What polyamory skills are great relationship skills in general?

Emmerik

New member
Although some polyamory theory, rules, skills and experiences exclusively apply to non-monagamous relationships, a lot is good advice for monogamous relationships as well.

What are things you learned from polyamory that would help monagamous relationships as well?

Here are some examples I find inspiring:
- Disentangle yourself from co-dependence (The most skipped step before opening a relationship).
- You are responsible for your own wellbeing.
- Clearly ask for what you need.
- Avoid controlling your partner - your partner is not a possession!
- Know your boundaries, but focus on what you need instead of what the other is forbidden to do.
- Don't make things personal; the feelings your partner has for other people (intimate, romantic, friendly) does not reflect your relationship. At the same time, those relationships might have an impact on you which you're allowed to share and discuss.
- It's not a competition.

I could go on, but what rules, skills and experiences do you have?
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello Emmerik,

The #1 polyamory skill that is a great relationship skill in general, is, communication. Honest, kind, respectful, transparent, thorough communication. One can hardly survive polyamory without it, but one also needs it in a monogamous relationship.

Regards,
Kevin T.
 

Evie

Kaitiaki
Staff member
Be courteous - at home, our underlying principle is courtesy. This tends to manifest as changing the sheets if we've hosted another person, not letting someone else use my special mugs, letting each other know where we are going and when we expect to be back, and messaging if that changes. Two out of those three examples would apply to monogamy, and courtesy should apply regardless of relationship shape.

Be patient - this is right up there with don't take things personally. In a big polycule, sometimes there is spillover from one situation to another that can have an impact on my time with my partner. It's not him being a bad hinge, it's that something so significant has happened that it can't help but affect him and therefore our time together. And vice versa. We are patient and understanding with each other when that happens. In mono, that might look like plans changing because of an extended family crisis.
 
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icesong

Moderator
Staff member
This is part of disentangling and not being controlling but the skill of really internalizing that your partner's behavior and decisions do not instantly reflect on you. I'm not talking in major ways - if they're harmful to people you're gonna get some side-eye, sometimes. But smaller things like what they wear or say (dad jokes and cargo shorts anyone?) are not about you, it's on them - and most people (that you actually want to hang out with) aren't gonna hold them against you.

Well, that's how it *ought* to work anyway.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
Intrapersonal skills and self awareness. Interpersonal skills for getting along with other people is great and all, but I think it has to start with knowing your own self and your own mind and the things you value and are important to you. Not everyone you date is going to be a match. But how can you figure out if you are compatible or not with others when you don't even know what YOU like or value? I see people who are too "watery" and just subsume themselves to a relationship because that becomes the "container" that defines them and gives them purpose. They just adopt whatever the partner values rather than being their own individual selves.

Not becoming a "CoupleBlob" joined at the hip. Yes, sometimes a couple, but also maintaining individual selves, spending time with your own friends, family, interests. Being able to stand on your own to feet.

Time management. Not overscheduling. Doing one less thing than you can handle so there's always a slot open for emergencies. And rest and time alone is not "optional." That the FIRST slot you schedule before time with anyone else. You first so you are rested and operating from a full tank. Then you can gift your time to other people and their reasonable and rational requests. Not reasonable? Not rational? Forget it. Say no.

"Sacred no" is as important as "joyful yes." You have to be able to say "No" to people. You have to be able to say "No. I love you a whole lot, but not even for you am I going to do stuff I'm just not interested in or stuff that overextends or hurts me." And you have to be able to say a joyful and enthusiastic yes. "I would LOVE to do that! That's sounds great!" and not like "Well... maybe....kinda... sorta....if I really have to... yes." Anything less than a joyful yes? Just count it as a "working no."

Not being afraid to be by yourself. Along with separate finances, even if some things are in joint. Because people who are ok being on their own and can pay their own rent? They don't have to be "nice" putting up with bullshit or abuse from fear of being alone or homeless. And they also don't worry that the partner is there only for access to their wallet. Each partner is there because they WANT to be there in the relationship. Not because they need to.

Understanding that relationships are participatory and not possessive. You don't "get a GF" or "get a BF" or "get married" like you went shopping for a sweater at the store. You share your time/life with those people. Some people treat their relationships like a sweater possession. They got it, so there. Check off the to do list. Then chuck it on the shelf. Bring it down once in a while expecting instant "keep me warm" services. When really relationships are more like a shared plant you have to attend to with your partner. Chuck it it on the shelf? No light, not water, no interaction? Expect dead plant. And yet I still see people really surprised when their partners get tired of being taken for granted, not interacted with, and just get up and leave.

Understanding being in "right relationship" and not just "being right." What good is it to "be right" and "win" arguments if how you do it ends up hurting the partner? Better conflict resolution skills and not coming to things in a relationship like war or battle so things can be worked out while still being in "right relationship." Understanding that "quiet" doesn't automatically mean "peace and getting along." It just means "quiet" and sometimes it means the start of the end. The partner gave up trying to talk to you and wasting their breath. Things are not in "right relationship" then either.

Honoring commitments in the order made, except for emergencies. And being clear about what counts as an emergency.

Knowing how to discern and prioritize. Because not all things are at the same "toggles." And acting like all things are at number 1 is the path to burning out.
  1. IMPORTANT and URGENT. (Emergency! House is on fire! Everyone out!)
  2. IMPORTANT, but not urgent. (Taxes due in April. Should keep my files in order for later.)
  3. Not important, but URGENT (Getting gas but gotta pee. But I don't like this yucky gas station bathroom. I will finish this and then pee when I change to do groceries. Their clean bathroom is better. )
  4. Not important. Not urgent. (Nobody cares if I leave the junk mail here on the kitchen counter til recycle day.)
Understanding that who you are in your 20s is not you in your 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. And neither is your partner static. Checking in and micro adjusting along the way. Because that is easier than not checking in, diverging too far, and realizing you aren't meeting shared goals or have grown apart from neglect or just going through the motions.

Galagirl
 
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dingedheart

Well-known member
trust gut For those who have been poly bombed it’s either hard to trust their gut because radical shake up with in the relationship or because they just didn’t have major life changes where they needed to.

compartmentalization: a valued skill that helps keep everything in its own lane.

Learning to adjust expectations from what was to what is. I think having the ability to toggle between expectations and reality. For people confronted with changing their romantic dynamic inside a well worn mono union or marriage often had and often still hold many expectations that simply aren’t there anymore. And it’s really hard to adjust old expectations or romanized view to the new realities. The new reality needs a completely different set of expectations.

learning and taking to heart that every relationship has a lifespan : know when to say when….or when to hold them and when to fold them. Along this same line when to save yourself. A friend of mine has a great expression “ setting yourself on fire to keep your spouse or partner warm “.

Learning/ developing strong personal boundaries: I think in the case of the poly bombed people want to appear as good little partners / team members and agree and or tolerate conduct they wouldn’t in any other situation. And that circles back to wanting to hold things together and the pick me dance If you will….see I’m a good guy or gal. Well defined lines and boundaries save time and heartache.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
I could go on, but what rules, skills and experiences do you have?

Become a grand master at gracefully receiving unfortunate news.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
This is a very useful thread and had been made a sticky. --Mod team
 

Emmerik

New member
What I also like is the view on NRE - it is something to be enjoyed, be careful not to lose yourself in it, and it is not a solid ground to build a relationship on.

How different is this from mainstream culture where infatuation is the holy grail of love.
 

Emmerik

New member
From the book Polysecure: Secure attachment is an embodied experience based on how we consistenly respond and attune to each other, rather than derived from a relationship structure.

This one really got me thinking: I am currently in a monogamous relationship structure to provide security for my partner (and because I am polysaturated at one, at the moment). If I, instead, focus on the embodied experience of responsiveness and atunement, would this give my partner the security she needs? Would this be a way to open up the relationship when I feel the desire to have more relationships?
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
If I, instead, focus on the embodied experience of responsiveness and atunement, would this give my partner the security she needs?

Maybe. Maybe not. The only one who can answer that is your partner.

IME? Some people don't know how to fill their own bucket up. They also don't know how not to punch holes in their bucket or stop kicking their own bucket over. They look to others to fill their bucket, which helps for a time because then they feel better.

The partner(s) might be willing to help be bucket fillers at first. But if it is chronic, like filling the never ending black hole of need? The partner's are going to burn out and/or get tired of that. It's not two way street relating.

Ultimately to change that dynamic, the person has to figure out how to self validate, be comfortable in their own skin, not go around kicking their own bucket over, etc. Be able to stand on their own two feet.

To me that's a basic skill. To know your own self, your own limits, your own preferences etc.

Would this be a way to open up the relationship when I feel the desire to have more relationships?

I don't think so. I think it would be a way to get along with your partner by meeting needs more effectively (if it is indeed, more effective. You could just ask your partner what their needs are.)

When you are ready to ask your partner if they'd consider opening up the relationship? You ask if they are willing to consider. If you are doing stuff with some secret goal to get to poly? That may seem disingenous to them.

If you ask plain? She could consider then give honest answer. Because if what she wants is monogamous relationship and that's what she's happiest doing? And you are no longer willing to do that? Then you discover you have become incompatible over time. Each wanting different things. One can be kind about that, but I don't think there's any bending into pretzels over it.

Though people certainly sometimes try to square peg round hole and just end up make bigger messes. Rather than accepting personal limits from the start, mourning whatever loss/feelings, and moving on with some grace.

Flip side? She might consider it and be willing to try because she really and truly wants to try. And not like doings stuff she really doesn't want to be doing so as to avoid a break up.

Galagirl
 

tdh

Active member
Be okay the road is unpredictable and be ready to swerve: If you do A and B, C will show up. Read all the books and you are ready for new loves. Follow all the "rules" and things will be all good with current/future partners. etc...etc...

Finding a partner whether single, partnered, male, female, non-gendered, straight, bi, gay, etc takes time and effort and a little bit of luck. While there is some bias towards certain configuration ideals, it rarely is that simple. Location can play a key. Things might or might not work out and that is okay.

Try to constantly learn from the unpredictable nature of being poly and learn to adjust. Flexibility it key.
 

Ariakas

Bosun
:), my default answer to this is always "good relationship skills" I said similar things 10 years ago and stand by them. The best skills you can have are ones that create healthy relationships. Friendship, fwd, lovers, poly, swinging... all require solid interpersonal and relationship skills.

In the end if you suck at relationships, poly is not going to get much further than ground floor.
 

Emmerik

New member
"If I, instead, focus on the embodied experience of responsiveness and atunement, would this give my partner the security she needs?"
Maybe. Maybe not. The only one who can answer that is your partner.
True - and I think she can only answer this after she has experiences this, otherwise we're talking about some abstract thing.

IME? Some people don't know how to fill their own bucket up. They also don't know how not to punch holes in their bucket or stop kicking their own bucket over. They look to others to fill their bucket, which helps for a time because then they feel better.

The partner(s) might be willing to help be bucket fillers at first. But if it is chronic, like filling the never ending black hole of need? The partner's are going to burn out and/or get tired of that. It's not two way street relating.

Ultimately to change that dynamic, the person has to figure out how to self validate, be comfortable in their own skin, not go around kicking their own bucket over, etc. Be able to stand on their own two feet.

To me that's a basic skill. To know your own self, your own limits, your own preferences etc.
Agreed - and this has been a theme she has been working on. We call it "standing on your own feet" and there is a subtle energy of "leaning on me" when she somehow expects me to process/help/solve her emotional things. After initially being very empathic, I have been very strict on not enabling this co-dependency / enmeshment up to the point of being rude (my judgement, not hers). I think now I'm able to revisit empathy from free choice, instead from being out of guilt, habit or subtle emotional manipulation.

"Would this be a way to open up the relationship when I feel the desire to have more relationships?"
I don't think so. I think it would be a way to get along with your partner by meeting needs more effectively (if it is indeed, more effective. You could just ask your partner what their needs are.)
I've been polyamorous at the start, made a monogamous commitment after a few months, regretted it after a year or so, tried to bring it up once, she got triggered and I shut down, brought it up twice she got triggered again, then finally brought it up and said: "hey, this is me, and you have got to have this conversation with me instead of getting triggered and making it about your emotions". That point was 6 years ago. In the 3-4 years after, we had honest conversations and explored opening up, with well-known stages of:

- struggling with the idea that she is not enough when i enjoy somebody else
- not understanding poly at heart (as I don't really understand the mono at heart)
- she feeling guilty that she was too insecure to give me this
- making it a competition
- trying it out with a kiss in the club

When you are ready to ask your partner if they'd consider opening up the relationship? You ask if they are willing to consider. If you are doing stuff with some secret goal to get to poly? That may seem disingenous to them.

If you ask plain? She could consider then give honest answer. Because if what she wants is monogamous relationship and that's what she's happiest doing? And you are no longer willing to do that? Then you discover you have become incompatible over time. Each wanting different things. One can be kind about that, but I don't think there's any bending into pretzels over it.
Been there, done that - but with a different outcome. My wife felt quite some pressure (from herself) to make polyamory work as she understood how much it matters to me. But why should she be the one making adjustments to meet my needs? What is it that I hope to achieve with polyamory and can't I find other ways to meet those needs?

As it turns out, I can. Things Polyamory gives me, with their alternative:
- I can feel attracted to others without feeling guilty. (What about: feeling attracted, flirt, but don't act on it, and don't feel guilty for that?)
- I can have more intimate relationships (What about: having intimitate friend without no romantic of sexual component in it?)
- I feel more myself / free / independent (What about: solving enmeshment/co-dependency issues to be more myself in this relationship?)
- I like the different parts that show up when I am around different people (What about: having a life and friends outside this relationship?)
- I enjoy having romance and sex in my life (What about: rekindling passion in a longterm relationship by spending quality time with eachother?)
- I enjoy the excitement and adventure of meeting new people (What about: just do that, and not have it end in romance or sex?)

And while some of these needs might be much easier and quicker to fulfill with a polyamourous lifestyle, for now, I find it worth it to put in a little more effort and honour my wife's desire for monogamy.

And, to be honest, I wonder if polyamorous would really help me meet those needs quicker, as currently a lot of time and energy is consumed by work and kids, leaving little time for friends and dating. Polysaturated at one?
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi Emmerik,

You have made a singular discovery, namely that you do not always need polyamory to meet your needs. Poly is not for everyone, and there are many reasons why monogamy can be the better way. In your case, the reason is because you want to give your fair share to the effort of preserving -- and nurturing -- your marriage. Your wife has tried hard to understand your need for polyamory. Now it is your turn to try to understand her need for monogamy -- and the possibilities of how you might be able to live monogamously, and be happy doing it. What I'm saying, I guess, is, kudos. You are taking the higher road.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

Evie

Kaitiaki
Staff member
What about: feeling attracted, flirt, but don't act on it, and don't feel guilty for that?
Sure, just be careful that the other person understands what you're doing and where your limits are or you could end up inadvertently hurting the person you've been flirting with, or at the very least confusing the hell out of them (I was that flirted with person when I was younger and I had no idea why a married man was flirting with me).

What about: having intimate friend without no romantic of sexual component in it?
Some married couples believe even this is cheating. Clear communication within the monogamous relationship is essential.

What about: solving enmeshment/co-dependency issues to be more myself in this relationship?
I agree this is healthy no matter what the relationship status (open/closed/middling).

What about: having a life and friends outside this relationship?
God I'd hope so, regardless.

What about: rekindling passion in a longterm relationship by spending quality time with eachother?
Again, would be great in either poly or mono relationships.

What about: just do that [the adventure of meeting new people], and not have it end in romance or sex?
Yep, what Kevin said. You do not always need poly to meet your needs. :)
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
- I can feel attracted to others without feeling guilty. (What about: feeling attracted, flirt, but don't act on it, and don't feel guilty for that?)
- I can have more intimate relationships (What about: having intimitate friend without no romantic of sexual component in it?)
- I feel more myself / free / independent (What about: solving enmeshment/co-dependency issues to be more myself in this relationship?)
- I like the different parts that show up when I am around different people (What about: having a life and friends outside this relationship?)
- I enjoy having romance and sex in my life (What about: rekindling passion in a longterm relationship by spending quality time with eachother?)
- I enjoy the excitement and adventure of meeting new people (What about: just do that, and not have it end in romance or sex?)

None of that is esp. poly to me.

For me it's just the need to be comfortable in my own skin.
  • Feeling attracted to others without feeling guilty? Guilty for WHAT? Noticing beauty in the world? Not being dead?
  • I have several flirt friends where we might flirt for kicks but we all know nobody is pursuing anything.
  • I do have close intimate friendships where we don't share romance or sex.
  • I do feel myself/free/independent/living authentically.
  • I do like the different parts of me that show up when I'm around different people. I do have a life and friends outside my marriage.
  • I do spent quality time with DH.
  • I do like meeting new people. I don't have to have it end in romance or sex.
And while some of these needs might be much easier and quicker to fulfill with a polyamourous lifestyle, for now, I find it worth it to put in a little more effort and honour my wife's desire for monogamy.

That's fine.

Maybe she's learned to be relationship shape flexible enough to hear about your poly thoughts and feelings so you aren't going around bottled up and it feels Open enough and more authentic relating with her for you. And you are being relationship flexible enough not to date anyone so it can be Closed enough for her. If it works for you both? Fair enough.

And, to be honest, I wonder if polyamorous would really help me meet those needs quicker, as currently a lot of time and energy is consumed by work and kids, leaving little time for friends and dating. Polysaturated at one?

Dude, I have spent years in that bucket. Because if poly partners weren't here before kids (and then subsequent eldercare) they weren't gonna be added during. The kids and elders take up lots of time and energy and attention. It's only now that kids are older and some of the elders passed away that I feel less crazy than when I first joined here. Entirely possible to be poly saturated at 1. Even at zero, if other life things are demanding your time and attention.

I don't think being actively poly would solve the list above quicker. Because I think those things are an inside job -- nothing to do with poly per se. More to do with being ok in your own skin. And not buying into the idea that marriage is "spouse has to be your everything person so stop having other relationships with other people of any kind."

How is that healthy or balanced living when humans are social creatures?

GG
 

Ostrich

Active member
First, I learned something new today. Disentanglement. I won't get into it here, but after reading the article the OP provided, it explains a few things in DAG's relationship to me.

Second, be honest with yourself. Don't try to submerge any feelings you may have about a relationship or how you feel about others. Recognize and acknowledge those feelings and process them in a healthy manner.

Third, the Four Agreements seem to be good to adopt for ones self. The Four Agreements

You might take a listen to the Multiamory podcasts. While some of the 'casts deal with CNM or ENM, lots of the 'casts cover communication skills and other non-ENM topics.
 

Nowhereman

Member
When I've understood I'm poly, I've got it also, I'll never be in mono rels anymore.

But my therapist reacted when I was describing processing to her: she said she proposed almost the same to her clients - mono-couples. Meaning processing is very helpful in mono rels as well.
 
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