Monday, September 22, 2008

Differences between boundaries and control

Polyfulcrum rambles:

As the past couple of months have been very high on the learning curve and challenge, there have been several opportunities to try to figure out what the differences are between having healthy boundaries and trying to control the behavior of your partners.

This concept still gives me fits! If you let someone know that X behavior is likely to produce negative emotional consequences, and they proceed with X behavior, why could it be considered surprising or controlling when the expected emotional response ensues? If one knows the triggers they have and shares those with their partners, is that trying to control their behavior, or to save them (and you!) from having to work through some challenge at a point in time that might not be optimal? The reverse is also true, and people don't seem to get so worked up when you share information with them on how to help you feel happy!

Are we, as poly folk, just "supposed" to not have boundaries at all, if they infringe on anyone elses actions? Why is it ok have a condom use rule to manage physical safety issues, but not to have rules that manage emotional safety?

Timing is everything, so the saying goes, and that seems to have truth to it. Situations that would be easily handled under optimal circumstances can be explosive if someone is feeling neglected, disregarded or unheard in their concerns. Is it your responsibility as a partner to try to suss out when it's a good time to push into challenging territory, or to back away from something when it may produce more incendiary responses than you want to deal with? There are times when you don't get to choose your emotional ground, so I value it when any of my partners or metamours lets me know they are feeling on shaky ground, which gives me an opportunity to take corrective action and not run into emotional landmines.

Control isn't a word I'm terribly at ease with. It implies ownership of another to me, or taking a parenting role. At the same time, separating action and consequence from relationships seems unrealistic. Is "suck it up" really a philosophy that can work within poly relationships? Choosing partner(s) that attempt to meet your needs and consider your feelings as well as their own is high on the list of things that I feel responsible to myself for. Still, there are going to be times where needs diverge. How do you make "requests" and have them stick without someone feeling like they are being controlled?

This post has lots of questions and rambling in it, so forgive me the stream of consciousness. I find it very encouraging to be at the point of asking those questions without a lot of heat, or feeling vested in the answers that may come out of them. These concepts are at a core level, and will require some additional work and assimilation on my part. All input is welcome!


Jenn said...

Very good post with very good questions. Something I think we all should think about.

polyfulcrum said...

Thanks for the input, Jenn! Welcome aboard.

My hope is that others can find some useful information and ideas here that will improve their outcomes in their relationships. :)