Maybe this should be titled "My relationship rules" ?
In my last article I talked about some of the rules I've seen in poly relationships. Here I will talk a bit about the rules I like to have in my relationships. And in a follow-up article I will discuss the rules my relationships have had in the past and how they have worked out.
Being a somewhat logical and anal-retentive person I don't mind rules and in fact enjoy them in some situations. But my belief in the freedom of polyamory is a bit contrary to my fondness for structure. For that reason I really try to minimize the rules I require in a relationship.
Currently the rules I feel I need in a relationship are:
*Honesty. (This is a theme you will hear from me often). This is the first rule I mention because it is the most important to me. I need honesty from every aspect of my relationships and give honesty back at all times.
*Openness. I want to know if something is bugging my partner, and I like to get their advice about things happening in my life and our relationship.
*Respect. With honesty and openness comes the need for respectful conversations. I won't tolerate name calling, yelling, throwing things, etc. (Even polys have fights, right?). We can't solve problems if we aren't communicating like adults so I'll ask that we have the conversation later, when we are calm, if it starts getting ugly.
*Compromise. We will each need to compromise at times. I don't insist someone compromise all the time on everything but I do expect them to be open to compromise. If it becomes apparent someone is unwilling to compromise the relationship will probably end soon.
*Forgiveness. Everyone makes mistakes and relationships are no exception. I know my partners will make some, and so will I. Rather than dwelling on them, lets work it out and move on.
Well, that's it. I don't think that is a big list of rules and although a lot of folks feel those things are assumed in a relationship, I never do. I make them very clear up front during initial conversations I have with a new potential love.
A lot of people, after hearing my rules, are surprised and ask if I have rules about sex, other partners, etc. That's where I talk about the concept of Choices.
I believe rather than rules people should have choices. For example: If my love has sex with someone who I feel is sexually unsafe (exposure to STD's or has an STD for example), then I may choose to not have sex with them again until they are tested. And if they have an ongoing relationship with someone I believe is unsafe then my physical relationship with them will probably end. Of course in the spirit of Openness and Compromise I would be willing to discuss why I think the person is unsafe and allow that my opinion could be changed.
But what I'm not doing here, that I find a lot of people do, is make a rule or try to forbid my love from sleeping with that other person. I would rather they follow their heart and do whatever it is that makes them happy. I would never forbid my love another partner, or limit what they could do with that other partner. I would only let them know that their choices may cause me to make choices. And as much as possible I will let them know ahead of time what choices I may have to make. Although some may look at that as giving my partner an ultimatum or trying to intimidate their decision making, that is honestly not my intent and it is not presented that way in conversations. I truly want them to make their own choices, but I also want them to be aware of the results. Usually if I am contemplating a new love or change in my life I will ask my loves to try and tell me what effect it may have on them and if it will force them to make choices for themselves.
In my experience so far, this approach allows everyone in a relationship to feel they have control over the relationship direction while at the same time enjoying the freedom to do as they wish.
So what do you think of the Choices concept? Yes? No? Or maybe there need to be other rules anyway? What works for you?
Speak up, let me know your thoughts!