Originally posted here.
Have you been considering polyamory? Wondering where you want to go with your relationships? Do you wonder if you’re really ready to take the leap?
If you’re wondering, that’s good. It means you’re thinking. Mama Java approves of thinking about things clearly. When you get to thinking, you’ll need to start asking yourself some searching questions. Nope, these aren’t questions you want to ask a partner, if you have one. Though I really, really hope your partners will ask these questions of themselves.
1. Am I willing to acknowledge I am not a mind-reader?
One of the distressing things I often notice in relationships is that we’re often just sure we know what the other person is thinking. Whenever you catch yourself thinking you can read minds, stop. Put it aside until you can ask. Then act on what you’re told.
This has a twofold benefit. The first is that you’re training yourself to stop putting your own thoughts and feelings on other people. The second is that if you act on what you’re told, you’ll find that you’ll be told the truth more often. If you act on “mindreading” you’ll find that you often won’t encourage people to communicate with you because it’ll feel pointless. If what one says doesn’t matter, often one becomes disinclined to speak.
2. Am I willing to speak up about my wants?
I’ve talked a lot about asking for what you want. This is different from insisting on having your way, mind. Yes, sometimes you will be told “no”. But I promise not always. Give your partners the opportunity to say “yes”.
In the past year, I’ve been making my living as a freelancer. One of the more interesting things about the profession is that I’ve learned not to take “no” all that damn personally. To make money when you’re marketing yourself, you’re kind of playing the numbers. The attitude that “no” isn’t really a big hairy deal has spilled over into relationships. I know it sounds goofy, but I’ve found that my ego just isn’t tied into whether or not someone wants to do what I want. Sometimes, it’s something I can blow off with no big deal, and yeah, sometimes it’s as much of a dealbreaker as someone not wanting to pay me what my time is worth professionally. But in either case, I don’t take it personally. I’m allowed to ask, and the other person is allowed to say “no”.
3. Am I willing to admit my crystal ball is really just a lump of silicon?
If you ever find yourself getting into fortunetelling, STOPPIT. This is a relationship-killer, I don’t give a damn if you’re talking about a romantic relationship, your relationship with your kids, your friends or your boss. Just… don’t go there.
4. Do I feel if whatever activity going on isn’t the “best” then it’s really worthless?
Falling into the comparison trap is a real, real bad idea. Whether it’s that you’re seeking perfection for yourself or thinking you have to be the Perfect One for someone else, it’s not conducive to a good poly relationship either way.
If you can’t get away from that just yet, you’re not really in a position where polyamory is going to be making you very happy.
5. Do I pull out my driver’s license or look in the mirror when asking myself, “Now just who got me into this mess?”
Thou Art God, friends. If you’re not willing to accept that your choices are your responsibility, you’re not ready for romantic relationships at all. Wrap your mind around that first.
A dear friend of mine recently commented, “There’s nothing quite so cathartic or educational as screaming “What’s your fucking problem, anyway?!” at the mirror.
Seems to solve most of my problems, anyway.”
He’s quite right. The blame game ain’ta gonna cut it in a poly relationship. Monogamous relationships can sometimes just barely stand up to it. Poly? Forget it. Won’t work.
If you think that this list isn’t polyamory specific, you’re right. I reiterate until I feel like a stalled MP3 that there’s very little in this world that’s polyamory specific. Anything that’ll make you a more effective, loving, happier person is probably going to be good for poly relationships as well.