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Author Topic: Being Honest With Ourselves  (Read 5607 times)

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Being Honest With Ourselves
« on: April 25, 2013, 06:42:54 PM »
You hear a lot about communicating with your partners.  There is another aspect of communication that people should be aware of. 

Communicating with yourself.

I don't mean standing in the corner talking to yourself or wandering down the street talking to the air.  I mean being honest with your self about how you feel about poly and living a poly life.

Poly is not for everyone. 

There are those in the poly community that would have you believe that being poly is easy.  That anyone who is open minded and willing to try can be poly.  Some say that if you can't be poly, there's something wrong with you. 

Poly is not for everyone.  Some people are happy in life single.  Others have to be with someone.  Some want to be the one and only for someone.  Others can and want to love many people.  There are a few who don't know what they want.

Who are you?

It's important that we reflect on ourselves.  Be honest.  What do you want?  Where are you emotionally?  Mentally?  Is polyamory for you?  It can be scary embarking on a new poly relationship or discovering that your partner wants you to consider the idea of poly.  It can be even a little disconcerting to discover you want to be poly. 

No matter what you may feel it's important you are honest with yourself.  Self reflection is important.  Examine your motives.  Examine your feelings.  Know why you choose to act in the way you do.  Good or bad, honesty is the best policy with ourselves.  Knowing your own motivations can help you.

It can be painful.

It can be scary.

It can be exhilarating and freeing.

"To thine own self be true."  Being honest with yourself is a good first step finding happiness with in your life and relationships.

Be honest.

Offline Natja

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2013, 09:00:33 AM »
Excellent post!  With loads to think about.
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I don't mean standing in the corner talking to yourself or wandering down the street talking to the air.  I mean being honest with your self about how you feel about poly and living a poly life.

Aaaah this strikes home,  I have always been very good at fooling myself, especially when it comes to matters of the heart,  I feel that for me it has been a constant evolving journey of self discovery between what I like, what I want and what I am capable of.  I think when you first start out in a Poly relationship you are so consumed with aspects regarding managing your jealousy it can be easy to lose sight of what you actually want and need out of your relationship/s.  I found I was doing things that were counter to my needs in a desperation to stave off the green eyed monster. 

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Poly is not for everyone. 

I think at this point it is good to separate out Polyamory and Poly sexuality, there are plenty of people claiming to be Polyamorous whereas their behaviour is closer to poly sexual in that they donít really have the capacity to truly love more than one.  So we usually use Poly in a relationship sense but do we exclude those who have relationships that are less emotional and more sexually based? I donít know but I know the situation is more complex than just Poly vs. Mono.
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There are those in the poly community that would have you believe that being poly is easy.

I have never seen that statement made by anyone who isnít invariably new.  Honestly, it is as classic as that man who accused me of not being as evolved enough to have a Polyamory (lack of jealousy) gene like he did (most of you will know who I am talking about) the fact that he was looking for Polygyny and did not even have to confront his own jealousy was totally lost on him.

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It's important that we reflect on ourselves. 

I have been doing this a lot more recently, as it is only up to each individual how they wish to structure the shape of their futures and bring about happiness, I needed to stop acting like a victim of circumstance and take control.  It is only with experience can you know what works for you and what doesnít, learning from our mistakes hopefully makes us not only better partners but also better people.  I feel so fortunate to have had the time to reflect and be more radically honest with myself, to realise/reaffirm my needs which I had ignored for a long time.  This was an aspect of me not being honest with myself and causing me to be very sad and probably not the best I could be, because I devalued my own needs.   By being dishonest with ourselves we can hurt ourselves far more than anyone else, it is so important to continue being honest with yourself as we grow and change and discover new things about ourselves also.

Natja
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Offline Deorccwen

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2013, 03:09:43 PM »
A great post, Antony, thank you!

I would add to your list of what people want, that some actively want to be with a partner who has other partners, but do not want other partners themselves.  There can be a lot of reasons for this, but the main one I have come across is people who want a relationship, but also need a lot of time to themselves, for personal, emotional, health or career reasons.  In these cases, the person may not have the time or energy to devote to someone who wants an exclusive relationship and expects them to be their only - or main - source of companionship and emotional support.  In this case, I would suggest that the person concerned needs to be particularly careful to be honest with themselves and any possible partners about whether this is an arrangement that they want long-term or permanently.  E.g. For someone who wants this type of relationship for career reasons, is the career demand a relatively short-term thing?  Are you likely to want something different from that partner or from your relationship once the deadline is met?  It's important to look to the long-term, and to be absolutely honest with yourself and your partner, rather than drop a bombshell months or years after you have got together.  'I want us to be monogamous now, honey!' or 'I'll be looking for additional partners myself now!' when the possibility has never before been discussed between you is likely to lead to unnecessary pain all round. 

Often, people assume that polyamory means that every person in a poly relationship should have, or want to have, multiple relationships.  This is just not always the case.  A person can be poly in that they are not just tolerant but happy for their only partner to have other relationships, and can genuinely delight in the joy their partner experiences in other relationships (compersion) even if they don't especially want more than one relationship themselves.  This was certainly the case for me throughout most of my adult life (although, unlike the people I describe above, it was never an actual goal for me).  I never felt that I lacked anything in having only one partner while Kester had more than one.  But I said from the start that I might one day want another partner myself, so that option was always on the table, and so it was not as much of a shock to him when I did meet someone else I fell in love with.
For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.
William Blake (1757 - 1827)

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2013, 07:58:35 PM »
Great conversations so far.  Some great points brought up too.

Here's a question though.  What happens when you continue to have these conversations with yourself, and you find that over time what you want changes, but you are already knee deep into a poly relationship?

Thanks,

Steady
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Offline Deorccwen

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2013, 08:41:11 AM »
'What happens when you continue to have these conversations with yourself, and you find that over time what you want changes, but you are already knee deep into a poly relationship?'

My opinion (and it is only my opinion) is this.

In that case, you have to be honest with yourself and your partners about what it is that you want now. 
And you have to accept that what they want may not have changed at all. 
And then you have to accept that you have no right to expect or force them to change to suit your new wants.
And then you all have to talk and negotiate until you can come up with a solution which, while not being what everybody wants, is something that everybody thinks they can accept and live with.

Take, for example, the situation I suggested above, where a person has been very happy as one arm of a V while she was working, but wants monogamy once the deadline is met.  Let's assume the person is a woman, in a hetero relationship.  She has to accept that her partner and his partner are whole human beings with needs and emotions of their own involved, not simply there for her convenience.  She *cannot* (or at least, should not) ask or expect her partner to give up his other relationship.  It exists as a separate thing from her own relationship, and she has no business interfering in it, and no business trying to break up her metamour's relationship.  She can, however, ask her partner if it is possible for him to start spending more time with her, and they can all negotiate that need together, but she will have to bear in mind that if he starts spending more time with her, he will probably be spending less time with his other partner, and that may be difficult for his other partner to accept.  Or it may be that he will give up a hobby in order to spend more time with her instead.  Either way, she should recognise and appreciate any sacrifices made, and especially any sacrifices made by her metamour.  Honestly, as Antony said above, it would be better if she could recognise from the start what her long-term needs are, because then she could have made it clear to everyone from the start that she would need more companionship after her deadline was met, and negotiated that need from the beginning.   

Or a triad situation.  Say, for example, that there is a triad of one man and two women, and the man wants to end his original relationship.  One dyad breaking up need not (and probably should not) result in the whole relationship breaking down, only the part which is not working.  If the two women are still happy together, then there is no reason why their relationship should end or be undermined by the ending of the relationship of one dyad.  If they have all been living together, then the situation is more complicated, but it should still be negotiated with the assumption that the women's relationship should continue.  Perhaps they may end up living in two homes, with the point of the V spending half her time in each, or maybe they will have to simply try to get along in one home, making sure that each arm of the V has their own bedroom.  Either way, each arm of the V will have to respect the other's space and autonomy if it is to work well.  The woman whose relationship with the man has broken down will be in particular need of support if she would have preferred her relationship with the man to continue: he will need to accept that, and that his partner will need to spend more time with his metamour than with him, at least for a few months.   

In all cases, I think it is important to remember that every person in the relationship is a whole human being, worthy of respect and consideration, just as we want respect and consideration for ourselves.  It can be particularly difficult to remember this and to behave appropriately in times of change, when tempers may be high and there can be a tendency to demonise the person who is trying to push an agenda we don't want, but we should do our best.  It is important to behave in an adult manner, and not descend to childish name-calling or abuse, sulking, drama, threats or one-upmanship.  It is not a competition to grab what we can from the situation.  It is not a win-or-lose situation.  It is a co-operative venture to try to make sure that everybody's needs can be met as effectively as possible within the limits of the situation.  Everybody will gain in some ways and lose in others, and nobody can expect to get all of what they want.  To assume otherwise, and to resent not having it all, is to behave like a child who wants Mummy to buy her a cake and refuses to understand that Mummy simply does not have that much money right now.  It comes down to justice, to doing our best to recognise other people's needs and to treat them fairly, and also being fair to ourselves.   
For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.
William Blake (1757 - 1827)

Offline Natja

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2013, 08:44:04 AM »
Great conversations so far.  Some great points brought up too.

Here's a question though.  What happens when you continue to have these conversations with yourself, and you find that over time what you want changes, but you are already knee deep into a poly relationship?

Thanks,

Steady

One would hope that you can discuss possible changes to your relationships to better meet your needs.  Of course your needs might require an end to a casual relationship (or two or three, depending on the kind of Poly practised). There is an interesting post I read today about this very thing, a man questioning whether he simply has the time to put into other relationships due to the obligations he has at home. I admire the fact that he is questioning this before he gets involved and makes further promises and commitments  to others.

Once commitments have been made, just the same as in Monogamy, one has to be aware of the emotional pain it causes to change the expectations of relationships, like Monos who are told their partners want to be Poly, like OPP couples where the woman falls for another man, like the triad where one dyad breaks up, like one partner who changes their mind and demands a relationship close.

There is no way to know what will happen, it all depends on the people involved and how well they communicate, how strong their bonds and how flexible their thinking.

Natja

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2013, 02:55:21 PM »
Great responses.  I've heard that people have changed their minds after entering relationships or after being a part of one for a while. 

What do you do if the other individuals in a poly relationship aren't willing to renegotiate?

NOTE:  I am not talking about myself.  I am perfectly happy in my current V relationship with Antony  at the V and Jadez and I at the arms of 15 years. 
Reaching others with the polymindset more and more everyday!

Offline Natja

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2013, 05:40:12 PM »


What do you do if the other individuals in a poly relationship aren't willing to renegotiate?
 

At the end of the day people can't be forced to love someone else so the question becomes if a renegotiation is necessary can you really renegotiate and do it fairly because some people simply cannot because their pain and/or resentment far outweighs doing what is right by other people even to the point of going against personal ethics or previously stated parameters.  People can be made aware that they may be acting in selfish or entitled ways, but that does not mean that you can force them to confront it either, especially if they can find justification for it. 
At the end of the day, every individual will need to reflect on whether they are doing the right thing, if they are behaving honourably and if they can work on their issues. Some people will and they will be the better for it and some won't and they will live in bitterness and resentment, those people would just be better off being mono really because it simply is not fair on others to continually bring new people into an unhealthy dynamic.

Well that is my take on it anyway  :)
Natja
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Offline Deorccwen

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2013, 03:52:33 AM »
I agree with Natja, but would add that this behaviour is possible for anybody in any kind of relationship, mono or poly, and also for people at any point of the polycule.  I think your point about an 'unhealthy dynamic' was meant to indicate a long-term couple, V or triad?  But I would suggest that oblivious, entitled behaviour is as possible in the previously single person, too.  Especially if the person has been single for a long time and is accustomed to arranging their life in a way that suits them best.  In that case, it can be difficult for them to adjust their usual way of doing things to the needs of others, or to negotiate preferences.

I would also add that, when we are emotionally involved or invested in a particular outcome (difficult not to be, really, in the context of a relationship) we sometimes judge others harshly because we are simply unable to see from their point of view.  So that behaviour that seems selfish and entitled may not be so, but it can be hard for us to understand that unless we can bring ourselves to see things from the other person's point of view.

To take the example I gave above, of the triad, say it is the man and his newer partner who have broken up.  In that case, all other things being equal, the shared partner could spend half of her time with each partner.  But what if she can't get to work easily from the man's house, but she could from the woman's house?  Then the man would have to accept that she would be spending more of her time at his metamour's house.  Or say she and the man had school-age children together, and the newer partner had only been with them a year or two.  As the mother of the children is the 'roving' partner, the children would presumably live in their father's house, though they might spend some (or all) weekends at the newer partner's house.  In that case, the shared partner would have to spend more of her time at the man's house, since she has parenting responsibilities.  In each case, it might be difficult for the partner getting less time to accept it, and easy for them to convince themselves that the other partner is unreasonably getting a better deal, or that the shared partner is not as committed to them as she is to their metamour.  And this could easily build up arguments between the shared partner and the partner who feels they have got less, and lead to a degree of resentment between them that could destroy that dyad.  The partner who gets less time is likely to feel that their needs are unfairly unmet, but the shared partner could feel unhappy and pressured over responsibilities that she cannot reasonably get out of.

In other cases, it can simply be a conflict of expectations which were not negotiated at the start because their own way of doing things seemed so natural to each person involved that it came as a shock that anybody would do things differently.

Ultimately, whatever the reason for one or more people in a relationship refusing to negotiate, whether it is because they simply refuse to shift their demands, or because it is a point on which they just cannot negotiate (such as children's or elderly parents' needs, work responsibilities, health problems or financial issues) then there is no real future for the relationship between the non-negotiating parties. 

It's worth adding here that, in the first flush of NRE, problems and pre-existing responsibilities which have been clearly discussed at the start can seem insignificant but later come to seem impossibly irksome.  There is a huge difference between recognising an issue or problem in prospect and thinking that 'love will conquer all' and actually dealing with the reality 24/7.   
For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.
William Blake (1757 - 1827)

Offline Natja

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2013, 05:18:59 AM »
I think your point about an 'unhealthy dynamic' was meant to indicate a long-term couple, V or triad? 

No, not necessarily as single people can create an unhealthy relationship dynamic as well, they could be controlling, self centred, abusive and emotionally manipulative. I have a long term friend who has creates unhealthy relationship dynamics so it is near impossible for her to keep a mono relationship going for long but in a Poly one it would be tragic.

At the end of the day there could be thousands of variables that make people emotional or resentful this has nothing to do with  re-negotiating the boundaries of relationships, that itself relies on the good will, maturity and compassion of the people involved, even if difficulties come up, it is incumbent on those with difficulties to explain them rather than pull an 'I'm entitled' card.  Everyone has responsibilities, everyone has difficulties to greater or lesser degree, compassion can only flourish in an air of being open about it and willingness to address the needs of others and be flexible as much as possible. 

Once vetoes are enforced, entitled behaviour stated, couple privilege (which has been lighting up the Polyamory boards at the moment) taken advantage of and emotional blackmail used, people lose any credibility they had with regards to living up to the ethics of Polyamory or caring for any partners they have (or had).  People need to address the point they are at now, rather than dwell on the whole relationship history because people change, feelings get hurt and people can get resentful, but if that can't be put aside for the good of others well, certainly Poly is not right for them and I would question monogamy also.

There is a looooong blog somewhere in which this woman charts her Poly journey, she is bisexual and first went into Poly as a Unicorn Hunter but she has moved away from that since having had both male and female lovers alone since, however, she continually goes loco when her husband gets close to someone.  She has a history of demonising any woman who is closer to her husband than her and enforcers her position through subtle emotional manipulations and obvious entitlement (to the point where she gets VERY offended when anyone mentions couple privilege because she knows she is mired in it and takes advantage of it quite a lot).
The problem isn't the fact that she tries and fails, the problem is the broken hearts she has left behind in her wake.  It is shameless that she keeps putting herself forward as a paragon of Polyamory and love and light, hippy happy lovefest when she refuses to work on her entitlement issues, her fears and her insecurities.

I concentrate on how single non-marrieds experience Poly because that is my experience and on the whole we are the ones who get the short end of the stick in general, hence the caution that many people in the Polyamory scene have when it comes to getting involved with established couples especially those who present as a unit. 

There needs to be a much better discussion in Polyamory in general of what can go wrong in these situations and how everyone can work together to shine a path towards healthy Polyamory rather than crash and burn (restart and repeat) crash and burn, Polyamory that so many people are doing and that starts with people examining their own inner motivations, what they have to offer, whether that is fair on the other person or whether one is willing to take advantage of others to get what they want.

Hope that makes more sense,

Natja

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Offline Deorccwen

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2013, 10:56:30 AM »
Thank you, Natja.  Yes, it does.

I agree completely with most of what you have said.  If people can't negotiate in good faith and try to take everyone's needs into consideration (including the needs of any children of the people involved) then my impulse is to say they need to work on themselves before embarking on any relationship at all, poly or mono!  However, rather than writing them off entirely as relationship material, it may be possible for some styles of (poly or mono) relationship to work well for those who have poor empathy or self-control, such as a friends-with-benefits situation, or a secondary relationship situation.  (It's possible to have a monogamous secondary-type relationship, too: it just means that both people involved do not have the same support and companionship expectations of each other as they would in a primary relationship.)  In both cases, the people involved in those relationships do not rely on one another to the same extent, and so it may be possible for them to co-exist in relative harmony and meet some, at least, of each other's needs.  It's got to be better than being lonely, although obviously working on their issues would be better for them personally, regardless of whether they ever want a full-time relationship. 

BTW, I dislike the term 'secondary relationship,' even though I use it here myself because it's easily understood.  I don't think a 'secondary' relationship is any less valid than a 'primary' relationship, but naming them 'primary' and 'secondary' does suggest that.  I also don't think that we should assume that everybody wants, needs, or would function well in, a full-time relationship of any kind.  And I think that, sometimes, our own insecurities and cultural expectations of what we (and others, including our partners) think we *should* want can get in the way of us forming healthy, functional relationships that suit everybody involved.  'Why don't you want to live with / marry me?  Aren't you committed to me?'  'Why don't you want to do the things I like to do?  Are you avoiding me?' These questions could come from a person whose needs are not being met, or someone who is ill-suited to a relationship with the particular partner concerned, or they could come from culturally-induced insecurity based around what they think a relationship 'should' look like. 

This goes back to Antony's point of knowing yourself and what you want before you get into a relationship, although I think it can be hard to know yourself and what you want, when you are surrounded by cultural assumptions about what is desirable or valuable in a relationship, and when you know that your family and friends will judge your relationship and its validity on those same cultural grounds.  And, having said all that, however much thought we put into it, good judgement can easily fly out of the window when we fall hard for someone, or when we are desperate.  Under the influence of NRE, people who are completely unsuited to be life-partners can believe one another to be the embodiment of their dreams.       

Any vetoes / hard limits should definitely be raised with prospective partner/s and the issue worked through before the person concerned enters a new relationship with anyone else, I think (this applies to single people, to people in couple relationships and to poly groups).  Although then we get back to the issue that Steady raised, which is, what if you don't know that something is a hard limit until you hit it, or what if something was fine, but has become a hard limit since the relationship started?  Well then, back to negotiation and the endless processing which is in the nature of poly relationships!
For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.
William Blake (1757 - 1827)

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2013, 09:23:06 PM »
When people first decide to enter into a poly relationship, it can be difficult to know what our hard limits can or cannot be; it can also be a challenge to know what we can or cannot handle because we've never explored this poly territory before. 

In a way, we are explorers embarking on a new frontier.  Yes, we can read websites like this one or poly blogs  to help us prepare for this new frontier by learning from others who've already explored this horizon and instilling within us their knowledge.  However, knowledge alone does not allow us the opportunity to truly understand what it is that we want or need. 

Experience is the only real way to determine what we want, need or can handle.  We must experience poly for ourselves hopefully starting off on this voyage in small slow steps taking our time and allowing ourselves and our partners times of personal reflection to decide what we want or need from poly. 

For us, we renegotiated our terms and limits many times.  Sometimes, we opened up our boundaries and extended them further, while at other times, we closed our borders some at least for a little while allowing ourselves time to heal from issues, embrace new ideas, or to move on.
Reaching others with the polymindset more and more everyday!

Offline Natja

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Re: Being Honest With Ourselves
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2013, 02:24:58 AM »
When people first decide to enter into a poly relationship, it can be difficult to know what our hard limits can or cannot be; it can also be a challenge to know what we can or cannot handle because we've never explored this poly territory before. 

Right on!  :)
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