I was asked, in my last posting, why I'm taking the path I'm taking if I experience jealousy. Everyone experiences jealousy or wanting something more. This is the human condition. It's economics when you get down to it. On another level, if you have ever read the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Felicia Bond, just imagine it as a relationship structure with your partner.
My jealousy tends to disappear (no one is perfect), and at one point or another everyone experiences jealousy. I try to be friends with people who are connected to me indirectly rather than make enemies. I have welcomed Eric's recent marriage to Patricia with an open heart. At the same time, Eric has been understanding of my need to live a long distance away and find other partners, despite arguments that have been going on for four and a half years.
At the same time, some common issues and concerns pop up for most people at one point or another. I still face them on occasion myself:
1) There is a difference between partners, play partners, friends with benefits, and friends.
This goes for monogamous and polyamorous relationships: relationship statuses mean different things to different folks. Relationships are fluid. Things can change purposefully or accidentally. A partner could be a play partner, someone who is into kink and leather play, or not. A friend with benefits could also be a play partner or not. Relationships can become complex to the point that, to take an idea from the show The L Word, our "chart" could become your "chart" in trying to figure out where your relationships lie.
Sex does not even have to exist in any of these relationships.
(A side note to this revelation: before deciding to have a friend with benefits or any form of casual sex, please at least know the first name of the partner [last name preferred also, but not necessary]. Also, asking about safe sex and STDs not only protects you but your and their other partners.)
2) Not all poly is the same.
This is more for polyamorous relationships. There are different structures in poly relationships. Some of the more common ones are sub-relationships (which include primary and secondary relationships), triads (three people in a relationship), quads (two couples), and geometric relationships (depending on the number of partners involved and different relationship connections).
I have been in sub-relationships and a triad relationship. Personally, for me, it's easier to compartmentalize than to include everyone and their brother on my time. In triads I have not found one that really fits what I am searching for. Just because one structure doesn't work out does not mean that you are not meant for poly, nor should someone judge a relationship by another one and point out flaws. There are no two identical relationships.
3) "I love him/her, but I don't love love him/her."
I have friends whom I love. I have partners whom I love. I have had very few people in my life whom I have fallen in love with and whom I would seriously consider moving in with. Some partners and connections are just a friendship type of love. That is great, fine, and wonderful. Love is a very powerful emotion, and if someone can experience love, even in the friend sense, and be comfortable with it, then they have already won the battle I struggled with for years.
Some love is romantic love. I have had casual play partners who insist that my relationship structure is merely to get my rocks off. They also insist that poly is just a way for me to have more than one partner and have it be "OK." The ability to love someone takes a lot more from a person than just giving and getting.
4) "Are you sure he/she is in an open relationship?"
Before I even start getting into this topic, I would like to make clear that I do not condone cheating. I do not condone not talking to partners about this lifestyle choice or any lifestyle choice you may embark on. That being said, the term "open relationship" is when both parties in a relationship or marriage agree that having another sexual or romantic relationship is allowed and will be accepted and tolerated. That does not mean communication does not exist.
There are warning signs to look for if the relationship really isn't open. In some cases I have had potentials state that their partners don't know they are looking. Although from experience I understand their frustration with relationships that may not be healthy, it's everyone's individual choice whether or not they want to become someone's mistress. It's an emotional struggle and not without consequences. Really, it depends on who you are and whether it's something you want to partake in.
5) "You do that with/to him/her, so why not with me?"
This goes for monogamous and polyamorous relationships. Not all relationships will be equal, nor will there always be the same connections. Relationships form naturally, whether or not you want them to. Someone commented on last week's blog that if I experience jealousy, why follow my path? A former partner of mine commented that when we were getting to know each other, to see if we would mesh, the weekends we were spending together were almost like interviews. It was an interview to find out if we were going to get things we wanted out of the relationship, or if it really would not work out. We had an "agreement" that I would go into a submissive role for an amount of time, and if I really was not happy after that amount of time, I was free to end it and not continue on.
Discussion and communication is important in any relationship. Everyone communicates differently; some people can be straight to the point and some people can think aloud. Discussion, even relationship exercises, can allow free-flowing thoughts to emerge and common activities to be uncovered. Besides, do you really want to do it because you want to do it, or because they are doing it and you just want to please your partner?
Have you ever experienced any of these common issues from partners? Share your thoughts!
Follow Amy Shiner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Amy_Shiner