Hi! I’m guest blogger Phi! This was originally posted back in January 2016 on my blog: ohthatphi.wordpress.com
I’m excited for the opportunity to guest-post here on polyfor.us from the mono/poly perspective. Here, by way of introduction, is some background on how my current relationship works for me:
If you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s someone special in my life. (Cue the fanfare)
But, here’s the fun part, he’s someone special in more than just my life.
That’s right: phi, the poster child for monogamites everywhere, is dating a polyamorous guy. (womp womp)
Soooooo…..once upon a time I wrote this about my take on poly/nonmonogamy/nonpoly. You’ll note this section in particular:
I reserve the right to change my mind. What I’m writing right now is how I feel on April 22, 2015. My thoughts and feelings on this topic have evolved a few times over the past few years and I don’t suffer under the delusion that they cannot evolve again.
Look at my opposable thumb of an outlook!
So – here I am. January 14, 2016. Not even a year later. And shit has changed. Well, sort of.
‘Cause I’m still monogamish. I’m really happy with the relationship I’m currently in and don’t feel any sort of draw or interest in having other relationships. I feel my needs are (more than) sufficiently met and am happy with the one partner and the occasional other rope top, ’cause fuck yeah rope.
Last April I wrote “I need to feel special. I need to feel secure in our relationship.” Back then, I thought that meant that I could not possibly have that feeling in any sort of a polyamorous or non-monogamous setup.
Well, the need itself hasn’t changed. I still need to feel that, and I do. What has changed is my belief that it can’t happen within a non-monogamous relationship structure. Strangely, I’m not experiencing any of the uncomfortable feelings you’d think would come up knowing I’m not the only person that’s special to him. Been trying to figure out why, and the best I can come up with is that I’ve finally learned not to compare relationships.
I mean, yes – occasionally I get those weird little thoughts and moments of sadness but they don’t have to do so much with what he is/might be doing with someone else so much as the regular insecurities/questions that would come up in any nascent relationship, poly or not. “Does he really care about me?” “Is he really thinking about me?” “Do I matter?”
That doesn’t really have anything to do with his other relationships. What that boils down to is how I feel about his relationship with me. When I look at it that way, I can honestly say I feel really good about that. The dude digs me in a far out way. I’m comfortable with that, and him digging someone else in a far out way doesn’t mean that he digs me any less..er….far-outly.
Look, I get it. This is all coming from a pretty confident standpoint. I don’t think I could have felt this way back in April. I wasn’t as confident about myself then as I am now. Certainly not confident enough to catch myself in “comparison” mode and shut it down before my brain goes negative.
So…I know there are others out there who experience similar situations, whether you consider yourself poly or not. Or maybe you’re “new to poly” and trying it out. Or you’re like, soooo poly but you still struggle with the jealousy and insecurity.
I don’t know how well the outlook I’ve taken will help anybody else, but it does seem to be working for me, so I thought I’d …y’know, write it down and share it for anybody who is interested. The one caveat to all of this, however, is this: my partner and his partners are amazing people. I can’t stress enough how much that affects my ability to be in this thing. I am involved with an incredible person who is involved with incredible people. I’m using that word “incredible” with every ounce of its true meaning.
It is hard for me to believe that these people exist outside of my imagination. They’re wonderful and have as much to do with the success of this relationship as my “brain tweaks” that limit my exposure to any emotional discomfort with the poly of it all.
That being said, here are some of the ways I’ve learned to work the non-traditional relationship model based on past mistakes and a whole lot of learning:
1) Ownership of time His time is his time. They are not my nights or their nights. They are all his nights. He gets to choose how he spends them and I get to be excited when they’re with me, not disappointed when they are not. But here’s the thing – my time is my time. I cannot fall into the trap of keeping my calendar open ’cause I’m hoping he’ll make plans with me. We talked about this early on. If a friend asks me to hang out and he and I don’t currently have plans (or reasonable expectations for plans) and I accept, I will not break plans with my friend(s) just because he suddenly becomes available.
Now, trust me…I’ll want to. I’ve wanted to. But this is how I can maintain enough independence so that I don’t become phi stuffing her face with marshmallows and binge-watching Supernatural on a Friday night ’cause i turned down my friends for movie night hoping that he would come through with plans and then didn’t.
2) His other relationships are aspects of his life that aren’t about me. My late husband had, at one point, a full time job, was writing a book, and loved to play shoot-em-up video games. These were all activities he participated in that had nothing to do with me. I didn’t need to know a whole heck of a lot detail about these things. There was stuff we did together, like TV shows we watched, meals we ate, and …okay, well Tony and I didn’t actually do a whole heck of a lot but lay around eating ice cream and watching TV, but that was our thing.
At work he did whatever it was that made him the boss at work. And in his office he did whatever it was that made him a best-selling author. And on the video games he smashed whatever buttons he smashed to kill all the bad guys. I wasn’t jealous of those things. I didn’t need play-by-plays of those things. I was comfortable with him having aspects of his life that didn’t have to center on me.
So, it’s not that I see my metamours as “jobs” or “hobbies,” it’s that I’m able to not feel threatened by his relationship with them the way I was not threatened by Tony’s relationship with the people he spent 10 hours a day with (or longer during deadlines) in close proximity. Or his writing partner who called himself Tony’s “other wife.”
Ooh…or his daughter. That’s a better example. I was not threatened by Tony having a relationship with his daughter or his mother or his high school girlfriend that he kept in touch with all those years. His relationship with me was separate and different. As is my current partner’s relationship with his other partners. We’re each separate people and he does a really great job managing his time and emotional resources, as far as I’m concerned.
3) No Comparing I touched on this already but this is the piece that makes all the other pieces work. What he does with me is what he does with me. If I start to think “Well, he does XXX with so-and-so,” I’m already losing. I can compare myself to myself and that’s it.
So, for example, let’s say our time together starts off super ropey. Like, rope scenes every week. And then for a few weeks, he doesn’t even unpack the rope. I can say, “Hey, so I noticed we used to do a lot of rope stuff and now not so much…what’s up with that?”
But not “Hey, so you haven’t done rope stuff with me in three weeks but I noticed you did rope stuff with your other partner at the party last night.”
NO. What he does with someone else is not between him and me. What he does with me is between him and me. I can’t stress enough the importance of really getting to this place. About a month ago I was struggling because I was comparing something and it was my very good friend who called me out on it. Took me a little while to let this sink in, but since it has I have been so good about keeping things in this perspective.
4) Allocation of responsibility I’m monogamish. My responsibilities, relationship-wise, are to my one partner and to be a good human. We talked about our needs for a relationship to work and I move forward in good faith with adherence to those needs. He has multiple sets of responsibilities. He has responsibilities between himself and each of his partners separately from those he has with me. All this is his choice and he handles it very, very well.
That means if one of his partners is upset because he XYZ’s with me, it is not my responsibility to fix it. This is reallllllllllllyyyy hard for a recovering codependent, by the way, but it is something I’ve gotten quite good at identifying and working through. And, if I were to feel insecure or slighted because of something he does with one of his other partners, well…it’s not either of their responsibilities to alter or change anything to appease me.
If I have a problem or a question, I will talk to him about it. I will, (because it’s my way), offer a solution for it. And if it’s an agreeable solution, we move forward having left behind the woe-causing incident or emotions.
5) Honesty and Communication There’s no relationship post of any kind that isn’t going to include this. I shouldn’t need to say anything else about this. Or if I do, ask me to point you in the direction of a half-dozen blogs I’ve already written on this topic. Or a thousand others anywhere on Fetlife and the Internet and Beyond.
6) Appreciation Every day that this relationship works is a good day. Seriously, I am not laboring under the “happily ever after” goal. I care deeply for this man and vice versa, but that doesn’t mean this is going to work forever and ever and ever. We both know that at some point, I might realize that I can no longer handle being in a relationship like this. We talked about that. In the spirit of open and honest communication (see above) we had to acknowledge it as a possibility.
When I’ve said something to that effect to other people there are some that furrow their brows and think me a pessimist because I say “relationships don’t last forever.” And then I remind them that I’m a widow.
To be honest, thinking about it right now, I wonder if that experience is at the root of all of this rational outlook that is making this work. I did have my happily ever after once upon a time. And it ended. Suddenly and unexpectedly.
I survived it.
There’s no doubt that my experience put a lot of stuff in perspective with regard to life and happiness and priorities.
Everything will end, eventually – whether it lasts five weeks or fifty years. None of us are gonna get out of life alive. So I will appreciate the fuck out of every day that I feel happy and loved and fulfilled, whether it’s on my own or in a relationship.
It just so happens that the person who makes me feel that way has a knack for it. So much so, that I’m not the only one to benefit from his incredible talent. I appreciate him. I know his other partners appreciate him too.
And you know what? I really appreciate them.
7) Relationship with the metamours About a month ago there were a lot of blogs posted (on fetlife) about whose responsibility it was to reach out to build a relationship between metamours. Was it the “new” partner’s responsibility to reach out to the primary? Was it the primary’s choice whether or not a relationship was even desired or expected? I did write something about it at the time, but this whole thing was still very new, so I kept quiet because, though it had nothing to do with my current situation, I didn’t want it to be misinterpreted by anybody involved.
It’s super awesome that both the other people in my partner’s life are super awesome. They’re mature, thoughtful, caring, and genuine people. What can I say? The guy’s got great taste. I’ve gotten to know one a bit more than the other because that’s just the way things have gone. We have more opportunity to spend time together, so we do.
In an ideal world, all your partners’ partners would be supercool awesome people like mine. It doesn’t always happen. This goes back to the idea of “allocation of responsibility.” My responsibility is to my partner and to be a good human. I do my best every day to do this. If my version of a good human makes somebody else uncomfortable, then we would just individually be good humans separately from each other.
That being said, I have had the experience of being in a poly-type relationship with a metamour who was not a good human. That relationship did not last. It would have been fine (perhaps) if we’d just agreed to never spend time together, but there was an insistence on his part and a little bit on hers that we force a friendship, and the whole thing fell apart.
If your partners don’t get along with each other, don’t force them to. I mean, that seems like common sense – but…yeah. It’s just a bad idea and probably a breeding ground for passive aggression and manipulation that is just poison to a healthy relationship.
That’s just my opinion, though.
As, of course, all of this is. I could be full of shit. The monogamish gal writing a post on how to poly. Puh-LEESE.
Like I said, this is how it’s working for me on January 14, 2016. I reserve the right to change my mind, my methods, or my outlook on any and all of this as I see fit.
It’s my life, after all.