I’ve learned so much from the time I first started this blog. I really wish I had been better about documenting the lessons I was learning. But regardless I thought I’d jot down some simple do’s and don’ts for navigating open relationships that my partner and I have learned from doing the don’ts first hand. If we had been doing the do’s and avoiding the don’ts all along we would have had a lot less stress but then again we may not have learned anything at all. Just like all the best lessons, these may only be learned the hard way.
As I was writing I started feeling like maybe these should be “try” and “try not to” because after all, we are only human. Even after coming to these realizations, I’m sure my partner and I will both fuck up some more. But to me, it’s not about “doing” polyamory perfectly, it’s about constantly striving to be more conscious and compassionate to yourself and others.
- Try not to ask your met amours for advice about your partner(s). This actually just happened with us. It’s easy to want to talk about something that’s bothering you about one of your partners with another person you’re interested in. It seems like they might be a good person to do this with because after-all they like you, they want what’s best for you, they hopefully know and have met your other partner and they probably have experience that you can draw from right? Wrong, not only does that person probably not want to spend their time getting to know you talking about your other partner but more importantly they are not a neutral party.
- Try not to judge other people’s ways as better. This is one of my biggest pet peeves in the “lifestyle”. People that judge our way of doing poly as less evolved or some bullshit like that. No one’s way is better or worse. We don’t have to do it the same way and just because someone’s relationship doesn’t look like yours or isn’t what you would do, doesn’t mean it’s less valid.
- Try not to make comparisons. My partner and I have run into this a few times. We will meet a couple and think “they seem so secure and they’ve never had problems like we’ve had” or some other irrational thought. But the truth is everyone has their own struggles and their own stuff they’re working through.
- Try not to trust very emotion. Emotions are not rational and just because one arises, doesn’t mean that it’s justified. Just welcome it in, accept it and allow for it to expand and dissolve away before deciding how to act on it.
- Try not to take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. Just remember that everyone is doing what they need to do to learn the lessons they were meant to learn. A friend of mine pointed out that although what others do may not be personal, how they do it can still hurt. So in other words, allow people the freedom to learn what they need to do but stand up for yourself if you feel you’re not being considered or respected.
- Try not to use veto power. I know I know, I used to dismiss articles that were opposed to veto power. but now I realize I don’t even want it. It doesn’t feel good for you or your partner. It shows that you don’t trust your partner’s ability to make decisions that are good for your relationship. So if that’s the case, focus on that instead.
- Try not to attempt to prove anything. It just puts you in opposition with your partner and it makes it harder to see where you agree. I realized it didn’t matter if my partner agrees with me right away or not. I also learned that when I stopped trying to prove I was right (about my partners new love interest for example) he came to his own conclusion (which usually was close to mine) even faster.
- Try not to become rigid in your identity, you could feel differently tomorrow. I read an article once about how polyamory should be thought of as a sliding scale much like the Kinsey scale for sexual orientations. I like this idea because how poly I feel changes based on a lot of factors. I’m not interested in choosing how I want to identify and feeling defined by that. I’m open to changing either way.
- Try not to use spiritual bypassing or pretend what your doing is more highly evolved. Polyamory is not “more evolved” than monogamy. Just because you’re choosing to live this lifestyle as opposed to what society had taught you doesn’t mean that we’re better, more honest, braver etc than people who choose monogamy or some other form of polyamory. In fact, I’m realizing the problems are the same regardless of the relationship style. It’s just different paths, same destination dude.
- Try not to take yourself and every situation so seriously. I do this all the time, less now than I did in the beginning. If my partner was excited about a new love interest I would immediately go to some story about her moving in with us and having his baby and I would freak out. Then he’d go on one date and it was a dud and I’d just feel silly for freaking out about nothing. It’s quite humorous to me now and it feels good to look at it that way.
- Try not to make mountains out of molehills. See above.
- Try not to say insecurity like its a bad thing. I’m thinking about writing a whole post on this. Being insecure at times is totally normal. I’m not saying it’s ideal but it’s normal and not something to be ashamed of. We also shouldn’t shame others when they show their insecurities. It’s actually really fucking brave to admit your scared and we should be encouraging and supportive of ourselves and others when insecurities arise.
- Try not to be hard so on yourself when you find yourself doing all of these above mentioned things. 🙂