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Old 08-18-2012, 11:19 AM
Ttree Ttree is offline
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Default Non-Hierarchical

Hi, basically I am new to this forum and polyamory and I am wondering if there is anyone I can talk to about non-hierarchical relationships?

In a nutshell: No primary partner, no "vetos" allowed from any of my partners: none of my partners may dictate WHO I may date. My one dealbreaker for a relationship is if I discover anyone has been trying to "cowboy" me.

I am looking for anyone who can advise me or chat regarding non-hierarchical relationships, particularly the firsthand experience of those who also happily identify as non-hierarchical as I seem to only be able to find discussions on hierarchical relationships. Anyone have some experience on this topic to share with me? Any info would be good.
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Old 08-18-2012, 01:16 PM
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CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
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Presumably you are assuming that with any primary relationships there is a hierarchy in place. While that may be so in a lot of cases, there are quite a few people for whom having a primary doesn't automatically make it a hierarchy.

Primary means that you are living together, and sharing day-to-day life decisions - it doesn't mean automatically that they are "number one and all others are number two... or lower" (loved that movie!).

OK, that having been said, what I interpret you are saying is that you don't want to live with any of your partners, but want to have loving, meaningful relationships with them, still. Am I getting that right?

I think that in a lot of ways this is going to be easier than having primaries, because you can arrange your own schedule a lot easier. The only issue that I can see is, even if someone isn't a cowboy, what happens if you fall in love with them so hard (and they with you) that you decide that you want to move in together, even while keeping everyone else in your life. If that is a boundary for you, then I think that as long as you make that very plain to folks up-front that this isn't on the table, they can make their own decisions.
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:40 PM
Ttree Ttree is offline
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Hey, thanks for your reply. I guess I should have defined it more specifically: At this stage living with is not the issue for me, I am pretty relaxed regarding that

What I meant was I have noticed that in a relationship which has "primary" and "secondary" partners a lot of people seem to allow their partners a fair amount of control over whom they date, the decision to "veto" certain partners. This is what I meant by non-hierarchical, I do not have a "primary" partner and do not let any of my partners decide or pressure me into who I may not date or to demand/require something of me which restricts my relationships with my other partners (eg wanting to be the only partner I have sex with or ensuring that I spend the majority of my time with that partner, or trying to prohibit me from saying the words "I love you" to someone other than themselves, etc) as I don't see such things as their choice to make.

That make more sense? Sorry about the ambiguity, I tend to be bad at expressing myself.
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:49 PM
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Hi Tt,

The three of us in our "V" identify as non-hierarchichal, although a little differently than CdM's example. We are actually splitting time in about as balanced a way as we can right now (my partner, the hinge, splitting time between two "homes). To add a little to the complexity, I'm Mono. My partner and his OSO are Poly.

It's working out pretty well, but there's a LOT of scheduling involved... but that's not your question.

Anyway, we do have a veto, but nobody's had an occasion to use it yet. For me, it's kinda moot, since I don't plan on dating. I personally wouldn't ever plan to pull the "veto" card unless the person were completely toxic (and even then, I'd probably put my misgivings in a "voicing my concern" way, rather than "here's my veto"). However, if my partner decided to have another "full-time" relationship, I am prepared to say that if my time needs won't be met, then I would probably have to pull out unless we could work something out... Less of a veto and more of owning my own issues, I suppose, although to some it would still feel like an ultimatum. I wouldn't intend it to be one, though...

No real pressure re. who to date. My partner is worried about his OSO's safety, of course, and wants to meet the folks she dates if it turns into something more than casual dating, but no real pressure on who to date or NOT to date. There are rules in place for safe sex (other potential sexual partners must get written proof that they're clean, must meet the other partner, etc. - which *I* wouldn't do without since my health is also at stake here), but no rules against it. Just a couple more hoops to jump through.

Hope that helps!
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:49 PM
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Hm, I guess I understand what you are getting at, but you have to bear in mind: Whomever you invite into your life, will be part of the life of your other partner(s) as well. There has to be a certain amount of control a person should be allowed to have over its own life, don't you think? You have to compromise in this situation to some extend. It can't always go to your liking solely.

In my case, there is no hierarchy. Both are equal. Co-primary. But, there was the possiblity in the beginning of them saying: I don't want to live with the other. I would love to live with you but I don't want this person in my life because of you. That's totally valid. Especially if living together is possible in your case. We don't believe in veto, there is no control over another person. but everyone has the right to say "I won't be part of this."

When living together or just being partnered with another you find personal boundaries everywhere. I don't like how you but the plates on the table, why can't you look after your stuff, I don't want you to share personal stories including me with others and so on. And in regard to poly you will find boundaries when dealing with other persons in your life who have been brought there through your partner. Of course you will have a say about the way this is conducted.
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Old 08-18-2012, 03:18 PM
Ttree Ttree is offline
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Hey YouAreHere, I guess the reason I fear the "veto" is because I'm afraid of it being abused. I have recently gotten out of a relationship during which I simultaneously realised I am definitely poly and that I really do love two guys. I realised I really love this guy so much and my mono ex absolutely refused to make any compromise whatsoever regarding me and other guys (ie not just physical, I could not even tell the other person my feelings, which feels very wrong to me, given everything he and I had been through together and our honesty and care for each other. ) It put me under an immense amount of stress, feeling like a prisoner in an otherwise very good and caring relationship. I had to break up with him because he would not accept me for who I am.
I am now dating the other guy (also mono, surprisingly), who really accepts me for who I am and whose only condition is honesty (one I am glad to fulfil and something very important to me as well) and says he really doesn't mind so long as I am happy and reach fulfilment in my decisions. He seems to really care deeply for me.

I would love his input if he did have any concerns: he said he would like to meet anyone I plan to seriously date to make sure they are decent and will not hurt me (he is protective but not possessive at all). This all I am really happy about.
So far it is just me and him (my ex will not accept me as poly). It seems you have a similar structure in place to the one I currently have.

Phy, yeah I agree regarding personal boundaries, partners should definitely speak up about things that are important to them and particularly when it comes to trust within the relationship. I will compromise on a lot of things to ensure my partners feel safe and happy (my current relationship is really easy as he is a very understanding guy and so similar to me: we just both value total honesty.) with the only real rules on that front being honesty and not allowing one partner to force/pressure me regarding who I date and how I express my love for my partner(s). The "hows" and "when"s and "let me meet them first"s etc are all fine with me, so long as any requests they have must come from their own side and their own (honestly expressed) needs for security, not a need to control/dominate me or others. I guess that has happened to me in friendships and relationships before and I am very wary of it now.
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Old 08-18-2012, 05:59 PM
AutumnalTone AutumnalTone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ttree View Post
Hey YouAreHere, I guess the reason I fear the "veto" is because I'm afraid of it being abused.
Then don't enter into any agreement that involves vetos. It really is that simple. Nobody can abuse a power that you've not agree to give them.

There are a great many poly arrangements that don't involve them; I suspect you think most arrangements that involve primaries have veto agreements is because you hear about those in many discussions (and many of those discussions involve problems with such agreements). There are a great many of us who don't have such an agreement--and you'll not hear us discussing issues surrounding vetos in our relationships because it doesn't apply.

My wife can't veto anybody for me and I can't veto anybody for her. I trust she'll choose decent partners. If she dates somebody I don't much like, I simply won't spend any time hanging out with the person. Won't make much difference to me, as time she spends with somebody else is the same whether I like the person or not.
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Old 08-18-2012, 06:32 PM
km34 km34 is offline
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My husband has given me veto power, but I haven't given it to him... Probably need to talk about that! lol Not that I would use it (for the reason below), but I need to make sure he understands where we differ on our acceptance of vetoes.

I don't believe in having a veto power in my relationships. I do believe in listening to my partners' opinions and taking them into account early on in a relationship with someone new. My partner(s) can't say "I don't like him, don't date him," but my partner(s) can say "I noticed that he does xyz or believes abc, and it rubbed me the wrong way. I just thought you should know now." I then know that new guy may have some negative qualities that I'm not picking up on because of NRE and I know that if I do get serious with new guy, current partner(s) won't want to hang out with new guy because of the qualities that rubbed the wrong way. I can then make a more fully informed decision on whether or not to continue with new guy. Also my husband (currently the only person I live with) has the right to say new guy can't come in our home, which would make dating new guy more difficult but hubby has a right to trust every person that comes into his space whether hubby is present or not.

Last edited by km34; 08-18-2012 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 08-18-2012, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AutumnalTone View Post
Then don't enter into any agreement that involves vetos. It really is that simple. Nobody can abuse a power that you've not agree to give them.
Yup. Agreed. I honestly think we have vetoes in place in our relationship because of inexperience - it was my partner and his OSO's first foray into a real Poly relationship too, they read a LOT, and they incorporated bits and pieces from what they read. I can't personally see my partner unilaterally vetoing someone or something, period, without a lot of discussion behind it, so even though it's in place, it doesn't worry me. And even in the worst-case, I think I personally would just put all my concerns out on the table and let him make up his own mind (and deal with my end accordingly, either by having nothing to do with her, or something else). In our relationship, a veto is overkill and probably wouldn't be used.

But this is YOUR relationship - start off with what works for you. Eliminate what you know wouldn't. Revisit your framework as it changes. And live your life.
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Old 08-18-2012, 08:06 PM
Ttree Ttree is offline
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Some really awesome info here! Thanks guys!
Autumn, I find it interesting that you are in a primary relationship which does not incorporate "vetos". I think this is what my current relationship could turn into.
Forgive me, I know I do sound naive, but as I've said, I haven't had any guidelines regarding polyamory before, so I've been working it out. I don't know why I assumed a primary partner necessarily meant "hierarchical" or that a veto had to apply... probably something to do with the relationship I just got out of.

km34- very interesting. I found it a very interesting realisation that for both partners to feel equally secure in a relationship, the methods applied to each partner may not be the same. One person may require veto power and the other may not and both partners may be perfectly happy with that. As I have said, my boyfriend is monogamous and doesn't actually feel the need to have the same freedom to date other girls.
Definitely regarding the input, he said he wants to meet anyone I want to have an actual relationship with so he can be sure they're safe and decent guys, and that means a lot to me. I know he really has my best interests at heart and will notice (probably much better than I would) if something is amiss in someone's character.

I really appreciate all of your advice, you have no idea how much stress all of this was causing me! Lol I have an anxiety disorder and have had a lot on my mind lately. It really helps talking to people who understand polyamory and particularly who can help me understand what I am feeling and trying to sort out in my own life. I guess I've been under a lot of pressure lately (work overload, break-up, unresolvable feelings for ex;(... ).

Any other info you may have to share would really be very interesting and useful to me in building a framework and understanding my own feelings and priorities. It is so great to not feel alone anymore! (None of my friends can relate on the poly thing.) I really appreciate this!
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