Thanks for being willing to tackle your feelings head-on. I understand this impulse to hoard places and experiences of emotional significance.
And it’s okay to ask for exclusivity in that regard.
I wouldn’t demand it, but it’s certainly fine to ask. It could go something like this:
“Hey, that Airbnb we stayed at in Malibu was amazing, right? It really feels like our spot. Would you mind filing that away as a special place that’s reserved just for us?”
And when your partner says, “OMG, that place was so amazing! You mean you don’t want me to share it with anybody but you?”
You can say, “Exactly.”
Again, there’s nothing wrong with asking. And when it comes to partnership, everybody gets the right to their say.
Here’s the thing, though: This could get complicated and exhausting really, really quickly. And it just might set you (and him) on edge over and over again when, if you were willing to consider changing your point of view on this, you could end all this uncomfortableness and suffering forever.
Consider These Questions
What makes “your” place better when it’s not shared with anyone else?
What changes about the time you had together if he takes another partner there?
What changes in the way your partner feels about you?
Does it automatically change things after you’ve checked out of that Airbnb and the new guests check in four hours later? What if those new guests have an even better time than you did? Is your experience now somehow tainted?
How are you going to keep track of all your places over the years and decades? Are you going to share a Google doc? Will the entire polycule get access to that Google doc so they can see all the places that they can’t go with your guy?
This sounds like it would make me a nervous wreck within weeks.
So, take a breath with me, and let’s rethink this together.
The New Perspective
How about instead of having spots that are off-limits, you decide that:
- Your time with your partner is special.
- The experiences and memories you two share can’t be taken away.
- Nothing that happens in the future will override what’s happening today.
- You feel cherished by and precious to your partner (if he makes you feel this way, which I hope he does!)
- You have all that you need.
If all of these things are true, wouldn’t it be okay for your partner to live a full life with you and do things out in the world without you, as well?
What if you could decide that what happens when you’re not with each other is none of your business and that the same goes for you and your time?
These are decisions you can choose to make. You have that power.
Polyamorous Relationships are Made by Design
Polyamorous relationships can be structured and designed a million different ways.
One common way is to set up strict rules around this kind of thing to help the other partner(s) feel safe. This seems like a lot of work to me. It also creates a whole lot of room for policing, upsets, and drama.
Another way to structure a polyam relationship is to decide that everyone is a free person — a person able to do what they want whenever they want when they aren’t with you.
This only works when all people involved have super high integrity, they love and respect their partner(s), and they truly mean well. It only works when everyone in the polycule is in the same boat and is willing to pick up an oar and row in the same direction.
A huge benefit to the “we’re all free people here” model is it only takes once to wrap your head all the way around this new paradigm. Then, what happens on any given weekend or Tuesday night is no biggie.
When a pang of insecurity or jealousy arises, you can ask yourself some check-up questions, like:
- Do I feel special and precious to my partner? If not, is this something we need to touch base on?
- Am I loved?
- Am I respected?
- Do I have all I need from them?
This is the quickest path to identifying needs that you’re not getting met. If you spot an unmet need, now you have something to work with.
An Unmet Need
An unmet need is something specific you can ask for.
The phrase, “I don’t feel enough love from you” is not specific.
It doesn’t give anyone anywhere to go from there — not even you.
If you said, “I don’t feel enough love from you” and your beloved said, “Oh no. I want you to feel loved by me. What’s missing?”
Usually, everyone is stumped.
So, specific means…what, exactly?
Which brings me to:
What is Your Enough?
If every human (polyamorous or monogamous) could answer these two questions and then aim for existing somewhere in the middle of these two things all of the time, the world would be a drastically different (happier) place. The questions are:
· “If I had it all my way, life would look like…” and
· “What’s enough for me is…”
What does your “enough” look like?
What’s enough time?
Enough acts of service?
Enough demonstrations of affection?
Specifically, what do you need to get yourself to “I’m fine” and really mean it?
As a polyamorous person, if you are getting all you need (more than enough), then time not spent with you is not your time and what happens during that time is none of your business.
As it turns out, humans want to repeat pleasurable experiences and return to amazing places — and there’s no malice or disrespect in that desire. You want to go back to that same restaurant or weekend spot or hiking trail because it’s the best! Furthermore, you want to share it with the people you love.
That’s one of the most beautiful things about being a human: We love to make others happy simply to see them happy.
So instead of feeling that you “own” Malibu and now you have to worry about who else enjoys Malibu, too, share the glory of it instead.
It bears repeating: Polyam relationships work best when everyone in the polycule is in the same boat and rowing in the same direction.
I’m not saying you need to meet the gold standard of compassion and selflessness, but it can be a delicious life when there’s cooperation, appreciation, love, happiness, and respect for the whole family.
. . . .
Wendy Newman is the author of 121 First Dates. She’s a dating, sex, and relationship expert who’s led hundreds of workshops and revolutionized the lives of over 70,000+ women internationally.
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