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Old 07-15-2012, 05:01 PM
3quarks 3quarks is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 5

Hello there, I self- identify and am identified by Undermind as his primary partner. Thank you for all your responses to Undermind's thread on this issue. I'd like to say a few words to clarify my position on this matter and will attempt to do so in a non-confrontational and forthright manner. I'm not looking for a win or for others to justify my point of view bur rather for a way we can move forward and achieve our mutual goals.

I'm not going to go through and address everything that's been said by others nor am I going to summarise Undermind's position. You guys can read the thread for yourself. I think there are really two main issues here:

1.Captured by Cleo when they asked “does your wife really have to play by the same rules you do?”
2.What are the rights of someone I want to have a relationship with?

Although I hear, understand and respect Undermind's feelings on this issue and and impetuses driving his preferences around poly relationships involving openness and choice and do indeed want to be involved in relationships where there is ideally no cheating or betrayal, I do not believe it is necessary that I go about this in the same manner as Undermind.

Undermind and I believe that we should meet one another's partners as well as those they identify as their primary(ies) and have an agreement as such, I don't feel the same about our secondaries' secondaries, casuals, fuckbuddies, etc. and we do not have any written agreement about them (I have checked our notes).

I don't really not “give a shit” about my partners' secondaries -- GalaGirl was correct in that I was emotionally flooded and frustrated – but neither do I have the desire to stipulate to my partners that I must meet or contact all their partners directly or that this is necessary for ethical non-monogamny, compersion, choice, openness, etc. Nor do I agree with those who argue that this should be done because it's just so easy and only takes a minute, especially if done by email. No it isn't easy – not if you don't agree with it and feel that it could possibly even undermine a perspective relationship and trample on others' rights.

As a compromise, I have agreed that I would happily tell any of my secondaries (of whatever form) to feel free to pass on my details to their other partners and invite them to contact me if they so desire. When I decide to get involved with someone (and I'm not someone who has one night stands or relationships that are mainly about sex), this inherently means that I trust and respect them enough share part of my life with them and believe that they will conduct themselves as a responsible and mindful adult. I am satisfied if they assure me that they practice safe sex, get regular check ups, and all their other partners are informed that they are non-monogamous and have multiple partners. As the relationship grows, there will be signs that this is indeed the case or not. If I'm ever in doubt, then yes, I'll check it out with them directly and yes, this may involve talking with one of their other partners with the consent of all involved. For me, I currently don't have any compulsion to become particularly involved with or even know about all of my partner's secondaries. If it turns out that my partner thinks I might get on with one of them, introduces us and we start hanging out, great.

Regarding 2) I have yet to spend much time as someone's secondary, OSO, fuck buddy, etc. in an ethical manner; however, I am aware of the issues around respecting the rights and needs of secondaries and am very conscientious about them. I'm thankful to nycindie for their perspectives on this issue as a solo poly, as I feel they expressed some of my arguments – and that of a potential partner - quite succinctly. They are especially relevant as I do tend to get involved, as least thus far, with people who have several casual relationships.

From my perspective, I believe that insisting on the contact details of all partners:

1. Communicates to that partner and those I contact that I don't trust that they are conducting themselves in an ethical fashion and therefore I need to circumvent them, with their permission or not, and contact others directly. I feel that this is micromanaging my relationships to the nth degree and taking on responsibility that isn't mine. It is the responsibility of my partners to ensure that they are conducting themselves in an ethical manner in all of their other relationships. Frankly, I don't want to be emotionally exhausted and stretched for time taking on responsibility for all of my partner's relationships, regularly checking in that everyone is ok. I expect them to do that and to inform me of any issues that might impact on my relationship with them.

2. Is possibly disrespectful and invasive of others' privacy boundaries. For instance, I just started seeing someone who is involved in several casual relationships. When discussing contacting secondaries, there was a mix of responses based on the wishes of his partners. For instance, one would be happy to meet, but she's in Greece at the moment. Another, who is perfectly fine with him being non-monogamous, has no interest in communicating with his other partners. Another is someone he meets once a year and might have sex with, so she doesn't really warrant contact from his perspective. Another hasn't come out as poly due to her job and so wouldn't be ok with her contact details being forwarded.

So, am I supposed to insist on getting their details anyway, disrespecting their choices and wish for privacy(not to mention mine) and contact them anyway?

In response to this, Undermind states: “I suggested that it would seem entirely reasonable to ask her prospect to ask his others if they would be OK with being contacted; that way they can state at the start whether they would be OK or not.”

But if I can't contact them, how can I ascertain if they are ok with being in a poly relationship with X? If they are experiencing compersion? If they really don't want to talk to X's other partners? How can I guarantee that the contact details aren't bogus? What happens if I don't get a response – does that mean they aren't ok with the situation?

3. There is an issue around the criteria for who should and should not be contacted. Who will set the taxonomy for this? So, I'm supposed to say that well, according to my spreadsheet of the relationship characteristics you share with this person, I think she is a secondary and not a FWB; therefore, you must hand over her details. Asserting my labels on my partner's relationships is frankly disrespectful and I have no right to do so.

I could go on here, but the above are my main points. It feels to me that a 'no' response to contact is instantly being translated into 'they are lying/hiding something' without any consideration of other reasons for their choice. In some ways it robs them of choice, as it feels like I'm saying look, either you do this or I'm going to label you as a liar.

So, back to 1). What is the issue with us (Undermind and myself) taking different tacts based around our personal moral boundaries and comfort zones – him proactively contacting all of his partners' partners and me inviting contact from my partners' partners? As I see it, we are both conducting ourselves ethically and should trust and respect one another's judgement regarding our partners.

I can't ignore the fact that I have been unfaithful in my relationship with Undermind in the past during a 14 year relationship in which I was trying, stupidly, to suppress both my bisexual and polyamorous needs and adhere to social norms. However, as he states in the post commencing this thread, we have both worked very hard to rebuild our relationship and ready ourselves for becoming poly. I don't agree that due to this, Undermind's “comfort level [i]s more important due to the surrounding circumstances” which seems to suggest that I should have to suck it and agree to running our current relationship according to Undermind's rules or align my belief and moral systems with his. I don't believe this is the case; however, I do believe that due to our situation, he needs to be reassured that his feelings will be considered and that I will be willing to negotiate on some points in order to increase his comfort levels, which I feel I am doing to the best of my ability.

From my point of view, I feel that Undermind is attempting to ensure that our relationships are completely devoid of deceit and betrayal and that no one gets hurt. This just can't be guaranteed by control mechanisms such as insisting that I speak to all of my partners' partners or other rules that make it difficult for me to breathe, make my partners feel that they are being dictated to, and quite frankly suck all the joy out of my relationships with others. We need to trust one another and our partners, respect one another and our partners as adults and individuals and be willing to let one another make mistakes.

Last edited by 3quarks; 07-15-2012 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 07-15-2012, 07:59 PM
AutumnalTone AutumnalTone is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Kansas City Metro
Posts: 2,187

Originally Posted by UnderMind View Post
Some of the arguments being tabled by Q against contacting them directly are:
  1. Contacting others removes their right to privacy.
  2. She might not like the person being contacted.
  3. She feels that the responsibility for ensuring there is informed consent isn't being delegated, so it's too going to be too much time and stress to deal with it herself.
  4. That I typically over-analyse things. (To be fair, I do. That's why I brought this to these forums to find out what others thought).
  5. She feels like there's a lack of trust in both herself and the people she chooses to date.
  6. Exactly who should be contacted, anyhow? How is it to be determined whether someone is a casual or a serious/regular partner?
  7. She thinks it infantilizes her date.
1) When involved in a situation where the health of multiple people is at stake, one doesn't have a right to avoid being identified as a person affecting the health of those others. Their right to privacy ends when it can affect my health and the health of my wife and amorata (and their other partners).

Further, identification as an involved person is not much of an intrusion. It in no way divulges details of the interactions nor anything extremely intimate beyond the involvement. The others involved do have a much stronger claim to know who it is that may affect their health so they can judge whether to stay involved as they are.

2) Who gives a damn whether she likes the others? That's not a requirement, though it certainly can be something that gets negotiated. I suspect that D isn't interested in such an agreement, so her only recourse would be to end involvement with him if she didn't like his others.

At this point, however, if she's intellectually honest, she can only assume that he's involved with at least one other whom she wouldn't like. If her not liking his others is a problem for her, then she has that problem right now; knowing who his others are is the only way to eliminate that problem.

3) Really? She's that lazy and irresponsible when it comes to her sexual health (and yours, by extension)? It might involve some effort to make certain you're all safe and that's too much to ask?

4) A thorough analysis is never too much, and if you've not considered all of the aspects, you've not done a thorough analysis. This hearkens back to the laziness mentioned above. You've no obligation to make decisions without a thorough analysis.

5) As for trusting her, I suggest it's a matter of trusting her approach to making these decisions that is being considered. If she wants you to trust her ability to make these decisions, it's on her to use a process that you find trustworthy.

As for trusting her others...um, why in hell would she think you're going to trust somebody you may not know or may even have reason *not* to trust? That strikes me as a disingenuous argument. Expecting you to trust people with whom you've not had involvement to learn to trust is nonsensical, on the face of it.

6) Who should be contacted? Anybody with whom he's involved on a recurring basis, certainly. If he's in the habit of one-offs, I'd expect him to be tested frequently and have contact info available for each; they may not care that he has other partners/fuck buddies/one night stands, though they do need to know how exposed they are to risk. As are you.

7) Her date sounds pretty infantile already. Expecting him to take responsibility for his behavior and the effects it has on others is anything but infantile. Sounds like she's enabling his infantile behavior.

Just so ya know: If you think I sound a bit harsh, I can say that I've had to take a cycle of anti-virals after a possible exposure to blood-borne pathogens several years back (ah, the joys of working in corrections!). Staring down the possibility of HIV infection while taking 40 days of an extremely toxic AIDS cocktail is nothing I would wish on most people.
When speaking of various forms of non-monogamy...it ain't poly if you're just fucking around.

While polyamory, open relationships, and swinging are all distinctly different approaches to non-monogamy, they are not mutually exlusive. Folks can, and some do, engage in more than one of them at a time--and it's all good.
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:08 PM
3quarks 3quarks is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 5

Look AutumnalTone, I appreciate that you are dealing with the possiblity of an HIV infection, but that does not give you the right to judge me and make personal attacks, especially when my views are being summarised by another person and you are not aware of all the extenuating circumstances.
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Old 07-16-2012, 12:54 AM
ThatGirlInGray ThatGirlInGray is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Northern Cali
Posts: 552

Yeah, looks to me like AT just read the first post in the thread and responded, without taking the time to read the rest of the thread.

It's not the first time he's done that, which I find a bit arrogant. I understand if the thread is 10+ pages, maybe only go back a few pages to "catch up", but otherwise posting without reading the thread sends the message (to me, anyway) that their input is more important than whatever discussion has already taken place. Considering the odds of repeating something that's already been said or missing later info that fills in some gaps from the original post, I just don't see how it's a good idea most of the time.

For what it's worth, 3quarks, you and I may not see completely eye to eye on this issue, but I thought your response was very well thought out. You've obviously put a lot of time and effort into determining what you're comfortable and okay with, rather than just giving a knee-jerk response. While it may not change how I want my own relationships to work, I can see your point.
Pan Female, Hinge in a V between my mono (straight) husband, Monochrome and my poly (pan) partner, ThatGuyInBlack
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:38 AM
MeeraReed MeeraReed is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: East Coast, U.S.
Posts: 452

Hmm. These are challenging issues.

I'll chime in from the perspective of an ethically non-monogamous single-by-choice 30-ish straight female who enjoys being (and having) a friend-with-benefits or casual-but-steady-partner or lover or secondary or whatever.

If I have a FWB who has other lovers, I would NOT AT ALL be okay with him giving out my contact info to his other lovers.

I would NOT appreciate being contacted with one his others--I would find it remarkably weird and an invasion of my privacy.

I would be uncomfortable with the friendly, simple email that GalaGirl suggested. If I sleep with a friend occasionally, I don't need to hear from everyone he sleeps with.

If I were concerned about health issues, I would not be in a non-exclusive relationship.

I wouldn't mind becoming friends with my FWB's others in the right circumstances, but it's not remotely necessary.

Independence, free-spirited-ness and a certain degree of separateness are why I choose FWB relationships in the first place. I don't need to know everything about him and his life.

I don't consider my FWB's lovers any of my business. He's a friend of mine that I sleep with. We have fun together, are supportive of and honest with each other, and otherwise we stay out of each other's way.

I don't care who my platonic friends are friends with; why would I care who my FWB is also FWB with?

A similar sentiment might be behind Q's (3quarks) remark about "not giving a shit about his other lovers." It's not that she doesn't care about them as people; she just doesn't consider it any of her business. It's not relevant to her.

Sometimes if I grow closer to a lover or see him frequently enough that we become more involved with each other, I naturally learn more about his other partners or maybe end up meeting them. But it's not a requirement.

I would find it absurd if my lover said, "One of my other lovers needs to meet you because her husband is worried that I'm not being honest with you."

In that situation, I would have to say, "No thanks, the husband can work out his trust issues on his own."

I do understand where you're coming from, Undermind. I know that Q created a difficult situation by cheating on you in the past.

But it's condescending of you (Undermind) to assume that just because a guy has multiple casual partners, they must not be giving full consent!

There is nothing in what you've said about D that makes him sound like he's being dishonest with his various women. I suspect they can tell pretty easily that he's not a one-woman guy. I suspect D seeks out women who do not want a monogamous relationship.

It sounds like you don't actually understand why some people like and seek out more casual relationships. It may help if you think of those relationships as friendships. It's really NOT just about the sex. But maybe it IS about having relationships that stay at the friendship level, not at the committed-romantic-partner level.

It's fine if you're not okay with having those types of relationships yourself. But your wife doesn't feel the same way. Why do you need to restrict what she wants just because you're having trouble understanding it?

Undermind, your contempt for D really comes across. You just can't fathom why someone would have casual partners, FWBs they see irregularly, etc. And you seem shocked that D has so many partners (whereas really, it just sounds like has a handful of friends that he sees with varying frequency).

3quarks, I wouldn't want to be in your shoes. I know you want to respect your husband's limits and make him feel comfortable.

But Undermind, I think you need to do a little more work to feel more at ease with people who have friendship-sex/casual sex friends.
Single, straight, female, solo, non-monogamous.
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Old 07-16-2012, 02:26 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 6,342

Hrm. We all deal with that differently. For me, I want to know. I respect that others don't. It is what it is.

But as I see it... It's getting a bit sidelined with the stuff over THERE with the dating partners and their networks. But it's a basic conflict HERE, between husband and wife. Wife is ok dating under these circumstances. Husband is not feeling great on that.

So there's some choices to make.

1) You close up.

2) You stay open, wife compromises on not dating people who will not share info both ways so husband can feel emotionally safe. (Are there other ways he can feel emotionally safe? Are these being explored with wife?)

3) You stay open, husband compromises on not limiting wife's dating pool and always slap a condom on and not be fluid bound to wife any more to address the sex health angle. (Is feeling physically safe one of the the ways to feel emotionally safe? Is that where the prob lies?)

4) Something else I cannot think of right now -- you guys know each other best in your relationship. I'm sure you can think of other happy mediums. What could those look like?

5) If no happy medium is to be found and everyone remains unhappy? Perhaps you split up and remain friends and change your relationship configuration that way?

Really, it is up to you guys to talk and sort it all out. What are your rights and responsibilities to each other?

I know not every couple has the same rules. If this were happening to me and my husband -- we'd have to break it out line by line our rights and responsibilities.

Is everyone owning their ends of the sticks? Both in responsibilities? And giving partner rights -- to support, nurture, clear communication, etc?

I hope you guys find your way.


Last edited by GalaGirl; 07-16-2012 at 02:59 PM.
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ethics, new to polyamory

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