Poly Lessons We've Learned

Redpepper has a blog in the "Lifestories and Blog " section. She gives occassional updates these days.
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?

I like 3. The one quoted in my triad, from more than 2 was “go
Arm the paces of the slowest person”. Well, the slowest person slowed things down to the point of non-struggle, non-address, and therefore did not struggle. A comfortable existande . Meanwhile, dictating NO movement forward - and thereby completely removing autonomy in one relationship- was causing overwhelming struggle for me. Especially when the other two had relationships they were claiming full autonomy in because they predated me by a week or two. So I had full on poly hell in three situations, and they had poly hell in none in one case, and only poly heck in another....
I ended up phrasing that “share the load of poly work as well as the pleasures”
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Be then world’s best advocate for yourself, as well as your partners, and meta.. Be generous, but make sure you are being generous to yourself as well.

Don’t give up any part of your identity.

Keep up with your friends, and be out to them. Make new ones if needed, if yours can’r be supportive.. You will need them sorely when there are mass breakups.

Strive for balance. Make sure one person isn’t always doing the investing, the scheduling, the driving, the opening up of their new world...

Make as many comfortable situations for your partner as you can.

It’s possible to betray one person when doing right by another. Especially out of one partner’s presence. But it’a almost always possible to do right by all, including you, if you spend more time and thought, and default to what’s right for you (the only situation guaranteed that a person in bothrelationahips benefit). If needed, make decisions away from all partners, to allow you to give them all a voice.

Hear everyone out before deciding something that affects all.

Don’t daisy chain— don’t react to an imbalance of what you need in a relationship from one partner by putting pressure on another partner to provide. Fix the first relationship. Or if you do have a situation naturally balance, glory in what your and your non-draining partner do naturally, and let the non-balanced relationship jst be it’s own thing. But never limit anyxrelarionshio to just the things you are not getting from a different relationship.
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And one last thing I discovered- it is possible to be poly demisexual. Where once you have love and security and regular contact in your life, you can have sex with many, many more people than you normally could- and on a fairly casual basis. But without that love— sex with anyone’s off the tables

In that case, and in any other— don’t settle for sex when you want love. (However, if you want just sex, and they want just sex— have at it!)
If your partner demands that you work under different relationship restrictions than they do and not only justifies their special privileges, but holds it over your head, RUN.
If your partner demands that you work under different relationship restrictions than they do and not only justifies their special privileges, but holds it over your head, RUN.

The key there being "demands." There's nothing wrong with having different restrictions etc. for one person than for the other, as long as both agree to it.

Example: My boyfriend seems to prefer kitchen table poly. He encourages me to talk to him about my other partners and potentials, and has no issue with hearing whatever details I'm comfortable sharing. He's often very happy about whatever I'm telling him; I think "compersion" is his middle name.

However, I prefer parallel poly. Just a couple weeks ago, I only managed to last 10 minutes at a social gathering hosted by my boyfriend, where one of his other partners was also present. I can't deal with hearing much of anything about any partner's other relationships, because even if I'm happy for them, the damaged bits of my brain start comparing the other partners to myself, and I always come up lacking. It is not good for my mental health to know too much about my metamours or to spend time with them, at least when our shared partner is present. (I've found I can socialize just fine with at least two of my metamours if our shared partner *isn't* there.)

So I've asked my boyfriend to keep me separated from my metamours as much as possible, to let me know if they'll be present at a social gathering so I can decide whether or not I can handle going, and to tell me as little as possible about his other relationships. Those restrictions do not apply to me, only to him. But I didn't *demand* them, I requested them, and he agreed because he understood why I needed them.

About sharing what I feel comfortable sharing: In some relationships, particularly "primary" type, the partners share everything about their other relationships with each other, and don't know or care if the other partners are okay with having those things shared. That is, in my opinion, disrespectful and an invasion of privacy.

While I do share quite a bit--and sometimes overshare--I do make sure my partners are aware that I will be talking to my other partners about each relationship, and I ask each partner to set boundaries for me as to what they are and aren't comfortable having me share. They can also at any point say, "Please keep this specific thing between us." I also ask each partner to set boundaries as to what they are and aren't comfortable hearing about my other relationships. Some people might still say I'm wrong to share info about my relationships with my partners, but I at least try to do so in an ethical and respectful way.