I'm Kitten, a Neutral Good pansexual poly pagan geek mom living in Seattle, actively searching for new ideas and new connections. I'm a strange mix of experienced and n00b when it comes to poly; I've been actively living the poly lifestyle since 1997, but have lived in mostly small towns, and have kindof stumbled into partners by accident. I have never experienced a poly community...until very recently. This has opened up a whole new world to me, as well as new pitfalls that I'd never been aware of. Join me as I chronicle my journey into this incredibly rewarding lifestyle.
Note: Nicknames or initials will always be used in this blog. If you think you know who I'm referring to, DO NOT call them out by name or use identifying characteristics.
"A slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you." -Dossie Easton
This topic came up in a thread on a poly Facebook group that I’m a member of. I started to respond, and realized pretty quickly that my thoughts on the subject weren’t exactly organized. Apparently I’ve got some strong feelings about this topic, but I haven’t laid them out in an orderly fashion…until now. So prepare for some rambling as I work my way through the tangled landscape that is my brain.
For me and my relationships, I don’t like the term “rules” at all. I greatly prefer the term “boundaries.” But that was a purely emotional reaction, so to start my thought process, I went looking for definitions of the two terms. For “boundary,” I strongly identified with this one:
It’s a military definition, but what’s resonating with me is the idea of defining limits to avoid conflict. Brilliant! That’s exactly what my emotional definition of the term is, as I apply it to my relationships.
When I looked up the definition for “rule,” I discovered exactly why I have such a strong negative emotional reaction to it. Here’s the link (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rule).
The definitions have to do with authority, power, control, restriction, dominion, command…the exact opposite of what I practice in my relationships. There’s a very real discomfort level in my brain at the idea of imposing rules on my partners.
The two defining characteristics of my relationship philosophy are these:
Neither of these characteristics fit with the idea of control, power or restriction. I just can’t Tetris those together, no matter what.
Communication, knowing where my limits are, and accepting that discomfort on my part does NOT constitute an emergency on my partner’s part are key to that kind of freedom in relationships. Yes, I experience insecurity, envy, fear, and all the other emotions that “rules” are supposed to be able to head off. Guess what? They don’t.
And when I’ve experienced those twinges in the past, attempting to stop them by controlling my partners was exactly the wrong way to handle it. All that led to was resentment and pain.
For me, it works much better to examine what’s causing the discomfort. Is it just that I want more time with that partner? Ok, communicate that. Is it that I’m noticing the dynamics changing between me and my partner, and I’m not liking it? Talk to them, find out if it’s in my head or if things ARE changing. Is it that their actions aren’t matching their words? Sit down and have a heart-to-heart to find out what’s going on.
The bottom line is that avoiding the issue is never the right answer for me. If something is making me uncomfortable, I need to understand why and fix it. And sometimes, fixing it means that the relationship needs to change, and in some cases, end. Imposing rules in an attempt to force a fix has only ever been a delaying tactic, never a solution.
If I had to choose a single word to describe my relationship style, it’s freedom. And that applies equally to me and to my partners. They are free to go where they will, as am I.
There is no room in that concept for rules, only requests.
I do apologize if this post comes across in any way as condescending; that is most certainly NOT the intent. This is only what I’ve learned that works for ME. Poly is what you make of it…and the beauty of this relationship structure is that it’s different for each person practicing it.
If rules are working for you and your partners, more power to you. They just don’t work, in any way, shape or form, for me.