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Sunday, October 24, 2010

I want to become one with you!

When people get excited sometimes that excitement is manifested in a rush to get things done. They hustle to the store to get the new Justin Bieber CD, rush to the big sale, rush to happy hour. Other times they cut corners, maybe putting off an errand to get to happy hour or waiting to pay the electric bill so they can afford the new LCD TV.

Sometimes Poly people get excited and rush things too. The new partner finally shows up in their life, everything looks perfect, and they want to incorporate them into their lives RIGHT NOW! Heck, I have felt that way before as have many of the people I know.

My advice to you; slow down. But then, you aren't going to take that advice are you because NRE is blinding you right now. Beside, I wouldn't have an article to write if you did.

So lets talk about quickly incorporating a new person into your life. There are probably a few things to keep in mind.

Don't cut corners.
It may be tempting to overlook things with that new relationship. Maybe you find out the person doesn't shower every day and it bugs you. Maybe they leave the sink full of dirty dishes which annoys you a bit. Don't make the mistake of overlooking those things just to facilitate the relationship. Those are the little things that can come back later and bite you. I'm not saying make a big deal or keep score or anything like that. In any relationship you always pick your battles. What I'm saying is don't dismiss them completely in the interest of merging your life with the new person.

Don't terraform.
You know what that is right? The destruction of an existing environment for the purpose of creating a new one. (Yes, that is a rough definition, don't quote me). In other words, don't destroy your current life just to fit in the new person. Don't throw out all your stuff to make room for theirs, don't empty your bank account to move them in or remodel the house, don't quit your friends or support groups because you think your life is done growing. Be sensible and make realistic changes. Expect the new partner to accept some of your life just as you try to accommodate theirs.

That brings me to the big one if you have an existing partner and are adding a new partner; protect what you already have.
Adding a new partner to an existing relationship can be a challenge for anyone. Even when the existing relationship is well established and time tested. Jealousy and other emotions can suddenly erupt where they hadn't been seen before.
Here are some ideas for managing things when quickly integrating a new partner without cutting corners:
-Have a meeting. Get everyone together to talk but don't just do it once. Plan a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly get together. Have dinner, have breakfast, do a picnic in the park, whatever. I wouldn't recommend doing it less than monthly whatever you do. Try to have the meeting in a quiet, private place without distractions. Make it clear that you want the meeting to be a 'family meeting' where everyone can talk about anything on their mind to make sure things are going smoothly and work out any potential issues.

-Have a family calendar in a convenient location for everyone. Use it for scheduling between partners if necessary. Also use it for important events, dates, etc. What you are trying to avoid is one partner planning to cook dinner for everyone only to find out at the last minute the other two have planned a date together. Not good. Or someone assumed someone else would be home to watch the kids. Again, not good.

-Designate space. Don't just assume your new partner will "fit their stuff in somewhere". The new partner may feel uncomfortable trying to find space for their things. And how would you feel if someone shoved your underwear aside to make room for theirs in the same drawer? Make space in drawers and closets for the new person and let them know that is their space. And after they move their stuff into the space, respect it. Don't start using their closet to store the kids toys later.

-Assuming you are the hinge in a V relationship; touch base with both partners regularly and privately. Talk to each partner and make sure things are working okay. You are the hinge so you need to facilitate things, right? Try to help with problems and avoid future problems as you can. And when you talk to each of them, do it privately. Often people open up about concerns much easier when the conversation is in private.

Those are just a few things to make your new partner feel welcome as well as make the transition smooth with your existing partner. There are many, many more and anyone who has gone through this before could quite easily write a volume on the topic. At the same time, every situation is different and every person is different. Think about yourself and your partners and make a list, mental or on paper, of the things you can do to make a smooth transition. Revisit the list regularly to remind yourself of the things you should be doing. Encourage your partners to do the same. It may sound a bit silly at first but this is important to you, right? The worst thing that could happen is you will write a list you will never look at again. But even that will get you to thinking about things in the right direction so you can enjoy your wonderful life.

Happy Polyamoring!!

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