Ask for what you want instead of manipulating or hinting or saying nothing. Even the closest of people may not know what each one needs or wants. There is no shame in asking for what you want, and your partner will be grateful for it. It will make his life much easier because you have taken out all the guess work of pleasing you.
Sam and I received an email yesterday in response to our request for feedback on our agreements.
You asked for comments on your document. Personally I think that any relationship that needs that much written requirements has serious problems. If you spend the time to know your partners then you know what they like and dislike and as long as you conduct yourself accordingly there will never be many problems.
As we said before, we are happy to hear feedback, positive or negative. And unless something is just completely irrational, I’ll consider what is said.
In this case, I cannot help but think that the person probably isn’t very old, and almost certainly doesn’t have children whose welfare is affected by their relationships. He/she probably hasn’t lived through the relationship disasters we’ve lived or seen. I have no idea whether or not those suppositions are true, as I’ve never heard of the individual before. He/she is certainly welcome to his/her opinion, and I respect it on those grounds. I don’t, however, agree.
I know that a couple of people have, in the past, protested to Sam that our agreements are far too stifling/controlling. They apparently believed that I imposed those agreements on Sam. I cannot understand why anyone who knows Sam would think that he would permit such a thing to be imposed. If anything, he is especially sensitive to any hint of unilateral declarations and unlikely to allow them because of the abusive relationship with his ex-wife, in which she made all the rules (and changed them at her whim).
(I have found it ironic that in every case, the people who were the loudest detractors were having or subsequently have had relationship problems that would have been avoided had they had specific agreements such as we do. I don’t find their pain amusing, but it is ironic.)
We didn’t start making explicit written agreements until we decided to open our lives to other SOs. I think that the process of coming to a consensus regarding explicit agreements is valuable for any kind of partnership, mono or poly. It is truly vital in poly relationships. Poly relationships are automatically more complex due to the added people involved, and we have almost no role models around us showing us how it’s done.
In our situation, our overriding concern in being actively poly again was being sure that it did not threaten our primary partnership or our family. We’ve experienced too much upheaval in past relationships, and seen worse in other peoples’ lives. Neither of us has any intention of going through another divorce (or similar catastrophe).
Also, Sam wanted written agreements. His memory is like a sieve. Even if we have discussed an issue at length, and come to an agreement, unless he can look at the record of that agreement in writing, he isn’t going to remember it. He doesn’t intentionally violate the agreements—he just doesn’t remember. (I think his Shadow makes sure he doesn’t remember important things at key points sometimes, but that’s his thing to figure out.)
Having the written document also gives us a way to communicate our priorities and agreements to new partners. We aren’t going to forget some key point, because it’s all there. They aren’t going to get sideswiped by something they didn’t understand or anticipate. We want to avoid the kinds of misunderstandings and hurt that happened in past relationships, including our quad. By definition, potential SOs are people for whom we care deeply, and anything we can do to avoid hurting them while being true to ourselves is worthwhile.
Being conscious in our lives and decisions is a major value for us. We look for that in friends, family, and certainly in SOs. It is my experience that those who are living consciously, who are interested in creating good, sustainable relationships, don’t freak out when they see the document we’ve created. In a sense, I suppose it serves as an initial filter. Anybody who runs away from the document isn’t likely to be a good candidate for an SO, anyway.