polyamory discussion groups:
Can you be in a polyamorous relationship without hurting anyone?
Ironically, the question has recent resonance with me. It was revealed this week that one of my metamours has actively tried to avoid hurting the three people he's been seeing ... by not telling anyone about his other partners.
It turns out that my partner was having a conversation with another person on OKCupid. The conversation eventually revealed that my partner and this other party were dating the same person. Woops. Surprise.
Well, my partner then texted her boyfriend for an explanation and that both of the girls were going to get together for coffee, and his response was something like, "Great! Glad to see you two meeting up." Not exactly the response she was looking for.
Meanwhile, just two weeks before that, the same guy revealed to his other longer-term partner that he was seeing my partner and it was serious. His significant other didn't realize the depth of their relationship and was shocked by it.
The effect of this was explosive. Partner A didn't realize that his entanglement with Partner B was so intense; Partner C was flabbergasted that Partner B never heard of her; Partner B was astonished that this was never brought up before; Partners A, B, and C ended up on more shaky ground than ever. Expectations and trust were shattered all the way around.
I honestly don't believe that his intention in either case was malicious. He just didn't get around to revealing his dance card with all of his partners. I'd describe his actions more of "an error of omission" than "an attempt to deceive" - he just didn't want to hurt anybody.
In love - regardless of your lifestyle (polyamorous, monogamous, or otherwise) - pain is a natural emotion in love, just the feelings of envy, jealousy, outrage, fear, sadness, or elation. Falling in love exposes our vulnerabilities; falling in love is a gamble between risk and reward; falling in love guarantees pain.
In Poly, as in any relationship model, somebody is bound to get hurt, except with Poly, we're supposed to be learning how to use communication as a way to confront challenges like these and contend with the pain. We're supposed to be confronting these problems head-on rather than attempting to dodge them.
As my metamour found out, hiding the truth (either through active deceit, omission, or cowardice) doesn't erase the truth. It won't buffer the pain. It'll only exacerbate it.
It's my feeling that in Poly there shouldn't be an attempt to deceive or omit. Honest, open, transparent relationships demands that we gather the courage to work through the emotional challenges and deal with the truth: the truth of our emotions, the truth of our commitments, the truth in our relationships. Pain will be a natural consequence of truth, but hopefully we've learned something along the way and the pain helps us grow up to be better partners.