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Old 06-29-2010, 01:01 AM
Propast Propast is offline
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Default And what about Guilt?

I'll take a break from my current predicament to ask a lighter, but important question.

When reading about poly, I'm finding all sorts of guidance on how to handle fear and jealousy. But I see nothing about handling Guilt - that worm in your stomach telling you you did something wrong, even if you're pretty sure you are behaving well.

Here's two examples from my life, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the stories, your thoughts on handling Guilt, and definitely your own stories.

A story from Me: S's partner D is back in town, she spends the night at his place. I go to an all-night beach party with friends. I have a great time, feeling independent and strong in myself. There is some friendly open flirting all around (you know the type, where no-one really means it), one person goes too far and I set my boundaries correctly. Cameradie and alcohol and skinny dipping and music all night.

The next day I'm telling S about the party, and she immediately picks up on something. "You sound guilty. What am I missing?". Yikes. I DID feel guilty. I had done nothing I wouldn't have done if S had been by my side, so why the guilt? I think I felt guilty for having a good time, when the three of us are in a tough spot right now. I think I felt guilty for just the fact that someone flirted with me, even though I shut them down correctly. Crazy, no?

A story about S: As the hinge in our V, S has always spent a lot of time worrying about D and I: are we both getting the time we need, is someone going to get mad if she cuddles more with one, is one of us unhappy? Even though it should be each of our responsibilities to ensure we are happy, she seems to carry the whole load of guilt. This even hits her when things are going well: Her guilt (fear of hurting one of us) often shapes and overly-constrains her actions.

When discussing this with her, it seems it causes her enough anguish and stress that I almost can't see why she thinks it worthwhile to continue!
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Old 06-29-2010, 01:06 AM
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MonoVCPHG MonoVCPHG is offline
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I'm Roman Catholic...without guilt my viens would be empty
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Old 06-29-2010, 01:45 AM
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redpepper redpepper is offline
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Here is a a thread on guilt... hope it helps.. it was started by me way back in the day, but it might have relevance http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=604

Using a tag search I found this one too
http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=946
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Last edited by redpepper; 06-29-2010 at 01:49 AM.
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Old 06-29-2010, 02:22 AM
AutumnalTone AutumnalTone is offline
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I don't see guilt as being anything that approaches universal experience for poly folk. I've never felt guilty about anything dealing with my poly experiences.

The only major source of guilt I've had in my life was the teachings of the church of my youth and I shed that dysfunctional baggage a long time ago.
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Old 06-29-2010, 06:09 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Propast View Post
But I see nothing about handling Guilt - that worm in your stomach telling you you did something wrong, even if you're pretty sure you are behaving well.
In my history, guilt is a sign that something is wrong. Not necessarily that I actually did something wrong, but maybe I had devious intentions or didn't say something that maybe I should have.

Quote:
A story about S: As the hinge in our V, S has always spent a lot of time worrying about D and I: are we both getting the time we need, is someone going to get mad if she cuddles more with one, is one of us unhappy? Even though it should be each of our responsibilities to ensure we are happy, she seems to carry the whole load of guilt. This even hits her when things are going well: Her guilt (fear of hurting one of us) often shapes and overly-constrains her actions
Is that guilt? It sounds more like anxiety and taking on too much burden, to me.
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Last edited by SchrodingersCat; 06-29-2010 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:08 PM
SayYes SayYes is offline
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I never feel the "I'm doing something wrong" variety of guilt, but occasionally feel the "why do I deserve all of this awesomeness in my life?" kind of guilt. Rationally, I know that great relationships are not luck, but a product of hard work, honesty, mutual respect, etc. But I still can't help but feel lucky to have two amazing men in my life, and it's hard not to ask myself sometimes how I got so lucky and wonder why/if I deserve this.
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:28 AM
saudade saudade is offline
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Unhappy Hell yes!

I feel guilty often. I think it might be a 'hinge on the vee' problem in particularm judging by my immediate affirmation of the idea and the lack of similar responses.

It was much worse when I was in an unhealthy vee. (I was the only point of communication, and one boyfriend wanted the other to drop dead... yeah, I know. I learned and am in a much better situation these days.) Now I live with both of my partners, and they talk a lot and are great together as friends, and I still struggle with balancing alone time and feeling guilty for hanging out with one and not the other from moment to moment-- they have different needs, and there's no black-and-white way of deciding how to share me. Sharing me sexually and sharing overnights are the hardest parts for us, so that's where I get stuck emotionally most often...

It does seem weird that the guilt angle doesn't get more attention in the literature, particularly for struggling relationships where one party is feeling hurt and one party is apparently hurtful as a result, and... Yeah.

Thanks for thinking to ask.
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Old 06-30-2010, 04:14 AM
SayYes SayYes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saudade View Post
I feel guilty often. I think it might be a 'hinge on the vee' problem in particularm judging by my immediate affirmation of the idea and the lack of similar responses.
That's interesting, I'm the 'hinge of a vee' too, and I totally know what you mean about having concerns over everyone feeling good and supported, worrying about how you're dividing your time, etc., especially as my husband and I are still relatively new to this and he still struggles with it now and then, but I've personally never classified any of those feelings as "guilt." To me it feels more like concern for my partners, occasionally with a dash of anxiety thrown in, but not guilt.
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