(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.