Tuesday, August 23, 2016
So your partner has or is talking about having another relationship. Maybe they have already started dating. Either way you are going to have to deal with what Polys call the New Relationship Energy (NRE). I, as a Mono, would like to call it the Shiny New Toy Syndrome (SNT).
You know that syndrome. You get something new and it’s all cute and no one can tell you anything bad about it or their concerns about it. You just have to ride it out and let them figure it out for themselves. Sometimes it’s all good, and other times you have to sit back and watch the show while saying to yourself “I told you so; but nooooo!” The Poly community talks about how wonderful NRE is and that’s all well and good, but even they don’t take into account what their partner - Poly or not – has to deal with. It’s kind of like watching a toddler running around the house saying how wonderful their new toy is and then becoming upset when someone tells them that it’s their bedtime and that the new toy has to be put away for the night.
Some people handle the SNT better than others. There are partners who say that they’ve been through this many times and it’ll pass, while there are others who have to have all the sharp pointy objects hidden until it passes. Then there are partners who are in-between the two and are trying hard to deal with it. Polys handle the SNT in different ways too. Some Polys have it so severe that it affects their hearing and logic. They become deaf and their logic ceases to exist until the SNT clears. No matter what their partner says or feels is of no consequence to them. Then they get the “Oh shit!” syndrome when it clears. Some Polys get a moderate case of the SNT. While they do listen to their partner; they do what they want anyway because their logic is semi affected. They then get the lesser “Shit! What now?” syndrome. Then there are other Polys that while having the SNT, they do listen and take what their partner says and feels into consideration.
So what do you do when your partner gets this syndrome? No matter what degree your partner has it, I believe the way to handle it is still the same. First and foremost, talk to your partner about your fears and concerns. If you see red flags in the new relationship, tell them about it; but in a nice way. Go over your rules/boundaries list together. It’s not restrictions; they’re a show of respect to each other. Be prepared that if your honey has a really bad case of the SNT, they will defend themselves, and probably defend the new OSO too, as to why they are doing what they want. For them it’s like they don’t care if they fall off the cliff just as long they get to do it. There may be times that they appear that they are not listening to you, but actually they really are. If your partner breaks one of the rules/boundaries have a civil (or as close to one) discussion as to why it was broken. If it’s a big one – like unprotected sex – then there should be consequences like you will now have protected sex with me until you get tested and the results come back clean because you are now messing with my life without my consent. Yes, that’s one of our rules/boundaries that has never been broken and I love M even more for respecting me by doing this.
Second, put on your friend hat and listen about their date plans and how it went. No, you don’t have to listen to every detail and if it starts getting Ouchy you have the right to say that it’s Ouchy and move on. I feel that 1) you are friends with your partner so by listening, as a friend, you can see it from a different angle; and 2) you want to share your partner’s experience so you both can grow from it. There have been times where I have said to M that I’m asking this question as a friend because this is what I would ask any other friend if they were in this position. I feel that this strengthens the bond between us and makes us more solid. Hey, you could even help plan a date if you want to! I asked M what he was going to wear on a first date and encouraged him to follow through with his suggestion for them to have a second date.
Lastly, you have to let the SNT run its course. Consider it like a cold. The more it happens, the more the both of you will be able to handle it. Being able to communicate your concerns with your honey helps. Open dialog is the most important thing when dealing with this. To quote don Miguel Ruiz, “It is because we respect others that we allow them to be the dreamers they want to be. It is because we love them that we let them make their own choices, whether we understand those choices or not.”
Sunday, August 14, 2016
M had asked me a while back that I should explain what a mono/poly relationship should be about. I started by making a list, but then I put the list down – till now. So ladies and gentlemen here is my list of what I believe a mono/poly relationship should be like.
1. Respect and trust each other (a no brainer).
2. There should be openness and honesty (another no brainer).
3. Communicate to each other (no brainer yet again).
4. Be supportive and encourage growth to each other.
5. Do things together.
6. Do things apart and give each other space.
I was going to take each point separately, but a lot of these points intertwine. First and foremost, you have to respect each other. If you do not respect your partner, then all the rest is a moot point. Respect your partner for who they are, their opinions, their way of doing things. Remember that you picked your partner for all their good points. If you respect your partner, then you’ll trust them too. In the book, “The Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz, he writes: “Love is based on respect. Fear doesn’t respect anything, including yourself. If I feel sorry for you, it means I don’t respect you. You cannot make your own choices. When I have to make the choices for you, at that point I don’t respect you. When I don’t respect you, I try to control you. On the other hand, love respects. I love you; and I know that you can make it. I know that you are strong enough, intelligent enough, good enough that you can make your own choices. I don’t have to make your choices for you. You can make it. If you fall, I can give you my hand, I can help you to stand up. I can say, “You can do it, go ahead.” That is compassion, but it is not the same as feeling sorry. Compassion comes from respect and from love; feeling sorry comes from lack of respect and from fear.”
I guess that quote takes in points 1 – 4 on my list. Openness and honesty is also a sign of respect. Be open about your feelings and be honest about what’s going on even if it stirs up feelings with your partner. That’s where the communication point comes into play too. Be open to our partner about your feelings. M started dating a really nice person. Even though I know her and she’s really sweet, my mono wiring kicks in at times and I get the “what if” playing in my head. I can handle them better these days, but I do tell M when the wiring is kicking in. I know that he gets it to a point, but we do sit and discuss it instead of me keeping it inside and shutting down on him. So to the monos I say not to shut down and talk to your partner about what’s going on for you. Otherwise it’ll just fester like an open wound and eventually burst and be all ugly. You also won’t know when it’ll burst and that too can -and will- make the situation worse. To the poly’s I say to you discuss what’s going on (not in gory detail unless asked) about your other relationships to your partner. Don’t tell your honey that you took that other relationship past the hand holding stage three months after the fact. What will that prove? It’s still going to hurt and even more so if you delay that info. That is not showing respect to your partner.
Point four is a good one. This doesn’t have to apply to just other relationships but things in general. If your honey wants to try their hand at something creative or improve themselves by taking classes or going to lectures, then give them the encouragement to do so. Let them be themselves without hesitation. If they’re on the fence about doing it, give them that little nudge. I started reading books on ways to look at life. I thought that M would make fun of me doing this; but instead he encouraged me and we had some in depth discussions about certain topics that were in the books. In fact he is going with me to a workshop on this. M needed a push to ask his current OSO out and I encouraged him to do so. I calmed his nerves the night before his first date and asked what he was going to wear. I don’t think that neither one of us would have read books or asked someone for a date unless we had the support and encouragement from each other.
Points five and six kind of go hand in hand. Do things together and also do things apart. Doing things together strengthens your relationship. M wanted me to go to a poly meet up event with him. Even though I was the “odd person” there, I met some really great people, and had a nice time. I wanted M to go with me to a local Ren Fair. Even though it’s not his thing, he went and had fun. By doing this, you also see a different side of your honey. We both enjoy watching independent movies; so we go whenever one’s in town or we look at them on Amazon or Netflix. Even do household stuff together if possible. If either one of us has a problem at our houses, the other comes over and helps out. M helped me put up a clothes line and I helped M set posts for his garden gate.
Doing things apart is also healthy. You don’t lose yourself if you are able to do things by yourself. I’m not talking about when your honey goes out with their OSO (though that is also good). I’m talking about meeting up with friends for dinner without the sweetie. It’s ok to do things by yourself and not be joined at the hip all the time. For me it’s having the grandchild for a week. For M it’s going on a retreat by himself for a few days to reflect on things.
Last thing on this list is to give each other space. Sometimes you just need time along with yourself to decompress. Sometimes things get to us that only we can deal with. It’s ok to give space. There’s a great passage in The Mastery of Love: “You can be aware that when your partner gets upset, gets sad or jealous, it’s not the one you love that you are dealing with at the moment. It’s a Parasite that is possessing your partner. Knowing that the Parasite is there, and knowing what is going on in your partner, you can give your partner the space to deal with it. Since you are responsible for your half of the relationship, you can allow him/her to deal with their own personal dream. In that way, it will be easy not to take personally what your partner is doing. This will help your relationship a lot because nothing that your partner does is personal. Your partner is dealing with his/her own garbage.”
Looking at this list, it’s really not too hard to be these things. Hopefully this list can help you in your mono/poly relationship too.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
This letter was prompted by reading/seeing/ listening from monos whose poly partners are trying to get them to “jump to the poly side” and they can’t understand why there isn’t a mad rush over the fence to the poly side.
Dear Poly Person who is in a relationship with a Mono Person;
We are all wired differently. That’s what makes us all unique. Our views/attitudes/beliefs towards things can differ too. If you are planning to enter, or are already in a poly/mono relationship, here are a few things you should know about us monos.
First off, tell us -right off the bat - that you are poly. Polyamory keeps saying that there should be openness and honesty; but not telling us this from the beginning is wrong! We monos need time to adjust to this new line of thinking. Maybe we’ll stay and try it out, or maybe we’ll bail. That’s our choice; but doing “Surprise!” months into the relationship makes our choices of staying or bailing harder to do. We don’t want to invest our energy and emotions thinking that we’re the only ones and then have a new rule book handed to us 6 months down the line.
Second, is for you to explain/discuss with us what your version of poly is. Polyamory is different for lots of people. Some polys may want to date other people while other polys may want more than one committed relationship. By having this discussion with us (1) we can understand what your version of poly is compared to others and (2) where we stand in the complete picture of things. We’re not asking for a 5 year plan here. We’re just trying to see where we are – like those “you are here” posters you see in a mall.
If you want to date others, please be certain that we monos AND us as a couple are ready for this. Another concept in polyamory is constant communication so let’s use it! We monos should feel (to a point) that our relationship is solid enough for you to date. Sadly, there is no time line for this as some of us monos take longer than others to become somewhat comfortable. So, if we ask for you not to date others while we are working on our relationship, please honour our request. If our relationship is shaky, wouldn’t you want to fix that first before starting on another one?
One key concept in all of us –both poly and mono- is trust. Even in polyamory if you are not open and honest about your dating, then honey you are cheating! So please tell us when you are going on a date. We don’t want to hear about it after the fact. In my book that is rude and disrespectful to us!
Please don’t push poly on us. Please don’t tell us monos that we should try poly. Understand that if you did something just to “make someone else happy” or are forced or hounded to do something that doesn’t feel right to you, you would not be a happy camper. Also, don’t make poly announcements and expect us monos to do a happy dance. That’s pushing poly again on us. We are not going to dance yelling “yay!” when you announce that your OSO will be moving in with us and we hear the back - up beeps of a U-Haul in the driveway. Again, communicate with us! Openness and honesty does not disappear when we become accepting and comfortable in the mono/poly relationship.
This is NOT a letter telling you to stay away from us monos. This IS a letter explaining to you how we monos are and what we expect in this type of relationship.
M read this letter and said that I should explain what a mono/poly relationship should be about. I agree. So that's what my next blog will be about.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
The other weekend M and I went to the Rochester Erotic Arts Festival. Some of their workshops were on polyamory. We went to one that was about how polys deal time-wise with handling multiple relationships. One presenter had a live-in partner and an outside relationship. The other presenter had two live-in partners (his wives as he called them) and an outside relationship. All of the partners and others were in attendance and gave their views and asked them to explain things to the audience. It was interesting on many levels. One was to see how real people handle all this and not read it in a book. Another was that even in these relationships there are disagreements between people and how they work things out (talking about it was their answer). One person in the audience then asked about how they deal with jealousy. The answer they gave was thought provoking.
One of the wives answered that question with a question: Is it jealousy or envy? She went on to explain her view. “If you are upset that the other person is happy and you want to destroy their happiness, then that’s jealousy. If you are glad that the other person is happy but you’re upset that it isn’t you, then that’s envy.” That got me thinking. All the books discuses jealousy; but is it really jealousy or just envy?
I know that M is poly and when he goes out with someone else, I’m glad that he is being who he is. For him, this makes him feel whole and good about himself. I may not like the fact that he is doing something and I’m not, but in no way am I going to sabotage his time with that other person. This makes him happy. When he checks in with me after his time/date I ask how it was. I’m not looking for all the juicy details, because I don’t want to know, I just want to know that he enjoyed himself. In this aspect, I’m going through envy and not jealousy.
Now if I was to blow up his phone with texts and/or calls while he was out with another and not give them a moment’s piece, then that’s jealousy. I’m sabotaging M’s time out and therefore destroying his happy time; let alone M then having a really loud discussion with me afterwards about my behaviour. If I complain and/or rag on M when he texts or calls me when he’s home from being with someone, again that’s jealousy. He’s feeling good about the time he had, and I have to be the bomb that destroys it all.
So, is envy compersion? No, it isn’t. Someone did ask this, and the answer was no. In order for it to be compersion, everyone involved has to be doing the happy dance. In envy, you’re not happy because it isn’t you who is involved.
I feel that books should not call it dealing with jealousy when you are in this mono/poly relationship. Instead they should define jealousy and envy. Now, people, comes the hard part. You should look at your own relationship and ask yourself, “Is it jealousy or envy that I am dealing with?” If your answer is that you’re glad that your partner is being who they are and you are upset that you’re not doing it too, then that’s envy. If your answer is that you want to unleash the hounds from hell whenever your partner goes out with someone, then that’s jealousy and my advice to you is to think about staying in this relationship. Jealousy is not a good thing.
Every relationship requires work to keep it going strong; but look at it and say to yourself: “is it jealousy or envy” and go from there.
If you would like to check out the festival: www.rochestereroticfest.org
Sunday, March 13, 2016
I’ve been asked a few times if people still go through those seven stages of emotions during their relationship; and how should people handle it. My answer to the first half of the question is yes, every time our partner is interested in or starts to date someone new, we go through those seven stages to some degree. Some people go through these stages whenever their partner leaves to spend time with the OSO too. I think that it’s a normal thing. I mean, a new person enters the picture or our partner leaves to spend some time with their OSO and we wonder where we will wind up on the relationship ladder. We wonder about this and go through those stages (maybe even a quick run through) until things balances out and we are comfortable again.
How we handle all this is another thing. We can read books, blogs, articles; talk to others about how they handle things, and you can get some good advice that you feel that you can use. But I feel that if you are not comfortable with, or in touch with yourself, then all this advice that you have been collecting will go by the wayside. So, what do we do about this? I’m a spiritual person so I feel that 2016 is the year of awakenings. No, I’m not going to go all religious on everyone. I’m going to write about what is working for me and maybe it’ll inspire you to either look into what I’m doing or look at things that may work for you.
I would strongly suggest that if you would like to start out, read the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The four agreements are: Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. He then goes on and discusses each agreement. There is a companion workbook that just came out for the four agreements. There is also a fifth agreement: To see the truth. I haven’t read The Fifth Agreement book yet; but I will.
Another great book (for us women) is Warrior Goddess Training by Heatherash Amara. There’s a companion workbook for this as well. In this book she talks about clearing out old thoughts and ideas that no longer suit us and for us to become who we really want to be. For me this was one powerful book! It can be intense because we are looking at our past, but it really worked for me. Sorry guys, I tried to look up things for you, but if there is something out there for guys, please let me know and I’ll pass it along.
By finding out and being comfortable with yourself, I feel that you could be able to do those me times when your partner is away without feeling guilty or bad about it. I feel that when you hit those seven stages you can look at them in a different light (Like: My partner is responsible for their actions not me. I don’t have to play judge or victim to myself.) than you do now. I know that there are other books out there that are on the topic of personal growth/self-help; you will have to check them out and see which one feels good to you.
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Someone asked me about what to do if you do not like your partner’s choice of metamour. They said that they are going with the “someday I’ll like that person and things will be rosey for everyone” hope. While that could happen, I’ll go with the “not-in-my-lifetime” answer. You see, just because my partner is poly, doesn’t mean I have to welcome every one of his OSO’s with open arms (although the majority of them I do like). Does this mean that you have to take their choice of OSO like some bad tasting medicine? Not really. There are options out there that you can use. I’ll run through the possible do’s and don’ts and put my two cents in about them.
First off, before you do anything regarding their relationship, you should do a self-check first. Ask yourself; “Why don’t I like this person?” Be truthful with your answer. If your answer is/are that they are thinner, prettier, seem more polished than you, taking away from your time with your partner (to name a few), then you need to deal with your monsters before dealing with the other relationship. Talk to your sweetie about your feelings. If this is the main reason that you don’t like the other person, then by working on this may eventually bring you to the rosey for everyone stage. Remember that they are with you because of who you are. Hey, these thoughts creep into my head too, but if M can put up with my hippie-dippie wild-child nature for over four years, and I know that we bring out the best in each other, I’m good with that. Now if your answer to this question is: “because the other person is a well-known backstabbing user”; well then there other options for you to try as this comes under the not-in-my-lifetime column.
One option is you could use the veto card. Some couples use this when they don’t like the OSO. They will tell their partner that they don’t like the other person (reason given or not) so therefore the partner has to cut all ties with the OSO. No questions asked; good-bye; the end. While it sounds like a really good thing to do and it may give you personal satisfaction that you saved them from that evil person, I personally could never to that to M. To me, that would cause hurt feelings and possibly anger and resentment from him. If you think about this if you use the veto card, then it just makes that bad relationship even more enticing to you partner (think Romeo and Juliet for starters). My take on this is not to use it.
Now the next options come under what I would call the Do’s and Don’ts of handling this situation.
DO express your feelings to your partner. If you see a red flag, then politely point it out to them. “I’m sorry that you planned an afternoon to spend with them only for them to cancel at the last minute. That wasn’t fair to you. It’s also upsetting to me that they have done this to you before.” “It concerns me that they are starting/are in a relationship with you and they haven’t told their partner(s) about it yet.” Be calm and not sarcastic in stating examples. Sometimes they can’t see the forest from the trees and by pointing out things may make your partner see what you are seeing.
DO setup or review your rules/boundaries. You should have a general set of rules/boundaries that are in place for every relationship to begin with. Review them again because both you and your sweetie’s safety is important.
DON’T come up with complete new set of rules/boundaries just for that OSO. Don’t change anything just for this relationship unless the OSO is unsafe regarding certain things. This can be considered sabotage and the start of a major war between you two.
DO allow them time to meet up. I know that this one’s a killer, but by doing this along with pointing out the red flags (not at the same time), your sweetie should (after a while) put two and two together and see the whole picture.
DON’T sabotage their time together. Bitching when your partner is leaving to see “it”, eye rolling, constant texting your partner while they are together, and other things may cause that awful relationship to end (yay), but it will cause a war between you and your sweetie (nay).
If and when your partner and the horrible OSO split up, DON’T do the happy dance in front of them. DON’T say the “I told you so” phrase either. They know that you know so don’t throw it in front of your partner’s face.
DO be supportive of your partner at this time. They may be upset that the relationship ended. They may also be beating themselves up for not heeding those red flags. Your partner and you too, may have learned something about yourselves and relationships in general through all this.
Is it difficult watching your partner be in a terrible relationship? Yes it is because it’s someone who you care very deeply about going through this. Can you change what’s happening? Maybe, but it’s not happening according to your time schedule. And sometimes that relationship may have to crash and burn for all involved. M and I were involved in one of these horror OSOs and he knew that I was upset by it. He asked me why I was so upset. I told him that it was frustrating to me because it was like two friends walking along on railroad tracks. They hear the train coming and they see the headlight down the tracks. One friend gets off the track, but the other stays on. The friend off the tracks keeps yelling that the train is coming and to get off the tracks; but the person is still walking the tracks. They feel helpless that their friend is not getting off the tracks and the train is right upon them. M’s response was that maybe the friend on the tracks needs to have that train wreak happen so that they can learn something. Good point, but if everyone learns something positive from it then it’s a good thing.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
A while ago I came across this article: The 12 pillars of Polyamory for Everyone.
As I’m looking through the list I’m agreeing with every one of the pillars until I got to number 12 – compersion. The definition (from both the Ethical Slut and More than Two) is: A feeling of joy experienced when a partner takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship. The definition that this article gives is: the idea that you can experience joy when someone you care about is happy, even if you’re not the source of that happiness. While I do experience joy when someone I care about is happy, I would not call that compersion. I call that just being happy. The article didn’t do a good job about selling compersion in a relationship. There’s a difference about being happy for someone and compersion.
Now I understand that the word compersion was formed in the poly community along with its definition. I would guess that the word was formed to differentiate between being generally happy for someone and being happy for someone sexually. However, we mono/open people don’t always have to do the complete compersion dance every time our partners find someone; and – much to the shock of the poly community – it’s ok to do so! We can take compersion to a point.
First off, you have to have compersion to some extent or else we would not be with our poly partners. We know that this is who they are and that there will be others in our partner’s lives besides us. If you’re tolerating it thinking that they will “grow out of it” or giving your partner grief over others, then I suggest you assess your relationship to see if it’s right for you. But if you understand that this is who they are then you can do a little compersion dance when your partner finds another because – again – this is their wiring. M has been friends for many years with D. Recently they have sat down and talked about having a close friend relationship (right now no sex – their agreement). They enjoy each other’s company and are happy going out together. Our rule is that I would like to meet anyone M is interested in. She’s good people and we all get along well too. I have talked to M about this relationship and he appears to be happy about it; so if he’s happy, then I’m happy. If and when they decide to take it to the next level, will I be doing the compersion dance? The answer is: I know that M would be happy and that I know D; but my mono wiring will kick in and I will have to deal with that. Normal stuff us mono/open people go through. It’s compersion to a point.
Now you don’t have to do the compersion dance if you don’t like the person that your partner is with. That’s ok too! Just because the word compersion is out in the world doesn’t mean that we mono/open people have to embrace it fully. The poly world would like everyone to fully understand and do the complete compersion dance. I say do the compersion dance at your own pace.