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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thanks for sharing!

When was the last time you thanked your primary partner for sharing you with others?

No really. When was the last time you said "Thanks for being so open and sharing me with others"?

You do thank your primary partner, don't you?

I got to thinking about this the other day and while I appreciate the sentiment, I'm not sure I agree with it. I've seen thanking your partner recommended in some poly related books, and heard it from other poly people I know. I've even said it, paraphrased in one form or another, to more than one of the partners I've had in my life.

When I got to thinking about it though I wondered. . . doesn't thanking your primary for sharing imply that they have rights over you? That maybe they don't have to share you with others and it is a choice they have made? That's when I began to think maybe I don't agree with the concept.

At first this sounded like a very Poly thing to do. My partner is being open. They are sharing me with others. It is a beautiful thing that we can enjoy this type of relationship. Many people wouldn't be open to living this way so yes, I probably should thank my partner. Maybe even get some flowers.

Wait, hold on a second, we have a belief violation here.

See, I believe that being poly is inherent in my being. It isn't so much that I'm poly as Poly is what I am. Not being open to the relationship possibilities I can have with anyone just doesn't compute well for me. But that is a part of me, not my partner. I should thank them for letting me be who I am?

After pondering the idea a bit I have come to think that the concept comes from a monogamous mindset of ownership in a committed relationship. It sounds as if it is based in the tradition of believing there is some form of physical ownership in a romantic relationship. Sorry, but it really isn't something I believe in.

At this point I tried flipping things around a bit. How do I feel if my partner thanks me for letting them go on a date? In the past my response has been that they are welcome but don't need to thank me. I'm not the boss of them, they didn't need my permission, nor my approval. I respect them as a person, with all of their particular and peculiar needs, wants, and desires.

Where does this leave me? Honestly, with the same mixed feelings I had when I first started writing this article. I've had no epiphanies or change of heart. Although I don't think it necessary to thank your partner for allowing you to date someone else, I also don't think it is a bad idea. The next time I thank my partner, instead of simply saying "Thanks for letting me go on a date" maybe I'll say something like, "Thank you for letting me be who I am without trying to change me".  In that way I can show appreciation without implying control or ownership. And I do think it is important to let your partner know that their participation in your lifestyle is recognized and appreciated.

Where are you at with this one? Do you thank your partner for letting you date others? And if so, do you feel there is implied permission with the gratitude?


  1. So would someone thank their partner for allowing them to share parenting of their children? Sounds ridiculous. And you are right, the idea of thanking a partner for allowing me to do what is perfectly natural for me, is ridiculous. I don't thank them for letting me go to the toilet. I don't thank them for letting me eat or have a coffee. I don't thank them for letting me breathe - all things I do naturally as part of being me.

  2. Trisk,
    Thanks for the comment :)

    I think there may be a balance here. A way to show appreciation to your partner without implying a level of control that doesn't exist. That is probably something that will be a bit different for everyone.


  3. You know, you're having a relationship with this person who you choose to call your "primary" that is unlike the normal narrative of a relationship. For example (and this is just an example), if you have kids, it is generally expected that you will be home in the evenings to help raise them. You are not doing that if you are dating several nights a week and spending the rest of the evenings surfing OKC or fantasizing about your potential girlfriends. Guess what? Same goes if you don't have kids. How much time do you actually spend fostering a relationship with your primary? If it is only a few hours a week, why bother calling it a primary relationship at all? At that point, it is just sharing expenses. So, yes, I do think that you should thank your primary for sharing you, because as much as I would love to believe the poly hype that more love is always better, it does dilute the quality of the actual relationship which is a very different thing than "love" or "emotions" or whatever else the poly narrative insists are "relationships".

  4. I thank my primary often for many things. I thank him for things he does which make my life easier, dishes, laundry, etc. I thank him for his support and encouragement. But mostly I thank him for allowing me to be me. For allowing me the freedom to love how I see fit. I don't feel like I am thanking him for his "permission" (which is how it seems you are viewing this expression of thanks). I am thanking him for his acceptance, support and unconditional love. For his trust in me and his trust in my other loves. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude every day to have him in my life. So I thank him, for just being him and for just being here with me on this journey.

  5. bymyfingernails,

    Thanks for the comment!

    I think your perspective is just right; expressed thanks shouldn't be for 'permission' but rather for the support received. Exactly the point I was making in the article which seems to be in opposition to some books and lectures I have heard.