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  #61  
Old 12-16-2009, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by ImaginaryIllusion View Post
This strikes me as somewhat prescriptive in itself...and I'd challenge it on the grounds that my poly doesn't need to be the same as your poly.
[...]
At the same time I don't think all such rules are necessarily symptomatic of problems in the couple's relationship. Some may have to do with trust that needs to be built between metamours (As I mentioned in an earlier post). There is also a fine dividing line between legitimate personal boundaries of the couple, where they might still affect the pending/developing relationship with the new partner.
[...]
And it may not be a matter of the other partner being threatened by the feeling. It may be a pragmatic reality that if there was some reason to make a difficult decision between two partners, that decision would be for the established partner. This would be particularly true where Derby notes when there are kids involved in the established relationship...where disruptions could cause ripples through far more lives than just the 2+1 involved in the discussion.
This all very much is in line with my thoughts on the subject. Thanks for putting it so succintly.
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:39 AM
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A very similar case in the conventional mono world would be single parents trying to date. Prospective partners need to know there are kids in the picture, and the single parent is perfectly within their rights to establish what kind of involvement they'll allow in a new relationship in order to protect the children from negative effects...either with the children, or even with that parent. The kids are perfectly within their rights to feel safe. The prospect can then decide if those restrictions are feasible for them to live with...and accept or walk away. I fail to see a problem with this.
Here's where I see the distinction, because a single mono parent is a great analogy.

In order to make the single mono parent situation similar to the types of restrictions Ceoli is talking about, this would be like the single parent telling a prospective new dating partner "look, I have kids and they come first and that means that you have absolutely no hope of ever becoming my husband, no matter how much we fall in love because that would threaten the relationship the kids have with their father even if you never do anything to even suggest you wish to negatively impact the relationship they have with their father. I have decided the outcome of our relationship before ever meeting you and you have no say in that."

In the mono world, even though not everyone actually wants this, the default assumption for dating is that people are trying each other out with the idea that they will eventually marry. Most people don't go on a first date assuming that this is the one they will marry, but the point of dating is to find out if this is the person they will marry. Going on a first date with a single parent, most people would think it is reasonable to say that the kids come first. Not many people would think that it is reasonable to say the course of this budding new relationship has already been charted out and here are the restrictions, here are the limitations, here is the pace, and here is the stopping point. Oh, and those restrictions were created by someone else and have no bearing on my actual feelings or yours.

This is where it's different to say "I have a standing date night with my wife on Thursdays, so we'll have to schedule around that unless there's something very special or an emergency comes up" and "Look, I like you and all, but my wife has decided that my relationship with you threatens my marriage just because you're another person, so before you and I met, she and I agreed that I wouldn't ever fall in love with you in order to make sure that she always comes first regardless of how either you or I feel in the matter, and to effect that, my time with you is limited to 4 hours every other Tuesday. What? You work late on Tuesdays? Well, yeah, I have other days free, but it doesn't matter, my wife and I decided on Tuesdays, so take it or leave it."

This is depressingly common among people who identify as poly and as in a primary "couple". I have a primary relationship with Tacit. We are not a "couple" in the sense that our relationship comes before all others, we are in a network that requires the happiness and satisfaction of everyone, including the metamours, regardless of who came first, and does not preclude anyone from having more than one "primary" relationship. Someone that Tacit is interested in dating will not be faced by me telling them what their relationship will look like. Their relationship will look like whatever their relationship wants to look like and if there is a specific detail that conflicts with how I want *my* relationship with him to look, we'll talk about it as it comes up and find a solution that we can all be satisfied with.

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  #63  
Old 12-16-2009, 05:09 AM
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Where I see a lot of consistency in those advocating prescriptionless relationships is that most seem like very experienced poly's...
It's funny that you should say that, as it's not the first time I've seen that, not even in these forums.

Although it is no guarantee that just because a lot of people are doing something, it must be right (and I'm sure we can all think of plenty of examples where it most decidedly isn't), if there is a method that several people are advocating, and those people are considered "experienced" or successful at whatever it is they're advocating, one would think that one might want to consider that those people might just know a little something about what they're talking about.

As they say, good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. It may be possible that the *reason* why experienced polys advocate this method is because they tried it the other way first, like so many newbies do, and discovered that it didn't work, or didn't work for long, which is why they abandoned it and took up the alternate method.

But it's also possible to learn how to make those good decisions based on *someone else's* experience. I also sometimes see comments about the newbies *can't* do the more "advanced" method because they're not yet advanced. Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I didn't have to reinvent the wheel, or learn how to drive a horse and cart, before operating a motor vehicle. Sometimes, actually skipping over the newbie mistakes only means you don't have to *unlearn* bad habits first.

I was once told by someone that he had to make his own mistakes and could not learn from the mistakes of others. He outright refused to believe his mother that the stove was hot and hasn't changed his method since (seriously, his mother confirmed that he had to touch the burner several times, suffering some pretty nasty burns as a kid).

That seems horribly inefficient to me. I'm perfectly willing to believe that sticking my hand in a flame will result in burns, especially if I've seen the burns - I don't need to stick my own hand in to learn that fire is hot. I might occasionally still get a little too close to the fire due to error on my part, but I don't see as how insisting that I learn this lesson the hard way is anything I should be proud of or continue to do.

Yeah, I know how tempting it is to want to make rules restricting my partner's behaviour in the interest of "protecting the relationship". I also know how it doesn't solve the underlying problem and I worked to change my outlook so that the rules are no longer necessary, and consequently, my relationships are much healthier and happier than either my past relationships or those I see around me who are doing the same ol' thing.
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  #64  
Old 12-16-2009, 05:21 AM
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We should all be so lucky...and I was once. Hit paydirt platnum+gold+diamond mine first time out...and never was exactly sure how. Knowing the odds of that I'd be a fool to expect to do half as well in the future.
Not having an extraordinarily keen sense of other people all the time, some people may have to rely more on trial and error. And the error while educational isn't always fun.
I've been learning that luck has less and less to do with finding good partners than I used to think. One piece of luck might be in how paths cross, but I've been finding that the more I'm clear about what qualities I'm looking for in a good partner, the easier it seems to be to find people who have those qualities.

I'm learning more and more that partner selection is a real skill that can be learned. It's not about controlling emotions, but about recognizing how the love you feel for someone can fit into your life. Recognizing how that person might be able to nurture your soul or how they might be able to chop away at it. Sure it takes work. A lot of what I've learned about what is good for me has been through directly experiencing people who are bad for me. But honestly, every experience is a gain in that context because it makes me better able to create better relationships in the future.
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  #65  
Old 12-16-2009, 06:25 AM
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And it may not be a matter of the other partner being threatened by the feeling. It may be a pragmatic reality that if there was some reason to make a difficult decision between two partners, that decision would be for the established partner. This would be particularly true where Derby notes when there are kids involved in the established relationship...where disruptions could cause ripples through far more lives than just the 2+1 involved in the discussion.

The type of prescriptive rules I'm talking about don't apply in this situation. People seem to be confusing the idea of not having prescriptive rules with not having any boundaries at all. There's a huge difference. I'm not going to go swanning into any relationship with the idea that I'm entitled to the same things as the partner who's been there for years. That's just silly. So instead of making a rule that says "no new partner will come swanning into our relationship and think they're immediately entitled to the same things the primary partners have", why not just pick partners who are reasonable and know what's appropriate for whatever stage of development a relationship is in? If I have a partner with kids, of course I'm going to respect the decisions that have to be made for their benefit. It seems to me that it's a heck of a lot easier to just choose a partner who is respectful of such things than set up a bunch of rules around it to ensure that the partner is respectful. Rules just can't do that kind of thing.

Clearly communicating what's ok with regards to how a new partner relates to the family of another partner is completely reasonable. Protecting the family against the possible damage of the new partner by setting up all sorts of rules and protections around it before the new partner even exists or has begun any kind of relationship seems to be a really bad dynamic to start a relationship off with. If I felt the need to set those rules up to protect my family or other partners from a new partner's influence, then I probably wouldn't be getting involved with that new partner at all.
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  #66  
Old 12-16-2009, 09:21 PM
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Here's where I see the distinction, because a single mono parent is a great analogy.

In order to make the single mono parent situation similar to the types of restrictions Ceoli is talking about, this would be like the single parent telling a prospective new dating partner "look, I have kids and they come first and that means that you have absolutely no hope of ever becoming my husband, no matter how much we fall in love because that would threaten the relationship the kids have with their father even if you never do anything to even suggest you wish to negatively impact the relationship they have with their father. I have decided the outcome of our relationship before ever meeting you and you have no say in that."

In the mono world, even though not everyone actually wants this, the default assumption for dating is that people are trying each other out with the idea that they will eventually marry. Most people don't go on a first date assuming that this is the one they will marry, but the point of dating is to find out if this is the person they will marry. Going on a first date with a single parent, most people would think it is reasonable to say that the kids come first. Not many people would think that it is reasonable to say the course of this budding new relationship has already been charted out and here are the restrictions, here are the limitations, here is the pace, and here is the stopping point. Oh, and those restrictions were created by someone else and have no bearing on my actual feelings or yours.
It seems to me that this is where our ideas of how prescriptionless vs effective rules starts to blur. As you say, there is an assumption with the single parent anoalogy that the rules would be relaxed or removed at time went on and the relationship flourished. This ties in to what RP was saying about rules needing to be flexible...so that they can change as circumstances change and things develop...not only between paramores, but also metamours.
I'd agree that hard and fast static rules rarely work well for anyone on anything...not just in poly, but relationships in general. Interpersonal interactions are highly dynamic both between different people, and as well over time.


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It's funny that you should say that, as it's not the first time I've seen that, not even in these forums.

Although it is no guarantee that just because a lot of people are doing something, it must be right (and I'm sure we can all think of plenty of examples where it most decidedly isn't), if there is a method that several people are advocating, and those people are considered "experienced" or successful at whatever it is they're advocating, one would think that one might want to consider that those people might just know a little something about what they're talking about.

As they say, good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. It may be possible that the *reason* why experienced polys advocate this method is because they tried it the other way first, like so many newbies do, and discovered that it didn't work, or didn't work for long, which is why they abandoned it and took up the alternate method.

But it's also possible to learn how to make those good decisions based on *someone else's* experience. I also sometimes see comments about the newbies *can't* do the more "advanced" method because they're not yet advanced. Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I didn't have to reinvent the wheel, or learn how to drive a horse and cart, before operating a motor vehicle. Sometimes, actually skipping over the newbie mistakes only means you don't have to *unlearn* bad habits first.
This kind of echo's something I recall hearing from my Grandfather..."It's good to be able to learn from your mistakes...you should...but that doesn't mean you need to go make every mistake in the book." He wasn't wrong.

I don't disagree with what you're saying...there may be benefits to what you're advocating, and I can see some of those places where it might be preferable.

I'd still postulate however that experience is not 100% transferable...and it still involves skills that cannot be developed overnight. The whole prospect could just be too extreme or risky for someone to consider if they feel that they have too much to lose in the event that there's a hiccup along the way...and lets face it...there's very few paths in life that don't involve a few speed bumps along the way.

This is the part which I haven't seen addressed...where the people advocating for rules are experienced poly's entering with other experienced poly's, there may be a mindset shift that I'm just not getting...and that might not be perceived by the advocates. Those advocating...(and I can't say for sure for everyone, I'm still working on a very incomplete picture of personal details, so if anyone who can) presriptionless so far seem to have a couple things in common....the experience as poly where their partners may know what's required, know their expectations, what boundaries are still appropriate, etc. I also get the impression that most of these relationships involve only the adults in the relationships...the metamours and paramours.

There's aspects about taking risks that I think most people understand...the trade-off between the likelyhood between success and failure, and the possible consiquences. When it's just between adults...then everyone should be adult enough to make their own decisions.
When there are other lives involved, the decisions made no longer affect just the adults. It affects people who have no say over anything that happens if or when a relationship goes sideways...but still have to bear the consiquences.

Which I think is where Ceoli elaborates:
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The type of prescriptive rules I'm talking about don't apply in this situation. People seem to be confusing the idea of not having prescriptive rules with not having any boundaries at all. There's a huge difference. I'm not going to go swanning into any relationship with the idea that I'm entitled to the same things as the partner who's been there for years. That's just silly. So instead of making a rule that says "no new partner will come swanning into our relationship and think they're immediately entitled to the same things the primary partners have", why not just pick partners who are reasonable and know what's appropriate for whatever stage of development a relationship is in? If I have a partner with kids, of course I'm going to respect the decisions that have to be made for their benefit. It seems to me that it's a heck of a lot easier to just choose a partner who is respectful of such things than set up a bunch of rules around it to ensure that the partner is respectful. Rules just can't do that kind of thing.

Clearly communicating what's ok with regards to how a new partner relates to the family of another partner is completely reasonable. Protecting the family against the possible damage of the new partner by setting up all sorts of rules and protections around it before the new partner even exists or has begun any kind of relationship seems to be a really bad dynamic to start a relationship off with. If I felt the need to set those rules up to protect my family or other partners from a new partner's influence, then I probably wouldn't be getting involved with that new partner at all.
I feel a sense of respect for the idea of that a new partner doesn't get to come in and automatically get an all access pass to use for good or ill against an established. I appreciate that yes...it would be nice to choose partners correctly that would respect the family and do no harm. I can appreciate that putting rules in place to protect the family wouldn't be optimal circumstances for the new relationship to develop.
And I guess this is where I'm having a hard time with the shift in mindset....because years ago, I might have been inclined to agree with the prescriptionless model. These days however, my own mindset has changed in that I don't get to make decisions just for myself any more.
It may be that we're still talking about slightly different and slightly the same things. The boundaries or rules I would be talking about are to protect the family. They would also not be static. But in terms of making decisions to protect the kids...I have absolutely no reservations about making whatever rules are nesaccary to protect them if the not yet existant partner likes them or not. Negotiation can be looked at if and when the new partner enters the picture...and if everything cool...then things are cool. If not...new partner and couple keeps looking. However if there's an area where I'm not inclined to comprimise, its with the welfare of the kids.

As I said... I realise that this is may be from an entirely different mindset to most of those advocating prescriptionless (and based on my limited knowlege of each participant on the thread). And perhaps the rantings of some parent with a slight preoccupation with rules seems a little insane (lord knows when I was single and dealing with parents at the childrens' hospital, I thought they were insane...have you even seen what parents have to do for car seats these days to be 'safe'?). If anyone who can fully understand that mindset can help me understand how perscriptionless would be less risk to an established couple with other lives at stake (as opposed to just the house mortgage, and a dog) I'm all ears.
In the meantime, I would still submit that in certain contexts rules will still be a valid and valueable tool...particularly for those who have spent their lives working on one relationship and are suddenly having to play catchup on an entirely new way of being, as opposed to those who have spent that name time refining the skills required for non-monogamous relationships.
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  #67  
Old 12-16-2009, 10:49 PM
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So instead of making a rule that says "no new partner will come swanning into our relationship and think they're immediately entitled to the same things the primary partners have", why not just pick partners who are reasonable and know what's appropriate for whatever stage of development a relationship is in? If I have a partner with kids, of course I'm going to respect the decisions that have to be made for their benefit. It seems to me that it's a heck of a lot easier to just choose a partner who is respectful of such things than set up a bunch of rules around it to ensure that the partner is respectful.
But you're assuming that everyone has the exact same idea of "what is respectful" and that's just not true. And I'm not talking about radically different ideas, but subtleties of culture, upbringing, etc. It's possible for both people to be acting in a manner that would be "respectful" in their lives ... and still be not in compliance with what the other needs/wants.

And that's not just about the realm of poly either. Heck it happens in mono relationships and in friendships and in business relationships and ... and ... one person thinks everything is fine and the other person thinks the behavior is hurtful. (See earlier in this thread. ).

I dunno. Maybe I'm older and more cynical. It just seems to me that the idea that everyone should automatically understand boundaries and what is/isn't respectful is sort of Pollyanna-ish (no pun intended).
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Old 12-16-2009, 11:09 PM
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But you're assuming that everyone has the exact same idea of "what is respectful" and that's just not true. And I'm not talking about radically different ideas, but subtleties of culture, upbringing, etc. It's possible for both people to be acting in a manner that would be "respectful" in their lives ... and still be not in compliance with what the other needs/wants.

And that's not just about the realm of poly either. Heck it happens in mono relationships and in friendships and in business relationships and ... and ... one person thinks everything is fine and the other person thinks the behavior is hurtful. (See earlier in this thread. ).

I dunno. Maybe I'm older and more cynical. It just seems to me that the idea that everyone should automatically understand boundaries and what is/isn't respectful is sort of Pollyanna-ish (no pun intended).

I'm not saying that everyone should automatically understand boundaries or have the same idea of what is respectful or not. Everybody has different ideas on that. That's what healthy communication is for. And that goes for any kind of relationship, mono, poly or whatever. (But then again, I've always held that having healthy poly relationships and having healthy mono relationships generally draw upon the same skill set)

If everyone involved is communicating well, such differences can easily be resolved without having to prescribe rules around them before they even arise. In fact, I've generally found that prescribed rules like that end up being a replacement for communication. I'd definitely feel more secure in a relationship with healthy communication.

And again, in case this isn't clear. I'm talking about *prescribed* rules. That is, rules that exist about an outside relationship or partner before that relationship or partner even comes into play and that are there to protect the insecurities that exist in the previous relationship. Boundaries and rules that grow in an existing relationship or even between two separate but connected relationships are entirely different things.

Last edited by Ceoli; 12-16-2009 at 11:14 PM.
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  #69  
Old 12-16-2009, 11:36 PM
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it's like "look, I don't want to have to say 'I don't like the shades of blue that fit within the temperature spectrum of 480 to 509, but the blues smaller than 480 are OK' every time a sentence calls for me to repeat the subject noun, so from now on, when I say 'blue', that's what I mean".

Ceoli has already defined the specific types of "rules" that she is talking about when she says "rules". You (generic you) may have a different definition for that word, but within this thread, we are using her definition because she's the one who started the thread.

When she says she doesn't like rules in this context, she's not talking about all those other "exceptions" and variations on the word "rule".

So if you are thinking of posting a reply that says "but a rule that says you don't get access to my checking account on the first date, but we can re-visit that if we move in together in the future", she's not talking about that kind of "rule".

She has already clarified that "rules" that protect kids from the revolving door of new partners don't count, and "rules" between existing partners are different from rules made by existing partners *for* new partners.

Ceoli is also not assuming everyone has the same basis for what's respectful, that's where the communication part comes in. When you meet someone, I don't know anyone who just lets random strangers into their house who happen to be walking down the street. Usually, they talk to each other first, and if the person doesn't seem like a complete psycho and, in the course of the conversation, indicates a similar sense of respect for personal property and space, eventually that person might be let inside the house.

And of course mistakes will happen - everyone will think that someone is a good partner for them, try dating them, and have it turn out to be a disaster. But the communication part lowers the numbers of disasters and minimizes the fallout.

The communication is what takes the place of the rules. If you date people who have similar ideas of what is "respectful" to you (and you find that out by talking to them), then you do not need to make a rule whose purpose is to make someone behave respectfully. If you choose your partners carefully, they will want to behave respectfully and, through discussion and communication, will know that their version of "respectfully" and your version of "respectfully" are similar/the same, then you can have a relationship without requiring a rule to keep them in line.
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Old 12-16-2009, 11:50 PM
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And again, in case this isn't clear. I'm talking about *prescribed* rules. That is, rules that exist about an outside relationship or partner before that relationship or partner even comes into play and that are there to protect the insecurities that exist in the previous relationship. Boundaries and rules that grow in an existing relationship or even between two separate but connected relationships are entirely different things.
I think I'm zeroing in one something here my own self. It could partially be a difference in how I might define rules, when they're added, and more importantly the reasons for them being added.

I'm about ready to mentally check out for the holidays...and thus I think I'm going to sit back and read other peoples' posts on this thread for a while. So far this has been a very informative thread. Thanks to the OP and participants for everything so far.
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