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  #101  
Old 09-02-2010, 07:28 PM
marksbabygirl marksbabygirl is offline
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I have just read through this entire thing - and it has been extremely helpful in helping me make some mental adjustments.

Thank you for putting this in the 'master list of threads' as I don't know if I would have found it otherwise...
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  #102  
Old 09-03-2010, 10:23 AM
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Thanks for bumping this thread! It is really interesting. Hopefully this thread isn't dead, and we can continue the discussion?

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Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
I think preserving the primary relationship is definitely very important, but I don't see vetos as a constructive way to preserve them. Listening to a partner's concerns and discussing them definitely seems constructive. But a veto wouldn't address the concerns for me and would make me feel less secure about the relationship.
I think this is a very logical way of looking at it, but I wanted to add that "veto" is not always something that exists because one partner gave it to the other. If my husband was unhappy because of someone I was dating, and I believed that ending the relationship would make him happier, I would end it. I haven't given him veto power, but he has it all the same. However, I wouldn't end it with my bf just because my husband was unhappy, because after a year together, I am too invested in that relationship. So his "veto" on that one has expired.

I can see why people would not want to date someone whose partner has a veto, because having a big hammer of NO! permanantly threatening your relationship would be awful. But I can just as easily imagine an awful situation where the partner can't veto each other because they just don't care enough about the other's feelings. Neither of those situations sounds optimal to me, so I don't think the presence or lack of the veto is that important to me. The important issue is why there is a veto or lack of it, and (of course) what are the people like?

I'd rather date someone who has a happy, stable, confidently open primary relationship with veto power, than an awkward, drama-prone one without it.

But going back to the original discussion - prescriptive vs descriptive - I'd like to add a third option as a middle way: predictive. I am open to the idea that a relationship can develop however it wants, but at the same time, some things are just more likely than others because of what I want, how I live and my current relationships. Dating in that purely "descriptive" way is a little too hands off for me. In some ways, it would seem unfair of me to tell a prospective partner that the relationship was free to go anywhere at all, because that might lead them to think certain outcomes are more likely than they actually are. So although I do not prescribe how new relationships are allowed to develop, I do let people know how they are likely to develop. And no, I don't always get my predictions right!

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Originally Posted by AutumnalTone View Post
I find it sad because I think it speaks to a fundamental problem in the primary relationship--and I have to wonder why'd they'd even consider adding other people to their lives when their primary relationship isn't very strong. Look, folks, if your existing relationships aren't good--and that means functional and strong on every level--then adding more relationships is not a wise thing to do!
I've seen this attitude a lot in the poly community, and wanted to speak up for the "prescribers", as I used to be one. If you took this attitude to its logical conclusion (any desire to limit further relationships shows instability in the primary relationship) then it would mean monogamy is fundamentally disordered. Having boundaries in place in a relationship doesn't mean that the relationship "isn't very strong", or only poly people would have strong relationships.

Swingers generally say that romantic love outside of their relationship would be a betrayal, whereas of course, polyamorists generally do not. It stands to reasons that there would be a whole spectrum of relationships that are in between. And I don't think any relationship that appears anywhere on that spectrum is necessarily stronger or weaker than any other.
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  #103  
Old 09-03-2010, 10:43 AM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RatatouilleStrychnine View Post
I think this is a very logical way of looking at it, but I wanted to add that "veto" is not always something that exists because one partner gave it to the other. If my husband was unhappy because of someone I was dating, and I believed that ending the relationship would make him happier, I would end it. I haven't given him veto power, but he has it all the same. However, I wouldn't end it with my bf just because my husband was unhappy, because after a year together, I am too invested in that relationship. So his "veto" on that one has expired.
What you're describing to me doesn't sound like veto, because you're the one making the decision about your relationship, not your husband. It definitely sounds entirely reasonable to want to end a relationship that is making your husband unhappy. We make choices like that in our lives and relationships all the time.

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Originally Posted by RatatouilleStrychnine View Post
I'd rather date someone who has a happy, stable, confidently open primary relationship with veto power, than an awkward, drama-prone one without it.
Personally, I don't see it as an either/or situation. There are partners who have stable confidently open primary relationships without vetoes. From my point of view, a primary relationship that does have veto doesn't feel stable to me, so I'm not going to get involved in that. (It may be stable for them, but that's their relationship.) And I avoid the awkward drama-prone relationships regardless, even if there was no other partner involved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RatatouilleStrychnine View Post
But going back to the original discussion - prescriptive vs descriptive - I'd like to add a third option as a middle way: predictive. I am open to the idea that a relationship can develop however it wants, but at the same time, some things are just more likely than others because of what I want, how I live and my current relationships.Dating in that purely "descriptive" way is a little too hands off for me. In some ways, it would seem unfair of me to tell a prospective partner that the relationship was free to go anywhere at all, because that might lead them to think certain outcomes are more likely than they actually are. So although I do not prescribe how new relationships are allowed to develop, I do let people know how they are likely to develop. And no, I don't always get my predictions right!
For me, being descriptive takes into account all the factors that exist in the here and now that have an affect on the development of the relationship. Many times, those factors involve the balance of other relationships. Many times those factors involve the balance of other things, such as jobs, kids, volunteering at the homeless shelter, living on another continent or another city, etc. To me, looking at a relationship descriptively doesn't mean that it is a relationship that is completely free to develop without boundaries or or that anything can happen. For me, it means that the boundaries that are there are reasonable and reality based, and not based upon pre-decided limits designed to protect the security of the existing relationship. For me, if my involvement needs to be limited based upon their security, then I don't see their relationship as secure enough for me to be involved. If my involvement is limited by time, distance, previous commitments, etc, that sounds entirely reasonable to me.
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  #104  
Old 09-03-2010, 12:21 PM
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RatatouilleStrychnine RatatouilleStrychnine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
What you're describing to me doesn't sound like veto, because you're the one making the decision about your relationship, not your husband. It definitely sounds entirely reasonable to want to end a relationship that is making your husband unhappy. We make choices like that in our lives and relationships all the time.
But it does, effectively, amount to a veto. It may be my choice, but even in relationships with explicit veto the vetoed partner has to chose whether or not to comply with the veto. I wouldn't react well if my husband just said "END IT!!!!" because that isn't how our relationship works. But because I love him so much, I am sensitive to his needs and feelings and that means he has the power to decide that one of my relationships should end. I didn't give him that power, but he has it and we can't not have it. So the "veto" we have is a result of the strength of our commitment to each other.

On the other side of the spectrum, my bf does not have that power, because our relationship is just not stable or committed enough. He isn't (currently) central to my decision making the way that my husband is, so I wouldn't stop dating someone just to make him happier, (and neither would he!) (Of course, we'd take eachother's feelings into consideration in the way that you describe to a certain extent - we do care about each other!)

Quote:
Personally, I don't see it as an either/or situation. There are partners who have stable confidently open primary relationships without vetoes.
Absolutely! That wasn't my point. My point was that the presence or lack of a veto is not really a factor in how stable the relationship is or how stable an additional relationship might feel. Different couples might have different reasons for having or not having veto power, and projecting our assumptions about why they do/do not might not always lead to accurate conclusions.

Quote:
For me, if my involvement needs to be limited based upon their security, then I don't see their relationship as secure enough for me to be involved. If my involvement is limited by time, distance, previous commitments, etc, that sounds entirely reasonable to me.
What if the boundaries/limits are there because they both just want them to be there? Or because that is just how their relationship naturally developed? Assuming that certain boundaries indicate a lack of relationship security seems a little poly-supremicist to me! There isn't a connection between how open your relationship is and how stable it is. As I said in my earlier post, there is a huge spectrum from monogamous, life-long, sexually/emotionally exlusive relationships to completely open polyamory. I don't think it is fair to judge people's relationships as unstable just because they aren't where you are on that spectrum. It's a perfectly valid reason not to date them, of course, which is why I don't date people who want monogamous commitment.

Last edited by RatatouilleStrychnine; 09-03-2010 at 01:37 PM.
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  #105  
Old 09-05-2010, 08:44 AM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RatatouilleStrychnine View Post
But it does, effectively, amount to a veto. It may be my choice, but even in relationships with explicit veto the vetoed partner has to chose whether or not to comply with the veto. I wouldn't react well if my husband just said "END IT!!!!" because that isn't how our relationship works. But because I love him so much, I am sensitive to his needs and feelings and that means he has the power to decide that one of my relationships should end. I didn't give him that power, but he has it and we can't not have it. So the "veto" we have is a result of the strength of our commitment to each other.

On the other side of the spectrum, my bf does not have that power, because our relationship is just not stable or committed enough. He isn't (currently) central to my decision making the way that my husband is, so I wouldn't stop dating someone just to make him happier, (and neither would he!) (Of course, we'd take eachother's feelings into consideration in the way that you describe to a certain extent - we do care about each other!)
To me, if the choice is being made by me, then it's not a veto. It may have the same result, but for me, I consider it very important who is making the choices. I prefer partners who make choices themselves (even of those choices are to put someone else ahead of me) rather than partners who have their other partners make choices for them.

Also, what you're describing to me sounds a lot like how I define my primary relationships in life. My current primary partner is so because she is someone I consider majorly when making decisions that might affect us. (In that way, it's perfectly possible to have more than one primary partner.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by RatatouilleStrychnine View Post
Absolutely! That wasn't my point. My point was that the presence or lack of a veto is not really a factor in how stable the relationship is or how stable an additional relationship might feel. Different couples might have different reasons for having or not having veto power, and projecting our assumptions about why they do/do not might not always lead to accurate conclusions.
Sure. But my choice is still not to get involved with people who live in such arrangements because of the affect it has on the security of my relationship. I prefer people who solve things with communication rather than veto rules. For me, I don't see vetoes as necessary if partners communicate well, good at choosing other partners and are basically decent to each other. I would take that over a veto any day.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RatatouilleStrychnine View Post
What if the boundaries/limits are there because they both just want them to be there? Or because that is just how their relationship naturally developed? Assuming that certain boundaries indicate a lack of relationship security seems a little poly-supremicist to me! There isn't a connection between how open your relationship is and how stable it is. As I said in my earlier post, there is a huge spectrum from monogamous, life-long, sexually/emotionally exlusive relationships to completely open polyamory. I don't think it is fair to judge people's relationships as unstable just because they aren't where you are on that spectrum. It's a perfectly valid reason not to date them, of course, which is why I don't date people who want monogamous commitment.
I'm not sure what you're defending here because I'm not talking about monogamous couples or couples who have other types of open arrangements. I don't see monogamy as less secure than polyamory nor have I said or implied that. Monogamy is great for lots of people. And other forms of non-monogamy are great for other people. If setting huge boundaries works for that couple, great. It doesn't work for me. If they have those boundaries in place, then chances are they wouldn't be happy with me and I wouldn't be happy with them. Partially because they are solving issues in a very different way than I solve them. I prefer to solve things with communication rather than rules.

I'm not judging their relationship. I'm judging what kind of relationship is right for *ME*. I have no desire to get into serious relationships people who pre-set limits on my relationship based upon preserving some kind of set-up in their other relationship. That's not the way I do poly nor is it the way my partners do poly. Now, I have no problem dating or playing with people who set limits like that, but I won't be expecting a serious commitment from that. I only commit to people who are willing to equally commit to me.
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  #106  
Old 09-05-2010, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
To me, if the choice is being made by me, then it's not a veto. It may have the same result, but for me, I consider it very important who is making the choices. I prefer partners who make choices themselves (even of those choices are to put someone else ahead of me) rather than partners who have their other partners make choices for them.
But it's always their choice, surely? They choose whether or not to comply with the veto, and I expect they chose to have the veto in place to begin with as well, just as we choose whether or not to put a partner's needs ahead of a new relationship.

These two scenarios...
  1. A: "I would never date someone if that made you unhappy."
    B: "Thank you, darling."
  2. B: "Would you continue to date someone if it made me unhappy?"
    A: "Of course I wouldn't, darling."

...dont seem that different to me. The second situation could be described as a veto arrangement. But really, it isn't that different from the first, which is the situation you say that you and I are in.

Quote:
I prefer people who solve things with communication rather than veto rules. For me, I don't see vetoes as necessary if partners communicate well, good at choosing other partners and are basically decent to each other. I would take that over a veto any day.
Why does having a veto arrangement preclude communication, basic decency and good decisions? Why would you assue that having a veto in place means that the couple will use that to solve things and never use communication?

Quote:
I'm not sure what you're defending here because I'm not talking about monogamous couples or couples who have other types of open arrangements. I don't see monogamy as less secure than polyamory nor have I said or implied that.
As I said before, I'm taking the idea that boundaries/rules/vetoes etc show an instability in the primary relationship to its logical conclusion - that the more boundaries a relationship has, the less secure it is.

Quote:
If setting huge boundaries works for that couple, great. It doesn't work for me. If they have those boundaries in place, then chances are they wouldn't be happy with me and I wouldn't be happy with them. Partially because they are solving issues in a very different way than I solve them. I prefer to solve things with communication rather than rules.
Do you really think all couples with rules and boundaries never solve their issues by communicating? How do you think the rules and boundaries got there in the first place?

Quote:
I'm not judging their relationship.
Isn't implying that their relationship is insecure and lacks good communication because it has a rule in place that you wouldn't want quite judgemental?

Quote:
I have no desire to get into serious relationships people who pre-set limits on my relationship based upon preserving some kind of set-up in their other relationship.
As I said before, what if the pre-set limits are there because they just want them to be there? Preserving "some kind of set up" is not the only reason why someone might choose a more "prescriptive" relationship. I've known plenty of people in poly who just don't want more than one primary style relationship, and so they take steps to avoid it happening. That might make them an unsuitable dating prospect for you, but I don't think it is fair to make all these assumptions about their relationship and how and why it works.

I'm not arguing that you or other anti-vetoers should start dating these people, I just think there is a lack of understanding here about how and why different people do poly.
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  #107  
Old 09-05-2010, 07:55 PM
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I am finding this very interesting, this conversation.

Having attempted a veto before in my relationship and it ending up being a decision that PN made himself I think I know a bit about it. I have come to realize that I can't see how veto power would sustain a relationship. I used to think that but then I'm a bit of a dominant and in D/s this could he sustainable I think. Only because all parties agree though.

Now I think that I would put my partner ahead of myself in the form of a compromise for a short period of time. Then negotiations would have to begin again as compromise doesn't last either and should not be a goal I think. Veto is essentially a compromise perhaps? If a partner asks us to end it with someone then we would consider compromising our feelings in order to do so. If we asked them we would be requesting a compromise from them so that we can feel sane again. I can't see how this would be sustained for long. There is just too much at stake in asking for a long term compromise from anyone. Eventually I would think it would rot the foundation of a once well built relationship... hopefully some kind of restoration could occur before that happens. Of course that would mean patience and perseverance. Something that I don't think comes with being firmly of mind that relationships are only workable if they are a certain way... the interest for me is in the wonder of what will happen next and the excitement of the challenge of making a relationship (along with my partners excitement too and their desire to make something of "us") the best it can be...

On another note, I get the whole prescriptive/descriptive thing now btw... I'm pretty sure this thread is filled with me figuring it out. Ya, got it now

On another note, I have two primaries and it is totally possible. I don't think it could be, for me, unless a triad type of connection happens though. Although my two men are not sexual, their connection is what makes it possible for me to have two primaries. They slowly have merged their lives and what I had with PN is no longer, what I had with Mono is no longer, what we all have together is new and a result of what was. My one primary relationship is made up of two men.
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  #108  
Old 09-05-2010, 10:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
For one thing, those boundaries they are referring to are usually invisible and constantly shifting with the comfort level of the other partner. But even more fundamentally, I have no desire to enter into a relationship where my feelings of love are assessed in terms of what threat those feelings could pose to the other partner. It means I have to structure my relationship around the insecurities of another relationship.
Wow Ceoli ... very well said. I am struggling now with on again/off again with a man that is at the mercy of our partner. At first his partner was uncomfortable and we had to go on hiatus; now my partner is having meltdowns. I am very frustrated about the entire thing and it is becoming painfully obvious that my and my partner of 9 years have a whole bunch of shit to work on if I am ever going to have happy healthy poly relationships.

Not structuring your relationships around the insecurities of other relationships ... I am so glad you have found this place of freedom to love and be loved naturally!

Last edited by redpepper; 09-06-2010 at 08:06 AM.
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  #109  
Old 09-06-2010, 04:45 PM
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RatatouilleStrychnine RatatouilleStrychnine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
For me, it's like being told, "I would love a relationship with you, but bear in mind that no matter what happens between us, I will always place this other person ahead of you and regardless of what feelings develop, our relationship cannot grow in ways that might possibly threaten my other partnership."
Sorry to go back to old posts (and I really don't mean to harangue you, Coeli!) but I don't see what the problem is with this. I wouldn't allow a new relationship to grow in a way that threatened any of my current relationships. Why would this be a problem? The opposite (I will allow our relationship to develop in ways that threaten my other partnership) seems far more problematic to me, because it suggests a lack of commitment to existing relationships. I would be very uncomfortable dating a married or similarly commited person if I wasn't sure that they would put their primary partner ahead of me. That's what primary means to me - comes first. (And yes, I totally agree that you can have two primaries!)

So if a relationship developed to the point that it became another primary for me, then this would obviously change - they would be in joint "first place". But I wouldn't allow it to get to that point if it threatened my marriage in any way. That's what my commitment to my husband means to me. I'm open to the idea of a second, equal commitment, but until that time, any one I date has to be okay with my marriage coming first.

And doesn't this, and the quote that victorearose used ("I have no desire to enter into a relationship where my feelings of love are assessed in terms of what threat those feelings could pose to the other partner.") also contradict something else that you said?:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
It definitely sounds entirely reasonable to want to end a relationship that is making your husband unhappy.
If ending a relationship that makes your primary partner unhappy (and therefore threatens the partnership) is okay, why is it not okay to assess new relationships in terms of how they threaten existing ones?

I get the feeling that we're actually talking about a far subtler distinction than the posts here acknowledge.

Victoriarose, that sounds like a very difficult situation to be in. I think that "not structuring your new relationship based on the insecurities of your other relationships" is only really a solution if the insecurities are trifling, or don't exist, and then, of course, they can't inform new relationships at all. If the insecurities are there, you have to work with them, find a way to ease them, give up poly, or give up on the relationship.

And I think that just as good communication, negotiation, and considering your partners' needs might make a veto unnecessary for some, these qualities should also ensure that for a couple who give each other veto power, that veto is used judiciously, and with care for everyone's feelings, if at all.
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  #110  
Old 09-09-2010, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RatatouilleStrychnine View Post
I wouldn't allow a new relationship to grow in a way that threatened any of my current relationships. Why would this be a problem? The opposite (I will allow our relationship to develop in ways that threaten my other partnership) seems far more problematic to me, because it suggests a lack of commitment to existing relationships.
I'd say that the problem here is that one shouldn't be evaluating romantic relationships the same way one does unexpected e-mail attachments. My partners' relationships with their metamour(s) is not in reality a potential danger to me.

What's the threat? I'm not really interested in having someone stay involved with me when they would prefer not to because of some commitment they've made. Further, I don't anticipate that my partner being involved with someone else is going to have much of a direct impact on whether or not they want to stay involved with me. If it does, our relationship was already in trouble.

With that in mind, if I'm involved with someone and they are preventing the relationship from developing because some third party thinks about relationships as dangerous, that's not a good relationship for me to be in. Other people might very well like to be in a relationship with prescribed boundaries, but I know that... it's not a situation I'm likely to enjoy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RatatouilleStrychnine View Post
If ending a relationship that makes your primary partner unhappy (and therefore threatens the partnership) is okay, why is it not okay to assess new relationships in terms of how they threaten existing ones?

I get the feeling that we're actually talking about a far subtler distinction than the posts here acknowledge.
Oh, I don't think so. You're conflating "makes someone unhappy" and "is a threat to them". Those are two different things! Plenty of things make me unhappy that aren't going to damage me.

If it happened that a partner of mine was unhappy about a new relationship I was in, that would definitely make me think twice about that new relationship. Someone I am involved with is someone whose judgement I have a lot of respect for! They may well be picking up on something problematic about that relationship that I'm not seeing. If instead they treated every new relationship I was in as a threat to them, I'd lose that ability to rely on their opinion, which I really value. We really are discussing two different things here.
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