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Old 12-13-2009, 04:10 AM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Default Relationships without prescriptions

This is a bit of a mish-mash of thoughts stemming from several threads here and my own experiences as I relate to them and to new relationships in my life.

As I've said in other threads, one of the things that tends to annoy me is the prevalence of people who are in couples and looking for additional relationships, but wish to make sure those additional relationships remain within the constraints of boundaries that exist to protect the primary relationship. I do respect the fact that there are couples that feel the need to do this in order to have successful and working poly relationships, but I'm speaking to this as a person who is outside of that dynamic.

I really find it pretty unappealing to begin relationships with such constraints already pre-set and prescribed.

For me, it's like being told, "I would love a relationship with you, but bear in mind that no matter what happens between us, I will always place this other person ahead of you and regardless of what feelings develop, our relationship cannot grow in ways that might possibly threaten my other partnership."

This is not to say that there should be no regard or consideration for any of the other partnerships that my partner may have. But I find that when I'm given the rule of "our relationship must not cross the boundaries that may threaten my other relationship", I'm most likely destined for a lose/lose situation.

For one thing, those boundaries they are referring to are usually invisible and constantly shifting with the comfort level of the other partner. But even more fundamentally, I have no desire to enter into a relationship where my feelings of love are assessed in terms of what threat those feelings could pose to the other partner. It means I have to structure my relationship around the insecurities of another relationship.

Unfortunately, this is often the atmosphere presented to me by married or partnered people who approach me for some kind of relationship. In fact, it's the prospect I'm most often presented with.

Which is why my latest prospect is such a lovely breath of fresh air. This person has 4 other partners of varying levels of involvement. Some of his partnerships have lasted many many years. And he recently moved in with one of his partners (who happens to be married with a kid and lives part time with her husband and part time with him). These are all women he loves deeply and these are all women he is deeply committed to.

But as we've explored the possibility of a relationship between us, I have not been presented with any boundaries put up to protect his other relationships. Each relationship stands on it's own strength and lends that strength to all of the other relationships that first relationship is attached to. The feelings that I'm developing for him are not seen as a threat by anyone else he is involved with. For the first time, I'm finding myself in a relationship with a partnered person that's allowed to grow on it's *own* merit and feelings without needing to be trimmed or cut for the sake of protecting the other relationships. It also means that he trusts me enough to know that I'll make decisions that honor all of the people and relationships in his life as they will also make decisions that honor me and my relationship with him. So there's no need to set a "rule" to make sure I do that. It's quite lovely and drama free to get to experience NRE that isn't costing anyone else anything.

The other nice side effect is that I'm finding easy friendships developing between me and his metamours that are independent of him, but also connect me to him even more.

As an unpartnered poly person, it is generally harder to find relationships that do not have pre-set prescribed limits that have nothing to do with me. I find that when I have to enter into a relationship that's already full of such rules, it usually means that there isn't a whole lot of trust and that puts me in a very insecure position to begin with.

It's lovely to know that this doesn't have to be the case.

Last edited by Ceoli; 12-13-2009 at 04:17 AM.
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Old 12-13-2009, 05:28 AM
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rolypoly rolypoly is offline
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How wonderful! Sounds like a catch.
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Old 12-13-2009, 06:03 PM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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He is pretty wonderful, though my life is taking me thousands of miles away. I certainly hope that people who approach poly this way aren't rare.
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Old 12-13-2009, 08:22 PM
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Derbylicious Derbylicious is offline
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Here's my perspective for what it's worth. My partner and I have boundaries in our relationships. One of the main reasons is that we have children together and those children need both of us together to be a support system to them. We can't selfishly become involved in a relationship that becomes more important than the one that we have with each other.

Because of this I tend to seek out others who also have a primary relationship. If it's not a good match for you to be a secondary to someone who has a definite primary it's probably just best to walk away from the situation before getting too emotionally invested.

It's great that you've found someone who is a good match for you.

-Derby
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Old 12-13-2009, 08:34 PM
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Interestingly enough, I find myself feeling quite the opposite of you, Ceoli. I want a relationship where I am decidedly a "second" in the hierarchy. That doesn't mean I want to be emotionally marginalized or that I want to be treated unfairly, but I don't want to become a part of a relationship where they want a full time third partner (or 4th partner, or whatever). I am very comfortable in my life being the secondary to someone who has a defined primary.

Just goes to show that there's someone for everyone, right?
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Old 12-14-2009, 03:38 AM
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This is one I go back and forth on. I am involved with a married couple and so consider myself a second even though I have never been made to feel second. Sir has never been overly enthused by the word "second" either but I don't really see any way around it.

I tend to have some issues because in many ways I see them as one because they are married and so I am the one who makes myself feel secondary.

As to your OP, that is something else we have been dealing with. I have been in this relationship for only a year. There are a few different dynamics in our relationship besides the power exchange. For one, I am really the only open poly one. Sir is open to the possibility but extremely picky and pretty busy with the two of us. S (wife), she is more poly-fi when it comes to emotive relationships.

So far other than talking/flirting with someone I thought might be a prospective partner I have seen no one else since becoming involved in this relationship. I am very leary about looking for other partners at this point in time because Sir doesn't stick with a set of parameters under which he would be ok with my becoming involved in an emotive relationship with someone else. For him it seems to be that it depends on the person, situation etc. I don't feel that I can get close to another without having a more stable set of expectations and knowing what is okay with the both of them. I need for stuff to happen naturally. In return, he needs to be in control.

We talk often about this and have worked through quite a bit in the last year but I am still scared and uncertain about getting emotionally involved with another. So, I completely understand what you mean only from the flip side.
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Old 12-14-2009, 04:22 AM
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DrunkenPorcupine DrunkenPorcupine is offline
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I think this kind of highlights how no situation is best for everyone. I have a friend who has a "primary" and several "secondaries" and everyone involved is okay with this because they each fulfill what the other wants.

Myself... well...

My wife is my "primary". We share finances and all of of the roles that a mono-married couple does.. except sex. We disagree on that, except for rare occasions.

She's got a few "secondaries" who fill the sexual and some emotional roles. I've got a few people who I'm not sexual with but who fulfill very different but no-less-important roles in my life. I wouldn't be the person I am today, and all of them complete me and compliment me in ways that nobody else can because they're ALL unique individuals.

I understand exactly what Cioli is talking about though. Nobody wants to be relegated to "standby". Yet at the same time, this is all some people want, or are willing to give given the relationship dynamics. And this is okay!
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Old 12-14-2009, 04:45 AM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derbylicious View Post
Here's my perspective for what it's worth. My partner and I have boundaries in our relationships. One of the main reasons is that we have children together and those children need both of us together to be a support system to them. We can't selfishly become involved in a relationship that becomes more important than the one that we have with each other.
That's certainly understandable. I've noticed a variety of ways that poly couples deal with how they balance children with their other relationships. From my perspective, I would hope that a prospective partner who has children with another partner would have enough trust between them and enough trust in me to make choices that honor that partnership without having to put in pre-set rules before we would even have a chance to explore how our relationship may develop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derbylicious View Post
Because of this I tend to seek out others who also have a primary relationship. If it's not a good match for you to be a secondary to someone who has a definite primary it's probably just best to walk away from the situation before getting too emotionally invested.
My issue isn't about whether or not a prospective partner has a definite primary or whether my role is secondary in a relationship (I'm actually *not* in the market for a primary style relationship at this point in my life. I will be, but I'm not at this time). My issue is about setting pre-set limits and rules on other partnerships before they can even develop into what they could. For me, setting such rules implies a lack of trust that partners would do the right thing anyway. Anyway, I do walk away from such situations before getting involved, the only trouble is that such situations comprise the vast majority of poly relationships that are available to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crisare View Post
Interestingly enough, I find myself feeling quite the opposite of you, Ceoli. I want a relationship where I am decidedly a "second" in the hierarchy. That doesn't mean I want to be emotionally marginalized or that I want to be treated unfairly, but I don't want to become a part of a relationship where they want a full time third partner (or 4th partner, or whatever). I am very comfortable in my life being the secondary to someone who has a defined primary.

Just goes to show that there's someone for everyone, right?
Funnily enough, as I said before, I'm not really in the market for a primary style relationship. My life is in far too much transition for that. Like I said, it's the idea of pre-shaping other relationships because of the primary one that I find unappealing. And it becomes even less appealing when the motivation is about setting rules to "protect" the primary relationship. That immediately says that what ever relationship I may be developing in this dynamic could be a "bad and scary thing". I really don't need that kind of drama sitting in the foundation of something that I haven't even had the chance to build yet.

I know a lot of people say they don't like the labels of primary and secondary, and neither do I, but frankly, that is the structure I encounter most often when being approached about possible relationships. And my part has already been prescribed. That's what I don't like.


For me the annoyance isn't about not having a primary relationship, its about the huge number of times the nature of what relationship I might have with someone in another primary relationship has already been decided before I'm even in the picture.
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Old 12-14-2009, 04:52 AM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrunkenPorcupine View Post
I understand exactly what Cioli is talking about though. Nobody wants to be relegated to "standby". Yet at the same time, this is all some people want, or are willing to give given the relationship dynamics. And this is okay!
Just to be clear, I really have no problem with being a secondary (or even a standby, if that's what was right for that particular relationship), provided the nature of that relationship has the ability to develop on it's own merit. With this new relationship that I'm exploring, many people would see it as a secondary relationship. At this point, I'm not planning on living with him, I'm certainly not going to be having kids with him though I do want to have kids at some point and am actually going to be moving overseas in a couple of months. However, what I really like is that our relationship is developing into what it can and should be for itself. There is no "protecting" his other relationships in this situation because all of the people involved have a high level of trust and understanding that everyone will make choices that honor each other. I don't have to dance around the boundaries and limits of other people or be subject to a set of rules. There's no need because everyone involved is secure enough to communicate their needs and listen to other's needs. This also creates the lovely side effect of getting along well and easily with all my metamours in this situation.

So it's not about being a primary or a secondary or a tertiary or anything like that. It's about how setting rules and protections up around one relationship can stunt the growth of another relationship.
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Old 12-14-2009, 05:10 AM
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Quote:
Just to be clear, I really have no problem with being a secondary (or even a standby, if that's what was right for that particular relationship), provided the nature of that relationship has the ability to develop on it's own merit. With this new relationship that I'm exploring, many people would see it as a secondary relationship. At this point, I'm not planning on living with him, I'm certainly not going to be having kids with him though I do want to have kids at some point and am actually going to be moving overseas in a couple of months. However, what I really like is that our relationship is developing into what it can and should be for itself. There is no "protecting" his other relationships in this situation because all of the people involved have a high level of trust and understanding that everyone will make choices that honor each other.
I get it. I do. I'm a HUGE fan of letting every relationship evolve into what it might be.

On the flip side of that, knowing I agree with you quite a bit, it sucks to have anything stiffled.
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