Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Why Won't I Date Someone Who Is Cheating?


Although I'd much rather be enjoying the pleasant canoodling I was anticipating, than writing this blog post, some stories must be told, and some things must be said! 

This week, I was going to have a second date with a new prospective partner. We had a mutual kink that we both wanted to explore.  The first meeting went well, but there was just something that seemed off...something I couldn't quite put my finger on...So I kept asking questions, and finally got very direct: "Is there anyone else that might be upset by our interacting?" He said that this kink was one his partner (hadn't been mentioned) wasn't interested in exploring with him, and so he was looking elsewhere without their knowledge.  Please understand that he loves her, they have a good relationship, but he really wants this particular thing in his life.  Just give him a chance.

Sigh.  If I had a dollar for every time I've heard variations on that story...

Too often I've heard the "ethically" non-monogamous justify their involvement as an integral part of a cheating dynamic as it not being any of their business what someone else does/does not do within their other relationships.  They say personal autonomy trumps any responsibility they have to say "No" to involving themselves with someone who is cheating on their partner with the poly person.  They say that the situation is complicated, and it would be too hard for the other person to make changes to create an honest environment.  They say that we shouldn't judge anyone else's actions by our own standards.

Calling bullshit on all that mess.

At the minimum, it is MY standard to assure (as much as I can) that a third party isn't having their ability to consent taken away from them via lack of information, where I would be complicit in that deceit.  It's irrelevant that I personally am not breaking agreements to pursue that connection.  Being a partner of someone who is cheating on their other person isn't who I want to be.  Having a partner who is cheating isn't a partner I want to have.  The potential damage to my world isn't worth that risk.

Most people think it's going to be the end of the world if they rip off the band aid and tell their partner they want additional connections.  They are probably right in assessing it will be disruptive.  Personally, I've done that work, and I want to only date other people that are willing to work that hard too.  No cheaters.  No excuses.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Repeat with me: I am not a special snowflake!

'Tis a common conceit to think of ourselves as unique individuals, and of course we are, in ways that are very similar to other people...��. So why is it that, upon examination of a thorny issue in our personal lives, the tendency is to disregard our own wisdom, and embark on a course that is less than likely to end in a successful outcome? 

Let's say your buddy, Pat, asks your advice on when the best time to come out to a potential new partner is?  Well, of course you know this one!  Sooner is better, and certainly before feelings and physical intimacy have developed.  Then you meet Davon in the bookstore, end up having coffee and talking for hours, have some spontaneous kisses, and somehow it never comes up that you have other partners and choose to have poly relationships...

You listen to someone at a discussion group talking about their attraction (this is feeling like a relationship, with intense feelings) to their coworker, who is in a monogamous relationship.  Their current poly partner isn't so very pleased about this, and it's causing friction there.  Pretty sure they're just jealous...and wonder how they could possibly be ignoring so many red flags, missing the pieces they say their ethical framework is based upon?  Then you find yourself in a similar space, mouthing all the same justifications and rationalizations for why this isn't a complete disaster waiting to happen.  Why?  

Because it's YOU!  Let's face it, you're pretty special, so special, in fact, that the common sense advice you would give any other human being in the same position doesn't really apply.  You're smarter, better, deserve more out of life, and certainly you can mold the world, and the people around you, into a more pleasing outcome than anyone else in the same circumstances would!

Can you hear yourself!?!  Just stop.  Take a moment, if you are in a sticky situation, to consider the path you might advise someone else to take, hypothetically speaking, and try doing that instead of what you have been doing!  Perhaps you could even listen to the friends and partners giving you the reasonable sounding advice, and actually change your course.  Do something reasonable that isn't based on the underlying belief that You Are Uniquely Different in a way that exempts you from utilizing common sense.  Do you want to build a snowman?  (Ducks and covers)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cheating Cheaters

It's no big secret that one of the main avenues for people entering poly is via cheating on an existing partner.   Often, people having an affair, who still have feelings and investment within their vintage connection, find that they no longer are satisfied with the lying, the division in their life and personal ethics, and choose to "come clean", attempting to open up into a more ethically non-monogamous environment.  It usually ends in spectacular disaster, often permanently ending relationships.  There are vows to never go back to monogamy, or assertations that poly is a force for destruction, and a tool for people to cheat, and put a pleasant face on it.  Sometimes, the storm is weathered, and people come out the other side stronger and more dedicated, with a new shared vision.

It's an inconvenient truth that cheating doesn't always stop once one becomes poly, and is something we would rather not discuss.  After all, a main differentiation point for poly is that WE are honest in our dealings within our relationships, so cheating behavior is pretty thoroughly scorned, disavowed, and abhored within our community.  Still, it's certainly not unheard of for people who would prefer to think of themselves as ethically non-monogamous to backslide in those ethical ideals, and stray towards cheating behaviors. 

It's confused me.  We're poly!  Our current relationships are all set up that way. We have all this freedom!  Why fuck it up? Why would one ever choose to skip the consent and information sharing section in favor of deceit and deliberate damaging of trust built in their life? Here are a few ideas I've observed being bandied about: 

I'm not willing to do the work to integrate a new person into my existing life.  Either there's a lack of communication skills with one or more involved, or a difference in poly styles that makes the new person incompatible with what currently exists.

I get off on having a Dirty Little Secret.  It feels naughty, taboo, and there is still a charge there, the thrill of having a secret, getting away with something.

It's just faster to get what I want, right now, without the "burden" of consent.  I want what I want, and I want it now!!!  Why should I take the time to send that text message to my partners, or delay the gratification I seek in the now?  I'm a free person, and I can do what I want, when I want, with whom I want, and I'm not sure this opportunity will be there again, if I wait. 

I still feel like it's "wrong/selfish" to desire another person.  There are often mono societal tapes playing in the background, usually with everyone involved, that lead towards guilt.  What they don't know, won't hurt them!

I'm doing this for the protection of my existing partner(s).  They're sick/pregnant/unable to consent in some fashion.  It's finals week.  The timing is just awful.  Seriously.  It'd be selfish for me to bring this up right now.  I'll double back later. 

I've made an agreement that I didn't really desire personally, and don't know how to/if it can be successfully renegotiated.  This one is tricky.  You said yes, and often those sorts of agreements are made to protect your existing partner from something that is hard for them to do, and something you understand the reasons behind.  To change those agreements will take buy in from your existing partner(s), and you may not feel confident in their willingness to do that, or your own worthiness of their effort in this regard. 

I fear that a current partner might look at my new dating choice and feel like I'm missing something major that would preclude that being a good idea to pursue; the Jiminy Cricket Effect.  Most of us are aware that our own judgment can be skewed in the early stages of a relationship, and we may very well be ignoring major, flashing, neon signs that read, "Path to destruction!".  It's harder to ignore those signs when an outside, loved, and trusted source, is pointing them out to you, and also mentioning that they are likely to harmed in this as well.  Better to just sidestep that inconvenience...

There's a semi-comprehensive list of reasons for cheating in poly! Wasn't that fun? That whole section is just a recitation of justifications for poor behavior.  It's bullshit rationalizing to get your own way, without considering larger ramifications. If your brain, or body part of your choice, is headed down any of these pathways, back up the boat!

I've never regretted putting off sex, or not moving faster in a new relationship to attend to the needs of my current partners and relationships, even when I'm crawling out of my skin with NRE.  It's a big old lie based in scarcity thinking that everything worth having must be had NOW, or it will evaporate into the ether. Take the time! Do the work! Get some new skills, if you're in over your head!  Find a mentor!  If you're unable to renegotiate, move out of the current relationship before you embark on the next!  Delayed gratification will not kill you.  Hold the line.  Don't cheat. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Emotional Transportation

Let's talk cars!  I'm not much of a car person, or haven't been until the past couple years.  It's transportation.  Get me from A to B reliably, with an eye towards cost containment.  Some people seem to feel a bond to their vehicle that is inexplicable to me.  It becomes an extension of their person, their ego, sometimes even their sexual identity, or verility.  

There are many different approaches to cars and such, and most people seem to have some pattern to their preferences.  The rental, the lease, the fix-up project, the classic/vintage, public transportation, self-propelled, and the buy-then-drive-it-until-the-wheels-fall-off. Historically, I've been the wheels-fall-off type.  Upon reflection, I realize that is very similar to my approach to relationships, in general. While I have exited relationships that were "totaled", that moving beyond is usually preceded by a significant amount of repair work, and attempts to get things running well again. 

It's worth trying to understand about the people you are connecting with what their approach to "emotional transportation" is.   Do they enjoy a simple lease program, where one pops it back to the dealer in 2-3 years, trying not to put too many miles on it, and relatively free from the burden of upkeep?  Do they enjoy a good project car, where the joy is in tinkering with it, fixing it, making it better, but only taking it out when the weather is fine, and there's an appreciative audience to ooh and ahh over how shiny it is? Do they like a good spin at the wheel of a rental, with that new car smell, lots of flexibility on the mileage, drive it hard, and turn the keys back over? Perhaps they're a more community-minded public transit sort, such that they want to get on and off at will, without the pressures of ownership, more an open zone on an as needed basis? Maybe they like to buy a vehicle, keep it for years, upkeep it well, and aren't too concerned if it no longer has the same sheen to the paint job, or if there are some quirks to daily operation?  

There's room in poly for all these types, and some blend well, but if you're someone who seeks a wheels-fall-off connection, try to be cognizant if you're falling for someone who is more geared for a lease or rental.  Some people find little value in approaching relationships with longevity as a priority, living for maximal value in the moment, and when that moment has passed, open to the next ride.