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Old 01-08-2010, 07:42 PM
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Default How do your partners' other relationships affect you?

This is a bit of an amalgamation of a few threads. http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1903 and http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1190 for example.

A couple things that have come up in my life have got me thinking this question. How much are you affected by the way your partner(s) behave in other relationships?

So, my lover is still somewhat involved with my ex-boyfriend. She was a mutual lover when he and I were a couple.

Long story short, since he and I split up, he's had sex with a woman who has herpes UNPROTECTED! He and I, both tested, clean and poly-fidelitous, never even had unprotected sex. (And he chose to do it with someone he knows has herpes??? I really wonder about his state of mind, but that's another story).

So, my lover wants to sleep with him, but isn't sure she wants to with this new news. I made it very clear that if she does, I won't sleep with her again. (Not because it's him, but because of his actions with this other woman).

Apart from the obvious safe sex issue, there's a deeper issue for me. I get the heebie jeebies thinking about sleeping with someone who's slept with someone who's knowingly put himself at risk. It seems very unloving to oneself.

This same question was brought up when I was fretting about the guy I'm dating who hasn't fully disclosed himself to his other lover.

How do you all handle these sorts of scenarios?

If your relationship works for you, but the way your partner is in other relationships is something you're uncomfortable with? Or if your partner has a tumultuous relationship with their other partner? I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around this...
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Old 01-08-2010, 07:59 PM
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How do you all handle these sorts of scenarios?
They always say that you are having sex not just with the person, but with all the others that they are having sex with.

That's the approach I take - if I wouldn't have unprotected sex with person C, and I knew that person B *was* having unprotected sex with person C, then person B might as well be person C when it comes to what I do to protect myself.

In all of my relationships we make sure that there is a very clear, unambiguous talk about protection and what acts do and don't require it, given how they act with others. It's their right to act whichever way they want, it just has consequences in terms of how I act with *them*.
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Old 01-08-2010, 10:56 PM
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Thanks for your reply Ciel. I was thinking more along the lines of everything non-sexual. (Sexually for me there's no compromise in that sense. If anywhere along the chain of partners there's any risk, I don't get involved.)

But, I was thinking more along the lines of the stuff that goes along with it. What it's like to be witness to a rocky relationship, for example, between your partner and their partner. What do you do if they are being unfair/mean/dishonest/? with their other partner, but wonderful with you? How much does their behaviour with someone else, which is behaviour you wouldn't tolerate for yourself, weigh in?
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Old 01-08-2010, 11:24 PM
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OK, due to being so-far anyway, the "bottom" of a V-shaped relationships I can only speak hypothetically, since I have not yet had that direct experience - that may well come, though, if our V becomes a quad.

I should also say that my preferred poly-style if definitely slanted towards the polyfi end, so this may not apply to others.

Once in the relationship, the assumption is that everyone involved has a functioning relationship - at the very least a friendship. This would mean that if the "third" saw an issue with the other two, it would be expected that they speak up, preferably to both of them, and voice those concerns, to either validate what they are seeing, or to have their mind put at ease that the conclusions they had drawn from the situation weren't reflecting the reality that the others were experiencing.

We have an agreement that everyone needs to be comfortable with any new person brought in. The assumption is that each person has the best intentions (a good-faith assumption) for the well-being of anyone involved. If someone saw red flags about any new person coming in, again it would be expected that they bring it up and discuss it openly, so that it can be addressed.

If things get rocky between any pair in the relationship, there is nearly always some sort of impact on the third - it's hard to avoid, really. Sometimes it's just feeling the empathy of what the other two are going through, sometimes it is being a little more flexible to give them room to get things sorted. It might even be a role of catalyst/facilitator to get the two to talk about stuff openly, if there is some breakdown in communication. That latter I could imagine could be a tad tricky, and would need to be handled carefully.

But like I said already, this is just our style and what we have agreed to - I won't pretend that it's the right way or anything, just our way. I know that there are others with far more practical experience than me, here - hopefully they can talk more to this from a real world sense than I can.
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Old 01-09-2010, 05:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rolypoly View Post
How much are you affected by the way your partner(s) behave in other relationships?
I think I will answer this more at the end as I feel it kind of fits my thoughts there...

Quote:
Originally Posted by rolypoly View Post
Apart from the obvious safe sex issue, there's a deeper issue for me. I get the heebie jeebies thinking about sleeping with someone who's slept with someone who's knowingly put himself at risk. It seems very unloving to oneself.
My intimate friend put himself in a similar situation and I am left wondering the same thing lately. He put himself at risk because he was horny and hates condoms. It is unloving to the person he was with, not himself. But it's a bit different in your case.... I am left very emotional about my situation as I trusted him and respected that he holds people as sacred and precious. Of course she could of asked about his history, when he was tested last, etc. and choice not to... the whole thing is very disappointing and makes me angry and sad at the same time.

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Originally Posted by rolypoly View Post
How do you all handle these sorts of scenarios?
I told him he should get a test done in a couple of weeks and then again in 6 months and that she should do the same and that he should tell her it has been a long time since he has been tested and apologize. Then he should wear condoms again or refrain until they are both certain that they are safe. He agreed with me... but will he do it?

I wanted to tell him that when people find out that he was unsafe they will not trust him as much and that he broke a code of good conduct in the D/s world and in any sex positive circle.

I don't know what it will mean to our sex life together, I have been talking to Nerdist about it and what now is off limits....

I must say that there is a very good reason for me to be polyfi. I am kinda getting fed up with all this bullshit. People just don't seem to think that they need to practice good safe sex,,, just some safe sex. What of oral sex, that seems to be a-okay in my realm... no problem. Well it isn't entirely safe. There is a lot of laughing it all off I find. Drives me crazy. Really I like my fluid bonds with Mono and the safety in knowing that Nerdist is very safe... (he isn't fixed so we use condoms still after 12 years,,, except that year I was pregnant).

So to answer your question? I think we are all affected greatly by what our partners do. It's so important to pick responsible trust worthy partners and then still trust yourself most. What worries me most about your situation is that this man is new to having herpes and perhaps doesn't know all that is entailed in keeping others from getting infected. He doesn't seem interested in making sure they are not either as he is so nonchalant about his own health. Yup, I think your partner could set a good example to him by telling him sorry guy, I am going to find someone to sleep with that cares more about themselves and others bodies than you do... there is a lot of men to pick from when it comes to just sex. It's relationships that are hard to find.
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Old 01-09-2010, 06:50 AM
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So, since he's my beloved and all, we kind of agree on a lot of this stuff, and I won't rehash it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
If things get rocky between any pair in the relationship, there is nearly always some sort of impact on the third - it's hard to avoid, really.
I wanted to second this, though.

I feel much more secure when we are all doing okay with each other. Of course there'll be interesting times in the Chinese proverb sense. That's how people work. Thing is, what we have takes a lot of faith from all three of us: darling man, monogamous genius lady, and self. If one of us loses faith in another, the relationship as a whole suffers for it.

I also adore the heck out of my dears and think they're wonderful together, so affection alone motivates me to root for their relationship.
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Old 01-09-2010, 07:47 PM
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I think this is a complicated, grey area.

redpepper and I took (a second time) a parenting course a while back. One of the concept taught is the idea of classifying problems/issues/people's actions into 2 categories, and approaching these two kinds of issues separately. I think the same concept can be applied to relationships between adults - just change "kid" to "partner"

category 1 - "kid issue"
category 2 - "family issue"

A kid issue is basically defined as an issue that really affects only the child. These are the issues that one needs to let go of. Good examples are what clothes they wear - if they want to wear two different coloured socks, who cares? It doesn't hurt anyone else

A family issue is one that affects others in a negative way, or one that has huge consequences that would be devestating for the child. Brushing teeth is a family issue, because it has huge health consequences. So is if the child is throwing rocks at someone, because it negatively affects another.

Now, the concept needs some modification to apply to adults in relationships. I think one can look at all of one's partners actions, and classify them as a "partner issue" (eg, they stay up all night talking with their other partner, and so are exhausted the next day, which is not something you would do), or classify it as an "family issue".

Things which you consider "family issues" - rate the seriousness of it. So if your partner for example said something rude to their other partner, which you would not tolerate, but are confident that the two of them can deal with it themselves and they will sort it out, then this is a mild family issue. You wouldn't accept it, you don't like it, but they can likely sort it out themselves. Perhaps this is worth letting go of.

Moving up the scale of seriousness, maybe your partner keeps staying up all night to talk with their other partner, and so keeps cancelling your time together. Perhaps this is something which needs to be discussed and can't be left. This is a bigger family issue.

Even more serious family issues where you really need to step in is when everyone's safety is at risk, eg, sexual health. Or if there is emotional or otherwise violence between your partner and that person's partner. Or when their actions with their other partner is really going to jepordize your relationship.

So in summary I guess my thoughs are:

1. Let go of what is not a huge issue for them and doesn't affect you much.

2. For things which are bigger issues, look at the severity, how much it affects you, and what the chances they will sort it out themselves

All that said, if my partner is treating me and their other partner without a similar level of respect, I would wonder why and what is going on.
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Old 01-09-2010, 08:08 PM
NeonKaos NeonKaos is offline
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2. For things which are bigger issues, look at the severity, how much it affects you, and what the chances they will sort it out themselves

The part about things sorting themselves out is significant, even in non-intimate relationships, because I think people have the idea that if things aren't going perfectly smoothly 100% of the time, that something must be dreadfully wrong.

Sometimes things really DO sort themselves out, especially when someone has no control over them. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to make things go our way, I know because I have done this to myself (not with my marriage-relationship though) and I still need a reality-check every now and then.
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Old 01-10-2010, 04:50 AM
StitchwitchD StitchwitchD is offline
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What worries me most about your situation is that this man is new to having herpes and perhaps doesn't know all that is entailed in keeping others from getting infected. He doesn't seem interested in making sure they are not either as he is so nonchalant about his own health. Yup, I think your partner could set a good example to him by telling him sorry guy, I am going to find someone to sleep with that cares more about themselves and others bodies than you do... there is a lot of men to pick from when it comes to just sex. It's relationships that are hard to find.
She didn't say he got herpes. She just said "he's had sex with a woman who has herpes UNPROTECTED!", which we can assume she meant without condoms. However, herpes is not transmitted via bodily fluid (like HIV or hepatitis), it's transmitted skin to skin, like HPV. Condoms are effective at preventing contact with bodily fluids, but they only protect the skin they actually cover. So, there are a number of ways to prevent herpes transmission, and condoms aren't all that essential to it. It's completely possible to have lots of sex with someone who has herpes, not use condoms, and still never get infected. It's also possible to be infected without knowing that you are unless you're tested, and possible to be asymtomatic for years.
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:29 AM
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It's not only about the herpes. It's about the lifestyle choice.

polynerdist, you explained this exactly for me!! Thank you. This puts it in a very concise, manageable way.

redpepper, the person you're talking about is a person outside of your family? (by family I mean mono, nerdist...)
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