Advice on Poly rules

Coveny

New member
I'm working on some ground rules for my poly relationship and I'd like some CONSTRUCTIVE feedback. I'm looking for something along the lines of 2-3 doesn't take into account X, 4-2 could be construed as Y, 1-1 is vague, 3-3 should include Z, etc. It's not constructive if you make blanket statements like "It sucks", so please include not only your opinion but how it can be improved. :)

  1. Respect
    1. Partner’s partner – Don’t be mean, treat them as disposable, or try to sabotage their relationship
    2. Equality – If everyone isn’t equal, then it isn’t polyamory
      1. Time – Agree on allocated times (1 on 1, whole poly, etc.)
        1. *Note* Me time is included in this equality
      2. Couples/Nesting Privilege/Validity – An active effort will be made to be more accommodating to the newest member of the poly to offset established privilege
      3. No one get’s “hidden”
    3. Cheating – Don’t agree to close the relationship if can’t keep your word
    4. Time – Respect other’s partner’s time with each other
    5. Disagreements - Keep it above the waistline
      1. Blame - Work to resolve feelings/issue, not blame
    6. Manipulation/abuse – Threats, playing on insecurities, coercion, gaslighting, etc. do not produce health relationships.
  2. Communication
    1. New Partners – Proceed with care
    2. Regular – Feelings change, relationships change, and regular communication of your feelings helps to prevent hurt feelings
    3. Honesty and Open – Tell the poly how you feel, what your needs and motivations are
    4. Jealousy/Possessiveness – Active work through them together for a healthy relationship
  3. Sex
    1. Safe Sex Circle– Confine exchange of bodily fluids to previously screened for STDs.
      1. Let everyone know if you didn’t BEFORE spreading possible STDs
    2. Testing – Proof of testing before fluid exchange
      1. Re-testing – If there is a chance of STDs
    3. Sharing – Just because your partner is having sex with someone doesn’t mean you get, and your partner is not responsible for finding your partners
  4. Money
    1. Stealing –Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you get to use their property, money, etc. without their approval
    2. Financial Infidelity – Don’t misuse of joint funds on anything not approved by the poly
    3. Financial independence – Contribute your part to the poly
  5. Self-awareness
    1. Own your own shit – Just because you feel bad doesn’t mean someone did something wrong, take responsibility for what you’ve said and done.
    2. Insecurities – Communicate them, and work on them
    3. Realistic – More personalities equate to more temperaments, preferences, etc. Poly relationships require more work than monogamous ones. Also Poly relationships are going to more changes, and bring up more insecurities.
I am aware that this list of rules will need to be discussed and agreed upon by all parties. I'm aware that as a long-term couple anyone I see will have to deal with a high level of privilege. This is more about having a starting point for me, NOT dictating rules to a unicorn. (which I expect to get responses along those lines regardless of what I say, but oh well) Let me hear your thoughts!
 

TXretired

Active member
Background: I am the pivot with a wife and girlfriend. We keep it simple. 1-Don’t be stupid. 2-clear communication and 3-if outside is, conforms are used.

in society we have all the laws on the books to cover everything one way or another. But we keep making more and it gets more confusing. The simplicity enhances buy in and understanding.

best wishes.
 

TXretired

Active member
Spell check attack.
3-if there is sex outside our V, condones are used.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I think a few agreements regarding
  • safer sex practices
  • money for dating
  • calendar
  • chores/kid care (as it applies in your situation)
  • how "out" as poly you each want to be
  • who the are "the messy people" ahead of time (Ex: "Please don't poly date my parents, my siblings, my boss, etc. I agree not to date your messy people." People who would be a huge mess if it goes wahoonie)
  • how do we agree to do conflict resolution
  • how do we agree to renegotiate agreements that aren't working
  • And asking "Does my new potential partner have any agreements with their other partners that might affect me?"
might be enough to start.

It is not possible to list every little thing and a large part of it is going to boil down to "don't behave like a jerk."

I am aware that this list of rules will need to be discussed and agreed upon by all parties.

Could consider framing it that way in the draft writing then. For example:

Respect
  • I agree to respect my partner’s partner(s).
  • I will not be be mean, treat them as disposable, or try to sabotage their relationship with my partner.
That's my suggestion. Consider rewriting the whole draft in terms of agreements using "I" statements so it is easier to read and understand and so people know what they are signing up for here. Then they can have clear expectations. And ask if anyone has anything else to add or if that's enough for now.

Might also consider sections differently. Rather than subject or topic, who they are for.

Because some of these seem to be agreements with your wife, and not really agreements with a potential new partner. Like the joint money stuff. So maybe that stuff could be a separate section for things that pertain to your nesting partner only at this time?

And some seem to be dealbreakers for you. Like if any of that happens you are going to dump the person because you have agreements with your own self about not putting up with shenanigans that you want to keep. So maybe have your dealbreakers in a separate section?
  • Manipulation/abuse – Threats, playing on insecurities, coercion, gaslighting, etc. do not produce healthy relationships.
  • Stealing –Just because you’re in a relationship with me doesn’t mean you get to use my property, money, etc. without my approval
Cheating – Don’t agree to close the relationship if can’t keep your word

What else would be considered cheating on agreements? Is that the only thing? Cuz it isn't like open/poly is magic. People can cheat on their open/poly agreements.

What open or poly model is being practiced or sought out here?

Let everyone know if you didn’t BEFORE spreading possible STDs

Could this health responsibility go both ways? And not just rest on the "teller's" shoulders?

"I agree to TELL my partner before sharing sex with them if there was anyone new for me since the last time we were together sexually and what safer sex practices were used. "

AND

"I agree to ASK my partner before sharing sex with them if there's been anyone new for them since the last time we were together sexually and what safer sex practices were used."

Just a few suggestions. I don't know if any of that helps.

Galagirl
 
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Evie

Kaitiaki

Coveny

New member
Background: I am the pivot with a wife and girlfriend. We keep it simple. 1-Don’t be stupid. 2-clear communication and 3-if there is sex outside our V, condoms are used.

in society we have all the laws on the books to cover everything one way or another. But we keep making more and it gets more confusing. The simplicity enhances buy in and understanding.

best wishes.

I haven't had good results with that vague of an agreement in the past, but I like things more concretely defined.
 

Coveny

New member
Just a few suggestions. I don't know if any of that helps.

Galagirl

That was an awesome response and exactly what I was looking for thank you very much! I'm going to have to take some time to percolate on the various points you've brought up, and I love that you've made me do that. Again thank you for giving me your time for such a well-thought-out and articulated response.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Glad it helped some.

Another thought... "What's an emergency?"

Like maybe you'd cut short or cancel and reschedule a date for someone going to hospital ER suddenly, or car accident or similar issue.

But you aren't cutting short or canceling date with Partner A just because Partner B had a bad day at work and wants to chat.

Maybe the agreement is "I honor commitments in the order made with exceptions only for emergencies. Emergencies are..." and then examples.

Galagirl
 
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FallenAngelina

Well-known member
I'm working on some ground rules for my poly relationship and I'd like some CONSTRUCTIVE feedback.
Just curious why you wrote CONSTRUCTIVE in caps. When I see that, I assume that you fear you'd get critical responses that are not well thought out but only lobbed. If so, that's not really the nature of this community. Have you had troubling experiences elsewhere?
 

Coveny

New member
Just curious why you wrote CONSTRUCTIVE in caps. When I see that, I assume that you fear you'd get critical responses that are not well thought out but only lobbed. If so, that's not really the nature of this community. Have you had troubling experiences elsewhere?

Yes. Repeatedly, and not just on this type of topic. The worst I ever got is when I posted on this city design forums and asked for help on how to design a homeless city I envisioned. Most of the posts equated to some version of "Your idea sucks" with no reasons as to why it sucked/wouldn't work, but the one that was truly stood out in my mind was the guy who told me I wanted to be a human trafficker of homeless women and free work from the men. Keep in mind, like this post, I wasn't asking for money from the people on the forums, I didn't state or imply I wanted the homeless people to work, and still reply after reply blasted me for the fantasies they had about what I brought up. I'm like I'm trying to build a free homeless city with my own money and I'm somehow the bad guy here?!?! Maybe it's the autism, and I don't say things the "right" way so I'm misconstrued, or maybe they just couldn't think outside of the boxes they lived in, who knows. Sorta the story of my life though, so I've gotten to the point where I try to head it off from the very beginning.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello Coveny,

Regarding 1-2 -- "if everyone isn't equal, then it isn't polyamory" -- you should be aware that there is such a thing as hierarchical poly (primary, secondary, even tertiary partners). It is often criticized, but it does exist.

Overall, your rules seem pretty good. Poly doesn't have to follow the rules -- it just needs mutual consent in order to be poly -- but that doesn't mean there can't be rules for best practices within poly, and I think that's what you have here.

That's all I can think of for now.
Regards,
Kevin T.
 

Coveny

New member
I think a few agreements regarding
  • safer sex practices
  • money for dating
  • calendar
  • chores/kid care (as it applies in your situation)
  • how "out" as poly you each want to be
  • who the are "the messy people" ahead of time (Ex: "Please don't poly date my parents, my siblings, my boss, etc. I agree not to date your messy people." People who would be a huge mess if it goes wahoonie)
  • how do we agree to do conflict resolution
  • how do we agree to renegotiate agreements that aren't working
  • And asking "Does my new potential partner have any agreements with their other partners that might affect me?"
might be enough to start.

Galagirl

I like the idea of discussing all of these. I hadn't thought about the messy people angle at all and just assumed. However, I could see that being a problem. I didn't edit the list above but I did edit my personal copy.
 

Coveny

New member
Could consider framing it that way in the draft writing then. For example:

Respect
  • I agree to respect my partner’s partner(s).
  • I will not be be mean, treat them as disposable, or try to sabotage their relationship with my partner.
That's my suggestion. Consider rewriting the whole draft in terms of agreements using "I" statements so it is easier to read and understand and so people know what they are signing up for here. Then they can have clear expectations. And ask if anyone has anything else to add or if that's enough for now.

Might also consider sections differently. Rather than subject or topic, who they are for.

Because some of these seem to be agreements with your wife, and not really agreements with a potential new partner. Like the joint money stuff. So maybe that stuff could be a separate section for things that pertain to your nesting partner only at this time?

And some seem to be dealbreakers for you. Like if any of that happens you are going to dump the person because you have agreements with your own self about not putting up with shenanigans that you want to keep. So maybe have your dealbreakers in a separate section?
  • Manipulation/abuse – Threats, playing on insecurities, coercion, gaslighting, etc. do not produce healthy relationships.
  • Stealing –Just because you’re in a relationship with me doesn’t mean you get to use my property, money, etc. without my approval
Galagirl

I like changing it to "I" statements. You've convinced me to do more work. :cautious:

I want the rules in place in case the new partner becomes nested. That way they're already aware of what they are getting into. Well I think a certain degree of manipulation (which some consider abuse) is pretty standard. Most people aren't honest with others (or even themselves) so it's not really a deal-breaker to me, the same thing is true of stealing. For me, it's a case-by-case basis, but I want to circumvent the "I figured it would be ok" excuse. So not hard limits but soft limits.
 

Coveny

New member
What else would be considered cheating on agreements? Is that the only thing? Cuz it isn't like open/poly is magic. People can cheat on their open/poly agreements.

What open or poly model is being practiced or sought out here?



Could this health responsibility go both ways? And not just rest on the "teller's" shoulders?

"I agree to TELL my partner before sharing sex with them if there was anyone new for me since the last time we were together sexually and what safer sex practices were used. "

AND

"I agree to ASK my partner before sharing sex with them if there's been anyone new for them since the last time we were together sexually and what safer sex practices were used."

Just a few suggestions. I don't know if any of that helps.

Galagirl

I see cheating as saying you're not going to have sex with others, and then you have sex with others. I know some people feel there is emotional cheating, I'm just not one of them. I think we all fantasize about people who we aren't having sex with. I think we all have emotional connections with many different people that have different degrees of romantic investment. For me, the line in the sand is sex, your mileage may vary.

You'll need to explain to me how someone can cheat in an open relationship, because I don't see it...

Open is being practiced, but closed is sought long term.

I see the onus on the teller because they are the one who broke the rule. The goal is a safe sex circle, once that is achieved, whoever puts it in jeopardy is the one who should speak up. I feel like asking them every time after that if they broke the rules is insulting and shows a lack of respect to the word that they've given.

It did help. There were several things you suggested that I really liked, and have incorporated. Again thank you.
 

Coveny

New member
Hello Coveny,

Regarding 1-2 -- "if everyone isn't equal, then it isn't polyamory" -- you should be aware that there is such a thing as hierarchical poly (primary, secondary, even tertiary partners). It is often criticized, but it does exist.

Regards,
Kevin T.

This wasn't meant to be rules for everyone. I personally don't want to treat anyone as a second-class citizen in a relationship, so that's why the rule is in there. Don't get me wrong, if everyone consents knock yourself out, it's just not what I'm looking to do, and I doubt anyone entering a relationship with me would push to not be considered equal. (I could be wrong though...)
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Re:
"I personally don't want to treat anyone as a second-class citizen in a relationship, so that's why the rule is in there. Don't get me wrong, if everyone consents knock yourself out, it's just not what I'm looking to do, and I doubt anyone entering a relationship with me would push to not be considered equal."

That makes sense.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
You'll need to explain to me how someone can cheat in an open relationship, because I don't see it...

It depends.
I see the onus on the teller because they are the one who broke the rule. The goal is a safe sex circle, once that is achieved, whoever puts it in jeopardy is the one who should speak up. I feel like asking them every time after that if they broke the rules is insulting and shows a lack of respect to the word that they've given.

That right there is one way. The person agrees to tell, then doesn't tell/lies about using safer sex practices. Would that be cheating on agreements made then? Or not keeping their Word?

Or maybe your best friend is on your messy people list. And they agree not to date any of the messy people. Then you turn around and come to find they are. Would that be cheating on agreements made then?

You decide what you want and are looking for, and then later your poly grouping decides what sorts of agreements your poly grouping wants to create/share/have together. And you talk together to define what is "cheating on agreeements" and what is not.

Like I don't think having fantasies is "emotional cheating" but perhaps the potential partner does. So a conversation is needed with them to get on the same page / assess compatibility. YKWIM?

Galagirl
 
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LoveBunny

Active member
Equality – If everyone isn’t equal, then it isn’t polyamory
  1. Time – Agree on allocated times (1 on 1, whole poly, etc.)
    1. *Note* Me time is included in this equality
  2. Couples/Nesting Privilege/Validity – An active effort will be made to be more accommodating to the newest member of the poly to offset established privilege
So say you have a long-term partner. Or a live-in partner. They've put years and years of emotional work into your relationship. Then you get a new partner. Is the new partner automatically given the same time, attention, and consideration as the long term partner? At what point, if any, will the established partner be expected to give up time, sex and energy from you because you'll now need to allocate that elsewhere?
 

breathemusic

Active member
I think the safer sex section is worth a WHOLE SEPARATE PAGE. How do you define sex? Some people consider any genitalia touching sex, some only consider PIV/PIA sex. Some people don't actually think of oral sex as sex. Are you aware that many times when people get a standard STD panel that doesn't include HSV? Are certain STDs just straight up dealbreakers for sexual contact and others not? If there is a condom break or a slip, what is the expectation for notification and also how long until testing, back to barriers?

Safer sex stuff is a whole detailed conversation and a single bullet about condom use or fluid exchange doesn't really cover it even slightly. So I'd consider writing all of that out in detail as a way to document that all parties are on the same page about how each person practices safer sex.

I also think that a lot of the items on that list are not so much rules as just expectations of conduct? Sort of, this is my expectations for how we treat each other. So you may want to be more clear about what things are explicitly rules that everyone is agreeing to, and what are just "let's treat each other kindly" expectations.
 

Coveny

New member
It depends.


That right there is one way. The person agrees to tell, then doesn't tell/lies about using safer sex practices. Would that be cheating on agreements made then? Or not keeping their Word?

Or maybe your best friend is on your messy people list. And they agree not to date any of the messy people. Then you turn around and come to find they are. Would that be cheating on agreements made then?

You decide what you want and are looking for, and then later your poly grouping decides what sorts of agreements your poly grouping wants to create/share/have together. And you talk together to define what is "cheating on agreeements" and what is not.

Like I don't think having fantasies is "emotional cheating" but perhaps the potential partner does. So a conversation is needed with them to get on the same page / assess compatibility. YKWIM?

Galagirl

This is a semantic discussion about how the word cheating is defined. I enjoy semantic discussions but I think it's important to understand different areas words mean different things. Where I'm from and how I was raised if you agreed to something and didn't do it then you broke your word, but if the word was given to not have sex with anyone else and you broke it you were a cheater. There's also the gaming type of cheater where you break the rules to "win", but I don't think that applies here, you may feel otherwise. Anyway from my perspective if I agreed to cut the lawn and didn't that would be me breaking my word. So lying about using a condom isn't cheating, or breaking any of the rules that don't involve you having sex wouldn't be cheating in my book. That said I think the "messy people" aspect would be considered cheating as you had sex with someone you agreed not to have sex with even if you have an open relationship. That's a bit of an exception-type scenario I would think, but I would still consider it cheating.

I wish people were more willing to have those types of discussions and talk about what they felt a word meant to them, but I find most people can't do it. I recently was talking to my wife's brother and he tells me he can define the word "understanding" and his definition is "A word that means something" or something similar. I'm like dude that could many any word out there. It's a common problem of mine as I don't understand tone, attitude, facial expressions, and the like. It's all about the words for me, but most people ignore the words and that's frustrating. When I try to get them to articulate them they get frustrated because it's all intuitive to them and they can't communicate in words something that's never communicated in words. I read an autistic person describe it once as like trying to dance to music you can't hear, and I think that's a decent way of putting it. I can mimic the other dancers, but I look stupid when the music changes. I mean me and the wife have had all those talks, but new people... ya there's a mountain of discussion I would like to have that 99% of the population has zero interest in discussing. haha
 
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