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Old 01-16-2012, 06:36 PM
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Default on taking life as it comes

I find the idea of "taking life as it comes" to be central to my understanding of successful polyamory.

In Western society's traditional mold, the expectation is that you will date around a little, find the person who completes you, get married and have kids. If you're unlucky or chose poorly, divorce, rinse, and repeat, but don't fundamentally deivate from the path. Like in that old board game, The Game of Life, in which success is defined as creating a nuclear family and settling down into a lucrative job and a big house. Most of us grew up inundated by things that reinforced this as the ideal mold that we should try to fit into to find happiness.

It's possible to seek out multiple loving relationships while adhering (almost) to that mold. You just squeeze an "extra" girlfriend or boyfriend in along the way and incorporate them into your nuclear family dream, as in unicorn hunting, or keep them safely on the sidelines like a hobby, as in strict prescriptive primary/seconday hierarchies.

In this view of life we already know from the start what we need to do in order to achieve a satisfying life, and we just need to follow the steps in order to make it come true.

But, to my mind, life is more complicated than this. We never know what amazing people, experiences, or opportunities we will discover along the way and how they will shape us if we are open to them. I see this as the premise of "taking life as it comes." It means that we might have a vision in mind but we understand that our original vision is likely to change and is far from the only way in which we can live a satisfying life. It means understanding that strict adherence to a particular vision can, in fact, prevent us from living life to the fullest.

I am describing, of course, a life skill, not just a relationship skill. But I find that it is of particular relevance for healthy polyamory. The ability to take life as it comes is, I think, what separates unicorn hunters (single women only, please!) from couples interested in three-person relationships (hi, nice to meet you, let's get to know each other and see what might work for all of us), and separates prescriptive relationship hierarchies (this relationship MUST be secondary) from descriptive relationship hierarchies (this relationship happens to be secondary). I imagine that it also makes it much more likely that a mono/poly couple can work, since both parties may need to compromise their initial views of how their life will look in order to forge a path forwards together.

It takes a lot of comfort with uncertainty to embrace polyamory. There is a roadmap that our culture gives us for monogamy, but with poly we get the amazing (and scary! and awesome!) chance to blaze new trails and fill in the map as we go along, like explorers.

So, this is just me ruminating on this idea and wondering if anyone has anything to add. I started down this mental path after reading this comic -- http://www.viruscomix.com/page561.html
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:30 PM
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I have a similar attitude. I do have hopes for my life, but there's so much life can throw at you, and it's all so interesting. I really have very little idea what my life will look like five years from now. Sometimes I wish I did - it would bring a kind of security to be able to say "this is where I'll be and that is what I'll do". But, there are just too many options to be able to do lots of predicting about what I may want and can have in my life at that point.

I was just thinking, reading elsewhere people's stories about their "first loves" (didn't need to be the exact first, but one of the first), and whether those lasted or not. I started out with Alec when I was 16. Not surprisingly, I didn't have much of an idea who I was. There are so many things I've figured out about myself during this relationship. Sure, he has changed too, but I have been responsible for most of the change in terms of how we live in the present and how we expect our future to (not) look like; lots of stuff ranging from sexual preferences to childfreedom, and from living abroad to poly. So, I'd say that a primary reason that we've been able to continue together for all this time (soon 8 years) is our&his ability to embrace change, and to take life as it comes. Meaning that there are different paths to happiness, and you don't have to know what life will look like in order for it to be satisfying.
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:29 PM
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Wow, I really liked the idea in that comic! I tend to think quite similarly. I remember the days when I thought that I, too, would have one husband, couple of kids, house in my hometown and a full-time job. I actually started to go down that road before I really started to question all these things whether they're something I really want or not. I got married when I was 20 and we bought a house in our hometown a year after that. Couple years after that we tried to have kids. I guess the thing that started to change everything for me was the fact that we didn't have the child we wanted. Then I started to question if it's something I actually even want. After that I started to question almost everything else in my life thinking "Is this really what I want or am I just doing what's expected of me?". In the last few years I and my life has changed so much that I never would've imagined this kind of life to myself when I was 20. And I'm happier than ever.

From the original dream there's not much left. I don't want kids anymore, and I don't want a house (this is very recent - we're actually in the process of selling it) and I don't want to live in my home town. I still love my husband and don't regret marrying him but I also don't want the kind of marriage (monogamous) I thought I wanted.

So yeah, after letting go of the plans and re-evaluating what makes me happy, I'm in a very different place in my life now. I want to continue down this path of letting things happen and not trying to fit in to a mold. There are very small amount of things I have to do in this life. I choose the rest and whatever works and doesn't cause too much harm to others, that's what I'll do.
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Last edited by Mya; 01-16-2012 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rory View Post
... there are different paths to happiness, and you don't have to know what life will look like in order for it to be satisfying.
This rings very true for me, since coming to terms with getting a divorce. It's still an incredibly difficult things for me to deal with, when I think of how I thought I had my life figured out...
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnabelMore View Post
It's possible to seek out multiple loving relationships while adhering (almost) to that mold. You just squeeze an "extra" girlfriend or boyfriend in along the way and incorporate them into your nuclear family dream, as in unicorn hunting, or keep them safely on the sidelines like a hobby, as in strict prescriptive primary/seconday hierarchies.
This reminded me of a comment I got some time ago. A friend said to me that my life's pretty much perfect, that I have "a house, a husband and a girlfriend on the side". I was very quick to respond that she is NOT "on the side". My friends comment sounded exactly what Annabel wrote: a dream life with an added bonus of a girlfriend. I made it clear that she is a significant part of my life, just as important as my husband.
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:51 PM
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My bf is taking a very take-it-as-it-comes attitude with our relationship, and honestly, it scares the crap out of me. Im not really built for that, but I'm trying

I know its for the best
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:01 PM
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I've always had a plan or goal, because without one I don't DO anything, but it changes a lot. One thing I learned well from my dad was, "You make the best decision you can with the facts available at the time. If you get new facts, you may have to make a new decision."

I never thought I'd get married. My dating record in high school didn't lead me to believe that I could BE happy with just one person. Turns out, that part was true, but I also managed to get married in my early 20's and stay happily married for over 10 years.

I didn't end up with the career I thought I'd have based on my major, and now I'm looking at changing careers AGAIN from the one I had from my late 20's into my 30's.

I wasn't planning on having biological kids. I was going to foster/adopt. Yet here I am, 2 biological kids later (I also didn't think it'd take as long for me to get pregnant as it did) and planning on adopting another couple within the next 5 years.

I wasn't looking for another significant relationship in my life, and yet now I can't imagine my life without TGIB.

So, yes, I absolutely think "Take life as it comes" is a good outlook. It's really all you CAN do, to my way of thinking, because SO many factors are completely out of one's control. You can't control what happens to you; all you can control is your action/reaction and do the best you can.
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Old 01-17-2012, 06:57 AM
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I have to say, I have never been good with this, but poly introduced me to change my way quite a bit. I am a person with a five years plan at hand. At least I have been in the sense that I believed in the validity of it and was bona fide that all will work out accordingly. This changed quite a bit because of our discovery of poly and my acknowledgement of things, that weren't scheduled in my plan. It was the same for my believes. I can still be stubborn like a mule at times but I noticed that I have become more flexible in dealing with our new poly life.

Those changes are minor. I am not sure if anyone who knows me notices those differences in my behaviour and approaches, but they are there. Main discovery: Things do not go as planned sometimes despite what you think you can manipulate in such a situation. Lesson learned: Have a 'Plan B' if you still want to know what is in front of you. I am still planning and working things out in advance; doesn't mean that this is any different from the usual 5 years plan, but my way of being flexible is thinking about an option for each waypoint I am setting in this plan. If I can think of more options for one scenario I have plan c and d and … as well

Well, not quite there 'on taking life as it comes', but that's the way of a notorious planner to deal with the things the new situation at hand made her be aware of.
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Old 01-17-2012, 09:52 AM
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thank you AM, i read and looked to your link:
yes, i must say that in general i had become little "fixed" within my inner eyes so that i may...miss? something Else..

today my hip pain is getting worst: sure it's a good time to work on a (at least) little slice of renewal in this kind presence, yes.
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:26 AM
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I have rarely had a plan. As a teen, I fantasized about getting a big diamond ring and 'happily ever after' with my boyfriend. But I think that deep inside, I really knew I was only fantasizing. He was not happily ever after material. WE were not happy ever after material. When I had high school graduation, I literally thought I was going to trip on the steps, crack my head open, and die. I had no ability to envision any kind of life for myself after high school.

I had one. I knew there would be no children, that I had certainty about. Nothing else. But I don't think I did that because I had comfort with uncertainty. I had a fair amount of discomfort with certainty; but I knew nothing but uncertainty. My life was chaos. Stuff that looked like not-chaos scared me.

Dec 10, First bf asks (twenty ways) 'so what's next for you?' 'is this it?'
umm, yah, I worked really, unbelievably, hard to get here. I'm kind of enjoying it. Not really attached, but enjoying it. Not in any hurry to do anything else.

Also, I have learned even more about taking it as it comes from the pain. I've had chronic pain for 20+ years now. There comes a point where it has to be accepted. It took me at least five years. The good days are precious (and few), so I take them with gusto.
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and no longer with CurrentBoyFriend (CBF)(who lives in the apartment building next door)
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