Time to communicate: when shit gets real September 23, 2013Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory.
Tags: communication, relationships
So, anyone who tells you that polyamory is always easy is lying. I mean, the rewards, when it works out, are amaze-balls, but it requires a lot of work. And sometimes that work is really really hard. And scary. And utterly terrifying and real.
But, you know what makes it harder? Feelings. (Aren’t you glad I didn’t say “feels”? Yeah, well too bad because I said it anyway). I mean, all the warm fuzzies and sexy feelings from meeting someone new and awesome are great, and I love meeting awesome people that I like. Seeing your partners happy is a really nice thing as well, and seeing the people in my life continue to grow, mature, and learn about themselves is a wonderful thing (go us!). There are aspects of relationships, poly or not, which are wonderful. I would never not maintain relationships because it’s hard to do so.
I’m capable of allowing my partners to pursue what they want and need, and am doing so. The happiness that they get from their other relationships are not negotiable; they are part of those people, and I could not love them as they are (that is, authentically) if they were not also with those other partners. The rewards are being with those people I love, no matter who else they love.
But then there are things like anxiety and other fun things that come up when shit gets complicated. You know, like when the woman you are really into has a boyfriend who is new to and unsure about polyamory, and you feel like a total shit for making him feel terrible for fucking their shit up. That, coupled with the fact that the woman you are totes into is totes into you and doesn’t think she can go back to just being exclusive with her long term partner, largely because she has never really wanted monogamy. And then the time you meet is, perhaps, not the most ideal and it leads to shit getting real.
I don’t try to proselytize polyamory by meeting awesome women in monogamous/monogamish relationships,, or really at all. In this case, it just happened that way due to a random set of circumstances that lined up the right way (or wrong way, perhaps, from another point of view). I’ve never dealt with this type of situation before. I’ve met monogamously inclined single women that I liked (that didn’t work out), but not polyamorously inclined women in a relationship with a monogamously-inclined partner. I’m sure I’m not the first, but it’s new to me so I am trying to tread carefully.
After long conversations late into the wee hours of the night, it became clear that there is no clean way out of this situation. Sometimes, we can’t go just back to the way things were. Sometimes, to go forward involves changing everything, whether in good or bad ways. If circumstances were a little different, I might just walk away and let them repair their relationship, but I’m not sure that’s possible anyway. So I’m not just walking away, because I like her too much, and she likes me too much. At this point, the damage has been done, so it’s a matter of how we are going to re-build the boundaries. And it might mean that I might have to not be part of it, which I don’t prefer but have to accept as a reality.
This is where communication is most important. There are people hurt right now, and it’s partially (largely) my fault, but it cannot simply be ignored. Communication will be awkward, terrifying, and nerves will be raw. But it must be done. As I write this, I’m starting lines of communication with the boyfriend. I don’t know where it will lead, if it will be awful or fine, and I am all kinds of nervous. I’m nervous to not come across as threatening, aggressive, or flippant. I am also impressed that he’s willing to talk, despite his obvious discomfort. But it must be done.
For the sake of the woman in question (who will still remain unnamed), so that she does not have to keep mediating all of the conversation, we have to be adults and talk this out. It probably will not be fun, but it is necessary.
If there is a take away from this post, it is this. Make the effort to talk about the problems which exist as early as you can. Relationships are hard, and you should communicate all of your preferences, desires, fears, etc. Communication may not lead to the solution you want, but it will avoid the worst case scenarios that come about by ignoring the problems.
So, here’s to being adults!
Off I go….