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  #1  
Old 07-03-2012, 04:56 AM
UnderMind UnderMind is offline
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Default Perspectives needed -- feeling very unhappy about ethical stance

Hi,

After a LOT of hard work, many discussions, much heartache and confrontation of fears, my wife and myself have finally just come to a point where we feel ready to embrace polyamory. Whilst there's clearly a story to be told here, I don't think that it's entirely necessary for the specific concern I'm writing about at this particular time; should the discussion lead to a point where more information is clearly required, then I'll submit such.

Wife (Q) has stated that she wishes to have a relationship with D (male). D is non-monogamous and known to both myself and Q; he currently has a few (not sure how many, exactly) partners that could probably be best described as secondary relationships, no primary relationship.

D has not been what I would describe as ethically non-monogamous in the past and, as far as I'm aware right now, still isn't. Primarily, he isn't OK with his partners meeting his other partners. Thus, from my perspective, there's no chance to ensure there's informed consent for all parties involved, no opportunity for dialogue, his partners have their right to a voice and choice denied to them, no way of ensuring everyone is OK and no opportunities for compersion.

Whilst I totally accept that it's up to him how he wants to conduct his relationships, it doesn't feel like polyamory to me. It's very much not compatible with my set of ethics.

When I put this to Q, her response was (amongst other things) "that's your ethics, not mine. I'm not going to waste my time meeting all his partners! I don't give a shit about them!"

Shock, on my part, ensued.

I've obviously been mistaken in believing that the many times we discussed how important it is for partners to at least know each other for purposes of informed consent (and we even have an agreement to this effect, too) is something that we were both completely on the same page about.

I'm interested to hear what other people make of this. Honestly, it's causing me a considerable amount of discomfort that I've been wrestling with for the past few days; input from the community would be welcome.

Thanks!
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Old 07-03-2012, 05:26 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Could it be possible that she was worn out from lots of discussion and was flooded with emotion? Like "GOD will this talking ever END!" Check this article out -- emotional flooding at bottom.

So I would give her a little space to calm down first. Tell her you want to talk in a week. Then when your appt time comes seek to clarify. "When you said... I heard.... did you really mean it that way? Or were you just overwhelmy and tired? Because that worried me. Did I emotionally flood you?"

She doesn't have to meet them all in person and have a great ol' powwow. But dang, phone, skype, email contact to basic exchange!

The "Hi, I am Jane Doe. I've recently started dating D. Just wanted to let you know I exist and give you my info in case you have any concerns about health or things being on the level. My husband is John Doe and he is full informed. We wanted you to be too. Thanks!

best wishes,
Jane Doe
phone, email, cel whatever."


If D. is not willing to provide names (and he could omit or lie about number) forthrightly so she can do that I'd be alarmed too. So I see your concern and validate your feeling weird but... don't fly off the handle just yet.

Like I said -- maybe wife is just so OVER talking on this right now and needs a break from the negotiation table to chill before coming back for more. YKWIM?
Chasing her down when she wants some space from emotion flood won't help. Breathe, breathe. One step at a time.

GG

Last edited by GalaGirl; 07-03-2012 at 05:39 AM.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:09 AM
Cleo Cleo is offline
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Hi UnderMind and welcome.
after reading your story I feel there are 2 different issues here.
1. does your wife really have to play by the same rules you do;
2. did you both agree on the rules and did she now break them?

Issue #2 is something that needs negotiating between the two of you. Issue #1 is something that you need to figure out for yourself, if you can be at peace with that. I'm in a slightly similar situation - my husband is dating someone who has not told her other boyfriend about her relationship with my husband. It has taken me a LONG time to accept that this is ultimately his decision and not mine. But, we never agreed on a rule or boundary that said "we both cannot date people who are cheating". So while I am uncomfortable with it, and hope that things will change, for now I accept things as they are, and do not feel that he broke 'our' rule.

and FWIW, I don't consider not meeting the other partners(s) of someone I'm dating, unethical. (but I know that there are some very different opinions about this here on the forum). Every relationship is different and can come with its own set of rules. The most important thing right now seems to be that you listen to your wife and understand why she would be willing to start a relationship with this guy follwowing his rules, and that she listens to you and tries to understand why this is diffucult for you. The outcome could still be that she does something you are not completely happy with, but the big difference is that you would feel heard and respected. At least, that is what has worked for me in my situation.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:15 AM
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Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderMind View Post

When I put this to Q, her response was (amongst other things) "that's your ethics, not mine. I'm not going to waste my time meeting all his partners! I don't give a shit about them!"

Shock, on my part, ensued.

I've obviously been mistaken in believing that the many times we discussed how important it is for partners to at least know each other for purposes of informed consent (and we even have an agreement to this effect, too) is something that we were both completely on the same page about.
She might have the stance that for YOU and HER, of course she wants to/is willing to, meet each others new/potential partners? I feel that way about my husband, and though I'd like to meet metamours connected to others I date, I haven't had any new ones for a long time, and I understand in my current other relationship, that might not happen. I met my boyfriend's wife and girlfriend a few months into dating him, and that was because they wanted to meet, I don't believe he ever would've brought it up.

I can see with some people I would strongly want to meet their partners and some I might actually not want to, say if they conducted their lives radically differently than I do. Part of that would also be how entwined I saw my life becoming with a person, or if we were going to be great friends or hang out in the same social groups.

My husband wants to meet anybody I date for long, and we have an agreement that we both meet metamours before it becomes sexual. However on his part that's never consisted of more than a 3 minute "Hi". I've had drinks, lunch, and spent the night hanging out getting to know somebody he was dating at various times, all without him. Both of us are happy with that level of metamour exposure it seems.

The last woman he dated, he hadn't met her husband - it was in the works but wasn't planned until after they'd have been sexual. There was about zero chance he'd meet any of other partners, be they casual or serious. We do have different standards for OUR partners vs THEIR partners it seems. I don't know if your wife's perspective was from here, or you'd firmly discussed having to know all your OSO's partners too.

Don't be too shocked, I'm surprised regularly when I think my husband and I are on the same page with poly discussions only to find out we aren't even in the same book.

Now if she has concerns he is being dishonest with people, I can see pushing for being able to check around a bit to see if anybody is in the dark, and being concerned if she is open to date somebody who isn't honest, but if not, I don't know that you have any reason to think he is not honest or ethical, just different? Other than that, unless he'd REFUSE to let her meet his other partners if she and they wanted, that's about the only thing I would let be an issue for me, even if it wouldn't work for me personally.
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Old 07-03-2012, 03:13 PM
UnderMind UnderMind is offline
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Thanks for the input on this so far.

GalaGirl: You may well be right about the emotional flooding and, if not, then that's certainly been an issue over the past several months. Thanks for the pointer. This arose a week ago and I've deliberately avoided talking to her about it since then, primarily because it was very clear that both of us were in a very highly emotive state about it and needed time to process and clam down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cleo View Post
Hi UnderMind and welcome.
after reading your story I feel there are 2 different issues here.
1. does your wife really have to play by the same rules you do;
2. did you both agree on the rules and did she now break them?

Issue #2 is something that needs negotiating between the two of you. Issue #1 is something that you need to figure out for yourself, if you can be at peace with that.
Cleo and Anne: As far as I am concerned we do, indeed, have an agreement that other partners will be met. Q even stated that if D had a "primary" partner then she would need to meet her; my question in response to that was "What difference does it make whether his partners are primary or secondary? They still have the right to informed consent and an opportunity to air their views etc."

In answer to your point 1., Cleo: No, she doesn't. She's her own person. But I have the right to be not OK with that, too, which on this particular matter I am not. She has recently put it to D that our agreement is that we meet others and their partners before getting involved with them; his response was that he wouldn't be OK with that. To me, it feels like Q is looking to bend the agreement in order to be able to have a relationship with D, as she already knows that he's not willing to meet us at the point which he knows we require. To my recollection, all of our prior discussions about this subject area have been about ensuring others are OK, their partners are OK, no-one is being kept in the dark, there's open communication etc. There's no requirement at all to befriend or hang out with metamours or their partners, although that would certainly be welcome if it felt good for everyone.
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Old 07-03-2012, 03:32 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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It isn't necessary to have a primary/secondary hierarchical approach to poly. It sounds like D has a number of casual relationships with people he simply doesn't consider "partners." They may be sexual partners but that's about it. If they are just FWBs (friends with benefits), I can understand both his and Q's stance entirely. What a waste of time and energy to meet all the people he's involved with, especially if they're just folks with whom he has casual liaisons. The important thing to find out, IMHO, is how he practices safer sex. However, there just may not be enough of a basis of relationship with them to warrant introductions and developing camaraderie with other people he's with. But don't assume that he isn't honest with them about having other relationships; he probably is.

I understand it because I am "solo poly" myself. I have no desire for a primary partner and keep my relationships separate. It would just be weird for anyone I date to formally meet and try to have a connection with other guys I date. Right now I am in transition; I have one steady lover-friend, and I am in the process of starting new relationships with about three or four potentials. If I asked any of my potential lovers to meet each other, everyone's reaction would probably be, "Huh? That's not what I signed up for. We just met. I want a nice, comfy, casual friendship with sex. I don't want to jump through hoops and meet your other lovers for that!" In fact, I think my steady guy would be very uncomfortable with meeting anyone else I have a relationship with, even though he and I have thoroughly discussed the fact that we are not exclusive, and I know he would be happy and compersive for me if/when something takes off with these other guys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderMind View Post
. . . from my perspective, there's no chance to ensure there's informed consent for all parties involved, no opportunity for dialogue, his partners have their right to a voice and choice denied to them, no way of ensuring everyone is OK and no opportunities for compersion.
Hmmm. What makes you think that none of the things you mention can exist for any of D's lovers unless they meet all of his other lovers? My lover and I would have compersion for each other if we never meet anyone else the other is seeing. Our other partners or potential partners know we are involved even though they will never meet. Why would meeting you and Q magically grant D's lovers a "voice?" They may be perfectly satisfied just knowing that D has other people he is involved with, and not feel any desire to meet them.

So, that's just another perspective that I think may relate to how Q and D feel about it. Perhaps if he had a commitment to a serious primary partner, the parameters would indeed be different. But he doesn't. He doesn't have partners; he may have flings, fuck buddies, casual girlfriends, or FWBs -- but no Partners with a capital P. Your agreement is to meet partners. I don't see it as being broken in this case, since he doesn't have that kind of partner-type relationship with anyone. Think about it this way, if he has a one night stand with someone, are you going to insist on meeting that person the morning after? Also, Q would likely be another one of his casual relationships. Is she ready for that or does she think she will be some kind of primary for him? Will she be able to handle it if she may never be "elevated" above the others in his view? Just something to think about.

Added: You did say there are details you left out of your original post, so it's possible my viewpoint won't hold water if there are other glaring issues or reasons not to trust this guy. But I offer my perspective as just that -- another perspective you may not have considered.
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Last edited by nycindie; 05-01-2014 at 04:38 AM.
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Old 07-03-2012, 03:39 PM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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What about "giving a shit " from a pure health point of view?

What about the old saying you can learn a lot about somebody by the people they choose to associate with. And such a stark refusal makes one think cover up ...or why the wall .....whats being hidden. The opposite of the open transparent communication generally required for this type of relationship dynamic.
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:03 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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What about the old saying you can learn a lot about somebody by the people they choose to associate with.
Heh-heh, well, yes, that is something to go by when there are glaring differences BUT that idea won't always hold water because judgments are by nature subjective.

I really don't think transparency and honesty in poly HAS TO include meeting and developing metamour relationships. It's nice when it happens, but not necessary.
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Last edited by nycindie; 05-01-2014 at 04:39 AM.
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:05 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I would not expect anyone to meet facetime if that is not what they wish. Metas do not have to be BFFs.

But I think a simple swap of names and numbers can be done over email or phone without it being a big hassle. Since it is SO easy to do there really is no rhyme or reason to me not to do it.

"Just, hey I exist in your poly network, contact me if you have questions about my being on the level. My latest lab copy in attachment. Plz send yours. Thanks."

So a hesitation to just get it done would be a red flag. What are you hiding? Why is this a big deal?

GG
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:45 PM
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Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
So, that's just another perspective that I think may relate to how Q and D feel about it. Perhaps if he had a commitment to a serious primary partner, the parameters would indeed be different. But he doesn't. He doesn't have partners; he may have flings, fuck buddies, casual girlfriends, or FWBs -- but no Partners with a capital P. Your agreement is to meet partners.
I think that's a great way to look at it that would perhaps give you a non heated viewpoint from which to talk about it. From a primary/secondary view, I'd insist on meeting others primaries, spouses, and probably meeting anybody they felt seriously about, but I wouldn't have interest in meeting somebody they just started dating a couple months ago, or that they had a casual sex connection with. Do you two have an agreement (or do you want to have an agreement) that you never get involved with somebody who has casual relationships?

However you say he isn't OK with meeting his other partners - are they all casual, or are there regular girlfriends, or somebody he loves? Is there wrongdoing happening, or does he see it the same as he wouldn't introduce her to his parents or siblings or coworkers since he's not dating her? You do have a hard stance on that, but I wonder, what if you meet somebody who has a FWB they see once ever few months, are you really going to insist on meeting them before getting involved? What if they are involved in kink and get involved with people at a playspace occasionally but don't see them outside that environment? What if they have a partner who hates meeting metamours because it makes them really uncomfortable, or a partner who has such a busy life with 3 partners, 2 kids, a full time job that they could care less about meeting you until things are serious between you and the shared partner?

So this would be your wife's first potential relationship?

I've had some hard lines in poly that changed once the shoe was on the other foot, so to speak, most of them due to fear in those early poly days. Then there are some things I held my guns to, like dating people who actively swing with strangers, where my husband and I have different views on that, safer sex is a hard line still for me.

Unless there is something bad about this guy that you'll share, or he really would "forbid" two metamours who wanted to meet to do so, you might want to spend some more time thinking about if this is really where you want to draw your line in the sand, or consider relaxing your stance and let your wife make her own choices and mistakes in partners, if it's not breaking any of your other agreements. I know it feels safer and better to have your partners date people you like, but that isn't always possible.

If you don't want her to date him period for other reasons, maybe you should come clean about that too and not stick by this "meet other partners" agreement as the sole reason, but just be honest that it's him you dislike and that you'd like to say "Please don't date him". I'm not saying that your views are wrong, but if someday you don't insist on meeting/talking to every single person somebody you want to date is involved with/is going to get involved in, it will looks pretty hypocritical.
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