. Check on his mental health in a couple of years and see how that goes.

In the not-very-distant past, doctors developed vibrators as medical tools to treat hysterical women. What, specifically, was the cause of hysteria? Lack of sex. The women were sexually frustrated and disturbed enough by it to seek medical treatment; said treatment consisted of stimulation to orgasm. Now, prudish, proper ladies having mental problems due to lack of sex indicates a problem, and that they would seek medical treatment indicates that it was a serious problem.

It could just be that humans need more than food, water, and shelter to be happy, healthy humans.
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When speaking of various forms of non-monogamy...it ain't poly if you're just fucking around.

While polyamory, open relationships, and swinging are all distinctly different approaches to non-monogamy, they are not mutually exlusive. Folks can, and some do, engage in more than one of them at a time--and it's all good.
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Old 03-30-2012, 05:10 PM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
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Yeah.....occasionally there is a glimmering light of awesomeness in both poly and monogamy. So far I enjoy my own situation in poly as much as I found myself able to enjoy being monogamous prior. I still fully believe the style matters little (to me anyway) as long as care, respect and trust are in the mix. Without those, neither is worth a damn.

I'm aware that perusing the forums is going to find more of the drama and lows being reported than what goes on because we seem to share more of the bad than the good. But just as with a site about monogamous relationships, I find really unhealthy attitudes being perpetuated as standard MO for help in navigating what comes up. Such as the commonality for advising a zero tolerance of opposite gender friendship policy on sites with a monogamous flavor. Thoughtless blanket statements offered up as the only good way to go. The alternative opposite I see on places like this is "wish your partner did (whatever)? get another partner!" and no one even blinks. I just wonder why, especially when often filling that want with someone else just shuts down compromise. Such as if B doesn't enjoy cycling because A rides in traffic rather than sticking to trails, A could offer to stick to trails when riding with B but now they cycle together not at all because C doesn't prefer one kind of cycling over any other. Not to make it all about cycling because it could be anything really, but how does the standard advice of finding someone else promote continued compromise - ye olde staple to relationship success?
Or when a secondary (not used for ranking so much as indication of relationship timeline) begins to feel a lack of range or incorporation with a partner later in the relationship. Why are they helped in finding ways to pick apart the relationship(s) their partner in question already has? I know not everyone takes this approach in giving advice but it seems a similarly acceptable way of helping them work through their feelings that I suspect only leads to more strife down the road.
And on the how we share the bad more than the good.....another site has a sub forum specifically set up to share what good stuff people are experiencing in poly. I initially thought it was a great idea. One of my friends who is also in an open relationship actually took tally of something they noticed. Something like 17 pages of posts about the super happy thing going on in the poster's life - the vast majority of which was something about their new partner leaving a small sliver reporting good things in their original relationship that wasn't about how much better the partner was at accepting their new one. I found that depressing and wished she hadn't pointed it out. It made me remember a line from Fight club where Ed Norton's character talks about how having bought his couch means he never has to think about couches again because he has the couch thing covered. You got your original partner locked in so now that good stuff is as celebration worthy as wall paper? Why do people do this and then wonder why they enjoy time with someone new more than time with their now insecurity riddled longer standing relationship partner? Or just as bad to me, think its just "part of the process"? I would be a ton less fun to be around too if everything my partner thought good enough to toot over on a relationship forum was about someone new they were seeing.

Mostly just some stuff that had been rolling around in my head over that last month that I thought would make for an interesting thread topic. I guess I've got whip lash.
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Old 03-30-2012, 05:13 PM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AutumnalTone View Post
Take a man and provide him with food and water and confine him to a shelter so that he can survive and nothing beyond that. No company, no wandering around, nothing except the merest existence. Check on his mental health in a couple of years and see how that goes.

In the not-very-distant past, doctors developed vibrators as medical tools to treat hysterical women. What, specifically, was the cause of hysteria? Lack of sex. The women were sexually frustrated and disturbed enough by it to seek medical treatment; said treatment consisted of stimulation to orgasm. Now, prudish, proper ladies having mental problems due to lack of sex indicates a problem, and that they would seek medical treatment indicates that it was a serious problem.
I'm pretty sure everyone is aware that monogamy isn't defined as above. You don't agree to be monogamous and suddenly find yourself without sex and isolated from any kind of socialization. You don't even have to only orgasm with your monogamous partner. That is why I said arguing about the necessity of sex is a moot point because we are talking about people who already have a partner, a hand or vibrator, and are still able to socialize out in the world.
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Old 03-30-2012, 06:01 PM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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AT,

Are you saying the reason you enter this lifestyle was because the intimate relationship you had with your wife or partner was similar to a prison ...confined with just food and water? Or is this how she felt about you?
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Old 03-30-2012, 06:32 PM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
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Sorry if I'm bringing up stuff people don't like to talk or think about.....

Another post that comes to mind was one where a woman posted about how sex with one partner couldn't hold a candle to sex with her other partner. Lots of people stated it just wasn't true. That neither sex partner dished up better sex than the other; just different sex. I'm sorry but she's the one having the sex and if she thinks its better it just IS. For example if I always have multiple orgasms with A and rarely ever get off with C I am going to enjoy sex with A more even if I can enjoy sex without an orgasm. Everyone seems so scared to admit that yes, sometimes someone or something is favored and lies get told about it.

I know a couple, the parents of a childhood friend I still keep in contact with that also pops to mind. The wife had a hysterectomy and her sex drive lowered. It caused some unrest in their relationship for a handful of years till the husband presented with prostate cancer and ended up unable to perform. They are two of the cuddliest people I've ever seen now. Would their relationship still be so strong if he'd sought someone else when her sex drive dipped? Would she have even been around to help him while he fought the cancer? What if she decided that despite her sex drive being low now, never having penetrative sex with her husband entitled her to find someone to fill that lack? We seem to be a society that can't admit when something we want is not a necessity and would rather call it a need, hoping to or at least willing to overlook how it can give someone else a new struggle just to relieve us of our own.
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Old 03-30-2012, 07:36 PM
km34 km34 is offline
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First of all - I'm not understanding the point of this post in the first place. The main argument seems to be based around "needs" which others have already posted on... Needs have been proven to be more complex than what we really need to survive and function. To be psychologically healthy as well as physically healthy is a need. Some people need to be completely honest to be psychologically healthy - and physically healthy if you have anxiety issues, stomach ulcers, or any other illness that flares up with stress (I would argue that the world would be a better place if ALL people needed to be honest).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinccenzo View Post
The alternative opposite I see on places like this is "wish your partner did (whatever)? get another partner!" and no one even blinks. I just wonder why, especially when often filling that want with someone else just shuts down compromise.
I don't think this is suggested first and foremost often, if ever. I only remember reading/hearing it in the context of, "Oh your partner HATES to cycle, but you love it and wish you had company? Well, since you two already identify as poly (or you do and your partner is supportive) and have a healthy relationship that won't fall apart if feelings develop -because really, feelings often develop when you share something you love with another person- why don't you find someone who enjoys it to do it with you? Then you make a new friend, have someone to cycle with, and if you happen to fall in love, great." I don't think the focus is always on finding another romantic partner, since friends play supporting roles in most of our lives as well.

Quote:
I would be a ton less fun to be around too if everything my partner thought good enough to toot over on a relationship forum was about someone new they were seeing.
I don't "toot over" my relationship with my husband often because I don't struggle with it often. I don't HAVE to focus on the best of times to remember why it's worth working through the bad. Now, if we had a rough spot, you can bet your ass I'd be going over to the success area and bragging about it when we get through it! That doesn't mean I appreciate him any less in real-life, though, and that's the important part. Who gives a shit what I say online? If a partner of mine is putting that much emphasis on the limited details I post on some forum, I think that would severely diminish my opinion of that person.
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Old 03-30-2012, 08:10 PM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by km34 View Post
I don't think this is suggested first and foremost often, if ever. I only remember reading/hearing it in the context of, "Oh your partner HATES to cycle, but you love it and wish you had company? Well, since you two already identify as poly (or you do and your partner is supportive) and have a healthy relationship that won't fall apart if feelings develop -because really, feelings often develop when you share something you love with another person- why don't you find someone who enjoys it to do it with you? Then you make a new friend, have someone to cycle with, and if you happen to fall in love, great." I don't think the focus is always on finding another romantic partner, since friends play supporting roles in most of our lives as well.
I see it most often when someone is struggling with coming to terms with the new changes over their partner taking on a new one and see them as discrepancies. Even when it is an obvious situation with an unfair element like "wife is giving BJs and experimental sex to newbie but doesn't and hasn't with me for a long time". I will still see at least one person offer up the solution of finding someone new for themselves to do these things with rather than address the mess of why they have been and continue to get denied whatever it is they are troubled over. I get why people might offer suggestion of why it might have become this way and truly there will be people who point out that its a problem that needs fixed. Just wondering what the folks suggesting adding someone else to the pile are thinking. Divorce is painful. Divorce while one already has someone waiting in the wings is probably even more so. Maybe its much easier if both have someone else they are seeing - I don't know. But shouldn't people who already have a mess sort out whether the first relationship needs to end before beginning a new one? I'd imagine a mess is less likely to get fixed and/or a divorce is more likely to be the solution if they don't. I've noticed that when a relationship ends under these circumstances everyone is quick to point out the mistake in hindsight......


Quote:
Originally Posted by km34 View Post
I don't "toot over" my relationship with my husband often because I don't struggle with it often. I don't HAVE to focus on the best of times to remember why it's worth working through the bad. Now, if we had a rough spot, you can bet your ass I'd be going over to the success area and bragging about it when we get through it! That doesn't mean I appreciate him any less in real-life, though, and that's the important part. Who gives a shit what I say online? If a partner of mine is putting that much emphasis on the limited details I post on some forum, I think that would severely diminish my opinion of that person.
To each their own. And I don't think a day goes by on any relationship site without someone sounding off about how we're always changing and growing and becoming different somehow. You love your husband right? Are you saying that if your husband read something you posted talking about how great your C is and whatnot and felt the troubled thought of "Huh, km34 never gushes over me to anyone" and brought it to you rather than stewed on it, his reward for communicating his feelings to you would be "Whelp now you've done it; I can't even look at you the same anymore!"
Don't tell me what you think of some ambiguous person you're not involved with who might be troubled over it. Its real easy to assess a situation you're not in and write off some imaginary person you're not involved with right now as unacceptable. Tell me how you'd handle the situation with your husband.
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