Archive for April, 2011

Poly musings

Recently(ok more like 2 months ago) this question came up in a fetlife group.

How do you “reprogram” yourself to be polyamorous?

To my way of thinking you either ARE poly or you are not. Regardless of how many people you are dating at any one point in time. I recently parted ways with one of my partners, so I am sexually and romantically monogamous at the moment. That does not mean I identify as a monogamous person, do you see what I mean?

Ended relationships and circumstance have led me here. Choices made not only by me, but the other folk in my life. Not one choice that was made purposefully to lead to situational monogamy. Situational monogamy… interesting phrase. I think I’ll keep it. Along with ‘situational awareness’ that my chosen family has shared with me.

Poly is not easy. It was a long hard journey to reach the acceptance within myself for my poly nature. It took time and leaps of faith and work and a thick skin at times. Basically, you decide: I am an adult. I have a right to express my sexuality. It is my choice and right and path to do what I want with my heart/body/soul/mind. I am capable of, happy with, and fulfilled by loving more than one partner wholeheartedly and openly.

And when poly goes wrong, it can be more devastating than one relationship ending. You’ve made connections, however tenuous, with your partner’s OSOs, friends and sometimes family. And if you add the kink community in, you’re all going to end up seeing each other again. Almost everywhere you go. Play parties, gatherings, just going to hang out at a bar with friends… these things just don’t go away.

And people will judge you, even within the community. For not doing poly the same way they do. For having different needs that they deem ‘selfish’. For identifying in ways they don’t accept.

Any person can look down on me or judge me for my poly, that is their choice. I am not ‘out’ to most of my family, not because I am truly afraid to share with them, but because their right to not know outweighs my desire to share. I’m sure they have an inkling, because I don’t actively hide my partners, but they do not ask either. And until they do, I am not pushing the issue. For instance, I discuss things I do with each partner, mention them by name, etc… But I have never blatantly discussed poly with my family.

Outside of family, my friends all know I am poly and kinky. My children know I’m poly, though they might not know the term. shrugs If someone chooses to look down on me or my loves because we are poly that is their choice. I can not make them choose otherwise, anymore than they can make me conform to their standard.

Love, The

Often, I read articles or books on love or relationships that are geared toward monogamy, simply because there are more of them than there are articles or books on poly. Sometimes, you run across one that doesn’t need much translation into poly and simply works for mono or poly either one.

So, I am cheating a little and paraphrasing an article I read today. With some of the flowery language removed and occasional ‘poly translation’, here’s the gist of the article and how much I love this is ridiculous:

The “Sound Relationship House Theory,” which distills the behaviors observed in couples who enjoyed satisfying, healthy relationships.

Friendship and sharing
The foundation of the successful relationship “house” is built on friendship and sharing both fondness and admiration for each other. To maintain a healthy, happy relationship; relationships of all types should try to establish a close friendship and be willing to accept influences from each other. And not simply because you’ll be spending a lot of time together. When you’re accepted for who you are and appreciated and respected, trust builds and the relationship flourishes.

Look for these key elements in your interactions with your love interest:

* Each of you is genuinely interested each others’ day-to-day lives, dreams, goals, likes/dislikes, and so on.
* You ask each other open-ended questions, prompting for more information and details.
* You show signs of affection like smiling, laughing, touching, holding hands, etc.

If one of you isn’t engaging in this kind of behavior, it’s probably a sign that you don’t need to keep dating. Why? Because you’re not exhibiting signs that you actually like each other!

Positive communications
Interacting positively is also a crucial component of any successful romance. Strong partners show their fondness and admiration for one another, even when they disagree. So when you and your partner aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on something, try:

* Approaching the conflict calmly and with empathy.
* Talking about your feelings, not the other person’s actions.
* Avoiding making accusations.

For example: If I say, ‘I was disappointed that you didn’t call when you were going to be late,’ then I’m describing my own feelings and experience. However, if I say, ‘You are always late and just don’t care enough to call,’ then I am criticizing my partner. The latter is much more likely to spark an argument.

If there’s more negative than positive going on in your relationship, it’s time to bail. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life with someone who treats you this way. After all to maintain any relationship, people have to put in the effort to make the other person feel safe, happy and most of all, loved.

Be on the lookout for the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” for relationships:

1. Criticism
2. Defensiveness
3. Contempt
4. Stonewalling (shutting down communication)

People who have a tendency to elicit these behaviors during their interactions are more likely to split. That’s why it makes sense to look for these red flags when you’re interacting with a current or potential love interest.

When applied, this can help you avoid bad relationships and build great ones. Both couples and individuals can learn the skills needed to build a sound, stable ‘relationship house,’ Struggling singles searching for the right person(s) can start to build these skills now — even without a partner. This will enable you to use these skills right from the start so that all potential relationships will automatically begin on the right track.

Mastering these skills is what couples who are in healthy relationships do, and what couples who would like to be in healthy relationships can do to build and maintain those relationships that last a lifetime.

Inspired by this article by Margot Carmichael Lester.