I often start out as friends with my beloveds. I try not to leave that friendship behind.
One of the reasons is that friendship can serve as a touch stone when I am trying to decide if I am being reasonable.
In general I have found that if something is not something I would be comfortable asking of a good friend, it is not a good idea to ask that of someone who is more.
And if I am trying to look at how I am treating people, if it isn’t something I would do to a friend, eg using strong language, it probably isn’t something that is ok in a more inmate relationship.
I know some people think increasing intimacy is a reason to lower standards of civility and “relax”. I have never understood why you would be less careful with the feelings of those you love than you are of the feelings of relative strangers.
In the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy Arther Dent, amateur hitchhiker is taught the importance of knowing where your towel is.
The towel lets people know you still have part of your act together, it is a touchstone and a connection with home in your journey.
I am not suggesting you bring an actual towel along with you on your dates, but I do think it is worthwhile to pick a touchstone, a connection point with yourself to help you get your bearings in the complex social situations you are likely to encounter.
My personal “towel” is the idea that I have my beloved’s backs. When I am far from a place I know and I am not sure what I do, I remember my towel and that helps me get my bearings.
That is not the whole of my ethics, goodness no, but it is enough to help me look like I have my act together in strange places.
What is your towel?
A saw another post like this today. A well meaning person with lots of experience in monogamous relationships posted a detailed description of how they want their poly relationship to work. But this relationship doesn’t exist, in fact their are not any candidates.
This is a frustratingly common error in approaching a poly relationship. Even more so because it is done with good intent. The people who work out these detailed spec sheets usually understand that relationships take work and are engaging in this detailed wish list building in an earnest attempt to work on a relationship. The only problem is that there is not any relationship to work on.
This makes them come off as creepy, like the person who lays out a joint life plan on a first date. They have been doing the same thing, working on a relationship before there is a relationship, but somehow most people understand that that is a no-no.
I think the poly element can confuse people because you are often not talking to yourself, there is someone else there that you have a relationship with, so it feels like a different thing than imagining a relationship out of thin air. The problem is that the person you are talking to is someone you have a different relationship with, not the one you are building.
Relationships are something you build with a partner. At some level we all understand this. You didn’t approach your best friend and propose you be best friends, meet once a week for coffee and muffins, comfort each other with ice cream and bad movies during break ups and go to the beach together every other year. That was stuff you figured out together as the relationship grew.
And yes, Polyamorous relationships do have the potential to impact the other relationships in your life, but so do friendships, work relationships and just about any activity you engage in. Couples generally don’t engage in this sort of detailed blueprint making with the other activities, nor do they expect it from others that they engage in such activities with.
So relax. You just can’t work on a relationship that doesn’t exist yet, so work on the ones you do have. They might blossom in to more.