Archive for April, 2010

15
Apr
10

What to do…

…when you just don’t like a metamour.

Our arrangement is that everyone has to meet a new partner before they get taken on, and then people are equal except for length of partnership. Your arrangement may be different, so some of this may not apply.

General poly stuff like schedule fu and living arrangements is not covered here. Also, I’m assuming everyone is following their particular rules of engagement, and not engaging in less-than-loving actions.

BEFORE A RELATIONSHIP IS ESTABLISHED
-RESPECT.
-Get to know the person. Maybe your first instinct is mistaken. Maybe it isn’t. Either way, you should make sure.
-Talk to your partner about it. Your partner is probably already approaching you with “So, what do you think of me and X dating?”
–Find out how much your partner is willing to sacrifice their desired-partners in favor of your right-to-choose-friends. Find a balance.
–Find out how much time you and said potential metamour would be spending in the same space.
–If the red flag is something definite (habits, personality quirks, e.g. “X does Y and that annoys me”) explain it to your partner, and see if they a. don’t see it; b. see it differently; or c. see it and aren’t bothered by it. Discuss. You and your partner are not the same person; you’re going to have different taste in romantic involvements. Questions like “Why does that bother you?” here are best left to the professionals, especially if it involves your mother or something she used to do.
-Talk to the metamour about it, probably with your soon-to-be-shared partner in tow (Who didn’t do this part? This guy…). This is something you can do with anyone you spend a lot of time with, but be careful not to set a precedent of “My partner will be on my side, and X will be the outsider.” See if you can figure out something that works for all of you.
-Remain open to the idea of letting new people into your relationship. You’re poly because you believe it works. Commit to making it work, whether that’s by opening your comfort zone to allow a new partner in or by enforcing your getting-along-with boundaries.

AFTER A RELATIONSHIP IS ESTABLISHED
-RESPECT.
-Problems don’t magically solve themselves after they’re defined. No one should expect the work to do itself, or expect that it’ll happen quickly.
-Know where your lines are, and stick to them. Doing something you’re not comfortable with, just to avoid a scene, is not always a good idea. Especially if it involves sex, moving in together, sharing financial commitments, having kids, that sort of thing. When you decide, after the fact, “I shouldn’t have done that then, it’s going to be a problem now,” nobody will be happy no matter how valid your feelings are. Your partner and your metamour will feel deceived and you will feel steamrollered.
-Don’t make scenes. Productive, rational conversation just works better.
-The shared partner, like it or not, is in the middle. Zie knows you and X better than you know each other. Zie should be open to being called on to mediate, and zie should be fair and favorable to both of you. Fair: sometimes a compromise is called for, sometimes one of you is right and the other is wrong. Favorable: determining whose needs take precedent at that moment, and who will get their needs specially catered to at a later date. (Example: You live with your partner. You need to vacuum. No, X cannot come over to drink and party tonight. Zie can come over and stay quiet and out of your way, or they can go out to a bar together.)

With Said Metamour:
-RESPECT. Failing that, basic civility will do in the short term.
-Let them know how you feel. Honestly. Making fake-nice in the beginning will be shooting yourself in the foot for any future problem solving. They may not realize there’s a problem, and most people jump to “OMG he haets meh!” when you do things like snap at them, avoid them, ignore them, and are generally passive-aggressive. (Check, check, check, and check.)
-Identify what it is you dislike about them. Ask them if they can just try to rein that in while around you. If you need to, set up a cue that will let them know they’re bothering you without making a big fuss about it.
-Make sure they know damn well that you acknowledge the issue and want to make it better, and that you have the smooth running of the entire household and the happiness of all its members first and foremost in your thoughts. They should be doing the same.

With The Shared Partner:
-RESPECT. This can take the form of honesty.
-Keep them informed of what you’re doing regarding getting along with the metamour. Give updates on progress, whether things are getting better or worse.
-Make sure they know damn well that you acknowledge the issue and want to make it better, and that you have the smooth running of the entire household and the happiness of all its members first and foremost in your thoughts. They should be doing the same.

IF YOU’RE THE METAMOUR
-RESPECT. Fall back on civility when absolutely necessary.
-Not everyone has to like you. If you need everyone to love you or you’ll be bitterly unhappy (and this is your entire reason for being poly), you have mental problems. Go get help.
-You’re new, even if it’s not a primary/secondary arrangement. Try not to step on any toes.
-If someone dislikes you, it’s usually not either something about you or something about them; it’s most likely both. Taking everything as a personal affront, or as evidence that someone is just an asshole, is not constructive at all.
-Compromise will be required. If you are not willing to compromise when getting involved with someone who already has a partner (or two), that’s a problem. A big, huge, glaring, distended sphincter of a problem.
-Expecting the shared partner to side with you all the time in the interest of a growing relationship is silly. Hasn’t zie got an existing one to take care of? Shouldn’t zie be fair to both of you?
-If the existing partner shows little interest in associating with you, don’t push the issue. They get to pick their own friends at their own speed. However, feel free to talk to the shared partner about it. Perhaps your metamour is simply having a bad day, and you can’t tell because you don’t know hir very well yet.
–If your metamour appears to be passive-aggressive, confronting them about it will only make them defensive. Talk to the shared partner about it. Zie probably knows your metamour better than you do. See above re: red flags.
–If you ask what you’re doing wrong and your metamour can’t be honest about it, or claims nothing is wrong, calling them on bullshit will make them defensive, especially if something actually is bullshit. Most people are just not comfortable saying outright “You piss me off almost daily by doing A, B, and sometimes C. When you do D, it reminds me of my mother, and I want to kick your teeth through the back of your skull.” Talk to the shared partner. Zie can probably tell something’s wrong, and might be able to talk sense into your metamour.
–Do not make scenes. It will diminish the effect when someone actually wrongs you. If you’re always in trouble and constantly need your partner’s support to deal with the big bad mean metamour, you might want to take a look at whether you’re doing something that particularly triggers those actions, especially if you’ve run into the same issue in other poly situations.

Reading back over, it sounds like I’m blaming the new person a lot. That’s not my intention at all, although my bias is that I haven’t been the new person in a while, and the most recent new person… yeah. Had a bunch of these problems. I’m more trying to figure out what everyone has control over on their own end.

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I would like to leave you with a quaint saying: Manners are like bandaids, respect is like not getting cut up in the first place.

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