Maybe this isn't an entirely poly article but then again, maybe it will turn into one.
I'm a happy person. I like to discuss problems and difficulties in my life but don't usually whine a lot. On any given day if you see me at the coffee machine and ask how I am you will get a silly response like "awesome, how are you?" or "Just another day in paradise, you?". I'm not one to just pop out and start complaining about burnt toast, the price of gasoline, or how my knee hurts.
But even the eternally happy, have a day now and then when they want to bitch. A day where they can be the whiner.
The supporter needs to lean on someone once in a while. The listener needs to be heard sometimes. Almost everyone has an off day, or is out of character at times. But I'm not talking about me, I'm talking about others. What do you do when someone you are familiar with is acting out of character? Do you recognize that something isn't quite right and try to be supportive? Or do you have little patience for someone who is acting out of sorts?
What is interesting about being poly is the variety of roles you are sometimes required to play in a day. You may have one partner who is usually always happy but having a down day. You will need to be the supporter, the listener. You may have another partner who is struggling with a problem and you will need to provide wisdom or play devil's advocate. Between all of that, you have your own emotional needs which could be strong on that same day requiring you to find someone to lean on. That's where things get tough.
It is often hard to see past our own needs to support someone else. If you are having a bad day and need support, interaction with your partner needing advice may not go so well. They are wanting to talk about a particular problem and have you focused whereas you are wanting to talk about the bad day you are having. Putting your own problems aside for a few moments to help with theirs can be a challenge.
When in that situation I try to have faith that once I help my partner or friend, they are going to return the favor and help me with what I need. To have a relationship I need to know that support is a two-way street. If I'm always supporting but never being supported I quickly lose interest and feel the relationship is one-sided. When I see that happening I'm usually pretty quick to speak up and ask for support. I think some people don't recognize needs in others easily so I'm willing to make sure I communicate mine and ensure there is no doubt. If I still don't get the support I need things are probably not going to last long.
My message to you today is a simple one. . . support your partners. Try to see past your own needs and help others first. I'm not saying you shouldn't get your needs met, simply that ensuring you are meeting the emotional needs of your partners will go a long way toward maintaining a strong relationship. And letting them go first for once might just mean a lot to them. Once they are done then your needs can be met so don't worry, you won't be left hanging. Have faith.