The lone philosophy professor at my community college used to say that his job was “to think thoughty thoughts.”
Recently, a few people have asked me for advice about their poly relationships. In each case, I gave exercises to help them “think thoughty thoughts.” The purpose is to structure exercises to allow the partners, metamours, families or polycules to explore expectations and discover what’s right for them. Because we’re told all the time to communicate with no instructions for how… and I certainly don’t have the answers for anyone!
I’m going to share some of those ideas here, and hope that people will offer their own in the comments.
1. What do you want from your relationships?
Start with any dyad and think…play partners? Boyfriend/girlfriend? D/s? M/s? What do you want for now? What do you want in the future? If you could wave a magic wand and make it happen, what would it look like?
Now add more partners and repeat. Write down your expectations, and swap with your partners…everyone all together, at the same time, no changing your answers after you see theirs. If you’re not aligned, this will open a discussion about why and how to move toward the same goal.
2. How much time will it take to create/sustain that relationship?
In a week? In a month? How much time is it going to take? One of the things I hear a lot is, “He/she spends all their time with their other partner.” Second only to, “That was MY night, and he/she went with someone else.” Time management is difficult with adults who have jobs, homes, children, and other relationships.
If you know what relationship you want, it’s far easier to get a realistic idea of the time you need to devote and the time you need from your partner. And to talk about expectations that don’t match!
3. What are your poly relationship milestones?
Our society teaches monogamous milestones…date, have sex, say “I love you,” move in together, get married, have children, buy a house. When I ask people what their goals are for their poly relationships, they often stare at me in confusion. There’s nothing wrong with bringing mono relationship milestones into the poly world, as long as everyone agrees. But most of us never even realize that we’re bringing expectations with us! So…what are your poly milestones? Discuss!
4. Are you poly or non-monogamous?
The English language is somewhat inadequate here, so bear with me. Do you “fall in love” or have “romantic love” with multiple people? Or do you have other connections with multiple people? Those aren’t the same, yet both are acceptable.
And your answer may depend on the person, the situation, and your relationship goals. Yet, I believe it’s important to know your own tendencies, so that you can communicate it to your partners. Again, it’s about aligning expectations.
5. Wish I could invent a pithy #5, but I don’t have one to go here. So why not invent your own?
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