Sunday, October 6, 2013

Avoiding the Me in Polyamory

"What I want trumps what you want."

"What I'm doing is morally and ethically transparent. So what's your problem?"

"Your issues are your own weakness. Consider this a 'growth opportunity' for you."

"You're an adult. Figure out something to do. I'm going out tonight."

"Why are you blaming me - I told you I was going to sleep with him."

"I decided to fluid bond with her over the weekend. Any questions?"

"Maybe I did promise to go with you to that family event this weekend. Still, she's in town, so I'm going to go with her."

"I see you all the time! I so rarely get to see her!"

"My husband and I, we've decided ..."

"Listen: I can't handle it if you two have an overnight so it will never, ever happen."

"That's my favorite thing to do. How could you be so insensitive and take her to that?"

"Our relationship is the older and more established. You need to make more space and time for my new relationship. It's courtesy."

"Fridays are always going to be my night. If that changes, I'm leaving you."

Selfishness. Dictating Terms. Guilt trips. Tantrums. Absolutes. Ultimatums.

You know, for a relationship style that supposedly promotes such lofty concepts as compersion and sacrifice, there's a whole lot of ... me ... that gets in the way.

Me, me, ... me.

Certainly there's nothing wrong with being your own advocate and asking for what you want. But if what you want becomes the last word and you've left no recourse for your partner, then your will is forcibly imposed and the issue is closed. That's not healthy. Abruptly silencing your partner's voice to simply get what you want isn't conducive to building trusting, long-lasting relationships. It's not even very friendly. It's manipulative and selfish.

If you're practicing Polyamory, then you've an opportunity here to catch yourself in selfish moments and attempt to rise above it. Look carefully at what you're saying, or your potential action, and think about how to redress it. Become aware of yourself, your words, your feelings, and your actions, and how they might affect others you care about.

That means:

  • Leaving time for conversation instead of doing what feels good for you in the moment;
  • Engaging in artful negotiation to get what everyone wants instead of issuing demands and ultimatums;
  • Considering other points of view;
  • Listening to others and their needs;
  • Instead of talking-down to someone to make your position favorable (i.e., "You obviously need help in this area; this is a growth opportunity for you, etc."), treat them with respect;
  • Consciously making critical decisions jointly as a triad (or quad, or whatever) instead of as a dyad, and then just informing others of your edict;
  • Looking for ways to reconsider your standing beliefs and assumptions;
  • Evaluating what you're afraid of, and what would satiate that fear.



sin said...

What if you find yourself the only person in a triad or quad who IS being open and honest? Is there a way to encourage or force the other players to be open?

Anonymous said...

Well, speaking for myself, I find that you can't force anyone to do anything. You can, however, control you, and request more of what you want. If you're not getting it, maybe you should reevaluate the healthiness of the dynamic for you?

Best wishes-

H.B. said...

"...If what you want becomes the last word and you've left no recourse for your partner..." then the only recourse you've left for them is to leave. You shouldn't be surprised if they take it.

Jessica said...

This is a concise and well-written blog post that hits on an important issue. Thanks for sharing it. I've seen my own and others' selfishness manifest in various ways in poly and non-poly relationships, and it's good to encourage people to be more aware of the part they are playing when they insist upon getting what they want and/or demonstrate ill-will or lack of respect for their partner(s) and metamours.