What are the consequences of broken rules?

nycindie

Active member
This has been an interesting thread for me to read. As someone who prefers to involve myself in relationships where everyone behaves like adults, I see Rules as unnecessary in any relationship. If you get involved with people whom you cannot trust to act honorably and respectfully, no Rule is going to suddenly change them into honorable and respectful people.

Personal boundaries, however, are crucial. Instead of laying down the law about how a partner should behave -- which is, essentially, telling them to conduct his or her own life according to your standards and not their own -- I think it is much more valuable to develop one's own personal boundaries surrounding things that make one feel safe, valued, heard, and respected.

The difference between making rules for someone else to follow and developing your own boundaries is huge. You can only control your own responses to life, you can't control other people. So, instead of saying "You must check in with me before fucking someone else" (a Rule for a partner to abide by), what about saying "I won't tolerate dishonesty and cheating" (a personal boundary). Then, you make sure you get involved with people you can trust. You let your boundaries be known, but do not decree rules. Rather, you get involved with people who take responsibility for their actions, whom you can trust to be respectful, and you accept that they will live their lives as they see fit. If they know what you need to feel safe, loved, respected, etc., and they have any compassion or sense of doing what is right for the people they love, they will take care of you. But penning them into a set of rules will only create a situation where they will feel a need to rebel - because most human beings need to feel that they are making their own choices in life as an individual. I feel that people need to respect a partner's autonomy in order for relationships to work well.
 

PipersGirl

New member
Personal boundaries, however, are crucial. Instead of laying down the law about how a partner should behave -- which is, essentially, telling them to conduct his or her own life according to your standards and not their own -- I think it is much more valuable to develop one's own personal boundaries surrounding things that make one feel safe, valued, heard, and respected.

The difference between making rules for someone else to follow and developing your own boundaries is huge. You can only control your own responses to life, you can't control other people.

Thank you for posting this and for your reponse on another thread with your criteria for a working, fulfilling, satisfying relationship.

My own relationship is in a state of flux and I've been struggling a bit. Both of these posts have helped me clarify some things.
 

MightyMax

Banned
Oh, come now! COULDN'T? She couldn't make a phone call or send a text? Unless his girlfriend is 5 years old, yes, she could. She chose not to.

Not sure what you're talking about here. I was referring to the common phenomenon of someone agreeing to something that they thought would be okay, and then finding in practice that it doesn't work for them. It doesn't allow them to meet their needs.

I'll reiterate that unless you know that it's okay to want a relationship where you don't ask each other for permission to have sex or date others and that many people have this type of relationship and still meet the criteria necessary for a relationship to be serious and committed, you can't consider that to be an option.
 

dingedheart

Well-known member
I'll reiterate that unless you know that it's okay to want a relationship where you don't ask each other for permission to have sex or date others and that many people have this type of relationship and still meet the criteria necessary for a relationship to be serious and committed, you can't consider that to be an option.

What ?

So let me get this straight you have to know all the other possible alternatives before you can stick to an agreement.....an agreement you had with a committed partner. Do you need to " know " all the other feeling of all those alternatives ?

If a person ( a guy ) always practiced safe sex using condoms would it be fair to say that agreement wasn't binding because he never experienced sex without a condom.....he didn't know how much better it felt without ....so it's not his fault when one night he " DECIDES " ...to go against establish practice and agreement and have sex without ? Omg he didn't know ...not his fault ...shit if only he had known when making that agreement. Do you think he should wait 3-4 weeks before telling his partner he no longer wants to be bound by the condom rule? You know were talking about needs here.....needs are important......more important than agreements.


Boundaries and rules in place for an emotional health reasons ......boundaries and rules for a physical health and birth control reasons. Some agreement matter some don't.

A phone call or text is an impediment to needs ...."needs " being met? And what need would that be ?

To me it sounds like the one time/ immediate "need " to get laid trumped the agreement. Gosh couldn't put that off with a stranger or new person til I get this pesky/ silly agreement resolved ....nope....fuck it ...I deal with it later.
Classic it's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. I've done it ....it's still wrong.
 

MightyMax

Banned
What ?

So let me get this straight you have to know all the other possible alternatives before you can stick to an agreement.....an agreement you had with a committed partner. Do you need to " know " all the other feeling of all those alternatives ?

If a person ( a guy ) always practiced safe sex using condoms would it be fair to say that agreement wasn't binding because he never experienced sex without a condom.....he didn't know how much better it felt without ....so it's not his fault when one night he " DECIDES " ...to go against establish practice and agreement and have sex without ? Omg he didn't know ...not his fault ...shit if only he had known when making that agreement. Do you think he should wait 3-4 weeks before telling his partner he no longer wants to be bound by the condom rule? You know were talking about needs here.....needs are important......more important than agreements.


Boundaries and rules in place for an emotional health reasons ......boundaries and rules for a physical health and birth control reasons. Some agreement matter some don't.

A phone call or text is an impediment to needs ...."needs " being met? And what need would that be ?

To me it sounds like the one time/ immediate "need " to get laid trumped the agreement. Gosh couldn't put that off with a stranger or new person til I get this pesky/ silly agreement resolved ....nope....fuck it ...I deal with it later.
Classic it's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. I've done it ....it's still wrong.

Look, what I'm refuting is the assumption that she made an informed choice to begin with. I'm not suggesting anyone purposely withheld information to limit her choices, but it's very possible that she didn't have all avaliable information necessary to decide whether this rule would be something she can have in her relationships.

I said that I'm not suggesting that anyone congratulate her for breaking the rule but I don't think she should be vilified for finding through experience that this doesn't make her happy. That's how most of us found out what works for us and what doesn't. People get hurt and you often treat your partners very unfairly whilst you navigate this rocky territory. That's true for everyone who starts dating and having relationships but when you grow up in a monogamous society which gives us no tools to thrive in other relationship styles, it can be an even more challenging journey.
 

Inyourendo

New member
If my partner agreed to inform me of a new sex partner when we agreed to that boundary I would look to that as an infidelity. Honestly I would probably give them a second chance but if they ever did it again we'd be done. And I would have a very hard time trusting them again.
 

Becca

Member
For my partner, a broken agreement (around safe sex) was enough to end a relationship. The end took a while to become complete (long, long breakup). But trust was broken.

You make your own choices. I agree that poly with tons of rules is not a thing that works for a lot of people (I only ever agreed to communicate and keep my sex safe), but it's a problem, if she's just breaking rules, rather than initiating conversations about how the rules don't work.
 

dingedheart

Well-known member
Look, what I'm refuting is the assumption that she made an informed choice to begin with. I'm not suggesting anyone purposely withheld information to limit her choices, but it's very possible that she didn't have all avaliable information necessary to decide whether this rule would be something she can have in her relationships.

I said that I'm not suggesting that anyone congratulate her for breaking the rule but I don't think she should be vilified for finding through experience that this doesn't make her happy. That's how most of us found out what works for us and what doesn't. People get hurt and you often treat your partners very unfairly whilst you navigate this rocky territory. That's true for everyone who starts dating and having relationships but when you grow up in a monogamous society which gives us no tools to thrive in other relationship styles, it can be an even more challenging journey.

So my analogy works ?

Couldn't it be just as possible that she didn't give a shit about the rule at the time and " decided" to deal with it later.


I don't think you're going to get much support for the informed choice argument because every struggling mono who agrees to go down this road is basically told to get hold of themselves, find a hobby/distraction because they signed up for this and it's now too late. In fact there is another thread on the relationship page in which a coupled opened up and wife fell in love ( naturally that happen in this ) and poor hubby can't get the same thing going and or is feeling the demotion, displacement and intrusion now .......so the question is did he make an informed choice ? He didn't know finding willing women was going to be so hard. Someone suggested they divorce so he might get more action.....or find a better fitting primary. What about that for a choice :D:D. Informed or otherwise . I really like these bold dramatic choices/ statements.
 

MightyMax

Banned
No, your analogy does not work. Before you assume what I'd say to a mono person unhappy with the change to poly, ask. If there was a mono person who agreed to polyamory only to find it made them unhappy, I'd say to their poly partner that whilst it may be disappointing, you can't really know how something will suit you until you try it. The mono person has tried it and it doesn't work for them, so it needs to change. I certainly would not encourage a mono person to just put up with a relationship style that harms them but I would make it clear that I do not feel the poly person has to change. It's an incompatibility, the answer to is to part ways.

With this situation, the partner has to acknowledge that she wants to be able to decide when she has sex without input from her partner. This means that she is incompatible with people who need that level of input into their partner's other relationships. Unfortunately, she may not have realised this until she tried the alternative and discovered that the dichotomy between non monogamy and commitment that we've been programmed with is an allusion.

As for the husband who can't find other partners, he isn't entitled to sex or relationships just because he is avaliable for them. If it makes him so unhappy that it turns him away from polyamory, then so be it. Their situation becomes just like any other mono who tried poly and turns back. However, I've found that men who work on their entitlement issues not only find it easier to to refrain dry spells but are generally more attractive to women and have less dry spells.
 

dingedheart

Well-known member
My analogy was the one on the guy using condoms ......that one worked.


Before I assume ....ask. Go count up the number of questions I've asked. Then count your answers. You might want to reread what I wrote ....I said you might not get much support for that argument because it could cut back the other way NOT what you personally would say to any particular person.....who's assuming ???

Interesting hair splitting ...." disappointing, you can really know how something will suits you until you try it " We're still talking about choices and actions right.

So choosing to notify or have a conversation about having sex ( as distasteful as that might be for some ) with a new partner to help an insecure (established ) partner feel better might make someone unhappy :( Isn't that the same with the mono who tried and it made them unhappy. She tried to follow the rule but it made her unhappy. It's disappointing for both is it not ?


As for the husband who tried and failed ....why are you talking about what he's entitled to ? It's a fact the numbers are stacked against him. Could be 20-1. He might be really picky and want something way above his pay grade but he didn't know all that going in. It wasn't an informed choice. He might have thought the sexes were equal in regards to being ethical sluts.....ops way way more guy sluts.....he didn't know and now he's unhappy and he did realize this would make him unhappy .....just like she didn't realize the level of input would make her unhappy .....until he tried the alternative.

I still have trouble with one part of this. Why break the agreement and break trust instead of renegotiating. Their are lots of rules in everyday life I don't agree with or don't know the origin or logic behind but that doesn't mean I blow them off. Or blow them off because I don't know the other side.
 
In general -- I think is possible to have an ethical polyship where people do not check in with each other

In this specific case, I do not get the impression this is the model being practiced here.

If she's happier in a "free agent non primary" type open model, it's still on her to say so.

Yes, yes, and yes.

I don't even think she is. I think she's just forgotten what it's like to be jealous because I haven't seen anyone else in so long.

I think she could "own" her stuff a bit more. Rather than bending a few times and finally breaking agreement -- just give the heads up. "This agreement? No longer fits me. I am not up for it any more and do not plan to follow it. I am making you aware."

That's the right way to do it, yes.

But now we have talked about and she does want to change the rules. She wants the ability to be more spontaneous. She thought the rules would loosen over time (and they had, when I was feeling more confident in our relationship and had others of my own). Says she never felt comfortable with them in the first place (which is news to me, seeing as she's the one who first came up with them and wrote them down). So we've brought it up a few times, but weeks later we still haven't actually talked about what we want them to be going forward. I used to think we were good communicators...

Perhaps she tripped up and got caught up in NRE with the new guy because he IS a new guy?

Oh definitely. It scares me how head over heels she gets for some new guys, like she's going to move away to be with them and then, a few weeks later, remember that I exist. "Oh yeah, that guy I was dating. I should probably let him know where I am."

Maybe you decide you are willing to let this one mistake go

Yeah, after she described everything that happened, I let it go. Then I talked to a friend about it and she said I am too forgiving and was very critical and said there's no excuse for me not getting at least a text. Sigh.

And because you did not lay out your clear cut boundaries/consequences.

We had clear cut boundaries, and she knew what they were, which is why she contacted me in the morning apologetically.

Could correct it now and spell it out. Have updated and clearer expectations, boundaries, and consequences articulated between you.

Yes, we need to do that.

she can't just be ordered to stand in a corner.

Well... depends what you're into.

I mean, is it really really important for you to know about her encounters ahead of time?

Yes.

Is it something internal you could work on within yourself? Would the learning opportunity be a beneficial one?

Why is it a problem to want to know what my partner is up to? What should I be learning?

In this specific case? Their model not Closed. It is Open. Date whoever you want, just give a heads up.

Yep.

Until someone has outlined that there are other options she could take, perhaps not with this guy, but with someone else who also wants to take that option, one can't really say she has made an informed choice and she remains oblivious.

Neither of us is oblivious of the possibility of other models.

As far as I knew, we both wanted similar things, and not what you're describing. I'm not sure anymore, though. It may be that she doesn't want to be primary partners anymore, but is afraid to say it? We've had a lot of talks since, but I don't feel like things are being resolved.

[Wrote this when it first happened and never posted:] On the other hand, she said she's going to stop seeing other people "temporarily, to focus on us". I don't know where that's coming from. I didn't ask her to stop seeing other people, and said so, but I guess she's going to anyway. [Later: Actually, turns out this was for new guy's sake, not really for me, since he is not poly and she wanted it to be easier on him. Now she is seeing other people again.]

Changing rules doesn't make them pointless. One of the most important parts of learning to practice poly is being willing to change.

Yes, change is fine, when it's discussed beforehand. I meant that if someone breaks the rules, and then the only consequence is to change them to retroactively make what happened ok, then they are pointless, toothless.

The difference between making rules for someone else to follow

It's not one person telling the other what they can or can't do; it's two people agreeing to a set of boundaries that they both want each other to follow.

So, instead of saying "You must check in with me before fucking someone else" (a Rule for a partner to abide by), what about saying "I won't tolerate dishonesty and cheating" (a personal boundary).

o_O The definition of cheating is "breaking rules". Without rules it's impossible for someone to cheat on you, and therefore this "personal boundary" is meaningless.

Is this the same concept as "boundaries instead of rules"? I mentioned this to her and she didn't like it either, said it sounded like a threat instead of a mutual agreement.

If they know what you need to feel safe, loved, respected, etc., and they have any compassion or sense of doing what is right for the people they love, they will take care of you. But penning them into a set of rules

The "set of rules" is just a list of the things that you need to feel safe, loved, respected, etc. It's just the word "rules" that puts you off, not the concept?

will only create a situation where they will feel a need to rebel

Why are some people like this? "As an adult", if I agree to something, it means I'm going to do what I agreed to. If I didn't like the conditions I agreed to, I wouldn't have agreed to them. If I change my mind about them, I'm going to discuss it and ask to revise them.
 
Oh, come now! COULDN'T? She couldn't make a phone call or send a text? Unless his girlfriend is 5 years old, yes, she could. She chose not to.

She was with a group of friends/acquaintances, broke off from the group with one of them, riding in his car to his place, hung out as friends, didn't expect anything to happen until it did. "I did tell him about you. I guess I should have messaged you at that point." I can understand not wanting to interrupt some spontaneous thing to have a conversation with me, but simultaneously agree that there's no excuse. Argh cognitive dissonance.

He's not poly and doesn't understand it. He hoped she would leave me for him and become monogamous. :mad: She wants to convert him to poly but doesn't think it's going to happen, but wants to enjoy the romance while it lasts? :rolleyes:

Classic it's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. I've done it ....it's still wrong.

Yup.

If my partner agreed to inform me of a new sex partner when we agreed to that boundary I would look to that as an infidelity. Honestly I would probably give them a second chance but if they ever did it again we'd be done. And I would have a very hard time trusting them again.

Happened once before, too. So now we're on third chance? :/
 
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Dagferi

Well-known member
My only statement on your situation op is wrong me once shame on you. Wrong me twice shame on me.

Why are you tolerating someone treating you as a doormat?
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Re (from cuddlecakes):
"Why is it a problem to want to know what my partner is up to? What should I be learning?"

What do you want to learn? Would a more independent, Zenlike state of mind appeal to you?

Re:
"I meant that if someone *breaks* the rules, and then the only consequence is to change them to retroactively make what happened okay, then they are pointless, toothless."

Two things:

  • I don't recommend changing the rules in such a way as to retroactively excuse anyone's past infractions. The point is that someone broke (Rule #X) when that rule was in place. Breaking a rule you agreed to is a breach of trust.
  • It seems to me that when two adults cooperatively set certain rules, each adult's main incentive for observing the rules should be the desire to keep his/her word, rather than the fear of some external penalty.
I suppose that even if you're going to change the rules, you should still apply the penalty for breaking the old rules first.

You opened this thread with the question, "What are the consequences of broken rules?" Well, I have two questions:

  • What do you think the consequences of broken rules should be?
  • How will you enforce those consequences?
Perhaps when you agree on a (new) rule, you should also (at the same time) agree on what will happen if someone breaks the rule.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Yes. It is now on third chance. How many strikes before she is out for lack of follow through on agreements she agreed to?

I go with three strikes for my general boundaries/consequences pattern. You could have your own number for limit of tolerance. But I hope you do have a limit and it is not like a hundred times, a thousand times, infinity. :(

That is not self respecting behavior. It is not you meeting your own need to be safe and get you out of the line of fire. :(

Galagirl
 
Sounds like a cheater to me.

That's the premise of the thread, yes.

Why are you tolerating someone treating you as a doormat?

Am I? Perhaps. If yes: Because her behavior is somewhat understandable? Because she apologized immediately afterward and tried to make things right and has been making an effort to communicate when I am upset? Because I feel like breaking off everything would be disproportionate? Because when things are good, they're really good?

(For the record, I'm a bad communicator too. I feel upset and don't say anything, because I'm an anxious person in general, and fear that I'm being unreasonable/overreacting. So I keep it to myself until the emotion builds up enough to express it, then she asks what's wrong and tries to communicate, and then I clam up. We have both been making an effort to discuss things, though.)

Breaking a rule you agreed to is a breach of trust.

Yep. I have felt less trusting ever since.

What do you think the consequences of broken rules should be?
How will you enforce those consequences?

I don't know, I never expected it to come up, which is why I'm asking for advice (and there seems to be no consensus to the advice).

Is there a machine that will make her feel what I feel and vice versa? That would help with a lot of society's problems, actually.

Perhaps when you agree on a (new) rule, you should also (at the same time) agree on what will happen if someone breaks the rule.

Yes, that's a good idea in retrospect.
 
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kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
What can one adult do to another adult as a disciplinary measure? Not a lot, from what I can tell. About the only moderate penalties I can think of would be stuff the person who broke the rule agreed to do to themselves. Such as grounding themselves -- no poly dating for the next three months, for example. If they agree to go along with the penalty, then I guess that's how to enforce it.

I'm sure an "empathy machine" would be just the thing for this kind of problem, but since we don't have that technology, we'll have to figure out substitute disciplinary measures.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Dagferi said:
Why are you tolerating someone treating you as a doormat?

Am I? Perhaps. If yes: Because her behavior is somewhat understandable? Because she apologized immediately afterward and tried to make things right and has been making an effort to communicate when I am upset? Because I feel like breaking off everything would be disproportionate? Because when things are good, they're really good?

I mean this kindly, ok? :eek:

On some level I wonder if you know you cannot change her behavior for her? And you know her Word is not trustworthy now if she was proposing agreements she wasn't even into, letting you agree to them in good faith while she was entering the agreements knowingly NOT in good faith? And then bending/breaking them several times?

This isn't so much about the agreements any more, hon. It's about her WORD being trustworthy. You can't continue healthy without that. any other new agreement based on a Flimsy Word yields what? Mess. :(

I see the conflict is internal conflict. It is not between you and her. It is between conflicting wants of yours:

  • I want to be free of harm within this relationship. I do not like getting dinged.

VS.

  • I do not want to leave this relationship at this time.
    • How many times do I ride the same merry-go-round before I choose to step off the ride?
    • I don't know. I don't have a number.

We teach others how we want to be treated. If you allow yourself to be treated like a doormat? You have no limit of tolerance clearly articulated to yourself and to you partner? You are basically teaching you are ok being treated this way to infinity and beyond.

  • They treat you badly, stepping on toes or crossing boundaries.
  • You make some noise about it, but basically tolerate it and stick around whether they change the behavior or not.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.

Not healthy.

So this part?

If yes: Because her behavior is somewhat understandable? Because she apologized immediately afterward and tried to make things right and has been making an effort to communicate when I am upset? Because I feel like breaking off everything would be disproportionate? Because when things are good, they're really good?

If that is really good with you, why are you posting? :eek:

I wonder if that is you making excuse to yourself for YOU choosing to keep you on the merry-go-round without a limit of tolerance?

I suggest again that you could think about making your limit of tolerance. Could stop treating it like a "moving line" and just have a "number of strikes like baseball." There is not going to be a consensus because every person has a different level of tolerance. YOU figure out what YOUR limit is.

The reason I keep a "3 strike" limit is to keep me from letting my soft feelings for a person tempt me to stick around when they continue to do bad behavior toward me. I can measure strikes. That is concrete. I get that bad habits take time to break. People might need more than one chance. I want to give fair number of chances. But 3 times on the sameissue with no significant effort or progress? That tells me they really are not serious about changing it. I don't want to be played. It cannot be ENDLESS second chances. Some people are good at making false promises of a better tomorrow to distract from the fact they are treating me badly today. I don't need to hang around that type of person.

The consequences for broken rules is whatever number you pick for yourself. If she racks up your (3 strikes, 5 strikes, 7 strikes, something reasonable you pick for you)? Consequence for your behavior is that you walk away regretfully but you WALK AWAY. You can control her behavior and your "staying-ness. " You cannot control her behavior and her "doing-ness." She controls that.

You don't let it be 100 strikes, 1000, a million. You could treat you with dignity even if others do not. Self respecting behavior is important.

I am sorry you deal in this, but it does have to be dealt with. :eek:

Galagirl
 
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