Can You Hear Me Now?

Everyone knows that communication is essential to good polyamorous relationships. That becomes just a little harder when different partners prefer different platforms – and you have to remember which is which. There’s the partners who text, and the partner who only wants to use Facebook Messenger, and the partner who is on Signal, and the partner who wants to text an alternate number to use Google Voice… and the comet on Hangouts, and the one who sometimes likes Marco Polo or FaceTime but not Skype… and Skype but not FaceTime… and… and…

#polyproblemstheydidnthavein1980

Don’t Throw Good Love After Bad

Q: My relationship just isn’t meeting my needs. But I’ve put so much time/energy/emotion into this, I hate the idea of giving up on that investment. Wouldn’t it be a waste to walk away?

Well, first, take heart that what you have already put into the relationship probably wasn’t a waste. You learned things, you likely had some good times. After all, there was something there that made you want to invest; at some point, it was worthwhile. The more apt question is whether the next piece of resource you put into this relationship will, in fact, be wasted because there’s nothing more to be gained there.

You can’t get the time back, and you can’t get the resources back no matter what you think of the relationship. What you can do is to not put anything more into it if it won’t improve anything — and especially if doing so takes away from your ability to put resources into a more rewarding relationship.

It’s like the joke about the guy who was walking back and forth, looking at the ground. A cop asks what he’s doing. “I lost my keys on 20th Street,” he says. “Why are you looking on 18th?” asks the cop. “Oh, the light’s better here.”

You don’t need to put your energy into where you are; you need to be where the love is. That’s how you keep from wasting your time. Invest in what can grow.

Parts is Parts

That next-door neighbor or person you work with.

Do you know if they still have the tonsils they were born with? Do you care?

Do you know if they still have all the teeth they were born with? Do you care?

Knee? Hip?

…then why do you care if they still have the genitals they were born with?

How Do You Fill Your Boxes?

Why do we form relationships?

There are many reasons, but they can be summed up by the concept of meeting needs. And how many needs you have (and their complexity) may determine what kind of relationships you choose to have.

Let’s say you have 100 need boxes to be filled. A typical primary relationship fills, say, 75. It’s then up to you whether the remaining 25 are important enough to be filled.

Monogamous people say, “Nah, 75 is enough. I can live with the empty 25, and maybe over time, my partner will fill some of the rest.” Polyamorous people find others who can fill at least some of them.

What if you don’t have a primary? Then, one partner may fill 30, another 25, etc. How many partners you take depends on how important it is to have the other boxes filled — recognizing that some will always be empty. The specific array of partners and changes in the lineup determines which boxes get filled at any specific time.

A potential partner might appeal because they fill a few high-need boxes, and so we’re willing to put up with complications like distance or some incompatibilities to get that benefit. People who have a really big need box for companionship, stability, and/or touch may be extra motivated to get a primary.

And yes, some people decide to fill some of their own boxes — or shrink some of them to make that easier. Of course, some boxes might be more resistant to shrinking than others.

But every time we take on a partner, there is a calculus of what boxes they will fill, whether we can manage what’s left — and how.

Upward Dog

I recently spent time with a teacher who works in one of the schools where a shooting occurred. She told the story of that day – and how, days after the incident, the school administration had brought in comfort dogs for the staff and the students.

I had heard the phrase, but hadn’t realized that comfort dogs don’t actively provide comfort. They are trained to accept affection without reacting. They will let you cuddle with them and stroke them and be close to them, but not lick your face or give back in any obvious way. They provide comfort by accepting others’ affection.

So often in human relationships, we hear about people with difficulty receiving affection, who believe that their role is to give and give, as that’s the only way to make sure the other person feels appreciated. They feel lazy or guilty for letting the other person do for them. (And yes, I’m one of those people.)

It’s worth remembering that accepting what someone else has to offer is a gift in itself. That allowing someone to love and respect is as much a sign of affection as offering it yourself.

I’m not much of a dog person. But it looks like even they can teach an old me new tricks.