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Old 01-14-2012, 09:11 PM
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ChloeJane ChloeJane is offline
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Default Romanticies, NRE and Other Pitfalls of New Relationships

I read, hear about, and have experienced multiple challenges around new relationships; both within the mono and poly communities that surround me. Girlfriends who pin all of their hopes and desires on a new love interest, only to have their co-dependent dreams smashed to smithereens. Men so blinded by NRE that they stumble into abusive relationships with women who don't appreciate them for who they are. In some ways, the challenges that many of us face in the poly-arena are simply mono problems multiplied, and we can approach them in the same ways that we do in monogamy. In most cases, however, the difference is that in the face of these adversarial issues, we are attempting to keep an existing relationship healthy and well tended in which case I think a whole new set of tools is needed.

In our poly relationship, our biggest challenges are NRE and Romantacies. For us specifically, my husband is the more emotionally based partner and so he comes up against NRE whereas I am a completionist and idealist, so Romantacies are my biggest challenge. If we are not careful, we can end up whirling each other up into a frothy mess of heady emotions that threaten to tip our relationship into the danger zone. I'll project us five years into the future where we're all living together, happily sharing household chores and bills, going on vacation as a poly family, maybe raising a child together, checking out fuel efficient vehicles for commuting, looking at real estate that would better suit an expanded family's needs.... WOAH NELLY SLOW DOWN. My husband is prone to falling deep into NRE, overcome by his sexual awakening and need for more time/talking/anything with her, transgressing boundaries in a haze of love, inadvertently neglecting me or idealizing our new partner to death in the process. WOAH NELLY SLOW DOWN.

We've done a lot of communication around our patterns and challenges, and have been making excellent progress; we slip and slide around a little bit (where would the fun be if we didn't get caught up in the moment from time to time?) but for the most part, we have come up with coping strategies to keep our relationship healthy even in the face of our own adversaries.

Let me preface this by saying that this works for US and by no means do I/we think that any/all of this will work for any other person/couple. There is nothing more insulting for me than having other people assume that what works for them will work for me, or being tromped all over by someone who thinks that they have it all worked out. That being said, I thought that it might be interesting for other people to see and share the things that we've discovered as a couple that help us navigate some of our own personal pitfalls in polyamory. We are equally curious abut the methods that other couples use!

For us, we employ the following:

1) Communication: We talk, talk, and talk some more. Part of this, for us, is being in touch with our feelings, and spending enough time with ourselves to be able to be in a fairly neutral place before we bring them each other. We use reflective listening to remain neutral even if we're hearing things that trigger an emotional response in us - we use "the conch" if necessary (ie - we choose an arbitrary object, and whoever is holding that object has the floor - the other person has to listen, and cannot speak until they are given that object. Starting all responsive sentences with "What I hear you saying is....." "My understanding of what you're saying is...." etc... helps us a lot too.)

2) Self Reflection: Giving our heads a shake is important whenever we come against a partner’s challenges with our behaviour. I quote a famous article on NRE with "Love objects may be closer than they appear" as far as looking closely at the way that we might be idealizing a new partner, or love situation. Being aware of our own patterns (my husband is very helpful in helping me identify them, as I am with him) and stopping ourselves when we start wandering down a familiar and counter productive path. Asking oneself "Who am I serving right now?" when participating in particularly heady or irrational behaviour serves us well.

3) Forgiveness: We delve deep into this in our relationship. Forgiving ourselves, our own patterns and each other is of PARAMOUNT importance. There is nothing worse than dealing with one issue, only to have another past one come up and bite us in the ass. If one of us still harbours resentment, we have not done enough work (either as a couple, or as individuals, or both) to have truly forgiven each other, and we revisit it. Knowing each other's patterns inside and out also helps us be forgiving when we bumble around in NRE/Romantacies and inadvertently hurt each other.

4) Taking Time: It's important during the first 6-18 months for us to take time for our own relationship and ourselves. It can be so easy to get caught up in another person during this time, and social media just makes it worse (txting, facebooking, emailing, skyping, twitterfeeds, forums, chatting AND seeing them in person.) We schedule time and dates for each other, and for ourselves to help us keep perspective, or refind it if we feel like we're getting sucked into emotional patterns that don't serve our relationship.

5) Fearless Self Inventory: WHY am I doing what I'm doing? WHY am I feeling what I'm feeling? Yes, it's important that I share my feelings, "I'm feeling threatened/jealous about your NRE with X" but am I doing my own inventory as well in journalling, meditating, or counselling? "Why am I feeling threatened? How is my own thought process manifesting feelings of jealousy? Where are these feelings originating from within myself? What work do I need to do to address these feelings inside of myself? Is it all my partner's responsibility? What do I need from my partner, and myself to feel more secure when I'm feeling this way?" are questions that we ask ourselves during that first flush of new love.

6) Taking Responsibility: If one of us is in a pattern, we take responsibility. This helps the other members of our relationship get clear too. We need to own our own feelings, take responsibility and ACT on the work that we need to do, be responsible for the way that we behave if we hurt a partner, and be responsible for the methods of communication that we engage in both with ourselves and each other. Taking responsibility means that we negate the need for blame and avoidance, and it allows each of us to own their own part in whatever drama/issue might be playing out.

7) Having Identifying Terms: My husband and I have long since identified our patterns and challenges. We found it really helpful to name those challenges so that we can point out a problem without having to do a ton of communication. For example, my husband tends to get REALLY into the sexual side of NRE. The beast awakens, and he has a fantastic time having sex with a new partner - it can throw his sexual approach into hyper-drive, and be a little overwhelming (I love sex, LOVE sex, but three times a day when I'm a VERY busy woman in my community/business is a bit much, thank you!) When he starts to get overly charged, I say "Mr. Penis" and he knows to back it up a bit. When I start Romanticizing too much, and start making him feel like I'm going to move a girlfriend into the house and have babies with her (kind of joking here, kind of not) he says "Projection" and I know what I'm doing. This works for us, and sums up many hours of deep communication in a semi-humorous way that allows us to check ourselves.

7) Take a Break: During intense conversation, we take a break. Whether it's taking a night off from talking about an issue at hand, or taking a walk if we start getting worked up emotionally we stop and leave it alone until we calm down a little bit. Trying to communicate when one of us really want to smash something is counter-productive for us. Taking a break from our other relationships is also important; we do this with communication to our other partner(s) as well, "We're experiencing some challenges in our relationship, and need a weekend to reconnect. Are you okay with that?" Having time and space with each other to work out our problems is SO helpful for us. This is sort of like "Taking Time" but it's a little different, in that we stop seeing our other partners to deal with an important issue in our own relationship, or that we take a break from the heat of the moment that might be keeping us from being able to do the hard work needed to move past an issue.

These are the main things that we use to balance ourselves out, check in, and do the work that polyamory demands of us for it to be successful while keeping our own relationship healthy and happy. What does everyone else do?
I love to love the lovers, who love to love the love.

Last edited by ChloeJane; 01-14-2012 at 09:14 PM. Reason: wrong pronouns.
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Old 01-15-2012, 04:01 AM
BrokenMirror BrokenMirror is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2012
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Well me and my DH are just entering into the poly world so I can't say what will actually work for our future relationships; but I just had to say that your list looks a lot like the notebook DH and I were taking notes in as we talked about opening our lives and hearts to other people.

Also I think Im gonna steal your idea about having 'key words' to sum up the longer version.
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:06 AM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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I once found an article on having healthy poly relationships and posted excerpts from it in the Golden Nuggets forum. I only included the first paragraph of each list item because it's too long to fit everything in a post. It's a very good article, so if you want to go read the entire thing you can at: www.polyamorysociety.org/tools.html. It's called "How to Make It Work - Tools for Healthy Polyamorous Relationships."

I'll quote it here...
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
How to Make It Work - Tools for Healthy Polyamorous Relationships by Brian Frederick
  1. Tell the Truth. Lasting relationships are built on trust. Trust is built on honesty. Honesty isn't hard and it's a good habit. Bite the bullet, tell the truth. If your relationship can't weather it, you are in the wrong relationship; but it probably can. Telling the truth is easier than lying, all rumor and myth to the contrary. Lies are a lot of work. They weigh you down and isolate you. Small lies get lonely and seek out bigger lies. Don't ask one lover to lie or keep secrets from others. Secrets may not be lies but they breed lies. Secrets build walls and discourage intimacy. Know the difference between privacy and secrecy.

  2. Know Yourself. This is the most important tool and sometimes the hardest to find. Spend quality time with yourself and find out what you're like. Most people never do. Learn to tell when you are moody or unreasonable or defensive or hyper-sensitive or blinded by New Relationship Energy. Know your limits. Discover where you could do better. Learn what's healthy for you and what's not. Figure out what your priorities really are. Learn when to take a walk and cool off.

  3. Take Care of Yourself. Work on you. "Grow your own garden in your own soul, don't wait for someone else to bring you flowers." Instead of looking to other people for validation or satisfaction or happiness, learn to make it yourself. This is a vitally important skill for living. You will always be at other people's mercy - until you learn to satisfy your own needs. Once you do, you gain a freedom and confidence that can never be taken away. You can meet people as equals and choose to enjoy each other instead of carefully exchanging needs in a scarcity-driven emotional economy. Ironically, people find this kind of independence very attractive.

  4. Take Responsibility. Own your feelings. No one can make you sad or angry or happy either, they are your emotions. They exist in your head and nowhere else. You own them. You. There are always choices. Accept that sometimes you feel good or bad for no reason at all - not because of the people or events in your life. When you make someone else accountable for your feelings, your disempower yourself.

  5. Encourage Growth. Remember to care about your lovers as human beings. Support them in advancing their careers, spiritual pursuits, educations and ambitions. At their own pace and in their own way. Help them to heal and understand themselves better. Encourage them to take time by themselves and give them the space they need. Help them cultivate strength. Ask them to do the same for you but tell them how; they can't read your mind. One way to encourage growth is to give those you love the freedom to love others.

  6. Respect. Respect is a form of love. Respect yourself, set limits and boundaries and respect those of other people. Know how and when to clearly say `no' and how to listen when others say `no'. Never tolerate abuse. You deserve better. Remember to be polite to your partners, they deserve it even more than the stranger down the street.

  7. Communicate. If you want a healthy relationship, strong communication skills are a necessity, not a luxury. Trouble usually starts when talking stops. Things come up all the time that have to be worked through patiently and lovingly, even when you're having a bad day. It gets easier over time, but it takes work and a willingness to break up scar tissue and tear down walls. Communication skills are what make a person a good lover.

  8. Attitude. Having tools isn't enough, you have to really want to use them. Ya gotta wanna. Your disposition will make it work or blow it. Find a way for everyone to win. Make important decisions unanimous. Shine a positive light on difficult situations too; many relationships wither from negative energy. Don't turn little things into big things. Look for solutions, not someone to blame. Practice tolerance, patience, flexibility, generosity, understanding, forgiveness. Learn to apologize. Laugh at yourself.
The world opens up... when you do.

"Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me." ~Bryan Ferry
"Love and the self are one . . ." ~Leo Buscaglia "

An excellent blog post on hierarchy in polyamory:

Last edited by nycindie; 01-15-2012 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 01-16-2012, 03:54 AM
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redpepper redpepper is offline
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I was going to merge this thread with this one that is on lessons learned, but I decided not to. Got some really great points there on what has worked for you. Thanks for sharing them.
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:28 AM
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idealist idealist is offline
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I have become a Professional and Life Coach working with Teams and Individuals!! There is a system of looking at Professional Teams that has proven to be extremely effective in the business arena! These 8 aspects of a productive Team can also be applied to any type of group or relationship. The research was taken from a Gallup Poll which surveyed 1,000,000 employees in 45 different industries and internationally as well. These are the 8 aspects of the environment which supports healthy relationships. Just for the fun of it, I applied it to the poly relationship I'm in now and it's pretty cool. I invite anyone to do the same and share it if you are open to it!!!
CLick on the link to read it!

The key to life is in being fully engaged and peacefully detached simultaneously and authentically in each moment.
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communication, foundations, lessons, nre, romantacies

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