Tuesday, August 23, 2016
The Shiny New Toy Syndrome aka SNT
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.”