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.