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Old 08-20-2014, 02:46 AM
SuddenlyStoneElf SuddenlyStoneElf is offline
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Question Comparisons!

Hi everyone,

(Darnit, I'd written a whole long post about this and it disappeared into ether!



Just as a quick opening... I'd like to have your opinions on how you treat and deal with comparisons within your relationships.

I think I got started off on the wrong foot on this topic with my s2bx, who was unable to reassure me that I wouldn't fall off his radar completely when he entered the throes of NRE. It never got to that point, and I wanted to talk about it before anything had the chance to happen, but s2bx was either unwilling or unable to talk about boundaries, respect, timing, etc.

My current point of view is that everyone compares because it's natural; I figure some of you trained yourselves out of it because it has a negative aura, and some of you worked through it and made it into something positive.

I read Franklin Veaux's post about the topic and I find myself unable to attain such purity of thought at the moment... I feel comparisons probably arise left and right, all the time, due to highs and lows in every relationship. And I can't find in myself the ability to believe that Franklin doesn't have a preference for his taller GF if he likes tall women more in general!

Sounds petty? Well... why wouldn't anyone go for their preferences? How I see it feels pretty horrible at this point because a Game Changer can come along at any time. I'm told I should be happy for that, because "the person who leaves you didn't love you enough". Oh that's very reassuring. Can I have some advice on how to troubleshoot this so I can stay AWAY from people who'd drop me in a hot minute for someone they find hotter, please? :P


Not wanting to put poly-exploration on hold because I am imperfect, I'd like to confront the reality of what comparison means for you guys.

How do you react to them, be those your own, or someone else's?
Do you explicitly discuss them with everyone involved?
Or is the topic swept underneath the rug?
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Old 08-20-2014, 04:17 AM
maxnsue maxnsue is offline
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I somehow passed all of the things people here talk about. My wife invited her girlfriend into our bed because my wife was having fantasies about sex with other women. We all liked it so much that we gave our g/f her own room and we had a 38 year relationship with our g/f that lasted through her later marriage to a doctor. We never had a single problem in all that time; not one.

I am thinking that this is due to the fact that we were long time friends with our girlfriend since we were kids and we helped her through a messy divorce and even financially supported her. We provided her with her own room in our home and loved her. This was before we started a sexual relationship with her.

My wife never was jealous or felt insecure. In fact, she encouraged me to have one on one sex with our g/f. In return, our g/f was always checking with my wife to make sure that anything she did was not bothering her as the last thing she wanted was to come between us. Maybe we are not normal but our love was equally shared but we all knew that my wife and I were the primary relationship because our girlfriend split her time between her own marriage and ours.

I think our relationship went smoothly because of one thing that seems to pop up a lot. It was not one of us meeting someone we love and then trying to get your spouse to love her too, or at least not feel threatened. We already knew and loved our girlfriend, she was already spending large chunks of time with us and bringing her into our bed was an easy step from there. That and the fact that my wonderful wife does not have a jealous bone in her body and knows that I will always be hers. If say that I want to have sex with someone else, she just tells me to go and have a good time. She knows that I never will unless she joins in. Call us old fashioned but it works for us and we have had a wonderful life with all of our sexual and emotional needs met.

We never used the internet to read about sex until last year. I am an IT professional since the early 70's so it is not a matter of being computer illiterate. It is more that we felt no need. Our relationship went so smoothly that we assumed it was the same for everyone else but it seems to be otherwise and I can certainly understand how difficult it must be when only one of the couple is in love with someone else. I know that I would feel threatened if we both were not in love with our girlfriend prior to it turning sexual. I can only imagine how a wife would feel watching her husband with another women. Let's face it, sex is always exciting with a new person, especially when you are only with that person for the fun times and never have to deal with the mundane daily problems that established couples must face routinely.

I am really taken by surprise by what I have just read in one week. I really never thought about dating outside of our marriage or how it would feel if only one of us met someone. I think I assumed, in a vacuum of information, that the couple brought someone into their relationship as a couple and not as an individual. We are a crazy old monogamous and faithful bunch of people. We remained faithful within our own defined relationship.
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Old 08-20-2014, 05:07 AM
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Oh, comparisons...well, my guys are different, no doubt about that. I compare them, for sure. Preference? Not really.

DarkKnight has been sporting a full beard for over a year now. He conditions it, so it's super soft and I love it. PunkRock is usually clean-shaven and I love the feel of his face on my skin. I like both options.

I've discussed the facial hair topic with both of them, and they know I don't care what they do to their faces. Lol

DarkKnight is tattoo and piercing free. PunkRock has spacers in both ears, a pierced nipple and two tattoos - one is a large partial back piece. Again, I have no preference, both are different. If DarkKnight finally decides on a subject matter and gets a tattoo, I won't necessarily prefer him that way.

PunkRock loves redheads - it's what initially made him pay attention to me. Or so he says. But he puts no boundaries on me as to which color I choose when I dye my hair. I don't think he'd leave me if I decided to be a brunette.

We've talked about comparisons. We don't sweep it under the rug, as it isn't really an issue.

As far as comparing sexual skills - eh. Both guys have favorite positions and acts, and they are far apart on what they enjoy doing. To me, well, I orgasm REALLY easy, so I'm good to go with just about any technique.

To me, being poly is awesome because I can have all of this variety and not have to choose a favorite and stick with it. Life would be boring, just eating Cheerios for every meal!
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Old 08-20-2014, 11:12 AM
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I don't think people can really avoid making internal comparisons in their own heads... any time a situation is different from another, the brain compares what's different. We analyze patterns very well; it's just what we do.

It's what happens when it leaves your brain and manifests itself in your actions that could be the problem. Are you telling your partners TMI about each other? Are you manipulating one to be more like the other? Are you disapproving of one because they "don't live up" to another? This is where the problems begin.

Even as a Mono person, I compare situations and people... I still have to remember that Chops isn't my ex, and I don't have to react in certain unhealthy ways around him (hiding information in an avoidance maneuver, for instance). Comparison in this case - recognizing the differences and acting in a manner that is healthier for myself - is a good thing.

If I told Chops that my ex had a bigger boner? Yeah, no... That would be a hurtful action, even if the comparison were correct. That's the type of stuff that gets kept to one's self.

Communicating comparison can also lead to competition, if the person hearing it is the competitive type (like I am). I prefer to hear as little as possible about what Chops and Xena like to do together, so I don't try to "be it all" for him, thinking "I can do that too!"

So I guess comparison on its own can be okay. Just (A) watch your actions, and (B) watch your audience.
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  #5  
Old 08-20-2014, 12:00 PM
epiphany epiphany is offline
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i don't really identify myself as poly... in my current relationship i am definitely mono... With that said... before i met my husband i was a single mom and had made the decision that my children had already been abandoned by their dad (and my mom was terminally then...too much loss for little kids) so i wasn't going to risk another relationship with so many ending in divorce...

it didn't mean i was dead though... i dated...a lot and shortly before i met my now husband (THE game changer) i was involved in several stable dating relationships and i really didn't compare them... yes the obvious so and so is taller shorter whatever... but BECAUSE i wasn't looking for "THE ONE" there was not competition no "weeding out" or "trading up" so i really didn't compare them in that manner... i enjoyed them and their company for who they were... very in the moment not worries about the future...

Anyway not sure how much my opinion counts since that was a loooong time ago i just think there are different ways of comparing...

~epiphany
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Old 08-20-2014, 02:41 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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I have to agree with the other posters that not comparing at all is unlikely. I'm a bit suspicious of people who claim they never compare partners. It's a rather human thing to do. And Bluebird had a great point about comparisons not being the same as, or automatically leading to, preferences.

I also prefer less information about my metamours sexual activities with my partners. (I do want to know more general information and I prefer to meet metamours. I just don't have a need to be bffs if that is not a natural outcome.) I find that helps me not get on the hamster wheel of comparisons, preferences and rankings (what I do better, what he or she does better than me, that he or she is taller/thinner/funnier/more awesomer in general than me.) The less specific information I have the better for me. Some people are the opposite - they seem to need all the details to get off the hamster wheel.

I also find comparisons to be deadly when linked with expectations. That (and feeling 'less than') is when I have really wrapped myself around an axle mentally and emotionally. And expectations are often connected with unconscious assumptions I make about myself and what my partners want/need. So I try to drag my expectations into the light of day and I try to manage them and make sure I am checking in with partners about what they actually want or need. Do note that most of this all occurs in my head - it's almost entirely internal to me and about what feelings or thoughts I am having about my relationships. I find that if I can be open about my expectations, manage them, and not connect preference/'better than' thoughts to comparisons, just making comparisons in the privacy of my brain is not a big deal. Just happens - I have the comparing thought - and then I move on to something else.
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Old 08-20-2014, 03:28 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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We all compare and compartmentalize to some degree. I think that what Opalescent said about expectations is important. Expectations can really be a killer of relationships, effective communication, satisfaction, and so much more. I have learned to keep my expectations low, or at least to become aware of when something is bothering me because of an expectation more than the situation itself.

I'm a "be here now" kind of person. I strive to be present from moment to moment and to not get caught up in thought processes and/or beliefs that take me away from the reality of the here and now - because this moment, right now, is truly all I have. Who knows if I'll be here tomorrow. So, when it comes to making comparisons, for me, I think it's crucial to not let myself indulge in that kind of thinking when I am with one of my lovers. It can be a fun exercise to compare and contrast my lovers when I am by myself or telling friends about them but I don't want to get into comparing them when I am with one of them.

Sure, thoughts of one may arise while I'm with another, but I don't need to follow those thoughts. I always try to bring myself back to the present moment by focusing on his words, his body, sensations, etc., rather than my thoughts about other people. Because if I'm off following those thoughts, making comparisons in my head, I am not really with the person who is in front of me, and that isn't fair or nice.

The other element of comparing is what we do with those comparisons. There is a difference between thinking, "Hmm, I didn't expect him to do/say that! How interesting!" and "So-and-so does it that way, why can't he?" or "My other lover knows my body/mind/sense of humor/whatever so well, but this lover just can't get it right." In other words, when we compare, are we using the comparisons as ammunition against one or another, or are we allowing the experiences to be delightful discoveries about a person who is different from someone we know very well? And if we're complaining in our heads about someone, is it actually justified, or is it simply that we've been conditioned by our family and society to find fault and complain, and so we always look for what's "wrong?"

Self-awareness is key.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SuddenlyStoneElf View Post
(Darnit, I'd written a whole long post about this and it disappeared into ether!
When you login, be sure to check the "Keep Me Logged In" or "Remember Me" option and you won't get timed out while writing long posts.
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An excellent blog post on hierarchy in polyamory:
solopoly.net/2014/10/31/why-im-not-a-secondary-partner-the-short-version/

Last edited by nycindie; 08-20-2014 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 08-20-2014, 03:36 PM
Oreadne Oreadne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuddenlyStoneElf View Post

How do you react to them, be those your own, or someone else's?
Do you explicitly discuss them with everyone involved?
Or is the topic swept underneath the rug?
I know that my boyfriend "compares" his wife and I sometimes, but I don't feel judged by it. Like he'll make offhanded comments about how I am more affectionate, or how she needs more alone time, or likes certain sexual positions more with one or the other of us. Generally it doesn't bother me at all, though occasionally when I'm feeling a little insecure I will ask something like "Well is that ok?" (that I need more physical affection and so forth) and he'll always be super reassuring "Oh of course, it is part of who you are and why I love you, its just funny sometimes how different the relationship I have with each of you is."

I "compare" him to other partners I have had, but I don't want him to be anything different than who he is. He is much more communicative that other boyfriends I have had, and super social and busy, and not always able to give me as much affection as I like (he can't sleep cuddled up, and I love it!). I notice those things about him, but I love him and wouldn't change anything about him.


If someone would "drop you in a hot minute for someone hotter" then they are not the kind of person you want to have a relationship with anyhow. I have dated guys more conventionally handsome than my current boyfriend, but just because someone is a 10 doesn't make them fun, or interesting, or compassionate. I am sure my boyfriend could probably find someone "hotter" than me, and sometimes he sees gorgeous women that he wants to bang, but I know he loves me and is invested in our relationships for a hundred reasons more than just my level of sexiness.
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Old 08-20-2014, 04:06 PM
epiphany epiphany is offline
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i find this thread very disheartening...

Maybe it's my definition of compare... when i compare things i am analyzing and evaluating for which is better... in my definition of compare i don't compare my friends or my family... i compared boyfriends when i was looking to get married but didn't when i wasn't... again i identify myself as mono so maybe that's the disconnect...

my husband ever compares me the way i think of compare... it would be over

it's really funny how a word can mean such different things to people!
Definitely good for me to consider...
~epi
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Old 08-20-2014, 11:24 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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There is a difference between using comparison to note differences and rating someone. And what would be the point? Rating is necessary when you can have only one partner. (Or one car, or one house, etc.). In poly the idea is that it's okay to have more than one and not have to choose.

If you think about your circle of friends, you probably have one that makes you laugh, one that you trust with your secrets, one that you can have a serious convo with, one with whom you have a shared interest, etc. They are each different and unique, and you enjoy different things about each of them. Do you rate them? (I hope not.) Why then would you rate your poly lovers?
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Last edited by bookbug; 08-20-2014 at 11:27 PM. Reason: Clarity
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