Relationships without prescriptions

Derbylicious

New member
It has been said several times now by various people, including Ceoli, the OP, that we are not talking about personal boundaries for an existing relationship like "keep me updated" and "we should maintain our regular date night when you start dating someone new", we are talking about rules that an existing couple places on the behaviour of/with a new partner, possibly even a person who does not yet exist, such as "I don't want you to develop strong feelings for anyone else but me, so if you start dating someone new, you will be limited to the number of hours you spend with her even though you haven't met anyone yet and she isn't here to give her own input on how much time she wants to spend with you".

So then it's just the sentiment behind the rules that's the problem. If a couple was to have a guideline saying that except for Saturday evening we need to be able to rely on each other to be there to get the day to day things of life done; that would be ok. But saying you're only allowed to see a new potential partner once a week because I'm worried about how it will affect me isn't? Seems to me that it all really boils down to the same thing and that it's only the wording that changes.

For example I do rely on my partner to be there to help me out with the day to day stuff of life and I do worry that if we don't have that time together that I will suffer for it. I'm not worried that his affection for me has changed but the stress of dealing with the day to day stuff of life while he is free to date someone as often as he wants would build a resentment in me which would be bad for us. So it does seem to me that it's all about the wording.

-Derby
 

NeonKaos

Custodian
For example I do rely on my partner to be there to help me out with the day to day stuff of life and I do worry that if we don't have that time together that I will suffer for it. I'm not worried that his affection for me has changed but the stress of dealing with the day to day stuff of life while he is free to date someone as often as he wants would build a resentment in me which would be bad for us. So it does seem to me that it's all about the wording.

-Derby

That's a good example, Derby.

The difference is that, in the OP's position, it's like saying, "I want my husband to be there to help with the grocery shopping. I have no problem with him also helping his girlfriend with her grocery shopping, as long as he's there when I need him.

The other way, it's like saying, "If my husband were to help his girlfriend with HER grocery shopping, I would feel hurt/threatened/insecure/not able to think straight because grocery shopping is part of our quality time and I do not feel comfortable associating something that is "ours" with something he also shares with his girlfriend. Even if my groceries are all squared away."
 

Joreth

New member
Derby:

When it comes to things like time contraints, which are a very real limitation on relationships, I try to find out if the upset over the time conflict is because it's a RELATIONSHIP that makes it upsetting, or if someone would be equally unhappy if the same time conflict was caused by a non-relationship issue.

It's not *just* the wording, it's about being able to have a say in how my relationship looks. YGirl said it very concisely and accurately, and I won't be nearly as concise but here's my response:

As an incoming new partner, if I were told that I could only have one day a week and that was non-negotiable, and that and which day it was had been decided before they ever met me, that would be a problem regardless of the wording. If someone I was interested in could not afford to share more than a handful of hours, one day week with me, I'd have to question his ability to be in any additional relationships at all. If your life is that full, perhaps adding another partner is not the best thing to be doing at this point in time. Now, if a new relationship just *happens* to work out to where that's all the time either participant WANTS out of it, then it's a functioning relationship that meets the needs of all involved. But if you tell me that one day a week is all I get whether anyone wants more or not and regardless of my own existing schedule, it doesn't matter what words you use, that's a problem.

But, as YGirl said, it's also not the whole problem. Having an obligation is one thing, having my boyfriend's wife tell me what my time spent with him will look like without any consideration for how I might want to spend that time, especially if it's that limited, is another and more like what Ceoli was referring to.

I can respect and understand a partner having obligations and responsibilities that pre-date a relationship with me, but there needs to be some manner of compromise and some method that allows me to contribute to my own relationship.

I live about 2 hours away from one of my partners, who is married, and they have regular Monday-Friday jobs. This quite naturally places some restrictions on his availability, some of which are non-negotiable. Just because I'm free on Wednesday afternoons and I feel I have the right to shape my relationships according to my needs doesn't mean I can demand he see me on Wednesdays when he has to work that day. He is available on the weekends, so I have to schedule my time with him around that.

But that also means that his wife's availability for non-chore quality time is also on the weekends. It would be unfair of me and stressful on them to expect that all his free time be given to me and the only time he has left for her is the time spent doing chores or sleeping. But, at the same time, it is not fair of them to insist that I not have any input at all in when and how often we get to see each other. Understand that I am not advocating that all the decisions be switched from the couple to the new partner - all good relationships require discussion and compromise and I'm just saying that I ought to be part of the discussion and compromising decisions, and that I should not be the ONLY one to do any compromising.

I am currently the new partner of a married man, and as such, I have some input into how my relationship with him looks and it is not dictated all by her or even by them prior to knowing me. Because she does not view me as a "threat", we often all spend the entire weekend together. Just because the other one of us is around doesn't mean it's not still quality time. Of course we each get our "alone" time too, but when you do not view your metamour as a rival, then the relationship is not zero-sum. She and I work together on conflicts, we talk to each other, and we spell out our expectations and our wants. If she wants a particular weekend to be Their Time, she explains that to me and we work out a compromise. Usually it means the following weekend he comes to visit me instead of me spending the weekend at their house, or I leave early on Sunday instead of late Sunday night, or we split the weekend, or I go visit them but we go to a movie that she picks out or something like that.

All of this can be done because 1) we communicate with each other, and 2) we start from the assumption that no one is a threat to anyone else, we are not rivals, we all want to work together and we all care about everyone else. No rule is necessary dictating when, how, and how often I can see him because of those 2 factors.

She/They did not prescript my relationship for me. In fact, when he and I started dating, we were both under the assumption that it would be really nothing more that "smoochy-friends" - good friends who sometimes make out at parties. But, it turned out that we had such a good foundation from our prior friendship (we've known each other for years before dating), that what the relationship wanted to be was to very quickly turn into a long-term, deeply emotionally intimate relationship.

It was a surprise to all of us, but in particular, they had never been in a poly relationship where they weren't both dating the same person. This was the first time he had a girlfriend that she wasn't also dating. So my relationship with him could have very easily been seen as "threatening" to her, if she had let it.

But, instead, when they agreed that I was acceptable for him to pursue even as a "smoochy-friend", they did not prescript my role as "smoochy-friend". They just opened themselves up to a relationship with me and let it find its own path. He and I just guessed that it would want to be "smoochy-friends", but we didn't write out any rules that said it *had* to be.

So the turn to deep, committed, intimate relationship was surprising but without the prescripted rules, it was allowed to happen with minimal drama. She and I talked about what a Relationship meant to us, where we saw things going, how we would handle various situations that were known triggers, what our communication methods were, how we defined various terms, and in the end, the only "rule" we have is to talk to everyone the moment we realize we have a problem with something. We try to remind ourselves that, when it comes to a matter of interpretation of someone's words regarding their intent, start with the interpretation that puts the speaker in the position of wanting to help, wanting to find a solution, wanting to be considerate, even if that person misunderstood or did something hurtful. Assume it was accidental and communicate the hurt kindly.

I don't use the primary/secondary model because I don't feel it adequately covers things. For instance, my other partner and I feel as though we have a "primary" connection, but we live 3,000 miles away (work constraints - we didn't always live that far away) and even all of our "new" partners that have come into the picture after we began dating think of us as "primary" in spite of the fact that we live apart, because of how important they know we are to each other and that we always consider each other before making any major life decisions (including taking new partners).

So I don't consider myself "secondary" to my married partner either, but many people would categorize it as such, because he and his wife share the day-to-day stuff and I don't, they have a much longer history, etc. I respect their longer history and the responsibilities they have built and share together. And yet, I still have input into how my relationship with him looks. I can still make requests of him, I can still factor them into my life-decisions and they now factor me into their life decisions (like work changes or moving), and we all are committed to the health and happiness of the respective relationships (his and mine, his and hers, mine and hers, and ours).

I can understand that I don't have the power to make decisions about their house, what they do with their money, or to overrule any plans they have together, and I can still expect to have a say in how my relationship with him looks, to be able to express my own feelings and wants and needs and expect to have them heard and considered, and to have some accommodation and compromise made for my sake as much as I would do for either of them. After all, I wouldn't dream of starting a relationship with him and saying that he has no say in when he gets to see me because I've decided that out long ago, even if he were not married and had no other partners, so it shouldn't be unreasonable for me to expect the same from him.

He is in a Relationship WITH me, I was not ordered out of a catalog nor hired to fulfill the job position of Girlfriend. As much as I respect their existing relationship for what it is, it is reasonable for me to expect them to respect my relationship for what *it* is, not to insist that the relationship be what someone else wants it to be.

And because they both *do* respect my relationship with him for what it is, we have no need for rules that they came up with to shape *my* relationship. We talk, we are considerate, and none of us believes that our relationships are so fragile that anyone else would be a "threat" to what we have each built with each other.
 

redpepper

New member
Cirsare, I'm sorry that you have been put in a position of feeling threatened. I have noticed that happens sometimes on here when some posters forget that their use of language is not coming from a place of compassion. It's a shame, because often the message that they are trying to put across is useful and insightful, but unfortunately it is so laced with negativity to read, that it is lost on me.... Just so you know, I gave up reading the parts that make me feel like that....

For what it's worth I wonder sometime if it's because they are unable/willing to show some of their own emotions on here (make themselves vulnerable to others) and see everything as a philosophical debate and intellectualize topics to the point of forgetting human emotions are involved. So be it, just not my cup of tea as I prefer a balance... I come from a family of origin that is like that (all intellectuals but me... I'm the artist) and I am highly emotional. I often get intellectualized by them to the point of being shoved into a corner by my family and their un-compassionate opinions....they kinda gang up on me.... *sigh* working on what to do about that.

I find it really interesting that, in general, in my life, those that agree that rules/boundaries are fluid and useful, are usually the ones that are more settled into their relationships and are generally quite content and connected where they are at. I find that the level of trust between people in the relationship is heightened until the need for rules/boundaries has disappeared.... or at least become blurred or has become transparent.

I have found that people that don't embrace rules/boundaries as a fluid useful tool often get hurt, hurt others, get damaged self esteems, feel uncared for and unappreciated. I think it a very dangerous thing to just let it all hang out. Eventually, I have experienced, someone blows...it's kinda the no communication is communicating thing. Just don't see it working for the long haul unless you are the type of person that is never not anything but HAPPPPPYYYY or something :D:D:D

Of course when I talk about rules and boundaries I'm talking about realistic ones not "you need to be home at midnight for the rest of your life" but, "I would feel more comfortable if you came home at midnight on Saturday as I think I might be struggling with your new relationship and could need to cuddle up to you and have you tell me it will be okay."
 

redpepper

New member
WOW Joreth... that post reads so differently than your others! I'm blow away (so is Mono,he wants me to say). Using your own personal life to convey ideas and you opinion works so great for me... I get it so much more. Thanks for that.

It's great that you have found relationships that work for you and are able to be fluid in them. Not everyone finds that however. Especially if Poly is new to them and they are struggling with mono rules that don't work for them anymore... Not to mention other family dynamics that are just not evident... transitioning to Poly is difficult for some and rules/boundaries are all they have at the beginning. I think the trick is to remember that they need to be fluid.

anyway, have to go,,,, so much more to say, I hate that :D
 

Joreth

New member
some posters forget that their use of language is not coming from a place of compassion.

It is not possible for every individual here to know what every other individual will read into one's words. Many people develop the language use that they do because it has been effective in their interactions so far, so what one person says is not compassionate, others will not read that way and the poster himself may have very little reason to assume it will be taken in such a manner if his interactions with other people do not typically end with that reaction, or end with mixed reactions.

Since we cannot all write for every single individual reader, what might help keep things from getting out of hand is if we try not to assume that any individual poster intends offense or insult, especially if the words *could be* interpreted in a less hostile direction and are not something obvious like "Jane, you are a bitch", which really leaves no room for alternate interpretation.
 

redpepper

New member
Since we cannot all write for every single individual reader, what might help keep things from getting out of hand is if we try not to assume that any individual poster intends offense or insult, especially if the words *could be* interpreted in a less hostile direction and are not something obvious like "Jane, you are a bitch", which really leaves no room for alternate interpretation.

Agreed, I can work on not being triggered for sure, if others agree to keep us emotional folks in mind... :)
 

Joreth

New member
WOW Joreth... that post reads so differently than your others!

I'm glad you were finally able to take something away from my posts Redpepper, but I would like to suggest that, if you take a look at my word use, other than the anecdote, I am still using the same words and same grammar and same speech pattern. The only difference is that I used a personal anecdote, which can sometimes make it harder for readers to assume I am a faceless automaton with no emotions, even though my words are still as pragmatic as always.

Now, perhaps, with the understanding that I am actually a person with feelings and with relationships, and that I am speaking from a position of having experienced many of the things I talk about, it might be a little less likely for people to assume my intent is to be insulting or that it was a personal attack, especially when there is very little that is personal in what I write.

I had the exact opposite situation growing up, I was surrounded by people who were driven by their emotions and took everything personally whether it applied to them or not and whether it was intended to be personal or not and who assumed the worst of intentions from those around them. It was impossible to make progress on anything and impossible to prevent hurt and anger.

To use an anecdote, since that seems to be more effective, one Christmas I went back home to visit my family. My mother went to great lengths to make Christmas dinner be a Big Deal. It was just going to be me, my parents, and my sister, and we're really a more casual sort of family anyway. I grew up eating on TV trays in the living room watching the Primetime Lineup.

But mom wanted things to be "special", to which I and my sister thanked her every step of the way. But as it got closer to Christmas Day, my mom was getting more and more frazzled with all she had set for herself to do. Even having my old friends calling the house to say hi to me was starting to upset her and make her feel as though I didn't come to visit my family at all. Nothing I could say made her feel appreciated. I thanked her, I volunteered to help with chores, I said how much I loved her, and I pointed out pragmatically how many hours I spent with them versus how many hours I spent with friends and all the events I turned down because being with my family was a higher priority. Nothing worked, not the pragmatic approach and not the emotional approach, not the service approach, not the spending time together approach - explicit or implicit, verbal or non-verbal, she just did not hear me.

Finally, my mom got so upset over something trivial that she started yelling at everyone about how she had so much to do and she was stressed, that I said, thinking it would be helpful, that she didn't have to go to all that trouble. It was just the family and just being together was enough.

Well, that was absolutely the wrong thing to say because she completely did not hear "just spending time with you is enough", what she *heard* was "I don't appreciate anything you've done so far to make this holiday special and I don't want your efforts". I said nothing of the sort, I didn't use those words, and I intentionally stressed the "I'm just happy to be home" part. I even said, explicitly, "I appreciate everything you are doing, but I care about you and do not want you to feel stressed, so if you are taking on too much, you can scale it back and go more simple and it will still be special to me because I'm here with you".

So she burst into tears and accused me of not caring and ran out of the house. My dad and my sister then both turned on me for making her cry even though the start of the yelling was my mother actually yelling at my sister for not doing something or another.

The point here is that if someone insists on taking every statement personally and interpreting every statement in the most negative manner possible, there is a limit to how much changing of one's approach will be affective and sometimes it is more reasonable that the person doing the interpreting do the changing of approach.

Feeling attacked does not always mean one is actually being attacked and it is not *always* the responsibility of the one perceived as attacking to accommodate the one feeling attacked.

Sorry if this appears to beleaguer the point, but I posted it before I saw that Redpepper responded just above
 
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crisare

New member
I find it really interesting that, in general, in my life, those that agree that rules/boundaries are fluid and useful, are usually the ones that are more settled into their relationships and are generally quite content and connected where they are at. I find that the level of trust between people in the relationship is heightened until the need for rules/boundaries has disappeared.... or at least become blurred or has become transparent.

I have found that people that don't embrace rules/boundaries as a fluid useful tool often get hurt, hurt others, get damaged self esteems, feel uncared for and unappreciated. I think it a very dangerous thing to just let it all hang out. Eventually, I have experienced, someone blows...it's kinda the no communication is communicating thing. Just don't see it working for the long haul unless you are the type of person that is never not anything but HAPPPPPYYYY or something :D:D:D

Of course when I talk about rules and boundaries I'm talking about realistic ones not "you need to be home at midnight for the rest of your life" but, "I would feel more comfortable if you came home at midnight on Saturday as I think I might be struggling with your new relationship and could need to cuddle up to you and have you tell me it will be okay."
Redpepper - thanks for your comments. I wanted to quote these three paragraphs because they so very closely echo my feelings and thoughts about the subject.

It's funny that in my past relationship we actually had very few rules/boundaries, whatever you want to call them. Those that we had were not carved in stone "This is the way you will behave" ... but were accepted by all to be "guidelines" to be discussed if necessary. Most of them revolved around his children, one of whom had developmental issues, and were in place to keep them healthy and happy and safe. But they were all, as you said fluid and useful tools to make sure no one got hurt.

At any rate, it's been an interesting conversation here - both from a standpoint of seeing how people understand the idea of "rules" or "boundaries" and from the perspective of seeing how some people communicate.

Joreth - my only comment to you at this point is that while I agree with you in this:
Since we cannot all write for every single individual reader, what might help keep things from getting out of hand is if we try not to assume that any individual poster intends offense or insult, especially if the words *could be* interpreted in a less hostile direction
I also believe that if one writes things in such a way as to be interpreted as harsh, it goes a long way to say "Hey I'm sorry - I was not meaning to be X (sarcastic, hurtful, rude, whatever)." rather than to turn on the person whose feelings were hurt and insist that they were being unreasonable or (as YGirl did) continue to insist that "this discussion is not all about YOU". And FWIW, I say that as someone who tends to speak rather bluntly and who has been accused online of being one of those "harsh" people who writes "pragmatically" as you call it. It took me a long time to realize that even though I was trying to bring strict logic to the topic, others were still being hurt by my words and the way I expressed myself - and whatever my intention, hurting people was wrong.

FWIW.
 

redpepper

New member
I will come back and read everything since my last post after my sons Christmas concert, but I just wanted to add that I find that the addition of posters personal life means so much to me. It puts context into what is being said and makes me able to empathize and understand more... even be more willing to agree.

There seems to be two kinds of posters that are new to forums.... and this is a huge generalization and is also a thought in process, but interesting perhaps none-the-less....

One that is able to say all without feeling vulnerable or at least only a little vulnerable, but that seems to over ride their need to connect and get answers or prove a point of give an opinion...

The other seems to be those that are able to give advice, opinions, encouragement etc without injecting some of their own lives into their posts and therefore it seems emotionless and without context to me.

As I am very much the first kind of poster, I find it confusing and some times threatening to not know someones "story." It eventually makes my feelings of vulnerability seep in and I find it hard to post anything. I fight this usually and shrug it off as just a different way and that the person is just doing their own thing....
I get that sometimes it is hard to be open at first.... :)
anyway, off now. Just thought I would say that bit.
 

Joreth

New member
Just to clarify, since we're now discussing communication techniques in the context of online forums, I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm certainly not new to online forms - just this one. I've been online since the old BBS and IRC days.

I don't find it "hard to be open", I just don't always think my personal anecdotes are relevant. Anecdotes are not used in the scientific method as a form of data, although they may be a starting point from which to begin an investigation.

My journal, however, is where my anecdotes are relevant, and that's where I post the more personal information.

I have seen 3 main types of Original Posts made in the various online forums over the years. 1) I have a problem and I want to discuss my problem. 2) I have an interesting concept and I want to discuss the abstract. 3) I need some form of validation so I'm asking for all of you to post your personal experience with this situation.

Generally, I try to answer the question in the same vein it was asked - which category the original post is in largely determines the nature of my response (but not always).

When I want to regale everyone with exploits from my own life, I tend to do it in my journal, where I know that everyone there wants to hear about it, since they have to visit my journal or sign up to follow my posts. Since I don't lock my posts, and there is no subject too personal that I will discuss in that journal or in person if someone asks, it is often confusing to be told that someone thinks I am not "open" about myself. I just tend not to volunteer personal details because it's been my experience that not many people want to hear about them. I have very little internal filter and tend to give TMI, so it's safer if I stick to the objective and abstract in many cases. Plus, the anecdotes add to the length of my posts, which are lengthy enough as it is.

I had once made a journal entry all about my sleep disorder and the very personal experience I've had with it, and then made another post shortly afterwards recommending Google Health, which allows people to share their health records with others (whom they give permission to - it's not public). A debate about the "dangers" of the digital era ensued and in the process I found myself defending my "openness". Someone said something along the lines of "just because you choose to make certain details public doesn't mean you're not also hiding other things".

Considering the most prior post was about a sleep disorder and I have a whole collection of posts dealing with my sexual preferences and attitudes, and one of my more popular journal entries is a recollection of a string of relationships in which I felt vulnerable and how my partners worked with me (or didn't) to feel more secure, and I even have a Me Manual posted in my journal with all the relevant information about how I work and think and feel, I remain baffled how this person could think I'm not "open" about who I am online.

I feel like I'm repeating myself again and we're regressing to people reading only what they want out of certain posts and assuming the worst interpretation - if I don't share an anecdote, it must be because I find it hard to be open with people or afraid to be "vulnerable".

Sharing anecdotes doesn't make me feel vulnerable, it makes me feel like I'm rambling and taking up space when I can make my point more concisely and efficiently by leaving all those extraneous details out.
 
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Joreth

New member
it goes a long way to say "Hey I'm sorry - I was not meaning to be X (sarcastic, hurtful, rude, whatever)."

I've tried that - that was the point of my anecdote about my mother. When someone wants to assume I have the worst intentions, even an explicit apology is not heard and, frankly, I'm getting a little annoyed at always being assumed to have the worst intentions in my writing and not really feeling as though I did anything to apologize for but am still being demonized for being a heartless, cruel, insulting person while the person who jumped at the assumption wanders off with no reciprocal apology for leaping to false conclusions.

For someone with no compassion and no emotional capacity, even I have limits to how often I can be, what seems to be deliberately, misinterpreted before I get cranky about it.

(now THAT was sarcasm)
 
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crisare

New member
and, frankly, I'm getting a little annoyed at always being assumed to have the worst intentions in my writing
Respectfully, if it happens to you all the time or it is "always assumed" perhaps you should take a second look at how you write.

I am not saying that to be rude or hateful. I say that as someone who has been in that position myself before.

I do, however, see a disconnect between what you keep insisting (that you are always responding from a non-emotional/scientific perspective) and the reality of your words (starting a post with the phrase like "Here's a radical concept ... " which is laced with sarcastic overtones).

Perhaps this part of the discussion would be better moved to the "how to participate on message boards" thread or even just left to die. I'd be fine with that as well. :)

I just think you're putting a whole lot of weight on "others are failing to understand how to communicate" and not enough on "perhaps my methods of communication are not as clear as I think they are".
 
C

Ceoli

Guest
I just think you're putting a whole lot of weight on "others are failing to understand how to communicate" and not enough on "perhaps my methods of communication are not as clear as I think they are".

Her communication methods seemed to be pretty clear to many others on this board, including me. I thought she made her points very well. And even adding the bit of sarcasm of "here's a radical idea" seemed pretty appropriate to me, since it seems that people continually choose not to communicate first then bring the problems of that lack of communication to forums like these. (and I wasn't referring to the specific anecdote you offered up, but to a large number of posts- on all sorts of forums- where it seems that "radical" idea just never gets applied)
 
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crisare

New member
nd even adding the bit of sarcasm of "here's a radical idea" seemed pretty appropriate to me,
Ah. See, I think that when dealing with potentially painful or hurtful emotional situations, sarcasm is not generally terribly appropriate. Just, I dunno, a little quirk of mine.
 

ImaginaryIllusion

Administrator
Staff member
In the words of a pot of petunia's "Oh no, not again..."

Since we cannot all write for every single individual reader, what might help keep things from getting out of hand is if we try not to assume that any individual poster intends offense or insult, especially if the words *could be* interpreted in a less hostile direction and are not something obvious like "Jane, you are a bitch", which really leaves no room for alternate interpretation.

Agreed, I can work on not being triggered for sure, if others agree to keep us emotional folks in mind... :)
Post 46/47....I really thought things would have been resolved here...and I was about ready to shelf my Part2 indefinitely and without regret.

it goes a long way to say "Hey I'm sorry - I was not meaning to be X (sarcastic, hurtful, rude, whatever)."

I've tried that - that was the point of my anecdote about my mother. When someone wants to assume I have the worst intentions, even an explicit apology is not heard and, frankly, I'm getting a little annoyed at always being assumed to have the worst intentions in my writing and not really feeling as though I did anything to apologize for but am still being demonized for being a heartless, cruel, insulting person while the person who jumped at the assumption wanders off with no reciprocal apology for leaping to false conclusions.
This would seem to be a fair point...

and, frankly, I'm getting a little annoyed at always being assumed to have the worst intentions in my writing
Respectfully, if it happens to you all the time or it is "always assumed" perhaps you should take a second look at how you write.
This would seem to be a fair point...

Perhaps this part of the discussion would be better moved to the "how to participate on message boards" thread or even just left to die. I'd be fine with that as well. :)
Simpsons already did it...and so did we...not all threads need to die like this if everyone's willing to work through miscommunications and continue with the subject at hand.

I just think you're putting a whole lot of weight on "others are failing to understand how to communicate" and not enough on "perhaps my methods of communication are not as clear as I think they are".
crisare: While I agree with some of your points, this discussion is also showing signs of Deja vu. Joreth's communications have been quite clear in this thread...including the part where she told you that no attack was intended or implied.


Now...perhaps we can get back to the actual subject of the thread before I have to get out the Part 2 project again....and for the love of all that may or may not be holy in accordance with everyone's belief or non-belief systems....don't make me do that....I was supposed to go home for xmas and enjoy my family...and I still have to pack! Have mercy!

Now back to our regularly scheduled discussion:
 

ImaginaryIllusion

Administrator
Staff member
As Ceoli has already said several times, this is not the same thing as setting personal boundaries, this is participants in an existing relationship setting up the structure of a yet-to-come relationship without the input of the yet-to-come partner.
I've been continuously trying to wrap my head around this...and how the concept of non-prescriptive would work, in the context of a new partner entering into a relationship with at least one member of a couple...and keep running into a brick wall. (And I'm not talking about anyone here...this is my own mental brick wall that I'm having issues with)

A couple quick sidelines...

Or you can chose partners that you trust will make choices that honor the relationship and behave well. Even in the midst of NRE.
We should all be so lucky...and I was once. Hit paydirt platnum+gold+diamond mine first time out...and never was exactly sure how. Knowing the odds of that I'd be a fool to expect to do half as well in the future.
Not having an extraordinarily keen sense of other people all the time, some people may have to rely more on trial and error. And the error while educational isn't always fun. This will lead to RP's quote at the end.


The established couple may have rules that apply to THEIR relationship, but they shouldn't have rules that pre-emptively dictate how their OTHER relationship(s) unfold and evolve.
This strikes me as somewhat prescriptive in itself...and I'd challenge it on the grounds that my poly doesn't need to be the same as your poly. Unless this is more a generalization of the model rules would need to follow to qualify as non-prescriptive.

I can understand how rules like this might be unattractive to a single person entering any relationship. At the same time I don't think all such rules are necessarily symptomatic of problems in the couple's relationship. Some may have to do with trust that needs to be built between metamours (As I mentioned in an earlier post). There is also a fine dividing line between legitimate personal boundaries of the couple, where they might still affect the pending/developing relationship with the new partner.

For me, it's like being told, "I would love a relationship with you, but bear in mind that no matter what happens between us, I will always place this other person ahead of you and regardless of what feelings develop, our relationship cannot grow in ways that might possibly threaten my other partnership."
And this is precisely the thing I mean. The reasoning behind this may vary...but this may not always be about rules...but expectation management....and disclosure.
For me, it's the kind of thing that I would feel very unfair keeping from a prospective partner. They need to know what they're getting into. And it may not be a matter of the other partner being threatened by the feeling. It may be a pragmatic reality that if there was some reason to make a difficult decision between two partners, that decision would be for the established partner. This would be particularly true where Derby notes when there are kids involved in the established relationship...where disruptions could cause ripples through far more lives than just the 2+1 involved in the discussion.
A very similar case in the conventional mono world would be single parents trying to date. Prospective partners need to know there are kids in the picture, and the single parent is perfectly within their rights to establish what kind of involvement they'll allow in a new relationship in order to protect the children from negative effects...either with the children, or even with that parent. The kids are perfectly within their rights to feel safe. The prospect can then decide if those restrictions are feasible for them to live with...and accept or walk away. I fail to see a problem with this.
If the single parent were to bring in a new partner straight away...with only personal safeties for the kids to be followed, and they are very lucky, then things could all work out perfectly and everyone lives happily ever after. At least anecdotally I can think of far more situations where this tends to turn out badly.

I acknowledge that while there may not be an equality in these kind of situations, there is still a fairness...which may or may not be obvious. As with the prospect evaluating to date a single parent, a new partner to an existing couple has the choice to take those limits...which may still be personal, but will affect them and the budding relationship none-the-less...or walk.
I also can see how rules like those above wouldn't necessarily be attractive to the new partner. This is probably one of several reasons why unicorns are as rare as they are. Given the choice between dating a member of a couple who says "If it's you or them, I'll pick them" or going to even another regular single person who says "It's just you and I"...? Which way would most sane people probably choose?!


It has been said several times now by various people, including Ceoli, the OP, that we are not talking about personal boundaries for an existing relationship like "keep me updated" and "we should maintain our regular date night when you start dating someone new", we are talking about rules that an existing couple places on the behaviour of/with a new partner, possibly even a person who does not yet exist, such as "I don't want you to develop strong feelings for anyone else but me, so if you start dating someone new, you will be limited to the number of hours you spend with her even though you haven't met anyone yet and she isn't here to give her own input on how much time she wants to spend with you".
This was a good set of examples which I was missing in earlier parts of the thread...where the kinds of delineations might be perceived between 'ok' couple boundaries and 'not ok' restrictions on new partners.

I can understand that I don't have the power to make decisions about their house, what they do with their money, or to overrule any plans they have together, and I can still expect to have a say in how my relationship with him looks, to be able to express my own feelings and wants and needs and expect to have them heard and considered, and to have some accommodation and compromise made for my sake as much as I would do for either of them. After all, I wouldn't dream of starting a relationship with him and saying that he has no say in when he gets to see me because I've decided that out long ago, even if he were not married and had no other partners, so it shouldn't be unreasonable for me to expect the same from him.

He is in a Relationship WITH me, I was not ordered out of a catalog nor hired to fulfill the job position of Girlfriend. As much as I respect their existing relationship for what it is, it is reasonable for me to expect them to respect my relationship for what *it* is, not to insist that the relationship be what someone else wants it to be.

And because they both *do* respect my relationship with him for what it is, we have no need for rules that they came up with to shape *my* relationship. We talk, we are considerate, and none of us believes that our relationships are so fragile that anyone else would be a "threat" to what we have each built with each other.
This post overall was very well stated..and to me made a lot of sense...and I think put a lot of elements into perspective to the kinds of things a new partner might expect and desire to have some say in, and where the business of the couple might be rightfully outside their say.

Where I see a lot of consistency in those advocating prescriptionless relationships is that most seem like very experienced poly's... and at least in Ceoli's example, entering relationships with other established poly relationships. There has also been little mention of children...and while I'm not assuming they don't exist, it hasn't been apparent to me what consideration they would be given under that kind of format.

All of this will leads to RP's posts...
 

ImaginaryIllusion

Administrator
Staff member
I find it really interesting that, in general, in my life, those that agree that rules/boundaries are fluid and useful, are usually the ones that are more settled into their relationships and are generally quite content and connected where they are at. I find that the level of trust between people in the relationship is heightened until the need for rules/boundaries has disappeared.... or at least become blurred or has become transparent.

I have found that people that don't embrace rules/boundaries as a fluid useful tool often get hurt, hurt others, get damaged self esteems, feel uncared for and unappreciated. I think it a very dangerous thing to just let it all hang out. Eventually, I have experienced, someone blows...it's kinda the no communication is communicating thing. Just don't see it working for the long haul unless you are the type of person that is never not anything but HAPPPPPYYYY or something

Of course when I talk about rules and boundaries I'm talking about realistic ones not "you need to be home at midnight for the rest of your life" but, "I would feel more comfortable if you came home at midnight on Saturday as I think I might be struggling with your new relationship and could need to cuddle up to you and have you tell me it will be okay."
I'm not sure the boundaries here are too much different than some of the ones Joreth listed above...but the important distinction here I think are two fold:
One: again, lots of anecdotal evidence that people can get hurt. Not everyone is lucky enough, or keenly attuned enough to choose well consistently. And nothing about this says that it is necessarily the couples fault when things blow...it doesn't need to be about their problems...it can be the new person just as easily...it happens in mono relationships all the time.
Two: Fluid, dynamic... The boundaries don't need to be there forever, or in the same format. As with a single parent who might introduce a partner gradually to the family, eventually things may develop from "Don't discipline my kids" to "Just don't do anything that would get Social Services involved". Likewise as time goes on, the boundaries may be relaxed, or fade...particularly as trust is built between metamours so that they don't see each other as threats.


It's great that you have found relationships that work for you and are able to be fluid in them. Not everyone finds that however. Especially if Poly is new to them and they are struggling with mono rules that don't work for them anymore... Not to mention other family dynamics that are just not evident... transitioning to Poly is difficult for some and rules/boundaries are all they have at the beginning. I think the trick is to remember that they need to be fluid.
This is probably the most succinct statement about the value of rules that I'd like to echo here...
The idea that rules as above should be viewed as 'horrific' is a little off-putting for someone who is maybe less experienced with poly. Long term established couples will have a long history...and if just opening up what had long been a monogamous relationship they won't necessarily have the kinds of tools or outlooks that would make a prescriptionless relationship workable for them. If that was the only way to go...many could just as easily choose to remain mono...and wouldn't that be tragic.
It may take time for some of these things to develop...but nothing can develop without the opportunities to practice these skills. These may be the training wheels some people need to allow them to take the risk and try. As such, I think there is still a value in them for those who need them.

And kudos to those who are able to conduct their relationships without them.
 

Joreth

New member
Respectfully, if it happens to you all the time or it is "always assumed" perhaps you should take a second look at how you write.

As I said in an earlier post, which apparently was not read, the reason why many of us have the current communication style is because it is what has worked most of the time in our experience.

Being "always assumed" in this case is happening here, in this forum, by the same people, when plenty of other people seem to manage to understand both my intent and the content without feeling as though I personally attacked them.

This does not imply that it is my writing style that is at fault but does suggest that certain individuals are reading things into my posts that I did not intend and might even possibly suggest that some people have decided from the outset that this is the motivation I must have and will therefore attribute it to everything I write.
 

crisare

New member
might even possibly suggest that some people have decided from the outset that this is the motivation I must have and will therefore attribute it to everything I write.
Argh. :) I'm very very hesitant to respond to this in light of ImaginaryIllusion's comments about us reaching a deja vu state.

But I would like to point out that I'm fairly new to this forum (although not to forums in general - as with yourself, I've been around since the days of BBS), and as far as I know this is the first time I've had interaction with you personally. I have no recollection of having discussed anything with you before and no preconceived notions about who you are or how you communicate. I based my response to your post on what you wrote and nothing further.

Honestly. I'm not pre-judging what you write or approaching your writing with any decisions about your motivation. I'm simply responding to what I read.

And seriously ... I really am done with this in this post. I'm not saying that to be snotty. I'll be happy to continue a discussion in PM or on another thread, but I don't want to derail this valuable thread any further. :)
 
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