Bad Poly – No Cracker


“You clearly don’t know what poly is, so maybe I should re-evaluated OUR relationship!”

The line that prompted this post.

The line said by the spouse of my best friend.

A line said when he lashed out her, in anger, because she set a boundary.

It’s funny because when she relayed this to me – in tears – I think the steam was starting to come out of my ears.  Why (besides the obvious)?  Because this is a clear cut case of bad poly – or, poly used to try to excuse the selfishness of one partner.

And for me – someone who has experience with good poly both as the partner of a spouse in a poly relationship as well as in a good poly relationship myself, I hate hate HATE seeing someone give poly as a concept a bad name.

Look, I’m not going to go into a situation that is kind of like a stay-at-home mom vs a working mom debate.  I think whatever model works for you and the people in it is critical.  But if it stops working, you have to stop doing it and re-evaluate.  The risk is too great.

And I’m sorry but “it’s because I want this” isn’t the right answer.

It’s the childish answer.

And that, is not poly.

I can only speak to my experience. But poly for me is selfless.  It is communication at a degree that is almost funny to listen to.  It’s about making sure everyone in the relationship is getting what they need.  It doesn’t require friendships all around, but it does require respect.  Respect over the people and their needs – among all partners.  Respect over the relationships and what they do positively to the other relationships.  And it requires caring.  It requires understanding that fair is not always equal and equal is not always fair.

Let’s dive into a few of things.

Poly is selfless.  It’s about understanding that you are not what it is all about.  You are not the one who gets all needs met while others have to compromise.  It means compromising when you need to do it.  It’s about making sure you can balance everyone else’s needs and your own.  It’s about taking into consideration the other partners – internal consideration – and acting upon it.

It’s not about getting upset because others have needs and you don’t want to think about them as it might cut into your “play time”.  It’s not all about you – it’s about everyone.

Which is why communication is required – not basic communication but advanced communication skills.  It’s about being able to speak and listen in a way that communicates where you are at, why something upset you, etc.  And having the ability to listen and work through how to keep it from happening again.  It’s about pushing aside the overly emotional responses of anger – and realizing that in order to make this all work – you have to be willing to hear the hard stuff and respond as an adult.  Not with rage or accusations or blackmail or bullying techniques.

While shit happens and it can happen, it’s also about stepping back after such a bad communication and saying “I’m sorry – that was not fair to you.”  Because if everyone can’t speak freely and honestly in all directions, that’s not good.  It is a prime breeding ground for lying and deception.  And that is NOT poly – that’s cheating.

Making sure everyone is getting what they need is an interesting one as it requires respect.  Let me give you a real world example.  SB has had something happen in his life that is sudden and not easy to process.  Upon hearing this, G’s first response was “if he needs you – you go be there for him. that is the right thing to do – so don’t worry about things here – I’ve got them handled.”  He did not offer this once but three times in the past week.  Why? Because he respects SB.  He respects the relationship we have – and it is the right thing to do to make sure that SB gets the support he needs without worrying that it could cause other issues in the other relationship.  It is respect coupled with the right thing to do.  The human thing to do.

Now where this can go sideways is when one of the partners is always in crisis and is always expecting to have people at their beckon call without issue.  While that is a nice idea, this starts going into squeaky wheel space whereby one partner figures out how to get all of the attention by just being louder.  That is bad poly.

Good poly is alway respecting the other partners.  In that case above, I thanked G repeatedly for being so willing to take on more of the parenting responsibility and such because of what was going on.  I made sure he realized how much I appreciated his respect for my relationship with SB but for the understanding of what was happening.  It’s funny because a few weeks ago when all things were open in terms of where I could be one night, SB weighed into it all with “you know – you should be at home. Not because I don’t want you, but it feels like the right thing for the situation.  I’ll take you home with me if you decide to do that, but I feel that this is a time for being with G.”

So interesting how consideration and respect and communication can go a long LONG way.

In my friend’s case, I don’t know what to advise her.  Close the relationship and fix the core relationship is the logical step, but given her spouse is in the land of the selfish complicates things.  Makes me wonder if he can snap out of it so it can be saved.

All I know it this – poly is not easy. It takes a lot of fucking juggling.  But it has a great reward when it works and all pistons are firing right – with all the different relationships.  When you hit that stride, it feels worth it – it feels like it’s right – it feels good.  And no one is left behind.

For when people start feeling left behind, it can be the beginning of the end especially if no one else notices or cares.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.