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  #11  
Old 07-03-2012, 08:26 PM
sparklepop sparklepop is offline
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This is a tricky one! Forgive the novel.

I can understand both yours and your wife's opinions and viewpoints.

As everyone else has said, after all the discussion and guidelines in place, you'll most likely find that you learn the most actually doing it.

Poly Mistakes
My girlfriend and I say that ex-lovers from the first 6 months of our relationship were "Casualties of The Great Poly War"

Why?

Because we thought we were totally ready, knew everything and had it all figured out. We did great for people who knew nothing, but we still knew nothing until that huge poly ball started rolling.

We made rubbish people choices. We expected too much from each other's people choices.

We picked some toxic people. People who manipulated and played games and tried to make each of us jealous of their relationships with us.

We also expected to absolutely love each other's play partners, all the time.

My girlfriend ended up essentially using her veto card on three of my girlfriends. Three in a row. I was in love with one. We realised that this wasn't good. Things had to change.

In an ideal world, everyone's friendly, ethical and considerate of each other. In reality, we have to consider how much things will actually effect us and our relationship.

Why do we judge?

Sometimes... and I do not mean this rudely... we can get on our ethical high horse (I'm renown for it) for two reasons:

1. We're in judgmental mode, because we're not on the fun end of that delicious thing called temptation. And being able to give into it. "I want, I want, I want... oh? I can have? Gimme!!" When you're there, rushing with hormones, you're willing to overlook certain things.

2. We are deep... deep... down... trying to come up with reasons for this not to go ahead just yet.

I'm not saying that I'm right... I'm saying that it might be worth considering?

If this helps at all....

A little story..

We actively try to pick partners that our primary partners are happy with. It sounds like you and your wife have a similar idea.

I have a problem with one of my girlfriend's potential play partners.

He's flaky, messes her about, messes with her head by being all intense and delicious, then disappearing. I've seen her upset over him so many times. I truly cannot stand the guy.

My lady knows my feelings, but knows I would never, ever veto the spineless little sap...

What's really going on in my head though?

Yes, a big part is "I think he's a bit of an idiot, I don't like to see her hurt and I'd selfishly prefer it if I could like the guy".

What is that tiny bit in the back of my mind? That tiny, tiny truth? "She's intoxicated with him. I'm scared of that."

So, I could let that take over and keep telling her and myself that I just don't think he's a good ethical choice. But I can't let that fear take over.


More "I'm poly" experience babble in the hopes of helping you...

I expect my primary girlfriend to tell her secondary partners about me.
Ideally, if they're long-term potentials, I expect to meet them.
I expect them to at least be civil to me.
I expect them to respect our relationship and the guidelines we have.
My girlfriend expects the same in return.

That's our joint ethical code.

Ultimately, your ethics are your own. Your wife's ethics are hers. Ideally, you'll get to the same place, or compromise.

The ethics of secondary partners? That really depends on how much interaction they are going to have with each of you and both of you as a couple.

I definitely would not expect my secondaries to meet each other. God, that might be awkward for them. But they do know about each other.

I personally prefer people who are honest. I pick honest secondary partners. My girlfriend is a little less strict on that. I won't date anyone who's married, when their spouse doesn't know what's going on. My girlfriend will. If I don't like my girlfriend's ethics, I don't have to stay with her. But as long as she's safe, and keeps my sexual health safe, she is essentially free to be with whoever she wants. If that gets her into deep water, that's her pool to swim in. Silly wench.


What can you do?
  • expect the first 6 months to be a period of mistakes and learning
  • expect to make some silly decisions, because you're both likely to act like hormone crazed teenagers
  • be kind to each other and keep communicating


In terms of sexual safety. Yes, there's always a risk if our partner's partner sleeps around like their bits are about to fall off.

You can negotiate this by insisting that you both use condoms with your secondary partners. You can suggest that she asks him for a certificate of clean sexual health. If bodily fluids are exchanged, you can get an STD test. You should get those regularly anyway, once you start being actively poly - even if you stick with the same partners.

Anyway... novel over... I hope that some of this helps.

Last edited by sparklepop; 07-03-2012 at 08:30 PM.
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  #12  
Old 07-06-2012, 12:48 PM
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CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
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Is it ethical that this guy has many partners that don't know each other? As long as he tells them that it's not an exclusive relationship and that he is having sex with other people, whether or not he names them. Absolutely is it ethical - nobody is being lied to.

Is it a type of poly that I would do? Absolutely not.

One of the things I learned about poly is that there are many, many ways to do it, none of them intrinsically better than another, but that we each have our preferences and our "don't go there"s.

DADT, while a legitimate form of poly, is something that a lot of folks won't go in for, for example, because there is little opportunity to validate whether or not it is a true DADT, or if the person is cheating on their spouse...

We have had long discussions about what types of poly we do and prefer, right at the start of the relationship. Sexual health is highly important to us, and if someone has multiple partners that we can't meet and get to know, then we feel that our level of confidence in everyone understanding and respecting our boundaries when it comes to important things like this. Different people have different priorities.

If you and your partner have agreed-upon boundaries when it comes to this stuff, then those need to be respected. Part of the issue of NRE is that there is a tendency to be all heady and giddy, trying to make it work, and boundaries can get overlooked. This is why they are discussed ahead of time and agreed-on. If she is so smitten that she is willing to bypass these agreed-on boundaries, then how can you be certain that she is going to stick to the others that you have agreed on, especially around safer sex protocols?

I definitely think a time-out is important - you guys need to work things through, and see if your agreement needs review.
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Last edited by CielDuMatin; 07-06-2012 at 12:50 PM.
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  #13  
Old 07-06-2012, 05:40 PM
Narayume Narayume is offline
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For what it's worth, I think you have a right to insist on her at least exchanging an e-mail with all of her boyfriend's partners. I believe that *everyone* in the relationship has to be comfortable with what is happening, including the other leg of a Vee. You are clearly not comfortable with that and that is your right.

You might want to sit your wife down again and talk about base rules. Some people even write those down and sign them, so there is no confusion. Your wife wishes for both you and her boyfriend to be in her life, which means she needs to make sure you are both okay.

I've had a similar situation in my Vee, when I told my (then) ex boyfriend that I would like to give our relationship another try, but this time in a poly set up. He had a very long hard think about it and agreed, but only under the condition that there would be no more than three in our relationship and he told me he was really only okay with our joint best friend coming in as another boyfriend. I was in a friends with benefits situation with said best friend at the time, although he had indicated that he would very much like to be more than that. Those were obviously fairly massive limitations and put a severe damper on what I imagined my immediate future to look like, however those were my exes rules and either I accepted them or the relationship wouldn't happen (either at all or as poly). We had to sit down together and figure out if there were compromises to be had and if we would all be okay with the limitations that my ex put down, but unless that happened the relationship could not go forward.

Obviously that is a more extreme example and your "demands" put much less of a limitation on your wife than my exes did, but I am trying to say that it is not unusual that every partner has their own rules and requirements and all of them have to be met (or compromises) before things can go forward in my mind.
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  #14  
Old 07-10-2012, 04:31 AM
UnderMind UnderMind is offline
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Thanks for all of the input on this, folks.

I've done some considerable thinking about it, reviewed what people have written here a few times and tried to figure out more about how I feel about it and whether I'm able to be flexible on it at the current time (meaning right now, at this stage of our poly journey). With the help of yourselves, I think I've managed to changed my position on it slightly, but it's still a big deal for me.

Within my own thoughts it's a phenomenally complex issue, mainly because Q and D have past history. However, regardless of that I'm 99.9% certain that the only way I'd personally feel comfortable engaging in poly relationships is knowing that there absolutely is informed consent from all the participants. The questions that seems to pose are:
  • 1) How do you ensure there's informed consent?
  • 2) Who are the participants?

To my mind, the easiest way of attaining 1) is by simply making contact with whoever the participants may be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
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."
In the instances of non-primary partners, that pretty much nails it. Thanks, GG! I think I'd prefer to see a "Would be great to meet for coffee and cake if you're up for that." statement added, too.

There's no pre-requisite here for friendships to develop or for big powwows or such like, but anything along those lines would certainly be welcome, too!

For primary partners, we already have a clear agreement that we meet at an early stage, vis--vis, again with no pre-requisites that there's friendship, although it's obvious that it would be generally beneficial if everyone got on well with each other.

Question 2) is much more tricky, though. At what point does a loose acquaintance, one-night-stand, infrequent casual sex friend etc. become something more significant? It's certainly a big grey area! In the specific instance of D, I can say with certainty that (as of two years ago) he had a 24/7 partner and at least 2 or 3 women that he used to frequent; by "frequent" I mean visit every week or every other week, usually spending at least the evening, sometimes the night, sometimes having sex, sometimes just chatting and hanging out. For me, I cannot really see any way that such relationships could be considered merely casual, although they're clearly not 24/7 primary-style relationships, either. Secondaries seems about right. Sorry to those that don't like such labels!

What relationship dynamics D is involved with right now is something I currently don't know, other than he's no longer with his 24/7 partner.

But this question isn't specifically about D, which is why I'm reluctant to bring other factors regarding the history between him and Q into this discussion. D (and Q's statement that she wants to have a new relationship with him) just happens to be the issue that's brought this to light.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
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.
This.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Anneintherain View Post
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.

...

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.
A really good point. I've tried to mentally project myself into a situation where the shoe is on the other foot, as it's likely to happen at some point. I don't believe anything I'm asking for would make me feel uncomfortable or unhappy if it was me that was having to enact it. Actually, checking out the others would actually make me feel safer and happier, which is a great pay-off for the small amount of hassle it would be.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklepop View Post

1. We're in judgmental mode, because we're not on the fun end of that delicious thing called temptation. And being able to give into it. "I want, I want, I want... oh? I can have? Gimme!!" When you're there, rushing with hormones, you're willing to overlook certain things.
Is this not the point in time when agreements and our (primary) partners can help to give us a reality/sanity check? It's a very fair comment, though -- Q gets NRE really badly and she admits it, too. For me, I've never experienced full-blown NRE whilst already in another relationship, so I'm not yet totally sure how I'm actually going to behave.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklepop View Post
I won't date anyone who's married, when their spouse doesn't know what's going on. My girlfriend will.
That would absolutely be a deal-breaker for me. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not passing judgement on yourself or your wife, but I do know that this situation would be totally not OK for me. Clearly, I'd never agree to it in the first place.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklepop View Post
What can you do?
  • expect the first 6 months to be a period of mistakes and learning
  • expect to make some silly decisions, because you're both likely to act like hormone crazed teenagers
  • be kind to each other and keep communicating
Might print that out and stick it on the bathroom mirror

Quote:
Originally Posted by Narayume View Post
... it is not unusual that every partner has their own rules and requirements and all of them have to be met (or compromises) before things can go forward in my mind.
Hear, hear!


I think it's only fair to state where some of this is coming from, for me. As any of you could easily determine by looking at previous posts of mine, there have been serious trust breaches between myself and Q in the past. Specifically, Q had affairs over an extended period of time. Whilst the trust feels pretty much sorted out (after much hard work), it's left me hyper-sensitive to situations where it feels like there's any kind of deceit going on, or if anyone is not being given the opportunity to have a choice or a voice. I realise that this is my shit, but nevertheless it's shit that I carry at the current time (and may do so for some time to come).

When I first started reading about poly, the very concept of everyone being informed, everyone communicating with each other (or, at least, having the opportunity to do so if they so choose), no-one being kept at arm's length, openness -- all of this really sang to me, allowed me to realise that there is a way to have an open relationship where the emotional and physical risks are mitigated to levels that feel OK and that my triggers about Q's past affairs are significantly less likely to be fired. Frankly, it feels right!.

I'm quite prepared to accept that my viewpoint on all of this may change as time progresses and as I/we become more poly-experienced.

Once again, thanks for everyone's input into this so far -- it's much appreciated!
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  #15  
Old 07-10-2012, 06:56 AM
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Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
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If I'd remembered your pasts posts and that "Specifically, Q had affairs over an extended period of time." I would've said knowing as much as you want to know might not be beneficial to your partner's happiness, but it would be important to your well being, and my opinion would've been that your comfort level was more important due to the surrounding circumstances. If D is somebody she was involved with before less than ethically, I imagine you'd have gotten much different advice.

It should be interesting trying to practice informed consent in this particular situation, and I am curious how that will work out for you. I do think if my partner had been less than honest with me I'd insist on more strict agreements myself. Most people rebel against strictness, so I don't know if it pays off, sadly there's a hard time balancing both people's comfort/safety/trust in situations like that. I wish you the best of luck.
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  #16  
Old 07-11-2012, 03:50 AM
UnderMind UnderMind is offline
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Thanks, Anne. Yes, it's proving to be incredibly difficult to find a point where we are both comfortable. As it stands right now, the very best that Q is offering is to give her contact details to her potential interest and ask him to pass them on to his others.

Some of the arguments being tabled by Q against contacting them directly are:
  1. Contacting others removes their right to privacy.
  2. She might not like the person being contacted.
  3. She feels that the responsibility for ensuring there is informed consent isn't being delegated, so it's too going to be too much time and stress to deal with it herself.
  4. That I typically over-analyse things. (To be fair, I do. That's why I brought this to these forums to find out what others thought).
  5. She feels like there's a lack of trust in both herself and the people she chooses to date.
  6. Exactly who should be contacted, anyhow? How is it to be determined whether someone is a casual or a serious/regular partner?
  7. She thinks it infantilizes her date.

My thoughts on these are:

1. The privacy one is certainly a tricky one. Q's main thrust to this point is that perhaps they really don't want to be contacted. I agree that that's potentially the case, but perhaps they'd also really appreciate being contacted, too. I suggested that it would seem entirely reasonable to ask her prospect to ask his others if they would be OK with being contacted; that way they can state at the start whether they would be OK or not.

2. Frankly, it's really not important whether there's harmonious accord with the person being contacted. There's really no requirement for friendship, as stated previously. The flip side, of course, is that the person may turn out to be a really great future friend!

3. GG summed it up quite nicely earlier in this thread -- it's so easy to do, why not do it? I don't really have any truck with responsibility being delegated on such matters as it's surely the responsibility of everyone concerned?

4. Yeah, OK, I over-analyse stuff. Not really sure what that has to do with this particular situation.

5. Trust is clearly a biggie. 2.5 years ago there was negative equity on the trust front and it's been a long, hard road to reclaim it. I'm probably never going to trust Q 100% (but then, 100% trust seems more like fairy tale wishful thinking than real life, to me). I trust her enough to have this type of relationship dynamic with her. Does it mean that my triggers for what feels way too close to stuff going on where people are being kept at arm's length and being denied the opportunity to informed consent are all dealt with? No.

Not really going to be in a position to trust a potential metamour until I've had the opportunity to get to know the person; even then, trust isn't guaranteed.

6. Into the realm of grey areas and I'm not really even totally clear in my own mind as to how to make such a determination. Perhaps it needs to be just as much an intuition thing as "you've been seeing x for y months -- I think that means it's no longer merely casual".

7. I see it rather from the opposite perspective. It seems incredibly adult to me to create a situation where everyone has their cards on the table.


Ok, I realise I'm less than calm and composed as I'm posting this. It really is stirring up a whole load of stuff from the past that I'm desperately trying to find the strength and time to deal with.
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  #17  
Old 07-11-2012, 04:01 AM
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NovemberRain NovemberRain is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklepop View Post
I have a problem with one of my girlfriend's potential play partners.

He's flaky, messes her about, messes with her head by being all intense and delicious, then disappearing. I've seen her upset over him so many times. I truly cannot stand the guy.

My lady knows my feelings, but knows I would never, ever veto the spineless little sap...

What's really going on in my head though?

Yes, a big part is "I think he's a bit of an idiot, I don't like to see her hurt and I'd selfishly prefer it if I could like the guy".

What is that tiny bit in the back of my mind? That tiny, tiny truth? "She's intoxicated with him. I'm scared of that."
I have one other perspective on this. Could it be, just a thought (I don't know anything for sure), could there be an element of 'If she's dating a jerk that makes me all the more appealing?'

Like in competition mode, if for some reason she should have to choose, she'd still choose me because I'm clearly better than him.?

Much more lizard brain, obviously not the loftier ideals and beliefs about who we can be.
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  #18  
Old 07-11-2012, 04:02 AM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
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For me personally,

if a person isn't willing to allow partners to meet-there's too much risk that they are lying-and it's not worth the risk that they may also be lying about their safer sex practices.

Therefore, we have an agreement that before any new partners are added, they must meet all of us and vice versa.
THAT SAID-there is no requirement that we continue to socialize that way. Only that we meet, so we know that everyone is aware of the addition of a new sexual partner.

As for the details of "secondary" or "just sex play partners", it is arbitrary. We don't care if they are just fb, fwb, gf, bf, etc. If there are other sexually involved, then we need to meet. That meeting could be via phone/email whatever.

Ironically, this has never been an issue, because all of the poly people we've encountered were the same way-except one and she was new to poly-but decided after hearing about it that she felt hte same way too.
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  #19  
Old 07-11-2012, 08:25 PM
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CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
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And, Undermind, now you are seeing the reasons why I won't enter into that sort of relationship - the points are quite valid, and leave you feeling highly dissatisfied....
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  #20  
Old 07-14-2012, 02:45 AM
UnderMind UnderMind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LovingRadiance View Post
For me personally,

if a person isn't willing to allow partners to meet-there's too much risk that they are lying-and it's not worth the risk that they may also be lying about their safer sex practices.

Therefore, we have an agreement that before any new partners are added, they must meet all of us and vice versa.
THAT SAID-there is no requirement that we continue to socialize that way. Only that we meet, so we know that everyone is aware of the addition of a new sexual partner.

As for the details of "secondary" or "just sex play partners", it is arbitrary. We don't care if they are just fb, fwb, gf, bf, etc. If there are other sexually involved, then we need to meet. That meeting could be via phone/email whatever.

Ironically, this has never been an issue, because all of the poly people we've encountered were the same way-except one and she was new to poly-but decided after hearing about it that she felt hte same way too.
Thanks for this, LR. Could you maybe contextualise it a little by saying roughly how many people poly people that might be? You're confirming what I suspected and, bluntly, what feels right to me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
And, Undermind, now you are seeing the reasons why I won't enter into that sort of relationship - the points are quite valid, and leave you feeling highly dissatisfied....
Indeed...
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