Poly Lessons We've Learned

redpepper

New member
I have had reason lately to think about what I have learned about poly in the course of over a year writing on here, 12 years of living poly (mildly at some points) and what I have learned from my own constellation and community. I would like to again say what I have learned....

There are several things that I have tried and have had success with and some that I haven't. I am not usually one for formulas so a lot of what we have tried has been modified and made our own... which brings me to the first lesson learned.

1. my poly is different than others and that makes it right for me, but not necessarily for others. I can describe my poly life to others, but should not prescribe the same thing onto their lives as they are different in how they describe themselves.

This has proven to be difficult many times for me as I find that people don't necessarily want to talk about their poly lives to me in person and I am left frustrated and have ended up prescribing anyway, just to feel more comfortable.

which leaves leads me to number

2. communicate at all costs and as soon as possible. No stone should be unturned. Everything should be out in the open when it is discovered to be an issue, a possible problem that I am working on trying to figure out the details for and stuff that rocks my world. The latter to the one who is involved mostly as it sometimes hurts a partner to be told that someone else rocks your world ;)

3. "go at the pace of the one who is struggling the most" I think I coined that one. :eek: make sure there is movement forward to something that works for all, but make sure no one gets left being dragged behind the boat.

4. mono's are sometimes REALLY mono! :p:cool: and there is a world of difference that is worth discovering.... Mono and poly are simply different cultures.

5. jealousy is often a sign of an unmet needs and fears or threats. Take it apart, discover its layers and walk through each piece of it.

6. all expectations and assumptions should be out on the table. No mind reading and no guessing.

7. go slowly, take time, be patient. Things are usually awesome at the beginning when foundations are being built. Unfortunately that foundation becomes very rocky when it's built on NRE. Hurt happens when a proper foundation has been rushed because NRE creates that rushed feeling.

It's like deciding it would be a great idea to walk 20 kms to get a donut from the all night donut shop when you are drunk. The walk there is great and fun at the beginning, but gets long and arduous as you sober up... Sometimes it's more worth it to turn around and walk back. Chances are it will be a long trek of unhappiness where as if you just hung out and waited until you were sober you could of taken the car.

Rushing also grasps on to other unsuspecting by standers that are not so keen to be dragged along and wonder what the hell the fuss is about. Like a cat being taken from it's cozy chair... grrrrr, meow!

8. There is a big difference between poly lifestyle and poly identity. Poly lifestyle is a choice to live and date honestly and with integrity; poly identity is what one is born with. A person who identifies as poly is unable to be comfortable with monogamy because it is not their nature.

I could go on and will, but that is a good start.

anyone want to add on some good ol' poly lessons learned from their own experience?
in addition, anyone find that one lesson in particular was more helpful than another?
 
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MonoVCPHG

New member
Not specifically related to Poly but an observation that applies to any dynamic;

NRE can be invigorating and exciting.

NRE can be a major distraction that makes people forget the day to day stuff such as work, friendships and cleaning our own house LOL!

NRE that involves multiple partners can be a flat out train wreck of steam rolling pace and subconscious disregard for reality when it comes to considering the emotions of others.

Experiencing NRE in the moment is easy and not where the work usually resides.

Reality and logic often crash against NRE like an unwelcome tsunami.
 

redpepper

New member
Not specifically related to Poly but an observation that applies to any dynamic;

NRE can be invigorating and exciting.

NRE can be a major distraction that makes people forget the day to day stuff such as work, friendships and cleaning our own house LOL!

NRE that involves multiple partners can be a flat out train wreck of steam rolling pace and subconscious disregard for reality when it comes to considering the emotions of others.

Experiencing NRE in the moment is easy and not where the work usually resides.

Reality and logic often crash against NRE like an unwelcome tsunami.

Sure it is. NRE is huge in a poly relationship because of the ripple effect it has. When anyone else is added to a relationship there is a ripple, but that is bigger when there is un-managed NRE involved. The key, in my experience is to tame it and make that ripple as small as possible and respect that the wake it has is bigger than we realize.

In Monogamy, when someone is single that wake is minimal, so there is allowances for us to be complete gleeful idiots in NRE. It's part of our culture through history that when we are young and courting to act on NRE. That first loving feeling is well established over years to be the one that leads us to marriage, babies, shared households... etc. NRE in poly is different.

In poly, at least in my experience, in a family poly environment.... and I would love to hear about any other setting... the first thing that went was my relationship to my son. Or at least the potential for that. I sucked it up pretty quick when I realized the values I have about raising kids were being jeopardized.... he was being affected more than anyone when I met Mono because the time we spent doing mummy/boy stuff was cut drastically...

I was neglecting to create the proper balance that gently encouraged him to become involved in the arrangement. Over time he gradually got used to the idea of Mono on our lives and now calls him his family. In fact this morning he was telling us about an event at school and he wanted to invite Mono to it. Just Mono. But that is a year and a half later and after some intense work and time management.

Now I struggle adding another partner and am taking it very slowly. Especially as she has a family and is establishing her own version of a poly family. There is no time for NRE in all of that except when we are alone together and in brief moments. My biggest struggle is making sure that I spend quality time with my child... because that ripple is a big wave when it gets to him.
 

redpepper

New member
9. Moving a lover in before they get to know our other lovers and children is just plain a bad idea.... how many times have I seen on here and in my poly life in general, people that have moved their lovers into a situation and it explode in their face.... everyone gets hurt and no one wins. Especially kids... who essentially get ignored in the process and then their parents wonder why they are whiny, misbehave and clingy.... well I can tell you from experience that it's because they want to spend time with you and you are ignoring their given right to bond with you.

It seems it works much better to move someone in after they have become an established person in the community complete with job, friends, life..... and when they are completely settled as a viable member in the constellation.

Again though, this is a skewed point as not all poly relationships include kids, marriages, live in partners etc... I would love to hear other experiences. I can only talk about my own and in no way mean it to be anything other than that.

10. Get to know your metamours. I have noticed that this seems to work out best for the harmony of everyone involved. You don't have to love your metamours or want to spend time with them, but knowing them and their version of poly, has been essential for me to develop deep meaningful relationships with my lovers and my husband. Compersion bursts forth when I know my husbands lovers and appreciate their worth in his life... as it does when metamours know metamours and I allow the space for everyone to get to know each other. I really could have it no other way any more personally.

11. hmmm.... no time for 11. off to work for now.
 

GroundedSpirit

New member
RP,

Nice post and nice to have a short list of lessons kind of in one place. :)
I think a lot of people could benefit from more like this.

Even recently I've been thinking a lot about how it seems this is all FAR more complex than it really is. More drama than necessary. More heartache and pain for some.

Being/living poly (and this is something we've said many times in various ways) really is just a certain amount of good common sense about how you would want to live in a loving way in a loving world. Kindness. Consideration. Communication. Education. Not necessarily all in any particular order.

I suspect as we look at your list - or any other entries that follow - we'll discover that they all come down to such a short list of common elements. Learning to understand ourselves as well as others with an eye towards compassion and a common benefit.

Not really as difficult as it might seem from the outside once you reduce it to some fundamentals that aren't such a bad prescription for everyone (minus any labels). Maybe when you approach things from a perspective of "what's the best we can build that will benefit everyone" what seems complex gets considerably simpler ?

Good job :)

GS
 
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Derbylicious

New member
So what have I learned?

1. Sometimes it's very difficult to pinpoint exactly what the issue is in any given situation. It's easy to know that something feels "wrong" for you but can be much more difficult to articulate why.

2. Change doesn't have to be bad. Mostly changes lead to growth and experiences that you wouldn't have had otherwise.

3. Support systems are important. The more people you have around you who understand who you are and how you live the easier it will be to find an ear or a shoulder when you need one. It's also nice to have people around to share your happy with.

4. Ultimately you are responsible for your own happiness. Snapping yourself out of a bad mood isn't the easiest thing to do but things run much more smoothly for everyone if you can be happy. It's a self fulfilling prophecy that if you're not happy because no one wants to spend time with you or talk to you then they won't want to spend time with you or talk to you because you're not much fun when you aren't happy.

5. Don't do anything that you're not completely sure you want to do even if someone else would like you to. As much as you're responsible for your own happiness you are also responsible to respect yourself and your own boundaries.

6. Everything needs to be talked about. Nothing can be assumed. What is obvious to one may be a complete mystery to others.

This is all I can think of for now (but then again I don't have 12 years of experience to draw on ;):D)

-Derby
 

redpepper

New member
Wow, good on you Derby! All good points! thanks for adding...

Yes I agree GS, most of this can be boiled down to what you are saying. I guess I was hoping for a list of in depth impressions of what "good common sense about how you would want to live in a loving way in a loving world. Kindness. Consideration. Communication. Education." can be broken down and broadened.

So often the same questions are asked in a search for some kind of deep meaning of poly. some kind of formula to start with and expand on... make ones own and add to. I know I would of found a list like this one hopes to be, very enlightening and promising. It's my intent to bring that to others now so that they might also have hope and find security in the fact that stuff has been done before.
 
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MonoVCPHG

New member
Coming out lessons learned

When talking to people who do not know about polyamory, focus on the things you like about how you live and not the things you don't like about how they live.

Do not try to justify your ideals by challenging the ideals of others. If that is your only means of substantiating why you believe in something then your viewpoint will come across as negative and confrontational.

Focus on educating, not converting.

Speak in their language; understanding first, vocabulary second :)
 

GroundedSpirit

New member
Ummmmmm....

Maybe we should add.........

"Remember that people as a rule resist change. ANY change !
Therefore, we have to be mindful of this trait, acknowledge it, and be patient all the while holding up a flag of accountability for progress toward a stated desire to embrace certain changes"
 

redpepper

New member
11. perhaps there are several types of poly but the two that stand out the most are:

the single minded, if not single in relationship status people that are able to incorporate several people into their lives casually as far as time goes, but not necessarily in depth. I find it hard to believe that for the long term depth in relationship can be maintained in this kind of relationship, but apparently long term is not always the objective. "Depth" is in the eye of the ones in the relationship. It's not for me to determine, as I am not in it. So therefore I can have an opinion, but it is mute. :rolleyes:

Sometimes the thrill of NRE is the objective in this type of relationship or an arrangement of "self" centered comfort .... These folks tend to not have kids or marriages, at least if they do they seem to find themselves in trouble as this kind of mindset is "self" centered... not in the negative sense, but in terms of lifestyle. No kids, no marriage=freedom to come and go as one pleases so to speak.

The second large group of poly people seems to be those that are married/committed/common law etc.. or involved with married people (or the like) who have a responsibility to the sanction of family in a more traditional sense. These people tend to have a primary partner as they have kids to think about and larger responsibilities than themselves. Other partners are incorporated slowly and the family unit incorporated into the other partners life also... or, not at all and the relationship is more of a open marriage concept or don't ask don't tell concept.

There is no right or wrong way of doing things in terms of poly relationship style, but it seems ultra important to know what someones style is and communicate how to merge the two... otherwise assumptions and expectations arise and people get hurt needlessly...
 

sage

New member
incorporating the family

Hi Red Pepper

My partner is the the second kind of poly and your post got us discussing his children. In a few weeks his secondary will be coming to stay with us for a weekend. She would like to meet his children who only come and stay with us alternate weekends and school holidays. We will sort it by just arranging a short visit but the point is that if she were to come when they are here he feels he would not be able to be affectionate with her. Why? Because he is afraid that his ex would not approve and would not want the children to be exposed to this kind of "lifestyle".

I would love to know how others deal with their poly lifestyles and their children? Z's kids are currently 10 and 11 and have been brought up in a very traditional way.

Thanks

Sage
 

rpcrazy

New member
NRE that involves multiple partners can be a flat out train wreck of steam rolling pace and subconscious disregard for reality

^I'm pretty sure I've never heard truer words before, hahahahaha. I can't even begin to express how hilarious this is to me because, it's true.

The biggest lesson I've personally learned, is selflessness in the purest form. Selflessness as defined by giving a higher consideration and awareness for people and things(in this case people you love) other than what you give yourself at all times. some examples:

-Can I have that? "no, i want it" -selfish
-Talk to me, i want you to let me in! "no, leave me alone" -selfish
-I felt hurt when you I called you and really missed you, and you sounded cold and distant on the phone. "I don't care" - selfish

Without a loss of self-love and self-respect I've managed to be able to consider my loved ones in all state of minds, and react according to my love for them. If i'm mad, I try to calm as fast as possible and let it out. If i'm sad, I don't shell up and go inside myself. I try to give as much as myself mentally to my partner as much as I do physically. I've learned that a lot of people don't know the difference...but there is one. And it's a pretty big thing to me. I've learned to act accordingly to the love that's in my heart. I'm not a master at it yet, but I've learned what to do and how to do it, and i'm all the better because of it.

more to come...
 

ak2381

New member
The things I have Learned as the Mono

I thought I would chime in on what I have learned as a mono in a Poly World if it is ok with the rest of you.

1. There is a whole world out there ready to be explored. Things can not be simply explained by the black and white morals and conducts that a person learns about growning up. There needs to be an open mind if you are ever going to be a well rounded person.

2. You don't have to be poly to lead a poly life. You don't have to be poly to support a poly spouse or signifcant other. You just have to love your partner. No matter who they are and accept them for who they are. These are not faults. This is just one part of their personality and human traits.

3. Cheating is probably the worst way to enter into the world of Polyamory. But it isn't the end of the world. With hard work and patience you can get through it. But it will never come easy...Ever.

4. You have to know your limits. Don't push yourself further than you know you can go. Even if you think this is what your SO wants. If it is actually what they do want, what they want even more is for you to take things at your own pace and be happy with your progress.

5. Life is about progress. And a mono can make progress in accepting it, even if this is not what they thought they were getting into when they got married. If you love each other enough, you can make it work.

6. Progress is hard. Progress is a bitch. Progress can be painful. Progress is worth it in the end.

7. You can make a best friend out of a worst enemy. You can take someone who hurt you and you were determined to hate the rest of your life and make her one of the number one people in your life. You can cry and resent and curse that person. You can bash her on boards, scream out curse words at her name. But as time goes by, you find yourself missing her when she isn't there. And then you would do anything to make sure she is ok. Because that is how far you have come. Because she didn't give up on you. Because this was never about stealing a spouse. This was about a lifestyle. This was about truly loving the people who are apart of this, not just a chance to have sex and take over what I worked so hard for. And now it is about love and friendship and sisterhood between two people.

8. Double standards suck. Not necessarily for the mono. Because as a mono not dating someone else really isn't an issue. But seeing the people you care about torn apart by double standards really sucks.

9. Sometimes its hard remembering that you are enough. But that is the one thing you must always remember.

10. When your husband is missing another woman, and you are the one holding him, you want to cry. But you don't. You let him cry. And then when he smiles from talking to her, and you know it isn't you, you still smile. You really smile. Because seeing the joy on his face, no matter where it comes from lights up any room and makes you feel good inside. Because you know he is happy and that you are doing the right thing, no matter how hard it is at times. There will be pain behind that smile, but that doesn't make it any less real. This is your life. Embrace it and embrace each other.

11. Walls suck. Try not to let them come up. They suck and they hurt everyone around you. Including those who don't deserve that wall. And the truth is the people you think do, probably don't deserve it either. There are two sides to every story. So look at all sides before you put up any walls. Chances are you will find you don't need them.

12. You still love them. You are willing to walk through fire for them. And because of this you would never change a thing. Because otherwise you wouldn't have your relationship as it is now. And isn't that what you fell in love with? Isn't this the person you fell in love with? You didn't fall in love with the person you wish they were. You fell in love with them. And because of that you can get through anything.

13. Someday I will completely and fully trust my husband again. I know I will get there. Not today or next month. But I will trust him without question again.
Thank you.
 
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sage

New member
Things you've learned as a mono

Nice post. Good for us monos to hear someone expressing things that I'm sure we all go through.

One thing you didn't talk about was fear. Fear of the future is just starting to come up for me. My partner's secondary relationship has so far been sensual rather than sexual (at her insistence). He has never even called himself polyamorous, it was me, seeking a way to make sense of his other relationship that stumbled on polyamory. As I have accepted the relationship it has grown and i am somewhat fearful of where it could end up. I am working at acknowledging and accepting the fear and as you say if you really love someone you will get through anything. I suppose the thing I fear most is that as his relationship with her grows we may lose the specialness of what we have together because our relationship might become diluted.

I know the belief is that more love enlarges the heart and creates more love but I would like to hear from anyone who has found that a secondary relationship ended up bringing down the primary one.

Thanks
 

saudade

New member
Replying to RP's initial prompt

anyone want to add on some good ol' poly lessons learned from their own experience?

1. It is infinitely easier to introduce poly at the beginning of a relationship than it is to open up a relationship that has been monogamous.

1a. If you're trying to open an existing mono relationship, and you've all done your best, and there is really no good coming of it, it's okay to end the situation in the best way possible. (In my case, it was leaving my mono boyfriend. Neither of us could change who we are.)

2. Everyone involved has to be trying to make things work.

2a. Metamours have to at least nominally try to get along for me to be happy being involved. The more improvement along that axis, the better.

3. I don't actually move at the pace of the slowest person. In the beginning, I say, "Here's how I live my life. Do you want in?" Then the other person tells me how they're living, and I decide if I want in too. Both sides can ask for accommodations at any time, and push on things that need it, but in general it's the responsibility of the person struggling to step it up (with support), not the responsibility of the person already living a functional life to put large parts of it on ice. (I know that's likely to be controversial... Feel free to start a new thread on it if you think it needs tearing apart--this doesn't seem like the place.)

I bet there's more, but I'm stumped for the moment.
 

redpepper

New member
wow, awesome points! Thanks for the mono points too...!

Saudade, "going at the pace of the one struggling the most" is not really referring to people who meet and agree to become involved. It's more to do with existing relationships that experience issues along the way. I totally agree that to meet, suggest a merge (;) for want of a better term this late at night) and then working towards that is what happens generally, but the idea of pacing is to do with anyone that comes along with that merge. That is where it is suggested that the pace be slowed to allow for the change to morph and grow into something sustainable. The problem arises when someone doesn't care about sustainability or thinks it's someone else's problem and is unwilling to allow communication or hasn't slowed down enough to consider the wake they cause by doing/acting/saying whatever it is that is causing the issue...

hope that makes sense.

I forget where my numbers are at, so I am abandoning them....next point for me is.

- everyone in poly community tends to know each other eventually or pretty close... we are not a large population. It becomes really important to be wary of that sometimes and remember people talk, gossip happens and a whole lot of figuring each other out.
 

redpepper

New member
I am my own primary...

I need to have a strong relationship with myself first before I can possibly have strong relationships with others. Often times I tend to let myself go, my connection to that which is my deep bond with me, because I know I can never leave myself and can do stuff later. Sometimes later is too long and I go over the edge. I get overwhelmed, become cranky, snippy, over emotional ... I need to remember almost daily that I need to look after my primary relationship with myself first before others.
 

saudade

New member
Responding to Redpepper

Saudade, "going at the pace of the one struggling the most" is not really referring to people who meet and agree to become involved. It's more to do with existing relationships that experience issues along the way. I totally agree that to meet, suggest a merge ( for want of a better term this late at night) and then working towards that is what happens generally, but the idea of pacing is to do with anyone that comes along with that merge. That is where it is suggested that the pace be slowed to allow for the change to morph and grow into something sustainable. The problem arises when someone doesn't care about sustainability or thinks it's someone else's problem and is unwilling to allow communication or hasn't slowed down enough to consider the wake they cause by doing/acting/saying whatever it is that is causing the issue...

RP: It's actually my policy not to move at the pace of the slowest person even in an 'existing relationship with an issue' situation, wherein the 'issue' is the involvement of a third person. The rule of thumb I go by instead is: what's reasonable in this situation for the parties directly involved?

For example: one of my partners, Z, has had trouble adjusting to me taking on a friend with benefits. There are parts of my having a friend with benefits in which Z is an involved party: who I sleep with at night; how much time this friend spends with both of us (he's actually friends with the whole constellation, not just me); who I sit next to when they both are in the living room; PDAs in front of Z; the degree to which a new love brings everyone an STD risk; etc. In those issues, Z is directly affected, and how he's doing with the thought of sharing me with this friend in this particular way is a major part of any decision on the topic. However, there are other parts of my relationship with this friend that have nothing to do with Z (like whether we talk online, what we do sexually --once we've agreed on STD issues--, and how we celebrate his birthday), and so we're not going to move at Z's pace on those issues, even if he's the one struggling the most in our constellation with the whole thing.

Does that clarify things?

Further context-- there's at least a dozen people in our constellation these days, so it'd be difficult to decide whose pace to move at in a lot of circumstances! Also, Z and I are working hard on keeping the relationship open through his moments of discomfort, and so we've agreed to this system together. It's also worth noting that Z and I are checking in about all of this constantly (it seems like a few times a day; it might actually be every two days), to make sure that everything keeps functioning.
 

redpepper

New member
Thanks for clarifying. I guess to me the idea of going at the pace of the one most struggling refers to "over all." not specifics such as sex and birthday plans. For instance, when nerdist struggled with my going off in the middle of the night after a date with our then triad member. Then it was a huge deal and he struggled to realize that I wasn't cheapening the time we had together. Now, likely he wouldn't bat an eye if I asked for that. I didn't go at the pace he needed emotionally and hurt him several times during that time period. It wasn't okay to do that for my selfish reasons and NRE. There is plenty of time and everything doesn't need to be donw now. That is all I am saying with it really.
 

redpepper

New member
Of course its a matter of depth and my poly perhaps being different than yours. It sounds like you are respecting other peoples emotions though and that to me is what I'm talking about.
 
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