November 16, 2011

My Poly

To help me identify what I need to get out of a relationship and what I'm willing to invest into a relationship, I have found the Polyamory Compatibility Questionnaire to be a useful tool in helping articulate my ideals. However, I am careful not to let my ideals dictate my decisions since ideals are generally unrealistic in that they are one-sided and exacting. So instead of trying to force my relationship to fit my ideals, I determine where my ideals fit into the relationship (through negotiation), including where I'm willing to compromise and where I am not. (And I highly recommend everyone check out the questionnaire! It can be a great tool for monogamous relationships, if you disregard the questions directly related to poly.)

I have two goals for detailing my style of poly here:

1. For my convenience. Since the PCQ is quite long and involved, having my answers summarized is handy. (Though, the summary is fairly long and involved as well. You've been warned. lol)
2. I realize that my relationship choices are unconventional and not necessarily common knowledge. Hopefully, this will give my f-list a better understanding of what I mean when I say I'm polyamorous.

What follows is more thoroughly explained in my PCQ answers. For brevity's sake, I can't include all of it here and so some of the context may not be clear. If there are any questions, I'm happy to answer them.

These are my preferences and not how every poly relationship works and blah blah blah.


Relationship Characteristics

A relationship consists of TWO  people, even if more than two people are romantically involved. Each pair should be able to relate to one another and set boundaries in their individual relationships while taking into consideration the limits of their OSOs (other significant other).

I define polyamory as the practice, desire or acceptance of having the capacity for more than one emotionally intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. It is consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.

I do not need multiple partners nor must I actively pursue them in order to be fulfilled in a relationship. However, a relationship that encourages my individual growth will include the option for non-monogamy since I do not subscribe to most mono-normative thinking.

My ideal relationship is physically, mentally, and emotionally engaging while encouraging individual and collective growth. (This is more thoroughly explained in my PCQ.)

I am comfortable with pursuing for myself and supporting my partners and metamours (my partner's partners) in their pursuit of an unlimited number and type of relationships, from the strictly casual to the fully-entangled. It is up to each person to decide how many and what type of relationships they are able to maintain at any given time. (Originally, this point read 'from the strictly casual to the fully-committed.' Though, I hesitate to use the verbiage 'fully-committed' since it would suggest that I'm not as committed to my casual relationships, which is untrue. Casual relationships require a different set of commitments to which I am no less devoted than any other type of relationship. So thanks to other polys, I have decided to use the gauge of life-entanglement.)

Hierarchy in my poly is descriptive, not prescriptive - meaning the label of primary or secondary, etc is entirely pragmatic and denotes the level of life-entanglement, not the level of importance or the amount of love shared. I prefer to allow a relationship to find it's own amount of entanglement and to consider (with my partner) these labels as the relationship evolves.
  • There is mobility within these labels, ie: a primary could become a secondary and vice versa.
  • These labels are not limited to a single relationship, ie: I can describe more than one relationship as primary or secondary, etc.

Communication

When dealing with a difficult situation, I communicate best when I've had time to write down and analyze my feelings then discuss what I've written with my partner. (This process can take a couple of hours to a couple of days depending on the complexity of the emotions involved.) I do not respond well to threats or ultimatums. I do not make threats or give ultimatums. Also, I am currently learning more about Non-Violent Communication and will most likely work to make it my primary method.

The disclosure agreement with my current partner regarding other relationships involves being responsible for telling him anything that is important to our relationship or that may affect our relationship, ie: safer sex agreements with OSOs or when I've made other plans. He is comfortable with hearing any other details that I'm willing to share and he is encouraged to inquire about anything else he wishes to know with the understanding that there is no obligation to share sensitive information out of respect and privacy for my OSO, ie: explicit descriptions of sex acts with any OSO.

I am comfortable with my partner discussing our mutual issues with trusted confidants (who will not broadcast said issues) whether that is a friend, relative, current OSO, etc.

I avoid making rules in a relationship since they are often set to dictate the actions of a partner. I know that I cannot control anyone but myself. So instead, I describe boundaries based on my needs and values along with the reason for the boundary so that a partner will understand why it's there. The more specific the boundary and reason, the better. So the rule 'Do not lie' becomes the boundary 'I need communication that is open and honest in our relationship because it provides me with XYZ.'
  • Exception: I will agree to/suggest setting a rule to limit/allow a certain behavior under extreme circumstances, ie: trust has been broken and must be rebuilt or one of us is finding it extremely difficult to accept something new. However, the ultimate goal of a rule will always be to work together to phase it out by examining the need for the rule and reducing its restrictions at agreed upon intervals.
Functioning in Relationships

I consider myself to be new-to-poly. I spent two years exploring polyamory intellectually before I started to identify as polyamorous 2.5 years ago. My first poly relationship was with a husband and wife. My relationship with the husband lasted eight months and my relationship with the wife continued for a year and a half after that. During the last six months of my relationship with the wife, I met my current boyfriend of eight months who (currently) identifies as monogamous. He is my first mono partner since I chose poly and I am his first poly partner.

My ideal relationship will last for as long as I am happy and my partner is happy within it. I don't believe the duration of a relationship should be the deciding factor of its success or failure, especially if we shared more joy than sorrow together.  (The majority of my relationships have ended amicably and I would consider them successful for a number of reasons - the fact that they ended amicably being one of them.)

I am not too fond of long-distance relationships and do not function well within them. I would be very reluctant to consider anything more than a casual relationship with someone who isn't within an hour or two of me. I am not fond of the idea of a live-in relationship, either. I value having my own space and consider it essential to my happiness. (I should note that I have never lived with a partner to whom I was fully-entangled so I am speculating based on my personality and accommodation preferences.)

I am not a religious or a spiritual person but can accept and date those that are. (I enjoy intelligent discussions and hearing informed opinions, especially when those opinions differ from my own because it affords me the opportunity to consider another POV. For example, my current partner and I have different political leanings and we have the most interesting and engaging conversations on the subject. It's one of my favorite features of our relationship.)

I am out to my family about being polyamorous, but I am only out to one of my sisters about being pansexual. The majority of my friends know that I am poly and pansexual and the ones that don't know is for lack of opportunity. I am not particularly set on withholding this information from anyone outside of a professional relationship, but I only provide it on a need-to-know basis. Just like I never introduced myself before with, "Hi! I'm monogamous!" I see no reason to now exclaim, "Hey! I'm poly!"

Offspring

I don't have any children nor do I plan on having any children, and I would terminate any unplanned pregnancy. However, I love children and enjoy being around them. (I work with and live with children.) I am comfortable with a partner that has children or is planning to have children (as long as it's not with me) and am willing to be involved in the children's lives that corresponds to the type of commitment I share with my partner, up to and including being referred to as family.

I try not to use absolutes such as 'never' when discussing boundaries but there is little room for negotiation here.

Metamours

I prefer to have some type of relationship with my metamours and for them to have some type of relationship with one another. At the very least, we must be willing to be civil and tolerate each other in our shared partner's life. At most, I am open to becoming physically and/or romantically involved with a metamour if that is how we connect and I am comfortable with them becoming physically and/or romantically involved with one another. I would be uncomfortable if I strongly disliked a metamour or if a metamour strongly disliked me and I would want to discuss the situation further with my partner and possibly the metamour.

I am comfortable with an ex dating a metamour. I would appreciate being made aware of such a relationship since I may want to discuss new boundaries with my partner about what information I am comfortable with being shared with the OSO that is dating my ex.

Conflict Resolution and Breakups

The majority of my romantic relationships end amicably and the exes and I have remained varying degrees of friendly (usually after a 'cooling off' period, but said period is not always needed), which is how I prefer my relationships to end since most of my romantic relationships begin as friendships.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent post thank you! You have inspired me to write out mine, I think now is a good time to write down what I need out of my relationships right now.

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  2. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    I am always interested to know others structure and function within their relationships so if you do decide to write yours out and if you feel like sharing, I'd love to read it :)

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