Trashtalking by partners and potential partners: What are your rules and tolerances?

persephone

New member
I am realizing that, while I have never had a partner who said an unkind word against my primary partner, my primary partner has been in several situations where partners or would-be partners of his were not nearly that respectful towards me, to put it mildly. I am also realizing that I have a huge problem with how he deals with those situations. Primary partner tends to be conciliatory and conflict-avoidant by nature, and tends to try to make peace between me and assorted volatile others. I told him today, I feel we need a zero-tolerance rule of trash-talking me, of any kind, by other partners or would-be partners.

I am wondering what people find acceptable and unacceptable in these situations.

What kinds of things have you said to partners or would-be partners who treated your partner with a lack of respect, insulted them, or engaged in trashtalk? Do you automatically break it off with such people, or do they get a warning?
 

LilacViolin

New member
What kinds of things have you said to partners or would-be partners who treated your partner with a lack of respect, insulted them, or engaged in trashtalk? Do you automatically break it off with such people, or do they get a warning?

I think, because emotions are involved, a person gets a warning. Something along the lines of "You may not like my primary, but you are with me and need to respect my partner(s)." I'd say it with kindness but I would say it. If the trash-talking continues I would tell the person that I was not comfortable continuing the relationship.
 

WhatHappened

Active member
To me, I can't imagine why someone would ever allow another person to trash-talk the person they love. When I love someone, I value them, care for them, and think the best of them.

My ex-husband, on the other hand, routinely told me the negative things others were (supposedly) saying about me, and backing them up and defending them in saying those things. We're now divorced. It's only one of many reasons, but it's definitely a factor. That simply is not love and I never would have allowed anyone to say such things about him, much less go back and tell him that.

There are people in this world I don't care for. Nothing in the world would make me go say negative things about them to the people who loved them. If I did and that person allowed it, I'd assume they didn't care all that much about their partner, and agreed with me.

I can see a warning to the other partner. But to allow it to go on...no. I can't find anything respectful or loving or caring in that.
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
One warning-then goodbye. I have zero tolerance for it, especially after a year of being patient with it.
 
I'd be one warning and then goodbye too - unless the initial stuff they said was more than mildly idiotic or offensive, and then that would be enough to be the end of it.
 

Cleo

New member
yes, 1 warning, then goodbye.
I have big, big issues with trash talking in any relationship.
In fact, I had a huge fight with my best friend earlier this year, because she was trash talking my husbands GF, who she had never met, and who I don't even like.
 

opalescent

Active member
For me, what I would find most upsetting is not the trash talking by others but the lack of defense by your primary. Obviously give trash talkers the boot. Maybe a warning first if so inclined.

I also do not enjoy confrontation. Makes me nervous and sweaty. But I do it when necessary because well, being a grown up. Your primary partner needs to step up and shut down that kind of talk about you. It doesn't have to be loud and aggressive. Usually a quiet 'That comment is unacceptable. Stop.' is enough to halt almost everyone in their trash talking tracks.

Also I am a little amazed this seems to happen kinda frequently to folks. When I was with my ex, no one trash talked her in my presence ever. Is this common?
 

MeeraReed

Active member
My college boyfriend would accuse me of trash-talking or criticizing his primary partner every time I tried to talk to him about her. I would say something like, "Is she mad at me about something? She seemed jealous of me today and it felt awkward for me. Can you talk to her about it?" And my boyfriend would stare at me like I had murdered his best friend and tell me that his primary was never jealous of anything, she was wonderful and awesome and he would break up with me if I didn't like her. End of discussion.

Obviously, my boyfriend had major issues and my relationship with him was totally messed-up. This was way before I even knew anything about poly. Or how to stand up for myself. Or how to dump losers.

This might not be relevant to your issues, but it's what popped into my head.

The funny thing was, my friends and even my mother DID trash-talk my college boyfriend's primary. This upset me because I really liked her. I always defended her--even after her behavior did become manipulative and unhealthy.

I think there's a strong societal perception that any sort of "other woman" is someone who deserves trash-talking. She must be an evil, manipulative, controlling slut. This is obviously an attitude that should not be tolerated. But, it's so deeply rooted that good people whom you care about might spout this attitude on occasion. Point out to them how wrong it is.

However, in your case it seems like the real issue is, Why does your husband choose women who trash-talk you?
 

rory

New member
Also I am a little amazed this seems to happen kinda frequently to folks. When I was with my ex, no one trash talked her in my presence ever. Is this common?

This is what I was thinking... A totally strange phenomenon, why on earth would people do this kind of thing... :confused: That makes it difficult to answer this question even, because to be honest if somebody started trash talking about my partner to me, it would feel pretty absurd.

What do you mean by trash talking, just generally bashing somebody? I understand (constructive) criticism, but I don't think I would really want to spend time with somebody who felt the need to say offensive things to me about anybody I care about.
 

nycindie

Active member
Also I am a little amazed this seems to happen kinda frequently to folks. When I was with my ex, no one trash talked her in my presence ever. Is this common?
This is what I was thinking... A totally strange phenomenon, why on earth would people do this kind of thing... :confused: That makes it difficult to answer this question even, because to be honest if somebody started trash talking about my partner to me, it would feel pretty absurd.
I am also stymied by the entire concept of putting down a partner's SO or OSO. It's so... immature and High School-ish. I would never do it and couldn't imagine anyone tolerating someone else doing it for a second! Not rational, mature adults, anyway. I mean, why would anyone who does that even want to be in a poly relationship? Doesn't make sense at all.

:confused::eek:
 
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persephone

New member
WhatHappened, I really like your philosophy on this issue.

My husband really wants to think the best of people he cares about, so when partners of his have belittled me, he tends to either not recognize that it's taking place, or else he defaults to "Poor dear, she's just upset, when she calms down, she will regret saying these things, so they don't count, do they?"

Rory, I won't go into the particulars of our situation too much, but my husband's girlfriend called me a selfish bitch in an email to him, and was almost as insulting to me directly. He didn't react to it at first, not until he shared the email with me and I hit the ceiling. He has since set a firm boundary with her about insults, etc., and asked her to apologize to me. She has not, but it's only been a couple of days since his request.

What makes this all the more complicated is that their relationship is part of a quad. I am involved with the girlfriend's husband. I am very worried that she won't let my boyfriend and I continue in our relationship without a lot of pushback from her, especially if my husband breaks it off as I think he might. Boyfriend and I are an established, loving relationship of almost a year, and we have been happy together for the most part, but if she continues to stir up trouble, I don't know if my boyfriend will assert his right to stay in the relationship with me, or not. I guess if he doesn't, maybe it wasn't meant to be.

Nycindie, I had to laugh at your comment about high-school behavior. The woman in question is in her 40s, and has a Ph.D from Stanford. I guess some people never do really mature past high school though.
 

sparklepop

New member
Love this thread. It's something I've thought about a lot.

There are of course two sides to every story and unfortunately I find that conflict can happen when you have multiple people in a relationship (hell, it happens enough in mono relationships!!).

Staight-out trash talking, I wouldn't tolerate. I also don't do it. For me, these things are not good -
) my girlfriend's secondaries badmouthing me to her
) my secondaries badmouthing my GF to me
) me badmouthing my GF's secondaries (to her)
) my GF badmouthing my secondaries (to me)
) either of us badmouthing each other TO our secondaries

BUT... sometimes stuff happens. Sometimes we DO behave selfishly and offend our partner's secondary. It doesn't mean name calling is ok. Communicating like adults is the only acceptable approach.

I don't actually believe that all parties need to get along. BUT - it makes poly easier when they do. Ideally, everyone's friendly, or at least civil. If my GF doesn't like my secondary, I do want her to tell me. If my secondary isn't keen on my GF, I'd want to know. But that's all I need to know. If there's a specific issue... tell me about it to fix it ... or leave me out of it and sort it out between the two of you.

Another thing we've learnt is to show a solid front.. and I wonder if your hubby is doing this? In the early days, my GF and I would conceal affection with each other in front of secondaries, to make our secondaries more comfortable. This seemed to create a pattern where perhaps they saw a way in, or didn't see the love between us. These days, we are very open with our affections and try to pick secondaries who make really good first impressions on each other... that seems to have helped to avoid trash talking.

As far as I know, nobody has ever told my GF that they don't like me... or that I'm a selfish bitch... hahaha... (lovely). But she's told secondaries in the past about our relationship issues... even relationship doubts... We've had long talks about a recent guy, because although she never seemed to say anything bad about me, I didn't feel she was giving him a true representation of our relationship. He once referred to me (in front of me) as her 'friend'... I live with her, raise her child with her and she calls me her wife... yet she saw no issue with his terminology. He would constantly text when we were together and instead of telling him the truth, that she was with me, etc, she'd say 'I have tons of work to do, I wish I could talk to you'... or worse, "I have to spend some time with Sparklepop, but you are in my thoughts". To me, that gives the other person the idea that the primary relationship isn't important and can give an opening to disrespectful behaviour and problems.

I think the best way to act is to show a solid front without blindly defending anyone. I don't think hubby needs to take your side (unless he believes you are in the right - in which case, he SHOULD defend you)... but I DO think he needs to say that badmouthing is off the cards. If hubby's GF is upset with you... he should tell her not to use that kind of language about you in front of him; but instead to talk to you directly, or come up with something constructive that he can talk to you about on her behalf. Hubby should also not complain about you to any girlfriends... it only fuels the fire.

Bottom line... no namecalling whatsoever... whether it's hubby's GF about you, you about her, or anything else. If hubby secretly feels that his GF has a point... he needs to speak up to you about it. If he doesn't, he needs to come to your defense.
 

jones

New member
I am realizing that, while I have never had a partner who said an unkind word against my primary partner, my primary partner has been in several situations where partners or would-be partners of his were not nearly that respectful towards me, to put it mildly. I am also realizing that I have a huge problem with how he deals with those situations. Primary partner tends to be conciliatory and conflict-avoidant by nature, and tends to try to make peace between me and assorted volatile others. I told him today, I feel we need a zero-tolerance rule of trash-talking me, of any kind, by other partners or would-be partners.

I am wondering what people find acceptable and unacceptable in these situations.

What kinds of things have you said to partners or would-be partners who treated your partner with a lack of respect, insulted them, or engaged in trashtalk? Do you automatically break it off with such people, or do they get a warning?

I would not be happy someone new or where I stand with A who I have been with for nearly four months saying anything mean about my primary partner, I wouldn't break it off but I would talk to them and say that I don't want it happening again.

x
 

ThatGirlInGray

New member
Right now neither MC nor TGIB are dating anyone else, so I haven't had to deal with this exact issue, but it has come up in regards to family members and close friends, but in situations where I'd be seen as more the "trash talker". Both MC and TGIB have family members and close friends that I don't have high opinions of. I'm honest with them about it, including my reasons, but then I leave it alone. They can't choose their family members (and in the case of friends they made the choice 10 to 20 years ago, so it's not up for debate now!), nor can they change them, and it's not up to me to decide whether or not they try to maintain a relationship with this person. It will sometimes come up again when THEY are venting about the person in question, and sometimes they will feel the need to defend the person against my opinion. *shrug* It's just my opinion, and while in some cases I wish they'd see something the way I do, I can only make choices for myself. If it were a new friend or relationship, though, I'll bet there'd be a LOT more debate on my part around the question of, "Why, exactly, do you want this person in your life??"

Conversely, I have no doubt that some of their family and friends are confused about why they each chose a relationship with me. I agree that name calling is immature and usually unnecessary but for me the relevant question is, does the person who dislikes me respect my relationship with their friend/family member? Or are they trying to undermine it and get us to break up? That matters WAY more to me than if someone thinks I'm a bitch. Cause frankly, a lot of people think I'm a bitch, with cause!
 

nycindie

Active member
. . . my husband's girlfriend called me a selfish bitch in an email to him, and was almost as insulting to me directly.

Egad!

We all can behave selfishly sometimes and not realize it until others point it out, but name calling serves no purpose - or at the very least, doing so gets in the way of the message. There have been times that I've said to people, "You are being selfish," and they've responded with, "You're right, thank you" because they were able to hear what I was saying since I didn't say, "You're a selfish brat/bitch/motherfucker/whatever." The times I have name-called, I almost always regretted. It goes both ways - I can "hear" when people call me on my shit if it is expressed directly and matter-of-factly, and not hurled at me in an insult. It certainly doesn't feel good to be on the receiving end of it, unless it's someone whose opinion really doesn't matter to us, but I would hate it if a partner of mine didn't put an end to that kind of shit right away and ask that I be spoken about respectfully or not at all.

I don't have a lot of experience with having a metamour, but when I was seeing Burnsy there were some issues I had about his wife. I thought she sounded a bit selfish in some ways, actually, but I had only had limited contact with her myself and had to go on what he told me about her to get a sense of who she was. This was an LDR and I'd never met her in person. STILL, I always felt that I should never say anything against her to him, and that if I felt the need to address something that bothered me about how she treated him (as far as what I was told by him), I knew I could, and would, address it with her directly - but never by calling her a bitch, certainly!

If I ever wanted to express certain things to him about the way they were "doing poly" or how it seemed he was being treated by her, I focused on HIM. In other words, I would ask, "You seem dissatisfied with that," or "How do you feel about such-and-such?" and "What do YOU want, Burnsy?" What I said to him when I ended it: "I feel that you need to come to terms within yourself with how you feel about [certain issues] in your relationship with your wife, before you can really fully be with me." I could only address what I saw in HIM, and how he expressed his relationship, but I never, ever, put her down in any way.

If your husband's gf sees things when she is with him that she perceives as bothering him, problematic in some way, or whatever, she needs to focus on HIS process in her inquiries or conversations about it, not blame you or call you names, as not only is that immature (sheesh, and a PhD, too), it accomplishes nothing. Besides that, it isn't her place to comment on his relationship with you. She should only worry about his relationship with her. IMHO.

However, consider this -- many people do have a hard time delivering difficult communications. Maybe she is having an issue with something that, although it could have been expressed much more diplomatically, might be good for you to take a look at and discuss with her and/or your hubs. Maybe there is something you do that she is interpreting as selfish or maybe there is some selfishness in you, regarding a certain issue, that you aren't aware of or impacts her somehow. As they say, don't shoot the messenger. Just see if there is any validity to what she said, talk to her about why she feels that way, and ask her to deliver her communications about you directly to you -- and in a less caustic way.
 
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persephone

New member
Actually, nycindie, husband's girlfriend called me that because she didn't like how an interaction I had with him, in her presence, affected HER good time that evening. (He was a bit distracted and rude and failed to explain a situation at hand, I got annoyed with him, he explained himself, and all was fine, or so both he and I thought, until girlfriend started pitching a massive, multi-email hissy fit about the incident a couple of days later.)

Kind of ironic, I guess!
 

nycindie

Active member
Actually, nycindie, husband's girlfriend called me that because she didn't like how an interaction I had with him, in her presence, affected HER good time that evening. (He was a bit distracted and rude and failed to explain a situation at hand, I got annoyed with him, he explained himself, and all was fine, or so both he and I thought, until girlfriend started pitching a massive, multi-email hissy fit about the incident a couple of days later.)

Kind of ironic, I guess!


Oh, so she had her own selfish reaction, and called you selfish. "Hello Pot, meet Kettle."
 

persephone

New member
Just received yet another email from husband's girlfriend demanding that I apologize to HER. I didn't answer the first one, and I'm sure not answering this one. It's clear that despite husband patiently explaining what was going down that night, and why I reacted why I did, he made no impression on her.

She doesn't seem to realize that she's digging her own grave with husband here.

I will be sad to lose my boyfriend, and I think I likely will, but if this is what he's married to, it was probably inevitable anyway.
 

Archaeolibris

New member
Wow. I have absolutely zero tolerance for that kind of behavior. Not that we cannot all expect people to perhaps feel a bit threatened in such precarious and uncharted emotional territory, but the minute the degrading language comes out about anyone I love . . . well that utterly changes the way I see the person speaking, and not for the better. Even if your SO can empathize with some of the emotional turmoil of an angry lover, IMHO he absolutely should insist that you be treated/discussed respectfully, like a human being equal in worth to him and anyone he dates.

Furthermore, if this lover needs to blow off some steam or just be frustrated and emotional for a minute in order to defuse herself . . . fine, she can go take it out on a punching bag, or rant for a minute to a friend who knows neither of the people in the relationship socially. By degrading you in front of your significant other, this lover is asking him to participate by overlooking that degrading language, and that's something that would end a relationship for me if it were not corrected. I will also add that if this woman is not only airing her frustrations with your SO, but with other mutual friends/acquaintances-- basically someone trying to socially shame you or make your life more difficult . . . then she really really must go. It was unclear whether this was the case for you, but In my experience, there is no way a relationship survives that intact.
 
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