Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Integration causes disintegration.
Yay, I have a new partner! Let's make them a part of the family right now!
At a poly event the other night there was an interesting conversation about a MFMF quad that is having a bit of a problem. Apparently one of the men in the quad had recently acquired a new female partner. Being a somewhat close quad they began to try and incorporate this new woman into their quad immediately. To their surprise they found the woman didn't have much interest in incorporating with the family. She seems perfectly content to date the man separate from the quad and have a relationship with him alone.
Interestingly, to the men in the quad that seems to be just fine. It is the two women in the quad who seem to be upset with the idea. They are quite frustrated the new woman doesn't care to interact with them and won't be contributing to the quad. A big part of their frustration is that the man will now be spending time away from the quad to be with his new partner. The result being that one of the women currently in the quad will be left alone at times while everyone else is out on a date.
The question became; what to do when a new partner doesn't want to integrate with an existing poly family?
Actually, I think that is the wrong question to ask. It seems to me the quad has created a paradigm being that anyone new should become a part of the family. Related to that is that nobody wants to be the odd person out, to be sitting home alone. This would be the same problem were it a couple instead of a quad and one of the two found a new partner. The question in my mind is more like; How do we deal with one partner in the quad being out with their new partner.
Or maybe an even better question since the women in the quad seem so unhappy without someone to occupy their time; Are we a closed, fidelitous quad?
When creating our poly lives it is sometimes easy to create a paradigm that supports our desires while protecting us from the undesirable; being alone, not having our partner when we want them, not feeling threatened in our relationships, and on and on. When the paradigm is questioned, such as in the situation mentioned, it is easy to defend it by saying "That's our agreement" or "That's how we have always done things."
When I run into a problem like this in my relationships, where something isn't working or feeling right, I try to question what it is that is actually being challenged. Is it a rule or just a common expectation. And where did that rule or expectation come from. Was it something born of an honest reason or cause, or is it the result of repetition in the current relationship that has morphed into a subconscious expectation. If there isn't a good reason supporting the feeling then a subconscious expectation is likely the cause and the expectation needs to change. That can be a very hard thing to do, almost as hard as changing psychological norms.
The feeling that things are changing and shouldn't be is a trend I have noticed where people resist change they haven't initiated. Couple that with the type of expectation mentioned above and it is easy to see how someone could become defensive and hostile very quickly. The key for me is realizing how the expectation was created and taking a deep breath before examining what is changing.
Tell me your thoughts. Did the quad create their own problem as I believe they may have done or am I on a sailboat with no sail again? Have you ended up with expectations in a relationship due to repetition that were contrary to the relationship goals or design? And, how do you deal with change in your relationships?