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More Than Two 3.0

(Chapter 3 questions are all asked in the context of ones to ask to evaluate whether your choices are ethical.)
Have I disclosed all relevant information to everyone affected by my decision?
Have I sought input from everyone affected? Have I obtained their consent where my decision overlaps their personal boundaries?
Does my decision impose obligations or expectations on others without their input or consent?
Am I seeking to have my needs met at the expense of the well-being of others?
Am I imposing consequences that will make others feel unsafe saying no to me?
Am I offering others the same consideration I expect from them?

Because these questions all are supposed to pertain to a specific act or choice, I don’t think that taking them on individually is going to yield anything that makes any sense as a post. So, I’m going to tackle these as a part of being ethical in one post, then move on to the next chapter.

I prefer to err on the side of receiving too much information – I can filter information in my head, go through what I receive, apply what needs to be applied and store the rest away for storage, or simply integrate it as part of my story with that person or people. But I understand that not everyone is that way. So I try to ask, to figure out what people are comfortable knowing. Then try to make my decisions on what to disclose based on what I know about their comfort levels, or what they have asked to know.

Now, this is not to say that this process always works smoothly. Heck, sometimes I think that figuring out who needs to know what is one of the more technically challenging aspects of polyamory, epsecially when you get into groups with larger numbers.

On an individual level, one of my challenges is drawing the line between “want to know” and “need to know”, especially as some things don’t quite fall into “need to know”, but fall into a higher degree of “want to know” – something that I feel is important for me to know, but perhaps not life-alteringly crucial. Having conversations with my partners about what falls into each category, especially if our definitions don’t quite line up, can be emotionally difficult.

What I want to know generally falls in the category of things like: did you enjoy the date you had with X/what did you do on your date with X?, do you want a or z for dinner?, when you have family in town, what kind of cord do you need for your phone charger?, etc. They are things that aren’t crucial, but are nice to know, so I can do what I can to make things smoother, so I can make accomodations.

The middle category can be tricky to navigate – these are the things that if I find out about them from someone outside our relationship, I’m likely to be upset that I wasn’t told by my partner, which can lead to resentment on my part. Part of that navigation for me is remembering two things: 1. Second hand information is not always reliable, and 2. People forget to say things – information is not always omitted on purpose. But another part is communicating what I feel fits in each category, but sometimes this just happens as it comes up (because I forgot that it was a thing that mattered or because it was a thing I didn’t know mattered, until it came up). I try to tread carefully with regards to this category: what fits here for me, may fit into one of the other categories for someone else.

What I need to know are things that (potentially) affect your health, my health, or our relationship. These are things like: allergies/intolerances, outbreaks, major injuries, medications/drugs that affect how you think/act (the need is mostly to know that this is a thing, rather than what in particular, in most cases), sexual health practices (which includes when sex happens for the first time with new partners, STI test results/regular testing, and safer sex practices), what is in particular foods (to avoid allergens/intolerances), big changes in how you feel about me, schedule changes and events (if they affect when we can get together/whether we can get together), and the addition of new partners (especially regular ones). These are things that can be dealbreakers, so I tend to try to make them very clear to the people I date, preferably as early on as possible, so there’s less room for problems.

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More Than Two 2.8

What happens if I connect with someone in a way that differs from how I want my poly relationship to look? What message does that send to someone who doesn’t fit neatly into my dreams?

I’m not actually sure what this question is asking, but let me take a stab at it anyways.

One of the things I have been coming to terms with recently (through therapy and in my life as it goes) is that each relationship is different and it is ok to treat that relationship differently because of that. Not to say that it is ok to treat any relationship poorly or to neglect it – simply that I will interact with each person in my life differently because the people themselves are different.

But it can be hard to see other relationships and compare, especially if you think yours comes out “worse” in the comparison. It can even be heartbreaking. I feel like this is especially true in relationships where there is some degree of entanglement, whether these be between partners, metamours, friends, or family. It can be really hard to remember than comparison can truly be the thief of joy.

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More Than Two 2.7

Am I focusing on an idealized fantasy more than on making organic connections with real people?

Generally, no.

But I would be lying if I said that I haven’t fallen into this trap, focusing on the fantasy of what I’d like a particular relationship to be, rather than what it actually can be. I do engage in this kind of wishful thinking on occasion. Grounding myself on these occasions can be difficult, but I’ve found that reaching out and actually connecting with the person, asking tough questions about what can be with us, can be helpful.

With Grey Sky, I found myself falling into a fantasy: because I was ready to go out and socialize again, maybe I could find an involved relationship with someone who could give of their time as freely as Minx did. So I went into that relationship with a fantasy of what I wanted from a new partner. And like fantasies generally do, some of it came true, which usually makes it worse – the disappointments seem much more intense in light of the bits that did come to fruition. But I got a reality check after a couple months – this could not be what I wanted. Then I had to look hard at what was important for me in an emotionally involved romantic relationship – what I needed, rather than what would be nice. Eventually, I had to let the dream die completely – even the bits that had gone according to the fantasy. Because it could not be.

So, coming into my relationships with Diplomat, and then Lola, I had a better idea of what I needed, so I could relax and converse and let things flow. And they did.

I am working on integrating this into my non-romantic relationships, but there is still some work to be done.

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More Than Two 2.6

When I visualize the kind of relationship I want, how much space does it leave for new partners to shape the relationship to their needs?

Some, I guess? I’m not quite sure how to answer this question.

My visualization tends to come from feeling the people out that I am interested in forming a relationship with, seeing what they are open to and what I can work with. If I think there’s enough there, I give myself some space to plan and some space to dream. If not, I try to let things fade, try to not get my hopes up.

This is why conversation about these kinds of things is important to me. It makes me feel secure in a relationship to know where I fit into things and where there is some flexibility in that.

Ideally, each relationship gets to stand on its own or fall on its own. And each of us plays our part in that.

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More Than Two 2.5

Can I accommodate change, even unexpected change or change I don’t like?

I think I actually mostly answered this in my last post.

But let me see what I can add here.

Can I?  Probably.  Depends on what kind it is and how much change has been happening in my life at that point in time.  Usually I can eventually accommodate it, it just might take awhile.

Will I like the process?  Probably not.

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More Than Two 2.4

If my relationship changes, is that okay?  (Rephrased: If my relationships change, is that okay?)

I don’t know.

On one level, I recognize that relationships change every day. Each word you say, every time you do or don’t do something, the relationship changes in at least a minute way. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, sometimes in a completely neutral way (though I think true neutrality in change in relationships – not a combination of better and worse in varying amounts, but actual neutrality – is not super common).

On another level – change is fucking scary. Especially for someone with my sensitivity and neurodivergence. Change is disruptive to my existence and that can throw everything off. Sometimes things need to be disrupted to become better though.

I feel like my relationships are all changing right now and it more than worries me regularly. I’m trying to find some sort of anchor of solidness, something I can hang my hat on (to mix metaphors). And I’m having some issues with that, especially because my relationship with the idea of what I want to do with my life is changing as well. Some things are finding solidness and a comfortable space – my gender identity being one of them – but more than that, I’m scared of the changes that may be coming. I’m scared of shaking up my own life, of disrupting what is comfortable.

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More Than Two 2.3

Am I flexible in what I’m looking for?

In general?  Yes.  What I’m looking for out of given relationships?  Perhaps less so.

I look for what fits me at that time.  If I’m looking for something more involved/entangled, and someone can only commit a day or two each month or every other month, that’s not going to work for me.  I tried it and it made me very unhappy because I wanted more time with them than they had to give and I reached the end of my flexibility.  

However, if I’m looking for something less involved or entangled (for whatever reason), then that kind of relationship works just fine for me.  Heck, I have one of those right now.  We talked at the very beginning of things and made it mutually clear that we were both a bit short on time and otherwise involved, but that it was worth seeing each other every once in awhile (has been panning out to 1-2 times per month so far, and that’s been great).
At this point in time, I’m not sure what I could do – I’m swamped in the high involvement/entanglement slots and very tentative about any other slots.  So, now I flirt.  And I have conversations.  And occasionally have makeout sessions.  Without the intent of it going anywhere.  Which is kind of nice.