September 10, 2014 by aggiesez
Yesterday my friend Cunning Minx devoted a good chunk of time on episode 401 of her excellent podcast, Polyamory Weekly to my blog post on two common, frustrating and painful relationship pitfalls: invisible fences and fuzzy landmines.
The core of those problems is that they’re both ways to outsource your emotional responsibility.
That is, they’re passive, sneaky ways to manipulate partners or metamours into adapting themselves to ease your discomfort or insecurities — and to avoid acknowledging (“owning”) your feelings and limits, as well as learning skills to manage them constructively yourself.
Being on either side of that kind of dodge is not unique to solo polyamory, or even to polyamory, of course. However, in my experience, since solo polyamory is pretty different from how most people are socialized to do relationships, that context often trips deep seated (and sometimes unconscious) fears among people in our relationship networks who are more accustomed to couplehood and the relationship escalator. Much drama ensues.
How can you tell when your partners or metamours are failing to own their shit, and trying to get you to manage their feelings for them? Minx offered these tips — framed in terms of how people in an established poly/open couple might treat a new partner, but potentially applicable to any relationship configuration:
How can you tell the difference between a couple making a genuine effort to be open and own their own shit, and a couple that is not devoted to working on their own issues and relationship mechanics?
- Does everyone involved self-identify as poly?
- How secure is each person in that identity?
- Do the people in the couple talk to each other honestly?
- Do they own their own shit?
- Does their behavior match the walk they talk about each other?
- Does their behavior match their dialogue with you?
- How willing is the couple to hear your concerns as valid (rather than as a threat or unreasonable request)?l
These are great questions to ponder — about the behavior of others, and your own.
For me, self-applying the label “polyamorous” is not a litmus test, but it can be a useful indicator. Just don’t take that at face value, as Minx recommends.
What I look for is whether my partners and metamours demonstrate self awareness, an ethical sensibility, communication and negotiation skills, and emotional management skills. Minx’s list of questions should highlight those traits — or their lack.
Many thanks to Polyamory Weekly for amplifying and thoughtfully expanding upon my earlier observations.