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Because She Asked

I made a comment on a post written by DDJennifer (https://ddjennifer.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/260-more-mike-jen-kayla-equity-vs-equality/) and she suggested that I copy and paste it into a blog of my own… so here it is:

Methinks some people see the phrase “open marriage” and immediately fear the worst right along with not understanding what this really means. In my first marriage, I went through the “process” from being monogamous to being open to being poly and it was one hell of a trip and experience and while no relationship is immune to the problems inherent in having a relationship, it is about equity more than equality and, as I like to say, being able to adopt a mindset where the relationship is about “us” and not about “me” so much.

And while you can never discount individualism in any relationship, being open is about everyone involved working toward the same goal and with the same shared vision. It’s certainly about the core relationship and the mindset of, “What can we do to make our lives together the best it can be?” and then doing whatever that entails and, importantly, remaining vigilant and determined to make it work.

By the time I got to poly, my god, I learned so much about love, sex, and relationships that it wasn’t funny just as I learned that living and loving like this is actually harder than being monogamous – in this, you only have one person to deal with as opposed to dealing with two or more other people in the mix. I learned that you cannot treat your partners under the auspices of equality – that’s a nightmare waiting to happen that, um, sure, I’d wish that on my worst enemy and it would serve them right for being dumb enough to think that equality, as we understand it, can be easily established. Being open/poly is an investment that requires equity and creating an environment where one and all can flourish and as comfortably as humanly possible.

It’s still not easy to do… but it can be done and once you’ve learned how to live like this, you never want to go back to being monogamous if you can avoid it.

When people would question how and why we were living the way we were, the answer was always, “Because we want to and it just works for us and it makes the most sense.”

Now for the other side of this thing, namely, how people who attempt this get it wrong more often than not.  In previous writing about this topic, I’ve repeatedly said that in order to be in an open relationship, you first have to unlearn everything you’ve ever learned about love, sex, and relationships so you can learn another way to do these things.  Monogamy is mandated and to the point where people who aren’t married carry on relationships as if they were married; the same rules, the same restrictions, and the same problems married folks experience except folks in an unmarried relationship can usually walk away from it without getting any lawyers involved.

One of the other things I learned and, again, said a lot in previous posts on this, is that being in an open and/or poly relationship isn’t for the weak at heart or those folks subject to experiencing and displaying certain negative emotions – jealousy and possessiveness among them; I’ve also said that when considering being open/poly, the rules of monogamy are, in essence, null and void because, duh, you can’t “keep only unto yourself” if you’re considering expanding what will hopefully become what’s known as the core relationship.

And I’ve said that if you don’t think you can do any of the things necessary, don’t even try it.  You see, we barely understand what it takes to be in a relationship with just one person and the tenets of monogamy are hammered into us almost as soon as we are able to understand them and said tenets are assumed to be inviolate and, importantly, the right thing to be done at all times… except, don’t we find out that this doesn’t work as advertised?  I’ve said and asked not to be taken wrong but for many, being monogamous works and works well but for others?  Eh, not so much.

Relationships erode, decay, become stagnant and wind up ending because, seemingly, there’s no recourse or other alternative to breaking up when, in fact, there’s always been another course of action a couple can take:  Open the relationship and more so when it becomes apparent that there are needs that should be taken care of but monogamy (and a few other things) doesn’t allow for any, ah, outside assistance.  People fret over cheating and I’ve read other blogs about this and their authors asking what, if anything can be done to prevent cheating and other than being single and by yourself, the answer is found in yet another thing I’ve said a lot:  It’s better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission… but what if you could get permission?  How does a couple combat the ever-present threat of infidelity?  Remove the mindset that suggests that infidelity is always a bad thing.  The bad part is that getting permission is deemed to be impossible given what we – as a whole – tend to believe.  But getting permission brings a new set of issues, namely, ya just don’t know how to have a relationship that involves more than one person.

But it can be done, as DDJennifer’s blog indicates.  It’s not without some issues but as I said in my comment, it’s about having a shared goal and vision – everyone should be on the same page while doing their best to avoid the negative emotions.  For instance, I read someone’s blog a few weeks ago and the author said that her and her hubby were now in an open relationship (and she asked for it) but there were times when she felt the need to stake out her territory and even admitted that she felt… neglected at times when her hubby and their new female partner would interact. It’s actually a normal kind of reaction, given what we’ve been taught about relationships… but harboring these kinds of feelings can, eventually, slam the door on an open relationship.  You quickly learn some shit that’s hard to process:  The open/poly relationship is about you… but not really and I’ll keep right on saying that in these things, if you are unable to think “us” more than “me,” you’re usually gonna fail in your attempts to find happiness in this arrangement – and an arrangement that’s a lot more involved than just sex, you know, just in case you were of a mind that these things is purely and solely about sex.  Again, it is… but not as a main focus of being open and poly; the purpose of the open relationship is to improve the core relationship or being able to answer this question:

“What can we do to make our lives together the best it can be?”  Sadly, this question is often difficult to answer because we – on the whole – tend to think in terms of what we’re not going to do, even for the sake of love… and as long as your mind is stuck in this place, being open/poly just ain’t gonna work.  I’ve said that being open/poly is even harder than being monogamous and I’m being nice about it when I say it… but it can be done.  As DDJennifer wrote in her blog, being open/poly isn’t about equality – it’s about equity and it’s an investment of the highest order.  I read and know of single folks who are poly and while I’d not say that, for the most part, they’re not successful at having multiple partners, many of them manage their relationships while employing the rules of monogamy and finding that doing this is kinda hard when you don’t have that one person at your side who not only shares this vision but is willing to stick by your side as part of the core relationship.

Which is why it’s my belief that openness and polyamory works best for couples who are already in an established relationship; the core is already present and, importantly, the core partners are secure in their relationship and their love for each other… and even more important, they are dedicated to doing whatever’s necessary to make sure that core relationship lasts as long as humanly possible… and even if that means adding as many other people as they can and implementing a plan that makes sure that everyone involved shares the investment, goals, and vision of the expanded relationship.

Equity… not never equality and I say this because it’s virtually impossible to establish equality when you’re dealing with different personalities as well as different wants and needs and that, my friends, is the really hard part.  You can’t show favoritism and you do your level best to not to try to treat everyone the same way – equally – but according to who they are; if you think communication is important in a “normal” relationship, you can’t begin to believe how very important this becomes when two becomes three or four; if you suck at time management, problem and conflict resolution, um, you’re already behind the eight-ball.

If you’re reading this and you’re thinking that, fuck, this open/poly thing is a pain in the ass, you’d be right – it is and unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.  At the same time, it can be the most liberating thing a couple could do but as I say, you gotta really and seriously be grown up enough to do this.  Like in any other relationship, you’ll have regrets, problems, and other things that make the day-to-day management of the relationship a bitch to deal with and even I’ll admit there were times in my experiences when I asked myself – and a lot – “Why did I agree to do this crazy shit?”  But I’d remember why I did – because it made sense to.

Is there a sure-fire way to do this and have it work?  Uh, no; the bad part is that while there’s a lot of information available as to how to accomplish this, you’re gonna have to find your way in this.  Hell, if I knew the definitive answer to getting it done and correctly so, I’d be rich beyond the dreams of avarice.  What I do know is how not to do this, what the pitfalls are and, if nothing else, what the basics are.

After that, you’re on your own.

So, Jennifer – how did I do?

 
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Posted by on 23 June 2018 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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More About Being Open

I’ve had reason to think about this some more and the one thing I gotta point out that if you’ve opened up your relationship to other folks, um, this ain’t a competition, something I’ve found that causes people to fail in this.  Being open just isn’t about who’s having the most fun or successes and who’s not having that much fun and being successful seems to be a pipe dream.

It’s about experiencing an unorthodox way to grow as individuals and as a couple and turning this into a competition will only foster a lot of resentment.  If your being open isn’t about “us” then I feel you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons; being open is an extension of what you already have and, as such, still requires for your relationship to be worked on… constantly because just like being monogamous, your open relationship will not run all by itself.

Yep, you go open and you start laying down rules and stuff – there’s no way I know of to be open and without a foundation of rules.  However, a lot of people fail in this because they never factor in the fact that things change and when you don’t allow for change in any of this, well, drama will always happen.  And, of course, communication – open and honest communication – becomes even more important because if you’re not in touch with what’s going on in your minds – thoughts, feelings, stuff like that, you are royally fucked if you aren’t able to share everything you’re experiencing in this and no matter if it’s good, bad, or indifferent.

Other than what I like to call Rule Number One – “Always take care of home first” – the next important thing is having a shared vision in this and one that encompasses your whole relationship and not just individual wants and needs.  It’s not that those wants and needs don’t ever form the basis for being open but if you’re not thinking about how your individual wants and need can benefit your relationship as a whole, you’re just not doing it in what I’d have to say is a smart way; if you’re not truly together in this, yep, you’re fucked and not in a good way.

Not only is it not really all that easy to get the ball rolling in this, it’s not easy to get everything “settled in” to where everyone is comfortable; again, this takes work and just will not happen on its own and it most certainly isn’t going to happen quickly – this shit takes time as well as effort and if you’re not of a mind to take/spend the time to make sure things do settle in nicely, you’re doing it wrong in my opinion.  Until y’all get settled in, everything is trial and error and you have to accept that, yep, you’re gonna make mistakes – then the trick is not letting those mistakes make you fail.  If you don’t support each other in this, ya might be doomed because I can’t say it enough:  This ain’t just about you – this is an “us” thing.  How can we be better with and for each other?  How can what we experience in this give us both individual growth as well as continued growth as a couple – and then in as many positive ways as we can manage?

You talk, openly and honestly… and talk some more, and keep talking because it’s not really one’s activities that causes a terminal failure – it’s that lack of effective communication that’ll do it.  Every concern needs to be addressed when it comes up; holding shit back from the discussion is beyond self-defeating.  In the beginning, yeah, it’s kinda easy for resentment to sneak into things and it’s not just one person’s job to deal with this – it takes a combined effort so that any resentment and all those other negative feelings are squashed – and then always keeping in mind that negative feelings are always gonna crop up and you just need a good plan on how to deal with this.

Being open is a terribly severe test of your love for each other as well as the strength and security of your relationship… and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you both become proof against the things that can cause doubt, mistrust, and a lot of other shit that could destroy your relationship.  If you don’t realize that there are a lot of occupational hazards that go along with any kind of relationship, well, I’m telling you that there are.  You just cannot ever question or doubt your love for each other!  Being open, well, it’s not just about the sex that can be had although a lot of people believe this to be true and because they do, they try to go out of their way to prevent feelings of attachment to other folks and, honestly, while this can be done, I personally think it’s a mistake and one that’s self-defeating because, uh, if you’re not allowed to feel anything for someone else other than lust, why are you even bothering to do this?

If you’re gonna experience being open, experience all of it and not just the parts that have the most appeal.  Maybe you think such… extra attachments aren’t supposed to happen and if you do, I’m here today to tell you that being cluelessly in denial about this isn’t going to help at all because if you’re human – and I’m assuming that you are – then you have the ability and capacity to feel something other than lust for someone else – and, yeah, even when you’re already madly in love with your partner.  Love has never been a “one and done” kind of thing but if you think it is, go ahead – keep thinking like that and find out how things will work… or stop working.  When my [then] wife and I first went open, yeah, I was worried sick about her falling in love with someone else and losing her… until I realized that this same thing could happen even if we weren’t open and it didn’t make any sense for us to make rules that served to prevent other feelings from taking place – and, exactly, how does one go about doing that?  You can tell yourself that you’re not gonna fall for someone else… but you just never really know – it’s impossible for you to know and if you do, um, can you pick out all of the winning lottery numbers for me?

Maybe other feelings won’t happen… but you’d better be aware of the fact that they can happen and have a plan, however tentative, for dealing with the probability of this.  Know that even if you or your partner begin to feel things other than lust for someone else, that doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed or that you’re gonna suffer loss because, bluntly and honestly, if you have fears of loss, you need to not be doing this and maybe shouldn’t be in a relationship at all:  Nothing is forever.  If you dare to love, you also accept the risk of loss… but you don’t have to fear it.  Prevent it, yes; let the fear of loss drive things?  I wouldn’t do that…

Okay, time for me to get off my soapbox and find something else to do…

 
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Posted by on 3 June 2015 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

I haven’t written much about this lately and after reading a blog written by a guy about being able to deal with things like trust, fear of loss, and jealousy in (I presume) their budding poly relationship, I got to wondering about a few things connected with this.

For a lot of people, having an open relationship is anathema to them; the thought of having to share their partner with someone else is enough to trigger projectile vomiting and can make one’s bowels quite watery.  I cannot begin to give voice to all of the horrible thoughts going on in someone’s head when faced with this drastic change in the relationship dynamic and I’d have to say that, usually, if someone put this on the table for discussion, a shit storm of biblical proportions is going to take place.  Things like a lack of trust, that fear of loss, jealousy, insecurity, and a few intangible emotions come to the front and I can tell you that none of these things feel good, not when you were raised to believe that monogamy is the best and most right thing.

A lot of people totally and utter fail to open their relationship because they have no idea of what has to be done in order to make it work; it requires some very serious changes, not only in the relationship’s dynamics but at the person level and once you firmly (and even rabidly) believe in monogamy, making these changes can seem to be impossible… and it’s not impossible… it’s just very damned difficult for most people to do.

Here’s the rub:  If you love them – and I mean you really love them and, going into the relationship, you know in your heart that you (a) love them unconditionally (most people can’t do this, by the way – there’s always a “but” somewhere) and (b) you know that short of doing something highly illegal – like committing murder – you’d do anything for them, when hit with the open relationship/swinger/polyamory things, you have some choices:  Do nothing and let whatever is driving this change continue to poison the relationship; divorce or otherwise leave them because your personal values are more important than the joined goals of living long and prospering with each other come hell or high water; or you can improvise, adapt, and overcome the difficulties in this because your love for each other demands that doing nothing or dissolving the relationship is not in the best interest of things for either one of you.

As I’ve written about in the past, I had to get through this change in the relationship dynamic and it wasn’t even close to being easy to do.  I learned that instead of approaching this from a purely emotional standpoint – and that’s the “normal” reaction, I had to approach this in a way that would bring every bit of intelligence and logic I possessed to bear.  Once I got over the initial emotional tidal wave, I asked myself a question:  “If you love her (and there was no question whether I did or not), what are you willing to do to keep her and to keep the relationship alive and as well as possible?”  The emotional side said, “Not one damned thing!” and went on a rant about being betrayed and all that… but the intelligent side said, “Well, now, there is a way this could work and here’s what I’m thinking about…”

Was this a trust issue?  Nah, not really because I’d routinely trust her with my life and not give much thought about it.  Was this about fear of loss?  Oh, hell, yeah it was!  Emotionally, my gods, that’s a bitch (putting it mildly) to have hammering at your but, logically, I realized that I was getting upset about something that is an occupational hazard of being in a relationship with someone:  There is no guarantee (and despite marriage vows) that you cannot lose them to someone else and, really, nothing is forever – everything ends at some point.  For me, it became an issue of whether or not I wanted to continue to be bothered by this fear when, in the face of cold, hard, unemotional, logic, there’s not a whole lot I can do about loss other than do whatever I could to prevent a premature loss or, if I did lose her to someone else, it wasn’t going to be because I did (or didn’t do) something to precipitate it.  And, my mother was quite right when she once told me, “There is always someone out there better than you…” and, yep, emotionally that is so fucked up to get a grip on but, logically, it makes sense so if you think that just because you vowed to keep only unto ourselves and this will prevent this loss, you’re just sadly mistaken and pretty damned arrogant to believe that you will always be everything they’re ever going to need in life.

But because we do tend to think like this, we’re ill-prepared to deal with things; there’s the way things in this are supposed to be… and then there’s life’s harsh reality that’ll let you know that you are really clueless if you really believe that something can’t change or shouldn’t.

Was my reaction a jealous one?  I’ll eat a little crow at this point and say it probably was even though, in my mind, it didn’t “feel” that way.  Was I pissed because she wanted more than I alone could give her?  Damned right I was!  Was I scared and worried about what would happen if I didn’t “cave in” to her demands?  Oh, you just have no idea and even I can’t begin to put into words what was going on inside me.  I asked myself, “What’s going on with you about this?” and, nope, it wasn’t an easy question to answer but I had to question whether I was more insecure than I believed myself to be – emotionally, the answer was, “No fucking way!” but, intelligently, the answer was, “Yeah, you are…” and then figure out how to banish jealousy or anything that resembled it because as long as I was feeling these things, all the other fears would just feed off of it.

I can “simplify” this:  Emotionally, does changing the dynamic make sense?  Nope, it doesn’t.  Does it make sense logically?  Yes, the logic isn’t all that hard to figure out:  If you don’t, you’re gonna lose them because you’re either going to leave them or they’re gonna leave you and if you forbid this, fuck, they’re just gonna do it anyway.  If you do, yeah, you could still lose them – remember, there’s always someone better than you and nothing is forever – but, ah, is there a way to do this and (a) keep them by your side (b) make the bond you share stronger while (c) not letting everything go down the drain?  Yeah, there is but even when the logic is sound – and in order for it to be sound, it cannot be tainted with emotional input – there’s still one very important thing that must be done:

Communicate.  And I mean communicate like you’ve never done it before and you’d better be ready to talk about shit that (a) couples somehow never really talk about in-depth and (b) that just pain cause you some emotional pain along the way.  And this is just in the beginning – should things get off the ground, communication becomes even more important and any failure in this is, bluntly, just gonna fuck all your shit up.  I know some folks get into the open/poly thing and invoke “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and this is an act of self-preservation… and a mistake that shouldn’t be made.  Through our communication process, I saw that while this push to be open was “about her,” there was a way to make this about “us” – it was something we could experience together and I worked out the “growth factors” and some other really deep shit – but the thing here is that if we didn’t redefine the meaning of “open communication,” then I would have no information to work with; were I to invoke DADT, I was really disconnecting myself from everything and then only to preserve my own sensibilities.

Emotionally, that makes sense… but intelligently/logically, it doesn’t – well, it didn’t to me because I’ll admit to being a bit of a control freak and the fear of not having any “control” over the whole thing scared me more than anything else did.  The real challenges for both of us were (a) are we smart enough to make this work and (b) are we – can we – be grown up enough to not only make it work but make it a thing about us instead of just a me thing.

You improvise, adapt, and overcome because if you don’t, you will make your lives miserable at the least or lose them at the worst.  There are many people who just cannot do this; their own mindset about love and monogamy can instantly put them in a defensive posture.  I’ve heard other who have been faced with this accuse the asking partner of being selfish – they’re only thinking about themselves – and being greedy – what, I’m not enough for you? – and one of the things that has to be taken into consideration – logically, not emotionally – is whether or not your rejection of this is, in fact, you being selfish and only thinking about yourself.  Of course, most of us wouldn’t think that we’re being selfish if we pitched a royal bitch about this but, yeah, step back from the emotional storm for a moment and then think about what you’re seeing.

This is not an easy thing to do and I strongly suggest to anyone thinking about doing this not to do it unless you seriously have your shit in order before you open your mouth to your partner about it.  But if you believe your shit is together and your love for your partner is strong and true and you can argue logically and your logic – your overall plan – is sound  and you are willing and able to talk about everything that has to be talked about, then together you will be able to improve, adapt, and overcome the hardships so that your relationship and life together will continue to grow and not become dangerously stagnant.

 
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Posted by on 7 April 2015 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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