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  #11  
Old 04-19-2013, 03:27 AM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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Originally Posted by KerrBear View Post
...it blows my mind how many people would throw away everything in their lives, no matter how happy their marriage is otherwise, because their partner cheats on them.
That's just it...when you find out your spouse is cheating on you, it's not just about having had sex. It's about the lies, the cover-ups, the deceptions. It's about the broken trust. About the willingness to play mind games with you to the point you question your own sanity, in many cases. About realizing you can't trust this person anymore, not with their word, not with the family finances, not with your health--because you can't believe a word they say. When these things are finally understood, it's most definitely not a happy marriage.

My ex husband feels much as you do: so he lied a few (thousand) times, did it really matter? Weren't we happy? Uh...yeah, HE was happy. I'm one of those people who threw away 'everything' over a little cheating.


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From what I have seen, some mono people don't know what commitment really means because they are confusing commitment to sex.
That's kind of a generalization. It could equally be said that some poly people don't know what commitment means. And if the commitment two people have made includes sexual fidelity, then that is part of their commitment to one another and is not confusion, but a reasonable agreement for many reasons.
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  #12  
Old 04-19-2013, 03:46 AM
Eponine Eponine is offline
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Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
I don't see most of that as commitment. Good things, but not commitment, because I'm honest, supportive, loving, and respectful to all my friends. I'm invested in those relationships. I hope I'm honest and respectful even to strangers. Honesty is vitally important, but it's not commitment.
I think honesty and respect are part of commitment, but not all. I also think you can have different kinds of commitment, including commitment to your friends.

To me, "committed" is the opposite of "casual", but not the same thing as "exclusive" at all. Commitment means we wish the relationship to last as long as it can, and we should work together to solve any problems in the relationship. It's not something we can (or should) walk away from easily, but it's not the "till death do us part" kind of deal either. We should try to keep it working, but if somehow it's not rewarding to us anymore, it should end.

I've done quite a bit of research on commitment in mono vs. non-mono/poly relationships. One difference between them is mono people tend to see commitment as final and permanent, a lifetime bond, a guaranteed future together, while non-mono people tend to see commitment as a free choice and are more aware of the fluid nature of relationships.

Elaine Cook's thesis "Commitment in Polyamorous Relationships" is also a good read.
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Last edited by Eponine; 04-19-2013 at 03:52 AM.
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  #13  
Old 04-19-2013, 03:59 AM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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Originally Posted by Eponine View Post
I think honesty and respect are part of commitment, but not all. I also think you can have different kinds of commitment, including commitment to your friends.

To me, "committed" is the opposite of "casual", but not the same thing as "exclusive" at all. Commitment means we wish the relationship to last as long as it can, and we should work together to solve any problems in the relationship. It's not something we can (or should) walk away from easily, but it's not the "till death do us part" kind of deal either. We should try to keep it working, but if somehow it's not rewarding to us anymore, it should end.

I've done quite a bit of research on commitment in mono vs. non-mono/poly relationships. One difference between them is mono people tend to see commitment as final and permanent, a lifetime bond, a guaranteed future together, while non-mono people tend to see commitment as a free choice and are more aware of the fluid nature of relationships.

Elaine Cook's thesis "Commitment in Polyamorous Relationships" is also a good read.
I agree pretty much with all you say. But I'm curious, when you say non-mono people tend to see commitment as a free choice, do you mean that they are freely choosing each day to continue that commitment, as opposed to choosing to make the commitment once and then feeling bound by it? Because as one who would identify as mono, if pressed for an answer, I would say that my commitment to a person absolutely is a free choice, but that by the very definition of the word, there is then some obligation to follow through. To me, commitment means nothing if we decide the next day that we are no longer committed.

I would say this raises the question of divorce. I made a commitment, but then filed for divorce. In thinking it through, I would have to add that the commitment XH and I made to one another did have some basic terms of agreement: we are committed to X, Y, and Z. When he broke those agreements, it nullified the commitment.

So I would add to my above definition that I believe a commitment inherently includes some terms of agreement.

The link doesn't work. It gives me a 404 File Not Found. Can you copy and paste? I'd like to read it.
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  #14  
Old 04-19-2013, 04:02 AM
KerrBear KerrBear is offline
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Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
That's just it...when you find out your spouse is cheating on you, it's not just about having had sex. It's about the lies, the cover-ups, the deceptions. It's about the broken trust. About the willingness to play mind games with you to the point you question your own sanity, in many cases. About realizing you can't trust this person anymore, not with their word, not with the family finances, not with your health--because you can't believe a word they say. When these things are finally understood, it's most definitely not a happy marriage.

My ex husband feels much as you do: so he lied a few (thousand) times, did it really matter? Weren't we happy? Uh...yeah, HE was happy. I'm one of those people who threw away 'everything' over a little cheating.
My husband also cheated on me. It was not really an "affair". There was no money spent on her or long weekends away or anything like that. It was sex.

Sure, he was not telling me that he was sleeping with her and that certainly made me angry, more so than the sex because not communicating was a commitment issue in my mind.

I was able to work beyond the cheating because I realized at that point that my husband was not happy monogamous and, in truth, neither was I. So that's when i drove into a lot of research on sexual monogamy. Even wrote a huge research paper on it for school. I changed what I thought a marriage was suppose to be and I learned a lot about what other cultures around the world views are on marriage.

American marriages are made up of wishful thinking in a lot of ways. I knew my marriage was stronger than that, so I had to change my thinking and go against culture. I'm glad that I did because now I'm realizing that, not only am I also not monogamous, I'm also poly. I wonder in what super painful way I would have found that out otherwise if I wasn't in an already open marriage due to previous cheating. . .

That's why I always live by the "everything happens for a reason" motto.



Quote:
Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
That's kind of a generalization. It could equally be said that some poly people don't know what commitment means. And if the commitment two people have made includes sexual fidelity, then that is part of their commitment to one another and is not confusion, but a reasonable agreement for many reasons
And I did say some. Obviously not all, as there are mono people right here that don't believe that.

However, I think that from what I've seen here and from more open minded individuals, they have a better answer about what commitment is that doesn't link back to sexual fidelity. The problem is, sexual fidelity may mean commitment to one person and not the other in a relationship. If that's the case, how is that relationship going to be viable for the long run?

Perhaps the real solution to this problem is to simply state that we all have different ideas about what commitment means and that what's really important is discussing what those commitments are to your partner(s).

If sexual fidelity is indeed a commitment maker or breaker for BOTH of you, than that is correct for your understanding of it. However, if one sees it that way and the other does not. . . Well, I don't see that working out in the end, do you?

It's no ones fault if it doesn't work out because of that either. Perhaps a real honest discussion on what commitment means to an individual person would help a lot of relationships succeed. That is if it were to occur before it went from casual to serious.
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  #15  
Old 04-19-2013, 04:17 AM
Eponine Eponine is offline
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Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
I agree pretty much with all you say. But I'm curious, when you say non-mono people tend to see commitment as a free choice, do you mean that they are freely choosing each day to continue that commitment, as opposed to choosing to make the commitment once and then feeling bound by it? Because as one who would identify as mono, if pressed for an answer, I would say that my commitment to a person absolutely is a free choice, but that by the very definition of the word, there is then some obligation to follow through. To me, commitment means nothing if we decide the next day that we are no longer committed.
I think it can be either way. I personally know a poly guy who says he and his partner are freely choosing each day to continue their commitment, but since they're very loving and compatible, they can see their relationship lasting a very long time in the future. I think "free choice" mainly means you both know you're free to end the relationship if/when you want, but meanwhile, you both cherish the relationship so you won't use that freedom casually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
The link doesn't work. It gives me a 404 File Not Found. Can you copy and paste? I'd like to read it.
Hmm, it works for me here. The paper is too long to copy and paste directly. Maybe try this link to the .pdf file: http://aphroweb.net/papers/thesis/thesis.pdf
Also here's a shortened version of the paper if the link above still doesn't work: http://www.ejhs.org/volume8/cook1.htm
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Last edited by Eponine; 04-19-2013 at 04:23 AM.
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  #16  
Old 04-19-2013, 07:07 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I think you're very right about discussions being needed around commitment.

I can't think that anybody has ever accused me of not being able to be committed but it isn't a word that comes up very often in my world.

My own take on it is that many people consider commitment to be a life long thing that applies no matter what changes happen in their life or in the life of their partner. I know people who do live by that - who stay with partners who break agreements regarding sex, agreements regarding money, partners who are alcoholics or drug addicts or who gamble too much. I know women who have to try and get their husband's wages from them every week to buy food with before the money disappears into the till of the local pub.

That's commitment to lots of people.

I'm happy to be described as uncommitted if that's what commitment means.

To me, life long promises are not possible. Nobody knows what will happen to them or how they will be. Head injuries can drastically alter people's emotions and personalities. Relatively common illnesses like dementia can do the same thing.

None of us know the future and I think that the best we can say is that we will do our best. That the relationship is important and that if it needs to change, we will do our best to support each other through the change.

Sometimes the best thing is to go your separate ways and to support each other in doing so - I think it would be easier to do that if people didn't make promises they can't keep in the first place.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KerrBear View Post
From what I have seen, some mono people don't know what commitment really means because they are confusing commitment to sex. You cannot have a commitment without having strict rules to sex. If the rules of sex are not followed accordingly, than commitment fails and marriage is no longer savable.
This statement isn't a statement about mono people. It's a statement about lots and lots of people.

If you read these boards, there are loads of poly folk who have incredibly strict rules about sex and sometimes the breaking of those rules can start the end of the relationship. There are people here who have sex with others only when their partner is present or who only have sex outside their marriage with people of the same gender or who only perform certain sex acts with certain people. There are tons of people who have strict rules about safer sex too.

Swingers seem to have rules too - it seems that sex for many is absolutely okay but emotional involvement with others isn't.

Having agreements regarding sex isn't something that just happens to mono people. Swingers and poly folks seem to love them too.

IP
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  #17  
Old 04-19-2013, 07:07 AM
Eponine Eponine is offline
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Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
For instance, one thing that makes me feel there's no real 'commitment' as I understand it between my BF and myself is knowing if he gets a promotion, he and his wife are packing up and moving. He's not going to pay to move me and my children. It wouldn't even occur to him, whereas it wouldn't occur to him NOT to move his wife. He's going to make the decision about accepting the promotion based on what is best for himself and his wife and their marriage, not on what's best for himself and me.

He and I have no mutual obligations to one another. If my house burns down or I lose my job, a committed partner would be there re-building with me, minging finances, supporting me in every possible need. I would fully expect to do the same for him. I have no such expectations from or to my BF.

I say none of this in a spirit of criticism. He's a wonderful person, I have loved every minute with him, he and I have both grown and become better people as a result of our time together, and it's a wonderful relationship. But I don't fully consider it a 'committed' relationship because of these things.

From my BF's perspective, he does see himself as committed to me. In part because he actually has made some dramatic changes for my sake (things I didn't ask him for, things he gave to me as a gift, one which I treasure by the way.) In part, I think he considers himself committed because he fully intends to stay with me as long as I'm willing.

I don't discount those things. I suppose what I would conclude is they're different definitions of 'commitment' and different levels of commitment. And I suppose as long as I don't expect what he's not offering, and as long as it suits me, that's fine.

I would love to hear from those with primary relationships if they regard themselves as in a committed relationship with their secondaries or non-primaries, and what that commitment entails.
Yeah, I consider myself in a committed relationship with my non-primary partner. My reasoning is pretty much the same as your BF's: commitment means the intention to stay in the relationship as long as it's rewarding to both of us. We can't move for/with each other (we live in different countries) or share financial responsibilities, but we can support each other emotionally and work on our issues through honest communication. True, logistically it's very different from my primary relationship, but the emotional commitment is the same.
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  #18  
Old 04-20-2013, 01:54 PM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is online now
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Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
I would love to hear from those with primary relationships if they regard themselves as in a committed relationship with their secondaries or non-primaries, and what that commitment entails.
Ah - found it! (I seem to remember having had a similar discussion recently ) - found it here.

I do regard myself as being in a committed relationship with my boyfriend. This commitment entails the same things that my commitment to my husband does. To me this means that we share an intention to build our lives together. Sharing goals and resources. That we make choices that foster our relationship(s) with the intention of overcoming any obstacles together. That we are working toward "happily ever after."

My relationship with Dude is much younger that my relationship with my husband - so it naturally is still growing and developing in many ways - we are still getting to really "know" each other. (My relationship with MrS ALSO continues to grow and develop - but in different ways - since we have 20 years of practice relating to each other). But, I have to say, that it (my relationship with Dude) is actually further along than my and MrS's relationship was at the same time period (two years in) - I am older now, for one, and have the experience of one relationship under my belt .

I agree that you and your boyfriend have different definitions of "commitment" - I think mine aligns more along the lines of what you are thinking: mutual obligations, financial support, moving together, etc.

There's nothing wrong with "less committed" relationships - if that is what develops and is comfortable for everyone involved. I think problems arise, though, when people have different expectations and aren't communicating them effectively.

I don't think that this is necessarily a mono/poly thing though. I know of plenty of "mono" people that are in relationships that seem to be long-term but with varying levels of "commitment." (i.e. they are sexually exclusive ... but that's about it...they've been "dating" the same person for years but their lives are relatively separate - it's like their relationship stalled out at some point and keeps going due to inertia and a desire for regular sex.)

JaneQ
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Lotus: poly bi female, "it's complicated" relationships with Dude/JaneQ/MrS (1+ years)
TT: poly male, married to Lotus, FB with JaneQ
VV and MsJ: bi-women with male primaries, LTR LDR FWBs to JaneQ


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  #19  
Old 04-20-2013, 07:35 PM
Octopus Octopus is offline
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Hi all. Thank you for all the answers Was great to see everyone's input.
I will comment on some replies.

GalaGirl - I agree it's important to not get hung up on the 'why' but move on to the 'how change it'.
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Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
Hrm. How about seeing them where THEY live first? And see if that makes them more willing to see where YOU live next?

Me: Other than sexually exclusive, how do people in a monogamous relationship demonstrate their committment to each other?
Hm. I really like the idea of just asking them what they understand as 'commitment' before discussing it any further. Often times before anything can be discussed we have to see if we have the same understanding of words.
That was exactly the problem - I understood from them that commitment was ONLY sexual exclusiveness for them - and that I could just not understand. So simply asking rather than assuming seems sensible.
Thank you for the input. I am curious to see what happens when I try this.


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Originally Posted by kkxvlv View Post
The troubling part to me is wondering if that is all commitment means to them.
Exactly! That is exactly what I mean.

Last edited by Octopus; 04-20-2013 at 07:45 PM.
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  #20  
Old 04-20-2013, 07:38 PM
Octopus Octopus is offline
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Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
Letting people hide behind catch-all words like this allows them to be intellectually lazy. I prefer to challenge people to actually be clear about what they are asking me and what stances they will rally behind.
That is the impression I also got. "Intellectually lazy" - exactly. No explanation, just the 'lazy' statement: sexual non-monogamy is not commitment. When I ask why, or blink in confusion? It just is.
Again, the conclusion of this is to simply ask them to clarify. Be less lazy.
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