joreth: (polyamory)
People seem to think that triads are the starter pack to polyamory, when really they're the advanced level. You're trying to jump to the big boss level when you haven't really learned the mechanics of the game yet.

No, seriously, almost everyone who hasn't had a poly relationship yet, and especially those who are "thinking about it" or "trying it out" all opt for the triad model, somehow thinking that because everyone is in a relationship with everyone else, that'll diffuse jealousy. It doesn't. Not only does it *not* work that way, often jealousy gets amplified because it's like this little insulated cyclone where all the emotions just keep whirling around and around among the 3 people with no outlet, no pressure release, and no skills in handling it.

This was my introductory video to a vlogger named Evita, and she covers this pretty well:


In this video, Evita points out that, if you're going to feel jealousy related to your partner having another relationship with someone else, in a triad, that feeling is doubled because TWO of your partners are both having relationships with other people (each other):
"If you've never ever found yourself in a position where you've seen your partner be romantically involved with someone, see your partner be in love with someone, and seen what you're like with your partner being romantically involved with / in love with someone because you have no idea what that looks like for you ... going from never having experienced that to now putting yourself in a dynamic where it's happening *all the time*, right in front of your face, is naive at best and disillusional at worst.

Y'know, thinking that you're just gonna transition into this, going from never seeing it at all to seeing it all the time and you're just gonna be OK with it is super super naive. And most couples go 'oh, we're gonna feel *less* jealousy because we're with the same person' and it's usually the other way around.

Which brings me to my next point. It's usually double the jealousy, not less jealousy. ... Because if you think about it, both of your partners are interacting with someone else and the someone else that they're interacting with is each other. ...
The relationships will not look and feel the same and that is challenging for couples. There's usually what happens is the person coming in gets along much better with one than the other, the relationships do not look the same ... Your relationships are going to look different with the other person but these couples are approaching this going 'we're going to have the same experience' and you're totally totally not."
If you're going to feel jealousy, and remember, jealousy is a composite emotion made up of other emotions like fear of losing something you cherish, insecurity in your own worthiness, being left out - a bunch of really complicated stuff - if you're going to feel jealousy when your partner is with someone else, what do you think will happen with you have *two* partners are are both with someone else (each other)? As Evita points out, when her husband is off with another partner and she feels jealous, it's just regular old jealousy because she isn't emotionally connected or attached to that other person.

But if two of her partners are both off interacting with someone else (each other) at the same time, that's TWO partners she's feeling jealous over. And she might even be feeling different types of jealousy for each one, where her jealousy has different roots for each person. So now it's extra complicated, because regular jealousy wasn't challenging enough?

She later goes on to talk about isolationism as a separate bullet point. Newbies seem to think of triads as a single group relationship, when it's actually 4 relationships that all need to be cared for. There's the 3-person dynamic that is the triad, and then each couple within that triad is its own separate relationship and all of those relationships have to be nurtured and cared for.

A lot of newbies will try to ignore this by only nurturing the triad as a whole and never allowing any couple-time or dyad-nurturing to happen (or, rather, still nurturing the original couple dynamic, but not allowing either half of the original couple to nurture independent relationships with the new third person). Some think that if everything is "equal", if they do everything exactly the same with their third person and never have any differences or any alone-time with her (because it's almost always a her), they won't have to care for those two legs of the triad.

But a triad is more like a 3-legged stool. If you don't care for 2 of the 3 legs or any of the legs at all and focus only on the seat, you're gonna wind up on your ass when the individual legs fail and the whole thing collapses.

Each 2-person dynamic is going to be its own relationship. When your partner is off on their own with another partner, that can leave some people feeling lonely and bereft. So these people are usually encouraged to find themselves - to develop their own friends and hobbies and other partnerships so that they don't lose a piece of themselves when their partner is gone. That's co-dependency, when you feel lost or like you're missing a piece of yourself when your partner is not with you. It's OK to miss someone, but to feel as though you, yourself, are broken, partial, or you're unable to think of what to do with yourself without your partner, that's co-dependency. People in healthy relationships have other interests and other people and other intimate relationships in their lives besides their partner (yes, even healthy monogamous relationships).

So when your partner is off on their own with someone else, and that someone else *is your other partner*, that tends to double the feelings of isolationism because the other important person in your life who you would otherwise turn to while your partner is occupied *is the person your partner is occupied with*.

They don't even have to physically go somewhere and leave you alone. Just the connection that they share between each other can make someone feel left out. One of the most horrible feelings in polyamory is when you're right there, in the same room, watching your loved one share a connection with your other loved one, and feeling that you are not part of that connection, that they are sharing it with each other and not you, and it's right there in your face, reminding you that you aren't connected in that moment.

It's very isolating.

You have to level up to a certain point to gain the skills in relationships to handle this situation, and then you have to do the extra special side quests to gain the fancy armor that makes this situation not problematic and hurtful and needing to be "handled" in the first place.

Jealousy gets doubled when you have two partners to feel jealous about, but feelings of isolation also get doubled when you have two partners interacting with each other to feel isolated from. If you think you can just jump right to that level without learning how to handle your jealousy and fears and communication about that stuff first, you're gonna get slammed when the Big Boss Jealousy walks into the room. Because "if we're just always together and then jealousy won't happen" is not how you learn the skills to handle your jealousy. You have to actually face it, not just attempt to prevent it from ever happening.

Getting tag-teamed with the giant Two-Headed Jealousy Monster and Twin Isolationist Bosses at the same time is the hardest way to learn that. Passing the minor jealousy bosses in stages, where you learn their tactics and weaknesses in smaller, more manageable doses and defeating each one gives you a better weapon and better armor for the next more challenging boss, is how you eventually learn how to pass the giant Two-Headed Jealousy at the end of the game.

Triad relationships take some extra level communication skills, introspection skills, accountability skills, self-sufficiency skills, time management skills, and Relationship Management skills. Maintaining two independent relationships is actually easier on all fronts and, counter-intuitively, how you gain all those skills in the first place.

Newbies talk about wanting "training wheels". This is how they justify treating people as things. "But how are we supposed to learn how to trust people if we don't chain them in and prevent them from doing what we're afraid of?" "But how can we learn how to deal with jealousy without strictly designing our relationships and rigidly policing each other's behaviour so that nobody does anything that will trigger the jealousy?" I say all the time that "training wheels" are a horrible idea when the activity you're trying to learn is how to swim.

You don't jump in the deep end of the poly pool with training wheels. That will just weigh you down. You need water wings that will lift you up and support you while you tread water. Dating separately and learning how to disentangle yourselves and become whole, independent people again are those water wings. This is where you learn the fundamentals of swimming so that when you take the water wings off, you have the muscle memory to help you in the deep water. "Training wheels", in this context, teaches you the wrong lessons, so that you have to unlearn everything you learned with the training wheels *at the same time* you're struggling to learn how to swim. Water wings teaches you exactly those skills you'll be using in the water, just with less at stake. These are the beginning levels where you gain all those extra skill points and extra life-hearts and the fancy armor that protects you against the more powerful villains in the more difficult levels.

Start out dating individually first. A triad will work itself out when y'all are ready for it, not when you set out to make it happen.



"Ooh, that prize looks cool! I want one of those!"

"OK, but you have to defeat the final demon to win the game for that prize."

"Great, where is he, bring him on!"

"Uh, you can't just get to him, you have to go through all of these other levels first, collecting skills and tools that you will need to defeat the big boss demon."

"But I want the prize!!"

"Fine, but you have to defeat the demon first ..."

"Then show me the demon!"

"... and you can't get there until you've mastered the beginning levels first."

"OMG YOU'RE SO MEAN WHY YOU GOTTA GATEKEEP LIKE THAT YOU'RE SCARING AWAY ALL THE NEWBIES WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST PRIZES I'M GONNA GO PLAY THE GAME MY WAY OVER HERE STOP TELLING ME HOW TO PLAY THERE'S NO ONE RIGHT WAY!"

also "hey, other newbies, who else wants the prize at the end and can't get to it? Let's start a group for gamers who just want the prize, where other gamers can't tell us we're wrong!"

- Every #UnicornHunter ever.
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