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  #111  
Old 12-12-2013, 12:23 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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So I've been thinking recently. My SO and I read and discussed the article on relationship anarchy that Marcus has on his profile. It got me to thinking why is it that I am so sure that I don't want to be in an open relationship?

I should say at the start of this that I am very very happy with how my life is at the moment and don't wish to change anything. These are musings that have been going through my mind NOT a statement of intent.

I reckon that there are things around not wanting to have to deal with jealousy and the fear of loss. Of course that stuff must be part of it.

But more than that, I worry about the ethics of having an open relationship. Not the ethics between us as such but more the ethics around having other relationships while being committed to remaining in a relationship with each other.

It seems totally reasonable to me that people who are in couples and wish to stay that way take steps to take care of each other. I hear a variety of ways on here that that happens less or no overnights with outside people, dates cancelled because of family emergencies that the outside people cannot be part of, stopping outside sexual relationships for a period of time. These all seem utterly reasonable, sensible, caring and ethical until I think about the outside people.

The people who's relationships are limited by factors that remain and should be outside their control.

I know that friends fall under the same category but I tend not to have sex with my friends. I think that's significant. Sex or the anticipation of it has a way of filling us up with happy hormones. It promotes love and intimacy in a way that is harder to find in friendships that don't include it.

And so I worry about the outside people (and to an extent the coupled people too) who might be building up love and connection in a relationship that may be limited or even stop abruptly for reasons that have nothing to do with them.

I know that people agree readily and happily to be in restricted relationships and that often it is what they want at least for a time. I remain unsure if somebody agreeing to something then makes it ethical for me to do it. Women remain freely in relationships with men who beat them all the time. Even if they are financially able to leave, they often stay. For complex reasons. Their agreement to stay doesn't make it ethical for their husbands to beat them.

I have a similar feeling about a relationship between me and somebody else or my SO and somebody else. An agreement about a limited relationship made in the heat and rush of new relationship and sex hormones may well not be the most ethical even if it is understandable.

I'm kind of wondering if for me the only way I would consider non-monogamy is if I also considered myself single and so ethically free to allow my relationships to develop as they will.

My SO said to me when we started seeing each other that open relationships should only be started if both members of the couple are very secure in the relationship. More and more I'm starting to think that security in a relationship shouldn't be there. Instead I'd look for security in myself in the networks of connections and friends around me and treat the romantic relationships as likely to change if I or any partners I had met somebody new, decided to get married etc.

As we live in a society where the expectation is to get married and have children and share finances etc it seems reasonable that most people will want that at some point and so anybody living life differently I think must expect to lose people as they decide to do what is expected of them.

Hmmm more thought needed on this I think.
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  #112  
Old 12-19-2013, 07:30 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Today it is a year since my old love died. I have been thinking of him lots recently and missing his presence in my life. Losing both him and my dad in the same year was tough. But it has reminded me of what is important to me and has, I think, helped me see my life and loves with more clarity.

I spoke with my SO about my thoughts on the relationship anarchy article. He doesn't entirely agree with me - which is totally fine. We are very different people so it is to be expected.

He wondered if it might be slightly paternalistic for me to refuse to get into romantic relationships because I feel that I wasn't able to offer more than a limited relationship to somebody else. He feels that should be the decision of the other person. They may be okay with it or okay with dealing with the emotional issues that may arise.

I absolutely agree. It's totally up to anybody to decide what they want to do and how they want to live their life. That includes me.

My worries aren't really aimed at protecting anybody other than me. This year I have felt more and more that what is important is how I treat the people in my life. My behaviour toward them is what I can control and where I can make a difference. For me this means that I should not behave unethically toward people in my life. I think that we very much become what we practice and so I want to avoid behaving in ways that I see as unethical.

I know that there is nothing theoretically unethical about being openly and honestly non-monogamous but I think that in practice it can easily become unethical.

These boards have example after example. There are almost daily variations on folk who regularly have to talk themselves down from feeling very upset after their partner has cancelled on them again because their partner's other partner is struggling and wants them to stay home. The folk who can't spend the night with their partners regularly and who desperately want to. The folk who need to check in with their partner's other partner that it's okay to have sex with them. The folk who feel lonely but understanding because their partner can't be with them as much as they would like because of choosing to be with other partners. Then there are the ones left at home with small children while their partner goes out to play with new people without returning the favour - because they just don't have time. Or the ones who's partner can't pay any attention to them because of being obsessed with a new partner.

These people are all being treated unethically IMO. The thing is, the unethical behaviour is utterly understandable and reasonable. I would do the same I expect. Of course I would. I get why these things come up again and again and again. Theory and practice so often don't tie up - and for reasons not really within the control of individuals.

Anybody being non-monogamous in the UK at least is doing it within a society that is very strongly tilted toward monogamy and I think that this is what makes it likely that somebody along the line is being treated unethically.

I have no wish to be part of treating people unethically - because of the whole becoming what you practice thing - so for me if I'm in a relationship, it needs to be monogamous - for both of us. I have no wish to be with a partner who is likely to be treating people in their life unethically regularly (wouldn't be with a partner who trained dogs using electric shock collars either). If ever I find myself single again I might be interested in practicing non-monogamy in the ways described by solo poly folks on these boards. Less chance, I think, of being unethical if I was not one half of a couple.

How weird. I started reading these boards to try and give myself understanding because being in an open relationship was so important to my SO and I wanted to feel more safe with it. I seem to have come to the conclusion that my safety isn't important. That, of course, I would be safe with it. But that it still isn't something I want to be doing.

IP
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  #113  
Old 12-22-2013, 07:18 PM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I'm thinking about the new year.

I want to carry on concentrating on building and developing relationships. I am so blessed with the people in my life and I want to continue with seeing where things can go when I focus on making space for them.

So I think that my goal for 2014 is to make sure that I make space in my life for the people and dogs who I care about. I also want to spend time decorating my home and focusing more on my writing. These are important but not as important as making space and time for loved ones.

I want 2014 to be about love and friendship and closeness. I want to concentrate my time and energy on being as good as I can be at being there for those that I care about. And allowing new friendships to build and develop.

IP
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  #114  
Old 12-31-2013, 05:56 PM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I'm spending the last night of 2013 at home with C, some telly and my knitting. The last couple of weeks of the year have been hard. I very much associate this time of year with death and dying and losing loved ones. I have shed many tears and felt lonely, anxious and sad for much of the holiday period.

Tonight I feel the sadness. I miss my dad and I miss my old love more than I can say. I also feel surrounded by love and care. I woke at 4am this morning, feeling anxious and sad. Couldn't get back to sleep so I got up. Did some reading, some knitting and then wrote on facebook about all the good things that have happened this year. Everything good and positive I could think of I wrote about. I talked especially about how lucky I've been to have shared so many good times with all of the wonderful people in my life. I invited my friends to write too - this is a hard time of year for lots of people and I know that I am not alone in my sadness.

Several of my friends wrote back to say that they were there. Some of them told me that they value me. That they believe me to be caring, compassionate and a benefit in their life. That I have good people around me because I behave in ways that attract those people. Others read and liked what I'd said. Some sent me hugs. One nearby friend got in touch and invited me to her house later in the week for dinner, chatting and some knitting.

I went to work and was reminded again of how caring the people around me are. I was there early - only 1 other colleague was in the office. He started conversation about how concerned he is about a friend of his who seems to be becoming depressed and is hiding away a bit. He cares enough to notice his friend's wellbeing and is concerned enough to talk about it - with me and with other shared friends.

The day became more light hearted and the few of us who were there in case of emergencies amused ourselves with jokes and funny stories as we kept an eye on the things we had to do and periodically reassured customers who were anxious that things will go well over the end of the year.

I spoke to my partner on the phone. He has a dreadful cold and sounded very ill. He knows how sad I've been feeling and how keen I was for company tonight and he offered to come to see me. I thanked him and told him that I thought he should stay at his own home in the warm and get more rest. Earlier in the week, I felt like I had to have him with me tonight and had asked him if he would make time for me. Knowing that he is there for me is enough it turns out.

We have made plans for me to visit him tomorrow evening instead. He promises me dinner, telly and lots of hugs and snuggles.

So I feel loved, cared for and content. Able to deal with any sadness that might arise tonight. C is here with me and the world is okay.

I have plans to run tomorrow morning, visit an old friend for dog walks and lunch later on and then head to my partner's in the evening.

I hope that everybody enjoys this last night of the year whatever you are up to.

IP
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  #115  
Old 12-31-2013, 06:03 PM
Cleo Cleo is offline
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Hi IP,

I feel the same way about this time of year. Just wanted to tell you how much I've appreciated and valued your contributions to these boards the past year. Wishing you a good evening with C and telly and knitting - sounds pretty good to me
Hugs!
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early forties, straight.
the guys: Ren - husband; Curlz - bf of 2 years, Brig - bf of 7 months; Knight - non-sexual bf; MrBrown - it's complicated
Ren's girls: Lou - gf of 2 years, Liz - very new gf
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  #116  
Old 01-01-2014, 06:35 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Thanks Cleo.

Your words made me smile.

IP
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  #117  
Old 02-02-2014, 06:37 PM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I've been having lots of conversations about jealousy this week. I think it comes up more often than we think and that it is useful to learn how to deal with it.

In conversation with a friend, we discussed her mother's struggles with jealousy of a couple who regularly help my friend and her partner with their children. We think the mum finds it hard because she feels that they take some of her place as grand parent. This has led to fights and secrecy in the family.

We talked about how my friend could help her mum to feel less worried.

Then later in the week, C and I had a night out with my partner and some of his work colleagues. Being able to have a dog in the pub who enjoys being with people is lovely and useful for folk I think. One of the people there noticed that C was being affectionate with lots of people and that sometimes folk would come over and feed him a biscuit.

She asked about it. Told me that she has another friend who absolutely doesn't encourage her 2 dogs to be affectionate with anybody other than her.

I think it's common. People worry that if they allow their dog to show affection to others that they will be less important in the dog's world. Of course, this isn't true at all. Dogs who have nice lives with people who they love don't want to replace them. However, they are, on the whole, sociable creatures and if given the opportunity they enjoy having more than one human friend.

I'd guess that even for people who never ever consider polyamory, learning to deal with jealousy is an important thing to do. For ourselves and our loved ones. C's life would be very diminished if I refused him the opportunity to make new friends and show affection to lots of different people.

IP
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  #118  
Old 02-14-2014, 10:15 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Funny - I was talking to my partner this week about the shyness I have around discussing sex with him (not just him - it has existed with other partners).

I know where it comes from - partly society norms and partly personal experiences (sadly some of it came from a long term partner - a man I loved wholeheartedly and who I considered my best friend). Understanding where it comes from helps because I don't feel badly toward myself for it.

My partner tells me that he believes I think it's much worse than it is. Possibly he's right but it annoys me. I'm not used to feeling awkwardness in social situations and feeling it at all annoys me. If there is time and space this year, there are a few things I could do that will probably help.

The point of this post is to talk a bit about the damage I think it causes to people in general and myself specifically. I went through a long number of years feeling like people should be ashamed of sex. I didn't like to see people kiss. I was annoyed by sexual scenes on TV. I had fully bought into the idea of sex as something to be hidden and not discussed. During those years I didn't particularly like having sex for myself either and I kept it to a bare minimum.

I know I'm not alone in this. I have a number of friends who I know feel that way.

I also see how women are picked on for being sexual and I understand why lots of women would avoid that sort of bullying by just not being sexual.

I see the damage done to men through it too. I have one or two male friends who struggle to form relationships and their struggle is partly to do with this sort of thing. They like sex and want to have a partner who does too. But then when they do, they feel badly toward their partner because they also hold in their head the notion that women who like sex are not good people. Not surprisingly, their relationships break down frequently.

There is so much damage done by this sort of thing and I hate to see those attitudes perpetuated on these boards.

I'm quite lucky. I was able to take the time and space I needed to resolve my discomfort about sex. I am confident and self contained and solvent enough that I could spend plenty of time on my own. I spent much of that time building a life I love and some of it dealing with my negative attitude toward sex.

I have some excellent friends who have a tendency to be affectionate with their partners in public. One or two who talk happily about their own sex lives. Being around people like that was helpful.

Gradually my bad feeling toward sex disappeared. I confirmed for myself that I felt better when an old friend of mine asked me if I would have sex with him when I was visiting his home town a few years ago. I said an enthusiastic yes to his idea. Very glad I did - I had a wonderful time.

All I'm left with now is a slight shyness which I'd imagine will go too in time so I consider myself lucky.

Shame around sex causes so much damage and I'd much rather it didn't happen.

IP
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  #119  
Old 03-07-2014, 09:17 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Grief is a weird thing. It's been a bit over a year since my old love died, a bit over 2 since Dad died and a bit over 3 since my sweet girl dog died.

I've been feeling pretty much okay for a time.

And then a friend of mine sent me a message on facebook. She's a very good friend. Knows C and I well. She'd spotted a homeless dog who she thinks would be a perfect fit for C and I's household. So she messaged me about him.

I spent much of the evening in tears. She's right - the dog looks like he would be a perfect fit. He needs a good home. And yet I am not ready. I cannot yet contemplate making that level of emotional commitment. I felt guilty and sad about not being able to help. I worried about whether or not C would prefer to have a dog friend living here.

That night I dreamt about my old love. I woke up with the familiar feel of his body under my fingers and smiling about watching him play with another dog. It felt like losing him all over again. Yesterday I grieved all over again for him.

Losing a dog is such a physical and emotional loss.

IP
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  #120  
Old 04-19-2014, 09:21 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I have been reading this blog: http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=69294

The story told is a hard one to read. It has got me thinking. That and the discussion a while ago about ethics.

I was hopeful when first hearing about poly that it might be a solution to my problem with romantic relationships. After reading more and finding out more about it, I still suspect that might be true but it is still something I would only consider if I were to find myself single again.

My boundary about poly (which may or may not change) is that it's something I would only do so long as there is nobody in my life that I would refer to as a partner or who might legitimately refer to me as a partner.

I have ethical concerns about it. I don't see myself as any different from other people and I pretty much suspect that if I was now in a poly situation that I would want to do things to protect my existing relationship - in the same way as lots of people do here. I also think it's likely that I might justify doing things that mean others get hurt. Even if that's just me pointing out issues to my partner that means the other person gets dropped. That sort of thing is a problem to me and I don't want to set up a situation where I am likely to behave that way. The easiest way I can think of to do it is to have monogamous relationships or multiple FWBs but not both.

I'm pretty lucky in my life. I've managed to move past the notion that life is only okay so long as I have a romantic partner, am healing from a break up or are looking for a romantic partner. I'm perfectly happy and at ease with being solo and maybe that makes a difference to me?

I find it a little disappointing in honesty. I'd hoped when I joined this forum to find stories of happy, well functioning relationships. What I'm finding is lots of lovely people who are trying hard but who seem to find their relationships hard work.

It seems to me that the only happy stories I read about are about very new relationships. Or come from people who aren't doing the sharing of a partner. The ones doing the sharing or the older relationships seem to be more problematic and entail much harder work.

Kevin T - is a notable exception. If you're reading, Kevin - you are something of an inspiration to me.

Sigh - I'm going to head off to somewhere beautiful soon for a walk and try to get some of this jadedness out of myself.

IP
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