Relationships & Agreements

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.
Rinat­ta Paries

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.

Cur­rent Mood: 🤔con­tem­pla­tive
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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