Recent events in life have gotten me thinking about how relationships affect each other. I mean all kinds of relationships, and not only polyamorous ones. Of course, the level of intimacy and proximity exacerbates this phenomenon, but it occurs naturally nonetheless, and to think that it does not is simply not reasonable.
The relationships we have affect our mood, thinking, etc and therefore affect our behavior and disposition. The argument you have with a parent, a friend, etc will affect your mood when you see you lover, or vice-versa. The dynamics of all your relationships will affect the others you have, and that will, in turn, effect their other relationships.
Expectations, needs, and the logistics of time-management are a few of the obvious suspects here. How much time do you dedicate to that project at work? How much time do you give your friends who you meet for drinks after work? How much time to just spend with your boyfriend or girlfriend in the evening? And if you have 2 or 3 lovers, how much time, and in what configuration, do you give each?
All of these questions, and the answers you give to them, will affect the other people in your life, as well as the people in theirs. There is simply no way to get around this. Your relationships, even relatively small and non-intimate ones, are not islands. They cannot exist independent of the other ones you have, at least not completely. Even in situations where you may think that no overlap makes sense to consider, because of the way you are affected (perhaps unconsciously) it will have some effect.
Even in situations where monogamous people have love/sex affairs, it does not take long for their partner to notice (or to at least ignore the obvious signs of) the affair. Your mood changes, the way you interact as well, and before you know it things are different, and people are effected. And in this situation it is in the interest of the violator of fidelity to keep these relationships as separate as possible. And yet, it usually fails.
The great thing about polyamory is that, at least ideally, everyone is aware of this issue. We recognize that the decisions we make effect other people in terms of how often we see them, how they feel, and what they will think. To be a responsible, caring, and fair partner, you have to consider how the decisions you make will affect not only the other people in your life, but how those decisions will affect other people in the life of those you choose to be with.
It’s not an easy problem to master. The issues of time-management, meeting of multiple needs (even the ones of people you are not directly connected to), and management of emotions is of paramount importance, and takes communication and practice. These skills are necessary if you intend to make your life more efficient, happy, and to prevent or solve problems that are rife in such complexity. Failure to master, or at least to address openly, these skills is a recipe for disaster in the long run. I know this from experience.
What you do, say, or think about people will affect you, them, and ultimately everyone who is important to them. This idea must be kept in mind, or you risk losing something in what you have. Relationships require maintenance, and sometimes that means maintaining things which are not in your direct interest. It’s like the idea of enlightened self-interest but applied to sets of people, rather than mere individuals. Take care of the community you are in, and the community will take care of you.
Damn, that sounded really hippy. Stupid Quaker schools!
I’ll stop there before I start advising people to have feeling-sharing exercises or something lame like that.
Now, where did I put that granola….