Sunday, June 3, 2012

Playing the Fulcrum

Okay, so if you weren’t already familiar with the term, a fulcrum is the person found in the mid-point in a V-relationship. This is to say that the fulcrum dates two others who don’t have a relationship themselves.

Now, those who play the role of the fulcrum are in a unique position. They are in a position of leveraging power or sharing power to get what they want.

Fundamentally, it’s a choice between sharing power or hoarding power. The fulcrum can choose to facilitate an open dynamic between themselves and their other partners, or, they can choose to become a filter.

A fulcrum that filters exerts power by introducing controls between their entanglements in an attempt to create predictability and get what they want.

A fulcrum acting as a filter may rationalize a need for their controls in just some of the following ways:

1.              The partners don’t know about the other and this is the fulcrum’s preference;

2.              The partners themselves don’t want to know about the other or have any desire to interact, and this is the preference of the fulcrum’s partners;

3.              The partners have no practical or logistical connection – they’re likely to never meet and the fulcrum doesn’t see a point in introducing them;

4.              The partners are so irrationally competitive that the fulcrum finds it easier to manage the dynamic by separating them;

5.              The fulcrum is either afraid or unwilling to share details of their own intimacy, perhaps at the risk of exposing their own personal vulnerabilities and insecurities;

6.              The fulcrum is uncomfortable with the prospect of their partners meeting and interrelating without them – the fulcrum wants to be necessary to both partners;

7.              The fulcrum wishes to define the practical and logistical constraints for themselves – example: they wish to retain exclusive control over their own schedule;

8.              The fulcrum fears moral or ethical scrutiny, or, a critique of their activities between the partners which might eventually result in the loss of one or both partners, their criticism, or a wholesale veto on a partner – all of which may result in the fulcrum not getting what they want.

Before we’re to pass swift judgment on filtering behavior, I’d suggest that a fulcrum acting as a filter isn’t necessarily a bad thing: there are models of polyamory and swinging where relationships are compartmentalized as a coping mechanism. Filtering may have been a pre-negotiated aspect of the fulcrum’s dynamic with one or more of their partners, for example. Filtering ain’t necessarily bad.

On the other hand, a fulcrum is also in a position to create a more open dynamic:

1.              Facilitate routine interpersonal dialog between their partners;

2.              Create opportunities where each party can communicate their needs, expectations, and desires;

3.              Orchestrate events of shared space – where the fulcrum and their partners come together to socialize and develop bonds of friendship;

4.              Channel expertise, knowledge, perspective, and experience between their partners;

5.              Negotiate broadly over logistics and scheduling;

6.              Apply something akin to group therapy to break down barriers of fear and jealousy between the fulcrum’s partners;

7.              The fulcrum wishes to express an open and transparent lifestyle to both partners, one that honestly portrays their activities and intentions;

8.              Create a non-competitive and cooperative environment in their lifestyle.

Should the fulcrum pursue a more open dynamic, they surrender power and abandon control for what they hope is a positive outcome.

Although pleasantly optimistic, the old adage “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions” comes to mind whereas any number of things could blow up in the fulcrum’s face.

In fact, the fulcrum is gambling. They’re betting that sharing power with their partners will allow everyone to get what they want. They’re also gambling that all parties will act selflessly, maturely, and responsibly; that everyone will avoid being careless with feelings; that their partners will be honest even when it may uncomfortable to be so; that their partners want the same things they want.

Er, HellaYikes! – big risks with no guarantees there. How do you ensure everyone’s on the same page?

Okay, so your homework over the next week is to think about your power exchange as fulcrum and to figure out if you (or your partners) are getting needs met.

Are there filtering activities going on – perhaps practices from years of habit - make you uncomfortable?

Are there opportunities you can exercise as a fulcrum to facilitate a more open and trusting dynamic?

Are there controls you want the fulcrum in your V to implement?

Is there a desire to get the fulcrum in your V to be more facilitative and engaging and involved?


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