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Old 05-29-2018, 02:19 AM
MsEmotional MsEmotional is offline
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Default Where is the line of "consent" in consensual non-monogamy?

I have been thinking about this for a long time and I'm not quite sure that I am going to ask it in a way that makes sense, so ask questions and bear with me if I need to clarify things.

Where do you define non-monogamy as being "consensual"? It's obvious in some situations -- polyamorous people who have always defined their relationship as non-monogamous, where partners all generally have the same expectations and comfort levels, etc. But in most situations -- at least most situations that end up on here -- it sounds like there are varying levels of comfort with the situation....so where does one know for sure that they have the "consent" of their partner to be a willing participant in non-monogamy? What is the difference between non-consent and feelings of discomfort?

For example, here are a few examples of possible situations that people find themselves in....do they meet your definition of consensual non-monogamy?

Situation #1: Phyllis is in an open marriage and picks up a man, Frank, at a hotel bar. She makes it clear to him that she is only interested in a one-night thing, but she doesn't tell him that she is married. The next morning Frank notices her wedding ring, asks about it, and she tells him that she is married. Is it okay that Phyllis circumvented Frank's consent to non-monogamy by not telling him of her relationship before they slept together? Or does it not matter if she's married because she didn't violate any agreements with her husband and didn't make any promises (or even suggestions) of a relationship with Frank that would necessitate him being involved in any way with her marriage?

Situation #2: Wanda and Linda have been together for 5 years when Linda broaches the topic of non-monogamy with Wanda. Linda has a friend, Jenny, that she is attracted to and that she would like to date. Wanda agrees with polyamory on a philosophical level, but feels hurt that Linda would want to be with someone else. She eventually decides that she can get comfortable wit the idea. Linda asks Jenny out, but they don't really click together romantically and so it fizzles out fast. Wanda is relieved. Two months later, Linda comes home and gleefully tells Wanda that she was asked out by someone in her dance class, Annette, and that she said yes! Wanda doesn't know Annette but is horrified that Linda hadn't consulted her first.....Linda doesn't understand why Wanda was okay with her going out with Jenny but not with Annette. Should it matter who was the focus of the original consent to non-monogamy? Or, once someone has consented to non-monogamy, do they no longer get to revoke that consent when it comes to a different partner?

Situation #3: Megan and Derek have been non-monogamous since the start of their relationship. They are tested regularly for STIs and used condoms with each other (and all other partners) for the first year of their relationship. However, after moving in together, they decided to stop using condoms. When Megan told one of her other partners, Greg, that she was no longer using condoms with Derek, he was upset that he hadn't been consulted in advance. Does Greg have the right to consent (or not) to Megan changing her barrier use within her other relationships? Or is the decision only between Megan and Derek -- and Megan's only responsibility is to inform Greg of the change so that (if he chooses) he can adjust his own practices with Megan accordingly?

Situation #4: Louis, John and Penelope have been in a triad for 3 years when John proposes to Penelope. Penelope happily accepts and the two begin planning their wedding. Louis is hurt because he thought there was an unspoken agreement that none of them would marry each other so that there wouldn't be an imbalance of power between them. Penelope and John think that that is silly -- they knew Louis didn't want to get married, but they didn't extend that mindset to themselves... they remind Louis that nothing will change, and contend there is no imbalance of power just because the two of them get married. Louis voices his opposition again, but Penelope and John are adamant that their decision is between the two of them. Louis drops the issue and the wedding moves forward as planned. Is Louis right that he should have been allowed to consent/not consent to part of the polycule marrying each other? Or are John and Penelope right that each relationship within the triad can make their own decisions?

Situation #5: Martin and Ella met at a BDSM play party. They agreed to non-monogamy right away. Ella has two other serious partners and has encouraged Martin to date others, but Martin said he just wasn't interested in dating anyone else. One day, Martin goes to a play party on his own because Ella is busy. The next day, he tells Ella that when he was at the party an acquaintance of his invited him to do a scene and they did a scene together at the party. Ella is floored -- she had encouraged Martin to seek out other relationships, but she had never expected him to do a public sex act with another woman! Martin argues that Ella never had a problem with him having sex with someone else and sex is sex -- it doesn't matter if he chooses to do it in public or private as long as it is consensual and protected. Should Ella have had the opportunity to consent (or not) to Martin's scene with the other woman?

There are endless situations, of course, but these are just a few of the kinds of "what if" types of situations that make me wonder.....at the heart of it all there are four basic questions:

1. Does honesty = consent? In other words, if I tell my partner that I did something and/or that I am going to do something and they continue to be in a relationship with me, have I obtained their "consent"?

2. What is the difference between consent and control? Do I have the right to consent (or not) to what goes on in my partner's other relationships? Do I even have the right to know about it? Or do I only have the right to consent to my continued participation with my partner?

3. Where is the line between "not comfortable" and "not consensual"? If I feel jealousy, anger, envy at my partner's other relationships but (grudgingly) accept them, is the situation not consensual?

4. Does "fairness" = consent? If I have given my partner my consent to (date other people)/(have a friend with benefits)/(spend the weekend with their lover)/(whatever), have they automatically consented to me doing the same things?

A common theme in all those situations also points to a fifth question:

5. What is my responsibility in predicting what will or will not upset my partner? How do I ever know that I am acting in good faith about when to consult (or confess) if I can never fully predict my partner's reaction to every situation I might find myself in?

Polyamory involves so many different possible configurations and levels of commitment that it is impossible to negotiate every eventuality in advance. You also don't want to be in a situation where you are constantly saying, "Yeah, I'd like to do that, but I need to consult with my polycule first...." So where's the line?
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Last edited by MsEmotional; 05-29-2018 at 02:28 AM.
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Old 05-29-2018, 07:30 AM
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PurpleSun PurpleSun is offline
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Default To Me, Consent is Completely WILLING Participation.

Obviously, if you're stepping out without a partner's knowledge, that is obviously not consent. But there's other kinds of lack of consent as well. If the only reason a partner is going along with polyamory/their partner seeing other people is to hold on to them, that isn't real consent in my book. It's why I tolerated a monogamous set up for 7 months. Even when this woman was pretending she was okay with other partners, I knew she wasn't. She also regularly displayed ignorance of what polyamory IS. In a situation like that, the consent isn't informed, and it certainly isn't willing.

Also, say, if there have been rules set down. Say, things like "no sleep overs," or "not in our bed," or "only when I am away on business." If someone breaks those rules, whatever they may be, that's a violation of consent as well in my book. I mean, relationships are complicated. Not everyone is going to be a million percent happy all the time. But we can get damn close if we try, IMO.
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Old 05-29-2018, 03:07 PM
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Quote:

Situation #1: Phyllis is in an open marriage and picks up a man, Frank, at a hotel bar. She makes it clear to him that she is only interested in a one-night thing, but she doesn't tell him that she is married. The next morning Frank notices her wedding ring, asks about it, and she tells him that she is married. Is it okay that Phyllis circumvented Frank's consent to non-monogamy by not telling him of her relationship before they slept together? Or does it not matter if she's married because she didn't violate any agreements with her husband and didn't make any promises (or even suggestions) of a relationship with Frank that would necessitate him being involved in any way with her marriage?
Frank is not the one practicing non-monogamy. He is only engaging in a one nighter. I doubt if Frank cares.
Quote:

Situation #2: Wanda and Linda have been together for 5 years when Linda broaches the topic of non-monogamy with Wanda. Linda has a friend, Jenny, that she is attracted to and that she would like to date. Wanda agrees with polyamory on a philosophical level, but feels hurt that Linda would want to be with someone else. She eventually decides that she can get comfortable wit the idea. Linda asks Jenny out, but they don't really click together romantically and so it fizzles out fast. Wanda is relieved. Two months later, Linda comes home and gleefully tells Wanda that she was asked out by someone in her dance class, Annette, and that she said yes! Wanda doesn't know Annette but is horrified that Linda hadn't consulted her first.....Linda doesn't understand why Wanda was okay with her going out with Jenny but not with Annette. Should it matter who was the focus of the original consent to non-monogamy? Or, once someone has consented to non-monogamy, do they no longer get to revoke that consent when it comes to a different partner?
It depends on what their agreement actually was. It sounds like they didn't communicate to each other properly. Each one made certain assumptions. In that case, Linda didn't violate Wanda's consent. They had a misunderstanding.
Quote:
Situation #3: Megan and Derek have been non-monogamous since the start of their relationship. They are tested regularly for STIs and used condoms with each other (and all other partners) for the first year of their relationship. However, after moving in together, they decided to stop using condoms. When Megan told one of her other partners, Greg, that she was no longer using condoms with Derek, he was upset that he hadn't been consulted in advance. Does Greg have the right to consent (or not) to Megan changing her barrier use within her other relationships? Or is the decision only between Megan and Derek -- and Megan's only responsibility is to inform Greg of the change so that (if he chooses) he can adjust his own practices with Megan accordingly?
Greg can't provide consent for another party. He can only decide if he will continue having sex with Megan after being informed of the change.

Quote:

Situation #4: Louis, John and Penelope have been in a triad for 3 years when John proposes to Penelope. Penelope happily accepts and the two begin planning their wedding. Louis is hurt because he thought there was an unspoken agreement that none of them would marry each other so that there wouldn't be an imbalance of power between them. Penelope and John think that that is silly -- they knew Louis didn't want to get married, but they didn't extend that mindset to themselves... they remind Louis that nothing will change, and contend there is no imbalance of power just because the two of them get married. Louis voices his opposition again, but Penelope and John are adamant that their decision is between the two of them. Louis drops the issue and the wedding moves forward as planned. Is Louis right that he should have been allowed to consent/not consent to part of the polycule marrying each other? Or are John and Penelope right that each relationship within the triad can make their own decisions?
There is no such thing as an unspoken agreement. Louis has been informed. It's his decision whether or not he stays on.
Quote:

Situation #5: Martin and Ella met at a BDSM play party. They agreed to non-monogamy right away. Ella has two other serious partners and has encouraged Martin to date others, but Martin said he just wasn't interested in dating anyone else. One day, Martin goes to a play party on his own because Ella is busy. The next day, he tells Ella that when he was at the party an acquaintance of his invited him to do a scene and they did a scene together at the party. Ella is floored -- she had encouraged Martin to seek out other relationships, but she had never expected him to do a public sex act with another woman! Martin argues that Ella never had a problem with him having sex with someone else and sex is sex -- it doesn't matter if he chooses to do it in public or private as long as it is consensual and protected. Should Ella have had the opportunity to consent (or not) to Martin's scene with the other woman?
Assuming their dynamic does not require him to "ask permission", Ellen has already given her consent.
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Old 05-29-2018, 03:36 PM
dingedheart dingedheart is offline
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I’m impression by the very elaborate situations you’ve presented.

S1). I don’t think Phyliss violated his consent in home knowing she was married and in an open marriage prior to screwing her. It was a ONS ...hotel bar it wouldn’t have mattered.

S2) is a matter of clarity. Broaching and having an agreement of an open relationship. I’d say Wanda assuming that the relationship was closed because the thing with Jenny fizzled out was her mistake. As well as Linda also making clear she still wants an open relationship.

S3) considering she’s using condoms or barriers with Greg so nothing has changed and he’s not at risk No Greg has no rights. If it was the other was around I’d say yes.

S4). This one I think yes ...or yes maybe. The very least John should have had a conversational of his intention with Louis.

S5) Ella’s flat out wrong ....they agreed to having an open relationship he just chose not to be active. And then he did. Oh well deal with it.


No honest doesn’t = consent

There might not be a difference between consent and control.

If a person reluctantly agrees he or she still agrees unfortunately that is consent.
If you’re uncomfortable and agree that’s on you.


Fairness =consent Is say under this broad topic YES . However I would think there would be an accompanying conversation of how that all works. Simply right now our marriage or relationship is officially open.


Not your job to predict and shape the facts to not upset a partner. I’d say acting in good faith and with in your relationship should be the guide.
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Old 05-29-2018, 04:41 PM
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Scenario 1: I'll be the different one here and say yes, Phyllis did take away Frank's option to consent or not consent to sex with a married woman. It doesn't matter that it was only intended to be a one-night stand. Some people have ethical/moral standards that preclude interacting sexually with someone who's married, regardless of the circumstances. I think it would have been better for her to have told Frank up front that she was married.

Scenario 2: Miscommunication. Or, rather, lack of communication. In Wanda's mind, it seems, she consented *only* to Linda's relationship with Jenny. Jenny assumed blanket consent to *any* other relationship she chose to take on. They could have clarified at the beginning whether Wanda's consent to the Jenny thing extended to Linda seeing other people in general, or was exclusive to the Jenny situation.

Scenario 3: I think it would have been considerate and respectful for Megan to inform Greg of the change in sexual health practices in advance of the change, but Greg does not have the right to *consent* to someone else's sexual health practices. Informing him in advance would simply have given him the knowledge he needed to determine what *his* sexual health practices with Megan would be going forward. However, if Megan informed him before they had sex again (after she and Derek stopped using condoms), she at least gave him the information he would need before it was a real issue. In my particular dynamics, my partners and I keep each other informed of new sexual partners, and the one partner I currently have who might go barrier-free with someone else has agreed to inform me before that happens, or as soon as possible afterward if it happens unexpectedly. But again, that's respect and consideration, in my opinion, so that practices could be altered accordingly (for example, I could say to the one partner, "I'm not doing oral sex with you anymore now that you aren't using barriers with X.") If Megan and Greg had no such agreement, she hasn't done anything unacceptable, in my opinion, and again, Greg doesn't have the right to consent to what Megan does with Derek. He only has the right to consent to *himself* continuing to have sex with Megan, and what precautions he wants to take.

Situation 4: Personally, I can't understand why John and Penelope wouldn't have discussed this with Louis before the proposal was made. If they're a triad, Louis is impacted by the change in John and Penelope's dynamic. He doesn't have the right to consent to their marriage, but he does have the right to decide whether he's willing to remain in a triad where he's becoming somewhat of an outsider. Telling him prior to the proposal would also have given him time to adjust to the idea and express and work through his feelings about it, whereas it sounds like in this scenario, he was somewhat blindsided by the decision. He does not have the right to consent to or make a decision about John and Penelope's branch of the triad, but I think he does have the right to know ahead of time about something that will have this much of an impact on him.

Situation 5: Sex is sex. Playing is playing. It sounds like Martin wasn't *planning* to do a public scene before he went to the party; it was something that was decided *at* the party. He told Ella as soon as possible after the event. If she has consented to being in a nonmonogamous relationship with him, she has consented, in my opinion, to him having sex with other people, regardless of the circumstances or location in which that sex occurs.

The questions:
1. Does honesty = consent? In other words, if I tell my partner that I did something and/or that I am going to do something and they continue to be in a relationship with me, have I obtained their "consent"?

One could consider that implicit consent (by not denying consent, one might imply that they are giving consent), but in consensual nonmonogamy I think it's better to obtain explicit consent, i.e. actually hearing your partner saying "Sure, I'm okay with that." Explicit consent makes misunderstandings and miscommunication less likely, though obviously it doesn't eradicate those possibilities entirely.

2. What is the difference between consent and control? Do I have the right to consent (or not) to what goes on in my partner's other relationships? Do I even have the right to know about it? Or do I only have the right to consent to my continued participation with my partner?

You only have the right to consent to things in *your* relationship. You do not have the right to give or deny consent to your partner doing things with other people. You can't, for example, say "I'm okay with you not using condoms with X," but you *can* say, "I'm okay with us continuing not to use condoms even though you are now not using them with X either." As for what you do or don't have the right to know about your partner's other relationships, that's entirely dependent on what you and your partner agree to inform each other of, and that's a discussion that I believe should occur early on in the relationship. There is no right or wrong answer to what you have the right to be informed of; there's only what you and your partner *decide* you have the right to be informed of.

3. Where is the line between "not comfortable" and "not consensual"? If I feel jealousy, anger, envy at my partner's other relationships but (grudgingly) accept them, is the situation not consensual?

If you accept the relationships of your own accord, regardless of your emotions, you have given consent. However, in my opinion, if you are accepting those relationships because you feel like you *have to*, e.g. your partner has threatened to leave you if you don't accept their other relationships, I wouldn't consider that consent because you've been coerced into agreeing rather than making the choice you want to make.

4. Does "fairness" = consent? If I have given my partner my consent to (date other people)/(have a friend with benefits)/(spend the weekend with their lover)/(whatever), have they automatically consented to me doing the same things?

There is no "automatic" consent. Consent, in my opinion, is not something to assume; as I said above, I think it's something that needs to be stated clearly and explicitly. So no, you telling your partner "Sure, go ahead and see other people" does NOT equal them telling you the same.

Edit (because I missed a question):
5. What is my responsibility in predicting what will or will not upset my partner? How do I ever know that I am acting in good faith about when to consult (or confess) if I can never fully predict my partner's reaction to every situation I might find myself in?

You aren't a mind reader. You have no responsibility to predict anything. Your responsibility is to clearly, concisely, and constantly communicate with your partner so you *know* what will or won't upset them. If you have even the slightest doubt about whether you're acting in good faith, go to your partner and discuss the situation before you act.

Last edited by KC43; 05-29-2018 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 05-29-2018, 05:22 PM
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What a great, well-thought-out post!

The issue of consent, or more especially, informed consent, has been on my mind a lot since I began my own "poly journey" for want of a better phrase.

From my limited experience alone, issues of consent, full disclosure, honesty and good communication crop up in ALL relationships, but are especially relevant in polyamorous situations, for the reasons you mentioned, MsEmotional - there are so many more "moving parts", possibilities, and hearts/lives on the line.

Situation 1: Vince is correct in assuming Frank probably doesn't give a shit if Phyllis is married. He just wants to get off, same as her. However, a grey area still exists, as it doesn't take into account informed consent. Perhaps Frank has personal boundaries and ethics around (not) fucking married women. It probably wouldn't have changed the outcome, but in an ideal world, Phyllis probably should have told him she was married, before they slept together.

Situation 2: From the description of events leading up to, and following, Linda's brief fling with Jenny, I believe that Wanda "consented" under some duress. It wasn't a "joyous yes!" and she was relieved when that relationship ended. Therefore, since Linda has been with Wanda many years and presumably knows her extremely well, I believe she should have realised/cared that Wanda felt this way (unhappy, uneasy, barely tolerant) of the initial foray into poly, and predicted that Wanda would have a similar reaction to the Annette situation. Therefore, it would have been prudent of Linda, if she cares for Wanda's emotional wellbeing, NOT to simply assume consent as a given in any future multi-partner dating scenario.

Situation 3: Presuming all partners concerned undergo regular STI tests and have no transferable diseases which condoms might not fully protect against, I believe it should be Megan and Derek's choice whether to continue using barriers or not. I DO however believe that, as a courtesy, they probably should have informed Greg of their plans to stop using them, since he's part of their polycule and there is a (albeit, minute) chance that the additional risk could affect him.

Situation 4: Other than no cheating, there is rarely such a thing as an "unspoken agreement" in poly. If one partner objects to something in particular, and considers it a deal-breaker or hard limit, then that discussion must have taken place for there to be an "agreement". In this case, Louis has the right to feel hurt, left out, and to voice his objections to any perceived power imbalance. However, he does not have the right to STOP John and Penelope from marrying each other, if that is something that's important to their dyad and what they both want. Just because Louis doesn't want to get married, himself, doesn't mean he has the right to impose his view on the others. That said, as a courtesy and a show of loving inclusion, I DO believe John and Penelope ought to have considered his feelings and run their plans by him beforehand.

Situation 5: Ella doesn't really have much of a leg to stand on in this scenario. They agreed to practice non-monogamy. She has previously encouraged Martin to become involved with other women. When he finally does, the circumstances were such that obtaining consent/approval ahead of time would have been near impossible. Besides, Martin had no realistic way of knowing Ella would "disapprove" as she'd previously been so encouraging. As long as Martin was safe, it was his right to act according to their previous agreement.

******************

1.) Honesty does not necessarily indicate consent. If Bill says to his wife, Martha, "I want to open up our relationship and start dating your friend Carrie" (honest) and Martha answers, "I'm not down with that at all and would be so hurt if you went ahead and slept with my friend" (also honest), that does NOT mean Martha has consented to opening up her marriage. If Bill doesn't back down, or renegotiate terms with Martha, and Martha chooses to end the marriage rather than open up, that also does not mean she has consented; she has simply allowed Bill to continue on with his own life, separate from hers. If, however, she says, "I'm not down with that at all. If we're going to open up the marriage, I'd prefer you not to become sexually involved with one of my best friends" (again, honest) and Bill agrees to seek a different partner, then an agreement has been reached and Martha could be said to have consented, even if she's not totally thrilled about the idea of poly at first.

2.) Consent vs Control regarding other relationships outside a particular dyad: this all depends on what agreements have been made prior to any contentious issue cropping up. Agreements are always open to renegotiation, of course. Ultimately, we all have limited control over what our other partner/s and their partners choose to do, and can only "consent" (or otherwise) to situations or acts that have the potential to affect us personally. If no agreement or consent can be reached without coercion, threats or emotional blackmail, then the only other choice available to any person in the relationship/polycule is to leave that relationship.

3.) Grudging acceptance is often the norm in poly, for one partner, at least at the outset. I think it all depends on the degree of initial discomfort that party has with *whatever it is* and whether or not they indicate they *might* be able to accept it, given time, patience and emotional work. If they simply dig their heels in and refuse to acknowledge the changed situation or a new partner... or are obviously unwilling to put in the emotional work, research, time and communication in order to *become* more comfortable and accepting... then it is NOT consensual... even if they've said the words that superficially indicate acceptance/agreement. ("Well, if you really must do this", "Go ahead, you'll do what you want anyway", "I don't want this, but I guess I'll have to accept it, as long as you don't leave me and the kids".)

4.) Fairness does not equal consent. All people are individuals, with their own particular needs, likes, dislikes... and all relationship issues require communication, compromise and consent.

5.) Noone can ever fully predict another person's reaction to a particular suggestion, situation or event. However, there are certain generally-accepted standards common to functional relationships: honesty, timely disclosure of information, safer sex practices (whatever that may entail for the specific relationship), non violent communication, affection and empathy, among other things. If one ACTS with these in mind when dealing with their partner/s, it's pretty likely that most potentially shocking and hurtful revelations can be avoided. All people react differently, even to the same situation or information, so "putting yourself in the other person's place" when deciding on what or how much to share, and when, can be a little hit or miss. But in general, most emotionally mature adults can anticipate what might be a potential handgrenade and actively avoid tossing something potentially damaging into the mix at the wrong moment.
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Old 05-29-2018, 08:50 PM
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Hi MsEmotional,

Some people "consent" to polyamory in order to save their marriage. Does that count as consent?

This is a great thread. To me, the five situations that you present show that consent isn't always cut and dry. Sometimes a situation is consenting from one point of view, but not from another. My answer is that sometimes an answer does not exist.

The general rule I would suggest is, as much as possible, to not proceed with a situation unless your partner consents to it ahead of time. But it is not always easy to tell where the line is drawn.

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Old 05-30-2018, 12:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsEmotional View Post
1. Does honesty = consent? In other words, if I tell my partner that I did something and/or that I am going to do something and they continue to be in a relationship with me, have I obtained their "consent"?
This is way over-simplified. If I cheat on my partner and she stays with me, I doubt that would be without some serious discussion. Also, I can't just tell a partner I'm going to start screwing other people, then just do it. There has to be some talk.
Quote:

2. What is the difference between consent and control? Do I have the right to consent (or not) to what goes on in my partner's other relationships? Do I even have the right to know about it? Or do I only have the right to consent to my continued participation with my partner?
No, you have no right to decide what goes on between other people. You might have a right to be informed.
Quote:
3. Where is the line between "not comfortable" and "not consensual"? If I feel jealousy, anger, envy at my partner's other relationships but (grudgingly) accept them, is the situation not consensual?
A good rule of thumb is if you are not comfortable, then don't consent.
Quote:

4. Does "fairness" = consent? If I have given my partner my consent to (date other people)/(have a friend with benefits)/(spend the weekend with their lover)/(whatever), have they automatically consented to me doing the same things?
I'm picturing someone tekling their partner it's okay to screw around, totally out of the blue...lol. No, that is not consent.
Quote:

A common theme in all those situations also points to a fifth question:

5. What is my responsibility in predicting what will or will not upset my partner? How do I ever know that I am acting in good faith about when to consult (or confess) if I can never fully predict my partner's reaction to every situation I might find myself in?

Polyamory involves so many different possible configurations and levels of commitment that it is impossible to negotiate every eventuality in advance. You also don't want to be in a situation where you are constantly saying, "Yeah, I'd like to do that, but I need to consult with my polycule first...." So where's the line?
The time to anticipate what might upset your partner is during the negotiations. Don't leave things vague in hopes of getting away with something later.

An example I like to give comes from S&M culture. A sub or slave claims they have no limits. Really? So no problem if I cut your hand off? Oh...you want me to leave everything attached? So I can cut off all your hair and then stick it back on with duct tape when I'm done?

The point is to be specific about what you want or don't want. In most of the scenarios you laid out there was hardly any communication of intent. A few simple words could have resolved things.
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  #9  
Old 05-30-2018, 01:44 AM
Ravenscroft Ravenscroft is offline
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As others have pretty much voiced my thoughts, just a couple of comments.
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Per Scenario 4: the issue of "consent" doesn't enter into it here.

Louis is getting shafted -- repeatedly. J & P have been hiding stuff from him, though they'd all have claimed they were mutual partners & all that standard feel-good "clap for Tinkerbell" BS.

John kept the secret hidden from a "partner" so that he could spring it on the other; at that point, I'd contend that the poly balloon developed its first hole. The triad was about to cease existence, & nobody cared but Louis.

Then, J&P went on to not only discount (invalidate) Louis's feelings, but to LIE TO HIS FACE ("nothing will change"), having already formed a Sacred Dyad coalition.

My estimate is that J&P had each been harboring secret Monogamist desires, & needed to push Louis to "voluntarily" move along so that there'd be enough room on the ol' Relationship Escalator for babies & respectability & all that "legit" stuff they couldn't have with a triad (especially with an apparently bisexual guy ).

Once they get established, maybe they'll trot out the "we're poly" lie again so they can wedge someone into their marriage+1.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsEmotional View Post
5. What is my responsibility in predicting what will or will not upset my partner? How do I ever know that I am acting in good faith about when to consult (or confess) if I can never fully predict my partner's reaction to every situation I might find myself in?
Under what definition of "polyamory" is psychic ability specified?

As with most of the root post, there is a whole webwork of underlying (mis)assumptions.

Needing to check in about "every situation I might find myself in" is... well, bizarre. Or maybe insane. Certainly NOT a healthy relationship by ANY definition.

And if communication sucks so badly that psychic ability is necessary, then it's quite a stretch to even call it "a relationship" in any healthy sense.

In our household, we didn't like the idea of one of us disappearing for a few days, with no advance notice or phonecall. That was not a rule, but a courtesy we paid to each other.

But you seem to imply that I ought to be living in constant uncertainty (even fear) that I was going to displease my S.O. somehow, maybe bringing home the wrong brand of toilet tissue or something.

Annie & I had a tacit agreement that we would back off from someone the other outright distrusted. This was borne not of obligation, but because we had good reason to put a high level of trust in the other's gut instinct. Over the years, it mellowed to more of a "check in" where we could say "I'm kinda-sorta interested, what do you think?" & even a "meh" might push us toward greener pastures.

Once when I was in NRE, Annie pulled me aside, clearly concerned, & said, "are you sure you want to do that?" Naturally, I grinned & started to make a smart-alecky comment about how fun it was... then all at once it hit me that I was dating a full-blown Melodrama Queen, & getting further involved would probably gum up my life. I cooled down the relationship, & eventually ended it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsEmotional View Post
How do I ever know that I am acting in good faith?
Possibly, you could
  1. find a therapist who'll help you figure out why you so profoundly distrust your own thoughts
  2. speak to your partner(s) & ask for input (subjective AND objective) from the person/people you supposedly trust most in the world
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  #10  
Old 05-30-2018, 02:27 AM
MsEmotional MsEmotional is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenscroft View Post
Under what definition of "polyamory" is psychic ability specified?

As with most of the root post, there is a whole webwork of underlying (mis)assumptions.

Needing to check in about "every situation I might find myself in" is... well, bizarre. Or maybe insane.

Possibly, you could
  1. find a therapist who'll help you figure out why you so profoundly distrust your own thoughts
  2. speak to your partner(s) & ask for input (subjective AND objective) from the person/people you supposedly trust most in the world

It may have been unclear from my original post, but the scenarios I posited were all hypothetical.

My point is that a lot of people throw around a definition of polyamory that includes some reference to it being “with the consent of all involved.” But what elements require consent are habitually not defined, and the assumption that everything can/should be explicitly negotiated is not necessarily realistic.

Vince’s example points to this directly — who would’ve thought that it was necessary to negotiate for the continued use of one’s arm?
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