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  #21  
Old 04-03-2014, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by copperhead View Post
This is the kind of stuff I was referring to. If the beginning is struggle (and I'm sure there are lots of people to whom it is and has been), then how to work through the difficulties without anyone getting hurt. Not being an asshole is a good answer to this, I suppose. But it's still kind of abstract. And what if the people involved have very different ideas about what being an asshole means?
First and foremost, STOP COMING DOWN SO HARD ON YOURSELF. Everyone makes glorious fools of themselves when they are trying something new. With time and experience you will learn more about your definition of "asshole" as well as what other people think of "assholes". Don't worry about it.

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When two people open up their relationship to include others, it's always a risk. Who decides how difficult it can be before it's time to take a step back? And why? Can the reason be fear, respect, love, prior agreements, jealousy, something else? What are good reasons to take a step back and what are the bad ones? How do you know if you are making the right call pursuing poly or taking that step back to monogamy (even if just for now).
Again, experience will teach you these things. It sounds like you were in a case of the blind leading the blind, so of course shit is going to spiral out of control. Flying airplanes is much the same way. Almost any joker can get a plane off the ground. Landing safely, however, is another question altogether. With time and experience you will learn what you need and can accommodate. When you are with partners who are more experienced, they will be more familiar with their own needs.

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Although I don't mean this thread to be about myself, it's the only thing I can use as an example. I was in a relationship that was poly in theory from the beginning and we both knew the transition would be a big deal for me. Neither of us knew how hard it would be. I felt like calling it off, but at the same time I felt I had no right to do that so soon because I had said that I'm willing to try. But then I realised that I'd have even less right to say anything later when things would have progressed further. Salamander seemed torn between not wanting to hurt me and wanting to see where this new relationship would go. And Sunflower was caught in the situation not realising that poly was so new to me and that things would be this difficult. (And let's keep the rest of the story in other threads, because it really has nothing to do with this question.)
And now you know! Learning has happened. You will be better prepared next time.

Quote:
The end result was that I asked for more time, Salamander told Sunflower that he'd like to try again later and Sunflower said she'd had enough. To me it seemed like after this no-one was feeling too bad and before it I surely was. We were willing to try poly again later after we'd discussed stuff we'd learned from the experience.
Poly definitely gives you the flexibility to keep trying and keep people in your life, even if the circumstances change.

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But I still don't know if we (I) handled the situation in the best possible way. Is there something I could learn from it and bring with me to another relationship? What are the guidelines to deciding? I feel like I can only talk for myself and watch for my own boundaries in the end. But where do you (yes You) draw the line between respecting your own boundaries and other peoples rights? When do You decide you've been hurt enough and it's time to stop? How do you react if someone asks/tells you to stop, because what you are doing is hurting them?
1) There is no best-possible-way. Anyone who says there's only one way, or even a best way, probably doesn't know what they are talking about. Sure, there are many wrong ways, but that doesn't mean there is only one good way.

2) I generally end a relationship when I realize that there is a fundamental incompatibility. When I realize that they have a trait or a need that will always cause harm. Or vice-versa - if I have a need that is fundamentally incompatible with what they need. My first poly relationship wanted me to be exclusive to her and she refused to negotiate or talk about it, so I ended the relationship. She was devastated and convinced all her friends that I was evil and manipulative. After that there was no looking back.
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  #22  
Old 04-03-2014, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by copperhead View Post
But I still don't know if we (I) handled the situation in the best possible way. Is there something I could learn from it and bring with me to another relationship? What are the guidelines to deciding? I feel like I can only talk for myself and watch for my own boundaries in the end. But where do you (yes You) draw the line between respecting your own boundaries and other peoples rights? When do You decide you've been hurt enough and it's time to stop? How do you react if someone asks/tells you to stop, because what you are doing is hurting them?
I always respect my own boundaries. I'm not responsible for enforcing other people's rights, that's their responsibility uniquely.

I'm not sure what you mean by "guidelines for deciding." But in a nutshell, every single interaction with every single person gives you experience you can take to the next interaction with the next person. Relationships are full of interactions, so you gain an entire knapsack full of things to bring with you to the next one.

As for where do I decide when I've been hurt enough and it's time to stop, I'm not you. Let me emphasize that. You are not me. What I do has absolutely no, zero, none whatsoever, bearing on what you do. I've been poly my whole life. I'm a "live and let live" kind of person. What Gralson and Auto decide to do with their lives is not up to me. Ever, at all, period. If Gralson wants to go to the bar and pick up chicks, that's his prerogative. I trust him to be safe and to consider my feelings where that applies, and so far he hasn't let me down. If I was dating someone who was not considering my feelings, I would stop dating them. But you're not me, you're not going to just magically wake-up tomorrow being 100% fine with your partner doing whatever the hell he wants, so why do you care what I do?

You're the only one who can make those decisions for yourself. You need to learn that what other people do is not necessarily what's best for you. You're a different person. Yeah, maybe that's completely unhelpful, but it's the only truth. I can sit here and tell you what to do, if that's really what you want, but it won't make your life easier, it won't make your relationship work better, and it won't help you find happiness. What other people do can only get you so far. At some point, you just have to grab the bull by the horns and do what's right for you.

Careful about things like "ask/tell." Which one is it? Those are polar opposites. "Ask" means you're fulling acknowledging that it's the other person's choice. It means that you will take 100% full responsibility for whatever you feel in response to their behaviour. You will be accountable to yourself. "Tell" means you believe you have control over another person's behaviour. It means you're putting responsibility on them for your feelings. You are making them accountable to you.

The only time I "tell" Gralson to do something is when I've "asked" him to do something else, and I perceive that he's feeling obliged to agree even though it's not what he'd like to do. Then I "tell" him not to dare do what I "asked," because we'll both pay for it, and I don't want that. And when do I let someone "tell" me to do something? When it's my employer and not doing it would cost me my job. I don't date people who tell me what to do. So in that context, never. At all. Period.

I use my own definition of asshole. If you're basically a nice person who considers the feelings of others, it's unlikely that anyone will label you as an asshole. As long as I'm living up to my own moral code, that's all anyone can reasonably ask of me. If someone believes that my morals aren't "up to snuff" then they're unlikely to be dating me in the first place. Problem averted. If someone labels me as an asshole because I didn't bend over backwards to give them their way, accommodate their needs when doing so would fail to meet my own needs, or generally didn't do what they'd like me to do... then I shake my head and forget about it, because those things are all that person's hangups, and I won't be held accountable for the feelings of others. Every person on this planet is responsible for their own feelings.

If my own morals still result in someone else getting hurt through no intention of my own, then I rely on them to express their feelings and needs in a way that allows me to adjust my behaviour so that their lives can be as positive as possible. If that adjustment isn't possible because it would result in me not meeting my own needs, then I communicate that to them and we work on a solution together.

There's nothing wrong with looking out for yourself and asking for time to adjust to a new situation at a pace you can handle. There's nothing wrong with your partner choosing to go at a pace that fits with that. You're not capable of forcing him to do anything he doesn't want to do. You may ask him for allowances, but at the end of the day, he makes his own choices. If your partner is dating someone who just can't wait, then that really isn't your fault or your problem. You're not responsible for some third party's feelings. Sunflower is responsible for dealing with her shit, just like you're responsible for dealing with your shit. If your partner makes choices that give you time and space to deal with your shit, that doesn't mean you're to blame for their relationship not working out.
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The most dangerous phrase in the English language is "we've always done it this way."

Last edited by SchrodingersCat; 04-03-2014 at 08:01 PM.
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  #23  
Old 04-03-2014, 09:58 PM
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Right on, guys. And RedPanda: Love the airplane analogy.

Re (from copperhead):
Quote:
"If the beginning is struggle (and I'm sure there are lots of people to whom it is and has been), then how to work through the difficulties without anyone getting hurt?"
A hurt-free intro to poly living would be quit a feat to accomplish. I know my early years in a poly unit were rife with pain (in spite of the good times which did exist), and just about every poly story I've heard so far also starts out that way. Since most people are programmed to think exclusively in monogamous terms, since even monogamous relationships tend to be challenging at first, and since polyamory makes the situation more complex by adding more people, a hefty learning curve with many growing pains is rather to be expected. It tends to take years for people to learn how to practice polyamory relatively (and completely? forget about it) smoothly and pain-free.

Okay, so let's say your question is: "Look, I know all that. What I want to know is how to work through the difficulties without anyone getting hurt in spite of all that. And why isn't that information already easy to find on a forum like this?"

Then, my answer is this: "As far as I can tell, that information is unknown. In fact, we don't even know if such information can exist (in this world). How do I expose myself to the Sun without heating up? How do I visit a neighboring star after lunch and still get back in time for dinner? These are questions that may not have answers, and if they do have answers, I don't know of anyone who has discovered those answers yet. Nay, not even on a forum like this."

I suppose it would help if humans had telepathy. Most polyamorists have observed that plentiful, expert communication seems to hold the key to avoiding quite a bit of unnecessary pain and drama. Who knows how good one can become at communication? It seems reasonable to assume that the better the communication, the smaller the amount of pain one will have to endure. This is probably even true to a large extent just if one knows how to communicate effectively with oneself.

As for communication, it is a very complex process that the whole human race is trying to understand better. Many books have been written about it and yet no one seems to know "The" secret to how it should be done. It often depends on which people are trying to communicate, since every person is so unique. So this is probably one reason why "pain-free poly" is such a hard (or impossible) luxury to enjoy, especially in the early years of any poly relationship.

Re:
Quote:
"Who decides how difficult it can be before it's time to take a step back? and why?"
Anyone involved in the situation could potentially decide. Why? because every person in every (poly) situation is affected differently, and the specifics have to be taken into account.

Re:
Quote:
"Can the reason be fear, respect, love, prior agreements, jealousy, something else?"
Yes.

Re:
Quote:
"What are good reasons to take a step back and what are the bad ones?"
Good reasons are those reasons which respect everyone's autonomy while having compassion for those who struggle. It is a fine line to walk; sometimes as fine as a tightrope. Bad reasons tip and fall on one side of that line or the other.

Re:
Quote:
"How do you know if you are making the right call pursuing poly or taking that step back to monogamy (even if just for now)?"
You don't know. You can only make a (hopefully educated) guess.

Oh and by the way, did I mention that some poly arrangements *can't* work, no matter how hard (and well) the people involved try? There are a number of possible reasons why it might just not be doable.

And how does one identify which poly arrangements are certain to fail? Here's how: With some difficulty. There are "red flags" as we like to call them, but no such flag can tell you for sure whether you should proceed with caution or run for the hills.

"Please list all possible red flags?" Oh honey, that would take hundreds of posts at least. I think a good deal of time would have to be spent reading (and posting) on the Poly Relationships Corner to even accumulate a rudimentary list. In broad terms, dishonesty and inconsiderateness are the two main types of red flag that seem to appear the most often and need the most watching.

Re:
Quote:
"I still don't know if we (I) handled the situation in the best possible way."
You probably didn't. Who would? "Best" seems to me to be a rather infinite concept. One approaches "the best" as one gets older and more experienced, but one never quite arrives. And that's to say nothing of how short our mortal lives are. Few if any of us get anywhere near "the best." Most of us learn how to do "a little better" as the years go by, and that's about it.

Re:
Quote:
"Is there something I could learn from it and bring with me to another relationship?"
I hope so. What do you think you'd do different the next time around?

Re:
Quote:
"What are the guidelines to deciding?"
Personally I recommend continued participation on this forum, both posting and reading. The more input you get from the more people, the better your chances are of developing an improved model for approaching polyamory.

Re:
Quote:
"I feel like I can only talk for myself and watch for my own boundaries in the end."
Agreed.

Re:
Quote:
"But where do you (yes you) draw the line between respecting your own boundaries and other people's rights?"
Honestly, I try not to draw any lines. I try to weigh each situation as it comes up and make an intuitive call.

There was a time (one time) when I said, "I give this relationship a year to show enough improvement that I can readily perceive it. If that doesn't happen (by such-and-such a date), then I will call it quits." Fortunately for me, the relationship improved noticeably long before that deadline.

And that's the only time I can think of where I really drew a line.

Re:
Quote:
"How do you react if someone asks/tells you to stop, because what you are doing is hurting them?"
Ahem. Depends on if I'm having a meltdown. But, even barring that, it really depends on the details of each particular situation. Because there are a *lot* of possible details in any given situation.

I presume you would much prefer information that is universal and concrete. Like the laws of physics. Sorry to say that relationships (especially poly relationships, but any relationship really) tend to defy attempts to pin them down. The more universal the relationship law, the squishier the law. The more concrete the law, the more it depends on specifics. And though I'm a hard-core atheist who sees us all (and all our brains) as so many particles that follow precise physical laws, I think each person is a tangle so complex that people can only be understood in abstract terms.

Someday -- maybe millions of years from now -- humans will obtain the concrete, universal information they desire about what makes them tick. But my guess is that this generation will remain sadly limited to estimates and truisms. Sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news. Let's just make the best of it. Life is too short to be tormenting ourselves by second-guessing ourselves. Just invest a reasonable amount of time into learning how to do better, and spend the balance of your time enjoying the little things. Such is my advice, anyway.
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  #24  
Old 04-04-2014, 07:47 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I've been thinking more about your question.

I think that there are lots of things that you can work on and ways of figuring out how or when you might be ready for a poly (or mono) relationship. I should say that I am very much of the opinion that there are lots of people in relationships where they are causing massive amounts of damage - because they got into those relationships before they were ready and without thinking about it. This is not a problem that is unique to poly - it happens in mono relationships. It happens with children, with pets etc.

So thinking about it and figuring out ways of dealing with the things that you can predict might come up. Reading these boards gives a good indication - people deal with and write about all sorts of issues so there are tons of examples just here. Have a plan. You might need to change it but at least have one.

Be honest about the things that you might find difficult and devise ways of figuring out what they might be.

Jealousy and coping mechanisms for it is an obvious one. The signs are there in most lives.

If you have a dog - how do you feel when they get a hug from somebody who isn't you? Are you pleased that they have a new friend or do you take them away and tell the person that you don't like them hanging out with strangers. Does your dog not even hang out with new people because your preference is that you are the special person in their life? (if the last is you, you probably need to do a ton more work before starting on poly)

How do you cope if your dog has an interest that you don't like or don't understand? Do you prevent it? Do you work on your own comfort zone until you can find ways to help and encourage the dog in their interest? Do you not know what your dog's interests are (if not, what makes you think that you'd be able to notice, cope with or engage with a partner who has different interests)?

If you have a romantic partner who you are currently mono with, how do you feel if they come and tell you that they've made an interesting, attractive and wonderful new friend? How do you deal with your feelings? Are you able to be excited for your partner or do you find yourself nagging them and putting barriers in the way of the new friendship? I'd see nagging and barriers type behaviour as signs that poly might not be a good idea right now.

Do you and your romantic partner not ever meet new people or make new friends so you don't know about how you might react? If that was the case for me, I'd want to work on being able to make new friends and form new connections without the added intensity of them being romantic connections. I think it's important to not run before you can walk.

If you have a romantic partner, how do things go when things get tough or something interesting happens? Does one of you regularly feel abandoned by the other whenever something new comes up? Or are able to happily maintain your connection with each other even when a new thing has happened? If feelings of being abandoned happen or lack of time together is already a problem, I'd probably push poly back a bit.

If you have no romantic partner, how do you find things go when your friends make new friends/get a new partner? Are you happy for them, worried about lack of time with them, annoyed that your place in their life might be under threat. How do you deal with your feelings? I have friends who have encountered a range of reactions from physical violence being directed at them if they tried to have a new friend, to nagging and barriers, to friendships ending, to friends being happy and new connections being forged between everybody.

That sort of thing will give you a good indication of how you cope with changes in your social life and support structure. If you tend to punch your best friend if she gets a boyfriend, you probably aren't ready for poly.

If you are single and have no friends - learning the skills to make friends and keep connections going is where I would start rather than romantic relationships of any description.

Lots and lots of ways to figure out how you might cope and situations that allow for learning of skills that would make for easier, more successful poly relationships.

IP
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  #25  
Old 04-04-2014, 05:38 PM
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kdt's post makes me think of another point...

It's kind of like asking, "How can I learn Quantum Mechanics without struggling?" The answer is: "Be a person who's naturally good at physics and abstract concepts that really don't make logical sense."

If you simply weren't lucky enough to be born/raised as the kind of person who doesn't struggle in relationships, then it's inevitable that exploring poly relationships will be accompanied by a bit of hurt. In that case, it's probably more productive to come up with strategies for dealing with that hurt, coping with it without limiting other people's lives. Finding strategies for avoiding the hurt all together is basically going to be impossible for you if you're just not wired that way.
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  #26  
Old 04-06-2014, 04:12 AM
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There is often a big discrepancy in one's logic and emotions. You probably thought you were ready because logically you understood the concept / philosophy. However, our emotions can surprise us. It takes them an inordinately long time to catch up with our logic. And here's the rub, unless you immerse yourself in the experience, your emotions will never catch up. Sucks, I know.

So you're kind of asking the question, how can I learn to swim without getting wet.

That said, I appreciate the fact that you do not want to cause harm to others or yourself. (In my book, that shows you're not an asshole. ) I think the trick lies in getting to know yourself well, respect your own needs well enough to state them confidently and respectfully, owning your own shit (which it sounds like you do), and not trying to own anyone else's shit - that is up to them.

(Anyone who uses the phrase "you should" is not owning his or her shit.)

As for the situation at hand, it doesn't sound like you were alone in failing to cope as well as you would like. While needing to go slow was a request you made of salamander, it was up to him to agree or not - honestly. It appears he has trouble owning his own shit.
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  #27  
Old 04-08-2014, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
2) I generally end a relationship when I realize that there is a fundamental incompatibility. When I realize that they have a trait or a need that will always cause harm. Or vice-versa - if I have a need that is fundamentally incompatible with what they need. My first poly relationship wanted me to be exclusive to her and she refused to negotiate or talk about it, so I ended the relationship. She was devastated and convinced all her friends that I was evil and manipulative. After that there was no looking back.
This is what I was looking for. No right or wrong, just how you handle the situation. Thank you for your story

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Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat View Post
I can sit here and tell you what to do, if that's really what you want,
No that is not what I'm asking. I just want to hear other peoples experiences, so that I don't need to make all the mistakes myself. I don't know about you, but I do know how to learn from other peoples lives. Even something that works for you might give me an insight of what is never going to work for me. I'm not looking to imitate anyone elses life decisions. but I also don't think that I'm the source of eternal wisdom and the one who has all the answers to everything. This is why I'm interested in other peoples experiences, the better understand my decisions and the choices I could make in the future.

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Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat View Post
Careful about things like "ask/tell." Which one is it?
Both.

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Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat View Post
The only time I "tell" Gralson to do something is when I've "asked" him to do something else, and I perceive that he's feeling obliged to agree even though it's not what he'd like to do. Then I "tell" him not to dare do what I "asked," because we'll both pay for it, and I don't want that. And when do I let someone "tell" me to do something? When it's my employer and not doing it would cost me my job. I don't date people who tell me what to do. So in that context, never. At all. Period.
I like your example Although I'm not sure I would tell anyone do anything in that context. I've been in relationships where it was my job to protect the other person from letting me hurt them, because they where unable to communicate their needs and wants and boundaries. They just wanted to please and please and please. I will not be responsible for keeping someones boundaries for them. I have enough work with my own boundaries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
A hurt-free intro to poly living would be quit a feat to accomplish. I know my early years in a poly unit were rife with pain (in spite of the good times which did exist), and just about every poly story I've heard so far also starts out that way. Since most people are programmed to think exclusively in monogamous terms, since even monogamous relationships tend to be challenging at first, and since polyamory makes the situation more complex by adding more people, a hefty learning curve with many growing pains is rather to be expected. It tends to take years for people to learn how to practice polyamory relatively (and completely? forget about it) smoothly and pain-free.
This makes me think how to undo that monogamous programming? Should it be done before one enters a poly relationship? Would it be possible? Or is it just something one needs to go through as it is happening?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
Okay, so let's say your question is: "Look, I know all that. What I want to know is how to work through the difficulties without anyone getting hurt in spite of all that. And why isn't that information already easy to find on a forum like this?"

Then, my answer is this: "As far as I can tell, that information is unknown. In fact, we don't even know if such information can exist (in this world). How do I expose myself to the Sun without heating up? How do I visit a neighboring star after lunch and still get back in time for dinner? These are questions that may not have answers, and if they do have answers, I don't know of anyone who has discovered those answers yet. Nay, not even on a forum like this."
Yes. This is my question And I really would like to work toward an answer or several different answers. It may be that the answer is unknow, but it does not mean there isn't one. And considering that at least here where I live, poly is becoming more and more known and so many people are trying it. I feel this is a very important thing for all those (us) new to poly to have access to as they stumble along.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
Most polyamorists have observed that plentiful, expert communication seems to hold the key to avoiding quite a bit of unnecessary pain and drama. Who knows how good one can become at communication? It seems reasonable to assume that the better the communication, the smaller the amount of pain one will have to endure.
Ok, so it comes back to communication. It seems like this is the cornerstone of polyamory. Maybe there is no answer beyond that. Then it would mean one has to learn to be honest with oneself first and then honest with others. It would mean that the goals of communication are understanding and respecting each other. but this then leads me to wonder how do you know that you have understood someone correctly or that you have been understood correctly? Respect or lack thereof is easier to notice, I think. or is it? (I'm full of questions )

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Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
In broad terms, dishonesty and inconsiderateness are the two main types of red flag that seem to appear the most often and need the most watching.
Well, they certainly are for me :P

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
I hope so. What do you think you'd do different the next time around?
I'm still busy congratulating me for sticking with my decision of ending the relationship if my boundaries are not respected. But to protect myself from lies… I suppose I need to talk about my stuff more openly. It seems like a good way to hear if things are not what they seem. I also think being open leaves no room for emotional abuse of any kind. I have nothing to be ashamed of, but if i don't talk about what happens in my life, I'm alone with everything, and there's a good chance I'll miss warning singns then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
I presume you would much prefer information that is universal and concrete. Like the laws of physics.
Actually no. I really would like to hear very concrete examples from peoples lives. This is how my brain works. I understand abstract things by having enough examples on them. I don't understand them from universal explanations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
Just invest a reasonable amount of time into learning how to do better, and spend the balance of your time enjoying the little things. Such is my advice, anyway.
It's a good advice and I'm trying

Quote:
Originally Posted by InfinitePossibility View Post
Lots and lots of ways to figure out how you might cope and situations that allow for learning of skills that would make for easier, more successful poly relationships.
Thank you for your examples. They really got me thinking. Nothing new really, but it showed me the importance of working with my frienship issues first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat View Post
If you simply weren't lucky enough to be born/raised as the kind of person who doesn't struggle in relationships, then it's inevitable that exploring poly relationships will be accompanied by a bit of hurt. In that case, it's probably more productive to come up with strategies for dealing with that hurt, coping with it without limiting other people's lives. Finding strategies for avoiding the hurt all together is basically going to be impossible for you if you're just not wired that way.
This is a very good point. Such an obvious one, and I hadn't thought about it. Not like this at least.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bookbug View Post
There is often a big discrepancy in one's logic and emotions. You probably thought you were ready because logically you understood the concept / philosophy. However, our emotions can surprise us. It takes them an inordinately long time to catch up with our logic. And here's the rub, unless you immerse yourself in the experience, your emotions will never catch up. Sucks, I know.
And this one nicely brings the conversation back to how to fail well I mean, you are saying "just do it, or you'll never learn". It is true, of course, and I think now I have a better understanding of how it can be done ethically.

- know yourself
- communicate
- respect others
- don't let others treat you badly.

Did I miss something?
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  #28  
Old 04-08-2014, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by copperhead View Post
I just want to hear other peoples experiences, so that I don't need to make all the mistakes myself. I don't know about you, but I do know how to learn from other peoples lives. Even something that works for you might give me an insight of what is never going to work for me.
Ok, now I think I'm understanding. Thank you for the clarification.

Quote:
I like your example Although I'm not sure I would tell anyone do anything in that context. I've been in relationships where it was my job to protect the other person from letting me hurt them, because they where unable to communicate their needs and wants and boundaries. They just wanted to please and please and please. I will not be responsible for keeping someones boundaries for them. I have enough work with my own boundaries.
I don't disagree. Especially if you're a people pleaser. I'm not a people pleaser. I'm 100% "only child" and I'm used to getting my way. I never do things for people if I don't want to. It's not good for me, and it's not good for them. So you and me, we're different that way, it sounds. Gralson is a people pleaser, and because I have an incredibly strong understanding and respect of my boundaries (sometimes, maybe too strong), I'm 100% happy to help him work on his own.

Quote:
This makes me think how to undo that monogamous programming? Should it be done before one enters a poly relationship? Would it be possible? Or is it just something one needs to go through as it is happening?
I'm not sure you can ever completely undo it, if it was drilled in really hard when you were a kid. I suspect there's only so much of it you can conquer when everything is hypothetical. Many things are best learned as "trial by fire."

I've found that before you can learn anything that doesn't come naturally, you have to remove the mental block, the lurking thoughts that you "can't" do it. Once you commit to learning something, or doing something, it's much easier to do it. You have to remove the doubts that it will be possible. Make it a matter of "when" not "if."

Quote:
Ok, so it comes back to communication. It seems like this is the cornerstone of polyamory. Maybe there is no answer beyond that. Then it would mean one has to learn to be honest with oneself first and then honest with others. It would mean that the goals of communication are understanding and respecting each other.
It is, that.

Quote:
but this then leads me to wonder how do you know that you have understood someone correctly or that you have been understood correctly?
Oh, that's the easy part, at least in theory. You ask. You reiterate. You paraphrase. "This is what I understood you to mean. Is that accurate?" It's a difficult habit to get into, but well worth the effort.

I suggest looking up "nonviolent communication" and possibly taking a workshop in it, or at least reading the books or listening to the training course audiobook. It really goes into explicit, easy to understand detail about how to express one's needs and feelings, how to hear the needs and feelings of others without taking responsibility for them, how to make requests that do not sound like demands, and how to hear requests without taking them as demands.

Quote:
I'm still busy congratulating me for sticking with my decision of ending the relationship if my boundaries are not respected.
When you say "boundaries" what do you mean exactly?

I look at it this way: There are boundaries, and there are rules. Boundaries are the things I will not allow people to do TO ME. They have nothing to do with what the other people in my life do to each other. Rules, on the other hand, are things that I tell other people they must do or not do on their own time. Rules really have nothing to do with me, they're just a way to exert control over other people. I don't use rules. I'm no one's master, I don't have the right to tell others what they may or may not do with one another. I am my own master, and I can only control my own behaviour. So boundaries are enforced by letting people know how I will respond if they treat me a certain way, e.g. I will leave you if you deliberately deceive me, or I will stop having sex with you if you have unprotected sex with strangers from the bar. It's not saying "you can't lie to me or have unprotected sex" because it's not my place to tell other people what they can and can't do. I can only tell them what I will do if they do a certain thing.

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Actually no. I really would like to hear very concrete examples from peoples lives. This is how my brain works. I understand abstract things by having enough examples on them. I don't understand them from universal explanations.
Fair enough. Nothing comes to mind, but maybe you can suggest some hypothetical situations and we can tell you how we'd respond?

Quote:
This is a very good point. Such an obvious one, and I hadn't thought about it. Not like this at least.
Acknowledging your limitations is the first step to accepting them. The truth is, despite what they teach kids in school these days, not everyone can do everything. Sometimes it's better for everyone to just say, "You know what? I can't do this whole poly thing. It's just not for me. If it's something you absolutely need, then you have a decision to make. I can't make it for you, but I can't pretend to be something I'm not, either."
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  #29  
Old 04-08-2014, 06:21 PM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Some of this is reiterating SchrodingersCat's post, but sometimes reiteration is helpful, especially if done in different words concerning a particularly important concept.

Re (from copperhead):
Quote:
"I just want to hear other peoples experiences, so that I don't need to make all the mistakes myself."
May I recommend delving into the Life stories and blogs board? It's a ton of reading, but a ton of insights as well. You can read all about the pitfalls people fell into -- and how they got out. FWIW, my blog can be found there and you're more than welcome to read it (and ask me questions here or there if you like), in case that would help.

Re:
Quote:
"This makes me think how to undo that monogamous programming? Should it be done before one enters a poly relationship? Would it be possible? Or is it just something one needs to go through as it is happening?"
In most cases I think the monogamous programming is deep and thorough enough that undoing it is a lifelong process (one that is never entirely finished). It's a good idea to work on it before getting involved with a poly situation, but sooner or later you have to make the call to venture into the poly situation while continuing to chip away at the mono programming at the same time.

Book reading can help. I especially like "Sex at Dawn" (Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá), not because it "diagrams non-monogamy" (for that I recommend "Openening Up" by Tristan Taormino), but because it shakes up the conventional wisdom of human sexuality with "Monogamy is in our genes" being the biggest myth it topples. But, immersing yourself in Polyamory.com will probably help with that process too.

And personal experience is a necessary part of the process. Your own blog can help you sort out your thoughts and feelings as you go along.

Re:
Quote:
"I really would like to work toward an answer [to pain-free poly] or several different answers."
I reckon this would be a good thread for that researching process. A good start at least.

I should add that many opinions exist out there describing protocols and precautions that can reduce the chance (and severity) of getting hurt in poly. None of those bits of advice are guaranteed safeguards however, and people are best at thinking of them when asked about specific situations.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle (in discovering a pain-free formula) is that one person's bane is another person's boon. For example, relationship anarchy is the only way to go for some people, while strict polyfidelity is the only way to go for others. This is one of the reasons why "how to work through the difficulties without anyone getting hurt" is such a puzzling riddle.

Re:
Quote:
"Okay, so it comes back to communication. It seems like this is the cornerstone of polyamory. Maybe there is no answer beyond that. Then it would mean one has to learn to be honest with oneself first and then honest with others. It would mean that the goals of communication are understanding and respecting each other. But this then leads me to wonder how do you know that you have understood someone correctly or that you have been understood correctly? Respect or lack thereof is easier to notice, I think. Or is it? (I'm full of questions )"
Well look, you're on the right track. I can't guarantee that communication is "The Answer," but so far it looks like it's probably "The Main Answer" at least and most polyamorists would agree about that.

One of the biggest obstacles in communication is it only works if both (or however many) people engaged in the conversation are doing their level best to be honest (and considerate), improve how they communicate (by research as well as trial and error), and become good listeners as their top priority (good talkers as their second priority). Of course if at least one person refuses to try to communicate at all, then there will be a problem.

How do you know that you have understood someone correctly or that you have been understood correctly? You don't (to a 100% certainty), but you can greatly improve your odds by repeating back to the person what they just said -- in your own words -- and ask if that's what they meant. (And you can ask them to do likewise for you.)

Is respect or the lack thereof is easier to notice? Usually but not always. Here again, repeating back to the person what it is that they just said (in your own words), and asking them for confirmation or correction, may defuse the sarcasm they may have been using and convince them to re-state themselves in a more respectful manner. People often reciprocate when a good behavioral example is offered to them.

Perhaps the biggest thing I have learned about communication so far is that there doesn't seem to be "One Big Secret" that makes it work. Instead it's a lot of little things you have to learn. Some things you can learn in books, some on forums, and some by good old first-hand experience. Heck and stuff like counseling, workshops, conferences, and support groups can also aid in that learning/discovery process.

Re:
Quote:
"I'm still busy congratulating me for sticking with my decision of ending the relationship if my boundaries are not respected. But to protect myself from lies ... I suppose I need to talk about my stuff more openly. It seems like a good way to hear if things are not what they seem. I also think being open leaves no room for emotional abuse of any kind. I have nothing to be ashamed of, but if I don't talk about what happens in my life, I'm alone with everything, and there's a good chance I'll miss warning signs then."
That's good wisdom; it will get you far.

Re:
Quote:
"I really would like to hear very concrete examples from people's lives. This is how my brain works. I understand abstract things by having enough examples on them. I don't understand them from universal explanations."
Well again, I recommend reading other people's blogs on our blog board here, as well as continuing your own blog so as to chronicle your progress and organize what you are experiencing and learning.

Re:
Quote:
"I think now I have a better understanding of how it can be done ethically:
  • know yourself,
  • communicate,
  • respect others,
  • don't let others treat you badly.
Did I miss something?"
Haha, probably, but that's gotta cover most of it.

Seriously, I'm never 100% sure if I've covered everything, and if I ever am, I always seem to find myself soon proven wrong. But with the four principles you listed, one could go far with little pain to go through. If, that is, one can master those four principles ... and it's in mastering them that the real challenge lies.

Heh, I could almost compare it to an earnest student approaching a wise teacher and asking, "How can I become a karate master?" That teacher will probably say, "You will have to suffer many bruises along the way, but if you are patient, I can teach you."

That's sort of the pickle we polyamorists are in. And while teachers do exist, we ultimately find that we must learn to become our own teachers, for the ultimate master of polyamory does not yet exist in this world. (At least not that I know of!)
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  #30  
Old 04-09-2014, 02:23 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
May I recommend delving into the Life stories and blogs board? It's a ton of reading, but a ton of insights as well. You can read all about the pitfalls people fell into -- and how they got out.
Oooo... Really good suggestion. Why make up hypotheticals when this forum is already full to the brim with hundreds of ways people have already messed up their own real lives. I wager just about every "type" of problem you could have in poly has been had by someone. Some of them got out, and some of them didn't but learned in hindsight what they could have done differently.
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