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Old 10-25-2015, 06:54 PM
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Default Consent: What if it's Not Required?

Something troubles me about the poly philosophies we've encountered on Polyamory.com lately. Let me try to explain it in context.

My older brother has been a regular (monogamous) guy. Then his (then) wife cheated on him (with an older guy -- a politician in fact, what a shock right). I don't know the details but they ended up getting divorced, and my older brother ended up with a lot of damage (emotional, legal, financial, etc.).

Recently, I have been outing myself to my brother. I have been telling him that I've become polyamorous, and what that means. Since he is new to the idea of polyamory, I assured him that one of the most important tenets of polyamory is that it can't be done unless all the adults involved have full knowledge and give full consent. My brother strongly agreed. What possibly hurt him the most about what his ex-wife did is that she didn't bother asking for my brother's consent.

In my perspective, consent is one of the pillars (or the prime pillar) holding polyamory up. It's the one thing that makes polyamory a valid relationship model.

Recently, I told my brother about this website. So it is possible that he may pay us a visit (probably as just a lurker). I'm nervous about what he may find, because I don't think we're consistent!

If we encounter someone who's in my brother's shoes, we tend to say, "Don't let her do it unless she gets your consent! She's just trying to cheat and manipulate you into giving your consent. Tell her you have conditions that must be met too!"

But, if someone posts who's in my brother's ex-wife's shoes, we tend to say, "Don't let him rule your life by the withholding of his consent! If you need poly to make you a happy person, you tell him that's how it's gonna be, and he can divorce you if he wants!"

And I'm asking, are we upholding the necessity of mutual consent like we should? How do we define the difference between a marriage in which consent is needed, and a marriage in which consent is not needed?

I have helped myself to some cinnamon Jack Daniel's, so I may not be presenting my case very well. But my question is, how to we tell the difference between a situation that requires consent, and a situation that does not require consent?

Was my brother wronged when an affair was had without his knowledge and consent? If so, how do we tell that? How do we tell if it's a situation where consent is not required?

Does that make sense?
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
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Old 10-25-2015, 07:17 PM
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I don't have much time ATM, so I will have to write more later, but the first thing that popped into my head after reading your post is that "consent" and "permission " are two different things and people often get mixed up about that.
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Old 10-25-2015, 07:49 PM
Inyourendo Inyourendo is offline
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Is it cheating if the wife informs her husband that she will no longer remain monogamous but he doesn't consent?
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Old 10-25-2015, 08:08 PM
KC43 KC43 is offline
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I would say yes, it's cheating. If you're doing something your partner doesn't know about, or something they've told you they're unwilling to tolerate but you do it anyway, I personally would define that as cheating. That's just me.

I agree with nycyndie that "consent" and "permission" are two different things. I struggled with that for a while with Hubby, well before we opened the marriage. I was afraid he would get angry with me if I did something he didn't want me to do, so I constantly asked him "Is it okay if I..." (go to a friend's house, go out to dinner with a group of friends, etc.) I was asking his *permission.*

He finally got fed up with it and said, "You're not a child, I'm not your parent. You don't need my permission to do whatever you want to do. I appreciate that you want to let me know you're doing these things, but stop asking me if you're allowed to do them."

After that, and especially since we opened the marriage, I've learned to phrase things differently. Instead of "is it okay if...", I now say "I'm planning to do this, are you okay with it?" I've learned to ask for his *consent*. Which is still my choice because I'm more comfortable hearing from him that what I'm doing won't cause issues between him and me; he doesn't even necessarily care if he knows where I am sometimes.

Last edited by KC43; 10-25-2015 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 10-25-2015, 08:37 PM
MightyMax MightyMax is offline
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Well, I think this was the very issue raised in JOA's thread and subsequent threads after that.

To answer, I think that the people involved in an intimate relationship are individuals. On this forum, we (as a forum) try and give people poly related advice that will improve their personal happiness. They come and outline what they view as obstacles to their contentedness and we help them find ways around those obstacles whilst maintaining key principles of polyamory. The issue is that much of the advice we give any individual regarding improving their personal happiness is going to mean them severing ties with the people that are perhaps inadvertently being that stubborn obstacle. Thus, the spouse who is being held back from their "true poly self" may have to be sacrificed if they cannot jump aboard, or at least permit the ship to sail. The spouse who is being ripped apart by their valiant attempts to accept their poly partner is told to find one of the many people who want the same relationship structure as them.

Despite this, I will definitely support the notion that even within this general framework for handling this issue, we are inconsistent. I will put forward that this is gender-based. We are generally more tolerant of the "wannabe-poly" wife than we are the "wannabe-poly" husband. We suggest that the female partner push her male partner more than we would the other way around. We push males to consider their family and whether this poly desire is a silly fantasy more than we do females. We are less likely to question whether a woman is saturated (and not recognizing it) but quite readily imply a man is being greedy or selfish or just wrong.

I do not think this is specific to this forum, nor do I think it is the worst polyamory forum for this issue. I think a very popular kink social networking site is actually horrific in its treatment of men. I actually had the awful experience of a partner writing about an issue we were having on there, and they assumed that I was male and just completely twisted the issue out of all recognizable context. By the end of the thread we were heterosexual married childhood sweethearts with a couple of kids. It was somewhere between hilarious and terrifying. Anywho, as someone who is gender fluid and has experienced both male privilege and some of the social disadvantages that can arise from being male, I notice it.
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Old 10-25-2015, 09:42 PM
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Consent and permission are the same thing. They are synonyms.

Consent is always required. I'm not sure the advice on here is all that inconsistent. Usually I see people give choices. "If your partner does not consent you can A, B or C."
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Old 10-25-2015, 10:26 PM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Re (from nycindie):
Quote:
"The first thing that popped into my head after reading your post is that 'consent' and 'permission' are two different things ..."
I believe I'd like to know what the difference is!

Re (from Inyourendo):
Quote:
"Is it cheating if the wife informs her husband that she will no longer remain monogamous but he doesn't consent?"
Yes, that's exactly the sort of thing that's been bugging me.

Re (from KC43):
Quote:
"If you're doing something your partner doesn't know about, or something they've told you they're unwilling to tolerate but you do it anyway, I personally would define that as cheating."
Whew! That's a hard line in the sand.

@ MightyMax ... your post hit right at the center of what I've been wondering about. For example, do we give wives more leeway than we do husbands? I wonder.

Re (from vinsanity0):
Quote:
"If your partner does not consent you can A, B or C."
One of those options being breakup or divorce ...

So, if you want poly, but your spouse doesn't, do you divorce, or do you let your spouse decide to divorce you (when you go ahead with the poly)? Either way, not much depends on their consent ...
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Old 10-25-2015, 10:36 PM
MightyMax MightyMax is offline
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I do think there are examples where there is essentially the same issue - different details, but the same issue, and we (again, the general forum) have said that it is consent in one instance, and isn't consent in another.
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Old 10-25-2015, 10:41 PM
KC43 KC43 is offline
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I'm a hardass Lying to a partner, or hiding something from them, or going behind their back to do it anyway after they tell you they aren't okay with it, I personally consider dishonesty. If those things are done in the context of having another partner, I consider it cheating. Other people see it other ways, and that's fine; I have a low tolerance for dishonesty of any kind in my life.

Vinsanity... according to Merriam-Webster, permission is defined as "the right or ability to do something that is given by someone who has the power to decide whether it will be allowed." Consent is defined as "to agree or allow to do something; to give permission for something to happen or be done." So on the surface, they do appear to be the same. But to me, the difference is that the definition of "permission" specifically mentions "someone who has the POWER to decide whether it will be allowed."

In other words... to me, at least, consent has nothing to do with who has power in a given situation, whereas permission requires that one person have power over the other. That's the difference, and that's why Hubby got annoyed about my asking *permission* from him but doesn't mind my asking for his *consent.* He gets irked about any indication that he has any type of power over me, because he doesn't want that power.
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Old 10-25-2015, 11:11 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
For example, do we give wives more leeway than we do husbands? I wonder.
Who is this royal "we" you speak of? There are many, many, MANY members here from all over the world, with lots of different opinions. Quite a number of members who answered questions here in 2009 and 2010 are no longer here. In six months, there will be lots more new folks adding their opinions, and the forum will have a whole different flavor. I wouldn't say there is one unified voice here.
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Last edited by nycindie; 10-26-2015 at 12:03 AM.
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