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More Than Two 4.4

What do I bring to the table for others?

Questions like this require me to promote myself a bit and I am not very good at that, but let me try.

Passion:  If something or someone strikes my fancy, I tend to get very into it/them. I will, at least for awhile, talk to the moon and stars about it/them.  I don’t do things half-heartedly.  This has resulted in a near encyclopedic knowledge of some weird subjects.

Cooking skills:  I am a pretty decent cook/baker.  Tell me your dietary preferences/restrictions and I can make something you’ll probably really enjoy.

Humor:  I have a dry, British sense of humor.  It can verge on dark and sometimes morbid, but I can laugh about it.

Research skills: Tell me what you want to know and I can find it for you.  I am really good at using the resources at my disposal and forming the right questions and keywords to find out basically whatever I want to know.

Emotional awareness: I have a decent understanding of how my emotions manifest in my head and in my body, so I can tell you how something makes me feel.

Loyalty: I am very loyal to my partners.  I will tell you if I think something is a bad idea.  I will support you and your endeavors, even if I disagree with them.  I will talk about your charms to the people I care about.

Openness: I don’t believe in hiding the people I date, from each other or from other people I care about.  The only places I’m closeted are at work (even so, I have a picture of me and my partners at my desk and would be honest if anyone ever asked me about it) and to my extended family (working on that in therapy right now – it is my plan to change that within the next year or so).

Gah, that’s all I can think of for now.  Maybe will edit to add some later.

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More Than Two 4.3

Are there specific kinds of relationships that I know I’m looking for? Kinds that I know I don’t want?

Right now?  Mostly looking for casual dates – once a month, makeout at parties, occasionally go out for drinks kind of dates.  If we have sex, great.  If not, then no big deal.  I could probably manage another kink-only partner, as long as it was not a every week sort of thing (averaging out maybe once a month or so).

I don’t have room in my emotional brain for heavy duty relationships right now – I have three partners who take up most of my head space right now and even that can seem like too much at some times.  If a casual relationship looks like it is heading in that direction I won’t be entirely opposed to it, but I will lay out what my situation is early on and have a heavy discussion should it ever go in that direction.

In general – I don’t tend to like one night stand type of relationships.  It tends to feel less emotionally intimate and that doesn’t really work for me.  But my threshold for emotionally intimate enough is friends and casual dates – people I can trust in general, but specifically to talk to me if something comes up.  Sometimes I will choose to do “pick up” play type things at certain events, but I don’t make a habit out of it, and it tends to be with people that, if I’m not on that level with, then I could find someone who is very easily.

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More Than Two 4.2

What do I consider essential, indispensable elements of a relationship?

Trust: I need to be able to depend on you to follow through with your words and actions.  I need to know that I can count on you.

Honesty: I need you to tell me the truth.  Sometimes even if you think it will hurt me.  I am not made of china – the only way I can improve myself is to know what I can improve.  This doesn’t mean you have to be mean about it – diplomacy is a valuable skill.

Communication:  I need to know that you will communicate with me about things that come up.  If our plans need to change, if there is a boundary somewhere that has come up, if you don’t want to do something with me, if you’re having a feeling about something and want my help addressing it, I want to know so we can work it out together.

Emotional Labor:  I need to know that I can ask you to take on some things that I can’t handle, for whatever reason.  This doesn’t mean I need you to take on all of my emotional burdens or some of them all of the time – I have a therapist I can talk to things about and I have mechanisms in my own brain for dealing with my emotions.

Desire for Personal Growth:  I need to know that you are working to deal with your own issues and not just letting them stagnate until they become capital P Problems.  I will most certainly help, if you would like help with them or would like someone to run an idea by.  But I cannot and will not do your growth for you.

Affection: I need you to want my company or communication every once in awhile.  I want you to look fondly on me and speak kindly of me.  This tends to grow over time, so I don’t expect it from the get go.

Acknowledgement:  I need to know that I matter to you, that I have a place in your life.  I prefer that I am acknowledged to those people who matter in your life.  I will not be a dirty little secret.  I’ve been there before.  This is not something I can do.

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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 2.6

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.