The Process

I’m work­ing on the first draft of my ver­sion of our “rules of engage­ment” for inter­act­ing with oth­er SOs. sam­bear is going to cre­ate his own ver­sion. Then we’ll work on bring­ing them into one cohe­sive doc­u­ment on which we’re in con­sen­sus. That doc­u­ment will be freely shared with any­one who is mov­ing towards being an SO for either of us.

We’ve dis­cussed these things deeply over the four years we’ve been togeth­er. We were involved with oth­er peo­ple when we met but closed the rela­tion­ship tem­porar­i­ly after about a year. And now that we’re mov­ing towards being active­ly polyamorous again, we’re being real­ly cau­tious and want to be sure that every­body real­ly is agree­ing to the same things and using the same def­i­n­i­tions and so on.

I’ve nev­er had a part­ner who ful­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in this kind of process with me before. It’s great. I have had explic­it agree­ments at oth­er times—my last mar­riage was poly from the begin­ning to the end of the rela­tion­ship. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I came up with my stan­dards, he read it and said, “Yeah, me too” and then pro­ceed­ed to do what­ev­er the hell he felt like at any giv­en moment. The fact that he did­n’t want to come up with his own list should have been a warn­ing sign to me, but hind­sight is 20–20. In oth­er rela­tion­ships, we made explic­it agree­ments but did not write them down. And mem­o­ries tend to drift, and when those issues came up, lat­er on, we had dif­fer­ent rec­ol­lec­tions and inter­pre­ta­tions of those agreements.

We’ve both had bad expe­ri­ences due to assump­tions about implic­it agree­ments, some­one mak­ing a uni­lat­er­al dec­la­ra­tion that com­plete­ly changes a rela­tion­ship, and hon­esty and com­mu­ni­ca­tion issues. So we’re espe­cial­ly aware of those pit­falls. We don’t want to do any­thing to screw up what we have togeth­er. Yes, we are open to lov­ing oth­ers, we want to wel­come oth­er peo­ple into our lives—but we don’t want to screw things up again. That means obey­ing the poly mantra (“com­mu­ni­ca­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion”) and being very clear on what we are agree­ing to.

I’ve got such huge trust issues that any kind of infi­deli­ty (break­ing agree­ments) is sim­ply unfor­giv­able in most sit­u­a­tions (I’m so very much a Scor­pio that it’s way past being fun­ny). So implic­it agree­ments and assump­tions absolute­ly will not work. Play­ing seman­tics games will not work. The best way to avoid mis­un­der­stand­ings that I per­ceive as infi­deli­ty is to be very, very explicit.

I don’t think this will be a fast and easy project. Sam and I have dif­fer­ent back­grounds and very dif­fer­ent stan­dards regard­ing some things. But we’ve run into that in so many ways in the last four years that at least now we have a decent sense of what kinds of things are and are not open to com­pro­mise for each of us.

When you con­sid­er that we have decid­ed that we want explic­it (although obvi­ous­ly not as exten­sive) agree­ments with any new part­ners, I fig­ure there are a fair num­ber of peo­ple who will not want to make the effort to be in rela­tion­ship with us. And that’s okay because if some­one isn’t will­ing to go over that ear­ly and rel­a­tive­ly low hur­dle, it’s unlike­ly that they want­ed to actu­al­ly put in the effort required to have a healthy rela­tion­ship with either of us.

Peo­ple inter­est­ed in being involved with Sam seem to come out of the woodwork—they always have. I guess that isn’t real­ly sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing his extro­ver­sion and his con­nec­tion to Oshun. That does­n’t hap­pen with me. Sam expressed con­cern this morn­ing that I’m being pushed to move the rela­tion­ship into a new phase because of the peo­ple who are inter­est­ed in him. And no, that isn’t actu­al­ly the case. I feel that we’ve been eas­ing toward this new phase for some time, but recent devel­op­ments just make it nec­es­sary to be more overt about it.

I don’t need to be involved with some­one else in order for Sam to be able to be involved with oth­ers. I expect that because he is more out­go­ing and attrac­tive, and is sim­ply more open in every sense of the word, he will always have more part­ners than I ever will. I cer­tain­ly don’t want to seek out oth­er SOs because he might have them—that would be ridicu­lous. In my expe­ri­ence, all the good peo­ple are run off by those kinds of needy inten­tions, and you end up involved with some­one else who is every bit as needy and there’s absolute­ly no chance of a healthy rela­tion­ship devel­op­ing as a result.

I’ve recent­ly been accused of being “self-seek­ing” and “unhealthy” and all kinds of oth­er things because I’m so cautious—of course, that per­son used “indi­vid­ual” as an insult, and saw “seek­ing (her) own per­son­al truth” as a dis­gust­ing endeav­or. I had to won­der how many times this per­son has been reject­ed by “indi­vid­u­als” who are so auda­cious and self-cen­tered as to devel­op and main­tain rea­son­able and firm bound­aries. And I do, in fact, see objec­tions to explic­it agree­ments as a warn­ing. Does any­one actu­al­ly have a good rea­son for want­i­ng to keep things vague and amor­phous or even covert, con­sid­er­ing what’s at stake? I’ve yet to see that work in any kind of deep, healthy, seri­ous­ly inter­twined rela­tion­ship or detailed under­tak­ing. Not even once, whether the peo­ple involved were monog­a­mous or polyamorous or just friends or build­ing an orga­ni­za­tion or a busi­ness. It’s sim­ply stu­pid in my expe­ri­ence, and I’m not about to be will­ful­ly stupid.

This isn’t easy, though, even with lots of expe­ri­ence and past dis­cus­sions to draw on. Think­ing back and for­ward and try­ing to fig­ure out things like, “Well, when would it be rea­son­able to con­sid­er hav­ing some­one move in with us or vice ver­sa?” or “What exact­ly are we telling the kids and how much are they going to know?” and “What are the pos­si­ble cus­tody impli­ca­tions of dif­fer­ent rela­tion­ships” takes time. And we know these things will change as we change and our fam­i­ly changes, so the whole thing will have to be a liv­ing document. 

Know­ing what oth­er poly peo­ple’s agree­ments are is help­ful because some­times we come on things we haven’t even con­sid­ered yet. Many that I’ve seen deal only with mechan­ics life safe® sex, but some do go much deep­er. Input is appre­ci­at­ed to the extent that any­one feels com­fort­able shar­ing their agree­ments, expe­ri­ences, input, etc.

Cur­rent Mood: 🤔thought­ful
Cur­rent Music: Bare­naked Ladies “When I Fall”
Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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