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Old 04-20-2016, 05:08 PM
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Default Is Poly Right for You?

https://www.lelo.com/blog/is-polyamo...lp-you-decide/

To sum up the main points (you can read the article if you want further explanations) and my own personal answers to 'em....


1. Do you want an open relationship?

2. Is your relationship stable and happy?


I feel these first two questions speak to a presumption that poly relationships always begin with a primary couple. But I get it. To answer them, I am not doing poly to please a partner when I would prefer to be mono, nor am I trying to fix a troubled mono relationship by opening it.

I pass both of those.

3. Are you an enthusiastic sex & relationship communicator?

Sometimes. I do recognize I've got a few areas where I'm awkward or have a harder time speaking my mind, but I consciously work on them (sex being one.) I am intuitive and diplomatic and in general though I am fairly good at communicating. I am an excellent relationship communicator, I think, I don't operate on assumptions.

I'll give myself a pass with only a bit of reservation.

4. How jealous are you?

I'm not. Pass with flying colors.

5. How anxiously attached are you?

Oh boy. This one is tricky. I do get feelings of insecurity and fear that people don't like/love me as much as they claim to, or that I'm not doing enough or not good enough. This particular emotional weak spot is why "words of validation" is my highest ranking "love language" in the five love languages test. It's not hard to put me at ease, but I do need reassurance sometimes. I have an extremely hard time with lovers who leave me in the dark, run hot and cold on me, or do things that make me feel rejected.

However, these fears and insecurities are coupled with a complete lack of jealousy. So I'm not triggered to fear by a lover's love of another, but by how they specifically treat ME.

I actually cannot say that I pass in this particular category.

6. How cognitively flexible/tolerant of ambiguity are you?

Very. Total pass. I can have everything completely planned and charted out, yet roll with a full change in plan with no stress at all. And I don't get angry easily, and I don't hold grudges. Honestly if a partner broke a "rule" I'd be more concerned with how they felt about it ("Are you ok with what you just did?") than how I feel about it.

7. How well do you regulate your emotions?

Fairly well! All of the behaviors mentioned in the article for regulation or healthy dealing with emotional turmoil, are things I do. The only unhealthy, "not regulating well" behavior I have is falling into temporary depressive states and sleeping too much. And I try very hard to consciously avoid that.

Giving myself a pass (and a high five for all of the times I regulated...because it's sure been a learning process to get as good at this as I HAVE become, and it's often not easy to do.)

8. Do you have a supportive community?

YES! Very very. I live in a region where there are many openminded people. My coworkers don't judge me. No one (except some people online at a forum I abandoned last year) has called my ability to be a good parent to my kids into question because I'm poly (or because I'm bi, or because I'm kinky.) My family supports me. And there's an awesome community here that I'm involved in. I feel very supported. Pass.


I like this article, because at the least, even if it may not be answering the question of "Is polyamory right for you?" definitively as the title suggests, I think that these questions are good ones to ask oneself to highlight areas of challenge in relationships in general. I am reminded to watch out for attachment-anxiety and to keep working on my emotional regulation (and I feel validated in that what I do to regulate, seems to be the "right" stuff...I've chosen the correct tools to do this job.)
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  #2  
Old 04-21-2016, 01:19 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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Thanks for posting this Spork. I found it interesting but I have to disagree with much of it.

I find the 'research-based' part of it suspicious. The author doesn't actually point to any research but just makes assertions. And given how sparse research into poly is, I'm skeptical.

Also, in the very first question, she associates extroversion with non-monogamy and introversion with monogamy. There is no correlation there. (And by introvert, I mean people who are drained by being around other people.) Extroverts *might* find it easier to meet people to date but even that I'm skeptical about.

That said, I do think actually thinking deeply about if you really want an open and/or poly relationship is a critical question. So the question itself is not a dumb one.

#2 is one we ask people all the time. However, it does assume that everyone in poly starts from being in a couple. This is a common experience but it's not a universal one. Still, not a dumb question.

#3 is complicated. Yes one needs to be a decent communicator to have a chance of doing poly well. Enjoying communicating and talking about sex and relationships in particular helps this along. However, it's not an inborn skill. One can learn to do it. Now it is true that this can be a very painful learning curve and the pain threshold may be too high for some. The way the question is phrased makes it seem like this is always unchanging - good communicator vs. bad communicator is set in stone. This is just not accurate.

#4 is not a bad question in and of itself. But it brings up the whole jealousy tropes in ways that makes me irritable. Jealousy is not an innate trait. Some people do experience jealousy more often and more intensely but that's because it's 'fronting' for something else, something even more painful like insecurity, feelings of worthlessness, co-dependency - all sorts of feelings can be tied to jealousy. It's a starting point, not the end. Jealousy is a pointer. While she does indicate that miserable stereotype that poly people don't experience jealousy is just not true, she makes the assumption that poly folks experience it less. Again, just not true in my experience.
She seems to believe that experiencing jealousy less is better than dealing with it. At least she doesn't make the mistake of 'everyone must experience compersion to be truly poly.'

#5 is not awful. I do think people who are more anxious and/or anxiously attached may have a more difficult time with poly/open relationships, to the point where it may not be worth it for them. (I also recognize that being anxious and having an anxiously attached relationship style are not the same thing.) But, even while painful, I wonder if people who are working on these issues are not in a better place in some ways than those who do not. I also wonder if the anxiously attached in monogamous marriages who had better results in satisfaction are addressing these issues or are allowing monogamy to be a bandaid.

#6 is actually a really good question. For me, this is the one question that will determine how successful someone is at doing open or poly relationships well. This question should be second after do I want an open/poly relationship. People who are not mentally and emotionally flexible tend to fail badly at poly. And while I tend to think most things can be improved, it is really hard to become flexible if one's worldview is more rigid. Not impossible but way harder, in my experience, than becoming less anxiously attached, or less jealous.

#7 is also a decent question. People who can take a step back and look at their own emotions as from a distance tend to be more successful at poly. I would also frame this as the 'self-aware/self-reflective' question. I have noticed that it is generally impossible to do poly well if one never thinks about how one thinks or feels. I would also place this question further up to indicate it's importance. However, I do think that one can develop self-awareness and self-reflection. It's not a set point.

#8 is interesting. We talk here often about how certain communities tend to overlap with poly - kink, pagan, gamer, etc. The one thing those communities have in common is that they are not mainstream, and indeed are often stigmatized in some way. And often people try poly but don't fully realize how impacting it is to be rejected and stigmatized by parents, friends, coworkers and mainstream society more broadly. Lots of people never try or leave poly just for this reason and I think she is wise to include it.

QUOTE=Spork;326738]https://www.lelo.com/blog/is-polyamo...lp-you-decide/

To sum up the main points (you can read the article if you want further explanations) and my own personal answers to 'em....


1. Do you want an open relationship?

2. Is your relationship stable and happy?


I

3. Are you an enthusiastic sex & relationship communicator?

Sometimes. I do recognize I've got a few areas where I'm awkward or have a harder time speaking my mind, but I consciously work on them (sex being one.) I am intuitive and diplomatic and in general though I am fairly good at communicating. I am an excellent relationship communicator, I think, I don't operate on assumptions.

I'll give myself a pass with only a bit of reservation.

4. How jealous are you?

I'm not. Pass with flying colors.

5. How anxiously attached are you?

Oh boy. This one is tricky. I do get feelings of insecurity and fear that people don't like/love me as much as they claim to, or that I'm not doing enough or not good enough. This particular emotional weak spot is why "words of validation" is my highest ranking "love language" in the five love languages test. It's not hard to put me at ease, but I do need reassurance sometimes. I have an extremely hard time with lovers who leave me in the dark, run hot and cold on me, or do things that make me feel rejected.

However, these fears and insecurities are coupled with a complete lack of jealousy. So I'm not triggered to fear by a lover's love of another, but by how they specifically treat ME.

I actually cannot say that I pass in this particular category.

6. How cognitively flexible/tolerant of ambiguity are you?

Very. Total pass. I can have everything completely planned and charted out, yet roll with a full change in plan with no stress at all. And I don't get angry easily, and I don't hold grudges. Honestly if a partner broke a "rule" I'd be more concerned with how they felt about it ("Are you ok with what you just did?") than how I feel about it.

7. How well do you regulate your emotions?

Fairly well! All of the behaviors mentioned in the article for regulation or healthy dealing with emotional turmoil, are things I do. The only unhealthy, "not regulating well" behavior I have is falling into temporary depressive states and sleeping too much. And I try very hard to consciously avoid that.

Giving myself a pass (and a high five for all of the times I regulated...because it's sure been a learning process to get as good at this as I HAVE become, and it's often not easy to do.)

8. Do you have a supportive community?

YES! Very very. I live in a region where there are many openminded people. My coworkers don't judge me. No one (except some people online at a forum I abandoned last year) has called my ability to be a good parent to my kids into question because I'm poly (or because I'm bi, or because I'm kinky.) My family supports me. And there's an awesome community here that I'm involved in. I feel very supported. Pass.


I like this article, because at the least, even if it may not be answering the question of "Is polyamory right for you?" definitively as the title suggests, I think that these questions are good ones to ask oneself to highlight areas of challenge in relationships in general. I am reminded to watch out for attachment-anxiety and to keep working on my emotional regulation (and I feel validated in that what I do to regulate, seems to be the "right" stuff...I've chosen the correct tools to do this job.)[/QUOTE]
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Old 04-21-2016, 02:22 PM
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I also raised an eyebrow at the introversion/extroversion thing. But here's what I saw there... The author is ambiguous as to whether they mean to really corrolate the two, or merely making a comparison, a "for instance" kind of deal:

Quote:
Despite what some popular poly proponents argue for, not all humans are equally non-monogamous. Itís more accurate to think of the desire for non-monogamy as a personality trait, akin to extroversion: Some people are very extroverted/non-monogamous, some people are very introverted/monogamous, and most are somewhere in between.
I made a very deliberate decision to see it more like:

"Some people are more introverted, some are more extroverted. Some people are more monogamous, some are more non-monogamous. Some people are more conservative, some are more liberal" (etc) Instead of linking the two.

There is no telling the actual spirit behind the statement and whether a corrolation was in fact intended.

Also, even if my interpretation is accurate, I still kind of disagree. I don't think that a person IS, as a personality trait similar to intro/extro, more poly or mono. I think that a person IS more or less capable of poly. Some people are so solidly rooted in mono culture, and happy with it, and wish to live and defend it, that poly would never be something they would wish to try. That's fine, so long as it's only their own lives they're trying to dictate... Some people might be capable of poly, but happily living mono. That's alright too. The "personality trait" piece is just a level of flexibility and openminded, and it need not dictate or be dictated by circumstances or what one is actually doing in their relationships.

Overall, I chose to see this article not as an absolute, but rather as...talking points? Thinking points? I think a more accurate title would have been "If you're considering polyamory, these are good questions to ask yourself." And as you say on a few of these, instead of saying, "I'm bad at that so I'd fail at polyamory" it makes more sense to say "Hm. Yes, I should do some self-work in that area. It might help me better succeed in the lifestyle I am living/want to live." In fact having the mere ability to flex your mind and acknowledge the need and desire to do that self-work is probably a trait that helps one succeed in relationships, and thus polyamory.
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Old 04-22-2016, 12:27 AM
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So, I "pass" all of those Ready-for-Poly traits... Except #6 I have zero tolerance for ambiguity. I do not change my stance on things easily. I'm stubborn, I hold grudges, and I hate change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
#6 is actually a really good question. For me, this is the one question that will determine how successful someone is at doing open or poly relationships well. This question should be second after do I want an open/poly relationship. People who are not mentally and emotionally flexible tend to fail badly at poly. And while I tend to think most things can be improved, it is really hard to become flexible if one's worldview is more rigid. Not impossible but way harder, in my experience, than becoming less anxiously attached, or less jealous.
I'm still mulling over whether my lack of tolerance for ambiguity and/or cognitive flexibility gets in the way of "successful" poly. The article focused this section on gray areas, and changes in rules...We worked around that my not having any temporary rules, or any rules that might be misinterpreted. Actually my husband and I have only 3 rules, which are written in stone and will never change.

I definitely have a tough time with casual and fluid relationships (for myself or my partners). I need labels and definitions. I could not handle a poly situation where partners came and went frequently. Again, though, there's work arounds. My husband has an on again, off again FWB. I can't deal with processing the status changes very often. Basically I just consider them "on" all the time and ask him (nicely) to not bother telling me otherwise unless it's *really* important that I know.

I do wonder what, exactly, the author meant by "the fluid nature of consensual non-monogamy" ... Are closed poly relationships necessarily any more fluid than closed monogamous ones
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Old 04-22-2016, 01:28 AM
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Re:
Quote:
"Do you want an open relationship?"
"Open" has many definitions and I'm not sure what the context is here. If open = nonmonogamous then my answer is yes.

Re:
Quote:
"Is your relationship stable and happy?"
For the most part (speaking of my composite V relationship).

Re:
Quote:
"Are you an enthusiastic sex and relationship communicator?"
I'm not like a cheerleader but I'm willing to talk.

Re:
Quote:
"How jealous are you?"
It's been several years since my last jealousy attack.

Re:
Quote:
"How anxiously attached are you?"
I certainly wouldn't want to lose my poly partner (Snowbunny).

Re:
Quote:
"How cognitively flexible/tolerant of ambiguity are you?"
I prefer to know what lies on the road ahead.

Re:
Quote:
"How well do you regulate your emotions?"
Reasonably well with the right medication.

Re:
Quote:
"Do you have a supportive community?"
I live in the right part of the right state for it. Plus I have this forum to turn to.

Re:
Quote:
"Is poly right for you?"
Yes.
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Old 04-22-2016, 02:07 PM
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What I was thinking of when I read about tolerance for ambiguity is something like the following example:

An open relationship with rules exists, and one partner encounters either a need to renegotiate or they goof up in practice what sounded great in theory...how accepting is the other partner of the misstep or the need to change? My ex, who could NEVER do anything like polyamory, had as part of his deep insecurities, a need to look out for transgressions against his rules and call me on the carpet as committing massive betrayals, loaded with suspicion that I was doing even worse things he didn't know about.

I went to a concert and the plan was for me to text him when I left. I ended up going backstage (which wasn't something one can plan for with these people, it sorta happens or it doesn't) and lost track of time chatting with a bandmember and his wife about aliens and conspiracies. At about 2AM I finally left, and got in my car, and pulled out my phone. He had BLOWN IT UP with like over 20 phone calls and at least as many texts, loads of voicemails, etc. All furious, hurt, and viciously accusatory of me doing horrible, graphic, vulgar things with probably the entire band. Bear in mind... I let him know when the show itself ended that I was ok and was going to hang out a while, and that I never physically cheated on him (I did have a brief emotional online affair at one point, but that had been years ago and I was supposed to have his forgiveness at that point...)

Or that other scenario we see so often where a rule is in place of "no feelings" with outside partners...but it happens...

There are circumstances where TOO much rigidity can cause issues, and some mental flexibility and adaptability is really helpful.
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Old 04-22-2016, 07:13 PM
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I agree that the examples you gave show excessive rigidity. I believe I would do much better, even at my worst, in those circumstances.

"The Rules," if I may use that word, don't matter much to me, the only one I'd worry about would be safer-sex policies. Checking in after a concert would be optional. I mean I don't much care if the other person "keeps" the rules, I'm more worried about it if *I* don't keep the rules.

But I prefer to know what to plan on if there's a choice to be had. Hopefully that makes sense?
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Old 04-22-2016, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
I agree that the examples you gave show excessive rigidity. I believe I would do much better, even at my worst, in those circumstances.

"The Rules," if I may use that word, don't matter much to me, the only one I'd worry about would be safer-sex policies. Checking in after a concert would be optional. I mean I don't much care if the other person "keeps" the rules, I'm more worried about it if *I* don't keep the rules.

But I prefer to know what to plan on if there's a choice to be had. Hopefully that makes sense?
I often follow rules in that I take obligations very seriously. I want very much to uphold anything that I commit to, and expect others to abide by their word. But I don't coerce their word out of them or attempt to dictate the rules they choose to live by. Everyone in my polycule has made up their own set of personal rules that feel comfortable and give each of us a framework to operate in, and let the others know what to expect from us.

I guess the ultimate flavor I got in that question was like..."Sometimes life happens and stuff doesn't go according to plan. How freaked out do you get if you've got to adjust?" Certainly there are curveballs that would be upsetting to almost anyone...but some people get far more invested in trying to KNOW what will happen (even if it's impossible to really know) than others.

If that were not the case, then we wouldn't have every religion out there trying to reassure the masses about an afterlife, huh?
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Old 04-22-2016, 07:38 PM
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Re:
Quote:
"Sometimes life happens and stuff doesn't go according to plan. How freaked out do you get if you've got to adjust?"
Usually I don't freak out too bad. Although I must say, computer problems freak me out at least halfway.

Knowing ahead of time what's going to happen is a convenience; I don't think of it as a necessity. I still like to know when I can though.

Oh gods, the afterlife. Don't get me started on that ...
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Old 04-22-2016, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spork View Post
I guess the ultimate flavor I got in that question was like..."Sometimes life happens and stuff doesn't go according to plan. How freaked out do you get if you've got to adjust?" Certainly there are curveballs that would be upsetting to almost anyone...but some people get far more invested in trying to KNOW what will happen (even if it's impossible to really know) than others.
Oh, hiiii!!! (waves)

That's me, the one who has to know EXACTLY what will happen and freaks out if things don't follow the plan Still pondering if that's an impediment to *poly* any more than its an impediment to everything else in life.

Rule-breaking... Eh... I don't fly off the handle about little stuff, because I don't see "call me at X time" as a rule or anything. But, I definitely need to have a "please don't tell me stuff until it's confirmed" policy with partners. And I only date folks who understand that me and last minute shit don't mix. I'd much rather cancel plans than reschedule them by even an hour, for example (the cancel simply removes something from my mental schedule, allowing the rest of my plans to stay the same... the reschedule means shifting everything else around and my head explodes).

Does that make poly difficult? Scheduling-wise, yes, sometimes, but luckily everyone in my poly world is like me in terms of needing advance planning. We maybe don't see each other as often as we would if we were last minute friendly types.

The biggest issue is that I freak at the thought of new partners, with unknown schedules, needs, etc. So many unknown unknowns! I still panic at the idea of Andy or Dag starting a new relationship.
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