joreth: (Purple Mobius)

* I am committed to addressing issues early in order to prevent them from becoming too big to handle.

This is one of my earliest commitments. I've known from a very young age that problems and issues need to be addressed early, and that unaddressed problems merely grow in size until they become insurmountable even if the problem itself is quite small. But one of my weaknesses is that I have a tendency to want to avoid being an imposition. So I am not always clear that something is a problem that needs to be addressed.

I had a partner once, though, who really hammered this lesson home for me. He did not understand that, because of the way I process things internally, by the time I'm willing to mention it at all, it's big enough to be considered an "issue" and something that needs to be addressed. So I had to learn to be clear about these things. I had to learn how to say things like "this is something that kind of bothers me but isn't really a big deal, so if you did something about it, that would be great, but not imperative" and "this is a problem that doesn't bother me all that much right now but you need to prioritize solving this with me before it becomes a serious issue." He needed to know the difference between "I'm just stating something" and "I need some kind of action from you on this".

If I didn't explicitly tell him that I needed a response, then he merely acknowledged that he heard me and moved on. I took "acknowledgment" to mean more than simply "I hear you"; I took it to mean "I accept your request to do something about this". Even if I said "I'd like you to do X that you're not currently doing", he heard that only as a suggestion that he was free to take or leave, not that I was having a problem over which his non-compliance would eventually strain our relationship. So when nothing would get done, I'd only gently remind him in an effort not to become the "nagging girlfriend", which he would continue to merely acknowledge that I said something and still not do anything about it, and it would continue until I finally got pissed off at him and he sat there wondering where all that anger came from, since he never understood that he was supposed to do anything about what I was saying. So I eventually developed the skill of explaining how important to me a response was, what kind of response I was hoping for, and where on the timeline this request fell between annoyance I can live with and relationship implosion.

[ profile] tacit, by the way, is super amazing at guessing when something is a Big Deal even before I recognize it myself that it is a Big Deal. He doesn't have a 100% track record, but he long ago recognized that the very act of stating something is an invitation to explore one's vulnerability, so he tends to take what I say very seriously. Which means that he has, on several occasions, prioritized something just because I happened to mention I would like something done even before I, myself, realized that doing this thing was incredibly important to my happiness and the health of our relationship. But we are both active communicators, and we both have a hard time understanding passive communicators, so if there's going to be a problem understanding a call to action, that's probably where it will be found. This is also a reminder to me to continue to improve my active communication skills.

Date: 12/15/15 11:24 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_171739: (Concertina Stack)
When I was young, in my 20s and doing poly, we saw people with relationship agreements and kind of did one of our own. We kind of had to cringe though when we see what some people had. "No-one else shall call Woman-1 'Kitty' or 'Meow' at her, except for Man-1. No cat related nicknames or terms of endearment shall be used by anybody else." Or "The primary bed used by Man-1 and Woman-1 is a sacred space, and shall never be used for sexual purposes by anybody else except for Man-1 and Woman-1." Etc. Etc.

Now that we're in our 40s and still doing poly, most of our poly relationship agreements are along the lines of "Don't be a dick." Spelled out more is, use protection with other partners, don't bring home STDs, if that does happen deal with it like adults. If interested in another person, let's see if we can all meet before getting involved. After is fine too, if that's how it happens to go. No hiding things because there's no need to hide things...

But a lot of that last part aren't written down mostly because those are the parts about our poly relationship encompassed in "DON'T BE A DICK".

IMHO, relationship agreements are great for people new to poly, because it can help spell out what people want or need in relationships without guesswork. In a standard "monogamy assumed" relationship people can run into mine-fields of "You never said hugging wasn't okay!" "Kissing is okay? But no tongue?" Etc. Etc.

It can also help people who have issues with jealousy. Maybe. Possibly. I dunno though, my gut always says that if someone has issues with jealousy then maybe polyamory just isn't for them. I'm not going to try and convert such a person, mostly because I don't want my rabbit to end up in a stew. ;)

But yeah. Communicate. Don't hide things. If dwelling on something, state "Hey there's something that's been on my mind. Can we talk in a few days?" (Yeah, that goes over as well as "Hey, I have a surprise for you! a few days." ;) )


September 2017

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