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  #1  
Old 09-20-2014, 01:09 AM
cuddlecakes cuddlecakes is offline
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Default What are the consequences of broken rules?

Sigh. I'll try not to be longwinded.

We have an agreement with a few rules. She's "bent" the rules several times lately, making me upset, and then definitely broke them.

Among other things, we're not allowed to sex new people until we've discussed it, and supposed to keep each other informed of possible dates before they happen. She spent the night with a guy while out of town for the weekend and the first time I ever heard of him was when she told me apologetically the next day. Standard excuses of "It all happened so fast", etc. and, when pressed, "I am bad at following rules".

Anyway, I don't know what to do. Part of me thinks she's terrible and I would dump her if I were a real man with any self-respect. Part of me thinks I am being unreasonable and have nothing to be angry about and am making up a controversy about a technicality. Probably the truth is somewhere in the middle.

I don't know how angry I should be, and I don't know what the consequences of breaking the rules are. And if there are no consequences, then what's the point? Our agreement is just "I wish you would do this, but if you don't, nothing bad will happen (except to my feelings)"?

I need some perspective.
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  #2  
Old 09-20-2014, 01:55 AM
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Emm Emm is offline
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The consequences are whatever you and she have agreed the consequences are. The reason you feel that enforcing them is unreasonable may be that deep down you feel the rules themselves are flawed. Do they serve any useful purpose or are they like old laws against witchcraft that have just hung around for years because nobody's gotten around to writing them out of the rulebook?
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Old 09-20-2014, 02:24 AM
cuddlecakes cuddlecakes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emm View Post
The consequences are whatever you and she have agreed the consequences are.
We didn't, and didn't realize we needed to. What are some options, other than "break up" and "change the rule" (which would make the rules pointless in the first place)?

Quote:
The reason you feel that enforcing them is unreasonable may be that deep down you feel the rules themselves are flawed.
Part of me feels that way. Other parts don't. How do I decide which part of me is right?

Quote:
Do they serve any useful purpose or are they like old laws against witchcraft that have just hung around for years because nobody's gotten around to writing them out of the rulebook?
Finding out about things afterwards makes me upset. It feels like something is being hidden from me. I don't see any reason why she can't tell me "Hey I have been talking to this guy I like and I might try to meet up with him while I'm out there" and then "Hey I texted that guy and he wants to meet, I don't think anything will happen but I'm letting you know just in case." Is that an unreasonable expectation?
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Old 09-20-2014, 04:26 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I am sorry you hurt.

What are the purposes of these rules? Be physically safer with safer sex activities? Be emotionally safe by not having anxiety provoking things sprung on you? That could hint to the possible consequence.

For instance, you might stop sex entirely with her or start to use condoms and stop fluid bonded sex with her til a few clean rounds of labs. Both of you could go get tested.

Or you might be on strikes for the emotionally safety. That is another option. Mistakes can happen, there is a learning curve to new stuff. But if this becomes chronic it erodes trust/respect. I go with "three strikes you are out. " You might have your own personal number for your limit of tolerance for learning curve mistakes -- 2? 5? But certainly not 1000, right? After a certain point one has to accept it not learning curve growing pains, but a person's character.

You feel how you feel. Right now you feel angry and hurt. That you cannot help. Some feelings are fun to experience, some are not. It is also appropriate to feel let down in these circumstances.

How you respond and handle it is up to you. You can help how you choose to behave. You can decide if you want to stick with it here and work it out or if you are done here.

You could not go beating your own self up calling yourself names like "not being a real man" etc. The situation stinks, but you could handle it appropriately.

Figure out if this is something repairable or if this is deal breaker.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 09-20-2014 at 09:28 AM.
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  #5  
Old 09-20-2014, 05:55 AM
MightyMax MightyMax is offline
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Some people can't get what they desire out of polyamory and stick to rules that essentially govern how they interact with other people. Some people chose to be polyamorous because it allows them the freedom to respond to their desires as they have them. For these people, having a rule where they have to check in or discuss their desires defeat the object of having this relationship style. You may have to accept that as much as you need her to follow these rules, they obstruct her happiness. This might be something that is too big of a discrepancy between your needs and part ways.
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  #6  
Old 09-20-2014, 06:07 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Isn't her responsibility to not agree to rules that she does not like in the first place? Could be a case of "willing but not able" --- thought she could in theory but in practice learned she could not.

They still have to sort it out between them. Is this repairable? Or not?

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 09-20-2014 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 09-20-2014, 06:22 AM
MightyMax MightyMax is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
Isn't her responsibility to not agree to rules that she does not like in the first place?

Galagirl
I think it can be easy to assume that mono normative rules should apply to ethical non monogamy. For example "of course I should check in and ask my partner's permission to have sex with someone else because when you're committed to someone, they do have ownership over your body. It's my partner who lets me do this because on some level, we own each other".

We have all been pretty much raised thinking that monogamy and sexual exclusivity is the norm with our partners being the gate keepers of our sexuality, it can take a while to shed that line of thought and realise that it actually doesn't have to be that way and you can work out your own arrangements with your partner(s). This means that people "opening up" often agree to rules that won't work for them in the long term and when you're still transitioning from mono normative thinking, it's hard to admit that you want total control over who you love or share intimacy with when you've been taught all your life that people who don't conform to the ideals of monogamy and exclusivity are selfish and bad. Remember, people often conflate the ideals of monogamy with commitment and serious relationships. Without monogamy, many people feel that commitment is also non existent.

In other words, yes, she shouldn't have agreed to rules that she couldn't stick to but it's very possible that she didn't know she couldn't stick to them when she initially agreed and that it seemed the only realistic way people could be ethically non monogamous whilst still remaining in a serious and committed relationship.
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  #8  
Old 09-20-2014, 08:01 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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She could not SAY she isn't sure? What's so horrible about that? Baffling to me.

Quote:
In other words, yes, she shouldn't have agreed to rules that she couldn't stick to but it's very possible that she didn't know she couldn't stick to them when she initially agreed and that it seemed the only realistic way people could be ethically non monogamous whilst still remaining in a serious and committed relationship.
Could you be willing to clarify what "it" is for you there?

To me "it" is (the basic ability to keep a "Word" and communicate honestly -- say what you mean, mean what you say, don't make promises lightly) I could say to my partner "At this time, I do not know I can actually do that. I am willing to try. But no promise. I cannot promise you things I am not sure I can actually deliver. " To me that is totally ethical, honest, and realistic communicating with a partner up front about my current abilities. My partner is not a mind reader. It is more realistic to expect me to say wassup with me than expect them to just mind reader.

To me whether growing up in a mono world or poly world? I think in both worlds a person could choose to have and maintain some kind of a Word. To me that has more to do with one knowing their own self and choosing to cultivate integrity in their dealings with themselves and with others.

If it were me? It also does my partner a respect -- spares them double load grief. That's a loving thing to do -- lessen my partner's load where I can.

1) They get clear data where I am at in my abilities. Now fully informed? They can then choose to skip it or choose to go there with me in a shared risk.

2) If they go there with me and I fail to meet the desired outcome? They know I was honest about my unknown and untried ability and gave it a good faith effort. My Word at least, was honest and up front. That can be a comfort while navigating new territory.

3) Rather than my partner dealing in double disappointment.
  • That I didn't meet the promised outcome
  • I have a flimsy Word to boot. I promise to deliver things while secretly leaving out the fact that I am not sure I can actually deliver (lie of omission) rather than me owning it and voicing that out loud so the partners can deal with it up front.

Hang in there as this continues to unfold, cuddlecakes. I encourage you guys to talk and sort it out one way or the other. I am hoping it is "learning curve" issues you can sort out.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 09-20-2014 at 10:21 AM.
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  #9  
Old 09-20-2014, 11:51 AM
MightyMax MightyMax is offline
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"It" is interacting with people and acting on your desires without running it past your "primary" or longest standing partner.

If you don't understand that a person can have a ethically non monogamous relationship that doesn't involve this sort of permission giving for interactions outside the dyad, it's not really possible to say "I'm unsure whether this is going to work for me". You think that it has to be present for you to maintain a serious relationship and see other people. It's the same reason some bisexual women agree to a OPP. They think that all men would be unwilling to "share" their partner with anyone but especially another man so it's perfectly reasonable and understandable that their male partner wants to restrict any non monogamy to females only. It seems to make sense at first glance.

I don't think she should be congratulated for breaking agreements but I think that he has to acknowledge that many poly people would struggle to feel happy in a situation where they feel they have to check in before acting on their desires. This doesn't make either person "not poly" but may symbolise that they cannot be poly with each other.
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  #10  
Old 09-20-2014, 12:26 PM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
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You were born male and there is no decision on how to react to this situation that can change that unless that decision is to get gender reassignment.

You're human. You feel this decision hangs your self respect in the balance. Keep the "real man" BS out of it. Its an illusion that will only muck up your decision process.

That said, its pretty unrealistic to think you're never going to ding her emotionally or screw something up yourself. If you do ever have a misstep, how would you like HER to handle it?
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